A Winter Wonder Land ?

Monday night brought Toronto its first large snowfall of the winter. Even though I guess it's concerning that the first big storm didn’t hit until the end of January (thanks climate change), it was a large one dropping about 26cm of snow overnight.

The city of Toronto claims to start clearing what they considers high pedestrian volume streets after 2 cm of snow has accumulated and low volume routes at 8cm. They admit this my take 7-8 hours. I don’t know if my street qualifies as high volume as I have been unable to locate a listing. (Link)

While some were lucky enough to consider today a snow day I was not, I had to get to work. A snowfall like this can cause a barrier for a lot of people. Even more so I think for those of us who use a mobility device on a daily basis. Now I live in downtown Toronto and my “walk” to the subway in the morning is about two blocks, normally not a huge deal. I also live on a major downtown street and people had made an effort to start to clear the snow. Pretty much everywhere else was a total mess. The corners at intersections are typically the worst, If you’re lucky there is a tiny clearing wide enough to just walk through.

Although I did make it to work this morning it was slower than normal going. I am fortunate enough to own a Freewheel attachment for my chair, without it I would not have made it to work today. I also work for a company that would have been understanding if I could not have made it in and I would have been paid. I’m lucky, I have the means to afford a $1000 attachment for my wheelchair and work for a good company. Considering that according to StatsCan 2017 numbers the unemployment rate for those with mobility disabilities was about 13% I figure I fall into the minority.

I understand the city cannot work magic, it simply does not have the means to clear everything perfectly as soon as it starts snow. What I want is for the City of Toronto and private property owners to have a real understanding of the barrie that unclear snow causes. I want them to put a better plan in place on how to deal with pathways at corners. This would take some work but I think improvements can be made if the will is there. I should not require expensive accessories in order to navigate the city and to make it to work like those who are able bodied.

My friend Luke Anderson speaking on the topic today - https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/metro-morning

My friend Jeff Adams on Twitter

Fujifilm X-T20

The Fujifilm X-T20 was released in February of this year. Over the past 3 weeks I was able to spend some time with it. Fujifilm Canada was kind enough to also send a 23mm F2 WR lens along with it for me test out. I will say that I did not test every single feature of this camera. I used it like I use any of my other cameras. That is only for still images and often in aperture priority or full manual modes. I shoot raw + jpeg purely so I can transfer files to my phone to post on the go if I want but that’s all I ever use the jpegs for. I tested the touch screen but didn’t use it much, we’ll get to that. Onward we go.

What’s New ?
So what is new with the X-T20 versus the X-T10 it now replaces, well kind of a lot. I’ll just a few of the new features mostly will appreciate.

  • Improved grip making holding the camera with one hand a lot easier
  • New X-Trans III CMOS 24 megapixel sensor
  • Greatly improved autofocus
  • Touch screen
  • Expanded native ISO range

Autofocus and Image Quality
The Fujifilm X-T20 uses the new X-Trans III 24 megapixel sensor. As a result in gets the same autofocus and images quality of both the X-T2 and X-Pro 2. With this new body we’ve have gone from 77 to 325 autofocus points, almost half of which are phase detect. This has improved the autofocus speed quite a bit. This of course will be a bit lens dependent as it always is. My normal set of lenses all seemed to focus just as quickly on the X-T20 as my own X-T2 in good light. My understanding is the focus speed on these two cameras should be the same. As always I had a few misfires but these were in street scenes where this happens from time to time when an AF point just happens to land in the wrong spot. There are many different autofocus modes depending on the type of content you’re shooting. I most often shoot in single spot or manual modes though for my work.

Image quality is greatly improved over the previous generation of sensor. There will always be arguments over how many megapixels you really need. For my the additional resolution is nice. I’ve started to make prints more often and I often do some perspective correction on images which also means some cropping. If you only ever show your work online this might not be a reason to upgrade for you though.


Build Quality
This might not be a flagship camera but it’s not exactly what would be call budget either. The built quality is where I expect it to be for the price. You get a magnesium alloy body and nicely textured grip all around. All the dials feel really solid and don’t often get knocked or switched accidentally. The d-pad on the back of the camera has a good solid feel to it well. Over the years Fuji has really improved the feel of these button and they are great now.  

What you’re not getting in this camera is weather sealing, which is a disappointment.

The Fujifilm X-T20 has a few handling ups and downs. I'll go over the positives first as I think they outweigh the negatives. The biggest handling feature is the fact that there is now an actuated touch screen. The touch screen here is basicly the same as we saw on the X70. There is tap to focus, tap to just move the focus point or tap to shoot. If you are someone who is moving to this camera as an upgrade from just shooting on your phone I can see these features being really appealing. After trying them out for a bit I personally left the touch feature turned off. I found the touch screen more useful when review images though. You can pinch to zoom or double tap to zoom to 100% and you can scroll through images. I found all of this to work well and with reasonable speed. Disappointingly you still can not use the touch screen on any of the menus.

Other more minor improvements include a much better grip just making the camera much more comfortable to hold. As I said previously all the buttons and dials have a good solid feel to them as well, though they are not locking like on the X-T2.

A major missing feature compared to the flagship cameras is the lack of the focus lever. I missed having it right way. Weather you will missing having this feature will really depend on your shooting style. If you often use the touch screen then I can see now missing the focus lever. Obviously you can use the d-pad on the back of the camera to move the focus points around when using the screen or viewfinder. The buttons on the d-pad have a really good feel so it works fine. I’m not sure if this is a cost thing or a way for Fuji to create some separation between this more consumer level camera and the flagship bodies. In speaking with a friend friend since using this camera I think the focus lever is something you will only miss if you’ve gotten us to using one previously.

Oddly I don’t like the battery door the doesn’t automatically lock when you close it, but that’s me being picky.


The viewfinder is basically the same here as in the previous X-T10 and now the new X-E3. The EVF is another case of something seeming weak only in comparison to the X-T2. The viewfinder works very well in most conditions, though I wish for a better eye cup around it. It has a maximum refresh rate of 54 fps which is fine in most situations. I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with the viewfinder. It’s still bright and clear and all the information displayed is customizable.

Everything Else
The Fuji XT-20 is currently prices at $1200 Canadian which seems like a lot until you consider that it’s about $900 less than a X-T2. Having both on hand and going back and forth between them for a few weeks has been interesting. I will admit to not using some of the features that make the X-T2 as expensive as it is, like a the optional battery grip or more extensive 4k video options. I went for the higher end camera for the focus lever, better EVF, dual SD card slots and a few additional physical controls. Are those things alone worth spending that much more? For most people probably not, but only you and your budget can decide that really.

So as always I start to think who would I suggest buy this camera. If you’re thinking of moving from a Dslr to a mirrorless system and the X-T2 isn’t in your budget then this camera is for you. I think it would almost make a great camera for someone looking to get into photography more seriously than shooting with a phone or point and shoot. All of the automatic features are there but you can take of with full manual controls that are easy to use when you’re ready.


Fujifilm X-Pro 2

Note: I wrote this sometime ago (no snow) and just finished editing it and posting it now. I apologize to everyone for the very long delay in getting this online. Some how life, work and family have taken over all of my free time. I am however trying to spend a bit more time on the blog now so hopefully post will be a bit more timely. 

I recently got to spend a few weeks shooting with a Fujifilm X-Pro2. Released in early 2016 the X-Pro2 was the first to use the new 24mp X-trans sensor. This is something a lot of people including myself had been waiting for. Many X-T1 shooter like me though were wondering if the form factor of the X-Pro2 would be right for them. We all knew an X-T2 was coming but didn’t know how long that wait would be. I’ve been a life long SLR and then X-T1 shooter but I’ve use the Fujifilm X100T and a Leica M9 at times so I knew what i was getting into here. So let’s take a look at the X-Pro2 and see what it has to offer. 


Autofocus and Image Quality

I’ll start by saying that the auto focus is really fast. About 40% of the frame is covered by phase-detect AF points and even when you get out side of those you shouldn’t have any real problem. Even with the slower focusing 35mm F1.4 I never found that I was missing shots due to Autofocus performance. You can choose to display a grid of 77 or 273 AF points to pick from in single AF mode. I just left it at 77 as I found I never needed more precise control than that for my style of shooting. 

One rather major edition to the X-Pro 2 over any previous Fujifilm camera is the new Focus Lever. It lets you use a small joy stick to move around and select your focus point. Not only did I find this much quicker than the old function button, but it’s one less button press and you get that assignable button back for something else. After shooting with the X-Pro 2 for three weeks and then going back to my X-T1 it’s a feature I’m really missing. 

Among the many reasons people might want to upgrade to this camera from other Fujifilm bodies the big one is image quality. With this camera Fuji has finally made the jump to a new sensor and bumped the resolution to 24MP. That might not sound like a huge difference to some but it is almost 20% increase over 16MP. I could immediately see the difference compared to my X-T1 in fine detail. This increase will be most welcome to those who like to make large prints or those who tend to crop more often. I don’t make many large prints at the moment but having the extra quality available for those times that I do will be nice.

Many people including myself were hoping for improved high ISO performance with this new generation sensor. Sadly Fuji could not work magic, but it’s not all bad news either. We all know that an increase in resolution might have indeed made the ISO performance worse. Thankfully though I see no more noise at any given ISO than I do on the X-T1. So really it’s just more detail with the same noise as before.  Another way of looking at it is I get to use one higher stop of ISO if I really need it. 

Build Quality

From the moment you pick up the X-Pro 2 you will notice the solid build quality. Built with a magnesium alloy body the camera is strong but reasonably light. There is also weather sealing of course for those of you who like to go out and shoot in all kinds of weather. I went out and shoot a bit in some moderate rain with the 90m F2 and both the lens and camera held up wonderfully. This however is not something I personally do on a regular basis. All of the dials and knobs had a good solid feel to them as well. I feel like you could take this camera out into pretty much any situation and the build quality is not going to be an issue or slow you down in any way. An odd thing to note but the door for the flashcard slot is finally more solidly built and didn’t open once by mistake on me. 

Handling and Viewfinder

The handling of this camera is going to be divisive. You’re ever going to love it or hate or learn to love it maybe. This is a rangefinder style camera with an optical hybrid viewfinder. It’s pretty similar to the X100T with the ability to have the viewfinder in optical or electronic or hybrid modes. To me the appeal of this camera is the optical viewfinder and that’s what I used the majority of the time I spent with the camera. Your preference is going to depend on what lenses you like use most and the type of subject matter you shoot. Optical viewfinders often are preferred for street photography because you can see around the edges of the frame a bit. This lets you see when things are going to enter the frame so you can’t get the right timing for your shot. 

The frame lines and other information are projected into the optical viewfinder. What information is displayed is customizable and the bright frame lines are corrected for parallax in realtime as you focus. If you prefer the EVF it’s quite good as well. The EVF is 2.3 megapixels which is the same as the X-T1 but the magnification is less. That means appears to be smaller when looking at it. If I wasn’t used to the X-T1 I would not be disappoint by it. I mostly used this mode when shooting with a long lens like the 90mm F2. Otherwise in optical mode you only get tiny frame lines in the middle of the viewfinder. Another oddity of the optical viewfinder is that you can often see the lens cutting into the frame. This really bugged me for some reason.

I mostly didn’t use the hybrid mode but it’s just like the X100T where you see a small EVF in the bottom right corner of your OVF. This would be good for those who want to use manual focus but that’s not something I often do. 

A final thing about the viewfinder. The diopter for it drove me a little crazy. I found it far too easy to knock so often I would look through the viewfinder and wonder why everything was out of focus.

Everything Else 

There was much talk of the retro style ISO dial. It is a combination ISO and shutter speed dial really. You lift and turn to change the ISO which you see thought a window. You simple turn the dial to change you shutter speed. It’s neat and looks pretty so I can see why people like it. I’m so often in one of the Auto ISO modes that I didn’t end up changing it much. 

There are now two SD card slots which I really appreciate. There are a few options of how you want files to save to the card. It’s super buried in a menu but it’s there. Finally I can save Jpegs to a separate card from my RAWs. 


The screen on the Fujifilm X-pro 2 has a fairly standard 1.62 megapixel 3 inch screen. This a bit more resolution than the X-T1 which is nice of course. The main thing to know here is there is no tilt on the screen at all. Although I don’t need a tilt screen of course I’ve gotten so used to it now that going to another camera without is hard. I guess the theory is that most people are buying this camera for the optical viewfinder and will not be using live view. I guess this is true but it seems like an odd omission. 


The menus on the X-Pro 2 are a newer style and nicely organized. This camera is very customizable which is kind of a requirement for a pro level camera. The only problem is that this means there are many nested menus with a ton of different options, the meaning of which is not always clear. 

There are almost too many options. I know it’s a pro camera so you need to give users lot of choice. I had to dig though the manual a number of times to find out where a setting I wanted was located in the menus. I know this is kind of a universal problem with pro level digital cameras at this point but some clarity in name menu items would be nice. 

Being able to customize the quick menu is really nice on the other hand and I found myself using it more often. There is also a custom MyMenu option where you can save menu items you most often use. 

Other Stuff

There are no two ways about it, this is a pro camera body through and though. Now that Fujifilm has their sensors up to 24mp and a reasonably large lens catalog built up I don’t see a lot of reasons not to do pro level work with this camera. Sure there will still be people who need a Dslr for some reason or another and that’s fine of course. For the vast majority of people though a mirrorless system will be the way to go. At a price of about $1850 Canadian (at the time of writing) I could complain about the price since this is not a full frame camera. I do think Fuji offers a lot here though in terms of unique features though to justify the price for the most part. Wether the features are worth it to you as a professional or advanced amateur is only something you can really decide for yourself of course. 

I enjoyed my time working with this camera and I can see the appeal of a range finder system. Despite how good the viewfinder on the X-T1 is I still my the optical viewfinder of my dslr system from time to time. Maybe it would just take me more time to get use to it all but somehow using the ranger finder just didn’t feel right for me. It’s a very personal choice I think, like many things in photography For me having the image quality of the X-Pro 2 with a actuated screen and a viewfinder I enjoy seems like something I’ll enjoy. I hope this is true because I’ve now purchased an XT-2

Sorry Coffee Co.

102 Bloor St. W. Toronto

Sorry Coffee Co. is located in the back portion of the Canadian retail store, Kit and Ace. This is Kit and Ace's second location in Toronto, but the only one with a coffee shop in the same space. The front doors off Bloor Street to the main clothing store are not wheelchair accessible. Only the doors around the back on Critchley Lane will allow access to the space. Thankfully the entrance here is wide and powered. 

Seating inside the smallish space is pretty standard stuff. Some small moveable tables and bar stools along the window facing into the park. I was able to navigate the space without any trouble. There is also a fully accessible washroom to the right of where you place your order. It's nice to find accessible washrooms in any coffee shop that isn't a Starbucks. 

The only trouble I think you might have is that the area for preparing your coffee if you take milk and sugar would be hard to reach if you're sitting in a wheelchair. Personally I take my coffee black so it wasn't a problem for me. However the Staff were extremely friendly bringing my order over to my table anyway so I think if you needed any other assistance they would be more than happy to help you. 

The closest subway station is Yonge and Bloor and then about a 10 min walk west from there. There is underground parking in the area though being downtown Toronto it will be expensive of course.

Fujifilm X70

When the Fujifilm X70 was announced earlier this year I was a bit confused by it. I was also very interested in getting my hands on one. Over the last month I had that chance and I now have a good feel for what the camera is capable and possibly more importantly who might enjoy using it.

Let’s start with a bit about what the Fujifilm X70 is. Well it’s a couple of things, first it’s the guts of an X100T compressed into a smaller body. You get the same 16 MP sensor we’ve seen in most of the current fuji cameras and the same autofocus system as the X100T. You lose the viewfinder but more on that in a bit. The other major thing it is, let's be honest is Fujifilm's’ competition to the Ricoh GR II. I have not personally used a Ricoh GR yet but spec wise they seem to be going after the same market.

Lens, Autofocus and Image Quality
The Lens on the X70 is a 18.5mm F2.8 which gives you an 28mm full frame equivalent field of view. This is going to be good or not so great depending on what you like you shoot and your general style of shooting as well. Personally I most often shoot with a 35mm equivalent lens so that is what I’m really used to. I took me a bit of time to get use to the wider lens. You might be much more comfortable shooting the 28mm depending on what you like, this is really going to come down to personal preference.

The lens is quite sharp which doesn’t really surprise me considering it’s a fixed lens. Sharpness wide open is quite good at the center and falls off a bit as you get to the corners. Above F4 or so I don’t think you’ll have any issues there either. At F11 and above refraction issues starts to show up. I never ran into chromatic aberration issues during my testing though I wasn’t trying to make them show up either.

Just like in my review of the X100T, starting out with the X70 I had a pretty reasonable idea of what to expect from the image quality. It is after all using the same 16 megapixel sensor  and image processor as the X100T and the X-T1 that I shoot daily. The really nice thing here is that you get such a large sensor in such a compact camera. If you’re come to this camera from a smartphone or cheaper point and shoot you’re in for a nice treat and much better depth of field control.

The X70 has the same hybrid autofocus system we’ve seen on other Fujifilm cameras which uses both contrast-detection and on-chip phase detect AF sensors. I found the autofocus to be quick and more than adequate for my street shooting as well as taking family photos of the kids running around. Setting your autofocus to wide tracking worked well for moving subjects across the frame but focus felt a touch slower in that mode. You can set you focus points with the directional pad or via the touch screen but more on that in a bit too (the suspense). Manual focus worked okay, you have the same set of focus assist option you do on many other Fuji cameras standard, split image and focus peaking which is the one I prefer. I used manual focus a lot when I was shooting out in bright daylight and higher apertures and could just use zone focusing. However wide open I found that the focus ring was a bit too small to be adjusting all the time. To be fair the whole camera is pretty small and I have reasonably large hands.

Build Quality and Handling
The X70 had a very solid feeling all metal body. There are some plastic parts here and there but the majority of the camera is metal. The aperture ring has a nice click to it and I never had a problem with it getting knocked out of where I wanted it to be. The focus ring was nice and smooth as well but is a bit too easy to knock if you’re not being careful. All the other dials and switches on the camera feel good. Some of the buttons on the back are a bit small, most feel good but some are a little mushy though none of them were really an issue for me in daily use.

There is an odd custom function buttons on the left hand side of the camera. I honestly didn’t even notice it there at first. For me it’s in a bit of an odd place and kind of hard to find by feel alone. You can set it to any of the normal custom functions but maybe pick one you don’t use as often. The focus mode selector is on the is on the front. While I appreciate that it is still a switch and not in a menu I again find it to be in an odd spot and always have to look at it when making a selection as I couldn’t just do it by feel. There is no ISO dial but it’s in the quick menu and honestly just set it on auto ISO and move on.

The hand grip on the X70 is nice and solid feeling but a little small for my hands. I think it’s a reasonable size though considering the size of the camera. Aftermarket grips are around if want something addition of course. I’m hearing the addition of the half case helps too.

The X70 is not weather sealed. I’m sure Fuji had their reasons for this, size and cost likely being the major ones. For the price point and market this camera is geared to I understand. I still wish you could go out shooting in the rain or snow and not have to think about it.

The Screen
The Fuji X70 features a fairly standard looking 3” high resolution LCD screen. The best things here are that it tilts, all the way around into selfie mode even, also it’s a touch screen. When you flip into selfie mode the UI flips so it’s right side up which is a nice touch. There are two different modes for the touch screen, or three if you count off. The first is focus area selection. This lets you touch any place on the screen and the camera will select the closest autofocus point. It will however not focus, for that you still have to half press the shutter button. This is weird to me I don’t know why that choice was made. I’m kind of hoping this could change later in firmware.

The second mode Touch Shot is a bit more useful. You can touch the screen and the camera will focus there and shoot right away once it locks focus. The feature works well but I didn’t find myself using it a lot. I think i’m just not used to using a touch screen on a camera so I didn’t really think about using it. If the X70 is your first step up camera from a smartphone then I could see this feature being more useful to you.

In playback mode you can pinch to zoom and move around the image. You can also swipe through your images. This aspect of the touch screen works quite well and feels more natural to me.

Other Stuff
There are few other things about this camera that you might be wondering about still at this point. The battery is a small pack that slides in through the bottom under the same door the memory card slot is in. The battery is charged via the USB port on the side of the camera. Thankfully Fuji ships you a decent charger and usb cable in the box. It would have been silly of them not to but in the consumer electronics industry nothing would shock me.

The lack of the viewfind on the X70 bothered me a first. I’ve shooting for a long time and almost always with a camera that included a viewfinder, I’m just so used to it. After a few weeks and cranking up the LCD brightness so I could see it in the daylight I was okay. I still prefer a viewfinder but in the interest of making the camera more compact I again understand the choice. There is a viewfinder accessory you can add. I didn’t get to use it but just looking at it I have two issues. One if gives you frame lines but nothing else, it's a dumb viewfinder as it were, with no data coming to it from the camera. Also it’s currently $250 Canadian which is quite a lot. I know this is somewhat in line with what other companies are charging for viewfinders but it’s a large chunk of change and would make me think twice about picking one up.

Wrap Up
After shooting with this camera for a month I first have to say that I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed having great image quality in such a compact camera, no doubt. I found it fun that the lack of a viewfinder kind of forced me to take shots in a different way that I normally would. The questions I had going into this is who is this camera really for. Is it more than just a street photographer's camera to compete with the Ricoh GR? Personally I think so. The Fuji X70 sells for about $700 USD or $900 CND at the moment which is quite a bit. That said I think it has potential as the camera someone buys when they finally want a camera that isn’t their smartphone. The iPhone 6s has an equivalent focal length 30mm which is very close to the X70. Smart phones also don’t have zoom lenses so the lack of one on the X70 shouldn’t be a problem to those buyers. On board wifi means photos can be transferred to your phone to post to social media as well. Also you can’t deny the retro styling of the silver model will have appeal to a segment of the market as well.

All in all the Fujifilm X70 is a fun, stylish and well built camera. If you have the budget for a premium compact camera with a great sensor it has to be on your short list.

- Wheels out