Fuji 27mm Pancake Lens

I was originally interested in the Fujifilm 27mm lens after seeing it recommended by Eric Kim for street photography. Also my friend and awesome photographer Ryan Tacay swears by it. I managed to get my hands on one for the last few weeks and I thought I'd talk a bit about it here. With this lens I was trying to discover two things. How does it work for street photography and would it make a good all round travel lens. 

Size, Weight and Handling 
The 27mm F2.8 is Fuji's smallest lens. When I unpacked it I was kind of amazed at just how small it is. On my X-T1 the whole system is pretty close in size to a X100 S/T. So if you're an X-T1 user and you want to go small and light then this lens is it. Of course it would also work on many other bodies like the X-E2 and X-Pro 1.

I was a bit disappointed to see that there is no aperture ring on this lens. You of course can still control the aperture manually with one of the control dials on the camera. This is set via the menu. It's not a big deal but when you're used to an aperture dial on your other lenses it's a bit of an adjustment. 

The focus ring is smooth but I found it to be a bit too easy to turn. It also infinitely turns in either direction. Again this isn't a huge deal but it's my personal preference that a focus ring stops at each end of the focus range. Auto focus was quite quick over all. Certainly fast enough for most general shooting siturations.

 

Image Quality 
Yes the image quality on this lens is as good as everyone says it is. Even wide open I found it to be very sharp right the the edges of the frame. There isn't much else to say about it really I don't think anyone is going to have anything to complain about in this department. Well someone will surely but they don't have much reason to. 

 

Every Day Usage 
So how does this lens work for street and general travel photography. For the most part it works quite well. The 27mm lens on a cropped sensor camera like the fuji lineup comes out to the same field of view as a  40mm lens in the 35mm equivalent. It's the middle ground between the popular 35mm and 50mm lens choices. This kind of makes it a jack or all trades and master of none in my books. While it's perhaps not ideal for landscapes I think if you're traveling you'd be quite happy with the focal length. It works well for things like portraits, street scenes and food photography. I used it to photograph family gatherings and work events as well.

 

Conclusion
Over all I think anyone looking for a compact and light lens to put on a Fuji camera body is going to enjoy this lens. Wether it be for travel photography or taking photos of the family. It's small and light, the auto focus is good and it's quite sharp. I don't think there is much to complain about here. My only objection is the price to be honest. Although it's built well I think the asking price of approximately $450 Cdn is a little steep. That's not to say it's poor value. I just think that when it comes between picking the 40mm or 18-55mm zoom when starting your kit it's not an easy choice. 

 

 

Like a lot of my Toronto Fuji friends I purchase my gear at Aden camera. You should too if you’re able. They are friendly and have great prices. Speak to Matthew and let them know I sent you, thanks.

If you’re unable to get to Aden and wish to help the site out please use one of the Amazon links below. Or better yet visit your local independent camera store of choice.

Thank you to Fuji Canada for providing a loan of this lens for review.


Fuji X-T1 - The perfect travel camera?

Intro
As a photography enthusiast I get asked from a lot people which camera they should buy. Often they are buying a new camera because they are traveling and want to document the trip. Is there such a thing as the perfect travel camera for everyone? No I don’t really think so. Everyones needs and budgets are different. I’m going to write a few of these posts to give you some options. For the first post though I’m going to tell you what I use and what I recommend for someone who has a larger budget and is really dedicated to taking more than just snapshots on their trip.

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The Past
Since I was a teen traveling with my parents until recently I’ve always used the same general type of camera system. That is a Nikon SLR of some kind and a few lenses. Now of course over the years I made the move from film to digital but the setup was mostly always the same. Mostly recently this was a Nikon D600  Always an SLR with a wide angle zoom as well as a 50mm and a longer lens, often my 105mm if I felt the need to bring it for whatever reason.  Of course this was never a light system to carry but the image quality it provided always seemed worth the trouble.

The Present
This past year I made a jump of sorts. I was tired of carrying around so much gear. I found that my neck was hurting more often. Add to that the fact that airlines were getting more strict with carry on bags and I had some motivation to make a change. So I made a move finally and purchased the start of a mirrorless system. I of course researched all the options to death. Long story short though, in the end I ended up going with the Fujifilm X-T1.

So after all that my current travel system is a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-55 F2.8-4 and 23mm F1.4 lenses. I think it’s the best travel camera for the photography enthusiast and here’s why.

Feature Highlights
If you want a whole ton of detail about the ins and outs of the X-T1 I suggest you visit my friends over at Fuji Vs Fuji here. However here are the features I’d like to highlight and matter to me.

Compact Size / Built Quality
The Fuji X-T1 is by no means the smallest mirrorless camera on the market. That wasn’t my goal with this system. I wanted something that I felt was compact compared to a SLR. It also had to be well built at the same time and the X-T1 delivers in both those departments. The body of the X-T1 is made of magnesium which means it's strong but light. It doesn't feel plasticly or flimsy at all. It is also weather and dust sealed. That is really only good if your lens is weather sealed as well. None of my lenses are but there are more coming on the market slowly that are.

Like I said the camera feels good in the hands. Sold with a nice grip, solid but not too heavy. Even with a larger lens like the 23mm F1.4 it’s well balanced without the vertical grip.  

Wi-Fi
Wi-fi on a camera is one of those things I never thought I’d use that much. In reality I don’t use it a lot but it’s a ton of fun. I personally use it for sharing out images on the road. I’m able to shoot and then transfer the image right away to my phone or iPad. From there I can post them to twitter, instagram or anyplace else really. I’ve also used images straight out of camera for blog post I write while away from home. The software on the iphone is by no means perfect but it’s simple and tends to work without too many hiccups. There is also a remote release app for the iphone if you’re into that kind of thing. So far I used it once to test it.  

Image Quality
All of what I’ve written about so far wouldn’t matter if the image quality was a let down. Fortunately the camera and lenses deliver. The camera uses an APS-C Fuji’s X-Trans II 16mp sensor. It works a bit different than most CMOS sensors but I’m not going to get into the technical details here. It is not full frame of course like I was used to on my SLR but I’ve gotten over that now. Suffice to say that with good glass the camera produces sharp images with awesome colour right of out the camera. The jpeg processing on the camera is great if that’s something you’re going to use. Personally I don’t use them except for sharing on the road but I do shoot raw+JPG most often.

I have not had the opportunity to shoot with every Fujifilm lens yet though I’ve used several. For your first travel lens I’d say go with the ‘kit’ zoom. The 18-55 F2.8 to F4 is what I used on my trip to New York. It is a good all around lens. It’s not the fastest or sharpest lens fuji makes of course but if you want to take only one lens with you it’s a solid choice. At the time of writing this fuji has announced a new 16-55mm F2.8 zoom lens. It’s not going to be cheap, and it won’t be as light as the 18-55mm but the image quality will be better and it is going to be weather sealed. The 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 seems a decent option too. Though I have not used it and that aperture range is too slow for my liking.

 

Conclusion and Samples
So there are my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1. Not the perfect travel camera for everyone. Some will want something cheaper or smaller. However it's a great pick for most people who are willing to spend more on a good camera that will give them lots of room to grow. It’s reasonably compact, built well and has outstanding image quality. It’s got retro looks too of course if that’s your thing.

Feel free to ask your questions in the comments. I will do my best to address them. Below are a few more sample images taken with the X-T1

Like a lot of my Toronto Fuji friends I purchase my gear at Aden camera. You should too if you’re able. They are friendly and have great prices. Speak to Matthew and let them know I sent you, thanks.

If you’re unable to get to Aden and wish to help the site out please use one of the Amazon links below. Or better yet visit your local independent camera store of choice.

Though I have friends who work for Fuji, they in no way pay me or provide me with free equipment.


Propeller Coffee Roasters

The coffee masterminds of Propeller Coffee have been supplying coffee beans to various Toronto cafes since the beginning of 2013. Only mid 2014 did they decide to open their own café attached to their roasting facility near Bloor and Lansdowne. The space is outright gorgeous. The coffee is also outstanding. Last time I visited I had a single origin made on the clover machine. As always the coffee was full of flavour and very smooth. They also make to order pour overs and espresso based drinks. There are some nice baked good as well and I hear there are more food options to come. 

During the summer there are nice large garage-like doors that open up to the street out front. The main entrance is 42.5 inches wide and inside you’ll find a very large open space. There is no problem getting around as the floor is smooth and everything is on one level. Both the counter where you order and the tables are at an easy height to pull up to. The staff at Propeller were great, even bringing my order to my table without me asking.

There are two large, clean washrooms that include two grab bars and a 34.5 inch wide door. The hand dryer is automatic, but the sink is not and a tad too high at 34.5 inches off the ground. I was able to use it fine, but it might be an issue for some.

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Propeller Coffee is located at 50 Wade Ave. right near Lansdowne subway station. However, the nearest wheelchair accessible station is Dundas West. If you’re up for it, it’s about a 10-15 min walk from there. I feel the trip is worth it. There is also street parking for those of you driving over.

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Review - Schwalbe Marathon Plus Evolution

It's amazing the difference a set of good tires can make on your wheelchair. This is true in your day to day getting around, especially for those of us who have to deal with snow. It's equally important I think though when you're traveling. You never know what kind of terrain you might run into or what the weather might hold. I'm looking at you always wrong 14-day forecast.

For the past 4 years I've been using Schwalbe Marathon Plus Evolution tires on my Ti-lite chair. They are hands down the best tires I've ever used. First they use a kind of black rubber that will outlast those standard grey tries by ages. I put a lot of distance on my chair every day and I can get a solid year out of these tires no problem. The ones on my chair right now are about 8 months old and showing some good wear. But it's been a cold winter with a lot of salt on the sidewalks around here. Next they have what Schwalbe calls Smartguard. This means that there is an extra thick strip of rubber where the tires touches the ground. This should make it much harder for you to get a puncture. I believe it because for example I've currently put large gashes in my tires that looks awful and yet they are still going without any breaks.


I will admit that these tires are not cheap. Their MSRP is about $63 USD each, so $126 per pair. However I do think it's worth considering how long they will last and how much you can put them through without getting a flat. Trust me dealing with a flat is the last thing you want to do while on vacation. The only other downside to these tires are they are a bit heavy. It's because of the extra rubber for the Smartguard feature. I don't really see it as a big deal but it's worth mentioning. They come in sizes from 22" up to 26".