The Beauty Of The Days Gone By

FUJIFILM X-T1 (25.4mm, f/9, 1/160 sec, ISO200)

You don’t have to cross an ocean to take great images. All you need to do is to give your sofa a break and go outside.

That’s what I did the day before Christmas. I put on long johns and went out into the cold. It was the last chance to take pictures of the frost because it was the last day of a massive cold front. Two weeks of sub zero temperatures. Time enough to transform the landscape of the Vienna woods.

FUJIFILM X-T1 (26.5mm, f/9, 1/250 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (46.3mm, f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (55mm, f/8, 1/120 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (55mm, f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (13.2mm, f/9, 1/60 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (55mm, f/9, 1/640 sec, ISO200)

The light changed all the time. When I started there was fog. Then the fog lifted and there was blue skies before the clouds started to roll over the hills. Truly amazing conditions for landscape photography.

During the years I covered many areas of photography. Nature, wildlife, bird, close ups, portrait, travel but it all started with landscape photography more than 30 years ago. Landscape photography is simple. You don’t need fancy equipment. You don’t need a fast camera. You don’t need expensive lenses. All you need is to be at the right place at the right time.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (55mm, f/3.5, 1/750 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (70.5mm, f/8, 1/600 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (128mm, f/8, 1/480 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (148.5mm, f/8, 1/600 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (77.9mm, f/8, 1/450 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (55mm, f/8, 1/180 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (90.4mm, f/8, 1/680 sec, ISO200)

But when you are at the right place at the right time you need to be fast to get the most out of it. There is no time to change lenses all the time and that’s why I prefer zoom lenses for landscape photography. A wide angle zoom and a tele zoom are the most essential. In order to keep lens changes to a minimum I love to shoot with two cameras. Now with Fuji this is a painless experience because cameras and lenses are much lighter compared to the cameras that I have used before.

Currently the X Pro-2 is my main camera and I put the lens I intend to use most of the time  on the X Pro-2. The other lens gets on the X-T1. I haven’t shot the X-T1 for some time and I have to say that I was shocked to look through its dark and grainy viewfinder. There is no comparison to the bright and high resolution EFV of the X Pro-2. Yes the EVF on the X-T1 is much bigger but it’s low res and dynamic range is limited.

It’s also hard to ignore that the sensor of the X Pro-2 is much better. Not only regarding resolution but it offers better dynamic range too. And the improved dynamic range comes in handy when you take images of a frost coated landscape in front of a dark sky. That’s why I switched lenses in between the two cameras twice to be able to shoot with the X Pro-2. I have to get an X-T2 before my next vacation!

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23.3mm, f/9, 1/750 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (18mm, f/9, 1/450 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (10mm, f/9, 1/640 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (15.1mm, f/9, 1/550 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (10mm, f/9, 1/550 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (10mm, f/9, 1/340 sec, ISO200)

Today I shot with three lenses. The XF 10-24 OIS, the XF 18-55 OIS and the XF 55-200 OIS. If I would have to limit myself to only two lenses I would choose the 10-24 and the 55-200. Of course there is a gap in between those two but that’s not so important. Usually I either take a wide angle shot or a tele shot but I have to admit that I sometimes wish for a slightly wider “wide end” on the 55-200 or a slightly longer “long end” on the 10-24.

Of course another option would be to combine the 10-24 with the 18-135. That way you would avoid the gap. If I think at it this might be the best solution for landscape photography. And it’s even a lighter combo.

How about a tripod? To be honest I stopped using tripods. I know that they are considered an essential piece of equipment for landscape photography but I don’t think so. In the days of Fuji Velvia 50 film and before image stabilised lenses they were a necessity to avoid blurred shots in everything but bright sunlight. Today the base sensitivity is ISO 200 and image quality of modern sensors is excellent even at ISO 800. Image stabilisation gives you another 3 to 4 stops advantage over non stabilised lenses. So unless you focus on night shots or you want to blur water with super long exposures you can get away without a tripod.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (16.6mm, f/10, 1/480 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (12mm, f/10, 1/320 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (16.6mm, f/10, 1/220 sec, ISO200)

What do I miss since I changed back to APS-C sensors? For landscape photography it doesn’t matter at all. When you pixel peep you will see more details in images taken with a high resolution full frame sensor. Of course 36, 42 or 50MP will give you more detail than 24MP. The only question is if it is justified to carry along a much heavier camera gear for that. It’s a different story if you want to have ultra shallow depth of field. In that case full frame is still better and always will be but for landscape photography it doesn’t offer a significant advantage.

Of course in good light even an 1 inch sensor camera would have given you the same results. Regarding camera gear we life in amazing times.

Back to the beautiful, frosty landscape. Today it’s rare to have frost like that close to where I live. Thanks to global warming there is no snow in low altitudes and you need to go to the mountains to have a white Christmas. I love winter and I hate the fact that I can’t experience it anymore like I did when I was a kid. Back then we were skiing in our backyard. But those days are long gone and they won’t come back.

Merry Christmas! Hope you have some good time with family and friends.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (14.5mm, f/9, 1/80 sec, ISO200)