The pho­to­graph­ic land­scape is shift­ing un­der us. I took four lens­es to Hai­da Gwai­i, as­sum­ing you count the Pix­el 2 as one of them, and you should; that’s the land­scape shift. The “real” lens­es:

  1. Fu­ji­film 35mm F1.4, my fa­vorite lens I’ve ev­er owned. Al­so one of Fuji’s cheap­est; goes to show some­thing or oth­er.

  2. Fu­fi­film 55-200mm F3.5-4.8. Super-useful zoom range, could be faster, but then it’d be heav­ier.

  3. Samyang 135mm F/2.0, which I’ve blogged about a lot here; a dif­fi­cult, beau­ti­ful, opin­ion­at­ed tool.

Let’s start with a case study; some old weath­ered Hai­da totems on the beach at SG̱ang Gwaay, an as­ton­ish­ing place that de­serves its own write-up. Here’s the 35mm ver­sion from back a bit:

Totems at SG̱ang Gwaay

Fu­ji X-T2, XF35m­mF1.4R, 1/90 sec at f/8, ISO 200

I thought the grouchy totem at the right was the most in­ter­est­ing, and re­al­ized this was the kind of sit­u­a­tion the Samyang was made for, and shot again.

Grouchy totem at SG̱ang Gwaay

Samyang 135F2, 1/300 sec at un­known aper­ture, ISO 200

From this we learn that the 35mm is won­der­ful at repli­cat­ing what you saw dur­ing that mo­ment when you were think­ing “Wow, that’s beautiful’, and a long lens is just the tick­et for com­pos­ing de­tail shots at a dis­tance.

But… · The prob­lem is lo­gis­tic­s. The Samyang is great when I go out for a nice leisure­ly walk look­ing for dra­mat­ic bokeh-laden de­tail shot­s. But when you’re switch­ing from boun­cy Zo­di­ac to soft beach sand to scram­bling over drift-logs to for­est floor, car­ry­ing mul­ti­ple lens­es along and chang­ing them re­al­ly suck­s, and so a wide-ish range zoom is just the tick­et. Next time I do some­thing like this I won’t take the Samyang.

But to its cred­it, it did a fab job on this Hai­da Watch­man fire, which was pro­duc­ing some of the nicest-smelling smoke I’ve en­coun­tered.

Fire detail in Gwaii Haanas

Fu­ji X-T2, Samyang 135F2, 1/900 sec at un­known aper­ture, ISO 200

But in terms of out­per­form­ing expectations… Wow, that Pix­el. Let me show off a bit.

Fallen totem in Gwai Haanas
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Forest fringe in Gwaii Haanas
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Stone flowers in Gwaii Haanas
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Mossy-laden trees in Gwaii Haanas

Pix­el 2, 1/400 sec at f/1.8, ISO 51; 1/1250 sec at f/1.8, ISO 56; 1/120 sec at f/1.8, ISO 52; 1/320 sec at f/1.8, ISO 50

Don’t know about you, but I think the cap­ture of de­tail and col­or is awe­some. And un­less you’re do­ing pro­fes­sion­al mag­a­zine or dis­play work, here’s a news flash: You don’t need a wide-angle lens any more on your “real” cam­er­a.

Here’s an­oth­er nice Pix­el pic, and then the re­sults of point­ing the long lens at the same scene.

Crescent Inlet, Haida Gwaii
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Crescent Inlet, Haida Gwaii

Above: Pix­el 2, 1/1150 sec at f/1.8, ISO 60; Below: Fu­ji X-T2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8, 55m­m, 1/250 sec at f/3.5, ISO 200

In the boat, I kept my wa­ter­proof knap­sack by my side with the Fu­ji, 55-200mm strapped on, near the top. I could get it out and shoot fast, and there was re­al­ly no oth­er rea­son­able lens choice. I al­ways had the Pix­el in my vest pock­et; just had to un­do a cou­ple of lay­ers of wa­ter­proof and I could have it ready al­most as fast.

But that sweet lit­tle beat-up old 35mm re­mains my heart-throb. Point it at some­thing in­ter­est­ing and it’ll al­most nev­er be the lim­it­ing fac­tor in the qual­i­ty of what you get.

Voyagers examining trees in Gwaii Haanas
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Natural bonsai in Gwaii Haanas
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Tree base in Gwaii Haanas

Fu­ji X-T2, XF35m­mF1.4R, 1/125 sec at f/8; 1/480 sec at f/8; 1/250 sec at F5.6. All ISO 200.

I was rea­son­ably hap­py with the re­sult­s. But there’s a prob­lem: The diminu­tive Fu­ji­film body is just kind of klunky and awk­ward with a long lens at­tached, even a rel­a­tive­ly svelte one like the 55-200mm. Now, ev­ery­body knows that We Must Suf­fer For Our Art and since we’re talk­ing met­al and glass here, there’s not much re­lief on the hori­zon. But my wrists and neck got camera-sore.

One oth­er per­son in the par­ty had a Nikon SLR with an all-purpose zoom strapped on. Another had one of the “tourist” cam­eras with a built-in massive-range zoom. And there were a few old-school point and shoot­s. It’s not ob­vi­ous that any of the above were a worse choice than what I took.

Fi­nal note: Hai­da Gwaii is more of­ten dim, grey, and wet than bright and sun­ny as in my pho­to­s. We got se­ri­ous­ly luck­y. I won­der if shoot­ing wet and un­der clouds would change the equa­tion any?

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July 22, 2018
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