Asheville Music Portrait Photographer

Recently I took some portraits of gifted musicians Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp. They are a husband & wife duo based in Asheville, NC and you should check out their music! They have been on tour lately and also have a Kickstarter campaign going to record a new studio album.

For this session I focused on natural light portraiture among trees, streams, and rustic wooden buildings. They brought along some of their instruments and I even got a mini personal concert at some of the locations. I play guitar as a hobby (originally I swore I was going to be a musician for a living) so I love taking portraits of musicians. Jason is also a talented photographer so we all geeked out a little on music and photo gear.

Review and Samples of Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens

fujifilm-10-24I’m giving this equipment review thing a try starting with the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 OIS Camera Lens. I like reviews to use picture samples in real world situations rather than objects on a dusty shelf. I get annoyed searching for sample images from a lens or camera on Flickr only to find badly exposed, poorly processed photos. So I do edit the images to show the colors, rendering, and dynamic range. I shoot RAW and edit in Lightroom 5 with basic processing, and dodging/ burning.

I’m a wedding photographer primarily and have lots of pro gear: Nikon D4, Nikon 24mm 1.4, Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art, Nikon 58 1.4, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8G VR II, etc. I wanted a small “take anywhere” camera so I got the Fujifilm XE-2. I love shooting wide and usually opt for prime lenses but gave the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 a chance; the versatility sounded nice for a vacation. This lens saw action in New Orleans, San Antonio, Austin & Gruene, TX, and Asheville, NC. I crammed a lot of sample photos in ranging from midday, sunset, twilight, long exposure, night, and indoor.

Size of Fuji 10-24mm lens

What I used it for: Landscapes, wedding ceremonies, casual snapshots, architecture, commercial photography

Loved:

• Optical Image Stabilization (or OIS or VR) is an awesome feature. It makes up for the f/4 somewhat and it’s a great tool if you like adding a little motion to your shot. For example, someone walking in the frame and looking blurry while the rest of the picture is sharp. I could shoot handheld with the shutter as low as 1/3 second and stationary objects would remain tack sharp.

• Image quality and sharpness from 10mm-18mm especially with subjects in focus that are within approximately 1 – 50 feet of you.

• Being able to zoom to 14mm when 10mm was just too wide

• Chromatic aberration (or lack thereof). Edges of objects look great, even leaves on a tree with backlight, or power lines.

• Dynamic range. Retaining details in the shadows is something I like and this lens held up well with the XE-2.

• Auto-focus (AF) is great — doesn’t miss very often

• Price. At $999 this was a better option to me than buying a more expensive Nikon wide-angle zoom. $899 would be the ideal price in my opinion.

Neutral:

• The minimum f/4 aperture. I usually shot around f/8 or higher because I wasn’t going for shallow depth of field with this lens. Nor did I buy it for portraits. f/2.8 sure would have been nice but as I mentioned the OIS feature makes up for it.

• Barrel (or pincushion) distortion. Didn’t bother me that much and I noticed very little of it.

• The hood. I didn’t use it because it added even more length and size. The lens flare isn’t too bad but it’s not “artsy cool” like some Canon lenses. Very rarely did I regret leaving the hood at home.

Didn’t like:

• It’s a pretty big lens for a mirror-less camera and on the XE-2 it was a little awkward. Especially when it’s dangling around your neck on the strap — it was inclined to tilt downward.

• Image quality and sharpness beyond 20mm isn’t amazing.

• Manual focusing felt uncomfortable because the focus ring is relatively far from the camera body. I have long fingers and even with that it was awkward

• The lens blocks the on-camera flash and creates a shadow on the bottom of frame. I realize some people won’t care about this but a few times I did want to take a snapshot in a restaurant of some family members.

• No markings on aperture ring like the 23mm or 35mm Fuji lenses have. It’s annoying going from a 23mm 1.4 Fuji lens to the 10-24mm and not being able to look at the lens to see what aperture you’re at.

• Detail in objects far away isn’t the best. This may just be a drawback from the smaller sensor size, but a group of trees in the distance at 100% crop isn’t very detailed (looks too smooth). I’m not a pixel-peeper but since this lens can be considered a landscape lens, someday I might like to have photos printed out nice and large.

Verdict:

I give this lens 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed my time with this lens but I’m going to sell it for something more compact and less bulky (*see UPDATE 1). It’s a little awkwardly weighted on the XE-2 and I found myself shooting only within the 10mm – 14mm range 80% of the time. So I’m purchasing the Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 Touit * — a nice middle ground that will take up less space in my bag. The Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 is a high-quality lens that could definitely pass for certain professional uses but perhaps not for huge fine-art prints (though that’s up for debate). While compiling the photos for this review I almost convinced myself to keep the lens! If you don’t mind the extra weight and size or f/4 aperture, this is is fantastic purchase.

* UPDATE 1: After doing more extensive research I’m on the fence about selling my 10-24mm for the Zeiss 12mm. Below are the metadata results of the 2000 photos I’ve taken with the 10-24. I’m thinking I might not be content with a 12mm since I shot so many 10mm images, with 14mm being my second most used focal length. I took about 10 images exactly at 12mm, but that could be the lack of a “12mm” marking on the lens itself (I tend to physically line it up at 10mm or 14mm). My gut is telling me that 12mm might be ‘neither here nor there’ for the way I shoot.

582 shots at 10mm
390 shots at 14mm
152 shots at 18mm

If you found my review and photo samples helpful, please consider purchasing these products through the links below or above in my review. Thanks!

Now the photo samples. I made notes underneath that I thought would be pertinent and included a few 100% crops here and there.

So what do you think of the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens? Feel free to leave comments or questions on this post.

All sample images on this review are © 2014 Derek Olson. The photos of the lens itself at the top of the post were also taken by me.

Forsyth Park in Savannah, GA

Savannah is a gorgeous city with lots of history and romantic sites to visit. Here is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Savannah, the fountain in the middle of Forsyth Park.

Forsyth Park

Made in Henderson County at Legacy Paddlesports

I had a great time photographing the Made in Henderson County event this week. Hundreds of 8th and 9th grade students toured manufacturers throughout Henderson Co. to see the products they make and hear from the people who make them.

Here are a few photos at Legacy Paddlesports in Fletcher, NC; they are manufacturers of liquidlogic kayaks.

National Youth Project Using Minibikes – NYPUM Ribbon Cutting

Last night Black Mountain Home in western North Carolina held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the launch of its NYPUM shop. National Youth Project Using Minibikes is an organization promoting positive youth development utilizing off-road motorcycles. The shop at BMH is named Live to Ride in memory of Matt Bartosek. HondaTennoca Construction, and Makson are a few of the companies that made this program possible for the youth.

2013 HCPED Banquet

It’s always a pleasure working with Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development on their annual report. The banquet to reveal the report was in Hendersonville, NC at The Oriole Mill — it’s a unique and intriguing place for event photography.

Kate of Farmhouse Graphics does a marvelous job every year with the design. Sierra Nevada, Burntshirt and Hubba Hubba Smokehouse were all on hand to provide food and beverages to the guests.

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