The Upcoming Fujifilm X Pro 2: my wish list

September Reflections at Nescopeck (Fujifilm X Pro 1, XF 56mm f1.2)

One of my small pleasures in life , is the moment when the UPS driver pulls up to the house with a box from places like B&H photo, Adorama or  Amazon, heralding the delivery of some new piece of photographic equipment.  This has not been happening for me recently, at least in terms of cameras  from Fujifilm. My last purchase was this spring was my  X100t, but looking at the current lineup, there is really nothing that I desire.   I’m saving my money for the upcoming replacement for the X Pro 1, presumably called the  X Pro 2.

Now there are certainly places on the web where you can read about this upcoming model’s likely specifications. Fuji Rumors is a particularly good website for this.

X Pro 1 (Fujifilm)

Regarding that camera, it’s definitely time for Fujifilm to kick the game up a notch, especially with some of the newer Sony offerings such as the A7r II, a full frame 42(!) megapixel mirrorless compact which has class leading high ISO, and dynamic range capabilities. Quite honestly the only thing keeping me from purchasing one of these extraordinary little bodies is the need to invest in Sony lenses, which are quite expensive.

I humbly offer my little wish list for the X Pro 2:

#1. A new sensor. This is said to be likely. A 24-25 megapixel imager has been rumored. More resolution won’t hurt up to a point, but it is a low priority to me, compared to improvements such as better dynamic range, and high ISO capability. From a marketing standpoint, Fujifilm certainly has to cope with competitive offerings with higher resolution, but I suspect most of us that gravitate to the X cameras are pretty happy with the even the current resolution.

By the way, given the improvement in moiré-filter-less Bayer layout sensors, I’m not sure that the complexities of raw conversion in the current trans-x sensor is worth it anymore.  At least make sure the sensor information is available to Adobe and the other raw converter software designers pre-launch so that raw support will be quickly available.

#2. SD card slots. 2 would be nice, preferably inserted from the side of the camera, so we don’t have to keep taking off the damn tripod mount to change cards (and maybe the battery?).

#3 A sturdier flash mount. Like a lot of people apparently, I broke the flash shoe on my X Pro 1. Because I never use flash with my X cameras, I have not coughed up the $250 that is apparently required to fix it.

#4. Continued improvements in auto focus. This would include increased performance, and the ability to move the focus point with the four-way controller, without pressing another button first.

#5. A cleverer optical viewfinder. Isn’t there a way to automatically increase the finder magnification, when mounting higher magnification lenses? At 60 mm, the frame lines are very tiny. This is why I almost always use the electronic view finder.

#6. Two button formatting of memory cards. I love how my Nikon bodies do this. With Fujifilm bodies, the format function is buried far into the menu. .

#7. Keep it the same size. There are already several smaller cameras in the lineup. Making the X Pro 2 smaller  will likely prevent implementation of improvement #2.

#8. Maintain the quality of the presentation. This is apparently the flagship camera of the X series. From the box it comes in, to the tactile experience of  operating the body, everything needs to be first class. It doesn’t have to be a like a Leica; most of us can’t afford that. Just continue, or improve upon the current high quality.

#9. Flash features. Even though I don’t personally use flash with this brand, Fuji is long overdue for a modern Nikon CLS-like flash system. There are just some venues, where  natural light is insufficient for good imaging. If I were a pro wedding shooter I suspect it would be the one feature that would keep me from converting from my Canon/ Nikon equipment. Obviously this functionality can be mimicked with radio triggers, and off brand flashes, but really, it’s time to come into the 21st Century.

#10. Programmable external buttons.  The X100 T has a large number of unlabeled programmable external buttons, which I initially thought would be good, except that I can’t remember which function, I assigned to which  button.  It sometimes seems easier, to remember that I programmed function “X” to the button originally labeled “Y”.  But may be that’s just me.

#11. Weather sealing. I’d bet its coming. Won’t really matter to me as none of my lenses are “WR”. But why not?

Now this isn’t the worlds busiest photo site. It’s possible that the people at Fujifilm won’t see this article. But they have tweeted articles from this site before and I am optimistic.

C’mon Fujifilm. Show us what you got.


As always you can view these images on my Smugmug site located here. They are located in the Summer 2015 Gallery. Clicking on the image will also display it in a larger format.

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The Wrong Trees: The 1675 Grove in the Adirondacks

Number 103 (Sony RX100 M III)

As faithful readers know, I have a deep interest (obsession?) with experiencing and photographing, eastern old growth forests. I have written about the topic several times in the recent past.

In March of this year, while spending time in Lake Placid NY, I became aware of a group of old growth trees called The 1675 Grove, near the town of Brighton approximately 30 minutes away.   Snow was deep this year, but still I was interested in visiting the somewhat remote site.  I found directions on the web, drove to the access point described in the article, strapped on my snowshoes, and trudged along the small packed track that lead into the forest.

There was a point in the directions, when I was expected to climb a moderately steep powerline.  Unfortunately there was no track there, and the snow was very deep.   A short way beyond the pipeline was the conifer forest within which the grove was said to be located. Between the trees the snow was not nearly so deep.  I decided to bushwhack into the site, dead reckoning its location from  the directions.

Wrong Trees ( Nikon D800E, Tokina 28-80 ATX f2.8)

The woods were tight with a lot of downed snags, and somewhat tricky to negotiate, particularly with a large camera bag and tripod.  I finally reached a site where there were multiple large white pines,somewhat congruent with the description I had .  The trees were not overly large, particularly compared to “old growth” in Pennsylvania. I wondered whether the shorter growing season in the Adirondacks might explain the discrepancy.  I photographed the trees and picked my way back to the trail, and ultimately to my truck.

Tangle (Fujifim X100t)

5 or 6 months ago, I acquired a fascinating book, called Reading the Forested Landscape  by Thomas Wessel.   The book’s author attempts to instruct the reader on how to read the history of a woodland, through visible signs in the vegetation, trees, and the land forms.  This has been a longtime interest of mine. I read both the book , and then a companion handbook meant to be stuffed in a backpack for use in the field.  I then picked up a variety of other publications on roughly the same topic.  At any rate, I felt that my studies had given me new insight into the forest and fields where I routinely recreate.


One subject covered is how to determine the age of a tree based on its appearance.  There is a lot more to this than size, as similar age trees grow much differently depending on the site, the available sunlight, etc.  A powerful indicator of age is the character of the bark which appears quite differently in large trees that are younger, versus those that are truly old.

Along the Trail (Sony RX 100 Mark III)

Several weeks ago, we were again in the Adirondacks, and I was looking through past photographs, when I came upon the photos I had captured of this “old growth”.  Based on my recent study of the subject, I could easily determine that these were not particularly old trees, at least not trees reportedly germinated in 1675.  I realized would need to visit the site again.

Thinking that I had probably already photographed the grove, I took only my Sony RX 100 Mark III, but with a tripod. It being summer, this time I followed the directions exactly as given.  Walking up the power line, I noted a foot path that had been worn into the soil.  At the point the directions suggested I should turn into the woods, the foot path turned, and I continued to follow it down slope through a young northern hardwood forest.

After a distance,  I noted several large and old looking hickory trees, and a few big pines.  There was a large erratic to my left which distracted me briefly as I walked, but when I turned my gaze forward, I saw a large shape among the smaller trees.  Approaching it, it became identifiable as a massive White Pine,, with deeply corrugated bark of an old growth tree. At about 7 feet off the ground, a small silver round tag was attached to the tree by a nail.  The tag read “101”.  Walking further I began to notice multiple huge forms among the smaller trunks.

16 75 Grove Vignette (Sony RX 100 Mark III)

From my reading, I knew that  number 103 was the largest of the trees.  At 13 feet in circumference, and 160 feet tall, it is somewhat shorter (160 vs. 189 feet), but broader of girth than the Longfellow Pine at Cook’s Forest.

This is a dramatic place, both because of the age disparity of the forest, and an almost  complete lack of any sign of human intrusion.  In fact, I understand that it was only discovered ( at least by someone with  knowledge of forestry) in the 1970s. There were however tree stands in the surrounding forest, suggesting to me, that locals have probably  been aware of the big trees for a long time.

Walking a little further into the grove, one encounters another massive tree, this one snapped off apparently by a micro-burst in 2012.  Both the huge standing “stump” and the massive downed trunk, bear witness to the incredible power of these weather events.

Blow down (Sony RX 100 Mark III)

Sadly if one looks closely, it appears that many of these trees have areas of peeling bark, or large basilar scars with rot of the interior wood.  This, plus the age disparity in the grove suggest that a fire may have occurred on the site 60-100 years ago, sparing only the larger, older trees.

At roughly 340 years old, the massive white pines may be nearing the end of their normal life span, and certainly within 50-100 years, few if any will be left alive.  All that will be left are huge gray standing “snags” among the new generation of much younger trees who will take centuries to reach the size of these ancient sentinels.

As I walked out, I lost  the faint footpath and drifted slightly to the north. There I  encountered  the grove of trees that I had mistakenly identified last winter
.  Given the characteristics of the bark as I understand it, these trees may be 150-200 years old.  Several seem to rise quite high into the Adirondacks sky.

Tall, but not Old (Nikon D800E, Tokina 28-80mm ATX f2.8)

Perhaps the giants will return sooner than I had anticipated.




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The Gear that I Use: The Samsung Galaxy S5

Zinnias at the Cottage (Samsung Galaxy S5)

One of the most wasteful things we do is replacing a perfectly functional smartphone with a new one every few years, merely because our “contract” is up.

After all, the Samsung Galaxy S4 that I have used since 2013 has more computing power, and more capabilities, than my desktop computers of 10-15 years ago. But despite this fact every 2 years when my contract with Verizon is up, I find myself on their website, perusing the newer models.

The newest iteration of Samsung Galaxy phones is the Galaxy S6. This is a very high-performance device with a beautiful screen, and a very high-performance processor. Unfortunately, it is not to me a useful upgrade. Apparently trying to more closely emulate the iPhone, Samsung did away with Galaxy line’s signature features which included a

From My Kayak (Samsung Galaxy S5)

removable battery, a micro-SD card slot, and in the Galaxy S5, waterproofing.

All of those features were important, but I was particularly excited about waterproofing. Given that I am fond of sports in the snow, and on the water, this is a potentially valuable attribute in a smartphone. The S4s replacement, the Galaxy S5, was said to be waterproof, and “ruggedized” compared to the Galaxy S4. If the S6 is waterproof it is not a feature they are advertising.

So given this, when my 2 years was up I strongly considered keeping my S4. But I realized that its android upgrade life was probably over, and if I didn’t grab an S5 soon, that model would no longer be available. Happily the S5 was also cheaper than the S6 and I obtained one through my local Verizon shop.

Peppers in the Veteran’s Garden (Samsung Galaxy S5)

Side-by-side with the S4, it’s a fairly underwhelming upgrade. The phones are similar in appearance with the S5 slightly larger, and a different texture to the back of the phone. Much of this is still plastic, which has never bothered me, but apparently has been irksome to smartphone enthusiasts, who demand that their phones be made of metal. There is of course a fingerprint scanner, which is said to work not so well (I don’t lock my phone). There is a heart rate monitor next to the camera flash which I also never use.

I have always thought, even before I acquired one, that the S5 screen was brighter with better contrast by default. One annoyance: The  button at the lower right  of the phone  now controls multitasking, instead of functioning as a “back” button like it did on the S4.  As this is a “soft” button I would love it if a future upgrade allowed users to program its function.

Parked to shoot (Samsung Galaxy S5)

I read a lot about battery life prior to purchasing this phone. The word on the android forums was that after the lollipop upgrade, battery life becomes abysmal. I have absolutely not found that to be true. My S5 set up the same as my S4, has significantly better battery life, to the point where the network of chargers I had strategically placed throughout my life, are now hardly utilized. Plus there is a special USB- 3 cable that comes with the phone that charges much faster than the older micro usb chargers. Everything happily, is backwardly compatible.

The S5’s camera is I think a real upgrade from its predecessor.  It sports a 16 mega-pixel imager which is slightly higher resolution than the S4s 13 mega-pixel chip.  More pixels on a small chip is normally not a positive, but the technology has apparently evolved over the years, and the new chip offers both high-resolution and lower noise, particularly at low light levels.  The phone continues to offer a f2.2 lens with somewhere around a 28 mm equivalent field of view.

The new standard camera app is full featured with lots of the special imaging modes beloved of casual photographers.  It seems to have a more reliable auto focus, and the particularly nice facial recognition feature.  It is capable of doing both high definition (1080) and 4K video, capabilities I admit I have yet to explore (but certainly will).

Kaleigh Baker at Cavanaugh’s (Samsung Galaxy S5)

The files I have downloaded from the camera continue to be a little frustrating.  The like any android phone it can be plugged into my computer, with easy file access, for whatever reason, Adobe bridge cannot generate thumbnails until the files have actually been cut and pasted into the computer itself.  Another frustration is the fact that we are stuck with JPGs, when other purer android applications such as those in the Nexus phones, offer RAW files as an option.  In fact unfortunately, the one advantage (for me) of the S6, is that it does support RAW shooting, with certain aftermarket apps.

Nonetheless the phone’s JPGs are bright and colorful, with good detail, and low noise at reasonable light levels.  Again, this  is not a low light shooter in any way comparable to real cameras.  The generated files are reasonably malleable, a reasonable latitude for adjustments to be made by opening them, for instance, in Adobe Camera Raw.  Thus I believe this camera is definitely useful in a pinch, but for me the field of view of the lens,, (and in fact most camera phone lenses), is somewhat limiting for the kind of composition I usually prefer.

Flowers and Flag (Samsung Galaxy S5)

100% view of above

For the sake of completeness, I will tell you that most of the other features of the phone, are either little different, or improved from its predecessor.  Menus are cleaner, and in the newest software upgrade from several weeks ago, there is a new native app, that functions to clean out memory, and close programs that are sapping power.

So overall I’m glad I upgraded.  I hope that Samsung will support this model through one or 2 Android operating system upgrades, and might enable more features found in generic versions of Lollipop.  A very pleasant smartphone, and clearly superior to its predecessor.

I still feel a little guilty though.

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A Visit to the Forest Cathedral: Cook’s Forest State Park

Reaching (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 50mm f1.8)

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir


A good portion of my life has been spent wandering through the woodlands of Pennsylvania. I am privileged to live close to some of the most beautiful and interesting natural areas in the state.

I often write about and photograph places such as Hickory Run, Nescopeck, and Ricketts Glen State Parks, which are a short drive from my home.

But there at many other spectacular destinations in the Keystone State.  At the far  western end of the “Endless Mountains” region of Pennsylvania, just to the south of the Allegheny National Forest, there is a place that I find myself drawn to, time and again.  I’m speaking of the incomparable Cook’s Forest State Park, home to some of the tallest trees in the eastern US, and the largest tract of true old growth forest in the commonwealth.

Stages of Death (Nikkor 28 80mm ATX f2.8)

I have visited this park on multiple occasions either alone or with my children.  The only person in our family that has not visited there is my lovely wife.

Brigid and Gus in the Forest Cathedral 2006 (Canon s 400)


Now Cathy is very athletic, and when I suggested a visit the park, she welcomed a chance to hike these beautiful trails. Problem is that when I am in photographic mode, I’m not very much fun to hike with, as I am constantly stopping, setting up, shooting, changing lenses, etc. Now that I am also shooting video, I’ve become even more tedious. For this reason, I usually do photography alone.

Two Giants (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 17-38 f2.8)

From my home, this is a 3 hour journey on route 80 west. It is a scenic drive through an ever changing landscape. Now usually, I would camp while visiting such a place. In this case though, I remembered from past visits that this park has a very aggressive population of raccoons (I think of a tug of war with a large male over a bag of potato chips  at my picnic table some years ago).

Because of this and in deference to my wife, I chose to make reservations at the Gateway Lodge, which is a lovely hotel/spa nestled right in the middle of the park.  The original inn was built in the 1930s, of logs taken from the property, and fits perfectly in the rustic surroundings.

Canoes on the Clarion (Nikon D800E, Tokina 28-80mmATX f2.8

The park sits on the Clarion River.  The Cook family first settled the property, in the 1820s, and built a thriving timbering and sawmill business. The settlement became known as the town of Cooksburg. This is a lovely setting with densely forested hills rising out of the slow, winding river.

By the 1920s, the family was quite prosperous, and desired to preserve the remaining old growth forest on the property.  They along with others, formed the Cook’s Forest Association which in 1927 sold the roughly 6000 acres to the state of Pennsylvania to be preserved as a state park.

Cooks Forest Fountain (Fuji X 100T)

I have written before about the old growth of the park. There are several tracts scattered throughout the, forest. The tallest tree in the  northeastern US, the Longfellow pine, a white pine roughly 184( feet high, grows within the “forest cathedral” portion of the property.   As it is surrounded by other woodland giants, it is difficult to identify.  I visited the park office, and queried one of the officers on its location.  Prudently I think, he would not disclose that information for fear that someone will deface its massive trunk.  It is said to be somewhere along the “Longfellow trail” but he would be no more specific.

Many Old Trees (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 50mm f1.8G)

I spent the next two days, roving about with camera gear.  I hiked with my wife, but she grew weary of my snail like progression, and encouraged me to solo.  Both in video and still images, I sought to capture the majesty of these enormous and ancient organisms and of this rare environment. It is challenge I think to convey the scale of this forest in either still, or video images.

Deep in the tract, little light reaches the ground, save for where one of the ancients has succumbed. The songs of a wood thrush, or ovenbird punctuate the stillness. Here and there, wind throw has toppled a massive pine or hemlock, the huge upended root ball maybe 15-20 feet high.

For those of you on the Pacific coast, I get it. These ain’t redwoods. But they’re beautiful nonetheless.

As you walk among the tall trees, I like to imagine the reactions of early colonists to these majestic forests. They were familiar only with the depleted woodlands of Europe and Britain.  Old growth such as this would have been widespread throughout the eastern US.

Looking Up (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 50mm f1.8G)

I imagine also, agents of the Crown, marking the tallest and straightest pines, for exclusive use of the shipbuilders in England (the so called “Kings Broad Arrow” trees). This action lead to one of the first rebellions of the colonists against the British. In fact, this forest’s current trees were likely germinated during that period of continent’s history.

At 300-350 year of age, the big pines and many of the deciduous trees are reaching old age (Hemlocks are longer lived). Their crowns are limited to the top 20 percent of their height, at the forest canopy. When they die, there are small trees, some 100 hundred years old, waiting patiently below to grab their piece of the sky.

Old Dead Fall (Nikon D800E, Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8)


I shot a short video this time using e D800E which has a more sophisticated video suite than the little Sony RX100 IIII utilized last time. Using interchangeable lenses  facilitated manual focusing. Also I used an Audio-Technica AT8204 auxiliary Microphone. Its directional sound fields made it much less susceptible to picking up my breath sounds than the camera-top mics of the Sony.

The life cycles of forests such as this are difficult for we short-lived humans to grasp. That is because, compared to these ancient pines and hemlocks, our lives are truly ephemeral.

Muir was correct.



As always, the images can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them, and/or visiting my Smugmug site.

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No Extra Charge: a Foray into Video.


Black Eyed Susan in a Field (Sony RX 100 Mark III)

It is easy at my age, to stay within ones comfort zone. Its less trouble to stay with skills which you have already acquired, to maintain the status quo, to embrace the familiar. I feel very much this way. Yet I recognize, that a failure to tackle new hobbies, or new activities is a failure to expand one’s mind, a mind that as we age, tends to contract anyway.

Still photography for me is very familiar. I do try to improve my skills, both in image acquisition and image processing. Towards that end, I was watching on YouTube, tutorials published by Adobe on the various aspects of the Photoshop product. Among those videos, was a lesson on using Photoshop to edit video. Really? I watched with interest and learned that Photoshop, from CS 5 on, has had fairly robust video editing capabilities.


Currently I have a variety of cameras available to me. Like many cameras these days, they are capable of  shooting very competent video, a capability I have tended to ignore. It occurred to me that maybe it was time I looked into this further, apparently as  all along I have had video editing software on my computer. Hey, its all free.

Looking over my camera collection and doing a little research, I find I have some very capable equipment. First I have a Panasonic GH 1, that I have shot video on before. I don’t use this camera much , but is still quite capable in the video realm. So too is my Sony Rx 100 Mark 3. The Fujifilm cameras in my cabinet are capable of video, but this capability is not really optimized.

My Nikon bodies however, particularly the D800E apparently are capable of more sophisticated  video capture, and have control layouts and menus that offer significant control of the process. The optical view finders also facilitate manual focusing. None of my cameras will shoot “4K” video, but the 1080p video capability of the Nikons and Sony should be more than adequate for most of my uses.

So I went online and availed myself of multiple tutorials online on how to acquire video footage and then how to edit it in Photoshop.

Speaking to fellow still photographers who have not yet dabbled in video, this is what learned from reading various sources on the web..

#1 Explore your cameras video capabilities. Learn about formats, frame rates, “shutter angle” and all of those terms unique to video capture.

#2 Realize that for the first time, sound will accompany your images. When shooting video in the forest, I hope woodland sounds such as birdsong, wind noise, and perhaps leaves rustling will be part of the sonic landscape. Almost invariable as I begin to record, an airliner will invariably fly over, or an open piped Harley will drive past on a nearby road. Such things can obviously be ignored in still photography. By the way, in a camera with the microphone on the top surface, your own breathing noises will be featured prominently in your video, unless you either step away from the camera, or hold your breath. Directional microphones can be a godsend. At the end, if necessary, you can just drown out everything with a musical background.

#3 In video, time is a dimension. Shooting settings can visibly change during the video if they are set on automatic. Thus auto-focus and auto-exposure settings which can be useful during a fraction of a second  capture in still photography, can visibly changes over tens of seconds recorded in video. This occurs particularly if there is any movement in the subject, or change in the lighting. Full manual exposure and focus looks a lot less weird.

#4 Short segments (and short videos) are the key to avoiding boring presentations particularly while you are a novice. If you think your friends get bored looking at a few of what you believe are your best photographs, wait till you try to show them a half hour video.

#5 In the beginning, keep camera movements, as well as zooming to a bare minimum, as you probably lack the equipment to perform these actions smoothly. Photoshop does have some animation’s you can apply to the video while it is playing.

#6 Don’t steal music clips. if your going to post online or otherwise distribute. Would you like someone stealing your photographs? If you want background music either find it on a legitimate free site, or pay for it.

#7 Don’t overdo transition animation between slides. Keep it simple.

Here are the results of my first effort, for simplicity, shot with the Sony RX. I think the video nicely illustrates most of the mistakes I discussed above.



Look, I’m still an extreme novice at this. The point of the post is to let other crotchety old photographers (like me) know that there are capabilities in our cameras and our software that many of us have not suspected, but  are relatively cheap and easy to exploit.

Try it, and expand your horizons.

Don’t ever contract.

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