All the Pretty Cameras: The iPhone 12 vs. the iPhone 11 in the Mojave Desert

(This post is part of an ongoing review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.) It was dark and getting darker as I drove away from the Teutonia Peak trailhead in the Mojave National Preserve. I turned right, heading away from my Airbnb in Baker, situated along Interstate 15, and drove south toward Kelso. I wasn't lost—I had spent four weeks last year in the Preserve as the artist-in-residence and for two of those weeks I had stayed with National Park Service employees in dorm-style housing just down the road from Kelso Station. I wasn't lost, I just wanted to drive through the park, to feel it again. In the light…

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iPhone 11 vs 12 In the Burned Joshua Tree Forest

(This post is part of an ongoing review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.) When I first turned down Cima road from I-15 I was relieved. The news reports in August had been depressing, nighttime videos of firemen battling a forest of Joshua trees aflame, one clip showing what appeared to be a firefighter, fully geared up, crying at the loss. The Joshua Tree forest in the Mojave National Preserve is the largest in the world, larger than that in Joshua Tree National Park, and the most visually stunning part of that forest is upon the volcanic Cima Dome and the surrounding area. There is no lodging within the Mojave…

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Tick TOCK: The iPhone 12 Pro Max Max

My new camera has arrived and I bought it in gold. Two years ago I had an iPhone 6s Plus, which I got only by pressing the manager of a local Apple retail store when my version 6 Plus phone died and they were out of stock of that model—Apple has strict rules about replacing a phone with an exact copy, color and everything. They had the 6 available in every color but mine but for reasons I don't recall they were thinking about giving me a 6s rather than one of the other colors. When they tried, the computer said no, and I had been there for over an…

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Glimmerglassed: The Fast Fuji 50 f/1.0 with Diffusion

If you hold it and shift it around so the light reflects off the glass, the surface of a Glimmerglass filter looks like it has been sprinkled with some sort of metallic dust, maybe gold. The particles aren't really on the surface, they are sandwiched between two thin layers of glass, and they probably aren't gold, though for the price of the filter I'm thinking maybe they should be. It's a diffusion filter, it goes on the front of the lens. You put it on your super-sharp, modern lens and you make pictures. Why would you do that? There are several things a diffusion filter will do but the primary…

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Beach Bokeh Boo! The Fuji 50mm f/1.0 compared to the 56mm f/1.2

  • Post category:Photo Gear

(Note: This is part four of an ongoing review. Part one (exterior and controls) appears here, part two (f/1 vs. f/4 comparisons) appears here, and part three (bokeh) appears here. Beach Bokeh Boo! The Fuji 50mm f/1.0 compared to the 56mm f/1.2 There is far more to a lens than bokeh—the character of the out-of-focus areas—but with an f/1 lens set wide open the out-of-focus areas of the image are a major factor in the nature of the image. Blur, in this case, is a key compositional tool. With Fuji's new high-speed lens we have blur galore but Fuji already had a lens nearly as fast and almost the same…

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Beaucoup Bokeh: Beauteous Background Blur With the Fuji 50mm f/1.0

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(Note: This is part three of an ongoing review. Part one (exterior and controls) appears here and part two (f/1 vs. f/4 comparisons) appears here, and part four (comparison with 56mm) appears here.) Bokeh is a word for the background (or foreground, I suppose) blur characteristics of an image. It differs from lens to lens (sometimes by a lot) and sometimes it differs a lot with the same lens. The word and the idea behind the word refers to all of the background blur characteristics but it is often thought of as only referring to blurred-out specular highlights, like the scintillations of the sun on waves, or referring to light…

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First Light With the Fuji 50mm f/1.0

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(Note: This is part two of an ongoing review. Part one (exterior and controls) appears here, part three (bokeh) appears here and part four (comparison with 56mm) appears here.) "First light" is a phrase from the astronomy community, usually referring to the first road-test image taken with a newly-built telescope, but it is also used more casually by the non-professional astronomer to refer to the first night stargazing from the driveway with any new telescope. Those are exciting nights, looking at the night sky with no particular agenda, no special goals. Just looking and enjoying, feeling a little of that first-time magic again. It can be the same with camera…

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New Magic? First Look With the Fast Fuji 50mm f/1.0

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(Note: This is part one of an ongoing review. Part two (f/1 vs. f/4 comparisons appears here, part three (bokeh samples) appears here, and part four (comparison with 56mm) appears here.) The new Fuji 50mm f/1.0 lens is here—what is it like? With any super-fast lens your expectations are that it will be huge, with a triple-digit filter diameter. And the lens is big, just not that big. One of the hopes and dreams of the Fuji-X system, since they went with a slightly smaller sensor than other manufacturers, was that the lenses for the system would be Leica-M small. Pop a handful in your pocket and go walk around.…

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There It Is, the Fuji 50mm f/1.0

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If you were designing a lens what would you do? Ahead of you is a line of trees, planted in a straight row. They form the top of a “T”, you stand at the bottom of the stem, facing them with your camera and your lens. You focus on the center tree. Now what? Do you want all of the trees in perfect focus? Of course, you might think, they are all the same distance away as the center tree so they should all be in focus. But the other trees are not the same distance away. They are further away and get further yet with each tree as you…

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Gear Review: Still Flummoxed by the Peak Design Travel Tripod

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In my review of the Peak Design Travel Tripod I mentioned that I had lost the hanging hook, the cap on the bottom of the center extension pole, the first time I had used it. I had taken the hook off to extract the hidden iPhone holder and when I then went replace the hanging hook I couldn't get it to fit back in. I was in a hurry, and in my rush it was too much to deal with, so I put the hook in my shirt pocket. When I later pulled my reading glasses from that pocket the hook must have fallen into the dirt at Badlands National…

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