If you know the Lake District, you will know there are a few amazing passes to drive:
Whilst these passes are spectacular, you might not realise the best view is often above you.
The image here is looking down onto Honister Pass from the summit of Dale Head (753m). It doesn’t sound much but it can be a bit of a slog when you have walked around the other hills in the Newlands Horseshoe. You can see the road and the river running in parallel along the valley and in the distance is Buttermere.
Despite having walked the rout several times, this is one of the best views I have experienced. In the past it’s often been foggy or raining hard with poor visibility.
Initially I thought this would be a colour shot but then I tried the black and white conversion and thought, that’s the one. In case you’re interested, here is the colour version.
I must admit that this isn’t the image I intended to share with you today. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to share the planned image. When I came to switch on my Drobo storage, my Mac won’t recognise it and the unit won’t mount as a drive. I also tried it on my PC, but it can’t be read. Running Windows chkdsk reports a corrupt File Master Table that it can’t fix. I’m sure the images are still on the drive but it’s looking like I need some serious data recovery software.
I will though share this image which I shot earlier in the week. This is the view from the summit of Dale Head in the Lake District. The lake in the distance is Buttermere and the river and road in the valley is Honister Pass. This was a great walk taking us from our accommodation, over Cat Bells followed by Maiden Moore, High Spy, Dale Head and then Hindscarth before descending to Little Town and back to the start (around 23Km).
This was also a memorable walk as I tore the tendon in my knee just as I came off the top of Hindscarth. It took around 3 hours of agony to get down and back to our accommodation. I’m now hobbling around and in the hands of my Physio who’s also treating me for a torn tendon in my shoulder. It’s not been a good week!
I hope you like the photo and have a great weekend.
For this week’s Friday image, I want to share possibly my favourite view in all Malham. Yes, Malham Cove is spectacular as is Grodale Scar. Janets Foss is tranquil and the surrounding countryside is beautiful. But for me, this dry prehistoric riverbed with its drystone wall is amazing. The first time I ever saw it I thought wow, and I still think wow each time I see it.
From where I shot this, there is a cliff immediately behind me. Sitting on top of that cliff with your feet dangling over, eating a sandwich is pure heaven.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
It’s been exactly 1 year today since I purchased and received this lens; I remember it well because of the terrible events of the Manchester Arena bomb.
I’ve been promising to do a real-world review of the lens for some time, so I thought what better time than after a year’s use. I should also explain what I mean by real world review. I’m not going to base my comments on charts and reading other lab reports from the internet. If that floats your boat, just google Fuji 18-135 Lens Review and I’m sure you will get your fill. This review is based on my use of the lens, the images I have captured with it and what I think are the strong and weak points.
By way of background, this is the second Fuji 18-135 lens I have owned. The first I purchased second hand and after a lot of frustration, it was eventually traded for other equipment. The problem with the first lens was that it was soft and didn’t focus correctly across the frame. The performance was hit and miss, which also seemed to be exaggerated by Adobe Lightroom “smoothing” the finer details in the Fuji RAW files.
It was then only after another 6 months of experience with the Fuji X-T2 that I decided to try a new example of the lens. This was quite a decision for me given my previous experience, but the idea of the 18-135 focal range was so compelling I thought it was worth the risk. A single lens that covers this focal range and will produce a good image is very attractive. It makes the lens ideal for travelling as well as trekking, when you don’t want or don’t have time to mess about changing lenses.
Since buying this lens, my Sony RX10, which was my previous trekking camera, has only been out a handful of times. The focal range of the Sony RX10 is 24mm – 200mm in full frame terms. This compares with 27mm – 202mm for the Fuji 18-135. In terms of coverage, the Fuji lens is similar although I do sometimes miss that first 3mm of the RX10 at the wide end. Where the Fuji 18-135 makes up for this is in being weather resistant and the Fuji X-T2 producing wonderfully clean images.
In terms of weight and size, the Fuji 18-135 lens is what I would term a medium-sized lens but quite light for the size.
Here’s a quick comparison of the Fuji X-T2 against the weight and size of my Micro 43 outfit. This was the kit that I tended to use for travel photography because of its size and weight.
Olympus 12-40 lens 382g – This is my main lens and although doesn’t have the reach of the 18-135, tended to stay on the camera 80% of the time. If I want the additional reach on the Micro 43 kit I would need to use my Panasonic 45-150mm (a great little lens by the way).
Fuji 18-135 490g – About 100g heavier than the Olympus but with the benefit of additional reach.
Olympus EM5 425g – As well as being lighter, this is also smaller than the X-T2 by a couple of cm. The only downside is that I need to use the body with the additional Olympus grip as the body alone gives me cramp in my right hand after around an hour’s use. This takes the combined weight over that of the X-T2.
Fuji X-T2 507g – Slightly larger and heavier than the Micro 43 body but still sufficiently compact.
Both kits will fit into a single small shoulder bag.
The Fuji 18-135mm lens has a 67mm front elements which allows me to use the Lee Seven 5 filter system when I want to be compact, although there is a small amount of vignetting when the lens is wider than around 23mm. The lens works fine with the Kase K8 filter holder and system, although this is bulkier and heavier than the Lee Seven 5.
The bugbear in my mind with the Fuji 18-135 lens is image quality, but I believe this is largely psychological and based on my earlier problems. I think when you constantly look for problems with the images from a specific camera or lens you will find always find something. It also makes you much fussier about image quality. If I compare the quality of the Micro 43 kit (probably unfair as it’s a few years older than the Fuji X-T2) those images aren’t as sharp or detailed and they carry more noise. The images are also smaller at 16Mpixels compared to the Fuji’s 24.3Mpixels, which does come in handy for commercial work.
There are though a few weak spots in the Fuji 18-135mm lens:
In very bright conditions and with the lens at the wide-angle end of the focal range, I do notice some Chromatic Aberration or colour fringing in images. This though is easily removed during RAW conversion.
When processed using Adobe Lightroom, the RAW files captured with this lens seem to be more prone to their fine details being “smoothed out” by the conversion. I don’t know what causes this, but I notice it when I compare the images with other RAW converters.
When used at 18mm, the extreme edges of the lens sometimes go off a little in terms of sharpness. To illustrate this, I have included an example below with sections of an image magnified to 200% and only limited/default capture sharpening applied. You do seem to be able to improve this to some degree by stopping the lens down further. And if you can use a slightly longer focal length the lens starts to perform very well indeed.
Perhaps the biggest practical test of the Fuji 18-135 lens was my recent trip to Italy. After agonizing for some time over which lenses to take, I decided to travel lights and use only the 18-135. Reviewing the images now, I’m very happy with the quality and I was completely happy to work within the restrictions of the focal range. This is a very versatile lens and I’m happy to rely on it for future travel trips, especially when I want to travel with limited equipment.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in Italy. Much of the time was trekking in the Cinque Terre but I also spent time in Genoa, Florence and Pisa. Technology proved the usual problem with my email playing up frequently and sometimes not being able to access the websites I needed
Before I left, I had the difficult decision as to which camera and lenses to take. In the end I went with the Fuji X-T2 as it’s great for trekking, but I agonised over lens choice. When I’m walking I hate changing my lens, so the 18-135 is ideal. The only problem with this lens though is that I worry about performance.
The 18-135 has never been known as a great performer and it’s possibly one of the weakest lenses in the Fuji line up for sharpness and resolution. The first copy of this lens that I owned was quite a poor example. Although the next one which I purchased new is much better, I still feel a little nervous with just this lens.
Eventually, I decided to take the 18-135mm lens and used this exclusively. What changed my mind was rather surprising and something I’m going to share in a future post. But for now, it’s nice to be back home and dealing with the emails and queries I couldn’t answer whilst away.
Some of the best light you can find as a photographer is in a storm. But you don’t want to be in the storm, you want to be on the edge looking in. That’s something you can’t plan for; you need to get lucky.
And so it was with this shot looking across Derwentwater.
Here the snow storm is passing across the other side of the lake. It also helps that the sun was setting at the same time. Talk about being lucky. When you spot moments like this you need to be ready. Fortunately, I was ready with the Fuji X-T2.
The image was captured from a tripod using the 16-55 Fuji lens. The RAW file was then converted in Lightroom using the Fuji Provia profile. Enhancement of the warm area on the horizon was applied using Nik Viveza. Processing was then completed using On1 Photo RAW 2018 by adding Dynamic Contrast to the dark areas of land, followed by the Glow and Vignette filters.
I can’t believe the time. I’ve been so wrapped up in my writing that I lost track and I haven’t posted a Friday image yet. I’m now feeling under pressure to pack up and see my wife (before she drinks all the wine) so I’m going to cheat a little. This week’s image is one of the worked examples in the book I’m writing.
I’ve shot this tree quite a few times and find myself drawn back to it frequently. It’s in an area of the Peak District called Padley Gorge. This particular tree is in one of the disused quarries. The image was captured with the Fuji X-T2 as a RAW file and all the conversion and post processing was done in Lightroom. This version isn’t quite finished, but it still looks pretty good.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.