Sunday, September 16, 2018

Filters On Fujis And Whiskers On Kittens...

Cheesy Composite Photo. Notice the B&W filter mounted in the lens hood filter adapter.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things. I decided to take my Fuji Kit on an assignment where I didn’t know how far I would have to walk from my car to the scene of the action. Along with my normal X-T1, XT2, and the appropriate 10-24, 18-50, and 50-200 zooms, I decided to bring my Fuji X-70 in case I really needed to pit my speedlight against some hard, bright sunlight. This would be the first time it would come with me on assignment, so I had to think about how to store it for easy access when the situation dictated its use.

In the course of my planning, I was reminded of the many capabilities it shared with my X100 cameras. First and foremost, the leaf-shuttered lens allows flash synchronization up to 1/2000 of a second, assuming the flash can be triggered in a manner that didn’t introduce any sort of delay (neutered flash extension cable or infrared optical trigger).  Also, the X70 has a reticulated LCD which allows for well-composed high and low angle photos if you can limit yourself to horizontal compositions.

Lens Protection: For as long as I can remember, I have added either a skylight or a UV filter to the front of every camera lens I own. The reason is simple: The filter will protect the lens from contact with a dirty, potentially hostile environment. While many claim that the filter will degrade the optical performance of any lens, a gritty thumbprint or a flying bit of airborne detritus can be just as damaging, and the damage could prove irreversible. I prefer to use a UV filter because the so-called skylight filter adds a visible magenta tint which can be removed in post production if it really bothers you. Granted, a "clear" non-tinted filter would be ideal, but they are nearly impossible to find in the few brick and mortar camera stores on the planet. Incidentally, I would normally install a lens cap when the camera/lens was stored or in transit, to protect the filter. One can't be too careful.

Attaching A Filter: The X100 and the X70 share another similarity so far as their front ends are concerned. First off, both have a 49 mm threaded bezel to which accessories (lens hoods and filters) can be attached. Two problems: first, the camera's threads are male (threads on the outside), which is contrary to industry practice, and second, they are attached to the body and not the lens itself. This means that if you were to attach a filter directly to this male threaded mounting, it would be backwards (not an issue unless you're using a circular polarizing filter*), and that when you focus at shorter distances, the lens would advance forward, eventually touching the filter's surface (very much an issue).

A much simpler solution is to by a lens hood that provides both a filter adapter (spacer) and a lens hood. Fuji makes a nice one for the X100 series which will work on either camera. Unfortunately, it retails for over $70.00, a little overkill considering what it does. I think it makes more sense to buy an eBay knock-off, and use the money you save to buy a first-rate filter.

  Fuji's OEM Hood for X70 can be purchased here                  Fuji's OEM Hood for X100 can be purchased here.
 What's The Difference? There are two differences between the two lens hoods. Both will mount onto either camera once the 49 mm bezel ring is removed to reveal the male threads. The one designed for the X100 series has a series of slots which allow you to  look through the lens hood when you're using the optical viewfinder. Since the X70 doesn't have an optical finder, the slots are omitted. What is more important is the X100 hood has a built-in adapter to accept a filter, and the OEM X70 hood does not.

I like the X70 hood because the "tunnel" created by the solid (non-vented)  hood does a better job of keeping the lens and filter safe. You can pretty much keep this hood/camera combo in one's pocket, assuming you pocket has sufficient volume.

Click here to view on eBay.
Hybrid Hood: I bought this interesting hybrid hood on eBay, which is to say it's made somewhere in China. JJC has made a number of satisfactory knock-offs of camera a accessories, and this hybrid may prove to be a better compromise for the X70 and for the X-100 if you don't use the optical viewfinder. Notice the absence of the viewing slots and the deeper hood design. Theoretically this hood provides better protection from stray light and stray fingers. Forget all of the spacer stuff. You just screw your filter into the adapter before attaching the actual hood.

Screw-in Lens Cap from Adorama. Click here.
Another Problem Solved: While we're on the subject, this frenzy of filtration helped me to solve a related problem. I've mentioned in earlier postings that I'm a big fan of the WCL-X100 wide angle converters Fuji makes for the X100 series of cameras. I normally leave the converter permanently attached to my x100T. I am reluctant to remove it because, up until now, I had no way to properly protect the rear lens elements. The slip-on soft plastic covers provided by Fuji weren't secure enough for field use, which is why I never removed the converter. I thought about the 49mm female threads at the back of the adapter, and it hit me: I could use a 49mm screw-in lens cap to protect the back element. They can be found in camera stores that cater to film-centered photographers.

Vendors on eBay can offer a male and a female threaded pair of caps. Back in the day, two such caps were often used to protect stacks of  different colored filters which black and white photographers used to alternately emphasize or mute specific colors for more dramatic black and white photographs.

Okay, this is really geeky stuff. Buy any opportunity to protect your valuable equipment should not be overlooked.

* To distinguish a Circular Polarizer from a Linear Polarizer, turn the filter backwards and look through it into a mirror. If the filter image in the mirror is black, you have a circular polarizer. If the image is clear, you have a linear polarizer. Click here to read the original post.