As I write this, in mid/late November, I am looking at my window at a brownish gray mountainside. The final Foliage of fall lays dried and taupe on the forest floor, or on lawns where, an owner has yet to complete the annual task of leaf raking and disposal.
We had a fairly colorful autumn this year. It’s always a busy time for landscape photographers. I spent a lot of my free time out and about, with camera gear in the front seat of my car, and with tripods and lenses in the cargo area. There is about a 1900 foot elevation difference in our region, which means that I started photographing local fall foliage in late September, up in the “Endless Mountains” and Pocono regions of Pennsylvania. Then, as things progressed, I worked my way “downslope” till early November, when only the Susquehanna River valley harbored any remaining color. Now as Thanksgiving approaches, I have packed things up and must now wait until the season’s first good snowfall add interest to the scenery and draw me out again.
So in this “down time”, I want to to update my impressions of several pieces of gear that have been discussed on the pages in the recent past.
I am now had several months of experience with my Samsung Galaxy S4. I basically like the phone, but there were, as there will always be, some annoyances. The first had to do with battery life.
In short, it was lousy. I wound up tethered to a charger as my phone seemed to lose battery at an alarming rate. Even with minimal use, and with the Bluetooth and the Wi Fi I turned off, the damn phone would be down to 30 or 40%, battery, capacity by early afternoon. I ended up developing a network of chargers, throughout my place of work, in my car, and at home. I added several apps said to extend battery life but they were only modestly successful. And by the way, I’m hardly a power user; I do not game, nor do I stream much video during the day.
Then one day I dropped the phone on my driveway, cracking the screen. I have insurance through Verizon, and 2 days later. I had a brand spanking new G4. I downloaded all of the same apps once again, and to my knowledge, set the phone up identically to the last one. The new phone came with another Samsung charger, which I was planning to locate in another strategic place.
As it turned out, I didn’t need to. For whatever reason, this 2nd phone has wonderful battery life. I’m sure with reasonable care; I can go all day and perhaps into the following day with one charge. As I understand it something like 30% of S4s shipped with bad batteries. Samsung is offering free replacements. If your phone behaves like my first one, you should definitely avail yourself of this offer.
One other complaint was with camera. I found the native photo application somewhat balky, with prolonged and unpredictable shutter lag and poor responsiveness of the auto-focus. I didn’t notice my friends with i Phones having the same problem, which is really annoying.
One night several weeks ago, my phone upgraded its own firmware. I noticed that activating the camera app. I had to wait to use it until a separate firmware update occurred. Some preliminary testing suggests that the shutter lag and the autofocus problems are significantly improved, if not totally resolved (time will tell). The camera does take pleasant pictures, but again more suitable for viewing on the phone or tablet, not, so much for printing anything beyond a snapshot.
The other unusual thing I have noticed is that if I connected my camera to my computer with a USB cable and then attempt to download images through Adobe Bridge, the program will not recognize them as Jpgs. Only, if I download them to a file on the computer, will Bridge recognize them. Oh well.
All of this having been said, I do like the phone and glad for the purchase.
I continue to use and enjoy the X series cameras. This fall, I tended to travel with the, Fujis up front on passenger seat of the car for quick grab shots when it would be inappropriate or unsafe to set up a tripod. The Nikon bodies travel in the back, a relatively wide-angle lens on the D600 (The Tokina 28-80 ATX f2.8. continues to impress) a 70-200 mm F2.8 VR (version I) on the D7000. This gives me a lot of versatility, given the focal length of the big zoom, and the acuity of the imager on the D600, I tended to shoot the Nikons from a tripod.
The XE-1, very much is welded to the XF18-55 mm f2.8. This also makes a great camera to grab for a quick hike. The X Pro 1 tends to be fitted with a prime lens, typically the XF 60 mm 2.4. The X 100 S has been relegated to use as a “street” camera and for discrete indoor work. I note the release of the XE-2 but do not think that the upgrade is very compelling.
I have acquired a XF 23mm f1.4 and had been shooting with it for several weeks. I plan to publish my impressions of the lens in the very near future. I am particularly interested in the differences between it and the fixed 23 mm f2.0 lens on my X100S.
I’m always a little melancholy this time of year what, with the foreshortened days, and monotonous landscape. But the holidays will be upon us soon. Afterwards, the days will grow longer and hopefully, the storm track will move over the East Coast and blanket us in white . We can then ski and snowshoe in the crisp winter air. The fireplace will seem that much warmer at the end of the day.
See…there is always something to look forward to.