Sunday, 24 January 2021

Out for a Hike

 Fuji X-T2, XF 55-200mm

I got out for a hike yesterday, I found a somewhat optimistically named woodlot, Jefferson Forest, that's not too far away from home. It's a reforested farm located in Richmond Hill and is filled with hiking & biking trails.

This is the first real hike I've done since early September, if not August. Between work & volunteer commitments between August & December and the subsequent lockdown and now the stay at home order we're under, I've just not had the time or the opportunity to do any real hiking.

The hike was more of a hike with a camera than a photo trip in the woods. I knew going in that I was going to what was essentially a tree farm with trails. I didn't take that many images (93 frames in 5.3km, vs the typical 4-500 frames I would shoot on a similar length back country hike), but that's mostly because I only shot landscape work, there was no wildlife and most of the shots I come home with on the typical hike are wildlife, especially insect shots which I can't do in the winter.

I carried the X-T2, with my new Smallrig L-bracket/grip and my standard hiking trio of the 7Artisans 12mm f2.8, Fuji XC 16-50 OIS II and Fuji XF 55-200 OIS. That worked very well although I did find the 7Artisans 12mm's aperture ring gets quite stiff in the cold.

Very much liking the Smallrig grip, I'd been using a plain L-bracket on the X-T2 because I needed something quickly & cheaply and I'd been missing the wooden extension grip I'd had on the X-T1 (which was nice, but not an L-bracket, just an Arca-Swiss rail+grip). I'd been intending to buy the Smallrig bracket since the summer, but at $105CDN for a camera I only spent $600 on, it's a relatively major investment for the body. However it was time to make the investment and I'm glad I did, it's a quality L-bracket and the grip extension is both cosmetically delightful and very comfortable. And the L-bracket extends to clear the ports which is nice for when I'm using the camera on my Platypod as a webcam.

A nice thing with this bracket is it's also compatible with the X-T3, so if I add one of those to my kit, I can just fit my old bracket to the X-T2 and use the new one on the X-T3. A nice savings there. I can see myself replacing the X-T1 at some point. Won't get rid of it, but the performance compared to newer bodies is such that I would have few issues demoting it to only street work with manual lenses and using the newer bodies when I'm in the bush. I'm finding that even the X-T2 sometimes struggles to AF in some circumstances when I'm working in brush. If you haven't guessed, I'm very happy with the Smallrig bracket.

One takeaway from this hike is that I absolutely need to invest in crampons. I had one spill and several other close calls because the trail was quite icy and I didn't have enough traction on the ice. Guess there will be an order next week for a couple sets (my partner could really use a set as well). I'll probably get her a low-profile set that's sidewalk friendly and a more aggressive set for myself. Also on the list at some point are hiking poles. They definitely can help when the ascents & descents get technical, and they collapse so they're easily stored when not needed.

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