2017, a Year in Review

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Let’s start with a 2017 retrospective for the blog. Not a great year in terms of number of articles. A question of priorities. My work left me little free time this year, when I was not spending my weekends trying to catch up with some sleep, so I had to prioritize and focused on growing my Instagram account rather than this blog. Not because of any sort of satanic social media grand strategy, but because you only need a few seconds to upload a picture on Instagram. Meanwhile you need to find long blocks of time to write blog articles from start to finish, and in fact I still have several unfinished draft articles that I thought I would have published in 2017 but will only come out next year (if even), once I can allocate the time and concentration they deserve.

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I also never got to write about my amazing trip to Tsuwano last summer, although there would be so much to say about the story of the Hidden Christians in Japan. It’s definitively the kind of topic that I keep in the back of my mind for when i can take the time to write about a more complex subject that requires a decent amount of research.

Similarly, on the gear side of things, I never got to edit all the video footages I took during this year’s CP+ camera and photo imaging show in Yokohama, because I am still so little proficient with the video editing tools that I require exponentially more time than what would normally be required.

I feel like video content is more and more expected by the internet audience, so while I am working on mastering the tools I have been shooting more video in the background, and hopefully this content will someday makes its way into more coherent projects.

What we did talk about

While it has been a slow year in terms of number of articles, we did get to talk about a few things.

On the Fujifilm side, we talked in particular about the Fujifilm GFX 50s after I went to Fujikina 2017 in Kyoto.

We also looked at how remote flash can be easy with the Nissin speedlight and remote.

Overall Fujifilm had an amazing year, in terms of products they released (GFX body and lenses, X-E3, 80mm macro) and financial results (Instax prints For The Win). The best part of it was that none of what they released this year was for me, so I did not have to buy anything and just enjoyed another round of free Kaizen firmware update for my X-T2. On the other hand, I found that they released the FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO application in a buggy  state that should have been a public beta version rather than a final release.
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Beyond the gear talk, we had a look at an old tradition in Asakusa involving geishas and hina dolls: Edo Nagashibana. A must-read if you like the japanese culture but missed it.

I also finally got to finish and publish an article on which I had been working for a long time, giving tips about how to differentiate a shinto shrine from a buddhist temple in Japan.

2017, the year of the rooster Instagram

2017 was the year of the rooster in the japanese calendar. For me it was the year I focused on my Instagram account. Through the year, I posted more than 500 times on my Instagram account, and more than quadruple my number of followers compared to the start of the year. What I like about Instagram is that the community is much nicer and positive than on something like Twitter, where snarky comments and political trolls are the norm. Although my number of followers will look tiny to some of you, for me it’s the highest number I have reached on any platform, and the simplicity to upload a picture allow me to be consistent in posting even while not being immersed full-time in the social media sphere.2017 best nine on InstagramAs you can see from my “2017 best nine on Instagram” recap above, 2017 was also the year I fully delved into the Geiko and Maiko world. To some extent, it was a perfect storm, because it is also when I started to post more pictures from my trips to Kyoto that I started to gain more followers. I learned a lot about the lives of Geiko and Maiko this year, a lot of it at the complete opposite of Western pre-/misconceptions, and i was fortunate enough to meet a few of them. Hopefully I get to write about that in 2018.

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No doubt in my mind that 2018 will be filled with many trips to Kyoto again for me. Meanwhile, I am going to end 2017 by watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the theater tonight, after having successfully avoided most spoilers over the past couple of weeks. Have fun tonight and talk to you again in 2018 😉

2017, year of the rooster

A happy new year to all my readers. May 2017 bring you happiness and take you one step closer to your goals.


As per the tradition in Japan, I started the year with a visit to the shrine (Hatsumōde), in order to get blessed for the year of the rooster, and bring back my lucky charms from the year of the monkey 2016 so that they can be burnt by the shrine.


I will be in Kyoto on the 21st of January for Fujikina, with the opportunity to touch and try Fujifilm’s upcoming GFX 50s medium format mirrorless camera. But more importantly I’m just looking forward to the trip to Kyoto, even though unfortunately for me Kiyomizu Dera’s famous main hall will just have been covered for renovation works that are expected to take place until 2020.


Talk to you soon 😉

Dear Peter, don’t click on this link if you are looking for a review of the Fuji X-T2

This post is in response to a comment posted by a reader called Peter on my previous article. I could have replied in the comments section too, but I have a feeling this might be a long paragraph, so I figured I might as well make it into its own blog post…


Dear Peter,

First, I would like to thank you for leaving a comment on my latest blog post. As you can see, I don’t get that many. I don’t get that much traffic either, even though you seem to find my titles similar to clickbait honeypots. I am truly sorry if you felt misguided by the title of my previous article. It looks like you got onto this page several days after I published it, which could explain why. Note that I published this article a week BEFORE the X-T2 was officially released (or even shipped), so I never intended for this article to look like a review (in which case this article would have probably been called “Exclusive X-T2 review one week before the launch!!!!”, the likes of which you can find on the net by the way, and that you can call clickbaits if you so desire).

Like hundreds of people I had some hands-on time with the X-T2 many weeks before it was released (there were many opportunities to do so in many countries, nothing out of the ordinary), and yet I did not spam glorious definitive opinions like others did after shooting at cars “zipping from around the corner” from a parking lot. In fact, I did not even talk about it actually. That would have made for many “clicks” though, as Fujifilm had not yet started to tour the US photo clubs and camera stores, so I probably should have.

But you are right, there is a conspiracy theory behind this article, so let me share it with you. To tell you all the details, this article initially had a different “working title”, because, when I started to write it, the point I wanted to make was different: I wanted to reply to X-Pro2 owners who were crying like babies because the X-T2 had better specs, by writing a post reducing the X-T2 to a beautiful dream, as opposed to the good time I was having shooting with the X-Pro2 during the time  those people were spending complaining from behind their keyboards. However, there was actually more than a month between the moment I started to write the article and the moment I actually finished it. The reason for that is that – when I was not busy working – I was indeed outside enjoying my X-Pro2, instead of typing the blog post as I had originally intended. I even filmed an entire VLOG episode about the initial topic with the X-Pro2, to show that it could also shoot good video footages even though not in 4K (I was eventually too lazy to edit all my footages, while I realised I was speaking too much in the video and I would have bored every potential viewer with my French accent, so I came back to the idea of writing a blog post instead).

As time passed though, the topic on which I wanted to write also evolved, as getting to roughly a week before the release I had gotten fed up with almost 2 months of publi-advertisement without any contradiction allowed, since only people chosen by Fujifilm had the camera.

Now here comes the dreadful truth. The dirty secret. At the same time as I was getting back to finishing this article, I was actually (re-)watching Sergio Leone’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the umpteenth time. Just love this movie. It’s one of my favourite movies of all times! And that’s how I got to structuring my article the way I did and choosing this title. It’s as simple as that. But it’s true that the Internet can some time be wilder than the far west, I will agree on that.

By the way Peter, I received the X-T2 and its battery grips on Thursday this week. I have used it for a few hours since, hence the time it took me to reply to you. Don’t expect to read any review about the X-T2 here anytime soon, as I don’t think that a few hours are enough time to do so (I used to try to create content quicker in the beginning of the X-Series, with the X-E1 for example, because at the time nobody else would care doing it, so writing about them was useful for the people looking for information, but nowadays there are hundreds of Fuji blogs). When I finally put up a review on this blog, I can guarantee you I will call it “Fujifilm X-T2 review”, so that you will know exactly what you will get when you follow the link. To be sure not to missed it, make sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow me on Twitter @greenbalbo 😉

Sincerely yours.

Celebrating 300 followers on Instagram!

 

300 might not sound like an important milestone for those who have thousands, but never forget 300 Spartans only (allegedly) achieved during the battle of the Thermopylae 😉

  
A huge thank you to the 300 people (hopefully not too many robots there, though Instagram is flooded with spams) who are following me 🙇

Now looking forward to the next 300 😉

  
By the way, if you wonder how I did the simple graphic at the top of this post, it’s very easy. There clearly should be no need to launch something as heavy and complicated as inDesign or Photoshop for something as simple as adding a text on an image with a circle around it… I actually did it in 1min on my phone, using the Adobe Post app (if you have an iPhone  it’s free on the AppStore). It comes with several basic designs. You only need to choose your image, select one preset and a color palette, and that’s it! Find out more about this app on Scott Kelby’s blog

2015 in review as we head into 2016

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Happy New Year everyone!

It’s that time of the year again! As we jump into 2016, let’s look back at the best of 2015 🙂

My favorite Fuji gear launched in 2015

And the winner is… the XF90mm F2 lens!

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This is somewhat ironic as I don’t own this lens, but it is hands down the best portrait lens for the X-series cameras in my opinion. This lens is an amazing performer, and if you shoot portraits all day long (which is not my case) you want to make some room for it in your bag.

My most used Fuji gear of the year

Body-wise, there is no contest, I almost exclusively shot with the X-T1 this year, and if I used anything else at some point it is because I have an X-E2 as “second body” when I need one. But that was a given anyway, to me this is the best form factor of all the X-series bodies, and it is weather-resistant.

Much to my surprise, the lens I used the most this year was the XF16-55mmF2.8. This lens came out early this year, and I was not particularly excited about it. In fact, I still believe this lens is not amongst the best Fuji has made for the X-Series, and the lack of image stabilization is a real bummer in my opinion… and yet I shot the most with this lens in 2015 because it has been with me everywhere this year. it is just so convenient for me to just grab the X-T1 + XF16-55mmF2.8, especially on occasions for which I would not have bothered packing and carrying a camera bag, but still needed a weather-resistant combo able to take a minimum of beating if necessary. In the end, I have used this lens during all my trips in Japan and abroad, on assignment or on holidays, shooting anything from portraits to landscape, or even monkeys taking a hot bath.

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My most anticipated Fuji gear for 2016

According to Fujirumors, Fuji will announce the X-Pro2 in a couple of weeks. I am curious to see the performance of what is likely to be a new sensor, and if Fuji has made any progression the video department, but mostly because we are then likely to see this sensor in a potential X-T2, which remains my favorite form factors. To me it is still the best mirrorless camera in terms of ergonomics.

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Meanwhile, we are getting close to the end of the current X-mount lens roadmap, so we are due an update. From what we know, Fuji will launch the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 telephoto at the end of Q1 2016; and the XF120mmF2.8 macro lens at the end of 2016. My most anticipated gear for 2016 (given what we know at the moment) is actually the XF100-400mm. Not that I want to buy one (just like the XF90mm, I don’t think I would need it often enough to justify buying it), but I can’t wait to rent it and take it to the bird sanctuary of the Kasai Rinkai Park I mentioned previously on this blog.

My #1 “Only in Japan” moment of 2015

I have to give this one to my trip to Oarai and the Isosaki jinja. Even the shrine is covered with tributes to the characters of “Girls und Panzer”, a manga in which schoolgirls learn how to fight with battle tanks… Yeah, definitely only in Japan…

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My “it was about time” moment of 2015

I finally got on board with Instagram. Yes, I know: about time! It has more than limited communication functionalities, but it is all about images, so if you are into photography there is basically no reason not to make the plunge. To follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/balbo42/

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Thanks for your support this year and look forward to what is coming next

I already have a backlog of recent trips that I still need to share on the blog, which I will be releasing through the first couple of months of 2016. In particular, I will be talking about some famous events of the Japanese history, a topic that I am willing to explore further in 2016. Of course, you can also expect more non-sponsored reviews of Fuji gear, a few surprises and most likely a rant or 2 😉

Happy new year!