There is something oh so nice about having a camera and lens that you can hand hold on a humid Florida night and get a nice shot like this. Here’s too the Fuji X System.
The Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera is an amazing image making machine in a small package. Adding the VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip makes it a not as small a package. The question, is it worth the extra weight.
The VPB-XT2 has several advantages over the equivalent VG-XT1 X-T1 vertical grip. Allowing for two batteries gives you a whole lot of exposures and the boost mode that lets your X-T2 shoot 11 frames per second (without the extra batteries you get 5 to 8 fps).
Having the extra hardware and batteries does make for a substantially heavier kit.
There is also a larger hand grip for the right side of the camera which gives you a deeper grip for holding on to camera. The left side also has the secondary shutter and wheels and buttons to match the regular buttons on the back of the camera for when you are shooting in vertical mode. It even has a joystick for adjusting the focus point.
The right side has the lever for opening the battery compartment.
Also on the right side is a pin for plugging in included AC power supply which will charger your batteries (takes about 2 hours they say) and a jack for plugging in head phones for when you are creating movies. The green lights signify that the batteries are charging.
While the additional weight can be felt as the unit is well made and the addition of the additional metal in the extended grip is rugged (thus adding more weight) it does not move the unit into the realm of impossible to lift. It still is a fairly compact package and still comes in under the weight of a DLSR with a vertical grip attached.
I had the VPB-XT2 on the X-T2 with my Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and a teleconverter while out trying to capture the Roseate Spoonbills behind my house yesterday. I was carrying it in one hand on grip without much problem. It felt well balanced. I might suggest you looking into getting a wrist strap (there is a convenient bar on the bottom for attaching same).
If you are shooting sports or wildlife, the 11 fps will help. If you are doing portrait work and prefer having the shutter button on the top in portrait mode you will like this unit. It does take some getting used to. In vertical mode the EVF seems to me to be a bit lower than I would like but that is a personal problem.
This is a good time to buy a VPB-XT2 as Fujifilm has then on sales (until the middle of July 2017) .
Roseate Spoonbill taken with the X-T2 and the XF100-400mm.
Earlier this month the Moon and Jupiter were having a chariot race across the night sky. I got out my Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR to see if I could capture both the Moon and Jupiter in the same image. I added the XF 1.4x TC WR teleconverter with the idea of capturing just the moon as large as I could. And then backed off a bit to see if I could get both objects into the same frame.
To shoot a full or nearly full moon you need to use manual mode as any exposure meter will more than likely try to over expose all that black space surrounding the Moon. Getting the exposure right for the Moon, in this case F8 1/125sec ISO 400, means that any other objects are just too dim to be picked up.
Luckily for me Jupiter was bright enough to just be seen in the image if I backed off from full zoom. The distance between the Moon and Jupiter looked very close but as you zoom in the gap got pretty big. You may need to click on the image to make it larger enough to see Jupiter but it is there.
I was pretty happy that I was able to get both objects into the view but the image held a surprise.
If you look at this image you will see that there are a lot of stars (and maybe a little noise) in the image. I moved the exposure up by 3.5 stops in lightroom and discovered that the image was full of stars. I did have to do an adjustment brush on the moon to bring down the exposure by the 3.5 stops so it wasn’t completely blown out. The XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens picked up a lot of starlight!
Pushing my luck I took a shot just of Jupiter then with a crop to 1600×1600 and another overexposure by 3.5 stops brought in not only starlight but the light of three of Jupiter’s moons.
While most suggest using a wide angled lens at F2.8 with an 1600 ISO and a 30 second exposure for night photography, you sure can pick up a lot of stars with a telephoto lens and a short exposure time. Note: all images were shot hand held which is pretty impressive but with the 1/125 exposure with the VR turned on the images were sharp. The XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a spectacular lens.
Digital cameras have all sort of things to assist you in making images. Automagical stuff like focus assistance and white balance determination. Informational stuff like current shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. The information you can display while you are looking thru the viewfinder or at the LCD screen can be very helpful, and sometimes it can actually distract from your image making.
Most of the Fujifilm X series cameras have all sorts of things you can put on the screen before and after you have taken a shot. One of the things that I came to rely on is the Electronic Level1. It was the first thing I turned on when I got the X-T1 and also the X-T2. The Level as well as a rule of thirds, ninths,twelve grids can be turned on by check boxes on the Display Custom Setting menu on the Tools -> Screen Setting -> Disp. Custom Setting menu.
When the Electronic Level check box is checked there is a line across the view screen that shows as white when not level and green when level. Get the line level and you image will come out level, not needing any post processing adjustments to the frame.
And the other day I turned it off. The reason I no longer use it is that it becomes distracting when shooting. If, like I was, you are looking at the line to make sure its green you are no longer looking at the image. Getting the line to go greens may mean that the image that the camera is capturing is not the image you saw in you minds eye. Subtle shifts may introduce distractions along the edges or as I tended to do, move the fram up or down missing important details. As a photographer you are responsible for the entire image not just that it is straight. So I’m getting used to taking the energy I was using making sure the camera is straight to making sure the image I capture is the image I wanted.
I am finding that I am not usually off by more than a degree or two. Of course there are some situation where you don’t even want a level image. Then the level just gets in your way.
One of my personal projects is shooting clouds. If I don’t have any references in my image to the ground, buildings, trees or the what not, I really don’t care what is level.
I would also suggest ignoring the grid layouts as you should concentrate on the image and not necessarily if it matched the rule of thirds or any other distracting rules. Actually I would suggest you work at getting images that look balanced to you without any aids then use post production to see how close you are to the “RULES”.
If you are doing landscapes (or any other image type for that matter) on a tripod by all means turn on the electronic level and get your self all set up to make the best picture you
can. You can alway turn off the display if it starts to bother you.
1Other manufactures have different names for the level. Nikon calls it the “Virtual Horizon”.