Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”
― Pablo Picasso

X-T1 comes back, and U-Turns right back to Factory Service… (And a couple of X-Pro 1’s go in as well)

I went down to the Fed Ex Shipping Station today to pick up my Fuji X-T1 camera, back from repair. The package was shipped “requires signature”, and the fastest way to get it once I missed signing for it was to go get it.

I got it back home and opened it up and tested the sensor – very good. Really, really clear. They replaced the glass in front or the sensor, major work. Outstanding.

I took it out to shoot at sunset. Someone had messed with the menus on the camera, probably while repairing it. I wasn’t getting the information panel on the back LCD of the camera, and then the Electronic View Finder (EVF) should be lighting up when I brought the camera up to my eye. I could get the LCD to work, or the EVF – but the eye sensor that should switch automatically was not turned on or something, probably a setting. I set it on EVF only and shot a few pictures. Once I got back, I worked through getting the eye sensor to work – and nothing. It’s completely broken. So… The camera goes back to Fuji. Tomorrow. That’s four weeks of repair time. I purchased it in March 2015. Five months old and 20% of that time in repair service.

I found a kit deal on Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras. The kit has the Fuji X-Pro 1 camera, and two lenses. I have both of the lenses already. I realized, though, that if I bought a couple of these kits and then sold the lenses I could acquire two Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras for about $310 each. Maybe $350 with eBay fees… Of course, I’d have to check the sensors and then figure out what to do about the cameras if they weren’t acceptable. But this is a camera that two years ago I bought for $1700 and then returned and even at that price I regretted it. It is an exceptional camera, I think actually the best I’ve ever used.

I did order the kits, I did check the sensors. Neither X-Pro 1 was in acceptable condition when they arrived. Both cameras had dirt specks that could not be removed on the sensor (yes, despite using different lenses to test, the spots remained). I decided to have them fixed under warranty – after all, the X-T1 sensor came back clean from a similar issue. And out of 6 Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras I’ve looked at, only one had a clean sensor. The Fuji X-Pro 1 has the same eye sensor as the X-T1… But you’d hope that knowing they disabled one sensor would put the service techs on alert and the next few repairs would have the eye sensor verified before it was sent back, right?

It’s worth it. I don’t know if I’ll keep the X-T1, I haven’t yet had the chance to use it enough. But I know that I want to work with the Fuji X-Pro 1. That camera plus the Fuji 35mm lens hit a sweet spot for me, a place where the camera does exactly the right things to stay out of the way and the lens just makes it magical.

Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 lens:

DSCF1131

Tomorrow AM three cameras at once go to service.

—spence

4x’s the charm…

I ordered and returned four Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras. Actually, the last one I almost returned. I realized the sensor dirt I was seeing was changing with each cleaning iteration, moving location, adding new dust and subtracting old.

I persisted and the sensor came to clean.

Two of the Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras were truly unusable. The dust was hard black immovable spots, right across where the sky would be. Completely unacceptable in a new camera even if they were removable. They were not removable, at least not without a chisel.

One of the cameras, the first I received, was so close. There were three slightly fuzzy spots in the sky area, and I kept trying to squint and miss them. I took photographs of the test image from f22 to f7. I shot photos of the sky at various apertures. And… And the spots were truly visible in the photos, and too difficult to cleanly edit out. In some ways, the fuzzy spots were worse. I finally made the decision to send it back.

This last camera came in yesterday. I was rushed in the evening to test the sensor and make a decision. I was burnt out on looking at sensors in disappointment. On seeing dust yet again even after cleaning, I decided it wasn’t worth keeping this camera or buying any X-Pro 1 cameras to try and find a clean one and I determined to return it. I decided to wait until after the first camera went back on its way. This morning I tried cleaning the sensor and peering at the result, pixel by pixel again, a last try to see what could be done. The sensor was cleaner, but still a spot here and there. After 12 swabs or so it was truly clean and usable at any aperture. What’s frustrating about sensor specks is you can create them as you clean, fibers appear,

I will always, always check my new digital cameras on arrival for uncleanable dust. Dust is easy to clean off from changing lenses. Manufacturing dust or dust generated by internal mechanics (yes, cough, Nikon…) is much harder to remove. My Fuji X-T1 is only the second camera I’ve ever had to send for service (the other one was a film camera for clean|lube|adjust). If I had checked it immediately, it would have gone back.

dust

The Fuji X-T1 arrived at the service center last Wednesday. It is already on its way back. It too will get an immediate check – but I don’t hold high hope that it will be done right the first time – I just don’t think camera manufacturers get that this is an unacceptable product. Not yet.

—spence

embracing imperfection (within reason)

I sent my Fuji X-T1 off to be repaired (hopefully). Most of the reviews for Fuji service are laudatory. I’m looking for the same experience.

The Fuji X-E2. I tested it more extensively and I really don’t think it will ever affect the quality of an image. I’m keeping the dust photos as a map of where an issue would appear, but there are several things that indicate it won’t ever be a problem.

    Those are:

  • The spots are indistinct and are in the lower section of the sensor.
  • Even at f22, they are very hard to find. Once I drop to f11, they aren’t going to be visible except in this kind of testing.
  • I have the map of where these spots are – and can use that data to determine how to shoot something
  • Most of the images I’ve shot with Fuji cameras are f2.8, f4, f5.6 and occasionally f8. Very rarely do I go above that in Aperture Priority.
  • Aperture Priority is the most useful mode for Fuji cameras.

To check sensor dust, I create a blue field in Photoshop, big enough to fill my monitor screen. I set the camera on manual focus, focus on infinity. Aperture at smallest the lens has (f16 or f22, usually). Shutter I leave on automatic. I set the back screen to live mode and shoot through that rather than the viewfinder. I have been taking photographs at f22, f16 and f11 to discover how much of a real issue a particular dust mote might be. Load into Lightroom and blow up to 100% pixels and sweep across to check.

You can open Develop in Lightroom, click on the Spot Remover, select the Heal tab and then hit “A” on the keyboard. This brings any spots up as white on a dark background.

I think I’m going to check each camera I receive as a matter of course and then once I keep a camera, keep the sensor dust data for future reference.

Fuji makes an amazing camera, despite this. Sensor dust is one of the prices for instant digital capture and interchangeable lenses, you just have to learn to clean it and discriminate from acceptable imperfection and manufacturing flaw. There is Wabi Sabi – the idea that in flaw is an eternal beauty. I read that Japanese temples are constructed with one aesthetic intentional flaw. I think that makes perfect sense.

Some of the things that happen – like taking a picture with an iPhone 6 because it’s the only camera in hand – result in extraordinary, if flawed results…

colors-2

—spence

sensor dust… why’d it have to be sensor dust?…

I have some wonderful photos from a trip to Mexico in 2011. I also have some heartbreaking photos from that trip where there are giant flying saucer dust daemons in the clouds that cannot be cloned or healed by anything in Lightroom. I had cleaned the sensor on the Canon 30D at some point, but stopped paying attention to it.

I went through my current cameras… The Canon 5D MkIII was dirty. It cleaned right up with Copperhill pads and spatula and Eclipse fluid. Thank god, because I had never checked this camera until now and it could be out of warranty if the sensor had embedded dust that wouldn’t clean.

The Fuji X-E2: some slight dust that won’t come off…

X-E2

But…  The dust is out of the sky area and completely gone at f11.  Probably livable – though once the other camera comes back I may still send it in.

The Fuji X-T1:  6 dust spots, visible through f8 before they disappear, and… Right.  In. The. Sky.

X-T1_sensor_dust

Damn hard to see in these exported images – but the spots are visible in the sky in some photos. If you choose open in new tab and enlarge that image in the tab you’ll see the spots

Crap.   I should have checked immediately on arrival, and I will going forward.  This camera is going back (two months old) for service.  Apparently Fuji has had issues in manufacturing where dust exists behind the glass screen over the sensor. I tried cleaning, and it just isn’t available to be cleaned off the surface of the protective glass. One of the spots looks like a piece of grit under a clear tape.

—spence

Merging images together… Best solution? Photoshop (CC)

I tried Photoshop Elements (nope), Lightroom (successful 50% of the time). Various other products. Finally tried Photoshop CC.

photoshop

And of course, it worked brilliantly. So unfortunate. And it worked 100% of the time. Again, dammit.

Great software. Really really great software. And, compared to its previous cost of thousands, relatively inexpensive. So, ok, I’ll use that…

And concentrate on products to run through it rather than on the software itself.

—spence

Wordfence… Taking Down Nginx And Php5-fpm Every 6 Hours

I set up a new server at Digital Ocean several weeks ago. As part of that I switched to nginx and php5-fpm and tweaked the performance. I’m still looking for the sweet spot in stability and performance in this setup, but overall it’s been very fast.

I set up two monitoring services four days ago to watch stability and load times and to make certain the site stayed up. One of those services showed a constant uptime except for known downtimes. The other service… It showed down times after a couple of days at what looked to be regular intervals.

graph

I managed to log in at the beginning of one of these slow-or-no-load times and found:

2015/07/19 18:25:08 [error] 3069#0: *124530 upstream timed out (110: 
Connection timed out) while reading response header from upstream, client: 104.236.69.147, server: 
spencemunsinger.com, request: 
"GET /wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?action=wordfence_doScan&isFork=1&cronKey=2e8 HTTP/1.0", 
upstream: "fastcgi://unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock", 
host: "spencemunsinger.com"

Over and over and over, wordfence has been regularly overloading the php5-fpm sockets. I disabled the plugin (there are many other ways to accomplish the same thing without this plugin), and the graph is now level and clean, without the periodic spikes in load times. And no messages in the logs.

—spence