Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 R - Lens Review

I have been using the Fuji X-T1 for approximately a year now and I must say, I have to eat my words. In the past I write about how mirrorless cameras should have certain features like in-body image stabilization, good flash sync speeds, quick controls or blistering fast autofocus. The Fuji is arguably the worst in all said departments and I was expecting to hate the camera after my initial honeymoon phase with a new toy. Despite all of Fuji’s little nuances, I absolutely love the camera. It’s not because of the retro/hipster design (which I do really like) that I have this continued love affair. It really boils down to a single lens, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 R (non-APD). Speaking only for myself, the Fuji platform really started to gain momentum with the release of this fantastic portrait lens. For the full review please click the link below

San Diego Comic Con 2015 - Fuji X-T1 Photographs

The San Diego Comic Con saga continues but this time with the Fuji X-T1. Below are some of my favorite shots taken with the trusty Fuji.  

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San Diego Comic Con 2015 - Sony Alpha A7II Photographs

San Diego Comic Con has come and gone once again. Although we are sad to see it go, I was able to come home with a ton of good memories and a lot more fun photographs from the week. While I normally bring my trusty Olympus OMD and a plethora of light weight, high quality micro four thirds lenses, I decided to change things up and take both the Sony Alpha A7II and the Fuji X-T1. I discuss my experience using a different system and my apprehension about moving outside what is tried and true platform.  Needless to say, my worries were for naught and I came home with some images I am very happy with.  Below are all my favorite SDCC photographs taken with the Sony Alpha A7II . If you are interested about my field report, please click the link.   


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Field Report - Using the Sony Alpha A7II for Concert Photography

My journey with my new Sony Alpha A7II continues. In my last post I discuss the importance of having an in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system in a mirrorless camera. When doing concert photography, IBIS plays a less significant role than a camera's autofocus system. Sony claims to have an improvement of approximately 30% over its predecessor. In this post, I take my camera to the wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland and provide a field report about the AF system, the handling and my thoughts on the increased weight of the mark II. I find the Mad T Party a perfect place to test out my gear. Thanks as always for stopping by.

Initial Impressions of the Sony Alpha A7 mark II

While I had no intentions of upgrading my Sony Alpha A7, I was presented with a great opportunity to add image stabilization, improved autofocus and other great features without breaking the bank. To those following my blog, you will know I am a fan of mirrorless cameras, especially those that have in-body image stabilization (IBIS). In my opinion, all cameras of this particular platform should have this specific feature as it the one feature that separates itself from it's bigger brother - DSLRs.  Does the Sony Alpha A7II live up to all the hype.  Please read on for my initial impressions to find out. 

Lightroom 5 vs. Capture One Pro 8 - Fuji X Trans Files

Have you ever wondered why some of your shots come out kind of blurry or not as tack sharp as say the back of your camera screen? In my case, I was experiencing unusual smudging in the fine details of my Fuji Raw files, particularly with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 prime lens. While I initially thought I had a bad lens copy, I later discovered Lightroom was the cause of the problem. After perusing through several photography blogs and forums, I discovered that Adobe has difficulty demosaicing Fuji X-Trans files. I decided to try out a different raw converter/editing software to see the difference for myself and definitely saw a dramatic change. For my findings please click the link below. 

Flashpoint RoveLight 600ws Monolight Review

To have a monolight that is both extremely portable and high in output is hard to find unless you are willing to spend a significant sum of money. The first thing that comes to mind are the Profoto B1s. Before I lose you, no the Flashpoint RoveLights are nowhere near the league of the venerable B1s. However they offer a user experience, albeit flawed, that replicates having an internally-housed battery powered strobe that is convenient to use for on-location portrait work. In the past 4 months, I have taken these lights with me on every assignment whether it be an engagement shoot at the beach or an in-studio headshot session. While I can name a handful of things Flashpoint can do to improve the functionality of these lights, the convenience factor and output makes this a very likable unit. 

A evening with the Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 105mm f/2.8 and the Sony Alpha A7

I don't know if it is luck or a depreciating market, but I was able to score the Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 105mm f/2.8 m42 mount lens for approximately $60 on eBay. I wanted to find a decent telephoto prime to take over my second copy of the Olympus OM 135mm lens which has been somewhat of a disappointment to me. It's quite possible I picked up a bad copy but it is the only Olympus OM lens I own that I might just let sit on the shelf. A couple of bids later, I take delivery of a clean, fungus and haze free screw mount lens.

My 2014 Mirrorless Journey with Sony, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic

First and foremost, I would like to send a special thank you to my virtual friends, Mat and Heather, over at Mirror Lessons for their constant support of the 13th Floor team. Like them, I am wholeheartedly enthused about using mirrorless cameras and have made a "career" around the usage of these particular pieces of photographic equipment. Not only are they extremely fun to use, they offer some benefits that their mirrored brethren from Canon and Nikon just do not offer. In this post I discuss how each of my cameras fit my current workflow and what I perceive as their strengths.     

Fujifilm X-T1 Review - Initial Impressions

Like my brothers, I am a gear head. Any opportunity I have to try new camera equipment, I jump on it like bees to a hive. Not too long ago, a friend offered me deal on an amazing mirrorless camera from FujiFilm, the X-T1. He had recently joined the Leica Owners' Club and no longer needed this retro-modern looking body. Initially I was hesitant, but couldn't resist the lens adapter package he threw in. Maybe one day he'll let me mess around with his 35mm Summicron. 

I spent a majority of the winter holiday immersing myself with the X-T1 and found the camera extremely fun to use. Fuji is known to have spectacular JPEGs and I decided to put it to the test. You can read more about my findings below. 

Update: Since writing this post, I have added the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 lens to the arsenal and will eventually report my findings about this well received prime lens. 

Fujifilm X-T1 - A great Christmas present to myself - Taken with the Olympus OMD & 75mm

Year In Review

2014 has been a year of learning. As I look back at 2014, I can't help but feel thankful for all the friends and family who have supported the 13th floor team. We hope you all have a prosperous and fun-filled year. If you have a moment, here are some of the things I will take with me as I venture into the new year.  Be safe and have a wonderful evening.

FujiFilm Instax SP-1 Printer Review - Love at first sight

It has been a while since I've purchased anything that made me fall in love with it instantly. I have always been a fan of instant film cameras and I have been toying with the idea of getting a Fuji Instax camera for a long time. The thing holding me back was the questionable optical quality and the price of film. Recently Fuji released the SP-1 Printer, a device that lets you print any photo on your smart phone or tablet. This opened the door to printing from any of my mirrorless cameras, since all of current bodies can transfer images via wi-fi and/or NFC to my wonderful LG G3.  

Photography Tip: Flash Sync and TTL

My photography tip for today is all about flash photography. Despite what many may think, you cannot sync your flash with any shutter speed. The shutter curtains prevent our flash from properly exposing an image past 1/250th or 1/320th of a second (not considering leaf shutters or high speed sync). Knowing the physical limitations of your camera and flash, I help you balance the background or ambient light with your model/subject using an automatic mode most cameras have.  

Review: Sony Alpha FE 70-200mm OSS G Lens

When I ventured into the world of full frame mirrorless cameras, I immediately knew I would need a good telephoto zoom.  The newly released G lens was and still is a highly rated lens for the Sony Alpha A7 series. Although I usually wait about 6 months before I write a review about any piece of gear I own, my experience was so good that it warranted a write up.  If you are already an A7 owner, I am certain you will enjoy having this glass in your arsenal. For more information, please feel free to click the link below. A very special thank you to Sony Alpha Rumors for re-posting our article on their website. Thanks for stopping by.

OP-ED: The Importance of Customer Service

Here are some of my thoughts regarding the importance of customer service. More so than technical skill, there is nothing that is more important than customer service in retaining customers and ensuring that they recommend you to their friends and family. I originally wrote this post in response to an article I had read on the Harvard Business Review regarding the "stickiness" of customers, but as I continued to think about the subject I changed my angle a bit. It became more of what I would promise my clients if they decide to work with me.


Package Pricing

Hello, Friends & Family:

After a lot of time and work creating this website, we finally have package pricing available if you feel inclined to engage with the 13th floor team. Whether you are a working professional or a student, we truly believe that everyone deserves a good (and affordable) headshot. Gone are the days when only the cute children get all the attention =).  Please feel free to check out our continually evolving "Packages" tab for pricing.

He's adorable, but you are too.

Also a friendly reminder that discounts are provided for individuals who a bring a friend(s) for home studio work. The 13h Floor Photography team looks forward to working with you. 

So say we all,

Dino Aranda
Founder and Principal Photographer 


On behalf of the entire 13th Floor team, I would like to welcome you to our new website. As we develop this site, we will be filling this blog with more and more content. For the mean time, please visit our existing page at www.13thfloorphotography.blogspot.com

Thank you for stopping by and we hope you visit us often. We look forward to interacting with you all in the near future. Until then, happy shooting.

So say we all,

Dino Aranda