Syncing A Lightroom Catalog Between Several Computers

This video is a work in progress as I still have to create an audio commentary for it, but you get the idea of what's required in order to sync a Lightroom catalog between multiple computers.

I'll either update this video with an appropriate audio track, or do a full post on how I have my Synology NAS setup to sync LR catalogs between my iMac and Macbook Pro. Or maybe both!

RAW File Management

To paraphrase the awesome Jared 'Fro Knows Photo' Polin - I shoot RAW!

I'm not a sports shooter or a photo journalist, so I don't normally shoot JPEG. Simply put, I shoot RAW because I love the greater flexibility it gives over JPEG images when working in post-production (Post). However, what I don't really enjoy about shooting RAW are the file sizes.

I've recently switched to the Fuji X series of cameras, specifically the Fuji X-T1. The average size of a RAW file produced by the Fuji APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor is approximately 33MB. For me, a typical shoot can consist of hundreds of images, which quickly add up to several gigabytes of RAW image data that need to be stored somewhere, and backed up too. Shooting several hundred images on a regular basis will quickly eat up the free space available on any hard disk drive, even after I've pruned out the badly composed and blurry shots!

There are many ways in which you can alleviate the space issues on your computer's hard drive. Archiving the images off to external USB hard drives is probably the most popular and cost effective way of doing this. However, this presents some logistical challenges if you have to refer back to older image files. Finding the correct drive, attaching it to your computer, and scanning for the images you need can take a lot of time to complete. I have faced this very scenario on a few occasions, and it took a frustrating amount of time to find what I was looking for. I knew there had to be a better way for me to be able to work on current and archived images.

Being a professional IT geek by day, it was pretty easy for me to come to the conclusion that what I needed to have available to me was multiple TB of disk storage, with fault tolerant capabilities.

Synology Logo

Enter the NAS, or Network Attached Storage. After a lot of research into SOHO (Small/Home Office) NAS solutions, I settled upon a DS412+ from Synology. There are may SOHO NAS solutions available from the likes of Drobo, QNAP, G-Tech, etc., but I choose Synology for their varied range of devices, their expandability options, and their excellent DSM (Disk Station Manager) software.

I'll detail my NAS configuration, and how I store my RAW images in a future post. For now though, I'm delighted with the performance of my Synology NAS. It gives me approximately 12TB of usable storage, a fault tolerant disk array, expandability if I need it, all wrapped up in a very small and unobtrusive chassis.

Yongnuo flashes with Fuji-X cameras

This YouTube video is linked purely for my own reference, as I already own several Yongnuo YN560 III flashes, and the Yongnuo 560-TX flash commander.

Matt does an excellent job illustrating just how versatile and inexpensive these great flash units are. Moreover, it's great to know that the YN560-III and YN560-TX work well with the Fuji X series.

No excuses for a lack of blogging!

This post is actually a test. It's a test to see whether or not I can successfully post content to this site via email. If all goes well, I/You/We will be able to see this post on my blog, and I will no longer have any valid excuses for not being able to update the content of the blog!

Life without mirrors II

So. Why did I settle for the Fuji X-T1? Well, I'll break it down like this:-

Handling

This is a very intuitive camera. From the very second I picked it up, I was immediately impressed with the controls the camera has. The X-T1 features top mounted mechanical dials that control the setting of ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. The controls have a definite retro look and feel to them, which I really like. 

I particularly love the exposure compensation dial, as it's very nicely weighted (as are all of the dials on the camera), and reassuringly stays in place when you select an exposure compensation value from -3 EV to +3 EV in 1/3 EV stops. 

All of the dial controls function incredibly well, and, more importantly, don't change randomly when you are changing the position of a light, or adjusting a background element. 

Lens choices

Another feature that drew me in to the Fuji X-T1 was the excellent choice of Fujinon lenses available to X-mount camera owners.

However, generous lens choice aside, the killer feature that endeared me to the Fujinon lenses is the manual aperture ring on the lens. With the exception of 2 entry level lens models, all of the Fujinon X-mount lenses feature a manual aperture control ring. This is apparent from the 'R' designation within the lens name.

The aperture ring allows for manual aperture settings to be made in 1/3 stop increments, or, by rotating the aperture ring to the A setting, the camera's aperture can also be controlled from the rear thumb dial. 

I'm lucky enough to own two standard lenses; a standard zoom, the 16-55 f/2.8 R LM WR, and a standard prime, the XF35mm f/1.4 R. The aperture rings on both lenses operate very smoothly, and produce a lovely, reassuring click when rotated. Again, I haven't noticed any aperture settings changing randomly during use, which is another huge plus point (for me) in moving to the X-T1.

Size and weight

This was my biggest reason for switching to Fuji. Lugging around the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR lens, and all of the associated photography bits & pieces, was very painful on my back. 

I am delighted by the weight reduction I have experienced by switching to Fuji. With the XF35mm f/1.4 R mounted on the X-T1, the whole package weighs approximately 650g. This equates to an approximate weight reduction of 66% over the D750, grip & 24-120mm combo. 

Conclusion

So, there you have it. My reasons for switching from Nikon to Fuji. Admittedly, these are only the key reasons for my switch, and they may not be the same as a working professional's reasons. However, things like image quality, battery life, long term usability will be things I will monitor during my time using this wonderful camera.

Life without mirrors

I recently made a decision which, I hope, will make a positive impact on the way I photograph the world around me.

Colour me fickle

In an almost fickle way, I switched from a Nikon based DSLR system, based around the D750, to a compact, mirrorless system - The Fuji X-T1. I say "almost fickle" as in the end if felt like I had just changed to the FujiX-T1 on a whim. However, the more I think about it, I did have some legitimate reasons for switching. Let me explain.

I loved the pro look, feel, and features of the Nikon D750. It was everything I had hoped it would be when I traded up to it. However the key thing I didn't appreciate was the increase in overall weight. I purchased my D750 as a kit with the Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4 VR lens. Given the outstanding image quality produced by this lens, it rarely left the lens mount of the camera. The D750+24-120 combo was the best part of 2 Kg. Add in a battery grip, extra batteries, all the other associated stuff we photographers haul around, my back began to complain under this new load.

The handling of the D750 left me at odds sometimes too. This was especially evident whenever I was doing any studio based work. If I had stopped to change the position of a light, or adjusted a background element, I'd often find that my shutter speed or aperture setting had changed by a stop or two whenever I picked up the camera again. Admittedly, this was probably my fault when setting down or picking up the camera, but it was a bit infuriating to discover that settings had changed after I had shot 2 or 3 frames.

However, I think the straw that broke this particular camel's back was knowing that my D750 may, at some point in the future, succumb to the lens flare issue that forced Nikon to recall a lot of D750 bodies. Whilst I'm not a professional photographer, the thought of being without my camera for up to six weeks was not appealing.

So, I started looking around at alternatives. I was immediately drawn to mirrorless systems due to their obvious weight advantage. Micro four thirds seemed to be the obvious choice, given the extensive range of bodies and lenses on offer from both Panasonic and Olympus. The Sony A7 series was also very tempting too, but I was a little apprehensive about the A7 series, due to the limited choice of native e-mount lenses.

It wasn't until I actually handled a Fuji X-T1 with a 56 mm f/1.2 lens attached that I had my epiphany. (TBC)