London from helicopter with Fuji X-T2 - Part2

Summer is coming and so it is the time for the last checks on my equipment before the travel season begins. A second doors-off helicopter flight (link at the end of this blog) over London was on my list to test two X-T2s with 50-140mm f2.8 and 16-55mm f2.8 lenses side by side. Both X-T2s were with battery vertical grips, as both lenses are rather large and heavy (by Fuji standards) and it is easier to handle the X-T2 body with one of the pro zooms when you have an additional grip. The flight was at about 5 pm, so we were expecting a lot of light and of course great scenery. The weather was (as usual) changing fast, but went into a very cooperative mood once we were in the air with some nice clouds lining up in the sky after a strong shower.
It was my second time in the doors-off flight and I wondered if I would get more used to it, doors are off to provide for the best quality shots and better freedom of view. For obvious reasons no lens changes can be made in the air and the same goes for hoods and loose filters being taken off, as no one wants anything to fly out of the cabin and hit the blades... Ideally one camera with one lens is the best option. It may give you less freedom of zooming, but whilst switching between cameras you may miss a good shot, as everything moves really fast and you do need both hands to support the camera when framing and shooting in strong wind and vibration. Both cameras were set at 1/1000s shutter speed, auto ISO from 200 to 800 and I only changed the aperture depending on the shot/light.  EVF on the X-T2 is a great help to see what you get whilst shooting, that is if you can hold camera to your face in that vibration, but the X-T2's EVF is large and bright making it easy.

Post-editing was done in Lightroom 6 using Fujifilm Classic Chrome profile with some further adjustments. BW conversion - with Nik's SilverEfex. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

The big view - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Urban grid, Fulham -with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

I found myself using both 50-140mm f2.8 and 16-55 f2.8 lenses pretty much equally. The former has IS but I switched it off, as for the speed of shooting (1/1000s) it makes no difference. I did not note any difference in quality of shots, as both lenses did a superb job. In an ideal world I'd rather have one pro zoom, something like 23-70mm f2.8, that would cover most of my needs. Using joysticks for choosing focusing points was very easy, especially in a heavy vibration situation and both cameras were very comfortable to use. I used vertical grips on both bodies and that helped a lot as my hands are large and even with smaller primes I tend to use those grips, or a minimal leather half-case from Garitz when I want to travel light. Speaking of grips - I accept all the benefits the new X-T2 VG gives me, BUT I do miss the old X-T1 grip. In my opinion it was much better designed from an ergonomic point of view. There is not much difference between them (size and weight wise) but ideally (if Fuji is listening :) ) I would love to have the option of a lighter smaller vertical grip for the X-T2 (similar to the old X-T1 VG). Also, as much as I love the joystick on the X-T2 - dear Fuji - please put it higher, swapping it with the Q button, in the next version of the X-T body. It is so well positioned on the X-Pro2. I would rather have the Q button elsewhere too. The same goes for the movie mode on the left subdial where the brackets used to be on the X-T1. It would make much more sense to place it with the other trendy consumer extras on the right side of that dial together with panorama, filters etc.

Anyway, the test and flight were great. Second flight was much easier and both cameras and lenses performed well. The 16-55 f2.8 is a brilliant stellar lens - fantastic for aerial shooting and I would certanly fly again with it. Thanks for visiting and maybe see you on the next flight!

The Tower Bridge - with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Home of Champions, Chelsea FC -  with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000s

Urban living - boat houses on Thames - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f2.8, iso250, 1/1000s

Science quarter - Natural History museum, Science museum, Imparial College and Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park on the background - with 50-140mm f2.8 @140mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Westminster - with 50-140mm f2.8 @98mm, f4.5, iso400, 1/1000s

House Guards Parade and Trafalgar Square - with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f4.5, iso250, 1/1000s

St. Paul's Cathedral - with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000swith 50-140mm f2.8 @64mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Buckingham Palace - with 50-140mm f2.8 @94mm, f4.5, iso250, 1/1000s

South Kensington - with 50-140mm f2.8 @60mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Urban jungle - City of London - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4.5, iso64with 50-140mm f2.8 @115mm, f2.8, iso400, 1/1000s0, 1/1000s

St Paul's Cathedral - with 50-140mm f2.8 @64mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Walkie-Talkie - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

The Tower of London - with 50-140mm f2.8 @50mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

St Katharine dock marina - with 16-55mm f2.8 @36mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

Welcome to London- Canary Wharf and beyond - with 50-140mm f7.1 @52mm, f2.8, iso320, 1/1250s

Canary Wharf - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f2.8, iso200, 1/1000s

KAyakers at Canary Wharf - - with 16-55mm f2.8 @16mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Millennium Dome - with 16-55mm f2.8 @31mm, f5, iso200, 1/1000s

Royal Docks - - with 16-55mm f2.8 @47mm, f4.5 iso320, 1/1000s

Tide is coming... River Thames Barrier - with 16-55mm f2.8 @23mm, f4.5, iso500, 1/1000s

Shard and bridges - with 16-55mm f2.8 @28mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Charlton Athletic ground, The Valley -  with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f3.6, iso200, 1/1000s

Old Royal Naval College, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @42mm, f5.6, iso320, 1/1000s

Isle of Dogs and Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @30mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Old Royal Naval College and the Queen's House, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @45mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

Over the prime meridian, Greenvich- with 16-55mm f2.8 @31mm, f4.5, iso200, 1/1000s

The big view from above the Canary Wharf - with 16-55mm f2.8 @20mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Chameleon - The Shard - with 16-55mm f2.8 @23mm, f4, iso320, 1/1000s

Westminster - with 16-55mm f2.8 @32mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

Buckingham Palace - with 50-140mm f2.8 @140mm, f5.6, iso500, 1/1000s

The Waterloo Station- with 50-140mm f2.8 @58mm, f5, iso500, 1/1000s

Over the London eye - with 16-55mm f2.8 @42mm, f3.2, iso200, 1/1000s

Battersea Park - with 16-55mm f2.8 @16mm, f8, iso800, 1/1000s

Battersea Power station being redeveloped into luxury living complex - with 16-55mm f2.8 @28mm, f6.4, iso500, 1/1000s

Battersea Park - with 16-55mm f2.8 @38mm, f8, iso500, 1/1000s

The Tower Bridge - with 16-55mm f2.8 @55mm, f4, iso200, 1/1000s

London from an air balloon with Fuji X-T1 and X-Pro2.

I waited for this flight for a year but it was absolutely worth the wait! The air balloon flights in London are restricted to weather, early mornings, wind directions and speed. The link to the air balloon company site and more information on air ballooning is at the end of this blog. So after seven or eight cancellations, we finaly flew over London from Hyde Park to Wanstead Flats. Starting at about 5:30am the flight lasted for just under an hour. I took my usual trusty Fujifilm X-T1 paired with Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 and my new best friend - X-Pro2 paired with 16-55mm f2.8. The images below more or less reflect the flight path and have area and building annotations. The general direction with a south westerly wind was from Hyde Park - Marble Arch, Marylebone towards Fitzrovia and Kings Cross, flying further towards Angel and Islington, then swinging towards the east over Hackney and Victoria Park, over the Olympic Park at Stratford and landing at Wanstead Flats, between Forest Gate and Manor Park. I found myself using both X-Pro2 with 16-55 f2.8 and X-T1 (with vertical grip) and 50-140mm f2.8 lens, with slight preference to X-T1 once in the air. Post-editing was done in Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Pilot checks the air balloon. ISO800 16-55mm f5.6 1/60s

Time to fly. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/640s

Hyde Park, looking towards South Kensington. ISO500 16-55mm f8 1/100s

London towards city and Canary Wharf. ISO200 16-55mm f8 1/100s

Mayfair. ISO500 16-55 f2.8 1/100s

London towards city and Canary Wharf. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/320s

London towards city and Canary Wharf. ISO200 50-140mm f5.6 1/60s

London towards Westminster. ISO500 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus. ISO200 16-55mm f2.8 1/75s

London towards city and Canary Wharf. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/200s

Cruciform Building (old UCLH now WIBR, UCL) and UCL. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/80s

Cruciform Building (old UCLH now WIBR, UCL). ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/25Cruciform Building (old UCLH now WIBR, UCL) and UCL. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/80s

University College London (UCL). ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/300s

Cartwright Gardens, St Pancras. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/80s

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, HM Treasury and HM revenue & Customs, Westminster Abbey and Palace of Wetsminster. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/220s

British Library, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/180s

St Pancras and Kings Cross stations. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/180s

Essex Road, Islington. ISO500 50-140mm f5.6 1/250s

Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. ISO200 50-140mm f2.8 1/110s

Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. ISO250 50-140mm f3.2 1/250s

Angel (at the top),  Islington. ISO640 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

St Pancras station and Brish Library. Top right- new Francis Crick Institute. ISO800 16-55mm f2.8 1/250s

St. Paul's Cathedral and The Shard.  ISO200 50-140mm f3.2 1/250s

London City, ISO200 50-140mm f3.2 1/250s

London Eye and Westminster, ISO400 50-140mm f5.6 1/250s

St Paul's Cathedral and Tate Modern. ISO500 50-140mm f5.6 1/250s

Packington Sq and Arlington Square Garden, Islington. ISO640 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

Victoria Park, South Hackney. ISO400 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

London City, London Bridge and The Shard. ISO640 50-140mm f5.6 1/250s

West Ham Cemetery. ISO640 50-140mm f7.1 1/250s

Canary Wharf and Greenwich. ISO320 50-140mm f5.6 1/250s

Banbury Rd. South Hackney. ISO320 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

Docklands - Canary Wharf and North Greenwich. ISO200 16-55mm f5.6 1/250s

White Chapel Hospital (blue) and The Shard. ISO640 50-140mm f7.1 1/250s

The Olympic Park - Stratford. The stadium is now home to West Ham FC. ISO640 16-55mm f9 1/250s