Apr 172014
 

The Real Digital FM3? Nikon Manual Lenses on the X-T1

by David Nash

DSCF0647

Hi Steve and readers.

Not being as young as many of you I still have a soft spot for small metal cameras with lots of dials (even if I don’t actually turn them) – and a bundle of Nikon lenses including one or 2 old bought cheaply at our local camera shop (yes we still have one in a city of 500,000!). So like many I was desperate to get my hands on the Nikon Df – and I did. But I was a bit underwhelmed and when it had to be returned because of an AF fault I took a refund rather than a replacement.

With the money I got back I’m now the delighted owner of a Nikon 24mm 1.4 and, arriving yesterday, a Fuji X-T1. And it’s definitely not going back…. But being a bit slow on the uptake I hadn’t up till now thought about using Nikon manual lenses on Fuji X cameras (I had an X-E1) and immediately ordered a Nikon fit adapter that arrived this morning. So I spent a couple of hours this afternoon shivering my way round the streets of Edinburgh with my brand new X-T1 and a 135mm f.3.5 Nikon that I picked up for less than £100. As you’ll see in the photo it’s really quite small for a 200mm equivalent focal length – but very solid and well made and quite sharp (though not in the same league as the 90mm Elmarit which I will be trying out next).

Here are few photos of bits of some of our local buildings. What I really enjoyed about using the X-T1 with the manual lens was how well the focus peaking worked (in most circumstances) and how easy it is to magnify the focus area with the focus assist button. You need to focus at max aperture to get the best result but it’s no hassle to stop the lens down a few clicks if you need some depth of field. But what I particularly like about using the X-T1 with a longer lens like is that if I turn the ISO dial to auto (yes I do actually use the dials a little) and the shutter speed to 180th of a second the camera will automatically change the ISO as I (manually) change the shutter. That way I can keep a high enough shutter speed and have complete control over the aperture. Smart! Oh, and I think you all know anyway that the Fuji sensor is rather good at high ISOs. And I did I remember to say the viewfinder is brilliant??

So – as many others seem to be saying – is this not what the Df should have been?
Thanks
David
www.davidnashphotos.co.uk

DSCF0082

DSCF0092

DSCF0085

Apr 142014
 

Fuji X-T1 Ergonomic DYI Improvements

by Ronald Grauer

2014-1000856

I will not talk to you about the quality of the camera, we all know it’s a good camera with some little problem like every camera has. Of course, I couldn’t do anything about what’s going on inside, but I could do something about 2 of the major problem I’ve found on it:

- The eyecup is to small and not deep enough. Mostly when shooting in bright light. And also after 3 years with the Sony Nex camera (Nex 7 than Nex 6), I missed a bit the left side EVF found on the Nex Camera

- The rear 4 pad, which has been discussed on every single review on the net… Almost a shame to design such a pad.

So If you want to try this little fix, feel free…

For the eyecup I used a Nikon dk-4. But I think most of the wide, round rubber eyecup should fit. Plenty of them on Ebay.

The eyecup is glued on the plastic base from the original Fuji eyecup. Unscrew the 2 screws to remove the Fuji rubber eyecup.

2014-1000872

2014-1000873

2014-1000874

2014-1000875

But you need to use the Sugru material (I have nothing to do with them…!) or any other similar material. Cause just the glue won’t be enough. I’m not a glue expert, but I tried different very good glue, nothing could hold it. The rubber material is a porous material so you need to shape something on top of these 2 elements. And this will make them more homogeneous for the look.

It’s called ”Sugru”, www.sugru.com

I’ve also used this amazing product to customize the rear 4 pad.

It’s made in England.

2014-1000859

You have an hour or so to shape this “king of rubber”. Let it dry for 12 hours and it will keep the shape and have some elasticity. As sugru says, this material sticks to 99% of the material in the world.

It has been awarded as one of the most amazing material invented in the last years…

It cost around 15 euros for 8 little package…

Hope this post will help many other users…

 2014-1000867

I’ll finish by telling you that after all, I’m a passionate photographer.

here is my website link: www.ronaldgrauer.com.

Keep with what you’re doing.

Regards,

Ronald.

Apr 042014
 

A photographic journey through New Zealand

by Cuno von Hahn

Māori: Aotearoa – New Zealand

01

The beauty and grandeur of New Zealand has captured the imagination of movie-maker and photographer in the past years, and the country is a dream destination for many around the world. It is a land of majestic snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, glaciers descending to rainforest’s, fiord’s, geysers and volcanoes.There are only a few countries that have such a geographical diversity – a reason for me to travel there.

09

Of course, photography in New Zealand was as important for me as traveling around. All photos from Newzealand were shot with the X-Pro1, fujinon 14mm and fujinon 35mm.

Many people were asking me, if the New Zealand photos were made in HDR . I always try to avoid shooting HDR. Firstly, it is really complex and a time-consuming process and secondly, in my opinion the pictures become better and more natural, if I use graduate filters for more dynamic range. Surely that is not enough for getting a higher dynamic range. Shooting in RAW is also necessary.

04

05

All my pictures are carefully exposed. While shooting I am always using the histogram as a control tool. I performed almost no post production and no cropping at all. Every correction is made in Adobe Camera Raw (There are enough tools and options integrated). But my maxim is always: Digital darkroom techniques should only be used to adjust the dynamic tonal range and color balance of an image so that it more closely resembles what you saw, and that it communicates the mood of the scene.

08

I was also asked if I have encountered the X-TRANS RAW conversion problem. Yes – there are still problems. 20% (low settings) sharpening in ACR and the rest I`m doing in Photoshop. That works for me very well and I get rid of the swirlies. Have a look by yourself – I think the foliage looks nice and crisp.

02

If someone would like to see some more scenery images of New Zealand (also shoot with the X-Pro 1) please visit:

www.newzealand-gallery.com

10

Finally, if New Zealand is not on the top of your list of countries that you want to visit, change your mind trust me!

Cheers, Cuno

Apr 042014
 

Beijing Fashion Week with Fuji XE-1 and XF 55-200

By Paolo Mercado

Hi Steve, Brandon,

I’ve been a follower of your site for about 3 years now but have only shared now. I am an occasional-but-passionate photographer. I normally take with film on a Leica MP or M7. I love my Leicas and may one day share some of my film scans. A year ago I bought an XE-1 with a Leica adapter to use some of my Leica lenses on. I was so impressed with the image quality I found myself shooting more and more with the Fuji zooms.

Last Sunday I went to one show at the Beijing Fashion Week to test out my XE-1 with the XF 55-200 lens. Here are 3 sample images I took. Before commenting on the images though, I must say that while I love taking photos with the XE-1 on manual focus peaking mode with my Leica lenses, taking on AF mode in low light was very difficult/frustrating and I missed a lot of moments. However I was pleased with a few shots I managed to squeeze through. All files are straight out of the camera, not retouched or cropped in any way (just resized for this sharing).

First shot is of the star model on the runway. I was quite pleased to have captured the details on the wire mesh head-dress on this shot. (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 2500, 156.1mm, -1 EV, f/5, 1/60).

First shot is

DSCF2452

Second shot is “faces in the crowd”. These ladies were seated 20 meters away from me, across the other side of the runway. What was actually happening on the runway is that one of the models stumbled painfully on the runway due to the impossibly high heals (stilts really!) that the designer insisted everyone wearing. The girl on the left is looking quite concerned. The camera captured these two glowing ladies quite well (including the tattoo on the arm of the lady on the left). (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 6400, 148.5mm, 0 EV, f/4.5, 1/60).

DSCF2475

Now for an outdoor shot with this charming beauty. This was a quick shot and I didn’t adjust manually. The camera took it at ISO 1000 as it took the exposure value from her black dress. This highlighted her porcelain skin quite well (and to my eye captured it quite accurately!). (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 1000, 148.5mm, 0 EV, f/5, 1/125).

DSCF2502

What amazed me the most about the Fuji is its wonderful ability to capture great skin tones straight out of the camera. No retouching on any of these (I don’t have the patience for retouching!). I am very happy with the IQ of the Fuji sensor and the capabilities of the XF 55-200 lens. I am thinking of getting the XT-1 for it’s speed and better handling, but I will hold on to the XE-1 for my Leica lenses as I like how small and discreet it is.

Many thanks and I hope these make it to your site!

Paolo Mercado

Beijing, China

Currently shooting with Fuji XE-1, Leica MP & M7, Leica X1

 

Apr 012014
 

Isle of Skye. My Fuji X-series review

By Ben Cherry

Isle of Skye-3

A bit of background about me, I am a Zoology student at the University of Sheffield and have been passionate about photography for the past ten years with my main interests being travel and wildlife. Fujifilm UK currently sponsors me with X-series cameras but that doesn’t factor in my opinions here, as they want my honest views on their equipment.

I have already written a review of some of the gear that I took to Malaysian Borneo for Steve Huff here: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/12/31/experiencing-borneo-with-the-fuji-x-series-by-ben-cherry/

Please see more of my work and follow me through the following avenues:

http://www.bencherryphotos.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

https://twitter.com/Benji_Cherry

My views from the previous trip haven’t change; in fact my affection for the X-series has been boosted by some hands-on time with the X-T1, 56mm f1.2 and 10-24mm f4 at the Photography Show in the UK earlier this week. For this trip I took the X-Pro1, X-E1, X100s, 14mm f2.8, 18-55mm, 35mm f1.4, 60mm f2.4 and the 55-200mm all in a Domke shoulder bag. I love compact systems purely for the space and weight saving possibilities! This trip is quite different to the last, though not in the baking tropical heat, it was still a very enjoyable experience in the relative wilderness that the Isle of Skye offers compared to the rest of the UK.

January is often a tough month at the best of times, but combined with university exams it is the worst month of the year by far. However there was an opportunity to get away to my godparents house on the Isle of Skye, which offered some sanctuary away from the stresses of revising and a much-needed opportunity to take some photos. The weather was on my side during the trip, the strong winds that had battered the west of Scotland for much of December had receded leaving the week calm and almost dry! Unlike the previous trip I brought along both zooms and the X-E1. These ended up being used extensively, with the X-E1 often using the 55-200mm and the X-Pro1 usually with the 18-55mm while driving around the island. This meant that as fleeting ‘special’ moments came around, where the weather was particularly beautiful, the opportunities were rarely missed. Straight out I am very impressed by the image quality of the zooms, for landscape work I would without hesitation use them over the primes I had with me at the time.

I enjoyed using the telephoto zoom; it focused as quickly as the other lenses (can’t wait to try it on a X-T1) and produced punchy, sharp images like the close up of the highland cattle and the sunlight over the bay.

The X-E1 performed very similar to the X-Pro1, which makes me want to try the XE2 as I assume Fuji’s brilliant updates will have struck again making it a more refined camera. All the camera bodies performed flawlessly in the cold weather and despite the fact I stated we had good weather, they still went through the occasional rain shower and sea spray (don’t tell Fuji!) with no negative effects.

Because I drove up to the Isle of Skye I had the luxury of space that I didn’t while travelling around Borneo, this meant I could also throw in my Pelican case that housed my Canon equipment. However, I found that I didn’t once want to use it; I find shooting with the X-series cameras so much more enjoyable and satisfying. The tactile design of the cameras makes the whole experience feel like you’re in control instead of responding to what the camera suggests. For me this is improved by the EVF’s that allow the instant preview of exposure compensation, which I find invaluable especially in situations where the light is constantly changing. This was the biggest surprise moving from SLRs, I couldn’t get enough of it and this made me stop chimping my shots. An example of this is the silhouette of the Highland cattle against the moody sky that I was able to accurately compensate for using the EVF.

Overall I am very happy with the X-series for my uses, as it produces great image quality; not least the jpeg presets which really pop. In my opinion raw files could still be developed better in lightroom but I’m sure improvements will continue to roll out. This negative point is outweighed by the better quality high ISOs as a result of the sensor design.

Fuji have struck the perfect balance between small, discrete gear and good enough image quality that make the system superb for travel as well as many other genres. It will be very interesting to see the performance of the future weather sealed lenses, opening up the wildlife and sports market for X-series.

I am off to Switzerland for the premier of a snowboarding film I worked on with the White Line Crew: http://www.thewhitelinecrew.com/ and intend to get hold of the latest Fuji gear to test against some action in the cold conditions. I will let Steve know if this works out and will try to put together another user review.

You can see a larger gallery from the Isle of Skye here: http://www.bencherryphotos.com/isle_of_skye

Isle of Skye-1

Isle of Skye-2

Isle of Skye-4

Isle of Skye-5

Isle of Skye-6

Isle of Skye-7

Isle of Skye-8

Isle of Skye-9

Isle of Skye-10

Isle of Skye-11

Isle of Skye-12

 

 

Mar 272014
 

Initial User Report on the Metabones Sppedbooster for Fuji X

By leosilve

Fuji X-E1 Speedbooster_web

Hello Steve! Long time reader and follower of this site. Thank you for the great work. You are an inspiration to many. This article first appeared on my FB page where it was first seen by my friends, and was thus written for people of all levels of photography experience. Here goes…

Unless you might think I’m writing about some new dietary supplement, or a miracle cure for (my) aging bones… The Metabones Speedbooster is a lens adapter with an optical element at its rear end. Ok, I probably lost most of you by now. Ho hum, just another boring gear review. Yup, but to my photog friends and camera buffs, this is one piece of gear you just might find interesting. So, read on!

The Metabones Speedbooster adapters are available in several lens mounts, adapting various full-frame lenses to Sony NEX, Panny/Oly Micro 4/3, and Fuji-X cameras. The rear optical element (made by Caldwell Photographic) is a focal reducer, shrinking the full frame image by a factor of 0.71X. This means, the lens’ focal length changes by this factor and the intensity of the reduced image causes an increase in brightness equivalent to one full aperture stop! When you factor in the 1.5x crop of an APS-C sensor, a 100mm f/2.8 full-frame lens will have a field of view equivalent to 106.5mm f/2.0 lens when mounted on an NEX camera by a Speedbooster. Not too shabby huh?

From this we learn 2 very important and useful information;

1) A full frame lens’ field of view (FOV) suddenly becomes almost what it is again on a cropped sensor camera. Very useful especially for wide-angle lenses on cameras with smaller sensors.

2) An instant 1 FULL STOP aperture gain! Because the image focal length is reduced to fit the smaller sensor, an interesting “side effect” is the stronger intensity or brightness of the incoming image, which has been measured to be equal to 1 full stop! So, a f/2.8 lens becomes an f/2, an f/1.8 becomes f/1.4, and so on and so forth.

There are other amazing promises; higher MTF rating (sharpness), the “bokeh” very similar to the increased f-stop on a full frame camera… so much so that after the initial hype, skeptics felt this was all too good to be true. So was it?

Earlier this month, I won a Speedbooster (Nikon G to Fuji-X) in an eBay auction. Normally this pricey adapter retails for $429. I won it for $213! But that, is a whole other story! Anyway, I was going on a trip, and was excited when the package arrived the day before I left. I got to take it with me and play with it! The images of the two lovely ladies below were both shot on a Fujifilm X-E1 camera coupled to a Nikon 35mm f/2 AI-s manual focus lens from my film days. You can see the setup in the picture with the Fuji X-E1, and the Speedbooster adapter between the camera and lens. I have set the camera to shoot RAW+JPG fine. The RAF(raw) file retains the color info. The JPG is set to Fuji B&W+yellow with a +1 exposure compensation. Other than some minor contrast tweaks, these images are both SOOC (straight-out-of-camera).

DSCF4026_XP2

DSCF4029_XP2

Both images were also shot at f/2.8 (or, was it f/4?) with a 1/52 sec. shutter speed at ISO-200. I have to make a conscious effort to remember the aperture, however the shutter speed and ISO are from the images’ EXIF data. But wait! Remember the aperture gain mentioned earlier? Well, this “old” f/2 lens just became a f/1.8, amazing! Now, there are a lot of reviews online and you can read more about the MTF ratiings, if the adapter did or did not affect sharpness, if the “bokeh” did in fact look like it was shot with a full frame camera, etc. I don’t even have time to do 100% crops, so I’m sorry to disappoint the pixel-peepers. I am going to say however, that I am quite happy with the over-all performance of the adapter, and that it has lived up to my expectations. Yours, of course, may vary ;) This is about MY user experience. And although I have just started using it, I now have it permanently attached to my X-E1, which I use exclusively with legacy manual focus lenses.

There are 2 other sample pictures with this article. The first one is the colored 3-series long exposure on the beach. The second is the B&W daytime long exposure of a small waterfall. I used to lug around my DSLR’s to do this kind of shooting, but now with the Fuji X-E1 and the Speedbooster, my full frame wide-angle lenses are almost what they are – certainly wide enough for this APS-C camera. My old Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 AI-s lens is back to life with a FOV of 25.5mm f/2 – not bad at all! And my backpack is now much lighter with this setup. The DSLRs stay home!

Receding Waves

DSCF4048_DxO

There are other few things I’ve found out in my short time with the adapter;

1) Build Quality – In a word – Excellent! The adapter feels solid and mounts securely onto the camera with no play whatsoever. The adapter is heavy, but not too much. In fact the weight adds a good heft to the lighter feel of the camera. The rear optical element is made by Caldwell Photographic – ‘nough said. If you don’t know them, ask Google.

2) Since I now have the adapter on the camera all the time, the thought occurred to me that my camera’s sensor is better protected – especially during lens changes. I mostly use manual primes with this setup. So I am very careful during lens changes. The adapter covers the sensor and it is far easier and less risky to clean the adapter than the sensor.

3) I love the built-in (but removable) tripod foot. Some users remove it because they feel it gets in the way. This could be true if you do a lot of handheld shooting. I have gotten used to is as an additional point of contact thus making for a more secure hold on the camera. But I appreciate it more is because it places the tripod hole squarely in the middle line of sight of both lens and sensor. The camera tripod socket is NOT in this line of sight. Also, the solid build of the adapter with its tripod foot takes the “stress” away from the camera mount when using large heavier lenses.

I’m sure there will be other surprises as I spend more time with the Speedbooster. The adapter is pricey. And I’m not sure I would have bought it new, if I didn’t win it in the auction. It is not for everyone. Remember, there is no electronic communication between the lens and camera body*. There is no autofocus. There is no lens stabilization unless it is on the camera. To me, it lends itself more to an “old school” way of shooting. Its really great if you have a stable of legacy manual lenses, because now you can enjoy them again. In the end, the important thing is that it works for me. And I am happy to have and use it.

*The ONLY exception is the Speedbooster for Canon lenses that communicates focus confirmation, aperture and image stabilization. However, there is still no AF capability.

More info on the Metabones Speedbooster http://www.metabones.com/products/?c=speed-booster

 

Caldwell white paper on the Speedbooster (really techie stuff)

http://www.metabones.com/assets/a/stories/Speed%20Booster%20White%20Paper.pdf

About myself:

My Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/photosbynoel

My Flickr pagehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/cuzincali/sets/

My 500px page - http://500px.com/Cuzincali

Mar 262014
 

fujiX

Fujifilm X-T1 User Experience

By Kelvin Ng

I never do a review for any camera. I also never know how to write a proper review for a camera that I used. I am going to make an exception for this Fujifilm X-T1. I want to share some of my “user experience” about this camera. It is not a technical “review”, but it is rather an “experience” to share. Anyway, I was one of your Daily Inspiration #439 with the Fujifilm X100s.

X-T1-3

Some History About the Gears I Owned…

My first Fujifilm mirror less camera was the X100. That was the time (2011) I sold all my DSLR gear, and bought the X100 to pair with my Olympus EP3. I have never regretted and missed my DSLR since then. I just hate the size and look of a DSLR. I found the X100 and EP3 was really suited for a non-pro photographer like me. I enjoyed traveling with the lightweight and small size of these cameras in a small camera bag.

I know most of the people complaint about the autofocus of Fujifilm X100. I was the one who complaint it too. When looking at the retro out look of the camera, and also the photo came out from the X100, I tried to compromise the slow autofocus with the retro look and the photo quality.

I purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro1 in 2012, but I sold it after a month of usage. I just can’t justify the cost that I invested into this system with a very slow autofocus in return. Hence, I got myself an Olympus OMD EM5 instead. I also have tried the Fujifilm X-E1 in a short period of time, and sold it with the same reason I found with the X-Pro1.

I bought the X100s in 2013. I skipped the X-E2. Until recently in 2014, I got myself the Fujifilm X-T1.

fuji

What I found?

I will not talk about the full X-T1 specification here. I find no point to talk about it since the camera specification can be easily obtain from Fujifilm official website. I am quite satisfied with the Fujifilm X-T1 performance, but several points I wanted to share here. I found this are the point worth mention.

X-T1-2

a) Autofocus of X-T1

I think the autofocus of X-T1 is the main concern for many people who want to buy into this system. I have tried Fujifilm X-Pro1, X-E1, and Olympus EP3, EM5. If I rate the autofocus of Olympus OMD EM5 as 10 out of 10, then the X-T1 will be 8.5 out of 10. The X-Pro1 is much lower than that. I would say the autofocus of X100s are on par with the X-T1. I have full confident on OMD EM5. It never misses when I press on the shutter. The X-T1 pair with the 35mm f1.4, I still miss some shot. The lens tends to hunt a bit before lock into the subject. It could be the 35mm f1.4 lens characteristic? Other factor? I found the same with the 14mm f2.8 too. However, it is not being hunt at very horrible stage, it has improved very much since the X-Pro1. If you have come from the Olympus OMD EM5 family, you will get frustrated and feel less confident about the autofocus of the X-T1. I believe time will help to get use to the X-T1 system. You will be very happy if you are upgrading from X100, X-E1, or X-Pro1. For me… I just hope the autofocus of this X-T1 can be improved further to compete with the Olympus OMD.

X-T1-6

b) Button & Menu

I found the button is nicely place on the camera. Once I set up the camera, I have not looked into the menu for other setting. I can change the setting with simple turn of the dial. Even the in camera advance filter, it can be access by turning one of the dial.

c) EVF

The EVF is large and clear with a lot of information. No complaint except the EVF can be very noisy under dim light condition. Make focus peaking a bit difficult.

X-T1-12

d) Battery Life

Not a good one. The battery dies suddenly without warning, even though the indicator shown half of the battery life. I would say 350 shot average per charge.

e) White Balance

It can be very hard to control the white balance. The output tends to be very pinky or magenta in some occasion. I notice the red color on the subject never be the red. I might be wrong, but I have noticed it since the X100s.

X-T1-21

How I Process the Photo from X-T1…

There is no RAW support as of this writing with Lightroom 5. This is how I set up the Fujifilm X-T1, when I want strait JPEG photo out from the camera. Here are the settings:

Highlight -1

Shadow -2

Color 0

Sharpness 0

DR Auto

Noise Reduction -2

X-T1-5

The entire photos shown on this page were shot with the above setting. I made some adjustment in Lightroom for Saturation, Contrast, White Balance, Dodge & Burn, and Sharpness. The black & white photo was converted using the pre-set in Lightroom 5. Several reason that I have the X-T1 set to the above setting. This is the experience that I have gotten from when using the X100s. I found the X-T1 produce decent and unique JPEG output with this setting.

• The noise grain. The grain is so nice at ISO 800 and above. I just hope it will be completely turn off the noise reduction. I have the noise reduction set to -2.

• The highlight clipping. I found it is much easy to blown the detail of highlight. I have the Highlight set to -1 or -2.

• The lost of detail in shadow. I notice when the shadow is set to 0, some of the shadow will become very dark, and cause lost in detail. I have the shadow set to -2, and increase the contrast during post processing in Lightroom 5. I found this approach is much more satisfied.

X-T1-25

Worth to Upgrade?

If you ask me about my opinion, I would say the following:

If you need an X system with interchangeable lens, then it is a yes. If you are X100, X-E1, or X-Pro1 user, then it is a yes. But, I don’t see the need to upgrade if you are a X-E2 user, unless you need a weather shield camera body. For X100s user, if you can live with the fix lens, then no point to upgrade. For other mirror less system user, please check on the autofocus of X-T1 before jump into it.

X-T1-15

Am I satisfied with Fujifilm X-T1?

Certainly, there are more pros and cons. Overall, Fujifilm X-T1 is quite suited for my style of shooting (Street or Vacation). The autofocus is improved very much compare to the X-Pro1 that I had two year ago. With the uniqueness of Fujifilm photo rendering, it is good enough to justify the investment into the X-T1 system. I always build my system with focal length equivalent to 21mm, 35mm, and 50mm. Similar to my Leica MP system, the Voigtlander 21mm f4, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, and Leica Summicron 50mm f2. Now I have the Fujifilm 14mm f2.8, 35mm f1.4, and X100s to complete the range of focal length that I needed. I would skip the Fujifilm XF 23mm f1.4R lens.

The Fujinon lens is excellent. Not only in build quality, the Fujinon lens produce sharp image even shooting wide open. I tend to use the 14mm f2.8 quite often on the street, and the 23mm focal length on my X100s next. The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 is less, only one or two occasion for portrait shot. The photo that I share here is not the best, but it represents what the X-T1 is capable to produce. JPEG out is nice, with Fujifilm color signature.

I am sure the RAW file from the X-T1 will be the same as other X Trans sensor. Some people hate it and some people like it. I found the RAW file can be very flat or dull sometime. As what Steve mention before about Fujifilm X Trans Sensor, the file can be nice with good light. I don’t want to comment further on the X-T1 RAW file yet, but I believe it will be the same for all X Trans sensor. However, it is not a problem for me.

Yes, I am satisfied with the Fujifilm X-T1.

My blog: www.kbphotographyblog.com

X-T1-14

X-T1-13

X-T1-11

X-T1-10

X-T1-8

X-T1-7

X-T1-4

X-T1-1

Mar 262014
 

A Month on the Road with the Fuji x100/Why It Is Still My Soulmate

By Andy Eclov

Hi Steve, thanks for the opportunity to share my story!

My name is Andy, I’m a 21-year-old musician from Chicago. I spend about 3-5 months out of the year touring with my band and, for a while, I would bring my 1D with several lenses and two-speed lights on tour, but that was ultimately too much to lug around and too much to risk losing.

I then spent about a year shooting photos only with my shiny new iPhone 5 so that I would be forced to compose with the provided lens, and have to work to get nice lighting situations. Just like Steve said in his recent article, I sometimes focus too much on the beauty and acquisition of photography gear and not enough on the process.

iPhone

IMG_0023

The convenience was obviously there with the iPhone, but the quality was suffering, and so was my interest in taking photos. Being able to shoot a photo, edit it in-hand, and upload it to my blog in less than 5 minutes was an undeniable benefit that I didn’t want to go without by going back to the Canon gear. So I spent my countless hours of research and review-reading focused on the mirrorless systems. The Fuji x100 was an easy choice. It stood out to me physically, the viewfinder is attractive, and the photos have a certain sparkle to them when compared to similar cameras’ photos. Being a collector of 35mm rangefinders and SLRs made the Fuji impossible to pass up.

Iphone

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

I spent a couple of months carrying the x100 with me everywhere, spending as much time as possible getting to know it and it’s quirks. I scoured the internet in search of every accessory I could justify (or afford).

Fuji

Austin TX Fuji

But before too long, the snowy and freezing Chicago suburbs got in the way of any motivation to go out and take photos every day. Besides the studio project from time to time, my x100 was bound to taking photos of my puppy in the kitchen for a while.

Finally the time came to head out on another tour, and I was delighted to finally have an opportunity to shoot with the Fuji. I appreciate that I was able to spend so much time getting the camera set up just right for my exact specifications, it seems like a very customizable interface – once you get the hang of it.

Fuji

Broken Arrow OK Fuji

Kansas City Fuji

The camera came out every time I got out of our van. No matter what the scenario, it was beautiful to see it through that viewfinder. It gave me a reason to be the first one awake every day. I’d try to get an idea of what the city we were in each night was like, and then the next morning I’d walk and snap photos for a while before we moved on to the next place.

I used my wifi SD card to send my images from my camera to my phone, where I would edit them with VSCO cam and some other apps, and then post them to my blog right away. Before long I couldn’t stand the quality I was losing by compressing the original files through my iPhone anymore and decided to take the time to shoot RAW and edit more carefully and selectively.

Fuji

St Louis Fuji

Brookyln NY Fuji

I think shooting with the Fuji x100 has made me a better photographer and I think it will continue to do so. More than anything, it keeps me in love with my photography. Though it may be nearly outdated already by some’s standards, I think this camera will stay with me for a long, long time.

I keep a detailed blog of my travels here: noctevolant.tumblr.com

 

Mar 242014
 

High speed street portraits with the Fuji X-E1 and 35mm lens

By Boris Taillard

Hello Brandon and Steve,

Firstly, thank you for the work you are putting into your website. I am a regular reader and very much enjoy the mix of “real world” reviews and pictures and reports from other readers (and therefore decided to submit my own :-)).

I have been using a Fuji X-E1 for over a year and started doing film photography recently. If you find my submission interesting and would like to publish it, I would be very happy to share my experience using the camera for this type of shots. Also, here is a link to my NEW BLOG.

I have recently joined a street photography group, but have found it difficult to overcome my inhibitions to take pictures of strangers; with or without asking for their permission. As a first step to go beyond this, I set myself a goal to shoot candid portraits of as many people as I could without warning them – and to be gone before they could even realise what just happened. I used a 90 minutes session with my street photography group to give the idea a try in the Dublin city center on a busy Saturday. Another constraint was also to only shoot at 50mm and not to post-process the files coming out of the camera (I only cheated to crop or bump up the exposure for 2 or 3 of them but otherwise all the pictures are OOC JPEGS).  You can see more pictures in this Flickr set, but here are a few samples along with a bit more details of how I did during the shot.

13018615994_6a84af9ecc_b

In addition to gaining more self-confidence, the challenge was also a technical one: the only camera I currently own is a Fuji X-E1 with a XF 35mm lenses, which is definitely not known for it fast operations; especially when it comes autofocus speed. Using the camera in fully automated mode was therefore clearly not an option. Where the camera could shine though is that Fuji is known for their nice out of camera JPEG files, and that manual mode is a joy to use.

13018369543_5f6c33a0dc_b

Here are the settings I quickly found were the optimal ones and which were used for most of the pictures:

  • Aperture fixed to F11 (small value to maximise depth of field as I was using manual focus on a preset distance)
  • Shutter speed fixed to 1/500th of a second (fast value to to reduce motion blur as both myself and the subjects are moving while taking the shots)
  • Auto ISO 6400 (so that the camera can adjust the ISO value automatically to get the right exposure)
  • Manuel focus with prefocus for a distance of 1 to 1.5 meter (so that slow autofocus is not an issue, and knowing that I would shot mostly portraits of one person at a time)
  • Astia film simulation mode (gives fairly natural colours and nice skin tones)
  • Highlight +1 and Shadow +2 to increase contrast and give more impact to the pictures
  • Colour 0 to maintained natural skin tones
  • DR400 to preserve highlights and shadows (to cover for a cloudy day with very bright sky and hight contrast settings)

13018228445_d304fb4861_b

Of course none of the shots are technically perfect as they all happened very quickly, walking down the street and just raising the camera at someone and pressing the shutter button. There was no way to get them perfectly in focus or to completely avoid motion blur, but having said that I believe I got a few nice ones. It is also quite interesting to capture what people look like when they are just minding their own business and not expecting anyone to look at them (they sometimes do notice you and look at the camera which is good for the picture, but just keep walking and don’t question what you are doing).

13018212065_148fb20369_b

I really like the colours of some of these shots, and while I am not always happy with Fuji’s camera JPEGs, on this particular occasion I think they lived up to their reputation. Another great thing about the camera here is the fact that ISO 6400 shots (most of these) look very clean in good light, which was crucial to capture enough light while maintaining a decent depth of field and being able to freeze movement. The fact that while you are in full manual mode (fixed aperture and shutter speed) auto ISO is still active and can set the exposure right is also great – and I don’t believe all cameras are able to do this.

13018356063_f140762987_b

On a more negative note, even when it is pre-focused the X-E1 is not exactly a speed daemon. I don’t know if it is shutter lag or a delay with the image refresh on the LCD screen, but I definitely noticed that I had to press the shutter button before the subject had fully appeared on the screen where I wanted it to be. This made taking pictures a bit of a gamble, but with practice it was possible to get it right most of the time.

 13018609034_bfc825e160_b

Overall, from a technical point of view it was interesting to see what can be done in fast street photography using a not so fast camera. I haven’t used a good SLR or speedy micro 4/3 camera in quite a while, but I would be curious to know if they would cope with this and nail perfect focus in fully automatic mode (comments about this are welcome!).

From a more personal point of view, when you want to get serious about street photography you have to be very comfortable with taking pictures of total strangers – which for a number of people doesn’t come naturally (me included). One way is to take “stolen pictures” like these and the other is probably a more social approach where you make contact with the subject and possible get them to post for you. The first one is probably the easiest one to get away with if you are more technical that social and I am glad I have gone through that stage. I will be working on the second one next :-)

13018619784_0d3dce89f3_b

Thanks for reading, and do not hesitate to post some comments!

13018375753_9099af8dce_b

Thanks again and all the best with the website,

Boris

Mar 182014
 

Quick updates on the Fuji X-T1

by Brad Husick

(see Brad’s initial thoughts at the bottom of my X-T1 review HERE)

I am still loving my new X-T1 and the results I am getting with Leica glass are fantastic. Here are three quick updates:

1) The new Fuji MHG-XT handgrip (the one without the battery) has arrived and I can say that although it’s fairly expensive for a non-electronic item, it is very well built and well thought-out. The mount screw is a hex and is fully recessed into the bottom to allow easy mounting to Arca-Swiss style heads. The left side (as viewed from the back of the camera) is nicely tapered and smoothed for a good feel in the hand. The front of the grip comes up just high enough to wrap your middle finger over the top. The box even comes with the proper hex key for mounting. I’d say this grip is a fantastic addition to the handling of the camera without making the overall package too large. I was worried about this when considering the battery grip.

handgrip

2) The light leak issue from inside the left door (as viewed from the back) is real. You can test this by turning on the camera and leaving the lens cap or body cap in place, then opening the door and shining a flashlight into the top portion of the ports. I have attached a photo to show this. The good news is that Fuji is fixing all the cameras with this issue and when I spoke with them yesterday they said they are taking names and addresses to send out mailing labels when the replacement parts get to New Jersey from Japan. It shouldn’t be long now before that happens. In the mean time, just leave the cap closed when shooting and you shouldn’t have any troubles.

lightleak

3) I re-ran my indoor sports shooting test (see Steve’s review article near the bottom for my section) this time shooting at f/4 and ISO 6400 with the camera set to “high performance” mode and JPEG only capture. The results were better but still not up to the level of full size Nikon or Canon DSLR sports performance. Frame rates were high (but not 8 fps) and the buffer allowed for 10 to 15 shots. I suspect that with one of the new Sandisk UHS-2 SDXC cards (280MB/sec) we would see that number skyrocket, but these cards aren’t shipping just yet. My conclusion on indoor sports shooting with the X-T1 remains – we need faster zooms (f/2.8) and I am not selling my D4 any time soon.

Brad

 

03/20: UPDATE:

The lacrosse photos were taken with the kit zoom, as was the restaurant photo. The photo of me was taken with the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH lens at f/1.4. The full frames are that – full frame. The “zoomed” images are screen captures at 100% in Lightroom. Minimal processing was done.

Thanks,

Brad

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.24.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.20.24 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.23.52 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.31.33 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.31.52 PM

Mar 122014
 

titlebrazilcolin

Brazil 2014

by Colin Steel – His Website is HERE

Colin_Steel_00

Given that Brazil is one of the worlds most famous footballing countries and the massive amount of media attention focused on this years World Cup there, I thought it might be interesting to look at another aspect of this fascinating country by experiencing life in the more rural areas. I also want to spin in some thoughts that I have been having for a while on my motivation to photograph, choice of subject matter and the development of photographic style.

 Colin_Steel_01

I have only visited Brazil once and somehow I was not attracted to the main cities and wanted to see for myself what the less publicised Brazil looked like. For an outsider like me I had two cliches of Brazil in my head, firstly the frantic, carnavalistic Rio and of course the jungles of the Amazon with its indigenous tribes. As I said, somehow I wanted to have a look at what I thought would be the more normal but rural Brazil so I headed to Cachoeira in North East Brazil via the entry city of Salvador de Bahia. Armed with my trusty Fuji X20 and a newly purchased Ricoh GR I started to photograph and this is where it got really interesting for me.

Colin_Steel_02

Unbeknown to me, this area of Brazil had historically been a major location for slave trading and I am sure I read somewhere that more slaves were landed here than in North America but either way, there is a massive African cultural influence that is apparent in many aspects of life here from cuisine to religion. It was this religious aspect that made the subsequent photographs interesting for me without consciously realising it at the time.

Colin_Steel_03

I quickly discovered that there was a local religion that I know very little about called Candomble and as best as I can understand it, its a blend of traditional African beliefs and ceremony fused with some Christian elements. The religion is not based on scripts and it appeared to me to be kept alive through chants and dance. I had the very good fortune to be allowed to attend part of a Candomble event and witness the rituals first hand. I must say that despite their concern for privacy (and rightly so) the people I met at the hall were very warm to me although we could not understand each others language very well. I am sure that Candomble has been photographed many times and probably more eloquently than my shots so there is nothing knew in this but I wanted to try explain how the experience shaped how and what I shot for the rest of my stay.

Colin_Steel_06

Whether my interpretation of the Candomble religion is correct or not, it did trigger some thinking in me that I feel is fundamentally important and I wanted to try to share it here. What I found was that the dances and chants had a very spiritual side to them and I was also asked by the people there not to touch anything I came across as it might be there for a purpose to guide spirits. I began to notice many things like animal parts on the ground and somehow I became more aware and sensitised to my surroundings. Why is this important from a photographic point of view? Well I began to photograph things that I would previously have passed by and at the same time I began to ignore subjects that I would recently have photographed because I thought that it might have proved attractive and that other people might have been impressed by. This meant that I was photographing from within myself and only shooting subjects and scenes that had real emotional meaning to me personally regardless of what others may think of them.

Colin_Steel_08

As you can imagine this is pretty challenging to do but I forced myself to not go for shots where I felt no internal emotional or spiritual association and found that I became immersed at times in my own world, seeing things very differently from my previous photographic eye.

Colin_Steel_09

Having started like many photographers obsessed by the technicalities of the art and worrying about sharpness, composition and so on its very difficult to snap out of that way of thinking but I now firmly believe that if you are really serious about using photography as a medium to express yourself and the depth behind our extraordinary lives you have to either let go of the formal concepts or at least use them only at the subconscious level. If you are able to allow yourself to be drawn to things that you need not understand but somehow they trigger an internal stimuli, notion or recognition then you can make your photography personal and I think that is the ultimate step in both satisfaction and making your photography unique to you. In some sense every photograph you take then is actually a capture of yourself. Surely that is a laudable objective.

 Colin_Steel_10

When I got myself into this frame of mind I found quite quickly that my photographs became more content dominant. I now believe this to be a very good thing and almost a sure sign that what you are shooting is personal to you in some way. That is not to say that the photographs do not have the other elements of light and form but somehow, as I am sure I remember Roger Ballen saying somewhere, the content becomes the form. To try to explain this a little, in the photo of the dog above, its the light that makes it work but it was the dog that attracted me first and I felt that he had something to say that could not be seen by sitting him down and snapping him. For me there is a real mystery to life and sometimes we have to leave our rational brains behind to reveal other sensory and spiritual aspects.

Colin_Steel_11

I guess going back to the beginning of mankind there are certain deep rooted emotions, fears, loves, desires and terrors that are within us all and they can be triggered in many different ways by sounds, smells, light and so on. What the Brazilian experience has done for me is sensitised me to a way of looking for times when I personally feel a need to respond to something by either looking more closely at it it or sometimes, as in the previous animal head shot, recoiling from it. This immediately alerts me to the fact that there is something that I need to make sense of for myself.

Colin_Steel_12

Quite often you will begin to find that when you shoot personally or privately from within there are relationships between the subjects, shapes and forms that will assist you as a photographer to edit and sequence more powerfully and I certainly found that to be the case for me.

Colin_Steel_13

I began to find that I was attracted to photograph something initially because of a simple shape, line or reflection that interested me and when I began to look more closely other combinations and elements would appear.

One thing I want to avoid here is to make this sound mysterious or revelationary because I genuinely don’t think it is and, in fact, in some ways its the opposite. This approach is simple and strips away nearly all of the mystique of the photographic craft by allowing you to be free in how and what you choose to shoot unencumbered by technicalities.

Colin_Steel_14

I think by now you should hopefully be getting some understanding of what I find incredibly difficult to put into words. I only know that this set of images is as close as I have ever come to showing myself through the photographic medium and I derive a huge amount of personal satisfaction from that. Its nice, but not important to me if other people like the images. I feel in a way that I have been working towards this for the last year or so but somehow it took the trigger of the Candomble experience to show me how to do it.

Colin_Steel_16

One of the nice things I have found about trying to shoot from subconscious instinct and response is that the photos are not at all narrow or constrained to particular subjects or themes and whilst I find myself shooting much less people, my sense of it is that when I do its in a much more sensitive way.

I mentioned at the start the very thorny subject of photographic style and this is something that I have struggled to understand since I began photography around six years ago. I know more and more that I respond to certain photographers and their imagery and less so others. I have also become an avid collector of photo books by the same photographers that I admire and I am beginning to formulate a personal view on style.

Colin_Steel_17

I think its reasonable to say that anyones ‘style’ whether they be actor, fashion designer, movie maker, writer or whatever is in some way shaped by their life experiences and the personal influences that they draw on. It seems to me that I am attracted to photographers who place very little importance on anything other than shooting only things that intrinsically interest them. Whether you could say that they have developed completely individual ‘style’ I am not so sure and quite often we identify photographers not by their style but simply through the fact that we know their photographs or by some mannerism that they frequently use. What I am sure of though is that they photograph individualistically and derive their style not from a camera, film, lens or other mannerism but from the fact that they photograph something of themselves in all of their best photographs whether that be their lust, desires, fears, uncertainties or whatever and that is what makes them compelling for me to look at. I often also find the case that they are best at creating bodies of work and, although they might have a few iconic images, its only when you look at a complete compilation that they make most sense and have greatest appeal, hence the importance of the photo book for me.

Colin_Steel_18

This takes me back to the earlier point I made that I think if you can shoot from inside then your work becomes more sensible and easier to edit and sequence. I am sure most photographers will agree with me that editing your work is without doubt one of the hardest things to do and we all agonise over the photo we love but that doesn’t fit. Well, while that doesn’t disappear entirely, I have certainly found that despite the diverse subject matter, I can more easily see a continuity in the photos I take and I firmly believe that is because I am responding to internal triggers and trying to search out my spirituality.

Colin_Steel_21

Returning then to Brazil, as you can see, I found the country fascinating and once in the countryside an amazing stream of events unfolded and I found the photography very rewarding. As in every rural community in the world that I have visited people that live off the land tend to be warm and kind if treated with respect and that proved to be the case here as we were continually were gifted lovely fresh oranges or a newly rolled cigar.

Colin_Steel_22

I think I need to begin to wind this up now as I am in danger of repeating the simple message that I hoped to share in this short article. If anyone wants to see the full set in my choice of sequence they can do so here .

Colin_Steel_32

Finally, I want to finish by just saying a little about the opening picture that I feel has a very important role in what I wanted to say here. The photo is of a chameleon who had been caught and was being cooked by some poor local fishermen. Needless to say I found it very sad to see the beautiful creature change unwillingly to the colour of the coals in his death but somehow there was something important for me in this event. I would never have previously stopped to even look at this because I would have been repulsed but that very sensation now made me want to go and take a closer look to see if I could find any meaning in the sad event. I became intrigued by the newspaper that had attached to the lizard in the fire and somehow, even in death there was meaning to this. I don’t think its overly important but the Portuguese words Na Verdade on the paper mean ‘actually …….. ‘ and it did suggest to me something that I can’t fully understand and certainly can’t put into words but that photograph sure speaks to me.

Colin_Steel_34

Mar 102014
 

DSC_0029

The Fuji X-T1 Review. Fuji creates the Best X to date!

What a way to blow a review! I pretty much say right there in the title that yes indeed this X-T1 is the BEST Fuji X to date, even surpassing the X100 and X100s for me..finally! Many of you know that I was never a huge fan of the X-Pro 1, X-E1, X-E2, etc. I just never felt that they were mature..in fact, on more than one occasion I called them “Beta” products and we, the consumers, were the testers as we shelled out thousands for the bodies and lenses.

Well, the good thing about all of this is that Fuji seems to finally figured out everything (almost) and have now created the Body that the X-Pro 1 should have been as the X-T1 beats the Pro 1 all over and down the block and the “T” stands for “Tough”. Yes, the X-T1 is now weather sealed!

All images in this review were shot JPEG. Click on ANY image in this review for a larger version.

14mm at ISO 250 – f/2.8

makingthepretz14mm

So do I prefer the X-T1 to the E-M1?

As many here know. I have been a HUGE fan of the Olympus Micro 4/3 offerings for years and the E-M1 has been my daily “goto” camera since launch for its build, speed, response, feel, control and lenses. The IQ is also quite fantastic though many dismiss it due to the sensor size. With this new Fuji many have asked if the X-T1 will unseat my E-M1 for my new “goto” camera.

To that I say…NO. As much as the Fuji is an improvement over the previous Fuji bodies, and by a large margin it does not have enough for me to buy it over an E-M1. I have a Leica M 240 which is my premium IQ camera and the Fuji does not come close in IQ, feel rendering, etc to my M, so I have no need for the Fuji. I also have a Nikon V1, J1, and new stuff on the way soon. If I bought the Fuji I would still prefer to shoot the E-M1 for its faster speed, better build, better JPEG output, 5-Axis IS and  the gorgeous lenses. IQ is a draw besides some shallow DOF effects, but for that I have my Leica which beats them both easily.

The Fuji X-T1 surprised me because when the review sample arrived I expected more of the same..which means, big claims and underperformance. BUT, I was shocked to see that this time, the new Fuji lived up to the hype and then some. While not perfect, it is one hell of a camera and the one to beat for APS-C out of the cameras I have shot with to date (NON DSLR).

If I had NO CAMERA and was starting from scratch, the X-T1 would be under serious consideration along with the 14, 23, 35 and 56 lenses. You can buy it here.

Direct from camera color – JPEG – 35 1.4 at ISO 500

DSCF2079

For the 1st week that I had the review sample from B&H Photo I also rented a couple of lenses. The 14 2.8 and the oh so popular 35 1.4. I also had the 18-55 Kit Zoom that I never did get to try, so it was nice to see and verify that yes indeed, this 18-55 is the nicest kit zoom I have ever shot with. It is a quality Zoom for sure.

So with all of that out of the way, let me get to the meat and potatoes. How does the camera feel, perform, respond, and how are the controls and build? Before you read, and in case you missed it..you can see my very 1st impression video review below:

The Build and Feel of the Fuji X-T1

This X-T1 feels very good. Better than the Pro-1, X-E1, X-E2. It feels ergonomically correct, for my hands at least. While not as solid or hefty as the Olympus E-M1, the grip feels just right. There is less of the “Fuji Hollowness” that I noticed with previous bodies. The bottom line? I have no complaints on the build and ergonomics. It could have been better, but it also could have been worse.

The control…

One thing I love is the manual dials and controls which remind me of the Nikon Df (review here). On the top of the body we have controls and dials to set the ISO (love this), the metering (love this) and the Exposure Compensation (love this as well). You can also twist a dial and set up bracketing or continuous shooting, etc. It is all right there at your fingertips.

IMGP0031

On the back of the camera we have the trash button, the play button, the AE-L button, the AF-L button, a thumb dial, focus assist button (which is nice), the Q button and display button. The heart of the back is the thumb pad and MENU/OK button.

My ONE issue with the design of the back is that damn thumb pad. It sucks. Plain and simple. The thumb pad buttons for top, left, right and bottom do not feel good at all. They do not stick out enough or give any kind of tactile feedback. They are “mushy” and “soft”. If I buy this camera I will be sticking some little buttons on each directional pad. Not sure why Fuji designed it like that but this is ONE area where they dropped the design ball.

Is it bad enough to not buy the camera? No, it is just something you will wish they had designed better.

18-55 at 55mm and ISO 200 – f/4

train1

The EVF…

Pull up your eyeball to the big EVF and you may feel like you are at a drive in theater. Yes, the EVF will spoil you with the HUGE size. It is the largest looking EVF I have ever had the pleasure to peep through and it is pretty bad ass. I LOVE EVF’s and have preferred them to OVF’s for a couple of years now. When the Olympus E-M1 was released, that EVF was AMAZING. The Fuji is even more WOW and AMAZING to look through but it does have some quirks. Still, it puts the E-M1 EVF in 2nd place.

IMGP0036

When shooting in low light or going from light to dark the EVF will lag for a bit and then catch up. It also gets grainy at night. BUT, for me, it does not take away from the experience. At all. I can still frame my shots and fire away. I love this EVF. Again, not perfect but so much better than ANY other Fuji EVF to date. Makes me wonder though..why did the not use their OVF/EVF design of the X100 but make it large? Would have been even better to have the choice as many prefer an OVF over the EVF. This would have covered everyones tastes.

Still, the EVF is beautiful to look through. HUGE and almost rear LCD like. Some may even prefer to use the EVF over the LCD to view their images! I like that the camera can be set up to use the EVF without the LCD. So turn on eye detection and the rear LCD will stay off and the EVF will pop on when your face is put up to it. This is how I shot the camera, no chimping.

14mm at f/2.8 and ISO 200

babayatdoor

-

35 1.4 at ISO 200 and f/1.4

DSCF2141

-

35 1.4 at ISO 200 and f/1.4

DSCF2266

The SD card door, battery compartment and LCD…

The SD card door feels good and is one of those pull back and slide out designs. It locks back into place with a nice click and I encountered zero issues. The Battery door is just like 90% of cameras with the flick of the switch  to open. No issues. The other side of the camera with the HDMI port felt a little sloppy though and I thought that out could have been made to be more like the SD card door, so it would lock into place. Instead you just push it in and it feels a little mushy. But most cameras are like this.

The LCD is a swivel LCD and looks good. No complaints as it is your run of the mill 2013/2014 LCD in quality and size. I much prefer to use that massive EVF. :)

35 1.4 – ISO 640 – A creepy crawly critter found in my kitchen :)

DSCF2098

-

14mm ISO 800

14brandonjpeg

The speed of the Fuji X-T1. 

The Fuji X-T1 had to be faster than the previous X bodies. If it was not it would be an immediate fail for me. This was my #1 worry about the camera. With that E-M1 I speak so highly of..well, it is just such a JOY to use due to the speed, response, IS, etc. So I was a bit worried about the Fuji because I knew there was no way for it to compete in this area with the E-M1.

So how did it do?

Well, when using newer lenses like the 14 2.8 it was very fast. I had no issues with AF at all. Speed was great AND accuracy was superb! This started to get me excited because my #1 main niggle with these Fuji’s has been the AF speed AND accuracy! These have both been remedied it seemed. When I put on the older 35 1.4 is when I saw  the AF slow down. Faster than previous bodies but I think it is a lens limitation instead of the camera limitation. It was easily usable but the Olympus 25 1.8 smoked it on my E-M1 for speed. Still, it was not annoyingly slow or anything, just not as fast as that 14 2.8. The Kit Zoom hunted from time to time in lower light and was also not the fastest but still acceptable.

So overall I would give the X-T1 high marks just for the improvements made on the speed and response. Speaking of response, gone are the Fuji days of slow, sluggish menus and response. The X-T1 is up there with the competition when it comes to response and offers better response and speed than the Sony A7 and A7r.

So Fuji created this camera to make a statement I think. To send a message to guys like me..“WE CAN make a fast and responsive camera”!

18-55 at f/4 and ISO 200

DSCF2335

Compared to the Olympus E-M1. High ISO and Detail. 

Some have asked me to include this in the review since many are debating between the E-M1 and X-T1. To be honest, I also feel Fuji released the X-T1 in response to the E-M1. Same shape, design, etc. They HAD to answer to the E-M1 as it has been wildly successful. So how does the X-T1 compare?

Speed and Response vs the E-M1

The E-M1 still wins for speed, response and overall quality of build. But it’s closer now than with previous Fuji camera bodies. With the new X lenses such as the 14mm some will not even notice a difference. When it coms to continuous AF though the Fuji fails and is way behind the Olympus. For CAF, the Olympus E-M1 wins the battle.

EVF Battle

I prefer the Fuji. It is larger, more vibrant, and looks like you are viewing a large LCD up close. It is a nice effect. With that said, the Olympus E-M1 EVF is 2nd best in the market.

Controls and Dials

The Olympus dials feel more substantial but the Fuji control scheme..I much prefer. So for real world usage, I prefer the Fuji as it has the right controls in the right places. They just do not feel as solid and well made as the Olympus. I hate the Fuji rear thumb pad with a passion though.

Image Stabilization

Olympus. Easy. No contest. Period. Until you have experienced that 5-Axis IS you have not experienced IS.

Lens Selection

NOW it is getting close. With the Fuji 14 2.8, 23 1.4, 35 1.4, and new 56 1.2 as well as the nice Kit Zoom Fuji is about equal with Olympus. Almost. I prefer the Olympus 60 Macro to the Fuji Macro and I love the little jewel like Oly lenses like the 12mm, 25 1.8, 75 1.8, etc. Still Fuji has caught up and makes Sony appear to be lagging behind in the high quality fast prime arena. I am giving this one a tie because Fuji has released quite a few superb lenses in a short time.

IMAGE QUALITY

Here is where it gets tricky. Now, all of you Fuji guys and gals will tell me NO CONTEST! Fuji! But not so fast. The Olympus is amazing in the IQ department and some of my favorite photos that I have seen last year in 2013 were shot on an E-M1. It has no shortcomings in the IQ department when using it with the superb prime lenses. I have always preferred the Olympus IQ to the Fuji and Sony APS-C offerings. With the X-T1 still using the X-T1 sensor let us see how it goes..

1st up, just a normal snapshot to check for tonality and color out of camera (JPEG). To me the Fuji looks more vibrant (the Fuji colors) and the Olympus is more muted and natural. The Olympus was closer to reality but which is more pleasing? Many will say “Fuji”. You can also see the depth of field differences. The Fuji was using the 35 1.4 at 1.8 and the Olympus the new 25 1.8 at 1.8. The Fuji will give you a more shallow DOF here as it is using a 35mm lens and the Olympus a 25mm lens. The longer the lens the more shallow DOF. While both are “equivalent 50mm” in field of view, they will not give you the same DOF. The Fuji focused decently with the 35 here and the Olympus was instant.

fujiboo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

-

100% crops from JPEG. This is where the Fuji X-Trans shows some issues with JPEG. The image of the tree below looks nice. Vibrant, sharp, pleasing. When looking at the 100% crop of each camera, the X-T1 and E-M1 you can see the Fuji has a watercolor effect going on which is NOT pleasant. The E-M1 does NOT have this effect. This is straight from camera on each. The E-M1 wins on this one easily, that is, the 100% crop detail test. Trees are always a nice torture test for detail and the E-M1 won this one easily. These are JPEGS as Adobe, at the time of this review, will not process the X-T1 RAW files. To be fair though, in the past using Adobe with the Fuji X-Trans RAW files yielded watercolor effects as well. Here, to me, the Oly wins. 

watercolorfujifull

fujiwatercolorcrop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

-

High ISO. Most claim the Fuji;s as the king of high ISO but this is not really true. Fuji always applies some level of noise  reduction as you can not turn it off, which really sucks. I always turn off NR on all of my cameras as NR makes the details look smeared no matter how much is used. It does not look natural at all. SO how does the X-T1 and E-M1 stand up at ISO 3200? We would expect the Fuji to wipe the floor and leave the Olympus in tears, but again, not the case. The Fuji is better but the Olympus crop with ZERO NR does not look bad. The Fuji is still applying some NR, the Olympus is NOT.

garlic

isoolyfuji3200

So there you have it, even when the E-m1 has the NR turned OFF it is not far behind the Fuji which as NR on the lowest setting. The Oly is also sharper showing more detail in the crop. I prefer the Olympus here for the 100% JPEG crop and the high ISO comparison at 3200. I also prefer Oly color as you can see from the shots here that are all with the E-M1. Also, proof that the E-M1 can be used and is used for Pro work that looks AMAZINGLY beautiful in color, DR and sharpness. SO many discount the Olympus just because they own a Fuji or Sony without any valid reasons. All of them are great in their own ways. What you choose is up to you for your own tastes.

ISO 1250 with 18-55 Kit Lens

DSCF2296

More about the X-T1

The Fuji X-T1 has the same menu style as previous Fuji bodies including all of the different JPEG color filters such as Velvia, Astia and Provia film simulations. Do they look like the film counterparts? No, but they can be nice for those who want to shoot JPEG as they give vibrant, contrasty and more punch to the files if that is what you seek. Basically this is like an X-E2 on steroids in an all new body shape. It shares the same sensor as the X-E2 so we still have the X-Trans “Look” that many love and some do not love so much :)

The Battery life is good, the EVF rocks, the control scheme/layout is fantastic and everything is right there on the camera to control. NO MORE menu diving. If you decide to go for the one with the kit zoom it is indeed a great Kit Zoom. Not as sharp as the primes and not as fast, but still…for an 18-55 Kit Zooom it is the best I have tried even including Image Stabilisation.

Below are some images shot with the kit zoom, exif is embedded on each but most were shot wide open between 18-55. 

DSCF2414

DSCF2370

DSCF2377

DSCF2302

DSCF2330

DSCF2420

DSCF2369

The X-T1 specs and features:

16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor

A large 16.3MP APS-C CMOS image sensor is integrated into the X-T1 to provide high image quality and detail. Using Fujifilm’s unique X-Trans bespoke pixel array, the sensor is designed with a randomized pixel pattern to eliminate the need of an optical low-pass filter for reducing moiré and aliasing. By removing this filter from the design, higher image sharpness is possible. Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) factors are also taken into account using the EXR Processor II, which helps to automatically compensate for aberrations and diffraction blur in order to produce images with the utmost inherent sharpness.

The X-Trans sensor also works to provide highly effective noise reduction and a clean signal-to-noise ratio. This enables smoother-looking imagery that becomes especially apparent when photographing in low-light situations with an expanded sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200. Additionally, a top continuous shooting rate of 8 fps is possible, for up to 47 consecutive frames, to benefit working with moving subject matter.

EXR Processor II

Aside from benefitting low-light performance, the EXR Processor II also provides quick performance throughout the entire camera system. The camera start-up time is about 0.5 seconds, shutter lag is about 0.05 seconds, and the shooting interval time is about 0.5 seconds. A fast autofocus performance speed of 0.08 seconds is also enabled using the advanced Intelligent Hybrid AF system using both contrast and phase-detection focusing methods.

Intelligent Hybrid AF and Enhanced Manual Focus

Intelligent Hybrid AF is a quick, responsive autofocus system that employs both contrast and phase-detection methods to acquire focus quickly in a wide variety of lighting conditions and shooting situations. Clear focus can quickly be attained to aid in catching fast-paced movement more easily. Three focus modes are available (AF-S, AF-C, and M) for greater control over how the X-T1 achieves sharp focus. When working with autofocus, the AF area is divided into a 49-point matrix in order to gain clear focus of any type of subject matter. Additionally, a built-in AF assist lamp is available for aiding the focus system when photographing in low-light situations.

When working with manual focus, two additional features can be employed for enhanced critical focusing in a more controllable manner. By using the phase-detection pixels located on the imaging sensor, Digital Split Image technology is able to assist in acquiring precise focus through the implementation of four striped focusing aids; akin to a rangefinder focusing method, once these stripes have been lined up, sharp focus can be ensured. Also contributing to manual focus accuracy, Focus Peak Highlight has been integrated and enables a more objective system of focusing by way of highlighting sharp edges and lines of contrast, using one of three colors, once they are in focus.

IMGP0032

Multi Mode Real Time Viewfinder

An advanced electronic viewfinder has been incorporated into the X-T1′s design to support clear eye-level monitoring along with a host of unique viewing features to better support a more efficient overall workflow. The Real Time Viewfinder is comprised of a 2,360k-dot OLED display and features an exceptionally high magnification of 0.77x, along with a 31° angle of view. This perspective is further complemented by the 0.005 sec. lag time, which smoothly and seamlessly renders scenes and moving subjects.

Beyond the technical aspects of the viewfinder, an adaptable graphical user interface has also been designed to increase efficiency during shooting. Four different viewing modes are available:

FULL: This mode takes advantage of the high magnification ratio of the viewfinder and produces an image that fills the majority of the viewfinder in an unobstructed manner. Shooting information is presented at the top and bottom edges and does not interfere with the image frame itself.

NORMAL: This mode enables you to focus on the composition at hand while still having an in-depth understanding of camera settings and shooting conditions.

VERTICAL: When the camera is held in a vertical orientation, the information display automatically rotates so it is facing upright for easier reading of camera settings. When working in this mode, images can also be reviewed in the vertical orientation.

DUAL: Serving to benefit those working with manual focus, this mode presents a split screen view of the scene where you see both a regular view as well as the Focus Assist View (Focus Highlight Peaking and Digital Split Image) at the same time, allowing you to concentrate on the image composition as well as critical focus accuracy.

In addition to the four viewing modes, the shooting information displayed within the viewfinder can also be customized to suit one’s needs. 19 different settings can be toggled on or off depending on preference.

Classic Camera Design

Featuring a body design reminiscent of SLR film cameras, the X-T1 exhibits a meshing of both analog exposure controls along with intelligent automated technologies. The clean and functional body design incorporates physical shutter speed, ISO, drive mode, AF mode, and +/- 3 EV exposure compensation double-deck precision-milled aluminum alloy dials that pair well with the manual aperture rings found on many of the XF lenses for intuitive exposure setting selection. Depending on individual needs, six customizable buttons, dual command dials, and an easily-accessible Q Menu provide an efficient solution for modifying some of the most frequently used camera settings, such as ISO, white balance, and file settings. For more extensive menu navigation, as well as live view monitoring and image review, a 3.0″ 1,040k-dot LCD monitor is available and features a tilting design to better support working from high and low angles.

Furthermore, the magnesium alloy body also features approximately 80 points of weather sealing to protect itself from dust and moisture, as well as temperatures as low as 14°F, for confident use in trying conditions.

Full HD Movie Recording

Full HD 1080p video recording is supported up to 60 fps, with other frame rates and formats also available. Full-time AF tracking is available during recording with subject tracking capabilities for ensured sharpness when either the subject is moving or if the camera is moving, panning, or zooming. +/- 2 EV exposure compensation is available during recording as well as the use of Film Simulation settings.

An HDMI port enables high definition playback of movies to an HDTV and the inclusion of a 2.5mm input supports the use of an optional external microphone for enhanced sound quality.

Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity

Wireless connectivity is built into the camera and allows for instant sharing of images directly to an Android or iOS mobile device. The Fujifilm Camera Remote app allows you to browse the image contents of your camera from your mobile device and transfer both videos and photos, and the entire sharing process is further expedited by simply pressing and holding the dedicated Wi-Fi button to begin transferring immediately. Remote camera control and monitoring is also supported through the use of the app, which enables Touch AF, shutter release, exposure settings adjustment, Film Simulation modes, white balance modes, macro, timer, and flash controls to all be adjusted from the linked mobile device. Location data can also be embedded into image file’s metadata for geotagging.

Film Simulation Mode and Advanced Filters

Taking advantage of Fujifilm’s vast history in traditional film-based photography, the X-T1 integrates several Film Simulation modes to mimic the look and feel of some Fujifilm’s classic film types. Pulling from their line of transparency films, PROVIA offers natural-looking tones for everyday shooting, VELVIA produces a more dramatic and rich tonality with deeper color saturation, and ASTIA gives less contrast for a softer depiction of skin tones. Mimicking their negative films, PRO Neg. Std. gives smooth image tones that are suitable for accurate color renditions, while PRO Neg. Hi produces a more dramatic feel with the ability to draw color out of a variety of lighting conditions. In addition to the colorful benefits of these Film Simulation modes, there are also monochrome modes that simulate the look of traditional yellow, green, and red black and white contrast filters. A sepia mode is also available for producing an inherently nostalgic look.

Eight Advanced Filters are also available to creatively enhance the look of imagery, and include: High Key, Low Key, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, Dynamic Tone, and Partial Color (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple).

Other Camera Features

An in-camera RAW converter lets you record your images in 14-bit RAW and process them prior to computer-based editing procedures. This process enables you to modify the exposure, white balance, and other controls directly through the menu interface. Additionally, for more thorough processing of files, RAW File Converter software is included for RAW image processing on your computer.

Interval shooting is possible with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours for up to 999 frames.

Compatible with UHS-II memory cards for fast transfer speeds during shooting.

Multiple exposure mode gives you the ability to overlay imagery in-camera. When working in this mode, subsequent exposures can be paired and the final appearance can be previewed on the LCD or in the EVF before making the final exposure.

Motion panorama mode allows you to record expansive views up to 360° wide in a seamless, sweeping manner.

The included EF-X8 shoe-mount flash has a guide number of 26.2′ at ISO 100 and provides additional illumination to imagery for photographing in dark conditions. A sync terminal is also available for use of additional optional external flashes.

Four different auto bracketing modes are available: Dynamic Range, Film Simulation, AE, and ISO Sensitivity.

The included NP-W126 battery enables approximately 350 frames to be recorded per charge.

Blown Highlights? As with previous Fuji cameras I find them easier to blow highlights than my Leica M, my E-M1 or the Sony A7 or RX1. The 1st image below shows this. I had Exposure Comp dialed back to help avoid the blown highlights. The rest of the image is exposed correctly (face) yet his shirt is blown as is the background walkway. This was with the Kit Zoom in the harsh Mid Day AZ sun.

ISO 200 – 18-55 at 55mm

blown

-

14mm at ISO 200

DSCF2195

-

14mm at ISO 640

run

-

35 1.4 at f/1.4 and ISO 200

DSCF2173

-

14mm at f/2.8 and ISO 200

DSCF2209

Pros and Cons of the Fuji X-T1

Pros

  • The ergonomics and feel are great
  • The EVF is the best I have used to date
  • The Body is weather sealed
  • The AF is now pretty fast and is the fastest AF of any Fuji body to date
  • Many fast primes are now available for the X system
  • Fuji colors!
  • Controls are just as I like them. Available and easily found. including ISO dial.
  • Direct button for Manual Focus aid when using manual lenses
  • Swivel LCD
  • 350 shots per battery charge

Cons

  • T stands for “tough” but body does not feel as tough as the Olympus E-M1
  • EVF gets grainy at night/low light
  • JPEG’s are not so hot, especially at 100%
  • AF speed depends on lens used, 35 1.4 still on the slow side
  • Back thumb pad is horrible – mushy and not very tactile
  • Movie/video quality not so hot, Fuji still lags behind here
  • No way to turn off Noise Reduction which causes issues
  • Skin tones could be better

My Bottom Line Real World No BS Conclusion on the Fuji X-T1!

Here we go..the final word..MY final word. Not all will agree with me here but I always tell it like it is, regardless of politics, favoritism, or any nonsense. In the past I have been hard on Fuji X Bodies. I have loved the X100 and X100s, and still do but was never a fan of the X-Pro, X-E1, X-E2, etc. They were and are good cameras that can make beautiful images in the right hands but I always saw something in the files that did not draw me in and I never was a fan of the lackluster body performance. I remember saying back in the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 days that Fuji will one day release a camera that will put those to shame in the handling, speed and control department.

Is the X-T1 “that camera”?

I feel it is. While not perfect, it is THE Fuii X Body to get if you love Fuji and want a responsive, fast, easy to control and set up body that feels great in the hand and is super high on the usability factor. The EVF rocks, the LCD rocks, the feel and handling rock and the IQ is the same as the previous X Bodies. If that is your thing, the X-T1 will feel like a masterpiece to you.

I do have to say that I had a couple of issues with the review sample. On three occasions on my last day with it it would not wake out of sleep. I had to turn it off and on again to get it to wake up. Also, my friend Ashwin Rao purchased one after seeing my video about it and it died after 2 or 3 shots. DEAD. The store had to take it back and order him another.

So there may be some buggy X-T1′s shipping but as usual, I am sure Fuji will be on any issues with Firmware updates as they are the best when it comes to this. Without question.

I own a Leica M 240 with a 15 and 50mm lens. Love it to death. The IQ can not be reckoned with by anything I have seen but one camera, the Sony RX1. I also still own one E-M1 (had two) and a couple of lenses. I have a Nikon V1 and J1 and something new on the way in April/May. I will not be buying the X-T1 as it does not fit in to my kit anywhere. I can not justify spending $3000 on an X-T1 and 2-3 good lenses when I already own amazing cameras. I just would not use it and I prefer the skin tones out of the Olympus over the Fuji sensor.

If I were starting new with NOTHING, the X-T1 would be high on my audition list with a 23 1.4, 35 1.4 and 56 1.2.

The X-T1 is a beautiful but not perfect camera, but then again, NO CAMERA is perfect and I do not think one will ever exist. I have to hand it to Fuji, they kicked ass with this release and to me, it is the best APS-C camera solution on the market today. if you are a Fuji fan, this one is a no brainer.

WHERE TO BUY

You can buy the Fuji X-T1 and BH Photo at this link HERE

You can buy the Fuji X-T1 at Amazon HERE

You can buy the Fuji X-T1 at PopFlash.com HERE

I also recommend the 14 2.8, 23 1.4, 35 1.4 and 56 1.2 lenses for this camera. The 55-200 is also a nice telephoto zoom to have if you own one of these cameras.

35 1.4 at ISO 200 and 1.4

DSCF2129

-

35 1.4 at ISO 1250

DSCF2104

-

ISO 2500 – 18-55

debbyandba

More thoughts from Brad Husick who tested his Fuji X-T1 to shoot indoor Lacrosse:

I took the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji 55-200 lens to shoot an indoor lacrosse game. I was the team photographer for the Washington Stealth for three years, logging tens of thousands of shots on Nikon and Canon DSLRs. I have seen some promising results on the web of the X-T1 shooting horses and car races, so I was hopeful the X-T1 could stand in for these large DLSRs on game day.

Exposures at this arena were metered at ISO 3200, f/4.5 and 1/160 sec, so the lighting wasn’t ideal by any means. The camera/lens combo had some difficulty locking on focus initially and also had some problems keeping up with moving players. Shot speed was quick, but not anywhere near delivering 8 frames per second. This maximum spec speed can only be achieved under ideal bright lighting conditions. Image stabilization in the lens worked quite well. With a 90Mb/sec. SDXC card the camera had no trouble saving short bursts of images. I did not try to fill the buffer as that doesn’t match my shooting style for indoor lacrosse.

In my analysis of the X-T1 as a sports shooter, I must conclude that the Nikon D4 (my primary sports camera) and the Nikon 70-200 f/4 lens have nothing to worry about. I won’t be selling my Nikon kit any time soon if I continue to shoot sports. Full size Canon outfits also measure up significantly higher than the Fuji. It’s hard to be too disappointed with this result as Fuji has designed a superb all around system at an affordable price. They weren’t gunning for the D4 or 1DX (at $5000 and up) so the results are not a surprise. For slower sports or more predictable positions of the players I think the X-T1 will be a fine tool, and is significantly lighter than the pro DSLRs.

One surprising and pleasing experience I had in this test was the normally difficult white balance setting under a mixture of mercury vapor lamps. Depending on the age and condition of the individual lamps the color temperature they output can very quite widely. This presents most cameras I have used with a real challenge. The Fuji X-T1 shows you the effect of WB choice on the fly, full frame, and also lets you tune the settings on a 2×2 grid. In short order I could match the gray color of the concrete floor on the camera’s screen to what my eyes were seeing. I have never before been able to so easily and quickly get the right WB settings in indoor sports arenas.

Based on what I see in the X-T1 I believe if Fuji set out to compete with the likes of the full size DSLRs for sports shooting they have the expertise and technology to do so with a future product, but this would be a huge mountain for them to climb as Canon and Nikon are so deeply entrenched in the pro sports shooting world. I don’t expect them to put their money into this battle any time soon.

I’ll be keeping the X-T1 for many reasons but the days aren’t numbered for my D4.-Brad

35 1.4 at ISO 200 – click all images for larger, sharper and better versions!

DSCF2122

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK - Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Mar 092014
 

Fujifilm X-T1

A Fujifilm Love Affair – The X-T1 & XF56mmF1.2

by Raymond Hau - http://jkspepper.tumblr.com - http://www.flickr.com/photos/_dhermes/

The Slow Drawn Out Introduction

Why am I calling this a love affair? Perhaps it’s because this best sums up the experience I have for the Fujifilm devices, both the newly released X-T1 and the aging X-E1 before it. With the titans of the compact mirror-less camera world, the 24MP FF Sony RX1 and the 36MP FF Sony A7R, already comfortably sitting in my bag, how is it that the venerable X-E1 and superfluous X-T1 are sitting there beside them? This is my attempt at a reasonable explanation.

As always it starts at the beginning, when I first picked up the Sony RX1 it forever changed my outlook on photography (you can read my one year in review here…). It also made life difficult if I wanted to shoot anything other than at 35mm, I needed wider but now also wanted small and my old Canon wasn’t cutting the mustard any longer.

DSCF0326-2

I first explored the idea of using focus extenders and magnifiers on the RX1 but they were frankly rubbish. Enough said. The next logical step was to will Sony into making an RX1 with a wider focal length… I gave up after a few minutes due lack of oxygen to the brain and a resulting headache. I then decided I would need another camera body, something small, light and manageable but with acceptable image quality and flexibility in lenses choices.

The Camera That Wasn’t Meant To Be

I was looking to get the handsome O-MD with its miniature good looks, rave reviews and wide range of lenses. With a freshly formatted SD card I walked into a local camera store to test one out; it was a responsive device and appeared to fit my needs but the store assistant decided to be helpful and offered up some alternative solutions, one of them a Fujifilm X-E1.

Late Night Taxi Ride

It was the first time I had seen the device (X-E1) and whilst it was good looking in an old school way it wasn’t love at first sight, I have grown up with SLR bodies but the rangefinder style intriguing me enough to pop in an SD card a give it a whirl. It was slow as a dog, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) sucked balls and it felt hollow but as I twiddled the loose aperture ring around the lens, it also seemed nice.

At home I reviewed the images and was underwhelmed by the files from the O-MD and pleasantly surprised by those from the X-E1. It wasn’t a win for the X-E1 though as the O-MD was ahead in speed, responsiveness and familiarity; all I knew was that I wanted another set-up to replace the 350D’s aging 8MP sensor. Cutting a long and boring story short, I packed up all my Canon gear and took it down to the local used camera dealer with the view of using the sales money on an O-MD.

Late Night MTR

What happened next was either fate or some sort of blind luck for Fujifilm as the store had just acquired an X-E1; you can probably guess what happened. It was there, it was easy and you get a better deal in part exchange so I left the store with a Fujifilm X-E1 in tow and a pile of extra cash which was put towards buying the XF14mm.

Quite unintentionally, I was now a Fujifilm camera owner.

It Shouldn’t Have Worked

Pitched against the mighty RX1, the X-E1 with its small strange sensor (16MP X-Trans APS-C vs. 24MP FF), hollow plastic body and terrible EVF on paper was always destined to become the poor second cousin to the RX1, only brought out on occasions to mop up the dirty work that the RX1 didn’t want to (or couldn’t) do.

_DSF0151-2

I could run through the list of things that are wrong with the X-E1 – the crap EVF, the hollow design, the white only focus-peaking which meant you can’t see if anything was in focus, the silly button placements, the way you can’t move the AF point intuitively as you can with any other camera, the auto-focus hunt, the off-center tripod mount, the SD card slot – you get the picture. It’s also one of the cameras that the girlfriend refuses to use; she says it has crap ergonomics that doesn’t fit her hand, the EVF is rubbish and it can’t focus at all. The lady had spoken.

_DSF0453-2

However that’s not how things turned out, it was becoming very difficult to put the X-E1 down; sure it had its glaring faults, niggles and its why-oh-why-did-Fuji-do-this moments but I was finding more excuses to bring the little Fujifilm out. It had character that developed and matured with every new firmware update and the more I learnt how to process the files coming from the X-Trans sensor, the more I was starting to love it. Even some of the negatives were turning into positives; the hollow body did make this thing extremely lightweight which was perfect for hiking.

The Love Affair

You are probably wondering why I am rambling on about my previous camera instead of the X-T1 but there is a real reason for this and also valid one I hope because my views and the purchase of the X-T1 relates directly to my prior experience with Fujifilm and the X-E1.

I am willing to part with the scrappy little X-E1 if I needed to but I don’t want to part with Fujifilm.

Let me explain.

_DSF0728-2

The X-E1 is a beautiful device and I love to shoot with it but it is also a rubbish device (IQ not-withstanding). I should sell it because the A7R has replaced the need for it in my bag as it does everything the X-E1 was supposed to do but also much more. If the X-E1 is unnecessary then the X-T1 is doubly superfluous to my needs but I still have them both and the reason is I don’t want to lose Fujifilm as a company, as a camera system.

_DSF0811-2

From my short experience as a Fujifilm camera owner, I have for one reason or another I can’t really explain found them to be charming devices backed by a company that really appears to listen to camera people. I love that they support obsolete devices by providing firmware updates that not only fix existing issues but add additional functionality, I like their ethos of wanting to create a long-standing consumer relationship at the detriment of short-term sales and I like their transparent lens strategy. Their XF line of lenses cater specifically to everything I would look for in a lens line-up; they have the lengths I want, the speeds I want and are all optically great. They now have all the ‘standard’ primes (21mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm); they have pancakes and all the zooms you could ask for. They also communicate their future lens strategy so you can plan what you need and have confidence in future system. Kudos.

_DSF0717 2-2

I don’t want to sound like a fanatic but this is a mere attempt to explain why I have bought an X-T1 and XF56mm lens which I have been shooting for the past couple of weeks, when I already have a Sony RX1, Fujifilm X-E1 and an almost directly comparable Sony A7R with a Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 lens.

It’s got nothing to do with need or a hole in my camera and lens line-up. It has everything to do with Fujifilm – a belief they can deliver and support a product I would love to use.

The First Impression of the X-T1

The X-T1 has been with me on the streets of Hong Kong; on a hike (Dragon’s Back, Shek O Country Park); to a fashion show after party (a dark, smoky underground dive), on a plane to Taiwan, in the rain (I’ve already tested the waterproofing of this and the non-waterproofed XF56mm) and all around Taipei City. I’ve also shot with the XF14mm, XF56mm, Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm and Planar 85mm but mostly the new XF56mm; the 85mm focal length is a new one for me and so I’m forcing myself to shoot exclusively with it.

_DSF0457-2

If you read my initial Sony A7R first impression you will see I am critical, highlighting the negative aspects of using a camera, it’s easy to highlight because it bothers me. Some commentators were confused as to why I viewed the A7R so highly even after all the negative criticism but it’s all relative; if I want to keep using the camera even with all the issues raised then those issues can’t really be that big of a deal, right?

Turning my eye to the X-T1 and even after only a couple of weeks of use I already know this first impression will be short. Why? Because I’m sitting here finding it extremely difficult to come up with anything really negative without sounding too petty. Sure it has its issues there but overall I’ve enjoyed using this camera so much that I have a feeling if I had to make a choice between the X-T1 and A7R, I’d rather sell the A7R than sell the X-T1. The only saving grace of the A7R compared to the X-T1 is the stellar FE55mm and 36MP combo which evens the field, even though I really (and I mean really!) do not like that it doesn’t have an aperture ring. I have been spoilt by the aperture rings on the RX1 and Fujinon XF line of lenses.

For me, that’s some major testimonial right there.

_DSF0607-2

There are issues, there always will be and I am not naive enough to expect perfection:

The menu and directional control buttons are too shallow, give no confidence and my first X-T1 broke because of it (video here…)

the EV compensation dial is now too stiff, now it is far more difficult to make quick last minute exposure compensation changes with the EVF to my eye, this is an example of Fujifilm listening to the user based (and they are wrong, I much prefer the dial moving in the bag than not being able to move in use but that’s just me I suppose). Time will tell whether it loosens up

the customisable buttons can’t be customised to how I want them to work (i.e. select any menu item I want – but then this is an issue with ALL cameras I own and therefore classed as a rant)

the ISO button dial lock is annoying, yes it is but doesn’t really stop me from taking shots – the ‘A’ mode can be configured to have auto-ISO extend to 3,200 if I wanted

the EVF is truly great but isn’t oh-my-gawd spectacular as the hype seems to portray (I spent 5 minutes in the store trying to figure out how to turn on the ‘big-picture’ mode only to find out when I got home it was already on that mode)

the mushy M-C-S dial, it’s mushy

the movie button replaced where the Fn button used to be – why?

noise suppression on skin tones can be overly aggressive on JPG outputs but I’m primarily a RAW shooter so for those that rely on JPG, this may be a larger issue

_DSF0606-2

However, for as long as I’ve been using this camera (which admittedly isn’t very long); I haven’t come across any situation which has caused me to stop in my tracks and reassess. Sure as a new body it takes time to adjust my shooting for the new layout but the greatest complement I can give is that I just forgot about it, I realised at some point that had I stopped evaluating the camera and just started shooting.

The Nice Guy

Breaking away from the norm of focussing on the negative aspects of the camera, I think the X-T1 deserves praise as there are areas that have worked well for Fujifilm.

_DSF0504-2

The AF is very quick in daylight when paired with the XF14mm to the point that I didn’t trust it at first, I was sure it was missing focus (I was wrong) and I would definitely say it is the fastest I have ever seen a Fujifilm device focus (or any device for that matter). It’s okay fast with the XF56mm but will still hunt and miss focus in less than good light however it is magnitudes better than anything currently in my bag.

The biggest change however is not with the technology of X-T1 AF system but rather my own perception of it; I no longer seem to worry about focus anymore. With my other cameras (the new Sony A7R included), I always have an expectation of AF failure which is one of the reasons why I set my cameras to back button focus and DMF; I never rely on AF and can manually override as necessary. Shooting the X-T1 over the last few weeks I have realised I no longer assess a scene with the same mentality as when I shoot with the RX1, X-E1 or A7R, I haven’t even used MF. I’m not saying it’s perfect or even close to a dedicated PDAF system but it’s definitely more usable in many more situations than before.

_DSF0512-2

Perhaps I had a more pessimistic view of the X-T1 to begin with, I never did buy into the advertised ‘quickest AF in the world’ spiel, I didn’t expect it to be a panacea and I almost expected more of the same, but in good light, in bad light and even in challenging light, my main action is to flick the power switch ‘ON’, lift the camera to my eye and press the shutter. In one smooth motion. How liberating is that. From a Fuji device of all things too.

I’ve tried to think about why this may be and I’ve come up with my main three reasons:

LCD/EVF power modes– there is a mode to turn off both the EVF and LCD screen thus saving power and the EVF only turns on when you raise it to your eye. There is a delay when the EVF activates but not nearly enough for it to bother me or make me miss a shot; however the absolute best feature is the X-T1 will use the LCD screen when reviewing photos. It’s so simple it hurts and there’s always a dedicated button to switch viewing options if needed – are you listening Sony?

DSCF0815-2

No more menu digging – I can’t remember a situation in the last couple of weeks where I have had to really delve into the menu, most key functions are physically at hand which can be adjusted before the camera is turned on and there are 6 customisable buttons (although I do wish I could assign them to any function from any menu); for everything else there is the ‘Q’ quick menu.

As an example, whilst watching the Taipei MRT arrive onto the platform it dawned on me to test the tracking ability of the camera so I set the mode to ‘CH” burst, checked the ISO, shutter and aperture dials, made sure spot metering was selected and turned the focus mode to ‘C’ all before even turning the camera on. Then as I raised the camera to my eye, I flicked the ‘ON’ switch and started shooting.

_DSF0716 2-2

Obviously it would be much easier if there was only one button to automatically set it to “continually-track-an-oncoming-train-in-an-underground-station-with-difficult-lighting” mode but you would really need to be a bit of a duck to criticise any camera for not having that.

Third point – oh, the IQ is good too.

But mostly I love that I can adjust all the major settings before I even turn the camera on even though I do admit I may miss a snap-shot but there is a remedy for that and I call it an iPhone.

Tracking

I’ve tested it so I will post it. I’ve never used it before and I probably never will again but for all those that are eager to know here are some photos for you to judge for yourself. I must add that I was impressed but what do I know, meh.

This is the Taipei MRT where an underground train is entering the platform. Who knows how fast this thing comes in at but for those that want to know, I was shooting RAW + JPG, CH mode, onto a Sandisk 32GB 30MB/s card – what difference would a 95MB/s card have made? I don’t know because that card sits in my A7R. A total of 20 shots were taken starting at 8:56:33pm and ending at 8:56:36pm where I could tell the last one or two were slowing down.

XF56mmF1.2 R and VG-XT1

Works well, looks good and has a well dampened focus ring. Even better the aperture ring is much stiffer with much better ‘clicks’, how do I get my XF14mm to be like that?

_DSF0663 2-2

I will let you judge the quality of the pictures for yourself, there are plenty of examples mostly taken at f/1.2 as I’ve only had time to shoot after work and using natural (low) light but I will say I like it a lot; the speed is good and sharpness wide open is excellent and has also given me reason (with much regret) to let go of the Zeiss Planar 1,4/85 ZF.2 – any takers?

_DSF0706 2-2

The grip is very comfortable and is not heavy; I wonder why Fujifilm can’t fit two batteries in the grip and why you need to remove a rubber cover from the camera to attach the grip. I see a growing market for replacement covers. I’m also not going to dwell on this, it works well and is comfortable and that’s all I could ask for. It is also better than the equivalent battery grip for the Sony A7R for handheld comfort and button placement.

The Happily Ever After

This could be a never ending love affair. The X-T1 is fast becoming my go-to body and along with the Sony RX1 is looking like a camera I will not let go of. It’s not perfect (what camera is?) but at the end of the day they pale in comparison to the shooting experience. It doesn’t get in the way, it hasn’t frustrated me and it hasn’t made me want to switch cameras. It seems to just work.

DSCF0669-2

_DSF0807-2

_DSF0502-2

_DSF0630-2

Mar 082014
 

User report: My Fuji X-Pro 1

By Liandro Siringoringo

Dear Steve,

First of all, thank you very much for this opportunity Steve, much appreciate, and let’s cut to the chase :D

My name is Liandro and I’m from Indonesia. It’s been a year now, my journey with the X-Pro1, my very first camera and the one that I decided to start to learn with and I must say, it’s a rough, long and windy road. Oh and I bought this camera in Melbourne with a whopping $300 discount by that time so lot of my photos will be around Melbourne.

I started out with loving it (since it’s my first camera) and the hating it because all the flaws. Luckily though, several weeks after that the firmware update came and voila, the focusing got better a notch and it’s enjoyable in some way but still..with the hate feelings lurking just right around the corner.

“In the Afternoon, Melbourne”

In The Afternoon

I shot the photo above and many other photos mainly using spot metering. This one with a voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 @f/8 if I’m not mistaken. The spot metering(which later I change to average) sometimes confuses me as a beginner because it gives me a blown out highlights or just a very dark shadows area and it’s really a learning curve for me.

What made me chose the Fuji is because the layout and handling is so direct. You can see the aperture, shutter speed, exp comp straight away without have to guess which dial control which. And it’s small, even though it’s not as small as other MFT camera, but still.

Without the mirror it really does give us a way to try old lenses which has its own magic.

“Chef’s prep time @GAZI Restaurant, Melbourne”

Chefs Prep Time GAZI Restaurant Melbourne

I took the shot above with an old Fujinon EBC 50mm f/1.4 @f/2 and even though without the focus peaking, I can focus manually just fine and manage to get the chef’s eyes sharp. The EVF really helps and I really love how Fuji came up up with a solution, a Hybrid viewfinder. IMHO, it’s brilliant.

Here are some other shot of the chefs..

“Simon Moss – Owner and Head Chef of Sapore at St. Kilda”

Simon Moss Owner of Sapore

 “Simon Moss trusty right hand, Chef Dario”

Trusty Right Hand Chef Dario

One thing also, I’m not to knowledgeable in data processing and technical stuff about camera but the RAW files from Fuji is pretty cool. The range that you can play with (if you got the exposure right or slightly right) is very broad. You can save some blown highlight at some point like I did on the image below

 “Playing with fire, Literally”

Playing with fire literally

I got the exposure wrong on the image above but I can save it somehow even though it’s not perfect but it’ll do for me.

Later on I change my metering to average and follow some of the setting for the RAW files such as, color -2, highlight -2, shadow -2, from a discussion with my friend’s experience and from the Fuji forum. It really helps us with the handling of the RAW files.

Oh, The average metering really helps me to get a good exposure for my architectural photos and others but then again this is not scientific, it’s just my personal experience.

“HQ, Bandung, Indonesia”

HQ_Bandung-Indonesia

“Inception”

Inception

 “To The Other Side”

To The Other Side

Love the weight of it and the size, it makes you just want to go out with it everyday.

“Eternal Beauty” (One of my personal project)

Eternal Beauty

Hmm..Until now it’s still a love-hate relationship with my X-Pro1 and it’s still an on-going learning of photography (which probably never ends) for me. There are a lot of things I would like to suggest to Fuji to change and improve but I think others already covered it up. Well I hope you guys and Steve enjoy my user report. It might not be technical but it’s my experience gradually understanding the system and changing the setting through out my learning curve.

Oh almost forgot, feel free to visit my Flickr account

http://www.flickr.com/photos/liandrosiringoringo/

I am welcome to any critics if that can help me grow to be a better photographer. Along with this goodbye, I want to share the rest of photos I had taken with the X-Pro1

Again, thank you very much Steve for this opportunity, best of luck and stay healthy. God bless

Kind regards,

Liandro N. I. Siringoringo

 

“Grande” Voigt 15mm f/4.5 @8

 Grande

“In Need of Lights” Fujinon EBC 50mm f/1.4 @1.4

In Need of Lights 

“GAME ON!”

 Game On

“Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5″

 Voigtlander 15mm

“White Converse”

 White Converse

“Stacked Rectangles”

Stacked Rectangles 

“Sheets of Paper”

 Sheets of Paper

“Holmesglen Share House, Melbourne”

Holmesglen Share House 

“Every Girl’s Dream”

 Every Girl Dream

“Bold”

 Bold

“Framing”

 Framing

“Quiet Time”

Quiet Time 

“Le French Connection”

Le French Connection

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved