Mar 262014
 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Mar 242014
 

The new Panasonic 15mm 1.7 available for Pre-Order!

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Panasonic is kicking some serious behind in lenses lately. I have been shooting with the new Panasonic/Leica 42.5 f/1.2 Nocticron and it is one of the best lenses I have ever shot with, on any format. Sharp wide open, creamy Bokeh and a sort of Noctilux style rendering, but on M 4/3. It also resembles the $11k Noctilux in design though not nearly as hefty as the Leica counterpart. The Nocticron is a special lens for Micro 4/3 users and even has a manual aperture ring (but this is not usable on Olympus bodies which control aperture with the dial).

In fact, the Nocticron is so good that I am 90% sure I am going to purchase one even though the price is sky-high.

Add to that the new Panasonic/Leica 15mm f1.7 which also has a manual aperture ring and uses a 46mm filter size. This is a duo that will give you a 30mm and 85mm focal length equivalent for your Micro 4/3 body while giving you pro quality color, contrast, detail and bokeh.

The new 15 1.7 comes in at $599 and is available for pre-order NOW in Black or Silver at B&H Photo. It is also available HERE at Amazon. 

The Nocticron is available NOW for $1598 – EXPENSIVE YES but $9500 cheaper than a Leica Noctilux and 85% as good :)  Amazon also sells the Nocticron and it is IN STOCK. 

I am reviewing and using the Nocticron now on an E-M1 and will post my review soon (but it is a light sucker and rocks at night just like the real Noctilux). The 15 will be shipped to me at release for review so will get on that one as soon as I get it! I am telling you..Micro 4/3 just keeps getting better and better for those who are in the system. Pretty exciting stuff IMO as it is the lenses that make the system and no one beats M 4/3 for lenses in the mirror less world.

With these new Leica partnered lenses…makes me wonder if the new and rumored “Leica T” will be a Micro 4/3 body. I HOPE SO. I would much prefer it to be M 4.3  than a new lens mount APS-C. Using a Nocticron and 15 1.7 on a new Leica mirrorless…could be interesting.

Mar 212014
 

The CosySpeed Camslinger Camera Holster Review

The new CosySpeed Camslinger series of camera bags are here and they are quite unique and different from your ordinary camera bag that slings over your shoulder or chest. The Camslinger series is designed for use on your HIP, just like in the good old wild west days when cowboys wore a six-shooter on the hip. Instead of a gun, the Camslinger bags allow you to store your mirror less camera inside, sort of like a holster, where it is ready to rock and roll at any given moment.

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There are some very cool things about these new bags and I am always a fan of “different” and even though there were a couple of small irritations, I found them to be a very enjoyable product. Basically, these bags are are pretty nice and affordable solutions to carrying around a small mirror less system without the weight on your upper body.

The Camslinger comes in two sizes. The smaller 105 and the larger 160. I was able to fit a Leica M and one lens inside of the larger 160 bag. The smaller 105 is meant for smaller cameras and lenses, much like an Olympus E-M1 or E-P5. Think “mirrorless” as this is what the bags were designed for. Small system cameras and a lens or two. For this it works very well. I took out the 160 for a couple of days and it held an E-M10 and 12-40 zoom. It held it perfectly even with the larger zoom and I had it at my hip and at the ready at any given moment.

While at a party a few asked me a question when they saw me: “since when do you wear fanny packs”?

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Yep. It does look like a fanny pack and I am not a fan of fanny packs. As useful as they are I am just not the fanny pack kind of guy. With that said, I personally did not feel like I was wearing a fanny pack because I knew what it was and I knew that my camera was there at all times without me even realizing it. The fact is that while wearing the camslinger it literally put no weight on my body. I felt like I was out without my camera but there it was the whole time, on my side. I also had a lens pouch attached holding an additional lens.

These bags are aimed at street shooters and owners of mirror less cameras. I would also aim this bag at wedding shooters as with the accessories you can add to the belt it makes for one hell of a wedding set up (if you do not use large DSLR’s of course).

Would I use these on the street? Possibly… most likely. If I were going to bring one camera and two lenses, sure. If I were going to shoot somewhere that required walking around, for sure. It is so comfortable to use and wear as well as being 100% functional  that it was a pleasure to wear and walk around all day with.

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BUT, I do have a couple of niggles..

If you are out and about with this around you then every time you want to sit down (comfortably) you will need to remove it but to be fair, same goes with a traditional camera bag.  Also, sometimes the bag latch is a but tricky to unlatch and latch as it requires a pull out before unlatching (for safety reasons, which is good) but also, with practice it gets easier.

It’s a great concept and the company seems very well planned out with the two sizes, accessories to hold lenses, flash, memory or what have you. It is a complete camera holster system for mirror less cameras.

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They also sent me a very nice “cam pillow” which was pretty cool. It came with paperwork describing what it is and how it was made and a picture of the woman who made it along with her story. I really enjoyed that and thought it was a nice touch. I probably will not use it much, if at all, but again, nice touch.

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The Camslinger bags could be just what some of you have been waiting for. They are well made, adjustable, easy to wear and use (once you get the hang of the belt) and are a quality product that will not cost you an arm and a leg.

To read much more about them and order them visit CosySpeed HERE.  The USA order page is HERE.

Mar 212014
 

A study in harsh light and tones

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, would just like to share some Pictures (a small selection) of shots I took last summer when I was bored one day.

The sun was hot and the noon light was very harsh.

I thought it’d be interesting to get some nice tones using my nephews and niece as props to try to get some reflection of the heat of the light onto the celluloid. I wanted some very nice tones, and contrast with some feel of the shadow made by the harsh light. I used the white wall to reflect this. it was Tone which I was concentrating on, I wanted a nice balance between Zones 0 and X with the right levels and contrast where it mattered. I chose Rollei Retro 80s as it tends to lean towards the Red giving lovely contrast and that almost IR effect. I decided to use my Yashica 230 AF SLR with the 60mm f2.8 Makro lens – which i suspect is a rebadged Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar, and this 60mm focal length os very interesting for people – it’s an ‘almost’ focal length, too long to be a standard lens, and too short to be a portrait lens, but it’s very nice.

The Yashica 230 AF is a primitive AF SLR so the focus hunts and can miss – but it has a great Viewfinder and some lovely lenses and it’s dirt cheap! Anyway, I’m certainly no expert and I tend to photograph trees and static objects or people while travelling and have absolutely no experience in making people pose, so I focussed on the light and nothing more. I was relatively pleased with the results (by my own standards) – many of which were similar to the ones I am sending you, hence only a small selection of these snaps are included. It was all great fun, and part of my personal goal to try different stuff and to enjoy the experience and to try to play with Tone and attempt to improve on it.

All photo’s, Yashica 230 AF,Yashica AF 60mm Makro f2.8, B+W Yellow Filter, Rollei retro 80s, Rodinal and finished in Photoshop CS4.

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Mar 202014
 

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Sony A7 and A7r trade in/up offer through March 31st

B&H photo just started a trade in/up offer towards the Sony A7 or A7r. Basically, you can trade up your current camera towards the new A7 and get hundreds of dollars towards the Sony. All you have to do is check out the page HERE and fill in the info to get a quote on your camera trade in. They will even pay for shipping your camera to them with a pre-paid label.

TRADE IN AND UP HERE!

Mar 192014
 

The I-SHOT-IT Competition heats up again!

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Over the past year or so I have been telling everyone here about these great photo competitions over at I-SHOT-IT.com . The last few premium contests have all produced winners who found out about it from this very website, which is amazingly cool. Prizes have been $25,000 cash and a Leica Monochrom as well as other huge cash prizes and Leica cameras. I-SHOT-IT.com offers competitions across a wide range of subjects and prize levels.

Imagine entering a B&W photo to the premium competition and winning a Leica Monochrom WITH a load of cash. I have gotten thank you letters from previous winners who found out about the competitions from me, so I want to make sure I pass along the next one which is ending in about 2 weeks in hopes that another winner from HERE can take home the cash and prize.

The Premium B&W competition has a prize including the Leica Monochrom camera and the cash amount. As of this writing it is just over $5600 but it always climbs during the last few days of the competition. The entry fee for the PREMIUM contest is $20 so I would make sure you have a superb photo before entering this one. If you win, the prize is quite special though. It only takes one to win.

They also offer free competitions with lesser prizes. 

So be sure to check out all of the ways you can enter over at I-SHOT-IT.com. I feel they are providing a great service to those who want to get out and shoot as THIS WILL motivate you to get out and get the best shots of your life. For me, that is what it is all about. If I could enter I would pay my $20 and go out to find the best B&W shot I could possibly take and then submit it. I can not enter as I-SHOT-IT.com is a site sponsor but I know many of you here do enter, so I can live vicariously through some of you, lol.

Whoever wins this next one, if you come from here again let me know as it would be amazing to help deliver another winner from this community!

Go to the I-SHOT-IT home page HERE.

Check out their Facebook HERE. 

Check out and enter the B&W Premium Competition HERE

The FREE competition is HERE.

Mar 182014
 

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The Leica X-Vario as a Travel Camera

By Thomas H. Hahn

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to share some insights & outsights on the Leica X-Vario. I travel a lot, sometimes overseas, and am always interested in what type of camera might be a good travel companion to my other, more “serious” gear, which at present comprises the Sony A900 and a Leica M9. I’m a big believer in trying first, buying later. For example, I rented a M9 twice from LensRentals before buying one. When the silver X-Vario was announced in February, I became interested. Doing the LensRentals thing again, a black X-Vario arrived at my doorstep on a Monday, giving me a whole week to run it through its paces.

What I was mostly interested in was how it would stack up against its fellow travelers, namely, the Leica X2 (which I sold again after some nine months), and the Sony RX100 (passed on within the family now). As is well documented, the little Sony is an extremely responsive, lightning quick little unobtrusive silent black stealthy high quality tool delivering very satisfactory results especially in its various b/w modes (see http://hahn.zenfolio.com/rx100 for samples). The X2 on the other hand is a rather deliberate tool, its DNGs providing a more robust basis for further development.

Some odd but important numbers on the X-vario first:

1. 2,850. That’s the official price. Without grip, EVF, leather case. There seems to be some movement here in the past few weeks, as Ken Hansen for example sells the (black) XV these days new with warranty for $2200. That’s still a bag full of shekels, but a substantial cost reduction nevertheless.

2. f/5.1. The maximum F-stop for the Vario-Elmar lens at the 50mm mark. I suspect that might well be the slowest 50 normal that Leica has ever made, in any form, zoom or prime. For someone who uses the latest f0.95 Noctilux as a standard 50mm lens on the M9, the XV’s value of f5.1 was a bit of a shock I must admit.

3. 70. The tele end of the Vario-Elmar. Sort of an oddball in my book, as it’s neither here nore there, neither “normal” nor “portrait” ready. The little Leica D-Lux 4 started out with a 24-60 (equivalent) lens, whereby the 24mm was very useful indeed, more so than the long end. Leica/Panasonic then increased the tele end to 90 on the subsequent offerings, which I personally find much more useful. Likewise, the Leica Digilux 2 (and the XV is sometimes thought of as a successor to this cult classic)was equipped with a 28 to 90mm lens. But 70 it is for the all-in-one X-Vario.

4. 12.7. That’s DXO’s dynamic range rating for the X-Vario’s sensor. It’s an amazing value really, in fact exceeding the M9 by quite a margin. The two cameras consequently produce entirely different DNGs, mostly of course due to the different sensors: CCD for the M9, CMOS for the X-Series and the M240. I would describe the XV DNGs as very even and smooth, and the M9 DNGs as Kodachrome 64 raw and untamed before processing.

5. 12.500. The highest ISO value which was still useful (two samples below). With the M9 I usually hover low on the ISO floor, rarely going above 640, whereas the XV produces excellent files up to 3200 and in some cases, well beyond.

6. 3:2. The XV’s aspect ratio. In fact, the XV’s only aspect ratio. No soft or hard switches to change over to a more landscapy 16:9, a more printer-friendly 4:3, or a more artsy 1:1 (all of these provided in the D-Lux series for example)

7. 30. The closest you get to your subject in terms of distance in cm. Much better than with any M (Visoflex and specialized macro lenses excluded). It opens up a whole new universe, and broadens considerably the scope of one’s imaging versatility.

With these numbers out-of-the-way, how did the XV perfom as a travel camera? Btw., my specs for a travel camera are ruggedness (weather sealing preferred), reasonable size to fit in a pocket or small case, satisfactory IQ and color integrity throughout a useful ISO range, and yet simple enough to just set up once to be ready for action. As is evident from this spec sheet, I am taking a rather pragmatic approach. It is not ultimate IQ I expect (whatever that may mean in the end), but versatility, a healthy measure of common-sense physical layout, responsiveness and durability.

Here are the “tests” I subjected the camera to:

Countryside drive, exploration of a 19th century model farm, snow on the ground, minus 15 C, static subjects, withered wood and metal, very bright and sunny, EVF, JPG only (by accident). No issues at all. ISO stayed low, f-stops as fast as they would go, A-mode; nice background blur in fact on occasion, crackingly truthful colors, absolutely amazed at the results. I had feared that since ending up with JPGs I would practically have to toss the entire day’s output, but far from it: These are the best and most useable JPGs I’ve ever seen from any digital Leica to date.

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Main control wheel drove me mad…

Nighttime outing, mixed city lights, window reflections, interior designs, street, minus 15 C, A-mode, high ISO, EVF, DNG. Surprised by the high ISO results. Camera did some override on my settings and had its way with the situations it confronted, pulling through admirably. I’ve never taken (nor processed) an image at ISO 12.500 in my life, the XV delivered absolutely remarkable results.

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Main control wheel drove me…

Museum outing, interior, AWB, mixed lighting, medium high ISO, flat, static surfaces (mostly), EVF, DNG: No issues. Almost flawless AWB, truly excellent color reproduction of the artwork on display. I do that a lot, taking pictures of artwork, so that was an important aspect of judging the XV’s overall performance. Based on my experience, this camera is well suited for repro art work. Colors are underhanded and a tad muted to begin with, which is a very good basis for PP. Lens is sharp from corner to corner, too (maybe a tad less so at 70mm).

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Main control wheel drove…

Street photography in NYC; sunny, harsh contrast, moving targets, A-mode, S-mode, manual mode, every-which-way-mode, EVF, blind hipshots, complete disregard for f-stop and DoF issues, DNG. Hmmm…the XV inherits the X2 genes when it comes to AF performance, although I also used it in manual mode, with focal distance preset to something like 7 feet or so, at 35 to 40mm, spot focus, EVF on, sometimes shooting blind without looking. It worked remarkably well I must say, and after a day’s work I came away with some decent images.

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There’s really no debating the XV’s IQ at this point, it really is a matter of operability, responsiveness, and it’s usefulness under a variety of conditions. I managed to keep track of joggers along the Hudson piers, but lost track of bikers gliding alongside. A matter of experience I suppose, but a faster AF module in the XV would certainly help. One annoying thing was the slow wake-up time (2 seconds or so), I missed quite a few shots that way in the beginning, until I just kept my finger on the shutter button half pressed regularly every 30 seconds or so, just to keep the camera awake and alive. Can’t do that very long, though, there’s a penalty involved in terms of battery life.

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Main control wheel…

Art fair, thousands of people all at once, mixed lighting, tight spaces always emptying and filling up again, AWB, DNG, EVF. I use this as a separate “category” from the museum visit above as one function of the camera actually came in really handy under these circumstances: the VARIO aspect. Duh! It is really useful to have a zoom at times! Leica M users are zoom-deprived creatures, we zoom with our feet. We focus by hand. At eye level. It’s often quite conspicuous, especially with the M9′s shutter sound. Well, the XV changes all these parameters, constituting a very flexible tool which, when needed, stays totally silent. Among the crowds, I managed to capture images and situations which would have been much harder (if not impossible) to do with my M9.

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Main control…(I was told it’s less prone to accidental setting changes with the grip or the case, but you get the idea)

I have put together a gallery of sample images at http://hahn.zenfolio.com/xv  (Warning: rampant eclecticism)

Thank you.

Thomas H. Hahn

Mar 122014
 

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The new ONA Berlin Leica M System Bag

The new ONA Berlin is now available and I have had one for the past 7-10 days putting it through its paces around town. This is a bag made for the Leica M system, but could be used for just about any mirror less system available right now. So Leica, Fuji. Olympus, Sony, etc. BUT, this bag was “designed” to be a Leica M system bag right down to the red dot on the buckle strap and shoulder pad and what a beauty of a bag it is.

Excuse the lighting and poor color in the video below, I will be re-doing this video in the next few days  - going through some medical/health issues right now and when I did this I just got back from Doc/ER – sorry!

I love ONA bags as they are well made, look handsome and rugged and are one of the few brands that offer a taste of the higher end in the bag world. A bag that is not only functional, but stylish and looks good around your body. The new Berlin sits right in with the other luxury offerings from ONA and this is a GOOD thing because ONA makes some of the best bags in the camera bag business.

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ONA states that this is a limited edition bag and below are the specs from their website and description page of the “Berlin”…

Created to celebrate 100 years of Leica photography, the Berlin is a limited-edition ONA bag designed for the Leica M-System. The Berlin is handcrafted with full-grain leather that will develop a rich patina over time.

The signature Leica red interior is fully customizable, padded with premium closed-cell foam, and can accommodate one Leica M-System camera, two to three lenses, an iPad and small personal items. The Berlin also features a zipped organizer pocket, a convenient removable top-grab handle, antique brass buckles, red rivet accents and a streamlined back pocket.

Limited edition

Handcrafted with full-grain leather

Designed for Leica M-System

Removable top-grab handle

Exterior dimensions: 12.5″L x 10″ H x 4.5″ D

Interior dimensions: 11″ L x 8.5″ H x 3.5″D

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I like that it can hold an iPad as well as your M and 2-3 lenses along with other necessities such as your phone, battery charger, and even some film if you so desire. This is a bag that feels a little stiff out of the box but over time it will soften up and develop a patina while wearing in and showing that wear. The one I have been using still looks new but it has only been on a couple of local trips with me. I examined the bag inside and out and it is up to the same Ona standards as the Brixton leather, but smaller and lighter (which is good). If leather is your thing, and you own a Leica M system, this is a bag that may just be the “one” you have been waiting for.

But quality does not come cheap at $369. This is a luxury designer limited edition full-grain leather bag. This is not a cheap fabric bag but more of a “functional statement piece” much like Fogg and Billingham bags. Fogg bags are now running into the $600′s and up for cloth and leather (but they are beautiful bags) and Billingnam round the gamut from $250-$600 or so for a good M bag. The ONA bag is created to celebrate the Leica M, and it looks, feels and plays the part well. If you have invested thousands in your Leica M system, why not dress it up with a new bag?

I think it is gorgeous but I am a fan of the leather camera bags. To me it sort of looks a bit old school and new school and the red interior is gorgeous but the cool thing here is that this bag will AGE VERY WELL. In 5-10-20 years it will look like a true well worn classic bag, even if you have the M 980 in it by then.

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When I took out the bag I had my M 240, 50 Nokton, 90 Summarit and an E-M10 inside with a lens. I also had an iPad mini, my phone and a charger for the M. I had some room to spare yet the bag is not huge and unruly. I think those that appreciate quality and function will really be into this bag. I have used a ton of bags over the years and for quality of build, the ONA is up there with the best I have used and tested. I love Fogg, I like Billingham and I enjoy Artistan & Artist but for the money spent, it is tough to beat the ONA for a mix of everything. I previously reviewed the Union Street and Bowery HERE but those were not the leather versions. I also bought and owned the all leather Brixton which traveled with me to Ireland, New York ad other parts of the world. It wore in quite nicely and now looks like a 20 year old leather bag. That Brixton received MANY compliments during my travels and I am confident that the Berlin will as well.

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For Leica M owners, the Berlin is a fabulous carry case for your valuable camera and lenses, if you like that sort of thing.

You heard it here first...I asked ONA to make this in black as I would personally prefer a black version with the red dots and red interior. It would look striking I think but this normal leather version is also VERY cool and classic..retro..M. How limited is it? Not sure, but if it catches your fancy, take further look at the ONA website.  You can read more or buy it.  $369.

As for my black request, only time will tell.

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Mar 112014
 

Sulawesi, Indonesia with the M9

by Andre

Hi Steve,

It seems almost obligatory to begin with a big thank you for all the work you put into your site and I too would like to this. I am convinced that your site is a source of inspiration to many of us and it sure is for me. In fact, you are to ‘blame’ for me buying a Leica M9 a few years back. A decision I have never regretted. I’m not sure my I’m worth such an expensive camera as I am merely an amateur photographer, but the one thing I am sure of is that I enjoy the hell out of it. I check your site daily –if not multiple times every day- and although we have never met (until today I have never submitted anything to your site), strangely it feels as though I know you well.

My setup is simple: M9 with a 35 cron and 50 cron. High ISO performance of the M9? Lousy. Are there faster lenses out there? For sure. Do I need them? Absolutely not. Would I like them? Nope. Does that mean I don’t suffer from GAS? Eeeh, no.

Anyway, to the stuff that matters: photography.

This is a photo essay of our trip to Sulawesi, one of the larger islands of Indonesia. We cycled around the southern part of the island as well as through a part called Toraja land. A bicycle is a superb way of visiting places. Slow enough to see the sights and smell the smells yet fast enough to cover quite some ground. But then again, I am Dutch so I might be biased towards cycling.

We started of in the capital city Makassar. A bicycle tour through the city led us to the port of Makassar. A lot of transport through the archipelago is done by these wooden ships.

Ships in Makassar - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/250 – ISO 160

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Along the way, we met many shopkeepers, children and what have you not. Many Indonesians love to have their picture taken so for all you portrait lovers out there, it is heaven!

Some examples.

The woman in this photo had a little shop along the side of the road. She was preparing some delicious samosa-like snacks.

Nice to meet you - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/25 – ISO 400

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In Sengkang, inside a coffee place tucked away in what looks like a garage box, this local barista made a very nice cuppa, by default served with condensed milk.

Barista - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/60 – ISO 640

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A guy at the market in Rantepao.

At the market - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.8 – 1/90 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued in Tana Toraja which warrants a little bit more text.

The area of Tana Toraja is like no place on earth. It is secluded from the rest of Sulawesi, tucked away in the mountains of South Sulawesi. The lush green rice paddies cascade down the mountain sides. The Toraja are an ethnic group with a fascinating culture. One of its most prominent rituals center around elaborate burial ceremonies. In the Toraja culture, a person is not ‘dead’ until he is buried. Before the ceremony, a person is simply ‘ill’ and lies in a coffin in the house of the family. The burial ceremony is a massive gathering of family and friends and lasts for three days. Because it is such an expensive event, it happens that people lie balmed in their coffin for several years!

At the funeral ceremony -which lasts for three days!- the guests are welcomed by a number of people wearing the traditional clothing of the Toraja. More often than not by the younger members of the family or by youngster from the neighbourhood

Toraja girl - M9 – 50 summicron – 4.0 – 1/45 – ISO 160

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What this photo tells me that sharpness isn’t all important. The focus on this picture is slightly off yet somehow it doesn’t bother me and to me it even adds to the mood of the picture.

An important part of the ceremony is the giving of gifts. It is carefully noted what a person gives and when at some point a member of that family dies, one is obliged to return the gift. Gifts usually consist of pigs or waterbuffalos. The most coveted are albino buffalo that may cost as much as well over $10.000.

At the ceremony, many pigs and buffalo are slaughtered and prepared for the guests. Here’s one piggy going to meet its maker…

This is the end - M9 – 50 summicron – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Once the ceremony is concluded, the deceased is then buried. Traditionally, this means that his or her body is placed in a grave high up in a cliff so that the belongings could not be robbed.

What you see in this picture is a device in which the deceased is carried to the cliff side. It is also the shape of the architecture of the houses in Torajaland. On the background some graves are visible. The puppets you see are called Tau Tau. They represent the person in the grave.

Tau Tau - M9 – 50 summicron – 2.0 – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued to the north of Sulawesi. Before sailing over to the island of Bunaken for some spectacular diving, we visited Tangkoko national park. Beautifull jungle and black beaches, something I had never seen before.

Beach at Tangkoko - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/3000 – ISO 160

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To top off our trip, we did some diving on the island of Bunaken. Ranked as one of the top places in the world but as I haven’t found the possibility to take my M9 under water, I can’t show you any pictures…

On the island we came across this boy. It was still a good two months before Christmas but by the looks of it, he was already in the proper spirit!

 Christmas spirit - M9 – 35 summicron – 1/15 – ISO 160

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So, that was it. The moral of the story? Photography is fun and if you have the chance to visit Sulawesi, it is well worth it!

Thank you Steve for posting this photo essay and thank you readers for reading it. It is bloody difficult to choose some photo’s to accompany this story but hey, that’s part of the task.

If you would like to see some more, visit my flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wahapx100/

Kind regards,

Andre

Mar 102014
 

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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35 1.4 at ISO 200 and f/1.4

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35 1.4 at ISO 200 and f/1.4

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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 :)

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14mm ISO 800

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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

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14mm at ISO 200

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14mm at ISO 640

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35 1.4 at f/1.4 and ISO 200

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14mm at f/2.8 and ISO 200

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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

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35 1.4 at ISO 1250

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ISO 2500 – 18-55

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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

Mar 052014
 

Vibrant Bangladesh !!!

By Siddhartha Kundu

Hi Brandon & Steve,

I am from New Delhi, India and a fan of your blog. I visit the your site every day whether on my phone or my computer. The photos posted in your site are truly amazing and have inspired me into the challenging world of street photography. Well .. to me street photography is pretty difficult and I am still learning. I have attached some photographs during my stay in Bangladesh in 2011-12. Bangladesh is a small country (144,000 sq. km) neighbouring east of India. With a population of over 163 millions it is one of the most densely populated countries. While 30% of Bangladeshi’s live below poverty line, it is one of the largest producers of ready-made garments. Most of the big fashion labels source their products from Bangladesh,

I was based in the capital city Dhaka, which is a photographer’s paradise. Streets with rickshaws, hand carts, dented buses and obviously masses of people. While it is very difficult to walk around with a DSLR (& lenses like 70-200) without drawing attention but people are quite friendly to expats. The attached photographs were taken with my old 5Dm2 & lenses like 70-200 & 24-70 L. My dream set up is obviously a Leica M + 50 Lux which I cannot afford as of now.

Some of my photographs can also be found at : http://www.siddharth-kundu.com

Thanking you

Regards

Siddharth

Photo 1: Alms

Canon 5Dm2 / 70-200 1.8L IS 1 F: 3.5 1/250s 

Converted to BW with VSCO Slide (Agfa

Photo1

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Photo 2: A Rickshaw Man

Canon 5Dm2 / 70-200 1.8L IS 1 F: 4.5 1/160s

Converted using VSCO Slide (Kodak E200)

Photo2

-

Photo 3: Welcome to my shop

Canon 5Dm2 / 24-70 2.8L1 F: 2.8 / 1/30s

Converted using VSCO Slide (Kodak E200)

Photo3

Mar 032014
 

Beauties of Nature premium 3 day Workshop opportunity

April 4th – April 7th 2014 – $200 discount for SteveHuffPhoto.com readers!

Hello to all and happy Monday! It is a beautiful day here in Phx AZ with some warmth and sunshine so that always makes me smile. For those that want some of that warmth and sunshine I wanted to tell you about a workshop a friend of mine is putting on in April, and it is a big one.

My Friend Todd Hatakeyama, the guy who helped and organized my Valley of Fire workshop and the guy who Organized and set up my “Photo Cruise” is putting on a massive workshop that is aimed at helping anyone who wants to get into portrait, fashion as well as learn all about LIGHTING. They have lined up some amazing speakers and models, male and female, and will be holding it at a huge 8 acre estate in the Wildlife area of San Diego California where the weather will be just as beautiful as the models that will be on hand. This is a true “Workshop” so be prepared to WORK.

BON

Here is a blurb from the Beauties of Nature workshop page:

“Come join us for an all-inclusive weekend of photography, celebrity models, food, wine, and fun on an 8-acre ranch in the Wildlife area of San Diego, California. Learn how to shoot spectacular high-fashion models in an outdoor setting with studio strobes and natural light. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph dazzling women in an extraordinary environment. The Beauties of Nature await you!”

They have a video from their last workshop that you can checkout below:

The good news is that if anyone here is interested they are offering $200 off the cost of booking this event just for the readers here if you use THIS LINK to sign up.

**I have not been paid one cent to post this, I do so because I know the level that this workshop is on and it is a big one, a luxury event with great food, drink, fun and a true LEARNING experience and figured some of you here may enjoy something like this. Also, Todd is a great guy and has helped me out in the past so I am returning the favor and I told him..give my readers $200 off and I will post!**

Read all about their event HERE at their page.

They will have 5 guest speakers, three models and a jam-packed schedule of events from Friday April 4th to Monday April 7th when the workshop ends. Below is the full schedule of events:

Friday, April 4th

12:00pm – Participants Arrive

12:00pm to 1:00pm – Introductions/Lecture

1:00pm to 2:00pm – Lunch

2:00pm to 2:30pm – Flor Lecture

2:30pm to 3:00pm – Kassie Lecture

3:30pm to 8:00pm – Optional Private Shoots

7:00pm to 8:00pm – Dinner

8:00pm to 9:00pm – Capture One Lecture

Late Night – Astronomy, Light Painting, Long Exposures

-

Saturday, April 5th

8:00am to 9:00am – Breakfast

9:00am to 10:00am – Tim Lecture

10:00am to 1:00pm – Model Shoot/Macro Shoot

1:00pm to 2:00pm – Lunch

2:00pm to 5:00pm – Model Shoot/Macro Shoot

5:00pm to 8:00pm – Model Shoot/Macro Shoot

8:00pm to 9:00pm – Dinner

9:00pm to 11:00pm – Optional Individual Model Shoot

-

Sunday, April 6th

8:00am to 9:00am – Breakfast

9:00am to 10:00am – Jay Lecture

10:00am to 1:00pm – Model Shoot

1:00pm to 2:00pm – Lunch

2:00pm to 5:00pm – Model Shoot

5:00pm to 7:00pm – Optional Individual Model Shoot

7:00pm to 8:00pm – Dinner

8:00pm to 10:30pm – Optional Individual Model Shoot

-

Monday, April 7th

8:00am to 9:00am – Breakfast

9:00am to 12:00pm – Editing

12:00pm to 4:00pm – Lunch/Photo Critique

-

How to get in on this one..

So anyone who is interested in a weekend of fun, learning, experience, and great food and massive photo opps, take a look at their page HERE and if you want to book, be sure to get the $200 off by using THIS LINK just for my readers here!

Feb 272014
 

Sony DSC-RX1

One year with the Sony RX1

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

 

My setup used to be a Canon 350D with various good lenses, then I decided I needed an upgrade and so, after many a umm’ing and ahh’ing over which full-frame Canon model to upgrade to I went and bought a Sony RX1 instead.

That single action brought about a complete change to my outlook on photography and my photographic equipment needs.

Refreshing

The RX1 concept was different to anything that had existed before it and in my view rather refreshing; to provide the best photography output in as simple as manner as possible… and make it small.

It’s not for everyone, the fixed 35mm lens and lack of a viewfinder will be sure to put off hardcore gear addicts and the price will put off everyone else but for those that really know what they want out of a camera, out of photography, will never let go of this marvel.

Prince Edward

I shot manual film SLRs from my early days, had a break of 5 years or so and then ventured back into photography with both feet firmly in the digital camp with the 350D. I used it for a while and then I kinda. just. stopped. I had gradually lost interest; digital with all its technological advancements was exciting but something was missing, I loved photography but strangely I didn’t love this.

I picked it up again a few years later and rekindled an interest but it wasn’t until I set my hands on the RX1 that I realised what I was looking for and it was refreshingly simple.

Simplicity

The RX1 is in essence a simple device, it does not have a zoom; it does not have a viewfinder; it has neither the ergonomics nor an AF system that works; and it does not even have a battery charger (!). What it does have however is a wonderful lens mated to a superb sensor and that is all I needed.

Mongkok Flower Girls

The tactile feedback from the all metal construction, the well dampened focusing ring and the reassuring click of the aperture ring around the lens gives quiet confidence when your AF is failing and the battery is about to die after only 300 shots, because you know that when you go home and upload your 300 shots, each one will be as beautifully rendered as the next and just how you intended to capture that scene.

I didn’t care that the AF enjoys the hunt because like a Mountie, he always gets his man (most of the time anyway and don’t even bother trying when anything is on the move). I learnt never to rely on AF in certain circumstances and resorted doing things the old-fashioned way.

The Old-Fashioned Way

One could argue that I’m a little bit backwards; why move from a system which gives perfectly acceptable AF, flexibility of focal lengths and adequate cost for something that offers none of that? I had to focus with my feet, manually twiddle the focus ring and lighten my wallet by a fair few G’s (in HKD that is).

But that was the epiphany, the eureka moment, the realisation that I enjoyed it (well, I would certainly enjoy it more if it hadn’t cost me an arm and a leg but I digress).

What was missing from shooting with digital SLR systems (be it Canon or Nikon) was the process itself, I was no longer enjoying the physical process of taking photographs, it didn’t matter whether the output was good if I didn’t care to take the time and effort to get out there with a camera.

More Gloomy Clouds over Hong Kong

It is a slower process, I would even say a more considered one but I’m not a professional photographer so I don’t need the ability to snap a gnat doing a reverse somersault in the tuck position off a cat’s back from 200m at a moment’s notice lest my family starve from lack of income; I’m just a guy, standing in front of a camera, asking for an enjoyable experience.

The Review

When I evaluate a camera during the first few weeks of purchase, I focus on the negative aspects of the camera; once I have a handle on what I don’t like I can then decide whether I can live with it. If I can, I will love it and keep it, if I can’t it’s gonna go; you can see this when I reviewed the Sony A7R.

5

However, with this “One year in review” I will focus instead on the positive aspects of the camera, what I have found to be the highlights after owning the RX1 for a year.

35mm

I love the 35mm focal length. You either do or you don’t I suppose and I do. I’m naturally a wide-angle shooter and lengths from 50mm upwards are awkward for me; I’m always too close to the subject, perhaps I have no inhibitions about getting in close or feel that I lose the intimacy or interaction when shooting people. Oh, and I love landscapes and the close 20cm focus distance when in macro mode is also a boon for those inevitable food photographs.

Smooch @ f/2.0

Carl Zeiss

Consider me a convert to the Carl Zeiss clan; before the fixed 35mm f/2.0 attached to the front of the RX1 I hadn’t had a lot of experience with Zeiss glass, only hearing about them and not giving them much thought. Now I am a true convert and have already amassed a collection of 4 (if you include the one on the RX1). I had never seen the famed Zeiss ‘3D pop’ before now and in good sunlight it is truly evident and a marvel to behold.

3D target

The glass is sharp wide open and right across the frame, the colours are pleasing and at f/2.0 is fast enough and beautiful enough (bokeh!) for me to indulge my creative side. It’s so effortless I almost feel like I’m cheating. It’s not perfect, there exists slight distortions and vignetting which can be corrected in post but for the most part can be considered immaterial.

I have read reviews and musings from the world-wide webs which go on to proffer the argument that this could be one of the finest lenses ever produced, I do not doubt them although having the lens mated specifically to a sensor with micrometer precision obviously has its benefits.

Exmor

The Exmor CMOS sensor is amazing and I am not using that term lightly. I have had access to and have regularly used a number of cameras over time and now also owning the Sony A7R, Fujifilm X-E1 and X-T1, I can empirically say the 24MP sensor housed within that tight metallic body is the best I’ve ever used. Its dynamic range (DR) and noise characteristics are exceptional.

Bar

It’s the only file where I can shoot straight into the sun and then pull every slider in post (using Adobe Lightroom) without breaking the image. It’s the only file where I can create HDR images with only one image (instead of the usual 3-plus images). It’s the only file where I never, ever, worry about artifacting in post and lets me really fire up my creative juices. The A7R and Fujifilm files are not even close on this one, like I have already said, this camera makes taking pictures easy.

Size

This thing is tiny; it’s an engineering marvel how they have managed to fit a full frame sensor inside that body. It’s by no means pocketable (unless you are a giant or like wearing trench coats) but it is vastly superior to its full frame brethren. It means that I can carry it anywhere and everywhere I go and I often do; during the last year it has been to clubs, bars, restaurants, functions, parks, hikes, events, trips; Hong Kong, England, Japan, Cambodia, India, Korea, China, Italy and more.

Dharavi Mother

It’s non-invasive, not attention worthy (especially with black nail polish over the trademarks) and not intimidating. It’s the perfect stealth camera which to many may look like an older 1990’s era point and shooter, obviously the fast and silent leaf shutter helps too.

Cambodia Boat Kid

I’ve been with friends and to people’s houses where they remarked why I hadn’t brought a ‘proper’ camera like their large Canon or Nikon systems. I merely shrug and say “I make do with what I got”, little do they know…

Shutter

It’s a leaf shutter, fast (1/4000s max, although speed limited to 1/2000s when wide open up until f5.6 if I remember correctly) and silent (it really is). It will sync flash at any speed you would want, especially useful for wide open shots during day light.

Viewfinder

There is however one thing the RX1 doesn’t give you and it’s something I know I couldn’t live without and that is a viewfinder; I was so used to optical viewfinders in all my previous cameras that it was a given that I would want the same again. Shooting using the LCD screen just didn’t give that same feel or enjoyment so I almost immediately started to look at the Sony OVF.

Man selling meat sticks

I tested one and was amazed by how large and bright it was; then I saw the ludicrous price tag and decided that it was ridiculous sum of money to pay for a piece of glass so I started looking elsewhere for third party designs from Leica and Voigtlander. What I saw underwhelmed me enough for me to eventually consider the electronic viewfinder (EVF) as I was not willing to spend so much money on what was essentially a dumb piece of glass. Let’s just say that I am now a convert to the EVF world; would I still prefer a large bright digital SLR OVF? Sure. But EVFs do offer some advantages and I can live with the negatives.

Street Meat Vendor

The Sony EVF is a joy to use and only now when I compare it to the EVFs from the A7R, X-E1 (rubbish) and X-T1 that I realised I had started out with a really good example of one. I’m not sure whether the EVF for the RX1 is the same as that built into the A7R but I swear the RX1 EVF is slightly better and is enjoyable to use even alongside the large and bright EVF of the Fujifilm X-T1.

One Year In

I love the RX1. I already know I will not sell it, exchange it or need to upgrade it. When it comes to 35mm, the RX1 is all I need which is why after one year and three additional bodies I still only have one 35mm focal length in my collection and that is the one attached to this camera.

It has changed my whole outlook, my philosophy and my equipment needs.

Julian

City life trams

I want them to be small and manageable; I want that tactile old school feel of an aperture ring; I want a single focal length to keep things simple; and most if all I want to really enjoy using it.

What I would really want is a collection of RX1-type cameras at differing focal lengths; an ultra-wide (~18mm), wide (35mm), normal (50mm) and short-telephoto (85mm). One camera for one task, no changing lenses in the field and if I didn’t bring the right camera with me, I’m not going to stress over missing a shot. Simples.

14

The end.

Raymond Hau

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