Jun 022011

News, Updates, Announcements and more!

Hello everyone! Happy Thursday! I am sitting here drinking my morning coffee, sitting in my big comfy office chair and realizing that in less than two weeks I will be heading out across Europe to shoot the Summer Seal tour. This will be a 5 week stint for me and I am hoping to get some nice street shooting in while traveling as well. I plan on bringing my M9 along with a 24 Lux, 35 cron, 50 Noct and 90 cron. These lenses will be perfect for shooting the shows. Notice I added the 24 Lux to the mix this time. I think it will do incredible for live shows to get more audience interaction in the frames.

I will also be bringing along a Fuji X100 and maybe a NEX for video. Not sure just yet. I did just order a new camera flight bag from Think Tank. A roller bag. Last tour I was lugging around this huge camera bag on my shoulder with loads of gear, laptop, ipad, etc. This time I will be rolling along in style with THIS LITTLE GUY. I checked it out in a shop and the quality was fantastic. This way I can save my shoulders and back, and be able to carry all of my gear on the plane. Perfect! I spent two months searching for the perfect bag for flying with my gear and this was the one I ended up with. It is small, but can pack in loads of gear. I’ll fit TWO M9’s, the 4 lenses, the X100 and a NEX. I will have my shoulder bag for my laptop, ipad, cables, chargers, snacks and one camera, most likely the X100.

While I am on the tour, updates may be sporadic as there will be days where I will be without internet access. I plan on doing some street shooting articles, some guest posts, more daily inspirations and of course a few highlights from select Seal shows. Should be interesting. If any of you reading this would like to write a guest article or User Report, just email me and lets talk!

Speaking of the Fuji X100

THE FUJI X100! It appears that Fuji is going to release a new firmware for the X100 really soon, as they announced they will be doing so to correct for issues brought up in the DPreview review. When will they release it? Hopefully soon. I think if they correct some of the quirkiness that came along with the camera then it will be even harder to find in stock. So far, it has been the hottest camera of the year. Fuji dumped their Digital SLR line after the S5 pro and with the success of this X100, I think it sends a message that many of us want high quality in a small package. Retro looks? Even better! Can’t wait to see what they do with the firmware. B&H SELLS THE X100 HERE.

Sony NEX news…

The little camera that could. The NEX-5 is one of the most versatile small cameras on the market today. It has a large APS-C sensor and has the capability to mount just about any lens (with the correct adapters). It’s kit lenses have been hit and miss but there are plenty of NEX users getting gorgeous results with various lenses. The camera is small, sleek and once you get used to the menu system it is a great system. Too bad there are no real fast wider options for it. The X100 has the 35mm equiv f/2, tough to get on the Sony unless you mount a Leica 24 Summilux to the little NEX :)

But its all about SIZE and this girl “gets it”. Look at her video and see how small it is next to a Canon 5d! Wow.

I am also hearing there will be a new NEX-5 firmware release any day now that adds a slew of fun photo filters, much like the art filters of the PEN series. From what I see, Sony is getting a little more advanced though with cool color effects, posterization effects, and even a cool retro look. Should be fun.

If some of you missed this, it appears there was a leaked image of a new Sony NEX C3 which is replacing the now discontinued NEX-3..

While it looks a little cooler than the NEX-3, not sure if I like the new rounded look and monster flash but I am sure many will. Supposedly, this little guy is supposed to hit any day now. Rumors had it for a May release.

Fun Links of the week…

Has anyone ever seen the work of Spencer Tunick? He shoots nudes and is famous for gathering hundreds or thousands of people into his photos shoots, all nude. I have seen his two HBO documentaries and found his work quite interesting. He is now getting ready for his next project, a large scale nude shoot at the Dead Sea.

This couple had custom wedding rings made to mimic the look of a classic Leica lens.

Wow, love this guys site. Not only some of the most beautiful photography I have seen in a while, he shoots a ton with a Fuji X100. If you want to REALLY see what an X100 can do, visit his site NOW and check out his posts from the past weeks.

Don’t forget to visit my Facebook fan page for this site and click LIKE!

Leica announces RECORD SALES for 2011. So much for those old timers on other sites saying Leica needs to modernize their M’s for profits. As I stated a month or two ago, Leica has been raking in the sales in 2011 and IMO will continue to do so with the plans they have laid out. Go Leica!

For those who think the M9 is expensive…what about the ridiculously priced SIGMA SD1. $9700?? Insanity. This is SIGMA…Their 15MP DSLR (that they claim is 46MP) without a lens…$9700. $2700 more than an M9 that already can come close  to MF quality with the right lens, and is much more portable. Hmmm. Who is buying one?

Was just over at lensrentals.com and found that they have some of the hottest Leica lenses available, in stock, to rent. This is a great way to try out lenses like the Noctilux, 35 Summilux, 50 Summilux, or whatever you want to try! They even have the Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5. Check out their Leica pages! I personally can vouch for their service, they are the best online rental service I have come across, and they are a site sponsor as well!

Speaking of site sponsors, Dale Photo has the hot little Leica 35 Summarit in stock. These days it is TOUGH to find ANY Leica glass in stock, even the Summarits! This is a great lens and cheap by Leica standards.

Ken Hansen also usually has Leica glass in stock. One of the top Leica dealers, Ken is my go to guy these days when I need something Leica. He has yet to ever let me down! You can e-mail Ken at [email protected] for availability of whatever you are looking for in the land of Leica.

Oh, and do check out the all new Forums on this site! Started from scratch about two weeks ago and so far so good! It will take some time to get rolling but there are so many knowledgable people that come to this site, and there are also others who need that knowledge :) The forums are a great place to share it! Also, if you want an Avatar to show up on this site when you post in the comments or the forums, go get your gravatar! . Once you do, your avatar will show up here, in the forums, and on other blogs and sites! Only takes a couple of minutes!

Upcoming Articles

Coming in the next two weeks… A new article from David Babsky and by popular demand, a comparison between the Fuji X100 and Leica M9 with 35 Summicron. So many have e-mailed asking for this and again, these are two totally different camera systems that shoot much differently in real use. BUT, to please you, the readers, I will do a “Crazy Comparison” between the two. Should be fun :)

There will also be the new SLR Magic 28 2.8 lens review for the NEX system and a couple really cool guest reports. Of course there will be the daily inspiration posts as well. So check back daily for something new and fun in the world of photography! Until next time!

Jun 022011


It’s back but will go within minutes! Fuji X100, In stock at B&H Photo – $1199! GET IT QUICKCLICK HERE TO GO TO THE X100 ORDER PAGE!

Fuji announced they are releasing new Firmware soon, so my guess is that this camera will be even harder to get once that happens, at least for a few months. These always sell out within 15-30 minutes, sometimes quicker so if you have been waiting for one, now is the time!

Jun 012011

First Look at the SLR Magic 28 2.8 NEX “E” Mount Lens!

By Steve Huff

So I was sitting around  the house  today with my son, who I have been spending quality time with for the past 6 days and my doorbell rings! As usual in the Huff household, it was the Fed Ex man. He had a package for me that came all the way from Hong Kong…EXCITING! This package contained a lens that has not been in anyone else hands as of yet as I am the first in the world to get a hold of one. The lens is the 28 2.8 and as it sits here in my hand, it looks AND feels pretty nice on the camera.

Keep in mind, THIS IS NOT THE REVIEW for this lens! This is just a “First Look” report. The full review will be coming soon!

Stunning silver. The nEX-5 looks fantastic in Silver, especially with the new lens attached.

As many of you may have seen, in the past I have reviewed other offerings from SLR Magic like the 35 1.7 for the NEX and the “Toy Lens” for the Micro 4/3 mount.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of those lenses for their fun factor and price. SLR Magic ships them out with little manuals, full boxes, and they are all ready to mount to your camera. No adapters needed. If some of you reading this are long time readers, you may remember I was the first in the world to review another unique lens for Micro 4/3 from a company called Noktor. That lens was a 50 0.95 that I was lukewarm on. Recently, Noktor went out of business for a week or so and then re-opened their doors when SLR Magic bought them.

Yep, SLR Magic has bought Noktor and plan on re-introducing the 50 0.95 and maybe even with some new tweaks for better performance. They also have a few other tricks up their sleeves that I can not discuss, but be prepared for some VERY cool news soon from minds at SLR Magic. I’m in the loop and like what I am hearing.

But for now I just wanted to show you guys some pictures of the new 28 2.8 for the NEX cameras. Mounted on a silver NEX-5 it looks really nice. The lens is solid and feels well made, which is nice. It comes with a rear cap and metal front cap that screws on for a secure fit. The Aperture dial clicks solidly and what is super cool is this lens incorporates a “revolver” style aperture system which helps to cut down on size and helps to put out great Bokeh. The lens goes from  f/2.8 to f/22!

I have not yet even REALLY shot with this lens as by the time I was able to get around  to mounting it, it was night time. All I did was take a quick couple shots around the house at night, wide open at 2.8. What I found was that this lens is VERY Smooth to focus. Feels like a lens should feel when manual focusing. Also, it does seem like it will be soft at the edges at 2.8 but I hear it sharpens up as you stop it down. I will find out tomorrow (Thursday) and post some results. The lens feel really good on the camera. One thing I like is that it focus down to 0.24 meters, or around 9 inches. Much closer than I am used  to with my Leica glass.

click images for larger versions

I plan on taking it out tomorrow for a quick spin to see how the quality is. Oh, and FYI, this lens becomes a 42mm equivalent on the NEX due to the crop factor. So basically, this is a 42mm 2.8 lens.

One thing to keep in mind is that this lens is MANUAL focus ONLY. It will not AF on the NEX and has no electrical contacts. To some this may be a deal breaker, to others, a blessing. It does focus very easily.

It has been quite a while since the NEX was introduced…almost a year now. The bummer so far has been the lack of lens releases from Sony. So far, all NEX users have had available are the 16mm and 18-55 kit lenses along with the super huge 18-200. Where are the faster primes Sony? I know they are releasing a 3.5 macro lens soon but we want fast and QUALITY as the NEX sensor is capable of so much more than the kit lenses deliver.

Couple of quick late night shots…

A quick crop at 2.8 – click image  to see larger version with true 100% crop. Bokeh looks nice so far…

As for this 28 2.8 from SLR Magic, it should be available any time now for purchase at around $199. More info on that soon. Until then, I will be testing it out and letting all of you know how it does. Am excited to do this as I always love products like this. Fun, different, affordable and in this case, possibly great quality all the way around. Of course, the NEX is always available at B&H photo and the 5 is a great and versatile tiny camera at $699 with kit zoom. Stay tuned!

one more high iso, 2.8

This is the production lens, NOT a prototype. Mounted on a silver NEX-5 I had in house. Looking good, but how will it perform out in the real world?


May 312011

Travel Photography

By Matt Draper


Your website is quickly becoming my favourite site, it is bookmarked on my Mac and I check it everyday as I am sure a lot of others do around the world. Your posts are informative, inspiring, humorous and the fact you always show a perspective from both sides shows most importantly that you are a down to earth dude that lets everyone have a say!

I sent you three photos that I had taken in Indonesia for the “Daily Inspiration” a few weeks ago, and as I sit in my 4 metre by 3 metre room in an iron ore mine in the middle of the West Australian desert counting down the months for my M9 and 35mm lux to be delivered (camera-less after selling my Canon set up to pay for it all), I decide to write a piece on travel photography that you may want to share with your faithful readers.

As I mentioned in my daily inspiration a few weeks ago, my name is Matthew Draper I am a 25 year old carpenter with a 2 week on 1 week off roster, this allows me to travel a lot which I am very grateful for.

I love photography; it has been my passion like many others for my entire life and my goal is to one day be a contributing photographer for National Geographic. (One of my photos is currently in the editor’s stockpile that I am very happy with)

Here are a few travel photography tips and some photos to go with.

I hope in any way at all it helps.



Sure the M9 is the best travel camera around, the 7D is a quick focus/FPS master and the Canon 1D and Nikon DX series will give you more megapixels then you can poke a stick at. BUT nothing is stoping you from tacking a world-class travel photo with a compact or even disposable camera!

In saying this all of the photos taken below were shot from a 5D MKII and 24-70mm lens.

For image quality nothing will beat a fixed focal lens (35mm and 50mm being my favourite) BUT if you can handle using a bit of a slower lens something like the 24-70mm will compensate in how much of a wider range you can cover, especially when you are limited to how close you can get to a subject.

I found this one lens more then enough.

Know your camera! Study the manual before your trip, get use to focusing manually, using different modes and techniques to draw limited amounts of attention, be happy with the lens you choose to take and limit the weight of your set up.

I hated the size of the 5D, however I took it with me everywhere! to the beach, in the bush, in the rain, in the crazy heat, around my neck on a scooter or even under the seat between my backside and the engine, it handled everything! I always had it wrapped in a nice cloth and tried to minimise the size of the bag I took it in.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your camera EVEYWHERE you go when traveling! Always try to have a fully charged spare battery, a spare memory card, and any protective covers (I recommend a polarised filter) you can put on your lens or camera LCD. In a foreign country you never know what you are going to come across and/or when it is going to happen.



My favourite travel photos are those of the people of the country.

I feel it is important to treat locals or anyone in that matter you are taking a photo of just how you would like to be treated.

It is amazing how much more comfortable a person will feel if you learn even the smallest amount of their language and approach them with a smile and gentle greeting, sure there are times when we point shoot and run but a small conversation and shown interest will get you that much more of a pleasant subject.

A comfortable subject will give you a tighter crop; more time to compose or adjust settings on your camera and will give you a photo with a personal connection.

Remember to respect different cultures and religions; sometimes a gentle tap on the head or touch of hand can be disrespectful to others.

Don’t be scared to ask people to stand or pose in a certain way and always remember a few dollars in some countries can help someone get by for days.



Everyone has seen a picture of the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty or the Great Wall of China but nothing ever really prepares us for the share ore of these sights when you get to see them IN REAL LIFE!

After you have sucked it all in and taken your happy snap under the Las Vegas sign or standing beside the Taj Mahal don’t be afraid to spend sometime getting a whole different prospective of the landmark.

Walk around it, take a photo of someone taking a photo of it, take a photo of the landmark in a window or sunglass reflection, through the hole of a fence, when the weather is out of control or even from the hot dog stand out the front.

Research your favourite photographer and/or the landmark and get some inspiration.

Think outside of the box and you may be quite surprised with what you can achieve with your own imagination and something that has been seen a million times before.



I like to take a small note pad with me, sometimes a little story of the person or place you have just shot can really be the icing on the cake to an award winning photo.

I try write the date, name of the person, name of the street or suburb and a little about them or the location.

This also aids as a bit of a travel journal which you can always look back on.

Try to get the spelling right and if you are in a rush just write a few simple facts down which you can come back to later and edit into a masterpiece caption.



If you have embarked on a journey your adventurous side is already oozing!

Be brave, get lost, walk down an alley way, past the well know tourist attractions to a local sports match or even an industrial area, this is where the real people are.

I travel on my own, this allows me to gain entry to certain places a group of people may not be welcome. I always take a local with me to certain areas I am cautious of. (it doesn’t take long to get talking to someone who is willing to show you crazy or amazing things they know of around the corner)

Get amongst it! If you are at a temple, in a cock fighting ring or knee deep in fish at a market talk to the people that work there get an idea of what it is like from their perspective, have fun and smile you will be surprised with how much closer you can get or the better treatment you will receive when it comes to pulling out your camera.

BE SAFE Always tell someone you know or trust (even someone behind the desk of your accommodation) a general idea of where you will be going for the day and what time you anticipate you will return.

Research the roads or area you will be going to and a clear way of how to get back to where you started if something happens to go wrong. Maybe take a cell phone if you have one and some I.D but never be too naïve, if something doesn’t feel right go with your gut feeling.

Next year I am off to south east Asia followed by Bangladesh, India and then Russia, I have been dreaming of spending a week photographing the ship breaking in Chittagong in Bangladesh, every post I have read on the internet says how much of a mission it is to be granted access but this is not going to stop me, I will arrive with my smile and M9 and see where I get.


These were just a few tips I thought I would share with everyone.

Thanks for reading, remember have fun and always be respectful.

I hope you enjoy the photos below. They were taken on my last trip to Bali, Indonesia



May 302011

The Olympus XZ-1 Digital Camera Review

By Steve Huff

Ah yes, the Olympus XZ-1. I was supposed to have this review up last week but with all of the Fuji X100 and Leica X1 hoopla I had to push this one back because I did not have the time to go over the images I snapped with the camera until now. I have been toting along this little powerhouse of a compact for a couple of weeks now and I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the cameras capabilities. I will keep this review short and sweet, and it will focus on my real world use of the camera and NOT charts and resolution tests.

It will also be a VERY short review as there is no need to go on and on about the camera because it just does what it does, and it does it well.

Olympus released the XZ-1 with a mission in mind. That mission was to release a small compact camera that would not only have more features, better quality and a larger sensor than others in its class, it appears they also wanted to take on some of the super compacts like the Leica X1 and new Fuji X100. While I do not feel the XZ-1 is a replacement for something like an X100, it can at times give similar results if you are printing small or shooting for web display.

Yes, in many ways, this camera can almost approach the quality of the Fuji X100 and Leica X1, and it is a smaller sensor compact! Of course, in other ways, like noise, dynamic range, and total IQ, it is not up there with the super-compacts but it is an option over the cameras that are in the XZ-1’s class, and dare I say, a better one? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on what you are looking for in a compact-ish camera.

The fact is that 90% of us really do not NEED more camera than this! Most of you reading this are most likely hobbyists who shoot and post to the web. Others may have found this page through google while searching for their 1st high quality compact digital. If that is the case, the XZ-1 is one of the best compacts I have had the pleasure to shoot with (in the smaller sensor compacts) if not THE BEST. It is also a camera that is super easy to take with you anywhere. It fits easily into the front pocket of my cargo shorts.

The Red Rocks of Sedona, in Black & White! XZ-1 at f2.5 and ISO 100 – Noise in sky is from the B&W conversion.

First off, I know there are other cameras in this class that I already really enjoy. Which ones? The Leica D-Lux 5 and Panasonic LX-5 are at the top of my compact list along with the little Ricoh GRDIII (GRD review HERE). Those are cameras I really loved and raved about right here on this site. The D-Lux 5 was my top choice for a high quality compact camera but this may have just changed with the XZ-1 just because it does so much right, and so little wrong.

What makes this little Olympus special though is its all star cast of features. This little guy has everything you can imagine or wish for in a compact camera, even a little bit larger of a sensor for even better performance over the other small cameras.

Here are the official specs of the XZ-1

10 Megapixels

The 10 million pixels in the high-resolution CCD create superior image quality. Create poster-sized prints without losing a single detail.

Large, High-Sensitivity CCD

Providing the best image quality ever in a compact Olympus camera, the large 1/1.63-inch CCD enables greater dynamic range and smoother gradations from highlights to shadows.

4X iZuiko Zoom Lens

Based on the standards of Olympus DSLR lenses, the wide aperture of the iZuiko f1.8-2.5 allows a rich and vibrant range of photographic expression. It allows faster shutter speeds in low light – and it allows for a shallower depth of field than most compact point-and-shoot cameras.

HD Movie 720p

A simple, one-touch button allows you to record movies with amazing clarity in high-definition, right from your camera.

Accessory Port

The XZ-1 includes a port for accessories including the SEMA-1 Microphone adapter set and the VF-2 live-finder, a detachable electronic viewfinder. The viewfinder easily slides onto the camera’s accessory port and hot shoe to provide 1.15x magnification for a 100% field of view. The VF-2 rotates up 90 degrees which is useful when shooting subjects from challenging angles. The external accessory port also allows for connection with the SEMA-1 external microphone adapter set for enhanced audio capture.

In-Camera Art Filters-Movie and Still Images

With six in-camera Art Filters (Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone) you can explore your artistic side while taking both still shots and HD video. The Art Filters can be applied as you shoot, no additional software required.

New Easy-to-Use Live Guide Control

Seeing the results before you shoot can change the way you take a picture. Want more vivid or muted color in your shot? Want warmer or cooler hues? Want a brighter or darker subject, or a sharper or softer background? Or maybe you want to capture the fast-moving action of your subject with a little artistic blur, or perhaps freeze the action? Simply set the camera to iAuto, press OK to engage Live Guide, then press the up and down arrows on the back of the E-PL1 to easily slide through numerous photographic effects. Make adjustments and watch the LCD as the effects are made live — before the image is captured! Live Guide also features a Tips section on how to compose a shot or shoot kids, pets, flowers and more.

Dual Image Stabilization

Dual Image Stabilization combines Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds so you can capture crisp, clear images even if the subject is moving.

In-Camera Panorama

Captures three images and stitches them together to create one amazing panoramic picture by simply pressing the shutter button and slowly panning across a panoramic scene.

AF Live View With AF Tracking

F Live View works as seamlessly as a point-and-shoot to display subjects, in focus, on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way. AF Tracking locks your subject into focus right on the LCD, and constantly adjusts focus and brightness whether you or your subject is moving. With this mode, a simple push of the AF button and shutter release enables you to keep fast-moving and unpredictable subjects in focus.

Advanced Face Detection

Face Detection automatically focuses on your subjects’ faces and optimizes exposure for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures.

TruePic V Image Processor

In addition to more detail, the image sensor, combined with the next-generation TruePic V Image Processor, delivers excellent dynamic range, accurate color fidelity and reduced noise, all the way up to 3200 ISO.

The XZ-1 at f/4 and only 1/50s. I must have had the ND filter on as this was a bright and harsh sunny day in AZ. Beautiful Oak Creek Canyon always provides for some nice landscapes. The XZ-1 did well here, and honestly, just about as good as the X1 and X100 did in this same scene. Hmmmm, that slightly larger image sensor seems to do the trick.

My quick and short review. What I like about this camera and my conclusion on the XZ-1 vs other compacts.

I decided to keep this review short and to the point as there are tons of other reviews out there already on the XZ-1, and loads of users who rave on and on about this camera. I’m a bit late to the game so I will basically just let you know my final conclusion, and what I like and dislike about the camera. More importantly, if I were in the market for a new compact-ish camera, would I choose the XZ-1 over the competition? If so, why?

The things I like about this little guy is that it is sleek, thin and built pretty well. It can take the Olympus EVF (one of the best EVF’s to date) and the front dial on the lens controls your settings like Aperture, ISO, etc (ala Canon S95, which this camera does indeed beat for IQ).

The XZ-1 records 720P HD video and has built in image stabilization so you wont get the shakiness in your footage, AND YES, it works pretty good. There are two macro settings, macro and SUPER macro so you can get super close to your subject. The ART filters from the PEN series are here as well, even the new DRAMATIC TONE filter. My personal fave, the grainy B&W filter is also here which is just as good on the XZ-1 as it is in the PEN series.

The lens opens up to a fast f 1.8 and the camera has a built in ND filter just like the Fuji X100. This way, if you want to shoot at 1.8 in the sun, just flick on the ND and go for it!

The Auto Focus is pretty fast and accurate as well.

It has all of the formats such as 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 for  those square format junkies. Olympus seemed to want to be king of the compacts with this one, but os there anything I did not like?


I do not like that Olympus does not supply you with a dedicated battery charger. You have to plug the camera itself in to the outlet to charge the battery.

Also, the camera has no real grip. Sometimes it felt a little uncomfortable to hold while shooting when compared to other offerings.

Sometimes the images seemed a bit soft (at higher ISO) and the in camera noise reduction is a but too aggressive for my tastes. Sometimes the images can appear mushy when shooting higher ISO. I am not 100% convinced that the image quality beats the Leica D-Lux 5 but Olympus also gives you all the cool stuff that you do not get in the D-Lux. The art filters, 1.8 lens, control dial behind the lens barrel, ND filter, etc.

I also had an issue with the camera remembering my settings. I would set the center focus point when shooting but when the camera was turned off, and on again, it would “forget” that I had set it to center point only. Kind of irritating but not a deal breaker.

Finally, some are saying that they feel the XZ-1 is too large. Not quite a compact, and not quite a larger sensor camera. The fact is that the XZ-1 is thin, sleek, and somewhat tall. BUT it fits in my pocket no problem. I like the design and style personally.

I would say that the XZ-1 is a jack of all trades and master of most. It takes great video too, equal to the D-Lux 5 video quality.

In fact, the XZ-1 may be the most feature packed little compact camera EVER, and it is available in black or white for those that care about style as well as function. If you want a do it all easy to use camera that you can take with you anywhere, the XZ-1 may be the one you are looking for. If you do not want to mess with changing lenses and just want that ONE small camera that can do just about everything for you, this is the one folks.


Looking pretty snazzy in white!

IMO, the quality and joy of use you get from it makes it an easy recommend. It was tough to take a bad shot with this camera, wether I was messing with the art filters or shooting in Aperture priority mode. It does come in at $499 though and at that price you are awfully close to the E-PL2 kit which sells for $599. If you do not care to go up in size, I would recommend the E-PL2 over the XZ-1 for its larger sensor and overall better Image Quality and responsiveness. You would lose the macro and super macro modes though. Always a give and take. One thing to keep in mind is that when shooting with smaller sensor cameras you will get more image noise in general and it will be tougher to blur out backgrounds for subject isolation. This is another area where something like an E-Pl2 would do better. Larger sensor usually means less noise, more DOF control. But with cameras like the XZ-1 it is the size that matters, and many of us just want SMALL with big performance. The XZ-1 DOES indeed deliver on this.

SO, which compact is the best bet?

Overall, if i were in the market TODAY for a compact-ish camera that delivered the goods, it would be between this XZ-1 and the D-Lux 5/LX-5. Personally, I am not a fan of the Canon S90 or S95. Sure they are small, but when I tried out the S95 I thought it was a bit over rated and I hated the feel and build. Everyone has their own tastes though, so the key is to buy a camera that YOU like with features you want. All I can say is, the XZ-1 is the new king of compacts. It was hard to NOT like this one as it just did so much right.

The lens is good, but I am not 100% if it can beat out the lens on the D-Lux 5/LX-5. It seems softer to me, but that doesn’t stop this camera from producing great results. I applaud Olympus for releasing it! It could possibly be the compact of the year just as I think the Fuji X100 will be “Camera of the Year for 2011”.

With all of that said, I will leave you with the images I managed to snap while I had the camera. I did not shoot that many as I was always shooting the X100 over the past two weeks!

As always, click on any one of them for a larger and better version.

If you want to buy the XZ-1, I highly recommend B&H photo, which is where this one came from. Many of you know that B&H is my main camera shop of choice and I have never had one bad experience with them in over 15+ years. Their Olympus XZ-1 page is here, and if you follow my link here to buy one, I will get a teeny credit that helps support and keep this website chugging along, so thank you!


Using the Dramatic Art Filter, you can see it adds “Drama” to the scene :)

The Macro mode works well, as does the “Super Macro” mode. Up close, out of camera JPEG…

And you know me, I loved the grainy B&W filter on the PEN series, and I am happy to see Olympus add it to their compact XZ-1.

More Drama...

The Pinhole Art filter adds a vignette around the photo.

The color of the XZ-1 is really good. Typical Olympus style. Also, you can get some shallow DOF effects if you shoot up close and have the lens wide open.



Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Also, the new forums are NOW OPEN on this site so get involved if you like! Thanks so much for visiting my site!

May 262011

The Stevehuffphoto.com Seattle, WA Meetup/Workshop July 23rd and 24th 2011



Hey guys, just wanted to update you all on the July 23rd and 24th schedule of events for the Seattle workshop/meetup and to let you know I have ONE SEAT remaining! I expect it to sell quickly so if you are interested, e-mail me ASAP!


This will be an exciting and fun time for all. Here is what will be happening…



Saturday, July 23rd

9:00 AM: Workshop attendees arrive at Ashwin’s home

– Top Pot Donuts (on of Seattle’s most famous donut spots) with coffee for breakfast

9:15ish: Steve’s intro & welcome

9:15-10:30: Introductions of each of the conference attendees (5 min per person)

10:30-10:45 : Ashwin Rao’s welcome, introduction, & brief portfolio slideshow

10:45 – 11:15:  Guest speaker introductions: Tim Isaac, Roger Paperno

11:30- 1:30: Morning stroll at Pike’s Place Market – An introduction to Seattle’s “street” of memories. Pike’s Place offers the most street photography of any place in Seattle, with a wide variety of photo making opportunities

1:30-2:30 Lunch at Pikes Place Chowder (sourdough bread bowl and chowdah!)

2:30-3:00 travel to & arrive at Glazers Camera for a Leica Demo; Meet with Mark Vercammen, Glazers’ Leica guru extraordinaire.

3:00- 4:00 pm: Glazers Camera –  Leica Demo with Brad Weeks, Leica’s Pacific Northwest camera representative.

4-4:30: Walk over to Glazers Rentals for Rao/Tanabe Photography Exhibit & talk on “How to exhibit and promote your work”

4:30-7  pm Return to Ashwin’s for photo editing, critique, and sharing; concurrent “Thumbs Up”/Match Technical display & gear demo at Ashwin’s

– Snacks and food on hand

7:15– 8:15: Evening sunset “postcard” photo stroll at Kerry Park

8:30- 9:30 pm Group Dinner and evening cap at Rays Boathouse near Golden Gardens

9:30-11 pm (time and attendee desire permitting): Optional later night, low light photo stroll for any interested. Likely location will be Belltown nightlife (downtown)


Sunday, July 24th

9:00- Breakfast: Mighty O Donuts and Coffee

9:15-9:45: Steve’s presentation of photos (Seal tour  & Street photography around the world)

9:45-10: 15: Introduction & Discussion Lead by Charles Peterson

10:15-11:00 Recap of the day – Lessons learned

11:00 AM – 1 PM: Photo Telling stroll – Space Needle/ Seattle Center

–  Optional ride up the needle. It’s a fun place to photograph from above as well, both the people and the city!

1:30-3 PM: Lunch at Eastlake Bar & Grill

3:30-5:15 pm: PM stroll at Discovery Park, Seattle’s “nature preserve”

5:30- 7:30 pm: Return for critique and discussion of story telling

7:30-8 pm: Prize giveaway ( a complete kick butt camera system with all accessories )

8:00 pm: Group Wrap-Up Dinner at Tutta Bella Pizzeria


Workshop Host: Steve Huff

Workshop Local Host & Organizer: Ashwin Rao


Honored attendees and contributors

Tim Isaac of MatchTechnical, creator of the ThumbsUp Grip for Leica M cameras

Charles Peterson, Rock & Documentary Photography

Roger Paperno: Pro Photographer and local co-host

Brad Weeks, Leica Northwest Representative

Mark Vercammen, Glazers Camera Leica Guru


  • Dinner is not included, but attendance is encouraged
  • Itinerary is subject to change, pending weather and happenstance
May 232011

My Leica X1 and Fuji X100 Comparison Shots

or “Fuji X100 vs Leica X1”

By Steve Huff

Just got back from my mini road trip today where I took along the Fuji X100 and Leica X1 so I could compare shooting them side by side. I wanted to write about the experience AND the image quality results of both out of camera JPEG and RAW conversions. First off, the light was harsh today so these were all taken between 9:30AM and 2PM, not the best light but still was able to get a feel for each camera and compare them.

What I will do here is post straight from camera JPEG images from each camera, as well as a few processed in RAW and a couple of FULL size samples from RAW. When I show JPEG output, each camera was set to the same color setting. If Velvia on the X100 it was Vivid on the X1. If it was standard on the X1, it was Provia on the X100. IN every comparison the same Aperture was used. For ISO, the base ISO of each camera was used for best image quality. ISO 100 for the X1 and 200 for the X100.

With the RAW comparisons, each shot was processed from RAW with NO ENHANCEMENTS AND NO PP.

NONE OF THE SHOTS HERE, even the out of camera JPEGS, HAVE ANY processing done to them. They are straight from camera.

I’m Loving the EVF of the X100…

While out today I found that the viewfinder of the X100 is a godsend. While framing images in the bright sun it was so much easier to do so with the OVF/EVF compared to the X1’s LCD. On the flip side, the X1 started up much quicker and was ready to shoot when I was. The X100 startup held me up a couple times (even with the fast card you must reformat EVERY TIME you put it in the camera to gain the fast start up speed) but all was good for what I was doing.

I did notice a difference in the output of the cameras though, and I think it will all come down to personal choice.

First, the Poll answers…

On Saturday I posted a side by side picture with a Poll and asked all of you to guess which image was from the Leica X1 and which was from the Fuji X100. The Poll was pretty evenly split and finally the top image broke away with the most votes, meaning that the majority thought the top was from the X1.


Here is the answer…

The top is the X100 image and the Bottom is the X1 image…

More than half of you were wrong here which goes to show that BOTH cameras are capable of fantastic output. To me, the X1 file has LESS distortion in my sons face. In the X100 file, he is suffering a bit more from the big nose syndrome, meaning the barrel distortion is blowing up his face a bit. The X1 is better in this regard without question.

The images above were shot RAW and exported from ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) untouched. Both are at F2.8 and both are sharp but you can see the different color and WB of each image. Personally, I prefer image #2. Someone in the comments pointed out that they thought it had more “soul” and I somewhat agree. I also dislike the distortion in #1.

Oh, as for the 2nd comparison this morning, the TOP image was shot with the X1 and as you guys noticed, my shadow gave it away!

I’ve shot the X1 MANY times and came away with loads of great shots. I’ve shot the X100 A TON over the past three weeks and also have gotten some nice shots.

What it comes down to for me is overall IQ in various situations, control, and usability/joy of use. So how did it go today shooting both? Very good. Each camera gave me good quality results though I must admit, after looking at images side by side, I am preferring the color of the Leica X1. Also, the Leica images are somewhat “crisper”…if that is the right word. BUT the X100 is really just as capable, especially with some PP as you will see later down in this article.

Instead of jabbering on and on, let me post some images so you can see what I mean…


Many who are shooting these cameras are shooting JPEG, so which camera will give you the nicest out of camera JPEGS? See what you think.

Here is an image shot at f/4. The 1st one is the X100 out of camera JPEG and  the 2nd is from the X1.


These are not full size as I will post crops below from RAW conversions. These 1st few sets are to give you an idea of color and rendering.

The following are #1 Fuji, #2 X1. In this 1st set of the dog, I DO see a more 3D pop from the Leica shot.

Ok, so that was a ton of JPEG images! After looking through them at the larger sizes (You must click on the image to see the correct version) I do indeed prefer the X1 out of camera JPEG images. I’d go as far to say if your main concern with a camera is the image quality, the X1 wins due to  having less distortion and extra pop or crispness in the files.

Then again, I have to keep telling myself that the X100 has the ViewFinder, is cheaper, and has better high ISO capabilities. It also has HD video capability, which can be good to have at times. What if these two cams were the same price? $1200? Id have to go with the X1 just for the image quality being slightly better (to me), in JPEG mode at least.

JPEG output from these cameras is decent with the X1 winning in this area IMO.

Processed from RAW files

The next couple of samples were processed from RAW. No PP was done to these. This shot was at f/2.8

Full Size from RAW, shot at f/8

1st the Fuji X100- – Click image for full 12 Megapixel image

Now the X1

So which do you prefer? The two shots above were taken at f/8 and to me, when I view the full size version, the X100 is sharper and shows more detail in the trees at the top. At the same time, the X1 image seems a little more “lively” and less flat. Or is it just me?

But look at this one, two more full size images shot at f/5.6. What is going in with the Fuji on the left side?

So what about “Usability”?

After shooting both the X1 and X100 side by side I have to say it was a draw. I loved the Viewfinder of the X100. If the X1 had one, built in, like the X100’s EVF/OVF it would be game over for me. X1 would be my choice HANDS DOWN. As it is, the X100 was a joy to use mainly due to being able to frame with the EVF (I still prefer the EVF over the OVF) in the harsh AZ sunlight.

At times I had a hard time framing the X1 due to the LCD being washed out from the sun.

On the other hand, the X1 was always ready to roll and started up quick. The X100 took a few seconds to get ready to shoot, maybe 5-8 seconds. Unless you reformat the memory card every time you put it in the X100 you will get a slow start up. This seems like a bug that needs to be fixed with a Firmware update.

Usability wise, I loved the X1 for its no nonsense settings and straight forward menu (which I never needed to get into really) as well as the sleek design and light weight.

Focus speed was similar for both with the nod going to the X100 for AF speed, but not by much. I am using Firmware V2 on the X1 and while it seems a tiny but faster than before, the X100 seems a little quicker still.

Both cameras were fun to shoot and carry. Build wise, they are about equal. In my X100 review I mentioned the X100 was built slightly better but really, they are about equal. The X1 is one handsome camera in black and when staring at both side by side, I prefer the clean lines of the X1. I also love the X100 design though the X1 seems more “classy” and the X100 more “retro”.

Id be happy with either camera. The X100 has the f2 lens, better high ISO performance at 3200 (less grain, but smoother image), HD video, EVF/OVF, and manual aperture and exposure comp dial. All for $1199. The X1 has a sleeker design, faster operation, slight better IQ (IMO) and comes with a nicer leather strap :) $1999 but deals may be found here and there if you look around.

If you are looking for an X100 you can try B&H photo as they get stock from time to time. If you are looking for a Leica X1 (sexy in black) Leica dealer Ken Hanson has TWO in stock now. He sent me this one for this comparison, so thanks Ken! You can e-mail him HERE.

My final conclusion? YOU DECIDE! Look at the images, the color, the rendering and body style/features and price. I love both but am giving the IQ nod to the X1 and usability nod to the X100 due to the viewfinder.

Processed Images

The images presented in this article so far have been without post-processing. Below are three images from each camera, that have been converted from RAW and slight processing applied. They are in random order but each pic is stamped with the name of the camera that shot the image…click on them for the 1600 pixel wide much better versions.

So, do any of you see much difference in these processed pics?

High ISO

I didn’t shoot too much high ISO but did see that at ISO 3200 the X1 has quite a bit more noise but the image is SHARP and retains all the detail. The X100 seems to use NR so the files are smoother and less noise. Here is one I processed to B&W. In real use, not much difference but the X1 has that crispness I sometimes see…


UPDATE: This comparison is CONTINUED HERE with 10 FULL size images processed from RAW files!



Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Also, the new forums are NOW OPEN on this site so get involved if you like! Thanks so much for visiting my site!

May 232011

UPDATE: The TOP image was from the Leica X1. Bottom X100. Full comparison can be found HERE.

Happy Monday!

Im heading out to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon AZ this morning to shoot the Leica X1 and Fuji X100 side by side to not only see the image quality differences, but to also see which one I prefer shooting with all day. I have a soft spot for the Leica X1 but also am really digging the X100 so I wanted to see the real deal between the two as so many have been talking about the 3D depth of the X1 and the flatness of the X100.

When I reviewed the X100 I did not have an X1 on hand, and now I do so this is going to be fun :)

I posted a sample and poll on Saturday of my son asking what camera you guys though took each photo, and the voting is pretty close! I will reveal which camera took which image either later on tonight or tomorrow morning with my full X1 and X100 side by side report.

Until then, here is one more comparison!



These were shot RAW, f/8, and exported from ACR without ANY change of settings or PP.

One of these came from the Leica X1 and one from the X100.

When you click on them they will open as one but in FULL size.

Instead of asking which one you think came from which camera, this time vote for the one you like best. It’s a crap image but was just taken to test detail, color and rendering at f/8 with each camera. I will have some better images later tonight or in the morning from each camera, along with my full comparison.

With that said, I think sometimes it is pointless to over-analyze things such as this. Obviously, both the X1 and X100 are fantastic cameras capable of high image quality and each one can inspire confidence and deliver the results. Which one you prefer is all up to what you want to use it for. For example, if you wanted a viewfinder and close up capabilities, the X10o would be a better choice. If you wanted that “Leica Look” that some of you see, and some do not, then the X1 is the only choice.

BRW, both cameras are easy to use and have similar AF speed (using the X1’s V2 firmware).



May 212011

UPDATE: The top image was from the X100, NOT the X1. The Bottom image was from the X1. The full comparison is HERE.


Hey everyone! It’s Saturday and I’ve been hanging around the house today doing some comparisons between the Leica X1 and Fuji X100 just so I could see once and for all which camera I prefer when shooting both side by side. I will be working on this for the next three days, and should have something up by Tuesday. For now, just for fun I decided to post one image along with a poll to see if you guys can guess which image was shot with the Leica X1. I may put one or two more up before Tuesday, just for fun.

The answer will be posted in my comparison this week.

Both images were shot at f2.8 and processed with default RAW settings in CS5. No PP.


May 192011

More Fuji X100 Video & Image samples!

Hello everyone! Hope you are all having a great day and with the weekend right around the corner I bet you all are. I went out today with the X100 to try and get ANYTHING on video so I could put together more sample video footage. I have to say that the X100, even with its limitations of no image stabilization and no manual focus during video (fix this Fuji!) the lens is just wonderful when shooting video wide open.

It’s no Canon 5D or 7D in the video department but I have to say that I have been getting nicer looking video (color and DOF wise) than the Panasonic GH2 I have here. I’ll say it now, not a fan of the GH2. Not sure what all the hubbub is about, or why there is a wait for this camera but I have been unable to get anything nice video or photo wise with it. Seems noisy in the shadows and the color…not my thing. I preferred the little G2 in every way I think.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I updated my Fuji X100 review with a few new images and the video, that I am also posting here. I also wrote a short addition to the review about shooting with a 35mm focal length and why I find it liberating. That is at the bottom after the X200 mock-up. You can read and see the new stuff in the review HERE.

Here are a couple of snaps I shot today with the X100 as well as the short video clip samples…

as always, click on the images to see them larger and higher resolution.


May 172011

DISCLAIMER FROM STEVE: Just so everyone knows, I did not write this and I pretty much disagree with David’s assessment here on the X100. I find the X100 to be a spectacular camera that has quirks, none of which slow me down or alter my photography when using it. My review of the camera is HERE.

I posted Davids thoughts of the X100 because, well, David’s articles always bring another view to things as not everyone will always agree with me. Enjoy!

User Reports Article – (see the new User Reports section!)

An alternative view of the Fuji X100..

By David Babsky

A retro-styled digital camera like an analog classic? ..APS sensor, optical viewfinder, 35mm (equivalent) lens and great results? ..It must be the Cosina/Epson R-D1..!

(CAUTION: These are personal opinions which you may not agree with ..the idea here isn’t to upset people who’ve bought, or ordered, a Fuji X100, but to present other – just as valid – considerations of the X100. If you may be offended, then – as they say on TV – look away now! This isn’t a criticism of any PERSON who wants an X100, but is a different assessment of the device itself..)

Seriously, the Fuji FinePix X100..? It’s a camel ..not just an animal designed by a committee, but this quasi-retro, APS-sensor, 35mm (equivalent) automatic “rangefinder” seems – to me, anyway! – to have been kludged together by a quartet of salesmen from ideas scribbled on a Marlboro pack.

Its greatest strengths are its high resolution picture quality and its high resolution million-pixel electronic “hybrid” viewfinder; it’s like the hi-def electronic finder of Panasonic SLRs, but can be swapped, at the flick of a lever, or the press of a button, to a simple “see-through-the-glass” optical finder with electronic info overlays. The full electronic finder lets you see exactly what the camera sees, WHATEVER lens is on the front ..except that – as we all know – The Fuji X100 doesn’t take other lenses than its built-in f2 23mm (..equivalent to a 35mm lens on a ‘full-frame’ 35mm film or digital camera).

The electronic finder gives a preview of how things will look when you change colour characteristics, for example, or stop down to a smaller aperture ..and so does the normal screen on the back of the camera.

So why the optical finder? ..To pretend that it’s not an electronic camera at all, but something from a ‘purer’, mechanical age, like the venerable Leica MP ..or like the teeny £80 ($130) pocket-sized Canon PowerShot A1200 which ALSO has an optical finder as well as an electronic rear screen (and – more than Leica ever managed – the Canon’s optical finder ZOOMS along with its 4x [28-112mm equivalent] lens).

The X100 has two ways to switch between those optical and electronic finders: a lever on the FRONT of the camera – where it’s awkward to reach, but it looks good to passers-by (to increase its “retro” cred) – and a button on the back of the camera which does the same job. (More “committee” design: you can just hear those marketing guys pushing “give them the old-style finder to look like a Leica, and have the hi-tech electronics like the Panny, we win both ways”..)

And here’s what it’s trying to look like; a mixture between a Leica M3 and an Olympus 35RC:

And how does the X100 perform? Sluggish autofocus, so sluggish shooting. The older, interchangeable-lens, noisier focal-plane-shutter Panasonic GF1 focuses and shoots faster than this autofocus in-lens leaf-shutter X100 ..and that’s with the GF1 having to first CLOSE its cover-the-sensor shutter before opening it and then closing it again to take a shot. And the even older APS-sensor Epson R-D1 shoots INSTANTLY, of course – as do the digital Leica M8 and M9 – because it has no autofocus to wait for: squeeze the shutter and it fires with no delay whatever! (You can put the X100 into manual-focus mode, of course, but it uses a ‘fly-by-wire’ electronically-linked adjustment (like Panasonic’s 20mm pancake lens, for instance) which focuses – unlike the Panny lenses – in awkward jerky steps, with little fine control.)

Here are some taxis I shot in London’s Tottenham Court Road the other week: I squeezed the shutter button as the taxis came towards the centre of the viewfinder (for the autofocus to lock on) ..they were coming round the corner from New Oxford Street at about, ooh, er, 25mph. The X100 missed every one of them ..look; there they go, disappearing out of the frame.

The GF1 nailed every one of them.

(Yes, I know they’re blurred – that’s because they were moving at 25mph, and I was shooting at about 1/200th.)

Here’s the street sign which tells us we’re in Tottenham Court Road: (shot with the X100)

And here’s the same sign shot with the slightly smaller sensor GF1:

And here’s the same sign again, also shot with the GF1:

Spot the difference? ..The GF1 takes interchangeable (and zoom) lenses.

The X100’s back-of-a-cigarette-packet design objectives seem to have been: “leaf shutter for minimal noise and for variable flash sync, ‘hybrid’ finder (optical with electronic overlay), retro styling, D-pad plus iPod-like selector wheel, RAW plus jpeg (..our own, special RAW that’s incompatible with anyone else’s..), APS-size sensor like the Leica X1 and M8 and Sony NEX for high quality pics (we may have to stick with one lens for the highest possible matched-to-the-sensor quality), chrome top-plate with big chunky knobs and a mechanical lever to look like a “serious” camera from another age”.. And do all these separate concepts work together?

Taking each in turn: The in-the-lens leaf shutter’s a great idea (silent, and sync-able with flash at high shutter speeds), but means that each lens – if there were to be more than just the one fixed lens – would need its own shutter ..like an old Hasselblad. Nothing wrong with that. (But the highest shutter speeds (1/4000, 1/2000th) are only available at small apertures, for which the shutter doesn’t have to open very far, so the fastest speed at which the leaf shutter can open and close at the lens’ widest aperture (f2) is 1/1000th. When using f2 for shallow depth-of-field, maximum shutter speed is 1/1000th, not 1/4000th.) Incidentally, having fitted a virtually silent leaf (central opening) shutter ..Fuji’s camera menu then provides assorted pretend shutter noises for you to choose from! ..which surely defeats the object of a whisper-quiet leaf shutter! ..But it’s a good marketing gimmick.

The ‘hybrid’ finder: we-ell, the optical finder seems pointless because the hi-def ELECTRONIC finder is so good (and shows 100% of what the lens sees) that there isn’t any reason to switch to (and it’s almost indistinguishable from) the alternative 90%-coverage optical finder. The optical finder’s there just for that ‘retro’ look, but doesn’t really achieve anything, except perhaps slightly longer battery life.

How’s the retro styling? ..OK if you like that sort of melt-into-the-crowd-with-a-1970s-camera anonymity, but otherwise a blatant ploy to entice those who want to PRETEND that they’re shooting with a “classic” camera. (Like the R-D1’s retro styling, but with less conviction and dedication.) The ‘mechanical’ aspect (top-plate lever plus knobs and aperture ring) provides “classic” controls only for simple shooting; for everything else (choice of colour ‘film stock’ or B&W shooting, choice of RAW and/or jpg files, selecting neutral density filters, ISO selection, dynamic range and colour filters, white balance, bracketing, panorama shooting, movie shooting, self-timer, picture playback, etc) you have to push buttons and navigate through menus just like other digital cameras. The retro look is just for show. (The panorama mode IS worthwhile – it gives far higher resolution results than Sony compact cameras’ low-res stitch-’em-together panoramas.)

The iPod-like scroll-wheel is awful; tiny, with hit-and-miss response. Sometimes it scrolls down through menu items ..other times it just jiggles or does nothing. Hopeless. Terrible design, much too small and far too fiddly. You can’t really use it without taking the camera from your eye ..in which case you may as well be using the rear screen instead of the electronic finder. (Fuji’s smaller F500 camera has a similar scroll wheel, but it’s simpler and easier to use as it’s OUTSIDE the scroll-wheel symbols, not INSIDE them like the X100’s ‘Command Dial’.)

RAW shooting? Mmm, and it can be set to just RAW, just jpeg, or RAW+jpeg. But as the buffer’s so small, you can shoot ten RAW pics in rapid succession, then wait 10 seconds for those to be written to the memory card, and the camera’s unavailable for shooting during that writing period.

“Big chunky knobs”..? One for shutter speeds plus ‘A’ (automatic), and the other for ±2 stops over/under exposure compensation. The over/under exposure knob, though, is only for use when the camera’s set to ‘A’ (automatic) shutter speed and aperture selection. To force over or under exposure when using manual settings (!? ..surely you just alter either the shutter speed or aperture!?) the instruction manual suggests “..Use the command dial to adjust shutter speed, the command control to adjust aperture..” (they’re two separate dials on the back of the camera). The “command dial” (though the manual confuses them) is the poor, vertical iPod-like wheel and pad. The “command control” is the other horizontal wheel. The idea is, apparently, to keep the aperture you want (for depth-of-field) and shutter speed you want (for freezing or fluid motion) but be able to slightly under or over expose “..by ±2/3 EV from the selected value in steps of 1/3 EV”. Simple, eh? Looks like another of “the committee’s” suggestions: turning the aperture ring or the shutter dial only adjusts exposure in one-stop increments, “..so let’s have finer 1/3-stop increments via two extra dials”. It’s needlessly and pointlessly over-complexified.

(Here, by contrast, is the simple all-in-one film-style shutter speed, ISO and over/under exposure dial of the 2003-vintage R-D1)

So besides the two top-plate knobs there’s that horizontally scrolling (and push) wheel at the back of the X100 (which can be used for exposure compensation ..the “command control”), eight more buttons (plus another variable-function button on the top), the press-or-scroll pad on the rear (..the “command dial”), and a slider on the left edge (like an old-style film-back opener) for choice of auto or manual focus. The camera designer(s) just couldn’t seem to choose whether to have buttons, knobs or wheels, or which of the controls does what.. any idea of simple ‘usability’ may have gone out of the window completely during those engineers’ – beg your pardon; “photographers” – committee meetings.

But here’s the main consideration; PERFORMANCE: what are its results like?

If you allow for the slow-ish autofocus, and the pretty abysmal manual focus, the picture quality itself is truly excellent.

But we’re talking about excellent with one lens. (Cue comments about Henri Cartier-Bresson only ever having used one lens. And how many did Don McCullin use? And Robert Capa? And Ralph Gibson? And Eve Arnold? And Arnold Newman? And Eric Hosking?) For £999 (about €1100, $1650) you’re effectively buying an f2 23mm lens (behaving as a 35mm) with an APS camera attached to it.

(Of course, as it’s roughly the price of the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 (micro-four-thirds) lens on its own, you’re effectively getting the X100 camera thrown in for free, so I suppose I shouldn’t carp about its finicky buttons and menus!)

This is a camera (and lens) for people who want to use only a 35mm (equivalent) lens. Want to get closer to something? ..then walk. Want to shoot those interesting spiral chimneys on Hampton Court Palace? Forget it: you can’t get close enough. Want to shoot those interesting cathedral gargoyles? Ditto. Want to shoot sports pictures or children running round? Forget it ..the auto-focus is too slow, and you can’t get close. (You’d have to pre-focus on manual, and hope for the best.) Want to shoot portraits with an out-of-focus background? Forget it. There’s a reason why 85mm and 90mm lenses are called ‘portrait lenses’ ..they don’t make noses too prominent, and they produce great blurred backgrounds. They don’t emphasise perspective the way that a 35mm does, or make noses look larger than life.

Although Cartier-Bresson may have stuck to just one lens, it seems to have been a 50mm, not a 35mm. People who use(d) just a 35mm were ‘reportage’ photographers; war photographers in Vietnam who didn’t want to waste precious moments focusing, and wanted a wide view to put pictures in context: the casualty being slid into a helicopter, or the burning girl photographed by Nick Ut in 1972.

That 35mm (equivalent) lens, then, is for a wide-ish view ..not really for intimate moments; not to get close to someone ..nor wide enough to embrace a family group indoors. It’s a ‘compromise’ lens; not perfect for wide shots, not perfect for close shots ..a ‘this’ll-have-to-do’ lens. The camera is, in fact, a throwback to the (smaller) Minox 35 or Rollei 35 (though the Rollei had a 40mm lens – picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) but the X100 is a far larger package. There was some serious engineering in those little cameras, and today they cost far less than £999, and really do slip into a pocket (each has a retracting lens). And they’re both ready instantly – you don’t have to wait for a two-second warm-up. (Of course, their pictures aren’t ready instantly: you have to develop them – or hand them in for development – and they need scanning for digital use. But I’ve just spent this weekend with an old Leica M3, and having only 36 shots on a reel, instead of an almost unlimited number on a 16GB card, hasn’t upset me. Here’s a selection.. plus a few from that APS-sensor 2003-vintage Epson R-D1 with a Leica 75mm lens on it ..approximating to a 113mm lens, due to the ‘digital mark-up’ of multiplying the focal length by 1.5x on an APS-sized sensor..)

This was shot with a 21mm lens on the M3. I couldn’t step back far enough to get the whole car in the shot. So I’d have got MUCH less of it with a 35mm (equivalent) lens.

Same car doing a lap ‘d’elegance’ shot with a 75mm lens. The car would have been way off in the distance if shot with the Fuji’s 35mm equivalent lens. (Yes, that’s flare along the top.)

Epson R-D1 and the same 75mm lens – behaving as a 113mm on the APS-sized R-D1. I couldn’t have got this perspective with the X100.

Cookie cutters at the fair: as above, and I still couldn’t have got this with a 35mm lens.

Couldn’t have got this close, nor got this perspective, with a 35mm.

Two planes, shot with the 75mm (behaving as a 113mm) and R-D1. I couldn’t have shot this with a 35mm lens!

(Of course, feel free to say that these pictures are rubbish, and that you wouldn’t have wanted to take these kinds of shots anyway!)

Finally, this obsession with ‘IQ’ – Image Quality – isn’t really what photography’s about ..unless you’re going to blow up your pics to three foot by two foot (one metre x .6 of a metre). Steve uses his pics to illustrate this website, some photographers earn their living by selling their photos to newspapers, magazines and advertising and PR companies. They need great quality.

But the average Jane and Joe like you and I, what are we going to do with our pictures? Put them on the wall, publish them on the web, clog up a hard drive with them? Email them to friends and family? We’ll never see the full quality of good digital – or digitised – photos here on the internet. No electronic display can do justice to the fine detail and range of tones which a good paper print produces ..so why examine the minutiae of ‘IQ’ and lens resolution (which used to be my own paid job) when no web page can do justice to them anyway?

What’s important is the photographer’s mental image; what s/he chooses to shoot, and where they position themselves, which lens they use to get the composition they want, which aperture they choose, how they use the light. Steve has a terrific ‘eye’, and no matter what camera he uses, his pictures are always better than mine ..because he ‘sees’ better: he’s got a better sense of composition, of the moment to freeze the action, of the magic that’s in the air, of how to direct the viewer’s eye. He could shoot with a pinhole camera and get far better pictures than I can ever do.

Lusting after a piece of hardware is OK in its own way ..like trainspotters want to see Nigel Gresley’s “Mallard” in full steam, or bird-watchers want to see some rare or exotic species, or audiophiles want some rare or exotic turntable with a tube (valve) amplifier and (if they’ve any sense) some KEF loudspeakers. But all too often, the audiophiles don’t care for the music, or the creativity which has gone into it ..they just listen for the absence of ‘coloration’. And camera-lusters want the one which has this, that or the other new specification, without understanding that most of the bells and whistles are unimportant: it’s vision, imagination, thought, point-of-view which makes a good picture. Every new digital camera’s going to be superseded by a different – or supposedly “better”, or more lust-after-able – one next month anyway. It’s more worthwhile to concentrate on improving one’s own eye than to keep spending money on new, expendable, obsolete-within-6-months hardware.

I find the restriction of having a single (35mm) lens is as much a restriction as having only an 85mm lens, or a 105mm or a 20mm. It lets me – and you – take a certain kind of picture (semi-wide) and nothing else. That’s why I gave up my (convenient) Polaroid (instant images, just like a digital camera, but long before digital existed) and bought an SLR, so that I could swap lenses, or zoom in to get the shot I wanted.

I don’t want to go back to those days of the fixed-lens Rollei, or the Minox, or the – and this is the nearest equivalent for an instant picture – fixed-lens Polaroid. (Those big b&w re-usable negatives from ‘professional’ Polaroids were extremely fine-grained, with wonderful detail and a great range of tone, by the way!)

I want flexibility, freedom to shoot with any lens at all. I want to shoot the pictures which I want to shoot ..not just the ones which Mr Fuji and that single 35mm lens allows me to shoot.

That’s why – although I’ve spent quite some time with one – I won’t be buying this slow, inadequately thought-out and compromised X100 pretend-“classic” camera. It may have faster focusing than the similarly restrictive Leica X1, it may have chrome knobs on it and an optical eyepiece, it may be nice and sharp (when correctly focused) ..but I want freedom, not restriction, in my life.

I WILL be paying one third the price of the X100 for its brother, the Fujifilm F500EXR (..or the 550EXR if I want the in-camera choice of Provia, Velvia and Astia). The F500 doesn’t have the ‘retro’ styling, but it has the same ISO choices, shoots RAW at 16 megapixels, has FAR faster focusing with FAR less shutter lag, and has a 15x zoom lens – admittedly with only a half-inch (12.7mm) sensor. But at least it stops the traffic, in a more literal way than the X100 does!



Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE!

The comments have been CLOSED on this article as it appears nothing constructive is being said. The attacks have all been made and I even had to delete a few of them. I posted this article as I am a fair guy. Not everyone will like or love the X100. It does have its quirks and many do not want to deal with that. I posted Davids article to show “the other sides” view of the X100. Meaning, from someone who does not like it as much as others do.

If you want to discuss this further, without name calling and being rude, you can do so here, in the brand new Fuji X100 forum.

May 172011

New Full Featured Forums Now Up!

Visit The New Forums!

I just installed brand new forum software that is jam packed with features and much more stable than the previous forum I had online. The new forums offer all kinds of new features like image uploads, PM, RSS, facebook and twitter promotion, and much more so be sure to check it out and start posting! The old forum is no longer available or active as it was causing some issues with the site. So, be sure to check out the new forums and get involved!

No need to re-register! If you registered in the past just log in with your same user/pass.

May 152011

Finally, I Added My Portfolio Pages!

Just a note to let everyone know that I added some galleries of my work on the site today. You can find them under the “About” tab above. I added the Seal 2011 Tour Gallery, The Rural Landscape Gallery, and a Street Gallery. I always get asked where I post my photos so decided to add some galleries of my own!


Also, thanks to a reader request, a new section of the site is being added THIS week! I will be adding an area with User Reports and First Impressions, from YOU, the readers of this site. If you have a report on a camera or lens, along with some photos, and you want to write about it then you will be able to have your article posted in the new section. I am hoping this will grow in to a large resource for info on all kinds of cameras and lenses, with opinions from a wide range of shooters. Should be fun, so stay tuned for the announcement.

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