Jun 302014
 

An Indian Wedding – one body, one lens, no flash pictures

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

How have you been doing? I have been quite busy settling down in a city in my home country for a while. Fortunately, I found some respite from the humdrum when I attended one of my brother-in-law’s wedding in New Delhi. Then I thought, why not take this golden opportunity and challenge myself to a strict rule – shoot the wedding with one body, one lens and no flash. Wedding photography without artificial light – was it even possible? Wedding photography in India is yet to take off for the masses – barring a few, most of the photographers are underpaid for the amount of effort they put in and the shots are mostly about the thousand or so people who attend, the various religious ceremonies and so on. No emphasis on smaller stories and the quintessential mood of a vibrant Indian wedding. But they do carry strobes and monos that I could leverage if I position myself correctly. Instead of trying to shoot what they would capture, I chose to pursue a different PoV. So, out came the trusty Fuji X-E2 and the outstanding 35 mm f/1.4. Many folks complain about missed focus on the X bodies. Even when shooting at night at higher than average ISOs, I never had a problem. I left the OM-D E-M1 back home because I knew I needed the Fuji’s insane sensor to allow for 99% night shots. The E-M1 is great but I wanted to minimize noise as much as possible. Ever since I heard about the Sony A7S, I have been waiting for your detailed review to come out. Maybe, that has the prowess to fill every gap that I find lacking. Here are some of the stories that I wanted to highlight:

1. The groom was sweating profusely in the intense Delhi summer. The photographer wanted a picture of the two brothers without the sweat showing up – so, the groom’s brother (my other brother-in-law) quickly takes out his own kerchief and wipes the sweat off his brother’s face. I thought this would be the best position for me to show the real camaraderie between two brothers. It was a challenging shot because I was looking straight at the bright light on the left. But the ISO 2500 DR from the X-E2 was good enough to retain some details even in harsh lighting conditions. EXIF: f/1.8 1/500 @ISO 2500

AbhinayWedding-1

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2. Leading lines and symmetric split? And I knew no one was going to shoot the decor, the thousands of dollars’ worth of real flowers. I could have shot at a smaller aperture but the idea of one rose bouquet fading into another was just appealing. EXIF: f/2.8 1/420 @ISO 2000

AbhinayWedding-2

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3. The bride and groom’s first dance together. I would normally focus on the couple as they venture into a new life together. However, the story here is not about the couple alone but on all the others around, showering blessings and cheering for them. So, I chose it be out of focus – critics will surely disagree. EXIF: f/1.4 1/420 @ISO 800

AbhinayWedding-3

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4. An archetypal wedding portrait. My sister in law was all decked up and I wanted to see how well the 35 mm would hold up in the ambient magenta cast light. I opened up the door just a wee little bit to let the natural outdoor light seep through. At ISO 1600, there was hardly any noise creep. EXIF: f/2 1/70 @ISO 1600 EV -0.7

AbhinayWedding-4

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5. And what Indian wedding is complete without showing some application of Henna tattoo? I got a small one made for meJ. This one shows one of my sisters-in-law waiting patiently as the Henna dries out and becomes permanent for a week or so. In the intense heat, 30 minutes was enough. EXIF: f/2 1/45 @ISO 2500

AbhinayWedding-5

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6. The final one tells the story of the bride leaving her parents’ home to be with her partner for life. While everyone was focused on her, I was thinking of how my bro-in-law was feeling. He surely did not know how to react to his newly wed wife all in tears in her mother’s arms. A pinkish magenta light distorts the WB but according to me, the vivid color shows nothing but the confusion in his eyes! EXIF: f/1.8 1/70 @ISO 800

AbhinayWedding-6

Follow me on Flickr@

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ap_works/sets/

Thanks,

Arindam

May 262014
 

NY with Fuji X Pro1

By Pieter Vermeulen

Hi Steve,

Long time reader from The Netherlands here, and I wanted to share some pictures.

After years of shooting with my Canon 5D and other big camera’s I bought a Leica M8.2 a little over a year ago along with two nice Elmarit lenses. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I loved shooting with and getting that Leica feeling, but the ISO performances were so bad that I could not justify it. Thought of buying a M9 instead, but even for the extra money I could not just do it. I also bought the Fuji X100S when it came out and loved it. I did sell it after 2 months because the fixed focal length wasn’t for me. So I sold everything and bought the Fuji X Pro 1 with the 18mm 2.0 and the 35mm 1.4. Fell in love with it. Wasn’t the Leica M but it was what I was looking for.

So when I went to New York for the first time in my life (actually flying for the first time in my life after being scared of flying my entire life) I brought the X Pro. One day… I will go back to Leica… but for now… the Fuji helped in capturing the people of New York. Just wanted to share!

Greetings
Pieter Vermeulen

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Apr 042014
 

A photographic journey through New Zealand

by Cuno von Hahn

Māori: Aotearoa – New Zealand

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

09

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

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

04

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

08

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

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

www.newzealand-gallery.com

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

Cheers, Cuno

Sep 302013
 

titleaxel

Traveling to the USA with a Fuji X-Pro 1

by Axel Friberg

Dear Steve,

I hoped you enjoyed your stay in Ireland! Dublin is one of my personal favorites.

I am a Swedish photographer based in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. This summer I have been lucky enough to travel for 5 weeks to the US, France and the west coast of Sweden thanks to hospitable friends. I would like to share my pictures with you and your readers. They are all taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and 35mm f/1.4.

Picture 1. Nantucket Island, USA. Street shooting. Man with yellow phone and matching car

Picture 1

Picture 2. North Haven, Long Island, USA. Walking up towards an empty plot of land with beautiful trees.

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Picture 3. North Haven, Long Island, USA. On the empty plot of land.

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Picture 4. Tribecca, New York, USA. Street shooting the police who stopped in front of me to yell at a biker.

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Picture 5. Central Park, New York, USA. Street shooting very talented musicians.

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Picture 6. Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA. Shooting the crowd passing by. Notice the woman in white?

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Picture 7. Nordkoster, Sweden. Girls on swings.

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Picture 8. Fayence, France. Street shooting in the village after thunderstorm. Reflections in water, upside-down.

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Picture 9. Fayence, France. Street shooting in the village after thunderstorm.

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Picture 10. Uppsala, Sweden. Shooting an event on a Fraternity/Sorority which houses in a beautiful building from the 17:th century.

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I recently read your thoughts on the new Fujifilm X-A1 and your take on the X-trans sensor, or the lack thereof. After shooting with the X-Pro1 for little over a year, I dare say I have some experience with the sensor. And I agree with you! In fact, I dislike the way my OOC files turn out. It is not uncommon that the pictures look kind of smeared. Especially soft objects, like leaves or skin, despite being in perfect focus. However, I have always found it to work well as a monochrome camera. I am huge B&W fan.

For a long time, I did some “pixel peeping”, or at least kind of; 100% zoom to check that I nailed focus etc. I’m not a rich guy, and when I put over 2’000 USD last year on the camera and lens, knowingly sacrificing AF-speed for IQ, I was kind of expecting greatness. At first, I felt a tad disappointed. Now, a year later, I have stopped the intense pixel peeping and focus on the final image.

What I have learned is that despite the Fuji X-cameras takes a dull OOC picture, one can achieve great results with some post processing. Just like the Leica MM OOC files. Since the camera does a fine job handling mid-high ISO, you can give your images a pretty damn impressive DR in PP, when lifting shadows for example. (However, I would personally set the ISO to a maximum of 3200 in a dark room. It can handle 6400 without a problem in perfect light, but I often shoot in a non-controlled environment.) I really like what you can do with the files in PP! The files can get that deep, rich look; see the picture of the cops? Hugely improved with 15 second PP! The Fuji is not as good as a full frame camera, like the Leica M typ 240, of course, but it gives you good value in terms of IQ! Another problem I used to have with the X-Pro1, which I know you have mentioned on the blog, is that it does not handle well in full sun. With some minor PP, I have been able to get rid of this problem. (I use Lightroom 5).

Since the release of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 however, I have been thinking of switching systems. I might get the mark 2 version in the future. The only thing that would make me want to keep investing in Fuji glass instead of selling would be if Fuji released an IC with in-body IS, like the Olympus OMD, or the Panasonic GX-7, AF-speed even faster than the X100S and an EVF on-pair with the EM-1. I feel that I miss too many shots right now. However, I appreciate the fact that Fuji often try to improve the current line up with firmware updates. When we finally got focus peaking, MF went much faster and easier than before.

Another camera that will probably peak my interest is the upcoming Canon 7D mk ii. I have seen great portraits with Canons APS-C sensor cameras paired with the 85mm f/1.8 (about 135mm equivalent). Furthermore, it’s bound to be a fantastic camera for bird photography. For portability, which is why I got the X-Pro1, I’d switch to the Ricoh GR. I used to prefer 50mm to any other focal length, but lately I have been studying William Klein and fallen in love with the 24-35mm range.

Keep up the good work!

May 202013
 

“Leaving Your Comfort Zone”

by Brian T Adams

Hello everyone. My fiancée and I recently went on our first trip to New York City. What a fantastically chaotic place. From all the sounds and sights akin to those in the movies to the chaotic guy on the subway yelling to the cosmos some sort of declaration that scared the hell out of everybody, New York was nonstop. And we loved it.

I wanted to seize the opportunity to photograph a new and foreign place. Yet, this time I wanted to do something different. I almost exclusively find myself trying to photograph landscapes and the occasional structure; sometimes with success, many times not. The more I am consumed by photography in general, the more I realize that a great many of the most iconic photos ever made are of people. For me, the idea of shooting a photo of a complete stranger, up close and personal, couldn’t have been more uncomfortable and awkward. Despite experiencing mild to moderate nausea at the thought of sticking a camera in the face of a stranger, I was determined to come away with some photos of people.

Within the first five minutes of being off the subway in Manhattan, I realized it was not going to be as easy as I had somehow convinced myself it might be. Perhaps I was just initially overwhelmed with it all. Eventually I concluded the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So, my first bite would be with street performers. I figured I’d give them a little dough and I’d take a couple of photos in exchange…I couldn’t have been the first person to have done this. Looking back, this was the perfect approach to help me get comfortable confronting somebody with a camera.

While I enjoyed this approach, I needed to get a little deeper. Eventually, I just started walking up to people and asking them if I could take their picture. The first couple times I did this, I could hardly keep the camera steady I was so nervous. Oddly enough, though, nobody ever said no. In fact, some people’s reactions were down right hilarious if not absurd. A couple of guys thought I was joking, one looked around in nervous fashion as if caught up in a prank and then fixed his hair when he realized I was serious. Another person, who was sitting on a bench at the time, quickly stood up and immediately got ready; clearly this wasn’t his first rodeo. Eventually, I was taking pictures of random people without saying a word. They weren’t necessarily portraits or even up close, but many times the subjects knew I was taking photos of them and they didn’t seem to object.

To be fair, I have to admit, my nerves got the best of me many times. A lot of the close up pictures I took – even after asking – didn’t come out. Most were because I miss focused (shallow DOF) or had a poor composition. For some reason, I tended to want to put people’s heads in the lower half of the frame instead of the upper half. At least I found out something I need to work on. Keep in mind that I would usually only take one or two of a subject and then move on without looking at the image and some others were shot with film. I didn’t want to waste people’s time so, either way, each shot was a commitment. If nothing else, though, it helped me get more comfortable wielding a camera in public.

Ultimately, I left New York with some photos I like, some epic memories, and a new outlook. I absolutely want to get better at people photography. I had serious doubts about trying a whole new approach to photography. If anybody has been thinking about trying something different with their approach to photography, from my limited experience, it’s worth. If nothing else, it helped me interact with many people I wouldn’t normally have had I not taken their photo. Go out and get uncomfortable.

The gear:

Fuji X-E1 with 35mm f1.4, Canon 5DMKII with 24-105 f4 (great all around lens, nice bokeh on the long end, and I wanted a wide lens for buildings and stuff), and Canon AE-1 Program with 50mm f1.8 FD mount (a $28 powerhouse of a lens). I shot a roll of Acros 100 and a roll of Ilford Delta 100. Most shots with the Fuji and AE-1 Program had a B+W 2 stop ND so I could open the lenses up. I know that’s a lot of gear, but I don’t have a wide lens for the Fuji and I’m not totally ready to commit an entire trip to film (I also wanted to see how airport Xrays would affect film). There was never a time where I was carrying all that at once. I usually only had one camera at a time with me.

Wishing everyone happy shooting,

Brian T. Adams

www.silverspectrumphotography.com

 

The first group is from the Fuji X-E1

fuji.boy.mom

fuji.fuzz

fuji.louis.mendes

fuji.subway.driver

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This second group is from the Canon 5DMKII

5dmkii.fireman.smoking

5dmkii.ipad.girl

5dmkii.rockefeller.pointing

5dmkii.sax.player

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The third group is from the Canon AE-1P

ae1p.guy.beer

ae1p.guy.brook.bridge

ae1p.painter

ae1p.trumpet.player

Feb 122013
 

alexanderfujireview

USER REPORT: Fujifilm X-E1 review and tests 

By Alexander Hessentswey – Follow him on twitter

 

Good time of the day, dear readers of Steve Huff’s great site!

I’d like to share with you some impressions about Fuji X-E1 which I’ve got recently.

UPDATE: I’ve added info about firmware updates 1.04 (body) and 2.02 (35mm f:1.4). What to check and how to address issues, see below.

When I first took X100 in a shop to test a little, it said me:

— I’m a retro obscure thing, and you will not shoot with me, I promise.

At first X-Pro1 told me:

— I’m a big serious pro-priced thing and you cannot focus with me that easy.

But the second time it told me:

— Look, I state I’m Classic and feel like a real camera, but don’t be afraid. You’ve not just got used to me, you are not attentive enough. But that’s a matter of time.

When I first took in my hands X-E1 it told me:

— You are at home. You are a little confused, but we can photograph together and you will like me very much.

And the 35mm f:1.4 said: — I am THE lens.

So I had to try.

First time I worried – can I shoot with Fuji X-E1 just like I can with the Panasonic G1? Maybe I can’t shoot good enough with anything but the Panasonic (I’ve gotten used to it) and that means I have to stay in the system and get a GH2 or GH3. I know there is compatibility much like it happens with lovers or friends or co-authors. There can be a camera or lens incompatible with me  (as Jupiter-37A) — it can be great or high-grade but I can’t do anything with it. But when I saw pictures from X-Pro1 and X-E1 in reviews I was blown away like several years ago with Lumix G1 and later with Panaleica 25mm f:1.4. So X-E1 couldn’t come out of my mind. And I feel this is the time to try anything else and to be clear — this Fuji.

So I really had to try.

Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 1.4, ISO640, multiple exposure)

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Tair-11 f:2.8 133mm, ISO200)

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At first it was clear that Panasonic with its pro DSLR-like controls is superior in ergonomics. But most of the Fuji’s annoyances disappeared in about a week or two when I tried to know the camera better. Some things were done in the other way, some were not so important.

So the things that stayed are: slow autofocus and operations (not so slow in some conditions — see below), a lack of 3-4 buttons for quick access to important settings, and… mostly unusable auto-ISO that have lost custom shutter speed limit somehow. (At the moment of writing we were waiting for the 1.04 firmware, by now autofocus accuracy and speed were improved, read below.)

The camera has some quirks sometimes, but every camera does.

Anya in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, ISO500)

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Don’t use Quick Start mode, it eats the battery. Learn what’s Dynamic Range 100%, 200%, 400% before using. Try various focusing modes and focusing area sizes. Always check the shutter speed when you are in auto-ISO mode. Shoot either JPEG (which is very good) or choose the appropriate RAW-converter (more on RAW apps in X-Pert corner) and check halftones and colors — but really, give the out of camera JPEG a try, it’s one of the best out here.

Fuji tends to set you a +1 stop ISO value because it tends to overexpose 1/3 to 1 stop, while preserving the highlights, however. Make sure you prefer the exposure set by your camera, or if not add the exposure compensation -1/3 or more, or set the ISO value by hand. As with every camera, try to keep ISO as low as possible, but not ISO100 (it’s artificial pull-process from 200). Noice reduction may be a little bit too aggressive, so in a good light prefer -2 and in low light check what works better: 0 or -2, it depends. Post processing will give you better sharpness control so +1 can be used only in good light (and mostly isn’t recommended). For better details you can try Sharpness -2 (sic!) and compare with 0. If you want good details, try to stay inside ISO 200-800 or 200-1250. But it’s Fuji, so don’t be afraid to enlarge ISO up to 6400 and more if the shot needs it – chances are, you’ll get quite usable and fair detailed photo.

The Boundaries and How Do We Cross Them

Fuji is not for reportage nor sports. Not really… ?

UPDATE: The sports and reportage sections were written about old firmware experience, by now autofocus will be more snappy and fast.

In sports shooting the totally bad thing is a slow camera, a missing focus on subject., missing focus on your subject. One thing I can not do is rely on this autofocus. Indeed, I shoot manual glass for several years and why should I now autofocus? I’ve mounted some film lenses (135mm and 50mm) and that time Fuji shined! Quick operation while focusing, not so bad 5 RAW shots per second, not so small buffer so Fuji became a quick camera. I’ve lost several shots but mostly because of facial expressions or gestures than of focus missing. Good. (And when you set a shutter speed and an aperture manually you may allow Fuji to set exposure suggesting ISO.) I’m more than sure when I’ll get used to the camera, I will be able to shoot more quickly.

Shooting with manual lens, in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Leica Summicron R II 50mm, ISO3200)

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In reportage you need to be quick. But in a good light and in some modes Fuji can focus relatively well. When I’ve used it in the real life situation I’ve missed just a couple of shots and again mostly because of my errors than of Fuji’s. You should check the light conditions, use expocorrection if needed and probably correct white balance a little. Check focusing and compare 1-zone with multi zone. If you choose 1-zone try to make focusing area smaller, try to switch to Macro mode.

You can check various film emulation modes and I’ll advice to use 2 or 3 per reportage or stick with BW or Astia or Normal, but don’t use film modes bracketing in sports or reportage.

The other things you may use are some manual lenses – and that’s when Fuji will also allow you to be quick. What can be very important is your ability to stay almost invisible. X-Pro1 and black X-E1 look like relatively small old film cameras, and black+silver X-E1 is even more retro while staying hardly visible. So I can’t say which version will make you less visible actually, may be, the black+silver one looks less serious and is quite opposite to large fullframe DSLRs — you don’t look as journalist and it’s very good.

Meeting in Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Tair-11A f:2.8 135mm for M42, ISO200)

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So — Fuji is not for sports nor reportage… but you can use it for these genres and get great results!

Firmware update 1.04 and (35mm) 2.02 — how to install and what will be improved

Fuji have recently released firmware updates for X system cameras and lenses.

There was a lot of buzz about 2.02 not updating properly so I’ll tell you what I know. The typical situation when AF accuracy improves but AF noice and speed degrades usually combines with the situation when firmware version was somehow 2.01 and so the 35mm lens wasn’t updated. Fuji tells you to update BOTH body and lens firmware for autofocus improvement — it was tested that 1.04 WUTHOUT 2.02 causes AF noice, but WITH 2.02 works good. I guess in some interval of time there was 2.01 pre-release on Fuji site and it says that all was updated while it wasn’t.

How to update:

Download the new firmware from Fuji’s site: X-E1 1.04 and 35mm 2.02. Read the version numbers there and if you are still seeing something earlier than 1.04 or 2.02 respectively, it’s browser cache problem or something else, but the download links can be incorrect, too.

Make sure the battery is charged. Copy both firmware files to the SD card root. Insert the card into X-E1 and press and hold DISP button, and then, while still holding it, turn on the camera. It will tell you the firmware versions. Start to update the lens firmware to check which is the version inside update. If it’s not 2.02, DON’T INSTALL. Now cancel the installation (or turn off the camera then turn on again while holding DISP button.) The same way, begin to install the body firmware and check if it’s 1.04. If it’s not 1.04, DON’T INSTALL. So, to be clear, Fuji tells us, we should either install firmware both for body and lens or not install at all. Installation is possible only if both updates are in correct versions — that’s easy. So if you check the lens new firmware version, see 2.02, than check for body firmware version, see 1.04 — go on and install firmware for body and for the lens.

With other lenses or X-Pro1 body do the same, just find the firmware on Fuji’s site. Fuji tells us to remove zoom lens from body before updating the body firmware. I have no zoom and I guess it’s not about fixed lenses.

First impressions after updating

So I made sure the versions are correct and all was fine. After some testing I see significant improvement over the autofocus accuracy and speed with 35mm f:1.4 (the only system lens I have), I’ve tested it in the same very conditions in which it focused slowly and failed time to time with the old firmware. Now I had no problems focusing and the camera becomes relatively fast (except for totally non-contrasty objects in really dim light which can be difficult for most of the cameras) and not a hyper-snail like it was before. For me, it makes X-E1 much more acceptable in real life using. And I tell about its great image quality and other strong sides in other sections.

Read more: Steve Huff about new firmware

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And Home Again

If you shoot portraits, Fuji X-E1 is the portrait camera. It can paint landscapes as natural-looking scenery or in bright expressive colors if you choose so. It’s landscape camera. It’s great for architecture, too. And it can do macro. And still life scenes. It is very good for street photo, too and its monochrome photos are great.

In Moomin cafe bar, Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Leica Summicron R II 50mm, ISO2000)

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Portraits

Fuji gives a lot of halftones so it can do smooth and delicate portraits. Something unusual to me, and very pleasing.

While there is no portrait lens in lineup by now, anything like an 85mm f:1.4, Fuji has 2 lenses that can be used for portraits: bright 50mm f:1.4 (initially 35mm) and macro 90mm f:2.4 (initially 60mm), not so bright, though. Both lenses show plenty of details, are soft enough and non-aggressive, and have a portrait rendering. You can use any 50mm (will be 75mm on crop — that’s better for portraits than 50mm) and portrait lens also and Fuji will do its best to help you in manual focusing. UPDATE: And we know the 85mm f:1.4 is already in the roadmap for this year, so things will become even better.

Lerka (in Moomin cafe bar), Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.5, ISO400) 

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Both Normal/Provia and Astia film emulations can be used for portraits, and Pro Soft and Pro Contrast also in some conditions. Fuji has very good skin tones rendering. I’ll write more about concert photography later. Fuji allows to photograph at high ISO. Here is a portrait from a concert:

Alla at Umka & Borya rock concert, Books and Coffee club, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Yashinon DSM 50mm f:1.4, ISO1600)

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The Fuji S5 Pro was a great portrait DSLR. It was criticised for not so good details, little too soft. X-Pro1 and X-E1 feel quite as good also and address the details issue – at this time, details became great. (Some people pointed to several situations when S5 Pro has more accurate colors and the other moments when X-E1 does better.) So you can choose to get very sharp image or soft portrait if you wish.

Anya the White Rainbow (books illustrator), in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.5, ISO6400)

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Monochrome

While Fuji’s sensor isn’t actually monochrome (sensor in Leica Monochrom does), it can produce really great monochrome files. A lot of halftones and good dynamic range allow you to choose between dynamic and contrasty BW image and soft one.

Fujinon lenses are very good not only in colour rendition but also in BW, giving clear and almost classic look.

Out of camera JPEGs can come in BW, BW+yellow filter or red or green, or in Sepia (which is somehow softer than others). It gives you many shooting variants and you even are not forced to get and use the glass filter (so you don’t lose light on this).

And you can do a film bracketing. Or shoot in RAW+JPEG and develop the shot just inside the camera trying other flim emulation modes and contrast variants. Also, you can shoot in colour (Normal) and BW and then develop colour shots in Silver Efex or Exposure or other app (comparing it with out of camera BW). You will be able to get dramatic and interesting pictures.

Smile (in Moomin cafe bar), Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, ISO2500) 

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Landscapes

Fuji is very good in the leaf and grass colors, also with sun rays shining through. And yes if you wish night scenery or architecture, it can paint great images also. Just try to get natural colors. Or you can choose bright and vivid, too. I like Fujichrome Provia and Fuji Pro films colors and X-E1 colors too.

Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 1.8, ISO2500)

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200)

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t state that you can’t get great photographs from other cameras. Let’s compare with Panasonic G1 from the same walk:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent at 5.0, ISO100)

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I can tell you I’ve used DR100%, 200%, 400% and auto. And 200-400% produced some nice and interesting results. But yes 200% means 400ISO and 400% starts from 800ISO, and, of course, you can get the same results for yourself if you underexpose a stop or 2/3, shoot in RAW and then lighten shadows and all image. (More on this on X-Pert corner.)

Here is another one from Panasonic:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent at 10.0, ISO100)

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And from Fuji:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200)

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X-E1 is just the photocamera. It doesn’t feel absolutely like a professional camera, while it is professional. And it’s not small. And not big. Nor it’s Premium Award-Winning Best Camera Ever. And not High-End made of marble. Not the cold old film SLR with no auto functions (except for expo metering, may be) waiting you to know everything and do everything by hand. Not the high-tech plastic computer with WiFi, user tips ‘I’veForgotWhatIsShutterButton’, multilevelled menus, pop-art+trash-camera+clip-me-all-colors modes, highlighted controls and 3 games. Not the silly cam to occupy the place in its category and kill all others by low prices. Not an ordinary camera just like any other only pretending to be cool and retro. Not a true rangefinder. Not the black silent thing with 3 innovations and weird colours.

It’s just the camera. It has easy classic control wheels. It’s just waiting for you to go out and photograph. You will need a little patience, you’ll want to learn it better. It doesn’t expect you to be a professional and it’s not for complete beginners. It will not swear to delete all noise and be ideal. But it tries to do its best and God knows it is awesome. Don’t expect it to be ideal and it will give you much more than you are waiting for.

My favorite reviews of the X system (use Google Translate to read texts):

from riflessifotografici.com

from Podakuni

Vasilyevsky island, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, slow 1/20s, ISO200) – notice the wings behind the man

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200) – and now two silhouettes from animation or an old story

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Sincerely yours,

Alexander Hessentswey from Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Fuji X-E1 is available at B&H Photo in all kinds of configurations 

Jan 312013
 

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New Firmware for the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 Lens!

Seems I was not the only one who admitted there were AF issues with the 35 1.4 lens on the X-E1. Fuji has released new firmware for the X-E1 and 35 1.4 today that does a few things but the one that caught my eye was THIS:

“Accuracy of auto focus performance has been much improved under a various shooting condition.
Shooting with XF35mm lens, Shooting for the target with relatively high frequency, One-push AF by pressing AE-L/AF-L button,

  • <Notice> 
  • To enable more accurate AF performance with XF35mm lens, please update the firmware of your Fujinon XF35mm lens at the same time. Firmware version must be Ver 2.02 or later.”

Exactly what I have been saying..it is the ACCURACY of the AF that was lacking in lower light conditions. Supposedly this firmware update will vastly improve this. I have downloaded it and it does indeed seem to be much more accurate! I would not say it is any faster but that was not my concern with the 35 1.4, it was the accuracy. I will do more testing but some lower light test snaps in my office provided me with all hits and zero misses when just three days ago I had 3 misses out of 5 shots. So this is GOOD.

To update you firmware click HERE for the body and HERE for the Lens. Them just drag those files to a formatted SD card, insert into your X-E1 and power on while holding down the “back” button. The camera will give you instructions from there. 

Some quick and dirty test snaps in my office just now all at 1.4 with the 35mm and the newest firmware.

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Jan 182013
 

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Quick Comparison: Sony RX1 vs Fuji X-E1

I have had numerous requests for this one but 1st off let me say HAPPY FRIDAY to all! Another week has flown by and as I sit here at my desk I am in a happy mood. Why? Well, the weather here in Phoenix is warming up and getting into the 70’s and the weekend is here! Time to relax, maybe go see a movie, and spend some quality time with loved ones.

But back to the cameras…

I have had a Fuji X-E1 on hand for a few weeks and have been shooting it with the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 lens (which I like more than the Fuji 35)  as well as the Fuji 35 1.4 lens. Of course, my own camera, the Sony RX1 has been with me as well for most of this time and over the past few days I decided to take a few shots side by side. Nothing super scientific. Just snaps like most of us use these cameras for. If I shot the X-E1 at f/2, ISO 200 then the RX1 would be set the same way.

1st Observations:

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I did notice that the X-E1 I have here tends to overexpose quite often. It exposes a scene much different from the Sony does and of course the color is different as well. There were times when I would shoot a scene with the Fuji only to look and see that it totally overexposed the scene so I would have to go in and manually take over to avoid that. Not sure if it was just this copy (which was a brand new in the box untouched loaner) or if they all tend to do that. The Sony on the other hand seemed to be either spot on or a teeny but under at times, but I would say the Sony RX1 metering is one of the best I have shot with. Seems to nail it every time.

Build wise, that goes to the Sony. It is a solid little brick of a camera as I have stated. It is small but solid. It feels very well made. The Fuji can feel a little hollow though it is also built  just fine. The Sony almost feels like a mini Leica in build and quality of construction. The Fuji X-E1 feels much like the X-Pro 1 and X100.

Speed. This is the one most are curious about. The Fuji line has had a rep for slow focusing and operation. Just yesterday I downloaded the latest firmware for the 35 1.4 lens and the X-E1 I have already has the latest FW loaded. After downloading the fastest FW for the lens it did in fact seem faster. The fastest I have seen this lens shoot on an X body. So THAT is good. If you have the 35 1.4 lens make sure you download the latest firmware for it here as for me, it does seem snappier. (but my E-X1 combo here is having trouble with ACCURATE AF it seems)

The RX1 vs Fuji X-E1 in AF? Well, I have no issues with the RX1 AF at all. It just does not mis focus (for me) but I also do not use spot AF (which can lead to mis focus). I use center point AF and it always locks on and is correct. During my time with the RX1 to date I have had 1-2 mis focused shots out of a few thousand. THAT is impressive for a mirrorless camera. It is not as fast to AF as the Olympus OM-D but it is also not slow. It slows down in low light but I always still get a lock. Unfortunately I can not say the same for the X-E1. Just in the past two days it has mis-focused on me several times with a back focus on many occasions. But this has not happened since the firmware update on the lens though I admit I maybe shot 20 frames since the FW update.

All in all, the RX1 and X-E1 are neck and neck in AF speed in good light. In low light, and I just tested them side by side in my office with no lights on, they are actually just about the same with the edge going to the Sony. The Fuji has improved greatly from the early days of its super slowness and as of today, January 18th 2013 it is much speedier and snappier in low light. Even so, testing them side by side they are equal in AF speed in low light. Both locked in and locked on with the about same speed.

See the video below of these two cameras side by side as well as a low light AF speed test. 

So if you watched the video above you would have seen that in dim lighting  these are about neck and neck with AF speed now that the Fuji has upgraded the 35 1.4 lens firmware. Both locked on and were accurate.

So build goes to Sony, AF is a draw and, cost goes to Fuji and what about the IQ? Take a look at some comparison snapshots below:

You MUST click on the images to see them larger with the true 100% crop. 

Image #1

The 1st shot was in low light in my house. ISO 2500 on both cameras with each lens set to f/2. The Sony uses the built-in Zeiss 35 f/2 and the Fuji had the 35 1.4 Fuji lens attached. 

1st up, the Sony RX1 shot

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and now the Fuji X-E1 shot.

The 35 1.4 gives a 50mm equivalent so framing will not be exact. The Sony is giving a true 35mm FOV

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For me, this one was no contest. The Sony file is richer and sharper. NR was turned off on both of these and both are converted from RAW using Lightroom. The Fuji softens up the files at higher ISO and the Sony keeps them detailed.

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Image #2

I shot this one 4 times and each time was the same result. The RX1 was sharper. This was at f/2 and ISO 500. The cameras were set on a table so there was no chance of motion blur. 

1st the RX1

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and now the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 combo

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Again, the RX1 is sharper and gives an overall “smoother” presentation.

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Image #4 – FULL SIZE FILE

These are from RAW and full size so you must click them to see the full size files. The Fuji X-E1 back focused every time for me on this one (before new FW) so I presented it just as the camera gave it to me. Make sure you update the FW on that 35 1.4 as it did make a difference in AF! 

Both are at f/2 and you can see the Sony is giving a more shallow DOF here with massive background blur

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The Fuji at f/2

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Image #5 – BOKEH

Both look good here. The sharpness looks great on both cameras in this one – Fuji focused correctly here :)

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High ISO – 6400 

Both of these were shot at ISO 6400 with both cameras – processed from RAW with no NR or editing. Click images for larger. I also placed the full size crops below each image so you can see them 100% without clicking.

1st the RX1 at 6400

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and now the X-E1 at 6400

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So while the RX1 is giving more noise it appears the X-E1 is smoothing the image somehow, even with NR turned off. The RX1 holds it detail which reminds me oh so much of the Leica M9 except the M9 can not do ISO 6400. Overall, with the RX1 you will get better build, astonishing built-in Zeiss lens, full frame sensor and DOF, better in camera metering and no muss no fuss operation. The RX1 leads in build, holding detail at high ISO, having a richer look and very deep files while editing. The Fuji gives us a lower cost for the body, a built-in EVF (which is good) and the camera and 35 1.4 set comes in at $1599 which is $1200 less than the Sony. If you count the Sony EVF the Fuji is just over $1600 less. I can say the EVF for the RX1 is also much nicer than the one in the X-E1 (which is the old NEX-7 EVF). The new Sony EVF is the best EVF on the market, hands down.

This comparison the Fuji did focus correctly, on the lens barrel of the Sony.

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OOC JPEGS – Standard Color mode on both

Snapped a quick JPEG by request  – both lenses f/2, both cameras at base ISO, both OOC JPEG without editing. Full image below is from the X-E1

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The RX1 JPEGS are much sharper than the Fuji’s and have that more “robust” look to them as well. The Fuji focused correctly here.

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AND ONE MORE JPEG – OOC FULL SIZE AT F/8

Click for full size OOC JPEG at 6000X4000 from the Sony RX1 – THIS again, is a JPEG. Very sharp. 

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Now the Fuji at F8 – click for full size OOC JPEG – Again, VERY sharp!

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So at F/8, each camera can produce a sharp JPEG. That is a given, especially when lighting is used. In fact, if I were shooting in a studio, the X-E1 would be my pick over the RX1 due to the different lenses available. That is not even a question. If I were wanting ONE for street, it would be RX1 hands down. To me I get better IQ in low light, better color, more depth and a sharpness the Fuji lacks at high ISO. The Sony has that Zeiss pop in certain situations but at f/8, both cameras are plenty sharp.

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More JPEG tests with Lighting

Zombie Part 2

My 1st test using the Zombie was invalid as the Fuji mis focused, so as promised I redid this test with the Fuji in Manual Focus mode. I still used AF on the Sony. Here are the results which show the Fuji doing much better than last time though the Sony still eeks ahead for detail. Again, these are JPEGS. Why? Because that is what you guys wanted due to issues with Fuji files and Adobe.

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Tonality/Metering

The RX1 seems to like to keep exposure on the UNDER side of the equation and the Fuji goes for OVER. I suggest when shooting the Fuji you dial in -1 on the compensation dial. Here is what to expect exposure wise from each camera. Both at F/2, ISO 6400, low light and OOC JPEG.

The RX1, ISO 6400, f/2 – Aperture Priority mode – This is how the RX1 exposed the scene. OOC JPEG.

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The E-X1 – same settings on the camera – Aperture Priority mode f/2, ISO 6400 – This is how the camera exposed the scene

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After shooting them both and handling them both and processing files from both, for me the winner is the Sony. I much prefer the feel, build and lens on the Sony RX1. I also enjoy almost limitless DR and amazing sharpness in my files. I love the shallow DOF and the “Zeiss Pop” from the RX1 and with the Gariz case on my personal camera it feels like a work of art. I also enjoy the EVF that swivels and the controls on both cameras are good, no complaints. Both feel like real cameras and both deliver results like real cameras. Both operate like real cameras and both have all the dials needed to enjoy the experience. Aperture dials on the lens, shutter speed dials, Exposure comp dials, etc.

The Fuji is also excellent. IMO, the best of the X bodies but still will occasionally miss with AF. If I were buying an X body it would be an X-E1 over the Pro 1 for sure but I will not buy one due to the sloppy AF performance (accuracy) with the 35 1.4 lens. The new X100s will have even more improvements so looking forward to testing that one as well. But with the X-E1 you have more options due to the available lenses such as the 14, 18, 35 and 60 as well as the new 18-55 Zoom. Either will get you where you want to go. The Sony for the extra $1100 will do it in a more slick and polished way with improvements to what you get with the Fuji in almost every area. Full frame is full frame and the Sony matches output from cameras like the D800, A99, etc. The Fuji is at the top of the APS-C heap. Take your pick.

As always thanks for reading and looking. In today’s world, it is tough to buy a digital camera that will not give you great results. The thing is to GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT and enjoy what you have. Learn with what you have. Bond with what you have and then results will come.

With that said, my Fuji X-E1 and SLR Magic 35 T1.4 Review will be up next week, and the SLR Magic lens rocked it.

Where to Buy?

The Sony RX1 can be bought at Amazon or B&H Photo. The X-E1 can also be bought at Amazon or B&H Photo

Oct 222012
 

My First Week Fuji X-E1 Review… with X and M-Lenses by Amy Medina

By Amy Medina 

I’ve been watching the mirrorless market evolve from its beginning. Small and light cameras have become a top priority for me in the last few years, and it was one of the original reasons I switched from a Canon 5D (the first one) to a Leica M8 back in 2007. I’m a woman who never carries a purse and who hates lugging around a camera bag, so if it doesn’t easily sling over my shoulder and fit in my pocket, it doesn’t come with me. I have always been a fan of what Olympus has been doing, but have also been watching Fuji closely.

The new Fuji XE1 is the closest thing to perfection to come along since the dawn of the eletronic-viewfinder, large sensor camera, at least when it comes to my needs. The image quality of the files is nothing short of amazing. They are sharp but natural — “film like” I’ve heard said by others. High ISO performance is clearly one of the best in the APS-C market, and it leaves me amazed at just how good it performs in low light. I’m not primarily a low-light shooter, but it’s certainly nice to be able to set the camera to AUTO-3200 — and even AUTO-6400 — and not in the slightest way be worried about too much noise. The color rendition of the files is beautiful, and the auto white balance seem to be bang-on. The hype you’ve heard about the JPG files? It’s true… with both the x100 and now the XE1, I don’t bother shooting RAW because the JPGs are just that good. And did I mention sharp? Wow, is the XE1 ever capable of producing some really sharp results, due in part to its lack of AA filter. But disclaimer: I’m not a technical person :)

A lot of questions about this camera revolve around the new electronic viewfinder (EVF) Fuji has put inside it. I’ve been shooting with EVF cameras for quite a while now and have become quite used to them. I will put it out there to all of you, if you’ve never shot with a camera that only has an EVF, you need to give yourself at least two weeks of steady use before you can even begin to make a decision whether you like it or not; one or two tries in the store isn’t enough. ALL viewfinder methods, from DSLR optical to rangefinder to EVF have their downsides, and to make a fair judgement you should give yourself enough time to get used to it before you decide either way. Some people legitimately don’t like EVF-only cameras and that’s fair enough, but don’t make that judgement based on borrowing a friend’s camera for a day or only trying it out at the photography counter in a store.

The EVF on the Fuji XE1 is probably one of the best I’ve used in color, contrast and clarity. It’s essentially the same one used in the NEX-7, though with lower refresh rates. Where this matters most is in darker settings. I haven’t noticed too many problems outside or in brightly lit environments. The only issue that arrises is in poorly lit spaces… this is where the slower refresh rate becomes more noticeable. In practice, with a fast lens like the 35mm f/1.4, I wouldn’t anticipate too many snags — however, manual focusing in a darkly lit environment, because of the slower EVF, might be more challenging. For me, if I’m going to shoot in that kind of dark environment, I might leave the M-lenses at home in favor of Fuji’s very good (and fast) primes.

Compared to the x100’s EVF, the color is better, resolution is clearly better, and the contrast is better. In the brightest sunshine it sometimes still requires a hand cupped over the top of the eye-piece to be able to see it best. I don’t know if EVFs are usually judged by dynamic range, but it seems like the XE1 does better seeing the difference from highs to lows. For example, when pointed at a window with bright sunshine outside, I can see the details in the shadows better than I can on the x100.

The size of the camera is nearly identical to the Fuji x100, and obviously smaller than the XPro1, but it feels solid and well-built. I went for the silver one, and the silver is a very slightly lighter color than on the x100. The little grip on the front and thumb “ridge” on the back make the camera feel great in the hand. On my x100 I have a thumbs-up, but I won’t need that on the XE1, which is good because it would probably cover the magnify wheel anyway (more on that later). Ergonomics of the camera are also similar to it’s fixed-lens cousin, with a few added buttons (like the Quick Menu button, which is well placed and a nice feature to access common settings). The AFS/AFC/MF switch is on the front of the camera, easy to access when needing to switch focusing methods. Shutter speed and exposure compensation are still in the same spots on top, along with the little Fn button for quick changing the ISO (the default setting). There is no wheel-pad on the back like with the x100, instead there are four directional buttons — and personally, I like it better; I always found the wheel-pad a little fiddly and the directional buttons feels more solid.

For manual focusing M-lenses, it’s quite easy. Put the camera in MF mode (switch on front). With camera up to your eye (or using the LCD), you can push in the mini-thumb wheel and it magnifies to 3x. Rotating the mini-thumb wheel to the right changes to 10x magnification (and back to the left for 3x again). I find the 3x much more useful for a few reasons. First, you’re seeing more of the scene, so it’s easier to get your baring on just what it is you’re focusing on. Second, in the 3x mode there is almost a “shimmer” that happens when the area you’re focusing on actually comes into focus. This is a hard thing to explain, but it’s almost as if the edges of the focused area appear over-sharpened… and it’s most noticeable in the 3x magnification mode. The 10x magnification mode is great for double-checking focus in more difficult situations, and it’s so simple to toggle between the two.

There is no focus-peaking feature. This would be a welcome addition to the camera for using manual focus lenses… However, I will say that so far, with the CV 21mm f/4, the 40mm f/1.4 Nokton and the 50mm f/1.5 Nokton, I’ve had no problems getting my shots in good focus. However, it’s important to note that the longer the lens and the wider the aperture, obviously, the harder it is.

I did not spring the extra money for the Fuji M-Adaptor… but went for the cheaper Fotodiox one. I’m not sure if it makes a huge difference as I’m not using many genuine Leica lenses, and the ones I am using are the “antiques” with lots of flaws and character. There is no button on the Fotodiox adaptor, so getting into the manual focus lens menu requires going into the camera’s menu system the traditional way (to change focal length). Also, the built-in correction options are grayed out (like distortion correction). It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but if it is for you, spend the extra money for the Fuji adaptor.

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So far I’ve tried out a few M-lenses…. so I’ll give my impressions along with photos:

The Voigtlander 21mm f/4 Skopar 

This one has been my favorite so far. I do wish it had a wider maximum aperture, but I can live with the f/4 for now. Focusing was a breeze, as expected with a wide f/4 lens. This lens has a great reputation on Leica cameras… sharp and contrasty, and quite small. It’s a great size-match for the Fuji XE1, and makes for a really nice street shooter, especially if you like to zone focus or set for hyperfocal shooting. The downside — and this is well-known on many mirrorless cameras using M-lenses, not just the Fuji — is that there can be “smearing” on the edges (due to the way the light enters the lens and hits the digital sensor at greater than 90 degrees — not something I completely understand). I knew this when I bought the lens, but can live with it for my style of shooting. If you want your photos tack-sharp edge-to-edge, look elsewhere. It’s important to note as well, from the research I’ve done, having the Fuji adaptor doesn’t makes a difference. It cannot correct for this smearing. It comes down to the specific M-lens… and some do better than others.

The Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton

This is my favorite lens on my film rangefinder… and the focal length was quite nice on the XE1 (60mm equivalent). It’s small size was also a nice match for the Fuji body, and focusing was quite easy, even wide open. Because it’s slightly wider than the 50mm Nokton, it was slightly easier to manually focus. The 21 and 40 together make a nice kit for a day out shooting; The lenses are both small and their 31mm/60mm field-of-view equivalence is a great combination.

The Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton

50mm on APS-C starts to get just a little long for my taste, but this lens didn’t disappoint either. It was harder to focus wide open than the 40mm Nokton, especially in very bright conditions because of the “glow” around edges that is characteristic of this lens. I did notice that bokeh was just a little harsher on the XE1 than the way it renders on my M8, which is usually buttery smooth — though in fairness, the day I was out testing the light was pretty harsh. Honestly, I’m probably not likely to use this one much on the XE1 unless I need the added focal length… the 40 was just a better match to the Fuji for me. Of course, the results were so nice, I might change my mind on that.

Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon

This one surprised me most, mainly because it’s my favorite lens on the Leica M8. I got some of that “smearing” at the edges, which I didn’t expect with a focal length of 35mm. And though it was easy enough to focus, I didn’t find the results as sharp as they should be. This lens is super-tack sharp on my M8, and performed very well on my Olympus EP2 and EPM1 the times I used it there, so I was a little disappointed it didn’t pair up as nicely with my new XE1. However, Fuji’s own 35mm f/1.4 lens is just so good, I think I’ll survive without the Biogon on this camera. In defense of the Zeiss, I was pretty short on time the day I tested it and the light has been pretty harsh all week, so take my opinion on this one with a grain of salt.

Leica 50mm f/2 Summitar

This was the last one I tested out paired up with the Fuji… and keep in mind, I expect warts and wackiness with this lens! You don’t buy a 1953 inexpensive Summitar without expecting unique bokeh and unusual flare and flaws. It was a fun one to use, and retains its wonderful character across to the Fuji camera — but admittedly for me it has a specific purpose and doesn’t get used all that often. However, its performance surprised me on the XE1 (better than I expected), so it may get more use than I originally thought!

For the Fuji Lenses

I have the 18mm f/2 and the 35mm f/1.4… and the latter will likely stay on the camera a great majority of the time.

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Fuji’s 35mm f/1.4

I love the 40-50mm field-of-view in general and this lens performs so well that there’s honestly no reason to look elsewhere for a 35mm lens. Fuji has done a great job with it, and the reviews you hear from others on just how good it is are true. It’s light but well-built, renders smooth out-of-focus areas and produces sharp, contrasty results. My only complaint is that I wish it was just a little smaller, but it’s undoubtedly not all that large either; its light weight more than makes up for it’s slightly larger than maybe-unexpected girth. It renders in a way that reminds me of the M8 + 50mm f/1.5 Notkon, which is a good thing since it’s one of my favorite combos to shoot with.

And the 18mm f/2

The 18mm on the other hand, it one I wasn’t sure about when I got it. I’m not always a fan of the 28mm field-of-view as it’s just a tad wide for me. Of course, it’s very appealing because it’s got a pancake style design: very small and very light; and the f/2 maximum aperture is welcomed, if not a little surprising for something this wide. I decided to give it a chance because I enjoy the 14mm f/2.5 on the Olympus EPM1 (28mm equivalent)… and it didn’t at all disappoint.

One of the problems with the 18mm Fuji lens is that the 35mm one is just so good, so expectations are high going into its little brother. Honestly, I certainly find it easily sharp enough, and its small size and quick performance are reasons alone to give it a chance. From what I’ve read about it, you’d sometimes think this lens is a bad egg, but that’s far from the case. Though there is some distortion present, it’s quite a capable little lens, and certainly sharp enough for me.

Other thoughts…

The XE1 feels mature. I think Fuji has learned a lot over the last year from the release of the x100 and XPro1, and they’ve done a good job listening to feedback from the photographers out there using their cameras. Overall operational speed on the XE1 is good; not blazing fast like a high-end DSLR, but certainly fast enough for many of us. It’s less fiddly than the x100 (keeping in mind I’ve enjoyed the x100 immensily!), and from what I hear from XPro1 owners, autofocus speed is drastically improved with the latest firmware, which is already on the XE1 and available since September on the XPro1. I was a late adopter of the x100, with the latest firmware, and never understood what all the fuss what about with focus speed… but that’s likely because I bought it late, after Fuji had already made big improvements.

Autofocus is certainly fast enough (at least for me), though on some occasions with the 35mm lens, it had a little trouble locking on exactly what you want it to. I’d say it’s comparable in speed to the latest round of Olympus cameras when paired with the 20mm f/1.7 lens (which admittedly isn’t their quickest lens) — or at least it seems pretty close. to that, maybe just slightly faster. The biggest problem in judging autofocus speed is that some of it ends up feeling quite subjective… what is fast enough for me, is probably not fast enough for someone else. As an M-shooter, as someone who has been pleased with all the olympus cameras (back to the EP1) and as someone who never shoots sports or wildlife, in day-to-day use, the Fuji is certainly focusing quick enough.

A lot of photographers want to know whether to buy the XPro1 or the XE1 — and that’s a question I struggled with myself, especially since there are some great deals out there for the XPro1 right now. Both cameras have the same autofocus speed (when the XP1 has the latest firmware), and both have the same image quality (same exact sensor). So the differences come down to just a few things:

The Fuji XE1 is smaller and lighter. It has built-in popup flash you can even bounce. It has an EVF only, but the EVF is better quality.

The Fuji XPro1 is slightly bigger and heavier. It doesn’t have a built-in flash. It has the hybrid viewfinder for optical or electronic views, but the EVF is lower quality.

Since I like small, and since I plan to use the camera with M-lenses, I decided the XE1 was the way to go. I want all the help I can get with manually focusing, so the better EVF seemed the right decision for me. Also, having had the x100 with hybrid viewfinder, I find I never use the optical view, so giving that up was easy. I know others who swear by the optical view of the hybrid finder, so for them (or you) it might be harder to give it up. That comes down to a personal choice.

More 35mm f/1.4 Photos

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I expected to like the x100 when I first bought it, but I didn’t expect to like it quite as much as I did. It was the first camera I’ve bought in a really long time that I felt I enjoyed as much as the M8, and that’s saying a lot. I bought the M8 in 2007 and still use it to this day… I will never sell it. The x100 was my introduction into the Fuji world and it helped me seal the decision on buying the XE1, and in this first week of use I can already tell that my M8 will be staying home even more. Don’t get me wrong… I will love my Leica until the day it ceases to function, but now that it’s five years old, I fear I’m closer to that reality and need a camera that I can “jell” with just as well… it feels like the XE1 can be that camera… to the point where I may have this one five years from now (but don’t hold me to it)!
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I’ve already gone on way longer than I expected, but I’ll end by saying that I’m happy Fuji dared to put these cameras out. They have given us something interesting: cameras aimed at photographers who want a great mix of modern technology and tactile, ergonomically well-designed, but small bodies; And these are cameras capable of stunning image quality. I also appreciate that Fuji seems to be a company trying to listen to what it’s customers want, and they will be a fun company to follow over the next few years; they already have been this last year. With the x100 and XE1, they definitely have me on their side.
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You can follow me on

 

Apr 042012
 

The Fuji X-Pro 1 Review

by Steve Huff

Well here we are and I have now had the Fuji X-Pro 1 in my hands for a little while and I am ready to let you all know how I feel about it! First off, let me say that this is the camera I have been waiting for with the kind of excitement that only comes around once a year or so, much like a 7 year old on Christmas morning. When Fed Ex came and the driver resembled Santa Clause I knew there was something special in that big brown box.

The last time I was this excited about a camera release was with last years Fuji X100, which I adored but at the same time, found frustrating on many occasions. You can read my X100 review HERE and see how much I loved that camera. I no longer have an X100 but still have a soft spot for it. On several occasions I even had the $200 overpriced black edition in my shopping cart because even though it is NOT a Leica (In case you did not know, I love my Leica) I felt a connection to it. The image quality, the feel, the small size and the hybrid EVF/OVF…it all brought me back to the basics of photography even though it was a bit more technical than a basic Leica M. What I mean by that is that it did not have the Zen like simplicity of an M.

But we can not deny the fact that the little X100 was the big camera hit of last year and when it arrived it was sold out for months. Prices on Amazon were jacked up and people were paying $1600 for the standard X100 kit and yes, even at that price they would sell out within a day or so. One of the reasons for this was that Fuji did a super job with the marketing and hype for that camera and with the huge success of the X100 they decided to keep the X train rolling full steam ahead. Even though MANY of the X100 users were having the “sticky aperture blade” issues with the cameras, Fuji started to work on a new higher end version. Yes, Fuji started working on the “top secret” X-Pro 1 and the internet buzz was insane for months about it.

ISO 1000 – Fuji X-Pro 1

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Leica Is In Trouble? Well, not really…

I sat there and thought “Uh Oh” – Leica is in trouble. There it was…Fuji was set to release a PRO version of the X100 with interchangeable FAST lenses at 1/4 the price of a 3 year old M9. They even designed it like a black Leica M with that awesome retro look and feel. If Fuji could pull off a nice solid body, fast AF and rock solid reliability…then yes, I feared Leica would lose some sales to Fuji. Why wouldn’t they? There are so many people that would LOVE a Leica M9 but refuse to pay the $7000 body cost and even more for lenses. Some refuse to pay that price and some simply can’t. But with a camera like the X-Pro 1 at 1/4 the cost, it is now possible to get a Leica look-a-like and fast primes that give superb image quality. Fuji knew this so they targeted this camera system at those people.

In my honest opinion they are not trying to beat the M9 as the X-Pro 1 simply does not, but many of us who can not buy an M9 WILL think about the X-Pro and a few M9 users will buy one as well to play with. For Fuji it seems like a win/win.

So now that I have been shooting with this “X-Pro 1″ for a while, what do I think? Well, read on to find out my thoughts as I share my real world results about the build and feel, use, and image quality of the camera. I will say right now the main competitor to this camera is not the Leica M9 but rather the Sony NEX-7 and even the new Olympus OM-D. I will tell you all up front RIGHT NOW that this is not an M9 nor is it even remotely similar in operation. It feels nothing like an M9, shoots nothing like an M9 and the quality in not equal to an M9. The only area where this beats an M9 is in high ISO, and in this area it slaughters the M, kicks it while it’s down and stomps it before it kicks it across the street. In other areas like build, use, feel, manual focus, simplicity and image quality, the Leica wins. Period.

There, I said it. I am sure Fuji fans will call me a Leica fanboy but the fact is that there is still nothing like shooting an M. Unless you shot one, owned one and used one with great Leica glass you wouldn’t understand. Then again, do I feel the M9 is worth $7k? No, not in 2012. Do I feel the Fuji X-Pro 1 is worth $1699? No. I feel the X-Pro 1 should have come in at $1399 for the body only because as it is, this camera will cost you $3300 with all three lenses. Add the grip and extra battery and you are at about $3500. That’s a lot of cash for just about anyone.

Then again, if image quality is your #1 priority, then the X-Pro 1 may just be worth the $1699 body only cost as the IQ is SUPERB for a crop sensor APS-C camera. Probably some of the best IQ I have seen from any mirrorless to date. Due to lack of AA filter, the images that come from this sensor pop with detail and sharpness. Add to that the Fuji colors and you have a fantastic camera for image quality. Again, it is much like the X100 but you gain the advantage of the faster and different focal length lenses.

The 35 1.4 at ISO 1250 at night

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A Video Overview of the Fuji X-Pro 1

In case some of you missed it, below is my video showing the X-Pro 1 body, lenses, and the menu system of the camera. It is a long video but if you want to see everything about it, take a look below.

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The Fuji X-Pro 1 – What is so “Pro” about it?

The Fuji X-Pro 1 is a step up from the X100 in a few ways but in reality, the image quality is VERY similar and the usability is about exactly the same. I have shot both cameras in real world use and have to say that the cameras feel the same when shooting. What I mean by that is, both are on the slower side when compared to what is out there today in this class of camera (NEX, Micro 4/3). The reason this camera is more advanced and desirable than the X100 is that you can not only use the new Fuji X lenses like the 18 f/2, the 35 1.4 and the 60 2.4 macro but you can also shoot Leica glass with an adapter. So this camera is like an X100 on steroids as it is bigger, badder, and yes, much more versatile. It is also much more expensive and has  the same size sensor and the same overall IQ traits.

The X-Pro has a 16 MegaPixel sensor, a 3″ LCD, the same Hybrid Viewfinder as the X100, Dust Shaker sensor cleaning and HD video capability. So what you get over the smaller and cheaper X100 is IC lens capability, a higher MegaPixel sensor, a slightly larger LCD display (2.8″ vs 3″) and higher ISO capability (12,800 max on the X100 and 25,600 for the X-Pro). 

After shooting with the X-Pro 1 for a while it felt JUST LIKE shooting an X100 but with different focal lengths. I have to say that I have found some quirks with it that I was disappointed with but at the same  time, much like the X100, the image quality that comes out of this camera is amazing. The colors and the look and the feel are all very “Fuji”. Yes, Fuji has their own look which is a bit on the brighter side, very poppy colors, and very sharp (with the 35 1.4 and 60 macro). I found the camera tended to overexpose when shooting in Aperture priority mode so I ended up using some Exposure Compensation to dial it down.

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The signature Fuji “Velvia” colors – Both shots below were taken with the 60 Macro at 2.4

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As with the X100, this review is all about the Photos and the Usability, so let’s get to it!

This beautiful X-Pro 1 is a camera I have been waiting for, drooling over and looking forward to with HIGH expectations. I mean, Fuji had the experience from the X100 so surely they would make this one as a statement piece. The Focus would be fast, the build would be solid, the lenses would be superb and sharp with creamy bokeh and the camera would not hang up, freeze or hunt for focus…right?

Well, that is what I had HOPED FOR and on some of those the camera delivered and in other ways it did not. I will now go over the usual suspects. The AF speed, HIGH ISO, Build and Feel, etc.

BUILD AND FEEL

The X-Pro 1 is MUCH lighter than many of you think it is. When you pick it up the 1st thing you think is “Wow, that is much lighter than I thought it was going to be”. In fact, my 1st impression was “man, this feels cheap”. BUT I remember the X100 was also lightweight, as is the Leica X1 (even more so) and even the new X2. So you really can not judge a camera on it’s weight though I must admit,  a camera that feels like a solid slab does give you a feeling of confidence.

When you pick up a Leica M9 you think “Wow, this feels NICE”. When you pick up a Sony NEX-7 you think “This feels about right”. When you pick up an Olympus E-P3 or upcoming OM-D you think “Wow, this is heftier than I thought”. So we have super light cameras that perform just as well as the heavy ones. Weight is not really tied together with IQ.

With that said, the X-Pro 1 is lightweight but at the same time doesn’t wear out your hand or wrist. I shot it for hours one night and had no issues. The body and lenses are very light weight. In fact, one thing I was disappointed in was the build of the 18mm f/2 lens. It is so light weight it feels like it is made of all plastic. I wish Fuji would have made the lenses a little but more substantial. At $600 a pop, it seems they should be a bit more solid.

So the body is light, the lenses are light…but how do they FEEL when you are using the camera? The good news is that when shooting in real life situations the camera feels great in the hand, ESPECIALLY with the added grip. The grip that Fuji sells is Leica M9 like and at $100 or so it makes the camera feel even better when holding it. If you buy an X-pro 1, I highly recommend the grip. With the grip added I had zero issues with the feel of this camera.

The X-Pro 1 at ISO 400 – Low light, movement, she saw the camera and gave a quick smile – this was snapped just before that smile though

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Careful with your thumb!

While shooting in Las Vegas for my Vegas weekend get together I realized my thumb had been moving the Exposure Compensation button so many of my shots were underexposed a bit. Could have been my fault for not paying attention but still, it happened. The buttons on the back of the camera are a HUGE improvement over the X100. They are bigger and easier to use. I never had an issue with pressing the wrong buttons so I appreciate what Fuji did here.

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The dancing “Hello Kitty” – X-Pro 1 and 35 1.4 wide open at IDO 400

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The Auto Focus Speed – The “X-Slow 1″?

So while in Vegas testing the camera some of the guys I was with were talking about the speed of the camera and how slow it was with focus. One guy nicknamed it “The X-Slow 1″ and we all laughed. The fact is that the auto focus of this camera is on the slower side. When in low light it can be VERY frustrating. I had MANY misses, many hunting moments and a few hits. I missed MANY shots due to the slow focus in evening light around 6-7PM when using the 35 1.4. The 18mm f/2 is faster but you do not always want to shoot with a 24mm equivilant lens.

So bottom line? The X-Pro 1 AF speed is decent in good light, fast in full sun, and slow/hunting in lower light. To me, it felt just like shooting with an X100. It may be a tad faster but if so it is not by much. UPDATE: Turn OFF Power Save mode for faster AF.  When I did this, it was not as slow. Also, I am not saying this camera has the slowest AF ever, just that it is slow when compared to current cameras that are out now. 

I was disappointed in the fact that Fuji could not get the AF speed to be as fast as cameras like the Olympus E-P3 or even the super fast Nikon V1.  Not sure why this is but if I were the head honcho at Fuji I would sit down and test this product and say “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”! Don’t get me wrong, in good sunlight the focusing is pretty good. It’s quick. It is not lightning fast but it is more than acceptable. BUT, when the lights start getting low, and I am talking evening light or indoor light the AF hunts and sometimes misses. To be fair, the NEX-7 has also missed quite a bit for me in low light as well.

Still, why is it that Fuji can nail everything else – The design, the hype, the packaging (which is GORGEOUS, see my video above) and the whole concept but when it comes to AF it is the one thing that makes the camera feel sluggish. With the little Olympus E-P3 I had no problem raising the camera and firing away with AF, and it never missed. The high ISO suffered in low light though, so I guess it is a trade off. All I know is I look forward to the day when Fuji releases and X-Pro 3 or 4 with super fast AF :)

Spotted this kid in his stroller chilling out and his brother laughing. I quickly knelt down a bit and tried to AF and it missed the 1st two attempts. I did get this shot on the 3rd try, which was the best anyway due to the reaction on the face of the brother. He made that face because he knew I was taking the shot as I was down there for so long :) This was shot with the 18 at f/2.

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High ISO Performance and Black & White

WOWZERS! This is a high ISO street shooters dream. Yes, I said STREET SHOOTERS DREAM. How so Steve? If the AF is slow in low light, how am I supposed to capture those quick moments?

Easy! Slap this baby in to manual focus and set your distance using the distance scale (zone focus) and you will be good to go. THIS IS a great street camera IF you set to manual focus and use ZONE focusing! For example…let’s say you are walking down the street at night, and you are looking for moments to capture. You can set the camera to manual focus using the handy switch on the front, set your distance to anywhere between 6-10 feet and when you see something just lift and shoot, or shoot from the hip. I had no issues shooting at ISO 1600-6400, and if shooting black and white, ISO 6400 is NOT a problem. I also tried shooting the street with AF and it was a no go. I always missed the shots as the AF hunted way too much. So if you want to shoot this on the street effectively, use zone focusing.

Also, just an FYI, I could Manual Focus my Leica M faster than I can Auto Focus the X-Pro 1 in lower light street shooting. 

Below are some higher ISO examples when shooting in Black and White. Noise is not a problem. At all.

The next three images are all ISO 6400, JPEG – you can click them for a larger version

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High ISO Color – The real test of high ISO

When shooting high ISO color the X-Pro also does a great job, again, keeping in mind that the AF is slow and hunts WHEN shooting LOW LIGHT images. With that, I found the X-Pro 1 to beat just about any mirrorless right now when it comes to high ISO with the Sony NEX-5n and Pentax K-01 hot on its heels. Still, who shoots over ISO 1600 anyway? If I owned the X-Pro I guess I would do so in Black and White after seeing my results but how about with color? Not bad! Well, really…some of the best high ISO around these days of ANY Mirrorless camera. I could use 3200 in color no problem. Click any image for larger version.

ISO 3200 – one lamp in the room – shot in Vegas in the confessional room of the “Real World Suite”  during the Vegas weekend. 35 1.4 – at 1.4

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ISO 640 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

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ISO 1000 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

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ISO 2000 with the 18mm at f/2

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ISO 1600 indoors – after three tries (to nail focus)

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and below, ISO 1250

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Quirks of the X-Pro 1 – Grrrrrr

Starting up slowwwwwwww if you use bridge and photoshop…

As with the X100, there are quirks with the X-Pro 1 and I hope that Fuji will release new Firmware as they did with the X100 to make the shooting experience better and better. One problem I had with the X100 that 90% of shooters DID NOT is the slow startup issue. My X100 and X-Pro 1 takes about 20-30 seconds to start up. If you buy one, yours probably will not so why does mine? Well, it seems this camera has the same bug that the X100 has/had.

When I shoot for my reviews I do NOT use Lightroom or Aperture. I only use those programs for my personal images so I can catalog and store them. My review images do NOT get saved as they are review images and are forever documented and placed on this website. I do not need to save the tens of thousands of RAW image files from my review samples so I go old school. I use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw. THIS is a problem when shooting with an X100 or an X-Pro 1, at least when using my mac (all I use).

The problem is this: If I shoot 100 images on the X camera and then put this SD card into my iMac or Macbook Pro and grab images off of them by browsing the card with Adobe Bridge it somehow creates an issue. If I take this card and put it back in the camera, I have to wait 20-30 seconds for it to start up. The camera turns on but the display is frozen and nothing can be done until it fully boots up. When it does, I have to format immediately or else this will happen every time the camera wakes up or powers on. I have never ever experienced this with ANY other camera and this was one of the reasons I ended up getting frustrated with the X100. Sadly, the X-Pro 1 does the same thing.

Sure, I can just use Lightroom, which obviously doest have this effect on the SD card but the problem should not be there to begin with. 98% of you will never see this issue.

Random freeze ups..

Another quirk I found was that the camera froze up on me twice while shooting in Vegas. I had to remove the battery twice to get the camera to power up. Not sure what this was about but it happened twice, which was irritating. To remain fair and balanced, my $7000 Leica has done this on several occasions over the years so it is not just a Fuji problem.

Overexposure…

I found that this camera tends to overexpose. If I shoot one image with the X-Pro and the 35 1.4 and one with the Sony NEX-7 I find the Sony UNDEREXPOSES a tad and the Fuji OVEREXPOSES. You may have seen many overly bright Fuji samples on the internet over the past few weeks. This is because many of us early X-Pro 1 users are shooting JPEGS because RAW support is not here yet. In standard JPEG mode, shooting with standard evaluative metering, the Fuji errs on the side of OVEREXPOSURE. I dialed in some negative exposure compensation to help combat this. The cool thing is that it is easy to fix with the direct EC dial on the top. Also, shooting RAW will help with this as well.

So yes, the X-Pro 1 has quirks. It is not a fast as lightning pick up and shoot effortlessly type of camera. It is a thinking mans camera that excels at one thing. Image Quality.

As with all of the images in this review, this is an OOC JPEG. Velvia mode rocks and is one reason I love these Fuji’s so much in regards to IQ. Shot out of my windshield on my way back to Phoenix from Las Vegas with the 35 1.4 at f/5.6. Click image for larger view.

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Abstract Color with the 35 1.4

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The X-Pro 1 Launch Lenses – Which one(s) to get?

The Fuji X-Pro 1 shipped with THREE FAST PRIMES. YES, FAST PRIMES! No Zooms. Fuji listened to the enthusiasts with this one. Unlike Sony who seems to concentrate on slow Zooms for the most part Fuji came right out of the gate with three lenses that all LOOKED great on paper. But how are they in real use? Which one is THE lens to get?

1. The Fuji 60 f/2.4 Xf Macro Lens – Buy/Order here at B&H Photo.

Fuji shipped me the camera and ALL three lenses to evaluate but a few days after they did so I received an e-mail saying I had to send the 60mm Macro back to them as it was a pre-production copy. Now, I admit I did try out the 60 and found it to have amazing image quality. Razor sharp and great color. BUT, it did miss focus MANY times. I knew I would focus on one center point and it just wouldn’t or couldn’t do it. So maybe this is why Fuji have taken this lens back. It also seems it will not be shipping for 3-4 weeks while the other two ARE shipping so I think Fuji found an issue with the 60. But IQ wise, when I did get it to lock focus, it was superb.

I posted a couple of shots near the top of this review with the 60 but here is one more. I believe I used manual focus for this one and focused on the teeny leaf. Click image for larger view. This was wide open at 2.4 and as with all images here, a JPEG. Keep in mind that Fuji told me this was a pre-production copy so do not judge this lens by what I said here (AF speed and accuracy I am sure will be much better in the final version)

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2. The 18mm f/2  – Buy here at B&H Photo

The 18mm is so small and so light that it almost feels hollow. At $599 it is priced a little on the steep side I feel, but it IS a wide angle 27mm equivalent and f/2, so that is a GOOD thing. THIS is the fastest focusing AF lens of the bunch and if you are just planning on shooting this lens then the AF worries are not a big deal. I found it focused fast, locked on and gave good results. This lens is not the last word in “wow factor”  but if I were to buy an X-Pro 1 system I would probably pick this lens up so I could have a wide angle that didn’t cost me nearly $4k (Leica).

I did not do any scientific tests but I found no issues with this lens. Click on the images below to see them larger and in much better quality.

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3. The 35 1.4 XF Lens – Buy this lens at B&H Photo HERE

Ahhh! This, yes THIS is THE lens to get with the X-Pro system. A 35mm 1.4 lens at $599 that performs GREAT. At 1.4 the rendering is very very nice. Creamy, great look and color and a fast aperture that will get you the most from the camera in low light. The ONLY issue with this lens is the AF speed can be hit or miss depending on the light available. If you are in lower light then it is slow going. Do not expect to lift and fire away all fast and quick. If you are in full sun, then yes, but low light, no. With that said, the X-Pro 1 and ALL lenses are much quicker to AF than the old Leica X1, which is VERY VERY slow with AF. There are still people who ADORE the X1 so to some, AF speed is not that big of a deal.

Even with the slower speed, if you do buy the X-Pro 1 then this is a must own lens as you will get the best IQ from it.

I did notice this lens, much like the $5000 Leica 35 Summilux ASPH will show some CA in some situations.

Below: Example of CA

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Shooting Leica Lenses on the X-Pro 1

NOTE: I will be doing the Leica lens test on the X-Pro 1 in a future update!

Yes, you can shoot Leica M glass on the X-Pro 1. All you need is an adapter and you can attach your beloved Summilux or Summicron lenses (or ANY M glass like Zeiss, Voigtlander, etc) and use Manual Focus to shoot. The big bummer here though is that Fuji did not include any kind of focus peaking like we get on the Sony NEX series and Ricoh GXR series. You can magnify the screen but that is a pain in my ass because you only see a super magnified portion of your subject and it is impossible to frame and focus at the same time. I feel Fuji should have put in focus peaking and have a feeling that shooting manual glass on this camera will be more of a pain than pleasure. On the Sony NEX-7 I LOVE shooting with the Leica glass as the EVF and Focus Peaking rocks.

I have not yet tried the Fuji with Leica glass as I still do not have an adapter (I DO NOT use Ebay or Paypal, so makes it tough). If anyone can sell me one, I would love to buy one from you or even borrow. I plan on doing a full article later and add to this review when I have had time to shoot Leica on this camera. So look for that in a future update. One thing to also note is that the X-Pro 1 does NOT have any kind of image stabilization and the upcoming Olympus OM-D will have a groundbreaking 5 Axis IS that is said to be pretty damn good.

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Cool things about the X-Pro 1 – Just like its baby brother

The X-Pro 1 has the same cool features as the X100. Things like the film stock settings (Astia, Provia, Velvia, etc) panorama shooting and HD video. I will not go into details on those two things here as I already wrote about these things in the X100 review (see it here) but I do enjoy the film presets greatly. I find the Velvia setting to be superb and is the one I like to use the most. Others like the Pro Neg or the Astia settings. All are good. Below you can see the differences in the film stock settings.

X-Pro 1 Film Simulation Samples

Provia

Astia

Velvia

Pro Neg Hi

Pro Neg

B&W

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Compared to the Sony NEX-7

Another hot camera that is available now is the Sony NEX-7. The NEX was another one of those HOT and exciting cameras that arrived MONTHS late so now it is competing with these new cameras arriving on the scene. No dount about it, the NEX-7 is a great camera. It is small, it is quick, it takes GREAT video (though seems to overheat), and the Zeiss 24 1.8 lens Sony released with it is fantastic. The problems with the NEX series is that there is a lack of GREAT lenses, sort of. The Zeiss 24 1.8 is great, the Sony 50 1.8 is very very good. But other than that, the rest of the lineup is good but not great and not able to get the most from the camera sensor.

In regards to speed, usability and fun factor…for me, the NEX-7 takes the nod. The Focus Peaking with Leica glass works REALLY well and images I take with the Leica 35 Summilux rock. There is depth and detail there that is, at times, jaw dropping. So the NEX needs good glass to get the most from it and it is an absolute JOY to shoot manual focus RF lenses with it.  The NEX-7 comes in at $1198 for the Body Only, about $500 less than the Fuji X-Pro 1. So what do we gain in the X-Pro 1 over the Sony? Better high ISO, more flashy color and brighter out of camera images. We also get a full size camera body and smallish lenses. The NEX gives us a small body with large lenses.

If you want to shoot Leica glass, the Sony wins just due to the peaking feature which makes MF a breeze. If you want old school charm and better out of camera JPEG image quality, the Fuji wins. But is it worth $500 more? Not really. I feel the Fuji is a bit overpriced and should have come in at around $1399. That is just my opinion though and to many the $1700 asking price is well worth it. I can manual focus a Leica lens on the NEX quicker than the Fuji can Auto Focus with it’s 35mm.

One thing to know though is that the Fuji shoots like a camera. The Sony shoots more like a computer due to it’s complex nature and menus but also has the Tri Navi controls going for it and once you set it up to your liking it is a breeze to pick up and shoot, especially with old manual glass. To some, the design and feel makes the Fuji a better choice. When it comes to speed though, the NEX wins.

Below is a full size out of camera shot from the Fuji and Sony. The Fuji had the 35 1.4 mounted and the Sony had the Leica 35 Summilux APSH II mounted. Both lenses were set at f/4. Keep in mind the Fuji setup is $2200, the Sony with Leica over $6000! The fuji IQ holds up well to the Leica/Sony combo using just the Fuji 35 1.4 lens.

Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35 1.4 at f/4 ($2200 Combo) – click image for full out of camera file – focus was on the “644” on the camera.

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The Sony NEX-7 with the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH II at f/4 ($6200 combo) – click image for full 24 Megapixel file – focus was on the “644” on the camera.

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and one more comparison.. 1st the Fuji at 1.4 with the 35 (click it for larger)

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and  the Sony with the Leica 35mm at 1.4 – both are JPEGS out of the camera to be fair to the Fuji (NO Raw converter at the time of this writing)

One more…

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Compared to the X100

The X100 is smaller, and more compact and just as beautiful and with the latest firmware, the AF is even faster than the X-Pro 1. If you do not mind being stuck with ONLY a 35mm f/2 lens (I feel this is a good thing) then the X100 is a DAMN good camera. At $1199 for a full camera and lens vs $1699 for a body only, you will have to decide if you want the interchangeable lens capability. EIther one you choose will give you the same image quality with the X-Pro 1 delivering even better high ISO. With the new firmware out for the 100, I am tempted to buy one again instead of this X-Pro 1. In black, even though it will cost an extra $200 over the same compatible silver setup. Black is just so damn sexy with these types of camera designs!

Pro’s and Con’s of  the Fuji X-pro 1

Pros

  • It is light and the design is retro cool
  • All black, stealth
  • There is a 35 1.4 available and it is VERY good.
  • Keeps the same look and feel of the X100 with gorgeous Fuji colors
  • Sharp detailed images that can pop when shot wide open with the 35
  • HIGH ISO is amazing, especially with B&W shooting
  • Zone focusing is easy to set up and use for street so makes for a great street shooter in manual focus mode.
  • The packaging is awesome :)
  • Fuji has a rep for putting out firmware updates so improvements can be made to the speed
  • Some of the best JPEG’s ever to come out of a camera
  • Has the good Fuji Dynamic Range just like the X100
  • Has the same OVF/EVF of the X100 – and this is good.
  • Again, image quality is gorgeous!

Cons

  • Slow AF and overall slow performance, MAINLY in low light – had many misses at dusk on the street with AF
  • Slow start up bug still here (in certain circumstances)
  • The 18mm lens is so light, it almost feels made of plastic
  • Manual Focus is still slow and is the same as the X100 MF
  • Price. $3500 for the complete system. $1700 for the body only.
  • The lenses do the “rattlesnake shake” when out in daylight (noisy clicks while not using it)
  • X100 now has faster AF than the X-Pro 1
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My final words on the X-Pro 1 – Who is it for and will I buy one?

So far, to this point I have written 5,744 words in this review. Pretty short for a major review but I tried to not drag it out and repeat things that I already talked about in the Fuji X100 review. Many of the features of the X100 are in the X-Pro 1 and the image quality and overall usability is about the same. If you liked the X100 you will really like the X-Pro 1. It does allow you more creativity than the X100 due to the ability to change lenses and even shoot with M glass but at the same time do not expect huge speed increases with this “pro” model. In fact, just think about it as you are shooting an X100 with different lenses and better high ISO.

The X-Pro 1 for me is a mixed bag. I LOVE AND ADORE it for what it is and the images it can pump out, but the speed and usability kind of knocks it down just a bit for me. I WANT TO LOVE this camera and I just really LIKE IT, though I like it quite a bit because like I said, the Fuji files have a way of putting out incredible results and remember, EVERY image here was shot in JPEG mode as RAW support is not available at the time of this writing. The image quality will only get better.

So who would want an X-Pro 1?

  • Someone who wants to shoot JPEGS. The Out of camera JPEGS are very beautiful.
  • Someone who wants to shoot Black and White – B&W even at ISO 6400 is GREAT. Rich B&W files here.
  • Someone who doesn’t want to shoot FAST and doesn’t mind slow and steady photography.
  • Someone who wants to shoot landscape.
  • Someone who doesn’t want to spend several thousand more on a Leica M9 but wants a “Rangefinder Styled” camera.
  • Someone who owns an X100 and wants to have the ability to change lenses and have even improved high ISO.
  • Someone who enjoys shooting people/portraits or landscape
  • Someone who wants to shoot street using Zone Focusing

So who would NOT want an X-Pro 1?

  • If you own a Leica M9 and have been spoiled by the usability and file quality then you may not enjoy the slowness of the X-Pro 1
  • If you are used to speedy DSLR’s and expect lightning speed
  • If you don’t’ want to spend over $2k for a camera and lens
  • Those who shoot sports, action or wildlife
  • Video enthusiasts – other cameras in this class have better video capabilities

Basically the Fuji X-Pro 1 is a camera capable of putting out SUPERB IMAGE QUALITY. To many, this is all they need to hear. When you nail it you will be rewarded with beautiful color, depth and sharpness. The 35 1.4 lens is THE lens to get so if you do order the body, make sure you order this lens with it. JUST BE AWARE that in LOW LIGHT, as in indoors or outside even that the focus will hunt some and occasionally NOT lock on. I feel Fuji will be able to improve this with a Firmware update just as they did with the X100, which users are reporting is now MUCH faster and MUCH more accurate. In fact, I am confident Fuji will do this. You can also turn on the AF assist which helps lock focus quicker. Also, keeping the power save mode to OFF is said to increase AF speed, which I confirmed does indeed do so.

I have TWO X-Pro 1’s here that I pre-ordered and both have arrived. I have not yet decided if I should keep one or return them both before I even open them. The one I have been shooting with came from Fuji direct as a review sample. So I actually have THREE here! If it was not for the new OM-D coming in the next couple of weeks and the new Leica announcement on May 10th I would probably keep one for sure but as of today I am not 100% sure. I do love the EVF/OVF which is the same one used in the X100. These days, for me, an VF of some sort is a MUST.

I love the IQ I get from it, more so than most cameras I have shot with lately, well, really…any camera that has come out in the past year or so. It is HIGHLY capable in every area of IQ. Good light, low light, B&W and High ISO. It has an APS-C sized sensor so the IQ WILL be better than the OM-D but I have a feeling that the Olympus will kind of have it all. Speed, IQ, IS, Weather Sealing, Great video. I can not keep ALL cameras and I own the NEX-7 as well but the Fuji’s always tug at my heart a bit as they have a little bit of soul and magic. I just wish Fuji would get the quirkiness taken care of!

If you want great IQ, RF style and fast primes and have $2000-$3000 to spend, the X-Pro 1 may be the camera for you. With the 35 1.4 it is 1/4 the cost of a Leica M9 body with better high ISO capabilities. You be the judge. If you own an X-Pro 1 or have shot with one feel free to comment and let me know YOUR thoughts. One thing is for certain, this camera has image quality that will make you smile every time you view your images :)

UPDATE: I did shoot with the camera using “Power Save ON” and “Power ave OFF” and I did see an AF speed increase with this set to OFF. After shooting in my house at 6400 ISO with the Power Save off, I actually am more happy with the speed. Still doesn’t explain my freeze ups and other quirks but the more you use this camera the more you like it. Again, those damn beautiful Fuji files are sort of addicting :) 

 

Where to Buy the Fuji X-Pro 1?

You can buy the Fuji X-Pro 1 body at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 35 1.4 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 18 f/2 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 60 f/2.4 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can also RENT the X-Pro 1 at LensRentals.com HERE! They are the best rental shop, period!

I will leave you with even more images from the X-Pro 1…Enjoy!

Fuji X-Pro 1 Accessories

The strap I used on the Fuji, which is VERY comfy is the Street Strap. Very light, soft and recommended. You can see it on Amazon HERE

Also, I highly recommend the Grip if you are going to decide to buy an X-Pro 1. It dramatically helps the feel of the camera and makes it much more comfortable to shoot.

 

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