May 282014
 

Varanasi with FujiFilm X-E1

By Sunil Mehta

Hi Brandon and Steve,

I am long time follower of your website and appreciate service you are doing to the photo industry. My name is Sunil Mehta & leave in India. Recently I was in Varanasi (also known as Banaras), very ancient city and many Hindus visits for Pilgrimage. Known for its old streets and Ghats (River bank). Attached few photos of early morning and late evening activities near river.

Limit of photos to upload is 3, attached 6 photos with this mail kindly select that you find appropriate.

On technical side:
Camera Fuji X-E1
Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 Zoom Lens
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 Zoom Lens
Nik- Silver Efax for post processing

Exposure details of each photo is as follows.
Varanasi-01: Riverside. ISO 800 – f/8 at 1/500 sec.

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Varanasi-02: Evening prayer at River. ISO 1600 – f /3.2 at 1/30 sec.

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Varanasi-03: Performing Morning Prayer. ISO 800 – f/4.8 at 1/160 sec.

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Varanasi-04: Mother and daughter. ISO 400 – f/4.8 at 1/420 sec.

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Varanasi-05: Practicing yoga. ISO 800 – f/8 at 1/460 sec.

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Varanasi-06: Street. ISO 800 – f/3.2 at 1/45 sec.

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Few more pictures are on 500px.com
http://500px.com/mehtasunil

Thanking you
Sunil Mehta

Apr 042014
 

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

By Paolo Mercado

Hi Steve, Brandon,

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

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

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

First shot is

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

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

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

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

Paolo Mercado

Beijing, China

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

 

Mar 242014
 

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

By Boris Taillard

Hello Brandon and Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks again and all the best with the website,

Boris

Feb 012014
 

User report: Rokinon 8mm in the Fuji X-E1

By Frank Conley

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This is not a technical review of the Rokinon 8mm. This is just some musings about actually using the lens.

My evolution into an all-Fuji toolkit has had an empty hole: the ultra-wide. I do a lot of wide work, and have daily relied upon the Canon 10-22mm, which is an absolutely superb lens. Fuji’s product roadmap has them releasing an XF 10-24mm sometime in March 2014. It will be a half-stop slower than the Canon, but it will fill a serious optic need that’s kept me tied to Canon.

One of the primary reasons for the move to Fuji was smaller, lighter, less obtrusive gear for documentary work. Having to lug the Canon along to get the utility of the 10-22mm is unfortunate. So while I wait for Fuji to get its manufacturing act ramped up, Rokinon’s lens makers offer an engaging and fun fill in.

While I had a few off brand lenses when I first started as a photographer, I quickly replaced them all as soon as I could. I’ve kept the tradition of sticking to lenses within the brand ever since. (That hasn’t been true of accessories, but glass is a separate issue.) There are many benefits of buying within a brand, especially with digital bodies and the communication that needs to go on between lens and the camera’s computer.

I happened across a review of the Rokinon 8mm, however, and was intrigued. Although slightly less than a true fish-eye, it’s an ultra wide. It’s wider than I usually work with, but that also means that it will still have a purpose once Fuji releases their lens. B&H had one in stock, and I’m up for any excuse for a trip to Manhattan. With my bank account $300 lighter, I’ve rolled the Rokinon into steady use rotation.

I have no prior familiarity with the brand. Apparently Ronkion also sells under the name Samyang. I have no idea if there’s a difference. All I know is that the lens I bought is solid, doesn’t rattle, has positive (if possibly stiff) clicks on the aperture ring, has a stiff focus ring, and has a mount that fits solidly to the X-E1. It’s a heavy lens, with a lot of glass in it. The X-E1 is small and light to begin with, so any lens on the front is going to unbalance the camera. There’s enough room to grab the Rokinon by the barrel and keep things steady, though.

In operation, it’s fine. It doesn’t have the polish and subtlety of the Fuji lenses (whose feel reminds me most of the bulletproof Nikkor glass of yore). But, it doesn’t feel cheap. It feels quite acceptable for the price point. It has an integral hood, which is useful for not chipping up the glass. However, because of the extreme convex, it picks up smudges very easily.

Part of what that price doesn’t buy you, though, is the ability for the lens to talk to the camera. And so we learn some of what all those extra dollars are paying for: there’s no autofocus (though, focusing is overrated on an ultra wide). There’s no aperture control. In fact, the camera doesn’t think that there’s actually a lens attached, necessitating you to turn on the “Shoot Without Lens” option. That means there’s no record of the lens or its aperture setting in the EXIF data (though you do get shutter speed and ISO). Although the camera doesn’t know what the lens is up to, the sensor on the X-E1 will still figure out the required shutter speed and ISO. The electronic viewfinder on the X-E1 does a very decent job of representing the scene, making full manual an option, too.

These are minor annoyances, though, and I’ve been pleased with the performance of the lens. I don’t worry about things like edge to edge sharpness, and lens flare and chromatic aberration, and I’m sure that the Rokinon suffers from some or all of such things as compared to a Zeiss or Fuji lens. The images I can make with it are interesting, and there’s enough resolution that I can crop out excessive distortion if that seems to be the right thing to do. Focusing seems to be largely irrelevant so long as nothing is closer than a foot away, and it gathers quite a bit of light at f/2.8. It’s very wide, though, which means that fingers, shoes, and sometimes my shirt can find their way into the corners of the frame.

The center of the lens suffers surprisingly little distortion. Depending on the subject matter, the edges sometimes aren’t that when they aren’t close in. Even when the distortion is severe, however, it’s less distracting than I would have guessed. All the images here are uncorrected for lens distortion. It’s obvious that it’s an ultra wide, and I think viewers are more comfortable with that than the subtle distortion of, say, a 20mm lens. Subtle distortion is more easily mistaken for a manipulated photograph, or just a feeling of queasiness. In either event, in my experience a subtle distortion is more likely to cause unease than an ultra wide, so I don’t mind it.

This is a very decent lens. The perspective is easy to abuse and could easily get tiring, but with mindfulness and the occasional crop, it fills the ultra-wide void for a very reasonable price, and has the quality to remain a working tool after Fuji finally catches up to their production calendar.

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Pedestrians in front of a New York City bookstore.

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A gargoyle on Notre Dame breathes the clouds into being.

email: j[email protected]

website: fjamesconley.com

twitter: @Philatawgrapher

Oct 032013
 

New York, New York…with a Fuji X-E1 

By Allesandro Tarantino

Hey Steve!

I would share with you some photos of my New York City trip. I have been there in January with my girlfriend. I have taken with me my new Fuji X-E1 with the very good Fujinon XF 18-55mm zoom lens. The weather was not very good and I have not found the classic blue sky that I can see everyday here in Sicily. But … New York is New York and you will always found something interesting wherever you point your eyes, so what is the problem if the sky was gray!

This was my second time in the Big Apple and I can clearly affirm that it is the city of my dreams. A city that is live and that never sleep, where you can meet people from all over the world.

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Aug 302013
 

Leica M9 vs Fuji X-E1 with Metabones Speed Booster by Christophe Carlier

Hi steve,

Firstly I want to thank you for putting my daily inspiration on your site.

I recently received a Metabones Speedbooster ring that allows me to get my Nikon F lens on my fuji X-E1 while keeping their 24×36 angle. A 50mm is a 50mm, a 35mm is a 35mm ….. and the more it will keep the effects of depth of field.

Manufacturing side of the ring is good quality, well-built. Its size is limited (see photo below) and reasonable weight 200 grams.

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  • The weight of the whole XE1 + SpeedBooster plus 35mm f2 about 740 grams
  • M9P + 40mmf1.4 about 820 grams and FM2 + 50mmf1.8 about 740 grams.

The results photos, first 3 pictures are taken at 35mm (fuji XE1 SpeedBooster + nikkor 35mm f2 afd, facing M9P + Voigltander 40mm f1.4 at 1.4),

Image on the left image will be with the X-E1 – right side is with M9-P – MUST click them for larger version

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm I

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm III

S.B. comp fuji leica 35mm II

The following 3 images are at 50mm (XE1 fuji SpeedBooster + nikkor afd 50mm f1.8, facing M9P + canon ltm 50mm f1.2 at 1.4).

the pictures left XE1 and right M9P – again, you must click them for larger

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm I

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm II

S.B. comp fuji leica 50mm III

All pictures are taken in jpg, and only to compare the bokeh from each camera and lens.

What do you think?

Sincerely,

Christophe

www.christophecarlier.com

 

Jun 282013
 

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My look at the Zeiss Touit lenses on the Fuji X-E1

Where to buy Zeiss Touit:  PopFlash.com and B&H Photo

PoPflash.com even has a loaner try out program, check it out!

About a week ago Zeiss sent me their two newest lenses for the Fuji X system, which are also available for the Sony NEX camera system. The Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 and the Zeiss Touit 12 2.8. These lenses were highly welcomed to the mirrorless world of Fuji and Sony as it would be two more super high quality lenses for these two systems. With a lack of really HQ lenses for the Sony NEX these Zeiss offerings are pretty exciting to  those who shoot with a NEX body. But these lenses do not come cheap. At $1250 for the ultra wide 12mm f/2.8 and $900 for the 32 f/1.8 these will set you back a pretty penny. So the question is, are they worth the cost?

Fro the moment Zeiss announced these lenses I knew that I would want to try them as soon as they hit the shelves, as I LOVE ZEISS glass! As most of you know, these lenses are not made in Germany by Zeiss but by Cosina in Japan through a partnership with Zeiss. A video was released showing how the Zeiss Touit lenses are hand assembled and they appear that they do a very fine job of putting these lenses together.

Zeiss sent me the new 32 1.8 Touit as well as the 12mm f/2.8 Touit and I was happy to give them a try. I do not own a Fuji X body so I rented an X-E1 for a few weeks and figured I could bring these to the Palouse workshop with me to give them a real workout. But last week I took the camera and lenses out to an old “mock” mining town in Apache Junction, AZ and the sun was nasty and harsh, so I knew that this was nightmare lighting for the Fuji X cameras. One thing I notice with the Fuji X-Trans is that if you give it beautiful light it will reward you with a rich, 3 dimensional file and pleasant colors that are second to none. Feed that sensor some harsh or low light and it will give you flat dull files. Where my OM-D or Leica M would give me good results in almost any light, the one beef I have with the Fuji X-Trans is the flat output most of the time, if you are not in “just right” light.

But maybe that was just a lens thing? Maybe I am just spoiled by Leica lenses and the full frame sensor. Maybe I needed some Zeiss flavor pumped into that little Fuji. I can tell you that after taking the X-E1 to the Palouse with the Zeiss 12mm, the images I am seeing from the combo are very nice. In fact, the 12mm is my fave of the two “Touit” Lenses. But let’s talk about each one.

This review will be short and to the point.

The Zeiss Touit 35 1.8 – $900 for Fuji X or Sony NEX

Buy it at B&H Photo or Amazon

IQ

Well, if you love your Fuji 35 1.4 you will also love the Zeiss Touit 32 1.8. In fact, IQ wise they are very close and in my every day real world shooting, I had a hard time seeing the difference in output between the Zeiss and when I shot the Fuji. The Zeiss focus speed is about the same as the Fuji 35 1.4 and I am not really seeing the “Zeiss Look” here with these as I do with the Zeiss ZM for Leica. I thought I would get that Zeiss pop but I am not seeing it. With the Zeiss 24 1.8 for the Sony NEX I saw rich color and sharp files with some 3D pop but here I see about the same as I was getting from the Fuji 35 1.4. So output is similar but the build and feel of the Zeiss is on another level. Oh, and THE BOKEH IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT and I feel I prefer the Fuji 35 1.4 in that area.

The Build

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The build and feel of the Zeiss 35 1.8 is top-notch. Feels solid, looks amazing and the focus ring and aperture dial are solid and smooth. The Fuji lens to me felt like a toy..hollow and cheap-ish IN COMPARISON. The Zeiss lens feels like a pro lens and looks nice on the camera. The hood is included and while being plastic, at least they give the hood, which is designed to match the style of the lens. Zeiss went all out on the “attention to detail” thing with these lenses and the 35 1.8 at $900 may be worth it to you just for this alone.

I will leave you below with some images from the 35 1.8 Zeiss on the Fuji X-E1. My feelings on this lens is that it is a gorgeous lens that appears like it will last a lifetime. Great design, solid feel, and in use it is wonderful. AF is no faster than the Fuji 35 1.4 and IQ seems about the same (without going to shooting detailed charts) in real world use so the question is..do you want the Zeiss name and build? Also, the Bokeh from the Fuji may be a little more pleasing. So, is it worth the extra few hundred dollars to spring for this Zeiss just for the build? Only you can answer that one.

As you can see below, some nice window light on your subject and it can look superb. The shot of my dog below is an OOC JPEG shot with the X-E1 and Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit Lens. My little rescue dog was sad the day I had to put my older dog Scrubby down. You can see it in her eyes right here, as if she knew.

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So away I went to give these lenses a try out at Goldfield Ghost Town. It was 109 degrees and Debby and I were walking around sweating after three steps out of the car..yea, it’s a “dry heat”. Whatever :) As we approached the “town” the 1st building you come up on is the Mercantile where you can buy drinks, fudge or touristy gifts. The image below was taken with the 32 1.8 at f/5.6. I use Adobe Camera Raw with Photoshop 6 for all images on this site. It seems camera RAW still has issues processing X-Trans RAW files. When I view a shot at 100% I do not get that crisp look I get from other cameras. Instead I get the odd smearing going on in fine details. 

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Here we can see how good the lens will do in low light. This was shot inside of the old saloon where they have boots hanging from the ceiling. At 1.8 the lens rendered nicely.

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Against a wooden wall I shot this one and then converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure

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Wide open at 1.8  - looks good

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The Palouse with the 32 1.8

I then brought this lens with the X-E1 to the Palouse Road Trip, which was a rip roaring success! Everyone had a great time and walked away with some breathtaking shots. The Fuji did well here, as you can see.

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Walking around downtown Palouse

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So bottom line: The Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 is a fantastic lens with superb build and a smooth pro feel. BUT, the Fuji 35 1.4 is optically just as good with slightly smoother bokeh. The Zeiss is $900 and the Fuji is $600.

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The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 – $1250 for Fuji X or Sony NEX

Where to buy Zeiss Touit:  PopFlash.com and B&H Photo

 

This is cool as it is a ultrawide lens for your Sony or Fuji cameras, and at 12mm you will walk away with an 18mm equivalent, which is WIDE! I loved the Zeiss 12mm as it gave me a field of view I was not used to and for me it was a challenge to fill that frame with anything interesting! As I shot it more, I grew to really enjoy it and if I were to invest in Fuji in the future I would buy this lens without question. Below are some images from the lens and the Fuji X-E1:

Ahhh! The 12mm! It gives us an 18mm field of view and I grabbed a shot from the steps of the building looking up. At 12mm (18mm) you get a VERY wide-angle.  The Zeiss 12mm is a fine lens. 

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Yes you will see some distortion but this is a 12mm lens. Another 12mm lens I love is the Olympus 12mm which is an f/2 lens and TINY. DO I prefer the Zeiss to the Olympus? Well, I feel the Zeiss is the better lens though the Olympus is a much more manageable size.

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Some Alien Skin Exposure on this one…

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The Palouse with the 12mm

I also brought this lens to the Palouse and used it 95% of the  time when I pulled out the Fuji. I feel it did fantastic and added the drama I was looking for. All images below were shot with the 12mm, EXIF is embedded in all images. One thing I can say is that the Zeiss 12mm is SHARP.

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So there ya go, my quick thoughts on the Zeiss Touit lenses for the Fuji X Mount. I like both but really fell more for the 12mm. At $1250 though it is not cheap. Another 12mm lens I enjoy is the Olympus 12mm for Micro 4/3. Much smaller, superb performance and comes in at $799 but that is for Micro 4/3, not an APS-C Fuji :) Overall the Zeiss lenses provide top quality build, feel, smooth use and great performance. While they do not give me the usual Zeiss pop I have seen from Zeiss lenses on Leica or Nikon or Canon, they still give the Fuji flavor of the X-Trans sensor, which many adore.

The thing you have to ask yourself is if you want a solidly made and nice to use lens for your X or NEX and if so, the Ziess Touit lenses should be looked at closely.

Thanks for reading!

Where To Buy?

PopFlash.com and B&H Photo sells the entire line of Zeiss Touit Lenses!

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Jun 032013
 

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SLR Magic 35mm f/1.4: Is it Magical?

a mixed bag of tricks, with an outstanding prestige…

by Amy Medina

Since I’ve been considering buying the new SLR Magic 23mm f/1.7 for my Fuji XE1, Steve was kind enough to lend me his 35mm f/1.4 to try out for a week or so to see how I got along with it. I was excited when it arrived, and quickly got it out of the packaging and onto my camera, where it would live permanently for over a week.

The lens itself feels like it’s made well. It has a bit of heft to it, and I liked the size on the Fuji XE1; Not too fat, and a bit longer than the Fuji 35mm lens. It’s made of metal, and balances well on the camera, with a little bit of weight behind it, to give it a sturdy feel, not like a lens that will fall apart or easily break.

I’m not a fan of the screw-on lens cap. Not even a little bit. It’s annoying and impractical. Of course, because this wasn’t my own lens, I kept the lens cap on when not in use, but I can tell you, if I were to purchase one, that would not be the case. The lens cap would likely come off in the morning and not return to its home until the end of the day, when all photography is complete. Screwing the darn thing on and off is just a pain in the neck, so I’d likely end up spending a few dollars to find a cheap snap-on one that fits properly.

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Other than the cheaper CCTV lenses I’ve used on my Olympus camera, this was my first time using a lens that had a smooth rotating aperture dial, without click-stops. This was another aspect of the SLR Magic I didn’t like much, because setting the f-stop blind is nearly impossible to do. I also found it was too easy to knock it or accidentally rotate it off the setting you want, because it doesn’t stay put with the help of a click-stop. It theory, I would have considered this a minor annoyance, and one that wouldn’t prevent me from buying the lens — but in real-world practice, I found I accidentally moved it more than I would have liked.

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The focusing of the SLR Magic 35mm is something that made me wonder if I was going crazy. I realize, focusing at f/1.4 is not always easy, and the slightest self-movement can cause you to find your subject with less than ideal focus. However, there were times with this lens that I was convinced I had not moved, but the focus still “fell out” of its position. It is not sharp edge-to-edge, and where in the finder you have your focus point seems to be more important with this lens that with other f/1.4s. I’m a focus-recompose shooter, but I got along better with the SLR Magic when I composed first, and then moved the Fuji XE1′s focus point to my subject prior to attempting to focus, rather than leaving it in the center and then recomposing the shot after focusing.

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magicflight

The focus pull itself was a little wishy-washy for my taste… I like a stiffer focusing ring than the SLR Magic 35mm provides. It’s really just a bit loose feeling, especially when critical focus wide-open seems to “float out” too easily (or is that just me going crazy again?)… I do shoot with quite a few lenses that are anywhere from f/1.4 to f/2 wide open, and I’ve never had this problem with any of them, but maybe I’m a bit spoiled shooting with a lot of M-Glass.

All that said, it sounds like overall I wasn’t happy with this lens… but that surprisingly isn’t the case. While its form was good, and it’s function sometimes argued with me, the fact-of-the-matter is that I really enjoyed the character of the files this lens was capable of producing. Focus fall-off was often dramatic, and the bokeh was smooth and pleasing. I was rarely disappointed with the photos I took using this lens, even if I sometimes felt it took a little extra shooting time to get the end result. The looks of the photos produced using the SLR Magic 35mm seemed unique and full of character… qualities I absolutely adore in a lens, because ultimately it’s really all about the photos themselves, right?

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An interesting aspect of this lens, unlike a lot of M-Glass, is that the closest focusing distance is less than a foot, which allows for a little more creative freedom doing close-up shots of subjects. Funny, because I’m so used to shoot with M-Glass, that I often don’t think to even try to focus closer than 2-3 feet, and ended up discovering it purely by accident one afternoon at the beach (see the bamboo shot below). LOL!

Other than the crazy “drifting” I mentioned above, I really didn’t find it difficult to manually focus this lens on the Fuji body… but I will add a disclaimer to that by saying that I’ve been using manual glass so much on my Fuji, that I’ve gotten quite good at manual focusing overall. I’d still welcome focus peaking on the body, but the “jaggies” are often good enough (and those of you familiar with the X-Series body and manual focusing probably already know what I’m talking about).

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And, at the end of my time with this little magical 35, the thought of having to ship the lens back to Steve was downright depressing. It arrived to me in the midst of some dental issues, and my time with it was bounced between dental appointments and some down-time after having a tooth pulled. However, it’s arrival timing was good because it provided me with a point of pleasure in the middle of it all. When it was time to send it back, I felt like it had become my friend, so I had to pack her up quickly, as if pulling off a bandaid.

So even with all my complaints, I still feel in love… or at least strong like, with the SLR Magic 35mm f/1.4. When work is more steady and I’m not scraping together pennies to buy gear more suited to freelance work, I’ll be putting some aside for its 23mm cousin, because I think in the end, we’ll get along just fine. If I wasn’t currently and unfortunately unemployed, I’d likely buy both the 23mm and 35mm!

May 282013
 

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Fuji X-Pro 1 and the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5

by Jim Gamblin

(From Steve: The brand new redesigned Nokton 1.5 in M mount will be released in 2-4 weeks, check it out)

Hello again! This review or rather my impressions of the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 has been a long time in the making. The reason for this, is that in truth I am not yet done. Thus there will be a second part to this review, in the form of comparisons with two other 50mm lenses.

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First just this lens. I am not going to go into the history of Voigtlander. Just to say that the Voigtlander lenses are made today in Japan at Cosina. The same place many of the Zeiss lenses are made.

The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 is currently the only Fuji lens that I have. It is optically a wonderful lens and for the most part a joy to use. However I needed something longer in focal length. My original choice was going to be the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4. However after trying it in a store I was put off by the terrible AF. Not only slow, but would not lock on once in roughly 20 tries.

On my Nikon D3 my most used lens is the 85mm AF-D f/1.4. So I thought I would try a 50mm, which would give me a 75mm equivalent AOV, close to the D3 ~ 85mm combo. First I put my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AI-S lens to work. But that lens is front heavy and puts the camera out of balance. At this point I had decided that I should investigate getting M mount style lenses in lieu of the larger SLR lenses.

The first M mount lens that I had acquired was the Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Color~Heliar and have been very happy with it. Great for portraits with it’s lower contrast. But for two people or in cramped quarters it became a little to long on the X-P 1 (equivalent 112mm). Thus I went back to the idea of a fast 50mm M mount lens.

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With a Leica Summilux ASPH being completely out of the question, I began my research. Which is where I found this review on Steve Huff’s site: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/02/04/voigtlander-nokton-50-1-5-lens-review-by-james-klotz/. Very impressive. Also Sean Reid had many good things about the lens.

Unfortunately this lens has been out of production for a while. (***note a new version of the Nokton f/1.5, is to be released this summer 2013). The current 50mm Nokton is a massive (in size) f/1.1 and has not been as well received. Like many others, I am on a size reduction program, thus this lens did not interest me. Carl Zeiss makes two fifty M mounts. The Sonnar f/1.5 and the Planar f/2. Both small and highly regarded and were both appealing to me. After reading many reviews on all three, I kept going back to the two reviews on the Nokton and decided that was the lens for me. Missed two on ebay as “auctions”, but then found another on ebay as a “Buy Now” from an antique store in Australia. Being a little nervous about buying a photographic lens from an antique dealer, I finally sucked it up and took a chance. Despite my early misgivings, it would appear that I was lucky and got a good copy. Apparently news on the internet is that Cosina Voigtlander lenses suffer from quality control and not all lenses are created equal.

This version like my Color~Heliar is the older LTM screw mount. So an adapter is needed first to convert it to the M mount. These cost about €50. It is a simple ring that just screws on to the lens mount and barely makes any difference in size, weight or appearance. Mine is made by Voigtlander and is specially made for the 50 and 75mm lenses.

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The lens is similar in look and construction to the Color~Heliar 75mm. And it just looks right on the X-Pro 1. All metal with DOF markings (though these marking more apply to a 35mm size frame). It has a nice heft to it without being too heavy about 250 grams roughly half a pound. Front thread is 52mm. Half stop clicks after f/2. The clicks don’t feel really precise, but definitely not sloppy either. Close focus is a bit much at .90 meter. The focus ring has a nice feel to it and goes from close to infinity in half a turn. I am a fan of the knurled focus ring. Another item I am a fan of is the lens cap. It has a velvety lining and slips over the lens shade and sits there very snug. Speaking of the lens shade, one must remove it to put on or take off a filter. Not a big hassle, but something worth noting.

Over all I am quite pleased with this lens, especially considering the cost. In the second part of this review will be comparisons with two other fifties, nothing exotic just close in price range. So until then I will skip the inevitable bokeh speak.

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When using the Nokton with the X-Pro 1, it of course must be focused in EVF mode. Having mostly used SLR’s for the better part of my career, I am not used to zone focusing. So in using this lens with the XP1, it is a slower more deliberate action. Focus peaking would of course help tremendously and like many I keep hoping to see it appear on whatever upcoming firmware. Also irritating is that Fuji files do not have the aperture setting in the EXIF of third-party lenses. However I have not experienced any problems in focusing and much of the time I do not need to use the magnifier. Have not missed focus on that many shots, except of course trying to capture fast action.

As noted earlier close focus is a distant .90 meter, which is a little disappointing. However back when Nikon use to be more considerate to their customers, they made a large selection of their lenses with a 52mm front thread and as it so happens the Nokton also has a 52mm front thread. Low and behold I found an unused set of Vivitar close-up filters tucked away in an old filter case of mine. I remember buying these before I got the 55mm f/3.5 macro lens. Using them will give the photographer a limited focus range. i.e. a #1 ~ 50cm to 110cm (19.5 to 43 inches), a #2 ~ 40cm to 60cm (16 to 23.5 inches) and a #4 ~ 24cm to 36cm (9.5 to 14 inches). Here are a couple of examples. Dark day today even at less than a meter form a large window, so I had to use ISO 2500 at f/5.6.

The #4 from 28cm (11 inches)

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The #2 from 52cm (20.5 inches)

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The #1 from 65 cm ( 25.6 inches)

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The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 mounted on the Fuji X-Pro1 

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For comparison the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5. This lens would be better for more serious macro work and also has the benefit of full range. But then again the Nikkor cannot give you f/1.5.

The #2 at f/1.5

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For the time being I plan to keep this lens. If however the newly announced Fujinon 56mm is at least as sharp and has AF as fast as the Fuji 35mm, then maybe the Nokton will be replaced. We shall wait and see. One thing I know for certain is, the more I use the XP1 the more I love it, regardless of what lens.

The different moods created by this lens. Thank you for stopping by.

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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

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This second group is from the Canon 5DMKII

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5dmkii.ipad.girl

5dmkii.rockefeller.pointing

5dmkii.sax.player

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The third group is from the Canon AE-1P

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ae1p.guy.brook.bridge

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Feb 142013
 

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A Day of Deals: Fuji X-E1 and X-Pro 1 Body and Lens Discounts

I usually do not post TWO camera deals in one day but I was just informed that B&H Photo is running a couple of Fuji deals on the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 bodies and I know many of you appreciate when I point out these specials as it saves you money. When you order a Fuji body at B&H you can also bundle lenses with them at a pretty substantial discount. For example, buy an X-E1 at $999 and you can add a variety of lens packages saving up to $913 if you go all out and buy the 35, 18-55, 60mm and 18mm. They have a few bundle options to choose from. How do you see them?

Click HERE to see the X-Pro 1 and link to available bundles

CLick HERE to see the X-E1 and link to available Bundles

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When you get to those pages you will see the text “Click Here to Save up to $913.85 with Lens Bundle…” – click that to see the available bundle offers for each body.

These deals expire on March 31st 2013, so they are good for the next month and a half.

BTW, also noticed they have lowered the price of some of the Macbook Pro Retina display models…

Feb 122013
 

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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 

Feb 082013
 

The Fuji X-E1 is awesome by Brian T. Adams

So, a little bit about myself… I became a camera enthusiast about one year ago. What I mean by this is I, unwittingly, purchased my first DSLR. Mostly, because I thought this is what you had to do if you wanted to get into digital photography and come up with “awesome” results. Aside from the past year, my photography experience is limited to my junior and senior years of high school some 18 years ago or so. While I did learn how to develop film and make prints – which were pretty rough – my efforts were mostly focused on shenanigans. Obviously, a lot has changed in nearly two decades of technological advancement and digital post processing. My point: I was the perfect consumer that fell right into the huge DSLR marketing trap. And, man, did I drop some of my hard-earned dough on DSLR what-have-you.

Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras certainly have their place in the world. I’ll never contest that. In fact I still love mine. However, for me, something wasn’t quite right. I genuinely don’t like carrying mine around with me in public. It’s huge, heavy, and I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb with it. In contrast, one of the reasons I bought it in the first place was to capture those seemingly random moments in life when you think to yourself “man, I wish I had a camera right now.” The other reason I bought it was in an attempt to get into landscape photography…which has proven to be significantly harder than I expected. I suppose that’s part of a different story, though. Either way, if I wasn’t on a planned photo outing, the camera stayed at home. I quickly realized I was at least partially defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place. Then I found stevehuffphoto.com.

Fast forward several months, and I am now the proud owner of the Fuji X-E1 teamed up with the Fuji 35mm F1.4. Sure, I’d like to score a Leica M9 or the new RX-1 but the cost was just too unreasonable for me. A couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I returned from a week and a half long road trip pulling our vintage Airstream trailer up and down the Northern California Coast. It turns out that trailer camping in the winter is barely fun. However, it gave me a chance to put my new rig to the test. Please don’t confuse this write-up as a technically based review of any sort. It isn’t. I aim to let everybody know what my experience with it has been like thus far. A quick recap: my camera experience is limited to approximately one year of DSLR work, much of which has been on the tripod. The X-E1 is the first camera of its kind that I’ve ever used. Here goes…

Compared to a DSLR, the X-E1 is tiny. I have girl hands and I still found myself fumbling around with it at first. I quickly got over this and, now, really like its ergonomics. Plus, I’d trade discreetness for a little fumbling any day of the week. Even still, I still sometimes accidentally end up pressing the AE-L/AE-F and Q buttons from time to time being that they’re located right where my thumb naturally ends up…not a big deal though. The X-E1 is very easy to use. The menus seem intuitive and straight forward and I can get into them and out again quickly without feeling like smashing the camera to bits because I forgot where a setting was located. Obviously, one of my biggest frustrations with the DSLR experience is all the menus and settings and adjustments and blah, blah, blah…sometimes I just want to take pictures. The X-E1 allows me to do exactly this. The only thing I typically adjust on it is aperture, ISO (I’ve assigned ISO to the FN button), and exposure compensation. Side note: I LOVE the little knob Fuji uses for exposure comp. I’m sure this isn’t exclusive to Fuji, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Perfect. I’ve tried auto ISO a few times, but in low light it tends to try to make the shutter speed 1/50 sec and then just adjust ISO around this. For 50mm focal length equivalent, this speed is marginal for those of us with shaky hands. So, I tend to sacrifice higher ISO to get a higher shutter speed. This just means I need to be paying attention to shutter speed. This was actually a challenge for me since I’m used to shooting almost exclusively at wide angles where you can get away with slower shutter speeds, especially if you’ve got Image Stabilization. Needless to say, I botched several shots do to slowish shutter speeds. My fault, not the camera’s.

Now the meat and potatoes of the camera…the image. I’ve put a few hundred shots through this thing and I’m still amazed at the sharpness of the images pumping out of this little animal. And I’m talking about out of camera (OOC) jpegs (image size set to large and resolution set to fine). Unreal. I suppose this is a good segue to discuss the RAW image issue. I’ve been using Lightroom 4 (LR4) for RAW conversion and I haven’t had any issues. It doesn’t have lens correction for this particular setup, but I find it to work pretty good. The only thing I’ve noticed is that with images that have a big, clear, blue sky will produce some weird blotchiness when converted to BW. It kind of looks like banding, but not quite. I can’t really explain it any other way. So, a couple of the images I wasn’t able to convert to BW. Others worked out just fine. Weird.

As far as image exposure goes, I kind of agree with what Steve said about it slightly over exposing. By “kind of” I mean that it sounds like it did it more for Steve than it did for me. There were a handful of times where I thought I needed to dial in some under exposure. Most of the time, however, I feel it nails the exposure. I have no empirical evidence to back any of this up, just my feeling on the matter. As you might expect, keeping the camera dialed to -2/3 exposure comp definitely gives really rich and contrasty results but sometimes it will be a tad too dark in the shadows for me — not clipped — just a little dark. So, I usually keep the exposure comp neutral unless it needs it or I’ve forgotten it’s there. For street photography, where seconds count, one might consider keeping a little negative comp dialed in to be on the safe side.

The autofocus abilities of the X-E1 seem to be a recurring theme being discussed all over the world-wide web. I think it’s fine. It’s missed on occasion but the lighting was pretty poor or really unbalanced. But, when it’s on, it’s on. Even at night. My DSLR, the few times I’ve used autofocus, was right maybe half the time even though the red deals in the viewfinder were blinking with great enthusiasm, never mind the “hunting” thing. When the X-E1 locks on, it just locks on. Sweet. Manual focus with it is weird. Normal convention would be to rotate the focus ring. Doing this with the X-E1 is an effort in futility, much like making a meal out of shrimp that haven’t been shelled yet, as it takes severe rotation of the focus ring for minimal feedback. However, you can just press AE-L/AE-F button and it’ll quickly lock on whatever the little square in the EVF is pointed at. Unless you’re doing tripod work with the X-E1, which I don’t think it’s really intended for, just run it in Auto Focus mode. I didn’t try AF on any moving targets so I can’t really comment.

On to the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The EVF works for me. It was definitely different at first but it doesn’t bother me. What I don’t like about it is that if you compose with your eye looking through the EVF, the camera will play back the image in the EVF versus on the LCD screen. However, if you take a picture by just holding the camera and composing with the LCD screen, then it will play back on the LCD screen. I’m not into this. I’d rather it play back on the LCD either way. Maybe it can be changed in the menus, but it doesn’t bother me enough to try to remember to figure it out once I get home. I’d never seen an EVF in action before, so it was certainly different. Everybody will have an opinion going one way or the other on it I suppose.

The lens: I think this little thing is unreal. Compared to what I’ve been using (I have three Canon zoom “L” lenses – no primes), this thing is amazing. I’m gonna say it…it’s better than my Canon L’s…handily. I’m not saying that Canon’s L Primes couldn’t compare as I’m sure they could. I’ve just never used them. This probably has something to do with a lack of an Anti Aliasing (AA) Filter as well…this is speculation on my part. I’m not going to get much more into than that, but I agree with what Ken Rockwell said about this lens. Love him or hate him (whether I agree or disagree with him I think he’s outrageously entertaining), I think his review of this lens is spot on except for one thing. He sometimes compares it to Leica lenses. I don’t disagree or agree with him on this particular issue. I simply don’t have any experience with anything Leica. In fact, I’ve never even seen a Leica in person. But, the fact that he does compare it to Leica lenses — and praises it heavily — should say something. Again, it’s unbelievably sharp and renders colors in righteous fashion. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I almost always convert images to black and white so I’m usually not impressed by color rendering. However, I am impressed with the 35mm F1.4.

This is getting long, but I’ll finish it up with a quick word on high ISO and in camera Black and White (BW). The highest ISO I’ve used yet is 6400. It’s awesome and controls noise very well I would say. Low light shots tend to lend themselves to black and white conversion so I don’t mind the noise in this case as I typically add a little grain to mine anyway. The in camera BW settings are OK. There’s standard BW, BW with yellow filter effect, and BW with red filter effect. I’ve used all three and the contrast levels increase with each setting respectively…as you might expect. However, even with BW/red filter, I think it’s a little flat. On one hand, it kind of reminds me of BW film. On the other, I feel it could still use a little zest. You might be able to adjust contrast levels in camera while set to “in camera BW”, I just haven’t tried it. For what it’s worth, I do all my BW conversions in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Whether photography for you is a job, a hobby, or both, it’s supposed to be fun. I find using a DSLR can sometimes be trifling and frustrating trying to muscle my way through all the bells and whistles in order to take a picture. The X-E1 solved this conundrum for me. It’s discreet, pumps out serious images, super easy to handle, and is just a hoot to use…exactly what I was looking for. Epic. In the end, just like you’ve probably heard before, it’s not the camera, but the person behind it. And that person should be having fun using whatever camera ends up in his/her hands.

One last thing, after constant prodding by my friends and family, I’ve put together a website for some of my images. I certainly wouldn’t mind having some guests. Here it is: www.silverspectrumphotography.com

Thanks for reading!

Brian T. Adams

This first group of photos are straight out of camera jpegs with zero adjustments other than slight sharpening after resizing.

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xe1.chinatown.lady.1

xe1.empress

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This second group of photos are after black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2.

hoop.guy.bw.web

bike.santacruz.1.bw.web

five.windows.2.bw.web

chinatown.lady.bw.web

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This third group of photos  include two images made with a 5DMKII and two were from the X-E1 just for comparison.

1st two are from the fuji

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2nd two are from the Canon 5D MkII

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Jan 312013
 

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 12.06.23 PM

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 302013
 

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The SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 Lens on the Fuji X-E1

by Steve Huff

SLR Magic. Fuji. One new brand on the scene with some new and different but very cool lenses and the other a well-known and respected brand who has been kicking some serious booty these last 2-3 years with a comeback of sorts and a new line of digital cameras that are arguably the best yet in the history of the company (for digital). Of course I am speaking about Fuji, a brand I actually have a ton of love for. Back in the “old days” I owned ALL of their digital and even a few film cameras. The S1 Pro, S2 pro, skipped the S3 and owned and adored the S5 Pro during a time in my life when all I seemed to do was take photographs all day long. I would head out for a drive or hike, S5 in hand and escape my daily stress by pressing the shutter button.

That S5 Pro rocked with amazing colors and quality. The body which was based on a Nikon D200 was slow when compared to the Nikon counterpart but I did not care back then because of the choices that were available in digital, for me, the S5 was it. But not everyone loved the S5. Many Nikon guys would trash it and say it was garbage and why would you spend more on the S5 than a new D200 and then D300?

Well, to those who owned the S5, we all knew what it was all about and loved it for its charm.

The last Fuji digital DSLR, the S5 Pro – I owned it and loved it because at the time there was not much else out there, unlike today where we have a multitude of options in the digital camera world. 

FINEPIX_S5PRO_1_L

But this post is not for me to sit here and reminisce about the S5 Pro as it has been gone for a few years now. After Fuji stopped the S5 Pro the word was they would no longer be producing any DSLR’s but at the time, little did we know what they had in store.

Today we have the X100, upcoming X100s and the X “bodies” the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1. To those who have read this site for a while you know that I have criticized the X-Pro 1 for its AF flaws as well as the 35 1.4 lens. As beautiful as the 35 1.4 can be, for me it has underperformed in the usability dept (in lower light) when compared to other cameras. Does this mean I am trashing the Fuji X-Pro 1? HELL NO! If you read my review of that camera I praised it for its image quality and again when I used it on “The Cruise” I praised it some more. But even with those praises I can not sit here and lie and tell everyone that the AF rocks in lower light, because it does not. So to those who are sending me hate mail and comments saying I do not know what I am talking about, think again. Because I do. I am not insulting your camera, I am evaluating it so please do not take offense if I point out the weaknesses of it. I do this with all cameras just as I did with the NEX series AF issues or the Leica RF issues, etc.

I have a long history with Fuji digital cameras and have owned and shot with them all. Like I have said in the past, the X100 is one of my all time favorite digital cameras EVER. To me, that is the perfect Fuji digital right now and the X100s will be even better because it should have accurate and speedy AF. Finally. Fuji knows they are not the best in the AF dept and it is awesome to see them stepping it up to improve upon it. I expect the X-Pro 2 to rock it in all areas and this is when we will see the usability match the IQ. My crystal ball says so :)

So with that out-of-the-way and me stating clearly that I LOVE FUJI and when it is ON it is ON! The color, snap and overall feel of the Fuji JPEGS rock, even for simple snapshots:

The X-E1 and Fuji 35 1.4 in good light rocks :) OOC JPEG.

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With that,  let me get to this SLR Magic review :)

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The SLR Magic $279 35 T 1.4 Lens on the X-E1

1st, my thoughts on the Fuji X-E1 in a super quick  “shortest review ever”

The X-E1 and 35 T 1.4

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The Fuji X-E1 has been out for a while now and it has been reviewed to death. Amy Medina has also written about the X-E1 on this very site, and she LOVES her X-E1. You can read her review HERE. As for me, I will not be really reviewing the X-E1 in a big huge review as it is pretty much similar to the X-Pro 1, just smaller and more compact and without the OVF (optical view finder). The X-E1 has an electronic viewfinder and for that I say HALLELUJAH! That is one area that Fuji really “gets”. With Sony skipping the EVF in the beautiful RX1 at $2799 we have Fuji including one in their $999 X-E1 body. Viewfinders rock no way around it which is why I have the external on my RX1. There is nothing worse than being in full sun trying to hold out the camera in front of you to frame the shot and being blinded by the sun rays.

So the X-E1 wins in its design with the built-in EVF, square retro style shape and easy controls. The camera has some quirks though like AF missing at times (with some lenses), and the overexposure issue in which most people solve by shooting with some EV comp dialed in. But why should we have to do this?

In comparison to the X-Pro 1 I prefer the X-E1. It has a nicer size, and for my hands, it feels better in my hands. It has the same IQ as the Pro-1 as it shares the same exact sensor. I still prefer the older X100 for my tastes but for those who want interchangeable lens capability this is where it is at in the Fuji X line. Unless you really want that hybrid OVF/EVF in the Pro 1, this is the one to get and you save money as well.

Overall the X-E1 is a winner as for the price you can get some deliciously amazing IQ and for me, it is the color that really makes it with Fuji. The OOC JPEGS using Velvia simply knock it out of the park with their rich Fuji like colors. The IQ from the Fuji, when it nails it is astounding. I have seen some amazing pro work done on these Fuji bodies and it excels in the studio as well. Give this body good light and it will reward you with rich images and that Fuji color and look.

In any case, I have had an X-E1 on hand for a few weeks along with the Fuji 35 1.4 and the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4. I have also had the kit 18-55 Zoom, which has been great to AF BTW. Much quicker than the somewhat slow 35 1.4 . But this review will focus on the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 lens which comes in at $279 direct from SLR Magic. Sort of a “budget” lens for a fast 35 but it is not perfect! Read on for the details…

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The Build

35t1.4inbox

The build of the SLR Magic lens seems VERY good. When you take it out of the nice box you will be pleased at the heft, solidity and smoothness of the lens. It feels like a $700 lens as it appears solid as a rock and when you think “I paid less than $300″ you feel it is well worth the cost just on looks and build alone. Also, just to mention, I have heard from a reader who purchased this lens and his had some wobble or slop that he said caused the focus to not be accurate. I tested my lens for this and have not seen this issue. My score for build: 8 out of 10 when you consider the cost of this lens.

See the video below of this lens next to the Fuji 35 1.4:

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The Feel

35t1.4side

The feel of the lens is nice. Smooth to manually focus and with a clickless aperture. This is a “cine” lens by design so no clicks when you change the aperture. I like it and it is the same with mostly all SLR Magic lenses. The lens feels nice on the camera and in the hand. Hard to imagine you are using a lens that costs under $300 when you are shooting with it. BUT when you use the focus ring you do hear some slight noise as in, it is not silky smooth like you will get with premium manual lenses. Score for FEEL: 7 out of 10.

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The Image Quality

35t1.4front

Again, a mixed bag. Some shots blew me away and some left me wondering what went wrong. Focusing the lens at 1.4 is TOUGH. Without focus peaking on the Fuji it can be a chore to nail the AF with any kind of speed. When I look through the EVF and focus I can clearly see when I am in focus but when I fire off the shot and look at the image on my computer screen I see that I am NOT in focus. 1st I though the lens was just soft wide open but take a look at the image below which was shot wide open..bitingly sharp:

click image for larger – this was shot at 1.4 with the X-E1 and Fuji 35 T 1.4! Amazing color and detail. 

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So while some of my shots were really sharp, some were a little off due to me missing the focus ever so slightly. I found that if I stopped down to f/2 all was cured and all shots were much easier to focus. So if you buy this lens I would consider it an “f/2″ lens because if you want to nail focus 99% of the time this is where you will need to shoot it. I am happy with that :) One thing with the IQ is that the color is a bit warmer than what you get from the Fuji 35 1.4. I used to call this “dirty” as I have seen in some lower cost lenses. It is not huge but in the Fuji vs SLR Magic test below you will see what I mean.

Score for IQ: 7 out of 10.

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Bokeh Quality

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SLR Magic told me that this lens is not about sharpness or detail but more about pleasing Bokeh.  This lens was designed to give you good results in all areas but especially with very smooth Bokeh. In regards to detail, it is a huge step up from their Toy Lenses, but a step down from their premium Hyperprime series. Again, for $279 this lens seems like a winner to me as long as you are not out to capture crazy detail wide open :) As for what they told me about Bokeh, YOU be the judge. I think it looks great but everyone has their own onions as to what makes for gorgeous out of focus qualities. My Bokeh score: 7.5 out of 10 as I have seen much worse but have also seen better.

The images below were all shot around f/1.4 to f/2 – click them for larger views. The last one was at 1.4 and you can see the softness or misfocus. Focusing wide open is a challenge. 

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What about the Fuji 35 1.4 vs the SLR Magic T 1.4?

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Well, these lenses are amazingly different from each other. One is auto focus, very sharp and crisp and is made by Fuji. The other is manual focus, a bit soft wide open and is made by SLR Magic. One is $599 and one is $279. When choosing between these two lenses you have to think to yourself what you want from a lens. If you want AF capabilities, go with the Fuji. If you want superior sharpness, go with the Fuji. If you want a hefty build, manual focus, slightly softer results wide open and to pay more than $330 less, go with the SLR Magic.

The SLR Magic will give you a less perfect view of the world, the Fuji, a more perfect and crisp view. The Fuji can POP. Think of the Fuji like a new 4K HD TV set and the SLR Magic like a 1080P set. :)

But to some, that statement will not be enough. Nope, you want to SEE the difference. Since I have both lenses here I decided to do a quick and simple test and will put the full OCC shots below in JPEG (since Adobe is not compatible with the RAW files of the Fuji and I use Adobe)

Take a look at the images below and click each one for full size. The 1st one is with the Fuji 35 1.4 and  the 2nd is with the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4.

1st up, the SLR Magic OOC JPEG at f/2.8 – notice the color differences between it and the Fuji lens – both at 1/4000s

Click image for the full size OOC file

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Fuji is sharper as you can see below in the Fuji shot at f/2.8 and 1/4000.  Click it for full size OOC JPEG

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Which do YOU prefer? Remember the SLR Magic is all manual and comes in at $279 right now. The Fuji is $599 or about $330 more expensive. The Fuji is indeed sharper and crisper, no question there.

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My final word on the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 Lens for the Fuji X mount

When Andrew from SLR Magic emailed me and warned me that this lens is not designed for sharpness I was a little worried. I figured they just bumped up the price of their toy lenses to make more profit but I was wrong. When the lens arrived I saw that it was a very well made lens that appeared to be built well above its price point. When I started shooting it I saw what he meant as it could be soft at 1.4 but at the same time, I have also gotten sharp results with it which leads me to believe it is just my focus error. By f/2 this lens is sharp  and if you take your time and focus critically you can come away with some nice looking results.

The Bokeh quality is very nice and overall when you add in the way this lens draws, with a soft fat brush instead of a thin detail brush, you will then see what this lens is about. SLR Magic has been releasing some very interesting lenses lately. The Hyperprime 35 T 0.95 and now this little low-cost wonder, the 35 T 1.4. If the image quality you see here appeals to you then you will probably enjoy the hell out of this lens.

If it is crispness and sharpness you want though, I suggest the Fuji 35 1.4 as it can provide plenty of pop and detail. For the $279 intro price this SLR Magic lens is tough to beat. As usual with SLR Magic offerings, I really enjoy it and if I decide to keep an X-E1 around, this would be in my collection of glass.

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Where To buy the SLR Magic 35 1.4

This lens can be ordered direct from SLR Magic by emailing them at [email protected]  - Andrew has told me a new website is coming, and I sure hope so. Would make it much easier to buy these lenses :)

Where to buy the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4?

I shop at B&H photo for my Non Leica needs and they have the Fuji X-E1 body HERE. They also sell the 35 1.4 lens HERE and the kit with 18-55 Zoom HERE.  The kit zoom is really good BTW. Much faster to AF than the 35.

More images from the lens below. As always, click on them for larger views :) EXIF is embedded in all of them as well but seeing that this lens does not record aperture to the camera this number may be off. As always, thanks for reading!

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