Apr 132016

Photo trip to Peru

by Alec Fedorov

Hi Steve,

I am an amateur photographer who has been an avid reader of your website for three years. Thanks for the great service you provide to the community of photographers.

Recently, my wife and I returned from an REI trip to Peru where we hiked the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and I would like to share our experiences with the readers of your site.

I brought two cameras on the trip: Fuji X100s and Sony RX100III, both of which are great for travel photography. My go-to camera was the Fuji because of excellent image quality and ease of use. The Sony was kept in my pants pocket and came in handy a few times.

We arrived in Cusco, where we spent three days acclimatizing to the altitude, since the Salkantay Pass is at 15,200 feet. Cusco has the population of about 450,000 and it was the historic capital of the Incan Empire until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532. Nowadays, Cusco is a growing city, and it is a tourist hub for trips to Machu Picchu.

We arrived in Cusco a few days before the New Year and the city was full of tourists and holiday lights. The streets in the center of Cusco are cobblestone. Some intersections are so narrow that the cars have to back up half way through the turn in order to complete it!

One of the most noticeable aspects of Cusco are the stray dogs which are ubiquitous. Some of the dogs have owners but the majority of them live on the streets. This is often due to people purchasing the dogs as puppies and then losing interest as the dog gets older and the novelty wears off. In Peru, it is considered inhumane to neuter dogs, so the population of street dogs just grows exponentially.



Cusco is a blend of ancient and modern. The food was excellent and some of the restaurants were very eccentric, the kind you would expect to find in Manhattan.


One day, we hired a local driver to take us to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which encompasses the heartland of the Incan empire. The scenery was spectacular, with very few tourists. At the end of the day, we ran into many shepherds, bringing the sheep in. They live in primitive clay houses without electricity.





After spending three days in Cusco, we hooked up with the REI group to begin the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. This trek is named among the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. It is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail. The first few days of the 6-day hike traverses through a landscape of scenic views of the snowcapped 20,574 ft Mt. Salkantay.

We spent the first two nights at Salkantay Lodge at 12,600, and hiked to the Glacier Lake at 14,500 feet to further acclimatize.




The hike over the Salkantay Pass began on a beautiful sunny morning. As we ascended, the green valley and blue sky was replaced by the grey lifeless rock and a dense fog. Shortly after reaching the top of the pass, a lone white horse emerged out of the fog. It was a very surreal experience.


Over the next few days, we continued our descent into the high jungle, where we took our repose at three more lodges. The only traffic on the trek consisted of occasional packs of mules and horses carrying the luggage and the food supplies. In six days, we only ran across two other hikers. Photos below are of the local man who followed behind our group with the water and medical supplies.



On the last day, before reaching Machu Picchu, we hiked through coffee plantations, and we visited a local family business. Many of these families rely on selling coffee to the tourists as their only source of income.



Machu Picchu, in itself, was spectacular, and the experience of getting there by foot was unforgettable!




Aug 202015

From Canon to Fuji

by Stuart Cripps

Hi Steve,

Firstly can I congratulate you on your fantastic website. I love and appreciate your honesty and passion when telling us about the latest greatest stuff in the wonderful world of photography.
Real, honest hands on is so much more valuable than lab tests and pictures of book cases :)

Secondly, can I scold you for doing nothing to quell my longing for a Leica! (lol) I know I don’t ‘need’ one but I still romanticized about creating my work with one, and your site doesn’t help.

A bit about me. I’m a graphic designer by trade but my passion is photography, something that gives me a true sense of creativity and satisfaction. I started out with a Canon G9 but then made the ridiculous upgrade to a 5DmkIII about 3 years ago with the intention of improving my craft and trying to make it my career. Unfortunately 3 years later I am just getting to that point as I am held back by the most crippling of diseases… complete lack of self-confidence and belief.


I learned a lot of my 5DmkIII but along the way my recreational/hobby work seemed to lose something. It could have been the way I approached shots, too critical on nailed focus etc, maybe it was the fact the camera drew too much attention? Who knows? Either way it really felt like although my photos technically improved they lost some of their personality along the way. Which leads me to my short user review of sorts below…

Back in June I had 3 weeks before I was due to shoot my first wedding, in Paris – a real baptism of fire for me, my first paid wedding, my first time flying alone and my first time in France. It was make or break time! For peace of mind I needed a sidekick camera to accompany my Canon 5DmkIII (you never know when the gremlins may strike). I needed something that would suit my documentary/reportage style that i could easily master within my short 21 day prep window.


After much research and hair pulling I decided to avoid a second bulky DSLR or the risk (and expense) of buying into another lens system. Based on all the reviews and sample images the Fujifilm X100T seemed like the way to go. I have been following Fuji’s progress for some time and it seemed they had nailed it with this tiny bit or drool worthy retro skinned hardware.

Well what can I say, I was not disappointed. From the looks, to the handling to the image quality I think I may be falling in love with this new addition to my kit bag. This may be in part because it fills the gap I will never afford to fill (or indeed justify) with the holy grail of documentary, a Leica. Mainly though it’s because it is such a wonderful tool to work with.



As much as I love my 5DmkIII I felt my photography lost a little of what pulled me in to begin with, the size, the attention it drew when I tried to shoot covert etc. The X100T rectifies all of that, it takes me back to when I started out with my trusty Canon G9. It allows me to be covert, creative and spontaneous with little to no impact on my surroundings. In essence it has brought some of the fun and magic back into the process of capturing life around me.


Is it perfect? No, certainly not. Battery life is shocking especially next to the 5DmkIII. The focus can be hit and miss, especially in lower light and the menus take some getting used to, expect a few head scratching moments as you try to squeeze the best from this little gem. But with a little practice and effort you are soon rewarded and forgive the X100T it’s shortcomings and once more begin to fall in love with its raw retro charm.


I have only just started my journey and I am looking forward to see what images this new partnership helps me to create. The magic is back.

If you like what you see then please feel free to visit me online to see my ongoing photographic journey:

FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stumacher/albums
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/nero.creative/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/nero_creative

I hope this is of some use to you/your readers – and if it makes the cut I hope you enjoy my images.

Yours Sincerely,


Jan 122015

My Fuji X100T Experience

by Vasu Jagannathan

Hi Steve,

Here is my User Report on the Fujifilm X100T digital camera.

My X100T is black. It is beautiful to behold and, as befits a Compact, it is easily carried in the hand. But, as I did not find the grip to be super comfortable while shooting, I will be attaching Fujifilm’s MHG-X100 handgrip in the near future. Since that’s my only real caveat one can guess that I really like this camera!

I took it out just one day after receiving it without making any prior practice shots. As I’m one of those who never had either one of the preceding X100 or X100S cameras in the series, it says a lot for the X100T that I was able to get comfortable with it within the space of a single photo shooting session. Just by way of background, the X100T is a 23 mm (or a 35 mm EFOV) fixed-lens camera with an APS-C sized XTrans II sensor packed inside a compact body.

Picture 1 - Entrance National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0002


In taking the pictures shown here, I used Aperture Priority, changing the f values as needed. I also used the Auto ISO option with the range 200 to 6400. For Metering I chose the Spot option and Focus was Auto. In order to feel out the camera’s performance, I shot some pictures wide open at f/2.0 (see Pictures 3 to 6), pushed the ISO to 1600 (see Picture 5), and fired off handheld at 1/40s (see Pictures 2, 4 and 5).


I also switched in the built-in Neutral Density Filter for Pictures 7 and 11. All pictures were shot in Raw Mode and converted to Jpeg in Adobe LR 5. One small point. When it comes to those Fujifilm cameras that use a XTrans digital sensor, I am really not sure whether Adobe LR is really the best thing to use for demosaicing the XTrans Raw files. I haven’t yet explored using other software such as Iridient which may be more optimal for Xtrans. I believe that aspect should be taken into account when looking at the color rendering in these pictures.

By way of background information, the attached pictures were taken in Washington DC – some inside the National Gallery of Art where the use of Flash is prohibited – and some outside. I am not going to describe every picture word by word as that would be boring. Rather, I would like to point to certain aspects of some of the images that speak to the performance capabilities of the X100T camera.

Pictures 2 through 6 were taken inside the Gallery where the light is subdued mostly for the sake of preserving the paintings. More specifically, Picture 2 was a bit challenging for the X100T because it was shot in a dark tunnel between two wings of the Gallery with myriads of small decorative type of lights that went on and off.

Picture 2 – 1/40ths


Picture 2 - Connecting Tunnel National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0003

I must have gotten this one in the full-on cycle. The ISO was 1250. Even so, the camera took this in stride at a shutter speed of 1/40s.

Below – Pictures 3, 4 and 5

Picture 3 - Inside The National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0006

Picture 4 - Inside The National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0007

Picture 5 - Inside The National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0009


Picture 6 which shows the original Little Dancer sculpture by Degas currently on exhibit here.

Picture 6 - The Little Dancer by Degas in The National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0010

The lens was held wide open at f/2.0. Among other things, I think the X100T nicely captured the Dancer’s reflections in the surrounding transparent box. All in all, the light and shadow aspects seemed to be well-handled by X100T in these indoor set of pictures.

Stepping outdoors, Picture 7 was taken in sunlight so bright that I decided to trigger the built-in Neutral Density Filter for this one.

Picture 7, ND filter engaged.


Picture 7 - Fountain outside The National Gallery of Art 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0014

Additionally, I shot this one with a shutter speed of 1/2500s just so I could freeze the motion of the fountain’s water jets. In this situation, the X100T set the Auto ISO to 850 and captured a good quality image. In all these pictures, the actual exposure values used in developing the Raw via Adobe LR 5 are of course very subjective, being my personal choices. Someone else may have developed the light and shadow differently but I believe that the intrinsic quality of the image produced by the X100T would still have been just as good.

Pictures 8, 9, and 10

Picture 8 - Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0015

Picture 9 - The Capitol Washington DC 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0018

Picture 10 - The Supreme Court Washington DC 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0021


Picture 11 was a challenge for the X100T due to a great contrast in light (the flaring sunlit cloud) and deep shade (the Library of Congress’ Jefferson building).

Picture 11 – f/16


Picture 11 - The Library of Congress Jefferson Building Washington DC 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0022

I switched on the built-in Neutral Density Filter for this one and stopped down the aperture to its smallest f/16 value. I hope the picture is suitably dramatic as well showing a nice performance by X100T. The inspiration for the last picture, Picture 12, was the interesting cloud hovering over Union Station.

Picture 12


Picture 12 - Union Station Washington DC 12 Dec 2014-DSCF0024

It’s the kind of situation where a Compact like X100T comes perfectly to hand and the fact that it has a large APS-C sized sensor gives one the confidence that you can pull off a good shot with a decent workable dynamic range in the Raw file. To finish up, I believe that this camera will not substitute for a top notch full frame DSLR or a Leica M Rangefinder in situations where that type of camera is needed. But what the X100T does, it does well. While it is not a pocket camera like the Ricoh GR, still it is easily carried in one hand or in a briefcase or messenger bag.

Its greatest asset, perhaps, is that someday when you are out there and see something so totally photoworthy that it would be a shame to depend on a cell phone camera with all its inherent limitations, then out comes your X100T and, then and there, you will be able to capture a high quality image that is all yours to savor at your leisure. Yes, from that perspective at least, this camera is a keeper.

You can purchase the X100T at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE OR PopFlash.com HERE

The new Thumbs up is now available for the X100T as well, HERE.

Jan 082013

Fuji X100s and X20 Available for Pre-Order at Amazon – $1299


Amazon now has the Fuji X100s available for Pre-Order at $1299. You can check it out or pre-order HERE!

Yep, $1299 for the X100S which has the same body and style as the X100 but with the new improved X-Trans sensor, new Manual focus system, new phase detect super fast AF and more. Amazon does not charge you until the camera ships and you can cancel at anytime. By pre-ordering early you can be one of the 1st to get the camera. This is how I get all of my cameras that I am interested in, just by being early on pre-order lists. Amazon also has the best return policy around so it’s never a gamble. If you are someone who is upgrading to the X100s, I would get in now!



 Amazon has the X20 for pre-order as well HERE

B&H Photo also has the X20 up for pre-order HERE 





Jan 062013


The Fuji X100s and X20 announced! Hands on at CES coming next week!

Just what the Dr ordered! The new X100s puts fast AF as it’s priority! See my old Fuji X100 review here to see what this camera is replacing.

Finally! The FujiFilm X100s has been announced and it looks to be a pretty nice improvement over the aging and slow-ish X100. How so? Well Fuji is claiming the worlds fastest Auto Focus! What?!?!? FUJI? Worlds Fastest AF? Well, they say that the new Fuji X100s can AF in as little as 0.08 seconds but they also give a disclaimer saying *under certain conditions” which tells me that it will AF pretty fast in good light but not so much in low light, just like all other cameras on the market today. The addition of Phase Detect AF will surely help Fuji’s claim. Pretty exciting if you ask me.

All in all my guess is the X100s will AF much faster than the old sluggish (but beautiful) X100. It is good to hear that this camera has gotten such an update as the AF was the weakest link with the X100.

The X100s also gets the new X-Trans APS-C CMOS II 16MP sensor. I am guessing this will provide excellent IQ as Fuji IQ is always stellar and if you really want to know my thoughts, I would bet that this X100s will provide better IQ than the X-Pro 1 just due to the new processor and matched prime lens. This X100s appears to have the same f/2 lens as the X100 (which is the 24mm) that will give us a 35mm equivalent due to the APS-C crop. As for aperture you will have the light gathering capability of an f/2 lens but for Bokeh freaks, the lens will not give you the depth of field of a 35 f/2 but of a 24 f/2. So in 35mm terms it is more like a 2.8 when it comes to depth of field.

Also look for the digital split image feature which is a first and a new way for you to manually focus for Fuji. It also seems that Fuji has added some sort of Focus Peaking as well along with some new filters. We still get the Hybrid EVF with an OVF/EVF included and better high ISO capabilities.

It also seems that Fuji improved the startup and lag times and all in all it appears to be a nice upgrade from Fuji. In fact, my guess is this will be the little jewel in the Fuji line. Fastest AF of all X cameras, best high ISO performance, most responsive of all X cameras and sleekest and best looking of all X cameras. I think Fuji has a huge hit as there are many who love the X100 and would jump at the chance for a speedier version with better IQ thrown in to the mix as well. The X100 had plenty of “soul” and the X100s appears to have it too. Fuji is looking good lately!

I will be at CES this week so I am hoping to get over to the fuji booth for a hands on with the new X100s. Look for a video soon. No price yet but I am guessing it will come in around the same as the X100 was at launch or maybe $100 more at around $1299. I could be wrong of course but this is usually how it goes. 

The new X100s features and specs. 

·                  16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor

·                  EXR Processor II

·                  High Definition Hybrid Viewfinder (OVF / EVF)

·                  FUJINON 23mm f/2 lens

·                  Intelligent Hybrid AF (with the world’s fastest AF speed of 0.08 secs (*1))

·                  Start-up time of 0.5 secs (*4)

·                  Shutter time lag of 0.01 secs

·                  Shooting interval of 0.5 secs

·                  High-contrast and wide viewing-angle 2.8-inch Premium Clear LCD (460K dots)

·                  Super Intelligent Flash

·                  Burst shooting rate of up to 6 frames per second at full resolution (max. 29 frames)

·                  Focus Peak Highlight function

·                  Digital Split Image display

·                  Artistic filters

·                  Full HD movie recording (60fps / 30fps)


The new Fuji X20, a nice looking upgrade to the X10 that looks gorgeously retro.

my X10 review is here


Woohoo! Fuji has updated the X10 with the new and handsome X20 which now comes in black or silver. Say goodbye to the white orb issue of the X10 as this guy packs in an all new X-Trans 2/3″ CMOS II 12 MP sensor that has cured the issues that plagues the X10 (though I never had the issue during my X10 review period, it showed up in certain lighting conditions).

Upgrades from the X10 are cosmetic (color) as well as the promise of 20% less image noise so it will be better in low light. The X20 will also retain a zoom lens which is a 28-112 f/2-2.8 lens with an all new coating to minimize flare. There is also the same optical VF but this time we get a panel overlay onto the VF which shows the cameras settings. The VF still will only give us an 85% field of view.

The cool thing is that this camera also gets Phase detect focus much like thew new Sony NEX-6 and 5R which means the AF will be pretty fast. Fuji is set to take on the Sony RX100 for the title of “Best compact” but let us wait and see what lies ahead. I am hoping to handle an X20 at CES this week so look for a hands on report if this happens.

These two Fuji releases look like winners. Let’s hope they deliver the goods! I have no doubt that they will.


Jun 102012

For those who were waiting..the new comparison – Leica X2 and X100!

As you have seen in my last post I found that a new Leica X2 that was sent to me with the official Version 1 firmware seemed to be much sharper than the one I had for review (the one Leica sent as a review loaner) which had a previous Firmware version on it, which was obviously not final. After more boring test shots today it is clear that there is some kind of issue with the review sample X2 as the new one I have received is much sharper. It does not seem possible that a firmware revision would have any effect on focus or lens quality so either this review sample has an issue or was dropped or just was not right out of the factory.

I took a new test shot today just to see if each X2 would perform the same. Both were set at f/4, ISO 100, 1/500s. So same settings, same model camera. But as you can clearly see, the new one did much better. I also threw in a crop from the Fuji X100 (f/4 – ISO 200 – 1/900s) for those who are interested. You can clearly see the color difference as well. These were converted from RAW with ACR.

Ok this is the test shot. Below the image you will see the crops from each camera. 

100% crop #1 – from the new X2 with version 1.0 firmware

100% crop #2 – from the review sample X2 with pre-production firmware – It appears to be out of focus but the camera confirmed and locked focus and the shot was taken three times. Same result.

100% crop #2 – From the Fuji X100

So there you go. The Leica X2 is sharper than I had previously thought simply due to the fact that the review sample was not focusing correctly or had some issue with the lens assembly. Results look to be on par with the old X1 but of course with more megapixels and better low light and high ISO performance. After shooting both the X2 seems a little quicker to AF than the Fuji X100. It’s close though. Below are a couple of more test shots to show how sharp the X2 really is. I updated some sections of the X2 review as well. Thanks to all for reading!

and one with some PP – converted with Alien Skin Exposure

Jun 082012

Leica X2 and Fuji X100 side by side one more time…

Since I have done a few comparisons lately with the X100 and X2 I still have gotten several emails asking for more. Again, what you will see in the images below is NOT scientific but I had both cameras slung around me and shot the same image with each camera keeping the same ISO and aperture, letting the CAMERA choose exposure. As always it seems the Fuji can tend to overexpose at times. It seems the big question in my mailbox this week is “Which should I buy”…

Well, I can not answer that question for you but I can tell you a few facts about each camera that may help you decide.

The Fuji X100

Nice size. Not too small, not too big. Nice feel in the hand.

Faster lens at f/2 but wide open it is somewhat soft and lower contrast – pin sharp by f/4

EVF/OVF is fantastic, but I mainly use the EVF as it is accurate – WYSIWYG

AF is faster  than it used to be but still can be a little sluggish compared to newer cameras. Still not an action shooting camera and have had some misses with AF.

Low light and high ISO is about on par with the X2

Colors out of camera can be on the cooler side of neutral at times

Camera is silent in operation if you turn off all sounds

There is some lens barrel distortion

Camera tends to overexpose, so dial back on the Exposure Compensation

Battery life is average

Lens is prone to flare (which can yield creative results if shot into the sun)

Not really a pocketable camera

Macro capability

$1199 Silver – $1699 for the Black kit with accessories

The Leica X2

Nice construction, quality feel

Improved dials are now stiffer

No real distortion from the lens

Warm colors, higher contrast

Sharp at 2.8 but sharper as you stop down

More prone to hand shake than the X100 at same shutter speed

High ISO is great, same as X100

Has the Leica IQ and feel

EVF is extra but swivels so more versatile than a standard EVF

LCD is low res

Simple and Basic. Just about photography.

Made in Germany Leica by Leica

AF is as fast as X100 is now but spot on accurate every time

Can fit in a jacket pocket easily, more compact than an X100

No real flare from the lens

No close focusing capabilities

$1995 for Black or Silver

Basically both are great and can give you great results if you know what you are doing with them. The Leica will have a more pleasing color and higher contrast where the Fuji can have somewhat flat files right out of camera. Both of these cameras will give you a different vibe and feel from most other mirror less cameras. Truth be told, I really like both of these. Problem is, both are 35mm equivalent. The Fuji has the VF and classic RF styling and the Leica has the more modern-day Leica style and more pleasing color and contrast. Both have the same high ISO capabilities and AF speed (just about) and both are capable of superb results. What it comes down to is do you want to pay extra for the Leica or do you prefer the Fuji? Only you can decide :) Below are some more side by sides though, and most are full size so you must click them to see them.



I prefer the Leica rendering of the colors and light in the 1st example. The X100 here looks a little more flat and has a color cast. Both from RAW with zero mods – no sharpening, etc.

This next set you can see the Fuji did overexpose. This is important to know because when you go out with the Fuji you will at times need to take back the EV dial. If you do not you will get an overexposure in certain situations. Both of these are RAW conversions without any modification or sharpening added. I prefer the X2 rendering here again, but they are so close.

Notice the lights on the 1st X2 shot…or UNDER the lights – I prefer the X100 here due to the way the X2 is drawing the light..

Not there on the X100 shot

and a straight from camera ISO 3200 shot from each – both in camera B&W – BOTH JPEG and both set to a HIVGH CONTRAST B&W mode. Seems like the Leica puts out a higher contrast which is why the truck is darker. It is not due to less DR. With that said, I prefer the look of the X2 here again – Look at the back wall and ground. I see more detail in the X2. 

So there you go. Identical snap shots taken with each camera in the same lighting and moment using the same ISO and aperture. The experience shooting both was good and each camera focused just as quickly as the other. The X2 really is accurate with focusing. Since some have questioned my statement of the X2 seemingly (in my experience, with this body) needing faster shutter speeds to get steady shots I have went ahead and ordered a black X2 setup for my personal extended testing and use. The new one coming has the latest firmware and the one I tested here does not. So to be 100% fair and for you, the readers (well, and me of course) I will not be shooting the X2 and X100 as well as my OM-D and M over the next few months so I can get an extended use feel for each of them. At this point I can not say which I prefer as both do a great job. Sometimes I prefer a shot from the X2 and others the X100.

So always check back to the site for more and again, thanks for reading.

Jun 042012

UPDATE: That X100 still rocks!

NOTE: I have had no less than 30 emails this morning asking what strap I had on the X100. Well, here it is on Amazon! It’s called a “street strap” and it is comfortable, soft and looks amazingly like the A&A silk strap at a much lower cost. It is also longer than the A&A so easily worn around your body. 

Wow. After many months of NOT owning or shooting with a Fuji X100 and then picking one back up again I remember why I fell in love with it in the 1st place. I am now the proud owner of a Black Fuji X100 and after just a couple of days of shooting with it, and the latest firmware, I enjoy it much more than I did back when it was released, and I loved it then too! Now, many of you know I love Leica. I have been labeled a Leica “fanboy” by many and I always said that if really loving a camera system makes me a fanboy then so be it! I simply love the Leica M9 and consider it one of those rare digital cameras that will go down in history as a classic. The words “Digital” and “Classic” are indeed rare and a couple of other cameras I can think of that are now digital classics in my book are the Leica Digilux 2 and even the old original Olympus E1.

The Fuji X100 at f/2 – With some basic adjustments in the RAW processing. This little camera is impressive. Click it for larger.

So while I love and adore Leica cameras, what they stand for (or maybe what they used to stand for) and their quality, the fact is that I am also open to other camera systems. Always have been. The only problem is that there has not been much that could sway me from Leica until just recently. When I say “sway me from Leica” I do not mean I would stop shooting Leica, I just mean that there has not been any other camera that would make me set the Leica down more often than not. While there are cameras that out spec Leica cameras by far, say what you will, Leica does indeed have a quality and charm that is unique to them. Some see it clearly and some do not but when you work with digital files daily from almost every digital camera your eyes sort of become “trained” to spot the differences. With Leica there is a smooth sharpness and color that other cameras haven’t really matched. But I feel it is in the lenses they make much more so than the bodies.

For example, the Leica X2 is really good in the IQ department but I think it is mainly due to the 24 Elmarit lens Leica have created for it. So yes, the X2 is fantastic in the IQ department, especially when it comes to shooting PEOPLE. But the X2 is lacking in other areas like overall speed, crappy LCD, no built-in EVF, etc. The fact that it is $2000 in todays competitive market means it may be a tough sell for Leica, especially when the X100 is still $1199 and in some cases, a bit less. But one thing to remember and ask yourself is that would you expect Leica to sell the X2, a made in Germany REAL Leica for less than that? No, not really. That would not be so “Leica Like” of them now would it?

So with the cost of the X1 and X2, many have went to the X100 from Fuji, which when launched promised to be “the professionals choice’. It was hyped and hyped and hyped even more and when it was shipped many were frustrated with the laggy menu system, the slow AF and buggy performance. I still really loved the X100 because the output was beautiful, though different than the X1 I had at the time. Eventually I sold the X100 and X1 because they were just too slow for real use. I became frustrated with missing shots, much like I did with the new X-Pro 1 and when that happens, it is time to say goodbye.

So fast forward to  now, June 2012. Fuji have been releasing firmware updates to the X100 to improve its speed, functionality and overall snappiness. Everyone was telling me how great it was so I caved and as I stated at the beginning of this article, I now own one in black. Bottom Line? With the new firmware it is like a new camera, and the black? Gorgeous. So after a day of shooting at the park with the X100, X2 and OM-D I can safely say that the X100 still rocks :)

X100 – f/2.8  – this is one of those cameras that give out a really nice vibe

Decisions Decisions…

Over the past few days I have had many emailing me and asking what camera is better…The Fuji X100 or the Leica X2. Well, there really is no clear answer as BOTH are really good in regards to output and quality. Which camera someone buys for their use all depends on personal preference. Which camera speaks to you the most? When you look at them, hold them or try them...which one talks to your heart? That is how you have to look at it and in the end, no matter what you choose, these days ALL cameras are really good. A new camera will not improve your skills of course but one that you can bond with and feel good about shooting will help MOTIVATE you and unlock that passion you have for it. That may be the Leica, that may be the Fuji. It may be a Canon or Nikon or Sony. Only YOU can figure it out as everyone is different.

I have to say that I have enjoyed shooting the Leica X2 but The X100 is really fantastic.

This one does have some PP – I did add some grain as well as crop – again, that Fuji flare is there

The shots you have seen here so far have all been taken with the Fuji X100 in RAW, and converted using ACR. I often get asked what PP I do to photos like these and I always say NONE..sometimes. All I do is adjust sliders in the raw processing to add contrast or lower contrast. To saturate or desaturate. To add black level or take it out. I then add some sharpening and the image that pops out is what you see here. I found the X100 files to be pretty robust and with good color, sharpness and decent DR.

But… I found the OM-D to have even better Dynamic Range than the Fuji in real world use. Take a look at the two images below:

The X100 file..this one I did do some PP on as I used the burn tool to try to calm down the blown highlight on her foot as I couldn’t get the detail back in the RAW file. Still, looks good. 

and now the OM-D file. Seems to have better DR as I had no issue with blown highlights with ANY shots I took with the Olympus yet the X100 had some and the X2 had the most. 

That damn OM-D is quickly becoming “the” camera of 2012. Pair it with one of the great lenses available (12, 25, or 45 but my fave is now the 25 1.4) and you will have a really great powerhouse DSLR quality camera, even for low light/high ISO. Even so, the Fuji and even Leica do offer a more “analogue” look.

Thank you Fuji, for the continued support and updating of the X100.

Instead of rushing out a new X200 already or even an X100.2 Fuji released firmware updates to this camera that improved on it each time, which shows me  they are great at listening to their customers. I wanted to thank Fuji for this as it has brought this camera back to my bag after giving up on it for being a bit clunky and frustrating. The X100 is still not a perfect camera but none really are (though I have yet to find a negative with the OM-D). It is a much different camera than the Olympus OM-D and for me, I am glad to own both. The Fuji for the times I want that Fuji look and a nice fast 35mm lens and the Oly for when I want speed, responsiveness, video or versatility in focal length.

Of course there is still the Leica M9 that comes out when I get serious :)

But the X100 is good for color, B&W conversions and every day photography. It is sharp as I will ever need an image to be.

The big question. The X100 or the new X2?

Again, as I have stated above this is all about personal preference. Is the X2 just as capable as the X100? Yes, of course BUT it is different. Different color signature, different in handling and use and well, no video and no hard to see in the sun LCD. It doesn’t have a VF built in and the one you can buy make the camera bulky and odd-looking. It also seems to be prone to the teeniest but of hand shake as many of the shots I snapped with the X2 of Shea (the girl in these photos) had some sort of blur or they were not sharp if the shutter speed was lower than 1/100th. I was able to get sharp images with the X100 and OM-D in the same light where the X2 was giving me unsharp images in some situations. For me, it was a joy to shoot the X100 and OM-D and the X2 was a tad slower and odd without using the EVF. It was also tough to frame in the sunlight without a VF. Other than that the IQ is stunning when you nail it and colors may be the best from the X2 which is no surprise as I preferred the X1 colors to the X100 as well. 

Overall The X100 has a more “smooth” laid back kind of feel and the X2 has a more crisp brilliant feel but with that said, I managed more keepers with the X100 this weekend.

If you are into the whole Zen like X2 vibe, it would be the one for you. I like the X2 and wish I could afford to have one around in addition to the X100 but sadly this is not the case. For me, I found the X100 to be the better buy due to the cost and capabilities but I do really see a different look with the Leica in the X2 files. Like I said in my X2 review, as long as you know what you are getting when you buy it and do not mind the cost then the X2 is great. You can clearly see the difference in the X2 look below and the flare in the X100 :)

One from theX100 and the  X2 – each looks different and the X100 flare is actually beautiful in some situations. Both at f/2.8.

So yes, even today, a year after it was released..I can recommend the X100. 

The X100 is better today than it was a year ago when Fuji released it. That 1st version of the firmware at release was AWFUL. The menus were choppy, the AF slow and the AF missed quite a bit as well, especially with the OVF. Today 95% of the X100’s quirks have been solved with easy to implement firmware updates. So if you still have an X100 go out and shoot it. If you have been deciding on a small camera/large sensor camera to buy and have been waiting for these new released like the OM-D and X2 then I can say ANY of them are more than capable of delivering results that are better than mostly all of us can achieve.

The Leica, The Fuji and the Olympus are all image quality monsters. Go with your heart :)

A few more random shots with the X100…

ISO 3200 – X100 – f/2

and yours truly at iso 200 in the mirror :)

Jun 022012

Comparison Re-Do – Leica X2, Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Sony NEX-7

Ok guys here you go. A bandwidth busting set of full size images from four different hot mirrorless cameras. This time the cameras were all set on a solid surface before shooting so there is zero chance of hand shake or motion blur. You can click on any image for a full size file converted from RAW. Things to note. All cameras were set at f/4. All cameras used their own metering to expose and meter the scene. I converted from RAW and applied ZERO sharpening and changed nothing, so what you see if what came from each camera as covered by Adobe Camera Raw. Also, this was in full, harsh, mid day AZ sun. The light did not change during this 5-10 minute test.

To be honest, the fastest focusing camera here is the E-M5. This is followed by the X100 and X2 which are tied for AF speed and the NEX-7 is the slowest of the bunch for AF (with the Zeiss 24) though it is still very good. All cameras have fast and acceptable AF. Take a look at the files below and leave a comment with your thoughts.


OK, 1st the Leica X2 – base ISO –  No possibility of camera shake – f/4. Price as tested – $1995

Now the Fuji X100 at f/4 – base ISO – Price $1199 for silver$1699 for black set

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Olympus 17 2.8 – Base ISO – F/4 – Price as tested $1299

Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 – Base ISO – f/4 – Price as tested – $2300

Jun 022012

Some fun low light shooting with the Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Leica X2

Here I am, wide awake. It’s early Saturday morning, around 2AM. I have been up at my computer for the last 2 hours checking out some photos I shot last night in Phoenix at “first friday”. I drove down there to see if there would be any cool photo opps and to test out the Black X100 , OM-D and Leica X2 in low light, night-time situations. Mainly I wanted to see how the AF did with all cameras in challenging situations so why not? I had nothing else to do and it WAS Friday!

My 1st shot of the night was with the X100 and I did not nail the exposure perfectly but it came out nicely anyway. The camera focused FAST..much faster than it did when I reviewed it long ago. The new firmware did indeed fix a few things like AF speed, menu speed, and overall gave it a snappy feel. I am impressed with what Fuji has been able to do. Click image for larger. It was shot at ISO 1600.

If you saw my post from yesterday you would have seen I had a black Fuji X100 kit arrive to my house. Yes, I caved and bought one after dwelling on it for months. With all of the talk of the new firmware greatly enhancing the speed I had to give it a shot. I also wanted to see how it did side by side with the Leica X2 and seeing that the X2 is brand spanking new I figured it would trounce the X100, but that was not the case. But in reality, the X2 focused amazingly well in the dark. MUCH better than the X1 but IMO it still did not beat the X100. They are about equal in IQ (with the Fuji possibly taking the lead) but the X2 did impress me with its new-found speed and high ISO performance. ISO 3200 wasn’t a problem, even in low light. It is indeed a nice improvement to the X1 in regards to AF speed and high ISO performance when using it for taking photos :)

The X2 at ISO 3200

As I sat here at my desk and reviewed the photos I shot I was amazed at how far these small cameras have come. It has gotten to the point now where you can literally take a small and light camera like and X2 or X100 with you anywhere and anytime and get AMAZING results, even at night. Fast AF, great low noise performance and overall amazing designs. I applaud both of these cameras for night low light use. I did prefer using the VF on the X100 though and felt a bit odd holding the X2 out (did not bring the EVF) at arm’s length.

Another ISO 1600 X100 shot. I focused on the barrel in front so she would be out of focus with the flame in the sky. I like this one.

I was having so much fun shooting the “X” cameras that I forgot I brought along my little OM-D powerhouse. On the camera was the Panasonic 25 1.4 and I have to tell you, this combo seems like they were made for each other. Fast AF, no rattlesnake noises and superb sharpness/bokeh, even when wide open.

OM-D E-M5 ISO 640 with 25 1.4 at 1.4 and then 6400! – click for larger

even adding noise to this ISO 1600 image looks great. BTW, this is the girl who was breathing fire in the images above..

and ISO 6400 on the little Olympus? No problem..the next 4 images were all shot at ISO 6400 on the E-M5. No way the E-P3 could have pulled this ISO off. Also,  THIS WAS the fastest focusing setup of the night.

So while I only shot about 30 shots in all, I had fun with all three cameras because they all performed without fail. They all focused quickly and gave me great results and they all have their own kind of user experience and file quality. Yes, I have been talking quite a bit about these cameras lately but I believe in not only talking about my experiences but also showing images from my experiences so you guys can see what comes out of these new cameras.

Take your pic. They are all good and yes, It’s a good time to be into photography. :)

In case you missed them, you can see see my original reviews of the Fuji X100, Olympus OM-D and Leica X2

OM-D at ISO 1250

X2 at ISO 320

X100 at ISO 1600

Apr 042012

The Fuji X-Pro 1 Review

by Steve Huff

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

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

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

ISO 1000 – Fuji X-Pro 1


Leica Is In Trouble? Well, not really…

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

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

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

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

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

The 35 1.4 at ISO 1250 at night

A Video Overview of the Fuji X-Pro 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Careful with your thumb!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High ISO Performance and Black & White

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

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

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

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

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

High ISO Color – The real test of high ISO

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

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

ISO 640 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

ISO 1000 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

ISO 2000 with the 18mm at f/2

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

and below, ISO 1250

Quirks of the X-Pro 1 – Grrrrrr

Starting up slowwwwwwww if you use bridge and photoshop…

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

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

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

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

Random freeze ups..

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


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

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

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

Abstract Color with the 35 1.4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below: Example of CA

Shooting Leica Lenses on the X-Pro 1

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

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

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

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

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

X-Pro 1 Film Simulation Samples




Pro Neg Hi

Pro Neg


Compared to the Sony NEX-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One more…

Compared to the X100

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

Pro’s and Con’s of  the Fuji X-pro 1


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


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

My final words on the X-Pro 1 – Who is it for and will I buy one?

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

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

So who would want an X-Pro 1?

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

So who would NOT want an X-Pro 1?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Where to Buy the Fuji X-Pro 1?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuji X-Pro 1 Accessories

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

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



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Apr 042012

Fuji has released another firmware update to the X100 today, version 1.21. The details of the update are below and you can update at Fuji’s website HERE. I am busy writing my X-Pro 1 review today so look for that ANYTIME now :)

The firmware update Ver.1.21 form ver1.20 incorporates the following issues:

When checking focus point by pushing AE-L/AF-L button in MF mode, following phenomena can be observed in relation to focus area settings. These phenomena are improved.

  • 1.When the focus area is set to bottom right end position, the camera may hang up.
  • 2.Even when the focus area is set to other area than above, focus may be hard to be established.
Mar 292012

Fuji X100 Firmware Update V 1.20 – Did you update?

Lot’s of Fuji X100 owners have updated to the latest V1.20 firmware and are reporting faster and more reliable auto focus, which is GREAT as the X100 needed a boost to the AF. Did you update, and if so, do you notice an improvement? Let me know in the comments below. According to Fuji this update covers the following:

  • 1.Some functions, which can be set to “Fn” button and shown as “Fn BUTTON” in SET-UP menu, can be also set to RAW button. After pressing the command dial to right in the SET-UP menu of “Fn BUTTON”, “Fn” and “RAW” are displayed and each of selectable them, 
    Also, by holding down RAW button for more than 3 seconds, same type of selection menu for RAW button is displayed, just as short-cut procedure.
  • 2.By selecting in “ISO” menu in the shooting menu, either ISO sensitivity value or “ISO AUTO CONTROL” can be selected.
  • 3.When AF MODE is set to “AREA” in Single AF (AF-S) mode, active focus point is zoomed in (magnified to approx 5x) by pressing center of the command control.
  • 4.When “ND FILTER” is set to “Fn” button or “RAW” button, setting between ON (“ND” is displayed) or OFF (“ND” is NOT displayed) can be changeable by pressing “Fn” button or “RAW” button, which is set for “ND FILTER”.
  • 5.When the image is shot with vertical angle of the camera and played back the shot in the LCD, the image is displayed with whole area of LCD even after pressing “playback zoom in” button.
  • 6.When the human face is shot, the detected face is displayed during the playing back, and pressing the command dial to down, detected face is magnified during displaying.
  • 7.AE control system and AF performance including AF speed has been improved for movie recording.

Here is a video on youtube from an X100 user with the latest firmware showing an improvement in AF. This is NOT my video…


Mar 072012

For those of you who have been waiting for this slick looking all black Fuji X100 set, it is NOW IN STOCK at B&H Photo.  Coming in at $1699 (the cost of the X-Pro 1 body alone) this is a limited edition set in all black that comes with a lens hood, black leather case and strap and other goodies. This is how Fuji describes this set, which is limited to 10,000 pieces.

“FUJIFILM Corporation presents a limited release of 10,000 units of the high-end compact digital camera “FUJIFILM X100 BLACK Limited Edition” worldwide. The company has been receiving numerous requests for a black version of the X100 since its original launch in March of 2011.

The package of the X100 BLACK Limited Edition contains the camera unit, a genuine leather ever-ready case, a lens hood, an adapter ring and a protective filter. Each package comes with a message card reading a number as proof that it is one of only 10,000 units produced. The model will end its sales when all 10,000 units are sold out.”

So if you want it, go get it now before those 10,000 are all gone :) I think it may take a while to sell 10k of these but you never know. It does look gorgeous!

The cost of this black special edition will be about $180 more US dollars that you would pay for the normal X100 and accessories that the black version includes.


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