Fuji X100 F

Fuji X100 front

Fuji X100F Top

From my perspective because Fuji produce the X pro 2 and the X100 cameras in tandem with each new model features from one are picked up by the other and this leads to general maturing of both product lines. I think it’s the case after using the XPro 1 for almost three years that I would buy the X100 F but would not replace my XPro1 with the XPro2. The reason for this is purely my subject matter. While one can almost take any type of photography with any camera it helps if the features fit the usage. The XPro series is not all good for nature of landscape the essence of the camera just gets in the way, the XT2 is far superior in this regard. However when one starts to photograph near distance urban landscapes the X100F and Xpro series really come into their own. Add to this the small physical length of the X100F’s lens or the WR lenses on the Pro series and you are on to a winner.
I have done a lot of garden and plant work for magazines. I worked with Canon 5D’s and a Leica M9. The M9 gave me the freedom to move quickly from high to low from one metre to ten metres, then for macro and telework the 5D came into its own, but more often than not it needed the use of a tripod. The XPro1 changed all that because it could use a zoom that the M9 could not and it wasn’t the lump that the 5D and a (mostly)large lens was.
I see the X100F with its supplementary lenses* as replacing a  Leica system and four lenses and to a lesser extent the Canon 5D as well but with image quality that is equal and possibly better than both especially as Leica have forgone the CCD sensor.
I have said this before in this blog that when one gets down to a pixel level there is so little difference in the IQ between the Leica, Canon and Fuji  as to be negligible. BUT, and it’s a very big but, the Fuji pixel quality is more pleasing to the eye, the Fuji combination of sensor and lens draws linear forms more closely to the way the eye sees them. It’s been said many times before but Fuji film presets present imagery as film. However, I would go one step further and say that what Fuji has done is created image quality that has gone beyond what film ever was but it has maintained the intrinsic qualities that only FujiFilm ever had. Essentially that is a new level of photographic imagery a standard that few can match. And I really look forward to working with it on this new generation of FujiFilm cameras.**
Will I buy an X100F? Yes, I will as soon as I get my new studio is finished and my new flower garden is started but likely after the XPro1 is replaced with an XT2!

*Up until the turn of the century the quality of supplementary lenses particularly third party products was of dubious benefit in the making of quality imagery. However, in about 2003 Canon manufactured several supplementary lenses that were designed to go on top of the line point and shoots the G  and S series.  The IQ from then on with supplementary was almost no different to the fixed or zoom lens except for the wider or longer tele reach. This improvement was in no small part due to many developments that took place in lens coating technologies.

** Comparing sensors is now a bit like comparing films in the past I have been using M43 cameras since 2009 and my last EM1 and current PEN F is essentially the daily everywhere carry around camera.  I have manipulated Sony images from a 7 mk 1 and a similar vintage Nikon. Making comparisons is never easy without upsetting someone. But the one thing I will say about all of the above is that under day light conditions the IQ is similar mostly very good but relatively neutral. I find the Sony image quality to be almost clinical at times and the M43 has so many choices of synthesised image style the eye is swamped with choice. But Fuji has a sensor sauce that is unique to it and only itself.

The best review I have read thus far is from Here at imaging-resource.com

 

Rainy days in the Gorge…

Rainy day in the gorge monochrome is very fitting at this time

There has been a few rainy days in the gorge so a monochrome post seems very fitting at this time. It happened that just a trace of a sunset appeared in the last few minutes before dusk even though it was drizzling where we stood. This shot was processed in NIK silver effects Pro modified dynamic range setting with ‘structure’ reduced to 12%. NIK still works well with Sierra and its free!
When I used a lot of film Fujifilm ACROS was one of my favourites, that and Agfa emulsions, so when I see that the new Fujifilm Xpro2 and XT2 have ACROS baked into the jpeg processing engine there are many instances when I sort of wish I had a replacement for the ageing  Xpro1 and preferably the XT2. There have been many instances when the auto focus in the Xpro1 has failed me so after reading the extensive review in Amateur Photographer this week I am sort of pushed closer to replacing the Xpro1.  Black & White Phototography also has a review in the current edition which I have not read yet. The quality of the reviews in both magazines I have always found to be well worth the cost of the (digital) magazines. I don’t believe in shipping dead tree products around the planet.
There are so many website based reviewers its often a tedious process to sort the wheat from the chaff. However imaging-resource.com  and Gordon Laing’s http://www.cameralabs.com are very thorough and worth reading when trying to decide what new kit to buy. For the last  half dozen generations of digital cameras I personally wait for the initial introductory price to fall before I take the plunge, that way I get the advantage of not having to wait for L bars and things which for me are essential.

Close to the end of the Rainbow

Close to the end of the Rainbow

This is about as close to the end of the rainbow this photographer has ever been, I wonder if  there is an XT2 at the end of it!

Fuji XPro1 ƒ6.4 1/340s ISO 200  18-55mm lens

Fuji XT2 a most exhaustive review…

Fuji XT2 review

Yours truly has been following the photographyblog.com for about 12 years now maybe more but its a long time by any measure. Its probably one of the best ‘new photography news and stuff sites’ on the net. I visit it once a week or so for no reason other than the photographyblog.com was just about the first of its sort!
A few weeks ago Mark Goldstein the owner was present when this most anticipated of cameras was shown off for the first time by Fuji Its a very good read: The review

After later watching the Digital Rev focus speed test comparison using the magnificent 100-400 on the XT2 I’m reasonably convinced that as far as focus speed is concerned Contrast Detection Auto Focus CDAF might now comparable with Phase Detection Auto Focus at least on the XT2. I have this lens and it is quite quick even on my XPro1. Perhaps the days of slow  CDAF systems are no longer…
It will be interesting to see what Scott Bourne has to say on the next Mirrorless PhotoFocus podcast he seems enamoured with the Olympus  Micro Four Thirds 300mm lens at the moment. I seriously considered this lens as I also have an EM1 but the low light qualities of the Fuji X system were convincing enough to go with the Fuji.
Another detail that has been criticised on several review and comment sites is that all the essential controls are old style dials on the XT2 camera body. For me this is a real plus in as much as that all the essential information can be read at a glance without pushing buttons and delving into three levels of menus. The equally desirable Pen F pocket camera has the same feature.
In some of the articles I have read recently I sensed that there is a modicum of discrimination being voiced between users of Full Frame, APSC, and Micro four thirds. Having used all of the above professionally over the last sixteen years my short comment on this is that its “horses for courses” In the days of film for various jobs and employers I’ve used everything from half frame transparencies to 6×7 negatives all for different finished products.
It must be remembered that before the days of digital production we also had a huge number of films to play with. Then there was also variations in the processing and printing.  Prints made with Fujifilm REALA for one client would not be substituted with prints printed from Fujifilm 160C! So it seems to me the same is becoming the case with digital sensors. For different subjects different sensors do some things better than others. I have a Sigma Merrill which at low ISO’s is the most remarkable camera the colour is natural (or saturated) and the detail in prints is every bit the equal a 50mp camera. However, once above ISO 400 its very average, much like a Canon Sure shot… as of 18 years ago!
On the other hand my XPro1 phenomenal, its very good in all circumstances to at least ISO1600 , noise and colour issues only start to bother me once past ISO 3200. With the right light balance and subject particularly good prints can be had even at ISO6400. The same cannot be said of micro four thirds without a bit of work.
Five years on since the introduction of the XPro1 the IQ of the XPro2 has improved markedly and because of the autofocus improvements the XT2 as an all purpose camera the XT2 certainly seems to have the upper hand over anything else on the market, for now… Download a few of the full size RAF files from  photographyblog and see what I mean.

A very brave photographer…

A very brave photographer with his Linhof Super Technika III 4x5 View Camera hangs on to a small ledge on the north side of the Cataract Gorge Launceston Tasmania

A very brave photographer risks life, limb and his beautiful Linhof Super Technika III 4×5 View Camera. I kid you not this is dangerous. The rock ledge he is perched on is about a metre wide and maybe one and a half metres long, but it is wet because every so often it gets splashed by that raging torrent that is flowing past him. The path that hangs on the north side of the gorge was closed up until the day before this image was made because it was totally flooded!

Gulls at Tailrace Park in Riverside Tasmania…

Gulls at Tailrace Park Riverside Tasmania
F
uji Xpro1 ƒ5.6 1/600s ISO 320 Canon FD 100-300mm zoom

One of my first ‘serious’ SLR’s was a venerable Canon FTb purchased new in the 70s’ it was an era when to a certain extent Nikon ruled they were even extolled in pop songs! But having used a Nikormat while in college I always had a few reservations. For me the Nikons of that era did not quite fit with me, nothing in particular but things like the placement of shutter button and the shutter speed selection around the lens. The FTb on the other hand was like wearing a glove everything fitted, it is a solidly built, never wear out camera, all its functions are so precise, in exactly the right place and I still the first one of three I owned.
Many will likely disagree but it was very similar experience to using the the Leicaflex of the same era. Over the following years I collected quite a few FD lenses some of which are popular as Leica mount conversions today. However one of the outstanding FD tele zooms is the 100-300 which is what the above photo was captured with. It has a beautiful buttery off focus softness that doesn’t seem to be present in the same way in modern lenses and yet where sharpness matters it is tack sharp. I also used this lens on an Olympus Pen with a cheap converter but sad to say its performance was not very good, the converter must have been dimentionally out. Later as with the Fuji I now use a Novoflex lens converter and its perfect. Many of the Canon Fd lens of the 60’s 70’s and 80’s can still be had at minimal cost and are as good as some of the very best if you are comfortable with manual focus.

Memory and the XPro2…

Fuji XPro 2

Alik Griffin has written a really interesting article about flash card memory. Its interesting because the XPro2 turns out to be the fastest camera on the market when it comes to recording your images once the shutter has been pressed.

Alik has prepared a comparative table which gives ample information for thought on this most basic component of digital photography.

The takeaway from my own sixteen years of experience of flash or memory cards goes like this. “The larger the capacity the shorter the life”
This was true in 2002 when the first large capacity CF card with a staggering (at the time) 8Gb capacity card died after a bit over 12 months of usage it was a Sandisk. A few years later a 16 Gb card died. That was a Silicon Memory card very popular in Asia at the time. About five years later a couple 32Gb cards died with in a few months of each other. One was a Sandisk extreme and I remembered I paid what I thought was a lot at the time. Get the pattern!!! There are two elements in this equation, the period between failure and the size of the card both more or less double over time. I’m not complaining about this and rubbishing one brand over another as all cards were well used and I am pretty sure I have never lost any images. I recall that when each started to fail they popped a write error at which point I removed the card and replaced it with a spare.  I did this at all times having had years of experience with floppy drives (another blast from the past) and then once at home I extracted the files with a card reader mostly a San Disk branded unit.
Only once did I have to resort to recovery software. The cards were then reformatted and only used for studio work. invariably they failed again and were tossed in the tech recycling bin.
After pondering on the third cards death I remembered reading a description about the layering of microcircuitry in the RAM manufacturing process from years previous, I had an Apple ][ at the time! So as thoughts go I did more research on the production of flash cards and sure enough there were similarities. The following read write figures may not be correct and I’m not that bothered about accuracy for this purpose. However it seems that once 8Gb cards had been produced they had an expected write life of say 100,000 read write cycles then when another 8Gb layer was added to increase the capacity to 16Gb the read /write cycles reduced by I think half.  It then repeted again another layer of silicon adder to make a 32Gb and so on. The same pattern as my own CF card failure experience! So, with this knowledge I have continued to use nothing but 8Gb cards for every day work and I have not had a single failure since. Of all the brands that I have had multiple cards of  the only one that has never had a failure is Lexar. Now all of this may be down to a mixture of statistics, coincidence and perhaps even luck but that is my sort of ‘rule’ and I’m sticking to it!
As another qualifier I have a 1Gb CF card that is used in a Canon sureshot it dates from 2003 It gets used very little now but I take it out every so often and use it with its handy IR remote to photograph timid creatures in the garden…

 

 

Kai of Digital Rev Reviews the XPro2

Kai-digital-REV

With Kai being British and dividing his time between the green pleasant and Honkers one should expect something different. Well like the proverbial expression (..it happens). The odd expletive slips into the dialog, then some silly sod objects who wasn’t even part of the content, he just drifted in and let rip… Well thats the way it goes with Digital Revs advertorials, hmm,  what’s a bloke to do an a cloudy Sunday afternoon?

Enough of the banter in this review one gets a quality look through the XPro2 viewfinder, a workout at the Norwich fashion week and a video look at at the joy stick / nipple focusing, all in all worth a few minutes of your time if you are fuji inclined… Btw this is not intended as an supported endorsement of any kind, but I have purchased a few items from Digital Rev in the past and as an online retailer they have proved to be prompt and quite reliable.

Fujifilm Xpro2 a review from a different perspective…

EOS HD Andrew Reid video grapher

EOSHD aka Andrew Reid is a videographer who surprisingly to me at any rate, loves the XPro2 ‘for video’ no less. But is hopping mad at Fuji for incorporating 4K video in the hardware but not turning it on in the firmware. From my POV it doesn’t matter a huge amount but as he goes on to explain this function while pertinent to the Western world doesn’t count for much in Asia. Likewise I suspect with this frustratingly small ISO ring might be great for smaller nimbler Asian fingers. But a persistent annoyance for larger western phalanges. I just hope that this is over ridden in the super panel which is where I return to make the majority of adjustments – one button to access most everything. At this juncture my big rant rears its pointed index finger at the masters of Fuij and ask why oh why no touch screen.

A few months ago I watched a video from an LED light panel manufacturer demonstrating product photography and throughout the whole shoot the viewfinder and shutter were not used once. Touch screen all the way. Fuji need to learn that when a camera is mounted below standing eye level, the second most important tool in a photographers kit a Tripod then the shutter and viewfinder become totally obsolete, we really do need a touch screen function. Trigger trap and iPhone permanently connected perhaps…

Overall this review from Andrew is very good and anyone considering upgrading to an XPro2  should certainly read it. BTW some of Andrews videos are brilliant have a long look through his site…