Category Archives: Fuji

Thoughts on Fuji, Leica & How The Camera I Want Doesn’t Exist

Fuji and Leica seem to be going at each other.  Leica’s newest camera has an X in its name while a newly announced Fuji has an M. I don’t think this is an accident or coincidence.

I don’t understand some of what Fuji was thinking with their new X-M1 camera. It’s sort of a junior X-Pro1 and has the same APS-C sensor as that roughly one-year old camera, as opposed to the newer sensor in the X100s that everyone is raving about. This makes no sense (sorry) to me. Why not put that newer sensor into it?

(If you haven’t already read this in 100 places already, Fuji announced the X-M1, an interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C sensor retailing for $699 body only or $799 with a kit zoom lens.)

I’ve hit this frustration point because what I want in a second camera should be simple enough and yet as near as I can tell, it doesn’t exist.

Sadly (or stupidly) it took my going through three different mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (Fuji X-Pro1, Sony NEX-7, Olympus O-MD) before I finally realized that for all the strengths of these different cameras, I didn’t want a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.  For one thing, once you put any sort of a decent zoom lens on them, they became so bulky that there was no advantage to taking them every day as opposed to my Nikon D800.  More importantly, I realized that I could neither afford nor desired to spend hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars buying multiple lenses for these systems when I already have a fair investment in Nikon glass.  (And no, before you ask, I have zero intention of getting a Nikon 1.)

Of all of these various cameras, the ones I enjoyed shooting with the most were the Fuji X100 (but I felt stymied by having just that single focal length lens) and the X-Pro1 (didn’t want to invest in Fuji glass).  What I loved about them was the control layout – instant and easy access to aperture and shutter speed without fiddling through menus.  Today I’ve got a Sony RX100 which certainly takes a nice picture but I find the control system too fiddly and I don’t like having only that 3 inch LCD screen for framing; I like a viewfinder.

I suppose that the latest Leica, that X Vario, would be perfect for me but whether or not you want to quibble over the zoom lens being relatively dark, the $3,000 price tag puts it out of my reach.

So what do I want? It’s actually simple – I want a Fuji X100s with a fixed halfway decent zoom lens. I loved the controls on the X100 and I LOVED the hybrid viewfinder.  I want a fixed zoom lens, which lets out the Nikon Coolpix A. I want a large sensor, which lets out the Canon G series.  And I want it to cost under $1,000, which lets out the Leica.

If Fuji ever releases an X100s with a zoom, I will be there.

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Who Do You Trust?

Almost all photographers suffer from GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. We buy cameras, lenses, tripods, flashes, bags, filters … the list goes on and on and who knows where it will stop?

Most photography blogs are really good for giving you GAS too.  Bad reviews seem rare to me.  Now in part that’s because most equipment from the bigger companies is rarely bad. Some stuff is better than others of course but to a certain, general, vague extent, it’s all good.

But then there’s that other extent, where it’s all GREAT!!!!!! I suppose some people get excited by everything, but some want to keep their suppliers happy and others want you to like it so you’ll click on an associate link and buy it.  Some people test more thoroughly and scientifically than others.  I suppose at the end of the day it’s where it needs to be – read as much as possible and make up your own mind.

Today’s case in point is the relatively recent Fuji X100s.  I read all the reviews of this camera with great interest because if I could afford one, I’d buy it today. But I can’t afford one.

Now Zack Arias is a respected professional photographer. He makes great photos. He loves his new Fuji X100s.

Fuji is the new Leica and the x100s is the greatest camera I’ve ever owned.

The DSLR is dead to me.

Would I use the x100s at a wedding? Hell yes I would. Wouldn’t think twice about it. Would I shoot it on a magazine assignment? Yes. Portrait shoot? Yep. Promo shoot? Yep. And have.

I’m tellin’ you though. From my heart. The x100s is my desert island camera.

I love the X-Trans sensor. It’s sharper than my Canon full frame sensors.

My gosh, that’s a pretty powerful endorsement. And the photos that accompany his review are also amazing.

And he’s not the only one.

From the I-think-very-popular Fro Knows Photo:

As much as I loved my Fuji X100, the X100s is that much better and is quite possibly the best camera I own.

I’m not sponsored by Fuji. I have nothing to gain by singing their praises, but man, I am shouting from the mountaintop because the Fuji X100s is amazing.

For me, it’s the perfect camera.

If you search around, you’re going to find a whole lot more reviews like those.

So maybe I’m feeling a bit of sour grapes. Because, as I said, I think I’d like to have one but I can’t afford one. Is it something I truly need or is it GAS? I suspect it’s more the latter. But, under the heading of “seek and ye shall find,” there is at least one person with a web site not jumping on the Fuji bandwagon any time soon.  Diglloyd.

Here he writes:

Sure it has a faster AF and higher resolution sensor, but most of the design warts seem to have been cemented in, with no real improvements in usability.

I know the Fuji X100s has all the right checkbox-list of features in the marketing materials, but these days I’m looking for intelligent design; sensors are getting so good that what really makes the camera is the ease of use and well thought out features: less is more and more is less. Good design is about the right overall feature set with every little detail nit-picked and forced through a rigorous usability filter. The X100s fails miserably in this regard.

And here he writes:

Fuji ostensibly designed this sensor to avoid moiré. But the cure is worse than the disease: more digital artifacts, not fewer

The lens looks to be poorly corrected at closer range, exhibiting a glowing halo effect.

I expect to see more negative posts from him in days to come.

So who do you trust? Do you trust the guy who says it’s the greatest camera he ever owned or the one who says it fails miserably?  Arias’s photos are great but he’s a great photographer and I think there’s a dozen other cameras out there that would have given him the same results. Diglloyd takes close-up shots of burlap bags and tree trunks to illustrate his concepts, which they do, but who takes those kinds of photos in the real world?

Of course the truth is likely somewhere in between.  The X100s is the bestest camera ever this month and next month everyone will jerk off to the spec sheet for the Ricoh GR.

Me? I’m hoping to get rid of this GAS. Or maybe get a raise at work …

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I Went for the RX100

I spent days, if not weeks, thinking about the choice of a second, “every day” camera and couldn’t reach a decision. Finally decision time was upon me when my Olympus OM-D was sold.

Checking the photos that were on the memory card in the Olympus, I noted that it was almost two months since I’d last shot with it.  Let’s face it, as wonderful a camera as it is – and it is indeed wonderful – once a lens was on it, it was almost as big as my regular DSLR so I’d end up just going out with the D800 with a 50mm or 35mm on it instead. When the guy I was selling it to was checking it out, I realized as he was checking to make sure the touch screen worked that I had forgotten it even had a touch screen!

Some people told me to consider the Panasonic LX7 (or the Leica D-Lux 6, essentially the same camera). The smaller sensor put me off. Then for awhile I was considering the new Fuji X100s, which is getting some really strong reviews. I love the ergonomics and control on the Fuji, not to mention the hybrid viewfinder, but finally the combination of single fixed focal length lens and the price put me off.

So then I thought, what about the Fuji X20? “Over 50 improvements over the X10″ goes the hype, and most of the reviews I’ve read on it said to believe the hype. Again, great controls. Optical viewfinder now with some actual useful information displayed in the viewfinder.  No anti-aliasing filter. And a zoom lens that is at F2.8 at the telephoto end.  I’d had the X10 for a brief period and ended up really disliking it. Of course a big part of the dislike at the time was the inability of Adobe products to properly handle the RAW files, something that has finally been resolved.

But in the end I came back to the Sony RX100. The major deciding factors for me were the larger sensor and the fact that it is small enough to fit into pants pockets.  And I admit I was swayed by the Sony’s 20 megapixel sensor vs. the Fuji’s 12 megapixels, even though I know that the two sensors are technologically quite different.   Last was the fact that I was able to get a good price on it. The list is, if I recall correctly, HK$5390. One shop offered it to me at HK$4980 and I almost said yes. Then I went to a shop where they know me and managed to get it – full box set and Sony warranty – for HK$4450.  (At the moment the asking price for used ones on DCFever is HK$4200, so I think I came out okay here.)

Anyway, I got home late, it’s crappy weather, and after I charged up the battery just fired off a few random test shots in P mode with auto ISO.

 

This shot is ISO 320, 1/30th of a second, f1.8.

And here’s Bogey ….

 

This is 800 ISO, f1.8, 1/30th of a second. To be honest, I did do a bit of processing in Lightroom to this. Here’s a crop:

 

I think the sharpness is there though there’s a bit more noise at ISO 800 than I expected.

Well, the weekend is here and hopefully I’ll get out of the house a little so I’ll try to find something interesting to shoot over the next couple of days.

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My Next Second Camera?

I’m selling off my Olympus OM-D tomorrow. Now I have to think about a replacement.

I know that some people think I’m crazy for selling off the Olympus. It’s a wonderful camera. But my financial situation changed soon after buying it (used) and I am not going to be buying a series of Micro Four Thirds lenses, especially when I already own around 10 Nikon lenses.  The other reason is the size.  Yes, the body is a lot smaller than your standard DSLR.  Even so, once you slap a lens onto it, it’s big enough. And by that I mean big enough that I needed a camera bag to carry it around, rather than slip it into a coat pocket. It got to the point where I started leaving it home and going out with my D800 with a 35mm or 50mm lens on.  And that meant it got to the point where I was leaving it home and not using it.

So as wonderful as it is, it just doesn’t make sense for me to own a camera that I don’t use.

So the question is, what next?  There are two cameras that I’m looking at, and they’re very different from each other.

The first is Sony’s RX100. It’s a true pocket-sized camera with a large sensor and a decent zoom lens. There’s no optical viewfinder and the maximum aperture on the zoom lens goes down to F4.9 once you’ve zoomed in a bit. The control layout is a bit odd, I have never liked Sony’s menu system, and you have the charge the battery in the camera.

The second is Fuji’s X100s.  It’s twice the price of the Sony. And it has a single fixed focal length lens. I loved shooting with the X100 but was frustrated by the slow auto-focus and by Adobe’s inability to deal properly with the RAW files.  All of that is said to be fixed now.  And it has the same APS-C sensor as the X-Pro1 now.  But double the price.  And jacket pocket sized rather than pants pocket sized.

Right now I really don’t know.

Some have suggested the Panasonic LX7 (or the equivalent Leica D-Lux6) and I know the Nikon Coolpix A is getting some good reviews but so far neither of those seem that appealing to me. I’ll try to take a closer look at them.

I know some of you have commented on this recently.  Any newer thoughts?

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Fuji X-Pro1 Recent Shots

I may not have been posting here too often but in part that’s because I’m shooting more photos than ever.  And while I’m relying on my Nikon D800 for any professional (or semi-professional) work, I’m using the X-Pro1 more often and trying to get used to its idiosyncrasies.  I’ve stopped shooting in RAW at least for the time being (word is that Fuji is now working directly with Adobe so maybe we’ll see some improvement in Adobe’s interpolation of Fuji’s RAW files in the near future) and also been playing around with the various in-camera filters.

Anyway, here’s a random compendium of photos shot with the Fuji X-Pro1 over the past couple of weeks.

The first two shots are of Yolanda and Sasha, who are running the Hong Kong edition of Open Show, which will be at PASM Workshop.  More on this later.

Here’s Chris B – of course I’ve shot her several times in the past.

Walking around in my ‘hood:

A few nights ago at The Wanch:

Even with the latest firmware upgrade for the lenses (released about a week ago), it remains challenging to properly capture “moving targets.”  But for relatively stationary people and objects, the camera is fabulous.  These days I’m mostly shooting wide open or close to it, 1/125th of a second or faster, and using auto-ISO – most of the bar shots above came out at ISO 6400 and you can see noise is definitely not an issue here.

More to come, of course.

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