Category Archives: Fuji

Sony A99 and Fuji X-Pro1

Out with some friends last night in Wanchai, one of whom had just bought Sony’s latest full frame SLT camera, the Sony A99.

I had the chance to hold it and shoot a few shots and it seems like an extremely impressive camera.  That EVF is so bright and clear, so fast and detailed, that it felt as if it was an optical viewfinder and not an electronic one.  The control layout was intriguing, the high ISO performance (based on just looking at results on the LCD) also looks as if it could be outstanding.  I had a few moments of sitting there in the bar thinking to myself, “Hmmm, Nikon D800, focus issues, dust and oil on the sensor, sell off D800, sell off 9 lenses, sell off speedlight, battery pack, gps, start all over again with Sony …. ai ya!”   I know, totally insane.  But it was really sweet.

Fuji released another firmware update for their X-series lenses yesterday.  I didn’t have a chance to read what’s supposed to be improved because I downloaded from the Fuji Japan site.  I updated all 3 of the lenses and then went out with the X-Pro1 and 35mm 1.4 lens last night.  It was an exercise in pure frustration.  In a relatively dark space (a bar), in both S and C focus modes, shooting stationary objects, it still seemed like it took forever to find focus and take the picture.  Even if I just tried to go on faith, to just hit the shutter button all the way, I’d push the button, remove my finger and it seemed like it was 1 or 2 seconds after that until it actually took the picture.

The problem seemed even larger to me because I’d just done a few quick shots with the Sony, where focus and shooting even in that dark environment was practically instantaneous.  The only way for me to speed things up with the Fuji was to go to manual focus mode, but without focus peaking or any other sort of visual indicator, without my glasses on I could only do some best guesses, which ended up being wrong more often than they were right.

My friend, the one who’d just bought the Sony, asked me if I’d put my X-Pro1 up for sale on DCFever yet.  “If you didn’t, I’ll bet you do by tomorrow.”   Well, so far I haven’t.  But that’s more because I don’t know what I’d replace it with.  I hear that auto focus is the same with the Fuji X-E1.  I’m not interested in the Sony RX100.  The Olympus OM-D seems pretty amazing but the good lenses for it are too expensive for me.   Leica is far beyond my budget.

And then there’s this – the shots that I did get with the Fuji:

(All of the above are from JPG, not RAW, shooting in black & white mode.)

So despite all my frustrations, I think I should just stick with what I’ve got and wait for an X-Pro2 and hope for some major improvements.  Opinion subject to change, based on if I ever find a full time job again …


Camera Frustration & Upcoming Trip

I’m want to show you some pictures.  This goes back to an earlier post in which I mentioned the Fuji X-Pro1’s JPG vs. RAW output.  Here’s the first pair, taken a few days ago just steps from my home.

This is the JPG:

And this is the RAW:

All I’ve done with these two files is to import them into Lightroom and then export them, resized (and with my watermark added).  No other processing.

I personally like the JPG more, don’t you? Overall, the yellow leaf seams to have more definition and contrast than in the RAW file.  My assumption is that the problem here is not with the RAW output from the camera, it’s the way in which Adobe Lightroom interprets it.

Here’s the second pair, taken a few nights ago in Causeway Bay, believe it or not.

First the JPG:

And here’s the RAW:

Again, all I’ve done with these two photos is to load them into Lightroom and then export them out.  Based on my recollection, the colors in the JPG are accurate and the colors in the RAW are not.

I don’t want to stop shooting RAW because maybe someday Lightroom will do a better job with them, or maybe someday I’ll switch my photo processing software, and I’d like to have the RAW files to go back to.  But today, with Lightroom, they’re almost useless to me.

Now, a slightly different frustration, concerning my Nikon D800.  Here’s a photo I took in Central tonight.

It looks pretty nice – until you view it full size.  Then you’ll see that absolutely nothing is in focus.  This was shot with my “new” used Nikon 35mm F2.0 D lens.  I don’t recall for certain but I believe I was in manual mode, F4,0, 1/50th of a second (which should be fast enough with a 35mm lens) and the ISO was on auto and went for 1100.  In this case, is it the fault of the lens?  Very possibly I think.

I was at a party tonight, actually, shooting a lot in a restaurant, both with and without flash.  I note that on many of the photos that I took without flash, there’s visible purple vignetting.  Of course that’s fixable in Lightroom but that’s not really the point, is it?  The point is that the D800 demands good glass and it may well be that the current generation of G lenses are going to perform better on this camera than the older D ones.  I’ve seen nothing anywhere regarding this so it’s just conjecture on my point.

I’m off on a trip to New York City tomorrow.  I’m mostly packed but I can’t decide if I’m going to bring the Fuji or the Nikon with me.  Originally it was going to be the Fuji, because of size and weight.  But now I have something of a remotely serious and hopefully fun nature to shoot while there.  (A cousin of mine is executive chef at a restaurant that was a finalist for a James Beard award this year and he’s agreed to let me into the kitchen with my camera.).  For that, I’d normally bring the Nikon.

So do I only pack the Nikon for this trip?  And with just the 24-70mm lens, or with my 35mm, 50mm and 105mm primes?  Do I pack both the Nikon and the Fuji on the grounds that the Fuji will be a better daily walking-around camera.  Or do I stay Fuji only?  (And why do I agonize over small shit like this?)  I’ll decide in the morning before I head to the airport.  And whichever one (or ones) I choose, I hope to have some fun pictures to share with you a few days from now.



First Fuji X-E1 Review

Well, the first one I’ve found anyway, perhaps not as detailed as the hardcore camera review sites get, but it’s more than a start, at Roel.Me.  Here’s the bit I care about most:

Prior to borrowing the X-E1 from Fujifilm, I updated my X-Pro1′s firmware to V2.00 which brought a few welcome changes to the camera.   Most notable are the reduced SD card write times, reduced playback delay – even the auto focus (AF) and manual focus (MF) are better.  Fujifilm released this update so that the X-Pro1 could match the improved performance of the X-E1 and as you will soon find out, both cameras perform equally well.

On the X-E1, AF is fairly fast and responsive.  No, it is not blazingly fast nor will you be able to track fast moving objects, but the AF acquires the subject in short order and is extremely accurate.

After using the X-E1 for a week now, its performance and handling is virtually identical to the X-Pro1 (with firmware update V2.00).

If you’re thinking about getting the Fuji X-E1, please consider getting it by clicking one of the links below.

Fuji X-E1 body only all black – Amazon B&H Photo

Fuji X-E1 body only black & silver – Amazon B&H Photo

Fuji X-E1 with 18-55mm lens all black – Amazon B&H Photo

Fuji X-E1 with 18-55mm lens black & silver – Amazon B&H Photo






A Gala Day at Spike’s Photos

Much of today was spent pondering whether or not to sell off my Fuji X-Pro1 and replace it with the new Fuji X-E1.  There is the greatly improved electronic viewfinder vs. the downgraded rear LCD (not a significant factor for me, really) and the question of whether I really should go to all that trouble if otherwise everything else is pretty much the same.  It will be some time before the hardcore detailed reviews and comparisons come out – and by then I imagine my X-Pro1 would be worth a lot less on the secondary market.  There’s also the question of if I can sell my old camera quickly, will there still be stock on the new one before I get on a plane for an extended trip next week?  I suppose it won’t hurt for me to post a classified ad and see what kind of response it gets.

What’s also happened today was that I posted a comment or two on some Fuji-related web sites and the resulting traffic driven back to this site has skyrocketed – not just multiples of what I get on an average day but also multiples of my previous best day ever.  The question is, does this mean anything and the answer is probably no.

I could have made the decision for this site to only feature my photography but I didn’t.  Long ago I decided to feature some limited industry news and links to reviews that I’ve found of interest.  This has probably helped my overall hit rate but for what return?

By that I mean I have no evidence that people who come here via a search for “Fuji X-Pro1” look at anything else other than whatever page they landed on.  They see it in a search engine, they click on the link, either they’re satisfied or not by what they’ve found, and then more than likely they close the window, never to return.

Not that I’m claiming any superiority but that’s not how I personally do it.  I do a search, I hit some links and then, if I like what I’ve read, I’ll click on the Home button and see what else this person has written about.  And then, if I like that, I’ll add the site to my RSS reader and continue to follow it.  (I’ve got more than 60 photography-related web sites that I follow in Google Reader.)

I certainly hope that some of the people who found my site today will find a few interesting things and want to come back.  By all means, feel free to make a comment or drop me a line about something you liked or didn’t like or things you’d like to see more of here.

In the background, I’ve started working on more targeted galleries for my portfolio page.  The first one is up now – HK Street Photography – first because it was the quickest and easiest one for me to put together.  Others will follow hopefully soon.

As for what I’ll eventually do in terms of the X-Pro1 vs. the X-E1, stay tuned.


Fuji X-E1 Available in Hong Kong Now (& Today’s Street Shots)

So the Fuji X-E1 has arrived in Hong Kong.  If you’ve been following the new camera news, you know it’s basically a very slightly smaller X-Pro1 for a lot less money, minus the hybrid viewfinder (it still has an EVF), plus a pop-up flash, and the same sensor and electronics inside, for a lot less money.

I was in Hong Kong’s only official Fuji shop this afternoon to pick-up a diopter correction lens for my X-Pro1.  They had the X-E1 in the display case.  They’re selling it as a kit with the 35mm F1.4 lens for HK$9,900.  I asked the guy if the focusing was any faster than on the X-Pro1 and he said, “they’re the same.”

Online shop Digital Rev is selling the X-E1 (body only) for HK$9,000.  They’re saying “stock ordered upon request” and it takes “approximately” 1 week.  There’s no mention there about if this is grey market or with the Fuji international warranty.

DCFever (Chinese only site) is listing the Fuji X-E1 with the 35mm lens at HK$9,990.  For their Mong Kok shop it translates to “spot supply”; for their shops in Sham Shui Po and Causeway Bay it says “check with clerk.”   They’re also listing the X-E1 as a kit with the new Fuji 18-55mm F2.8-4 zoom lens but there’s no price listed and for all three shops it says to check with the clerk.

Now let’s do a bit of price checking.

In the US, list price for the X-E1 body only is US$1,000.  That’s around HK$7,800.  So a healthy mark-up on the body only at HK$9,000?

Over at Amazon, a kit with the X-E1 body and zoom lens is US$1,400. That’s about HK$10,900.  I don’t see a kit listing with the 35mm lens.  But the 35mm lens sells for US$500 or thereabouts, so HK$3,900.

So body-only at $9,000 + 35mm lens at $3,900 – $12,900, which means that the kit price for the body and 35mm lens of HK$9,900 is a very good deal indeed.

I was walking around in Causeway Bay today, X-Pro1 in hand, naturally.  At the AF-S setting, it’s still too fucking slow.  I’d see someone down the street, hit the button and I’d hear/feel the lens slowly moving into focus, by which point my “target” would be long gone.  AF-C means less of a lag, but if you can tell me where the focus point is in this picture, I’ll buy you a beer.

This girl was about 10 feet in front of me when I pushed the shutter button, by the time the shutter clicked she was halfway past me and I ended up with this useless shot.

She was gorgeous – but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I still can’t shoot from the hip.  I look down at the camera, it seems to me to be pointed straight ahead, the lens looks to be parallel to the ground, and then I end up with dozens of shots like this:

I suppose it’s vaguely interesting in an odd sort of a way.

But it’s not all bad.  I seem to get slightly better results when switching to AF-C.  And also by holding the camera out in front of me, looking at the rear LCD for framing.  I’m not sure if that’s less obvious than holding the camera right up to my face but it seems to work more often than anything else I’ve tried.

(The next shot is the only one that’s cropped, just wanted one to highlight the girl in the red dress.)

(This next shot also cropped)

Actually, aside from the two shots where I mentioned cropping above, all the shots are straight out of the camera, the only thing done to them was to export them out of Lightroom.  The purpose is to demonstrate just how nice the shots coming from the X-Pro1 are when everything comes together.  It’s why I don’t simply sell it off and try something like the Olympus OM-D instead.  The X-Pro1 is capable of great shots when everything works just right.

So what did I learn today, if anything?  AF-C seems to work quicker for street shooting than AF-S and shooting with the camera held out in front of me, looking at the LCD screen, rather than shooting from the hip and getting lots of shots of sneakers.