Category Archives: Fuji

Fuji X-Pro1 & Street

Not an extended treatise, just some random thoughts.

I was exporting a photo from Lightroom just now and saw that the number was 0014 and thought to myself, “what the hell, did the settings get changed, is it starting from 1 every time I reformat the memory card?”  The answer is no, I’ve shot 10,000 photos with the X-Pro1 in the few months that I’ve had it.  And even though the camera is much improved with the new firmware update, it’s still not quite where I’d like it to be.  It’s really still pretty much what my buddy Fernando Gros said a few months ago when he said, roughly, that it can be frustrating to use but when things come together the results are excellent.

The other night I was out with a buddy in a Mong Kok bar where they poured very generously.  A couple of hours later, about as toasted as I could be and still be walking, I had the idea to pull my camera out of the bag and try to shoot as I was walking down the street.  Over the next hour or so, I shot around 200 photos.  The next day, I deleted about 90% of them.  Much to my surprise, there were one or two reasonable shots.

This afternoon I was walking around Central (completely sober).  I pulled the camera out of the bag and tried doing some shooting.

The first thing I noticed was that, even with the firmware update, with focus mode set to S, the camera still wouldn’t focus fast enough for me to catch someone walking towards me.   I switched to C, where the camera doesn’t wait for focus to be locked in before triggering the shutter, and did reasonably better.  Shoot with the aperture closed down enough on a sunny day and it could work okay.  Even so, again I must have deleted more than 90% of the photos I took today.  My biggest problem at this point is that when I’m not bringing the viewfinder up from my eye, when I’m “shooting from the hip” in a manner of speaking, I have a tendency to point the camera too far down and come home with lots of photos of peoples’ shoes.  Something I need to work on.

On an only vaguely related note, you might be interested to check out Digital Rev’s hands-on review of the new Nikon D600.  It looks to be quite reasonable and if I had the need for a second camera body, this is the one I’d surely be considering.  What I find really interesting about this (and other Digital Rev videos featuring Kai) is just how fearless the guy is, how he doesn’t hesitate to kneel down right in front of someone and shoot a picture of a stranger on the street close-up without so much as a “may I?”  I think he gets some really nice shots but I don’t think this is something I’d be capable of doing – and on some levels at least I find it rude.  I suppose this is coming off as a criticism but I should also make it clear that I always enjoy Kai’s videos, just that I couldn’t do what he does.

 

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Fuji X-Pro1 Firmware Update Definitely Improves Things

After updating the firmware to version 2.0 on my Fuji X-Pro1 and 3 Fuji lenses, I’m seeing a definite improvement in auto-focus speed and accuracy.  Focus is still nowhere near as fast as it is on my Nikon D800 – but I know that’s not a realistic expectation.  It still takes a split second or so to move into focus.  But it feels like it’s happening much faster than it did in the past.  Equally as important, I shot close to 100 photos tonight, most in a pretty dark bar, and there was only one or two times when the lens seemed to be “hunting” for focus.  (This was with the 35mm lens.  I haven’t tried anything with the other lenses yet.)

Faster focusing meant less shutter lag which in turn meant that most of the time I was able to get the shot I was trying to get.

What this tells me is that while the Fuji X-Pro1 is not perfect, and on just one night’s trial, it now seems to be much closer to the camera I’ve wanted it to be since I bought it several months ago.

I’m going on a group photo walk this Saturday and up until tonight, I was really undecided about which camera I would bring with me.  I’ve decided to bring the Fuji; I’m feeling more confident about it.

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Fuji X-Pro1 Firmware 2.0 Available Now

Version 2.0 of the firmware for the Fuji X-Pro1 is available for downloading now.  This is a major update.

  • 1.Improvement of Auto Focus Performance
    • (1)Auto focusing speed has become much faster under a various shooting condition such as dark scenes, bright scenes and so on.
    • (2)The shortest focusing distance without switching to macro mode has become shorter.
  • 2.Improvement of Manual Focus Performance
    • (1)The speed of images coming into focus when turning the focus ring has become faster.
    • (2)When adjusting the focus with the EVF or the LCD, displaying live view with the minimum depth of field in full aperture has made it easier to focus on subjects.
    • (3)In addition to the focus checking with the 10-time magnification function, the checking with “3-time” magnification function has been added.
  • 3.Improvement of Writing and Processing Speed
    • (1)Writing speed to a memory card has become faster with the maximum speed doubled.
      <Note> The speed may vary depending on card type and sizes of images.
    • (2)The waiting time of viewing image after shooting has become shorter.
    • (3)An image will be displayed approx. one second after pressing the playback button.
  • 4.Other improvements
    • (1)The ISO setting of “Auto (6400)” has been added.
    • (2)When EVF or OVF is used, the indicator lamp will turn off because the lamp comes to just in front of your right eye if you see the finder with your left eye.
    • (3)When shooting in low light situation, a recorded image will look like more natural atmosphere you saw.

You can find the download here.

Don’t forget, you’ll also need to update the firmware for your lenses!  You can find the link for the lens firmware (different file for each lens) just below the link for the camera firmware download.

I’ve just finished the set up on my camera and lenses.  I’m probably not going out tonight but I did snap off a few quick pix in my room and the focusing does indeed seem faster (though still nowhere near as fast as, say, my Nikon D800).  I tried shooting some dark objects in a dark corner of the room and there was no back-and-forth hunting on the focus.

I’ll take the camera out with me tomorrow so I’ll get a better idea of how much improvement there is then.

By the way, on Saturday I was at Sim City (the mostly-photography mall in Mong Kok) and I noticed that every used shop there had at least 1 Fuji X-Pro1 sitting there.  I asked in one shop and the guy said that was due to people selling it off to get maximum $$$ prior to the new XE-1 coming out.  Fine and dandy … though I noticed most of the shops had full sets of used X-mount lenses as well.

What I want to see is (a) the immediate improvement with the new firmware update and (b) comparative performance reviews of the X-Pro1 vs the X-E1 when it’s released.  (I’d also like to see Adobe Camera Raw do a better job with Fuji’s RAW format than it’s currently doing.)  The X-Pro1 is an amazing camera but so far it has also been amazingly frustrating for me and it’s very tempting to follow the crowd here and sell it off before the value drops with the release of the newer stuff.

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Fuji X-Pro1 RAW vs. JPG

As I mentioned in a previous post, a few nights back I was in Shenzhen and went to see my buddies Kaktooz – they were one of the two house bands at Amazonia in Hong Kong for a couple of years, now they’re the house band at X-Ta-Sea Bar in the Shekou district of Shenzhen.  That night I had my Fuji X-Pro1 camera with the 35mm lens with me.  The stage lighting there is horrendous (for photographers anyway) and I felt I didn’t come away with any usable shots.

The thing was, as I was looking at the RAW shots in Lightroom, they looked very different from the images I saw on the camera’s LCD screen that night.  Here’s one shot chosen almost at random – 1/125th of a second, F1.4, ISO 6400 (my logic here? lens as wide open as it will get, 1/125 about the minimum to freeze action on musicians on stage, so no choice but to bump up the ISO like crazy).

This first shot is the RAW file, unprocessed in any way except to export it from Lightroom:

Now, here’s the same photo, this time exported from the JPG instead of the RAW, again with no processing done by me:

That’s lead guitarist Jeph.

Now, let’s compare the histograms on the two.  The first one is the histogram for the RAW file, the second for the JPG:

Now, I know there’s all sorts of technical reasons for this.  But the main thing from my point of view is that some of the highlights are blown out on the RAW while the JPG is in much better shape, not to mention that the Fuji has done a decent job on the noise reduction all on its own.

Could I have get the same result by spending time editing the RAW file in Lightroom?  Yeah, I’ve dropped down the highlights, white clipping and light tones using the Tone Curve adjustment and gotten reasonably close .  But why spend the time to do it when the JPG already seems quite acceptable?

At this rate, I might not bother to shoot RAW with the X-Pro1 – at least not in challenging low light situations like this.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Ken Rockwell has already reviewed the Fuji X-E1.

It drives me nuts shooting a DSLR or M9 when I can’t see my image pop up instantly in the finder after I’ve shot it — as I do with my X-E1.

The all-metal X-E1 is so far ahead of everything else that I’m going to need some new superlatives.

Italics mine.  How does he already own one when it hasn’t shipped yet?

Steve Huff seems to have reached conclusions about the Sony RX1 based on what exactly? Apparently a couple of minutes playing with a pre-production sample and some images provided by Sony.

 The sensor in the RX1 and the A99 appears to be the best 35mm full frame sensor on the market as of this writing but all I can do now is take their word for it because I was not able to go out and shoot with it.

 I saw comparisons of this sensor vs the D800 and 5DII and was blown away at the extended DR and lack of noise in the crops coming from the RX1 sensor. 

With the RX1 we are going to get best in class high ISO performance, real full frame DOF, amazing dynamic range and as always with Sony superb battery life and hopefully rich and detailed files.

Bold type his, not mine.

I’m sure these will both be fabulous cameras capable of taking great images; I’m just sayin’ …

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