November 2012

Fujifilm X Pro 1 | Trevor Hart

They say there’s no such thing as a perfect camera but that doesnt stop me or anyone else looking for it. My latest find try is the X Pro 1 from Fuji. About a year ago, I dipped my toe in the Fuji camera pool and bought the Fuji X10, which I’ve enjoyed using and has been in my pocket on many trips. If sometimes I get lucky with an image that I want to submit to the library I work with (more about that to come in another blog being planned), I cant because the files really aren’t big enough. So I bought the X Pro 1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens (50mm equivalent), along with a FREE 18mm (equivalent to 35mm) and I took it with me on a recent trip to France to shoot some food and some landscapes. I went with my friend photographer Jonathan Lovekin and made this portrait of him on a walk one afternoon. I’m not much of a technoid so I’m not going to talk about the specs here, there are other people around doing those kinds of reviews very well so I’ll just be talking about what the experience of using it to take pictures. It has a lovely feel and is very simply laid out, so easy to use quickly and instinctively. I like having the exposure compensation dial right by my thumb. I also like having the choice between the optical viewfinder and the more accurate digital viewfinder. It reminds me a lot of the Contax G2, except that the auto focus on the X pro is more reliable. There’s no question about the quality (over 16mp) – Oh and it’s certainly lighter than my Nikon D3X! …
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The XE1 has a strange resolution anomaly with RAW mode in ACR

Question by Nino:
If you choose RAW alone or RAW and a smaller JPEG the RAW the file is not full resolution. It is 4896 x 2760. It should be 4896 x 3264. To get the full sized RAW capture you need to choose RAW+(full sized) JPEG. Am I missing something?

Solution by Ryan Williams:
I recall reading that Lightroom (and probably ACR) automatically crops RAWs to 16:9, so you need to go to the crop tool and remove/change the crop. This may only apply to when RAWs are saved in a certain ways though, as you describe.
Nino´s response:
That seems to be exactly what is going on. For conditions I noted at the start of this thread the RAW image opens in ACR cropped to 16:9. You do have to click the crop tool then the crop shows. Hit „esc“ and all is fine

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Why Do You Shoot Street Photography? | Eric Kim

When I was in Korea earlier this year, my friend and fellow street photographer David Kim shared a TED talk with me titled: “How great leaders inspire action.” David holds a leadership position at his job, and he told me that this talk changed the way how he lead others and how he leads his own life. Needless to say, I was fascinated by the talk and after watching it – it changed my life.

In the talk Simon Sinek makes the case that successful leaders/organizations/companies asked the question “why” before asking the “what” or the “how”. For example, he used Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers as examples who focused on the “why” questions. For Apple, they follow the “why” question when it comes to making computers. Why does Apple do what they do? They want to inspire people through elegant, simple, yet powerful devices. For Martin Luther King, why did he want to see equality and freedom for all races in the states? Because he had a dream.

For the Wright Brothers, why did they work so hard to build the first flying airplane? Not to make money, but to create a technological breakthrough that would help all of mankind…..

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Abstract Photo, “The River” | Ken Rowland

I spent a good part of the afternoon on “Black Friday” avoiding the crowds of crazy shoppers that were out and about by hanging out at the Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne, Alabama. My primary purpose was to make long exposure images in and around the canyon. One of the images I came away with was this abstract photo I’ll call “The River”.
The process of making this abstract photo

One of my objectives in honing my long exposure photography skills is to work on my creativity, particularly as it relates to abstract photos. Abstract images allow people to have a variety of perceptions and interpretations of an individual photo. Long exposures lend themselves easily to the creation of abstract photos. One of the areas of opportunity in long exposure images of water involves ensuring that there is sufficient texture to the water. Too often, long exposures of water have highlights that are blown out and consequently contain no data available to correct when post processing. I typically under expose by 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop to maintain that detail. Then in post processing, I’ll bring the exposure back up in the other areas keeping the detail and texture in the moving water intact. This has worked consistently well for me.
Equipment and Processing

For this image, I used the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the XF 18mm f/2 lens. Exposure was 5 seconds at f/8 and ISO 200. I processed the RAW image through Lightroom; did some minimal cropping and then boosted the contrast selectively in Color Efex Pro to further bring out the texture in the water.
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FUJIFILM X-Pro1 Hybrid Viewfinder – how it works at manual focusing
| Maximilian Weinzierl

The FUJIFILM X-Pro1 Hybrid Viewfinder and how it works at manual focusing: Optical vs. Electronic Viewfinder Demonstration in MF. Filmed through the original viewfinder. Switch between modes as a help for focusing manually.
Estsample test sample Fuji camera: ©
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X Pro 1, legacy glass and evening Street Photography, Chinatown
and North Beach | Denis Lincoln

This past Saturday evening I had the opportunity to kill a couple of hours in Chinatown and North Beach while waiting for my Apple Store appointment time to roll around. I decided that it’d be a good time to see what my present street photography setup was capable of in low light. The results were mainly satisfactory with a couple of hiccups, as is to be expected when shooting moving, uncooperative subjects in low light. I have read and agree with many others’ findings about the X Pro 1 and its prime lenses for street photography – that the 35mm is too slow and its autofocus too inaccurate to be counted on when speed is crucial, particularly at night. Also, 35mm (52mm full frame equivalent) is too long for how I like to shoot, while 18mm is too wide. I find that the 24mm lens, zone focusing, a generous depth of field and the X Pro 1′s OVF allow me to get many shots I might otherwise miss while the 35mm/1.4 dilly-dallies around trying to focus. I love that lens and the images it makes, I just don’t love that its autofocus is slow enough in bright light to be noticeable and didn’t want to stake the evening’s results on that lens. Another gripe is that the refresh rate of the EVF on the X Pro 1 gets awfully choppy and grainy the lower the light levels get. In some of the brightly lit shots, it’s a non-issue. In the case of the man on his phone in front of the shadowy sidewalk, it was tough to get the image in focus. In fairness, that shot is more about the shapes and shadows than it is a portrait, anyway, but I’m a pretty harsh critic of what I create. So, what’s the verdict? Well, heck – I love this camera and lens combo at night, too. Sure, I missed critical focus many times. Sure, people moving around makes for great backgrounds with extra grainy/blurry people. At 1/125, though, I think the results are good enough to share. Post processing is done in LR4.2. Although I’m a fan of black and white, for this exercise I eschewed black and white as I like several of these in color and feel that the colors contribute significantly to several of the images.

All from X Pro 1, Canon FD 24mm/2.8 SSC at f4.0 or f5.6, 1/60 or 1/125, ISO3200 or 6400.

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Fuji X-E1 Review – The Why and The How | Martin Castein

My thoughts:

If you are coming from a DSLR you will have a bit of a learning curve. The camera behaves very differently to a DSLR. It makes you think and slow down. You cant brute force your way through a shoot. You have to be more thoughtful and considerate. This is a big plus in many ways. I like this about it. My first reaction was give me the through the lens view of a DSLR. I was frustrated. This camera will initially frustrate you, the electronic viewfinder is irritating at first, this comes from not understanding what the camera is all about though. Be prepared for this. You need to learn to shoot in a different way. I felt like I was on a steep learning curve. I even questioned if I had done the right thing. But then I said to myself I need to really shoot this camera how it was asking me to shoot it. And then it came to life. You have to stop thinking how a DSLR thinks. This is hard to put into words. In many ways this camera is faster than a DSLR, bare with me. If the DSLR were a machine gun then the X-E1 is a sniper rifle. You cant shoot a sniper rifle like a machine gun and so you have to change the way you shoot. The X-E1 is about the single shot – nailed it way of shooting. This is a delightful way to make photographs and it can be faster. Once you are in the right frame of mind it is addictive and each click is rewarding. The pictures are stunning. I can imagine putting the D700 in the boot of the car for large sections of a wedding and just go around with this tiny camera.

Light bulb moment:

I can work faster than with a DSLR. This didn’t actually occur to me at first. Im working faster, because im doing less. Pulling the camera to my eye, a couple of clicks to correct the exposure and I have the shot. One shot, done. Im working more easily because im getting DSLR performance in a tiny camera. Spend a 10 hour day with this lightweight camera and it feels like the X-E1 leans back and says “told you so”. With its awesome ISO, colour rendition, white balance, skin tone and exposure metering. This camera just handles it. This feels like a more pure way of doing photography, even though its reliant on new technology, its more about the moment. Now I have a camera I can really take everywhere and Im shooting more than before but Im shooting far fewer shots to get any job done. For all the speed of a DSLR they need constant review and checking. This camera is more than that though. Its size and look make people not pay attention and you get those shots you wouldnt otherwise. Its just so much fun to use you want to take it everywhere and shoot it all the time, which can only be a good thing.

This is why I love this camera. Each image feels special and thought out. I had got used to just running and gunning too much with a DSLR. This camera is a dream for natural light shooters. A lot of its benefits are lost on people that use flash extensively I expect

I started writing this review after 3 days of ownership and now it has nearly been a week. Going back to my D700, the D700 feels faster in terms of autofocus, really much faster, but it feels remote. I dont feel as connected to the camera. I have started to feel like the X-E1 really sucks you in and makes you shoot its way. Like it has a style and a way where a DSLR has none. It commands your attention and says “you better think about this” but in the way a good teacher might rather than being difficult. My D700 in comparison feels like it is saying “yeah ok do what you like”. To conclude I would say this camera is not a DSLR replacement, I would not be without my D700. That was never my intention. I wanted a 2 camera setup for professional work. But it will become my primary camera. I still love my D700. I like each for different reasons and they fill different roles.

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Take control sharpening in Photoshop | Digital-Photography-School

Most people who have experimented in Photoshop, especially those who shoot in raw, will have some experience of trying to sharpen an image. Sharpening increases the contrast between neighbouring pixels resulting in the visual effect of a crisper image. It is typically the last processing step that should be performed on an image and is often used to enhance already well-focussed images or in desperation to try and rescue elements of a photograph that weren’t captured in-focus when the shutter was pressed. There are numerous ways to sharpen images in Photoshop, so much so that there is a whole sub-menu of filters dedicated to sharpening, each offering a different amount of control and different levels of success. However, one of the most overlooked filters that can help you achieve better results with more control isn’t found in the Sharpen sub-menu, but is in fact found in the, usefully named, Filter -> Other menu: the high pass filter.

I’ll take you through a step-by-step guide to using high pass filter and hopefully show you how simple and effective image sharpening can be…..
The benefit of using this method to sharpen your images is that the sharpening effect is applied in a non-destructive fashion, on a duplicate layer, with a very simple to understand parameter (in the Radius value) that controls the magnitude of the sharpening, as well as giving you the ability to fine tune the final effect using the Opacity slider.
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Zanzibar Portraits | Guillermo Hakim Photographs

People depicted in this series include students, carpenters, farmers, traders, metal workers, fishermen and textile workers in the informal sector in Zanzibar. All pictures taken with a Fujifilm X Pro-1 with a 35mm F1.4 lens

More pictures here:

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Fuji X-E1 review: the perfect travel camera? | Zarek Rahman

I have tested a few of the newer advanced mirrorless cameras this year (Panasonic GX1, Olympus E-M5, Fuji X-Pro 1) and the X-E1 is absolutely my favourite. First, a few notes on the camera:

  • The size is comparable to the Fuji X100 with the only difference being the lens protrusion. This doesn’t bother me much since it was never going to be a pocket camera anyway. It works great with a wrist strap or even a neck strap. The camera fits well in my hand, but I do think the addon grip may be a good idea if using only a wrist strap as it can be difficult to keep hold of the camera while walking around given its slim profile.
  • The build quality is good and it feels solid to me. I have the black model, and the paint has already started to chip off around the popup flash area. It’s very minor and could easily be filled in with a black pen. It is very stealthy and nobody batted an eyelid when I pointed it at them. I blacked out the X-E1 logo on the front with a black chinagraph (grease) pencil because I think it stands out way too much.
  • The camera is very responsive and settings changes are immediate. Usability is much, much better than the E-M5 which I found was a little sluggish to respond when turning the dials.
  • The image quality is absolutely outstanding (on par with the X-Pro 1) and is astonishing given the camera’s APS-C sensor size. With the 35mm lens in particular, it is on par with the my old Nikon D700 (a full frame beast). High ISO noise is very well controlled. I don’t do much ISO 6400 shooting, but when I did noise was certainly not a factor when reviewing the files.
  • Developing the files in Lightroom is a little painful, if only because Lightroom seems to load X-Pro1 & X-E1 files at about 1/8th of the speed it loads normal RAW files. I wasn’t concerned with any of the smearing junk that people babble on about. It just didn’t affect any of the photos I took enough for me to care.

While it does indeed sound like the perfect travel camera, there are some things that really piss me off about this thing:

  • Fuji needs to implement a minimum shutter speed for auto ISO. The X100 has it, so I can’t understand why their ‘pro’ class doesn’t. The camera chooses 1/equiv focal length which is OK for the 35mm lens (it chooses 1/52), but rubbish for the zoom – 1/30 at 18mm is pretty useless for most things.
  • While auto ISO works in manual exposure mode, the exposure compensation dial does not. This is stupid, because you can’t adjust the ISO setting the camera chooses automatically. My Nikon cameras have this and I use it all the time. And yes, I know how to choose a manual ISO speed – but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do things.
  • The AF point selection drives me nuts. I don’t see any reason to have to press the stupid AF button first. The 4-way selector should just allow you to move the points. The ‘macro’ button should be moved to where the AF button is.
  • The thumb wheel dial thing is totally underused. It does come in handy for zooming in to check images at 100% though (press it inwards in viewing mode).
  • The EVF was an initial point of concern. I’m used to using optical viewfinders so this was kind of new to me, but I am totally happy with how it is implemented. It behaves more or less like an optical viewfinder (it’s not WYSIWIG in manual mode) and the lag is minimal. I don’t really like how the ‘view mode’ button works. There should be an option to have ONLY the EVF on, and just switch off the LCD completely during shooting, only having it come on to review images.
  • The battery life is actually better than I expected, but still poor overall. I carried around 2 spares with me and only ended up having to use one of them towards the end of each day. I mostly used the EVF with the LCD set to the info pane. I guess this uses the least battery power of the available combinations.
  • The flash bounces easily and has enough power for smaller rooms with light ceilings. I wish there was an easier way to control the flash compensation though, and I don’t understand why you can only compensate up or down by 2/3 of a stop.
  • When set to lock exposure, AF-L/AE-L does not lock white balance. This is irritating if you are trying to take photos to stitch later and the colour temperature changes between each frame (e.g. in mixed lighting situations).

Overall, the camera works very very well. To get the most of it though, you do have to treat it differently than you would a DSLR. So here’s another bunch of bullet points about the main differences and how I deal with them:

  • Single point AF is the only real usable autofocus mode on this camera. The continuous AF mode is a waste of time. If you want to take photographs of moving subjects or action, then you need to anticipate where the subject is going to be, pre-focus to that area and then sit tight and hope they walk into that spot before you hit the shutter fully. If you try and treat this camera’s focus system like you would a DSLR, you will be disappointed. In order to do this you need to be aware of how much depth of field you’re working with, and this can be tricky for beginners.
  • The contrast detection AF system of this camera is very different to the system that DSLRs use. You really need to understand how CDAF systems work in order to get the most of it. I suggest reading the manual if you don’t already know. Once you know the limitations of the AF system, you can work around them with ease.
  • I didn’t really use manual focus extensively (why would I with 2 AF lenses with me?) but it does work much better on this camera than on DSLRs, particularly due to the magnification you get by pressing that thumb wheel thing. I’ve never used focus peaking so I have no clue of the value it would add to manual focusing.

OK enough writing: here are a few more samples before we get onto the lenses…..

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