I’ve spoken before about my love for the Fujifilm x-series cameras. The idea of having a camera that produces good enough quality and usability without having to lug around DSLR really appeals to me, whether for day to day stuff or even on jobs. You can read my thoughts on the x100s and X-Pro1 here. Although I love them as cameras to use day to day I probably wouldn’t be comfortable shooting a commercial gig exclusively on them. I tend to keep them as back-up and also as something to use for myself. However when the Fuji X-T1 came out I was excited that it could be a potentially great set-up for traveling with and shooting editorial assignments – it was much closer to the DSLR setup I’m used to using but without the bulk. With this in mind I decided to take one away with me on some recent assignments to Croatia, Spain, Morocco and Sweden. I already own some x-series lenses (18mm, 35mm) and I was lent a few extra ones (27mm, 56mm, 18-55mm, 23mm) which gave me a fairly thorough set-up……..
If you’re unfamiliar with the X100 series then get prepared to geek out. If you already know all about it then get prepared to be blown away by the Fujifilm X100T – because it’s the best X100 model yet. The reason is simple: the X100T brings an updated viewfinder, complete with parallax correction in manual focus and what the company is calling an “electronic rangefinder” feature too. And it’s utterly brilliant. In terms of build, the X100T is the same fine example of craftsmanship as the previous X100S and original X100 models. There’s not much we can say to better our previous thoughts on that – this silver-colour, magnesium alloy construction is solid in both visual and physical terms. If, that is, you like retro styling and the old school of thought when shooting, because the X100T has manual control dials and a fixed 23mm (which is a 35mm equivalent) f/2.0 aperture lens. No zoom to be found here. That’s a staple of the X100 series though and it restricts working practice in a kind of beautiful way. The quality is the same tried and tested optical performance as in its predecessors, as is the APS-C sized 16-megapixel X-Trans II CMOS sensor……
I give this lens 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed my time with this lens but I’m going to sell it for something more compact and less bulky (*see UPDATE 1). It’s a little awkwardly weighted on the XE-2 and I found myself shooting only within the 10mm – 14mm range 80% of the time. So I’m purchasing the Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 Touit * — a nice middle ground that will take up less space in my bag. The Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 is a high-quality lens that could definitely pass for certain professional uses but perhaps not for huge fine-art prints (though that’s up for debate). While compiling the photos for this review I almost convinced myself to keep the lens! If you don’t mind the extra weight and size or f/4 aperture, this is is fantastic purchase……..
Welcome to the second part of my fuji X-T1 camera review. This post will focus primarily on how the X-T1 performs while shooting weddings. Part I of the review (which focuses on landscape photography) is here. I broke the review up into two sections because the two genres are quite different and I figured it’d be nice to have two shorter reviews that are more specific to what people might want to read. First off, let me explain that I’m NOT a full time wedding photographer. I never have been and don’t plan to be anytime soon. I’ve been a second shooter for some friends of mine for the last three summers which is a role I really enjoy. I’ve also had the pleasure of shooting a few weddings for close friends and I always bring my kit along to weddings I’m invited to (that’s where the above image came from). Because I’m a second shooter I’ve been asked not to share any images from my most recent wedding until the primary photographers wrap up their blog post… So this image won’t have a ton of images in it for a few more weeks. For that I apologize but I figured I’d get my thoughts written down now while they’re fresh.
I first started using Fuji X-100, thanks to a happy accident: I fell down a flight of stairs in Varanasi, India, and destroyed my Canon 5D. As a secondary emergency camera, I had bought my X-100 before my trip, and so began my relationship with Fuji. Later on, when the Fuji XPRO-1 appeared on the scene, I sold my Canon equipment, and since then I’ve been using exclusively Fuji equipment. Though, I must clarify now, I have no special deal with Fuji; this is all my sincere and own opinion. I’ve taken tons of photographs in low light conditions with my Fuji, and with one of these night shots on one of my photo tours I won the National Geographic World Photo prize in 2012 (though it was disqualified at the end of things, for reasons unrelated to the camera). As well, in the low light category I was a finalist in the 2013 Sony World Photo Awards. Again, my trusty Fuji was my camera of choice. I should say here that 95% of the time I like to use a manual set focus button, and then shoot. I feel it faster this way…….
Despite people having their reservations about the XF18-135 when it was announced, I was still looking forward to the lens being that it along with the X-T1 are the first of Fujifilm’s “Weather Resistant” line of products (with more to come later this year). The XF18-135 isn’t a fast lens given its variable aperture spec which is why I think most people would hesitate getting this lens. But I think what many don’t realize is the reasoning for this. A lot of it comes down to getting the most versatile zoom range while still retaining compact dimensions. Remember that while this is a mirrorless lens, that does not equate to a major design difference size-wise compared to dslr lenses. The mirror on the X-Series cameras may be gone which affords them a much more compact body but the lens for the most part has the same design as any APS-C camera out there. So, many would argue that it would have been better to get a constant F4 or F2.8 on this lens; the fact of the matter is, that would have made the XF18-135 into an unwieldy lens for travel which is what I think this lens is targeted for………
As some of you know already I got the opportunity to test out the latest Fujinon lens for the X-series during my trip to Iceland. Fujifilm Nordicwas kind enough to send me a sample of this weather sealed lens for me to make use of during this trip and see what it could go for. Iceland is (in)famously known for having extremely changing weather so it ought to be a great chance to test how well the weather sealing worked along with my X-T1. Generally I prefer prime lenses and that’s what I work with 95% of the time, much because I don’t like to compromise with focal length or with quality. I like having to move to get the right framing, and it has taught me a lot during the years. And as we all are familiar with the pure photographic quality of the photos will always be better with a prime lens. That being said, there are obviously moments when it’s really convenient with a zoom lens. Especially for traveling. Being able to walk around with just one lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths is very practical, both from not having to change lenses or carrying heavy bags with complimentary lenses because you can’t decide on which one to go with……
In early 2013, Fujifilm introduced the X100S, a bright-lensed camera nicely aimed at the street photography niche, and a followup to the earlier Fuji X100. Although we appreciated its image quality and a reduction in lens flare exhibited by the earlier camera, we had some reservations due to some quirks, predominantly related to its autofocus, controls and body design. Now, the followup Fuji X100T aims to take the best of its predecessors, answer our main criticisms of their design, and bring them up to date with some worthwhile tweaks to the viewfinder, display and connectivity. What hasn’t changed since the X100S is the imaging pipeline, which we commended in the earlier camera. The Fuji X100T shares the same 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II image sensor, the same EXR Processor II image processor, and the same bright 35mm-equivalent f/2.0 prime lens that together makes this a great little candid street shooter. And given that the pipeline is unchanged, unsurprisingly neither is the X100T’s burst performance of about six frames per second. You can also still extend reach of its prime lens in either direction with optional 0.8x wide and 1.4x tele converters……
All of the portraits above were shot in RAW with the Fuji X-T1 body combined with the new 56mm f/1.2R APD lens and processed in LR5 with my own black & white presets. The lens itself was a prototype, so until a full production version of the lens is released I can’t really give an opinion on things like the focus speed, manual focusing, etc. In regards to the lens, what’s new about it? Well, not a whole hell of a lot. It’s the exact same lens on the outside in terms of size, build quality, filter size, etc. It’s the insides that have changed, but as I said, it’s not a huge leap. Below is a side by side, using straight out of camera JPG’s using the in-camera black and white preset, with the exact same settings (ISO 200 – f/1.2 – 1/2000sec) with the image from the original 56mm being adjusted -1 stop in LR5 to keep the exposure consistent. For those of you wondering why I had to adjust the exposure when using the exact same settings, it’s because the original 56mm lens lets in roughly 1 stop of light more than the new APD version, so at the exact same settings the photo from the older version of the lens will come out a stop brighter. That loss of 1 stop of light could be a good or bad thing depending on the shooting situation, but its due to the APD filter they added within the lens………
So yes, the rumours were true: Fujifilm has announced a new, different version of their stellar XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens — the XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD. I’m stressing the word different as opposed to better and I’ll explain why in a bit. APD stands for apodized. This is a process by which an optical filter is introduced inside the lens assembly to modify the way it renders out of focus areas — specifically, to make them smoother. And because this filter gets gradually darker at the edges, it also adds a slight vignetting effect. And I do mean slight: light falloff more than any real darkening. I was fortunate to again be hired by Fuji to shoot samples for this version as I had done for the previous model last winter, along with my Canadian colleague Nathan Elson from Calgary (his stunning images are here; very cool shoot). But the deadline and turnaround were a lot tighter this time and I barely had a few days with it. The lens Tokyo sent in was a prototype with nothing but a yellow sticker to distinguish it from my own “normal” 56mm. Since it wasn’t anywhere near a production model, this isn’t a review at all — just a look at the photo shoot and a few personal notes. And btw, these images aren’t the same versions you’ll find on the official product page: we send in unprocessed raw files for sample use. No retouching, no sharpening. Nada. It’s a humbling experience if there ever was one. The photos here were processed in LR5 with my usual methods (although Capture One was used as well for some of these; more on that eventually)……..