Sunday, 22 February 2015

York Cemetery with Fuji X Pro-1

Well, the weekend has arrived and I was looking forward to taking the X Pro-1 out for its first outside shoot.
Saturday was a decent day, blue sky, dramatic clouds but unfortunately I had other appointments so could not get out.
Sunday arrived and as I looked out of the window it looked dry at least, overcast, but dry.

By the time I got the chance to go out it was looking like rain, 15 minutes after I got to York Cemetery the rain arrived and pretty much stopped play.

I did manage to get some frames shot with the X Pro-1, I even managed one with the 14mm.

Light was poor so no modelling visible and with Auto ISO selected I was shooting no lower than 320 ISO, I was thankful for the OIS on the 18-55mm.

Out of camera the images looked pretty flat due to the poor light, but processed in Lr using the Sieff Early DSLR Guru preset as a starting point it was possible to salvage some moody images, which reflected the weather quite well.

I have tried the Silkypix RAW converter supplied with the camera, and its OK, but to me it looks like the v5.7 of Lr has got it pretty much spot on, I couldn't tell the difference between them so stuck with Lr as its what I know. Maybe dedicated pixel-peepers would point out differences but I'm not into that.

Fuji X Pro-1, Fujinon XF 18-55mm

Fuji X Pro-1, Fujinon XF 18-55mm

Fuji X Pro-1, Fujinon XF 18-55mm

Fuji X Pro-1, Fujinon XF 14mm
I'm still not used to shooting with the Fuji yet, this being the first time out, but first impressions are good. I didn't find myself pressing the Quick Menu button by mistake as many others have said they did, and the AF was quick and accurate. More importantly the battery didn't give out in the cold!
For the 14mm image I used a Manfrotto Pixi tripod. I like this little tripod, its easy to used had a good secure ball head built in and fits in my Billingham bag easily. What I didn't like is that Fuji have put the tripod mount off-centre. A positive is that it is secured by four screws. I'll have to investigate the grip options for the X Pro-1.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Lightroom B+W presets

I tried out some Lr presets on a Fuji X-Trans image.

Lr Sieff

Lr Supercrunch SLR Guru

Lr Tri X DSLR Guru

Lr Tmax DSLR Guru

Friday, 20 February 2015

Product photos with Fuji X Pro-1

I'm selling my Leica Elmarit-M III 28mm f/2.8 on Ebay. I usually take Ebay photos with an old Olympus 3040 but thought that the Elmarit deserved a better set of photos.

I thought I'd try the Fuji X Pro-1 at the task. The only flash I had to hand was the Leica CF that I'm also currently listing on Ebay.

I set the Elmarit up in the light tent on a piece of glass raised 4cm above a white background.

I used a cheapo RF flash trigger to fire the Leica CF flash holding it above the light tent.

I used the Fuji X Pro-1 in manual exposure and manual focus. The focus peaking was a great help here, and I used the rear LCD screen. I used trial and error to arrive at the correct exposure of f/14 @ 1/125th. I set the Fn button on the Fuji to Self Timer.

I'm quite pleased with the results.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF14mm f2.8, Fujinon XF18-55mm f2.8-4 OIS

It has arrived. DPD delivered my Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF14mm and Fujinon XF18-55mm lenses.

I bought these in a part-ex deal with MBP Photographic and as usual they are in as new condition.

The X1-Pro body came in the original box with the manuals, strap and USB cable still factory sealed.
The lenses were not in their original boxes but are completely unmarked and blemish free.

I had to update the camera and the 18-55mm to the latest Firmware, the body was one version behind, while the lens was still on v1.00, which leads me to think that it has probably never been used. The 14mm was up to date.

I still have my Leica Elmarit and took the opportunity to compare the build quality to the Fujinon lenses before I send that to MBP.

To me, the build quality of the Fujinon lenses is every bit as good as that of the Leica, if not a little better in some areas, around the mount for example the Fujinon being very precise. The quality of the aperture markings is every bit as fine as it is on the Leica lens.

I don't have the Leica M8 anymore so a direct comparison can't be made, but I am very familar with the Leica M8, M9, M (240) and Monochrom and to me the Fuji X1-Pro is every bit as well put together. The Fuji dials have a better click to the increments than my M8 did and the paint and general fit and finish is every bit as good. What impresses me is the attention to detail Fuji have taken with this camera, everything feels just right, its easier to hold than a Leica M, and things like Ultrasonic sensor cleaning make a big difference, my M8 was a bugger for dust on the sensor. The menu system is also a lot faster than the M8 and Monochrom that I've used.

I hope to be giving it a test this weekend (weather permitting) so will report back once I've got some images to show. In the meantime I could not resist giving it a try in the house.

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF14mm f 2.8 shot in iPad.

One of my daughters paintings Fuji x Pro1, 18-55mm 3200 ISO
The above image was taken handheld under light from energy saving bulbs, I developed it in the supplied Fuji RAW developer App. I think its pretty impressive.
It appears that all lens correction is embedded into the RAW file and applied by the developer App.

Fuji x Pro1, 18-55mm 3200 ISO shot under tungsten light
The above image is a jpeg straight out of the Fuji x Pro1, I have applied nothing in the way of sharpening or correction, it has only been re-sized in Ps.

Fuji x Pro1, 18-55mm 3200 ISO shot under tungsten light, Developed in Lr.
I tried a development of the Fuji RAW file (.RAF) in Lr, my App of choice for Post Processing,  I converted to B+W, adjusted the black and highlights, applied some Detail and a vignette.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Time to loose the focal length reference for lenses?

If you have read my previous post you will know that  the Leica M8 and its lenses have gone and I've replaced them with a Fuji X1Pro with the 14mm and 18 - 55mm Fuji lenses. Another APS sensor camera. 

Not all APS are the same, the M8 is APS-H the largest of the APS sensors, the Fuji is APS-C the most common of the APS sensors. What this all meant was that when choosing the lenses to accompany the Fuji X1 Pro I had to work out the 35mm equivalents so I had a reference as to what I wanted. 

This got me thinking, wouldn't it be easier of lenses were referred to by their Angle of View (AOV)? that way you would know what you were getting and would not have to do some mental maths to work it out from the crop factor and focal length. 

For instance, a 14mm on APS-C has a 90degree AOV as does a 21mm on 35mm FF sensors, so if the lens was labelled Fujinon 90 degree AOV (14mm) I'd know instantly it was a wide angle. The 18 - 55 on APS-C has a AOV of 80 - 29 degrees equivalent in 35mm to 26 - 80mm  so I know its a wedding shooter special walk about lens.

I think it would be much easier all round, let me know what you think?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Leica M8 - going, going, gone.

Yes, you have read the title of this post correctly, I have sold my Leica M8, Elmarit 28mm, and the Voigtlander 15mm and 40mm lenses.

Why have I done this? well it wasn't an easy decision, I really liked the look of the files the M8 produced and the Leica and Voigtlander lenses were really very good indeed. 

The seed was sown when I was shooting recently with a friend who was using a Canon 5D2, now I've got one of these as well but thought it might be nice to compare images from the same shoot on different cameras, and the Leica gear is much lighter to carry than the Canon. 
The Leica battery was charged ready for the shoot and but it lasted all of around 30 mins before giving up. Ok, I should have had a spare, and in fact I do, but for some reason it was not charging in the Leica or Delkin charger so it was left at home.
The cold could have contributed to its shorter life (the Canon kept on shooting though) or it might just be that the battery is nearly 8 years old and past its best. Anyway I looked at it I was going to have to replace it. As third party batteries don't last very long in the Leica (I've tried three different types) it was going to have to be a new Leica battery, which are around £90.00, and ideally I need a couple, so I was looking at £180 for batteries.

The M8 is getting on for 8yrs old, I had already had the shutter repaired by Leica which involved sending it back to Solms for a month,  as Leica UK can't do much more than clean the sensor, so had lost a bit of confidence in the camera anyway, so the thought of spending £180 on new batteries for an ageing camera seemed a bit daft. I thought it was time for it to go.

Also recently I had noticed that the value of the M8 was starting to creep down having been steady at around the £1100 mark since my purchase.

My initial thoughts were to sell the M8 and get a M9, but the M9 is essentially the same camera with warmed over Firmware and a full-frame version of the same Kodak CCD sensor, the thought of paying £2500 - £3000 for a 2-3yr old camera was not very attractive. Also the recent tales of a backlog of M9s with "sensor rot"in Wetzlar awaiting repair did nothing to add to its attraction.

I briefly considered the Leica M (240), a new model and no reliability scares have yet surfaced, but I tried one last year in Ireland and found it heavy and neither one thing or the other with its live view and crappy focus peaking so the thought of blowing £5000 on one was again not appealing.

Focussing; I liked the manual rangefinder focussing when I was using the M8 but then I'd shoot with my 5D2 and find it so much easier.

So decision made, what did I replace it with? There is really only one alternative to a Leica M out there, the Fuji X-Pro1, with Fujinon XF14mm f2.4 and Fujinon XF18-55 f2.8-4 OIS zoom. 

The X-Pro1 has an APS-C sensor which is slightly smaller than the APS-H found in the M8. A crop factor of 1.5 compared to 1.3 in the Leica, so not a lot in it. 
16MP of CMOS goodness in the Fuji compared to 10.8MP of Kodak CCD in the Leica. Neither has an AA filter, Leica forgot (or just didn't care), Fuji jiggled the sensor filter layout with an alternative arrangement to the usual Beyer filter design found in most sensors so as to do without an AA filter yet avoid Moire.

I read and re-read all the info on the Fuji I could find (and there is a ton of it out there) and could not find a bad review of either the camera body or the Fujinon X lenses. This is hardly surprising really as Fuji have been making top quality cameras and lenses since the 1940's. 

The Fujinon lenses drew many comparisons to Leica lenses and were not found wanting by any reviewers both in construction and optical quality.

Reviews of the first X-Pro1 bodies mentioned slow AF due to firmware gremlins but these were quickly dealt with and with the latest Firmware (v3.40) it appears these issues are now sorted out.

All reviews commented on the quality of the images from the Fuji X-Trans sensor, even the out-of-camera jpegs looked really good.

It could be argued that the X-Pro1 is closer to what the Leica M should have been (obviously the Leica would have remained manual focus) but this would have meant loosing the Rangefinder focussing, probably much to the disgust of many Leica users.

What about going to an APS-C crop sensor, smaller than the Leica? Now, I love my Full Frame Canon 5D2, its never let me down and produces top quality results and its my go-to camera for when I have to deliver. I like the 35mm full frame as years of learning photography on 35mm cameras has made me extremely comfortable with the focal lengths etc. Having to do some mental maths with a crop factor is a bit awkward but can be overcome easily enough. But are we loosing out on image quality by settling on APS size sensors? I've not thought so with the results from the Leica M8. I recently found this entertaining piece on FF Vs crop sensors. The website Dedpxl from where this came is also a decent read.

There is a ton more tech in the Fuji than the M8, most of it I probably won't use more than once to try it, we'll see, I'll post more stuff after it all arrives.