Monday, October 8, 2012

Fuji X10 and Firmware 2.0 Review and Samples

One thing I really enjoy since I started using Fuji X cameras is that Fuji listens to us users and pushes out Firmware updates over time that don’t only improve speed and reliability, but also add features.

I have been enjoying the use of my Fujifilm X10 as my most compact “serious“ camera. I always take it along when I only have a coat pocket of space for a camera and I’m always amazed by the quality images I get from this small sensor camera. The awesome fast lens does work perfectly together with the EXR sensor. But the fast zoom lens comes at the price of a little bit bigger size. Unlike a Canon s95/S100 who’s lens retracts 100% into the body to give a small package that fits in your shirt pocket, the lens of the X10 sticks out too much for any shirt pocket that I own. But my coat pockets will hold the X10 comfortably.

I just returned from a 1 day business trip to Munich. I only had a little extra room in my bag and it was easily filled with the X10. Here are three quick photos that I snapped on the way:

As always, click on the image for a larger version


A cool looking subway station that is hidden in the south of Munich: Spaceport Munich - Fuji X10 sample


And the very famous Marienplatz station that most Munich visitors come across: Munich Marienplatz Station - Fuji X10 sample


The X10 has a great auto white balance even in this tricky yellowish airfield lighting and very good ISO 1600 quality for a small sensor camera
Fuji X10 ISO 1600 AWB sample








___________
Firmware 2.0

Last Friday my almost one year old Fuji X10 received a 2.0 firmware update from Fuji. Two things were mentioned as changes in the release notes:

1. The “Q“ (Quick) Menu that I love so much on my X-Pro 1 was added to the X10 “RAW“ button. You now have the camera’s most important functions all on one detailed screen to quickly change them.

2. An “Advanced Filter” function has been added. Those filters can be activated in the Advanced Mode and give you the choice of 5 special filter effects (Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High-Key, Dynamic Tone and 6 individual color key (partial color) filters.

I have spend some time over the weekend to play with the new firmware functions. The added “Q“ Menu alone made the upgrade worth it for me. Although you need to be aware that you loose the option to program the “RAW“ key with a custom function. The Fn key can still be programmed with you favorite function, though.

The color filters are a nice add on, too. But to be honest, I’m not a big fan of these filters in general. I do, however, see why Fuji added them to the prosumer targeted X10 compact. The X10 is a very capable compact camera. And I enjoy the excellent image quality and natural color rendition of the original files straight out of the camera. But there are users who prefer a different style of look to their images that had to be applied outside the camera in a photo editor, untill now.

But now you can choose the filter style you like in the Advanced menu and preview the effect the filter will create live on the LCD. One click and the image has been captured in that style and is ready for upload via USB, SD-Card reader or Eye-Fi card.

Here are some examples of what some of the filters look like (out of camera):


The Miniature filter: Fuji X10 Miniature filter sample



The Dynamic Tone filter: Fuji X10 Dynamic Tone filter sample



The Partial Color Blue filter:
Fuji X10 Partial Color Blue filter sample



And the High-Key filter:
Fuji X10 High-Key filter sample


While it is convenient to have the camera bake the filter style automatically into your photo there is a drawback. Once the JPG is created, there is no turning back! The effects only work in JPG and don't work on your RAW files. So there is no way to neutralize your image file after the filter style has been applied. Therefore use the filter effects wisely!

While I tested the filter effects, I started to wonder if their use could be improved. I came up with the following suggestions/questions:

1. Why can't the filter effects be created from a RAW file inside the camera's RAW converter like the film simulations?

2. Why can't the filter effects be incorporated into the "Drive" function "Film Simulation Series"? This way I could choose one or two effects and still have the original Provia file.

3. Why can't the filter effects be accesed in the "Q" menu for quick changing?Maybe Fuji listens once again to our suggestions - and please Fuji, add the "Q" menu to the X100's Raw button, too ;-)


If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fuji X-Pro 1 AF (Autofocus) speed and accuracy - Review and tips


It seems to me that speed and quality of the Fujifim X-Pro 1 autofocus is one of the hottest topics about this camera on the web. "Is it as fast as...?" "Is it capable of sports, action, etc...?"

I will focus (no pun intended) on this topic for todays post and give you my experiences and tips on how to get the most out of the X-Pro 1 in terms of focusing. As of today, I took more than 10,000 images with the X-Pro 1 in the past 4 month. That gives me a pretty good idea of what the AF can and what it can't do.

The X-Pro 1 AF will not rival the speed of the Nikon D4 or Canon 1D X - that should not be a surprise to anyone. But there are ways to make the AF of the X-Pro 1 perform fast enough for most situations.

Future Dirk Nowitzki? Fuji X-Pro 1
No, you don't have to fake it like this in order to take photos of moving subject with the X-Pro 1 ;)


The X-Pro 1 uses contrast detection autofocus (CDAF) compared to phase detection autofocus that is usually found in DSLR cameras. As I have shown in an earlyer post, I like to photograph at minimum aperture to create a shallow depth of field. And in those situations perfect AF lock is essential for good results. The advantage of contrast detection is, that it is very accurate when it locks onto the target. On my phase detection  DSLR camera I have gotten used to pushing the shutter half way for 2-3 times before I trust that the AF locked correctly onto the subject.

You can give this a try for yourself. Take your DSLR and your fastest lens - a 50mm lens with f/1.8 or faster would work great. Then open the aperture all the way and look for a subject  about 1 m (3ft) away. Now press you shutter (or designated AF button) once untill you get the focus lock feedback. Now do it again. Did you hear the AF in the lens moving (pumping)? And give it a third try. Still hear movement? If so you are hearing the lens readjusting every time.

I found that in those situations the contrast autofocus is usually spot on the first time while the phase detection AF needs a few pushes and a series of images to get a perfect result.

The advantage of phase detection AF is, that it is better at tracking subjects, especially if they move towards or away from you. The continious contrast detection AF on the X-Pro 1 did not yield good results for me when set to AF-C (continuous) mode.

So is the X-Pro 1 useless for moving subjects? Not at all! You just have to approach things differently to get good results! Here are my tips to get the best results from the X-Pro 1:



1. Learn what the X-Pro 1 AF needs:
Although the X-Pro 1 will generally focus without a problem in good light, there are situations where you need to aid the AF to lock onto your subject. These situations could be a very low contrast object like a plain wall, low light or backlight behind your subject.
In those situations you need to remember that the contrast autofocus of the X-Pro 1 does not focus like a cross type sensor. Think of the AF to work like a split screen focusing screen on a classic SLR camera. Therefore you should aid the X-Pro in horizontal orientation (landscape orientation) to find a vertical line on the subject for your AF point to focus on. In vertical orientation (portrait orientation) look for a horizontal line to focus on. It took me some time to figure this out, but you can give it a try on your white bathroom tiles as a hands on exercise to remember this.



There are situations where you might not find the edge or line in the correct orientation for the focus frame to aim at. In those situations I keep the viewfinder on my eye, tilt the camera slightly (maybe 25° clockwise or counterclockwise) an half press the shutter untill I get the focus lock confirmation. I keep the shutter half pressed, turn the camera back into the orientation that I desire, reframe and click!

Drive by Tourism - Fuji X-Pro 1
This car was driving parallel to me and the AF of the X-Pro 1 did not have any problems to lock focus on the first try


2. Focus points are your friends:
Choosing you focus point is critical. In electronic viewfinder mode (EVF) I set my focus point (focus frame) to its smallest size (push the AF button and turn command dial to the right). This way I reduce the potential for focus error in situations where the focus point covers too much of a subject. How annoying would it be if you focus at an eye, but the AF chooses the nose as it happens to be in your focus area, too?
A larger focus point will however increase the chance that it can focus on something in critical focus situations as described in 1. above. So there might be situations where it can be helpful to increase the size of your focus point.

You should also get very comfortable to use focus point selection. I get far better results when I select the focus point to be on the correct spot in the frame compared to focus and recompose - especially with the XF 18mm lens. I tend to get really close to my subject with the 18mm lens to get a shallow depth of field. And during the focus and recompose process a few centimeters movement can ruin the focus. So get that muscle memory in your fingers trained to press the AF button once and then select the focus area on the arrow buttons. When you want to quickly recenter the AF point afterwards, just push the AF button once and then click the "OK" button in the mittle of the arrow keys - voilá :)

Fuji X-Pro 1 - XF 18mm f/2
The best way to get this sharp result was to set the focus point to the top right of the frame onto the keyhole


3. Focus speed - Yes, it can!
Like I said in my introduction, the X-Pro 1 AF will not be your best choice if you want to use AF-Traking for fast action photography. However, I found the focus speed to be much better than I expected. But once again, you'll probably have to operate the AF differently to what you are used to.

To archieve the fastest AF speed on the X-Pro 1 set the AF to AF-S (single) and turn the power save mode off. Then adjust your focus point to be on the area of the frame where you want to lock focus on (if you constatntly don't get good results try to increase the AF point size for that situation). Now aim at your subject and quickly press the shutter all the way. Yes, you press it all the way without waiting for half press focus confirmation! It took me some time to learn this approach as I have done it properly differently for the past 8 years. But change is good if the results improve. Give it a try, you will probably be surprised :)

Decisive moment for a soccer striker - Fuji X-Pro 1
Contrary to Zack Arias review I found that the X-Pro 1 is suitable for kids soccer photography ;)


4. Fast action sports - Yes, you can!
There are however limits to what the X-Pro 1 AF can handle. Once you are getting into really fast or close action it is up to you! Kind of "Don't ask what your camera can do for you. Ask instead what you....." you get the idea ;)

Once you reach the limit of AF speed, and that is the case for any camera, you will have to rely on your own skill to capture the action. Believe it or not, before AF was invented photographers took fantastic action photos, too. The secret for good results is to lern how to manual zone focus.
First, you will need to anticipate the area of the scene where the action will take place and switch the focus mode to Manual. Secondly,  prefocus to the spot where you want to capture the action and stop the lens down to an f-stop that allows for enought depth of field (zone) where the subject will be in focus. The manual focus distance scale indicator in the viewfinder will show this depth of field zone (white line) in front and behind your focus distance indicator (red line).
Finally, you only need to set your minimum shutter speed to either freeze the action or to leave a bit of motion blur. Now let the subject walk (or run) into your zone of focus.

Hamburg Marathon 2012 Impressionen - Fuji X-Pro 1
Zone focusing the X-Pro 1 with 35mm at f/2.8 was the only way to get a good image this close to the action


5. EVF or OVF for best results?
To get the most accurat framing and focus spot you are best off by using the EVF. And for manual focus and macro photography the EVF is pretty much your only choice. I also prefer the EVF in dark situations as it amplifies the scene and makes it much brighter than in the OVF! Yet, some people don't like to use EVF as there is a bit of lag and the refreshrate can be too slow for some situations. But as you have probably guessed by now, there is also a trick to overcome the EVF display lag in critical timing situations.This will work best if you are photographing with your right eye on the viewfinder. We can take advantage of the X-Pro 1 rangefinder style layout by framing and pre focusing our shot with the right eye on the EVF and then opening the left eye, too in order to look "live" at your subject. Now you see the live "feed" of the scene with your left eye a bit faster than the scene through the EVF. And this can give you the critical edge in timing that smile you want to capture or simply avoiding closed eyes due to blinking of your subject. It takes a bit of practice to get used to it, but it works really well for me. For people who look through the viewfinder with their left eye this trick will only work in portrait orientation.
Naturally, you don't have the lag issue with the OVF. Due to the bigger field of view compared to the actual frame lines the lens/sensor combination captures, you can also better anticipate a subject before it walks into your capture frame. The drawback of the OVF is parallax error. As you are not looking through your lens like you would in a (D)SLR or EVF style camera, you need to compensate for the difference in position from your eye to your lens. This parallax error gets bigger, the closer you are to the subject!
The X-Pro 1 offers a setting in the menu (switch Corrected AF Frame to "ON") to show an estimation of the focus point and framelines shift according to the distance the AF measured. The adjusted focus point and framelines will appear after you half press the shutter to focus and then recompose to adjust the framing. Note that you can't reduce the size of the AF point in OVF mode (it would not be accurate enough). You can however move the focus point around.

Hamburg Marathon 2012 Impressionen - Fuji X-Pro 1
I looked with my left eye past the camera to time this photo and with my right eye through the EVF for general framing. If I would have relied only on the EVF for timing, the lag would have caused me to push the shutter a fraction of a second too late.


Conclusion:
There are certainly limits to what the X-Pro 1 AF can do, but I find the performance of the AF and MF to be very usable. I sometimes read that people (probably not so experienced photographers) are unhappy with the AF performance of the X-Pro 1. But you'll have to do some things differently than what you might be used to in order to get the best results with this camera. There is no face detection or object tracking on the X-Pro 1 - so if this is what you have been used to in your previous camera you now have the perfect opportunity to learn more photography techniques that will put you in charge of the results. Try it, it can be very rewarding. After all, who likes to be only on the passenger seat all the time? ;-)

DSCF5670
A friendly Sony NEX-5n photographer wanted to return the favor and take a photo of me with my X-Pro 1. I guess he never photographed without face detection AF before ;)
Click on the image to read the whole story on this unsharp photo.


If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

p.s. Most of these tipps will also work on the Fuji X100 and Fuji X-E1

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fuji X-Pro 1 and Olympus OM Zuiko lenses

After my review on the Kipon Canon EOS to Fuji XF adapter, I am going to write about how the Kipon Olympus OM-XF adapter performs on the Fuji X-Pro 1.

Fuji offers their own intelligent adapter for Leica M lenses. And if I were fortunate enough to own Leica M glass, I would buy the Fuji adapter in a heartbeat.

But I still own some Olympus OM Zuiko lenses from my old analog OM-4 Ti. Therefore another Kipon adapter was ordered and I had it connected to the X-Pro 1 quite often in the past month.

Unfortunately, my OM lens collection on the wide side overlaps with my current Fujinon XF lenses in terms of effective focal length. This leaves me with the Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 Auto-S and OM Zuiko 100mm f/2.8 Auto-T as useful additions to my current X-Pro 1 lens lineup. Great thing about those two lenses is that they are rather compact (compaed to the Olympus 50mm f/1.4 and 100mm f/2). And with the additional lengt of the Kipon OM-XF adapter, you'll want as short of a lens as you can get - unless you want to end up with an odd looking drainpipe sticking out from your slim X-Pro 1 body ;)

The biggest advantage of the OM lenses vs. the Canon EOS EF lenses is that you can select the aperture right on the lens itself. No aperture "hack" required :)

And how do they perform? The image quality is great! I mainly use the 100mm as this effective field of view equals 150mm on a full frame body. Somehow I did not find much use for the 50mm (75mm equivalent FOV), yet.

Both performe really well wide open. But in order to use them wide open your focus has to be spot on. And that is quite difficult to manage with the current stage of the EVF refresh and magnification rate offered by the X-Pro 1. Did I mention before that I wish for a second MF magnification level of 5X in addition to the 10X we already got? And focus peaking would make focusing long MF lenses so much easier...

But the way it is right now (X-Pro 1 with FW 1.10) I usually stop down on moving subjects to f/5.6 in order to get enough depth of field to compensate for focus inaccuracy. It works but it takes a bit potential away from this great combo.

So if you want to use your OM (or any other manual focus) lens wide open on the X-Pro 1 make sure you aim at static objects - possibly even with the camera set on a tripod.

Here are some sample images - as always click on the image to see a larger version:

Last one standing - Fuji X-Pro 1
"Last one standing" - X-Pro 1 with Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 Zuiko at f/8


Happy Bokeh Friday 08.06.2012 - Fuji X-Pro 1
As they were posing for their own photo I was able to nail focus with the OM 100mm wide open at f/2.8 - nice bokeh, too


First contact - Fuji X-Pro 1
Architecture works also well with the OM 100mm at f/5.6 as there is virtually no distortion!


Analogman @ work in Paris! Fuji X-Pro 1
Another lucky shot with the 100mm at f/2.8 - I wished focusing this long lens would be more reliable with the EVF in scenes with moving subjects


Hiding - Shrouded in a scarf - Fuji X-Pro 1
This was shot in a crowded place but I was able to single out this undercover lady with the 100mm lens at f/5.6


Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8 auf Fuji X-Pro 1
This is an example of how well the OM 50mm f/1.8 looks on the X-Pro 1


Getting close - Fuji X-Pro 1 with OM 100mm
And just in case if you are interested in how the OM 100mm handles color images... Looks very natural to me :)


DSCF5813
The OM 100mm f/2.8 isn't a dedicated macro lens - but look at the details on the focus point on the "C" from Cycle in the full size image at f/2.8!!! (click the image)


Fuji X-Pro 1 with Kipon OM-XF adapter and Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens
And now you probably want to see how the adapter and lens combo looks like when attached to the X-Pro 1. Notice that the Kipon OM-XF adapter itself is about half as long as the 100mm lens.


To sum it up:
The Olympus OM lenses were good lenses back in the analog days. And the once I tested perform really well on the X-Pro 1, too. So if you still have some OM lenses in the drawer, think about getting an OM-XF adapter for your X-Pro 1. And if you don't have any old lenses, check for used OM lenses on the web or at you used camera store.

Against my usual believe to go for the "faster, bigger and more expensive lenses" I would suggest to go for the smaller, lighter, cheaper ones when it comes to OM 50mm f/1.4 vs. f/1.8 and OM 100mm f/2 vs. f/2.8. The "slower" lenses perform really good and due to the challenging EVF focusing on the X-Pro 1 you might end up stopping the lenses down anyway.

If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

How Bokehlicious is the Fuji X-Pro 1?

Tests have shown that the Fuji X-Pro 1 is able to challenge full frame sensor cameras in resolution, dynamic range and ISO performance.

But there is one physical limitation where even the best APS-C size sensor can't challenge a full frame camera - and that is shallow depth of field control.

Any sensor smaller than full frame will have a greater depth of field at comparable lens and f-stop settings. Now that does not automatically imply that this is a bad thing. Many wildlife, sports and macro photographers actually appreciate this characteristic for their work.

But I am a shallow depth of field and bokeh lover! I have used full frame DSLR's for 6 years and really make use of shallow depth of field to separate my subject from the background. So how can I create this effect with the X-Pro 1?

Well, the underlying physics of the X-Pro 1 APS-C sensor can't be changed. You have to a) shoot as wide open as possible and b) get as close as possible to your subject and c) use the longest focal length possible in order to increase the shallow depth of field.

The bokeh quality is a matter of the lens used. So how do the XF 18mm and XF 35mm that I own do in the bokeh department? See and decide for yourself:


Small but at the Top - Fuji X-Pro 1 macro
The Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 is capable of producing a nice bokeh and lots of details even at f/2.8!


Happy Bokeh Friday 11.05.2012 - Fuji X-Pro 1
The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 does produce a very pleasing bokeh, too.


Happy Bokeh Friday 30.03.2012
XF 35mm @ f/1.4 with sunlight coming in through the window behind the chair.


And let our grammar better get always ;) - Fuji X-Pro 1
This was a high contrast scene facing towards the sun with the XF 18mm lens. Blown highlights but nice bokeh.


Happy Bokeh Friday 20.04.2012
Detail of a classic Citroen DS taken with the XF 35mm f/1.4


Happy Bokeh Friday 13.04.2012
The wide angle XF 18mm f/2 allows for a good angle of view even if you want to get close to the subject in order to create background blurr


Happy Bokeh Friday 22.06.2012 - Fuji X-Pro 1
XF 35mm at f/1.4 - I use shallow depth of field to focus the viewers attention to the part of the picture that I want to highlight. The Lytro camera shown in this image lets the viewer decide where to focus on after the picture was taken...


The right one is somewhere out there... - Happy Bokeh Friday!
XF 35mm at f/1.4 - If everything would have been in focus, the background would have distracted from the subject and the story this picture was supposed to tell would have been less intense


Portrait in the rain - Fuji X-Pro 1
I am always amazed about how well the XF 35mm on the X-Pro 1 resolves details. Even wide open at f/1.4 you can clearly see individual hairs (click on the image to go to a bigger version)


Both the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 and 35mm f/1.4 are great compact lenses that can be used with wide open aperture and still resolve lots of detail.

Remember, the smaller the sensor gets, the tougher it is to separate your subject from the background! Therefore a smaller m4/3 sensor needs an even faster lens to create a similar shallow depth of field at a comparable field of view that you get from an APS-C sensor camera.

Looking at Fujis XF lens roadmap, the XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.4 (both in 2013) are two lenses that look interesting for the shallow depth of field style photographer :)

And as the Fuji X-E1 hast the same mount and sensor as the X-Pro 1, the results will be the same.

If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pimp my Fuji X-Pro 1

Don't worry! By pimping I don't mean that you need to add neon or a subwoofer to the X-Pro 1 ;)
When I say pimping I'm talking about what I did to increase speed and usability of my X-Pro 1.

1. Strap
The day I preordered my X-Pro 1 was also the day that I ordered a thin leather strap from Gordy's Camera Straps. I have used Gordy's straps on all of my old analog cameras for years. A beautiful camera like the X10, X100 or the X-Pro 1 deserves a beautiful strap. The strap is perfect for the weight of the camera and you can customized the length, color of leather and color of the wrapping cord to individulize your strap.

Fuji X-Pro 1 with Gordy's strap and soft release



2. Thumbs Up grip
Compared to an entry level camera body the X-Pro 1 is not that much smaller in width and height. But it's much thinner. That's great for portability but not ideal for ergonomics.

I have rather large hands and the X-Pro 1 is too thin to sit perfectly in my hand. Fuji was aware of this potential issue and offers a X-Pro 1 hand grip. The Fuji hand grip is screwed into the tripod mount of the X-Pro 1. It offers a centered tripod mount on the bottom (the X-Pro 1 comes with an off center tripod mount). I almost ordered the hand grip, but unfortunately it lacks the hole to access the battery and SD card compartment when attached. So you'll have to detach the hand grip every time you need to access the SD card or battery...

Then I read somewhere that a Thumbs Up grip for the Leica X1 fits the Fuji X-Pro 1 (Thumbs Up CSEP-2) and the X100. It was about 50% more expensive than the Fuji Hand Grip, but you still have easy access to the battery/SD door.

My black Thumbs Up grip arrived and has stayed on the X-Pro 1 since then. It is well made (as one can expect for this price) and fits ergonomically perfect for me. The camera is well balanced even when holding it in one hand. They now even make another Thumbs Up (EP-7S) grip especially for the X-Pro 1 that is a bit cheaper, but I have not tried that one.

If you opt for a Thumbs Up grip you should be aware of the following issues:
You loose the flash ability via hot shoe (I have not used a flash on the X-Pro 1 so far). And the paint of the grip will wear off quite easily and expose the brass underneath (see photo).

Fuji X-Pro 1 with Thumbs Up Grip CSEP-2 and soft release button
Fuji X-Pro 1 with Thumbs Up Grip CSEP-2 and soft release button



3. Soft release:
I found the X-Pro 1 trigger to be a bit small for my liking and I ordered a soft release online. There are cheap soft releases on ebay so give it a try. And maybe order a few extra ones as I have managed to loose one already. (I did not dare to add LocTite)


4. Extra battery:
 I ordered two original spare batteries for my X-Pro 1. I get around 300-400 images on one charge under my normal use conditions. So the extra juice can come in handy...


5. SD-Card
If you want to speed up the operations on your X-Pro 1 invest in fast UHS-I SDHC cards! Fortunately Fuji supports the new UHS-I standard and the X10, X100 and X-Pro 1 make use of it. I am using 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro cards rated at 95 MB/s and have never felt that the cameras operate slowly. The speed will most likely improve noticably even compared to a normal Class 10 card.

SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I


6. SD-Card maintanance
No matter what SD card you use there is some precaution that you should take with the cards used on Fuji X-Cameras!

First of all always format the card inside the camera.
Secondly, SD cards come with a little "Lock" slider on the side. Do make it a habbit to switch the slider to "Lock" as soon as you take the card out of the camera and unlock it only right before you put it back into the camera! (unless you want to load a firmware update onto the card).
If you don't lock the card and stick it into a Mac or iPad (I don't know about Windows), the OS will add a little file onto the card that gives your Fuji camera the hiccups. The camera will feel totally unrespondsive and takes forever to start. Only cure is to format the card in camera and remeber to lock it next time you take it out.


7. Lens adapter:
If you still have some old lenses from a different camera system why not check out if they have an adapter for the XF mount? I recently wrote about my experience with the Canon EOS EF to Fuji XF adapter on my X-Pro 1 and will soon post about my experience with the Olympus OM Zuiko to XF adapter.
Give your lens a second life and your X-Pro 1 some extra focal lenght to play with :)

Fuji X-Pro 1 with EF 135mm f2 L
Fuji X-Pro 1 with Kipon EOS-XF adapter and Canon EF 135mm f/2 L lens attached


If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fuji X-Pro 1 and Architecture photography

Any camera is capable of taking photos of architecture! But some do it better than others...

The field of view of the lens/camera combination and distance/point of view to the subject have to match in order to get the photo you want. Most of the time I end up shooting architecture from the ground-level up and a Tilt-Shift lens is most useful in those situations.

But Fuji does not make a Tilt-Shift lens for the XF camera mount so I have to work with what I've got. The XF 18mm and 35mm lenses do make decent architecture lenses on the X-Pro 1, though.

First of all they have a lot of resolving power and the X-Trans sensor delivers a lot of detail and sharpness thanks to the lack of a AA filter.

Secondly, the X-Pro 1 corrects the distortion for the lenses. THis way you get straight lines from your "out of camera" jpg image. This helps a lot in making the image look good even if you have to apply a bit of perspective correction in post processin.

Here are a few architecture shots I have taken with the X-Pro 1 recently:

Spaceship Egg Pano -Fuji X-Pro 1 @ Europapassage
No surprized that I start with an "in camera Pano" from the X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens - This Fuji X-Camera function has served me very well in Paris, too :)


Eye puzzler - Fuji X-Pro 1
Quite an eye puzzler due to the perspective and reflection of the XF 35mm shot - no HDR!


Decision Time - Architecture - Fuji X-Pro 1
Left or right? X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens


Hafen City View Point - Fuji X-Pro 1
Plenty of negative space in this X-Pro 1 "in camera 180° panorama" taken with the XF 35mm lens


Fuji X-Pro 1 - Architecture
X-Pro 1 with XF 35mm lens and pretty much no distortion!


HafenCity Architektur Hamburg - Fuji X-Pro 1
I did not apply perspective correction to this XF 18mm photo - I liked it this way


HafenCity View Point - Fuji X-Pro 1
View Point - Taken with X-Pro 1 and XF 35mm lens


Disconnect - Fuji X-Pro 1
Visualization of the word "Disconnect" - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 35mm lens

Urban Oasis - Fuji X-Pro 1
Urban Oasis taken with the XF 18mm lens


III down II up III - Fuji X-Pro 1
Down & Up - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens


25% Stone vs. 75% Air - Fuji X-Pro 1
25% stone vs. 75% air - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens


For me the X-Pro 1 with the XF 18mm and XF 35mm work well for the kind of architecture photography that I mostly do. And the build in Panorama mode allows for some extra cool images. What are your experiences?

Leave a comment below or tweet me @hamburgcam

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Is the Fuji X100 enough camera for traveling? My Copenhagen experiment

I have used the Fujifilm X100 for well over a year now. It was my first serious mirrorless camera as I mainly relied on fullframe DSLR before.

There have been loads and loads of technical reviews posted about the X100 and the fantastic image quality, so let me focus on the question that I read so often in blogposts: Can I travel with only the X100 on my side? Here is my real life travel experience:

 I planned a photo trip to Copemhagen last year and wanted to start an experiment by only bringing the Fuji X100 as my digital camera. As reported in a previous post about my recent trip to Paris with the X-Pro 1 (Traveling light to Paris with Fuji X-Pro 1 and X10) I used to carry way too much heavy gear with me when I travelled. The fear of missing a shot because I did not have the right lens or flash with me was always present when packing the gear. But this time it was different.
Only the X100 - and I did not even have a spare battery at that time. And there was actually some room left in the smallest photobag that I owned! In a last second decision I grabbed my 1953 Rolleiflex analog medium format camera and a few rolls of film to fill that gap - something that I never had space for on previous trips :)

It was a funny feeling when I boarded the train early that Friday morning - kind of scared and reliefed at the same time with the light gear on my shoulder...

Rolleiflex Automat 1953 - on the morning train
The X100 taking a photo of this friendly Rolleiflex Alien on the train to Copenhagen ;)

The trip was planned to mainly visit the Copenhagen Jazz festival and to stroll around the city. But visiting a city without a wider lens than a 35mm field of view? What if I want to photograph architecture? 24mm or 17mm was usually my widest focal length for those trips. Sometimes I even brought the 15mm fisheye...

I arrived in Copenhagen central station and my friends picked me up and took me to the first photographic "must see" location: The famous "Vor Frue Kirke" - the Copenhagen Cathedral. This is one of those locations that screams for a wide angle lens to capture its full beauty. The gear remorse kicked in right away! Great, this isn't going to work with 35mm! Why didn't I bring a different camera and more lenses?

But then I remebered that the X100 has a build in pano stiching program. This is something that I had not really used as it seemed to be more of a point & shoot gimmick to me. But maybe it could get me a decent shot here? The best way to capture the cathederal hallway and ceiling would be in vertical orientation but I had not seen this "vertical panorama" option documented in the owners manual. So here goes the first try:

Vor Frue Kirke - Copenhagen Cathedral - Fuji X100 Pano
Vor Frue Kirke - Copenhagen Cathedral taken with Fuji X100 in pano stiching mode

It did work surprisingly well! This was the moment that would introduce a new style of photography to me :)
Take a look at this post to see really cool panos from Paris taken with a Fuji X-Camera: Cool Panos from Paris

Off to the next challenge - capturing the spirit of the Jazz musicians. I knew that I had to get close to the action in order to get strong images. A 35mm field of view is a first row shooting lens and 12 MPix sensor resolution won't let you crop forever. But the Copenhagen Jazz Festival is a really open and easy going event that allowed me to get almost as close as I wanted:

Passion for Guitar
The facial expression tells it all :)

The outdoor venues were a breeze with the X100. But focusing did get a lot tougher inside the dimly lit Jazz clubs. At the time of this trip the X100 was still in its early stages of Firmware updates. And the contrast auto focus and manual focus was not really up to speed in low light back then. So I did have to do a lot of trial and error, but ended up getting some nice shots:

Happy Bokeh Friday 08.07.2011
Play louder, I can't hear you! ISO 3200

Passion for Saxophone
Lost in music

If James Bond would drive a Volvo it would be the P1800
While moving from club to club I came across this cool looking vintage Volvo.
If James Bond would drive a Volvo it would be the P1800


Nyhavn Copenhagen - Fuji X100 Pano
When I reached the famous Nyhavn canal it was time to try if the pano mode also worked in "traditional" horizontal panorama orientation

Vertical Pano Tower - Fuji X100
Another opportunity to use the pano function in vertical orientation was close by, though :)


And just in case you care to see one of my Rolleiflex photos, this is what I made out of 2 photos (6x6) from my Rolleiflex at the Axelborg staircase:

Copenhagen Eyes
Copenhagen Eyes at Axelborg building - 1953 Rolleiflex with Kodak Portra 160 VC



My resume about the X100 as main travel camera on trips:

I would not hesitate to only take the X100 along when going on a trip - as long as I can live without more zoom than the 35mm field of view that the X100 offers. Croping a 12 MPix image on a good resolving lens gives you some room to enlarge a subject but it is not an endless option.

On the wide side I think that the panorama function on the X100 can easily minimize the need for a wider angle lens.

If you feel that you do need more zoom or a wider angle at times, I would opt for an additional small camera companion like the Fujifilm X10 or a Canon S95/S100 instead of taking a big DSLR with lens(es). This way I have the option to leave one of the two "smaller" cameras (X100 or the compact camera) in the hotel room - but you can't really reduce the basic size of your DSLR camera body.

The X100 is today a much better camera than it was when I traveled to Copenhagen. Fuji has constantly listened to us photographers and implemented improvements in each firmware upgrade. Kudos to Fuji for constantly improving the X100 :-)

Leave a comment below or tweet me @hamburgcam if you have questions

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-)