Interview with Kevin Mullins: first impressions of the XF10-24 and XF56 lenses and the X-T1 camera

We invited professional wedding photographer Kevin Mullins to come to Yokohama in Japan to speak on the Fujifilm stand at CP+ about how he started using Fujifilm products and how they help him create his distinctive documentary style approach to wedding photography.

We planned the whole thing out, even to the details of where he is to stand on the stage, however there was one slight issue that we were unable to plan for – the snow.

Heavy snowfall throughout Friday has meant that the CP+ show was cancelled today, but don’t think that means Kevin was given a day off. Instead we went out for a little walk around Yokohama and he was able to try out the new XF10-24mm and XF56mm lenses and also the new Fujifilm X-T1 compact system camera.

Here’s a quick selection of unedited jpeg shots Kevin has taken, plus a few of his initial thoughts on how each lens performed.

The FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R lens

X-E2 with XF56mm - 1/200 sec;   f/1.2;   ISO 1000
X-E2 with XF56mm – 1/200 sec; f/1.2; ISO 1000
X-E2 with XF56mm - 1/200 sec;   f/1.2;   ISO 800
X-E2 with XF56mm – 1/200 sec; f/1.2; ISO 800
X-T1 with XF56mm - 1/4000 sec;   f/1.8;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF56mm – 1/4000 sec; f/1.8; ISO 200

“I’m really impressed with the handling of the lens, especially the speed of focus. The depth of field at f/1.2 is remarkable for an APS-C sized sensor CSC. I’m really looking forward to using it at a wedding where I’m sure it will become a permanent fixture in my camera bag”

The FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS lens

X-T1 with XF10-24 - 1/1105 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 – 1/1105 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 - 1/320 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200
X-T1 with XF10-24 – 1/320 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200

“Not being a regular user of a zoom lens, I was really keen to get my hands on the 10-24 and the ability to shoot as a the wide end of the zoom really introduces a new dynamic into the way we can use the X series cameras. The lens handles really well at both ends of the zoom, is very fast and the weight of it doesn’t unbalance the camera”

The X-T1 Compact System Camera

When asked about the X-T1 camera specifically, this is what Kevin had to say about it:

“I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the X-T1 for a while and I’m certainly not disappointed. Although I’ve only used it for a few hours, the viewfinder is simply amazing and the manual controls are well positioned – the camera feels really good in my hands. Well thought out features like the tilting screen, the side loading card and the vertical battery grip really make this a camera that’s going to enhance my everyday shooting”

About Kevin

Kevin Mullins is an award winning UK Wedding Photographer specialising in the documentary style of wedding photography. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or follow his blog.

Fujifilm at the CP+ Camera Show – Yokohama, Japan

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The Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) is holding the CP+2014 Camera & Photo Imaging Show from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th Feb in Yokohama, Japan. CP+ is a comprehensive camera and photo imaging show covering a wide range of aspects of the photographic industry.

Like most years, Fujifilm is in attendance and has a great stand demonstrating our wide range of products including X series cameras, Instax instant cameras and prints.

Unlike most years, Fujifilm decided to invite some active professional photographers from Europe to come out to the show to talk to visitors about their photographic experiences and in particular explain why they shoot with X series cameras.

This is also the first major show that is open to the public where the brand new X-T1  will be on display for users to try out and talk to our staff about.

X-T1 buzz

The show opened for VIPs and Press at 10:00 Japan-time today – the general public has to wait until high noon for their stand-off.

Despite the fact that the show wasn’t officially open, it was pretty clear from the start what product was catching most attention.

Many customers got their hands on the X-T1
Many customers got their hands on the X-T1

We had a wander around the show and checked out many other great products. From portable stabilisation systems, high quality cases and straps to small and relatively-inexpensive helicopter-like drones to allow you to shoot from the air, there was a lot to see.

But besides a small queue of people on the Sigma stand who wanted to check out their recently announced DP2 Quattro, the only camera with any sort of demand to see was the Fujifilm X-T1.

It’s hardly surprising. The anticipation for this camera has been high since it’s announcement (and even before that!) but it was still flattering for us to see that camera is very interesting to so many people.

The average wait time to try out the X-T1 was 50 minutes
The approx wait time to try out the X-T1 was up to 50 minutes at some points

To learn more about the X-T1, please visit our website. People in the UK will be able to get their hands on the X-T1 at The Photography Show at the NEC next month.

X-Photographers

Fujifilm would be nothing without the photographers using their products. This was reflected with a great gallery of images from photographers all over the world plus a stage where in total there will be 20 talks from X-Photographers over the course of the 4 days. Additionally there are some interviews with the R&D team and the Design team. We will publish all of these as videos soon (the interviews are in Japanese but with English subtitles)

X-Photographers Gallery
X-Photographers Gallery

Day 1 saw British Photographer Jim Marks and Italian photographer Gianluca Colli take to the stage to share their experiences with the audience.

Jim Marks

Jim’s talk started with an introduction to him as a photographer. His needs and requirements, his shooting style, and how important it is to be in the right place with the right kit if you ever want to record that “killer” photo.

Jim Marks talking about the X-T1's weather resistance
Jim Marks talking about the X-T1’s weather resistance

He showed some example shots he has taken using the X-Pro1 on various assignments including a great set of images with Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean that simply wasn’t possible to shoot on a standard D-SLR camera because it was drawing too much attention from passers-by.

Lots of people were very interested in what Jim had to say
Lots of people were very interested in what Jim had to say

He then went on to talk about how he believes that Fujifilm’s kaizen (改善) philosophy of continuous improvement is the main reason why he has stayed using Fujifilm products from the original X100, right up to the brand new X-T1 before then sharing his own views on the X-T1 camera he has been using for the last few weeks and why he thinks it will completely supersede the X-Pro1 he has been using for his professional work over the last 2 years.
During the Q&A sessions at the end, someone asked him what his favourite Fujifilm camera was and why. He replied with
“The X-T1 and for three reasons:
1. The viewfinder is almost comparable to an OVF but with the added benefit of allowing additional information such as Digital Split Image MF assist
2. The ISO dial. The X-Pro1 controls are instinctive and easy to use, and the X-T1 takes that base and adds even more
3. The vertical grip. It gives you double battery life and makes it is perfectly easy to hold and control in either orientation.”

Gianluca Colla

Gianluca similarly kicked off by talking about his style of photography and how he believes that his equipment should by compact and easy to control so he can forget all about the tool he is using, and focus entirely on creating images.

Gianluca explains how this shot was taken
Gianluca explains how this shot was taken

He started his relationship with Fujifilm with the X100, using it alongside his normal D-SLR. In many situations his clients were unable to notice any difference between shots taken on his D-SLR and those taken on the X100 and following the launch of the X-Pro1, plus continued development of the XF lens range, he has slowly become less and less reliant on D-SLR up to the point where he virtually never uses it anymore unless he is shooting something that has a specific requirement for it.

He stated his dislike for EVFs on digital cameras and says he only ever uses his X100 or X-Pro1 in OVF mode. He was never interested in trying an X-E1 or X-E2 for this very reason, however he says that the Real Time Viewfinder on the X-T1 is an altogether difference beast.

He finished with these wise words:
“We will not be remembered for our gear but by pictures we take. / But Fujifilm gear allows you to take great pictures”

Once the videos are ready, we will post them online so you can listen to everything they had to say.

Hands on with the Fujifilm X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1 hands on blog

Sometimes I love my job…

Fujifilm X-T1 BoxAbout two weeks ago a special package arrived from head office in Japan. The special package contained a bunch of pre-production X-T1 cameras and was duly raided by the team. Being part of the initial raiding party, I managed to bag one to play with – I mean, thoroughly test – for a few days. This post will take you through my first thoughts as I got to grips with this lovely new camera.

As it’s a pre-production camera, it’s hard to judge the image quality itself so that’s not really covered here. What is covered is how it feels to use it, and my opinion on the new features that are unique to the X-T1 compared to the other cameras in the X series range.

First impressions – look and feel

I’d seen plenty of pictures of the camera before this point, and even a mock-up “real” camera a few months ago, but I was still surprised with how small it was. Even so, my hands fit the grip very well and I felt that all of the controls were laid out in easy to reach places from my fingers with minimal hand readjustment. The grip makes it very comfortable to hold with one hand and being a “lefty” with my eye, having the EVF in the middle rather than on the left makes it feel a bit more comfortable to shoot.

Personally I could live without the ISO dial because I change it fairly infrequently anyway, but no harm in it being there, however moving the “Drive” menu onto a dial at the top is pretty cool and useful for switching between normal and continuous shooting.

I think it’ll take a few more hours of shooting to unlearn my muscle memory that using an X100S for the last few months has given me but obviously the crucial things are still in the right place.

The EVF

Prepare to be amazed. This thing is seriously good. It was sunny when we got them so I took the camera out into the natural light and was seriously impressed. Yes you can tell it’s an EVF as you move around fast but only because you’re trying to tell. The response is something else and it really is seriously close to an OVF. When you turn the camera vertically, the GUI automatically changes to always display your settings the right way up and the fonts and vectors that make up the display are really clear and legible while not disturbing the view of your subject. And the level of detail is amazing. Definitely get yourself into a camera store and have a go at this thing if you don’t believe me.

The tilting screen

Fujifilm X-T1 tilting screen
Note: This image is of a pre-production model. The SD slot cover on the final version has the same finish as the rest of the body
Word up, pops
“Word up, pops”

I’ve used the X-M1 a few times and although the lack of viewfinder makes certain things difficult, I always seemed to find a use for the tilting screen. Whether I’m shooting kittens skittering around my kitchen floor and don’t fancy laying down there with them (see image to the right), or trying to shoot over the top of a bunch of people’s heads, the tilting LCD is a nice feature and I’m pretty sure it’ll get a lot of use.

Auto Focus

Fujifilm X-T1 Focus Switch

It’s fast. I have an X100S and I’m used to how it focuses. I also have a pair of jet black kittens that don’t exactly sit still and wait for me to shoot them. The X-T1 locks onto the kittens very fast, even in fairly low light and definitely felt better than my X100S, despite on paper being pretty much the same. Could’ve just been my wishful thinking so I’ll keep an eye out to see how other people find the focusing.

Manual Focus – Focus peaking + dual screen mode

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Being able to change the colour of the focus peak highlight is a nice option. Hopefully we’ll see it added to previous models via a firmware update. There’s also a nice feature that lets you use dual screen to frame your shot while also accurately focusing. The focus peaking feature still works but obviously it’s not as clear to see as if you were using the full screen with the “focus assist” button pressed. Although my images above are of the screen, the EVF does the same and is more effective.

Here’s a video published by FujifilmGlobal that demonstrates the dual screen:

Continuous shooting

According to the specs, this thing will shoot 47 shots in FINE jpeg mode while in High Speed Shooting mode. According to my rough and ready “see-how-many-times-you-can-count-to-ten-and-start-again” method of trying to count the frames, I think this is pretty darn accurate. Also, in RAW mode it seems to take about 36 shots before it slows down. Impressive stuff.

Setting the multiple function buttons

This is a lovely little UI feature to go with an amazingly good usability feature. The X-T1 has SIX (not one, not two, yes six) function buttons and they can all be customised to do whatever you want (within reason). This lovely little menu system lets you easily see which button you are changing to help you set up exactly how you want. I imagine once you’ve been using this camera a while you won’t need a visual key to show you which button is which, but certainly a nice little touch to help you get to grips with it at first.

Remote shooting

I tried a dev version of the app but this feature is something special. Install an App on your SmartPhone (I was using an Android), link the devices together and you then get a live view of what the camera is looking at on your phone. All of the dials on the camera and then ignored and you change change shutter speed, aperture, sensitivity, white balance and film simulation. Just like on the screen/EVF of the camera when shooting normally, the brightest of the live view image updates to reflect what the exposure is likely to be like based on your settings. You can also touch anywhere on the live view and the camera will use that as the focus point for autofocus – nifty! I can imagine a lot of people will love this feature.

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Time lapse photography

You can set the length of interval, number of shots, and how long until it starts to shoot. You then set it on its way and the camera does the rest. The camera powers down after each shot to conserve the battery. It’ll wake up if you press any buttons and display how many frames it has captured and how long until the next frame.

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Thanks for reading. If there’s any specific features of the camera that I’ve not covered here and you would like to know more about, please feel free to post a comment or send me a Tweet and I can update the post in the future. Check out the Fujifilm UK website for further product information and specifications.

Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 3 – Multiple flashes with radio triggers

By Derek Clark

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In this third and final part of The Fuji X Series With Flash I’ll be looking at using multiple flash guns and radio triggers with the X Series cameras. You can use any make of flash for this as the radio triggers are only telling the flash to fire. There’s no information about exposure or anything else, it simply triggers the flash.

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There are many different radio triggers available, but by far the most popular are the Pocket Wizards. I came from a Nikon flash setup and worked with the SU800 Commander unit, and because of this I never owned any radio triggers. But after buying into the Fuji X System I realised that my trusty SU800 would not be usable. The Pocket Wizard Plus III’s had just came out, but were expensive for a multiple flash setup. Pocket Wizard’s also don’t have hotshoes for mounting the guns directly on to them. Instead the work with cables. My older SB800’s have sync ports, but my newer SB700’s don’t (I replaced my SB900’s with SB700’s due to the overheating problem and so glad I did). In the end I decided to go for the Flashwave III system because they were reasonably priced, had both sync and Pocket Wizard size ports and most importantly the receivers have hotshoes. They come with a great verity of cables and adaptors that so far have coped with everything. The receivers have a tripod mount on the bottom, but also come with adaptors to change them into hotshoe mountable. So the flash mounts on top of the receiver and the receiver to the shoe on the light stand.

The transmitter’s are tiny and even look small on the X-M1. They include a test fire button and have a choice of 16 channels via small dip switches on both transmitters and receivers. An X-E1 or X-E2 can also be fired remotely by attaching a Flashwave III receiver to the microphone input on the side of the camera and triggering it using the test button on the transmitter. I’ve used this setup when doing long exposures instead of a cable release.

Lighting doesn’t come any more basic than a radio trigger setup. Lights are all set to manual and you adjust power settings on each one individually. I use anything from one light to six lights, but I only have four receivers. If I need more than four lights I set the extra guns to slave mode. The radio triggers fire one set and the extra guns are triggered by the flashes.

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I wanted to shoot some fresh portraits for this post and I’ve been meaning to do some up to date shots of my kids. So excuse the self indulgence, but if you’re from a modeling agency…they are available:o). I shot these using Nikon Flashguns and Flashwave III radio Triggers. As you can see from the photo above, I used a Lastolite Hilite background. The Hilite works well with two flash guns inside, tilting upward and back to blow the background to pure white. I also use the Lastolite Superwhite Vinyl Train and a piece of thick toughened glass for a reflection. For this shoot I used a Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox which is a fantastic modifier for the money. Some of these shots were with one light, some are with three. I used the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 with the 35mm f1.4 and the 60mm f2.4.

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Thank you for reading this series and I really hope you found it useful. Flash with the X cameras seems to be a mystery to a lot of people that are moving over from DSLR’s, so I thought this series of posts would help to clear up a few of the common questions.

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 2 – Off camera TTL

By Derek Clark

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What is TTL?
I’ll start part 2 (part 1 is HERE) by describing what TTL actually is. Feel free to skip this part if you already know this.

8Back in the good old film days a lot of flash guns had a small calculator in the form of a chart or a small disk that rotated. These things basically calculated what setting worked for the Guide Number of the flash you were using. I had a Vivitar 283 back in the early 80′s, which was one of the most popular and reliable guns of it’s time. It had a dial built into the hinge of the bounce head (photo left). You set the dial to whatever ASA/Din number your film was (now called ISO) and the dial told you what distance you would cover with the varies apertures. The coloured sections corresponded to a dial on the front of the camera. It all goes a bit hazy after that…it was a long time ago. But I do remember having a cable that plugged into the front of the gun to use it off the camera.

Fast forward to today and we have much more sophisticated flashes that talk to the camera and vice versa. The camera takes it’s exposure reading through the lens (TTL) and tells the flash the information it needs to know. The flash then works out how much power it needs to put out to achieve a good exposure. The flash gun can also let you know via it’s display if the right exposure was obtained.

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What TTL Cable Works With The X Series
If you want to do off camera TTL photography with your X Series camera, you will need an EF-42, EF-20 or an EF-X20 and a TTL suitable for a Canon (usually called ETTL in Canon speak). The Canon hotshoe pins match the Fuji ones and allow TTL flash with a Fuji X camera. Nikon has a different pin arrangement and definitely won’t work in TTL. Remember to turn off both camera and flash when attaching a TTL cord as the contacts are sliding into position and could short out. I’ve never been a Canon shooter so I don’t have access to their flash guns and I can’t say if an X camera and Canon flash can speak to each other and work in TTL harmony. Nikon guns do not work in TTL. Nikon flashguns will work on an X series camera in Manual or Automatic, but not in TTL. If used on an X camera’s hotshoe or with a TTL cord, A Nikon flash is only being told by the camera to fire – exposure settings are up to you the photographer. The flash must be set to Manual (not TTL) or it won’t fire.

The Pixel FC-311/S TTL Flashgun Cable
Canon’s own ETTL cords will be great for the job, but they do tend to be a bit spendy. I bought the Pixel FC-311/S 1.8m cable (for Canon) from Amazon UK for £17 and it works fine. A really nice feature with this cable is that it has both a tripod mount and a cold shoe for attaching it to a light stand. This could come in really handy (although a longer cable might be better for using on a light stand). I’m using an SB700 soft case to hold the Fuji EF-42 and the TTL cable and there’s even space for a plastic foot too.

Hand Holding For Off Camera Flash
Obviously if you are doing off camera flash without the use of a stand or tripod, you have to be careful of camera shake as you’ll be holding the camera with one hand. Thankfully X cameras are great for hand holding due to their size, weight and the lack of a mirror popping up and down. But having a good solid grip and steadying technique is very important. In the photo below you will see the grip I use. By holding the flash in the left hand and crossing it over to the right, you can rest the camera on the left shoulder, the flash can be stretched out as far to the right as you like, as long as it’s pointing in the right direction a bit of shake won’t make any difference. If your TTL cord has a hotshoe or tripod mount at the flash end (Like the Pixel cord), you could easily use a handle. Lastolite do an extending Handle and a Brolly Bracket.

The left shoulder supports the camera and reduces shake.
The left shoulder supports the camera and reduces shake.

So that’s off camera TTL, what you do with it after that is up to you. There are some interesting accessories available like the Rogue Flashbenders to spread or direct the light, or Rogue Grid to focus it exactly where you want without light spilling all over the place, which is a must if you have a coloured gel on the background. The possibilities are vast and a lot of fun.

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 1 – The EF-42 TTL Flashgun

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By Derek Clark

This is part one of a three part series on using flash the Fuji X Series. This part is a review of the EF-42 flash and this will be followed by “Part 2 : TTL Off Camera TTL” and then ending with “Part 3 : Using Multiple Flashes With Radio Triggers”.

I often get emails asking about using Flash with the Fuji X Series. Mostly the questions are about using TTL, Nikon or Canon Flashguns or the Nikon SU800 Commander with the X series. Another big question is – Can an off camera TTL cord be used and if so, which one? So I thought I’d take a fresh look at using Fuji X cameras with flash. My friend John a commercial photographer and he’s really tempted by the X-Pro1, but he uses flash most of the time and isn’t sure if the X system is up for it. I have a job at the end of this week that might need flash due to the time of day in January and a dark venue. There won’t be time to use one of my Nikon guns in manual mode with a radio trigger, so TTL will be a must. This all added up to a good excuse to pick up a Fuji EF-42 TTL Flash and give it a blast.

FUJIFILM EF-42 TTL FLASH
The EF-42 is basically a Sunpak PZ42X with a jacket on (the EF-20 is also a Sunpak model). It’s not as well made as a Nikon or Canon flash gun, but at half the price, it’s good enough. When you mount the flash on the camera and switch it on, autofocus won’t work until the flash charges and the Test/Charge light is illuminated and like a kettle boiling, it seems to take a long time when you’re watching it. But when it’s lit there’s no problem and everything works as it should after that. But I would rather take a shot without the flash firing than miss the shot as it could maybe be recovered in Lightroom with a bit of exposure and a possible conversion to black and white.

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Minimalist controls on the rear
Minimalist controls on the rear

The back panel on the EF-42 is minimalist compared to a Nikon or Canon unit, with buttons for Mode, Select, On/Off and Test. It’s certainly easy to understand how the controls work, which is a breath of fresh air if you have ever used an SB800 at any point. But it would be nice to have dedicated a couple of buttons for -EV & +EV, as there’s too many button presses to move up and then down EV. TTL works well and the handy pop-out wide angle lens is useful. I think it’s a bit mean not to include a dome diffuser or a foot/stand, but I picked up a diffuser from eBay and I had a spare Nikon foot. A Nikon SB600 Dome Diffuser will fit, but it’s very tight and once attached it would be a good idea to leave it in place. A soft case would also have been a welcome addition, but I have a solution for that in Part 2. The hotshoe mount at the bottom of the flash is plastic and looks cheap, plus a switch style lock would have been preferred over a screw down plate.

I would recommend buying a Dome diffuser as the bare flash can be a bit harsh. With the diffuser attached and the flash head tilted up you will get great soft and even light that can fill a small room without any problem. You can find a suitable diffuser on Ebay for very little money. There are even packs of three available (one white and two coloured) that allow balancing the colour of the light from the flash with the room (I prefer gels).

In conclusion, the EF-42 does the job well, but could be a bit better on the built quality front. I think if Fujifilm had made this flash from the ground up, it would have been a much higher quality unit. Now that the X Series lenses are plentiful (almost), it would be nice if Fuji could dedicate a little time to develop a flash system on a par with Nikon’s CLS system, but with built in radio instead of infrared and a dedicated commander unit that allows the user to set the power on multiple flashes without moving from camera position. A dedicated flash system is about the only thing the X Series is lacking now.

So that’s the EF-42. Stick it on the camera, set it to TTL and you’ll get a pretty decent job. But a flash on a camera hot shoe is not the best look for your pictures. The shots look flat, lifeless and can make ugly shadows in the background. So in Part 2 we will look at getting the flash off the camera using a TTL cord and what cord will work with the Fuji X range.

The EF-42 is available on Amazon UK for £155

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Advantages of using a Compact System Camera over a DSLR

We made this little video outlining the benefits of a small mirrorless camera compared to a big bulky DSLR camera. Please leave your thoughts in the comments

Focusing with the X-Pro1 and X100S using the OVF

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By V. Opoku

I shoot fujifilm exclusively; I use two X-Pro 1’s and a X100s for my wedding work and travels. This set up works for me, however there was a learning curve involved, as the concept of these X-Series cameras were different from the D-SLR’s that I was used to.

The biggest challenge I faced was learning how these cameras acquired focus, I spent hours online seeking relevant information and even more time applying what I read and testing things out. YES, they actually do focus, they just do it differently to my old D700 and a friend’s 5D2 I had right next to it for comparison.

As a result of the information I gathered and my personal experience over the last 8 months, I decided to put this article together and I hope that fellow X-Series users out there and those considering buying one of these cameras might find it useful, especially in regards to focus accuracy.

Like ZACK ARIAS, I believe that the Optical Viewfinder is a big deal on these cameras. The hybrid viewfinder is innovative and each mode serves a purpose, i.e for close ups where the Electronic Viewfinder is the better option. Nevertheless, I find myself using the Optical Viewfinder 90% of the time, I truly love it. The focus on this article will be focusing with these cameras (X-Pro 1 & X100s) with the Optical Viewfinder.

PARALLAX:

“The effect whereby the position of a object appears to differ when viewed from different positions. In this case, the different positions are the lenswhich is at the centre of the camera and the viewfinder window which is to the left and above the  centre of the camera.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-01

 

VIEWFINDER WINDOW:

We have established that the viewfinder window is positioned to the left and above the centre of the camera, thus being positioned to the left and above the lens.

The viewfinder window (when in optical mode) is designed to have a larger Field Of View than whatever lens you attach to the camera body. Because the Field Of View of the viewfinder is larger than the Field Of View of the lens, you are able to see things that are outside your frame and not just what is inside it – the OVF is under inclusive.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-02

CORRECTED AF FRAME:

 

The different positioning of the viewfinder window and the lens means that we have to overcome parallax when it comes to nailing our focus. To aid us in doing so, these Fuji X-Series cameras have a brilliant tool called “Corrected AF Frame” ; this is optional but I strongly suggest that you turn it ON and leave it ON.

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-03

 

BOX 1 : Represents the focus frame at infinity – This is where the OVF will naturally perceives focus to be.

BOX 2 : Represents the focus frame at the OVF’s minimum focus distance – the closest the OVF can focus before it hits the macro range. (This is about 2.6ft for the X-Pro 1 and about 1.6ft for the X100s)

This is how I have the Optical Viewfinder (OVF) set up in all three of my cameras:

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-04

 

My custom OVF displays have quite a lot of information overlay which I have become used to, however for the rest of this article, I will “turn off” most of these information and only “leave on” those which I believe are relevant to acquiring focus with these X-Series  cameras.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-05

 

We are now left with a much cleaner looking OVF, with just the Focus Frame at infinity (BOX 1) and Corrected AF Frame (BOX 2) as well as  theDistance indicator on.

The distance indicator is pretty useful since the distance of our subject is used to calculate the amount of parallax compensation that is needed between the viewfinder window and the lens. So having an idea of how far or close our subject is can help us to acquire our desired point of focus with greater accuracy.

 

THE ESSENTIALS:

1. Due to the different positioning of the OVF and the lens, they naturally see focus at different points.

2. However, the camera has ONLY ONE REAL FOCUS BOX, which shows up at different locations within the OVF.

3. When we turn Corrected AF Frame on, the two boxes (BOX 1 & BOX 2) that shows up in the OVF represents the RANGE within which the REAL FOCUS BOX could be.

4. The RANGE  within which the REAL FOCUS BOX can be is BETWEEN infinity (BOX 1) and the focus frame  at the OVF’s minimum focus distance (BOX 2)

5. The RANGE for the X-pro 1 is infinity and 2.6ft

6. The RANGE for the X100s is infinity and 1.6ft

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-06

 

 

7. When we press the shutter down halfway to auto focus, the camera calculates the distance of our subject and a GREEN BOX appears diagonally between the RANGE.

8. This GREEN BOX is the REAL FOCUS BOX.

9. Exactly where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears within this RANGE depends on the DISTANCE of our subject – in other words, where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears between BOX 1 and BOX 2 depends on how far or near our subject is.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-07

 

The GREEN BOX is the REAL FOCUS BOX – this is the actual point where the camera focuses the lens, and it will be located slightly below and to the right of where the viewfinder window perceives focus to be.

Remember that the viewfinder window and the lens are positioned at different locations –  and even though we are seeing our subject through the viewfinder window, we want our final image to be how the lens sees our subject. 

We want the focus point of the image we capture be where the lens focuses – the GREEN BOX is our parallax compensated FOCUS BOX, it sees our subject how the lens sees it, hence why it is the REAL FOCUS BOX.

The RED BOX (RANGE BOX) is solely for the purpose of this article and it will not show up in the camera.

Here is the same image as above but without the range box:

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-08

The distance of our subject is what determines where the REAL FOCUS BOX appears within our RANGE ; the distance indicator tells us how far or near our subject is, therefore knowing our subject distance is useful.

 

 

Let’s assume with an X-Pro 1 + the 35mm lens, when we press the shutter halfway, the camera calculated that our subject was 5ft away, and where the REAL FOCUS BOX  has shown up in the illustrations of this article is a representation of that, so where the GREEN BOX has appeared between the RANGE so far is because our subject is 5ft away from us.

What if our subject was 3.6ft or 12ft away? Where between the RANGE will the GREEN BOX appear?

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-09

 

With our subject at 5ft away, the GREEN BOX appears relatively central between BOX 1 and BOX 2.

With our subject at 3.6ft away, the GREEN BOX appears down to the right, away from BOX 1 much closer to BOX 2.

With our subject at 12ft away, the GREEN BOX appears further up and to the left, away from BOX 2 and much closer to BOX 1.

This demonstrates that the GREEN BOX moves diagonally between BOX 1 & BOX 2 ; and exactly where it appears between these two boxes depends on the distance of our subject.

 

What happens if our subject is further than 12ft away or closer to us than 3.6ft?

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-10

 

With our subject at 30ft away, the REAL FOCUS BOX will show up within BOX 1.

At 2.6ft away, the REAL FOCUS BOX will show up within BOX 2.

Why does the REAL FOCUS BOX appear within BOX 1 & BOX 2 at these extreme distances? Beacause :

BOX 1 : Represents the focus frame at infinity.

BOX 2 : Represents the focus frame at the OVF’s minimum focus distance – which is is 2.6ft for the X-Pro 1.

Remember the RANGE BOX? let’s go back to it:

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-06

 

The REAL FOCUS BOX can appear anywhere within the RANGE BOX – the GREEN BOX can appear anywhere between BOX 1 & BOX 2.

When our subject is further way, i.e 30ft from us, parallax is not an issue and the couple of inches between where the viewfinder window naturally perceives focus to be and where the lens naturally perceives focus to be is meaningless.

So with subjects further away, the REAL FOCUS BOX is more or less identical to BOX 1; the viewfinder window and the lens perceives the same REAL FOCUS POINT at far distances,  that is why the GREEN BOX  appears within BOX 1.

 

If our subject is much closer i.e 3.6ftparallax becomes an issue and the couple of inches between where the viewfinder window naturally perceives focus to be and where the lens naturally perceives focus to be now matters; however at such a close distance, parallax is so great that you are better of switching to the Electronic Viewfinder.

If our subject was 2.6ft from us, the REAL FOCUS BOX is more or less identical to BOX 2, this is the closets the OVF can focus before it hits the macro range,  but parallax is great at this distance so use the EVF! The camera automatically switches to the EVF when one uses the macro function.

If our subject is at a midrange distance, i.e 5ft from us the REAL FOCUS BOX appears at the appropriate area between the RANGE BOX.

 

SUMMARY:

The camera’s viewfinder window and lens are positioned at different locations and as a result we have parallax.

The camera has only one real focus box, when you turn on Correct AF Frame, two boxes shows up in the OVF.

These two boxes represents focus at infinity and the OVF’s minimum focus distance – this gives us the range within which the real focus box can show up once the shutter is pressed halfway.

The distance of our subject determines  exactly where within the range that the real focus box appears.

When the shutter is pressed halfway, the camera calculates the distance of our subject, compensates for parallax and shows us where the REAL FOCUS is.

 

This same principle applies to any of the 25 different focus points that we can chose from in the middle 2/3rd of the OVF’s frame.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-11

 

I used the middle focus point throughout this article for simplicity, however, this is how things should look when we select other focus points:

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-12

 

MOVING FRAMELINE:

When we press the shutter down halfway, the camera calculates the distance of our subject and compensates for parallax for both the focus frame and the frameline – this gives us an accurate representation of how the lens sees everything.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-15

 

How much the frameline moves  down and to the right depends on the distance of our subject.

For a subject far away, i.e 20ft, the frameline moves very little, in fact if our subject is beyond 20ft, i.e 30ft, the frameline doesn’t move at all. The closer our subject is, the greater the movement of the frame line.

The closer our subject is to us, the greater the parallax, hence the greater movement of the frameline ; the further our subject is away from us, there minor the parallax, hence the little movement of the frameline.

 

DIFFERENT LENSES:

Each lens has a different Field Of View, however, the Field Of View of the Optical Viewfinder will always be larger than that of the lens attached to the camera. This is the same for the X100 and X100s albeit with a fixed 23mm lens.

 

FUJIFILM OVF FINAL-13

 

CAVEAT:

The Framelines, are an approximation and just like the Corrected AF Frame and the Distance indicator, it is a tool to aid us. It might take some time getting used to it, but it is totally worth it and will become second nature in due time. The OVF is pure joy to use!

Here is a small selection of images taken under various conditions using the OVF:

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Why sensor size is more important than the sheer number of megapixels

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