My love affair with EVFs

When I first started using the Fujifilm X-Series last summer I didn’t realise how helpful electronic viewfinders (EVFs) can be. Being able to see a live view of the exposure and then adjusting this via the exposure compensation dial means that I am more efficient. When using SLRs it is often difficult to get exposure compensation exactly right the first time around, this often means you take a photograph multiple times to get it just right. With X-Series cameras you are able to see how an exposure adjustment will effect the exposure of the image before you take the photo. This is especially helpful for fleeting moments, especially in quickly changing light.

The exposure compensation can be adjusted in post-production but I feel the live view produced by EVFs has helped me improve my photography. This makes my editing workflow shorter, which is always an advantage.

I found this feature particularly helpful when taking silhouettes, such as the images of Chesterton windmill in the gallery below.

EVFs are also very helpful with non-Fujifilm lenses or using Fujifilm lenses in manual mode as they can accurately show when the focus is correct. Even with the X100s and X-Pro1, which have hybrid viewfinders, I use them almost exclusively in EVF mode instead of OVF mode because, for me, it offers more benefits.

Weather resistance in windy Wales

A friend and I decided to go camping in Wales, which perfectly coincided with the passing of the ex-hurricane Bertha! To many this is a bizarre time to choose to go camping, but from a landscape photography perspective, angry weather equals exciting weather.

At the moment I am trying to train myself to only use prime lenses as Fujifilm offers such a wide variety covering lots of helpful focal lengths (the announcement of the XF90mm f2 R and XF16mm f1.4 R being added to the lens roadmap is very exciting). The reason for this is that to me they inspire creativity, using the fixed focal length makes me think more about composition and simply take more time with each picture. However, the thought of changing lenses in high winds and heavy rain atop a cliff wasn’t particularly appealing so the ever-camera-bag-present XF18-135mm came into its own. Having previously used a prototype version of the lens on the Farne Islands (see my initial impressions here) this was the first time I had really put the production version through its paces and I have to say it passed with flying colours.

Because I was generally taking landscape photographs I didn’t miss the wonderful wide aperture capabilities of prime lenses. The other bonus of using the XF18-135mm was the fast auto focus and probably, more importantly, the weather sealing. Once mounted to the X-T1 the weather resistance system left me with one less thing to think about while battling the hazardous conditions.

I wasn’t the only thing out enjoying the powerful winds though, a few fulmar were flying around the cliffs, putting on a very impressive aerial display. This was a great opportunity to try the continuous focus in mirky conditions with a very fast moving subject. Once locked on the keeper rate was very high.

Enjoying the conditions

Fulmar

Target ahead

Fulmar-3

Cliff flyby

Fulmar-2

Fulmar in the scene

Welsh cliffs

The other very helpful feature of the XF18-135mm lens is the 5-stop image stabilisation which proved very helpful in countering the blustery and often dark conditions.

Setting Welsh sun

Welsh sea

Going further against my plan to use only prime lenses, the other lens used extensively was the XF10-24mm R OIS on the X-Pro1. Again I went with the practicality and versatility offered by this wide angle zoom lens. Despite this being a zoom, I loved using it at the ultra wide 10mm end to capture as much of the impressive scenes in front of me as possible.

Incoming shower

Welsh coast

Boisterous waves

Welsh coast-2

Overall it was a great few days for photography, but before you go off camping in inclement weather, make sure you check with others you drag along, as the X-T1 – XF18-135mm set up is weather resistant and ready for anything, but they might not be so obliging.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

X Marks The Spot: London, UK

One photographer, one Fujifilm X-series camera, a whole lot of great images

Rob MitchellX-series cameras are perfect for street photographers. Combining light weight and portability with fantastic performance and a great range of lenses makes them the perfect combination for shooting on the move. Rob Mitchell is a commercial photographer and X-Pro1 user based in Belgium, but he took these shots on a dedicated day of street photography in the Shoreditch area of London. Along with his friends, who were also shooting with X-series cameras, Rob used the X-Pro1 along with 18mm and 35mm lenses and most of his pictures were shot from the hip in a true documentary style. Continue reading to find out why the X-Pro1 was a perfect companion for a walk around London.

MARKET STALL NEAR COVENT GARDEN

Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/30sec at F2, ISO 800
Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/30sec at F2, ISO 800

“This was just a passing snapshot of the market stall. With the combination of low light and large contrast range, I didn’t expect for one moment that the X-Pro1 would deliver a good shot, but it did. This was taken at ISO 800 with the 18mm lens at its widest aperture of F2. This helped me to get a fast enough shutter speed to successfully hand-hold the shot, and the X-Trans sensor took care of the rest. A truly impressive result with digital noise virtually non-existent.”

MIND THE GAP

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R Exposure: 1/900sec at F1.4, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R
Exposure: 1/900sec at F1.4, ISO 400

“Anyone who has travelled on the London Underground will know that the ‘Mind the Gap’ slogan is everywhere. I don’t remember the exact station that it was taken, but it was on the way from Epping to Liverpool Street. This was a real shot from the hip, which the X-Pro1 is perfect at. The train pulled into the station and as the doors opened, I saw the opportunity to grab this image. Using the rear LCD, auto exposure and rapid focusing, I was able to compose and get this perfectly exposed image before the doors closed again. I don’t think I would have had the time to capture this with a DSLR.”

MAN ON PHONE

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure:  1/500sec at F2, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/500sec at F2, ISO 400

“The X-Pro1 is very subtle in use, a DSLR is just too imposing and I simply wouldn’t have been able to get this shot. As I walked past this man in Shoreditch, I had the camera hanging over my shoulder, so I just held it in position and fired off this image without lifting it to my eye or looking through the viewfinder. Although the man is looking at me, I’m pretty sure he didn’t know he was having his picture taken. With the 18mm, you can easily approximate the focusing point and with such a large depth-of-field I could shoot at F2 and still be confident that almost all of the image would stay in sharp focus.”

THE ORANGE BUFFALO

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/210sec at F2, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/210sec at F2, ISO 400

“Taken at the Truman Brewery car park in Shoreditch, this is a sort of mismatch of the US and London. An Airstream caravan, Chevy truck and Buffalo Wings stuck in a rather hip area of town with just the sole client. The four picnic tables would suggest it gets busy there – not at that moment though. What I’ve noticed with the X-series is that I experiment more; I feel less constrained and if I only have a 18mm lens on the camera I just work around that. I could say it’s almost like going back to the roots of innocent experimentation and the discovery of photography.”

PUSHCHAIR, ELDER STREET

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/14sec at F2, ISO 200
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/14sec at F2, ISO 200

“Typically anonymous flats are made up of a pattern of window-door-window-door. I spotted this pushchair in front of one and thought that it broke up the pattern to give a glimpse into the lives of the people who live there. I love the Fujifilm image quality – the fact that I still own and use my old Fujifilm S3 Pro is testament to that fact. The X-Trans sensor in the X-Pro1 certainly hasn’t lost any of the quality of colour accuracy of that older DSLR – I’ve already used it on a couple of commercial projects.”

COFFEE SHOP WINDOW

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R Exposure: 1/550sec at F1.4, ISO 200
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R
Exposure: 1/550sec at F1.4, ISO 200

“This was shot from inside a coffee shop, overlooking Pancras road – I deliberately wanted to get an obscured portrait of someone sitting outside, complete with an iconic London symbol in the background. The X-Pro1’s metering and sensor have combined to get a great result here. With the large shadow area in the foreground, I expected the camera to overexpose the main subject, but it’s dealt with the contrast well and got detail in both the dark and light areas.”

About Robert

Robert Mitchell is a British commercial photographer based in Belgium. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or follow his blog.

Fujifilm X Magazine – Issue 1 reader images 3/3

X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them

Here’s another selection of users’ images published in our Fujifilm X Magazine. If you would like to see your images in our magazine, and if you’re an X-series user, we’d love to see your shots. Email your images, along with details of the story behind them and some information about you and your photography to: xmagazine@bright-publishing.com

 

ERALDO MOSTINI – KORNATI

eraldo mostini
Camera: X-E1 Lens: XF55-200 at 128mm
Exposure: 1/800sec at f/14, ISO 200

Eraldo took this shot during the summer on a trip to the Croatian archipelago of Kornati. Attracted by the silhouetted shapes set against the glistening sea, he used his X-E1 and XF55-200mm telezoom lens to capture the scene.

I’m not a professional photographer, but I love using my X-E1 for shooting a wide variety of images,” he says. “It’s so lightweight, and offers an excellent electronic viewfinder that makes framing images really simple.

Picture quality is excellent, as well. I shoot mostly JPEGs, which look great straight out of the camera and the XF55-200mm telezoom delivers impressive levels of sharpness.

PRASHANT BUDHATHOKI – OLD WOMAN

Prashant Budhathoki
Camera: X100S Lens: 23mm fixed
Exposure: 1/1000sec at f/2, ISO 200

As soon as Fujifilm announced the X100S, I put in an order for one and I haven’t been disappointed. The image quality is what I love most, both JPEG and Raw. It’s a great all-rounder and I carry it everywhere with me, whether I’m taking street images or shooting landscapes. Thanks to the X100S, I’ve been able to explore a new side of photography that I was finding hard to achieve with my big DSLR.

This old woman was begging for food in the Pashupatinath area of Kathmandu. I offered her some money and then stayed for a while to take a few shots. I chose to work in Monochrome mode because I wanted to show the age lines on her face. I don’t think shooting in colour would have had the same impact.

PAUL REMMELTS – CHILDHOOD MEMORY

Paul Remmelts
Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF 35mm f/1.4R
Exposure: 1/340sec at f/3.2, ISO 200

I went to a local park and spotted this boy burning his name into a piece of wood with a magnifying glass. It reminded me of my own childhood, so I asked if I could take his picture. Having the X-Pro1 puts people at ease – because it’s smaller than a digital SLR, my subjects seem to be more relaxed.

Photographs like this always start with a conversation, then I just work with what is around me at the time. It’s hard to say where my ideas come from specifically, it’s just what feels right at the time.

Before I got the X-Pro1, I had an X100. It took great pictures, but I prefer the handling of the X-Pro1 and I’ve even used it for some of my commercial projects.

http://paulremmelts.tumblr.com/

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

This video explains the benefits of larger camera sensors such as the 2/3inch EXR-CMOS II in our compact X20 and XQ1 cameras and the APS-C sized sensor used in our X100S and Compact System Cameras.

Fujifilm X Magazine – Issue 1 reader images 2/3

X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them

Here’s a few more users’ images published in our Fujifilm X Magazine. If you would like to see your images in our magazine, and if you’re an X-series user, we’d love to see your shots. Email your images, along with details of the story behind them and some information about you and your photography to: xmagazine@bright-publishing.com

 

MATTHEW HART – FESTIVAL TIME

MATTHEW HART
Camera: X100 Lens: 23mm fixed
Exposure: 1/1250sec at f/5.6, ISO 250

I had a press pass for the Africa Oyé festival and this image was taken from the press pit. The event is the largest African music festival in Europe and is held every year at Sefton Park in Liverpool. This lady was just dancing in the crowd, so I grabbed a shot then processed the resulting image using Adobe Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2.

I’ve been blown away by the X100, not only does it look great but it’s all you need when you are out and about. I’ve been so impressed with the image quality that I sold all my Nikon DX bodies and lenses. It really is that good!”

http://www.lighttraveler.co.uk

ALAN FEGENT – VICTOIRE

ALAN FEGENT
Camera: X20 Lens: Zoom at 28mm
Exposure: 1/1000sec at f/2.2, ISO 100

I’ve owned an X20 for a couple of months and it has put the fun back into my photography. I always want to go out and shoot more! It offers a 1:1 format, which I like to use on my portraits, plus I love the fact that it’s both small and light but doesn’t limit my creativity in any way.

Victoire is my partner’s grand-daughter. For portraits like this, I prefer to work like a photojournalist, trying to seize the moment. I just left her to have fun while I took photographs using the available light – I wanted her to completely forget about me and the camera.

I try to keep post-production to a minimum. Here I used Lightroom 5 to convert the Raw file and Color Efex Pro 4 to add the contrast and colour.”

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanfegent/

MICHAEL GREENE – HOME FROM CALIFORNIA

Michael Greene
Camera: X100 Lens: 23mm fixed
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/2, ISO 640

This is my son’s friend Tommy who had just returned from an extended trip to California. I wanted to get an image of his tattoo, but didn’t want just a record of the artwork. This guy has a beautiful form and his face is classic. I realised while looking through the viewfinder that parts of all those elements just looked right. The shot I took afterwards, with his face in it, isn’t half as compelling to look at.

As soon as the X100 was announced, I sold the digital camera I was using. I don’t need program modes and I don’t need the camera to do the thinking for me; give me an f/stop, shutter speed and ISO control and that’s it. I have the X100 with me all the time – that’s no exaggeration. The camera is built well and stands up to daily use; I don’t baby it. The image quality is just amazing, too – there’s a lustre to the photos that I really can’t describe, it just fits with how I see the world.

http://www.thesleepingimage.com

FUJINON XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens test

Sample 4
200mm setting, 1/2000sec at f/6.4, ISO 320
At the 200mm setting, the lens can produce frame-filling shots from the side of a track. This was taken in a public area through a mesh fence

FUJINON XF lenses are all about quality. Quality of build, quality of performance, quality of results. With prime (single focal length) lenses, quality is to be expected by virtue of their more simple optical construction. But good results are less of a foregone conclusion when it comes to zooms. Until recently, the XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R was the only telezoom in the Fujinon line up. It’s since been joined by the XC50-230mm f/4.5-6.7, which was launched alongside the X-A1 and is designed for mid-range X-brand models. But the XF55-200mm remains top dog by virtue of its faster maximum aperture and more solid build, making it the perfect accompaniment to the X-E and X-Pro models. We tested the lens on the latter model.

Sample 1
141mm setting, 1/1250sec at f/5, ISO 320
No problems with vibrant colours, and the level of detail is impressive, as is the car!

The first thing you’ll notice about the XF55-200mm is its impressive build quality. It looks and feels as though it’s built to stand the rigours of daily use and feels reassuringly solid in every aspect of construction. The zoom collar is both large and very smooth to use, while the manual focusing ring at the end of the lens and the aperture ring near the body are both well sized and a real pleasure to control. It comes supplied with a deep lens hood to keep a tight control on flare, plus there’s a switch to turn Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on and off, alongside the automatic or manual aperture control switch. The OIS is worthy of note. Offering up to 4.5 stops of compensation, we found that even at the 200mm setting, we were able to shoot with shutter speeds around 1/20sec without any evidence of camera shake.

Sample 2
164mm setting, 1/20sec at f/4.6, ISO 400
Optical Image Stabilisation is excellent, this shot was taken at 1/20sec but there’s no hint of blur

With the XF55-200mm attached to the X-Pro1, the combination is neither heavy nor bulky – it’s fine to sling over your shoulder while you’re out for a walk, plus the zoom action is constructed in such a way that there’s no zoom creep, even with the lens pointed down.

A focal range equivalent to 84-305mm on a 35mm camera means the lens offers plenty of versatility. We used it for a wide range of subjects, from portraits through to sporting action. The focusing proved accurate and the out-of-focus areas were lovely and smooth thanks to the seven-blade aperture diaphragm.

Sample 3
200mm setting, 1/120sec at f/4.8, ISO 400
Regardless of focal length setting, the lens delivers high-quality results. You can count every hair in this dog’s fur

The real beauty of the lens, though, is in the quality of the results. In keeping with the Fujinon XF philosophy, the resulting images display impressive levels of sharpness thanks to the combination of high-quality optics and the X-Pro1’s wonderful X-Trans sensor. The lens also showed great consistency through the focal range and aperture settings. Whether you’re shooting wide open at 55mm or stopped down at 200mm, you can be confident of getting great results every time.

Lens tested by Roger Payne

Macro Photography Tips

An emphasis on detail, texture and pattern is what makes macro photography so
complex and unique. If done properly, macro photography can give you mind-blowing
results. In this article, let’s go through a few tips which will greatly improve your macro
photography skills and help you take dramatic and high impact shots.

Turn on macro mode: This may seem like a tip for dummies, however many beginners
forget or do not know because they’re too lazy to scan through the thick manual. Macro
mode is usually represented by a small flower on the setting dial. This lets you bring the
lens of the camera closer to the subject.

Use a tripod: Since macro photography is all about sharpness and clarity, you must use
a tripod to avoid any form of vibration that may occur. A tripod will greatly help you in
getting a sharper image.

Focus manually: When the subject is very close to the lens, the auto-focus would tend to
search backward and forward for something to focus on. It would save you a lot of time
to manually focus on the subject and would also be a lot more precise. For starters, shoot
stable objects like flowers where you can take all the time in the world to get your focus
spot on. In time and with practice, you can shoot insects and other wildlife.

Turn the flash on: A shadow can completely ruin your picture; so don’t forget to use
flash. However, you should idly shoot in brightly lit spaces. Use a reflector if you have to
fill the shadow. It would be perfect if you could adjust the intensity of the flash on your
camera, however if you cannot, tape a piece of tracing paper to the top of your flash to
adjust the brightness of the flash.

Aperture: Having the freedom to adjust your aperture settings is a big plus point as it
allows you to control the depth of field. Certain cameras do not allow you to change the
aperture setting once in macro mode. However, if they permit you to do so, you should
use a large aperture in order to blur out the background.

Macro photography is great fun and will keep you preoccupied for ages. You can
endlessly experiment with it on a variety of subjects. It will literally open up worlds
within worlds, so let those creative juices flow and let your camera go wild.

Originally posted by Fujifilm India http://www.fujifilmblog.in/macro-photography-tips/