Granite walls clung to by a finger…
Night sleeping in a hammock hung by Carabiners on a vertical 500m drops.
Scaling a waterfall turned to ice in -10 conditions, Ice axes, crampons.
The north face of the Eiger.
No, no thanks, not for me…
I live in and love the mountains, the French Pyrenees. I am very happy to climb , walk and explore, but when the need for Carabiners and ropes happen, that’s when I take another route. I’m not an Alpinist, this makes me a lightweight, and as I’m a lightweight I wish to carry lightweight kit. No “Landscape photographers bad back” for me.
Recently I took a trip to the other side of France, the Alpes-Maritimes, tracing the old border of France and Italy. A border that shifted with the end of WW2. The old border line in the Alpes-Maritimes are on ridges, peaks or cols, sometimes on the road, but mostly the car can only get you so far, then its hiking.
I approach landscape photography with a reportage head. I am not the kind of photographer that has the patients or time to hang around at a location, ponder, wait for the light, pause for dusk or sleep out all night for dawn. Maybe I’m not a proper landscape photographer, maybe I just lack the patience, I am however very much interested in narrative, the Journey.
When on my journey, I see something, I stop and take a picture and move on. Hopefully the light is good on the subject at that moment. I’m much more about the story. That’s where the X100T is so good. I see the work I’m doing now as a journal, making notes. Maybe some day I could return with more equipment (a tripod ) maybe even camp out the night , but only with light kit, keeping the no humping kit bad back rule.
I shoot jpegs now (I spoke about in my last entry) and I’m right back to my early E6 (transparency film) days, I bracket. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of bracketing and would have been horrified that I am shooting jpegs.
1/3 Stop Under
1/3 Stop Over
The f-stop bracketing with the X100T is great, 1/3rd of a stop work really well. This is not ‘in camera ‘ processing for a bracket, its a true 3 exposure event. I struggled with this at first as I would start to move looking for the next picture before the 3rd shot had fired. I am learning to be patient.
For me its important to know which in film simulation to use and not just shoot with the very seductive Classic Crome or the old school landscape photographers favourite Velvia (Even if you can shoot it at 800 ASA !) You can bracket film simulation modes with the X100T, and it is a one exposure event. Film simulation bracketing is a very good learning tool on how the different film simulations will look in different lights, however you can not Film simulation bracket and f-stop bracket at the same time. In my opinion, the characteristics of the film stock very much influences how the story is read. I make the decision which film simulation to use on a project and keep it that way. Sometimes the film simulation I have chosen is not the best for the light in a situation, but I feel the continuity of the colour and tonal range is of an over riding importance. Okay, you can call me old school.
I’m not the photographer that enjoys the capture one / light-room / photoshop part of photography. I just want to get the image correct in camera and then print it. The dream is to send it to the printer from in the field…
I should however invest in an ND grad filter, Seven 5 by Lee filter probably and the WCL-X100 wide conversion lens, a pro ipad and a carbon tripod.
I’m searching for perfection in camera and escape the tyranny of post production.
The guys at Fujifilm asked me to put something together for fashion week, in the past I have shot for a few different designers & the principal sponsor of the event when it was held at the Natural History Museam & the opulent ‘Somerset House’.
This year it all moved into the heart of the West End, where the streets are the real stage!
“Fashion may come and go, But Soho’s always got Style”
Last week we were at photokina, the world’s largest imaging fair, from Tuesday 16th to Sunday 21st September. It’s been a complete blast and this post will hopefully highlight the bits you missed if you couldn’t make it to Cologne this year.
Our booth was big. It was made up with lots of different sections covering many different areas of our business, all with the same common goal – helping people with photography.
The X-Photographers Gallery
We had images from many different photographers displayed how they were always meant to be seen – printed.
Print of a shot by Ken Kaminesky
Paul Schlemmer asking “what do I do with my hands?” in front of his print
Some were printed on FUJIFLEX Crystal Archive Printing Material and others on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Digital Paper but they were all amazingly good to look at. We’ve combined our X series cameras with many years’ experience of printing and finally the creativity of real users of our cameras to create a truly awe inspiring array of beautiful prints. Many visitors to the stand told us that they thought these were the best prints on display at the show.
The X-Photographers Stage
For me the stage was the real star of the show.
Bert Stephani Studio Demo
We had 23 photographers from all over the world talking about a wide range of subjects. Some were very inspirational, other educational, but all were very interesting. We will post another blog post shortly with more detail on each of the photographers and what their talk was like. Sign up at the top-right of the page to receive notifications when it is published.
Large crowds came to listen to what our photographers had to say
Martin Hülle from Germany talking about some of his images
Zack Arias on stage
“Touch and Try” section
On the stand we had the new X100T and X30 cameras and the new XF50-140mm F2.8 and XF56mm APD lenses available in our “Touch and Try” section for people to use. We also made sure there was something beautiful to shoot in the way of a BMW i8 and some lovely models so everyone had something to shoot.
One of our lovely models and our lovely car
Staff on hand to explain how the cameras work
Visitor testing out the X-T1
Putting on the big lens
The X100T is an evolution from the X100 and X100S with the main upgrades being a 1/32000th electronic shutter, digital rangefinder and new Classic Chrome film simulation.
The X30 takes the popular X20 and gives it a new high-resolution Electronic Viewfinder, tilting LCD, new control ring, lots of new customisable Function buttons and the same awesome Classic Chrome Film Simulation as sported by the X100T.
The XF50-140mm is our first weather resistant constant aperture lens. It boasts f/2.8 throughout its focal length range and contains a lot of amazing technology to make sure the results are comparable to prime lens quality
The XF56mm APD is a fast, sharp prime lens that contains an Apodisation filter that helps produce an even smoother bokeh affect than the standard XF56mm.
The final new product people could get their hands on was the new X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition pictured below.
The XF50-140mm lens on an X-T1 Graphite Silver
The XF56mm APD on an X-T1 Graphite Silver
The full X line-up
Additionally, behind a glass cabinet we had the entire range lined up (click the image below for a larger display)
Notable products were:
The XF16mmF1.4 has the same focus ring as the XF14 and XF23 with focus distance and depth of field guide on the barrel itself.
The XF16-55mmF2.8 appears to have OIS dropped from its name suggesting that the final lens will not have OIS, but instead aim for absolute optimal image quality. This is still to be confirmed though.
The XF90mmF2 looks like it’s going to be a big bit of glass. Similar in length to the XF56mm but a bit thicker.
Finally, previously known as the Super Tele-Photo Zoom Lens on the roadmap, a lens with no label underneath. However, it had an inscription bearing the specifications “XF 140-400mmF4-5.6 R LM OIS WR”. I’d like to point out that these are not 100% final specifications. They just needed to put something on the front of the mock-up lens to give a better idea of what the final lens would look like. Either way this gives us a guide as to what sort of spec the final lens is likely to be, and also how big it will be.
Free maintenance and camera loan service
We offered a FREE maintenance service and a FREE camera loan service for the six days of photokina, In total we were able to service 510 cameras and loaned 433 cameras and lenses combined.
We showcased a few of our technologies – some current and some in development
Film is our heritage and therefore we spend a lot of time developing (pun not intended) our film simulation modes for our digital cameras. The latest film simulation mode we have released is Classic Chrome and it is available on the new X100T, X30 and will be made available via a firmware update for the X-T1 later this year.
Remote “Multi-shooting” application
Here’s a new app we’re currently working on that allows you to wirelessly control and shoot up to three cameras at one time using the same tablet computer.
Applications for this could be for recording video, creating 3D imagery or shooting event photography.
Since the launch of the X-T1 we have seen some amazingly creative uses people have found for the existing remote shooting app so we hope that this will allow people to be even more creative with their photography.
The Cologne photokina Photowalk
On Saturday night we held a photowalk with X-Photographers Elia Locardi and Ken Kaminesky. 213 people showed up, despite the threat for heavy rain beforehand. Most people brought their own equipment to shoot with and Fujifilm X-T1s and lenses were available for people to borrow if they wished.
We met at the Dom and then walked as a very large group around the cathedral and then across the river to watch the sunset from the East bank. It was a great event and we’re sure everyone enjoyed themselves and made a few new friends that share their love of photography.
These guys even won some prizes by having their names drawn at random:
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Fabiano Dallmeyer , Richard Powazynski, Jens Fricke, Ken Kaminesky, Carl Nasman, Patrick Mayon, Elia Locardi, Florin Lucian Patras and Michael Magner
In February 2014, during my first ever trip to Japan to attend the CP+ Show in Yokohama, I was also lucky enough to be present at one of the early planning meetings for the X100T, along with a few carefully selected professional photographers – Yukio Uchida (Japan), Bert Stephani (Belgium), Gianluca Colla (Italy) and Kevin Mullins (UK). Each one of the photographers used Fujifilm CSCs for their work, but also an X100S for personal work, and some professional work where it suited. After spending a few days talking about how our equipment affects their working lives in a positive light, they were given very specific instructions to tell us exactly what they didn’t like about them.
Less than seven months on and I’m holding in my hands a pre-production version of a camera that was based on many of the subjects discussed in this meeting.
How do you make something “more perfect” ?
There were two sides to the meeting. First up, the Japanese developers worked through a list of their ideas to understand what the photographers thought of them.
I paraphrase of course but here’s kind of how the conversation went:
Developers: Do you want a full-frame sensor? Photographers: No because the camera would need to be bigger and that would degrade the purpose of the camera
Developers: Would you like an f/1.8 or larger aperture lens? Photographers: As above. No because the camera would need to be bigger.
Developers: Would you like a tilting screen? Photographers: As above again.
At this point you could see that the Japanese product developers are getting a bit nervous. How can you further evolve and develop a product if the users of the product are already perfectly happy with the existing one?
Developers: Does it need an Electronic Shutter? Photographers: Not sure… what would be the benefits? Developers: Shooting much faster shutter speeds, even with the aperture wide open – no need for the ND filter
OK finally we have our first TICK!
Developers: Would you like better movie functions? More frame rate options, manual exposure control? Photographers: Yes, as long as it doesn’t have any effect on the camera’s ability to shoot stills
And another TICK. We’re really cooking now.
Developers: What about Wifi? Photographers: Would be useful, as long as the camera doesn’t get any bigger
Developers: How would you like to be able to use manual focus while shooting OVF? Photographers: We’re listening…
The developers pulled out a concept modified X100S with a special LCD panel installed outside the Optical Viewfinder. They went on to explain how this LCD display would actually be inside the camera and the user can switch on or off the ability to fine-tune the focus without switching from OVF.
I’ve had a go with this on the pre-production version and I can really see the value. I’m a big fan of coloured focus peaking so to be able to have it while looking through an OVF is really nice. It’s quick to toggle on or off, much faster than switching between OVF and EVF, so you can pay attention to the frame and just check the focus when you need it.
They then went through a pretty long list of changes / enhancements etc… of which a lot made it into the X100T I’ve got in my hand.
“We will consider”
In my experience, one thing that Japanese people hate to do is to outright say the word “no”. Every suggestion for a change to any of our cameras always gets one of these two responses:
“We will do this” – this actually means “We have already done this”
“We will consider” – And they do!
Next up in the meeting it was the photographer’s turn to suggest changes, all of which met one the answers above. Here are a few things I remember our guests asking for. This is not to say that these were not already in consideration by the development team.
Ability for the user to customise the Q menu – check
Standardise the main layout of the camera controls – time will tell on this but the X100T button layout is more like the X-T1 than the X100S, particularly on the user’s right thumb.
Various different film types to be considered to be added to the list of Film Simulation modes – Classic Chrome making it into the range
More Function (Fn) buttons – check
Black version available at launch – check
Everything above, but retain the same size, shape and pretty much weight as the X100S and X100 – check
It’s not to say that the entire product was built from that one single meeting. Of course not. The team in Japan do an amazing job considering requests from Fujifilm staff and professional photographers all over the world. It is this constant ability to listen to feedback and then build on it that makes this an incredibly exciting and rewarding place to work.
On top of these changes, here are a few others that I’ve heard customers ask for that have made it in:
Allow users to select the AF area with the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn Key.
AUTO ISO “profiles”
Ability for Exposure compensation to still work when the camera is in M mode, as long as the ISO is set to AUTO
Aperture ring moves in ⅓ increments.
Increase the grip on the manual focus ring
And finally some nice changes that made it over from the X-T1:
Coloured Focus Peaking
Remote shooting / wireless image transfer
Awesome updated GUI that rotates based on camera orientation
3 stops Exposure Compensation
The whole experience opened my eyes to what an amazing company it is that I work for. Staff and customers alike have a voice that is constantly helping to shape future development to produce the perfect products.
Many of these changes have been added to already-released cameras via free firmware updates. In my opinion this is a great move by Fujifilm as we are relatively new (this time round) to the professional end of the market and building trust is very important to help us gain a good reputation.
But whether we’re able to update existing models, or evolve the models with newer, improved versions, the reason it is working well is because everything is being carefully developed based on what actual users want. I’ve now seen this with my own eyes, and hold the proof in my hands.
改善 (kaizen) – Good change.
Come and see the X100T
The Fujifilm X100T will be available to get your hands on in the Touch & Try section of the Fujifilm stand at Photokina 2014 – Tuesday 16th September to Sunday 21st September at the koelnmesse Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre in Cologne, Germany.