X-Photographer Chris Upton talks X-E2S

BY CHRIS UPTON

Amid all the deserved hype around the launch of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 it was easy to miss the upgrade to the Fuji X-E2, in the form of the X-E2S. In truth this is really an evolution rather than a revolution but, true to form, Fuji have integrated some very welcome features into this incarnation.

Before I run through these it might be worth explaining Fujifilm’s strategy around their, interchangeable lens, CSC (compact system camera) line up. Fujifilm’s launch into the CSC market came with the introduction of the X-Pro1 4 years ago. This model was styled around the retro rangefinder type cameras. It was an instant success due to the beautiful design and stunning image quality. The X-E1 and X-E2 followed in the same vein but in a smaller form factor. Whilst there are benefits of using a rangefinder for certain types of shooting, especially street, there are many photographers who prefer the typical DSLR style body with a central viewfinder. Enter the Fujifilm X-T1 and subsequently X-T10.

xe2sSo the thinking is that Fuji can now offer Pro / semi-pro and enthusiast cameras in both rangefinder and DSLR styled bodies. So in essence the X-E2S lines up alongside the X-T10 with a 16.3mp sensor.

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My “affair” with Fuji started in 2013 when I bought the X-E1. I had always wanted a small, light rangefinder style camera to use as a carry round camera to be used alongside my Canon DSLR system. I loved that camera and I still do, but whilst the X-T1 with its fantastic features and design is now my favoured body, the X-E1 is always in my bag.

So when Fuji asked me to test the X-E2S I was intrigued to see how it would compare to my own two models. My thoughts here are not meant to be a definitive technical review, there are plenty of other sites that offer that, but more around the user experience which will hopefully help you decide whether this body might be the one for you.

The X-E2S inherits the rangefinder style design and functionality with a series of new or improved features. The X-E2S is the same small size as the X-E1 / X-E2 and weighs in at a meagre 350g (body only) great for discreet, unobtrusive shooting.

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The X-E2S boasts improved viewfinder, autofocus system, handling and a more intuitive interface so let’s have a look at these in a little more detail.

One of the key benefits of the recent Fuji viewfinders is the ability to see in real time the exposure that you’re getting. Adjust the exposure or exposure compensation dial and see the screen go brighter or darker and confirm highlight and shadow control with the live histogram. The display is large with a 0.62x magnification and very bright and Fujifilm claim the EVF features the world’s shortest display time lag. The user can tailor the information appearing to their specific needs and this auto rotates when the camera is turned vertically, a really useful feature.

The X-E2S incorporates the superb new Auto Focus system that was introduced to the X-T1 and incorporated in the X-T10 and the new X-Pro2. This adds Zone and Wide Tracking to Single Point for easy capture of moving subjects. The standard single point mode offers 49 points for fast, precise focusing whilst the Zone mode allows users to select from three different sized zones from the 77 point focus area. The wide tracking feature excels at capturing moving subjects whether they are moving up and down, left and right or towards or away from the camera. This combined with Face and Eye detection options makes this a significant improvement over the old system and offers users one of the best and fastest AF systems available.

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The addition of a new, silent, electronic shutter is perfect for candid captures or shooting in quiet places and a top speed of 1/32,000 second means that the fast Fujinon lenses can be used wide open outdoors on a sunny day without the need for an ND filter. The interval timer enables shooting up to 999 frames with intervals from one second to 24 hours.
The camera features Fujifilm’s APS-C 16.3 megapixel X trans-CMOS II sensor. This is unique to Fujifilm and the random colour array and lack of low pass filter helps deliver outstanding image quality and low noise.

For those who like to shoot in low light there is an amazing new top ISO of 51200 though I rarely shoot above 3200 ISO where I have no problem with the quality of the files. If you like to shoot video the X-E2S can capture 1080/60p video and offers the latest set of Film Simulation Modes, including the gorgeous Classic Chrome which gives a slightly muted retro feel. In order to make selecting your most used functions quick and simple you can customize the function buttons on the body. My selections are ISO, self timer (usually set to 2 sec for tripod shooting), focus point, AF mode and metering mode. Of course you can also configure the Quick “Q” menu to your own specification. The new model also features an enhanced grip and a new user friendly interface for the menu system.

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For those that are new to Fuji or thinking about making the move across there are a few other key points I should highlight.

As with the X-E2 the X-E2S offers the user the opportunity to manage the “exposure triangle” of aperture, shutter speed and ISO together with exposure compensation easily on the camera without the need to dive into endless menu’s. Manual focusing is a breeze when using the focusing aids of digital split image and focus peaking. I find that setting my focus peaking to flash the highlights in red works best. If you shoot JPEGS rather than RAW, or want a very pleasant surprise, the Fuji cameras deliver stunning JPEGS straight from camera. There is a lovely, almost film like feel to them and you can fine tune them in camera to suit your style, they really do have to be seen to be believed.

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A final point is that Fujifilm have earned deserved praise for their commitment to users buying into their system to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the steady stream of technological improvements. In this case existing X-E2 users can update their camera’s firmware at no cost delivering the new AF system updates, performance improvements and the new graphical interface introduced in the X-E2S.

X-E2 firmware can be downloaded for FREE here.

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So in summary whilst the X-E2S does not incorporate all the latest technology from Fujifilm it does offer a lightweight, compact rangefinder style body, awesome autofocus system with a proven 16.3mp sensor delivering stunning image quality at a very keen price making this a very attractive proposition indeed.

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All images were shot using the Fuji X-E2S

 

Interview with famous Japanese photographer and original “X-Photographer” Yukio Uchida

Over the last few years, Fujifilm has invited professional photographers from around the world to meet with the product planning and R&D teams to discuss current and future products. Names you may or may not have heard of such as Zack Arias, David Hobby, Bert Stephani, Kevin Mullins, Gianluca Colla, Tomasz Lazar, Damien Lovegrove, Knut Koivisto, Chris Weston and more have all given their feedback and input into the “kai-zen” development mentality of the Fujifilm X system.

However, this process has actually been going on for longer than that.

Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to meet with Yukio Uchida, a famous professional photographer from Japan who had been speaking about Fujifilm cameras at the CP+ show in Yokohama. Yukio was one of the world’s first “X-Photographers”; his feedback has been instrumental in the development of the Fujifilm X system. I was able to get 10 minutes of his time to ask him a few questions about his involvement with Fujifilm R&D, and also his own photographic style.

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Japanese professional photographer Yukio Uchida

MH: Thank you for taking some time meet me and talk about you and your photography.
Is this your first time presenting at CP+?

YU: No, this is my fourth year. Every year it gets better than previous. Four years ago very few people used X series but over time the amount of users has increased, and also the amount of people that come to watch me speak has increased.

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Yukio Uchida draws one of the biggest crowds at CP+

MH: Could you tell me a little bit about your photography style and philosophy?

YU: I want to take a picture that expresses what I feel. If the audience see my picture and they like it, this is OK. But if they see it and think “I want to feel like that”, this is more important to me. I want to inspire.

MH: How did you get into photography?

YU: Before becoming a professional photographer, I worked for the city government. At the time I spent a lot of time on the street taking photos. Photography should be about good moments and beautiful scenery.

MH: When did you start using Fujifilm cameras?

YU: I started with the original X100 back in early 2011 when it was first released.

MH: What do you love about Fujifilm X cameras?

YU: Firstly, and very importantly is colour reproduction and lens resolution. But also, the R&D team in Japan have included me a lot during the development phases of all of the products.
I was invited to the original meeting for X100 before the X series was born. I told them right away that they were dealing with someone with high standards who was not going to be easy to win over. I told them that if they couldn’t convince me to buy these cameras and lenses, they should not be sold in the marketplace. For this reason I feel strongly attached to the whole system.
I love the fashionable and stylish design of the product. Many people can appreciate the X series without needing to be professional photographers.

MH: You’re also stylish, charismatic and unique, and you stand out in a good way. You sum up that aspect of the cameras.

YU: Thank you. I feel that creative people prefer the look and feel of X series. Certainly in Japan, big DSLR cameras have appeal to working professionals, but to normal people that just want to create some art, this sort of camera should be the “mainstream”.

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Yukio Uchida has a very distinct look himself

MH: So you would say that a DSLR might be someone’s tool, but a Fujifilm X camera is their camera for them to express and “be themselves” with.

YU: Completely agree. The photographic industry was moving towards “bigger must be better” but mobility was being sacrificed. DSLR users forgot photography.
Digital technology has been progressing, and cameras with cutting edge technology will continue to come out. But to me it’s not the essence of photography. I think photography should be the tool to express my feelings towards the “beauty of the world”.
A camera that gives me the joy of ownership and the joy of shooting is much more important than one with the highest number of megapixels or highest ISO performance.

MH: I see you have a Fujifilm camera with you now. How many shots do you take every day for your own use?

YU: Maybe one hundred per day, although I’d like to take more. I see beautiful things everywhere and want to capture them. Everything I do, everything I see, I think about how it could be framed. I look at light and shadow and it helps distract my mind from other negative things such as being nervous because I am being interviewed by an English guy!
When I shot with a DSLR, everything was more technical. I was only interested in what was visible in the frame and the depth of field. Now with X series I think about sounds, smell, temperature. Everything can be part of the photo.

MH: Finally, if you could only have one body and one lens, which would you choose?

YU: The X-Pro1 and XF56mm. I can be on equal footing with the X-Pro1. I don’t have to rely on the camera too much, nor deprive the joy of photography from me. I feel a kind of closeness with X-Pro1 and that’s why I love it the best.

See more of Yukio’s work

Check out some of Yukio Uchida’s work on the official Fujifilm X-Photographers website
Gallery 1 | Gallery 2 | Gallery 3

THE FUJIFILM X MAGAZINE IS HERE! – ISSUE 8

Issue 8 of the Fujifilm X Magazine is now available to view online, or download to your mobile or tablet via the Android or Apple app.

In this issue Swedish photographer Knut Koivisto shares his approach to people pictures, we give you seasonal portrait ideas, the X100T gets a test drive and to top it off, we showcase a superb set of desert landscapes taken in the Wild West!

 

 

 

Interview – Knut Koisvisto

Every photographer can learn from Knut Koivisto’s approach to portraiture. He explains how he works and why he uses Fujifilm X-series.

Click here to read the full interview »

 

X Marks the Spot

Monument Valley was on Gary Collyer’s photo bucket list for years. When he finally visited, it didn’t disappoint – and nor did his images.

Click here to read the full article »

 

What to shoot

Whether you want to work in the studio or outdoors, this is a great time to be shooting portraits. We’ve got all the advice you need.

Click here to read the full article »

 

Exhibition

Head to your local town or city and shoot urban images – that’s exactly what these X Magazine readers did and look at the results.

Click here to read the full article »

 

master the xMaster the X-series

How to take better portraits with off-camera flash, plus we get our hands on the third generation of the X100 models, the X100T.

Click here to read the full article »

 

Competition

If you’ve got a blog, we want to hear from you. X Magazine’s best blogger will win a fabulous new Fujifilm X-A2 outfit.

Click here to read more »

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.

Switching Systems – Interview with Michelle Williams

Interview with Michelle Williams – professional photographer that recently made the switch to the world of Fujifilm X

Michelle is a professional photographer from North Wales. She has been photographing weddings, newborns and animals as her full time job on a Canon camera for the last ten years. She recently discovered the Fujifilm X series of cameras so we got in touch to ask her a bit about her rite of discovery.

So what made you decide to try a Fujifilm camera?

I’m a Canon user and have been for ten years. I never thought I would want to change to another make of camera, ever. Recently however, I’ve seen a lot of feedback online about the Fuji cameras so last week I sold some bits and bought a used X-E1 and a 35mm lens.

I wasn’t expecting much as these things are usually prone to hype. I’d tried the Olympus pen for a walk around camera and it was good but more of a fun camera than one I would seriously use. From the very first image I took with the X-E1 I was nothing short of gobsmacked. I was so excited to see what it was capable of.

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How has the X-E1 changed how you shoot?

I’ve not been out of the house without it since I bought it. This weekend I had a wedding and packed my usual kit of a 5D2 and a 7D with all my lenses. I also took along the little Fuji to play with if I got a chance.

To my surprise, I shot the majority of the day with the Fuji alone! The images are brilliant straight from camera which on a wedding means saving tons of time for me so again I’m taken aback by its capabilities…especially in low light!

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I truly am blown away with the colour, clarity and functionality of this camera.

Once again, thank you to you all for making photography fun and exciting for me again. Keep up the great work!

See more of Michelle’s work by following her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/michellewilliamsphotographyuk

Guest post: Fujifilm X for Destination Weddings

By V.Opoku

I just got back from documenting a destination wedding in Montego Bay Jamaica, and I can’t help but think that the Fujifilm X cameras have an enormous potential to be incredible wedding cameras. I have been shooting exclusive with two X-Pro 1’s + an X100s for the past year and I have gotten to know these cameras quite well.

They are a joy to work with, I love them but this past week something clicked – every destination wedding photographer needs a Fujifilm X camera in their bag – X100s, X-E1/2 X-Pro 1 and the newly announced X-T1 ; pick your poison.

Here is why :

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1. Travelling light, I pack my kit in my carry on bag, I don’t have to check in and it’s easier to carry smaller luggage around once I arrive at my desired destination.

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2. Wedding days are long hours, for this wedding I started documenting from 10am and it wasn’t until after 12am that I packed it all in. Over 14 hours of coverage – anything heavier, especially as a two-body set up will kill me.

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3. Documenting events pre and post the wedding day. This is where the x100s comes into a league of its own – I am able to hang out with my clients, their family and friends effortless, I am able to capture moments without a photographer sticker on my forehead.

I am not saying ditch your entire DSLR setup like I did, but I will highly recommend all my fellow wedding photographers out there, especially those who travels around the world, to add one of these gems to their arsenal.

Here is preview of the wedding I documented, images are either the X-Pro 1 + 35mm or the X100s. I can’t wait to add the 56mm & 14mm lenses into my setup during the course of the year.

About Me:

I am a Creative, Contemporary Wedding Story-teller. I love to travel, experience different cultures and discover awesome stories. London is home (for now).

blog : http://vopoku.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/vopoku

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
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“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.