We asked a few of our X-Photographers why they love the widest of our super-fast aperture prime lenses, the FUJINON XF16mm F1.4 R WR. Here is what they said..
Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings
At first I wasn’t sure if I would be attracted to the 24mm full frame focal length having tried that several times in my Canon days. However, as soon as I got the 16mm I just knew it was going to be a flyer. This lens is PIN sharp wide open, focuses incredibly quick and works so well with the continuous shooting mode of on the X-Series. It gives that extra width when shooting in tight areas at weddings and is perfect for shots such as the recessional and really close up but powerful images of the confetti throwing etc.
I love the 16mm f1.4! It’s a surprisingly versatile lens that is equally at home shooting portraits as it is landscapes. The X-Series lenses are all fantastic, but I would say the 16mm f1.4 has something extra special. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is just something magical about it. There’s a cinematic quality, an epic look, yet a sense of real intimacy when working in close. I like to work with two bodies at a time and the 16mm paired with a 35mm or 56mm is an amazing combo that gets any job done, no matter how low the light!
Stuck in dark, hot conditions with F2.8 being on the borderline of usability, even with high ISOs, the XF16mm offers a popular standard focal length with a wide aperture range that makes it surprisingly versatile. Though you can stop this down for a larger depth of field, many want to use this at F1.4 or there abouts. A very close minimum focusing distance and beautiful out of focus rendering make this a superb lens for placing your subject within an environment but keeping the viewer focused on the subject thanks to that narrow depth of field.
This is lens is so sharp and so fast it’s unbelievable, I carry it with me at all times to get me out of trouble in low light conditions. I used to use a 24mm on my old film camera for Street when I was shooting wide, but now I use the XF16mm. It really comes into its own on busy city streets as it allows me to get in close but also grab lots of other detail in the background. I love the lack of distortion when shooting in cities with lots of vertical & horizontal lines.
Same 16mp sensor, same auto focus, and roughly the same weight and size… So what is different between the X-E2s and the X-T10?
Well as it turns out quite a lot! In this video blog we’ll take a look at the key differences between these two cameras and determine which is better for certain styles and situations.
Both cameras are available in silver or black variants and the retro, functional designs are indicative of the Fujifilm X-Series, but there are clear differences between them. The X-T10 is an SLR-style deign with the viewfinder in the centre of the camera, while the X-E2s has a rangefinder-style design with the viewfinder on the far left of the camera. This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, but this difference is the main reason why I use these two very capable cameras for different situations.
Which eye to use
That sounds like a bizarre subtitle, maybe Ben has had a long night…? No this is actually a really important thing to consider. I am left-eye dominant, so when using the SLR variant my face is mostly obscured by the camera, but this would pretty much be the same if I used my right eye. But with the rangefinder-style cameras (X-E2S) I deliberately use my right eye (yes it was a bit weird at first but I quickly got used to it). The reason for this is if you use your left eye with one of these camera then the camera sits completely across your face, whereas with your right eye, the camera is off to your right, leaving your face mostly unobscured. This can be a really big factor if you are going to be photographing people regularly as it makes it so much easier to interact with your subject. Particularly if you don’t know each other or have limited common language to otherwise engage, simply being able to smile while taking a photo makes all the difference.
X-E2S – Rangefinder-style images
X-T10 – SLR-style images
The little brother of the X-T1 and X-T2, this dynamic camera is great for those looking to cover a wide variety of photographic genres, whether that is through travelling or simply experimentation. Combining this compact but powerful camera with the likes of the XF18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS and the XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 OIS makes for a brilliant, lightweight travel set up. Maybe add a low-light prime in there like the XF35mm F1.4 or F2 and then you have most bases covered in a very compact system. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the launch of this camera while working in Borneo. Here are a selection of images from that trip with the X-T10. As well as that, here is a link to my brief review of the camera – http://www.bencherryphotos.com/Blog/OMG-is-that-the-XT10
Benefits of each camera
8 frames per second
Articulating LCD screen
Great general travel option
Discreet, slim design
Slows you down
Best for people interaction
Fantastic with XF prime lenses
Different to most other cameras on the market
Which would I choose?
Both are superb cameras with clear benefits over each other. Choosing between them very much depends on where you want your photography to develop. For me, I would opt for the X-E2s with a handful of lightweight prime lenses like the XF18mm F2, XF35mm F2 and maybe the XF56mm F1.2. This creativity inspiring set up would encourage me to think more about my photography, slow me down and encourage better interaction between me and my subjects (with beautiful results wide open using the prime lenses). What set up would you choose and why? Let us know in the comments below.
From the moment I truly began to pursue photography, I strived to distinguish my work from the millions of images flooding digital media across the world. In doing so, I’ve always been an advocate of doing whatever it takes to get the shot. Whether that means hiking a treacherous mountainside all night to capture the beauty of first light from an unseen perspective, or hanging from an abandoned bridge 2,000 feet above the ground, capturing timeless moments are what I live for. Through my experiences, I have learned that photography is a key factor in the difference between being alive, and actually living. Abiding by this principle, I set out on road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle accompanied by two talented friends and an arsenal of Fujifilm X Series gear.We left LA for Oregon on a Tuesday afternoon, and after a brutal sleepless 16-hour road trip, we made it to our first destination – Abiqua Falls. Fortunately our car for the trip was a 4WD Jeep, and allowed us to take the mile long off-road path to the trailhead for the falls. With tattered sneakers accompanied by a light rainfall, I ventured through Oregon’s lush landscape for my first time. The abundance of massive trees and greenery were like nothing I had ever seen before. The hike down to the river was pretty intimidating, and required you to scale down a lengthy and steep hillside that was only accessible by a rope tied to an old tree at the top. I went first, and discovered that the last hundred meters of the slippery, muddy terrain had no support rope. After my first step I went down with no control, and slid for about a hundred feet, ruining my clothes and scratching up my hands in the process. Nevertheless, we all made it down eventually and hiked alongside the river to our destination. I had never seen Abiqua Falls, so when we turned the corner that revealed it’s jaw-dropping beauty I was in awe.The picturesque landscape was surreal, and I immediately began planning out the perspectives I wanted to capture in order to do it justice. What I didn’t realize was how difficult the blistering backwash from the water crashing to the surface made it to snap a photograph without drenching the camera lens. The remarkable durability and weather-resistance of the X-T1 matched by the speed, precision, and quality of the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS conquered the conditions, and allowed me to capture my experience before the backwash fogged up the lens. From Abiqua, we drove through the countryside to two of Oregon’s most iconic waterfalls, Multnomah and Latourell. These two were conveniently located very close to one another, and neither required a difficult hike to get to. Their overwhelming size was a humbling reminder of the power of Mother Nature, and gave me a challenge to capture them true to scale. Running on no sleep in almost 48 hours, we left the falls and enjoyed the hospitality of a friend and Oregon local, who took us to a famous Portland brewery before getting a couple hours of rest to continue on our photographic journey.Several hours of sleep, a warm shower, and a cup of coffee later we were on the road again… this time headed towards Washington. We got up before sunrise to capture first light from the Rowena Crest. The dynamic range on the X-T1 did Rowena justice by capturing all the tones and colors of the current season. After a brief session at Rowena, we drove straight to Olympic National Park. We encountered wildlife along the way, including a bear and bison. It was my first time seeing such large animals up close, and thanks to compact size of the X-T1 I was able to take it out of my pocket in time to capture the moment. Olympic National Park had otherworldly nature-filled roads whose cinematic foregrounds looked like something out of Planet of the Apes. With the help of the XF16mmF1.4 R WR lens, I was able to capture the detail of the nature before me.After exploring through Olympic, we returned to the hospitality of a friend’s home in Seattle, anxious for the adventures that were to come the next day. After a few more hours of sleep we set off to catch the infamous abandoned railroad known as Vance Creek Bridge for sunrise. Vance Creek is very dangerous if you’re not careful, and trespassers of the area are given a hefty fine if caught by authorities. This didn’t stop us; we were determined to get to the bridge and get our shots as quickly as possible. Running on minimal sleep, the excitement of visiting Vance eliminated any sense of fatigue and gave us motivation to get through the hike to find one of the most amazing abandoned locations I had ever seen. I cautiously maneuvered all the way across the bridge, and after documenting every angle I could, I hung my body off the edge of the bridge to capture the vertigo-induced lookdown perspective that is seen throughout most of my travels.This image gives me a sense of conquering that location, and I strategically waited until I was done shooting to make my mark with the widest lens of my kit, the XF10-24mm. After leaving Vance Creek without any issues, we headed back to Seattle to take on the skies of the city in an R44 helicopter with Classic Helicopters. While I’ve had helicopter shoots across several cities in many different conditions, it was my first time shooting in harsh light, and in an unfamiliar city. Nevertheless the X-T1 and XF10-24mm combo proved their worth, showcasing the very impressive speed and accuracy of the auto-focus feature. About an hour after the flight concluded, the sun had set, signifying the end to an amazing few days spent with friends shooting in new environments with an awesome camera system. We returned to our friend’s house to catch some sleep before we set off on a 20 hour road trip back to Los Angeles.
In addition to my Pacific Northwest road trip, I also had the pleasure of shooting with Fujifilm X Series gear this past December in the winter wonderland that is Alberta, Canada. The camera withstood unbearably low temperatures, snow, and everything in between. I even hung my body out of the car at 100kmh in -20 degree weather to capture a symmetrical road shot during sunset on the way home from our final day, which consisted of a trip to Yoho National Park to capture a direct vantage point of an endless blue river. Although my winter hat flew of my head and my face turned bright red from the extreme temperature and heavy wind, the camera gear had no issues withstanding the harsh conditions and delivering excellent quality images.
In conclusion, the most valuable aspect of traveling for me has always been capturing my experiences. In doing so, I’m able to make my memories timeless and share them with the world. With the help of Fujifilm’s cutting edge X-T1 system and expansive Fujinon XF lens lineup, I was able to document my recent travels throughout Alberta, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The durability of this mirrorless camera is incredible. The compact size and endless internal capabilities of the X-T1 also set it apart from any camera I’ve used before. One of my favorite design aspects is the moveable LCD; this made it much easier to shoot reflections and difficult perspectives that cannot be seen through a viewfinder. The XF lenses are also very impressive. Their power and design compliment the body by providing lightning-fast images of excellent quality, color and sharpness. The auto-focus feature is also remarkably consistent and accurate across all subjects, and allowed me to make the most of every rare photo opportunity Mother Nature presented along these two trips. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with Fujifilm’s X Series gear, and I highly recommend it to all photographers looking to take their work to the next level with a conveniently sized, sleekly designed system.
Our X-Photographer “Why I love” XF lens series continues with our super sharp, super fast aperture prime lens, the FUJINON XF56mm F1.2 R.
Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings
Most wedding photographers want to be able to separate their subjects from the background at some point during the day and the amazingly fast 1.2 aperture of the 56mm (85mm full frame equivalent) allows me to do that. Even when I’m shooting fast moving subjects, such as a confetti throw, I will sometimes want to offer a luscious depth of field and there is no other lens that offers that f1.2 aperture that allows me to do that right now. This lens, along with the 23mm lenses are my goto lenses for every single wedding I shoot.
The super fast aperture of f1.2 and the full frame equivalent of 85mm make this lens an essential part of my kit. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting a documentary wedding, a jazz artist in a dimly lit room or a well lit portrait, the 56mm lens has a unique look and produces some of the best shallow depth of field creaminess of any lens I’ve ever used. Like all the Fuji XF lenses, the 56mm is also razor sharp and it beats the best of the high end 85mm lenses from the other big manufacturers. I haven’t tried the 90mm f2 yet, but it looks like that too will be an amazing portrait lens.
Many photographers came to the X-Series because of this lens. Offering F1.2 at 85mm equiv. focal length in a compact package that happens to be one of the fastest focusing lenses in the range… The F1.2 effect has so many benefits, from striking portraits to being invaluable in low light conditions. The later is particularly helpful for me. In tropical rainforests you don’t often see wildlife from a far but instead stumble across it. Here the F1.2 helped to capture this baby elephant dozing, ISO1600 F1.2 1/120sec. If this were with a F2.8 lens I would have been shooting at 1/30sec, risking motion blur as I tried to contain my excitement.
The 56mm F1.2 is my most used lens, it’s almost always the first lens I reach for on every shoot. I love the narrow depth of field and the super fast focusing. As a landscape photographer people are surprised when I say that I often shoot with the lens quite wide open, but for my style of long exposures where I’m trying to create a sense of infinite space the wide aperture looses the background nicely obscuring details I don’t need in the image.
When Fuji released this lens (75-210mm DSLR Equivalent), my intrigue questioned whether this would be an equal to the 70-200mm F2.8L series I had used on my DSLR; would the optics be as good? After trying it I could only describe the results in 2 words ‘Blown away’; the image quality was absolutely outstanding. I use this lens a lot in the studio for its narrower angle of view and the compression it applies to the depth of my images. The focusing & sharpness of this lens, even when hand held is amazing!… I had no need to question this lens, it more than equaled my DSLR equivalent and it’s much lighter too.
It’s obviously a little bigger than the other Fujinon lenses, but who cares when it delivers truly incredible results like it does.
I’ve shot on Fuji for almost two years now, but it was the release of the 50-140mm lens that really sealed the deal for me. Shooting fast equestrian sports needs a fast, longer lens – whether you are looking to capture pin sharp action pictures, or deliberately looking to include creative movement with interesting bokeh.
Even in low light the wide aperture, teamed with the brilliant OIS means I can still hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also, shooting horses, whether on the polo field or out in the wild, means one thing – rain and mud! The X-T1 body with the 50-140mm gives me a robust weather sealed system I can take anywhere.
I shoot prime lenses most of the time, but as my primes top out at 56mm (85mm in old money), I often need the reach and speed of the 50-140mm f2.8 for music photography (especially for stage work). With a full frame equivalent of 75-210mm, this is the the classic workhorse zoom that has the beautiful look of a full frame 70-200mm f2.8. Put it together with the 16-55mm f2.8 and you have the ultimate fast twin lens zoom setup that can cover just about any type of event. The OIS is essential on a lens of this size and it does an amazing job, even allowing me to shoot handheld at 1/15th sec while zoomed all the way in.
This is strapped to the front of one of my X-T1s at all times. Sharp, fast and built to withstand some strong abuse, the XF50-140mm is designed for those who need a lens to rely on and not to let them down. With beautiful bokeh and tack sharp wide open, this F2.8 zoom has such a useful focal range that it is in the kit bag of nearly all working X-Photographers. The autofocus is able to track moving animals and it has turned out to be the game changer for many of my recent wildlife encounters.
I love to shoot prime lenses but at events and festivals you just cant get close enough to your subjects due to the crowed density, so the next best lens to a fast prime is a fast Zoom and the 50-140mm lens is just stunning. I have used top of the range glass from all the other big names when I used to use DSLR’s but nothing compares to the sharpness of this 75-210mm equivalent. What makes it even better is I can shoot with this lens all day and still not have shoulder and neck ache. It gives me beautiful out of focus areas, pin sharp subjects and the image stabilisation comes in to its own when the light drops.
The XF50-140 is a real workhorse of a lens and without doubt, a lens I am loathed to leave behind.
The incredible optics deliver superb definition and contrast throughout the entire aperture range. But for me it is not the technical specifications that make this lens worthy of the plaudits it receives across the web and throughout the photographic world.
It is the fact that in a cluttered world, I can isolate my subjects, drawing attention to them by shooting with the aperture wide open, deliver exceptional details, stunning candid portraits and most of all dramatic landscapes that have impact & power over the grace of a wide-angled image.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is a different discipline but it is one worth persevering with & utilising every mm of focal length this stunning lens offers you.
It’s ideal for shooting panoramas and the tripod mount gives it an incredibly stable base for shooting long exposures without a hint of camera shake – but for those who only shoot hand held the image stabilisation is second to none.
In short, if you want to add one zoom lens to your bag, this is the one – it is worth every penny and will never let you down.
When this lens was created there was nothing else much like it in the range. And to date, it is still the finest long lens in the line up. Tack sharp from 50mm to 140mm – this constant f2.8 lens is fast enough & stabilised enough for you to think less and shoot more. Combined with the most recent updates leaves this lens as one of the most reliable lenses – regardless of genre or type of photography.
It’s packed full of all the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech, such as nano Gi coating, LMO (corrects for diffraction), HTEBC Coating (ensuring ghosting and flare are controlled), five ED lens elements, one Super ED lens, 23 glass elements in 16 groups and then seven rounded aperture blades to create a smooth, circular bokeh. It has a massive 5.0 stop stabilisation too. Internal barrel movements combined with large rubber grips give this lens a wonderful sense of balance whilst also feeling very natural to hold.
In short, this lens is one of the most vital items in my kit bag alongside the 56mm APD & 16-55mm lens. The real world interpretation of the technology being used in this lens is simply that it does what you would expect it to as a working professional photographer. Combine this with the focus tracking in the X-T1 and you can confidentially take on any genre of photography. Whether it be a fashion catwalk, motorsports or even wildlife photography knowing you can get the shots you are looking for, every time.
I’ve been using an X-T1 for the best part of a year now after finally admitting to myself that my X100S didn’t quite stand up to the variety of different photography subjects I had started to shoot. Don’t get me wrong, the X100S has a permanent slot in my camera bag, and will always be my travel-light camera, but apparently there’s more focal lengths out there than 35mm equiv!
The X-T1 has served me extremely well and as an amateur photographer with no real need for a second body, I wasn’t massively excited about the X-T10 for my personal use.
Then I actually used one…
Firstly: What I love about the X-T1
I love the image quality of the X-T1. Pretty simple really. The RAW files are great for what you can do in Lightroom. So much data is captured that can be brought in. And the JPEGs are just beautiful, with plenty of in-built features and film simulation modes to give your images that final touch.
I shoot everything as close to what I want my final image to look like and I like to be able to see it before I shoot. For example, I’ll shoot street in black and white (JPG+RAW) and under exposed by 1/3 or 2/3 stop. For landscape photography (my biggest vice) I can see where my Grad filters are on the screen as I move them around. Same goes for the Polarising filter. (In case you’re interested, I use the Seven5 system from LEE. Great quality. Very small. Very Fuji!)
Amazing quality EVF
I do not use my screen for anything other than composition (see below). For exposure checking and for quick previews of shots I just took, it’s all about the EVF. So clear. So high resolution. I cannot stress enough how useful this thing is for me.
I’ve already mentioned that I love landscape photography. For this I will almost always use a tripod and when the camera is on the tripod, I’ll use the screen for 99% of the time. I’m a big lad – 6 foot 4 / 193cm to be precise, and I tend to prefer to shoot with my camera far below my eye level. The tilting screen saves me a lot of backache. Even in the sunshine, I just crank it right up to +5 brightness and it works fine (just remember to turn it back down when you turn your camera on next in a dark environment!)
Q menu + custom settings
I set my camera up to have 3 different custom settings. I have a “ready to edit” colour profile, a “ready to go” colour profile and a black and white profile. If you’re interested, this is what I currently have:
C1. Ready to edit colour: Pro Neg Std, -2 NR, -1 sharp, -2 highlight, -2 shadow, -1 color.
C2. Ready to go colour: Classic Chrome, -2 NR,-1 sharp, 0 highlight, 0 shadow, 0 color.
C3. Black and white: Mono+G, -2 NR, +1 sharp, +1 highlight, +1 shadow.
I still change on the fly, and I use the Q menu to make tweaks with the above settings as my starting point. C2 and C3 JPEGs will frequently be used straight out of camera. C1 JPEGs will have a bit of contrast added back and then used.
Looks amazing, feels amazing*, is a pleasure to shoot with
Not sure I need to expand on this. I love the manual exposure settings – aperture, shutter speed, ISO all at your finger tips. I love the simplicity of using the camera and how few buttons you can really get away with using. I also love the look of the camera.
I use this a lot in my work as “social media guy for Fujifilm UK” and also in my personal life as “proud dad, must update Facebook with pictures of kids / cats”. It’s one of those features that some people can live with out, but I’m not one of those people.
I have an XF14, XF18-55, XF35 and XF56. All four of them get used regularly and all four of them are simply amazing.
So what about the X-T10?
Well look at the list above. The X-T10 has all of these.
What the X-T10 doesn’t have, when compared to the X-T1 is weather resistance. This doesn’t bother me personally. I’m so scared of catching a drop of water of the front lens element and ruining a shot that I’ll do my utmost to keep it dry at all times. It’s still an incredibly robust camera and I’m sure it’ll take a quick downpour and be fine (disclaimer: probably best to not try this at home).
Also, it doesn’t support UHS-II. This is only a problem if you are shooting continuous, which I rarely ever do. It can only shoot 8fps for a maximum of 8 frames. The X-T1 can shoot 8fps for 47 frames on a UHS-II card. This is obviously a massive difference and if you intend to shoot High-Speed Continuous, the X-T10 is severely lacking compared to its big brother.
The reason for the * next to “feels amazing” in my list above is that it comes with a caveat. It does feel great, but it doesn’t quite fit my hand “out of the box” and therefore is not as comfortable as the X-T1. It’s fine to shoot with while you support the lens with your left hand, but it doesn’t feel as comfortable in my hand in between shots. To me there’s not quite enough grip there. HOWEVER, there is an optional Hand Grip MHG-XT10 which resolves this. It doesn’t make the camera much heavier or bigger, but it adds a good bit of bulk to the hand grip which resolves this issue.
Now for the advantages of the X-T10 over the X-T1
The most important advantage is the size and weight. It’s a really tiny camera and (with the optional grip) is still comfortable to shoot with. It looks “even less pro” than the X-T1 to the uneducated, so if you’re shooting in places where security guards etc are not happy with professionals shooting, you are going to blend in as any other tourist. However the build quality is still top notch, check out this video below for a quick “factory tour”:
Another advantage is that it doesn’t have an ISO dial like the X-T1 has. I know what you’re thinking: “How can this be an advantage?” I’ll tell you why. After using the camera for a bit and spending some time talking to Damien Lovegrove who has been using one professional for a week now, I realised the benefit.
On the X-T1, the ISO dial has a lock button that is a little clunky to use. On the X-T10, the front wheel is one of the function buttons which can be set to ISO. Once you do this, you can change the ISO value by pressing the wheel in, moving it left to right to change the setting, and then pressing it once more to save the value. You currently can’t do this on the X-T1 because ISO is controlled by a physical dial. Something I’ll ask Fujifilm Toyko to look at as it would be nice to be able to set the dial to A and then have a manual over-ride.
The last advantage is that it’s easier for a novice to use. I have very few images of me and the reason for this is my wife and kids don’t really use my cameras. The Auto switch on the top will definitely come in handy when I hand it over to one of them to use on family trips.
So what would I buy?
I work for Fujifilm and therefore inevitably get access to gear that would normally be way out of my budget in terms of how much I want to spend on my hobby.
I love my X-T1 and never thought I’d be looking at an alternative camera already. But the truth is, if I didn’t already have an X-T1, and if I was putting my own hand in my pocket to pay for the camera, I would definitely buy an X-T10.
I hope this post has helped to explain the reasons why and might come in handy if you are making a similar decision. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please leave a comment below.
Need weatherproof? Go X-T1
Need High Speed Continuous Shooting? Go X-T1
Want a bit more bulk in your hand? Go X-T1
Need an additional battery grip? Go X-T1
Not too concerned about any of those points above? Go X-T10!
Excellent colour reproduction is the charm of the X series by FUJIFILM, a company with its
roots as a film manufacturer. With beautiful images and sophisticated design, the number of X series users are on the rise in recent years. You may wonder “how does the X series achieve such high image quality in APS-C format? Are they going change for full frame to achieve even higher image quality?”
Amazon Japan met with Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Manager Takashi Ueno to follow up a previous interview, and talked about the reason why the X series will not go for the full frame format.
Who is Ueno-san?
Takashi Ueno worked for the Professional Film Photography Division from 1996 to 2011 as a manager as well as a lecturer of workshops and galleries to promote the fun of shooting with film. He now works as a product planner for the X Series of digital cameras. He has been taking photographs since the age of 7 and is a certified photo master expert.
Chapter 1: “X series” – compact and lightweight cameras that excel in image quality
Amazon: It has been a year since the last interview, and X series fans have significantly increased. We can see that the Fujifilm X fanbase is expanding, and as a result, we’re starting to hear comments like:
“FUJIFILM is well regarded for its color and image quality, but why are the FUJIFILM cameras APS-C mirrorless instead of full frame DSLR?”
Generally speaking, when we hear the words “high image quality”, we tend to think of full frame D-SLRs, but why are the X series interchangeable cameras APS-C mirrorless?
Mr. Ueno: First of all, when the company started developing its own interchangeable cameras, there was nothing that we had to drag from the film days. For example, SLR manufacturers kept the same lens mount when they shifted from film to digital in order to make their already existing lenses compatible for both formats. FUJIFILM had already withdrawn from the 35mm film SLRs in the early 80s, so we were able to start everything from scratch. This was a huge advantage.
Amazon: Starting from scratch was a huge advantage. Why so?
Mr. Ueno: Building an interchangeable lens camera from scratch meant that we could choose any sensor size from full frame, APS-C, to Micro Four Thirds. We gave a lot of thought to this, and reached our conclusion that APS-C is the best format for the optimum balance of body size and image quality.
Amazon: Generally speaking, I think many people believe that the bigger sized full frame sensors capture more light and therefore can achieve higher image quality. But why did you choose APS-C?
Mr.Ueno: Yes, higher image quality can be achieved with full frame sensors, but in order to maximize the use of the sensor size, the lens will be very bulky and heavy.
As you know, the size of full frame sensor, 24x36mm is exactly the same as the size of 35mm format analog film. But how they each receive light onto the imaging surface is completely different.
Firstly, the angle of light that film and imaging sensors can receive differ from each other. Film can receive light at the slanted angle of up to 45 degrees without any problem, but in case of the digital camera, the light needs to be as perpendicular to the sensor as possible. Slanted angle light causes mixed colors and therefore the real colors sometimes cannot be reproduced. In order to receive the light perpendicular to the sensor, it is important to make the rear glass element on each lens as big as possible to put the light beams parallel from the outlet of the light to the sensor. Finally, the back-focus distance should be shortened as much as possible to eliminate the degradation in image quality.
In case of SLRs, there is also the mirror box, it is very difficult to design an ideal lens especially for wide-angle and standard focal length lens. It is physically impossible to shorten the back-focus distance. As a result, many of the high image quality lenses for SLR bodies are designed with extended forefront and are of the larger diameter. You can see that by looking at the SLRs lens lineup.
Amazon: Yes, I see. The lenses are bigger for brighter and high performance lenses. It also is a burden for users to use larger sensors and lenses.
Mr. Ueno: Yes, if you attach the large and heavy high performance lens to the full frame DSLR, then you will certainly get high image quality. The combination will maximize the potential of the full frame, but if you have to carry the bulky lens everywhere to achieve the high image quality, then this is not what FUJIFILM is aiming for.
With the X series, we wanted to create a camera system, like the 35mm format in the analog era, that combined the elements of high enough image quality, portability and photo expression, and that are best suited in the field of snap shooting and portraiture, or reportage and documentary for the professionals.
We aimed for the system with the optimum balance of high image quality and compact lightweight body that professionals can use. With that idea in mind, we came to the conclusion that the APS-C mirrorless system is the way to go as opposed to full frame D-SLR.
Amazon: OK, Smaller and lightweight body can be achieved with APS-C but how about the “High image quality” part?
Mr. Ueno: The technology of the FUJINON lens has a lot to do with that. With the power of FUJINON lens, we can achieve the full frame image quality with the APS-C sensor. We have the technology at the FUJIFILM. FUJINON lenses are widely known within the industry for their TV and Cine lenses and they are even used for satellites. They were already well regarded as high quality lenses in different fields. APS-C is certainly smaller than full frame. We learned that the disadvantage can be recovered with the lens performance through various simulations.
Amazon: The technology of FUJINON lens is that great.
Mr. Ueno: Here is an example. It is generally believed that the lens performs at its best with 1 to 2 stop down from the maximum aperture. We tried to break the norm. Because if there is such belief, then the lens is very unlikely to perform at its best from corner to corner with the aperture wide open. But if we can break the norm, then we will achieve bokeh and sharpness that is equivalent to that of a full frame with 1 to 2 stop down. We can achieve the image quality that is equivalent to that of full frame.
Which is better? An f/1.4 lens on a full frame sensor and then used 1 stop down to prevent degradation in the image quality in the corner or an f/1.4 lens on an APS-C that see no degration in the image quality at its maximum aperture value?
You cannot really see the difference in bokeh between the APS-C wide open and the full frame one stop down. However, if the APS-C is wide open, then the shutter speed will be twice as fast as the full frame resulting in be less blur caused by hand shake or subject movement. If the picture becomes blurry, then the high image quality becomes meaningless.
Amazon: I see. The Image quality of large and heavy “Full frame body + High performance lens” can be achieved with “Small APS-C body + High performance lens”. This is very unique to FUJIFILM.
Mr. Ueno: Yes, we can only do this with the FUJINON technology. Some may think that the system stands at halfway between of everything, but we believe it has the best balance of everything. And this is why we chose the APS-C format. Of course, this is not only achieved solely by the FUJINON technology. We cared about the lens, so we had to consider about the sensor and processor carefully, too.
Chapter 2 ：Expanding the lens lineup that meets the performance of “X-Trans sensor”
Amazon: FUJIFILM also looked into the sensor.
Mr. Ueno: Yes. The first X100 used the bayer patterned sensor. Later, when we were in the process of creating a new interchangeable lens camera, we planned on using the “16M X-Trans” sensor that had a unique color filter array, as opposed to the 12M bayer sensor that the original X100 had. Through various simulation, we learned that the 16M X-Trans sensor had the potential to rival the resolution of a 24M bayer sensor.
The combination of FUJIFILM color reproduction, the X-Trans sensor, and the FUJINON lens technology, allowed us to create an interchangeable lens camera that could rival the image quality of full frame D-SLR in the APS-C format.
Amazon: We can see the advanced technological level of FUJIFILM not only by the lens, but also by learning the process of developing its own sensor. How do the X-Trans sensor and lens performance relate to each other?
Mr. Ueno: If we make a cheap low performing lens, then the degradation in image quality is more apparent for the X-Trans sensor than a typical sensor. X-Trans sensor requires high performance lens.
When we made our first kit lens with the X-E1, the image quality that this lens created was completely different from the other ordinary kit lens.
Amazon: X-E1 kit lens – you mean the first zoom lens of the XF lens XF18-55mm?
Mr. Ueno: Yes. The maximum aperture of XF18-55mm is F2.8 at wide and F4 at telephoto. A typical kit lens is F3.5-5.6, but that wouldn’t create enough bokeh nor photographic expression for an APS-C sized sensor.
We made it f/2.8 to achieve both brightness and high image quality. Consequently the cost would be higher, so there was the problem with the price even though we wanted a wider range of people to use our product. This is why we then created the XC lens “XC16-50mm” and “XC50-230mm” as the beginners’ model. The only difference is the material used for the lens exterior. The inside is the same optical design and technology as the XF lens.
Amazon: I see. The XF lens lineup is further expanding now, especially for the zoom lenses.
Mr. Ueno: Yes. During the first three years since our launch of the first interchangeable lens camera in 2012, we mainly targeted the first year on the short prime lenses that are best matched with X-Pro1 which had optical viewfinder. The second year, we focused on the practical lenses that allowed users to expand the focal range. And the third year we developed high spec lenses for the professionals and enthusiasts.
The result are the XF50-140mmF2.8mm in September 2014 and XF16-55mmF2.8mm in February 2015. I think we have a lineup now that covers a complete typical shooting range.
Amazon: The XF50-140mmF2.8mm and XF16-55mmF2.8mm are your “red badge” series?
Mr. Ueno: Yes, the red badge series are the zoom lenses intended for the professionals.
Amazon: Where does the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R lie? It is a kit lens for the X-T1 that many professionals use.
Mr. Ueno: The versatility is the first priority for XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R. We understand that the image quality is not quite the same as the f/2.8 constants, but still good enough so that the user doesn’t need to change the lens while shooting. We design each XF lens to have highest image quality possible for its presumed usage and purpose.
Another example of this is the minimum working distance of 70cm on the XF56mmF1.2, We sometimes hear customers demand a shorter working distance such as 40cm. As you know, the image quality in the peripheral parts are reduced when the distance gets shorter. The XF56mmF1.2 is a lens designed for portrait and snap shooting, so we believed that shortest distance of 70cm would be enough.
If the minimum working distance had been 40cm with the compromise on the image quality on the peripheral parts, then we had to extend the focus lens movable range. And as a result, the lens will be bigger and autofocus speed will be slower.
Our priority was to create a lens that has high resolution from corner to corner and that has adequately fast autofocus, so the minimum working distance became 70cm, which is enough for portrait photography – its presumed purpose.
If you want to get closer, then we have the XF60mmF2.4 Macro, which is another great lens. We make it so that beautiful description of each subject will be delivered to the maximum potential.
This is the fundamental idea of X series.
Amazon: I understand well now. Which lens do you recommend for those that want to get into using the
Mr. Ueno: I would recommend the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 as the gateway to the X series. As I said earlier, although the lens is a kit lens for starting out, it doesn’t mean that the image quality has been compromised. You can actually experience the high image quality of the XF lens and it covers the standard shooting range. We would recommend to use the lens, and then search for other lenses that satisfies your need 100%.
The start is easy, and the goal is endless. This is the charm of the XF lens.
This interview was originally conducted in Japanese and published on Amazon Japan’s website. It was translated into English by Fujifilm Japan for use here.
Glad you asked! Here’s a video by Billy from The Fuji Guys where he demonstrates all of the new improvements found in the update.
The new Firmware Update features an advanced autofocus system for incredible performance when shooting moving subjects and exciting action scenes. Users will also experience improved auto focus accuracy for still images and video, Eye Detection, enhanced shutter speed dial operation (1/3 stop increments!), Exposure Compensation control in Manual mode (using Auto-ISO), and finer framing grid lines for enhanced visibility and image composition.
But what does this mean in REAL terms?
Another great question. Thanks for keeping up. Well I’ve been using it myself for a while and really like it. I could chew your ear off about what I think about it but I’m not an actual working professional photographer, so I’m not going to see it in the same way as you might. Coupled with the fact that I work for Fujifilm, you’d expect me to simply tell you that it’s great.
So instead, here’s a selection of working professional photographers that have tried the Firmware in their own shooting environments and posted their respective findings.
Damien is a professional portrait photographer from the UK. He left his role as a cameraman and lighting director at the BBC back in 1998 after 14 successful years to create the renowned Lovegrove Weddings partnership with his wife Julie. Together they shot over 400 top weddings for discerning clients worldwide. In 2008 Damien turned his hand to shooting beauty and portraiture and has since amassed a dedicated following for his distinctive art. Damien now divides his time between teaching the next generation of photographers and photographing personal projects.
After a day shooting with with one X-T1 running 3.11, and one running 4.00, here are his findings and an extensive review of the new X-T1 firmware V4 including tips on some real gems of features that have not made the headlines.
When I was asked for my opinions on version 4 of the X-T1 firmware I was a little scared and excited in equal measure. Excited because the opportunity to shoot in a more dynamic style is quite appealing. Scary because relearning shooting procedures is never easy. I’ve never been one to shy away from innovation and I’m certainly not a luddite when it comes to tech so I jumped at the chance. Here are my findings.
British motorsport photographer Jeff Carter has been using Fujifilm cameras for his work for over 20 years, going right back to the wonderfully lightweight and versatile GA645 medium format film cameras, but it was the X100 that he bought in 2012 that changed the way he worked. Here was a small, discreet camera that allowed him to take the images he needed for his work in and around the paddock.
He took an X-T1 with FW4 to the recent Le Mans 24 Hours event and here is his account.
Firmware 4.0 has transformed the X-T1. I recently tested the new autofocus at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s greatest endurance race and the biggest challenge for man and machine. This proved to be the perfect test ground for the X-T1’s new AF system and it wasn’t found wanting.
Eivind is a professional photographer from Norway. He’s been a commercial and editorial photographer since the mid ninetees. He loves people so mostly shoots fashion, lifestyle, commercial and editorial portraits, people at work etc. and he also love lines, shapes and man-made structures, so he likes to shoot industrial subjects, architecture and interiors for commercial and editorial use.
This time around the Fujifilm firmware buzz really hit the roof, with claims of an all new autofocus system that would practically give existing X-T1 owners a brand new camera. Bold claims indeed. Claims not only made by those saying they had gotten hold of rogue and secret beta versions of the firmware, but also claims made by Fujifilm themselves in their marketing teasers.
If you already own an X-T1, I’m sure by the time you get to this point your camera will already have version 4 installed and ready to go. Hopefully you will find it as good as these guys did.
If you don’t already own an X-T1, hopefully these photographer’s reviews will be that final push to persuade you to take the plunge and try it for yourself. Hoping to welcome you to the Fuji family soon!
We get a lot of love for our Fujinon XF lenses and it’s hardly a surprise; we’ve been making them for a long time! We’ve created a short series of videos to help you understand the history of Fujinon and the heritage of our XF lenses,
Episode 1 – The history of FUJINON
Shigamitsu Mort, Ex-President of the Fujifilm Optics Mito factory, talks about our lens polishing technology across our wide range of lenses and describes the long time spent designing and perfecting the Fujinon-Z 43-75mm f/3.5-4.5.
Kazunori Oono, Ex-Senior Manager of the Optical Device Division talks about the testing and evaluation that went into the EBC X-Fujifilm 50mm f/1.2 back in 1979
Episode 2 – Professional vs Professional
Takashi Suzuki, Optical Design Division Senior Manager talks about how Fujifilm, professionals in the photography field, responded to professional photographer’s requirements to launch the GX680 Professional large format system in 1986. The lenses for the system had to be high enough in resolution in order to maximise the benefit of large format film.
Takao Araki, Optical Design Division Software Manager talks about Fujifilm’s amazing and unique approach to improve the calculation process that goes into each lens design. In 1956, they built one of Japan’s very first computers!
Episode 3 – The heritage of XF lenses
Taiga Noda and Hiroki Saito, both of the Optical Design Division in Tokyo talk about how without the heritage of Fujinon, many of the new XF lenses would not have been possible.
The result? The craftsmanship of FUJINON
See all of the steps that go into making each and every hand-made XF lens in our factory in Japan.