miXed zone: “the best camera is…?”, X-reviews and Iridient

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image courtesy: Dave Kai Piper (X-PRO gallery)

the best camera is? Dave Kai Piper has the answer. Read it here! (Dave also updated the X-PRO Gallery here)

X-M1

X-M1 (body only or with 16-50mm)USA: AmazonUS / BHphoto / Adorama / DigitalRev / Pictureline EUROPE: DigitalRev / WexUK / PCHstore

XF 27mm – USA: AmazonUS / BHphoto / Adorama / DigitalRev / Pictureline EUROPE: DigitalRev / WexUK / PCHstore XC 16-50: WexUK / PCHstore

– Techradar hands-on review can be read here: “Its build quality is still high, but it’s a considerably smaller and more portable camera. It also has a mode dial instead of traditional controls, which may be more attractive to relative newcomers to photography as well as those looking for an alternative to a DSLR. However, those who want to use the camera with a lens with an aperture ring can do so.”

X100S

Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

– Steve’s digicame X100S review here: “The Fujifilm X100S is a great update of the X100 they released in 2011. With increased performance and image quality, a fantastic camera has been greatly improved. This is one of the leading cameras when it comes to Fuji’s innovation and quality.  It’s still a rangefinder style camera with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens, designed specifically for enthusiasts who want a rangefinder-type model. With a MSRP of US $1,299.99, the limited versatility and huge price tag take this camera out the running for most people, but if a rangefinder model with excellent image quality is what you are after, this is a must see.”

– X100S video review at shuttertastic here… how good can it capture some crazy skaters? He states that DR and RAW can compete with high end DSLRs.

expertreviews posted his X100s test here: “It might seem like a predictable conclusion that this is the best compact camera we’ve ever reviewed. After all, it’s also the most expensive. For once, though, the law of diminishing returns doesn’t apply – it’s vastly better than anything else we’ve seen. While the beautiful design and retro exposure controls make it easy to love, its ingenious viewfinder and stunning low-light image quality mean it has the goods to back it up.”

image courtesy: expertreviews (ISO 12800)

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 X20

Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

X20 vs Sony RX100 at pixelogist here: “When testing it [X20], I wanted to like it, I wanted to keep this camera, this camera that handles that much better than the Sony RX100, that looked better, and all that – and wanting it so much, I didn’t completely realize its faults: the slow AF at night, the poor high ISO performance when compared to the Sony, and so on. Now that I have, I’ve ‘re-decided’ on the Sony RX100, and that’s what I’m keeping.”

ZEISS
Zeiss Touit 12mm Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay Zeiss Touit 32mm Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

– The Phoblographer used the Zeiss lenses at a wedding (on a beach) with the Fuji X-PRO1. (click here): “Overall, these lenses performed great and even though the 32mm f1.8 suffered from a jamming issue, it wasn’t a big loss to my shooting capabilities. But it’s surely something to consider as the last thing you need to be worrying about at a wedding is your gear.”

FUJINON
Fuji XF 55-200mm Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay Fuji XF14mm Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

8.8 out of 10. That’s the rating of the XF 55-200 over at photoreview here: “On the X-E1 body the review lens provided fast, quiet and smooth autofocusing. Manual focusing was also smooth and it was relatively easy to focus accurately in manual mode with either the viewfinder or monitor. Autofocusing speed was similar to the 18-55mm lens’s and reasonably fast in bright conditions and with contrasty subjects. Some hunting occurred in very low light levels and, occasionally, with subjects where the contrast range was relatively small. […] Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible throughout the aperture and focal length range […] Distortion was low enough to be negligible throughout the zoom range. Vignetting was also negligible. No in-camera corrections for either aberration are provided by the camera but, it seems, none are necessary.

– What a nice place to think about the 14mm lensTrinidad & Tobago! See Karim’s shots and read his thoughts here. From the conclusions: “This is a great lens, although I’m still not sure that I wouldn’t have been better off with the 18mm. I’m all about the image quality, and it seems the 14mm might lag slightly behind in that regard. But the extra width and other features make up for the slight difference in sharpness between the two lenses. The images shot with the 14mm look great and they’re virtually free of distortion. Manual focusing is very smooth, and the sliding ring that reveals a distance and depth-of-field indicator is a very useful feature.

X-PRO1

Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

– Yes, he did it! roughly365 shot a whole wedding with the X-PRO1. Read his experience here: “So in conclusion…. The Fuji X-Pro1 is an amazing camera… When I next do a wedding it will be in my hand for a very large portion of the day, such a great tool for this kind of job. Its size really helps you be less intrusive and capture some subtle moments. I would always have my DSLR over my shoulder too as there are times you really need one. But this is a real James Bond Walther PPK  of a camera, I love it.”

Iridient

There is more (positiv) feedback about Iridient at this German website here  and at the Spanish site fotoactualidad (translation).

image courtesy: fotoactualidad (1-Iridient / 2-silkypix / 3-ACR)

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XF1

Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

– The XF1 is more than just beautiful. At least according to the imaging-resource review: “While the XF1 is not meant for everybody — there are better, more straightforward “vanilla” compacts that are easier to use and take more consistently good shots — it’s an undoubtedly nifty and advanced tool for photo enthusiasts (and not just the Fuji fanboys!) who demand something special from their cameras. The XF1 should also score big with casual shooters who not only want to attract oohs and ahhs when they carry it around town, but also want a camera that, on auto pilot, will take well-exposed shots with high dynamic range. Add up the Fuji XF1’s sexy appearance, fast and fun operation, immense customizablity, dynamic image quality and special shooting modes, and you have a solid, if unorthodox, enthusiast-level compact camera. It’s one that definitively earns a Dave’s Pick.

– “The Fujifilm XF1 is one of the nicest-looking point-and-shoots available and it performs well, too. But its photos and features might not please some enthusiasts.” This is the bottom line of CNet. Read the whole review (with video) here.

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FR-readers roundup: X-E1 top ten photos, night photography, niggles and wedding

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The Fuji Guys posted part 1/3 of their X-M1 first look at youtube here. For a deeper look at the top features and the new lenses (16-50 / 27) we have to wait for part 2/3 and 3/3.

pre-orders

X-M1 (body only or with 16-50mm)USA: AmazonUS / BHphoto / Adorama / DigitalRev / Pictureline EUROPE: DigitalRev / WexUK / PCHstore

XF 27mm – USA: AmazonUS / BHphoto / Adorama / DigitalRev / Pictureline EUROPE: DigitalRev / WexUK / PCHstore XC 16-50: WexUK / PCHstore

FR-readers roundup

Lawrence: “hi Fujirumors. It’s been a month since I got my Fuji X-E1. Here’s my top 10 photos so far! Feel free to link to it”

Lawrence

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– Brandon: “Hey there, Been reading your site every since I found out about the various new cameras that Fuji has been working-on– keep up the good work! I know the X-E1 is not exactly the newest camera at this point, but I’ve not seen very many examples of night photography taken with it.  I put it to the test this past weekend and thought maybe your readers would be interested in seeing some night photography shots (click here).”

“Overall, I came away VERY impressed with how the Fuji lenses and sensor performed when used for night photography.  The accuracy of the auto white balance in the X-E1 is simply in a category of its own.  The combination of Fuji lenses and its sensor produce amazingly colorful and sharp photos that to me are quite impressive.  Most night photos in color don’t do much for me but these blew me away in color. I would not hesitate to recommend the Fujifilm X-E1 and 14mm & 35mm lenses for night photography.”

Brandon

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– Andrew: “Hi, […] some thoughts on the X Pro 1 from an old pro.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the camera, but there are too many BUTS at the moment and not enough people are mentioning them.
I know 3 other pro’s using this camera and I am not alone in my frustration. So I hope you will print this to elicit some decent conversation. And by that, I don’t mean a whole lot of net trolls whinging about my Leica comments.
cheers Andrew.

With a little time on my hands the other day, I decided to drop into see the friendly Leica dealer on Ave Beaumarche in Paris and with SD card in hand, try a few shots with the new Leica M (240).
I’m no pixel peeper, so I won’t bore you with my results, but what struck me right away was how well it worked as a camera and how much quicker it felt than my X Pro 1. I do own an M6, but all the same, this camera felt intuitive in my hands.
Heresy I hear you Fuji owners say, but let me explain. I’ve been pounding the pavements of Paris this last few weeks and daily taking many hundreds of photographs in what I would call a street style. I’ve had some good success, but I’m bothered by the amount of shots I’ve missed whilst the camera is getting up and going or deciding on it’s point of focus. Street photography is by it’s very nature reactive and quick and I admit, that after 40 years in the business and a number of eye operations, I am slowing down a bit.

What struck me when using the Leica, was the speed, manually focussing and all, between seeing and shooting. So I thought I would make a few observations to Mr Fuji about his sometimes wonderful machine.

The positives of the X Pro1 we all know well, a great feeling camera, well made and with some great glass, as good as a Leica, I’m told. Compact, lightweight, a good optical/digital viewfinder and a great future lens roadmap. It’s a seductive list and it seduced me to lay out for the body and 4 prime lenses.

So, why aren’t I completely happy? Well here is a list of things that bother me that I feel should not be happening.
Battery life is woeful. I rarely use the EVF or leave the rear screen on and am constantly getting caught out with a flat battery. Ever owned a Canon 5D mk 2 or 3, then you will know what great batteries can be like. You can just about shoot all day with 1 Canon battery and I cannot see why the X Pro 1 with only a single processor and no mirror cannot match this performance. I’ve been caught out so many times by sudden battery death and I never leave home without them fully charged.

Whilst on the subject of batteries, why are all the Fuji models using different sized ones. There must be a heap of pros and advanced amateurs shooting both X Pro 1’s and X100’s and I bet it frustrates the hell out of them, having to run two sets of batteries and chargers. And who was responsible for designing a battery that could be put in backwards rendering the camera inoperable? DESIGN 101, a bit of forethought would have gone a long way.

Now we come to my real bugbear, the menu layouts. Is it just me or does everyone find themselves all of a sudden shooting away, only to find that the camera setup has changed, the auto level has gone, or the EVF won’t shut off. What the hell is going on and why does it have to be so hard???????
I’m an Apple Mac user and despite what my jealous PC mates tell me, I use Macs not because they look so much nicer than a PC, but because of their functionality.
Macs work, simply, efficiently and generally with little fuss, once you get the swing, there is an obvious logical workflow to using them and it’s that obvious logical workflow that seems to have gone astray with the X Pro 1….. It shouldn’t have to be so hard. Software engineers seem to think, that because they understand the logic of a process, their customers will too. Well using the X Pro 1 can be a bit like recording your favourite program with the TV remote and I’m sure you all know what I mean here.
Hey Fuji guys, why not second a few of those Apple software designers for a few months and rebuild the interface from the ground up. I’m feeling decidedly unsure of explaining myself properly here, but I know in my heart things can be a lot better.

And finally, is there any point to having a whinge about autofocus speed? You betcha there is. If we are going to have a serious contender as a street camera, then things have got to change. I know there is a rumoured X Pro 2 in the wings with a rumoured twin processor inside it, but there must still be a fair bit of latitude via software upgrades to improving things on the current model (the same goes for battery performance I suspect). Well, we shall wait and see what next July brings with it’s rumoured upgrade. Those of us who have put their faith in the X Pro 1, should not have to put our hands back into our pockets when the X Pro 2 arrives, just to get what we thought we were getting in the first place! [admin: read the updated rumor here. The X-PRO2 won’t come before late 2013, early 2014] When you look at the heritage of Leica cameras, even the 1939 model 3A I have still works so well, albeit a bit bruised and battered.

Fujifilm is hardly a small company with little resources available to sort out these teething issues. So, finally, what’s in all of this for Fuji? Well, they are sitting on the edge of greatness here with their cameras and they need to start asking themselves the hard questions. Do they want to play in the big sandpit with Mr Canon, Mr Leica and Mr Nikon, or do they want to be consigned to the trashcan of camera design history, just another camera manufacturer that nearly made it, a could have been…..  The ball’s in your court guys. Greatness awaits.

Andrew

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– Craig: “In case you can use this on the Fuji Rumors”… Fujifilm Xpro-1 – Wedding Photographs – The Beauty of Black and White here.

Craig

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Zen + Yin and Yang… or: the art of street photography + the good and the bad of the X-E1

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image courtesy: Rinzi Ruiz (via erickimphotography)

Zen

These are some original tips to become a better street photographer, ispired by the book of Herrigel Zen in the Art of Archery (it’s well worth a read!). Eric adapted it to the photography, and wrote: “zen in the art of street photography“. Enjoy reading it at erickimphotography:

1. Lose yourself in the moment:” One of the philosophies of Zen is that you should lose self-consciousness of yourself, and especially of your own ego. You don’t think of yourself as being great and the center of the world. Rather, you see yourself as something quite insignificant and just like a grain of sand in a desert. When I am out shooting on the streets, the feeling of getting lost in the “flow” makes me feel much more comfortable shooting in the streets (and is often when I take my best photos). The second I become self-conscious, I find myself drawing too much attention to myself and my subjects can sense my hesitation and feel less comfortable.” 2. Ignore recognition/fame / 3. Don’t photograph others, photograph yourself “Embrace your subjectivity in photography, and try to shoot faithfully. Don’t photograph in a way which you feel doesn’t sit your personality. If you find yourself a shy and introspective person, you don’t need to shoot a stranger super-close with a flash. You might want to take a more detached approach, and not intrude on somebody”./ 4. Relax / 5. Focus on the journey, not the destination

Yin and Yang

the good and the bad, or the Yin and Yang, of the X-E1 according to soundimageplus (click here). Definitly a great camera, but battery life is “terrible“…. and what about the X-Trans sensor?

“I’m still not entirely convinved that the ‘foliage smearing‘ effect is entirely cured, even using Aperture. Sure, its a lot better than it was, but there are still problems. […] the sensor seems to have real problems with greens and yellows and doesn’t seem to be able to ‘sort them out’ properly. […]

So Yin and Yang. The technology that gives us spectacular ISO performance creates a somewhat ‘confused’ rendition of certain kinds of detail in the natural world.

image courtesy: soundimageplus

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Jackar Snapshooter 34mm f/1.8: Fuji X-mount lens for $175

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The Jackar Snapshooter 34mm f/1.8 is an old-school look cheap lens made in China that can now be pre-ordered for the Fuji X-mount at Adorama for $175 here. ephotozine tested it on the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Read the whole review here. The conclusions:

“This is an interesting take on the fast prime lens for Micro Four Thirds and NEX cameras, and the solid metal construction of the lens is re-assuring, although with the lens’ relatively low price, it’s clear that the optical quality of the lens isn’t likely to be the strongest feature. However, saying that, this lens performs better than other lenses we have tested (cough Holga, Toy-Lens, Pinwide cough), and with a sharp centre, bright aperture, and soft edges, this lens may be ideal for anyone looking for a good compact lens for portrait photography, low light, or creative control over depth of field.

If you want a manual, compact lens, then the reasonably price and high build quality would make this a good choice, however, for landscape shots and situations where image quality is more important, it may not be the ideal lens, but for low light, wide-open shooting, and portrait shots, it could be ideal.”

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Image Quality: “why DPReview may be sometimes wrong” + “I was a skeptic but now I’m a believer” (Iridient vs Adobe)

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image courtesy: thevisualexperience

The good news is, Fuji X-photographers now have various options to process their X-Trans files and get decent results out of it. The most popular options are Lightroom, Silkypix, Capture One and Aperture. But there are other software programs like Raw Photo Processor (based on DCRAW), AccuRaw… (check out this X-Pert Corner RAW-comparison post).

But in the last weeks I told you several times of Iridient Developer (Mac 0nly). This is an option which you should seriously consider to add to your workflow (try the demo version). Does the details extracted from the RAW by IRIDIENT really blow out ACR? Could this be the software that finally unlocked the full potential of the X-Trans sensor?

Now, I’d like to share with you the following articles. The first one at thevisualexperience analizes the way dpreview tests the image quality of the different cameras, while in the second post, “I’m a beliver”,  Activatedfx talks of his conversion from LR4.4 to Iridient 2.1.1!

1) Why DPReview may be sometimes wrong

This is how dpreview tests the image quality of cameras (source thevisualexperience):  a) Load RAW file into Adobe Camera RAW (Auto mode disabled) b) Set Sharpness to zero (all other settings default) c) Open file to Photoshop d) Apply a Unsharp mask: 100%, Radius 0.6, Threshold 0 d) Save as a TIFF (for cropping) and as a JPEG quality 11 for download

DPReview paved the way for “scientific” comparison of camera performances, guiding passionate and professionals in understanding “what is worth to buy” and what is not. […] So ACR is the “meter” used to compare cameras for what concerns RAW. You can jump to the “Image Quality” of each review and use the tools to compare RAW performances.

But now that Iridient delivers such great results with the X-Trans files, thevisualexperience suggest to DPreview:

[…] please start taking into account different RAW processors or, at least, make some claim that the RAW results people are inspecting may be not representative of the REAL POTENTIAL a camera may have (since the meter you’re using is, somehow, not the best).”

2) I was a skeptic but now I’m a believer

And here there is another photographer that was blown away by the Iridient results and posted his comparison… at the great dpreview forum (check it here)!

“The Iridient image has more DR, richer colors, more detail in the sky, and a noticeably SHARPER image with no halos or artifacts. To my eye, it doesn’t looksharpened” at all. In particular, look at the detail in the background of the road sign at 100%. The pattern is much more distinct in the Iridient image. And it’s not because of more contrast.”

Do you consider to swich or add Iridient to your workflow and you do not own a Mac? Apple just released the new MacBooks with an incredible battery life! Check them here at your Amazon.

all the best
Patrick

Should Fuji find a firmware solution to allow us to control ISO values with front/rear dial?

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