Archives For Fujifilm

two of a kind

Older E-M5 with 14-150mm II zoom on the left, and newish E-M5 Elite with 12-40mm PRO zoom on the right.

About a month ago I wrote a glowing post about the as-yet-to-be-released Fuji X-Pro2. Looking at the photos of the X-Pro2 with the Fujinon 2/35mm, I couldn’t help myself being drawn into the system by the overall look of the camera and lens combination. And then Olympus released it’s new Pen F to great acclaim on the various camera web sites, such as Andy on ATMTX (here and here) and Steve Huff (here). And then I did something that I always do when new gear comes out that strikes my fancy; I pull out my trusty old calculator and start adding up how much it would cost to replace what I already have in Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear. Most of the time I stop at that point, but not this time

This time I was inspired to go out and purchase, from B&H Photo and Amazon, another Olympus E-M5 Elite body and a 12-40mm Pro lens, respectively. The E-M5 was on clearance and the 12-40mm was on sale. Their combined price was less than what I would have paid for just the Pen F if it were available, and considerably less than what I would have paid for the X-Pro2 body plus 2/35mm lens if the X-Pro2 where available. And therein lies the tale of modern digital photography: the great expense divide.

I now have in my possession three E-M5 bodies of varying vintage (January 2013, mid-2015, and February 2016). I also have an E-M10 body. All of those bodies were purchased at heavy discount, the E-M5 Elite at considerable discount (roughly 1/3 the cost of the E-M5’s initial release price). I’ve now got four bodies, three of which are identical, the other nearly so, and various Micro Four Third lenses.

Last November I also picked up the 14-150mm II zoom lens when it went on sale. With the 2.8/12-40mm Pro zoom I’ve now rebuilt the Four Thirds system I had stolen in August 2012. This includes grips for two of the E-M5 bodies. The focal lengths of the M.Zuiko lenses don’t match the older 50-200mm and 12-60mm Digital Zuikos, but they don’t have to. The M.Zuikos are considerably lighter, the image quality is noticeably better, and the cost through prudent shopping allowed me to build the system I really want to own going forward, a system that travels around the world a lot lighter than in 2012. That’s what happens when new gear is released; gear from one to two generations back gets heavily discounted in an effort to clear the shelves. And I have learned to be ready for the deals.

There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with the new stuff, just like there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the older stuff. All of it is far better than I am as a photographer. My ego isn’t tied up in the kind of camera I use, and i hope it never is. With my style of photography the older stuff is more than sufficient.

I’ll use what I have and enjoy using it. Just like I’ll enjoy what everyone who owns an X-Pro2 or a Pen F does with their cameras. I’ll always keep in mind that every time I see good photography using the newer gear, it’s that a talented photographer just happened to be using a certain brand and model when they took that photograph.

fujifilm x-pro2 thoughts

January 17, 2016

I’m a staunch Olympus user. I’ve used both film OM cameras (OM-4T) as well as any number of Olympus digital cameras (E-300, E-1, E-3, EP-2, E-M5 and E-M10, just to list a few). Everything I post in my blog is either taken with an Olympus mirrorless camera or my iPhone 6s+. In spite of this obvious bias I do pay attention to the rest of the market. In particular, I pay attention to Fuji.

Fuji has been making this series of rangefinder-style cameras for the past five years, starting with the fixed lens X100 and its 23mm f/2 Fujinon. With its APS-C sized sensor, that’s equivalent to 35mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Fuji continued to evolve the X100 series, to the X100S and finally the X100T. Starting with the original release of the X100, you’d have thought that the X100 was the second coming of digital photography (and many users still feel that way). For me the hype built up so far, so fast, that my hype alarm tripped and I steered clear of the camera. Its introduction at a rather lofty $1,300 also gave me considerable pause.

To Fuji’s credit they didn’t rest on their laurels. Not only did they continue to evolve the X100 series, but they introduced an equivalent, mirrorless, interchangeable lens version called the X-Pro1. At an even greater MSRP it introduced the world to a digital rangefinder design that Leica itself could have taken notes from. Still, I waited, content with my Olympus Pens. Along the way Fuji introduced several more lower priced bodies in the X-Pro1 design, then they introduced their version of the mirrorless SLR, the X-T1. Every time they put out a new camera the social networks went into a frothing frenzy of hype.

Now Fuji’s introduced their update to the X-Pro1, named rather obviously the X-Pro2. Based on the X-Pro2’s specifications (24MP sensor, weather sealing on the body, improved auto focusing, etc), it looks like the latest is very interesting indeed. Interesting enough, in spite of its introductory price, to get me to finally break down and contemplate purchasing one.

Truth be told I like the design of the X-Pro series because I like the rangefinder design. I always have. It’s just that the only rangefinder left in existence up until Fuji’s entries were the Leica (yes, I know about the Voigtlander Bessa, but nothing digital). Leica is just totally unaffordable for me. Fuji is certainly cheaper by comparison, but it’s still expensive enough that it’s not something I would consider an impulse purchase.

What makes the X-Pro2 interesting now is the Fujinon 35mm f/2 weather resistant (WR) lens that Fuji released last year. The X-Pro2 body is also weather resistant. The body and lens thus make a reasonably weather resistant package I wouldn’t worry taking out into the Florida heat, humidity, and rain. Weather resistance is one key reason I own a pair of Olympus E-M5 bodies and equivalent WR Zuiko lenses. Oh, and that 35mm lens is an equivalent 52.5mm on a 35mm film camera. I like the physical design, I like the sloped design of the lens. I just like the way the whole system fits together.

It’s obvious that I need to hold the camera and give it a try. To that end I’m toying with the idea of renting a body and that lens to try out. Renting for a week is a whole lot cheaper than buying that body and lens and then having buyer’s remorse if, for whatever reason, the purchase doesn’t work out. I’ve a lot more interest in this camera than, say, the newly released Nikon D500 or anything from Canon.

My camera needs are shifting as I get older. If anything I’m going back to my roots, the kind of 35mm film equipment I owned and used back in my 20s, which consisted primarily of several Minolta bodies and three prime lenses. Those lenses were 28mm, 50mm, and 135mm. With Fuji they’ve got the equivalent to 50mm covered. I’m hoping they’ll introduce equivalents to 28mm/35mm, such as a WR 18mm or WR 23mm, and at the long end a WR 90mm. With the latest sensor in the X-Pro2 they can all be f/2 or even f/2.8 maximum aperture. I’m not a speed freak, and wide apertures at f/1.4 or faster add inordinate cost to a lens that for the most part can’t be justified except as a bragging point. I also have no use for exotic focal lengths or zooms. All I want are the solid basics.

I believe that 2016 is going to be a real watershed year for digital photography. There are truly no bad cameras anymore with regards to image quality. Now it’s all about usability and specific focal lengths, and how it all works in my hands with my mind and eye.

and now it’s here

January 28, 2014

The Fujifilm X-T1 officially arrived today, in much the same manner that Olympus’ OM-D E-M5 arrived back in 2012  – amid a lot of careful leaks stoking wild speculation on the enthusiast gear sites. Looks like Fuji stole a page from Olympus’ marketing playbook.

The one photo of the X-T1 that caught my eye was the one above. The camera is cradled in a pair of human hands. In an instant you gain an understanding of the camera’s overall size and placement of the controls. The camera isn’t “retro” by any stretch. It’s classic in the type of controls it provides on the top deck as well as their overall placement. If anything, that view of the X-T1 is more Olympus OM film body-like than Olympus’ own OM-D series. Especially that big, wide faux pentaprism hump.

This is the type of camera that Nikon should have made when they made their Df. The X-T1 has a clean, chiseled look like the OM-D E-M1. Not a single extraneous line or stamping anywhere. The Fujifilm X-T1 harkens back to classic times when primes were the rule, not overly expensive zooms. Just grab two or three primes (28mm, 50mm, and 85mm equivalents) and a body with a half dozen 36 exposure rolls and you’re off to experience the world. And I most certainly like the breadth of the X lens series.

Speaking of controls, one of my favorite features (so far) of the X-T1 are its dials: shutter speed and ISO on top, and with the right lenses, aperture on the lens barrel where it belongs. Want to go all auto on any setting? Simple. Just spin the dial to the ‘A’ setting (for automatic) and the camera just does it for you. That’s what film cameras had going back to the mid 1970s. I know this to be true because my Minolta XE-7 and XD-11 had this capability. And they weren’t the only ones. Having a PASM dial on today’s digital cameras is an acknowledgement by the camera makers that once upon a time photographers used a simpler way to tune automation on their cameras. As for all the other superfluous features on a camera, such as  scene modes or art filters, I can do without. One other superfluous feature I can do without is the top deck LCD. We have those on other cameras because we need visual feedback on how the camera is configured. With analogue dials you don’t need a top deck LCD. And if you reclaim that expensive real estate, you can afford to make your dials big and fat and a joy to handle, with easy to read numbers.

It won’t be here until sometime in February. When it does arrive it’ll come with a kit lens that’s a cut above every other kit lens of its type out there: an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens. A kit lens that’s a half stop to a full stop faster. Olympus and Panasonic equivalents (14-42mm) are f/3.5-5.6, and even the APS-C equivalents in those focal lengths aren’t as fast. Fujifilm understands that what photographer’s want (at least this photographer) is the fastest possible lenses we can reasonably afford. The only lens that comes even close to the Fujifilm 18-55mm is the Olympus FourThirds HG 12-60mm f/2.8-4 zoom. I loved that one lens and miss it still. I doubt the person or persons who stole it really appreciate what they got out of my car.

I’m at a cross roads of sorts in my photographic life. At $1,300, body only, this is an expensive camera. I’m thinking I’ll get one more camera before I give it all up and “retire.” But the cost puts it right in the competitive thick of it, against Olympus (E-M1), Pentax (K3), Samsung (NX-300), Canon (70D), and Nikon (D7100). I’ve held them all and have enough test shots to know that they’re all equivalent. Ergonomics are pretty much a non-issue with me. The real bargain in that group is the Samsung at around half the price of all the rest. Quality body, quality lenses, and surprising features. I didn’t include the Samsung Galaxy NX because I’ve held it and can’t stand it. The Samsung NX30 is something of  a dark horse that may be another competitor in that group, one that I would consider. And Sony I don’t consider because they’re all over the place with ergonomics and a paucity of native lenses for their E-mount cameras, both APS-C and 135mm.

I’m not rushing out to place a pre-order. I’m content with what I have. I’ll continue to use it until such time as the cameras all break or someone comes out with something truly revolutionary and reasonably affordable. My E-M5 is my “big gun” camera, while all my other µFourThird cameras are my artistic, carry around cameras. I’m set and don’t need to buy anything else for the time being.

Updates

[Darth Vader voice] The force is strong in this one…

here we go again

January 22, 2014

The corners of the internet devoted to anything new coming from the digital camera makers has been heating up to a fever pitch over the imminent release of Fujifilm’s latest, the X-T1. It’s Fujifilm’s newest entry using their 16MP X-Trans II APS-C sized sensor. This time a Fujifilm X camera is cast as a faux SLR. Except there is no reflex mirror to reflect light from the lens into a pentaprism and out the back eyepiece. It’s all electronic, including the EVF you squint through. The size and shape of the hump is a sop to the corner of the enthusiast market who have become enamored of the retro look in modern digital cameras, in the hope they’ll be more willing to pony up the $1,300 to $1,800 Fujifilm is rumored it wants to ask just for the body. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of takers, especially in the fan-boy quarters of Fujifilm land.
I’ve grown increasingly desensitized to these continual rapid fire releases of new camera gear from all the makers, including my own brand of preference, Olympus. I got what I wanted and needed well over a year ago with the Olympus E-M5. No need for me to go get an E-P5 or the very latest, the E-M1.

I will say that Fujifilm got their dials pretty much right. Maybe Nikon can look over the X-T1 for clues on how to make the Df Mk II. And if the rumors are true and the X-T1 is going to cost around $1,500, it’ll be about half the cost of the current Nikon Df. I just find spending well north of a grand for a camera body more than I can stomach.

The industry has lost all sense of practicality, and so have the gear sites. When camera gear sites can write that a $2,000 D610 or $2,800 Df or $1,300 E-M1 are affordable, I just want to groan. Maybe it’s affordable in the gentrified areas of San Francisco and other such places, but for a good majority of the world (present company included) there are far more important ways for spending that much money, if you’ve got it to spend in the first place.