A Merry (Fuji ;-) X-mas: 4 intuitive settings for your Fuji X100F!

Crazy how time flies, again one year has nearly gone by and another new year is just about to start! With this post I just wanted to thank all of youse who’ve visited by blog & put up with my ramblings for your continued support, constructive comments and interesting questions (hopefully all answered). And of course to wish y’all a merry X-mas and lots of fun & success for 2018! In Europe they celebrate the “Advent”, kinda like a countdown of the last 4 Sundays to X-mas, see below image of Advent candles captured with my beloved Fuji X100F (btw also a big thanks to Fuji for that wonderful 23mm lens with that dreamy rendering at f2!)

3 burning, 1 to go: “Advent” countdown to X-mas, Fuji X100F @f2, ACROS JPEG in LR CC mobile

Always got my X100F with me. Never leave home without her. Her name’s “Irene”. I know that’s nuts, but it is like it is. Can’t be changed. No cure. Sorry. S’funny, my X-Pro2 & my X-T2 ain’t got no names. Dunno why, they just no names kinda cameras (or they just haven’t yet grown on me as much as my X100F has to warrant gettin‘ named ;-) OK I gotta ‘fess up here, I got history with the X100 series. And no, I didn’t start with the original X100, like ever’body else seems to have ... For me it was only love at ‘S’econd sight: The X100S was what caused me to jump ship from the LeiCaNikon camp, see here and here. Never looked back since. Didn’t. Ever! After the “S” came the “T” and finally I ended up with the fantastic “F”, see below me & my “Irene” reflected in X-mas decoration ;-)

Me & “Irene” reflected in X-mas deco, Fuji X100F @f2.8, ACROS JPEG in LR CC mobile

Now hear this: Fuji’s X100F has taken the X100 series magic to a whole new level: 24mp X-Trans III sensor, X Processor Pro, and other marketing fluff y‘all can read about ad nauseam in millions of tech reviews all over the web ... But what really counts (next to the lovely 23mm lens, higher resolution, better AF and the amazing ACROS film simulation, etc.) is the result of combining all these features with the X100F‘s highly customizable user interface. This makes the X100F so special & intuitive, enabling it to truly become the proverbial ‘extension of your eye’. It allows you to manifest your vision & perception of the world around you in your images without ever getting in your way. Uncanny. Even people you’re photographing forget about it after a couple seconds (if they even notice it at all, thanks to the super stealthy electronic shutter ;-). So, as a small X-mas treat I’d like to share my favorite user interface settings with y‘all, please read on & enjoy!

Chairs. Infinitely stacked, ACROS JPEG, processed with Lightroom CC mobile

There are 4 settings I want to be able to change real fast, without moving the camera from my eye & without needing to fumble with buttons, menu‘s, etc.: Focus point selection, easy Face / eye detection setting, fast switching flash on or off (incl. its relevant settings) and simple ISO / exposure compensation. Let’s take a look (and you ain’t gonna find the tips in the second & third item anywhere else!):

  • Focus point selection - that’s the easy one, just use the joystick next to the LCD display to move your focus point to right where you want it. No more “focus - recompose” antics!
  • Face / eye detection setting - assign the “face / eye detection” function to the “down” button on the 4 way Controller at the back of the camera, then you can press the “down” button to activate this function and continue pressing “down” to cycle thru all the face / eye detection options all in one fluid motion, neat huh?
  • Switch between flash / without flash operation - assign the “shutter type” function to the “Fn” button on the camera’s top plate and set flash function setting to “ON”, “TTL” and adjust your flash compensation as required (eg. -2/3 EV, for optimal fill flash). If I then want the flash off for normal photography, I cycle the “Fn” button to electronic shutter “ES” and the flash is switched off (no flash operation with electronic shutter). If i come across a scene where I want to apply fill flash at the blink of an eye, I cycle the shutter type back to “MS+ES” (mechanical+electronic shutter) or “MS” (mechanical shutter) using the “Fn” button, which immediately again activates the flash with the preset flash exposure correction (-2/3 EV in this example). Cool!
  • ISO / exposure compensation: Last but not least, setting the exposure compensation dial to “C” and the menu item “button / dial setting“ > “ISO dial setting (A)” to “COMMAND” allows you to use the front command dial to toggle between changing ISO settings (jncl. Auto ISO) and exposure compensation by pressing it and adjusting the respective settings by rotating it. Of course this renders the nice “retro” style ISO-compensation-integrated-into-shutter-speed-dial and the exposure compensation dial redundant, but they still do look good & you can always use ‘em as back-up ;-)

See below a summary of my favorite X100F user interface settings in more detail (Fn button allocations, Q-menu and My Menu settings) for max intuitive operation:

My favorite Fuji X100F user interface settings for max intuitive operation

Of course I’d be most happy to answer any detailed questions you may have (please leave me a note in the comments section below) & wish y’all lots of fun & great images with your Fuji camera, especially also best wishes for the new year. Many thanks for looking by & looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

Best regards & merry (Fuji) X-mas!

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

How to Win Time With Fuji!

Time. The “fourth dimension“. We can’t control it. We just live in time, but can’t travel in it like we can in 3 dimensional space. Moments passed can never be revisited. They only linger as memories in our mind or saved as images taken. That’s why time’s so precious, don’t waste it! Fortunately we can choose what to do with our time. It’s a very personal choice. If you’d love to maximize your free time photographing the world around you with your Fuji, I may have something interesting for you to minimize time spent image editing. Please read on to find how to win more time with your (Fuji ;-) camera:

Wooden Bridge, seen with XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

To be faster & more efficient on the image processing bit, editing your JPEG’s with Lightroom CC on a mobile device’s the way to go: You can work while traveling or waiting at airports & it syncs your image processing seamlessly with Lightroom CC Classic on your MAC/PC. Means you can continue where you left off when you’re back at your desktop! You can then happily save up RAW files of your favorite images for those long winter evenings (when the next blizzard hits ;-) to eke out that last bit of highlight detail (which eluded you on your JPEG’s) via Fine Art editing & printing using Capture One Pro on your Mac/PC. See below a schematic representation of my workflow:

I usually download my JPEG images (just ACROS Black & Whites for me ;-) to my iPad Pro via WiFi using the ShutterSnitch App. IMO better than Fuji’s Camera Remote App, but a bit pricey. For that I can automatically update images´ metadata with my copyright during import & rate / sort out the ones I want to process later before exporting them to iOŚ’s photo library. From there I “add“ them to an album called ’JPEG’. I do like this coz of iOŚ’s dorky image filing system, where all images on the iPad are dumped into the camera roll: taken images, processed images, screenshots, the whole smash - all in one big mess you ain’t ever gonna find anything in. So by “adding“ your images to a separate album (or albums) you can find them easily afterwards for importing into Lightroom CC mobile. See below some screen shots of my workflow once in Lightroom CC mobile (please click on the thumbnails to see more details):

processing in LR CC mobile

when done, select ’open in‘

& size for web / social media

in Phonto App, to

add your copyright

in your preferred format 

WiFi download? Boy, you can easily go for lunch while that’s going on (Fuji JPEG´s typically got around 16Mb ;-) OR, in case you’re in a hurry, transfer them to iPad via Apple’s SD card to Lightning Adaptor, but then there’s no automatic IPTC copyright update & no way to preview images before saving them in the camera roll ...

Ok, ‘nuff said, for sure y’all interested about what settings I use for my JPEG’s (coz choosing the JPEG route means many settings can’t be modified after the fact. I always shoot RAW/F (RAW + fine JPEG’s) to always have backups of the original files, either to experiment later with differing RAW to JPEG conversions in camera, or for more precise RAW post processing using Capture One Pro. In camera I use following settings:

  • ACROS-R film simulation (of course ;-)
  • -1 Highlight tone
  • +3 Shadow tone
  • Grain effect off (ACROS film simulation already has its own grain effect!)
  • -3 Noise reduction
  • 0 Sharpness (more sharpening in camera creates visible artifacts)

This delivers pin sharp, contrasty black & white JPEG’s with punchy shadows & smoothly gradated highlights. And they got ACROS film simulations’s amazing tone dependent film-like grain effect! Only minor adjustments in post processing are needed, if at all. For me adjusting the images’ tone curve is the most important means to create image depth and giving them a 3 dimensional look. Please also check out Patrick la Roque’s amazing article on this topic!

Apart from the s-shaped tone curve the second most important thing for me is to accentuate the sharpness - I keep the sharpening amount low but up the detail level, see below:

Fall in the Park, captured by XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

So, all in all no big deal. With this simple & fast mobile workflow needing only a couple moments attention for each image before uploading to my blog and/or social media I can complete post processing in no time, during commuting or while enjoying a latte in a cafe. See another example here, shot shortly after sunrise:

Bayreuth on Sunday Morning, XF 35 / f2 R WR on Fuji X-Pro2, JPG developed in LR CC mobile

This way I can maximize time spent on enjoying the world around me & taking images! Please let me know your thoughts, or ask me via my contact page if have any further questions / need any advice, thanks for your interest & for looking by!

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Best regards,

Hendrik

Capture with Style!

Been some time since I posted ... Was kinda busy movin´ house & couldn't find my camera ;-) Now I´m back with Style! Capture (-ing) with Style, using Capture One Pro 10 with a modified Style (never liked the "canned" stuff, always like to do my own thing!). Please read on to find out more!

Into the Sun, with XF 35/2 WR on X-Pro2, Capture One 10 with modified BW-15 Style

In Capture One Styles are sets of presets driving several adjustments simultaneously, while presets adjust only a single parameter, eg. "grain". Means you can dramatically speed up your post processing workflow by applying such Styles during image import. By selecting a Style suiting your needs you can automatically adjust eg. gradation curve, sharpening, noise reduction, etc. of your images when importing your images into Capture One and you´re already 90% done without lifting a finger!

Bridge in the Park, with XF 35/2 on X-Pro2, Capture One 10 with modified BW-15 Style

As already mentioned here my favorite Capture One Style is the BW-15 (grain) black & white Style, which IMO comes closest to Fuji´s amazing ACROS JPEG film simulation. But the grain´s too much salt in my soup and the default sharpening settings seem a bit too aggressive. So I was trawling (not trolling, mind you ;-) the net for optimal Capture One settings in combinmation with Fuji´s 24mp X-Trans III RAW files & stumbled across Thomas Fitzgerald´s "X-Trans-Files-in-Capture-One-Guide". A great read, costing only 4€ and well worth it in my opinion!

Red Chair on Stone Patio, XF 16-55/2.8 WR @16mm, X-T2, CO 10 with modified BW-15 Style

Using Thomas´ settings for 24mp RAF files in Capture One 10 as a starting point I modified Capture One´s BW-15 (grain) Style by reducing grain level to 60 and optimizing sharpening and noise reduction settings slightly (of course you can also use your own favorite settings). The trick is to select an image, apply the style, adjust the various settings to your satisfaction and save it all as a new Style (take care to deselect those items which are image dependent):

Deselect presets which are image dependent!

This ensures the same film simulation, gradation (tonality curve) and grain are saved in your new Style but image specific parameters, like exposure, contrast, etc. are not affected!

Apply saved Style & auto adjust on import!

Then select your new Style and "auto adjust" in the import menu. This makes Capture One apply your Style and auto adjusts exposure parameters automatically during import, resulting in 90% ready images, which only need minor final tweaking (if at all)

View from Villa Sermolli over Buggiano in Tuscany, Italy, X-T2 with XF 16-55/2.8 WR @23mm

Summarizing, Fuji JPEG´s are good but RAW files just have that extra flexibility: If you want to get the best outta your images you gotta go RAW, allowing you eg. to change color sensitivity (like applying color filters during post processing) and offering that extra bit of highlight headroom. Looking forward to your comments, questions, and critique, thanks so much for looking by,

Best regards,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Into the Light, with Fuji X100F !

Aren´t we photographers all seekers? Always searching for the best. Always experimenting, trying, testing. Best images, best light, best gear, best software, best deal, best whatever? Last week´s favorite turning into this week´s dog? To those of youse been following me, relying on me to stay true: I´m sorry, ashes on my head, I lost it. Really. I´m leavin´ my trail & gettin´ outta my comfort zone. Hey, I kid you not: just recently I was singin´ praise for just doing ACROS JPEG´s & an easy workflow. Now I´m sold on doing RAW´s in Capture One! Interested why? Please read on!

Into the light, found by Fuji X100F´s 23 mm, processed in Capture One "with Style" ;-) !

At least some consolation: I´m still a black & white guy! Color´s just not my thing, Never been. I always look for the light. And shadows. And contrast - color´s just in the way. Found out that´s why I never liked developing RAW´s in Lightroom & Co. Hated seeing my black & white´s appear as color thumbnails (And no, I´m not into cosmetics ;-) kinda disrupts my workflow...

Together but still alone, captured by Fuji X100F, 23 mm, developed in Capture One B&W style

That all changed when a window popped up on my Capture One workspace the other day, advertising "Styles" ("Jeezus, Spam", I thought. OK, just get rid of it ...). But C1´s promise kinda intrigued me & I clicked the "Learn more" button! First thing I "learned" was that this was gonna cost me like 80 Dollars. What? 80 bucks? Whoa daddy, a kinda steep price for a bit of learning!

500 shades of grey, seen with Fuji X100F, 23 mm, developed with BW-15 (grey) style in C1

But luckily they got a freebie samples download with one "BW-15 (grain)" style, which I activated in my Capture One´s import menu (together with auto adjust). This automatically imports RAW´s into C1, does some basic dynamic range optimization, applies this BW-15 (grain) style and spits out be-ooti-ful black & white thumbnails in C1´s browser plane

Stairway alley, Fuji X100F, 23 mm and Capture One with BW-15 (grey) style

The real surprise comes when you open ´em and just tweak exposure, contrast, brightness and levels a bit: Into the Light is all I can say. And the gradation & grain´s close enough to by beloved ACROS, it´s got MOJO, man! See below image of my lovely wife during a recent trip to Sicily:

Italian fashion shoot with Fuji X100F, developed in Capture One BW-15 (grey) style

I hope y´all enjoy these images & experiment for y´self, it´s easy. And fast. No Lightroom where you can go have lunch while its processing. So, if you got any questions or suggestions, like or not like the images, or wanna share your stories, please leave me a note in the comments below or on my contact page! Thanks for stopping by & wish a great weekend!

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Picktorial - A New Kid on the Block for Fuji Fans!

Hi! Stumbled over this: Picktorial v3 post processing software (Mac only - special introductory offer!). Many thanks to Fujirumors (good place to get the latest Fuji news) and Thomas Fitzgerald (where I always go for expert image processing advice) for pointing me to it! The main reason I´m now starting to use it for all my post processing is coz for the first time there is ONE SIMPLE, intuitive platform for image management AND processing, compatible with Fuji JPEG and (compressed / uncompressed) RAW images, please read on how so!

Candles in Church, Fuji X-T2 and XF 23mm / f2, ACROS JPEG processed in Picktorial

As mentioned before here I mainly use ACROS JPEG´s & rarely do RAW anymore. So, a couple weeks ago I was in an awesome Russian orthodox church with my lovely wife & fancied capturing the rich gradations and tonality of this scene. Then I would´ve developed the ACROS JPEG with Lightroom CC (LR) and resorted to Capture One (CO) in case I´d want to try any fancy RAW processing ... But I really don't like hulking for hours behind a computer. Nope. And, using different bits of processing software means I need to have all kinds of directories on my Mac to save intermediate versions of my images (I´m kinda paranoid about losing my work ...). On top of this both LR and CO use catalogues, so I need to manage and back up those too ... I tell ya, I could've become an IT expert (who maybe gets to take a photo now and then ;-). No sir, not good. Not good at all!

Picktorial has an intuitive, fluid & simple user interface (look & feel very similar to Apple´s legendary Aperture, which was unfortunately discontinued). Overall it´s very minimalistic: No jumping around between library and develop panes as in LR. It works directly in your image capture folder and stores your image edits in the image file (for JPEG, TIF, DNG) or in a XMP sidecar file (for RAW) w/o changing the original image. By this non-destructive workflow you can backtrack your work anytime (even taking out single steps) and save your image as often as you want without any image degradation. If you want to transfer your images just be sure to copy the whole directory (images incl. the XMP files), then you can just pick up from where you left off!

Russian Orthodox Mural, Fuji X-T2 and XF 23mm / f2, ACROS JPEG processed in Picktorial

Another great Picktorial feature is the luminosity masks (yes, photoshop has those too, but it´s much easier to use with Picktorial), please check out this great instruction video from Eric Marcs at findingmiddleearth.com (I´m still a learner on how to do that properly ;-)

The only additional feature I could wish for is to have a mobile version for my iPad which can sync with the desktop version (like Lightroom mobile), that would be awesome!

Picktorial offers an easy, fluid, and seamless experience and is much faster than Lightroom, I love the simplicity and intuitivity of the user interface!

Last but not least I compared the results with my until now preferred applications:

RAW file processed in Picktorial

RAW file processed in Iridient Developer

JPEG file processed in Picktorial

RAW file processed in Capture One Pro

RAW file processed in Photo Ninja

JPEG file processed in Lightroom CC

Summarizing the results I can recommend Picktorial as an easy & fast processing tool for those who want to minimise post processing effort & get best possible results w/o a lot of effort

Many thanks for visiting & please leave me a message in case anything is unclear or is you´ve any questions, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Fuji Lightroom Mobile Workflow Revisited

As promised in my previous post I´d like to share with y´all my mobile workflow, using Fuji cameras, an iPad and Lightroom Mobile! If you wanna get freed from your desktop, speed up your processing / image sharing on web and if you´re interested in becoming a more efficient photographer, please read on!

The Messenger, seen in Sicily with Fuji X100F, 23 mm / f2 @ f5.6, 1/320", ACROS-Y, 400 ISO

I mentioned in my previous blog post that Fuji´s ACROS film simulation with its tonality and ISO dependent grain effect delivers JPEG´s with a film-like look that can not be achieved via traditional RAW processing. These JPEG´s are so good that they liberates you forever from having to fuss around with RAW files & RAW converters (spending hours behind a computer, trying to get image quality comparable to Fuji´s amazing JPEG´s). This in turn enables a more mobile approach to photography, so get liberated & embrace a JPEG based mobile workflow!

Required equipment:

  • Camera with Wifi capability (check out Fuji´s website but it can be any brand ... ;-)
  • Mobile device with sufficient processing power & free space for saving images
  • WiFi connectivity App to transfer images from your camera to your mobile device
  • Lightroom Mobile (and Adobe Creative Cloud subscription if you want to sync to desktop) 

To get your images downloaded onto your mobile device of choice (in my case an iPad Pro 9.7"), there are 2 options (when using Fuji cameras, as I do ;-)

  1. Fujifilm´s "Camera Remote App" (download free from iTunes or Google Play)
  2. 2nd Nature´s "ShutterSnitch" Wireless Transfer App (download for US$ 18.99 from iTunes - no Android version yet). Expensive but IMO much better as it includes all kinds of goodies: image organisation in collections, image preview using zoom, saving to various media, metadata update (I don't use this as it re-saves my JPEG´s potentially reducing image quality slightly), etc.

While Fuji´s Camera Remote App downloads your images directly to the iPad´s camera roll, ShutterSnitch requires them to be exported (I prefer this coz it keeps my images organized outside Apple´s somewhat difficult to understand & confusing filing system). See below the procedure for ShutterSnitch, the end result in both cases is that the images you want to process end up on the iPad´s camera roll

How to get your images onto Camera Roll using ShutterSnitch ...

Next step is to import the images you´d like to process into Lightroom Mobile. You can stop here but if you also have Adobe´s Creative Cloud subscription (around 12-13 US$ per month) you get a seamless synchronisation between your mobile device and desktop (images processed on mobile device are updated on your desktop device when you connect to your home network & vice-versa). Cool!

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

In Lightroom Mobile you will find the familiar develop modules from the desktop version (Basic, Tone Curve, etc.) and you can adjust the settings as required:

Post Processing in Lightroom Mobile!

As mentioned before these adjustments are then synchronized with your Lightroom desktop version as soon as you connect to your home network (provided you have Adobe´s Creative Cloud installed)

Summing up. this mobile workflow allows you to already perform the main rough image post processing steps while on the move (mainly curves and some exposure / contrast improvement) In most cases the processing options offered by Lightroom Mobile are sufficient, so no further desktop processing is needed! :-)

I hope you enjoyed this post and you can use it to enhance your own photographic experience, please leave me a note in the comments section if anything´s unclear or if you have any further questions,

Many thanks & best regards, wish y´all a great start into the new week & lots of fun, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Three Intuitive Features that will make your Fuji X-T2 "Disappear" !

At the end it´s the images that matter. The camera´s just a tool, a means to an end, a vehicle to manifest and visualize your perceptions, impressions and emotions of the wonderful world around you! The less that camera gets in your way, the more intuitive / less intrusive its operation, the better your images will be! Fuji´s X-T2 has 3 distinct, unique features that help it to come closer to this ideal than any other camera I´ve experienced so far! You want to discover how to set up your X-T2 to make it magically "disappear" and enable you to fully focus on your images? Please read on, and as a bonus I show y´all a cool trick below not yet seen elsewhere on the web … ;-)

Shadows on the street, Fuji X-T2, with XF 18-135 mm WR at 18 mm - f5.6 - 1/950 sec - ISO 400

Above image with contrasty shadows painted on the pavement is easily overseen when using an optical viewfinder ...

The Fuji X-T2 has 3 distinct, unique features enabling an intuitive, non intrusive work-flow:
1. World´s best EVF (Electronic View Finder)
2. Only camera with always visible exposure triangle settings (physical dials iso menus)
3. No interruption of viewing when changing settings (how to configure the user interface)

These play a key role in the 2 criteria responsible for getting those special images (or should I say helping those special images find you):

  • Being able to accurately pre-visualize your image, so you can be sure it tells the story you experienced or imagined when seeing the scene
  • Being able to effortlessly and intuitively adjust the settings to suit your perception w/o needing to take the camera from your eye

Below these important 3 features are discussed in more detail:

1. World´s best EVF (Electronic View Finder):

The main advantage of an EVF over any optical viewfinder (as found in DSLR´s or rangefinder type cameras) is a realistic WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) view: Means you can pre-view the image exactly as it will be saved, i.e. incl. film simulation, color, white balance, exposure, contrast, etc. settings applied. In the film era you only saw the result after getting back the developed film (meaning a delay until being able to review your images and then often having no way to redo anything in case something didn’t turn out as expected). This pre-visualization feature of an EVF dramatically shortens the learning loop (scene impression > viewfinder preview > image capture > image development > final image review > optimization), thereby exponentially increasing the hit-rate of your photographic process!

10 steps to heaven ... X-Pro2 with XF 35 mm / f1.4 at f5.6 - 1/340 sec - ISO 400 (-2 EV)

So what´s so special about the X-T2´s EVF? While sporting a best in class magnification of 0,77X and a state-of-the-art 2,36M-dot resolution (like X-T1), the X-T2´s EVF has a significantly higher refresh rate (100 fps in boost mode) and half the view finder black-out time (5 ms), compared to the X-T1. Compared to the X-Pro2 it has an increased viewing angle (38° vs 29°) and a longer eye point distance (23 mm vs. 16 mm) which significantly improve view-ability and ease of viewing (especially for eyeglass wearers!)

It´s the combination of the above characteristics that enables a truly immersive and enjoyable viewing experience and animates you to use the EVF in the first place! In fact the overall improvement is now such that for the first time I prefer the X-T2´s EVF over all other options (OVF or LCD): For me the X-Pro2´s EVF now appears too small & slow, with too narrow viewing angle and the X-T1´s EVF could not really convince me at the time to go full EVF (especially in lower ambient lighting conditions), so I sold it last year …

Once actually using the EVF, turning "preview PIC effect" to ON in the menu (MENU > Wrench > Screen set-up > Preview Pic. Effect > ON) is the KEY feature allowing you to pre-visualize the image exactly as it will be taken by the camera (e.g. as a black & white image focussing on contrast, form and light / shadow distribution rather than colors)

The window wall, Fuji X-T2, with XF 18-135 mm WR at 62 mm - f8 - 1/550 sec - ISO 400

2. Only camera with always visible exposure triangle settings:

Exposure triangle means aperture, shutter speed & ISO settings - the 3 key elements determining image exposure and appearance. together with the exposure compensation dial you have 4 separate, dedicated manual dials on which you can immediately and always see/check the settings before lifting the camera to your eye, meaning you can preset the camera before taking the shot! As far as I know the Fuji X-T2 is the only one among high-end digital cameras having this traditional “photographer´s” user interface layout

On top of this Fuji´s approach to switching between program modes is much more intuitive & self-explanatory:

  • Program mode: Aperture & Shutter speed dial on "A" > all elements are set automatically, depending on lighting conditions, ISO and exposure compensation setting
  • Aperture priority mode: Aperture set on required f-stop (eg. to ensure required depth-of-field), shutter speed dial on "A" > shutter speed is automatically adjusted depending on lighting conditions, ISO and exposure compensation setting
  • Shutter priority mode: Shutter set on required shutter speed (eg. to freeze action or to synchronize with flash), aperture on "A" > aperture is automatically adjusted depending on lighting conditions, ISO and exposure compensation setting
  • Manual mode: Aperture and shutter speed set to required values (eg. for special lighting conditions / effects) > aperture and shutter speed are fixed. But with Auto-ISO you can still get a certain level of automatic exposure!

Holy windows, Fuji X-T2, with XF 35 mm / f1.4 at f5.6 - 1/480 sec - ISO 400 (-1 EV)

3. No interruption of viewing when changing settings (how to configure the user interface):

Your camera becomes an obstacle to your creative pre-visualization process and inspiration if changing settings forces you to take your eye from the viewfinder. Instead of concentrating on your subject you then need to divert your attention to fiddling with dials and menus. A camera which can be personally configured to allow changing settings without needing to remove your eye from the viewfinder will go a long way to missing fewer opportunities and allowing you to focus on what really matters: the image. In other words the camera kinda “disappears” from disturbing your work flow, see below how to do this!

I´m a “left eye dominant” shooter. When using my X-Pro2 this means my nose is squashed onto the LCD, resulting in frequently needed cleaning to remove smudges. I also gotta squint around the viewfinder to see the whole image (shorter viewfinder eye point and narrower viewing angle than X-T2). On the X-T2 my nose ends up clear to the right of the LCD but I can´t properly access the AF-L button as my nose and right thumb are competing for the limited real estate around the thumb-grip on the right hand side of the camera. Bummer, coz I love using the “back button focus” technique (means AF is initiated via a separate button rather than by half pressing the shutter release - gives me better control on what I want to focus on!

Fortunately the X-T2 offers me a work-around: By allocating “AF-ON” function to the front Fn2 function button I ca use a "front button focus" technique (long press “DISP BACK” button > Fn Button Setting menu appears > scroll down to Fn2 and right-click using 4-way controller > select “AF-ON” > confirm with “MENU OK”)

I don't (like to) use the "AF-L" button - IMO it´s misplaced coz the thumb rest partly blocks using it. Luckily this button can also be re-assigned on the X-T2, so I allocated the "Flash Function Setting" to it (use that sometimes for fill flash) and the "Shutter Type" selection to the somewhat difficult to reach Fn1 button. Pressing it cycles thru the shutter types MS > M+E > ES (which I mostly use to keep the camera quiet)

There´s more, you won´t find this nowhere else on the web: A special "Hendrix" X-T2 Fn-button configuration which allows me to fully focus on my image in the viewfinder, see the Fn-Button Settings in the image on the right:

The trick is to place the functions most used during viewing on the Fn3 and Fn6 buttons to get a fluid settings adjustment workflow in combination with the 4-way controller!

xt2 af mode.jpg

The Fn3 and Fn6 buttons are the top and bottom buttons on the 4-way controller. So, when activating the functions allocated to them you can fluidly change their function setting by continuing to press the same bottom or top button on the 4-way controller without needing to change finger position or taking your eye from the viewfinder ... COOL!

No confirmation via the "MENU OK" button is needed, half pressing the shutter release is enough. This "trick" only works for the top and bottom 4-way controller buttons. For functions allocated to the left and right buttons you need to change your finger position to the top or bottom 4-way controller button to scroll thru the function settings. This does cause some disruption of the viewing experience and may distract your attention from your image subject. Try it & you´ll immediately experience how much more fluid changing settings can be!

Holy windows, Fuji X-T2, with XF 35 mm / f1.4 at f5.6 - 1/480 sec - ISO 400

A final tip: If you want relatively fast access to 2 more secondary functions (over the 8 already assigned to Fn-buttons), you can allocate them to the top/left slot on "Q-Menu" and the 1st slot on "My Menu". These slots are faster to access as they are automatically highlighted first when selecting the Q- or My Menu. This saves some valuable time due to not needing to scroll around

I´ve allocated the top/left slot on the "Q-Menu" to the "Select Custom Setting" function (which I use to select different film simulation / setting configurations) and the 1st. slot of the "My Menu" to the "AF-C Custom Settings" function (which I use to switch between AF-C configurations depending on subject movement type)

For me it was important to get the configuration of the camera right from the start, and NOT CHANGE it afterwards, so that I could develop a consistent muscle memory fitting that configuration

With this review I´d like to encourage y´all to experiment to find the best settings for your kind of photography and work-flow, my preferred set-up is not necessarily applicable for everyone!

Many thanks for looking by & look forward to hearing your comments & experiences,

Best regards

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Fuji ACROS: Amazing JPEG´s with Film-Like Grain !

Since Fuji appeared on the scene we have been spoilt by intuitive cameras delivering wonderful images & amazing JPEG´s - Hey, some photographers didn't´t even wanna touch RAW´s ! And now that the new 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor is here (Fuji X-Pro2, X-T2 and the new X100F) we get as bonus the ACROS film simulation mode for smoothly gradated black and white JPEG´s with deep blacks and a beautiful film-like grain texture. Interested how to get the best out of ACROS ? Please read on !

Waiting at the Airport, seen with Fuji X-Pro2 and XF 16 mm f1.4 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

Since going digital I´d always missed that "organic" film kinda look I got from my beloved Kodak Tri-X negs (man, I loved that film ...). Now, finally I can get it in digital - just compare below crop of a RAW file, developed in Capture One Pro 10 (left image) to crop from the original SOOC JPEG, which sports a subtle but distinct grain effect:

RAW developed in Capture One Pro 10

SOOC ACROS JPEG

This grain is amazingly "organic", way better than the more "sterile" digital grain which is applied in post as a generic image overlay eg. with 3rd party software ! ACROS has some kind of magic algorithm built in which selectively applies analogue grain, depending on ISO level and tone - you get "photographic" looking images with wonderful smooth gradations and a subtle "film-like" grain, right off the bat:

50 Shades of Lighter Grey ;-) captured by Fuji X-Pro2 & XF 35 mm f2 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

To achieve such JPEG images SOOC and still get sufficient "punch" in the shadows I apply following settings in my X-Pro2´s Q-menu (saved as preset):

  • ACROS-R film simulation
  • GRAIN effect OFF (ACROS has its own built-in ISO dependent analogue grain effect)
  • -3 NR (noise reduction)
  • DR auto (auto dynamic range)
  • -1 H-TONE (highlights contrast)
  • +3 S-TONE (shadows contrast for sufficient "punch")
  • +1 SHARP (sharpening)

I´ve discovered that the sweet spot (detail rendering vs. micro-contrast vs. grain) for ACROS simulation is around 2000 ISO. To compensate the JPEG´s reduced highlights & shadows recovery latitude (vs. doing RAW development) I set the highlights tone to -1 (increased highlight tonal range) and my dynamic range to "Auto" (automatically adjusts dynamic range to the subject contrast), see example image below:

Casting Shadows Ahead, with Fuji X-Pro2 and XF 35 mm f2 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

I´ve really fallen for this ACROS film simulation, and you can't get it any other way except by shooting JPEG´s ! So I set my camera to record RAW´s & Large/Fine JPEG´s. This allows me to speed up my workflow by primarily using JPEG´s and having the RAW as a back-up in case tricky post processing is needed (only in approx. 10% of the cases). Another benefit is that the image review on the camera´s LCD uses this high quality JPEG rather than the embedded low quality one when shooting RAW only

Hope y´all enjoyed this post & there was something interesting in it for you ? Thanks for looking by and of course you´re most welcome to leave me constructive critique and/or questions in the comments section below or on my "about" page !

Best regards & have fun shooting !

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Want Best Image Quality From Your Fuji ? Here´s How !

After my first try-out of Phase One´s new Capture One Pro v10 (here) I thought those of youse in constant search of getting the very best image quality might be interested in a re-comparison of latest available RAW development solutions ! For this I took a challenging high contrast image shot after dusk - quite scary how much achievable image quality still varies among contemporary RAW converters. Curious ? Please read on !

Great result: XF 18-135mm @18mm f/5.6 1/8" on X-Pro2, developed in Capture One Pro 10

Small side remark: I´m repeatedly amazed about what I can do with Fuji´s XF 18-135mm OIS (Optical Image Stabilization): Apart from replacing a full bag of lenses I´m getting sharp results down to 1/8 sec at any focal length (sometimes even 1/4 sec !) - Hello ... that´s 4-5 stops autonomy vs. non OIS lenses ! Means I could take the above image of a museum venue after dusk at ISO 3200, f5.6 and 1/8 sec hand held !

Ok, so before looking at the various RAW converters I´d first like to share the SOOC JPEG taken with Acros-R film profile - a bit too dark for my taste:

Original SOOC JPEG, using ACROS-R film profile - too dark IMO !

I compared following RAW converters (in order of preference):

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the above software providers, nor a "fan-boy" of any one of them - I just choose the best solution for my type of images and workflow. However I excluded some RAW developers (Raw Therapee, Silkypix, ACDSee, Aperture, ...) from this comparison as these either were not available to me, or not compatible with Mac OS Sierra, or having an IMO too complex user interface (eg. Silkypix). So, in case you don´t agree to my conclusions you´re most welcome to leave me a comment and/or suggestions below !

Basically I aimed for maximum highlight recovery and dynamic range, covering all zones from pure black to white with balanced gradations of grey in between. I further tried to prevent over sharpening (to which Fuji X-Trans files do not agree too well). Below you can see 200% crops of results achieved with each RAW converter (arranged in order of my personal preference):

My Conclusions:

  1. Overall Capture One Pro 10 delivers IMO the most balanced result, with good contrast and sharpness in the background billboard text and not too aggressive rendering of the grass and the hedge. Capture One now automatically corrects distortion (often prevalent on zooms) by straightening & cropping. However, left at 100% this correction effectively reduces the FF equ. widest angle of view of the XF 18-135 from 27mm to 28.5mm. So I reduce the auto-correction to around 60% allowing me to retain around 28mm FF equ. max. field of view while still getting reasonably straight lines
  2. Photo Ninja brings out more contrast in the text but IMO renders the tree, grass and hedge too aggressively. The image also seems to be overlaid by a visible grain structure. Unfortunately Photo Ninja doesn't´t offer lens correction based on embedded EXIF data and delivers somewhat strange colours (for those into colour imaging)
  3. Lightroom CC delivers reasonable results, albeit with subdued sharpness in the text (with optimal settings for Fuji X-Trans) and a hint of detail smearing artefacts in the foliage
  4. Iridient  (my previous favourite, before trying the newest version of Capture One) disappointed me on this image: I couldn't get sufficient contrast in the text and finest details in that text do not seem to be resolved well enough (lines in the letters break up). Also here IMO too aggressive rendering of the grass & foliage
  5. Affinity Photo delivers a similar balanced result to Capture One but clearly lacks contrast, sharpness and detail rendering in the fine details of the background text
  6. The SOOC JPEG is IMO the least attractive of these (apart from being too dark). This confirms that JPEG´s, while being good enough for sharing images on social media / web are insufficient for big fine-art enlargements - see how the fine details in the text are lost ...

Another aspect to consider is that from my point of view only 2 solutions of the above offer a complete all-in-one image management / RAW development solution: Capture One Pro and Lightroom CC. The others are usually applied as external RAW converters integrated into a Lightroom workflow, requiring exporting and re-importing of images & more complicated handling

Even Capture One is currently my preferred image management solution it has one big deficiency: It is the only software of the above NOT able to handle compressed Fuji RAW´s. This means each RAW file blocks approx. 50mB of your disk space vs. the approx. 25mB per compressed RAW !

Ok, this will be my last post of this year. I sincerely hope you enjoyed visiting my blog during the past year & will continue to follow me thru 2017 ! As always please leave me any comments and/or questions you may have in the comments area, many thanks for your continued support & for your interest / contributions !

Wishing y´all a wonderful, successful, fun new year 2017 & the best of luck for all your (photographic ;-) endeavours, 

Yours, 

Hendrik
 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

A Happy Fuji X Mas to Y´all !

Suddenly it´s here. Like we didn't expect X-mas would come ! It´s been a long & busy but very intense year with a lot of changes. Flashing by in a wink, memories already blurred, but I´m confident to have a clear view on 2017, visualized in this image:

X-mas 2016, already blurred memories but clear view on 2017 !

My XF 18-135 mm (at 35 mm / 50 mm FF equ.) inspired me here: I was playing around with out of focus "bokeh balls". Got me thinking how X-mas 2015 was just yesterday and now suddenly a year has gone by ...

So now I wish all of my faithful followers a very happy Fuji X-mas (it´s all in the "X" ;-) together with your families, and a great start into your new year with lots of fun, success and awesome images - enjoy & learn !

Many thanks for visiting & for your support, best regards & a wonderful holiday season to y´all !

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

NO More Sensor Dust, a Creative Solution !

In the days of film it didn't matter: Dust. Ok, sometimes if you got unlucky dust manifested itself by leaving "telegraph lines" on your film but this could be prevented by being reasonably careful while changing film. Fast forward to the digital age, dust has become more of a problem. Well, at least mentally ... I´d never thought that I´d do what I did to solve it. Please read on if interested !

Twin spires of the Stadtpfarr Church in Bayreuth: XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

To be honest, since I exclusively use Fuji mirrorless cameras I´ve only once had a real problem with sensor dust: Happened to my (meanwhile sold) X-T1: Sent it in for cleaning as the dust was underneath the sensor cover glass - discovered that it didn't disappear after wet cleaning the sensor (Jeezus, just doin´ that little operation nearly gave me a freakin´ heart attack ! ;-)

House facade in the Winter Sun, captured by XF 18-135 mm @f8/18 mm (27 mm FF equ.)

Otherwize, touch wood - didn't have to clean a sensor again since then coz the fear of dust - Amathophobia ;-) has driven me to become a kinda "one lens guy", reluctant to change lenses when out on the street and IF necessary really sweating about it ... While this restriction has been good for my creativity I was missing the peace of mind I´d experienced in my film days. So I went out & got myself the Fujinon XF 18-135 mm / f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zooooom - Oh boy, already the name of that thing´s longer than you can say in one breath !

Slightly more compressed perspective, with XF 18-135 mm @f8/55 mm (83 mm FF equ.)

Hang on, say again ? Yes, a Z-O-O-M lens ! Ya know ? Those telescopic barrel shaped things, filled with hundreds of lenses, way too dark max. apertures, and usually having a bad reputation of delivering soft, soggy, unsharp, contrast-less images. And I´d always used primes till now ... So, even if this decision´s gonna cost me at least half of my numerous, faithful blog followers ;-) I´ll do my best to try to convince y´all otherwize - see below my sneak review of the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom lens (comparable to a 27-203 mm zoom on full frame) !

Fuji´s Air Ventilation System
(courtesy of Fujifilm Global)

All the images on this post were taken with the Fuji XF 18-135 mm WR zoom, and I gotta say I was very positively impressed about the amazing flexibility and image quality this lens offers, especially also at the longest focal length (normally the Archilles´ heel of tele-zooms). It truly is a "one lens" solution which can replace a bag full of primes (with some caveats, see below) ! So, no more need to change lenses ! I felt like liberated & it gives me a wonderful peace of mind regarding sensor dust. This WR (weather resistant) lens also uses a clever "Air Ventilation" feature (see on the right) to effectively prevent the pumping action of the zoom sucking dust into the system !

I really appreciate the combination of an 18 mm (27 mm FF equ.) wide-angle all the way thru to 135 mm (203 mm FF equ.) telephoto, all in one lens. On my DSLR´s (a long time ago) I had 3 f2.8 L zooms (from 16 to 210 mm), but always seemed to end up using the focal length extremes of the respective lenses´s zoom range. Here the Fuji lens offers much more flexibility and sufficient image quality over the whole zoom range that I now often also use the focal lengths in between the extremes:

More compressed view of backlit streetlamp: XF 18-135 mm @f8/75 mm (113 mm FF equ.)

Yes, the maximum opening from f3.5 at 18 mm to f5.6 at 135 mm is a bit restricted, but the images IMO are already quite punchy and absolutely useable at max. aperture ! The integrated OIS (optical image stabilization) system does an amazing job. It allows me to compensate the modest max. aperture (at least for static subjects) by allowing me to use an up to 2 (18 mm) -4 (135 mm) stops slower shutter speed. The advertized 5 stop difference can only rarely be achieved in ideal conditions with solid bracing of the camera. So, the only real caveat from my point of view is the limited background separation due to small f5 - 5.6 max. apertures at longer focal lengths, however the bokeh is quite smooth !

Backlit narrow street, seen with XF 18-135 mm @f8/105 mm (158 mm FF equ.)

I never thought I´d love using a zoom (even less with a 7.5 X zoom ratio) ... But after intensive use the last week I can really recommend Fuji´s XF 18-135 mm WR zoom as a "one lens" solution for travel, casual walkabouts, all-round use, etc. Granted it ain´t as sharp as Fuji´s amazing primes  so I continue to use those for critical assignments. Summarizing, the following positive things can be said about the XF 18-135 mm WR zoom:

  • Extensive zoom range covering all the main focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto. No need to change lenses, no dust worries, no fuss and fast adapting to situation
  • Good image quality even at the extreme focal lengths and at max. apertures, decent Bokeh
  • Fast accurate and silent autofocus (with X-Pro2). Front element does not rotate
  • Amazing in lens image stabilization (OIS) allowing up to 4 stops longer shutter speeds
  • Portability: acceptable size & weight, no problem to hand carry around all day on X-Pro2
  • Build quality: Weather resistant, metal bayonet, filter thread & rings (focus & aperture), high quality plastic lens tube. Tight, compact feel and smooth operation. No lens creep
  • I like the aperture switch: The lens remembers the last manually set aperture value when switching back from auto to manual
  • Absolutely use-able macro capability (up to 0.27 X, min focus at 45 cm)

And here the cons:

  • Some chromatic aberration - can be corrected in post
  • Modest max. aperture limits ability to stop motion and potential for background separation
  • Zoom ring has increased resistance towards the long end of the zoom range (because of the weather sealing I think). Always need to double check if I really have the max. setting
  • Aperture setting not visible on lens, need to check viewfinder or LCD

Didn't´t say anything about price yet - I think that 899$ / 850€ is a fair price for what you get but it ain´t really a bargain ...

Please let me know if you´ve any questions - you can contact me via my about page or leave me a comment below 8your email address will not be disclosed) ! Many thanks for your interest & for visiting,

Many thanks & best regards,

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Capture ONE Pro 10 for Fuji - A First Look !

When I jumped ship from CaNikon to Fuji a couple years ago I didn't find ANY integrated RAW converter / image management solution able to deliver the full potential outta Fuji´s unique X-Trans sensor. Only way out was to use a standalone external RAW converter (eg. Iridient) requiring a 2 step workflow. Then, earlier this year Adobe launched a major Lightroom CC upgrade delivering results very close to the till then Best-in-Class RAW converter Iridient (see my comparison here). Finally on December ONE Phase ONE launched Capture ONE Pro, version ONE-O. Hey, with so many ONE´s popping up I thought I´d take a look and see, please read on for my initial impressions !

Street in the winter sun, captured by Fuji XF 23 mm f/2 WR on X-Pro 2, developed in CO Pro 10

I decided to try out the newest version 10 of Capture One Pro after being intrigued by Thomas Fitzgerald´s excellent blog post describing latest improvements & features, please go here to discover them ! For me the above image has a wonderful glow to it and it took me only a couple minutes to get there - impressive how fast & easy I could get a really good result ! Furthermore Capture One Pro allows me to change any parameter at any time in its logical and clear dashboard (see left side of the screen grab shown below):

Capture One Pro 10 User Interface with logically grouped intuitive setting panels

What I liked most was the fluid interaction between Exposure, Levels, Curve, High Dynamic Range and Clarity settings. In contrast Lightroom IMO has a more linear (chronological) workflow which feels less intuitive and kinda "old fashioned" ...

Concluding, the PRO´s of Capture One Pro 10:

  • Great results. At least at a first glance I couldn't detect any disadvantages vs. my previous favorite Iridient in eg. highlight/shadow recovery, color rendering, detail rendering, sharpening, noise, etc (but I´ll come back here with a more detailed comparison soon)
  • Lens optimization finally working (incl. purple de-fringing !) - this was missing in previous versions of Capture One Pro
  • Fluid, logical and intuitive user interface allowing changing of all parameters in any order
  • NO more external standalone RAW converter needed ! Capture One Pro combines RAW conversion and image management. Strictly speaking this is no advantage over Lightroom

And the CON´s:

  • Capture One Pro 10 can´t read Fuji´s compressed RAW´s (yet). Now this one is really a bummer for me coz Fuji´s uncompressed RAW´s eat up memory at twice the rate compared to the compressed RAW´s (50 vs. 25 mB a pop !). C´mon, Phase One, give us the compressed RAW reading capability, you can do it !
  • Pricey - nearly 300 US$ ain´t a bargin (even though you get a lot for it). Ok I have a CO Pro 8 license so it´ll cost me 105 US$ to upgrade. Still a lot ... but at least it ain´t a subscription rip-off like CC (if you can live without Photoshop CC that is)

Here another "glowing" Capture One Pro image:

Contre Jour in the park, seen with Fuji XF 23 mm f/2 WR on Fuji X-Pro2, developed in CO Pro 10

If you have any questions or would like any advice, please leave me a message in the comments section or on my contact page ! Many thanks for your kind support, interest, liking & sharing ! Herewith wishing y´all a lot of fun trying out Capture One Pro 10 ! Enjoy your December holiday season, all the very best & good luck !

Yours, Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

How to Get Best Image Quality Out of Fuji X-Trans III RAW´s

Hey I got something for those of youse who REALLY wanna get the very best possible image quality out of Fuji´s new X-Trans III image sensor (as currently used on Fuji´s X-Pro 2 and X-T2 mirrorless APS-C cameras). Yeah I know ... Said some posts ago that Lightroom´s all you´ll need ... Basically that still holds true but it all depends on what you expect from your photography, please read on to discover how:

Portrait of my lovely wife: Fuji X-Pro 2 with 35 mm f2 WR @f2.8 1/125 sec

Portraits seem to present quite a challenge regarding image quality (apart from the obvious challenge to capture the right facial expression reflecting persona & character of your model ;-) ! Working on a portrait series I discovered that different RAW developers produced subtle variations in the results. So I thought I´d share them here, starting off as baseline with Fuji´s very good SOOC JPEG rendering. This already delivers an overall pleasing result, however finest details are lost during in-camera conversion:

SOOC JPEG using Fuji X-Pro 2´s X-Trans III 24 mp sensor

Then I tried RAW conversion using Affinity Photo, a relatively new kid on the block (many thanks to The Lightweight Photographer for pointing me to it !). With this one I do get a very nice contrast, which I initially liked a lot (for me nearly the most pleasing off the bat). But on closer scrutiny I discovered it dissolves finer details even more than the JPEG and also produces some unwanted artefacts (see the line between the cornea and the lower eyelid):

RAW conversion using Affinity Photo

This is not the case with Adobe´s latest version of Lightroom CC. Better fine details than the JPEG´s and a fully integrated workflow to boot (no external RAW converter, so no additional exporting / importing needed). However ACR does seem to slightly exaggerate high contrast fine detail - the eyelashes seem to look a bit thicker / heavier than perceived (I learnt a lot from Thomas Fitzgerald´s excellent X-Trans guides & used one of his sharpening presets, they´re really good !). To further optimize this I may need to experiment a bit more in detail with the sharpening settings:

RAW conversion using Adobe Camera RAW in Lightroom CC

Last but not least the most balanced high quality result came out of Iridient Developer: Extremely fine details are retained and beautifully rendered (using default "Iridient Reveal" sharpening). No artefacts, no exaggeration, IMO the very best result I could achieve (with a reasonable effort - I really want to minimize the time spent in front of my Mac, of course ;-)

RAW conversion using Iridient Developer

Concluding I have to say that Fuji shooters have a lot of choices nowadays: Need a fast result w/o hassle ? You can use the SOOC JPEG´s without any problem, they´re amazing ! Want to go RAW for a really good result with an integrated workflow ? Lightroom CC ain´t gonna disappoint you ! But if you want the very best image quality & don't shy away from some extra workflow integration ? Use Lightroom CC for image management and Iridient for RAW conversion (it can be easily integrated into your workflow - excellent "how to" advice available here)

Hope y´all liked today´s post & could find some guidance & information for your own work ? If you´ve any questions, comments or ideas - please leave me a note in the comments section or on my "Contact" page ! Many thanks for reading, for your continued interest & support, and hope to see you here again soon !

Good luck & best regards,

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

First Walk with Fuji 23 mm f2 - Mother of Lenses !

Finally Fuji did it & finally it´s here: The "mother of all lenses". The 23 mm f2 WR. How long have we been waiting for Fuji to give us a compact standard wide-angle for their interchangeable lens cameras, just like on the legendary X100 series ? Was it worth the wait ? Please read on !

Walking with the 23 mm f2 WR on my Fuji X-Pro2

Now I can ´fess up: Never really liked that 35 mm focal length (50 mm FF equiv.) - always either not long enough or too short, jack of all trades but master of none ... I loved the 23 mm (35 mm FF equiv.) on my X100T but could never get to terms with the 23 mm f1.4 on my X-Pro. Too heavy. Too big. Too obvious (and covering half of my OVF - hey, an elephant could hide behind it and you´d be in for a nasty surprize when you reviewed your image ;-)

Then when Fuji announced it was gonna give us a compact WR f2 - I ordered it right off the bat and settled in for the long wait. Now it´s here & I´m in heaven - This lens beats everything. Period. Image quality´s already stunning at f2 & gets even better on stopping down. And it don't get in your way, compact enough so youse can always take a camera just with one lens along with you. Always, anytime. No more excuses, no sir !

Late Afternoon Fence, 23 mm f2 WR on Fuji X-Pro2

Operation´s perfect, aperture ring with just the right resistance & clear clicks (although I must say there is a slight spread between samples - the first one I tried was a tick too tight). The focus ring is wide enough to justify using it now & then, in case you ever get tired of the lightning fast, spot-on autofocus ... Oh yeah, I gotta say: This one focusses real fast, like faster than all the other Fuji lenses I´ve known ! I prefer the Wide/Tracking focus mode: Don´t worry, be happy ! And the vented lens hood of the 35 mm f2 also fits, yay !

Dark Facades, captured by 23 mm f2 WR on Fuji X-Pro2

Last but not least: Field of view´s just perfect for reportage, street photography, storytelling, landscapes, environmental portraiture - just about everything, except the kitchen sink (and even that one will look good ;-) ! Yup, the images taken with this lens have a special quality for me - I discovered it´s got a slightly larger field of view (around 2° more) than what i had on the 23 mm f1.4 or the 23 mm f2 on the X100T !

So is there anything I don't like about this lens ? Normally I´m kinda critical ´bout my gear & easily find something or other to bitch about. In this case it´s a real challenge - IF I had to say something: Bokeh´s not as nice as on the 23 mm f1.4 & I sometimes miss that additional stop of light in dark corners ... but you can't have ´em all, right ?

Closed ... the deal on the new 23 mm f2 WR !

To sum it up, this IMO is THE must-have lens for every Fuji shooter - if you can only have one lens (like the "desert island lens"), this is it ! You get stellar image quality, it´s fast, silent, compact, light, water resistant & ain´t got no OVF intrusion - at a very reasonable price. OK, you need f1.4 or can't live w/o best-in-class bokeh (on a wide -angle) and don't need the WR, nor mind the size & weight ? Then go for the 23 mm f1.4, by all means - luckily Fuji gives you the choice !

Thanks for reading, hope y´all liked it. Please let me know if you got any questions or comments - you know where to find me !

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Fuji X-Pro2 System Meta Review 3xF - Behind Every Shadow there´s Light !

Weird title, huh ? But it´s true, I had ´em all - Minolta, Nikon, Hasselblad, Leica, then digital ... again Nikon, jumped ship to Canon ... then I 3xFFinally Found Fuji ;-) ! Yep, I know it´s the photographer that makes the image, not the camera ! Well ... not quite, I beg to differ - please read on for a "meta review" of the Fuji rangefinder system !

Contre Jour in the Park - Visualized with XF 16 mm f1.4 WR on X-Pro2

There are 3 steps in the image creation process which all consume time until you can review your results and learn from them:

  1. Image visualisation and framing (moving around, finding right perspective & selecting lens)
  2. Image capture (using camera controls to set exposure to get visualised result & focussing)
  3. Image processing (developing image to a reviewable result on screen and/or print)

The faster this process, the shorter are the learning cycles and the faster you improve your photography. Let´s look at the above steps in more detail and see how the choice of a camera system can & does influence them !

1. Image Visualization:

True, a camera can´t make the blind see, it can´t replace the intuition, creativity & perception of the photographer, it can´t help those inspiring images find you (yes, images find you, not the other way around !) ... But I kid you not, the camera viewfinder can sure as hell block your creative photographic process and throw rocks into the path of capturing and creating the image you visualised ! I always struggled with those SLR viewfinders - seemed kinda like sticking a haze filter in between my eye and the scene !

Trees casting diagonal shadows - Seen with XF 35 mm f2 WR on X-Pro2

Then I "fund" Leica (pun intended - damn thing cost me an arm & a leg) - the "transparency" of
it´s rangefinder cleared up the fog in front of my scene & seeing beyond the frame made photography feel like being able to carve my image out of reality. However what came after that was a pain in the butt ...

2. Image Capture:

The Leica´s fiddly, not always reliable manual focussing & centre weighted exposure metering are simply not well suited for fast focussing and balancing lighting with the limited exposure latitude of film (using Zone System). This cost me a lot of time during image capture. And then ...

3. Images Processing:

It still took ages till i could review the images - no "quick-check-and-redo-if-not-happy" with analogue photography, no sir ! Then along came digital - instant WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) ! No more processing delay but i was again stuck with that "hazy" SLR viewfinder (no rangefinder style digital cameras available at that time ...). Another disadvantage was size & weight of DSLR´s - so, unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me often ... below image only "happened" coz i had my compact Fuji with me !

People casting diagonal shadows - Found with XF 35 mm f2 WR on X-Pro2

So, then I Finally Found Fuji !

it must´ve been a very clever person at Fuji who got the inspiration of combining modern digital technology with a clear Leica-esque rangefinder and traditional "photographer´s" control dials (and all that at a reasonable price too !)

For me the Fuji X-Pro2 & lenses is the ONLY camera system with minimal impact on my creative process - it kinda never gets in my way:

  1. Fluid Image Visualization by transparent optical rangefinder viewfinder, allowing me to also see the larger context of the image outside the frame-lines (OVF)
  2. Lightning Fast Image Capture by reliable autofocus and multi zone metering or intuitive at-a-glance exposure adjustment using traditional manual dials for the 3 original exposure elements (ISO, aperture and shutter speed)
  3. Immediate Accurate Final Result Review using Fuji´s amazing film simulations (especially like the ACROS one with red filter !): SOOC JPEG´s are immediately useable and have an amazing film-like quality !

So, what more would I want ? Well if you askin´ me like that a short 70 mm f1.4 WR (105 mm FF equiv.) telephoto and a more compact 16 mm f2 WR would just be fan-tas-tic, c´mon Fuji you can do it ;-) !

Why ? IMO the 50 mm telephoto (75 mm FF equiv.) Fuji is planning is too short (had that on my Leica and didn't like it) and the amazing XF 90 f2 WR (135 mm FF equiv.) is too long - flattens faces too much. On the other hand a 90 mm f1.4 would´ve turned out too bulky, but that f1.4 70 mm would really hit the sweet spot ! Anyway with Telephotos I usually use the EVF (could never do that on my Leica ...)

As for wide-angles I prefer to use the OVF to see "around" my scene - great to capture the best context and cut out of the scene ! So my XF 16 mm f1.4 for me blocks too much of the OVF, a 16 mm f2 would be more slim, comparable to the XF 14 mm f2.8 & less intrusive !

Modern wheel vs. old pavement - captured with XF 35 mm f2 WR on X-Pro2

I hope y´all liked my "3xF Finally Found Fuji" meta review, thanks for looking by ! If you´ve any questions and/or remarks please leave a comment, I´ll answer ASAP ! Wish you a great Sunday and the best of luck for your photographic endeavours,

Best regards

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Good news for Fuji Fans: Lightroom is all you need !

Until recently X-Photographers were forced to either use only Fuji´s (very good) JPEG´s or 3rd party RAW converters coz Adobe´s Camera RAW didn't really cooperate with the non-Bayer demosaicing layout of Fuji´s X-Trans sensors. Now here´s the good news for Fuji shooters: With Adobe´s latest Creative Cloud update there´s no more need to stray from Lightroom & fuss with needing to export & re-import images. And no more need to split your post processing over 2 pieces of software !

I stumbled over this after viewing images in Lightroom, see previous posts here and here but just wanted to double-check if the improvement is also visible in portraiture (skin & hair), see here an image (thanks to my lovely wife !) developed in Lightroom (no external RAW converter !):

The Lady with the Umbrella, Fuji X-Pro2 with f2/35mm WR, processed in Lightroom CC

Here a 100% enlargement of this image:

Crop of above image processed in Lightroom CC

And here the same image developed in the best-of-class external RAW converter Iridient:

The Lady with the Umbrella, Fuji X-Pro2 with f2/35mm WR, processed in Iridient Developer

Here again the 100% enlargement for your reference:

Crop of above image processed with Iridient Developer

As you can see there is not much difference, from my point of view the image developed in Lightroom is even a bit more natural looking !

I hope this little post helps X-Photographers to simplify their workflow by not needing to fuss with additional bits of software, please let me know your experience or if you have any comments, I look forward to hearing from you !

Many thanks for visiting & for your interest, wish y´all a good Sunday & best regards

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !

Adobe´s got the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Trans, Part 2 & Conclusion

Last week I shared with y´all how various RAW converters render the Fuji X-Pro2´s new X-Trans III sensor´s hi-lights & shadows, see here. Now for the second (and last) part, I´m looking at details & sharpening - I must say, very interesting ! Please read on if curious - again I start with the SOOC JPEG, showing how the camera interpreted the scene:

 Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, JPEG SOOC: not bad at all, but a bit too dark !

Here an enlarged portion of this SOOC image:

Crop of above SOOC JPEG, observe some "watercolor" artifacts in the background bushes !

Serves me right, at this extreme magnification level (300-400%) I managed to identify the famous "watercolor" effect in some areas of finest low contrast foliage detail ! Now this is a special feature of Fuji´s X-Trans sensors, developed to punish "pixel peepers" ;-)

Believe me, if you focus your photography on developing the best image content, rather than searching for artifacts at crazy magnifications you'll never need to bother about it. This effect is definitely NOT visible at normal viewing magnifications, nor in print ! As this "watercolor" effect remained visible with all RAW converters, I believe it´s caused on pixel level by interference between finest details and Fuji´s proprietary demosaicing pattern (designed to maximize sharpness by not needing an AA filter for moiré prevention). I also get the impression that it´s less evident on Fuji´s new 24 mp sensor compared to the previous 16 mp sensors (where i could make it visible already at lower magnifications)

Having said that now let´s look at how the different RAW converters perform on details & sharpness:

1. Photo Ninja:

Apart from the missing lens correction the "watercolor" effect is less prominent as it´s masked by a kind of "smearing":

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Photo Ninja

Here the enlargement, showing quite good details & sharpening, but for my taste too harsh micro-contrast ...

Crop of the above Photo Ninja rendering, less visible "watercolor" but harsh micro-contrast

2. Iridient Developer:

From my point of view detail & sharpening are better balanced here (less "smearing") & better sharpening in contrasty details:

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Iridient Developer

See here the enlargement:

Crop of the above Iridient rendering, excellent details & more balanced sharpening

3. Adobe Camera RAW (included in Lightroom & Photoshop):

Last but not least here the rendering of Adobe Camera Raw, with some tweaking of sharpening in Lightroom nearly as good as Iridient !

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Adobe Camera Raw

Details, see here:

Crop of the above Adobe Camera Raw rendering, nearly as good as Iridient !

Conclusion:

From my point of view based on detail & sharpening alone Iridient wins, but with some tweaking Adobe Camera Raw can come quite close !

So, overall combing this with last week´s conclusion I´m gonna try "survive" ;-) without an external RAW developer (i.e. see if I can limit myself to just Lightroom) !

Will keep y´all posted, please feel free to visit me here soon & see how it "develops" (pun intended !)

Many thanks for looking by & for your interest, please feel free to contact me via my contact page & drop me a message, I´ll be most happy to answer your questions as good as I can !

Best regards & wish great imagin(in)g !

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !