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 !

Adobe´s got the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Trans now, or what ? Part 1

Recently I got this pop-up on my MAC informing on new Creative Cloud App updates, so I downloaded ´em & was looking at some high contrast images after import using Lightroom´s ACR (Adobe Camera RAW). Here FYI the JPEG SOOC, with totally jacked highlights & shadows:

Dogging the Fountain - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, JPEG SOOC: Jacked highlights & shadows !

But when opening the RAW´s with ACR - what the ... ??? ;-) Hey, could it be that Adobe´s now finally gotten their Fuji X-Trans rendering act together ? Intrigued by this performance I decided to (again ... yawn ;-) compare Adobe´s Camera RAW (included in Lightroom & Photoshop CC) with the best external RAW converters out there (Iridient & Photo Ninja) - ya just gotta keep on your toes here ;-) please read on if interested !

I´ve been using Photo Mechanic for culling / key-wording & Lightroom for (mobile) image management / processing since way back, so obviously a built in RAW converter would have major advantages for my workflow compared to an external one (no more needing to export & copy back in, nor splitting image processing over 2 bits of software, etc.)

I´m posting this in 2 instalments: 1. Highlights & Shadows Performance (this post), and 2. Detail & Sharpening (coming up soon !)

Let´s start with Highlights & Shadows Performance. Although aesthetically the SOOC JPEG quite faithfully rendered what I´d originally visualised at time of capture the highlights & shadows are like totally blown out. So I was interested how much detail I could pull back into the image during post processing:

To do this I basically first maxed out the highlights recovery and then pushed the shadows by slightly increasing exposure until just before the highlights started blowing out again (thereby keeping an eye on not losing too much contrast). See below the comparison & results !

1. Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CC:

This one I liked the most:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photoshop CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Dunno why, but i seemed to get a slightly better rendering outta Photoshop´s built in version of ACR than LR´s (maybe the PS ACR interface is better, or I was too dumb or lazy to get 100% the same result with Lightroom´s built in ACR ...). Here a 100% crop view showing vastly improved shadows & highlights areas vs. the JPEG:

100% Crop of Photoshop´s ACR rendering

2. Adobe Canera RAW in Lightroom CC:

Nearly as good (yeah, right - both platforms use the same Adobe Camera RAW built in RAW converter):

Highlight & Shadows compression using Lightroom CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Here a 100% crop view showing the improved shadows & highlights areas, with slightly less contrast in the shadows whereas highlights seem to have a bit more detail ...

100% Crop of Lightroom´s ACR rendering

3. Iridient Developer:

Iridient is amazing in its ability to bring out detail with a unique & careful sharpening of Fuji X-Pro2´s files, but I was quite shocked to see that its highlight & shadows detail recovery seems to be limited:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Iridient´s external RAW converter

Compared to ACR the highlight head room is quite limited, meaning I have less "foot" room available for pushing the shadows, before the highlights blow (compare the crack between the tiles on bottom right with the ACR versions):

100% Crop of Iridient´s rendering

4. Photo Ninja:

This one I liked the least - highlight head room seems a bit better than Iridient, but didn't matter what I did, i just couldn't manage to bring out more shadow detail (it always kinda remained a dark soup). Also Photo Ninja does not react on EXIF lens correction parameters, you get the total image (see the additional details at the image borders), but the image is still distorted:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photo Ninja´s external RAW converter

And here the details - highlights OK´ish but the black dog just remains a black silhouette:

100% Crop of Photo Ninja´s rendering

Sorry, did´t have no more access to Capture One & never used Raw Therapee so those two are not covered here ...

Interim Conclusion: Adobe´s ACR wins the dynamic range battle !
(please also check out part 2 soon for details & sharpness comparison and for the final conclusion)

From a highlights & shadows recovery point of view the benefit of not needing to use external RAW converters seems to be an achievable target, Adobe´s ACR is doing an excellent job here ! OK I´d not push it that far for a fine art print to preserve the visual impression of the original situation, but good to know there is room for manoeuvring !

I hope this was an interesting read for all you Fuji fans out there - please leave me a comment in case you´ve any questions and/or suggestions ! Many thanks for looking by & wish y´all good light !

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 !

WOW ! Combining X-Pro2´s X-Trans III and Iridient

Finally I dunnit - after reading lotsa reviews and years of frustration with windows OS (jeezus, I needed to become more of an IT expert than focussing on improving my photography ...) I jumped ship to Mac. This now opened the door to using Iridient RAW developer (which unfortunately don´t exist for Win users ...). Well to put it mildly, I was completely blown away with the results !!!

Spring coming to Hofgarten in Bayreuth

Gone the issues with smearing foliage or fine details artefacts i´d experienced with various windows based RAW converters off Fuji X-Trans sensors ! Using Iridient´s R-L deconvolution setting with radius 0.5 and 30 iterations I get a clear but subtle sharpening effect w/o visible artefacts, demonstrating the amazing details Fuji´s new 24 MP X-Trans III sensor is capable of rendering. I still use Lightroom for my image management (yeah, some old habits die hard ;-) but using LR proprietary RAW converter just don´t cut it, see below:

Iridient RAW development - nice & crisp !

LR RAW development - still a bit mushy ...

To integrate Iridient RAW developer into Lightroom I set up:

  1. LR to use Iridient as external RAW editor: LR export menu > export to same folder as original, add to catalog & stack, TIFF, after export open in Iridient ...
  2. Iridient to open the original RAW image (not the TIFF copy !): Preferences > tick "Find & Load RAW for TIFF, JPEG, ... open events"

White fence in the last afternoon sun ...

When exporting an image from LR to Iridient (right click > export to Iridient) LR creates a "place-holder" TIFF from the RAW image but Iridient opens and develops the original RAW file related to it. When done in Iridient the developed RAW overwrites the TIFF "place-holder" in LR by using file > process image and overwrite option. Then back in LR just apply some finishing touches (B&W conversion, curves, exposure, contrast, highlight / shadow recovery, etc) and you´re done !

Candlelight dinner with my lovely wife (no flash !)

I hope y´all liked this post & could get some inspiration off it - my apologies to my readers & followers that I´ve neglected my blog for a several months: moving house & starting up new job and all ...

Please let me know if you got questions or need any support in how to set up the various bits of software so this works smoothly and/or which settings to apply for  best results (but on that one I´m still on a learning curve m´self, so please bear with me a little while ;-)

Many thanks for reading & look forward to hearing from you, appreciate if you´d leave your comments or constructive critique in the comments window below or drop me a mail !

Thanks in advance & warm 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 !

5 Senses of the Fuji X100T, Thanks for 2015 & wish y'all Happy 2016 !

Thanks Fuji for all the amazing images & all readers / followers of my Blog for your interest and constructive comments - you've made 2015 such a great year for me ! Right now I'd like to wish y'all a fantastic, happy & successful New Year - may all your (not only photographic ;-) dreams come true ! Dreams ... ? Hey, what's that gotta do with photography and are you interested to discover the 5 "Senses" of the Fuji X100T ? Please read on ...

Shadows of transition - g'bye 2015, hello 2016 !

Dreams are made of images which often fade away when we wake up. They relate to important experiences in our lives, so sometimes we aspire to capture these images for eternity. Just like in photography, where we try to capture in our images the atmosphere, experiences and feelings of a moment in time, allowing us to enjoy and revisit them later !

Replacing all of my DSLR gear with the Fujifilm X100T a year ago (when I started this blog) has truly helped me a to improve my ability to capture such fleeting moments. The restriction to one lens / one camera has boosted my photographic vision & creativity, see below to discover why:

Flower power

Fuji X100T - 5 "Senses", or Key Attributes for Success:

  1. PORTABLE: Due to the X100T's small size & weight I can easily always take my camera with me, so I rarely miss out photographic opportunities ! The X100T has become like an extension of my hand & eye (now try that with a 4-5 lbs DSLR / 70-200 mm zoom combo !)
  2. SIMPLE: Having just one fixed lens (35 mm FF equ.) has greatly improved my ability to pre-visualize a scene even before lifting the camera to my eye, as I'd internalized the lens's field of view (like seeing with the camera's eye). It also saves me the dilemma of deciding on which lens to use (no more time wasted changing lenses / juggling lens caps and the added bonus of not having to bother with sensor dust or cleaning)
  3. INTUITIVE: The X100T's traditional user interface (aperture ring on lens, speed and ISO dials on top) allows me to check / modify the settings at one glance (w/o having to lift the camera to my eye or needing to look at the LCD). No time lost before / during the shoot by fumbling with menu's and buttons !
  4. DISCRETE: I found that my X100T never had an intimidating effect on people, in fact subjects rarely even realized their picture was being taken. The absolutely silent operation of this camera also helps a lot: Try shoving a massive DSLR in between you and your subject - tends to disconnect you from your scene and the subsequent "bang" of the mirror finishes the job by destroying any remaining intimacy ...
  5. QUALITY: The images coming out of this camera (especially the JPEG's) are simply stunning: Exposure, contrast, sharpness, definition, dynamic range, texture, depth, bokeh, etc. ... Fuji's f2/23 mm asph. / X-Trans sensor combo rocks ! The in-camera RAW converter is an additional asset for mobile post processing (see my previous blog posts on this topic) !

A new cup to fill in 2016 !

Sure, image QUALITY is a super important attribute but I've listed it last, because IMO if i wouldn't have had the first four attributes i'd only get perfectly exposed, sharp images of ... an empty space !

In addition to  this the Fuji X100T seems to have an additional "sixth sense" (success attribute no. 6), kinda like a personality or soul:

EMOTIONAL: A quality hard to describe in words ... The X100T's rangefinder design links back to the traditions and origins of photography, focused on making images. Many modern cameras, however come across kinda more like digital computers, designed to "scan" a scene rather than capture emotions ;-)

A gate ... to the past or the future ?

Ok, so I realize this kinda turned out to be a review of the Fuji X100T, but I prefer to not call it that way as I've focused more on attributes (or "senses" ;-) of the camera which have been instrumental in revitalizing my photography and filling it with life ! I hope this article helps some of you to experiment and find exciting photography opportunities in 2016 - please share your experiences & views in the comments below or by sending me a message from my "about" page !

Many thanks for visiting and the very best wishes to y'all for 2016 !

Sincerely 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 !

 

Gotta love The Square, improved mobile workflow

The square has a magic quality - serenely balanced, a frame in perfect symmetry, having four equal sides and four equal angles, allowing the observer's eye to focus on the essentials:

The Holy Walk - in The Square!

Originally this image was captured in my X100T's native rectangular aspect ratio, but I never liked the unimportant areas left and right of the main motif. Cropped to square it looks so much better! Ok now, what about this "improved workflow" and what's it gotta do with this square business? Before I go into that, here another example benefitting from the attention focusing effect of the square:

The order - also in The Square!

Image post processing is normally independent of how I later want to use the image. The intended final image use and size do however Influence the level of output sharpening, cropping, etc. So I modified my workflow to separate these "finishing touches" steps from the actual image post processing:

  1. First I perform all image post processing (exposure, contrast, levels/curves, shadow/hilight treatment, etc.) in Photogene4 on the imported JPEG. This saves the non destructive image adjustments as metadata which can be rolled back / modified at any time
  2. After finishing post processing I export the resulting image as a TIFF (by selecting the appropriate export settings in Photogene4) on my iPad and copy it to a previously created "edits" album on my iPad (open 'Photos' App, go to 'All Photos' album, select latest saved TIFF image and 'Add To' the "edits" album)
  3. Back in Photogene4 I open the just saved TIFF from the "edits" folder and modify output size, output sharpening, cropping and adding my copyright logo, depending on the intended final image use (web, social media, blog, print, etc.). By pressing the 'original' icon I can revert to the post processed TIFF and change the output parameters. This way I can always keep a master image file (incl. post processing) in its dedicated "edits" album

Enjoying the late afternoon sun in Sardegna

Of course if you're planning to use a square output format it's wize to already apply the 1:1 aspect ratio to your camera's viewfinder so you can properly pre-visualize your image in camera!

Early Boat

With this closing image of tourists on the ferry looking forward to new experiences, I hope y'all enjoyed the read & found something which helps you in your photographic endeavors!

Please leave me a message below or send me an email from my "about" page if you've any questions, suggestions or ideas, many thanks for your visit here and wish y'all a great, fun and satisfying holiday season!

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 !

Mobile X-Trans Image Sharpening

Hey, Fuji's JPEG's are awesome. Fact! So, after going "mobile" with my online workflow (post processing on my iPad), I was doin' some experimenting on in camera settings & sharpening which I'd like to share here - please read on, hope y'all like it! Starting point was a nice portrait of my lovely wife:

X100T 23mm (35mm FF eq.) @ f4, 1/50sec

To save y'all from searching my previous blogs I'll do a quick recap of my simple 3-step mobile workflow here:

  1. Select best images on my X100T's LCD & perform in camera RAW conversion to Classic Chrome, with color +1; NR, highlights, and shadows -1, sharpening as required (see below)
  2. Export the Classic Chrome JPEG's to my iPad using Shuttersnitch App (for automatic adding of IPTC copyright & author info)
  3. Post processing the JPEG's on my iPad by first optimizing WB, exposure and contrast using Athentech's Perfectly Clear App and then post processing them into black & white images using Photogene4 App

For the sharpening evaluation I prepared 2 JPEG's with "capture" sharpening settings of -1 (soft) and +1 (hard) using Fuji's in camera RAW converter. Then I exported them to iPad and applied to both 1.5 strength / 0.3 radius "output" sharpening in Photogene4, see enlargements below:

Capture sharpening +1 in camera

Capture sharpening -1 in camera

For me the one which had +1 sharpening in camera during RAW conversion is on the edge (too harsh) for portraits, the milder -1 sharpening delivering the more pleasing & natural result. Here the effect on hair with same sharpening settings as above:

Capture sharpening +1 in camera

Capture sharpening -1 in camera

On request of reader here a version with -1 sharpening applied in the in camera RAW converter, but no additional sharpening applied in Photogene4 post processing:

Capture sharpening -1 in camera, no additional sharpening in post

Curious to hear what's your view? Please leave me your comments below or contact me via my contact page! Many thanks in advance for reading & for your feedback, best rgds,

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 X100T - Fly on the Wall!

In my DSLR days people resented me shoving that "Big Mean Photo Taking Machine" into their faces, but I felt it to be my god given right as photojournalist to do so! The resulting images however always came out kinda "staged", behavior & reality changed by my presence. Since I've downsized to my Fuji X100 I can feel much more like the proverbial "Fly on the Wall", unobtrusive, fast, silent! Please read on, if you're interested how!

Holy walk in Bologna

With a fixed lens camera I don't anymore waste time fussing over focal lengths & secure speed by zone focusing (letting the camera adjust auto ISO). This allowed me to capture above image in the spur of the moment!

The order

Also had only seconds to capture this one, of the friendly lady engaged in avid discussion with the waiter - no need to manipulate the scene or ask people to stage anything!

Enjoying the sun

This guy was enjoying the evening sun in Sardegna, when the other guy on the right suddenly appeared! In these situations the Fuji X100T's optical viewfinder (OVF) helps to predict the decisive moment, as you can see what's happening outside the actual frame & evaluate when the picture elements will come together harmoniously

Early boat

With this image of passengers wondering what the horizon will bring I close shop for today & hope y'all liked this post! All images were post processed on my iPad, using my mobile workflow described in previous posts. Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, or sending me a message via my "about" page! Many thanks for looking by & my best wishes,

kind 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 !

Going "light" - Mobile Post Processing without PC!

So, that's it. Finally I dunnit - switched my online workflow fully to mobile, meaning: Using Fuji JPEG's, RAW developed in camera & post processed only on my iPad before uploading to my blog / social media! No more PC? Well, not quite - for those of you interested, please read on ...

Rainin' up?

I always capture RAW+JPEG(F)'s. This way I have the best possible sensor output (14 bit RAW) of my Fuji X100T for later making large prints (normally up to A1), using PhotoNinja RAW conversion & Lightroom on my PC. But believe you me, the workflow for getting fine art quality prints of that size off an APS/C format sensor takes a LOT of effort, is very time consuming and very expensive to boot!

On the other hand sharing images on the web luckily don't require such stunts ... The "light", On-the-Go workflow shared here - based on using the amazing 8-bit Fuji JPEG's has proven to be more than enough for web use IMO - please take a look for yourselves:

No guests? Deserted bar in Sardegna

I already previously shared "prototypes" of this mobile workflow on my blog, but needed to further refine some steps / choice of tools to make it more fluid & efficient, here the final 6-step workflow:

  1. Capture - Fuji X100T set to RAW+JPEG(F); B(R) film sim; sharpening +1; hi-light & shadow +1; NR -1; DR, WB, ISO on auto (ISO base 200, max 1600, min SS 1/80). Configured like this the X100T acts like a "monochrome" camera with preview & review of images in contrasty B&W!
  2. After the shoot, I check the images in camera & delete those which are unsharp / poorly exposed (washed out hi-lights) and/or have unsatisfactory content (this helps reduce the amount of "waste" on storage media & in my archive)
  3. In camera RAW conversion of "keepers" to flat "digital color negatives", with following settings: CC film sim; color +1; hi-light & shadow -1
  4. Download these "color negatives" to my iPad via WiFi, using Shuttersnitch App (which automatically updates IPTC metadata with copyright & usage rights, etc.)
  5. Process on iPad into final B&W images using Photogene4 App. I did previously use Pixelmator but found the processing options in Photogene4 to be more useful (eg. hi-light & shadow recovery) and the its user interface more fluid. Only disadvantage of Photogene4 is that the healing tool can only do spot healing (instead of Pixelmator allowing me to paint over areas, but that I don't need so much anyway)
  6. Finally I add my copyright text to the image, resize to 1500 pix web dimension, save to output folder and upload to my blog / social media - DONE!

Here another example - even in 8-hit the dynamic range of Fuji's JPEG's is impressive:

Two chairs four two?

Well, I hope this was helpful for some of you? Doing PP on iPad during traveling has seriously reduced the amount of time I needed to spend staring into a PC screen at home - Now I got much more time for taking photos (or for relaxing with a glass of fine Italian prosecco ;-)

Thanks for reading, please let me know what you think (comment below or send me email)!

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 !