#film simulation

Renovatio, Fuji's X-H1 is a Reincarnation!

Renovatio”? What’s that? Ok, it’s the name of a beautiful, sleek 118ft motor yacht designed by Luca Bassani, featured in the cool 2005 science fiction thriller “The Island” (directed by Michael Bay, starring Ewan McGregor & Scarlett Johansson). Yeah, right. And what’s all this gotta do with photography? Well, you will be surprized! Please read on if interested, but first some shades of grey with lovely tonality:

The final curtain, Fuji X-H1 with XF 35mm f/1.4R @f/2, 1/100 sec, ISO 400 using ACROS-R JPEG

It was the beginning of the 80’s. I was working as a photojournalist, following my lens wherever it chose to take me … lugging 6-7 lb’s of kit around in the process (with 2 second hand Nikon F2AS’s & several primes …). For me the Nikon F2 was the greatest picture taking machine of all time (albeit being a bit on the heavy side), see this nice review: I got nothin’ to add to that! Believe me, I tried most of what came thereafter: Nikon’s F3, F4 & F5; a couple Minolta’s; Leica’s M4P & M6; Hasselblad’s 500C/M; Olympus’ OM 1, 2 & 4Ti; Canon’s 5D mk I & II; Fuji’s X100S, T & F; Fuji’s X-Pro’s & X-T’s 1 & 2; Nikon’s D850, … most good, some exceptional … but none had the same special feel-in-hand I´d once experienced with my F2. Not even my D850 - even I absolutely adore the images coming off that one. So, what is it that stops all of them a bit short? Difficult to say, it’s kinda a combination of weight & balance, size, ergonomics and feel-in-hand with an intuitive, clear operation. When the stars align like that the camera really gets outta my way when taking photos (it kinda “disappears” from being in-between your idea, the subject and the resulting image ;-) and you start to see things you normally don’t see, like the patterns on the tables in the image below:

Rainy tables, Fuji X-H1 with XF 14mm f/2.8 @f/8, 1/180 sec, ISO 400 using ACROS-R JPEG

Enter the Fuji X-H1. According dictionary.comReincarnation means “rebirth of a soul in a new body”. For me the Fuji X-H1 was it. A reincarnation. Finally a camera came along which elicits a similar feeing as I had with my F2. It just “clicked”, I mean literally (y’all just gotta listen to the X-H1’s shutter!). And the weird thing is, this was a camera I initially wasn’t even interested in … thinking it was a kinda weird in-between the chairs of mirrorless and full frame. Too big. Too heavy. Not too good looking either … and only for video junkies, I thought. Didn’t even wanna take it in hand at first! But then fate called. I discovered nasty sharpening artifacts in some of my Fuji’s X-E3’s JPEG’s (see here). Dang. Couldn’t use my beloved ACROS film simulation no more, coz that only works on JPEG’s!

Now what? Get an X-Pro2? Again? No. Sold it coz it’s got a too narrow EVF & didn’t feel comfortable in hand - always needed that MHG (accessory hand grip) thing strapped to it, to at least “get a grip” (pun intended ;-) But with the grip the shutter button ended up in an awkward position. So, back (again too) to the X-T2? Or get the new X-T3? Nope. Same problem with grip and shutter button placement. And the buttons on the back where too small & in all the wrong places for me. So, that left me the X-H1. No way out if I wanted ACROS & didn’t wanna sell my Fuji lenses. OK OK - might as well give it a shot … and I immediately had a couple “excuses” ready to justify that little bout of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). In case all this creates the urge in any of youse to also go out and buy an X-H1, you are free to use my excuses to convince your wife, partner, parents, grandma, or anyone else who needs convincing ;-)

  • The X-H1’s got IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization), at least something …

  • Great ergonomics: Fits in hand like a glove, with my index finger’s directly on the shutter button!

  • “Feather touch” shutter release allowing immediate, intuitive and discrete image capture

  • Fantastic, fluid EVF with sufficient long eye point for wearers of glasses

  • More robust / weather resistant (25% thicker chassis, feels similar “tight” as my Nikon F2 did)

  • And bluetooth

  • And touchscreen (which I´d gotten used to on my X-E3), allowing another 4 custom functions

  • And … “drumroll” … more than 600 bucks discount (vs. original RSP). NOW we’re talking !!!

So …

Wow the wife: “Hey honey, I got myself an X-H1!”, shot with X-H1 and XF 14mm f/2.8 @f/8, 1/60 sec, 800 ISO

I pulled the trigger, traded in my X-E3’s and got m’self an X-H1! In the following I´d like to share my first experiences with “The Beast” (I call my X-H1 like that, coz it looks a bit like something outta a Warcraft video game ;-)

As a sneak preview, please see the below image which wouldn’t have happened without stabilization (1/45 sec hand held on a 24 MPix sensor w/o bracing the camera’s asking for trouble & I didn’t wanna up the ISO), or without a touchscreen flippy LCD (didn’t need to look thru the viewfinder & could quickly select the focus point and immediately take the shot):

Coffee & smoking outside! Fuji X-H1 with XF 35mm d/1.4 @f/2, 1/45 sec, ISO 800 using ACROS-R JPEG

24 MPix? There’s one curse with the megapixels … Yep, more MPix gets you more details, but the smaller pixel pitch to pack the larger number of pixels on a same size sensor means that the camera’s more sensitive to motion blur. Imagine moving a running garden hose over one large bucket vs. moving it over two smaller buckets. While the water level in the larger bucket will uniformly rise only slightly, the two smaller buckets will end up with visibly different water levels. Similar to this analogy the same nanometers of motion blur on sensor will be seen as movement over 2 smaller neighboring pixels, but will not register as movement over one larger pixel (having a diameter larger than the length of the motion blur)

Yeah, right. Switching from my 16 MPix Fuji X100T to my 24 MPix X100F earned me approx. 30% more blurred images … Now this is where Fuji’s X-H1 image stabilization comes in: Allows me to use a 2-3 stop longer shutter speed than the usual 1/2x focal length rule (at least for reasonably static images). The result is more use-a-bility and the ability to extend your tripod-less photographic time in a day! So, for those of youse who’ve been patiently following my ramblings up to here I got good news: I’ll soon publish a follow-up post explaining my preferred settings for mx X-H1 (aka “The Beast”) and showing how a clever allocation of functions to buttons can further streamline the X-H1’s operation and make it even more intuitive!

Tables for diamonds, Fuji X-H1 with XF 14mm f/2.8 @f/8, 1/60 sec, ISO 400 using ACROS-R JPEG

There are a couple flies in the ointment though … For some the increased size & weight of the X-H1 is deviating too much from the original Fuji evolution to revolution story (for me it was still OK though, due to the improved grip & button position ergonomics). However the reduced battery capacity due to IBIS is a pain in the neck (even with IBIS in shooting only mode) - you gotta either use the battery power grip (which finally pushes the X_H1 size & weight into DSLR territory) or fill your pockets with spare batteries. Didn’t measure it, but subjectively 30% shorter battery life compared to X-T/X-Pro … you gonna need ‘em ;-)

I hope y’all enjoyed reading today’s blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that you found some for you valuable insights during your visit here. Thanks for your interest & hope some of you will share your experiences or ask any questions you may have in the comments section below. Wish y’all a great weekend with exciting photographic opportunities!

Many thanks & all the best,

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: Look for the Shadows (Fuji ACROS-R Settings)

Shadows. What do they mean? Depends on your point of view & mood: darkness? melancholy? pessimism? Or do they point towards the light, leading the viewer´s eyes to the bright tones in your image, creating an impression of brightness, hope, and optimism? You decide! Use those shadows to manifest the existence of light. Want to learn more? Please read on to find out!

Into the Light, with Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/2.8, 1/34sec ISO1600 developed in LR CC mobile

Difficult image, this one. Dynamic range clearly exceeds the latitude of the JPEG file, but I wanted the shadows to come in black as ink to strengthen the impression of moving into the light at the end of the corridor. That's why I usually use Fuji´s ACROS film simulation with shadow tone set to +3 (very hard). As some of youse may know I do nearly all my post processing on my iPad Pro on Lightroom CC mobile, using Fuji´s magic ACROS JPEG´s

However, when diving into the corresponding RAW file I can discover a couple more stops of dynamic range in the shadows by dialing down the shadow contrast. But I didn't wanna make ´em visible as this  would've created too much of a HDR effect for my taste. But if y´all interested I could do a follow up post showing how that looks, please leave me a comment below if interested! ;-)

Courtyard doors, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/60sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

Also above image got a shadow tone of +3. Gives me solid black w/o detail between the doors for my trouble. But if I reduce the shadow contrast to 0 or -1 I get a too flat gradation in the door panels. The door panel shadows are too close to black making it difficult to get sufficient contrast separation, so I left the image as I´d originally taken it. Below image is much better balanced:

Table by the window, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/75sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

The table and chairs have a special glow to them, coz I usually use a medium soft highlight tone of -1 which gives me more tonality and flatter gradation in the lighter tones of the image. However you gotta watch it: Don't use -1 or lower highlight tones in images with predominantly lighter tones (eg. with a lot of sky) as the resulting contrast is too flat and you don't get no more pure white. For me the image below´s on the edge in that respect: Contrast in the floorboards and the wall is maybe a touch too flat:

Chinese hallway, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/2.8, 1/42sec ISO1600 developed in LR CC mobile

The below image has a broad gradation from black over mid-tones in background to white, nicely bringing out the texture in the wall and the floor:

Chinese doorway, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/220sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

Summarizing my preferred ACROS settings are:

  • ACROS-R (red filter) or ACROS-Y (yellow filter)
  • Dynamic range on Auto or max. 200% (400% flattens gradation too much)
  • Highlight tone -1 or 0, depending on the amount of light tones in the image
  • Shadow tone +3 to deliver those punchy black shadows
  • Noise reduction -3
  • No additional grain (ACROS has an ISO dependent grain built in)
  • Limit ISO to 1600 for architecture & landscapes to limit grain

Hope you enjoyed the read, please let me know your comments or questions below (or leave me a note on my about page), I will be most happy to answer them as soon as possible. Many thanks for visiting, 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!

There IS a Life Without Image Stabilization | Fuji XF16-55mm F2.8 WR NoOIS!

Afraid of the shakes? No problem, use image stablization, or “OIS” (Optical Image Stabilization) as Fuji calls it. Some hate it. Most love it, can’t be without it like as if they’re addicted. Was like that with me too. Thought I couldn’t live without it. Until I took a decision which forced me to survive without the anti-wobble technology. Please read on to find out what happened (especially if you don’t care ;-)

I know you don’t care ... this one didn't need no image stabilization, X100F 23mm @f8, 1/120sec

As long as you live in daylight it don't really matter. Any lens does just fine. But when the sun drops below the horizon & light becomes scarce your "any lens" is gonna need either a flash, a tripod, or an image stabilization crutch. That'd work assuming you want to photograph a static subject. But as soon as something in your image moves (and you want to render it reasonably sharp) there's only ONE option: Aperture! The larger the better. Get the largest aperture you can find. Image stabilization ain't gonna help and yes, flash would still be an option but that's not really viable if you want to capture the charm of available light. The image below was taken hand held. Would’ve needed image stabilization. Didn’t have it:

Too cold to sit outside. Night time bar scene, XF 16-55mm at 16mm, @f/2.8, 1/20sec, ISO1250

Coz I’d traded my XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 (with OIS) to get an XF 16-55mm f/2.8 (without OIS). This Lens' missing OIS has caused some on the net to fondly call it "The Brick" (like as in a worthless paper-weight). Now why would I go and trade my perfectly good OIS zoom for such an OIS-less "Brick"? It wasn't easy but in the end the following factors tipped the scales for me in favor of the "Brick": I've learnt I need 5 things for my architecture / landscape / people photography:

  1. Max possible aperture to freeze subject movement (image stabilization don't help here!)
  2. With at least a 16mm (24mm FF equiv.) on the wide side for architecture & group photos
  3. Reaching at least up to portrait focal length (85mm FF equiv.) on the long side
  4. High quality zoom lens - don’t fancy changing lenses (I got amathophobia - fear of dust ;-)
  5. Portability: Reasonably compact camera/lens combo, no tripod or gear bags to lug around

So, Fuji´s XF 16-55mm f/2.8 WR fits above requirements like a glove (while my XF 18-135mm missed out on the first two). I use the XF 16-55mm predominantly for reportage and portraiture, where my subjects are usually moving. In this scenario image stabilization don't really help me. Even it would've been technically possible to also include OIS, the caveat of further increasing size and weight (and not to forget the price) of the lens would have not been worth it (for the previously described use case). I guess Fuji followed a similar logic when they decided to opt out of OIS on the "Brick". The lens is reasonably compact and remains portable. It's also perceived as being less intrusive by your subjects. Try putting the XT-2 / XF16-55mm combo next to a comparable CaNikon full frame DSLR with 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom attached. You'll see what I mean, pushing a DSLR lookin' more like a WMD into someone's face probably´ll scare the living daylights outta them, turning a lively bar scene into something like the image below ;-)

All quiet bar after closing time, captured with XF 16-55mm at 16mm, @f/2.8, 1/18sec, ISO3200

A word on aperture: The advantage of the smaller (vs. full frame) APS-C sensor is that you get more depth of field at the same aperture due to the shorter focal length compared to the full frame equivalent focal length. For example a 50mm "normal" lens on full frame has a field of view comparable to a 35mm on APS-C. Using f/2.8 on both delivers more depth of field in the APS-C image as there the lens needs to be of shorter focal length to achieve the same angle of view. Consequently the disadvantage of APS-C is that you´d need a larger aperture vs. full frame to get a more shallow depth of field and similar subject - background separation. For example a 85mm full frame portrait lens will render the background in a pleasing blur at f/2. To get a similar effect with an APS-C equivalent focal length of 55mm you'd need at least f/1.4 ... My XF 18-135mm had a max. aperture of around f/4.5 at 55mm and I needed to stop down to f5.6 to get optimal sharpness in portraits, which means my max. aperture in full frame terms would be only around f/4. Apart from the lower brightness which forced me to use higher ISO´s I could never really achieve a pleasing background separation like in this image with the XF 16-55mm:

My pretty wife, wearing my glasses, with XF 16-55mm, at 55mm @f/4, 1/450sec, ISO400

Just the way I like it, the eye closer to the camera sharp and sharpness nicely dissolving towards the rear into a completely blurred background!

Now, coming back to my initial statement: There IS a life without image stabilization, please see proof in the image below. It was shot hand-held at 1/8sec with my XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom at its long end (55mm APS-C / 85mm full frame equiv.), without the "benefit" of image stabilization. Ok, so OIS would've helped here, coz there are no moving subjects in the image. But as the majority of images I make with this zoom have moving subjects, the added weight, size and cost of OIS would not be worth it in my opinion!

Night-time street scene, with XF 16-55mm at 55mm, hand-held @f/2.8, 1/8sec, ISO3200

I hope this post was interesting for y'all & able to give you some advice in case you're on the fence to acquire the XF 16-55mm "Brick" - believe me, you'll find it's more of a "Nugget" than a "Brick". A gold "Nugget" - an amazing lens which you'll use for more than 90% of your images. No more changing lenses, risking missed image opportunities and/or getting dust inside your camera! While weight & size remain reasonable, the X-T2 or X-Pro2 combo fitting snugly in a small pouch

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!