#fuji XPRO2

Capture with Style!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deselect presets which are image dependent!

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

Apply saved Style & auto adjust on import!

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

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

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

Best regards,

Hendrik

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

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

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