Articles Tagged with: fuji
Fujifilm X-T2 Review

First Impressions of Fujifilm’s X-T2

I love new gadgets, especially the latest camera equipment. Over the past decade I’ve owned various cameras, which has given me the opportunity to understand what I want, need and dislike about many of them. I have found that there’s no ‘magic camera’, and there will always be room for improvement. The perfect balance for me is finding the camera that’s lightweight for travel, works how I need it to work, and has a few bonus features thrown in to keep me satisfied. Am I asking too much?

Physically, the X-T2 is very similar to the X-T1. I know looks aren’t everything, and it probably shouldn’t determine whether it’s a suitable camera or not, but it does have a classic look and feel to it that I really like. For years I shot primarily with DSLRs and recently added a Fujifilm X100S to my arsenal, which has become my go to camera for travel and street photography. When I saw the specs of the X-T2, I knew Fujifilm had taken a good long look at their rivals, and have made serious attempts to offer a camera similar in performance to a DSLR, wrapped in a more compact body.

On the surface, the shutter speed and ISO dials have been refined and improved with the inclusion of click and declick locks. This really helps avoid accidently knocking the dials during use. Fujifilm have also added photometry functions to the base of the shutter dial, leaving the left hand ISO dial to select drive modes. The X-T2 now shoots 4K video, a first in the x-series, with the video function set on the left hand dial. It’s a nice placement, allowing for easy switching between stills and video. There are also plenty of function buttons (Fn) to allow complete customisation, all of which make it easy to setup an ergonomic workflow.

In the hand, the X-T2 feels solid and water resistant. On the left hand side of the body you’ll find an HDMI port, USB port and a mic jack, which videographers will appreciate. With its dual SD card slots and a redesigned locking door hinge, you’ll be left in doubt how serious this camera is.

I like that Fujifilm have added a joystick/lever that can be used to set focus point similar to what can be found on high-end DSLRs – your days of using the focus assist button are over. Browsing the menus is a breeze using the joystick, as well as playing back images on the LCD.

Speaking of the LCD, one of the biggest improvements is the 3-axis tilt screen, giving both landscape and horizontal orientations. This makes shooting from the hip responsive and really helps you nail the shot. There’s also a new EVF (electronic viewfinder) with a refresh rate of 60fps in normal mode and a whopping 100fps in boost mode with the new booster grip installed (more on that later). I didn’t notice any lag – it feels very smooth. The EVF performs exceptionally well in low light even manual focusing with the split focus screen. It’s responsive with barely any suppression between shots, which some X-T1 users have mentioned.Battery life and speed is where the X-T2 shines with the addition of the new booster grip. As mentioned earlier, you’ll get a refresh rate of 100fps with continuous bursts at 7fps when using the mechanical shutter, and 14fps with the electronic shutter. Attach the grip and you’ll get an astonishing 11fps with the mechanical shutter. I have no hesitation shooting all day with the grip installed – goodbye spare batteries!

Inside, image quality is superb with the same 24.3MP sensor as the X-Pro2, producing a crisp resolution of 6000 x 4000px. The dynamic range is impressive, allowing you to really push the shadow/highlight detail without the need to bracket exposure – perfect for landscapes when you don’t want to use graduated ND filters. You will of course still have to watch your histogram, as it does still have limitations to how much information can be recovered in the highlights, but it’s very impressive. High ISO is clean; I had no issues shooting ISO 6400 at night.

The most significant upgrade of all is the Autofocus, an outstanding 325 AF points, with 49 being phase detection. Auto focus is important for my travel and street photography, so it’s critical that my camera nails focus at least 98% of the time. AF is accurate and fast; even in low light it locks focus quickly. In AF-C mode you now have various profiles with three simple parameters: Tracking sensitivity, speed tracking sensitivity and zone area switching. It means you can make your own adjustments to fine tune AF for any situation, which is really useful.

Inside, image quality is superb with the same 24.3MP sensor as the X-Pro2, producing a crisp resolution of 6000 x 4000px. The dynamic range is impressive, allowing you to really push the shadow/highlight detail without the need to bracket exposure – perfect for landscapes when you don’t want to use graduated ND filters. You will of course still have to watch your histogram, as it does still have limitations to how much information can be recovered in the highlights, but it’s very impressive. High ISO is clean; I had no issues shooting ISO 6400 at night.

 

My Personal Rating

Handling (5 stars)
The X-T2 is one fine piece of kit featuring Fujifilm’s classic stylish looks: it’s sure to be a conversation starter. The body feels pro and it responds like a pro body. I had no need to read the manual everything works as you’d expect it to. The buttons and controls are positioned for ease of use, I had no problem adjusting the settings during mid-shoot, although I did find the exposure compensation dial a little awkward at times. I prefer the exposure compensation dial on the X-Pro1, with the slight indentation for my thumb. That aside, the menu was simple to navigate. The new joystick made AF selection quick and simple.

Features (4 1/2 stars)
With an abundance of features the X-T2 packs a punch. The EVF has been improved substantially, making it more adaptable when shooting fast paced subjects or photographing in difficult lighting. AF-C settings strengthen AF performance. If you shoot video you will appreciate having 4K video, I tried it briefly and it worked well. I did miss not having a built-in ND filter like the X100S; I found the ND useful for landscapes, but this is easily overcome by purchasing ND filters. Like all Fujifilm cameras the X-T2 has film simulation with my favourite being Classic Chrome, a perfect all rounder.

Exposure (5 stars)
Adjusting exposure is simple with a dedicated shutter dial on the top of the camera. Auto exposure is accurate 99% of the time. I shot mostly with the exposure set to ‘A’ mode and set my aperture accordingly. Auto white balance was also accurate. No complaints here.

Image Quality (4 1/2 stars)
Images are sharp even at 100%, and it handles high ISO surprisingly well. I found I was able to achieve clean results up to ISO 12800. The Classic Chrome film simulation for people photography is absolutely gorgeous. I did find the images a little contrasty when shooting landscapes, however I was able to adjust this in Lightroom. Dynamic range is really impressive, allowing me to really push the shadow details to obtain a natural looking HDR. I do feel it performs better shooting people than it does landscapes, but it did a very nice job overall.

Value For Money (5 stars)
In the world of mirrorless APS-C, I feel there’s no other camera that compares to the Fujifilm X-T2.

This review was originally published inside Australian Photography magazine, and shared with consent on my blog. 

8 Compelling Reasons Why I love Mirrorless Cameras

As photographers we’re always searching for that perfect camera, but is there really such a thing? In the past decade I’ve been shooting with Canon DSLRs. They have served me well in that time, especially with landscape photography and commercial work. However, technology has advanced and small cameras are now becoming popular among professional photographers. I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s not the camera that matters; it’s the end result that counts. It’s still my view on photography, yet everyday I’m trying to push the limits of my gear to get the best possible results – I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I want to share some of the benefits of using smaller cameras, and mirrorless cameras in particular, and how they can change the way you shoot – potentially opening up a new world of opportunities. All the images in this article were shot with the Fujifilm X100S mirrorless rangefinder camera. It’s what I’ve predominantly used over the past eight months while travelling in Southeast Asia. It’s worth mentioning that I’m in no way affiliated with Fujifilm. I’m purely writing this based on my personal experiences using the Fujifilm system.

This article was originally written and published in Australian Photography magazine. You can read the article on their website.

Size and Weight

DSLRs and most traditional cameras are often bulkier and heavier than the more portable compact cameras on the market, making the camera act as a barrier between the photographer and their subject. Because of this it’s often a common occurrence to miss certain shots when the camera viewfinder is pressed to your eye. The bulkiness and size sometimes obscures your vision, which can be frustrating when shooting in busy and chaotic environments. It can mean missing other photo opportunities.

On the other hand, mirrorless cameras or smaller more portable cameras don’t really have this issue. The smaller build size enables you to move freely and quickly with the freedom to see what’s happening around you. The smaller body size in most cases makes these cameras lightweight, creating an easier and more enjoyable experience to carry a camera with you at all times, increasing the chance of capturing moments that may have been impossible with a DSLR.

Being Discreet

Ever wondered how to be invisible as a photographer to capture more candid and natural photos without disrupting the scene? Although it’s not humanly possible to be invisible, there are certain methods to be discreet when shooting in public. Some photographers use telephoto lenses from a long distance to grab candid shots, however, formidable DSLR cameras are not preferred in a lot of situations due to the attention they draw.

There are times when holding the cameras viewfinder to your eye is abundantly obvious that you are shooting. When trying to capture candid and natural moments you don’t want your subjects aware that you are taking images. Smaller cameras have the benefit of being less invasive due to their compact size; therefore increasing the chances of grabbing more natural shots. People react differently to small cameras than what they do to big cameras, especially for street photography.

Silent Shutter

With film cameras, there was only one kind of shutter: the mechanical type. These days, digital cameras you have two types of shutters; hybrid and electronic shutters, effectively replacing the old mechanical shutters.

The advantages of electronic in comparison to mechanical shutters are simple. They are more robust and reliable because there are no moving parts – this makes the shutter completely silent. It also helps eliminate the risk of blurry images at slower shutter speeds.

As a result, the electronic shutter allows faster shutter speeds. Most mechanical shutters quickest speed is 1/800th. Auto focus speed and tracking is also improved due to the autofocus sensors being placed directly in the main image sensors that are constantly exposed to light.

Many of the mirrorless cameras available today offer a silent shutter. This is a huge plus when trying to capture photos of people without being obvious you are shooting. People tend to react differently when they hear the camera clicking. The Fujifilm X100S is unique in that it has a leaf shutter and an electronic shutter. Leaf shutters are extremely quiet; basically dead silent. Often you won’t hear it even fire a shot. Leaf shutters also allow extremely fast shutter speeds with flash.

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

Relatively new in digital camera technology, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) has become popular among professional photographers. Traditional DSLR cameras bounce the image up into the viewfinder by a mirror and prism. This is an optical view of what the lens is capturing and requires no electronics, just the same as looking through binoculars.

Mirrorless cameras with an EVF use the light from the lens straight into the sensor that records the data and displays a preview in the viewfinder of what the sensor captures. Think of this as live view mode through the cameras eyepiece. There are various advantages of EVFs: the ability to display the histogram in real time, which is extremely beneficial when shooting in tricky lightening situations when properly exposing. Another advantage is live display rendering. You are able see the dynamic range of highlight/shadow detail before pressing the shutter. When shooting in low light environments EVFs are much brighter, therefore the benefit of ISO can be clearly visible. Focus peeking is useful, as is the focus assist zoom. But probably my favourite feature of EVF is the option to review your images without removing your eye from the viewfinder, great when outdoors in bright environments.

Dedicated Dials and Controls

Modern cameras, in principle, tend to be complicated, jam-packed with features that most people don’t need, not even professionals. Introducing new features, dials and controls isn’t always a good thing. In my opinion, this evolution is complicating matters making it an overwhelming experience for beginners starting out in photography. People may say it’s just a matter of learning to operate whatever camera you have available, however, it’s easier to adapt to a design that’s intuitive.

Mirrorless technology seems a step ahead with intuitive cameras with only the right ingredients. Most of these cameras are far more instinctual, making it easier to adapt with their dedicated dials and controls. I like Fuji’s simple ergonomic design, which, from my experience, are some of the simplest cameras to operate straight out of the box. There’s nothing worse than buying a new camera and being overwhelmed by it’s design and features. Usability improvements such as dedicated dials for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are important. It becomes a mess when you have to fiddle through a menu in order to adjust settings; this is the big advantage of dedicated dials in the right places.

Misleading Value

A huge advantage of travelling with a smaller more portable camera is that it tends to look less expensive than a bigger traditional DSLR.

The general person on the street tends to assume the smaller the camera, the lower its value. I’m not saying it’s a complete deterrent, as people who steal will commit crime regardless of the camera, but smaller cameras do tend to be smaller targets.

Another advantage is people don’t really associate compact-style cameras as ‘professional’ cameras. It’s a great way to be inconspicuous while still retaining optimum image quality.

Accurate Autofocus

Traditionally, DSLR cameras have offered faster and more accurate autofocus than mirrorless cameras but the gap is closing. For some DSLR users, the hassle of framing with the little centre square point and then re-framing to get the desired composition can lead to missed shots.

It’s safe to say DSLR autofocus right now is much faster than mirrorless, however, vast improvements have been made in recent mirrorless cameras that allow them to utilise both contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus systems. The latest mirrorless cameras use phase-detection autofocus in live view. Phase detection autofocus systems are used to get your subjects pin sharp. Learning how to effectively use this method you can efficiently lock focus in even the most challenging lighting situations. Mirrorless may not be the quickest focusing system yet, but it is accurate when the camera locks focus, making for an enjoyable and effortless shooting experience. Plus, you never need to fine-tune autofocus on mirrorless cameras. To me, this is a huge advantage.

Superb Image Quality

Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras produce high quality pictures at similar resolutions, with agreeable amounts of digital noise (grain) at higher ISOs. Earlier mirrorless camera models meant lower quality files, as they did struggle in low-light situations, but technology has advanced tenfold. Camera manufacturers have developed more sensitive chips which suppress digital noise. It is important to keep in mind, mirrorless is continuously evolving and there is still debate about image quality, but in such a short period of time mirrorless is most definitely changing the world of digital photography.

 

The Poor Mans Leica, FUJI X100S

DSCF7627
After months of research and anticipation I finally purchased a Fuji X100S, and in short, it would have to be my best photography purchase to date. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it as much as my eyes fancied the retro styling of the X-series cameras, but after two weeks of owning, holding and shooting with the X100S – I’m one happy camper. The slick retro style with simple analog dials, practical and dedicated aperture control on the lens and dead silent shutter tick all the boxes for me. This little baby is capable of producing stunning images, which it continues to do effortlessly even in JPEG and blows my mind every time.

The Fuji’s have a real sense of heritage, probably how it got the name ‘The Poor Mans Leica’. There’s definitely an emotional connection when holding the X100S, it’s almost timeless in its mannerism. Just looking at the camera stimulates the senses and inspires expression of interest and the desire to go shooting. Before getting the Fuji I never really understood the ‘hype’ of them, but at the same time I never really felt much connection with my DSLR either. I believe it’s opened new avenues, a passion driven by integrity that will transport me on a new journey whether that be physically or mentally – this is the camera I will want by my side 24/7.

I have always considered myself as a landscape photographer, shooting with Canon DSLR cameras. I have always been interested in people, but because of my shy personality I have always pulled away from pursuing my passion for street photography. It’s pretty intimidating shoving the 5D with the 24-70mm in a strangers personal space, no one enjoys feeling like the paparazzi are stalking them. Sometimes it requires going stealth to capture those special moments. That was when the Fuji X100S found it’s way into my hands and wow, did things change. I feel like I’m now wearing an invincibility cloak. People pay less attention to me with a toy-like camera around my neck, and those who do notice it are intrigued. I’ve had people ask me what kind of film camera it is, even a few people mistaking it for a Leica. My response to that is ‘Yeah, in my dreams’. Anyway, it’s a great conversation stater, the perfect lead to meet new people.

 

Why I’m loving the Fuji X-System? Here’s a few reasons:

– Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
– Superb high ISO image quality
– Fast 35mm f.2 lens

– Dead silent shutter
– Dedicated aperture control on lens
– Compact retro looks

Anyway, enough fantasising for now. Here’s a few sample shots taken with the Fuji X100S. The majority of these are straight out of camera (SOOC), shot in JPEG with one of the monochrome film simulation filters. I’ve included the meta data for each photo for anyone interested. All images were imported into Lightroom 4 with minor to no adjustments. I haven’t felt the need to retouch the files too much, they’re damn nice SOOC. Although, obviously any photos with analog effects were applied in post because that’s the era this camera transports you to, Bygone! 

DSCF7525-editCarousel at Coffs Jetty Carnival, Australia.
Fuji x100s – f2, ISO 1250, 1/250th 

DSCF7480Coffs Harbour Marina, the lone fisherman.
Fuji X100S – f8, ISO 400, 1/250th 

DSCF7555Susie’s Home onboard Simba.
Fuji X100S – f2, ISO 1000, 1/550th

DSCF7575Susie’s headquarters onboard Simba, 30ft yacht.
Fuji X100S – f2.8, ISO 1600, 1/300th

DSCF7653Rosemary Spray Rainbow, Susie.
Fuji X100S – f5.6, ISO 500, 1/320th

DSCF7473Darcy chilling on the porch.
Fuji X100S – f2.8, ISO 1000, 1/125th

DSCF7204Fruity mohawk at Tropical Fruits, Lismore.
Fuji X100S – f2, ISO 400, 1/210th

DSCF7526
Bygone Era, 2015??
Fuji X100S – f2, ISO 1250, 1/250th

DSCF7462Flowers.
Fuji X100S – f2.8, ISO 640, 1/500th