FujiXfiles

FujiXfiles blog with tips & tricks and personal experiences with my Fujifilm X-Series cameras. Fuji X10, X100, X100S and X-Pro 1 and Fujinon XF 14mm f2.8, XF 18mm f2, XF 35mm f1.4 and Samyang 8mm f2.8 fisheye lenses.

I am an official International Fujifilm X-Photographer now :)

I had been contacted by Fujifilm in December 2013 where they invited me to become an official Fujifilm X-Photographer. And now my profile and portfolio have been posted on the official Fujifilm X-Photographer website:

http://fujifilm-x.com/photographers/en/marco_larousse/

My special thanks go out to Fujifilm Middle East and Fujifilm Germany who supported me in the process. I am honored and happy to join the official Fujifilm X-Photographer community. It feels humbling to be part of this awesome group next to highly respected and famous photographers like

Zack Arias

,

Kevin Mullins

and Mr. Strobist himself:

David Hobby

. But there are so many other talented and creative photographers in this group, too. It is certainly worth to browse around and look at what other

photographers worldwide create with Fujifilm X-Cameras

!

What will change about my FujiXfiles blog now?

My FujiXfiles blog has been read by more than half a million readers since I started it in mid-2012. I have gotten a huge amount of positive feedback and got to know so many great photographers from all over the world through it.

My main reason to start this blog was to show what these little Fuji-X mirrorless cameras can do and to post tips and tricks on how to get the most out of them. And I will continue to do it in the future, too! :)

Hamburg Marathon 2014 - Fuji X100S with WCL-X100

Yes, you can get good sport action photos without a big DSLR :) - Fuji X100S

The most read post on my blog so far has been the one about the X system AF focus tips. And while the overall performance of Fuji X-Camera AF has been constantly improved via FW updates

it may still be worth to take a look at it again

to get the best possible results from your X-Camera.

Fuji X100S SOOC B&W JPG look great!

Remember that the

Fuji X-Cameras give you great B&W

images straight out of the camera?

I will continue to write about my experiences with Fuji X-Cameras and show photos that I have taken with them. And I will still speak freely my personal opinion about Fuji-X products. I have no problem to point out things that I feel can improve the products. After all, I want the Fuji X-Cameras to be the best cameras as possible for me. And Fujifilm has shown in the past that they listen to us photographers and customers in order to built a long lasting customer relationship. And that is what inspired me to write this blog post after 3 years of using Fuji X-Cameras:

"Domo Arigato Fujifilm and Ganbatte Kudasai!

"

Hamburg rain street photography - Fuji X100S

Fuji does not let their X customers stand in the rain. I love the  FW feature updates :)

And one more thing! If the X-Photographer status will ever get me to test gear that is not announced, I will naturally not talk about it! 100% certain, so don't even ask! And if I'll ever speculate about future Fuji X products this will be based 100% on my personal opinion without any inside information or knowledge. In that respect my guess is as good as yours :)

With that out of the way, I hope that I can be of help to Fujifilm and all X-Photographers in continuing to make the Fuji X-System the best it can be.

Leica M6 - Ilford Delta 400 captures Fuji X-Pro 1

I am a rangefinder style camera guy - Here my Leica M6 captures my Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 56mm lens

If you have any further questions or want to share your Fuji-X experiences just leave a comment below, Twitter me @HamburgCam or visit

my Homepage at www.MarcoLarousse.com

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-)

Ultra Wide Angle Fisheye Lens on the Fuji X-Pro 1 - Samyang 8mm f2.8 XF

APS-C cameras used to have a few drawbacks compared to full frame cameras:

1. The smaller sensor produced noisier photos at high ISO and lacked dynamic range.

2. It is more difficult to produce a photo with shallow depth of field.

3. Due to the crop factor it was difficult to get a good quality ultra wide angle lens with a larger field of view than 120°

The introduction of the Fuji X-Pro 1 solved No. 1. for me right away. And while No. 2 is based on a law of optics I have found my way of dealing with it by changing my approach on taking those kind of images.

That left No. 3 still to be desired.

I have a Canon EF 15mm fisheye lens for my full frame camera, but when I connect it with an EOS-XF adapter to my X-Pro 1 the APS-C sensor size reduces the effective field of view to about 85° - or the equivalent FOV of a 23mm lens on a full frame camera.  Fuji’s currently widest XF lens is the XF 14mm f2.8 with an effective field of view of 90° (equivalent FOV of a 21mm lens on a full frame camera) - and while this lens seems to be very impressive (it is my next review on the list), I had to look elsewhere to go much wider than 90°. My research led me to the Samyang 8mm f2.8 fisheye lens for the Fuji XF mount. The lens promises an effective field of view of 180°! Samyang is a Korean manufacturer and this particular lens is also branded as Rokinon, Bower and Walimex 8mm f2.8 lens and also available for different camera manufacturer mounts.

Throughout my photography career I have had mixed results with 3rd party lenses and ended up staying with the known “big” brands from the respective camera manufacturer. But due to the lack of alternatives and a reasonable street price of around EUR 300 in Europe or USD 300 in the US, I wanted to give the Samyang a try.

Samyang 8mm f2.8 XF for Fuji X-Pro 1

Samyang 8mm f2.8 XF attached to my Fuji X-Pro 1

After all, a fisheye lens is a specialty lens that should not be overused or you (and your audience) will soon get bored/annoyed by the effect it produces. And I can almost promise you that you will get tired of it after you see all the images in this post, too - so always use a fisheye lens wisely ;)

When the Samyang 8mm f2.8 lens arrived I was surprised! It is small yet very heavy. Compared to the Fuji XF 18mm f2 the Samyang is about the same size but a bit over twice as heavy (116g/4.1oz to 260g/9.2oz)! What did they use to build it – depleted uranium? But Fuji’s XF lenses are exceptionally well and light build and compared to the Canon EF 15mm f2.8 fisheye the Samyang is actually a bit lighter.

The Samyang’s aperture and focus rings are rather stiff even when compared to my legacy Olympus OM lenses. But this also gives me the feeling that this lens has a solid build quality and I will most likely get used to it over time. The lens is all manual and has no electronic intelligence that get’s passed on to the camera body. That has the big disadvantage that your Exif files will not contain any info about the lens and aperture. Luckily you can add a 8mm custom profile to the Fuji X-Pro 1 and if you activate it before you use the Samyang lens, the Exif will at least show 8mm. But the aperture will always read “f1”. And while you're in the Fuji's menus make sure that you activate the "shoot without lens" option, as the Fuji will not know that a lens is attached without electronic feedback from the lens.

Enough talk about the specs and feel, let’s see what this lens can do! I went out a few times and used this lens in situations where I think that a fisheye can work its magic.

All images were captured in RAW and processed and converted in LightRoom 4.3 with the "old" Adobe RAW converter. The new converter in version 4.4 could improve the image quality.

And as always click on the image to get the option for a bigger version in my Flickr stream.

Bad weather forced my to do most of my tests indoors so I started with some composition tests at the "Wandelhalle" in Hamburg's central station. On the first image I chose a vertical pano orientation as I wanted the clock as an eye catcher in the frame while giving the viewer an idea how the whole structure looked like:

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof Wandelhalle 8mm Fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

Vertical worked well here - 180° cramed in one photo :)

Just a few steps from the previous location I took this picture by pointing the camera up and aiming in horizontal orientation at the ceiling. Adding a stronger tone curve gives this image an even more dramatic look - looks a bit like an old factory:

Wandelhalle Hamburg Hauptbahnhof 8mm Fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

This angle of view created a totally different look of the same location

And finally I took an image of the station entrance pointing the lens straight up at the ceiling:

Wandelhalle Hamburg Hauptbahnhof with 8mm Fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

You need to take your time to align the framing carefully

After testing the versatility of this lens to create different looks in the same location, let's have a brief look at the sharpness in the next sample. I took this image in low light at f2.8 in a subway station and cut it close to a 2:1 aspect ratio to give it a panorama look. This is another advantage of having a 180° field of view - you get an instant one shot panorama :)

U-Bahn Station Jungfernstieg U4 - Fuji X-Pro 1

Cutting off some of the top and bottom of this frame creates a panorama look

 Let's get closer to the center of the frame. Remember this is at f2.8 and ISO 800 and 1/30s exposure. There may be slight motion blur in people but overall this is pretty good:

U-Bahn Station Jungfernstieg U4 - Crop - Fuji X-Pro 1

I am really happy with the results at f2.8 in this low light situation

Not wanting to turn this blog post into a pixel peeping competition let me just say this about sharpness, contrast and color rendition from my experience so far. Considering that it's a fisheye lens for a reasonable price I am astonished how well this lens does! At f2.8 it is perfectly usable and at f4-5.6 it leaves nothing for me to be desired in a fisheye lens. The edges are a bit softer the further you get towards the corners and there is some vignetting when shooting this lens wide open, but this should not be a surprise to anyone who has some experience with wide and ultra wide angle lenses.

U-Bahn Überseequartier with 8mm Fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

At 180° you get more info into your images than the human eyes can normally see (about 120° with peripheral vision)

At f5.6 the corners are very sharp for a fisheye lens. And if you set it to f5.6 and a focus distance of 2m (6ft) you get a sharp focus zone from about 0,5m (2ft) to infinity.

Time Tunnel - Samyang 8mm f2.8 - Fuji X-Pro 1

This is one of my favorite wide angle subjects shot at f5.6

At 180° field of view you will often have light sources, like the sun, shining directly into the lens. The Samyang 8mm f2.8 has a permanent lenshood. But that is just large enough not to show up in the frame. And the convex outward pointing front element of the lens is easily exposed directly into a light source. So inevitably flare becomes an issue. And as for most wide angle lenses the Samyang 8mm is not immune to flare. Depending on the angle the light enters and the aperture chosen (the higher the f-stop the stronger the flare and aperture blade diamonds can show up) the stronger the flare will be visible. Yet, in this sample image I only had to stamp out two spots to get rid of the most visible (unwanted) flare:

IBA_Hamburg Komm_Rüber Sprung - 8mm fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

Shooting into the sun at f5.6 - I added a vignette in post

And it is a very similar situation with chromatic aberrations - only that they tend to be stronger when shooting at wide open aperture. The Samyang shows some chromatic aberrations in back light situations around fine structures, but it is very low and very easy to fix in LightRoom 4. The Canon EF 15mm fisheye on the other hand is a CA nightmare on my full frame DSLR!

X-Pro 1 with Samyang 8mm f2.8 XF Fisheye side view

The Samyang lacks DOF markings on the lens and its shortness introduces problems

So far I am very positive about this lens. But there are also a few problems that I encountered during the past week of intensive use. For one this is a fully manual lens like we used to have them before AF was invented. And during that time it was common to add a depth of field scale to the lens. This way you could easily prefocus to a distance and an f-stop that would deliver a sufficiently large DOF for your intended use. The Samyang does not have such a DOF scale and IMHO the person responsible for this omission should not get any dessert in the Samyang cafeteria for at least one year ;)

Secondly, and this really turned into a challenge for me, the lens is too short. How can that be a bad thing? Well, when packing and transporting your gear it is a big advantage. But when you hold your camera in one hand and use the other hand to support the lens while operating the focus ring, you will most likely end up unintentionally capturing your fingers very often! For me as a right handed person the fingers from my left hand (holding the lens) appeared many times in the bottom right corner of the images!

I will have to find a different grip when using this lens on the Fuji X-Pro 1. Shooting and aligning a fisheye lens correctly is challenging enough that I don't have time to check the corners of the frame all the time and it might mess up my carefully composed framing...

Sprinkenhof Fisheye view 8mm Samyang f2.8 - Fuji X-Pro 1

Perfect framing is essential for these kind of photos - better activate the "grid view" in the EVF

This brings me to my last and one of my favorite Samyang 8mm f2.8 image for this post - the new U4 Überseequartier subway station in the Hamburg HafenCity:

U4 Station Überseequartier -  8mm Samyang Fisheye - Fuji X-Pro 1

An 8mm fisheye lens is made for this location - U4 Überseequartier Hamburg

My conclusion:

Positive:

+ It's sharp at f2.8 and gets better up to f5.6 (especially corners)

+ It produces good color and contrast

+ It's solid build and small

+ Chromatic aberrations and flare are very controllable for a fisheye lens

+ Very reasonable price for what you get

Neutral:

o The aperture and focus ring are a bit stiff

o The lens is quite heavy for its size

o The amount of Vignetting appears to be normal for a fisheye lens

o Aperture is changed in 1/2 f-stops instead of 1/3 f-stops

Negative:

- There are no depth of field markings on the lens! Why not???

-  No lens information (lens type, f-stop) is passed on to the camera (custom set it to 8mm in camera!)

- Attached to the X-Pro 1 the lens is very short and it is hard to hold (support) the lens without capturing part of your fingers in the corner of the frame.

- The minimum focus distance starts at 0.3m (1ft). At that distance a 8mm lens closeup shots doesn't look very close at all and it can't produce this special funny perspective that is unique to some UWA lenses.

At first I was a bit sceptical about buying a "new" third party lens for my Fuji X-Pro 1. But the fairly low price, lack of a Fuji equivalent focal length and the fact that this is not an every day lens made the risk of ordering it a bit more manageable.

After a week of intensive testing I am nothing short of impressed with the value that this lens offers and if you have been wanting a fisheye lens for your Fuji X-Mount camera, the Samyang 8mm f2.8 is certainly worth a closer look.

If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Fuji X10 and Firmware 2.0 Review and Samples

One thing I really enjoy since I started using Fuji X cameras is that Fuji listens to us users and pushes out Firmware updates over time that don’t only improve speed and reliability, but also add features.

I have been enjoying the use of my Fujifilm X10 as my most compact “serious“ camera. I always take it along when I only have a coat pocket of space for a camera and I’m always amazed by the quality images I get from this small sensor camera. The awesome fast lens does work perfectly together with the EXR sensor. But the fast zoom lens comes at the price of a little bit bigger size. Unlike a Canon s95/S100 who’s lens retracts 100% into the body to give a small package that fits in your shirt pocket, the lens of the X10 sticks out too much for any shirt pocket that I own. But my coat pockets will hold the X10 comfortably.

I just returned from a 1 day business trip to Munich. I only had a little extra room in my bag and it was easily filled with the X10. Here are three quick photos that I snapped on the way:

As always, click on the image for a larger version

A cool looking subway station that is hidden in the south of Munich:

Spaceport Munich - Fuji X10 sample

And the very famous Marienplatz station that most Munich visitors come across:

Munich Marienplatz Station - Fuji X10 sample

The X10 has a great auto white balance even in this tricky yellowish airfield lighting and very good ISO 1600 quality for a small sensor camera

 Fuji X10 ISO 1600 AWB sample

Fuji X10 ISO 1600 AWB sample

___________

Firmware 2.0

Last Friday my almost one year old Fuji X10 received a 2.0 firmware update from Fuji. Two things were mentioned as changes in the release notes:

1. The “Q“ (Quick) Menu that I love so much on my X-Pro 1 was added to the X10 “RAW“ button. You now have the camera’s most important functions all on one detailed screen to quickly change them.

2. An “Advanced Filter” function has been added. Those filters can be activated in the Advanced Mode and give you the choice of 5 special filter effects (Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High-Key, Dynamic Tone and 6 individual color key (partial color) filters.

I have spend some time over the weekend to play with the new firmware functions. The added “Q“ Menu alone made the upgrade worth it for me. Although you need to be aware that you loose the option to program the “RAW“ key with a custom function. The Fn key can still be programmed with you favorite function, though.

The color filters are a nice add on, too. But to be honest, I’m not a big fan of these filters in general. I do, however, see why Fuji added them to the prosumer targeted X10 compact. The X10 is a very capable compact camera. And I enjoy the excellent image quality and natural color rendition of the original files straight out of the camera. But there are users who prefer a different style of look to their images that had to be applied outside the camera in a photo editor, untill now.

But now you can choose the filter style you like in the Advanced menu and preview the effect the filter will create live on the LCD. One click and the image has been captured in that style and is ready for upload via USB, SD-Card reader or Eye-Fi card.

Here are some examples of what some of the filters look like (out of camera):

The Miniature filter:

 Fuji X10 Miniature filter sample

Fuji X10 Miniature filter sample

The Dynamic Tone filter:

 Fuji X10 Dynamic Tone filter sample

Fuji X10 Dynamic Tone filter sample

The Partial Color Blue filter:

 Fuji X10 Partial Color Blue filter sample

Fuji X10 Partial Color Blue filter sample

And the High-Key filter:

 Fuji X10 High-Key filter sample

Fuji X10 High-Key filter sample

While it is convenient to have the camera bake the filter style automatically into your photo there is a drawback. Once the JPG is created, there is no turning back! The effects only work in JPG and don't work on your RAW files. So there is no way to neutralize your image file after the filter style has been applied. Therefore use the filter effects wisely!

While I tested the filter effects, I started to wonder if their use could be improved. I came up with the following suggestions/questions:

1. Why can't the filter effects be created from a RAW file inside the camera's RAW converter like the film simulations?

2. Why can't the filter effects be incorporated into the "Drive" function "Film Simulation Series"? This way I could choose one or two effects and still have the original Provia file.

3. Why can't the filter effects be accesed in the "Q" menu for quick changing?Maybe Fuji listens once again to our suggestions - and please Fuji, add the "Q" menu to the X100's Raw button, too ;-)

If you have any further questions leave a comment below or Twitter me @HamburgCam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-) 

Fuji X-Pro 1 and Architecture photography

Any camera is capable of taking photos of architecture! But some do it better than others...

The field of view of the lens/camera combination and distance/point of view to the subject have to match in order to get the photo you want. Most of the time I end up shooting architecture from the ground-level up and a Tilt-Shift lens is most useful in those situations.

But Fuji does not make a Tilt-Shift lens for the XF camera mount so I have to work with what I've got. The XF 18mm and 35mm lenses do make decent architecture lenses on the X-Pro 1, though.

First of all they have a lot of resolving power and the X-Trans sensor delivers a lot of detail and sharpness thanks to the lack of a AA filter.

Secondly, the X-Pro 1 corrects the distortion for the lenses. THis way you get straight lines from your "out of camera" jpg image. This helps a lot in making the image look good even if you have to apply a bit of perspective correction in post processin.

Here are a few architecture shots I have taken with the X-Pro 1 recently:

Spaceship Egg Pano -Fuji X-Pro 1 @ Europapassage

No surprized that I start with an "in camera Pano" from the X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens -

This Fuji X-Camera function has served me very well in Paris, too :)

Eye puzzler - Fuji X-Pro 1

Quite an eye puzzler due to the perspective and reflection of the XF 35mm shot - no HDR!

Decision Time - Architecture - Fuji X-Pro 1

Left or right? X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens

Hafen City View Point - Fuji X-Pro 1

Plenty of negative space in this X-Pro 1 "in camera 180° panorama" taken with the XF 35mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 - Architecture

X-Pro 1 with XF 35mm lens and pretty much no distortion!

HafenCity Architektur Hamburg - Fuji X-Pro 1

I did not apply perspective correction to this XF 18mm photo - I liked it this way

HafenCity View Point - Fuji X-Pro 1

View Point - Taken with X-Pro 1 and XF 35mm lens

Disconnect - Fuji X-Pro 1

Visualization of the word "Disconnect" - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 35mm lens

Urban Oasis - Fuji X-Pro 1

Urban Oasis taken with the XF 18mm lens

III down II up III - Fuji X-Pro 1

Down & Up - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens

25% Stone vs. 75% Air - Fuji X-Pro 1

25% stone vs. 75% air - Fuji X-Pro 1 with XF 18mm lens

For me the X-Pro 1 with the XF 18mm and XF 35mm work well for the kind of architecture photography that I mostly do. And the build in Panorama mode allows for some extra cool images. What are your experiences?

Leave a comment below or tweet me @hamburgcam

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-)