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.

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 :-) 

How good is the Fuji XF 35mm f1.4 R lens?

It seems that the Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 R is the most popular lens for the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 in the current XF lens lineup. That may have two reasons:

1. The 35mm focal length on an APS-C camera equals the field of view (angle of view) of a 52.5mm lens on a regular 35mm full frame camera. And that is very close to the 50mm standard focal length that has been very popular for the past decades.

2. The XF 35mm is very sharp even at f1.4

Reason No. 1: The general popularity of a 50mm field of view lens does not apply to me personally. I consider a 35mm field of view to be my personal favorite "standard" focal length while a 50mm equivalent is a bit too long for my style of shooting. That is why I am pretty excited about the upcoming Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 lens (mid 2013?) that will equal a field of view of a 35mm lens on a full frame camera – just like my Fuji X100.

Reason No. 2: Is something I do agree with. The lens creates sharp images, but it is hard to compare the Fuji 35mm to other 35mm lenses if those are attached to a different camera body. There would be too many variables introduced by different sensors and in camera processing that makes it hard to judge the lenses directly.

So I needed to find another lens that can be attached to the X-Pro 1 for direct comparison. Thanks to the Kipon EOS-XF adapter (

I wrote a detailed review about it in this post

) I was able to test the popular and highly regarded Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L lens and see how good the Fuji XF 35mm compares to it. BTW, the Canon EF 35mm f1.4 is also my favorite and most used lens on my full frame Canon camera.

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 comparison No.1

The Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L on the left and the Fuji XF 35mm f1.4 R on the right.

 Please note that this blog is not about endless test chart comparisons and pixel peeping into sub atomic levels. There are other websites who do these kind of tests. I want to see how things work out in real life the way I would use my gear.

While the main specs of the two lenses are similar (35mm f1.4) pretty much everything else is different! The Canon EF is a full frame sensor lens and therefore it is a lot bigger and heavier (about 3 times heavier than the Fuji XF 35mm). And it is also a lot more (about twice as) expensive:

                                      Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L

Max Format size:.............APS-C.............................................FF

Weight:...........................187g (0.41 lb)..................................580g (1.28 lb)

Min. focus:.......................0.28m (11.02”)................................0.3m (11.81”)

Elements:........................8.....................................................11

Length:............................55mm (2.17”)..................................86mm (3.39”)

Diameter:.........................65mm (2.56”)..................................79mm (3.11”)

Approx. Price:..................550 EUR (599 USD)........................1,300 EUR (1,400 USD)

In order to compare these two lenses I attached them to the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 camera. Since the Canon lens mount is different from the XF mount, I attached the Canon lens to the Kipon EOS-XF adapter. And while the Fuji lens seems to attach to the X-Pro 1 it rather feels like that the X-Pro 1 attaches to the Canon lens. Looking at the specs the X-Pro 1 only weighs 450g (0.99 lb) and is about 1/3 lighter than the Canon lens. In fact, the Canon lens is almost as heavy as the X-Pro 1 with the XF 35mm lens attached!

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 comparison No.2

Side view of the Fuji X-Pro 1 with Fuji XF 35mm lens attached. (

here is my blog post on the leather strap and thumbs grip I use

)

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 comparison No.3

Side view of Fuji X-Pro 1 with Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L lens with adapter attached.

So much for the specs, let’s see how they compare in image quality.

I attached the X-Pro 1 to a sturdy tripod and set the X-Pro 1 to manual focus, ISO 200, shutter time 1/15s, fixed manual white balance (K) and 10 second timer to eliminate for camera shake. The photos were taken under controlled lighting.

I manually focused on the mittle of the “Rolleiflex” letters. The Canon lens does not auto focus when attached to the X-Pro 1 so I used manual focus for both lenses.

Here are the results:

Click on an image to be linked to a 100% full size view!

Happy Bokeh Friday 04.01.2013 - Fuji X-Pro 1

This is the result from the Fuji XF 35mm f1.4 R.

Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L - Test

And this is the result from the Canon EF 35mm f1.4 L.

I redid this shot a few times for each lens as I noticed the difference in brigtness right away. But all variables stayed the same for both lenses - so the Canon lens seems to return about 2/3 of a f-stop darker results compared to the Fuji. So far I came up with two potential reasons for this difference:

1. The Canon lens has 11 glass elements versus the Fuji with only 8 elements. I have no idea how big of an impact this can make but it seems plausible that less glass elements between the light and the sensor will allow for more light to reach its destination. The f-stop value of a lens does not take this factor into account.

2. When the Fuji lens is attached to the camera the distance from X-mount surface to the sensor is only 1.8cm (0.7"). The light hits the sensor right after the last lens element. On the Canon EF with the Kipon EOS-XF lens adapter attached the distance is around 6cm (2.5").

I decided not to compensate the exposure on the camera to equal out the result in brightness. After all, I wanted a direct comparison between these two lenses with all factors that I can controll to be equal.

Now let's continue to image details:

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 No.1

The left side of the photo shows the head of the wooden elk. This one is a bit hard to compare as the difference in luminance takes away some of the detail on the elk's nose and forehead on the Fuji lens image. But looking at the region between mouth and eye, the Fuji seems to be a bit sharper.

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 No.2

The "Rolleiflex" letters were the focus target close to the center. Here both lenses have their sweetspot but the Fuji clearly is sharper and shows less color fringing.

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 No.3

Moving a bit lower in the center of the frame the difference becomes even more apperant. The Fuji shows more detail and is sharper with a lot less color fringing. Even extra sharpening on the Canon lens image would not bring the photo up to the quality and detail of the Fuji lens.

Fuji XF 35mm vs Canon EF 35mm f1.4 No.4

And the last sample is from the christmas tree on the top right of the image to compare the bokeh quality of both lenses. And while the Fuji's bokeh is good (

here is my intensive test on the XF lenses bokeh

), the Canon's bokeh is just that bit more smooth and creamy. This point goes to the Canon.

A few observations that I made during the test:

- While focusing I noticed that the Canon lens tended to show more color fringing from green to red while I was fine tuning the manual focus.

- The Canon was also more difficult to fine tune since the manual focus reacted rather fast and direct to small movements.

- The Fujinon on the other hand actually benefited from the fine graduation of the “focus by wire” setting in this situation at close focusing distances. This was the first time that I actually saw the benefit of this technology.

- The Fuji seemed to have a larger sweet spot of the sharp focus area depth compared to the Canon – even though both were set to f/1.4

I was surprised that the Fuji lens did this good in direct comparison to my favorite Canon lens!

But there is one factor in favor of the Fuji lens that also needs to be mentioned:

The X-Pro 1 recognizes the Fuji lens and applies some lens correction inside the JPG engine. The Canon lens does not get this special treatment and shows an uncorrected result from the lens. I could have partially avoided this by shooting in RAW but then the RAW converter of i.e. Adobe Camera RAW could have recognized the Fuji lens as well and add some auto correction. But in the end I wanted to see how the Canon lens compared when I use it on the X-Pro 1 in my normal use and this is what I got. The X-Pro 1 will not internally compensate for the Canon lens no matter what I do.

But if you happen to own some Leica M lenses and purchased the Fuji X-Mount to Leica M-adapter, then the Fuji will internally apply corrections to some of the Leica M lenses (i.e. the SUMMICRON-M 35mmF2 ASPH)

My resume:

The Canon EF 35mm f1.4 is a fantastic lens on my Canon FF DSLR camera. It has a fast Ultrasonic AF motor and the weight and size match the bigger camera body well. The Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 R is a fantastic AF lens for the Fuji X-Pro 1 / X-E1 cameras. This comparison has solved the question for me if I could improve the image quality by using the Canon EF 35mm f1.4 instead of the XF 35mm f1.4 for special occasions. The answer for me is “No!” and I can now comfortably leave the bigger Canon 35mm lens attached to my Canon camera.“Bigger is not always better” :)

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 :-)