Hands-On with the Meike 28mm XF Lens for Fujifilm Cameras

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”3/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]I talked in a recent post about my street kit perfected and the new-ish 28mm F2 XF lens by Meike is currently my preferred walk-around lens for my wide street work. This is the 2nd of three articles about that street kit.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS LENS.

For $81 *yes, really*, this little 28mm packs a ton of value. I once owned Fuji’s own 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens and while it was okay I was always just kind of “meh” about it. No aperture ring. No distance markings on the barrel. Autofocus slow to the point where I would use it on manual focus only. Also, due to its age and due to the focus-by-wire electronic focusing system, the latency between pulling the focus ring and the focus actually changing drove me to eBay it.

Quite recently I was wondering if I should get back into the Fuji 27mm since I was pining for a discreet setup with which I could practice my zone focusing and step up my stealthy street game on the streets of Los Angeles. No matter how hard I tried I could not get myself excited about paying $449 for a Fuji lens that I didn’t like very much and while I’m a fan of the X100 series, the idea of buying into a x100F just for street work when I already own the X-Pro2 (and LOVE IT) and the X-T2 (and LIKE IT A LOT) would be a bit silly incredibly stupid for this limited use case.

This Meike 28mm f/2.8 lens gives me the compact, discreet size, distance markings on the barrel, the ability to zone focus with ease and accuracy, an aperture ring right on the barrel where it should be, and since the focus ring actually focuses the lens there’s no latency in its movement. And for me, that’s such a huge value — eliminating any thought of buying into Fuji’s overpriced 27mm or an x100 series body.

 

THE PROS

Compact, lightweight, fast f/2.8 aperture. Distance markings on the lens barrel make zone-focusing a breeze. It’s a joy to work with on the streets and it performs very well at f/5.6 – f/16. While the lens aperture does go up to f/22, I don’t ever shoot at f/22 since I’m trained to avoid diffraction, though I have not tested whether this is an actual issue with this lens or just a theoretical problem that I’m carrying with me from the old days.

While the aperture ring does not have clicks and stops it’s remarkably smooth and well-tooled. The focus ring is also very smooth and easy to work with but with enough resistance to prevent knocking your settings all out of place while dangling from its strap. Nailing focus is very easy when used with Fuji’s focus peaking and other manual focus assist features.

Again, it’s not a Fujifilm lens.

As Fuji shooters already know, Fuji’s line of lenses are optically pleasing to say the least. This lens produces images that are quite a bit different than the images produced by Fuji’s native lenses. The Meike lenses that I’ve bought all feel like vintage Nikon glass to me, but cheaper and without the need for a mount adapter.

In situations where I value light weight, discretion, and easy zone-focusing with easy-to-read distance markings over professional image quality this lens is my choice. It’s a street lens, and it’s perfect (for me) for that use.

Wide open there’s a nice, smooth falloff and the out of focus areas are surprisingly smooth and pleasing. That’s a huge plus. The downside is that there’s very heavy vignetting at f/2.8 – f/3.5 or so.

THE BAD NEWS

These cons are very similar to the downsides of Meike’s 50mm f/2 lens.

  • Very heavy vignetting from f/2.8 – f/3.5 with soft focus on the edges. The vignetting and soft focus disappears after f/3.5 – f/5.6 and becomes very sharp edge to edge throughout the rest of the aperture range.
  • Significant pincushion distortion. Nothing that can’t be corrected in your image editor but it’s better if you anticipate the distortion and shoot with it in mind knowing that you might need to do some correction later which might result in a slight crop.
  • Aperture ring doesn’t click at 1/3 stops or even at full stops as you’re likely accustomed to.
  • Hard contrast rendering, particularly in the mid-tone contrast range. If you’re not careful you end up with images that look like you cranked your Clarity slider up too high. NOTE: this could be bad for jpeg shooters who make heavy use of Fuji’s excellent film simulations; the lens will inject a rather high increase of mid-tone contrast into the image at the capture level which could result in a quality that’s difficult to remove from the jpeg. One might be able to customize the jpeg presets to account for this, but you’ll need to decide of this is worth the hassle.
  • The last con I have noticed is that the color rendition changes from aperture to aperture and this can definitely cause issues. I haven’t determined if it’s a white-balance thing (I shoot on auto white-balance when on the streets) or it’s just how this lens deals with color and contrast rendition. I’m not going to bother to test this further as I’ve gotten used to it and I check for it when I review my images.

The following images reveal the significant pin-cushion distortion inherent with this lens. (Keep in mind that many Fuji lenses do this too but they are auto-corrected in the camera firmware against the lens profile.)

These images will also demonstrate the color shift which occurs between apertures. You’ll note that these apertures seem to make some major jumps, but I followed the actual markings that appear on the ring: f/22, f/16, f/8, f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8.[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/22.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/22[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/16.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/16[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/8.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/8[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/5_6.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/5.6[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/4.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/4[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2_8.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 28mm f/2.8
Note the strong vignette and the markedly warmer color rendition when compared to the slower apertures.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”3/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”man”]In Summary[/x_custom_headline][x_gap size=”20px”][cs_text]I seriously love this lens. It’s so super small that it fits into the smallest pocket of any of my camera bags, and there’s simply no reason NOT to bring it on a street session.

Some additional post-processing is required in order to get my images to look and feel consistent with the images produced by my Fujifilm lenses but that’s not a huge issue for me as I’ve gotten my post-production workflow very dialed over the years.

Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other lens.

Cheers!

Chris[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”40″ ][cs_element_row _id=”41″ ][cs_element_column _id=”42″ ][cs_element_headline _id=”43″ ][cs_element_gap _id=”44″ ][cs_the_grid name=”Post – HWOOD Jan 19-2019″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][cs_element_section _id=”46″ ][cs_element_row _id=”47″ ][cs_element_column _id=”48″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”49″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Hands On with the Meike 50mm XF Lens for Fujifilm Cameras

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”3/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]I’ve bought and sold a lot of lenses in my day. Partly it’s a long-term case of G.A.S. (look it up..) but that’s mostly dissipated at this point. I was really searching for a kit that serves me and the way that I like to work and so quite a few lenses have moved in and out of my bag. I talked in a recent post about my street kit perfected and the new-ish 50mm F2 XF lens by Meike is currently my preferred walk-around lens for my street work.

For $89 *yes, really*, this little 50mm is a lot to love. I also enjoy shooting with vintage manual-focus lenses adapted to the Fuji system. Since this lens is a native XF mount lens there’s no adapter required which keeps the size and profile down.

Compact, light, sharp & fast, it’s a very discreet and capable street lens, but its capability comes at a cost.

 

WHY IT’S WORTH HAVING

I’m a prime lens guy. Additionally, when I’m working the streets I am in manual focus 80-90% of the time. Fast autofocus is simply not important to me. I enjoy manual focus. It’s more fun, makes me feel closer to my work — more involved, and I find that I have fewer missed shots when I focus manually.

In short, working with manual focus slows me down, engages my brain, and helps me create images that are more personally satisfying.

THE PROS

Compact, lightweight, fast f/2 aperture. Distance markings on the lens barrel make zone-focusing a breeze. It’s a joy to work with on the streets and it performs very well at f/5.6 – f/16-ish. I say f/16-ish because its aperture markings go from f/22 to f/8. You sort of have to guess where f/11 and f/16 would be. The Meike aperture rings do not click on 1/3 stops (or even on full stops) so you need to be aware of where the aperture settings are. I deal with this by putting my X-T2 into what could be considered aperture priority mode.

While the aperture ring does not have clicks and stops it’s remarkably smooth and well-tooled. The focus ring is also very smooth and easy to work with but with enough resistance to prevent knocking your settings all out of place while dangling from its strap. Nailing focus is very easy when used with Fuji’s focus peaking and other manual focus assist features.

IT’S A LITTLE … WEIRD

Let’s talk about image quality.

First, it’s not a Fujifilm lens. As Fuji shooters already know, Fuji’s line of lenses are optically pleasing to say the least. This lens produces images that are quite a bit different than the images produced by Fuji’s native lenses. The Meike lenses that I’ve bought all feel like vintage Nikon glass to me, but cheaper and without the need for a mount adapter.

I know that some folks reading this post are looking for something in the 50mm range and will be wondering if they can get away with an $89 alternative to Fuji’s own 56mmF1.2 lens. The answer is NO. This lens is never going to replace Fuji’s 56mm for me. It’s not in the same league at all. The image quality from that 56mm lens is excellent while the images that come out of this lens are good.

In situations where I value light weight, discretion, and easy zone-focusing with easy-to-read distance markings over professional image quality this lens is my choice. It’s a street lens, and it’s perfect (for me) for that use. Will it do portraits? Sure. They’re not terrible, and I think it’s worth more than the $89 price tag but I’d never take this on a client gig.

Wide open there’s a nice, smooth falloff and the out of focus areas are surprisingly smooth and pleasing. That’s a huge plus. The downside is that there’s very heavy vignetting at f/2 – f/3.5 or so.

Let’s get to the cons.

THE BAD NEWS

  • Very heavy vignetting from f/2 – f/3.5 with soft focus on the edges. The vignetting and soft focus disappears after f/3.5 – f/5.6 and becomes very sharp edge to edge throughout the rest of the aperture range.
  • Significant pincushion distortion. Nothing that can’t be corrected in your image editor but it’s better if you anticipate the distortion and shoot with it in mind knowing that you might need to do some correction later which might result in a slight crop.
  • Aperture ring doesn’t click at 1/3 stops or even at full stops as you’re likely accustomed to.
  • Aperture ring controls the aperture backwards relative to how Meike’s 28mm lens goes: f/2 on the left, f/22 on the right. On the Meike 28mm f/22 is on the left with f/2.8 to the right. Whatever. Just weird.
  • Hard contrast rendering, particularly in the mid-tone contrast range. If you’re not careful you end up with images that look like you cranked your Clarity slider up too high. NOTE: this could be bad for jpeg shooters who make heavy use of Fuji’s excellent film simulations; the lens will inject a rather high increase of mid-tone contrast into the image at the capture level which could result in a quality that’s difficult to remove from the jpeg. One might be able to customize the jpeg presets to account for this, but you’ll need to decide of this is worth the hassle. I can tell you that an 8-hour street photography session with the Fuji 56mm is an exercise in heavy lifting. At $89 there’s no reason to not own both lenses and simply reach for the one that best supports the day’s shoot.
  • The last con I have noticed is that the color rendition changes from aperture to aperture and this can definitely cause issues. I haven’t determined if it’s a white-balance thing (I shoot on auto white-balance when on the streets) or it’s just how this lens deals with color and contrast rendition. I’m not going to bother to test this further as I’ve gotten used to it and I check for it when I review my images.

The following images reveal the significant pin-cushion distortion inherent with this lens. (Keep in mind that many Fuji lenses do this too but they are auto-corrected in the camera firmware against the lens profile.)

These images will also demonstrate the color shift which occurs between apertures. You’ll note that these apertures seem to make some major jumps, but I followed the actual markings that appear on the ring: f/22, f/8, f/5.6, f/3.5, f/2.8, f/2.[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/170702-Santa_Barbara-17-21-33.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/22[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/f8-1.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/8[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/170702-Santa_Barbara-17-21-51.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/5.6[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/170702-Santa_Barbara-17-21-58.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/3.5[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/170702-Santa_Barbara-17-22-05.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/2.8[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/170702-Santa_Barbara-17-22-12.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” style=”margin-bottom: 0;”][x_gap size=”10px”][cs_text style=”line-height: 1.4;”]Meike 50mm f/2
Note the strong vignette and the markedly warmer color rendition when compared to the f/22 – f/5.6 images.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”3/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]

IN SUMMARY

I like it. It’s small, it’s light, it’s capable, it’s fast, the focus ring is smooth and it’s discreet.

Some additional post-processing is required in order to get my images to look and feel consistent with the images produced by my Fujifilm lenses but that’s not a huge issue for me as I’ve gotten my post-production workflow very dialed over the years.

Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other lens.

Cheers!

Chris

 [/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/5″ style=”padding: 0px;”] [/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section bg_color=”global-color:4272616e64205365636f6e64617279″ parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 65px 0px 045px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Click on any image to open the gallery up into a Lightbox.[/cs_text][cs_the_grid name=”Post – HWOOD Jan 19-2019″][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”43″ ][cs_element_row _id=”44″ ][cs_element_column _id=”45″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”46″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Hands On with the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm R LM OIS Zoom Lens

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens is the first Fuji lens I bought along with a (then new) X-E2 body. I was immediately blown away with the optical performance compared to the “kit” lenses that I’d known from my Nikon and Canon days. The focal range is perfect for a mid-range zoom, and the excellent OIS allows for some remarkable hand-held performance at surprisingly low shutter speeds. I’ve shot this lens several times after dark and it is an excellent performer in low light regardless of the slow-ish aperture range. That’s the good news. The bad news about this lens is entirely personal to the way that I work and may not effect you at all.

WHY IT’S WORTH HAVING

I don’t like zooms. There, I said it. And having said it, this is my favorite zoom lens. If I do carry a zoom around it’s this one. It’s light, small, and solid. At no point does this little guy feel like a “kit” lens. There’s nothing plasticky or ratchet about it. I’ve shot this lens side by side the (far) more expensive Fujifilm 16-55 f/2.8 and I didn’t find the quality from that lens to be far enough above this one to justify the additional cost or weight. Yes, the Fujifilm 16-55 f/2.8 is a pro-level lens but I don’t shoot portraits with zooms. When I’m shooting with a zoom I’m at f/4 – f/11 anyway so having a fast zoom is just not part of my trip. I understand that it might be part of yours but it’s not mine.

My portrait shoots involve Fuji’s 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, and the amazing 90mm f/2. That’s my portrait kit. Zooms are for convenience only, and to that end I find that zooms do make me lazy — despite my best efforts to prevent it.

WAS PART OF MY TRAVEL KIT

I used to have this theory that if I traveled without this zoom I’d miss it and regret not having it and so I’ve dragged this lens all over the place. And each time I’ve traveled I’ve left it in the hotel room because it’s too big, too heavy, and too slow for the way that I like to work. Huh. Note that this is not an argument against this lens for being bad, it’s an argument against zooms in general. Fast zooms are obviously even heavier and more cumbersome and that’s just not attractive to me.

SOME USAGE DATA – WHY I SOLD IT, TWICE

There’s always how I think I’m using a tool and how I’m actually using a tool, and these things don’t always agree. I looked through all of my favorite images that I shot with this lens and I was pretty surprised to find that 25% of them were shot at 18mm and 44% shot at 55mm with the remaining 31% being spread out over the rest of the focal range. It turns out that I’m not really using this as a zoom lens at all and I’m trying to use it like a wide or a medium tight prime lens. Well since that’s the case I decided to sell it in favor of building up my street kit of small primes instead.

IN SUMMARY

  • Optical performance is excellent. Images are sharp with very little distortion edge to edge. Outstanding contrast and color rendition.
  • It’s very light and compact for a medium zoom lens.
  • The OIS is fantastic and redeems the slower aperture at the high end of the zoom range.
  • This lens is obviously not a bokeh monster. I know a few people who use this lens for portraits, but if I’m being honest I’ve not yet seen a portrait taken with this lens that has truly impressed me. Prove me wrong on that score, I’d love that!

Some of my favorite and most popular prints have been made with this lens, so there’s that.

I’ve bought and sold this lens twice and what I’ve learned is that I’m just not a zoom lens guy. I’d take the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 over this lens any day of the week.

Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other Fuji lens.

Cheers!

Chris[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section bg_color=”global-color:4272616e64205365636f6e64617279″ parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 65px 0px 045px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Click on any image to open the gallery up into a Lightbox.[/cs_text][x_raw_content][the_grid name=”Post 18-55mm Lens”][/x_raw_content][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”10″ ][cs_element_row _id=”11″ ][cs_element_column _id=”12″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”13″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Hands On with the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens is at the same time one of my favorite lenses and one of my least-used lenses. A very frequently asked question about this lens is how exactly is it different from Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8 prime lens, and while they’re both in the “ultra wide” category of lenses, I feel that they have far more differences than they have similarities.

Many folks use the Fujifilm 10-24mm lens for landscapes, and in fact I see a fair amount of conversations regarding ND filters for the 10-24mm (it’s a difficult fit due to the very large front diameter). I personally prefer the LEE Seven5 Camera Filter System for my Fuji lenses, though there are some problems with vignetting on the 10-24mm from 10mm until you get to about 14 or 15mm.

WHY I LOVE IT

The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens is my “creative” lens choice. Make no mistake, from 10mm until about 16mm there is a good amount of perspective distortion that comes into play. I expect that distortion and use it to my advantage.

That distortion goes away around 16mm and it settles down quite a bit. Now, if you don’t want a bunch of perspective distortion and edge warping in your shot, you’d be better off staying between 16mm – 24mm with this lens, but if you were going to do that why not simply reach for Fuji’s 18-55mm f/2.8-4 “kit” zoom? It’s faster, and lighter and sharper. In fact, the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens is my go-to landscape lens, but I’ll get into that in another post.

In short, this lens brings the drama in a very pleasing manner, with excellent contrast and color rendering. When I want the drama but don’t want to get into crazy fish-eye territory, this is the one I reach for. It’s wide enough that you’re almost always in focus at any aperture and the OIS provides enough stabilization to shoot long after the lighting conditions have ceased to be ideal.

HOW I USE IT

Let’s start with how I don’t use it. I do not use this lens for landscapes. I know, I know.. a lot of people love this lens for landscapes. Lots of people use a lens like this to get a wide landscape into frame. Not me. I don’t see the point of that. This is also why I’m unconcerned about ND filter vignetting when pulled wide on this lens.

When I shoot landscapes, I’m either shooting in order to create a fine art print for sale or I’m interested in licensing the image on 500px. Either way, I want my image dripping with resolution. This lens isn’t super great for that. (My landscapes are created with the 18-55mm “kit” lens, or Fuji’s 56mm portrait lens and are made from 14 – 28 frame composites.)

Again, the perspective distortion characteristic of this lens (and which I love) doesn’t belong in my landscape photos. I personally feel that ultra-wides are the worst choice for landscape photography. Wide-angle lenses push any background elements into exaggerated miniature. I’m not entirely clear when that is ever a desirable thing.

Generally-speaking, landscapes are all about background. This lens is all about foreground.

I use this lens to get close. VERY close. With this lens, I can get right on top of my subject and still fill the frame with a large amount of contextual information.

I use this lens when I want to exaggerate foreground elements, or when I want to tell a very big story.

A couple of good examples in the gallery below are the giant Moreton Bay fig tree image, and the image of the palm tree on the overpass. Neither of these images would have been possible with other Fuji lenses, based on the surrounding area, how much room there is to back up, etc.

SOME USAGE DATA

There’s always how I think I’m using a tool and how I’m actually using a tool, and these things don’t always agree. In this case I was close to accurate, but I was surprised at the frequency count on the long end of the range. I pulled this data from Adobe Lightroom. Note that this doesn’t reflect my shooting habits, but the focal length frequency counts of my keeper images shot with the 10-24mm. I didn’t run this against the thousands of discarded images I’ve shot with this lens over the past 3 years.

As you can see, I definitely favor this lens at its widest.

IN SUMMARY

  • The 10-24mm is not a landscape lens. Lots of folks will say it is, but it’s not. Not for me, anyway.
  • I often use this lens on the streets, though it is heavy and is not at all inconspicuous. It tends to live in my bag and only goes onto a body when I see a story that I’d like to tell an in exaggerated way. I’ve used it to get some stuff out of my street photography that wouldn’t have been possible with a “normal” lens.
  • Additionally, it’s terrific for interiors. Yes, there will be perspective distortion, but that’s sort of the point when trying to make an entire room fit into a single frame.
  • Lastly, the Fujifilm 10-24mm is a must-have travel lens. I spend a fair amount of time traipsing through European cities and there are times when I want to pull a characteristic city feature into a shot. Again, the lens spends most of its time in my bag and not on one of my bodies, but I have it ready for when I want more environment than a “normal” lens can provide.

Some of my favorite and most popular prints have been made with this lens. I’ve bought it sold it twice during a 6-month period when I was trying to figure out if the 10-24mm or the 14mm was right for me. I ended up keeping them both after tiring of the repetitive eBay hassle and after realizing that each one of them belonged in my toolbox.

Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other Fuji lens.

Cheers!

Chris[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ bg_pattern=”https://ambulant.photo/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/square-harold.png” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 65px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Click on any image to open the gallery up into a Lightbox.[/cs_text][x_raw_content][the_grid name=”Post_10-24mm_Lens”][/x_raw_content][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”10″ ][cs_element_row _id=”11″ ][cs_element_column _id=”12″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”13″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

Heading to Europe – What’s in my Bag?

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_alert heading=”Episode 1 : Pre-travel Prep” type=”danger” close=”false”]This is the first in a series that I’ll be writing to chronicle my photography project through Spain, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic over 3 weeks in the spring of 2016.
Click on this TAG to view all of the articles in this series.[/cs_alert][cs_text]I’m heading to Europe on May 19th for a 3-week long photowalk through some of my favorite cities. I’ll be moving through Barcelona, Cadaqués, and Figueres in Spain and will have a day or two to drive up into France to visit the town of Céret where Pausha and I lived for 2 years, as well as the Mediterranean port towns of Collioure, Banyuls and Argelès-sur-Mer.

From there I fly off to Kraków and Katowice in Poland to attend the wedding of my mother-in-law. I’ll have 5 days to explore some industrial areas in southern Poland, visit Auschwitz-Birkenau (which is always quite an experience) and drink truly exceptional beer before hopping a train into the Czech Republic for 8 days in Prague.

With the exception of one day attending (and presumably shooting) the wedding, the remainder of the time is dedicated to urban exploration, finding exceptional eats, and getting my travel tog on. I’m excited for the entire trip, though I’m actually feeling nervous about the first leg and what that experience might be like for me.

Having spent two years living in French Catalonia, I know that region very well and I’m already very well-acquainted with Barcelona and the towns I’ll visit along the coast on the way up and back from France. I’ve also got a loose shot list prepared. And while I am familiar with the area, and I know what is there, I return to the area with a much different eye and as a very different photographer than I was when I lived there. This is both terrifically exciting and mildly terrifying to me.

My travel companion will be my younger (unofficially-adopted) brother Kazdyn, who has visited French Catalonia before, but who has never visited Poland or the Czech Republic, so that’s going to be very fun for us both. And since we’re both Fuji X Shooters, there’s been a good deal of discussion around what equipment will be in our respective bags for the trip.

I mean seriously, 3 weeks will see a lot of different shooting scenarios

I like to travel light whenever possible, in fact, the last time Pausha I were in Prague I totally blew it. I was so tired of lugging a big-ass heavy Canon DSLR around with me, and just sick and tired of photography in general that I only shot a handful of snaps with an iPhone. Well, I’m over that, I’m back in action, and ready to work.

If I were pursuing a single genre it would be easy, but I’m not. I’m shooting for cityscape and landscape prints. I’m shooting a good bit of industrial architecture. I expect to have full days where all I shoot is people on the streets. I’m shooting a wedding…

And then there are the locations to consider. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is the most mind-blowing bit of architecture I’ve seen in my entire life and I’m still not entirely clear how I’m going to shoot it. And then there’s Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland. Shooting Auschwitz-Birkenau is going to require a light hand, lest I return with the same images everybody else has made there.

I went back and forth on gear for over a month before finally coming up with a solid plan.

What to bring?!?

160513-Gear_Europe-23-08-46-Edit
Click to view BIG. (You’ve been warned.)

The Main Course

Okay, let’s start with the main gear. Here’s what I’m working with:

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2
  • Fujifilm X-T1
  • Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS Zoom Lens – This is by far one of the best, sharpest and lightest walkaround lenses I’ve used. I do my street photography with primes in most cases, but when the centuries old cityscape is as much the focal point as the people I’m shooting, I prefer to have a zoom to lock in better (more saleable) compositions. I’ve done some incredible things with this lens, at night, as “slow” as it is.
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Wide Angle Zoom Lens – A bit on the big side (all things being relative) but this lens brings the drama when desired. Again with the zoom approach. I could bring Fuji’s 14mm prime (which I sold to get back into this wide zoom) but this zoom has an incredible OIS feature on it (Optical Image Stabilization) so I don’t even care that it’s 1 full stop slower than Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8. And since the X-T1 and (especially) the X-Pro2 can see in the dark, I can do with f/4 in the evening.
  • Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens – This is my favorite street photography lens. I shoot wide, and while some streettogs go for a 50mm equivalent, I find that to be far too long. I even feel that a 35mm equivalent is too long. For me, the 28mm equivalent is perfect for street, and that’s just about where this one sits on Fuji’s APS-C sensor, give or take 1mm.
  • Fujinon XF35mm f/2 R WR – Fast, crazy sharp, weather-sealed. This one’s a great portrait lens for the wedding. I don’t want to bring my Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R as it’s bigger and heavier and would only come out at night or at the wedding. I’m feeling the need to cover my bases in the most versatile way possible. I have no fear taking this and either the X-T1 or X-Pro2 out in the rain to shoot as both camera bodies are weather-sealed and a great match for this lens.
  • Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye – Okay, this one will very likely stay in the hotel on most days, but it’s definitely going with me into Sagrada Familia. I’ve tried to shoot that cathedral with a 35mm equivalent before and seriously, I was not up to the task at the time. Perhaps I am now. We shall see.
  • BONUS: Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Zoom Lens – Kazdyn wants to use this lens for a short list of high-vantage cityscape shots that we plan to do in the early morning in various locations. I’m lending him this one on the singular condition that he has to carry it. So that’s really not on my back. It’s a good lens and far lighter/smaller than the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, which I do not own or feel a desire to own. Again, I’m a wide shooter, and I’m actually kind of surprised that I bought the 55-200mm at all. It’s nice to have and I’ve had some need for it but it lives in my camera case and gets dusted off every week but very rarely leaves the house.

Support Equipment

  • Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer SP-1 – Okay, I love this thing. It’s brilliant. My Polish is horrible and I won’t be able to communicate very well with 99% of the people at the wedding, but for my brother-in-law who speaks English very well. I intend to print out portraits as I shoot them and hand them out as favors to the guests. I think this will be a fun thing for everybody and will serve to keep people smiling while I’m shooting them in the face. I’m bringing 5 10-packs of prints for it too. This is going to be a lot of fun.
  • Nissin I40 Flash – Small, compact, powerful. I almost don’t feel it in my bag.
  • Peak Design Field Pouch (x2) – This is one of the best-designed accessories made for photographers. Hell, everything they do is brilliant.
  • Peak Design Slide Lite straps for Mirrorless (x2) – Love these. My favorite straps.
  • Peak Design Cuff wrist strap – I tend to wear the X-Pro2 on a Slide Lite and keep the X-T1 in the bag with the wrist strap on it with my secondary lens attached. I used to go all Rambo and wear both bodies at the same time but that got old really quickly, and anyway nothing says MUG ME like wearing two expensive camera bodies on you on the streets of Barcelona.
  • Ona Bowry Bag  – What can I say about this. It’s great, small, hip, made of waxed canvas and leather with closures in all the right places. I love this bag.
  • Think Tank Shape Shifter, Photographic Backpack – Okay, this one is a must have for any traveling photographer. While this bag will not be my daily carry, it enables me to pack all of my camera gear, and my 15″ MacBook Pro, iPad, and all of my travel documents and a change of clothes into an airline-ready carry-on bag. This thing is unbelievable. It’s made for larger DSLR camera tech, but it works just fine for a mirrorless system, expands and compresses as required, and is remarkably light, fully-loaded.

Obviously: Chargers, 6 batteries, 10 SD cards, backup Lacie hard drive, etc.

What’s conspicuously missing is a tripod or monopod.

I plan to buy one in Poland or Prague, but I don’t want to have to pack and fly with one, though I may well change my mind. I own the excellent MeFoto Roadtrip Travel Tripod and I love it a lot. I also have the smaller MeFoto Backpacker Travel Tripod. For that matter, I also have the MeFoto Walkabout Monopod/Walking Stick. I may end up dropping one of these into my cargo suitcase, but don’t want to have to deal with the TSA thinking it’s some sort of weapon. I’ll think on this further.

Additionally, I’ve decided to leave my film cameras behind. Too much. It would be fun to shoot film on the trip, but it’s just too much of a hassle, especially when I can simulate it so well with today’s tools and with the Fujifilm jpg film simulations.

And there you have it.

That’s it! I’d love to know if you think I’m missing something that I’ll regret forever if I don’t bring. Let me know in the comments section.

Check back over the next few weeks, as I’ll be updating this blog with travel updates and lots of images of my travels as I’m able to input, edit, and post-process them.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

xoxo
Chris

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Fuji X-T1 First Impressions

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]I’ve had the Fuji X-T1 now for a few weeks and here’s my first impression of working with this camera:

Holy Shit — Holy Shit — Holy Shit!

Okay, thanks for listening. I do realize that this isn’t tremendously insightful (have I mentioned that I’m a really terrible product reviewer?) so I’ll share my second impressions as well:

Fuji X-T1 Second Impressions

  • The Fuji X-T1 is a manual shooter’s dream.
  • Everything in the right places.
  • Form factor is perfect, I don’t feel the need for additional handgrip, thumbrest or a soft release, which was necessary for me to feel confident and safe holding an X-E2 or X100.
  • If the X-Pro1 is Fuji’s answer to the classic Rangefinder camera, the X-T1 is definitely their answer to the classic SLR before they got all bloated. It reminds me a lot of a Canon F-1 but better. And Digital.

An Interesting Aside:

canon7D-May2011Tonight I have been reunited with my old friend, the original Canon 7D. My little brother (now in his mid twenties — sheesh) borrowed my X-T1 to try it out and test it against an old FD lens with an adapter, and he lent me my old 7D, which I sold to him in 2013. It’s really very much the same form factor as the Full Frame Canon 6D that I shot for a year and dragged all over Europe with me. I should be used to it, right?

Well, I guess I’m not. I shot with a Fuji X-E2 for 4 months, and I’ve shot the X-T1 for a few weeks. Now, I’m holding that old 7D and I’m shocked to realize how stupid it feels. It’s big, and heavy, and bulky and weird in the hand. The shutter is crazy loud, and it’s not focusing well in low light even with a fast 50mm f/1.4 EF lens on it.

When I first got into the Fuji X System I felt like it was a toy, and I was extremely skeptical that I could get great images out of a toy system. Now as I hold this 7D, I feel like it’s a kid’s toy. You know how kid’s toys are really big? Like a child’s toy cell phone is going to be all big and plastic and bulky and it’s not going to feel precise. That’s how this 7D feels in my hands right now, enough so that I felt I had to write about it.

playskool

The Fuji X-T1 just feels like a precision instrument. Perfect in the hand, well-balanced, razor sharp; a surgeon’s tool. This Canon really does feel like Playskool.

 [/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

The Big Switch – Canon full frame DSLR to Fuji Mirrorless

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_inset=”0px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_inset=”0px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Fuck DSLRs, man. I’ve just had it. You can go over to David Hobby’s blog or read Zach Arias and the like to find out more about why they switched. Check out my friends at MirrorLessons and see what Mathieu and Heather have to say on the matter. There are a lot of switchers out there and for good reason and many of them present some terrific scientific information for those who need it. I’m not going there.

Here’s the short story.

I bought a Fuji X-E2 in September and slowly (well maybe not so slowly) started to build up a respectable collection of lenses. I decided to not make the same mistake I made the last time I jumped Canon’s ship for the Fuji x100s. That one didn’t work out so well. So I spent the next 4 months shooting both the Fuji System and my Canon 6D side by side, and I became increasingly frustrated with the fact that I was consistently getting better overall image quality from this $800 camera and it’s 18-55mm “kit zoom” lens than I was getting out of my $2,000 full frame DSLR and a $2,300 Canon L Series lens.

I’ve bought and sold a lot of lenses for my Canon system throughout 2014 including 3 different L (the Canon Holy Grail) lenses and I hated most of them. The two lenses that I bought and loved were not even Canon products. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Series lens is just sublime. Downside, it’s huge and it’s hella heavy. I also had and enjoyed the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX lens. It’s terrific. And huge. And also hella heavy.

Anyway, I digress. I had a strategy for my gear: 3 zooms for the Fuji system and 3 primes for my Canon. Let the games begin. September through November I took them all out together and shot them side by side. In almost all of my tests I chose the Fuji images over the Canon images. (I shoot RAW, btw, so we’re not talking about a sweet tooth for Fuji’s in-camera film simulation presets — though they are fantastic, for snapshots that is.)

By November I’d stopped carrying my Canon at all. It was just too damned heavy, and the only lens I could stand to shoot with it was the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, so we’re talking extra heavy shoulder action. I’d already sold the Tokina lens to cover the costs of an equivalent ultra-wide zoom on the Fuji side, the excellent Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens.

141228-Ventura_Harbor-17-37-45
Fujifilm X-E2 – XF 56mm f/1.2 R 1/1000 @ f/2.5 ISO 200

Seriously people, the lenses for this system are just stupid.

Alright alright, here was my decisive moment. The Sunday before Christmas I decided to shake the dust off of my Canon 6D and take to the streets to capture some local Christmas light displays around the neighborhood. I came home, got the images up into Lightroom and sure enough, it was just as I had feared: my images were just crawling with Chromatic Aberration. The pics shot with the Canon EF USM 85mm f/1.8 were the worst. Those shot with the Canon EF USM 50mm f/1.4 were pretty bad, but less so, and even the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 has some of it, though far less so than the shitty Canon EF lenses.

That was it. That was my moment. I’d had it. Even at f/5.6 there was too much CA to easily remove in Photoshop. Even at f/5.6 the Canon EF lenses were useless with focus falling off at the edges. I mean really, if you have a fast prime lens that isn’t sharp until you’re stopped down to f/6, what’s the point of even having that “fast prime?” At that point it’s a quite slow prime.

I never get any of that crap with my Fuji XF lenses.

So. I grabbed all of my Canon gear, lenses, caps, filters, chargers and rushed down to my local camera store. Being the Sunday before Christmas they were happy to buy my stuff from me, and didn’t even mind that I showed up 15 minutes before they closed (sorry guys, I had quite lost track of time!) They took all of my gear in trade and I was able to turn it into the final 3 Fuji lenses I needed to round out my system.

I’ve got my 3 fast primes, all crazy sharp, edge to edge even wide open, and I’ve got 3 excellent (also astonishing in their sharpness) zooms to fill in those holes. The X-E2 with my heaviest lens hardly registers as being on my shoulder at all. I’m more inspired than I’ve ever been before, I’m having more fun and truly I feel that I’m now doing my best work.

I may just be in love.

Street Shadows and Holiday Lights
Fujifilm X-E2 – XF 56mm f/1.2 R 1/105 @ f/1.2 ISO 800

Check out this Fuji Lens Buying Guide over at Zach Arias’ thing and you’ll see a better outline of which Fuji lenses are the ones to watch.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_element_section _id=”5″ ][cs_element_row _id=”6″ ][cs_element_column _id=”7″ ][cs_element_global_block _id=”8″ ][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

The Little Camera that Changed My Mind – Fujifilm X-E2

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While packing for a recent trip to NYC, I decided to leave my Full-Frame Canon 6D at home and bring instead only my Fujifilm X-E2 and a single “kit” lens, the excellent Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens. I’ve been very apprehensive about investing in this system because until this trip I simply was not convinced that I could produce the same level of image quality from a smaller, “toyish” camera system.

I’ve had the X-E2 for 4 weeks now, and I’ve shot the Canon and Fuji side by side. In 4 out of 5 cases, I prefer the Fuji shots over my Canon shots, and that fact has shocked me, and leaves me feeling both excited and anxious. I’ve since replaced my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS USM lens with a Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lens at half the cost, and twice the sharpness and quality. I seriously cannot believe this.

I briefly owned a Fuji X100S and while I was very impressed by the image quality, I was very disappointed by the user experience. It was slow and while I found its hybrid viewfinder to be a very interesting concept, with loads of promise, for my needs it was entirely unusable. I’m too accustomed to looking Through The Lens. I wrote a bit more about this here. I like to know that I’ve got the shot because I can see that I’ve got the shot. When I purchased the X-E2, I went in knowing that the EV was faster than the prior generation of Fuji cameras and that they’d worked hard to reduce the latency and increase resolution. I wasn’t disappointed with it, when I finally got it in my hands, but it still required a leap of faith: I had to simply trust that when my focus indicator turned green that the camera had acquired focus and was locked and ready. That’s a HUGE leap of faith!

Last week, I installed the latest firmware release for the camera, and I announce now with excitement that the EV is far faster and sharper than it had been, requiring far less of a leap of faith. I’m now happily shooting the X-E2 on 9 out of 10 photowalks, and my image quality is as high as it’s ever been with my Canon. At a fraction of the cost for both the camera and the accessories and at a fraction of the weight, my own experience of carrying a camera around with me, including a functional and high-quality assortment of lenses, has improved dramatically. Shooting has become an absolute pleasure, and the joy of finding new subject matter has been coming through in my images. My line was always “Fuji cameras, and mirrorless systems are really awesome, and show promise — but they’re just not THERE yet.” I now change my position. They’re there now.

A busker sings her ass off in Central Park, NYC. Film processing in Analog Efex Pro

Incidentally, I shoot RAW + FINE JPEG, and in most cases I select the RAW over the JPEG. Fuji’s film simulation is superb, and for most snapshots I just go with the JPEG and throw the RAW file away. It’s a snapshot.. who cares? But for my important shots, I still find that I can do better work with the RAW file working in some combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik’s (Google’s) various suite of tools than the JPEG is going to give me. This is to be expected of course as no 1 conversion recipe is ever going to be able to create the feel that I’m going for in a final image. I include this obvious statement only because some people have been asking me if I rely solely on the in-camera JPEG conversion.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!
~ Chris

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