Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pig Bitin`Mad

The X-Pro1 chronicles continue. 

Lindsay Pougnet

Above is a picture of Lindsay Pougnet, Ottawa graphic artist. We got into conversation on the bus and I took a picture of her in with the X-Pro1, in camera settings set to black and white. No Photoshop. The picture is sharp as a tack and the camera is easy to compose with. I gave Lindsay the camera to shoot fellow bus traveller Freeman Stellar. Here is the result:

Freeman as photographed by Lindsay Pougnet

Lindsay took to the camera like an old friend. The composition, contrast and sharpness of focus are remarkable. I am impressed. Thank you, Lindsay. You are a great photographer. I seldom put other people's work on my blog, but this is a first rate work.

That was a highlight of the evening. I spent the night of April 28th shooting in black and white. When the camera worked well, we were in Leica territory.

All of the shots were done at 6,400 ISO. And again, using the in-camera black and white filter. No Photoshop. No augmentation. Just photographic pleasure and remarkable results.

Then there were other shots that failed because of the focusing and the auto focusing.

These are among the shots that I did not delete. A good number of shots were deleted because they were out of focus. These shots were great except for the focusing problem. But the focusing ruined the pictures. Manual focusing is slow and articulated. But it is accurate. The colour picture of the origami strings demonstrate this. Shooting from the hip in manual or auto focus is a different story. Sometimes I would auto focus on a specific spot in continuous AF only to have the lens not recognize the setting. Frustrating.

The focusing problems of the X-Pro1 need to be settled. This camera is superior in all ways to the Sony NEX 5N and 7 cameras except for the focusing issue. (On the blogs, a lot of people have been suggesting that Fuji should, and I quote, `steal`the peak focusing of the NEX series.) Using this camera can be great. It handles in a way that begs to do fast, street-style photographs. And it doesn`t deliver in one crucial area. Fuji, hear our plea. Correct the focusing problems. Please. I hate being pig bitin`mad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Models from Models International Management (MIM) Ottawa photographed at 1,000 ISO with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and a 1974 Leica Tele-Elmarit lens





Models Tyson, Anastasia and Michele from Models International Management (MIM) in Ottawa. Shot 18 April 2012 with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the 90mm 2.8 Leitz (Leica) Elmarit lens and at 1,000 ISO. The combination is startling. The picture of Tyson is maybe the first professional photo using the combination of an X-Pro1 and a 1974 vintage 90mm Leica lens.

A special thank you to Fujifilm Canada. Greg Poole Fujifilm's Vice President of Graphics and Recordings, spoke to me about my critique of the camera. He was very helpful and gave me hope that the Fuji X series will be most important camera since Fuji developed the D-SLR. The X-Pro1 will likely hold a place with the Nikon F of 1959 and the Leica M3 of 1954. While I complain about the camera's shortcomings, This is by far the best digital camera on the market for diverse reasons. All of the pictures on this entry were shot with this remarkable camera.

Also, I wish to thank, link, and endorse Fuji Rumors and Mirrorless Rumors websites. These two sites are the best resources for news on the new mirrorless cameras, and in particular the X-Pro1. They have been good friends and they have superb information about the new camera trends. Click on the hot links above. No, I am not making a profit from it. I just endorse what I believe in.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Good and the Horrid

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The poem sums up the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera which, in spite of my criticism, is probably the best all around camera on the market today. Sweet as honey. Filled with caveats.

For the first time I took the camera out and shot the streets of Ottawa, a great city for street photography. 

First, I took some some shots at 12,800 ISO in completely dark conditions, an underground parking lot. This motorcycle was shot at 125th of a second at about f5.6. The camera was at the Velvia setting, and for colour I plan on using this setting as default (I'm an old Kodachrome user, go figure.) I used the 35mm lens.

I can't think of any camera coming up with such a sharp picture under such conditions. For what it is, it is sharp and detailed. the exposure is great. Remember that this place was practically pitch black. It was fun to shoot. Then the voice of photography critic Kai Wong came to me. Where's the bokeh? Unless you shoot wide open, the bokeh is nonexistent.  

The walkers on Sparks Street were interesting. I shot this manually at 125th of a second. The contrast level was high and the camera came through. Kudos.

A homeless gentleman. I shot him in the shade at 800 ISO, 125th of a second. And in spite of the low light, I still overexposed it! Again, the detail is amazing. This was shot with the auto white balance. The auto tends to shoot for blue balance. But talk about crisp.

I photographed this woman at The Camera Trading Company, Ottawa. Shot at 12,800 ISO. Again, white balance was set at auto and it balanced between the face and the outdoor background. For such a high ISO, it delivered.

This is a picture of Dana Pizzolato, Communications Consultant of Models International Management (MIM), Ottawa. This picture was shot in darkness at a whopping 25,600 ISO. Yes, you can see noise. The details and contrast hold up well, though. The X-Pro1 is remarkable dealing with the high ISOs, probably better than any other camera on the market. 

Now for the problems. This is an example of the autofocus. It hunts and sometimes misses. The circumstances were dark, in a shaded area and the exposure was the same as that of the homeless gentleman. Not good. It unnerved me for the rest of the day. I wanted to shoot like I was using a Leica rangefinder and that didn't happen.

Bad composition notwithstanding, this should have been easy to focus. (For all of young whipper snappers reading this, I give you an old fart alert.) IN MY DAY...when I shot with the Leica M3 on a regular basis, I regarded this technique as the "shooting fish in a barrel" method. You go to the window of a fast food restaurant on a busy sidewalk. Set your focus and exposure for sharpness and distance. Watch the passing parade. When something interesting goes by the window...snap. Then you feel smug and at one with Cartier-Bresson or William Klein. Them wuz the days.
I tried it with the X-Pro1 in the McDonald's on Rideau Street. (Hell, McDonald's coffee tastes like the stuff I make at home.) I set the AF for the mid right as most traffic was coming from that vantage point. Someone comes by...snap. This was shot at 125th of a second. The focus hunted. It snapped just before perfect focus. Aggravating.

Before I blame the camera and the lens, I can safely blame myself. And here is why. When I shoot, I use contact lenses. The reason for this is that my first and only true weapon of choice for shooting was the Leica M3. Using a Leica M and wearing glasses can be a recipe for disaster. First, to enjoy the truly theatrical splendor of composing with a Leica rangefinder, it is best to have your eye close to the viewfinder. This way you can see people move in and out of the composition lines. For that reason, and for the incredible focusing instrumentation, it leaves the SLR far behind. Wearing glasses keeps the eye at a distance from the viewfinder and you don't get that crucial panorama.

Second, the Leica M can beat any AF if you you know how. When you shoot with an M among your SLR toting cohorts, you feel like Doc Holliday, fast and invincible. You see something, you slam it  to your eye, compose, focus...snap. Slam it to your glasses...not good. The viewer on an M is not rubberized. It is metal. As a result, you can tell bespectacled Leica users by the number of horizontal moon crescents on their glasses' right lenses. Using progressive bifocals is a nightmare if you are used to slamming the camera to your face when you shoot, a common occurrence among RF shooters. 

So maybe I can adjust the diopter for the X-Pro1. No can do. There is no diopter for the X-Pro1. Yes, Fuji, here is another thing that you can do to improve this marvelous camera. (See the postscript below.)

Bob at The Camera Trading Company found that the lack of diopter was peculiar. However, he did tell me of other diopters to use. Apparently, the removable diopter on the Nikon FM cameras can be used. And they are available quite often on eBay. A great thing to know. Bob showed me his Sony NEX 5n, which has a handy focus peaking system that highlights the focal point much like Photoshop Raw highlights that are too bright. Are you listening, Fuji? This could be a very welcome firmware addition.

In all fairness, however, this picture was shot through a window on a sunny day. The reflection of light could have had play on the photo above. Plus, I was using a UV Haze filter. There is debate about the effects of UV filters on digital cameras, it can affect the sensor reaction and the automatic focusing. Kai Wong produced a youtube clip that addresses the problem and compares the effects of UV and clear glass filters.  

This picture of a crane was murder to shoot with the AF. Or so I thought for the instant. The lens was still hunting when the picture was taken. The camera sounded awful, whizzing and buzzing as the shutter clicked and I expected the worst. Instead, I ended up with a sharp picture. And that disturbed me too. The idea of being unsure of the focus is unpleasant and a fine way to develop a stomach ulcer.

6400 ISO. Look at the eye detail!

6400 ISO. The model is Ayesha Eckert.

Two  at 6400 ISO. Ayesha Eckert.

Overexposed at 6400 ISO, there is still ample detail.

At 320 ISO

Complaints aside, and the bluish tinge of the Auto WB outdoors on a sunny day, this camera DOES deliver. And it can deliver more. So Fuji, here is the wish list:                                                                                   

1) Better AF
2) Peak focusing
3) A dedicated removable diopter
4) RAW conversion in Photoshop and Lightroom! (HINT! HINT!)

More wishes on the way.

Now we wait for the Fuji M adaptor. Kipon has one and Novoflex is working on it. The next entry will deal with how the X-Pro1 works with M lenses. Stay tuned.

Comments? Contact me at

Postscript: Mark DalpĂ© of Henry's Cameras in Orleans, Ontario made a good point about the diopter dilemma. He told me...

I disagree about the diopters. Building in diopters would have meant a smaller viewfinder (lower magnification) and Fuji not offering diopters makes sense given the number of companies already making diopters for Voigtlander, Contax, Nikon, etc. that'll fit at already inexpensive prices.

Good point. And it also adds to the options.