Category Archives: gear

I still use the Fuji 60mm f/2.4

As you know from my last post, I got the 56mm f/1.2 lens. It’s a sweet lens. It looks beautiful, and it takes beautiful photos. I was going to sell my 60mm lens after I got my 56mm lens. Unfortunately my laziness got to me and never got around to selling it.

I’m happy I didn’t. Sure, the  lens sucks.  It has slow AF, and it only goes to f/2.4 But it does do something better than the 56mm: it is a macro lens. Sure, with Fuji’s new macro tubes, it probably makes the 60mm more obsolete. Until Fuji’s 90mm lens comes out, I think I’ll keep the 60mm longer.

I wanted to do some beauty shots, and I found out I couldn’t do tight face shots with the 56mm. It wouldn’t focus that close. So I busted out my 60mm, and I got some pretty good results:

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The funny thing is that I didn’t like the tight, macro shots of the face. But I like the option to do so. The 60mm will be my go to lens for beauty photographs. It’s smaller, it can focus closer, and that extra 4mm length does make a difference. I can live with it being slow for now.

RawTherapee Looks Interesting for Processing RAW Files

RawTherapee looks like a very interesting software for Fuji X cameras. I’ve used it on a few photos just to see how it performed, and I love the way it rendered the RAW files.  The best part, it’s free!

I’m going to do some more processing with it and see how it does compared to Capture One and Lightroom.

Quick Thoughts on the Sigma Dp2 Quattro

I was able to get a test  Quattro camera from Sigma. I didn’t have time to use it thoroughly because they only gave 3-4 days to use it. I was going to take it to one of my shoots, but I decided not to. Why? Because it’s super slow. 

I was very curious about the Sigma Quattro and its Foveon sensor. When I got the camera and picked it up, it felt weird in my hand. I wondered why they chose an awkward design.

I snapped a few shots and saw it was about the same speed as my Fuji X-E1. And that was fine. But I noticed it was on the JPEG setting. So I switched it to RAW because I only shoot RAW. What happened? It took about 1 second for the camera to write the image to the card. I couldn’t shoot again until it has finished writing. I was using a Extreme PRO UHS-I 95mbp/s card too, which they provided. 

That is unacceptable for me. For my style of shooting, I need something more responsive. When the model is flowing, I need to be able to capture them at the right moment. With a camera this slow, there was no way I could do it. I thought about bringing this camera to my next shoot, but I felt I couldn’t risk it. 

Also, the low light performance sucked. It’s definitely not like my Fuji cameras (or any other modern cameras for that matter). The image looked like a noisy mess around ISO 1600. I don’t like to go that high in my shoots, but what if I had to? Heck, I probably can’t go over 400 with the Quattro. 

I’m sad to say, I didn’t get to use my Quattro enough to get an objective opinion about the image quality and such. With only 3-4 days to use it, I felt I couldn’t take it to shoots I wanted it to. Oh well. 

I think with the Quattros (or the Merrills), you have to treat it as a film camera with ISO 400 or below film. Perhaps some people will like that. You have to shoot deliberately, one shot at a time. Heck, with its write time, it’s like winding the film every time you shoot since you have to wait. You can’t shoot too many moving objects either. 

I’m disappointed with Sigma. I was excited about their innovative sensor. But their handling and speed need to be on par with the rest of the newer cameras. This camera was release in 2014! There is no excuse for it to feel like a 5 year old camera. 

 

Fuji X-T1 vs Fuji X-E1

I have wrote many times on this blog how I’m not going to upgrade to a new camera. I am anti G.A.S. But I recently ran into a deal where a X-T1 was $400 off. I could not pass that up so I decided to get it.

When you shoot a lot, you know when you need to upgrade. I was getting to that point with my X-E1. I was shooting about 5000 photos a month. The X-E1 felt sluggish. I knew I had to upgrade, but the prices felt too high for me.

I remember upgrading from a X100 to a X100s. That was a mistake.  The X100s did not seem like a big upgrade to the X100. I felt like I wasted my money.

How is the X-T1 compared to a X-E1? It’s a huge difference. It seems like a worthy upgrade to me. I could not believe how fast it was. Everything felt lighting quick.

When I first turned on my X-T1, my mouth dropped when I experienced how fast the AF was. I realized I didn’t even have High Performance mode on. I also didn’t get the latest lens firmware to take advantage of the Phase Detection pixels. Once I did those, the AF became even faster.

So if you have an older Fuji model, like the X-E1 or X-Pro 1, and are wondering if it’s worth it to upgrade to the X-T1, it is. It is absolutely worth it.

However, there are some cons about upgrading to the X-T1:

  • The AF is too fast. When I’m shooting models, sometimes I worry if I’ll get the shot at the right moment. Now, I don’t even have to worry. Shooting seems more mechanical for me instead of a challenge. Now I have no excuse of missing a shot.
  • The RAW files are bigger. I notice I run out of space fast on my SD cards.
  • The batteries drain fast. I never had to replace a battery during my shoots, but with the X-T1, I had to. I now have to carry batteries and charge them often.
  • It’s a bit heavier. Oh well, I guess I’ll just get bigger muscles.
  • I thought I would like the ISO dial, but I don’t. It’s not really needed. Using the fn button to change felt faster in my opinion. But it is a nice to have though.

That’s about all the negatives I can think of with the X-T1. But in the end, it’s a great camera. I love it.

Here are some photos I took with my X-T1:

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The Fuji 60mm 2.4 in Real World Situations

I’m a cheap frugal photographer. I don’t do this as a day job. I do it for fun, as a hobby. So when I buy something, it comes out of my pocket. I can’t write it off or anything. Therefore, I have to watch what I spend on gear.

I was chomping at the bit for a good portrait lens for the Fuji X series. I waited for the 56mm f/1.2, but when I saw how expensive it was, I looked for a cheaper alternative.

There was the 60mm f/2.4. I heard horror stories about the slow autofocus. However, when Fuji gave the discount for their lenses, the 60mm looked too cheap to pass up. So I decided to get it. But first, here are some photos I did with the 60mm:

 

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So do I like this lens? Yes and no. But first, let’s talk about lens and perspective in general.

As you know, you don’t buy the lens to “zoom in” or to “get more reach.” You buy lens for their perspective. As of right now, for fashion or portraits, the 35mm focal length on an APSC sensor is my favorite focal length (50mm on a full frame sensor). If I go any wider, the person starts to look too distorted for me. If I go longer, the person may look too compressed in certain poses.

I have shot with a 23mm (APSC) lens before with my Fuji X100s. I did a lot of full body and environmental shots. The closest I got was half body. I have done head shots with that lens, but the distortion looked too noticeable. So I usually did a half body and cropped. But that was a lot of wasted pixels.

With my 35mm (APSC) lens, head shots looked better. But I felt I needed a longer focal length. So I got the 60mm.

I got the 60mm not just for head shots. I also got it to separate the subject from the background. I shoot it wide open and try to bokeh out the background. Also, the longer perspective helps to remove more of the background.

I bring my 60mm with my gear now. So, how did it work during photo shoots with models when they won’t hold still? It was quite frustrating. With my Fuji X-E1, the 35mm felt a lot snappier compared to the 60mm. I actually needed the models to slow down or hold their positions longer with my 60mm. If the subject holds still, it’s not bad. But when you try to keep up with a moving target, the 60mm breaks down.

I do love the quality that comes out of the 60mm. It is freaking sharp. It is a nice lens.

If you shoot stationary objects, the 60mm is a great, cheap, mid-telephoto lens. If you need to chase something or shoot something that moves, this will frustrate you. It is possible, but you will say some cuss words trying to get it to work.

Right now, I’m not sure if I’ll buy the 56mm, even though that might make my life easier if I need the longer perspective. Since I rarely use the 60mm, I’m not sure if I want to spend $1000 for a lens I might not use too much.

Quick Fuji 60mm f/2.4 Review

I just got my Fuji 60mm lens. Thank goodness for the current lens rebates. I got a used one for super cheap. 

From snapping random things around my house, I noticed a few things. The AF speed isn’t that bad. Maybe I’m too used to the Fuji X-E1’s sluggish AF. There were some times where it felt dreadful. But most of the time, it felt fine. I think I can manage in model shoots. But I’ll see when I use this one on a model moving and posing. 

The sharpness is shocking. It is one sharp lens. I was shooting it wide open all the time, and I couldn’t believe how sharp it was. 

Hopefully, this lens will perform adequately. If it does, it could be one of my favorite value lens. 

Fuji 27mm f/2.8 First Impressions

I got the Fuji 27mm. Why? Because it was on sale now for only $200! Also, after reading the comparison between the X100s and the 27mm at FujivsFuji, the 27mm seemed like a more economical choice for me.

The X100s is my baby, and I love that camera. The X100 was my first “real” camera, and I cut my teeth on it. I mainly do portraiture now. My Fuji X-E1 with the 35mm is my main system for that. My X100s is now used for events, snapshots, travel, etc.

I compared the size between the X-E1 with the 27mm and X100s. The X-E1 seemed a tad bit bigger. I think they both can fit into my coat pocket with ease.

What do I lose if I decide to go with the 27mm and sell my X100s? I would lose the leaf shutter, the quietness, ND Filter, phase detect pixels, OVF, aperture ring, and a stop of light. Honestly, none of those matter to me.

Leaf Shutter and ND Filter. 

The benefits of the Leaf Shutter is the quiet shutter and the fast sync speed. I rarely use my flash outside in the desert at high noon. 1/180 second sync speed is enough for me at the studio. So I have no need for the leaf shutter or the ND filter.

Phase Detect and Autofocus Speed

I did a bunch of AF tests with my Fuji X100s, and the X-E1 with the 27mm. Using the middle focus point with the biggest focus window, the X100s blew away the X-E1. But I rarely use it that way. I move my focus points around a lot, and I use a smaller window for critical focus.

When I use the outer AF portions and a smaller AF window, the AF speed seemed about the same. Sometimes, it felt like the X-E1 was faster. For my use, the AF doesn’t seem improved with the X100s.

OVF

It’s been months since I used the OVF for the X100s. I use the back LCD most of the time anyway. Heh, maybe I should just get the X-M1 instead. So the OVF isn’t important for me. I won’t even miss it. In fact, I find it a gimmick in the X-Series cameras.

Aperture Ring and One Extra Stop of Light

Okay, I’ll  miss those. I love the aperture ring. But using the wheel on the back isn’t too bad. I can get used to it.

The One Extra Stop of Light is what I’ll miss the most. Then again, with the X100s, the softness at 2.0 annoys me at times. So I stop up to 2.8 or higher anyway. I only go to 2.0 if the venue is dark. Also, the X-E1 has a pop up flash. I’ll just use that if I need to illuminate the scene.

What Will I Do Now?

I’ll put the 27mm through its paces and see if it performs as well as my X100s. I’m sure it will. I’ll be selling my X100s soon. I’ll miss it.

What Improvements Can Fuji Make After the X-T1?

Since I’m a Fuji fanboy, I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about the X-T1. This camera has got as much hype as the x100s when x100s came out. From all the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like the perfect Fuji X-Camera.

Unfortunately for Fuji, I can control my G.A.S. because I bought the hype of the X100s. When I finally got the X100s, it underwhelmed me. The image quality didn’t look  better. The AF didn’t seem faster, only at the center point in good light. The only good thing was the manual focus. That experienced helped me to save my money and control my G.A.S.

Let’s say the Fuji X-T1 is as good as the hype. Lets say the autofocus is super fast with all lenses and all points. Lets say the EVF is magical. And so on. What more can Fuji do for its future cameras? What would make me want to buy a new Fuji camera even though I have a perfectly good X-E1?

The X-Trans Sensor

I don’t think it can be improved much. Sure, they can increase the megapixels, but why? That’s a worthless improvement. I describe why here. Fuji needs to come out with a sensor breakthrough to get  noticeable improvement.

In the short term, if I was Fuji, I would work with the popular RAW processors like Adobe, Capture One, etc. Fuji should work with them to get the best RAW processing for the X-Trans sensor. I think that can improve the image quality alone for us RAW shooters.

I don’t care about Full Frame. I want Fuji to be the best APSC system. I don’t want them to be distracted by Full Frame before they solidify their APSC lineup. Olympus and Panasonic are committed to their m43. Fuji should be committed to their APSC system and squeeze as much as possible they can from it.

Autofocus

I don’t care if they have the fastest AF with only a particular type of lens at good light with the center point AF. It should have fast AF at all AF points in any light with any lens. In addition, the PDAF pixels only covers the center part of the sensor. They should cover the 100% of the sensor.

Also, if they need to release version 2 of the lenses to get the AF faster, then so be it. If it gives a huge improvement in AF, then I know most people will switch.

For example, I would buy the 60mm f/2.5 if it had faster AF. I don’t need a 1.2 for the 56mm. With that much depth of field, I’ll lose focus every time I breathe.

While I’m on the topic of AF, I would like to have back-button focus for all AF box size. So in the MF mode, I should be able to change the size of the AF to the smallest size.

Also, I would like more AF points. The amount they have now seems pathetic to me.

Camera Meter

Why is Fuji’s  meter is only at the center AF point? It should be at whatever AF point we choose. This is one big thing they should change.

Tethering

I have no idea if the WiFi allows Fuji to tether to Lightroom or Capture One. If it can’t, it should. Or they should allow some sort of tethering using a USB cable.

Fuji did a good job to be more “pro” by offering weather sealing with the X-T1. Now they should allow real tethering.

1/3 or 1/2 Stops on the Shutter Dial

Just make the dial bigger and make it go 1/3 stops (or 1/2 stops) for shutter speed. I don’t know why they made the exposure compensation dial bigger instead of the shutter dial. I hate using a different dial to adjust the shutter speed in 1/3 stops. That makes no sense.

 

My Obligatory Fuji X-T1 Thoughts

Being a Fuji fanboy, I feel I need to give some thoughts on the official Fuji X-T1 release. There is a lot of info on Fuji Rumors. And Rico did a good review on it. 

I mentioned before, I won’t buy this camera. But there are certain things I am excited about. 

The EVF!

Wow, when I heard about the EVF, I got excited. Realistically, unless there is a major breakthrough, there is nothing more we can do with the sensors. The only way to improve the camera is improving the other stuff.

The EVF sounds like a dream come true. A second window to check focus? That sounds awesome. Bigger, better, clearer, and better than ever? That sounds great as well. Pretty soon, EVFs will have a major advantage over OVFs.

I hope they have a even better EVF for the X-Pro 2 and X-E3. If they do, I’m definitely upgrading just for the improved EVF. It won’t let me take better pictures, but it will make my life easier when taking pictures.

So that’s it. I only care about the awesome EVF that it supposedly has. Everything else is gravy.

Of course, real tethering support will be great too.