Fuji XE-2

Why I kept my Fuji X Pro-1

With all the new fangled, fancy pants, digital gee-wiz-a-bang’s being released seemingly on a weekly basis, I decided to stop!  I decided to stop buying the latest and greatest version of what I already have.  I have the Fuji XT1 and love it but I also KEPT my Fuji X-Pro 1, and here’s why.

  1. Just because Fuji released something new does not make my X Pro-1 a bad camera.  
  2. The B&W I get from the X-Pro 1 is more like film than any other camera I’ve used, X100s a close 2nd
  3. It’s focusing is fast enough, certainly faster than I can manually focus my Leica M6
  4. It’s a pretty tough camera.  In fact I have my XE-2 repaired from a slight drop where as the X-Pro 1 still works
  5. The X-Pro 1 fits my hands perfectly.  I love rangefinders and this is a rangefinder-ey as you can get

Now, please keep in mind that cost does factor into this process, but not to the degree you might be thinking.  I have learned that when you find something that just works keep using it until it breaks.  Then get it repaired and keep using it until it needs to be replaced.  Then buy a used X-Pro 1 from B&H or KEH then repeat the steps above.

I have always, and guess always will, wrestle with the film vs. digital thing with no clear winner in sight.  The Fuji X-Pro 1 is the only digital camera I have used that comes closest to the look of B&W film.  And for me that matters.  I rarely shoot in color but when I do I am equally pleased with the color files.  I still use the heck out of my X-Pro 1 at weddings.  It along with the X100s are amazing wedding cameras!

In the end as long as my X-Pro 1 works and Fuji updates the firmware I will keep shooting it.  I liken the  X-Pro 1 to Alanis Morrissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album, they both got it right the first time!

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First wedding with the Fuji-XT1

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Fuji X100s at 3200 ISO 1/60 with built in fill flash


 

I shot my very first wedding with 100% Fuji X gear and here are my thoughts:

I brought my Fuji X100s, XT1 and XE2 and my X Pro-1 as a back up, to shoot a wedding which was indoors at the Majestic Metro in downtown Houston, TX.  The lighting was complicated to say the least.  Every color known to mankind was there, I am not kidding.  It was dimly lit and white balance was next to impossible.  I was forced to leave the cameras set on AWB, which faired pretty well I might add.  There was one glaring FAILURE with the Fuji’s that night….FLASH!

THE BAD:  If Fuji is hoping to compete with the DSLR world and wants to be considered a viable option to working pro’s like me they must address their off camera flash failure.  A tiny on camera flash will simply not cut it.  I tried everything to get my Fuji EF-42 to do it’s thing, which it did but at stunningly slow recycle times. Please keep in mind I am accustomed to shooting with a Qflash Trio with a Quantum Turbo battery and less than 1 second recycle times.  With that said the Fuji flash was almost useless as a on camera flash.  You cannot shoot fast of a bride walking down the isle with the Fuji flash system, you just can’t!  I ended up setting up 2 Quantum T5DR flashes, bare bulb, in the corners with did help.  Fuji off camera flash is a failure, period!

THE AVERAGE: The XT1 performed well, but not any better than the XE2.  The auto focus seemed the same and neither performed well all in low light.  In fact none of the Fuji’s autofocus performed well in low light.  To be fair by 5D II was not all that and a bag of chips when it came to low light AF, so there’s that.  The X100s actually performed the best of all the camera.  The AF was average but at least accurate and the lens/ISO combo and 5000 actually looked very good, especially in B&W.  One HUGE weak point was that Adobe Lightroom as of this post, does not support Fuji XT1 RAF files, so I was forced to shoot in JPEG which I prefer not to do at weddings.  The XT-1 JPEG files made the skin very “plastic looking” and odd to say the least.  I did not rate that as “bad” because PS CC Camera RAW does support the files and Lightroom will soon follow.  This caused me to use the XE2 a lot more.

Another really noticeable thing about the XT1 is that without the grip (VG-XT1) the camera is very out of balance with the 18-55 or the 60 2.4.  It was OK with the 35 1.4 and better with the 14 2.8.  The fact that Fuji did not release the grips at the time of the camera release is a head scratcher but luckily my grip arrived form B&H today, just in time for my wedding Sunday the 30th.  I will post a follow up to this section afterwards.

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Fiji X100s at 3200 ISO f2.2 @ 1/60th AWB


 

THE GOOD:  Ok now the good to really good points to that night.  Low light shooting at 3200 to 500 ISO was stunning!  I was able to really work the reception room well with the 35 1.4 and got pretty much noiseless, tack sharp shots consistently at 3200 ISO.  I set my camera to auto ISO at 3200 with min shutter speed of 1/60.  Not because I am shaky but because at a wedding rarely are people still.

The colors were, well, Fuji!  I got great color and of course stunning B&W.  It is here that I feel the Fuji X system really separates itself from all others, including Leica.  There is something flat out amazing about the Fuji X B&W photos!.  The other really good thing was the weight.  Ahhhhhhh no more Canon back pain after a long wedding shoot!  The lightweight and ergo friendly cameras made it a joy to shoot the wedding and with the new grip added to the XT1 things will only get better!

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Fuji X100s @ 5000 ISO f 2.0


 

CONCLUSION:  Do I regret selling all of my Canon gear to go 100% Fuji?  At times I guess, but I truly believe it will get better as I learn the nuances of the Fuji System.  If Fuji address their glaring failure in regard to wireless TTL off camera flash issues, then I will say without hesitation NO, I do not miss Canon.  Fuji has something special here but for a working pro there is a lot of room for improvement and I feel confident Fuji will listen to pro’s and make the changes, and soon!


 

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Fuji XE-2 ISO 400, f4.5 1/100 35mm 1.4 XF

Fuji XT1, my first impressions!

XT1-1W XT1-2W

When you are stricken with the incurable disease that is photography you find yourself on a mission to own the perfect camera.  I have owned everything from Leica M and R’s to Hasselblad 50o CM and everything in-between.  But with digital the world is upside down and sideways and it seems as if you are standing on the shifting sands of rapid changing technology, which can be both good and frustrating.  Then sort of out of nowhere (remember their S5 Pro) comes Fuji and their cute little “X” systems cameras, (as if my lust for the holy grail of cameras needed to have the their embers stoked) first the X100 and now the newest creation the XT1!

My first impressions are admittedly biased, but they are honest nonetheless.  I will give you my straight up view of the Fuji XT1 as I see it:

BUILD QUALITY:  As soon as I unboxed the camera and picked it up the differences were immediate and pronounced.  The hand feel is solid, as in rock solid.  The texture is reassuring without being obnoxious.  The buttons move with in a solid, reassuring way.  The dials are just firm enough to make accidental adjustments a thing of the past.  Am I right you XE-1 users!  Can I get a Amen!  But one awesome feature are the dials themselves and what they control and how brilliantly laid out they are.  No more riffling through confusing menus to change the ISO or shutter speed.  Nikon DF tried the retro dial thing but failed in their execution, whereas Fuji XT1 succeeded.  For me I will need the grip ASAP because the camera is still small.  I would dare to say X Pro-1 size.  And for adding a second battery to insure longer shooting before battery changes.  Speaking of the battery.  It is the same as the X Pro1 and the XE-2, which is great.  In addition the battery has it’s own compartment and so does the SD card slot, FINALLY!

The dial, doors, hatches, portholes and every other orifice is weather sealed.  Not water proof but sealed enough so the next time I am shooting a wedding at the Texas Renaissance Festival and it decides to rain as if we are in the Costa Rican rain forest I will not fret as much.  In order to truly take advantage of this weather sealing you need the lenses to be the same, which as of now, are nonexistent.  With that said great job on the build quality.  The first real, “DSLR like” body from Fuji in the X mount system and hope this is a trend from Fuji.

VIEWFINDER:  This is going to be a super short review of the viewfinder.  Think IMAX when looking through this viewfinder.  It is brilliant, responsive and most of all 100% coverage and color accurate.  I crave a WYSIWYG viewfinder, hence my love for the Canon 1V HS.  Told ya it would be short 🙂

IMAGE QUALITY:  Boy, am I spoiled!  I have the X Pro-1, X100s, XE-2 and now the XT1 and to be honest they all produce the same stunning, detail rich, sharp images day in and day out.  Fuji XT1 did not deviate far from the sensor and processor that is in the XE-2, and nor should they.  The control you have over the images in camera is perfect and the JPEG’s are as good of a JPEG can get out of camera.  White balance is very good and of course the B&W are, as usual, simply stunning.  Never mind the crazy good, and I mean CRAZY good low light performance.  Fuji done got this one right!

AUTO FOCUS:  The thorn in the side of Fuji X system has been their auto focus.  The X Pro-‘s auto focus on day one was miserable.  Now, it’s not bad at all.  I am a wedding photographer I must have fast, accurate auto focus and so far I can say the XT1 delivers.  The XE-2 is pretty darn good but I needed better than good.  I needed really good and a really good focus tracking system.  Hey, the Canon 5D II aint no track star in the auto focusing department.  I missed as many or more shots with the crappy 5DII AF system than I care to admit.  But, that’s all there was in Canon until the 5DIII, which I REFUSE to pay $3499.00 for!  Arrrgg, the arrogance of Canon!!!!

Anyway, back on topic.  The XT1 auto focus is snappy and seems to be spot on accurate.  I need to do more low light testing to see how it truly performs.  If the single shot and focus tracking performs the way I think it will I might be able to finally dump all my Canon gear for good!   I do wish Fuji would add two thing to their focusing, one is multiple point focusing.  Not like a zillion focusing points but 9 to 12 would be perfect.  I would love to see Fuji change the color of their focus peak highlights to red like in the Sony A7 and A7r.

FLASH:  This is the one glaring failure in the Fuji X system.  I say failure because I use flash and for me the ability to take flash off camera is paramount and down right mandatory.  Yea, yea, yea I know you can use Pocket Wizards with strobes.  What I mean is the ability to take my EFX-20 and EFX-42 off camera and retain TTL functionality.  Or at the very least be able to adjust flash output off camera wirelessly.  EVERYONE else does this why can’t Fuji?  This is a big deal to me because I (and many other pro’s) invested heavily into the Quantum Qlash system.  When I use my Canon there is no problem.  But with the Fuji, this is a big problem.  If Fuji is going to delve into the pro market I feel they need to address this glaring weakness.  The lack of ability to use any Fuji flash off camera is very limiting and almost debilitating.  The nice surprise is the little flash that comes with the camera.  It is rather nice and is powered off your camera batter so no need to carry extra batteries for the flash!

VIDEO:  I do not do video and neither should you 😉

In conclusion, the Fuji XT1 is exactly what I was hoping it would be, well almost.  The lack of off camera flash issue is the cactus in my Speedo.  However I am willing to deal with that glaring deficiency to get a light weight, fast, well built and beautiful image producing work of art.  The Fuji XT1 is the only camera where I declared prior to its release that regardless of my situation I am buying one the day they are available in Houston.  If you are debating on if it is worth it $1,299.99 price tag.  In one word; oh hell yes!  This is the Fuji that has been needed for a while.  The XT1 is a real working photographers camera.  Yes, it will piss off the hipsters because it’s not “ironic” and “retro” but who cares.  Plus pissing of hipsters is FUN!

Thanks to Craig at Houston Camera Exchange looking out for me and putting one aside until I could get their to pick it up, big man hug to you Craig!

Where the Fuji X FAILS!

You know I love the Fuji X system cameras right?  Here are my thoughts on where their system is a complete failure:

FLASH!  Yup!  Their flash system when on camera, works great, but when you want to take it off camera is really shows how far behind the other camera makers they really are.  Let me get into more detail about what I am talking about.  When I say off camera I am specifically talking about wireless TTL functionality.  One thing that Nikon, Canon and even Panasonic do well is wireless TTL off-camera flash.  I am an event and portrait photographer and having access to this function matters to me a great deal.  It is because of this failure on Fuji’s part that I have not made the complete switch to Fuji.  I still have my 5D II for wireless high speed flash sync functionality.

I understand that on the grand scheme of things the Fuji X system is very much the “young pup” so to speak, and maybe Fuji has no desire to be like the rest in the area of flash.  But don’t forget the Fuji S Pro line was built on the Nikon platform and was 100% compatible with Nikon flashes.  As a pro photographer I want, no, NEED a fully functional off-camera, wireless TTL flash and remote power control.  I did speak to the wonderfully nice people at Pocket Wizard and as of now they have zero plans to produce anything that is compatible with Fuji.  Quantum Instruments also made a similar claim.  I do remember Will Crockett announcing that Quantum was producing something for Fuji, but then Quantum was purchased by Promark International out of New York, who also own flash lines like; Photogenic, Norman, Speedotron, Smith Victor and Cool-Lux.  Quantum did release their wireless line for Panasonic cameras, which Will Crockett uses extensively, but nothing for Fuji.

Now let’s be clear here.  You CAN use Fuji wirelessly which I do often.  I use my Quantum T5D-R with a Pocket Wizard (PW) attached.  A PW on my XPro-1 or XE-2 (silent shooting must be sent to OFF) and can shoot all day in manual mode only and with no wireless power adjustment.

Or is there?