Fujifilm release XT and X100/X100s accessories

It has been known for some time according to the rumour sites that Fujifilm were close to release a Tele Conversion lens for their X100 series cameras; this includes the X100s too. What wasn’t known was that they would also release a host of accessories for the XT-1 camera too, one of these are also compatible with the other X series interchangeable lens cameras and a Finepix model as well.

Tele Conversion Lens TCL-X100:
Fuji TCL-X100 Tele Lens

Fujifilm already had a “Wide Conversion Lens WCL-X100” that reduced the 23mm focal length to 18.4mm (i.e. a multiplication factor of 0.8). Whilst the standrd 23mm lens on the X100 has the same FOV (field of view) as a 35mm lens (in 35mm full-frame terms), the 18.4mm is equivalent to a 28mm FOV lens.

The Tele Conversion lens, as it name implies will increase the focal length by a multiplication factor of 1.4. This means that the focal length is now 33mm which is equivalent to a 50mm FOV lens (technically these are rounded up values as the actual focal length will be 32.2mm equivalent to the FOV pf a 48.3mm lens).

For more details, click here. There are many photographers out there that only use the X100/X100s and many of these have the WCL-X100 already, adding the TCL-X100 gives them 3 of the classic effective focal lengths of 28mm, 35mm and now 50mm too. All of this in a small package, add a few spare batteries and memory cards in a small bag could be everything most photographers could ever need.

I can see an X100s in my future but that won’t be for a while yet as I still have a few “gaps” in my X-Series interchangeable lens set-up to fill first (I really, really want that 23mm f1.4 lens!). This brings me to the other announcements made by Fujifilm.

More XT-1 Grips:
When the X-T1 camera was announced/released, two optional grips were also announced. There was the MHG-XT which added an arca-swiss plate to the bottom of the camera (with a cut-out to allow access to the battery) that also came a standard tripod socket now in line with the lens on the camera. This grip also added a bit more to the already built in grip of the X-T1 body:

Fuji Hand Grip MHG-XT

They also announced at release their first battery grip the VG-XT1 which allowed two batteries to be connected as well as provide portrait shooting controls too. I have one of these that I occasionally attach to my XT-1:
Fuji Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT1-small

Fuji have now announced two more, the “MHG-XT Small” and the equally logically named “MHG-XT Large”, these are simply variants of the original MHG-XT grip.

The MHG-XT Small is basically the MHG-XT without the grip and is simply an arca-swiss plate:
Fuji Hand Grip MHG-XT Small

The MHG-XT Large is the MHG-XT but with a more substantial grip (for larger hands):
Fuji Hand Grip MHG-XT Large #1

Fuji Hand Grip MHG-XT Large #2

Other bits and pieces:
Not content with simply releasing the conversion lens and XT1 grips/brackets, Fujifilm also decided that it was time to announce 3 more accessories too.

The first of these is not just for the XT-1 but according to the Fujifilm website the can also be used with the following camera bodies and body+grip combinations:

  • FUJIFILM X-Pro1, X-Pro1 with HG-XPro1 / MHG-XPro1,
  • X-T1, X-T1 with MHG-XT / MHG-XT Large / MHG-XT Small / VG-XT1,
  • X-E2, X-E2 with MHG-XE / HG-XE1,
  • X-E1, X-E1 with MHG-XE / HG-XE1,
  • X-M1, X-M1 with HG-XM1,
  • X-A1, X-A1 with HG-XM1,
  • X-S1 / X100S / X100
  • FinePix HS50EXR

This is the Grip Belt GB-001:
Fuji Grip Belt GB-001

This is something I am interested in and blogged about (well actually it was an update to the My Gear page). I have tried the Canon E1 Strap with the XT-1 and the VG-XT1 attached and it was no good as the grip was designed for shutter button on the front face of the camera body (i.e like most DSLR’s) and not on the top of the camera. Without twisting my finger I couldn’t use the strp and take pictures.

The fuji design seems to take this into account. So long as it isn’t astronomically priced I might get one of these in preference to another Gordy Strap (I have on on each of my other Fujifilm bodies, the X-E1 and the X-Pro1). I still think that adding a Black Rapid strap of some kind might be needed as well but there is no reason I cannot use both.

The next accessory was expected as one of the “Fuji Guys” mentioned this in their first XT1 videos:

This is the “Long Eye Cup or EC-XT L”, this provides a larger eyecup to the viewfinder of the XT-1. This is something I have to have and is one of things I most miss from my Nikon D3/D3s days, I am really happy now I can have a bigger eye:
Fuji EC-XTL Long Eye cup

The final accessory is one that most X-T1 users should own in case you lose them. This is the “CVR-XT” Cover kit and includes replacement covers for the hot-shoe, the battery grip terminals (on the base of the camera body) and finally one for the flash sync terminal. In fact apart from the battery-grip terminal cover the others can be used of some of the other X-series bodies too:
Fuji Cover Kit

Not bad for what I expected to be a non Fuji news day!

Resolution of Light-Leak issue on Fujifilm X-T1

Fuji-X-T1 Body+Lens

As I have stated in a previous post, I had to send my X-T1 to Fujifilm UK to have its light-leak issue resolved. I should point out that this is not an issue I have noticed (I probably would have never noticed) but it could be an issue in the future. As a side note it helps maintain its re-sale value when that day comes; hopefully not for a couple of years or until the X-T1s/X-T2 is available.

I was quite impressed with the speed that it took to have the fault corrected – exactly 2 weeks from ringing Fuji to having the repaired X-T1 back in my grubby mitts; it actually took 2 weeks and a day as no-one was in when the courier firm originally tried to deliver it back to me.

I have summarised the process below:

On the morning of Monday 24th March I rang Fujifilm UK and reported the issue, after providing the usual information I was informed that a pre-paid box will be sent to me and I was to pack the camera (no battery, memory card, camera straps or lenses should be sent with the camera) into the box. I of course left the body cap and grip terminal cover attached.

The following day a box arrived from Fuji containing another box (for the XT-1), instructions for return and a pre-paid and addressed Special Delivery bag. As this was a warranty repair I had to also include a copy of the receipt too. Fortunately I finish work at 4PM and arrived home in about 20 minutes so I had time to package my XT-1 and take into our local post office.

The instructions in the box say to allow 2 to 3 weeks for the repair to take place.

On Wednesday I received an email form Fuji reporting that they had received the X-T1.

As I was told that the repair could take 2 to 3 weeks I did not feel the need to contact Fuji and having no news is usually a good sign.

On Friday 4th March I received another email reporting that the Fuji was on its way back to me. This meant that they would probably try and deliver this on the following Monday; which presented a problem as no-one would be there (all week).

As suspected on Monday (7th March), I had a note reporting that they had tried to deliver the X-T1 and could not as there was no-one was present. However, I had managed to arrange to work form home on the Tuesday so that I could receive this on the following day.

By default, the courier firm used by Fujifilm in the UK will automatically try and deliver the item on the next day unless told to do something else. So on Tuesday 8th March I had the repaired X-T1 in my hands.

The report from Fuji reported that they had replaced the door to fix the light-leak issue. This is the only confusing part of the overall process.

And no they did not do anything to the D-pad buttons they are still too recessed and are not comfortable in use, I only hope that either a) Fuji offer a service to replace them with better buttons or b) a 3rd Party comes up with a solution to make the buttons easier to press.

So all in all a very simple process and the only problem is that you are X-T1’less for a couple of weeks. It just meant that I had to use my X-Pro1 and X-E1 for that period – life is hard :).

The Fuji X-E1, 60mm Macro and 2 flowers

XF60mmF2.4_R_Macro_Len_2d818a80df

My previous post talked about how I was using the X-E1 with the 50-230mm lens whilst my X-T1 was being repaired. This post is about using the X-E1 again but this time with the 60mm f2.4 macro lens.

I wanted to try this combo for macro photography now that spring is finally here and a lot of the dormant plants are now flowering again. As is usual with this kind of photography you are better off using manual focus (particularly with such a slow focusing lens such as the XF60mm). You set your focus at the minimum distance (don’t forget to put the camera into macro mode) and then move the camera back and forth until the subject of the photo is in focus and then lightly press the trigger to take the shot. Macro photography requires a different discipline compare to standard wildlife photography as auto-focus is rarely used and the working depth of field goes from metres to millimetres.

You will need to keep an eye on the shutter speed to so that camera shake isn’t an issue (I don’t have very steady hands). This is a lot easier than a DSLR (with or without grip) and macro lens as there is a lot less weight to worry about, the disadvantage is that there are no dedicated macro flash guns (both Nikon and Canon have some very nice options in their arsenal with a wide range of Macro lenses too).

I took a lot of shots and getting them sharp took a lot of patience as it was quite a windy day that meant that the plants and flowers were stationary for only short periods of time. However, I eventually managed to get a few shots before the wind became too much of an obstacle.

Thee following two photographs are the best of the day and whilst they look large, the actual flower is only between 1 and 2 cm big. I am not 100% sure what flower this is but I think it is a member of the “daisy” family (possibly a member of the Osteospermum family). If I do find a definitive name I will update this post.

2014-04-XE1BF-8

2014-04-XE1BF-9

Fuji X-E1 and 50-230mm around the Brayford

Fuji X-E1 Body (no lens)

Whilst my X-T1 was with Fujifilm having its light-leak issue repaired I have been using my X-E1 over the last two weeks so I though I would create a couple of posts about using that camera with the 50-230mm f4.5-f6.7 lens (this post) as well as the 60mm f2.4 macro lens too.

I have to say that whilst the X-E1 is not in the same league as the X-T1, it did perform admirably with no issues. I should also say that the XC 50-200mm lens is better than most “budget” lenses that I have used in the past.

All of these pictures were taken around the Brayford Wharf at the west side of Lincoln City. I am fortunate that the building that I work in has its main entrance on the Brayford and there is usually some wildlife activity taking place. Whilst this is predominately Mute Swans there are also other birds from Mallard and Muscovy Ducks to Moorhens and Feral Pigeons. A couple of weeks ago I also saw a single Canada Goose last week which is the first and last time I have seen one here; typically this was on a day where I did not have my camera with me.

The pictures below unfortunately show nothing unusual but do show that the X-E1 can take wildlife photos; the reach of the 50-230mm lens was also useful and has another 30mm (equivalent to a 45mm FOV on a 35mm full-frame sensor) over the more expensive and faster 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 XF lens. Both lenses have Fujifilm’s very good OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) technology incorporated though.

As I approached the pool from the office, noticed this swan asleep in the middle of the pool:
2014-04-XE1BF-4

Here is an adolescent swan that is nearly 1 year old, it could be one of the ones I was watching last year, you can see the last post I made about them here:
2014-04-XE1BF-1

Here you can see the adult swan, notice that there are no brown feathers:
2014-04-XE1BF-2

There is a small island in the Brayford pool that has a beautiful Willow tree situated on it:
2014-04-XE1BF-3

The second most common bird in the pool were the Mallard ducks, they seem to be predominately male birds, this one was swimming around:
2014-04-XE1BF-6

After he got bored swimming he decide to jump onto part of the old swing bridge:
2014-04-XE1BF-5

My final picture is of a swan feeding, I like the reflection in this one:
2014-04-XE1BF-7

I was really impressed by the performance of the X-E1 and whilst not as good as the X-T1 or any performance DSLR it held its own and wasn’t a hindrance to getting the available photo opportunities on the pool.

Photoshop Lightroom 5.4 and Lightroom Mobile released

adobe

I suspected as much. This week is Photoshop World week, this is the bi-annual event organised by NAPP (Scott Kelby’s company) and one of the main events of each show is a keynote from Adobe and surprise surprise they finally announced Photoshop Lightroom v5.4 which brings with it X-T1 support as well as Fuji Film profiles too. I also hope that this release fixes many of the bugs that seemed to creep in at the last version upgrade (5.3). The Camera Raw plugin is also updated to a final v8.4 too.

I normally include download links to the latest versions but you can now get these updates from any Creative Cloud membership and frankly you will need one of these if you wish to use Photoshop Lightroom v5 for the iPad!

What I didn’t expect today was a full release of Lightroom v5 for the iPad.
lightroom_700_400

This is no pre-release, no beta, no Release Candidate (RC) but the full version and to use this you need any of the Creative Cloud memberships; I can already hear the people who will bitch and moan about being forced into going for a membership. I think that paying less than £9 a month to get the full version of Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge and now Lightroom for the iPad is a bargain!

Lightroom Mobile runs on iPad 2 or later with iOS 7 or later. Lightroom 5.4 for Windows or Mac OS is also required. It is not available for the iPhone or any android device today (although versions are being developed) is only available in English, French, German, and Japanese langugae versions (again more are being developed) and it supports all of the RAW formats supported by Lightroom v5.4.

More detail can be found on Adobe’s website here. They also have a ton of videos about how to use the new tool and I wil be looking at these after work :(.

Where is the Lightroom update for the Fujifilm X-T1?

adobe

Just over a month ago (Feb 21st), Adobe issued a release candidate version of Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop; normally there is also a simultaneous release of a Lightroom version too. We didn’t get one on that date and all thought at the time never mind it will be out in a few more days – this has not happened and Adobe have been erringly quite on the subject.

I am particularly interested in this version as it allows me to edit my Fujifilm X-T1 RAW (*.RAF) files and additionally provides the Fujifilm camera profiles as it has been doing for Canon/Nikon users for many years now.

This is also affecting other users of new cameras such as the Nikon D4s users, you can see my blog post about the cameras that will be supported in the next update here.

However, whilst we await the next release (hopefully Adobe are using this time to really sort out the remaining issues with their Fujifilm demosaicing algorithm), there appear to be two workarounds, neither of these are ideal.

Workaround 1:
You modify the Exif date of your X-T1 files. The reasoning behind this idea is that the X-T1 shares exactly the same X-Trans II sensor as the Fujifilm X-E2; this camera is already supported in Lightroom 5 so if you can fool Lightroom into thinking the X-T1 files are in fact X-E2 files it will open them and allow the editing to take place. Lightroom reads the Exif data from any RAW file imported and uses this work work out how to view and edit the file; one of the enrtries (or fields) in this data is for Camera make and model.

You can read this blog here for information on how to do this (unfortunately the software mentioned is Mac only). :(

The fact that I don’t have access to or own a Mac coupled with the fact that this is not something I really want to do anyway means that this option is of no use to me.

Workaround 2:
The fact that there is a Camera Raw release candidate that supports the Fujifilm X-T1 means that you can use this, but you don’t use the Camera Raw plugin/filter but instead use the DNG converter to create DNG versions of all of the Fujifilm RAF files.

I don’t consider this ideal either, maybe if I was using a DNG based workflow this might have been an option I would have considered. The other issue is that I will have to install a piece of beta software onto my computer and I don’t know what (if any) the implications will be when the non-beta software is released and needs installing.

However, if using beta software does not scare you and DNG files are not a problem you could use this option, see Jared Polin (aka FrowKnowsFoto)’s video below on how to do this – he is using a Mac and is doing this for his Nikon D4s but the principle is the same:

Mystery Workaround 3:
Adobe just release the d**n update for Lightroom that has been in the Camera Raw release candidate since February! As stated before we don’t normally have to wait this long, this is not the usual state of affairs for Adobe.

If I was a working pro and needed to work on the RAW files from my X-T1 I would have had to investigate these options but for now I am prepared to wait. I also don’t have my X-T1 at the moment as it is with Fujifilm UK having its light-leak issue fixed so this gives Abode a little bit more time to sort this.

To overcome the issue with that fact that I cannot access the RAW files (that I have already shot with the X-T1) in Lightroom 5 I have been using the JPG files – I forgot how little you can do with them before they fall apart :(

The X-T1 is not that good!

X-T1-View3

OK, cue the hate wagons here is someone who is going to have a go at the Fujifilm X-T1 what a heretic! I wish I could use italics in the WordPress headings because the title would then have been “The X-T1 is not that good!”.

So what am I writing about, what do I mean? Am I not the same guy who has been going on about how this is probably one of the best cameras out there? Well that is all true but there seems to be a reality gap between my X-T1 and the X-T1s used by other people. Now some of this will be because I am not as good a photographer as most of these people are but the X-T1 has won many awards and there are not many bad reviews out there, the only one that comes to mind it Michael Reichmann’s review that I blogged about last week and that was because it didn’t have any custom modes.

The problem for me is that the (positive) hype outweighed the actual product (as hype usually does); this reminds me of Batman! To explain this, way back when I was in my late teens I hadn’t seen the new Batman film when it was first released. This was the first reboot of the series starring Michael Keaton (1989) and was the only decent one of the 4 films they released. This film was hyped so much that by the time I actually saw the film I was quite disappointed as it couldn’t live up to the hype!

As a side note sometimes I have been pleasantly surprised by a product that was much better that largely negative hype but that doesn’t happen very often. :(

The camera hype also reminds me of when the original iPhone was released; this was christened the “Jesus Phone” by some people (I never liked that name for the phone). The original iPhone was certainly more revolutionary than the new X-T1 but the way the some sites refer to it you could be forgiven.

There were three primary areas of hype as follows:

  1. Viewfinder
  2. Autofocus performance
  3. Direct Control Dials for: Aperture (on applicable XF lenses), Shutter speed, ISO and Exposure compensation as well as control rings for drive mode and metering patterns.

1. Viewfinder
X-T1-EVF1
The X-T1 being a mirrorless camera has an Electronic Viewfinder and without a doubt it is one of the best ones out there to date (in the same league as the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and the Sony A7/A7R). It also has some out-of-the-box thinking that has produced 2 new features. The first is of these features enables the text to rotate appropriately when you turn the camera +/- 90 degrees left or right for a portrait aspect ratio photograph. The second is when you use manually focus, in this situation you not only get the full image but to the right a magnified view of the centre of the image to help with precise focus (with a split-view or focus peaking).

However the hype stated that the EVF bests even the top full frame optical viewfinder cameras out there such as Canon’s 5D-III and 1DX or Nikon’s D4/4s and D800/800e. It’s good but not that good.

2. Autofocus Performance
X-T1-HS
If you believe the hype, the X-T1 is one of the fastest focusing cameras out there. Now I have used the camera in a number of scenarios trying different focusing modes (Single, Continuous and Manual) as well as playing with the various options in the menus and whilst it is pretty good in single shot it is atrocious in continuous focus. If you point the camera at a static subject in this mode the camera will at random focus in and out for no reason at all. This is simply not acceptable and I have used a fair number of DSLR cameras (as well as some mirrorless) that don’t have this focus chattering phenomenon.

I have done some research and it seems that this can be improved by playing with some of the set-up options out there and these although mentioned in the manual do not accurately describe what they do. One of the options is to enable something called performance mode which whilst improving the AF performance it additionally increases the battery drain of the camera.

I remember when I had the 5D-III, I though that the cameras focusing system was complex but at least the AF settings gave you an idea of the effect of adjusting that setting.

3. Direct Controls
X-T1-Dials
Although this is one of the top selling points that was hyped beyond reason I do not see this as a feature that I wanted or didn’t want. If I am honest I prefer menu based control settings like on all of the Canon DSLRs and not so much the direct shutter speed or Aperture changes via setting dials as on the X-T1 (or even quasi-models such as the Nikon Dfail). So I don’t see having dials as a major selling point, I just see these as the way to modify these kind of settings on most Fuji X-system cameras.

So there we have the 3 major areas of hype and my thoughts about them. I would be remiss if I single out the X-T1 as the only camera to be hyped beyond reason but it is a model that I actually (still) own and therefore one I can comment about fairly.
X-T1-UHSII
I would also add that some areas that were not hyped as much such as the 9fps drive mode with a reasonable buffer, the UHS-II support and the weather sealing are a few that I am pleased I have.