Tag Archives: XF

FujiFilm to Canon

Following on from many articles that wax lyrical about the virtues of the Fujifilm X system I thought that I would write a post that shows that there is still some way to go before it could be considered a comprehensive system. I have been using the X system for almost half a year now and although there are many great things about it there are still some areas that need more work and some of these are becoming issues for where I want to go photographically. Whilst it is certainly possible (and probably cheaper) to persevere with the X-system it will be much easier to go to another system that has what I need today and not at some point in the future.

So in no particular order the areas I will discuss are as follows:

Lenses
Thanks to their lens road map we know that the lens line-up is improving but I also hope that Fujifilm will look at releasing some of the more “exotic” lenses in 2015. I would like to see some telephoto primes as well as more specialised lenses (such as fisheyes, tilt-shifts and better macro lenses) on next year’s lens road map.

Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM

Today Fujifilm UK released an updated lens road map and the lens that I was really interested in, the super telephoto zoom has been pushed back to the end of 2015. This is a show stopper for me as it was probably going to be somewhere in the 120-400mm focal range.

Batteries
Although I like the fact that Fujifilm have standardised on a single battery (the WF-120) for or all of their interchangeable lens cameras, it really needs to be updated. The number one criticism of mirror-less cameras in general is their short battery life and Fujifilm cameras are among the worst. Many pro photographers who use Fujifilm ILCs take a large number of batteries on their shoots so that they don’t run out of power – a far cry from the days where a DSLR (especially with a portrait/battery grip) would last all day on a single battery.

Fuji NP-W126 Battery

At some point (when Fujifilm releases one of their new cameras) I expect to see a new battery and unfortunately there is a strong likelihood that this won’t be compatible with the current generation of cameras. Batteries are rarely backwards compatible; however, Fujifilm could surprise us?

Any new battery needs to provide more accurate charge and health information to the cameras that support them. The current information is unreliable and means that you should consider replacing the battery as soon as your camera shows battery life as anything other than full charge as you will only have a few shots left. Almost everyone else has moved to these “intelligent batteries”: Canon, Nikon and Sony for example.

Full TTL Flash System
Fujifilm need a more comprehensive TTL-based flash system. The re-badged Sunpacks are not good enough in this day and age. Whilst you can use Manual flash systems when you have total control of the flash to subject distance, these are no good when this distance is variable.

ef-x20_2

Although the EFXF-20 compact flashgun is a good albeit small flash we need bigger versions with better guide numbers in the same build quality. They need to support all of the various flash modes from second-curtain sync to high-speed sync and have a good wireless system too. I am looking at Radio as well as Optical; this is the way that Canon, Yongnuo and Cactus are going

How about a full TTL Macro flash gun too? Something between Nikon’s R1C1 and Canon’s new MR14 EX II ring flash would be great; add a few TTL cords and you have a fantastic system. I am not the only photographer who would like such a system, we all see this a hole in their otherwise excellent line-up.
Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II (9)

Off-camera-flash
One of the only things I was missing from my previous Canon set-up is the comprehensive flash system that the EOS based cameras have; this is also shared by a number of their other models such as the EOS M and some of the higher end Power shot models too (i.e. the G1 X).

SPEEDLITE 600EX-RT FSL w STAND

Canon have upped the ante by building in Radio technology to their flagship Flash gun (the £470 Speedlite 600EX-RT) and they have also released a companion flash trigger the ST-E3-RT (now around £240). The “RT” in the model names denote the Radio Technology. Canon’s flash system also supports control of the flash from the camera on most of their models over the last few years; the most recent EOS cameras also support full group modes whereby different groups can be in different modes too. The flash system naturally provides full TTL support (latest version is ETTL-II), second-curtain sync and High Speed sync as well. They have a number of models and two macro-based flash guns with an optical trigger complete their system.

What does Fuji offer in this area?

There are some third party manual only options by these are difficult to source in the UK, they nearly all seem to come from China.

Other missing accessories
When I am taking nature/wildlife pictures I like to have my pictures geocoded and there is simply no Fuji or third party accessory to do this. Both Nikon and Canon have GPS accessories that will inject the coordinates directly into the EXIF of the pictures as they are taken.

There is a very good iOS program called “GPS4Cam” that can perform the same function in a very logical manner. You have to remember to start the application as you commence your photo shoot then take a picture of a QR Code on the phone at the end. The final step is use the Mac/Windows companion software to add the geocode to the EXIF files automatically before importing them to your RAW editor. I wrote a review of the software which goes into greater detail here.

Canon GP-E2

I must admit I prefer the GPS device, of the two out there Canon have the better system as there is no cable required, the transmission of the GPS data is via the hot-shoe.

File Size and RAW conversions
After reviewing some of my RAW files there was something that I didn’t realise until today and that is that the X-Trans II Sensor (X-T1 and X-E2) RAW files are much bigger than the files that I took with the Canon EOS 70D.

  • The Canon EOS 70D RAW files were between 20 and 22 MB
  • The Fuji X-T1/E2 files were between 31MB and 33MB

I also noticed another phenomena, the X Trans sensors in the X-E1 and the X-Pro1 always produced a RAW file that is exactly 24.9MB

The number one RAW conversion software in use today is Adobe Lightroom. And although the software’s interpretation of X-TRANS has improved they still haven’t got the RAW conversion quite right yet; it is debatable if they ever will. Personally I haven’t noticed most of the problems that other people talk about for the pictures that I take; however, this thought will always be in the back of my mind. We don’t seem to have as many problems with DSLR files (well Canon ones anyway), no doubt someone will correct me on this.

Conclusion
So there you have a few reasons why for now the Fujifilm X-system isn’t as mature as some of the DSLR systems out there. Maybe this isn’t fair as they DSLR manufacturers have developed their current systems over many more years. However the reason for the switch is that maturity that they offer today. I would also add that the DSLR companies have squandered some of the time advantage they have had as there are some holes in their systems too; when they realise that the world doesn’t only revolve around full-frame DSLR cameras and lenses we will see these holes close.

The many advantages of the system are now outweighed by the disadvantages (for me anyway) and I will be going back to a more bulky Canon DSLR system that to be frank isn’t that much more bulky. This will allow me to experience their fantastic flash system, add a GPS accessory to my hot-shoe and bring back a vari-angle touch-screen display. Sure, some of the full-frame lenses will be big and heavy but I won’t have many and I will only bring them when I want to use them (EF 400mm L f5.6 lens for example).

EOS 70D FSL w EF-S 18-135mm IS STM

The final point that I would like to make here is that I have tried the X-system twice before and the reasons for leaving then are quite difference to the reasons today. This shows that Fujifilm HAVE progressed much more quickly than many of their competitors and I won’t be surprised if I try the Fuji again – but as a companion and not a replacement camera system. This is unless Canon can figure out what photographers want in a mirror-less system or large sensor compact camera – they may even do this accidentally :).

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Fuji update their Lens Road Map

On Thursday 24th July Fujifilm published a slightly updated version of their lens road map as follows:

Fuji July 2014 Road Map UK

The press release for the publicaton can be found on Fujifilm’s website here.

So what’s new and what’s changed? If you compare the above road-map with the previous version:

  • The “High speed Wide Angle Lens” has been confirmed as the XF16mm F1.4 R and instead of its 2014 release date will now be released in mid 2015
  • A new lens, the XF90mm F2 R has been added and will be released in mid 2015
  • According to the roadmap the XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R OIS WR lens is now available. I haven’t seen my voucher or the lens yet and we are almost at the end of July, the voucher is only valid to the end of August!
  • The release of the two f2.8 zoom lenses has reversed, now the XF50-140mm F2.8 R OIS WR lens will be released first at the end of this year, the XF15-55mm F2.8 R OIS WR lens will be released in Spring 2015.
  • The “Super Telephoto Zoom Lens” has still not been identified (although the rumors state that this will be 120 to 400mm) and its release has been pushed back to “Winter 2015”. This means December 2015 at the earliest and I won’t be surprised to see this slip into early 2016
  • The Zeiss lenses are all shown as released and I can now find all 3 from most online web stores

Frankly, I’m a little bit disappointed. The lens I was looking forward to (the 120 to 400mm) has been pushed back to the end of NEXT year instead of the end of THIS year. The XF-18-135mm lens is missing in action.

Switching the release of the two f2.8 zooms makes sense to me but why have nearly all of the lenses had their release dates pushed back?

Fujifilm UK issues emails about vouchers for 18-135mm lens

No sooner than I pasted a comment on Fujirumors about the new Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens I received an email from Fujifilm UK:

Fuji £250 off voucher email

OK it’s not the voucher but Fujifilm just setting expectations; interestingly the voucher still has an August 31st expiry date. Either the lens will be available in large stocks (unlikely) and/or will be available in early July. Rico Pfirstinger who has been testing the lens for Fuji did have this to say in reply to the question:

Q: I hope now that the 18-135mm will be sold beginning of July as a kit with the new X-T1P!

A: (from Rico), I very much doubt this. Fuji expects demand to exceed availability, so a kit offer will certainly be in the cards, but not initially.

So I have already visited the Lincoln High Street LCE store and pre-ordered the lens, the manager has been told that the RRP of the new lens is £750 but expects to sell it for £700 which is what the Fuji Rep said it would be sold for only last week.

I have been in the position before where there is a time-limited special deal or time-limited voucher that has run out simply because I could find the relevant item in stock anywhere. Not this time!

Fujifilm announce Fujinon 18-135 Weather Resistant Lens

Fujinon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens

To give the full name, this is the “Fujinon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens“; this lens was meant to be released some time ago and delayed but it has finally been announced. The Fuji rep I spoke to last week did say it was going to be announced this week.

Fuji’s press release about the lens can be found here. The press release is worth a read as a lot of new technology in the lens is detailed; the product page for the lens can be found here.

If you read the press release you will see this little nugget of information:

“To ensure that autofocus performs as expected, download and install the latest version of the firmware for your camera. The firmware can be downloaded from the following website: http://www.fujifilm.com/support/digital_cameras/software/fw_table.html *available from June 27th”

So even if you have the lens today you won’t be able to fully use this until later this month; that is unless your name is “Rico Pfirstinger” who already has had a go with the lens, you can read his thoughts and views on the Fuji Rumors website here.

The other item that the Fuji rep told me about is that the lens won’t be available until July and this been confirmed too; so at least the firmware will be out before the general availability of the lens.

The UK price according to DPReview (their first look is here) will be £749.99, maybe the £699 price I was given by the Fuji rep is what the shop price will be (they are usually slightly cheaper than the actual RRP).

I’m sure that a lot more information will be available later as more and more review sites get to play with the lens. Hopefully some of the major retailers will announce the lens availability soon so that the UK price can be confirmed.

My chat with the Fuji Rep

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As I have already blogged about, this week is London Camera Exchange’s Photo Week whereby each day they will have different suppliers and offers in both of their stores each day. They will have representation form various suppliers over the week and today was Fuji at their Lincoln High Street store.

I went in on the off chance of getting a good offer but unfortunately funds are rather tight at the moment and unless I was given a phenomenally amazing offer I wasn’t likely to purchase anything. They were offering free Fuji protection filters for all lenses and LCE were slightly flexible with the price too.

My second reason for visiting was to have a chat with the Fuji rep to see what he was allowed to tell me and what he wasn’t. As he works for Fuji I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of information as there will be many things he couldn’t tell me. So what did I find out?

Fujinon XF18-135 f/3.5-5.6 R OIS WR Lens:
18-135-PLaceholder
This lens will be announced next week and will be released in July. It is going to have a price of £699, I don’t know if this is the RRP of the shop-price which is usually slightly less. I think that this is a fair price if it matches the rest of the XF lens range.

We also discussed the UK £250 off voucher for registered X-T1 owners, this is still in place and he was surprised that I have not received my voucher yet. So I suppose we’ll start to see these next week (once the release data has been formally announced).

So this will only cost me £449 🙂

Fuji X-20:
X20-Black
He confirmed that the X20 has been discontinued which explains why there is no sign of the camera at WEX any more. So if you want one get them while you can.

He did say that a replacement model will be released in the not too distant future but did not confirm that it will be called an X-30. Is this the cut-down Fuji X-100s (called the X-70) that I have been hearing about?

Fuji Lens Road Map
Fujinon Lens Rroadmap 2014-2015 UK-v2.1
We spoke about the lenses that we know about, the aforementioned XF18-135 and the two pro f/2.8 zoom lenses and I asked about the other two lenses on the current road map that have not been announced fully (yet). He agrees that a 16mm wide-angle would be a good idea as this is the obvious gap in the prime lens selection (take from that what you will) and when I spoke about the 120-400mm for the telephoto zoom he said “that sounds about right”. He also didn’t correct my estimation that this probably won’t be released until early next year.

I also asked about the 35mm f1.4 mkII – he said that he thinks that the lens selection needs to be more complete before the release new version of any current lenses (i.e. replacing the focus motor), so we won’t see anything for some time and probably not until 2016.

Finally on this matter from some of the things that were said it sound like there is a new Fuji road-map (not necessarily lenses only) that is available to Fuji and selected others – it remains to be seen how much of this information will get released and when.

Fuji Firmware updates
X-E2 Firmware Landing Page
On the firmware front, there are a lot more coming and he mentioned all of the current models (X100s, X-E2, X-Pro1 and X-T1) would be getting one soon. Although he knows what is in the new firmware update he couldn’t say and he did not mention the X100 or the X-E1 which could be an oversight or the first sign that Fuji are going to lessen their support for older models (I still think that lens firmware updates will occur).

We spoke about auto-bracketing and it won’t be in the next round of updates and is not currently planned for a future update but lots of people are telling Fuji about this so it is probably only a matter of time before they fix this. If Sony can do this I am sure Fujifilm can!

Fuji Flash System
ef-x20_2
I also spoke about the flash being the real weak link in the Fuji system and although he was naturally cagey he did say that it was being addressed but no specifics could be given (I may have reworded that slightly to make sound more positive then he said it).

Fuji X-T1:
Fuji-X-T1 Body+Lens
I tried to see if there was any news on the direction pad issue on the X-T1 and he was very tight-lipped about this even to the point of suggesting a third-party rubber dial that can stick onto the direction pad from eBay. He also spoke the county line “it’s due to the weather sealing”, sorry but many cameras are weather sealed out there and their direction pads are much better.

Other bits ‘n’ pieces:
He did have the full current lens selection to play with and so I had another go with the 23mm (I really want this lens) as well as the 56mm (I also want this lens). I also tried the 27mm on the X-E2 (yuck I don’t want this lens). I have come to a conclusion, if it doesn’t have an aperture ring (even one without markings as per the current zoom lenses and the 18-135mm) it doesn’t feel right on the Fuji bodies.

He also had all of the grips for the X-T1 which I tried out. The Extra large grip felt “really nice” 🙂 if I get a second X-T1 I might have to have one of these. He also had the wrist strap but not seeing it attached meant I couldn’t really evaluate it; however, you should be able to remove the bottom tripod socket mount and attach it directly to the X-T1 battery grip which is why I’m interested.

We spoke about the missing in action items; the eye-cup and the spare covers pack (which is an inspired thing to release for only £5) and they aren’t scheduled to be released until next month either.

So quite a bit of info and a lot more than I expected.

The allure of the Fuji X system

The Fuji X-system is probably the best all round mirror-less camera system out there at the moment. The size of the system has grown quite a bit since its original inception (X100 followed by the X-Pro1 and 3 lenses 18mm, 35mm and the 60mm Macro).

The system now comprises the following:

  • X100 (still available)
  • X100s
  • X-Pro1
  • X-E1 (still available)
  • X-E2
  • X-T1 (coming mid/late February)
  • X-M1
  • X-A1 (I don’t consider this an “X” camera as it lacks the X-Trans censor that is one of most, if not the most important defining feature of the X-System).
  • XF 14mm f2.8 R Fujinon Lens
  • XF 18mm f2.0 R Fujinon Lens
  • XF 23mm f1.4 R Fujinon Lens
  • XF 27mm f2.8 Fujinon Lens (Black and Silver options)
  • XF 35mm f1.4 R Fujinon Lens
  • XF 56mm f1.2 R Fujinon Lens (available Feb)
  • XF 60mm f2.8 R Macro Fujinon Lens
  • XF 10-24mm f4 R OIS Fujinon Lens (available Feb)
  • XF F18-55 f2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujinon Lens
  • XF F55-200 f3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujinon Lens
  • XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OIS Lens
  • XC 50-230mm f4.5-6.7 OIS Lens
  • Zeiss 12mm f2.8 E Touit Lens
  • Zeiss 32mm f1.8 Touit Lens
  • Samyang 8mm f2.8 Aspherical ED UMC Fisheye Lens (Black and Silver options)
  • Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC Lens
  • Samyang 300mm f6.3 Reflex ED UMC CS Lens

Note: This is not an exhaustive list but just what is shown on WEX’s website and only shows the APS-C sized sensor based cameras.

Edit: I have been reminded by my friend Richard that the X-100 did not have an X-Trans sensor either but this model did introduce the dual optical/LCD viewfinder also used in the X-Pro1 and the X-100s. He also says that some photographers have held onto the X-100 as its black-and-white photos look better.

That’s 5 current X-System bodies, 12 Fuji lenses, 2 Zeiss lenses and 3 Samyang lenses. This does not include the 5 new Fuji lenses now announced on the Fuji Lens Road Map:

Fujinon Lens Rroadmap 2014-2015 UK-v2.1

As you can see that this is also an additional Zeiss lens coming too; I think that the most interesting lenses are the two f2.8 zooms, the 16-55 and the 50-150 as these are Fuji’s equivalents of the 24-70 and 70-200 lenses which are the stalwarts of any system. The 18-135 lens is perfect when you need a single lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths, this is perfect for light-weight travel. All 3 of theses lenses will be weather-resistant (hence the WR designation in their name). I’m also happy to see that Fuji have added a tripod foot to the larger of the f2.8 lenses, my only concern is that the f2.8 zoom lenses won’t be cheap, we’ll have to wait until later in the year.

Fuji XT-1 (front)

Now that the X-T1 camera has been announced (should be available later in February for £1050 body only or £1399 with the XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 OIS lens). Fuji now shows Nikon how you do a “retro” style body right! The new model is positioned between the X-E and the X-Pro ranges. At first I thought that this would replace the X-Pro1 as Fuji’s top-end model but there a few interesting omissions that make me think that they are being held back for the X-Pro2. The X-Pro2 is probably going to get a new (X-TRANs III?) sensor and won’t be out until later in the year. All this is total conjecture on my part from and is taken from what I have heard from various rumour sites; Fuji have lots of patents out for all sorts of sensor designs so which one is used for their next sensor remains to be seen.

I’m not sure why but there are some fantastic deals out there on the Fuji X gear at the moment, there are four that I find interesting.

If you buy the Fuji X-Pro1 it now comes with the 18mm for only £899 and if purchased before 31st January you can also get a free lens from Fuji. You have to choose one from the 27mm, 35mm or 60mm. If you get the X-Pro1 from one of the London Camera Exchange stores you also get a second battery for free too.

X-Pro1-free-case-promo

Note: Some retailers (LCE and Park Cameras) are stating that this promotion has been extended to the end of March but the Fuji site does not say this yet, we’ll see once we get into February.

Fuji also have an up to £300 cash-back offer on most of the lens range too (the 56mm, 10-24mm and the two XC zooms are excluded). If you purchase one lens you can apply for a £100 cash-back, if you purchase two then you can apply for £300 cash-back (that’s £100 per lens and a bonus £100). However, you can only get £300 cash-back so purchasing more lenses does not get you anymore.

lens-cashback-jan14

If you buy and X-E1 with XF 18-55mm kit or X-M1 with XC 16-50mm kit, you can also have direct from Fuji the XC50-230mm lens for free.

xm1-xe1-free-lens

The final offer is on PRE-orders for the X-T1, order before it is released to receive a free leather half-case and 128GB UHS-I memory card. Unfortunately the free memory card whilst much larger than my Sandisk’s (16GB) is also half the speed. I wish that Fuji included one of the new UHS-II cards that the X-T1 is capable of using as these promise much faster speeds (100’s of MB per second, my Sandisks top out at 95MB per second). However free is free.

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So what else does Fuji offer? It’s back to support. They now have a fairly comprehensive system and the remaining gaps in the system should be filled by the end of this year / beginning of next. Their glass is exceptional and reasonably priced too, look at the 56mm f1.2 that was released at £900; this is £400 less than the equivalent Panasonic/Leica lens. Because of sensor size, the equivalent depth of field to a 35mm sensor is f1.8 for the Fuji and f2.4 for the Panasonic lens!

They publish a free iPad (and android) based X magazine (available to anyone) and there is usually a number of cash-backs, free lenses offer and vouchers available most all of the time. As one retailer has told me, he doesn’t know how Fuji makes any money.

Banner-2_EN_issue_212x212

And they are the only firm to continually offer firmware upgrades for older models so that not only are bug-fixes are resolved new features are added too.

The community who are shooting with the X-System cameras (X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2, X100 and X100s) are very vocal and there is a ton of support and ideas out there. I must admit that my creative juices have been renewed. I like the idea of out going out and shooting with a selection of glass that weighs less than my 70D with 400 lens all in a much smaller and less conspicuous bag.

So is there anything missing? The only weak areas for Fuji are the Flash system and the video/audio capabilities.

ef-x20_2

Whilst there are 3 Fuji speed lights available, 2 of these are re-badged Sunpaks and the third (EF-X20) is not really future rich either. Whilst we have TTL, second-curtain sync and variable power output (automatic and manual) we have no high-speed sync and the wireless (optical system) is quite basic too. If you use studio strobes and/or manual flash this isn’t too bad but Fuji should look to invest in a new improved flash system. We need the missing features adding preferably with built in radio based wireless too. The build quality of the re-badged Sunpaks leaves a lot to be desired so having Fuji design and build their replacements will be a prerequisite to ensure that they can survive the turmoil’s that speed-lighters put them through. Features such as metal hot-shoes with reinforcement around the hot-shoe area, quick locking/unlocking like on the the EF-X20 flash, full tilt and swivel, supply of a dome diffuser in box with a good quality bag to hold gear, etc. If Fuji can pull this off and supply a dedicated radio controller (like the Canon ST-E3-RT) they will bring a lot of fence-sitters over from their DSLR systems.

Canon ST-E3 (Back)

The second area is video and most of this could be fixed in software, Fuji only need to look at the Canon EOS 5D-MarkIII or the Panasonic Lumix GH3 to see how to do this properly; i.e. lots of different options, various codecs and full manual support. They also need to work on their hardware so that they can output full res HD video on their HDMI port and also need to offer 3.5mm Headphone AND Microphone ports too.

Lumix GH3-Front

There are a few other niggles but these are all things that can be fixed in firmware, a good example of this is the EV auto-bracketing mode, the current EV range and number of frames in the EV auto-bracketing mode for example, I would like the range to be +/- 3EV and offer 3,5 or 7 frames too).

So there is a lot to like in this system, it’s not perfect but no system is and when you are looking into a mirror-less system (mainly for size and weight) Fuji have a good combination of bodies, glass and back-end support which won’t break the bank. This combined with the X-Trans based APS-C sized sensor is why I (and many other photographers, Amateur to Pro) think this is probably the best one out there.