Making the rounds on the internet today, the Fujifilm X30 has officially been announced, with the biggest details being the inclusion of an EVF, an articulating LCD, and a longer battery life.
Fujifilm X30: The Saga Continues
The Fujifilm X30 is the next big (small?) thing in the X lineup, replacing the X20 that wooed some enthusiasts and beginners with that neat optical viewfinder. Touted for the inclusion of a whopping 2.36-million-dot electronic viewfinder, articulating LCD, built in WiFi, better battery life, and an extra film simulation mode, the X30 is making the kind of splash we’ve come to expect from the X Series cameras, but is it justified?
The new improvements, while welcome, don’t neccassarily seem to amount to that great of a change, and the only thing missing from the X20 is the optical viewfinder. The X30 retains the same lens and the same sensor.
Let’s talk about that sensor. Originally a welcome feature in the Fujifilm X20 (due in no small part to comparatively tinier sensors on competing models), the 1/2.3” sensor now seems a bit out-classed, thanks to the likes of the Canon G1X Mark II and the Sony RX100 II and III.
To be honest. the X20 has it’s appeal – even despite some drawbacks. And the X30 seems to be following that tradition with even more appeal, while still retaining the same drawbacks (cough**sensor**cough) .
The electronic viewfinder will be a clincher for some, a deal breaker for others. Personally, I would have liked to see a hybrid viewfinder (like the one in the X100 and the X-Pro1).
Built-in WiFi sounds great, but as I’ve done only a little preliminary poking around on Fujifilm’s smartphone app, I can’t really muster up any feelings about it.
In conclusion, while it will be nice to see a fresh commitment to continuing the X Series lineup, the overall lack of innovation in the Fujifilm X30 relegates this camera to a solid addition that may promise much to the enthusiast, but sorely misses the mark with dedicated Fujifilm customers.
Recently out in stores (since early March), the Fuji 10-24 f/4 R OIS is a lens of great construction with pretty awesome performance. Is it worth the $999 price tag, though? Here are some sample images and some personal input on a lens I became addicted to the moment I used it.
Fuji 10-24 f/4: Classy Camera Companion
This review’s setup: the Fuji 10-24 f/4 on the X-T1.
When it comes to wide-angle lenses, I’ve almost always used primes. I’ve handled some nice Tokina wide angle zooms, and I’ve personally owned the Sigma 10-20, and I’ve sometimes been impressed by the performance I’ve experienced or the samples I’ve seen. Well, Fuji’s new lens has its hooks in me. It’s truly a great lens. It may not be worth the money, though, depending on who you are and what you shoot.
I found the easiest way to use this lens to be setting the camera to aperture priority mode. On the X-T1, this simply meant setting shutter speed and ISO to auto, and trying desperately not to fudge the aperture ring too much.
The Aperture Ring
This is the only negative thing I really have to say about the lens: the aperture ring sucks. Okay, maybe not sucks. But it’s just too easy to move inadvertently. Some basic prep time spent memorizing the position of the three rings – aperture, zoom, and focus, probably would have helped, but I’ve got too short of an attention span for that so I hit the streets and cursed at the camera in my head every time I scrambled to get a shot. In summation, it’s not so much a deal-breaking flaw as it is something you can learn to work around, or work with. Just be prepared to drop one or two mental f-bombs.
Astounding glass can be found in this lens. Maybe it’s the quality of the glass itself, or the coating they’ve put on the glass, or a spell cast by wizard from another dimension, but the performance here is fantastic. There is some drop in sharpness at the extreme corners of the lens, but when you shoot at f/8 and up, you can kiss that hiccup goodbye. And given that this lens is primarily aimed at landscape and architecture photographers, I don’t image many people would be shooting at f/4 to begin with.
Probably having just as much to do with the fact that I’m using the X-T1 as it does the lens, the colors and image quality are still impeccable with this camera. Given the choice of pairing the Fuji 10-24 with the X-T1, or sticking with the kit lens, I would pick the 10-24. Mostly because I love shooting wide, and photographing on the street, but also because I personally feel the images that I am getting with the 10-24 maybe be just a little better.
Again, the Fuji 10-24 has some great construction, with a mostly metal exterior and interior (although there is still a little plastic on the front and rear inside barreling). The heft of the lens is nice, with what I would say is just the right amount of weight. It may put off some prospective buyers, especially those looking for a lightweight mirrorless setup. Luckily, most of those people tend to go for Olympus and Panasonic, so this lens shouldn’t be disappointing to them.
Who It’s For
Generally, I’d recommend this lens to people who love the wide-angle look. Duh, right? But that price tag ($999) can be a bit steep for some, and it really is a specialty lens. Couple this with the fact that you still get a keystone effect in shots of architecture, and it may not be everything Fuji has claimed it to be. Definitely a high quality beast, but more suiting to people who can live with distortion than those who can’t or just outright abhor it. Also, as I mentioned above, it isn’t very light, so weight may throw some people off. I would say this is ideal for street photography and landscapes, but I would definitely suggest you try before you buy.
I’m addicted to this lens. I love the 15mm focal length, I love the weight (it doesn’t feel like it’s another plastic lens with an over-inflated price tag), and I love the image quality. I still detest the aperture ring, but maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety old man. Who knows.
Just for fun, here’s a Toynbee tile I found while testing the lens.
Since its announcement and fairly rapid release, the Fujifilm XT1 has been turning heads – and with good reason. Sporting a solid retro design and cutting-edge technology, this camera has vaulted to the forefront of the mirrorless pantheon. But how does it perform?
Shooting with the Fujifilm XT1
First, let me say that I was very hyped to get my mits on a Fujifilm XT1. Mirrorless has been growing on me as of late, no doubt helped along by the Olympus E-M10 – a stunningly capable camera in a small, lightweight package. So it stands to reason the that this newcomer from Fuji would have me on tenterhooks, but reason abandoned me when I actually took one out for a test drive.
Truth be told, the Fujifilm is impressive on paper. The pixelpeepers and gearheads out there know this. You probably know this. The full specs are intimidating. The viewfinder is A-MAZ-ING. It feels like any camera should. You get a drive mode dial like on my Nikon D2Xs, complete with a freakin’ double-exposure setting. There’s two (2!) kinds of focus peaking. And let’s not forget that mouth-watering APS-C sensor.
But then you might use the Fujifilm XT1, and feel something vanish.
Let me elaborate.
For my review, I used an XT1 with the 18-55 kit lens at f/2.8-4. I had my misgivings about shooting with the standard kit. Much more enticing to me was the 27mm f/2.8. But as most people just getting into Fuji might purchase the whole kit, I decided to review the body and the 18-55 together.
That being said, you’ll be impressed that a camera manufacturer supplies you with a lens that’s reasonably bright when compared to the competition. Heck, you even get a lens hood. But when you start to use the kit lens a couple things happen.
First, there’s the finicky fake-feeling “aperture ring” on the barrel of the lens. It moves when the wind blows. So you’ll find yourself changing aperture without meaning to, and missing several shots. I tried putting adjusting aperture with one of the on-body control dials, but despite my menu telling me that’s what the dial was set up for, nothing ever happened. So, yeah, that sucked.
Having an f/2.8-4 zoom lens is great an all, but with that crappy plastic aperture ring on there, it just sort of ruins the whole experience. Some people are used to manual aperture rings. You set the ring, and when you move your lens, the freaking ring should not change. On this lens, it does. And it screws you up. And you just want to use manual lenses again.
I talked about control dials. Now let’s talk about the shutter speed dial. You set your shutter speed at full stops – 1/250, 1/500, 1/4000 – and then you can use a control dial below on the body to fine-tune that shutter speed to say, 1/300, 1/600, and so on and so forth. I guess this stems from Nikon’s design faults with the DF, where users could change the top shutter speed dial to 1/250 and then move the control dial on the camera body to a shutter speed of 1/500 (without the top dial registering the change). That being said, it makes shutter speed clunkier and more annoying to adjust.
ISO is great if you’re shooting JPEGs only. You get a range of 100-51200. Then if you shoot in RAW, you get a diminished range of 200-6400. Aside from that, you’ve got your ISO speeds on a dial that locks every time you have to move it. So it doesn’t change accidentally, but you no longer get to rapidly change your ISO speed, either.
Here the Fujifilm XT1 has made some nice headway. You get all the drive modes you would expect, plus a bracketed setting, a double exposure setting, a panorama setting (which stitches quite well), and an “advanced” setting.
The Viewfinder and LCD
Both of these are phenomenal. You can get lost in that viewfinder. It’s big, it’s bright, and it doesn’t let in any extra light. It makes optical viewfinders look shallow and dark. The LCD is crisp and bright. It tilts. It does everything a good LCD should do these days.
Image quality on the Fujifilm XT1 is what you would expect – sharp and crisp with excellent resolution and astounding color reproduction. The added film simulator is a joy to play around with – more so than the Olympus art features, which seem aimed at amateurs, not film buffs.
Film simulation modes include a black and white mode simulating certain filters, like red (used in the two photographs above), blue, green, or yellow.
Velvia/vivid film simulation.
Astia/soft film simulation.
Menus are very intuitive, especially for those coming from a Nikon background.
The Fujifilm XT1 has some wonderful features going for it – the best EVF on the market, a rather large sensor, and stunning image quality, as well as a love-it-or-hate-it retro design. For those willing to learn with the camera, and harness the potential of new interfaces for shutter speed and aperture, disappointments will be few and far between. For the rest of you old codgers out there, you might actually want to go the Olympus or Sony route, when it comes to mirrorless.
Note: One thing I did not touch upon in this review was low-light performance. A review specifically aimed at night-shooting with the XT1 will be coming soon.
UPDATE: To see how the Fujifilm X-T1 performs with the 10-24 f/4 R OIS, check out this review.
I’ve been wanting to try the mirrorless experience for a while, so today I took the Fujifilm X-M1 for a test drive around Midtown Manhattan. Coincidentally, there was a veterans parade going up 5th Avenue, so I put the camera to the test photographing anything and everything that caught my eye, from the parade to junk on the street. Here’s my take on the camera.
The Fujifilm X-M1
To give a quick rundown of the camera, it’s got a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, 49 points of focus, and standard ISO from 200-6400, with extended sensitivity up to 12800 and 25600.
The Fujifilm X-M1 lacks a viewfinder, but I keep holding it to my eye anyway, before I realize my mistake and adjust the tilting LCD screen to mimic a waist-level viewfinder. I keep making this same mistake because I keep getting lost in the experience of shooting with the X-M1. Like a point and shoot on crank, and packing some next-level sensor tech, I’m blown away by the ease and resulting quality of my smallest attempts.
A Preponderance of Presets
The ease doesn’t come from my own photographic skills, though. Right out of the box, users will find the Fuji X-M1 childishly easy to operate, due in no small fact to the overwhelming presence of presets designed to mimic everything from film effects to High Dynamic Range, and even 12 shooting modes.
Of those twelve modes, macro is not one of them. I found it surprising that macro mode could only be enabled by selecting it in camera menu (there is a macro button on the back of the camera, but pressing it will then require the user to select the macro mode from the camera menu).
with macro turned on
A Manual Mess
When I move into manual mode, the camera becomes more difficult to use. To give Fuji credit, the X-M1’s aperture and ISO are easy to change. And the presence of a dedicated exposure value dial sweetens the package. However, it was a headache to find and change shutter speed. Much easier, it seemed, to simply switch back into one of those twelve shooting modes and give up trying to make the camera work for me.
Filter Field Day
The presets offer some eye-pleasing photographs. The toy camera preset is especially entertaining. I’m a holga/lomo/lo-fi junkie, you see…and I experiment with a lot of my shots in post-processing, but this camera takes this to the next level by shooting in a designated style to begin with. Other cool preset effects include the soft focus filter, and the color pop filter, which offer tailor-made images for those of us who are too lazy to learn these effects in detail. Even budding professionals will have something to add to their already-hackneyed repertoire: a filter that removes all color except one (users can choose between red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and purple).
The X-M1 has a built in flash that pops up and lurches forward over the camera. For it’s rickety-looking construction, it performs well.
The resolution is stunning, and even with the kit lens, you can crop your images closer than you should with a shot from a 50mm lens.
The camera itself is light, and looks ultra-stylish. It’s very easy to hold and operate, and the menu can be navigated, given some time. Another bonus? Shooting in Fine JPEG (which delivers some near-RAW results in this camera) will free you up to shoot longer FPS, and this puppy delivers. Just pressing and holding the shutter, and watching those crisp photos take themselves, is a joy to behold.
I miss the viewfinder, but love that waist-level experience. The presets of the Fujifilm X-M1 will definitely appeal to people who want to take hi-res photos with cool visual effects, but photographers hoping to go manual with this model are in for a confusing blunder.
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|The FujiFilm X-S1 is very well-designed, with large metal dials, a deep grip, smooth manual zoom, and convenient and practical controls.|
The X Series Sensor
|Great skin tones and a broad dynamic range. 1/200 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 640.|
The All Glass 26x Zoom Lens
|A wide angle photo of Radio City Music Hall captures a broad dynamic range, including the dark group of people waiting in line and the blue sky beyond. 24mm, 1/300 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 400.|
|Zoomed in to 624mm, the “Y” in “City” is crisp, the colors are spot on, definition and contrast are great. Fuji has done a wonderful job with this lens. 624mm, 1/250 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 640.|
|Very good color representation and contrast, even zoomed out.|
Feel of the Camera
|Al Roker preparing for the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Zoom at approx. 300mm, 1/220 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 800.|
|Police barriers outside of Rockefeller Center before the Tree Lighting Ceremony. 1/60 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 160.|
|The star atop the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Note the dynamic range that the lens picks up even at its longest zoom range: details on the star and the building behind it as well as blue skies. 624mm, 1/250 sec. at f.5.6, ISO 200.|