19 October, 2014

Peeking over the fence at Fujifilm

High-key, black and white

I see the ads and the reviews for the cameras and lenses of companies other than Sony. So, it's only natural to wonder what I would do if all my gear was lost.* Would I buy the same stuff again, or try something else?

What about Fujifilm?

I was first impressed by the Fujifilm X100, and, then later, its successors. It was a close run thing; but a fixed 35mm (equivalent) is a little wide for me, so I didn't pull the trigger.

Direct controls for shutter, aperture and exposure compensation are very attractive to me. I like being able see what's set. I think that it's unfair that this is occasionally written off as just a "retro" style exercise.

Happily, the eyepiece data in most electronic viewfinders (EVFs) provide this same feedback, albeit only when the camera is switched on. And, alternatively, I recognize the advantages for some photographers in being able to set up two or more "custom" arrangements on a PASM mode dial, as that allows for almost immediate, global reactions to changed shooting circumstances. It's an admission, I suppose, to say that doesn't often happen to me.

I like the eyepiece on the left (Leica rangefinder) arrangement in both the X100 and the X-Pro1. (Which works well for me as a "right eyed" person.) The SLR/DSLR style, with the eyepiece in the center, ensures my nose presses against the display on the back.

Then came the X-Pro1. I mostly shoot with primes, so what impressed me most was the initial trio of high-quality, fast, Fujifilm primes: the 18, 35 and 60mm.

As I'm a glasses wearer, I was less impressed by the lack of a built-in eyepiece diopter adjustment – a screw-in lens is required. (The X100 had a built-in adjustment.) And, in the minor quibble department, I think that the "pinched" lens-hood designs on the 18 and 35mm lenses are effective, but prevent the hoods from being reversed on the lens in the bag. I admit that it's probably faster using their push-on lens caps to keep those hoods on all the time; but I like saving a little space in the bag. (I didn't like that about the rectangular lens hood on an earlier favourite of mine, the M4/3, Panasonic/Leica 25mm. That didn't, however, have a push-on cap.)

I liked it that Fujifilm dropped the anti-aliasing filter, but the initial problems with Lightroom's demosaicing from the new sensor were concerning. (The X-Trans sensor design is very clever, but the potential for moiré doesn't seem a serious enough reason to flee the Bayer design.)

And now there's the X-T1. I haven't seen one of these in the flesh, but the reports suggest that Fujifilm is moving from strength to strength.

I'm very happy with what I've got, but I think that I could use the Fujifilm line without missing a beat.
*Dear insurance company: There's no need to worry. I'm an honest guy.

Going back to the old ways,
won't get you back to the old days.
—Yllib Ybnad (b.1948)

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