In previous articles, I spoke about the advantages of always using a Lens Hood. In addition to providing physical protection to the front element, it can help to cut down on unwanted flare. While I love the quality of both the build and optical performance of Fuji’s XF lenses, I haven’t always enjoyed using their lens hoods.
Fuji XF 23mm f1.4 with its factory hood
After graduating college over 25 years ago, I worked for two years as a photo assistant to an architectural photographer. This was great technical training, as I had to handle heavy 4×5 and 8×10 view cameras on location, shooting with very slow, Kodak Ektrachrome Tungsten sheet film. The work was physically demanding and technically challenging. But it paid off in bringing my technical skills to a much higher level than that I had from my college education.
Jumping forward in time: Over the last three years, I’ve been doing photography for real estate advertising and marketing. The city I live in is a hotbed of real estate activity, so there’s huge demand for photography, virtual reality and video when it comes to marketing homes. Last year alone, I was at over 750 photo shoots, both conventional still photography and virtual reality.
The days of using large format view cameras are long gone, and I’m happy that’s the case. Using that equipment for commercial work was a miserable affair. I’m very grateful for the Fuji X system, and use it exclusively for all of my still photography in real estate. Central to that system and absolutely essential for my work, is the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f4 lens.
Captured with Fuji’s 10-24mm Lens
Fuji’s X100 series and their X-Pro1 camera both have an innovative, hybrid viewfinder. With a flick of a switch, the photographer can switch instantly from an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) to an Optical Viewfinder (OVF).
Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Silver)
Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Black)
Fujifilm X-Pro 1 16MP Digital Camera with APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor (Body Only)
The Hybrid Viewfinder of the X-Pro1
While I discussed the ideal situations of when to use the OVF versus the EVF in my article on using the X-Pro1 for street photography, I’ve received a few questions for further details. I’ll try and answer those questions in this post.
An interesting quote about the 50mm (or equivalent) lens, from the great Magnum and National Geographic photographer, David Alan Harvey –
“…when i was shooting slow iso colour transparency film, i could not use the 50 in the same way that let’s say HCB used the 50 with b&w…simply a low iso thing…for anything w low iso the 50 is not the same tool as it is with higher iso’s with either Tri-X (400 iso) or with digi….of course one can use the 50 with low iso , but it then must be used wide open most of the time (at least in my case)…it then is not a great candid street lens (no depth of field)…but with high iso digi it becomes a street lens again, just as it was for the old b&w photographers..i like the more “compressed” look of the 50…in short, digi makes it so that i can use the 50 in a way i could not w colour film…for colour film, the 35 became my 50….now the 50 is my 50…”
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4
Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens (11891)
Zeiss Touit 32mm f1.8 in Fuji X mount
Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 Touit Series for Fujifilm X Series Cameras
The thread and context of this quote can be found at Mr. Harvey’s Burn Magazine site, for this photo essay –
A quick note: this article is discussing the 50mm lens in terms of its field of view in Full Frame, which is 46.8 degrees diagonal. For the Fuji X APS-C sensor size, the 50mm equivalent is the XF 35mm or Touit 32mm.
So for the purposes of this article, the full frame focal lengths (first figure) are the same as the Fuji X equivalent (second figure):
50mm FF = 32mm Zeiss Touit or 35mm Fuji X
35mm FF = 23mm Fuji X
28mm FF = 18mm Fuji X
I have a lot to thank the Fuji X system for. Over a year and a half ago, I bought my first Fuji camera, the X-Pro1. Due to its rangefinder form that reminded me of my old Leica M cameras, optical/electronic hybrid finder, its lightweight, its range of great lenses, fantastic image quality and reasonable price, I was totally smitten with the X system. It made photography fun again for me.
But it wasn’t just the fun aspect, in using the Fuji X-Pro1 for street and personal photography. The ability to switch from the optical finder to the electronic finder made the camera completely relevant for my professional work too. The EVF allows me to see exactly what the lens is seeing. I can carefully line up elements visually, which I need to do for my real estate/architecture work and when I do corporate portraits. The camera’s EVF allowed me to get rid of my old and heavy Canon DSLR system, which I could never do if my only remaining system was the Leica M system.
The X-Pro1, however, is getting on in age. It was released in 2012, and was already overshadowed by its up to date sister, the fast focusing X-T1, when I purchased it in 2014. At over three years old and with its rumored successor, the X-Pro2, possibly being announced before the end of 2015, the flagship of the X system is looking very elderly.
With the high performance X-T1, the budget priced X-E2 and now the X-T10 all available, and the X-Pro2 around the corner, is the X-Pro1 still relevant?
Without a doubt, one of the benefits of getting into the Leica M system is for their astonishingly high quality optics. Especially over the last 25 years, Leica M lenses have achieved a high level reputation for outstanding optical quality.
Brand new, current Leica M lenses are expensive. But not all new M mount lenses are. Two easily available series of M mount lenses are from Voigtlander and Zeiss, both made by Cosina.
The pricing difference is enormous when comparing the same focal length and nearly identical widest aperture. For this article, Downtown Camera in Toronto gave me access to the classic “normal” focal length for a full frame or film Leica M body, the 50mm (the focal length of choice for legendary photojournalist, Henri Cartier-Bresson) with the high speed aperture of f1.4 or f1.5 (for our purposes).
Featured in this article are Leica’s 50mm f1.4 Summilux, the Zeiss ZM 50mm f1.5 C Sonnar and the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 Nokton.
High Speed 50mm’s
Voigtlander Nokton f1.5
Zeiss ZM Sonnar f1.5
Leica Summilux f.14
The method I described, on shooting with the Fuji X-Pro1 in Part I, didn’t emerge from a vacuum. It’s closely based on how I learned to shoot with a Leica M rangefinder, over three decades. In turn, that was something I learned from reading how the great masters of street photography, people like Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Joel Meyerowitz, used their Leica’s for their work. Today, Leica M rangefinders are still being made. There are various models, including a gorgeous 35mm film body called the MP, and the high-end digital M (Type 240).
The legendary Leica M3, with a 28mm accessory bright frame finder & Zeiss ZM 28mm lens
Of the Leica M bodies throughout history, my all-time favorite body to use for street photography, is the Leica M3. Continue reading
A big part of the Fuji X system’s success is its fantastic line of Fujinon lenses. In a short time, Fujifilm has created an extensive group of lenses. The XF line covers a wide variety of focal lengths, and started off with some fantastic prime lenses. Since then, they’ve improved their lenses’ AF capability with each generation, and added some phenomenal pro-quality zooms. Among my favourite Fujinon XF lenses are their XF 18mm, 10-24mm and 23mm.
In the middle of 2013, Zeiss introduced its Touit lenses for the Fuji X mount. These lenses were designed in close collaboration with Fujifilm, and have full AF and inter-communication with the Fuji X camera bodies.
Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 Touit Series for Fujifilm X Series Cameras
Zeiss Touit 32mm f1.8 for the Fuji X mount
Really enjoying the Fuji X’s low light capability. A couple of images shot at night with the XF 18mm lens, during a rain storm with lots of fog.
XF 18mm, shot at 6400 ISO, f2, 1/20th sec
XF 18mm, 6400 ISO, f2, 1/30th sec. Lots of rain & fog diffused the light sources
Chromatic aberration. Barrel distortion. Lack of resolution.
These are the some of the optical “sins” that the Fuji XF 18mm supposedly suffers from. How any can possible capture a decent picture with this awful lens is beyond me 🙂
Obviously, I’m saying that with tongue firmly in cheek!
The Fuji XF 18mm (left) with the XF 10-24mm