[Ed. Note: In case you missed this in yesterday's Part I, Fuji XF lens rebates are back. Go to B&H Photo, search one of the interchangeable-lens X cameras, either ther X-E1 under review here or the X-Pro1, then click "Savings Available." Rebates are $300 for the 18–55mm zoom, 60mm macro, and 18mm, and $200 on the 35mm ƒ/1.4 and the 14mm. If you start from our link here, we get a little reward if you make a purchase. Thanks for using our links!]
By Jim Hughes (continued from yesterday)
...Picking up where we left off, some example pictures taken with the Fuji X-E1:
Moose with Deer Antlers (original rack evidently wouldn't fit!), Cappy's Restaurant, Camden, Maine, 2013. Dark interior, available light, overhead incandescent mixed with faint window light. 35mm Canon, ƒ/4, hand-held 1/10-second exposure, ASA 800, –2 EV.
Hand-carved Wooden Bunny with Carrot Smells the Flowers on Main Street, Camden, Maine, 2013. Zoom lens, 37mm, ƒ/5, 1/280, ISO 400, –.67 EV. Open shade. I love the way the Fuji sensor renders muted coloring.
Tapestry of Woven Twigs, Camden, Maine, 2013. Full sun behind my right shoulder, peeling monochrome wall. Note shadow detail. Fuji sensor seems to handle subtle and intense equally well. 35mm Canon lens, ƒ/5.6, 1/3500, ISO 800, –.67 EV.
One final note. As I was leaving the bank in our little town recently, I crossed paths with a well-known architectural photographer who has talked publicly, and eloquently, about his difficult, costly, and ultimately successful transition from large and medium format film to high-end digital. He looked casually down at the camera slung over my shoulder and said, "Hey Jim, is that a new Leica?" I explained that although its quiet shutter had something of the old Leica M4 sound, it was perhaps closer to my previous constant companion, a steel-curtained Canon. "It's a digital Fuji," I noted. He grinned. "Nice!" he said.
Once across the street, I went to the French & Brawn Market, shown in the last picture above, where our New York newspapers are reserved for us daily. In line ahead of me was a wet-plate collodion photographer whose book I reviewed not long ago on these very pages. I caught him staring intently at my Fuji. "That's really a beautiful camera," he finally said.
No one had ever heaped such spontaneous praise on a camera of mine before, and now it had happened twice in one day. I think this one must be a keeper.
For many years, Jim Hughes was the editor of Camera 35. Later, he was the founding editor of Yr. Hmbl. Ed.'s all-time favorite photo magazine, the original Camera Arts. His books include the superb biography W. Eugene Smith: Shadow and Substance—The Life and Work of an American Photographer, and the monograph Ernst Haas in Black and White. Retired now, he writes occasionally for TOP (see his other articles by finding his name in the "Categories" list in the right-hand sidebar). He lives in Maine.
UPDATE from Jim Hughes: Thanks to all for the comments, a few of which caused me to do a little more research. Although I have used Photoshop in the past, recently I have been teaching myself Aperture on two-year old MacBook Pro, whose 13-inch screen can be a bit misleading depending on its tilt (tilted back, it goes dark!) I previously used Curves to open up shadows and bring down the occasional highlight, a laborious process for me. But it seemed easier, given the greater range of the X-E1 even with JPEGs, to use the Shadow/Highlight and Contrast sliders in Aperture, which I generally like, avoiding Curves altogether. (I gather a RAW converter for X-E1 files in Aperture is just now available, but I read that it still has a few kinks and it won't work with Snow Leopard at the moment, so I'm content to just wait...)
For exhibition prints on my preferred medium, dye sub, I've always liked letting the shadows go fairly dark while exposing for highlight detail. But with the Fuji files, especially for a story intended for the web, I thought I'd try a more open approach, since on the screen all seemed to look good (I haven't started printing them yet), especially large.
But when I shrunk the files for incorporating into the email texts I was sending to Mike, something evidently went awry between the Fuji files, Aperture, my email program, and whatever happens on Mike's end. On the TOP page, I see what some others see, although perhaps not to the same degree. Clicking on the small image to get a larger version helps, as would looking at the even larger email versions I originally sent—if you could see them, which of course you can't. I did go back and look at my Olympus E-PL1 images published recently ("Jaws of Death"), and while my Aperture settings for both camera's files were essentially similar, the Oly files evidenced no haloing that I could see. In truth, the haloing around the "boat" I now do see on my lead picture of the lobster-line baskets I initially took to be faint shadows from secondary reflected light. I didn't think to check because I had taken only that single frame. My first attempt at a corrected version appears below.
This is essentially a version I would print at least as a proof, and then decide what more might be required to make a final print of this particular picture. Which is, I suppose, what I should have done in the first place.
Words and all photographs ©2013 by Jim Hughes, all rights reserved
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kent Phelan: "I'm guessing the well-known architectural photographer was Tillman Crane."
Keith B.: "For those that are without an X, but have been wondering about the dire descriptions from DigLloyd and others of weird raw converter artifacts—as I did until I recently acquired an X-E1—all I can say is that the horror stories are severely overblown and have been overplayed. I'm shooting RAW with up-to-date Lightroom doing the conversion, and these test guys must sharpening to a bizarrely high level to get the now-famous 'watercolor effect' on irregularly-shaped color patches such as tree leaves. I expect Lloyd to be critical of bad design, and picky about technical matters. As a subscriber, that's what I paid him to do. But, I'm just not seeing it with the Fuji X RAW conversions issue."
Rob L: "I would caution folks considering the X-E1 and X-Pro1 to at least try the hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro1 before going the X-E1 route—both are amazing cameras, but man, the X-Pro1 viewfinder is seriously amazing. If the majority of your lens use is going to be adapted, manual focus lenses, then the XE-1 is a better choice: cheaper, more compact, and you'll very rarely use the optical part of the VF. But if you're going to be using Fuji glass(or the groovy new Touits), then giving the X-Pro1 a try may pay off—the hybrid VF is something Leica should have implemented. It's dead brilliant, and shockingly useful."
Stephen Scharf (partial comment): "I've been using an X-Pro1 since early November 2012, and am hard pressed to think of a camera I've been more impressed with since the advent of the Canon 5D. The image quality from these X-cameras (especially the APS-C sensor based cameras) continues to amaze me on an almost daily basis."
Doug Howk: "I rather doubt that Tillman Crane is shooting digital. He's an outstanding platinum printer using LF cameras. More likely the architectural photographer mentioned in the article is Peter Urbanski who switched to digital in 2006."
Jim Hughes replies: Good guesses, wrong names. It was Rockport resident Brian Vanden Brink, whose latest book is Iconic: Perspectives on the Man-Made World.