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Tuesday, 26 May 2015


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A different path to Fuji...
Tried X100 as "Leica like but smaller lighter sometimes faster cheaper" - worked well.
Happy results caused me to try X-T1.
As Fuji lens line expands, Leica lenses are being sold....

Perhaps I am not knowledgeable or skilled enough to even venture an opinion here, but with cameras (perhaps unlike golf clubs), isn't the biggest issue for beginning photographers familiarity rather than "fit"? Once I developed the muscle memory for the controls on my camera, it seemed natural and obvious and comfortable. I've changed cameras a few times in the last few years (although not systems), and each time, there was an adjustment period followed by comfort. Perhaps (and I appreciate that I'm just speculating) you could give a beginner any competent camera and (with good instructions and, perhaps, good teaching) they could develop a comfortable familiarity with it?

I recently converted to the Fuji system - best equipment change I've ever made since I bought my first Ricoh GRD years ago. I've now sold off almost everything else.

With the XT1 and the Fuji lens lineup everything just, um, clicked into place in what and how I like to shoot. It is fun to shoot with and truly allows me to focus on the subject. I could not be happier, and as you say Mike, it's not perfect, but the overall balance is just right. I will also concur on the dynamic range (I'm flabbergasted) and the B&W conversions. I use Iridient Developer for my extras RAW conversion.

As for lenses, I have the Fuji 14mm, 23mm, 16-55mm, 50-140mm and the Zeiss 32mm and 50mm macro. I may not keep all of those, but for now they cover a wide range of uses and all are of very high quality. I think the Zeiss 32mm is my favorite.

"The pictures are what matter."

Couldn't agree more. It has always been true but, in my opinion, it matters even less what equipment you use these days. Digital electronics has (have) been the great equalizer in cameras.

Mike, your reasons for liking the Fuji are the reasons I tell anyone who asks me what camera they should get: the one THEY find easy to use. That's what will help them take better pictures.



People do love to make photography a science, do they not? Measurements, technical data, sensor size, equivalence & &c.. but all that science creates art where 'eye of beholder' rules still apply.

Even if I had your exact kit my images would still be different - and that's OK by both of us. Enjoy your Fuji gear while I go make something with my Pentax stuff!

I want to get on with building a Fuji system (mainly for the pictures - which are, SOOC, so much more seductive than anything I can get with my Nikons), but having had my fingers burnt in the past I am waiting for a focusing system that works and a menu set-up I can remember and use on the fly. Fuji cameras are objects of beauty and the fact that gorgeous pictures can be had from such a small form factor gives me high hopes for the X-Pro II, should such a thing ever appear.

One mischievous thought: why was that photo, of Scott and Tatiana, so badly under-exposed in the first place or was it done on purpose?

Either way, pleased you're so happy with the Fuji.

The last film camera I bought was an old, used, low end one. That was in 1987 January. I still have that camera with me and I have nothing to grumble about that. Had the digital camera not appeared on the scene I would have continued to use that camera happily. I would not have found a reason to change that old camera. Unfortunately I do not have that sort of confidence in the present day cameras, with all the bells and whistles but no knobs or rings. I use the camera I have presently, because a better camera (in terms of design) is just not available at a price I can afford and not because I like my present camera. So I cannot agree with you when you say that we like the camera that we use. We use them because we are forced by circumstances to use them. At best we are indifferent to them. Barring the top of the line cameras no single present day camera can attract (my) loyalty. They are all unimaginatively designed and lack basic physical controls that we need for every day use. I have not used or even seen all the brands of cameras available here, but, the ones I have seen in the market are not very inspiring or attractive. To give you an example a very expensive DSLR camera one of my friends has does not have an exposure compensation dial/button. That has to be done through layers of menu. All the SLRs of the yesteryears came with a decent standard lens. That is just a dream now. One of these days somebody is going to bring out a camera with no shutter button. I would not be amazed. Sometimes I wonder where the camera makers are taking us, the ordinary camera users. To add insult to injury they talk of "Entry Level Camera", as if one has to go step by step through all the ranges of models, if one has to come to a good camera. The camera manufacturers are losing sight of real user and that is telling on their sales. One day the DSLR is going to be as bad as a cell phone camera.

Well stated Mike. I too, have chosen Fuji, although I still have my Canon 5DmkII and an Olympus OM-D E-M5. I find the Fuji is what I grab first. For me, Fuji, just gets it. This is the only Digital camera that I've ever considered using the internal film simulation jpgs , instead of RAW. I still shoot RAW +jpg , but often the jpgs are so good, that I find no need to process further for color and only a little tweak for B&W. (Although I'll still use RAW + Silver Effects Pro for "serious" work).
My internal debate of late is whether to sell the Canon kit or not, as I seldom find a need for it anymore. Great time to be a photographer.

Your comment about liking the cameras we choose to end up with, is a compelling one, I think. So much of the discourse in forums about this camera or that camera is focused on 1) requirements and 2) functionality. Cold, objective data. Effective, but it can be, I'm afraid, boring.

What's usually missing from all this back-and-forth discourse is how we feel when using these products. Interestingly, Fuji really understands the emotional connection to using beautifully designed and executed cameras and lenses, possibly more than any other manufacturer, with the possible exception of Leica.

Personally, I've found using them more emotionally resonant than anything I've used in the last 30 years, back to when I used an OM-1 to learn photography in the first place. I admit it, I was jaded using all that pro Canon gear for over a decade; I no longer had interest in shooting, or more importantly, making compelling images. Fuji turned that all around for me, and the principal reason was that the emotional experience of using them brought joy back to making images.

Call me a fan person, but for that, I am very, very grateful.

The magic ability to pull up pleasing tonality out of what looks at first as lost in the shadows is pretty general now that 12-14 bit chips are in wide use (Sony's or similar). I expose to protect the highlights and use the "shadow" slider in Capture One to bring up the shadow parts. A nice example of this is at http://www.pbase.com/skirkp/image/160077970/large.jpg .


I've only had the opportunity to handle this camera, but I must say- the XT1 seems to be the fruition of what digital always seemed to promise: greater flexibility, increased image quality, smaller size. The EVF is not just some OVF substitute, but an actual visual asset, the form factor, build and lenses superb, and I'll just take your word that the B&W conversions are more than adequate. Had I the money, would gladly gobble one of these up- along with a: 14mm, 18mm and 27mm.

...anybody else think the new Fuji body looks like the Zeiss Icarex 35?

Mike, I have two wildly different photographic arenas. The first is sports photography, mostly on a high school level. The second is jazz musicians, often in dimly lit clubs. I just moved from Sony to Olympus for the sports work, and really love it. Fast focus and tremendous reach with small lenses. I also have a Fuji system, and it is perfect for the music scene. The dead silent electronic shutter is wonderful for small venues, and the glass is fast and sharp, the files rich. The 56mm f/1.2 is perhaps my favorite lens of all time. You should try one.

Mike, how about additional discussion of what makes for 'good' B & W tonality? Would love to hear your thoughts on this as I admire several of the shots you've posted from the XT-1. I find that my digital color-->B & W conversions are terrible. I freely admit I'm a rank beginner (and horrible with LR & PS) but I'd love a bit of education re: what makes for good B & W. Hopefully, armed with that knowledge, even I could make a passable attempt at converting digital color-->B & W......


Typo alert.

>> Nikon D750 ($1,1997)

Read a comment somewhere that said Fuji was not so much a camera company as a color company. Seemed about right.

The cost of the D750 sure shot up. You have it at $11997. I think I would prefer the EM1 at that price:)

I considered a Fuji, but then found that the pushed ISO images were limited to JPG output. That didn't make any sense to me and the camera went back. Oh well...

While fit and all these reasons are true for some, there are some very basic problems with the Fuji digital cameras and lenses - auto focus. It's intolerably slow compared to practically everything else. The other problems like plastic skin and cropped sensor ISO & DOF performance I could overlook but not the auto focus issue. The skin issues are flattering to the people in the photos but unrealistic. I found that my iPhone 6 is about on par with the x100s (except the iPhone focuses faster) in good light and the Fuji wins in low light.

Maybe the xpro-2 will be better.

[I don't know what you're used to, but the AF of the X-T1 seems very fast to me. Certainly as good as other premium mirrorless cameras I've used and probably better than the Nikon D800. I've only used the two lenses I own, however. Maybe other users could comment further. --Mike]

Reminds me of why I like the Oly m4/3 cameras:

I like their in camera B&W jpg for my needs.

I like the multiple aspect ratios: I shoot a lot of 1x1 to mimic my old 6x6 cameras.

With an external VF, it handles much like a film rangefinder did, especially with hyperfocal distance preset on the lens.

Olympus, and m4/3 in general, has a wonderful and diverse lens line up. Combined with the ability to even use my old FD glass it's just a lens abusers delight :D

In the end, I still have a Canon 7 & Rolleicord III to remind me of where I am from but I only shoot digital and LF any more thanks to Olympus.

I recently spoke behind your back to a friend of yours who's a famous bearded photographic printer from the San Francisco area (I won't mention any names to protect his privacy) and asked whether the Fuji files were really as good as people claimed. He said that he thought he could probably take a Fuji file and a file from another good camera, and make them pretty close to identical; that the key thing about the Fujis might possibly be the out-of-camera file, rather than a thoroughly processed one. But, he said, I should really ask Mike, because you have the experience. So now I'm asking: Is it particularly the out-of-camera files you like (or perhaps, very lightly processed files) or is there something special about Fuji files that you just can't get any other way? Or is it just the Fuji B&W files, and you find the color to be ordinary? I'm not a processing guru like our hirsute friend; I'm willing to spend a little time with Lightroom, but too much, and extended processing efforts are beyond both my skills and my interests.

The Graphite/Silver edition X-T1 is $200 more than the basic Black. Seems like a lot of money to pay for a different color. I doubt that the manufacturing cost is significantly different.

Given a choice I'll go with the lowest cost product. At the end of the day the images I make will look the same regardless of the color of the camera body.

[The silver color is not so much a regular option as a deluxe edition. I remember seeing an account of how the graphite color is applied that makes it seem like maybe it does justify the extra cost, but as I look for it now I can't seem to find it. --Mike]

"I don't really think it's important what I choose."

Oh yes it is!

I can wait if you want to take a month to write up your methods for creating that wonderful monochrome tonality of yours.

I bought an X-Pro1 and the 35mm when Amazon first stocked them and haven't looked back. It's been replaced by the X-T1. I have an X-E2 with the 27mm and 18mm lenses as my "short trip out of town" kit. Put both of those lenses on your list. They won't disappoint.

Fuji lenses are something of a bargain considering their quality. Most of my lenses were purchased used; none are a disappointment.

Between the sensor, the camera ergonomics (dials and knobs!), and the outstanding, and growing, lens lineup I can't fathom owning any other brand of digital camera. My D600 just departed and the last of my Nikon glass is on eBay.

I'd like to offer a counter-thought to the following: " it's beginners who really should make sure they have nice camera equipment that fits them. Longtime photographers can shoot with lots of things and make do, as long as the equipment is up to the tasks they need to use it for."

One problem is that beginners don't yet have the preferences that allow photographers like you and me to make smart choices about "what fits." I liken this to musical instruments, where it is fine to start with a decent and inexpensive beginner instrument and to then outgrow it as you get better and as you develop specific preferences as to style and so forth.

So I still feel that a decent rather general purpose first camera is fine staring point. You learn with it — you figure out where it fits you (and what the means) and where it doesn't, and you start to understand what things might better fit your evolving preferences.

I used the earlier Fuji X bodies (rented) and found their handling to be a bit clunky to my taste, so I went with the Olympus.

The AF for me was about average to slower than average for the time (2013?).

The main place where the mirrorless AF systems really fall down is tracking anything that moves. My D700 from circa 2010 with a slow zoom lens (F5.6 at 300mm) will track motion in a dim gym better than any mirrorless camera I've tried will track any motion anywhere.

When things are standing still pretty much all the AF systems these days are fast, except maybe when it's dark. But I still think the D700 and systems like it are a bit more reliable. My E-M5 is good enough though, especially given the size and the great lenses.

The 'flip the aperture to A and the shutter to A and it's auto, set one or the other if you want' operation of the Fujis makes me happy. I do have different cameras for different moods, but the x100s makes getting a good shot easier. The amazing jpegs are a godsend on vacation, the last thing i wanna deal with is processing RAW when i'm just trying to sort the memories of the day.

I like this review. I have been reading you for a long time now and know what matters, to you, as well as is possible for a reader, and so I like to know your response to this and any product. The usual reviews are pretty useless because one has no idea what the reviewer wants or cares about in a camera. It is helpful to know what someone you respect thinks about various aspect of any product. I have tried some of your suggestions about coffee, speakers, music, I have not stuck to all, but I tried them. Not very articulate this, but I like to know what you think about things. Thank You. By the way, I like the $499 of the Olympus M10 the most, other than that it is too fiddly.

Gee Mike, I knew you liked the X-T1 but I didn't expect you to go Elizabeth Barrett Browning on us!

Just to clarify, I really do like Fuji's X-System very much, as evidenced by owning each of its bodies and a generous collection of its lenses. I don't think any company is more devoted to creating, establishing, and supporting a true photographer's system than Fujifilm.

But, yes, as I've previously noted the X-System and the X-T1 hasn't quite garnered that special place for me that it seems to have landed with you. I agree with nearly all of the strengths you listed in your "let me count the ways" essay. And I've been using my X-T1 and X-E2 much more frequently than ever during the past months. But when I'm faced with a challenging job a full-frame camera will likely get the call for me.

I am, however, eager to experience the X-T1's new auto-focus system that the reported June firmware update will bring.

In reply to Hnriot, I have an XT-1 and a friend has an XPRO-1. So I know that the focusing problem is down to the XPRO-1, which is indeed very slow compared to the much newer XT-1. Having said that, if you take sports or birds in flight etc the Fuji would be the wrong choice as it doesn't perform well with moving subjects. The new firmware due to be released next month is said to improve this.

I have only seen the 'plastic' skin tones on high ISO jpegs, which is probably due to over enthusiastic in-camera noise reduction. In which case why not use raw, which will give you a better result with any camera at high ISO.

Many people seem to think that the dynamic range is exceptionally good but all I can say is my big heavy (groan) Sony A99 seems to have about a stop more DR than the XT-1. However I enjoy the XT-1 so much that I am going to be forced to sell the Sony system to afford more Fuji lenses.

I have a broken Fuji E900...
I got it during a fire sale as a carry around camera.
It gave images way above it's pay grade, you could see the first "sparks" that would lead to the current brilliant Fuji premium system.
Even the charger was really well made, and became my travel AA solution.
The two nails in it's coffin was firstly the lens pop out motor was started to weaken (why Oh why do camera makers even bother, a manual pop out lens is a 1000 times better, cooler and is far more reliable) and secondly I got run over, throwing the lens out of alignment (and breaking my leg, but that's secondary).

I still regret my ol'E900...


I agree with Bill Pierce (featured comment); Photo Ninja does a really nice job with black and white conversion. The results look rich and full, as if you had used medium format film. Also speaking of black and white, you wrote, "Tonal properties in B&W are poorly understood in the camera and photo communities of the Internet." I have noticed odd hatred of B&W among internet photo "experts." Whenever someone writes about the Leica Monochrom or speculates whether Fuji will make a monochrome camera, the hate rants come out, accusations that only hipsters would be interested, that they can make better conversions with software package XYZ, etc. Are they threatened by B&W? It is bizarre.

[It IS bizarre, yes it is. --Mike]

Suspect "we"are all different in our expectations of anything manufactured, including cameras. For me who purchased the Fuji with the kit lens (and sold same two weeks later at a loss) could not get around the mechanicals. The camera is tiny and has too many button and dials to touch and go wrong (have enormous hands) and I missed the sound of the mirror moving (and I might add there was no real noise of anything happening).

One other point is perception, to me
a lens that is marked 50 mm had damn well better deliver a 50 mm view "and" results, nothing more, nothing less.
So for me that physically smaller Fuji (or in Nikon terms DX) sensor doesn't deliver to me; at least, reality.

Somebody gave me his old D7000 and kit lens to play with a few weeks ago. It was a camera. I keep coming back to the following which sort of sums things up, for me at present:

Photographically, the gear and the result is no longer is of interest. One must have a reason to do one's photography. If the reason does not exist, why bother?

For me, that reason has gradually disappeared; as has the good gear, for me.

I'm a huge fan of the X100. I use one for street documentary work. It's the only camera I have that can shoot completely silently with its stealth leaf shutter. Fuji is certainly doing things right.

About 10 years ago I got the Fuji S5 Pro. Nikon mount in a D200 body, but man were the dynamic range and colors from that camera special. Looking back at my older work, I'm always drawn to those images more than my traditional Bayer sensor cameras.

Glad to see Fuji is still making people very happy.

I'll "third" Bill Pearce's comment about using Iridient Developer for processing Fuji RAF (RAW) files. Brian Griffith has really improved the slickness of this wonderful conversion app in-use, and now it is quite seamless to use it as a plug-in in LR or PS to get wonderful conversions, as good as Capture One 8, which previously set the bar for me.

Also, have to respectfully disagree with Bob Johnston about using the X-T1 for fast moving subjects. I've shooting motorsports racing action with my X-T1 with the wonderful 55-140/2.8 lens (with triple AF motors) and getting superb results.




I converted to Fuji last year, bounced back out and have now come back to Fuji.

A couple notes.

AF on the X Pro1 and X-E1 ranges from Awful (early FW revisions) to just slow. The X-A1 and X-M1 are acceptable. The X-E2 and later bodies range from decent to almost speedy (depending on FW revision). If you liked the cameras but hated the AF, try a newer body (and skip the slow focusing 35 and 60, the original lenses are not fast focusers although the 18 has such a short throw that it's acceptable)

Personally, I greatly prefer the files from the X-A1 to any of the X-Trans bodies. All the good of X-Trans is in the X-A1 files too (lovely colour, great DR, incredible OOC JPEGs, good B&W conversions) but none of the problems (conversion issues & artifacts, poor chroma resolution at low ISO, occasional files which just hate every RAW converter). I've owned 2 X-A1's and an X-E1 so far and really wish Fuji would give me the X-A1/2 sensor in the X-T10 body.

Unlike most Fuji shooters I just love the 18/2. It's arguably the worst of the primes, but it's simply a perfect street wide IMHO. I've always found 35 a little tight and 24 a little loose when walking around with a single lens in the city, and the 277mm-e of the 18, fast f2 aperture and tiny size more than make up for corner performance which is only unnacceptable in today's 'must be technically perfect' world.

I'll be picking up either an X-T1 or X-T10 in the fall to round out my system and hopefully will stay there for a long time (I'm a notorious system switcher for digital, but have been chasing an FM2n replacement, which the X-T bodies looke to be ideal as).

Andrew Lamb wrote:
"One mischievous thought: why was that photo, of Scott and Tatiana, so badly under-exposed in the first place or was it done on purpose?"

Assuming the photographer's goal was to preserve detail in all areas of the image, it was correctly exposed.

"Naturally we like what we use...that's why we chose it; and sometimes that extends to results that are distinctive."

Actually "Liking" a particularly piece of photo equipment is something that's often overlooked in all the discussion of specs and whatnot.

I'm currently using two digital cameras, a D750 and a E-M5ii. All the specs tell me the D750 is the better tool. Hell, I look at the images on screen myself and KNOW the quality of the images are better. But the little Olympus is on my shoulder when I'm walking out the door in the morning. It's fun, and I like using it.

This isn't the only time I've forsaken specs for enjoyment. Most of the time I'll gladly take an f/2 lens over what is usually a much larger f/1.4 counterpart. And sometimes I simply use lenses because I like the way they feel in my hand, specs be damned.

If you own a piece of equipment you don't Like, sell it.

Of course the best Fujifilm camera of all time was the XPan. Somewhere deep down I dream that the often rumoured "full frame Fuji" is actually a digital Xpan.


p.s. whatever you do, don't even look at the 56mm f1.2 if your wallet is nearby.

Unfortunately I haven't had a play with a Fuji yet, but it sounds like it would be ideal if I were to start a new system from scratch (hopefully I never need to but...)

From what I am seeing elsewhere, PhotoNinja is the way to go for conversion.

And if you really want to go all the way with B&W, try a Sigma.

Oh, and a rumour floating around - no not a 35mm "full frame" X-Trans camera - they are aiming for something bigger!! Something like a 6x6 X-Trans.

I abandoned three Nikon bodies and about a dozen F-mount lenses for the the Fujifilm X system. This switch started when the X100 arrived and was completed about a year ago after using the X-T1 on gigs.

This is one of the few TOP posts where I can honestly say I agree with every single sentence.

The Fujinon lenses (quality-to-price ratio) slaughter almost all the Nikkors, and third-party F mount lenses I owned.

I miss only one aspect of the Nikon system. For some incomprehensible reason Fujifilm still does not support automatic bracketing of more than three shots.


Great pictures. I reckon that what I need is that lovely f2.8 lens you have with the three motors. I have the 55-200 f3.5-4.8. It's sharp and remarkably flare free but not in the same league with focusing I suspect.


Hey, David Zalaznick, I am going to look for your book. Every once in a while I contemplate retiring to Calhoun County IL (for non-locals, that is the thin and rocky sliver of land at the Illinois - Mississippi confluence, which is approximately 30 miles north of downtown St. Louis MO where I work).

That silver version reminds me of one of the -for me- most beautiful film cameras ever:


Uh, thanks.

Might want to mention the oodles of fun you can have strapping funky old Pentax & Leica lenses to the Fuji, especially because of the excellent manual focus-assist stuff. For example, https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2014/12/08/Thirty-year-camera-gap

Great post Mike and I agree with all your points. I started shooting in the early 70's and have gone through most makes and formats. The reason I am currently with Fuji is I wanted good glass, autofocus, and real manual controls (lens and body). I can't stand thumb wheeling for aperture or having one control change its function if I am in a different mode. I would still be shooting Leica if they had autofocus... but I'd be broke lol

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