JONATHAN JK

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Fuji X100 ~ Review: A Love Returned, Nostalgia Reclaimed

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Fuji X100 Review

Introduction

I really only want to write once about the amazing Fuji X100. I will satisfy that intention by approaching it from two aspects:

  • As somebody who recently moved from an SLR system; replacing his setup with just the Fuji X100 (most of the technical comparisons are against my previous Canon equipment, some might consider this the wrong approach as the Fuji X100 isn’t an SLR replacement, but it is what it is).
  • As somebody who wanted to get back to the simplicity and joy of using a rangefinder camera (this was after having previously flirted with a number of them over the years, in particular a pair of Contax G2’s).

Image by Flickr User Nokton

So you’re reading this, there is no doubt you’re already well informed about the Fuji X100. Especially if you have been a regular reader of this blog. I’ve posted so much news, reviews and general information about the Fuji X100. I’ll dispense with in-depth tests, image results, pixel peeping and weighty comparisons. You will have read them elsewhere. I’ll re-post some of the links if I feel I can’t add anything to what has already been published.

As we all know, the excitement started in September 2010 at the Photokina Trade show. When I first saw the X100, I thought it could give back to me a bit of my nostalgia for handling a film camera, while at the same time I also thought, finally this is what many photographers have been asking for; a digital sensor wrapped around the beauty and character of a rangefinder camera.

Image by Flickr User Tingan Bow

It didn’t surprise me that it would be Fuji who were bringing a digital rangefinder to market. Fujifilm were always a little different with their innovations, releasing cameras now and again that were a bit odd; making us sit up and think for a moment. They did it with the GF670 (medium format film camera) and the Fuji W1 (a 3-D camera).

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Olympus PEN

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Even though I shoot with a 1Dsmk2 and a 5D, I still yearn for an Olympus camera.  I use to own the Olympus E420 and a few quality lenses.  It is the size and innovation that interests me, ever since  Olympus announced the MicroFT standard, it was only a question of time when they would release a rangefinder type camera.  I think the market needs that capability, not everybody needs to shoot with a large SLR, and Leica is never going to fill that space.  My dream camera would be a digital Contax G2, but that isn’t likely for the foreseeable future.

This announcement is great news and the camera’s abilities are incredible for something that big.  My only complaint is the lens lineup at the moment and the lack of some fast primes.  But overall it is a new system, and I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

Written by jonathanjk

June 21, 2009 at 10:57

I’m parting with my Olympus gear :(

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When I started this website I was using an Olympus setup for my photography.  I use to own Canon before that and now with the photography I do, I don’t feel Olympus is right for me, so I’m moving back to Canon.  I’m unhappy to say I’m moving back to Canon. I’ve enjoyed my Olympus gear while I had it, but I can’t put up with the low f stop and lack of DOF. The gear I own has been great to use but with my line of photography it just doesn’t give me that buzz as my 5D did. So I’m going back. On my blog is the review for the Leica lens and I’ll be keeping it up online since it gives me so many hits but other than that I’m waiting for the 5D to plunge in price.

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything terribly wrong with Olympus, when I bought my E420 with 25mm Leica lens + 12-60mm, I came out on top because the gear was cheaper than the Canon alternatives.  But now the Olympus gear is going on ebay.

Having got to use the Olympus system I found that the size of the system was a bonus and I enjoyed that, though sometimes the E420 was too light when attached to a heavy lens and had a flash mounted on the top (hence the grip).  The speed and menu layout of Olympus’s cameras are great and intuitive as well, the only downside was the lack of DOF, poor iso performance (I never used the E420 past iso 200) and the inability of lenses offered by Olympus to go higher than F2.8 (yes the Leica was f1.4 but in 35mm terms it was equal to f2.8).

One thing I really liked about the Olympus is the wireless flash, it works so well, much better to me than the 5D with the 580 mk2. I’ve been having issues with it in open spaces which wouldn’t faze the FL-36. Shame pity I can’t carry that over with me! I’ve put my gear on ebay for those interested. The links are here for the E420 and the 12-60mm Zuiko.

I was going to keep the 12-60mm because it is a really good piece of glass, I bought it for the 12mm focal length and once I get my hands on the canon 24mm f1.4 L, I won’t ever use it which is a shame.

Not having bought into Olympus I wouldn’t have learned this and I have made some great photos while using it and I have no regrets.  As I said, the E420 with grip, FL-36 and 12-60mm will be on ebay later at some point.

Written by jonathanjk

November 28, 2008 at 18:55

Panasonic/Leica 25mm Lens Overview

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Here are a list of links showing the Panasonic/Leica lens review in numerical order.  For the moment I cannot create a dedicated page for the review due to coding issues.
Remember all the images provided here are full res versions converted from untouched RAW, one reason for them downloading slowly.  If you downloaded them for making comparisons I suggest you use LightRoom and it facilitates that function very well.

Panasonic/Leica Lens Conclusion (Part 9)

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Have I benefitted from purchasing this lens? Below I’ve listed the positives and negatives. But remember for the most part it is how it benefits me, even though I might make comments that compare it to other lenses which don’t entirely fit. I’m judging it primarily for myself and how it works for me but including general statements making reference to other primes for the benefit of you.

NEGATIVES

Price

This is a huge chunk of change as stated in the beginning of the review for a prime lens. I’m well aware of the fact that for the same price as this lens I could have repurchased Canon’s own 50mm f1.4 prime lens along with an EOS 3 and still have money left over. Or as one of my friends did note, I could have bought the same Canon 50mm prime and a second hand Canon 5D for £400 more, odd, but that was his take. Those are weird comparisons to make but as somebody who owned that gear, I understand what my friend is trying to say because he is a Canon user and doesn’t look favourably on the Olympus lineup.

There are two Sigma lenses for the 4/3rds lineup, a 24mm f1.8 and a 30mm f1.4 respectively, they are both cheaper but I never considered them.
Focusing (Low Light)
This is more of a fault with the Olympus E420 really as it has a reputation for not being a good low light focuser, I did have trouble using it in dim light and I can only wonder how it will perform with a higher end body such as the E3.  As a side note, even the 12-60mm performs best when coupled with an E3 so I can only hope to assume the same thing applies here. For the rest of the time in everyday light I’ve not had any issues with trying to lock focus.
Aperture Dial
I really wish I could use the aperture ring. It takes seven flicks of the thumb to get from f1.4 to f8 or 5 from f2 to f8. How practical or useful that is for you will of course be down to personal preference. If there was a firmware update so Olympus users could use the Aperture ring I would be a happy. Somebody recently commented on http://www.dpreview.com stating who Panasonic shouldn’t have included it on the lens in the finished product and the Aperture should have been controlled via the camera dial since the 4/3rds system is entirely digital and its the way forward. I disagree, for me it is a step backward for Olympus users and we should at least have the option anyway so that we can decide for ourselves.
Weatherproofing
It has none as far as I’m aware. The 12-60mm sure, because it is weather resistant, but neither is the Canon 50mm.
Lens Hood
I mean come on, it’s bigger than the 12-60mm! (Though not really an issue with the lens).
Size
The Leica is a heffer, never mind the lens hood. But I want to remind myself and you reading this; because it is only fair to say that the camera it is attached too IS the world’s smallest and it sticks out more because of it. If I still had the Canon prime I would make a size comparison between the two. However it is an inch shorter than the 12-60mm which was my walkabout lens. This Leica replaces it because as stated before I like my primes. Not a true negative then as such but not a whole positive either.


POSITIVES

Image quality
I’ve only had it three days but I am happy and exceptionally pleased with what I have shot so far. I wouldn’t use this camera for low light work unless mounted to a tripod so my solution otherwise is to fall back on my Contax G2 and its 46mm Planar lens using 35mm film. I’d be happy to wait for an Olympus E430 if it was a better camera in low light or upgrade to the E3 with its Image Stabilisation. It’s not like I have shaky hands either, I can hand hold at 1/30th and sometimes 1/15th of a second with a DSLR. I will state this though, during my testing, using the Leica lens at ISO 1600, it produced a more attractive noise in the image than with the kit lens and the 12-60mm! :)
Weight
It is lighter than the zoom lens it replaces as a walkabout lens. But generally for a prime it is heavier than the Canon 50mm prime (290grams), if we were to compare camera to camera and lens to lens, the Olympus setup would still win when it comes to being able to travel lighter with equal kit.
Focusing
It’s performed well for me so far, I can’t say I miss shots because of the lens. It’s louder than the 12-60mm of course because its not SWD, but it isn’t distracting and I’ve not let it concern me, a non-issue as I see it. Think of the sound Robocop makes when he walks though slightly muted.
Aperture
F1.4 mean anything? The fact that I can shoot at f1.4 and f2 and use ISO 100 for nearly 90% of what I do means a lot to me. The lens like others is sharper when going up 1 or 2 stops and it is very noticeable, I would still use f1.4 when the situation called for it. But at least I can shoot higher than f2.8, that was the limiting factor of the zoom lens and my decision to not buy the 25mm f2.8 Pancake lens because by then you’re at f4 if you want real sharp images.
*UPDATE* Applied the new firmware that is now available for Olympus users, the focus lock seems faster.

CONCLUSION
So in conclusion, I am glad to be back using a prime again, I’m not exactly rich but I am happy to have spent the money to get this lens. It was because I was on a budget that forced me to buy the 12-60mm in the first place and I felt I made too large a compromise, thinking the 12-60mm could offer nearly all my needs alongside my Contax G2 with its set of primes. If I could turn back time I might have not bought the 12-60mm and plumped for the Leica instead. I have as I said the Olympus E420 which is the cheapest body in the Olympus lineup and I hope the images I’ve produced have been what you were expecting. Also if you do have a higher spec body such as the E520 or E3 I’m sure your results can only at least equal mine and let me know if I have helped at all.

Written by jonathanjk

August 11, 2008 at 18:39

Panasonic/Leica Random Images (Part 8)

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All these images are just a selection of images taken with the Panasonic Leica lens. I’ve focused using the centre focus point on the camera and all the images are comparisons using f1.4 and f2 unless stated otherwise. For the portraits I have focused on the eye and then attempted to re-centre the image.

UPDATE: A few people have been interested in the specular highlights the camera produces, here are also two images that reflect that.
Specular Highlights 2

Specular Highlights 2

Specular Highlights 1

Specular Highlights 1

Panasonic/Leica 25mm (Part 7)

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Here is where the review begins to get interesting, it’s just Panasonic/Leica images here on in! Sunday was a terrible day for weather so I was confined to my house and back garden for most shots. Sorry!

I was interested in the Depth of Field and the Chromatic Aberration if the lens would produce any. Which it did, slightly at higher f-stops in the centre and to the sides at lower f-stops. I took some random images as well for a later part in this review and it does so up slightly in other images, again it disappears at lower f-stops. It must be noted that I can’t see any CA unless I zoom really close in so I’m not concerned so much about it, but your reactions may very.

There was no need for me to create crops of these images as the zoom function illustrates well the details I’m talking about.  I’m trying to not comment too much as I want the images to speak for themselves.

Written by jonathanjk

August 10, 2008 at 21:40

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