Saturday, November 24, 2012

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Fujifilm X-E1: Dynamic Range and More Comments

The above animated GIF I made, shows an example of what sort of range one can get from a single raw file. It is an image that was included in the night shot gallery linked to in my previous X-E1 post. The dark version is how the default conversion settings look (my defaults, that is, ones that already give slightly more shadow detail than normal), when processing through Adobe Lightroom v4.3RC. The bright version is the final result. Most of the adjustments were just done with the highlight and shadow sliders, but in this case, I wanted to darken the bright interior down more without darkening the outside lit walls too much, so I did some selective adjustments for the windows. I was a bit sloppy and didn't isolate the main yellow door frame enough in the "after" version, so it has darkened down a bit too much for my liking. In any case, it serves to illustrate that one can get a remarkably good dynamic range from a single raw X-E1 file. Hopefully people don't find the continuously running animation above too annoying!

If you click the image (or the link below it), you'll be taken to a gallery with 24 image pairs, all taken from my previous X-E1 galleries, each pair starting with the "after" version and the image to the right is the "before", the original unadjusted version. It is effective to use the right and left keyboard arrow keys to switch between image pairs, so you can see a smooth fade from before to after and back, similar to the above animation but in higher resolution. Some images have fairly minimal adjustments but I thought it would be helpful for people to see how much manipulation has gone into the final versions, especially the night shots. On a few you'll see some slight tilting caused by perspective corrections where I either didn't quite get the shot perfectly lined-up, or where I intentionally tilted up or down for compositional reasons.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

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Distraction: The new Fujifilm X-E1

[ Update: Added a link to a gallery of samples from the XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro ]

I've been meaning to post a mini review on the Nikon D800 body, but along comes Fujifilm to entice and distract me with yet another new camera! For those following this blog, you'll remember how taken I was with the Fujifilm X100, the fixed-lens 'retro' body that I got in March of 2011. In fact the X100, with its beautiful 23mm f/2 lens (35mm in full-frame equivalency), along with my Panasonic Micro-4/3 gear, is what accompanied me on my trip to Germany in 2011, where I left my heavy Canon DSLR kit behind. Funny enough, it happened numerous times during my travels in Germany that people walked up and asked if my X100 was an old film Leica! So the retro design is certainly aesthetically effective, but beyond that, I find it a joy to use a camera with mechanical f-stop, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. You can glance down, even with the camera switched off, to confirm your settings and the tactile feel of the controls just adds to the pleasure of shooting with it somehow. In addition, being right-eyed, the position of the viewfinder means I can keep the camera snug to my face without having my nose press up against the LCD display. Despite its initial quirks, annoyances and performance issues, virtually all of which Fujifilm addressed in subsequent firmware updates, I loved using that camera.

However, from the moment the X100 was announced, I so wished that it had the ability to change lenses! Yes, as a fixed lens, the 35mm f/2 was pretty much the perfect choice in my opinion, but I like w---i---de angle lenses and for me, the 35mm is kind of boring. What I was almost hoping for, more than interchangeable lenses, was a slew of different X100 bodies, for example an "X100w" that had a 24mm equivalent lens, an "X100n" with a normal 50mm and an "X100t" with a short 85 or 90mm tele. That would have been very sweet indeed! However for most people, just being able to change the lens is enough, and it would keep costs down compared to having multiple fixed lens bodies, so when the X-Pro1 was announced I was pretty keen...