Fujifilm X-T1 IR (Infrared)

Fujifilm USA has announced the forthcoming availability of an Infrared (IR) version of the X-T1. I gotta say, this came out of nowhere, and is a surprising move in a way, but one need venture no further than Fuji’s other key areas of business to understand why they’d make a camera specific for “technical experts, law enforcement, medical research and scientific communities.” Fujifilm spends at least as much time blocking light rays as they do allowing us to capture them.

For $400 USD more, the X-T1 IR “adds advanced infrared technology to see light from the ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR) portions of the light spectrum (approximately 380nm – 1,000nm).”

One more body to consider in your purchase decisions come October. Hopefully this hints at the possibility of other niche cameras like perhaps a monochrome or astrophotography-specific version. Too bad Dexter is already over. Would have made for an awfully convenient product placement opportunity.

Inspiration: Thomas Menk

As a reader of this site, you almost certainly already know Thomas Menk as the hardest working guy in Fuji curation. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the appearance his work as a photographer in my Twitter feed even more.

While I’ve always enjoyed Thomas’ photography, I really like the the images he’s been posting from a recent workshop in Venice. The processing is sublime. There’s a feel to them that I haven’t seen from him before that stops me from scrolling, and compells me to just enjoy the image.

Check out more of Thomas’ work here.

Affinity Photo

If traffic stats are anything to go by, the majority of my readers are Mac users, so apologies in advance to my Windows visitors for this Mac-only post. Having written that, this could be another reason to consider a shift in desktop platform.

Affinity Photo→ has been available on the Mac App Store since July 9th. I was waiting for a trial like they have for Affinity Designer,→ but with the end of the launch sale fast approaching, I took the plunge and bought both apps without being able to test out Photo.

I’m only a day in, but so far I’m very impressed. These applications are super fast. On my Early 2013 Retina MacBook Pro, Affinity is opening PSDs and AI files (saved with PDF compatibility) faster than Photoshop and Illustrator respectively are. The “Edit in...” command from Lightroom is also significantly quicker when sending the file to Affinity Photo as compared to Photoshop.

It might be the initial excitment talking, but as it stands right now, I’m hopeful that what amounted to two months worth of Adobe’s Creative Cloud will allow me to cancel my discounted subscription when it comes up for renewal at the end of next month. The timing couldn’t be better. My current plan is to eventually purchase what I can only assume will be the last stand alone upgrade for Lightroom, and transition away from Adobe for home use entirely after that.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s great and all, but what about my Photoshop plug-ins?”

Tadaaa!!!

Yep, Nik plug-ins work just fine with Affinity Photo. A quick work around as noted below is required.

Yep, Nik plug-ins work just fine with Affinity Photo. A quick work around as noted below is required.

Initially I had some trouble figuring out exactly how to set the Plugin search folders and Plugins support folders, but a quick tweet to @MacAffinity lead me to this forum post, and the settings below.

To get “/” you need to point Affinity Photo to your boot volume. Hit Command+Shift+C, then double click your start-up disk.

To get “/” you need to point Affinity Photo to your boot volume. Hit Command+Shift+C, then double click your start-up disk.

There’s lots more to consider, but pretty much all of the big holes I’ve been worried about so far have been satiated. Wacom support, check. Proper Curves adjustment? Yup. All the blend modes you can handle with live preview so you don’t have to use some weird key command to cycle through them? You betcha.

I’m really just scratching the surface here, but I’ll continue to compare and contrast Affinity Photos with Photoshop over the next little while. If you’re on a Mac, and looking for a way to ditch the subscription, Affinity might be your way out. Creative Cloud offers many more applications, of course, but as a photographer, art director, and designer, I mostly work with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. With Affinity, I’ve got the first two replaced, and InDesign has been the least-used of the three for some time now. It would be fantastic if Affinity’s next project was a serious page layout application.

 
 

Deal: X-Pro1 Bundle

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to buy an interchangeable X-Series body, now might be the time. This X-Pro1 bundle from B&H including two lenses, the XF 27mm f/2.8 and XF 35mm f/1.4 saves you $900. It’s like buying two lenses and getting a camera for free.

The aging X-Pro1 isn’t my top choice for X-Series bodies these days, but for OVF fans, it’s still the only interchangeable option.

Fujifilm Filter Threads

If there’s one thing Fuji doesn’t make easy, it’s keeping the number of filters sizes you need to a minimum. I’ve had a write-up on filter threads in my drafts folder for months now, but Marco Larousse’s rant on episode 3 of the WeShootFuji podcast motivated me to not only get it finished, but to really hone the fancy new chart I had planned, which started out as a basic HTML table.

For a detailed visualization of Fuji’s filter thread diversity, and some strategies on lens kits that optimize for the number of filter sizes needed, check out my latest Extras piece, Fuji Filter Thread Sizes.

And if you’re reading this site, and don’t listen to the WeShootFuji podcast, you should give it a shot. Scott and Marco come from opposite, and outer-most edges of the photography spectrum, so they bring very different insights to all things Fuji from hardcore street, to landscape and nature photography.

Inspiration: Valérie Jardin

Of the 385 or so “Official X Photographers” Fuji have, only about 30 are women. That’s a mere 7%. Happily, another woman has joined their ranks, and for good reason. Valérie not only has a wonderful eye for clean, minimalist images, she’s also able to capture slices of life and moments of subtle brilliance. To pay small tribute to her well earned induction, Valérie is the perfect choice for a bit of inspiration. You can see much more of Valérie’s work on her website, or hear her on her podcast, Street Focus.

It’s great to see more gender variety added to an already culturally-diverse roster of photographers. Let’s hope the trend continues and that percentage cracks double digits soon.

As a reminder for Fujifilm UK, my very first Inspiration piece was on Verity E. Milligan, another perfect candidate for X Photographer status.

Man, I need to find some photographers who like colour a bit more!

Fujifilm Blog; Interview with Takashi Ueno

Fantastic interview with X-Series product planner, and certified photo master expert, a moniker that makes the fact this interview was conducted in Japanese gloriously obvious. Mr. Takashi Ueno reveals more on why Fujifilm opted for APS-C instead of full frame, and their lens strategies. Here are some highlights.

We have official confirmation on the red badge:

Yes, the red badge series are the zoom lenses intended for the professionals.

Regarding the XF 56mm f/1.2:

If the minimum working distance had been 40cm with the compromise on the image quality on the peripheral parts, then we had to extend the focus lens movable range. And as a result, the lens will be bigger and autofocus speed will be slower.

Our priority was to create a lens that has high resolution from corner to corner and that has adequately fast autofocus, so the minimum working distance became 70cm, which is enough for portrait photography – its presumed purpose.

I personally haven’t heard any complaints about the minimum focusing distance of the XF 56mm f/1.2, and in fact, it’s 15cm closer than an 85mm lens from Nikon. The impact on AF pace with closer focusing distances is interesting though, and explains the the necessity of a quad-linear motor in the XF 90mm f/2, which focuses as close as 60cm.

And Ueno’s recommend first lens for photographers new the X-Series?

I would recommend the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 as the gateway to the X series. As I said earlier, although the lens is a kit lens for starting out, it doesn’t mean that the image quality has been compromised.

While the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 is nowhere to be found in my Recommended Kits, I can certainly vouch for its quality. The image used in my masthead1 is a panoramic captured with the first interchangeable Fuji kit I owned, the X-E1 and XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens. You could do a lot worse that this kit lens. →

  1. I’ve attempted to update this image on a number of occassions, but I’m always unsatisfied with anything else I place there. I love the fact it came from my first interchangeable Fuji, and is a testament to what the first generation of X-Series is capable of.

X-T1 Ver.4.00 and the Future of Firmware

Today is the big day. If you’ve got an X-T1, you’re about to get a partially new camera. X-T1 Firmware Ver.400 adds some great new features, and refines others.

There really is only one write-up so far that needs your attention, and that’s Damien Lovegrove’s over at ProPhotoNut. Damien struggled to incorporate Fuji “New Autofocus System” into his own professional workflow, preferring instead to stick with single point AF that he adjusts as needed, however he had more success when it comes to action and fast(er)-moving subjects that can be easily isolated, but there appears to be a speed limit. I also share Damien’s theory of a foreground bias when it comes to Zone/Wide AF areas.

I’ve decided not to compose yet another rundown of what the new firmware update includes since most of that can be found in my X-T10 review. What’s interesting to me is what was excluded, and where I think Fuji should take their firmware in the future.

UI Inconsistency

First and foremost, I don’t want this to come across as looking a gift horse in the mouth.1 I absolutely love what Fujifilm are doing with their firmware upgrades and appreciate it immensely. I wonder, though, if they could do things in a different way that would ultimately be better for Fuji and their customers.

The strangest thing about Firmware Ver.400 for me is that the user interface on the LCD of the X-T1 has not been updated to match not only the X-T10 and X100T, but the UI in the X-T1’s own EVF, which is especially strange since it was the X-T1 that delivered this new UI to begin with. It has resulted in many of the screen items (histogram, exposure compensation, dynamic range, etc.) appearing in different locations on the X-T1 LCD, the X-T1 EVF, and the X100T’s LCD/EVF.2

I have other gripes about the overall consistency of the user experience with these cameras, especially when moving between multiple Fuji cameras, but this UI weirdness exemplifies it perfectly.

One Firmware to Rule Them All

In a recent post, I wrote about how the firmware for each camera is handled by a different team. This, in my opinion as someone who has never actually worked for a camera company before, is the crux of the problem. Imagine if Fuji treated their camera “firmware” as what it actually is, an operating system. In this imaginary world, Fujifilm X-OS, as I’ve dubbed it, would be consistent3 across every camera they make, and available to as many cameras as possible. What I mean by that is the UI can change and evolve across all their cameras, all current cameras would be consistent in their overall user experience, but more processor intensive features like maybe the new AF system would not be available on older cameras that can’t handle them.

Does this approach to operating systems sound familiar? It should, it’s Apple’s. Apple runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to iOS upgrades, and Fuji could do a lot worse than emulate them to the letter when it comes to updating theirs.

This would result in Fujifilm X-OS upgrades to all eligible cameras at the same time, bringing all cameras in line with the same consistent operating system, meaning less of an overall investment in development resources across the various body types so things like no Classic Chrome for the X100S could be avoided, as it would be bundled with the overall OS update.

I’m probably over-simplifying, and could very well be overlooking a ton of logistical nightmares this strategy presents, but it would be awfully nice for Fuji to bring this kind of consistency across the camera line-up, and it seems like it would be worth it in the long run. Maybe the next generation of cameras can usher in a new era of camera OS from Fuji. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying the awesome update Fuji has given us for the X-T1, and patently awaiting that X100T update.

  1. What a bizarre phrase.
  2. The X100T has its own problems like the histogram being in different places in the OVF vs. the EVF.
  3. At least, as consistent as possible. Concessions would need to be made for cameras with more dials, and those with fewer, but it’s a design problem I’m very confident could be solved.

The Wide Angle Primes

Work on my comparison between Fuji’s 3 widest angle primes, the XF 14mm f/2.8, the XF 16mm f/1.4, and the XF 18mm f/2 is almost complete. If you’re interested to see how Fuji’s newest weather sealed wide angle compares to their other wide fixed focal length offerings in sharpness, bokeh, handling, and more, this page is for you.

XF 14mm f/2.8 vs. XF 16mm f/1.4 WR vs. XF 18mm f/2