The New Zooms

For those who haven’t yet noticed, detailed handling comparisons of what I’ve called “Standard Zooms” and “Telephoto Zooms” are online. I have a good start on comparison images as well, but it’s been difficult with the frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing in Canada recently. Comparison crops are in the works though, and will be posted as soon as possible. In the meantime, check out my impressions of these new lenses and how they compare as far as handling and build quality is concerned.

Inspiration: Verity E. Milligan

First, a Note

Testing gear is great fun, but we mustn’t forget that it’s the photographs we make that really matter. I’m guilty of this slipping my mind at times, but I managed to sneak a moment for myself this past weekend to make an image amongst the testing. With that said, I hope none of my readers mind the odd post here and there that features the photos we make with our cameras.

I’ve called this quite simply “Inspiration,” because for me, that all it is. These are the people who inspire me to grab my camera and go shoot.

Now onto the Inspiration.

I met Verity (or Vemsteroo) on Twitter sometime late last spring when her extraordinary landscapes of various Districts in England were retweeted. She was an insta-follow. Her latest set of images, this time from the Peak District, is as lovely as ever, and includes this gem, which I think is particularly genius.

“Ice Planets” by Verity E. Milligan

“Ice Planets” by Verity E. Milligan

The entire set was captured with the X-T1 and 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6, showing off the lens’s versatility, but more importantly, Verity’s words about winter echo my own thoughts about the season.1

Seasons provide us photographers with exponentially more photographic opportunities so even if it’s still cold where you are, bundle up, stick a WR lens on your X-T1 and make some images.

  1. Except maybe when temperatures get down below -30˚C like they did last weekend. That’s just nonsense.

Get Ready For Your Close-Up

Fuji Fujifilm MCEX-11 MCEX-16 Extension Tubes.jpg

Have you been looking for a way to get closer to your subjects without having to shell out for another lens? Perhaps you’re biding your time until the 120mm f/2.8 R Macro arrives. Either way, my review of Fuji’s latest addition to their accessory line-up has been posted.

MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 Review

An in-depth comparison of maximum closeness with and without the extensions tubes is also underway. So far only the primes are ready for viewing.

MCEX-11 vs. MCEX-16

16mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2 WR

Big Head Taco has written a nice piece about his time with both the President and Vice President of Fujifilm Canada. His impressions of the imaging leadership is certainly of interest1 but this is the bit that really caught my attention.

I asked Greg why no prime WR lenses and he said they are coming soon. He mentioned the new 90mm f/2 and the 16mm f/1.4 are going to be WR lenses, but the lens roadmap doesn't mention it.

This is fantastic news. Weather sealing is the one thing I find lacking with Fujifilm lenses. I suppose the question now is, how does Fuji go about re-issuing WR versions of existing lenses? There aren’t many I wouldn’t like to see WR appended to their model names.

  1. And I happen to share a lot of his opinions whole-heartedly,

The Red XF Badge

In starting a comparison including the new 50-140mm, I was struggling with how to categorize Fuji’s lenses. My initial thought was to describe the 50-140mm f/2.8 as “Pro” with all other lenses being “Consumer.” The trouble with that of course is Fuji already have a second consumer-focused set of lenses that carry the XC moniker.

Perhaps Fuji has already found a way of differentiating between these two levels of quality within their XF series of lenses though. The red badge.

Fuji’s red XF Zoom badge

Fuji’s red XF Zoom badge

I noticed this badge immediately when I first saw the 50-140mm f/2.8 at Photokina. I wasn’t crazy about it when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me.1

Just two lenses carry this badge officially to date, the 16-55mm f/2.8, and the 50-140mm f/2.8, which are the two lenses unofficially referred to as “pro zooms.” These lenses also happen to be the only two lenses in the lineup that come with the new Nano GI coating so the red badge might be the signifier of this coating’s presence,2 but it could just as well be their version of the gold band found on Nikon’s pro glass or the red band found on Canon’s L lenses. It’s clearly not indicative of weather sealing since the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 has the standard black XF badge.

Looking back at my my images from Photokina, it appears as though the XF zoom badge was deliberately left off of the the new Super Tele-Photo Zoom 140-400mm f/4-5.6. This would suggest that Fuji do have an idea of what the red badge stands for, and that they hadn’t yet commited to adding the stamp to the new Super Tele Zoom. Or maybe it just fell off. It is a prototype after all.

No XF Zoom badge? What does it mean???

No XF Zoom badge? What does it mean???

It’s interesting that Fuji have created a new tier of zoom lenses with these latest releases—I’d bet the farm that this isn’t a revised design language for all lenses going forward, and I suspect they won’t dish out the red badge often—but it’s odd that there doesn’t seem to be an official word on what the red badge stands for.

  1. I do wish that Fuji went with red for all their functional accent colours as they have on the black X100’s rather than the orange used on their interchangeable bodies.
  2. Much like Nikon’s “N” for “Nano Crystal Coating.”

I’d stick with the X100S if...

Work on my X100T vs. X100S vs. X100 piece is still in progress, but having more time with the X100T has made it apparent that the only reason I’d reach for the X100T isn’t the new OVF. It’s not the bigger LCD. It sure as hell isn’t Classic Chrome. It’s WiFi.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the other features and improvements made to the X100 line, but for $300-400 or so, I could live without ⅓ stop aperture adjustments, extra exposure compensation, the picture review button being in the wrong place, you get the idea.

I came to the conclusion early that the X100T isn’t a must-upgrade camera for X100S owners, and I stand by that 100%. If you already have an X100S, and WiFi capability isn’t imperative, I’d say stick with what you have. Additionally, if you don’t already have an X100 camera and WiFi isn’t a feature you’d miss, save yourself a few hundred units of your favourite currency and grab an X100S. It’s still a great camera that captures the same image quality, and at it’s current price, it’s a steal.

A Case For a Weather Sealed 10-24mm f/4

Fuji Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 weather sealed.jpg

This morning I woke up early to do some shooting with my new 50-140mm f/2.8. I figured I might as well throw the 10-24mm f/4 in my bag as well to round out my focal range. It occurred to me right then how great a combo the 10-24mm and 50-140mm is. Add in the fantastic 35mm f/1.4, and all your focal length bases would be very well covered.

This might be the most ideal kit available from Fuji, and would probably remain that way even after the 16-55mm f/2.8 comes out if it weren’t for one thing.

Weather Sealing

I’ve griped about this before, but this morning was another reminder of how much I wish Fuji had made this weather resistant. I packed my bag, jumped in the car, and upon exiting the garage, discovered it was drizzling quite heavily. I was undeterred thanks to the 50-140mm, but I thought to myself “Whelp, guess I won’t be using the 10-24mm.”

That sucks. Especially since as the 16-55mm f/2.8 approaches, I find myself thinking more and more that I’m going to prefer having the 10-24mm f/4. It zooms internally like the 50-140mm f/2.8, it shares the same 72mm filter thread,1 and it goes quite a bit wider than the 16-55mm f/2.8.

FUJINON XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS II WR

Rumours of Fuji releasing a Mark II version of their 35mm f/1.4 abound,2 but just last week they’ve shown their willingness to re-issue lenses with Mark II versions of their XC lenses. I also asked one of Fuji’s engineers about the possibility of re-issuing a weather sealed version of the 10-24mm f/4 with weather sealing, to which he replied it was possible, but the lens mmight be slighty larger. I’d take a slight bump in size on a lens like that if it I could use it unfavourable weather any day. Here’s hoping.

  1. The 16-55mm f/2.8 is 77mm. Yes, I could add a step up ring to the 50-140mm f/2.8, but the hood will either be unusable or a pain to use. Not an option for me.
  2. Rumours that have since been squashed, it would seem.

Excellent Reviews from Light Priority

Rory Prior’s review of Fuji’s FUJINON XF 14mm f/2.8 R is a fantastic, not only because it mentions this site at the bottom, but it includes some excellent insights. It’s a great read for anyone considering what’s still one of Fuji’s best lenses to date.

With the sheer ubiquity of 18-55mm (28-70mm) lenses, people are used so seeing images at those focal lengths. That means lenses that break out of that range immediately have the potential to create more interesting pictures. The downside for the photographer is that it can make composition and getting the right exposure more complicated. You’ve potentially got to get a lot closer to subjects to make them fill your frame, then you have distortion to worry about, especially when shooting people.

Don’t miss Rory’s comments on how much the outstanding software, Iridient Developer, can help with edge sharpness in his equally excellent 18mm f/2 review.