X-H1 Deals

If by some fluke you are interested in the X-H1, and haven’t yet taken note of the deals available on the X-H1, be sure to take notice of the fantastic $999 body only deal.→

But, if you’ve had your eye on an XF 16-55mm F2.8 WR, you can buy it and get a gripped X-H1 for $500.→

Better still, if you’ve had your eye on an XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR, you can buy it and get a gripped X-H1 for $300.→

$300 for an X-H1. That’s nuts.

Breathing New Life Into Early X-Trans With Capture One

Following up on my last post, I’ve been going through some old RAFs in Capture One. The difference I’m seeing compared to what I can get out of Lightroom is shocking. Check out this terribly underexposed sunset image, captured with an X-E1 in 2013.

Original.jpg

My exposure compensation was still set at -2.0 from a previous shot, so I’m certainly not hoping to get anything useful out of that shot, but look at the difference in what I’m able to pull out of the exposure in Capture One 12 compared to Lightroom Classic (or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days).

Now check out this crop.

Capture One sharpening settings are at their defaults ( I would typically reduce them slightly). In Lightroom, I used the oft advised high Detail slider at 85, and relatively low Amount of 25. Any higher on the amount and Lightroom starts sharpening noise. Increasing the Luminance Noise Reduction blurs detail.

From the farm buildings, the detail in the foliage, the bizarre 8-bit-looking grass, Lightroom’s limitations with these older sensors is astounding. No wonder I decided to shoot JPEG.

Fuji have come a long way with their sensors, and I have already acknowledged that Lightroom started doing a lot better when X-Trans III came out. The point is, if you’ve decided to make the jump yourself and you’ve got some older X-Trans 1 RAFs in the archives,1 it could well be worth reprocessing them in Capture One.→

Luckily I got my exposure set a little better on my next attempt.

DSCF1015-RAW (DR400)-1500px.jpg
  1. Or you’re simply happy with an older body. For a lot of people, 16 megapixels is plenty. ↩︎

Switching to Capture One

It finally happened. After years (half a decade, even) of being unsatisfied with Lightroom’s handling of X-Trans RAF files, and an underlying dissatisfaction with my workflow workarounds, I’ve completely made the switch from Lightroom to Capture One Pro 12→1 for all of my personal2 photography.

The transition period was actually quite short, just a couple months or so. I started out importing all my current RAFs into Capture One, while maintaining my Lightroom library and doubling up my asset management in case I decided to move back. Well, my last import was only to Capture One. Those, and future images will likely never see Lightroom.

Adobe has certainly made some progress since the first and second generation of X-Trans, but it is the definition of “too little, too late” in my book. In my hopelessly dated RAW Converter comparison, I concluded that Capture One delivered superior results. A year later when Lightroom 6 came out, I left little doubt that Capture One produces cleaner images with better detail.

So why did I wait so long?

Honestly I’m not sure, but version 12 of Capture One does have some additional niceties that have made the switch easier, and Phase One’s commitment to Fujifilm cameras really helps.

Back to the RAF

The other big change to my workflow is I’ve gone RAF-only for my personal photography. One big reason for this is Capture One’s interpretation of Fuji’s Film Simulation Modes and lens correction profiles are so good, I don’t feel the need to capture both RAF and JPEG. Unlike Lightroom, Capture One imports my RAFs with the Film Simulation Mode I captured the image with applied automatically. This gives me the best of all worlds; I can make creative choices while I’m shooting, I can totally change my mind about those choices later, and I don’t have a second set of files I need to reference what I was thinking when I captured the image.

Another big reason is exposing to the right with the ETERNA Film Simulation Mode is a fantastic way to get the most out of your exposures, but that’s another article.

Have you heard about these things called presets?

I never got too deep into the preset world in Lightroom. There were just too many, and many seemed dreadfully overpriced, all too similar3 and would break or not adapt when Adobe updated their rendering engine. I feel like that market has settled down a little, and the better quality preset shops have added (or are starting to add) Capture One versions as well.

It can be easy for presets to become a crutch, but they can also just as easily be a starting point for discovering your own style. I’m enjoying editing photos more than I have in years, so clearly it’s the right thing for me right now.

Have I looked back?

Hardly. I miss some things like the dedicated slider for Dehaze once in a while, but in truth you can get similar results that are arguably more natural using the Luma Range mask, an absolutely stellar feature. Speaking of sliders, I also find myself reaching for the Blacks and Whites sliders, but I’m falling deeper in love with Levels and Curves as a result. Ironically, while I loved Lightroom’s separation of Blacks, Shadows, Highlights, and Whites, when I go back to Lightroom for an old photo, I find myself missing the Brightness slider.

Lightroom’s Library module is quite a bit more robust than what Capture One has in my experience so far. Filtering photos quickly is vastly superior in Lightroom. Capture One’s commercial photography origins likely didn’t call for the kind of filtering that’s available in Lightroom, but I love, neigh need to be able to quickly view photos taken with a particular lens, at a specific focal length, and certain apertures, etc. Even if I didn’t have this website, I do still like being able to see which images came from a certain lens without having to create a bunch of Smart Albums that clutter up my Library/Collection View. This may or may not matter in your workflow, and I’m certain with more time and perhaps a tweak or two to my own workflow, things will get faster in this area.

I appreciate how efficient Capture One’s UI is, but I do wish I could hit Command J to add or change the information that’s up on screen. I also used to resist the vertical image browser, but on my iMac, it actually allows my image to be displayed quite a bit larger.

I miss Selects (or Picks) and Rejects in Capture One, but I’ve adapted to colour labels which have more efficient keyboard shortcuts, especially if you’re on a full size keyboard.4

Performance wise, I’m not having much trouble on my 2015 27 inch iMac. I’ve run into the occasional memory crash when waking the computer up, but never while actually working. Capture One seems to use more of the computational resources available to it. My processors are actually working hard enough that the fans spin up on occasion.5

The image is what matters though, and even after all these years, Adobe just can’t compete. Maybe you can get similar results using the new Enhance Details, but for now the cost in time and storage space is way too high when there’s software that can do much better with RAFs natively.

Should you switch?

If you shoot RAFs, you should seriously consider it. And there couldn’t be a better time because Capture One Pro 12→ is 50% off for just a couple more days. I can’t say that pricing didn’t also help ease the transition. I went straight to Pro. Layer Editing is more than enough reason, but the Advanced Colour Editing is no joke. I grabbed the 6 Style Packs which bumped the total savings up to 60%. All told, I’m really happy with the change.

  1. The Fujifilm Edition, natch. ↩︎
  2. The Lightroom library I use for product shots for this site will still be used for the time being as I only shoot JPEGs for those. ↩︎
  3. Wedding, engagement, and pregnancy photos from 5–10 years ago are likely to be pretty easy to pick out. ↩︎
  4. Plus key = Green for Pick, Minus key = Red for Reject, Asterisk = Yellow, and I’ve set the Equals key to Clear rating. ↩︎
  5. This is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I want software to use the processors I paid for. It does make that silent iMac Pro I’ve been waiting for an upgrade to more appealing. ↩︎

Recommended Kits Updated

XT2S0033-Edit.jpg

My Recommended Kits page has been fully updated. I’ve adjusted the layout slightly to hopefully make more consistent updates a little bit easier. General body recommendations kick things off with lens combinations following.

The two new wide angle offerings from Fuji—the XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR and XF 16mm F2.8 WR—have had a significant impact on these recommendations. So much so that classic kits like the “F2WR” and “The Invincible Landscaper” have been totally rethought. Meanwhile, others like the ”Ultimate Prime Kit” and “My Indispensible Kit” remain largely unchanged.

I must say that if it weren’t for the faster aperture of the XF 16mm F1.4 WR, the XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR would be vying for it’s place on the wide end of my kit.

Recommended Kits

XF 16-80mm F/4 OIS WR Officially Announced

Much earlier this morning, Fujifilm officially announced their compact 5× standard zoom lens, the XF 16-80mm F/4 OIS WR.→

Spec-wise, it’s a pretty enticing lens. I have every intention of adding this to my roster, and depending on how it performs optically, travelling with it instead of the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR (Review). The reason for that quite simply comes down to size and weight.

Size and Weight

You’ve likely already seen the size comparisons, but I’ve been hoping for the weight difference to be equally, if not more appreciable. Let’s have look in chart form:

Weight in grams

Not too shabby. Fuji’s claims about being about 40% lighter than DSLR versions of the zoom seem pretty accurate. It shouldn’t go unstated that f/4 on APS-C doesn’t have the same design challenges as on 35mm/full frame when it comes to keep size and weight down.

New Levels of OIS

Reaching 6 stops plus technical shutter vibration reduction, and tripod detection, which Fuji claims will “adjust its performance to provide optimum image quality.” That’s pretty cool. I can’t count the number of times I’ve realized OIS on my lens is on when mounted to a tripod when it shouldn’t be.

Ideal Travel Lens

It’s not quite my dream landscape travel lens, but I can't help but be eager to give this lens a try, and see how it stacks up to the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR in particular. The XF 16-80mm F/4 OIS WR is also one more reason not to choose the XF 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS WR, and I have a feeling Fuji’s noble kit—the XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 OIS—will be sitting on more shelves soon. Hopefully Fuji adds the new XF 16-80mm F/4 OIS WR as a kit option.