Articles & News

Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR moderate wide-angle prime lens

Tomorrow I am heading off to the city to photograph a protest against the first of three bills, one state and two federal, that will further persecute a group of people already heavily persecuted worldwide under the twin excuses of eugenics and religion.

All going well, I will be publishing the results in Unititled.Net’s Photo Galleries amongst other places. 

I will be carrying my Fujifilm X-Pro2 digital rangefinder camera and several Fujinon lenses – Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, XF 56m f/1.2 and XF 27mm f/2.8 – but the lens I would much rather be carrying with me, with the one focal length I relied on for this type of work during decades of magazine and newspaper photography, is the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR. 

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR on Fujifilm X-Pro3. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.
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Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro prime lens, the first set of Fujinon XF lenses released by Fujifilm in March 2012. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Global.

I have been begging Fujifilm for this lens ever since I dropped into Sydney’s long-gone Foto Riesel professional photography and video store to try out the eagerly-awaited first interchangeable lens Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 hybrid cameras and its on-launch lens set consisting of the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro, XF 35mm f/1.4 R and XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

While the results from the first two lenses looked promising, my response to the XF 18mm f/2.0 R was “functional but, meh” and subsequent longer tryouts of that lens failed to shift my assessment of it.

I discovered analog rangefinder cameras as a young and trained-on-the-job photographer for a group of regional newspapers after being dissatisfied with my first two single lens reflex cameras and the “standard normal” 50mm lenses sold with them.

An American photojournalist passing through showed me his collection of Leica M rangefinder cameras and lenses, and I was hooked.

I sold my two SLRs and their lenses, though in retrospect I should’ve kept them if I could have afforded to, and invested in a secondhand Leica M4-P and a new Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens that I chose for its wider than “normal” focal length to cover events as well as portraits.

I soon added a Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 when I discovered, to my enormous pleasure, that its extra width and razor-sharp, high micro-contrast rendering in alliance with Leica’s legendary warm colour rendition helped create images that put the viewer right there where I was when I made them.

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Photek Tiltall tripods, formerly Leitz Tiltall tripods from when the company was owned by Leica. Image courtesy of Photek.

I began making environmental portraits after understanding the Elmarit-M’s capabilities especially when stopped down and attached to my Leitz Tiltall tripod-mounted M4-P camera.

Not long afterwards I added another secondhand Leica M4-P and a Summicron-M 90mm f/2.0 telephoto lens for head and shoulders portraiture but the allure of placing people in their environments while drawing viewers into the picture outweighed the 90mm’s possibilities to the point where it often languished in the studio.

There is plenty more I could write here but for now this will do until I come back after tomorrow’s rally.

Links

Press Release: FUJIFILM Announces New FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens, by Fujifilm Australia

FUJIFILM Announces New FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens

Incredible optical performance in a lightweight and compact body with an 18mm focal length (27mm in 35mm format equivalent) and a wide F1.4 aperture

FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd is pleased to announce the introduction of the FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR lens (XF18mmF1.4), set to be released at the end of May 2021. Having a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27mm and a maximum aperture of F1.4, it is the 39th lens in FUJIFILM’s collection of interchangeable lenses.

Measuring 7.56cm in length and weighing just 370g, the XF18mmF1.4 has a filter size of 62mm and a minimum focusing distance of 20cm. This makes it an ideal lens for capturing everything from landscapes and cityscapes to portraits and weddings. The lens’ wide F1.4 aperture offers the ability to shoot in dimly lit environments and also produces incredibly smooth bokeh.

Keeping to the X Series philosophy of creating lightweight and compact imaging solutions that produce outstanding image quality, the XF18mmF1.4 provides incredible optical performance without being heavy or bulky. The XF18mmF1.4 is an easy choice among many photographers compared to other lenses that have a similar angle of view and aperture.

Product features

Exceptional optical performance, even at F1.4

  • The XF18mmF1.4 utilises three aspherical lenses and one ED lens among its 15 lens elements, spread across 9 groups, to minimise chromatic and comatic aberration. This means the finest details of an image will be reproduced with high levels of detail and sharpness.
  • To deliver consistent sharpness the focus group, made up of six lens elements, move in unison to reduce aberration fluctuations that can occur when focusing.

Designed for versatility

  • The XF18mmF1.4 has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27mm and can achieve Minimum Focus Distance on subjects as close as 11cm from the front element of the lens (MOD 20cm). This gives it a broad range of applications from being used to capture images of everyday moments to sweeping landscapes.

Fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus

The XF18mmF1.4 uses an internal autofocus (AF) system, driven by a powerful linear motor, to provide fast, accurate, and near-silent AF. From the lens’ minimum object distance (MOD) of 20cm the focusing group of lens elements moves 2.5mm. This means focus can be achieved in as quickly as 0.04 seconds*1.

Focus can be achieved from MOD to infinity in as quickly as 0.25 seconds.
All components in the manual focusing ring have been designed to deliver precise control when manual focus is in use.

Compact, lightweight and weather-resistant

The XF18mmF1.4 has a 62mm filter thread that measures 7.56cm in length, and weighs just 370g. This makes it incredibly lightweight and portable. While the lens barrel is made from metal, it is designed to weigh as little as possible without compromising its overall strength.
The lens has weather-resistant seals at eight locations along the lens barrel, making it resistant to dust, moisture, and temperatures as low as -10°C.
The new aperture ring design with an ‘A’ position lock prevents accidental movement of the aperture ring from the Automatic setting.

Optional accessory

LH-XF18 Lens Hood for the XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR. A rectangular, aluminum lens hood for XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR that helps prevent lens flare and ghosting, which can occur when beams of light strike the front of the lens.

2. Product name, accessories, release date, and pricing

Product name: FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens

Release date: Late May 2021

Recommended retail price (including GST): $AU 1,749

Product name: LH-XF18 Lens Hood for XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR

Release date: Late May 2021

Recommended retail price (including GST): $AU 99

*1 When using the FUJIFILM X-T4 in High Performance mode with phase detection AF active, measured internally according to CIPA Guidelines.

Fuji Rumors: Fujinon XF18mm f/1.4 R LM WR Announced: Reviews, Samples, Pre-orders and More

https://www.fujirumors.com/fujinon-xf18mm-f-1-4-r-lm-wr-announced-reviews-samples-pre-orders-and-more/

Commentary

Fujifilm Australia’s public relations consultants have yet to release the customary press release and images package for the long eagerly-awaited Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens and its optional but essential metallic lens hood, so the best I can do for you right now, dear readers, is point you in the direction of the ever-ready and ever on-the-ball Patrick DiVino of Fuji Rumors.

While I am waiting for the press pack to be released, I will catch up on the specifications sheet and the videos that Mr DiVino has shared in his post.

Links

Of Two Lands: SIGMA 18-35mm F1.8 | 3 YEAR REVIEW | My Most Useful and Versatile Lens

“This is not my favourite lens, but the one I use the most and I think it might even more important….

Over the past 3 years the Sigma 18-35 is the lens I have used the most and I thought it was time to make a quick review about it.

This lens gets a lot of criticism online, but I can honestly say that this is one of my favourites.

In this video I will talk about how I used it, the pros and cons and wether or not I would still recommend it….”

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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art EF-mount fast zoom lens can be adapted for a range of Super 35/APS-C cameras or for cameras with larger sensors that can be set to Super 35/APS-C. Image courtesy of Sigma Photo.

Commentary

Plenty of cinematographers using Super 35 cinema, video or hybrid cameras have the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 moderate wide to standard zoom lens as their first buy or sometimes as their only zoom lens whether used natively or adapted.

This video by Franco-Australian moviemaking team Of Two Lands shares some reasons why.

Unadapted, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8’s has an equivalent range in 35mm sensor terms to 28mm through 35mm, 40mm and to 50mm.

Adapted via smart adapters or speed boosters, it will have equally useful ranges on cameras of other sensor sizes.

Either way, its versatility and useful as an available light and available darkness lens highly recommends it.

Links

Fuji Rumors: Fujinon XF18mm f/1.4 Product Images Leaked

https://www.fujirumors.com/fujinon-xf18mm-f-1-4-product-images-leaked/

“The product images of the upcoming Fujinon XF18,m f/1.4  R LM WR have leaked by nokishita.

FR readers know that it will be announced on April 15.”

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR moderate wide-angle prime lens with lockable aperture ring, with focal length equivalent to 27mm in 35mm sensor format. Image courtesy of Fuji Rumors.

Commentary

Camera and lens systems are made or broken, as it were, by the native-mount lenses that are available for them, especially for professional users.

Well-established brands like Canon and Nikon created wide ranges of professional and enthusiast quality prime and zoom lenses for their SLR and DSLR cameras, and are building similarly wide ranges of lenses for their newer mirrorless cameras.

Meanwhile newer camera and lens brands like Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic continue to play catch-up, leaving the choice of which manufacturer and what sensor size to invest in uncertain still.

Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic have yet to release what I consider the core set of documentary photography and video focal lengths in professional quality versions equally suitable for photography and video, so lens and camera choice remains a constant set of compromises from decent to mediocre.

I wish it were not so.

Zoom lenses can be useful so long as their optical and mechanical designs and manufacturing qualities are not too compromised.

I find myself carrying one or sometimes two zoom lenses when I don’t have the prime lenses I need, or just one zoom lens when size, weight and discretion are required in sticky situations.

Again, though, I do wish that my preferred set of wide aperture focal length equivalents was available in APS-C/Super 35 and Micro Four Thirds:

21mm, 28mm, 35mm (when needing to carry just one lens for portraits and documentary photography), 40mm (similarly for documentary video), 75mm and 105mm.

With that set of focal lengths, I can cover pretty much anything.

For clarity, in APS-C/Super 35, that lens set is 14mm, 18mm, 23mm, 27mm, 50mm and 70mm.

In Micro Four Thirds, it is 10.5mm, 14mm, 17mm, 20mm, 37.5mm and 52.5mm.

At least Fujifilm is improving the compromise odds a little with its soon to be announced 28mm-equivalent Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR and I am pleased to note that the lens appears to be coming with a solid-looking lens hood in the same design as the optional ones for the Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R (I also use the same lens hood on my XF 56mm f/1.2 R).

I opted for the non-Fujifilm alternative lens hood made by JJC due to price and availability considerations, and never been disappointed.

I am looking forward to learning more about the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR when it is announced on April 15, presumably April 16 Sydney time.

Links

DPReview: Interview: Aki Murata of OMDS (Olympus) – ‘we’re more flexible now’

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/1852244131/interview-aki-murata-of-omds-olympus-we-re-more-flexible-now

“… We need to make those users realize that they can invest in our system with confidence. The best way to do that is by introducing innovative products, and I can confirm that will be an exciting product announcement from OMDS later in 2021. I think that will put a lot of people’s minds at rest….

… The Micro Four Thirds system is not limited to 20 Megapixels. Our Pro lenses have excellent resolution and performance, enough to work well even with a 100 Megapixel sensor. However, increasing number of megapixels significantly impacts processing speeds and high ISO image quality….

… Still imagery is very important for us, but we’re not disregarding video….

… We believe that we can contribute to improving video capture by offering a portable system with strong image stabilization and a video-dedicated AF system….“

Commentary

I have not had the pleasure of trying out any Olympus digital camera for an extended duration, but I have had some experience with the company’s lenses, most especially its M. Zuiko Pro professional-quality Micro Four Thirds lenses, both primes and zooms, and I would have no hesitation in investing in a complete set of them if I had the means and the motivation.

The latter including a BMPCC 4K updated in the same way that Blackmagic Design updated its BMPCC 6K to the BMPCC 6K Pro, the now confirmed Panasonic Lumix DC-GH6 hybrid successor to the legendary GH5, a professional-quality GX10 successor to the GX8 professional camera and not just another cut-down GX9 that is really a GX7 Mark III.

It is hardly surprising that the Olympus M. Zuiko Pro lenses “work well even with a 100 Megapixel sensor” given optical performance so amazing that I reach for my M. Zuiko Pro lenses before my Panasonic or non-M. Zuiko Olympus lenses.

I would have loved it if Olympus had followed Panasonic’s example with an aperture ring instead of relegating aperture control to the camera button plus command dial arrangement, given the common need to ride aperture when shooting in available light.

Olympus and Panasonic both need to consider adding internal neutral density filters to their more videocentric cameras in the way that Blackmagic Design has done so with the BMPCC 6 Pro.

Otherwise we will still need to rely on professional-quality variable ND filters for changing exposure while shooting video in light over which we have no control.

Another thing Olympus, or rather its spun-off OMDS, should do is release more wide aperture prime M. Zuiko Pro lenses to go with the current excellent 17mm f/1.2,  25mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2.

Namely, a 10.5mm, a 14mm, a 37.5mm and a 52.5mm, and although it would be nice and neat if they were all f/1.2 wide aperture optics same as their siblings, the first two lenses would still be useful if their maximum apertures were a little larger numerically.

Although I appreciate the M. Zuiko Pro zoom lenses, a truly professional lens system demands a decent set of superlative prime lenses as its core.

Links

Photo Gallery: National Day of Action: Stop Black Deaths in Custody at Sydney Town Hall on April 10, 2021

I attended and photographed the ‘National Day of Action: Stop Black Deaths in Custody’ protest at the Town Hall in Sydney on Saturday, 10th April, 2021 and, expecting big crowds and tight spaces in one of my least favourite locations, went minimal with my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style digital camera and my equally trusty Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens carried in a Think Tank Photo Speed Belt Pro and a set of MindShift Gear and Think Tank Photo belt pouches. 

An overcast day suddenly became sunny and bright as I was preparing to travel into the city, so swapped my currently only fast aperture Micro Four Thirds lens, the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens that came with my GX8 in a promotional deal for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R telephoto zoom lens that my partner gave me for a birthday gift. 

I needn’t have brought the second lens despite it being so light in weight: the 12-40mm did exactly what I had originally bought it for when I got my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and ably covered every situation I encountered on Saturday. 

I won’t comment here about Australia’s systemic racism, the ongoing deaths in police custody and the never-ending extra-judicial murders that have been going on ever since this continent was invaded, but my attitude towards these issues should be fairly obvious from those words. 

Given the slow, erratic roll-out in this country of COVID-19 vaccinations thanks to an incompetent federal government, I have to be choosy about which events I attend and so select those I consider most significant and worth risking the health of my partner and I. 

National Day of Action: Stop Black Deaths in Custody at Sydney Town Hall on April 10, 2021

During my magazine and newspaper photography days I relied on a range of film sizes, aspect ratios and camera types depending on the assignment, the subject, the story and the emotions I wanted to convey, from 35mm through 120 roll film to 4”x5” sheet film and Polaroid Type 55 Positive/Negative instant film. 

I usually carried a tripod large enough for cameras of any format in those days and thought little of carrying heavy loads, but not any more. 

Digital and its far greater image quality whatever sensor size along with lens and in-body image stabilization have changed the game along with smaller, lighter, more versatile tripods that I rarely carry nowadays. 

Micro Four Thirds is now more than adequate for documentary photography and photojournalism, especially in combination with DxO PhotoLab and its plug-ins DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, the raw processing software suite I used for these photographs. 

These are the sorts of images I once made with medium format 120 roll film but with much greater depth of focus and thus more data and detail, the lifeblood of documentary photography. 

Pre-pandemic, I would have made these images with wider focal lengths right in the middle of the crowd but until we are all vaccinated, distance is a virtue and not the Cartier-Bresson style Surrealist strategy of irony through longer focal lengths. 

Just now it has been reported that Australia is the 100th slowest pandemic vaccinator, not too far from this country’s ranking for broadband or in our case, “fraudband”. 

Before COVID-19, I would have leapt at the chance to cover this event with images giving the impression of reaching out and touching somebody, made with lenses like the coming M. Zuiko 8-25mm Pro with its 12 to 50mm 35mm-equivalent focal length range: 

“…the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 PRO lens,… will join the M.Zuiko lineup as part of Olympus’ commitment to broaden the field of photographic expression.” … 4/3 Rumors

Despite my love for the wider end with equivalent focal lengths of 21mm and 28mm, with 50mm reserved for head and shoulders portraiture, I tended towards the longer end of my M. Zuiko 12-40mm Pro while covering this event, often stopping down to f/8.0 and even f/9.0, still maintaining enough depth of focus to tell the story. 

If I was carrying my pre-COVID customary two-camera, two-lens documentary stills set-up then I would have fitted one with a 40-150mm zoom but stealth was the key for me though not, clearly, for the many newspaper and activist photographers carrying two and even three DSLRs with wide maximum aperture zoom lenses. 

Links

Australian Photographer June Newton aka Alice Springs, Widow of Helmut Newton, Dies April 9, 2021

June Newton, also known in her role as one of the finest portrait photographers of our time as Alice Springs, has died at the age of 97.

Seeming almost inseparable in life, Mrs Newton has now joined her husband, the great German-Australian fashion and portrait photographer Helmut Newton, in the next world if such a thing exists.

“Alice Springs does more than document the appearance of celebrities and anonymous contemporaries; she captures their charisma, their aura. Her eye for people is mostly concentrated on people’s faces…. There is a certain sense of familiarity in her images; actually they oscillate between distance and intimacy.”

Helmut Newton Foundation

Alice Springs was one of the many female photographers whose influence and inspiration was crucial to the development of my own work and vision.

I regret that our paths crossed only twice, once at a presentation by Helmut Newton on his work at Hamiltons Gallery in London and the other when I phoned their apartment in Monaco to interview her husband for the predecessor to ‘not only Black+White’ magazine.

Links

Firmware Update: RØDE Microphones: Introducing New Firmware For The Wireless GO II

“In this video, RØDE Product Specialist Ryan Burke takes us through the features and specifications of the first major firmware update for the RØDE Wireless GO II.

This update unlocks a number of new features in the Wireless GO II, most notably standalone onboard recording without the need for the transmitter to be connected to the receiver, essentially turning the Wireless GO II into a super-compact field recorder.

Once activated within the updated RØDE Central app, onboard recording will begin as soon as the transmitter is switched on, and will continue recording until it’s turned off.

Additional new features in this firmware update include:
– Low sensitivity mode for the transmitters.
– Transmitter LED brightness adjustment.
– Ability to change the functionality of the transmitter power button to drop markers into the onboard recording.

You can download the new firmware via the RØDE Central app now at https://rode.com/microphones/wireless/wirelessgoii

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RØDE Wireless GO II Kit. Image courtesy of RØDE Microphones.

“This update introduces a number of new features that you have been asking for. First and foremost, it enables standalone on-board recording, meaning recording is now possible without the need for the transmitters to be connected to the receiver, essentially turning the Wireless GO II into a super-compact field recorder.

This is perfect if you want to record an interview, capture foley sounds on the fly, or simply record voice memos while on a shoot. This will now become the default recording mode when the Wireless GO II is updated to the latest firmware via RØDE Central.

Additional new features include:

  • Low Sensitivity Mode (input pad) for the transmitters
  • LED brightness adjustment for the transmitters
  • Ability to change the functionality of the transmitter power button to either mute the input, drop a marker into the on-board recording, or deactivate the button….”

Commentary

This firmware update for RØDE Microphones’ Wireless GO II system looks incredibly useful and, according to the email notification about this, there are more such updates to come.

I am looking forward to trying out Wireless GO II soon!

Links

Gerald Undone: BRAW on the Panasonic S1H // Blackmagic RAW vs ProRes RAW

“Discussing the Blackmagic RAW recording over HDMI from the Panasonic Lumix S1H to the 12G Video Assist recorders and comparing it to ProRes RAW.”

Commentary

I am placing this video here for my viewing pleasure later, as I neither have personal experience of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H nor Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Design Video Assist 12G-SDI/HDMI HDR monitor/recorders and it is well past time that I learned more about them. 

Links