Joel Wolfson: ON1 Photo Raw 2018 Released- Why it Rocks!

http://joelwolfson.com/photo-raw-2018-released/

“This image is from an X-Trans raw file (Fuji sensor.) These are normally a big challenge for raw processors but I was able to process it quickly and effectively with ON1 Photo Raw 2018 using 2 of my favorite filters- Dynamic Contrast and Color Enhancer….”

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Fujifilm, Damn It, Get a Grip!

One thing my partner learned from ten years working in Canon’s research and development division is that even photographic market leaders have hardware and firmware blindspots, and in that instance they were legion and persistent, and remain so to this day. 

Fujifilm has its own persistent camera and lens hardware and firmware idiosyncrasies, which I have covered in other articles on this site, with one of its most recent hardware blindspots being the failure to issue a hand grip for the camera most in need of one, the Fujifilm X100F. 

Fujifilm Finepix X100 camera with Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip and Peak Design original Cuff and CL-2 Clutch camera straps. I am waiting for Peak Design AL-3 Anchor Links to appear locally so I can replace the original AL and current AL-2 Anchor Links illustrated as they are too thick to permit easily opening the camera’s battery and card door.

When I managed to see an X100, I was impressed by Fujifilm’s achievement but dismayed by its minimal built-in grip and the slipperiness of its tiny body.

I ordered one and it arrived just before a trip to San Francisco where I carried it everywhere every day.

It helped me produce some terrific photographs but my ability to hold it comfortably and safely at all times was compromised by the lack of a hand grip, despite finding a reasonable wrist strap to attach the camera.

I eventually came across Fujifilm’s MHG-X100 hand grip and snapped it up, attaching it to the camera along with Peak Design’s Clutch and Cuff camera straps.

I was impressed by how Fujifilm had thought of everything, by designing a rectangular notch into the side of the hand grip to allow attaching camera straps like the first one I bought for it, from San Francisco’s DSPTCH travel company.

Gallery of X100 images, before and after hand grip

The top three photographs were made when I did not have a hand grip for my X100, and the three photographs below were made after I bought a Fujifilm hand grip.

The safer former grip afforded by the hand grip gave me far more confidence and allowed me to be far more gestural in my approach, working faster and getting close in to the action.

I use my X100 with hand grip for documentary projects to this day.

No Fujifilm hand grip for the X100F!

I was shocked to learn that Fujifilm had failed to produce an updated version of its MHG-X100 hand grip for the X100F, when I was kindly loaned an X100F.

Like the X100 and its two successors, the X100S and X100T, the X100F’s body is small and slippery, and its taller built-in slippery grip bump does little or nothing to aid in ensuring a good hand-hold of the camera.

I attached my usual Peak Design Clutch and Cuff via Peak Design’s Arca-Swiss compatible camera plate, as in the photographs above, but it was a compromise compared to my hand-grip-plus-camera-straps solution for the X100.

Compromise, too is the word I would apply to each third party camera grip design I have seen online so far, linked to in my list of links blow.

None of them appeal to me and I am wondering whether even Really Right Stuff’s L-Plate Set and Grip might be worth the investment given its size, weight and slippery CNC surface, despite the potential usefulness of its optional L-Component for tripod-mounting in portrait orientation via an Arca-Swiss tripod head.

Really Right Stuff’s X100F solution has one really big downside besides slipperiness, size, expense and weight, and that is its lack of provision for attaching my two Peak Design camera straps.

Instead the company offers its Magpul Gen 2 MS4 Dual QD Sling for carrying the plated and gripped-up X100F rather than my smaller, safer, lighter and more elegant Clutch plus Cuff solution.

A long, long time ago… even the Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL and Minolta CLE had a hand grip

My first thought on first seeing preview images of the Fujifilm Finepix X100 online some years ago was that it might be the closest digital equivalent to a Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL or a Minolta CLE.

The Leitz camera company, now Leica Camera AG, reportedly killed off the Leica CL as sales were eating into those of the far more expensive Leica M5, and having seen and tried an M5 I can see why.

According to Ken Rockwell, “the CLE is a joy to carry, and a joy to shoot” and that it “could be photography’s messiah: the smallest, lightest possible solution for a complete advanced camera system” but as none of its versions appeared in my part of the world at the time I have never had the pleasure of using one.

It is remarkable how popular the Minolta CLE remains amongst those in the know to this day, including Take Kayo of Big Head Taco who reportedly has two of them.

Three lenses were created specially for these three cameras – the Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle, the M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0 “perfect normal” and the M-Rokkor 90mm f/4.0 medium telephoto.

But I digress..

The Fujfilm X100F achieves a similar result with its 35mm-equivalent 23mm fixed lens and its optional TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion and WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion lenses providing the equivalent to the 28mm and 50mm focal lengths in 35mm sensor terms, making it close to a credible digital “complete advanced camera system” able to fit in a small waist bag or shoulder bag.

Now if only Fujifilm could release its own hand grip for the X100F to make it a complete camera system, then we would be much happier. 🙂

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris. Hero image of the Fujifilm X100 with hand grip photographed as 5-bracket HDR on Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Panasonic Lumix 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens then processed with Skylum Aurora HDR 2018 and Luminar 2018.

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  • Fujifilm MHG-X100 Hand Grip for X100T, X100S and X100 Digital Cameras – B&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion LensB&H
  • Fujifilm WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion LensB&H
  • Match Technical EP-2F Thumbs Up Grip for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • Peak Design Anchor Connectors for Peak Design Straps (4-Pack)B&H
  • Peak Design AL-3 Anchor LinksB&H
  • Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist StrapB&H
  • Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Hand-StrapB&H
  • Peak Design Leash Camera StrapB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate and Grip for Fujifilm X100F – B&H
  • Really Right StuffL-Component for BX100F Base Plate – B&H
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set and Grip for Fujifilm X100F B&H

How I Use My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Advanced Multi Viewfinder OVF Rangefinder Camera for Documentary Photography

Events involving more than a handful of people closely interacting with each other in public rarely occur where I live now and creative events are rarer still, so this year’s Fujifilm People with Cameras event in the city of Sydney provided an excellent opportunity to exercise my documentary photography muscle memory.

I carried my Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens attached and my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 in a Think Tank PhotoSpectral 8 shoulder bag.

The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera Bag is also a terrific waist bag for the urban documentary photographer. It can carry one mirrorless camera and one, or two or three lenses if they are small primes or zooms. This model easily carries an X-Pro2 with two Fujicron lenses or a Panasonic Lumix GH5 with standard zoom lens.

The Spectral 8 looks like anything but a typical camera bag, making it a great choice for working events and crowds, and it is the first shoulder bag that has not given me spine and shoulder problems whichever mirrorless camera and however many lenses I carry in it.

If working with just one lens and one camera, and traveling light with personal items too, I choose a Cosyspeed waist bag such as the Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera Bag.

The Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder

The Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R is an excellent lens for documentary photography and photojournalism, especially when working in available darkness.

I chose the X-Pro2 for its Hybrid Multi Viewfinder (HMVF), a considerable evolutionary step beyond the non-digital optical viewfinder (OVF) cameras in all film sizes from my analog photography days.

My documentary photography style was shaped by my first rangefinder camera, a second-hand Leica M-4P, and my first Leica M-System lens, a Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0.

I soon added an Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 after finding the narrower 35mm focal length more suited to a feeling of contemplative distance rather than emotive immersion in fast-moving events.

I purchased my X-Pro2 along with the 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses after reading about Kevin Mullins, a documentary-style wedding photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer from the UK who often works in adverse lighting conditions, reminding me of when going down the mines as a corporate photographer.

Available light and gestural photography

The Fujinon XF 56mm f1/2 R lens is one of the best head and shoulders or full face portrait lenses I have ever used. I also use it for urban documentary photography as a short telephoto lens.

I was excited about these two lenses due to their reportedly high image quality when used wide open in available darkness, a lighting condition common to events I had covered with other digital cameras and lenses for a charity for several years.

What I enjoy about using rangefinder cameras, as opposed to rangefinder-style cameras, is their conduciveness to being used in a gestural manner, seeing the world as if through a window into deep space, and making creative decisions and photographs within a fraction of a second without shutter blackout.

One of my two battered old Leica M4P rangefinder cameras, sold after I contracted severe photochemical reaction dermatitis, prematurely ending my professional magazine photography career. I had to wait years until digital cameras and software were affordable and at the right stage of development to buy back into photography and moviemaking.

All that is the direct consequence of the cameras’ optical viewfinders showing you more than what will end up in your photograph, in combination with having both eyes open at all times, seeing the wider scene with left eye and through viewfinder with right, superimposing one upon the other.

A short movie was once made of me photographing a public event, and the cinematographer swore that I surely could not have been making photographs at all, so rapidly and so casually was I handling my Leica.

Camera in right hand attached by wrist strap, concentrate on the scene, anticipate and visualize the possibilities, wait until a fraction of a second before the perfect conjunction of people, objects and events, raise camera, pass in front of eyes, snap and it is done.

Repeat until you are in the zone and amazing images keep coming thick and fast.

I use my X-Pro2 in manual focussing mode in a similar but now digitally enhanced way, relying on the electronic rangefinder (ERF) set to show the whole scene at lower right of the OVF and with focus peaking set to on.

Fujifilm, exposure zebras please!

The Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera’s Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder is key to how I get the best out of it. Depicted, the X-Pro2’s finder window with ERF-in-OVF viewing mode selected.

If the firmware for X-Pro2 and other Fujifilm cameras had exposure zebras built-in then I would swap zebras for focus peaking in full image ERF view to ensure perfect exposure under challenging extreme subject dynamic range such as blacks in deep shade combined with whites in bright sun.

In combination with back-button focus on the X-Pro2 via AF-L button or the 23mm f/1.4 lens’ manual clutch focus mechanism, I can see everything on all four sides of the lens’ field of view, have access to plenty of focus and exposure information, can make creative decisions rapidly and accurately, use joystick to select the most critical point of focus then make the exposure with minimal lag time.

A photograph from Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event in the Sydney CBD in October 2017.

As a result the X-Pro2 is the first digital camera that allows me to achieve split-second speeds to photograph the perfect combination of actions and encounters across the frame.

You will notice that I often place my main subjects within a broader field of view, depicting unrelated figures going about their daily business yet in apparent choreographic unison with each other, as if under the command of a dance master instead of blind chance.

Another photograph from Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event in the Sydney CBD in October 2017.

These are image design decisions I came up with years ago after studying painting and visual storytelling throughout the ages in art galleries and museums in Europe.

I find a particular satisfaction in suggesting possible deeper stories and apparent relationships than what may really be going on in the central focus of the action.

More than meets the eye?

The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric lens. I loved using an older, larger version of this lens for immersive, gestural urban documentary photography.

In other words, my photographs are intended to suggest that there is more there than meets the eye.

Although I enjoy the remarkable optical qualities of the 23mm f/1.4 lens, I often find myself wishing for a similar but wider lens for more immersively photographing events outdoors and indoors.

My Leica 28mm lens hit the immersive sweet spot in comparison with wider or narrower lenses and there is no substitute for that specific focal length.

The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 lens, one of the first three lenses released by Fujifilm for its interchangeable lens APS-C cameras along with the XF 35mm f/1.4 R and XF 60mm f/2.8 R Macro lens. It needs to be updated to current lens optical and mechanical design standards to suit my needs for high-speed gestural documentary photography.

Its Fujifilm APS-C equivalent is 18mm, but having tried the Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 lens, I rejected buying it due to its lack of manual clutch focus, slow autofocus speed, clanky aperture ring and clunky construction despite its quite reasonable optics.

Fujifilm needs to produce a radically updated version of this lens, and although I prefer the clutch manual focus design of the 23mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8 Fujinon lenses, I could cope with a Fujicron-style design such as that of the small XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR, XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR and XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR primes that are particularly suited to the X-Pro2 due to their small front end that protrudes less into the camera’s OVF.

The curse of funky chic

The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lens, equivalent to 75mm in 35mm sensor terms. One of my favourite analog 35mm film format lens pairs was 28mm and 75mm, an excellent combo for two-camera, two-lens documentary photography so long as each lens is quick and accurate to use.

On Sunday I was told that the ageing XF 18mm f/2.0 lens has undergone a sales resurgence recently, and I suspect that is due to its olde worlde funky chic that is being promoted online by certain photographers.

If I really wanted funky chic there are plenty of other lenses that go the extra mile and were built specifically for that.

Fujifilm, please do not shelve your reported plans for a Fujicron-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR just because funky chic has become a thing with a clearly mechanically inferior lens.

I have considered adding Fujifilm’s reportedly excellent kit zoom, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, to my nascent lens collection but having tried it out at an event last year decided it was not for me due to its size and its front element protruding into the OVF.

The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens, which I had considered purchasing when I got my XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses but had to let go due to budgetary constraints and other reasons.

At the 18mm setting, the X-Pro2’s 18mm bright frame is almost equivalent to the whole of the OVF window and with ERF activated I would be losing fast and easy view of a crucial percentage of the action.

That view would be further reduced with the addition of Fujifilm’s lens hood for the 18-55mm lens, a necessity in the extremes of light and shade found in an average city scene.

I like the idea, though, of the 18-55mm zoom for its access to much-loved focal lengths from my Leica days – 28mm, 40mm and 75mm in the 35mm sensor size or in APS-C terms, 18mm, 27mm and 50mm – as well as 35mm which for me is more of a video focal length than a stills focal length.

Fujifilm X100F with WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion lens attached, converting the camera’s 23mm f/2.0 lens to an 18mm f/2.0 lens. In 35mm sensor terms, converting a 35mm focal length into 28mm.

The Leica 40mm true normal lens is now sadly discontinued but the closest currently available 40mm lens is the reportedly excellent Voigtlaender Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 SC.

There is one less obvious solution to my 18mm dilemma and that is an X100F with WCL-X100 Wide Conversion lens to convert its fixed 23mm focal length lens to 18mm, with Peak Design Cuff and Clutch camera straps essential for good grip of its small, slick-surfaced camera body.

The Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip with notch for attaching Peak Design camera straps, for the X100, X100S and X100T cameras, but, bizarrely Fujifilm has not released a version for the X100F and it is an essential for tight, safe grip especially when using convertor lenses.

The one downside to that set-up is that Fujifilm has, bizarrely, failed to release an updated X100F version of its small but effective MHG-X100 hand grip previously made available for the X100, X100S and X100T.

Fujifilm’s hand grips are the only ones I have come across that have a notch for attaching Peak Design’s camera strap AL-3 Anchor Links and are smaller and neater than those of third party competitors.

A hand grip for the X100F, yet another silly Fujifilm blind spot?

Primes, not zooms

Fujifilm X-Pro2 attached to 3 Legged Thing Equinox Albert Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod with AirHed 360 Ball Head via 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket, an excellent set-up for on-location portraiture. Albert extends high enough for full face close-up portraits and is great for environmental portraits too. For studio use I recommend 3 Legged Thing Winston.

For me at least, zoom lenses are more suited to EVFs and LCDs, not OVFs.

During Sunday’s Fujifilm People with Cameras event I was lucky enough to have a few moments with a save-disabled pre-production model of the coming Fujifilm X-E3 rangefinder-style camera.

It is easy to forget that contemporary mirrorless digital cameras offer two or, in the case of the X-Pro2 and X100F, three ways of seeing in one due to offering an EVF and an LCD, and in the case of those two cameras, an OVF as well.

Fujifilm has a long history of producing excellent analog film cameras, lenses and film stocks.

Two or three ways of seeing, two or three cameras in one. 

Each way of seeing equal to one camera only during the analog era, with the rare exception of the Linhof and Speed Graphic cameras that I used as handheld rangefinder cameras or tripod-mounted view cameras.

The X-Pro2 is, in my opinion, a superb OVF hand camera while other Fujifilm cameras have better quality EVFs better suiting them to use with zoom lenses, prime lenses outside the X-Pro2’s optimum range of 18mm to 56mm, and tripod-mounted use like a miniature view camera via the LCD monitor.

Matching cameras, complementary lenses

Every Fujifilm camera needs an optional hand grip or battery grip in my experience. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 metal hand grip.

Having always relied on carrying two matched cameras for documentary photography I am uncomfortable with just one camera and two lenses, thus risking dropping while changing lenses at speed in the field, or missing shots because I have the wrong lens on it at the time.

I need a second camera for documentary photography projects.

Will an X-Pro2S or X-Pro3 improve their EVFs to match those in the X-T2 and its successors?

Will Fujifilm add the X-Tn series’ excellent and incredibly useful Dual viewfinder mode to cameras in the X-Pron series?

Will Fujifilm finally relent and add exposure zebras to all its cameras, for stills and video?

The Fujifilm X-E3 EVF/LCD rangefinder-style camera with MHG-XE3 hand grip, essential for balancing big lenses and safely holding the camera itself.

Will the X-E3 make for a good EVF rangefinder-style companion camera to the X-Pro2 so I can get back to my well-proven two-camera, two-lens documentary default mode?

Should I seriously consider a Fujifilm X100F with WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens attached, now that the X100F sensor’s specifications are closer to that of the X-Pro2, X-E3 and other Fujifilm cameras?

Time will tell and, no doubt, so will access to a production-run Fujifilm X-E3 for a really good tryout in typical documentary photography conditions in the field.

One thing I know for sure, resulting from handling the X-E3 for even a short time is that, like the X-Pro2 and X100F, it needs a hand grip whether mounting small lenses or large ones on it, whether primes or zooms, as well as Peak Design Cuff and Clutch camera straps.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • 3 Legged Thing tripodsB&H
  • 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-BracketB&H
  • Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera BagB&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand GripB&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 Metal Hand Grip for X-Pro2B&H
  • Fujifilm WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion LensB&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R Ultra Wide-Angle LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2.0 R LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R LensB&H
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH LensB&H
  • Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. LensB&H
  • Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist StrapB&H
  • Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Hand-StrapB&H
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set and Grip for Fujifilm X100F  – B&H
  • Think Tank Photo Spectral 8 Camera Shoulder BagB&H

Photography Image Editing & Raw Processing Software is Going Through Interesting Times Right Now

We live in interesting times for digital photography with some great cameras now on the market and an ever-growing, ever-evolving set of choices in image editing and raw processing software available to those with deep pockets as well as those with less so. 

Photograph made with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens, then processed in DxO PhotoLab with DxO FilmPack plug-in, making liberal use of PhotoLab’s Nik-like U-Point masking technology to select areas within the image for application of editing controls like exposures, contrast, micro contrast and so on.

Headline news at the moment is Google selling Google Nik Collection, which it acquired when buying Nik Software for access to their Snapseed mobile image editing app, to DxO with DxO continuing Google’s recent move to give Nik Collection away for free.

DxO has stated that they will continue developing the Nik Collection though not how they will apply all the technology within it.

All hail the U Point

The company has already made good use of one key complement of all applications within the Nik Collection, its U Point technology that is a more accurate, more sophisticated alternative to using brush tools for masking.

I first came across U Point selection and masking at a photography trade show in Sydney at the Nik Software stand where Nik Collection component Viveza was being demonstrated.

I immediately bought a copy and found I could use it to bring to stunning life images shot under lighting circumstances too challenging for the image editing suites of the day to get the best out of with their then-current tool sets.

Make precise edits quickly

Use U Point® technology to selectively edit just the parts of your photos that need touching up without losing time on complex masks and selections.

As soon as I downloaded the PhotoLab trial version I put it to good use editing the monochrome image at the top of this page, relying heavily on DxO’s new iteration of U Points.

DxO is on to a winner

DxO PhotoLab was formerly named DxO OpticsPro, the Elite version of which I bought as my very first raw processor at the same time as a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, on the recommendation of a Danish photographer friend.

Photograph made with Panasonic DMC-GX8 camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens, processed in DxO PhotoLab using the Leica M9 camera profile, with U Point applied to the dog’s face. DxO PhotoLab Elite’s big collection of excellent camera profiles are only accessible when processing raw files, not TIFFs or JPEGs.

I quickly added DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, both of which work as plug-ins extending DxO OpticsPro and now DxO PhotoLab, as well as being standalone editors and plug-ins for image editing products like the long-discontinued Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

I recall that Nik’s version of U Point seemed to have worked faster than DxO’s, which takes a little longer to display the tooltips that explain just what each icon represents but I am sure DxO will be ramping up its U Point display and operation speeds each new version.

It was refreshing to get back to using U Points in DxO PhotoLab as they have always been and remain my preferred selection and masking tool.

Given Google’s neglect of the Nik Collection, recent versions including the current one under the DxO aegis fail to function as plug-ins within recent versions of Photoshop and no doubt Lightroom, causing weird error messages as seen in the header image on this page.

DxO and Fujifilm X-Trans raw files

The only downside to DxO buying Nik Collection is to do with the camera sensor types that all DxO software supports.

Photograph made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens, raw file processed with Iridient X-Transformer, exported as a DNG, converted to a TIFF in Adobe Photoshop then further processed in DxO OpticsPro applying film simulation preset via DxO FilmPack as a plug-in within OpticsPro.

Some time ago, the DxO people told me that they will never support X-Trans raw files due to their non-Bayer technology and would only ever support Bayer pattern sensors.

Right now, though I am wondering if the name change of DxO OpticsPro to DxO PhotoLab might be signalling grander intentions for DxO’s key software product.

More than a sophisticated raw developer?

If they are intending to turn DxO PhotoLab into more than a very fine raw processor with built-in camera, lens and analog film simulation profiles, with the addition of all the many image editing features of the Nik Collection, then surely they must be considering adding support for Fujifilm’s X-Trans and non-X-Trans sensors, cameras and lenses.

As I have found time and again, it can be a real pain having to process Fujifilm rare files in one raw processor then raw files from all one’s other, non-Fujifilm cameras in another raw processor, then editing them all together in an image editor once having imported them as TIFF or PSD files.

Always best to do as much as one can in one raw processor regardless of camera used, preserving the ability go back make non-destructive changes.

A range of cameras and sensor types

Like many photographers and cinematographers these days, I rely on a range of camera, lens and sensors types in order to best suit my subjects and how I wish to depict them, and having limitations imposed on me by software companies being unwilling or unable to support all my hardware is a massive pain.

I have yet to establish a fixed workflow that gets the best out of all my gear and continue to try out various options.

Now that Iridient Digital has released the first version of its Iridient X-Transformer aimed at converting Fujifilm X-Trans raw files to DNG files, I have begun running files from my X-Pro2 through X-Transformer then opening them in various image editing applications to see which may work best with them.

DxO’s three core products, PhotoLab, FilmPack and ViewPoint, accept and process TIFF and JPEG files as well as raw files from Bayer image sensors, minus certain core functionality, so they can be introduced into your workflow after your initial raw file processing stage.

Meanwhile, other developments

Lest what started as a small article grows too large and boring, let me list other recent developments in raw processing software.

Adobe recently outraged and panicked many dedicated Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (to use its full name) users by signalling the end of the non-suscriber version of Lightroom aka Lightroom CS in favour of the subscription-only version named Lightroom CC, those initials standing for Creative Cloud.

Like a surprising number of Australian pro photographer colleagues, I have never been a serious Lightroom user having stuck with Photoshop and Camera Raw for years and then jumping ship to DxO OpticsPro and other image editing software.

Irish photographer Thomas Fitzgerald is quite the expert on the pros and cons of various raw processors and image editors as well as workflows, so I will refer you to his Thomas Fitzgerald Photography blog for further details and clarification of Adobe’s now more confusing naming conventions for its two current versions of Lightroom.

Coming from a traditional photography technical background, Mr Fitzgerald is also a highly recommended authority on other software such as Capture One Pro, Macphun (now Skylum) Luminar, ON1 Photo Raw, Apple Photos and plenty more besides.

I highly recommend making him a regular stop on your daily photography reading list.

Meanwhile I will be catching up on the other new developments in software and will be covering them here soon.

My photo editing and raw processing watch list

These are the brands and products I try to keep an eye on, or have used and liked, and I currently use a subset of them in my work.

There are quite a few more of them, paid-for and open source, but I can’t keep an eye on everything out there!

Tastes and needs are different for everyone, so this list may be useful for you when working out your own photography workflow.

Trial versions are generally available.

Header Image Notes

The header image is based on a DxO OpticsPro raw sample photograph that I edited in DxO PhotoLab using the Nik Collection’s U Point adapted by DxO since buying it from Google.

The biggest difference between DxO’s version of U Point and Nik Collections’ is that DxO’s displays icons first and then tool tips appear later after hovering your cursor over an icon.

Given that there is no universally understood icon language, are icons the best solution for a GUI like this or should DxO revert to the Nik Collection’s text-only U Point GUI?

I exported the file from DxO PhotoLab as a TIFF then imported it into Adobe Photoshop where I attempted to apply the Nik Collection Analog Efex Pro 2, resulting in the error message depicted in this screenshot.

TheCameraStoreTV: Fuji X-E3 Hands-On Field Test

“The Fuji X-E series has gone some time without a major model release, but we were hardly expecting the completely new body design of the X-E3. Chris Niccolls is a huge fan of the X-T20, and wanted to see if the new X-E3 could give it a run for its money!”

Link

  • Fujifilm XX-E3

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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera B&H
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  • Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand GripB&H

Capture One Pro: Capture One & Fuji with Eivind Røhne

“Eivind Røhne is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Oslo, Norway. He photographs people, fashion, architecture and industrial subjects for national and international clients.

Eivind is also a Fuji X photographer, a brand ambassador for Fuji cameras.

Therefore, in this webinar Eivind will show us his processing techniques in Capture One, specifically to optimise images from X-Trans cameras.”

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  • Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H

TCSTV Live: The Firmware Show – Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujifilm X-E3 and Panasonic Lumix GH5

“We’re looking at the latest firmware for the GH5, Hasselblad X1D and Fuji X-Pro 2!”

On the Fujifilm X-Pro2’s firmware, from 08:59

On camera companies holding back features at launch, from 09:58

On the Fujifilm X-E3 and X-T20, from 26:50

On the Panasonic GH5, from 29:01

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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera B&H
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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 Lens B&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5B&H

Will the New Fujifilm X-E3 Rangefinder-Style Camera Take My Breath Away?

I love my Fujifilm X-Pro2 digital rangefinder camera and have no regrets buying it despite its current inability to shoot 4K video, relative lack of other videocentric features and unimpressive electronic viewfinder (EVF). 

As a longtime user of rangefinder cameras in all formats from 8mm (movie film) and 35mm (stills) through various 120 roll-film aspect ratios (6×4.5cm to 6x12cm) up to 4″x5″, it has been such a relief to once again have a very capable rangefinder camera in my hands. 

Coming from an available light (and oftentimes available darkness) documentary background, I heeded Kevin Mullins’ advice and so my first two Fujinon lenses were the XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R fast primes.

I wavered on the somewhat slow XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom and a shortage of funds finally made that decision for me, compounded with the Fujinon X-mount lens series’ current 18mm focal length situation.

A fast medium wide-angle of 18mm in Fujifilm’s APS-C format, equivalent to 14mm in the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format and 28mm in the digital 35mm format (I refuse to use the silly term “full frame”) is my number one choice for immersive documentary photography in combination with a moderate telephoto focal length like 50mm in APS-C, 30mm or so in MFT and 75mm in 35mm format.

Gallery

I have applied that moderate wide/moderate long combination to almost all formats and aspect ratios in the past, occasionally adding something in-between, preferably on the wide side of “standard” or “normal”.

In other words, 27mm in APS-C, 20mm in MFT and 40mm in 35mm rather than the more usual “normal” focal lengths of 35mm in APS-C, 25mm in MFT and 50mm in the 35mm format, all of which feel like short telephoto to me.

My choices can vary, though, in shooting video when a longer “normal” lens offering clutch focus functionality for repeatable, accurate manual focussing may override my creative preference for a slightly wider focal length.

The X-Pro2’s advanced hybrid optical viewfinder (OVF) was the clincher in buying into APS-C, aided and abetted by the existence of those 23mm and 56mm focal lengths.

Lenses are, for me, key influencers in camera choice, with sensor aspect ratios coming second followed by a myriad of other often interrelated usability and functionality factors.

I shoot documentary and portrait photographs and documentary videos, am self-funded, and the gear I need must be affordable, small, portable, self-contained and capable of the best quality possible.

No single camera system can provide all that so I use APS-C/Super 35 and MFT/Super 16 cameras and lenses.

Right now, the Lumix GH5 has the edge over Fujifilm for video by a long list of remarkable top-end professional moviemaking features, which is little wonder given Panasonic has been working on video since the GH1.

We have yet to see any Fujifilm camera approach the GH5 in terms of its video feature set and its self-contained usability, and one can only wonder what may turn up in the X-T2S or what might have been of the now-abandoned Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 “super camera” project.

Playing the waiting game wears thin especially when gaps persist in both sensor formats’ lens and camera offerings, and each has its pros and cons.

The 3:4 (vertical) and 4:3 (horizontal) image aspect ratio is optimal for portraiture and I often find 2:3 (vertical) and 3:2 (horizontal) irritating for that purpose while it is much more suited to documentary photography in horizontal aka landscape orientation.

I love the 1:1 image aspect ratio for monochrome portraiture and urban documentary, combined with the tilting EVF built into only one current camera, the Lumix GX8, allowing me to shoot as I used to with my Rolleiflex twin lens reflexes (TLRs).

I prefer rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras for photography and cameras with fully-articulated monitors for video.

The perfect lens set comprising the right focal lengths combined with manual clutch focus, stabilization and fast non-variable maximum apertures with excellent mechanical and optical construction remains something of a pipe dream.

So, I compromise on APS-C/Super 35 mostly for photography with MFT/Super 16 mostly for video with a mix of Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic cameras and lenses.

Right now I am prepping to photograph a human rights rally tomorrow, the sort of event I have often covered at the same time with gear from all three brands and in both sensor formats.

A DSLR-toting photographer travelling light.

In a DSLR-fixated culture, event participants are effectively rangefinder-blind, allowing me to photograph centimetres away from them without objection.

At this event, I have some constraints imposed by carrying my gear in a small shoulder bag that I have received for review.

The bag is capable of carrying one mirrorless camera plus three lenses in its default internal divider configuration, or up to four small lenses, or two mirrorless cameras-plus-lenses with a minor divider rearrangement.

Somewhere in this image lies my ideal two-camera documentary photography kit. The two fast lenses in the lower lineup for available darkness and two lenses from the upper lineup for available light. I like the 18mm plus 50mm combo from from my Leica M-System days, with those two APS-C focal lengths equivalent to 28mm and 75mm in 35mm format. The 27mm lens is very tempting due to its equivalence to the classic 40mm focal length in 35mm format, as used on the Leica CL and Minolta CLE cameras. Fujifilm is reportedly working on an 18mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lens. Images not to scale.

I don’t currently have the ideal one-plus-three, one-plus-four or two-plus-two set-up in either mirrorless sensor format, so may limit myself to my X-Pro2 with 23mm lens on-camera and 56mm ready to swap should the portrait opportunities for which that lens is best suited arise.

I would much prefer two cameras with an 18mm lens on one and a 50mm lens on the other but that ideal set-up must wait for our self-financing effort to bear fruit.

FujiRumors reports that a “Fujicron” Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR is on its way, slowly and surely, to replace the current Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and although I would love a Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR right now, that too must wait.

I could carry an MFT Lumix camera with fast fixed maximum aperture standard zoom lens attached to cover the event with all my desired focal lengths and more, but I relish the discipline of carrying a limited set of fast prime lenses, and this new bag warrants a realistic test according to its default design parameters of one camera and two to four lenses, size dependent.

The coming release of Fujifilm’s X-E3 has me musing on another possibility this bag presents via rearranging its dividers, X-Pro2 with 23mm on one side and X-E3 with 56mm on the other.

A less tight fit might be the 18mm on one and the 50mm on the other but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

What remains to be seen is whether the X-E3 will be a worthy companion to the X-Pro2, filling the gaps that the other camera cannot fill.

Based on its specifications list, I suspect that might be the case, with one exception, Fujifilm’s crazy ongoing failure to add crucial exposure zebras functionality for stills and video to all its cameras’ firmware.

Video on X-E3 and other Fujifilm cameras

Although Fujifilm’s cameras have some way to go until they approach Panasonic’s video feature set, especially that of the GH5, they already possess certain advantages.

I enjoy shooting video via my X-Pro2’s advanced hybrid OVF with ERF in lower right of frame set to show the whole scene as seen through the lens, in close-up or in mid-view as desired.

Fujifilm’s manual clutch focus primes are a joy to use as are their aperture rings when needing to ride constantly changing available light.

Fujifilm’s film simulations that work so well for JPEGs apparently look terrific in video, as demonstrated by Andrew Reid at EOSHD with a still frame from a Fujifilm X-T20 which permits customization not currently possible on the X-Pro2.

The lack of 4K in the X-Pro2 is the only factor against using it more for video given I generally use multi-camera 4K set-ups for editing in 4K and increasingly, release in 4K, Australian fraudband’s lousy upload capabilities permitting.

All Fujifilm cameras have their persistent video annoyances, however, and Fujifilm does not appear inclined to correct them any time soon.

None has an integral headphone jack for audio monitoring.

Each has a non-industry-standard 2.5mm microphone jack, demanding the use of unreliable 3.5mm-to-2.5mm adapters or microphones with interchangeable audio cables like Røde’s more recent on-camera models like the VideoMic Pro+.

Beachtek SC25 3.5mm to 2.5mm stereo audio minijack coiled cable for cameras like the Fujifilm X-E3 that have 2.5mm instead of industry-standard 3.5mm audio jacks. I have standardized on coiled audio cables wherever possible as they make my rigs neater and more under control especially when handholding.

Interchangeable 3.5mm-to-2.5mm cables have proven hard to find but I eventually located and ordered several Beachtek SC25 coiled cables.

Fujifilm has proven deaf and blind to the crucial need for customizable exposure zebras for video and stills, instead substituting a blinking highlight overexposure indicator on the X-E3.

Cinematographer/director Paul Leeming explains how to use exposure zebras at his Leeming LUT One webpage.

While the exposure zebras problem can be remedied by a Fujifilm with a firmware update, the best solution right now for effective audio monitoring is by connecting compact audio adapters or field recorders beneath your camera.

I have a Beachtek DXA-SLR ULTRA adapter and a Tascam DR-70D four-track recorder while other moviemakers use the Tascam DR-701D six-track recorder, recorders made by Zoom and Sound Devices, and audio adapters/mixers made by Azden, Saramonic, Sound Devices and other manufacturers.

Audio adapters and recorders permit the use of balanced XLR-cabled professional-grade microphones in a similar way to Panasonic’s GH5 with its optional DMW-XLR1 XLR microphone adapter.

I recommend using coiled XLR cables like those made by KopulK-Tek, Cable Techniques, Ambient Devices, and formerly by Remote Audio, in order to keep your rig compact, neat and under control.

Audio adapters and recorders expand the video potential of all cameras, not just Fujifilm’s, and I use the same sort of audio set-up with my Panasonic and other cameras.

Another way of expanding your audio acquisition capabilities for immersive documentary moviemaking is by relying on wireless lavalier microphones.

I have a second Røde RØDElink Filmmaker Kit on my wishlist and rumour has it that Røde is working on a RØDElink multi-input receiver.

Alternatively, a RØDElink Newshooter Kit for versatility may be a good idea if its receiver can be re-paired to a lavalier-linked transmitter as needed, though so far separate transmitters and receivers remain marked as “coming soon” at the Røde website.

Hmmm, looking at all the many themes and variations of acquiring top quality audio as a solo documentary producer/director/cinematographer, perhaps I should do an article on that alone given some cameras provide for audio acquisition and monitoring very well and others much less so.

ALL Fujifilm cameras need grips

One thing that was immediately obvious when I bought my first Fujifilm camera, the X100, is that it desperately needed a hand grip for better grip of the camera in all conditions when shooting on location.

Every Fujifilm camera needs an optional hand grip, especially the X-Pro2, X-E3 and X100F. Fujifilm does not make a hand grip for the X100F even though the company made hand grips for the X100, X100S and X100T.

My assessment remains the same for all subsequent Fujifilm cameras that I have tried out or purchased, including the X-T1, X-Pro2, X-T2 and X100F.

Fujifilm does not make a hand grip for the X100F, a truly bizarre omission given the camera’s very slight built-in grip and slippery leather-look plastic covering, which has contributed to placing the X100F lower down on my wishlist than it deserves.

As stated on Fujifilm’s Hand Grips page:

Hand Grip provides a secure hold and masterful control of the camera.

Offering an assured hold while preventing any interference with a tripod head, grip is ideal when the camera is fitted with a large lens. The tripod mounting socket is aligned with the optical axis.

Fujifilm does make a grip for the X-E3, the Hand Grip HG-XE3, and I will be getting one for the X-E3 should it prove to be a great companion camera to my X-Pro2.

Links

Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only, Black) B&H
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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm Lens (Black) B&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only, Silver) B&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 Lens (Silver) B&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm Lens (Silver) B&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand GripB&H

Fujifilm UK: The lens line-up of the FUJIFILM GFX Series expands further with the FUJINON GF45mmF2.8 R WR

https://www.fujifilm.eu/uk/news/article/the-lens-line-up-of-the-fujifilm-gfx-series-expands-further-with-the-fujinon-gf45mmf28-r-wr

“The lens line-up of the FUJIFILM GFX Series expands further with the FUJINON GF45mmF2.8 R WR, the sixth lens in the GF Lens Series. Offering excellent portability, with a compact and lightweight design (490g), this new lens will bring street and documentary photography in stunning medium format quality….

… The “GF45mmF2.8 R WR” lens combines high performance with high reliability, making it an ideal photography tool for professional photographers. Because it’s compact, lightweight and portable, it’s also an optimal lens for snapshots and documentary photography, enabling photographers to shoot natural photos without intimidating their shooting subjects….”

Gallery

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