Try piccure+ When Sharpness is NOT a Bourgeois Concept

Magnum photographer Henri-Cartier-Bresson once famously stated that “sharpness is a bourgeois concept” and thousands of would-be photographers have taken what was intended as a jocular retort to heart as if it were gospel from the greatest man ever to hold a camera. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

From Vanity Fair magazine’s Shooting Past 80 article on photographers 80 years of age and older:

“He had his little Leica,” Newton remembers, “and he simply would point and shoot.” Since Cartier-Bresson’s hand isn’t as steady as it used to be, some of the pictures were a bit fuzzy. “Sharpness,” he told Newton, “is a bourgeois concept.” Newton sits back and laughs: “I thought that was just divine.”

So one of the most-quoted photographer statements ever was born as a joke between two veteran photographers, Helmut Newton and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and then has been used ever since as the justification for poorly-made snapshots, as holy writ.

Thomas Fitzgerald, a Dublin-based fine art photographer with a technical and graphic design background, concurs in a timely article about sharpness, Sharpness is Not Overrated and Why I Care About Image Quality

Every now and then someone trots out some article or blog post about how “sharpness is overrated” and how you shouldn’t care about getting sharp images, and how having technically accurate pictures somehow makes you gear obsessed and a bad photographer.

I have been giving sharpness, JPEG image size and quality, and cameras with and without optical low pass filters (OLPF) some thought lately, in the light of new cameras being released without them.

I love each of the hybrid APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras I have here, whether they are primarily for video or for stills photography, but I don’t want to discard any of them because they are not producing results as sharp as the most recently released cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5.

I often use several cameras in the course of my projects and need their results to work together well. That need is becoming even more urgent now that I am uploading full-sized 100% quality JPEGs to my Flickr account and will be doing so for other such accounts and websites soon.

What to do? Then I remembered piccure+ from having used a trial version a while ago, when all this was less of a problem and I was still trying to understand how to achieve optimum sharpness in a number of raw processors and image editors.

If you find yourself in the same position as I am in now, then give piccure+ a go.

Links:

Get Your Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Features and How-To Videos Right Here

I have been watching Brighton-based Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood’s progress across the UK, India and Spain, wondering when the Panasonic Lumix GH5 will finally reach these shores and if there will be hands-on opportunities of the like of those occurring elsewhere in the world. 

It may be some time until I can clap eyes on a GH5 in real life, so readers’ questions about the revolutionary camera must go unanswered here.

The alternative is to point at the best online experts sharing their GH5 knowledge and experience, and one of the best is to be found at official Panasonic YouTube channel Lumix Cameras, “the official home of LUMIX Cameras USA”.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

This is the Video that Convinced Me Panasonic’s GH5 4K 4:2:2 Stabilized Autofocus Camera is Ready for Serious Handheld Documentary Production

Panasonic’s amazing new Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds 4K 4:2:2 10-bit camera combines eagerly-anticipated autofocus functionality with what may be the best stabilization going right now, but videos clearly demonstrating both feature sets in action have descended into something of a fanboy slanging match. 

It was a relief, then, to come across a short movie that does the job straight off the bat, effectively and without commenter conflicts or fanboyisms, showing off the benefits of the GH5’s autofocus and in-body image stabilization for video along with the optical beauty of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens.

Goodbye shakeycam, your time is done.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup as of April 2017, and it is rumoured that 17mmm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 primes are in development. From left: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 f/4.0 IS Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro. I look forward to Olympus adding more fast professional-quality colour-matched primes to the M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup.

I am partial to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range for documentary work, not least for the lenses’ matched colour rendering as well as their weather resistance, solid build and repeatable quarter-turn manual clutch focus.

Some cinematographers have dismissed Olympus M43 lenses for uncinematic colour rendering but the needs of documentary moviemaking can be very different to those of feature film production and different again to stills photography.

I have found Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses to be excellent for documentary photography and video, with the zooms exhibiting minimal optical curvature that can be corrected in raw processing software recognizing imported or EXIF-based lens profiles.

Curvature can be more of a problem in video if the scene contains parallel vertical or horizontal lines as in architecture, but the M.Zuiko Pro primes appear to be very well optically corrected.

Olympus seems to be on the path towards finally fully realizing a current pipe dream, a full-featured, colour-matched set of top-quality professional-standard prime and zoom lenses for video and stills production.

Panasonic, Olympus’ partner in the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group, is following a different path with two parallel lines of lenses, its Leica and Lumix zooms and primes, neither of which contains as many focal length options as the M.Zuiko Pro collection.

Micro Four Thirds critics railed against the format for its small choice of lenses for years despite the large number of MFT lens makers amongst the MFT System group’s membership and outside it.

It is a sign of Micro Four Thirds’ acceptance and maturation that photographers and moviemakers now look for matched sets of lenses in a range of focal lengths like those now being produced by Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlaender, Veydra and others.

There can never be too much stability when handholding cameras for stills and video. A well-designed camera cage like this from Seercam boosts stability by offering a little extra weight (but not too much) and plenty of good, solid grip. More GH5 cage options are appearing now, and my favourite for one-person documentary moviemaking is this one while I would choose 8Sinn’s smaller, sleeker cage for shooting big-crew feature films with geared prime lens sets like those made by Veydra, or Duclos’ modded Voigtlaender f/0.95 Nokton primes.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

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Camera, Kits, Battery Grip and V-Log L

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 8-18mm Lens KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-35mm Lens Kit – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

SDXC V90 cards

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H

L-Plates

  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera Body  – B&H

Camera Cages

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

Will Fujifilm Release Its Long-Awaited X-E3 Rangefinder-Style EVF Camera Later in 2017?

Rumour site Fuji Rumors is one of the more interesting sites of its type on the Web alongside sister rumour sites 4/3 Rumors, SonyAlpha Rumors, Canon Watch and Mirrorless Rumors. Of the five, I read 4/3 Rumors and Fuji Rumors the most, on a daily basis, and a recent scan of the latter reminded me of how much both mirrorless camera systems I use have in common. 

The article that got me thinking is a rumour about Fujifilm’s X-E3 being announced if not released later in 2017. 

Fuji Rumors recently published an article about the APS-C rangefinder-style EVF camera the Fujifilm X-E3 being announced later in 2017.

Fujifilm’s X-En – with n standing for a number – rangefinder-style camera series is not one that I have seriously considered until recently. I have yet to look at one in a camera store much less try one out with the prime reason being the X-E2 and X-E2S’ sensors remaining at 16.3 million pixels when the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are at 24.3 million pixels.

Although pixel counts as such can be overrated, as the previous decade’s pixel wars proved, the 50% pixel jump from 16MP to 24MP comes in handy when producing images for gallery shows, an indulgence in which I engaged during the analog era and may well revive in digital form sometime soon.

Anything over 20 million pixels

Anything over 20 million pixels is a serious moderately large exhibition print contender in my book and now the GFX 50S and its successors have really captured the mega-high millions pixel end of the market.

Then there is the X-En series’ current lack of a joystick, a feature essential to speedy use of contemporary digital cameras that Panasonic has now adopted for the GH5 and no doubt all its future high-end cameras. The X-Pro2 and X-T2’s joysticks have been a joy to use.

I can’t speak about other possible issues with the X-E2s and X-E2 due to my inexperience with both but the X-En series possesses some clear advantages, most especially its rangefinder-style form factor ensuring easy sighting through its viewfinder with the right eye while keeping the left eye open to observe the wider scene ready for the moment approaching objects, or people, are about to hit their marks.

In this the Fujifilm X-E2S matches the Panasonic Lumix GX8 with its similarly rangefinder-style design, a camera I bought as a more affordable backup for my GH4 than a second GH4, primarily for shooting video.

I quickly discovered that the GX8 is also a terrific stills photography camera with its 20MP sensor, exposure zebras and most especially its brilliant tilting EVF.

Panasonic’s rangefinder-style Micro Four Thirds stills and video camera the Lumix GX8 is one of my favourite cameras for both uses and is unique amongst digital cameras for its tilting EVF.

Zebras, PLEASE!

Every camera, including those made by Fujifilm whether for shooting stills, video or both, must be equipped with zebras for achieving perfect exposure under the ETTR – expose to the right – principle amply explained by Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming at his Leeming LUT One website.

Quite why Fujifilm has not added accurate ETTR capability to its X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagship cameras via exposure zebras remains beyond comprehension.

Zebras-based ETTR on my Panasonic Lumix cameras continues to get me out of sticky stills and video lighting situations where high values burn-out is a very real risk.

I quickly grew to love my Lumix GX8 and when I add a GH5 to my Super 16 documentary moviemaking kit, the GX8 will double as a third 4K camera for three-camera interview set-ups while remaining one of my prime Micro Four Thirds stills cameras.

Panasonic’s MFT cameras should not be underestimated as small, portable, responsive documentary and photojournalism cameras. For me, they are our digital equivalent to analog’s small 35mm hand cameras while delivering image quality equivalent to or surpassing the 120 format in its 6×4.5cm frame size.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagships are, in my estimation, our digital answer to 120 format in the 6x9cm frame size with the GFX 50S matching or surpassing 4″x5″ fine grain sheet film in its image quality.

X-E3, the natural stills companion camera for the X-Pro2?

When production of Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success is well underway I will be in need of a second APS-C documentary stills camera and it will, of course be made by Fujifilm. But which one?

The X-T2 is an excellent EVF companion for the X-Pro2, but both remain without exposure zebras even after the latest firmware updates. While the Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder-equipped rangefinder-style X-Pro2 is unique and has a permanent place in my heart due to that, the X-T2 is something of a curate’s egg, mostly very good but a little annoying too, promising but the risk it may not fully deliver on that promise, as outlined by Paul Leeming in his letter to Fujifilm.

Will the rumoured coming Fujifilm X-Tn “super camera” be the DSLR-style Super 35 video/stills technical camera hybrid I would have loved the X-T2 to be? Might the X-E3 be a more affordable wider and longer prime and zoom lens companion for the X-Pro2 which works best with prime lenses in the 18mm to 56mm focal length range?

If Fujifilm grants it some essential professional features then it may well be. At time of writing, the black Fujifilm X-E2S is priced at around AUD739.00/USD699.00 and the black Fujifilm X-T2 at around AUD2199.00/USD1599.00.

An X-E3 with a feature set attractive to professionals and priced in similar ratio to the X-T2 would make it extremely tempting as a back-up or companion rangefinder-style EVF camera.

My Fujifilm X-E3 features wishlist

  • AFC-C custom setting presets – same as the X-Pro2.
  • Hand grip – an essential for all Fujifilm cameras in my experience, and a mystery as to why Fujifilm has not produced one for the X100F.
  • Dials and buttons – situated wholly on the right for consistency with the X-Pro2.
  • ISO/shutter speed dial.
  • Joystick – a must for all future cameras of any brand.
  • Rangefinder style – a given, especially as my default camera design preference is exactly that and not DSLR style. If DSLR-style then such cameras must have fully-articulated monitors while a rangefinder-style camera can do without, though I do like the GX8’s fully articulated rangefinder for video.
  • X-Trans 24.3MP sensor – essential in order to match the X-Pro2’s image quality.
  • Same viewfinder options as the X-T2 – dual, full, normal and vertical, with dual my favourite of them all.
  • Small and light – compared to the X-Pro2, just like the GX8 in relation to the GH4.

Links

Image Credits

Header image created in Macphun Luminar and Affinity Photo using a Fujifilm press photograph while the two in-body photographs were created in Luminar.

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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
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  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm LensB&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand GripB&H

Seercam’s Brilliant New Cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 Available Soon, Extension Kit to Follow

My favourite cage for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera was made by Motion9, now trading internationally under the Seercam brand name. The only GH4 cage I had ever seen in real life was Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and if the company’s other GH4 cage, the CubeMix GH4/3 Pro had been available at the time, then I would most definitely have bought that model instead, for its NATO sliding handle and one-touch cable clamp.

Now, Seercam has revealed its cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and it looks like it will be the cage I buy for my GH5, when one finally finds its way into the country and into my hands.

Seercam’s newly-revealed Cube GH5 cage and NATO handle. Extension kit to accommodate the GH5’s DMW XLR1 audio adapter is coming soon.

I took a well-researched gamble on Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and it paid off handsomely. I will be keeping my GH4 as second camera to my GH5 when it eventually arrives and it will be wearing its cage even more then than it does now.

My GH4 will continue to be equipped with its Cube Cage Round Handle, in my experience the most secure design of the two Motion9 top handles, though it does not have the convenience of fast-on, fast-on via NATO rail or the ability to balance the camera’s weight via sliding to and fro.

I would love an updated round handle in the style of the one on Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras, but Seercam’s NATO rail-mounted CubeCage Classic Plus Handle looks tempting as does its quick-release Rod Riser 1565.

I would consider replacing Seercam’s NATO rail with SmallRig’s Quick Release Safety Rail 7cm 1195 though, for its spring-loaded pins to prevent accidental removal. It is the little things that count.

Pity both items are out of stock. Quick-release mechanisms, so long as they mount tightly and securely, are key to working fast and efficiently as an independent, self-funded documentary moviemaker who cannot afford crews and wasting time screwing and unscrewing camera rigging when needing to move fast.

8Sinn’s GH5 cage and handles, especially its Scorpio top handle that can double as a side handle, was the first custom cage for the GH5 to appear online and it has several attractions including its elegance, small size and camera-right hand grip-hugging design.

I have another camera cage now, SmallRig’s 1844 cage for the Panasonic GX8, and through it have come to appreciate the small size and light weight of minimalist camera cages, but for regular through heavy-duty moviemaking when I need to attach a range of accessories to the rig, Motion9/Seercam’s beautifully conceived, brilliantly designed and expertly manufactured cages are my go-to standard.

You can see why in the photographs below. For your product comparison convenience, links to other current GH5 cages are listed at the base of this article.

Seercam’s Cube GH5 body and handle

Coming soon: extension kit for placing handle over DMW XLR1 audio adapter

Of all the GH5 cages listed below, those by 8Sinn and Seercam remain at the top of my wishlist.

If I were shooting features as part of a small crew alongside a camera assistant and audio recordist then I would choose 8Sinn’s cage along with Veydra or Duclos’ Voigtlaender ciné-modded native M43 prime lenses and follow focus device.

While Veydra cinema primes deliver a more standardized look that gets out of the way of the story, Voigtlaender’s faster optics produce quirkier looks that can enhance certain types of stories.

If shooting documentaries as a doing-it-all-myself one-person crew then hands-down I would chose Seercam’s GH5 cage along with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses though I may add one or two Panasonic lenses for the benefits of extra stabilization and DFD – Depth from Defocus.

I really like M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ repeatable hard-stop manual clutch focus mechanism, build quality, durability and colour consistency across the range, and can sacrifice some stabilization for the sake of all that. They are terrific for video as well as stills photography.

There was some consternation about the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8’s inability to accept screw-on filters when it first appeared, as there was about Panasonic’s Lumix 7.14mm f/4.0 lens, but some third-party filter adapter solutions for square or rectangular filters have appeared:

Links:

Fujifilm Announces Two Massive X-Pro2 and X-T2 Firmware Updates Due Late March and Late May

Fujifilm has a well-deserved reputation for its Kaizen – continuous improvement – firmware updates, a practice I first encountered with my first Fujifilm digital camera, the classic rangefinder-style Finepix X100S. The X100’s updates turned a revolutionary camera into one that remains fun to use and usable for documentary photography assignments to this day. And now, Fujifilm is set to outdo itself with a massive list of firmware improvements to its two flagship cameras, the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 and the DSLR-style X-T2. Happy days.

The coming X-Pro2 and X-T2 firmware updates will further differentiate the two flagship Fujifilm APS-C cameras, with more video features for the latter and operational speed and efficiency gains for the former. I still want to see better video support in the X-Pro2 even if it remains at 1080p instead of 4K.
The X-T2 has the potential to fill the Super 35 4K gap left by Samsung killing off the revolutionary Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras, but Fujifilm’s imminent firmware update does not include DCI 4K and zebras for fast, accurate judgement of correct exposure. Will these crucial features be coming in a third update later this year?

The full firmware list contains a record-breaking 33 new and improved items of which 27 will appear in late March and the final 6 in late May. Some are for both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, some are for the X-T2 only and some are for the X-Pro in a catchup with the X-T2’s current feature set.

For the X-T2 only, 😦

The X-T2-only updates indicate that Fujifilm has chosen to increase its differentiation between both cameras’ video capabilities. The X-T2 is about to gain:

  • #14. Activation of the Eye Sensor in video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #15. Change of ISO sensitivity during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #17. Display live histogram during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #18. Optimization of external microphone’s input level (X-T2 only).

Other X-T2-only updates indicate other differentiations by Fujifilm between its flagship cameras, in tethering and for portraiture and other genres often requiring vertical orientation of the camera:

  • #22. Automatic vertical GUI for LCD (X-T2 only).
  • #28. Support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi (X-T2 only).

Tethering, the ability to connect cameras to computers by wire or Wi-Fi, has been an accepted, often client-demanded, tool in commercial photography for some time now and has been well supported by medium format and DSLR camera makers, and some raw processing software. USB tethering recently came to the X-T2 via standalone software and plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom.

Many of the new and improved firmware items for both cameras are welcome indeed, speeding up their accuracy and operability. Some may have limited usefulness while one glaring omission from the firmware of both camera remains AWOL – zebras.

AWOL, an immigrant from video world

Zebras for ensuring accurate exposure are welcome immigrants from the world of video camcorders and high-end stills/video hybrid cameras like Panasonic’s Super 16/Micro Four Thirds GH4, GX8 and the new GH5.

Zebras have rapidly proven themselves just as useful for stills as for video, helping combat the all-too-prevalent problem of overexposure that pushes high values over the shoulder into unrecoverable burn-out territory.

High value or highlight burn-out is as problematic in stills as it is in video, whether one is shooting raw or JPEG files. Although extreme high values can be recovered to some degree in raw files with recovery function sliders – going under names like “whites” or ‘highlight” in raw processing software – doing so in video or for JPEGs results in muddy high values that can become an eye trap for viewers.

Eye traps are areas in the frame that draw viewers’ attention at the expense of the most meaningful objects in the image, weakening its message and damaging effective storytelling. Hard-edged burnt-out bright patches are particular eye-trap culprits even when their values are lowered in post-processing.

Avoiding burn-out and needless processing

Far better to avoid the burn-out eye-trap problem and fruitless correction work in post-production altogether by getting exposure right in the first place, and that is where zebras excel compared with histograms.

International Womens' Day March, Sydney, 2017

Above: Photographing in high dynamic range environments like this can be challenging when trying to achieve correct exposure without burning out the high values. Here I used exposure zebras on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 to ensure the best exposure of sky and footpath then raised the middle and low values in a raw processor. 

Histograms have their uses in assessing your scene or subject’s dynamic range and determining whether to add a light or accept low value details that can be raised in grading or raw processing.

Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have histograms that could be improved by enlargement and better delineating their right and left edges. Judging then setting accurate exposure via histogram can be a slow process unsuited to the speed and stresses of documentary photography or video.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming demonstrates in his tutorial on ETTR – expose to the right – zebras are a fast and accurate exposure method that can benefit photographers and videographers using Fujifilm cameras, should Fujifilm see fit to add it to firmware. Zebras are not included in late March and late May’s firmware.

Useful updates for both cameras

There are plenty of impressive improvements for both cameras, many of which photographers have been requesting for some time now, most notably the following:

  • #3. Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minutes.
  • #6. “AUTO” setting added for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting.
  • #7. Faster “Face Detection AF”.
  • #8. Improved in-focus indication in the AF-C mode.
  • #9. Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF.
  • #13. Change of focus frame position while enlarging it.
  • #19. Addition of “Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display” in the View Mode.
  • #23. Name Custom Settings.
  • #24. Copyright information in EXIF data.
  • #25. Voice Memo function.
  • #26. Extended AE Bracketing.
  • #27. Addition of “Shoot Without Card” mode.
  • #31. Addition of “-6” and “-7” to EVF’s brightness setting.
  • #33. Function assignment to the Rear Command Dial.

Having tried shooting HDR with the X-Pro2 and X-T2’s three-bracket-only functionality, I have badly missed the larger bracket range available on many other cameras including my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8.

Some of my favourites for X-Pro2 and X-T2

Number 26, Extended AE Bracketing is particularly welcome. Extreme dynamic range scenes demand five, seven or even nine AE brackets to give a wide enough range for HDR processing in products like Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017, causing me to rely on other cameras than Fujifilm’s for interior and some exterior HDR work.

I bought my X-Pro2 for the benefits of Fujifilm’s legendary colour rendering and its APS-C sensor as opposed to my other cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors, and new feature 26 gives me added incentive to add an X-T2 as a companion to my X-Pro2.

Numbers 24 and 25, Copyright information in EXIF data and Voice Memo function, are invaluable when shooting documentary projects, portraits and similar assignments. Every photograph, not just those shot commercially, needs to have copyright data embedded in its EXIF data from the moment of exposure.

Voice memo functionality is crucial when covering an event or shooting a series of portraits, especially without an assistant. Ever tried making a photograph then whipping out a notebook to jot down your subject’s name and other details? Voice memo features in other brands of cameras name audio files similarly to the photographs they relate to, making them easy to find and transcribe back at home base.

Number 23, Name Custom Settings, is a great improvement over the nuisance of having to remember what subject matter or customized look relates to a cryptically-named custom setting.

Numbers 2 and 3, Extended ISO 125 and 160 selectable and Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minute, are functions that may come in handy for some low light and night scene cityscape projects coming my way soon.

Although I generally stick to ISO 200 or 400 for daylight documentary work, habit and years of successful analog practice means I prefer the lowest ISOs I can get for tripod-mounted small aperture photography. Conversely, Fujifilm’s excellent wide aperture lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2 R and XF 23mm f1/4 R and their incredible bokeh tempts me to shoot wide open with low ISOs.

Cable releases and remote releases are increasingly becoming things of the past for long-exposure photography as well as all-to—easily forgotten or lose on location so I suspect programmable long exposures will be lifesavers.

Number 9, Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF, brings the X-T2 and X-Pro2’s focus point size choice to six with pinpoint focussing, crucial when shooting with long lenses on the X-Pro2 and even longer lenses on the X-T2 when picking out the most essential object in a field of them.

I am going to love this one for shooting portraits with the X-Pro2 and the XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens with aperture wide open for razor-sharp highlights in one eye.

Just for the X-Pro2

Several of the 33 items are for the X-Pro2 only, adding features already in the X-T2’s current firmware:

  • #10. Addition of “AF Point Display” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #11. Addition of “AF-C Custom Setting” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #20. Shorter EVF display time-lag (X-Pro2 only – already in X-T2).

Number 11, AF-C Custom Setting, adds action-photography autofocus settings that have well-proven themselves on the X-T2 and that I would have loved on the X-Pro2 for covering intense, fast-moving events like demonstrations. Pine no more.

Likewise, number 10, AF Point Display, will bring more surety when covering those same kind of situations as well as fast-moving portrait subjects flitting in and out of inner city crowds.

Number 20, Shorter EVF display time-lag, will be useful in the same circumstances when shooting with the X-Pro2’s EVF. I default to the OVF or ERF-in-OVF most of the time but switch to the EVF when shooting with a monochrome film simulation or my subjects are moving through mixed bright sun and deep shadow.

Times like that you need a sharp eye on your prime subject in order to hit the shutter at exactly the right moment and the less EVF lag the better.

Plenty of gains, some losses

Thirty-three feature additions and updates for two closely-related cameras sharing sensors, processors and more is quite some feat and Fujifilm deserves heaps of praise and kudos for that.

I suspect that most photographers will be very happy indeed with this list, and some have already described it as “awesome!”. Until the firmware appears, and it is clear exactly how each new item or improvement works in practice, we can only guess as to their implementation and usability but, fingers crossed!

The X-T2 wins some great new video features that I have long wanted on the X-Pro2 and that it will not be getting any time soon if at all, it seems. I will be buying an X-T2 soon enough, as a companion to my X-Pro2 instead of the second X-Pro2 I was originally planning on, but right now my next video-centric choice will be Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 due to its full, mature feature set and sheer usability.

I may not be counted amongst “most photographers” given an equal dedication to still and video that seems to be rare in some parts of the world, but then the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are cameras that appeal to photographers whose work and needs are anything but the norm, well beyond what most photographers demand of their cameras and lenses.

Most photographers, from what I see in the streets of this fair city, are more than happy with the many limitations of DSLR cameras but Fujifilm flagship camera users are a very rare and demanding breed.

And that is, to a large degree, Fujifilm’s own fault. At a time when the independent photo and video landscape was dominated by model after model of DSLRs that barely looked any different from each other, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a radical breath of fresh air.

It promised so much, then delivered on it with a succession of great firmware updates that set the expectation of brilliant firmware kaizen for every Fujifilm camera coming after it.

The X-Pro2 3.00 and 3.10, and X-T2 2.00 and 2.10, firmware updates continue in that tradition of satisfying high expectations and have extended both cameras’ usability and capabilities.

Gaps do remain, though, and they are mostly on the X-Pro2 side. Not everyone with high expectations loves the DSLR-style form factor of the X-T2 and there are many of us who are digital refugees from Leica rangefinder days or who could never afford their digital M-System cameras and who can now satisfy their rangefinder-style needs with the X-Pro2.

Will the X-Pro3 one day gain what Fujifilm has left out of the X-Pro2?

Will the X-Pro series lag behind the X-T series’ feature set turning the former into stills-only camera and the latter into a stills-plus-video compromise?

Is the rumoured APS-C super camera the one to watch for high-end Super 35 video?

Does Fujifilm have a blind spot for the incredibly useful exposure zebras functionality on its cameras? And if so, why?

I know I will be getting an X-T2 sometime soon, for the subjects and lenses to which its DSLR-style form factor is well-suited.

I know I will continue to love the X-Pro2 for giving me back the rangefinder-style way of documentary photography I had thought had gone forever during the DSLR ascendancy.

I want another X-Pro2 in my documentary kit as a backup and for when Fujifilm comes out with a revamped XF 18mm f/2.0, as wide lens to the XF 50mm f/2.0’s narrower vision.

But like more than a few fellow X-Pro2 users out there, I want to see the X-Pro2 series flagship cameras remain on a near-equal feature-set footing with their X-T series sisters and that demands improving the video features on both.

Is Fujifilm already planning the next pair of firmware updates and are they listening just as intently to their ever-growing user base?

Links: 

SmallRig Releases Two Custom Cages for Fujifilm X-T2, With & Without Vertical Power Booster Grip

Not one but two new cages for the Fujifilm X-T2 camera have been released by SmallRig and these are as unexpected in their design and assembly methods as LockCircle’s cage for the X-T2 minus vertical power booster grip that I wrote about earlier this year. These are interesting times, not only for X-T2 cages but for the X-T2 itself, with a rumoured firmware update soon to appear and a possible “ultimate X-camera based on the X-T design”. 

Have Allen key, will assemble: SmallRig’s X-T2 cage for Fujifilm X-T2/X-T1 camera 1888, some self-assembly required.

A standout feature in the larger of SmallRig’s two cages for the X-T2 is that they arrive in four pieces that then require the proud new owner to do a little self-assembly work with a classic Allen key.

The Vertical Power Booster Grip-inclusive SmallRig design seems to have one flaw that photographer/moviemaker Mike Kobal discovered when assembling his recently, in the way the included HDMI cable clamp prevents easy access to the VPB-XT2’s battery tray.

Mr Kobal’s solution was to extend the clamp away from the cage body via two rods included with another camera cage in his collection. A SmallRig-branded alternative may lie in SmallRig’s own 15mm 1/4″-threaded micro-rods.

SmallRig X-T2 Cage for Fujifilm X-T2 Camera 1888

SmallRig Fuji X-T2 Cage for Fujifilm X-T2 Camera 1881

SmallRig HDMI Cable Clamp for Fujifilm X-T2 Cage 1949

I have been informed of other X-T2 custom cages on the horizon and am keeping a keen eye out for them. An X-T2 is high up on my wishlist as companion for my X-Pro2 for zoom lenses and prime lenses wider and longer than comfortably work with the X-Pro2’s hybrid optical viewfinder, but I am in two minds about the X-T2 as a video camera right now.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has written, the 4K Super 35 X-T2 needs some firmware updates for it to become a serious contender against Panasonic’s 4K Super 16 Lumix GH5. A better bet may be to wait until that mooted “ultimate X-camera based on the X-T design” arrives on the scene sometime in the coming year.

Meanwhile some intriguing developments are occurring on the Fujinon broadcast and cinema lens front, with the legendary high-end Cabrio PL-mount lenses dropping US$10,000 each, as reported by News Shooter below, and the two zoom lenses from Fujifilm’s new MK line appearing later this year with X-Mounts.

Might X-Mount XK zooms be a distant possibility, perhaps when that “ultimate X-camera based on the X-T design” arrives? In which case, heftier X-T design camera cages will be required for the higher-end Super 35 moviemaking to which the camera may be perfectly suited.

Links:

Stolen! Veydra’s Inventory of Veydra Mini Prime Lenses Gone in a Flash

Veydra proprietor Ryan Avery has reported the theft of over 200 Veydra Mini Prime manual-focus cinema lenses purpose-designed for Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras and camcorders from his premises in Los Angeles.  Please be on alert for the sudden appearance of heavily discounted Veydra lenses in your area and email Mr Avery if necessary. 

The current Veydra Mini Primes T2.2 cinema lens lineup featuring, from left, 12mm, 16mm, 19mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. All can be used on Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 while a subset can work on Sony E-Mount cameras. C-Mount versions are also available.

Veydra Mini Primes are the only purpose-built cinema-quality native Micro Four Thirds lenses, with five out of the current seven-strong lineup having the same dimensions for fast, easy swapping in and out of follow focus rigs.

Being colour matched, Veydra lenses have the same colour rendering characteristics, eliminating the need for painstaking, time-consuming shot-by-shot colour matching in your non-linear editor or colour grading software.

All Veydra lenses have a common front diameter allowing for industry-standard 77mm diameter filters and step-up rings, 0.8 pitch cinema gears for follow focus devices, constant volume focus, constant T-stops and are available in metric or imperial measurements. Their specifications exceed 4K resolution.

Empty shelves in Veydra’s storeroom. Looks like they raided the vending machine too.

Given they are the product of a small, independent design and manufacturing team, Veydra Mini Primes are a remarkable achievement bringing true cinema-quality lenses within the reach of self-funded, low-budget independent moviemakers.

A six-lens kit of Veydra M43 lenses from 12mm through to 85mm costs about the same as one major brand Super 35 cinema lens adapted with, say, a Metabones Speed Booster.

A Super 16 feature film marriage made in heaven?

Given the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization, recently put to the test by Gordon Laing of CameraLabs, non-stabilized lenses like the Veydras have become even more attractive, especially when making feature films. Consider a Veydra, GH5, 8Sinn cage and Fotga follow focus combination as below, for example.

Although Sol March of Suggestion of Motion suggests that we not rely too much on stabilized lenses, some documentary moviemakers like Rick Young of Movie Machine are fans of stabilized zoom lenses such as Panasonic’s Lumix G lenses.

One thing is certain, stabilized or non-stabilized lenses, cinema primes, stills primes or zoom lenses, whichever brand they are, the advent of in-body image stabilization on the GH5 is a game changer permitting even wider lens choice and I hope that Fujifilm follows suit on IBIS with its rumoured Super 35 “best APS-C camera for video work”.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Needing Early Access to Raw Files from Soon-To-Be-Released Cameras?

Conversations with staff at companies developing image editing and raw processing software has revealed the need for early access to raw files from cameras due for imminent release so their software can support them. Camera makers don’t, it seems, have the close relationship with software makers that photographers might hope they would. 

But there is one way around that. Look online for raw files from pre-production cameras. While camera brand ambassadors do not, as a rule, share raw files often due to their firmware being alpha or beta and too soon before release, some reviewers seem to get hold of late pre-production or production-ready cameras before they go on sale.

One such camera review website is Imaging Resource and it is currently sharing raw files from two about-to-be-released cameras with another due soon, as follows:

There may be other sites where raw files can be found; simply search using the name of the camera plus the words raw and samples.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.