Mattias Burling: 5 Reasons why I left the Fuji X-T2 for the X-Pro2

“In this video I try to explain why the Fujifilm X-T2 just didn’t sit with me. I am much happier after switching to the X-Pro2. All of it is of course just personal preference based on how I like my cameras. And the X-T2 is also a great camera, truly fantastic. Its just that with expensive gear like this I get very, very picky. On cheaper cameras I would let it all slide. So if you have the X-T2, I’m not ripping on your camera. I actually like it a lot….”

fujifilm_x-pro2_black_graphite_square_01_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm X-Pro2 black with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens and Fujifilm X-Pro2 graphite with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.

Commentary

With the impending release of Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019, the first version that allows me to quickly and easily obtain the emotion-laden, infromation-rich image renderings I have been visualizing ever since getting back into photography with digital, I have been excited about seriously getting back into portraiture again.

Portrait photography was how I made a living for some time shooting for magazines and newspapers colour supplements, and I loved it with a passion, and I have missed doing it for years.

Working out how to do it in digital in the way I used to in analog is proving to be something of a quandary as that hardware and those processes are no longer available to me and nor should they, given the environmentally unsound nature of photochemical processing and the fact that contemporary cameras are an altogether different proposition.

My favourite analog films no longer exist and never will again, and my favourite analog cameras are long gone, broken down and unrepairable, or stolen.

The task now is for me to bend the digital gear I have now to making something as close to or better yet surpassing how I used to make portraits, and the biggest challenge is in doing that with full-face close-up portraits where little more than one eye is in sharp focus, with either my beloved Fujifilm X-Pro2 or my trusty Panasonic DMC-GX8.

Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds sensors with their 4:3 in horizontal or 3:4 in vertical aspect ratios are often better suited to portraiture and the printed page than Fujifilm’s APS-C sensors’ 3:2 and 2:3 aspect ratios when uncropped.

Visualizing within a sensor of the best aspect is always easier, more accurate and more satisfying than shooting with one that is too long in one dimension then cropping later.

Right now though I am leaning towards shooting full-face portraits more with my X-Pro2 than my GX8, mostly because I have the amazing Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens and I have nothing equivalent in my Olympus and Panasonic lens set.

The difficulties with getting pinpoint accurate focus on an eyeball with the 56mm’s aperture almost wide open are casting my thoughts back to trying out the Fujifilm X-T2’s ability to manually focus accurately enough, and really liking it.

If only Fujifilm’s engineers had seen fit to give the X-Pro2 a better, brighter electronic viewfinder that worked in almost the same way as the EVF in the X-T2.

Will the X-Pro3 be improved in that regard, and will it be appearing any time soon?

Or should I be looking at the X-T3, or the X-H1 or better yet the X-H2 that surely must be following along on the heels of the X-T3 sometime next year?

Or might the coming rangefinder-style Fujifilm GFX 50R offer a more viable solution along with bigger file sizes more suitable to large exhibition prints?

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Fujifilm X-T2 in black and graphite silver versions.

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New Book by the Great Joel Meyerowitz, ‘Where I find Myself’, Coming Soon from Publisher Laurance King

The arts often cross-fertilize each other and inspiration is to be gained from anywhere and everywhere in the same way as fertile subjects for photography and moviemaking are often to be found just around the corner. 

Photograph by Joel Meyerowitz, from his website.

The colour and monochrome photographs of Joel Meyerowitz have been major influences on my own photography and moviemaking since seeing some of his colour photographs in a tiny little book decades ago, so it is wonderful to learn that Where I Find Myself, Joel Meyerowitz’s first major retrospective in book form, is due out soon to accompany a major retrospective exhibition in Berlin.

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4/3 Rumors: (FT5) Leaked! First image of the new Olympus 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens! – with COMMENTARY

http://www.43rumors.com/ft5-leaked-first-image-new-olympus-17mm-f1-2-pro-lens/

“I told you months ago that Olympus would release this lens. And now I have the pleasure to share the very first image of this lens! The new 17mm f/1.2 pro lens will be the second super fast lens after the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 PRO….

… A third 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens is expected to be announced some times later. Stay tuned on 43rumors for more info and leaks!…”

Commentary:

Micro Four Thirds rumour website 4/3 Rumors has confirmed its long persistent rumour that Olympus is working on a fast, professional-quality 17mm prime lens with a product shot.

Whatever sensor size and aspect ratio in which I am working, I consider a moderate wide-angle lens an essential and the very first prime lens to be purchased.

I bought into the Micro Four Thirds system knowing it lacked a pro-quality 17mm lens, equivalent to 34mm in the 35mm so-called “full frame” sensor size, but had high hopes one would appear some day and so it soon will.

MFT’s 17mm focal length is eminently suited to documentary photography and video production when using one lens only or as first amongst a set of lenses and focal lengths.

In the absence of such a lens at the time, my first professional M43 lens was a zoom, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, and it has impressed me more than I had expected.

Standardizing on Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses for video and stills

So much so, in fact, that I have resolved to standardize on Olympus M.Zuiko Pro native M4/3 lenses rather than those made by Panasonic, despite standardizing on Panasonic Lumix cameras due to their excellent qualities as MFT/Super 16 stills and moviemaking cameras.

Olympus has aptly named its professional prime lens and zoom lens range, given its many pro-quality features:

  • Manual clutch focus for fast, repeatable focussing when focus-by-wire is too slow and inaccurate.
  • Weather resistance via hermetic sealing against dust and rain.
  • Excellent mechanical and optical design and construction for impact-resistance and ability to handle extreme temperature variations.
  • Much smaller size and weight compared to equivalents in the 35mm so-called “full frame” sensor size.
  • Consistent maximum aperture of f/2.8 on the zoom lenses, f/1.2 on the fast prime lenses, f/4.0 on the travel zoom lens and long telephoto lens.
  • Filter diameter of 62mm on most lenses.
  • Best optical correction I have seen so far on any wide zoom lens with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro.

The one downside is the 7-14mm zoom’s convex front element that disallows screw-on filters. The solution is a push-on adapter and filter frame for square or rectangular tempered glass or plastic filters such as those made by Breakthrough Photography, Nisi and many other filter specialists.

Whether the extra cost of these solutions is outweighed by this lens’ impressive optical correction action is a matter of taste and need.

Personally I find the optical distortion of many wide-angle zoom lenses objectionable especially when videoing a protagonist walking through a cityscape of interior containing parallel horizontals and verticals.

Distortions like that can be corrected in image editing and raw processing software but not in moviemaking’s non-linear editing software.

More M.Zuiko Pro primes to come

Based on rumours, Olympus’s M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range is shaping up well with a 42mm f/1.2 probability and fast 12mm and 14mm lenses possibilities.

The range’s f/2.8 maximum aperture zooms are fast enough for most available light situations unsupplemented by strong LED lighting.

Its f/1.2 maximum aperture primes are excellent solutions for available darkness situations for which f/2.8 is too slow, and suit the needs of bokeh mavens for razor sharpness against milky blur.

Professional lens sets need to include All Common Focal Length Options

When I first began looking into Micro Four Thirds/Super 35 and APS-C/Super 16 format cameras for documentary photography and video production, prime lens choices were limited and much narrower than I had been accustomed to in the analog film formats I used professionally.

In contrast to those days, zoom lenses have radically evolved and there are a number available now that are approaching prime lens quality at all of most focal lengths, at the expense of maximum aperture or a single maximum aperture.

I am not a fan of variable maximum aperture zooms that offer, say, one stop extra at the wide end compared to to the one-stop reduced maximum aperture throughout the rest of the lens’ focal range.

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A complete professional prime lens set from Leica. The Leica  Summicron-M f/2.0 lens line-up comprising 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm focal lengths, with the Summilux-M 21mm lens with red asterisk at far right, equivalent to 14mm in APS-C/Super 35 and 10.5mm in Micro Four Thirds. The latter focal length is wonderful for scene-setting figure-in-landscape or figure-in-interior shots. Architectural photography, too, demands wider focal lengths.

Few if any contemporary zoom lenses are entirely without optical distortion. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro’s optical correction impressed during a quick and dirty tryout a while back, but the downside is the lens’ convex front element that mitigates against the same screw-on filters I use on other lenses.

Given a choice, I would prefer to rely on a good set of professional-quality prime lenses for my photography and video work, but given reality oftentimes must compromise with lens sets comprising fast zooms and faster primes.

One can get away with that for photography due to many raw processing and image editing software products having optical correction features, but correction in software is not possible for video footage and common optical distortions in zoom lenses can be distracting at the expense of the story and the audience’s immersion in it.

The current Veydra Mini Prime cinema lens lineup originally for Micro Four Thirds cameras, comprising 12mm, 16mm, 19mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. Veydra abandoned its planned sub-10.5mm lens due to size and cost problems but it would have added a much-needed 21mm or wider superwide option, a necessity in my book. In 35mm sensor terms, 24mm, 32mm, 38mm, 50mm, 70mm, 100mm and 170mm. I often find 24mm way too narrow for scene-setting shots and architectural images.

I applaud the efforts of camera and lens makers in adding extra focal lengths but a few gaps remain in the brands I use and I look forward to the day when we have choices in APS-C/Super 35 and M43/Super 16 more closely approaching those of the established 35mm DSLR camera and lens makers.

Suggested Olympus M.Zuiko Pro reduced lens sets:

  • 17mm – not too wide and not too long, for when only one lens is desired.
  • 7-14mm, 17mm, 25mm and 42mm – for video and stills across a range of situations and subjects with the emphasis on fast primes.
  • 7-14mm, 12-40mm, 40-150mm, 1.4x teleconverter, with one or more f/1.2 primes – for a wide range of documentary video situations with the emphasis on zooms.

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Cosyspeed’s Camslinger Streetomatic+ Camera Hip Bag for Mirrorless Heroes Is Now Available in Cruelty-Free Black

Camera bag maker Cosyspeed has released the black version of its largest hip bag, the Camslinger Streetomatic+. The Camslinger line is, in effect, a distant descendant of a pair of belt packs I relied on during the analog era to protect my beloved Leica rangefinder cameras and lenses but that, in the end, badly let them down. Cosyspeed’s modern styling, anti-cruelty artificial leather, internal and external pockets, and integrated waist belt, go far beyond those now mouldy trad-style leather-trimmed hip bags in the realms of safety and comfort. 

The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ belt pack hip bag for
The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ belt pack hip bag for “mirrorless heroes” is generously-sized enough to carry a DSLR as well as a range of mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras, and is made with cruelty-free, synthetic materials that should not attract mould as animal leather does, a win on several fronts.

While previous Streetomatic bags have looked promising from their images and descriptions online, the Streetomatic+ looks to be the first large enough to carry my mirrorless still and video bare essentials while still being smaller than my currently smallest cross-shoulder bag, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13.

I chose the smaller Everyday Messenger as I must be careful not to over-stress neck and spine permanently damaged by a lifetime of carrying movie and photography equipment starting with the big Zero Halliburton cases I carted about the deserts of Western Australia as a corporate photographer with mining company clients.

Despite the EM13’s small size as a messenger bag, and the small load I carry in it, I still experience shoulder pain in the middle of a long day shooting. A belt pack would be a welcome relief but the only one I have now in two sizes, Think Tank Photo’s innovative Multimedia Wired Up 10 and Multimedia Wired Up 20 proved it wasn’t quite up to the job.

A selection of bags from Think Tank Photo's innovative, pioneering Multimedia Wired Up Collection, now sadly long discontinued. If it had continued to evolve through the mirrorless hybrid camera era this bag design would have been a force to contend with in stills and video production. I collected the complete set and have them in storage.
A subset of bags from Think Tank Photo’s innovative, pioneering Multimedia Wired Up Collection, now sadly long discontinued. If it had continued to evolve through the mirrorless hybrid camera era this bag design would have been a force to contend with in stills and video production. I collected the complete set and have them in storage.

The Multimedia Wired Up Collection was a brilliant response to the needs of the pioneers of DSLR-based multimedia stills and video production but it predated the mirrorless revolution that cemented the hybrid stills/video camera concept. It was a radically new concept released before its time.

Had Think Tank Photo continued developing the collection well into the mirrorless era then it would have had an enduring winner. When the writing was on the wall and Multimedia Wired Up Collection bags began vanishing from foreign online retailers, I set out to collect them all and continue to use some of them to this day.

The Multimedia collection’s centrepieces were the two Wired Up belt packs. Each has a waist belt and each bag’s internal carrying capacity can be enhanced by attaching further bags from the collection or other packs in Think Tank Photo’s Belt Systems.

I like to assume that the two Wired Up bags might have evolved by gaining more dimensional stability, trading too much softness and collapsibility for a much sturdier frame.

As ProVideo Coalition’s review of the Multimedia Wired Up 20 indicates, both belt bags need to be supplemented with one or both of the crossover shoulder straps that come with them. Neither works as a pure belt bag and adding one or two shoulder straps makes my spine and shoulder problems worse.

Cosyspeed Camslinger Steetomatic+

So on to Cosypeed’s Camslinger Streetomatic+. Is it the waist bag I had hoped my two Multimedia Wired Up belt bags might have been, apart from the wired-up cable integration aspect of Think Tank Photo’s underlying concept?

It is hard to tell from the online evidence alone: only a good hands-on tryout can put that possibility to the test. From the photographs above, the Camslinger Streetomatic+ can carry mirrorless and DSLR cameras minus battery grips, with a zoom lens attached or two smaller prime lenses, and I am hoping that a small external microphone like Røde’s VideoMicro with windshield or even its amazing Stereo VideoMic X may fit instead of the second prime lens illustrated above.

Multimedia Wired Up Bags and StuffIt! to supplement the Streetomatic+?

I am also hoping that the Streetomatic+ permits attaching other belt bags from the Multimedia Wired Up collection or contemporary belt bags like Think Tank Photo’s Stuff It! (I have two, as they are so handy for personal items) or either or both of Cosyspeed’s own supplemental belt bags, the LensBag 80 and StuffBag 30.

Despite the uniqueness and utility of its bags, Cosyspeed has yet to find a distributor in Australia so I have not had the chance to examine any of its products and thus my questions remain unanswered for now.

The ultimate bag for the mirrorless hero. … Thomas Leuthard

One thing is for certain, the arrival of advanced stills/video cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the Fujifilm X-Pro, X-T2 and X-T20, the Sony Alpha 9, the rest of the Alpha series and other mirrorless hybrids, has shifted the photography and moviemaking landscapes for those of us needing to work alone and light on our feet.

I look forward to camera bag makers keeping pace with camera makers and am hoping that the Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ may prove to be a suitable centrepiece for a lightweight carrying solution that other bags and belt systems I have owned or tried out have not.

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