“Having earned the top spot as our Best Wide Angle Prime of 2017 in our annual Lens of the Year awards, we’ve now finalized our lab testing of the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens. This 35mm-eq. wide-angle prime lens is undoubtedly a professional-level optic that offers excellent performance. Image quality is spectacular, even at f/1.2, with very low distortion and low chromatic aberration….”
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II DSLR-style camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens with manual clutch focus. Photograph courtesy of Olympus.
The M.Zuiko Pro 17mm f/1.2 on an Olympus Pen-F, probably not much larger or heavier than, say, the popular 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.
Screenshot from the Olympus 2018 financial report.
With the coming release of Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K later this year, along with the already-released Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 IBIS hybrid 4K stills/video camera and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S high-end compact 4K video camera, attention is on affordable yet high-end professional-quality lenses capable of delivering excellent results whether manually-focussed or used with those cameras’ autofocus functionality if they have it.
After trying out prime and zoom optics from several ranges of Micro Four Thirds lenses, I have chosen to invest in Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro range and will be adding more as availability and finances permit.
My documentary photography and moviemaking work demands gear that can withstand years of use and potentially challenging environments without succumbing, and the weather resistance, durability, quality and relative low weight and size put the M.Zuiko Pro lens range in the frame.
I will be adding Xume fast-on, fast-off filter holders, Breakthrough Photography brass knurled step-up rings and UV protection filters, and a full set of top-quality variable and fixed ND filters to my kit in the 82mm and 105mm sizes soon.
I hope that Olympus will continue to expand its M.Zuiko Pro offerings into the 10.5mm and 14mm prime lens sizes as part of the company’s stated commitment to its professional lens range.
Both focal lengths, in 35mm sensor terms equivalent to 21mm and 28mm, are crucial to my work in documentary photography and video, and are essential to any well-rounded collection of professional-quality prime lenses.
I would also like to see a 75mm equivalent lens added to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens collection – 21mm, 28mm and 75mm is one of my favourite 35mm sensor focal length triplet for documentary stills and video, or in M43 sensor terms 10.5mm, 14mm and 37.5mm.
That aside, I am very pleased that Olympus has released the 17mm f/1.2 in its second tranche of M.Zuiko Pro primes as I have been badly missing this focal length in my M43 sensor format cameras.
My head was further turned towards the M.Zuiko Pro lens collection by Cosyspeed’s Thomas Ludwig’s review of the M.Zuiko Pro 25mm f/1.2 and its beautiful skin-tone rendering.
“What makes a good lens? This is in many ways a question that can only be answered individually. To me it is not important that it is super sharp wide open or does not vignette etc. – to me the most important point is the esthetics, the look and feel it delivers. When I look at the images of a certain lens and it “feels” good, well, than it is a good lens. And you know what? The OLY 25/1.2 is a lens of this category. I’m simply amazed especially when looking at the portraits I made in Hamburg. Amazed not by my images but by the clean, natural and three dimensional look.
The OLY 25/1.2 has a certain magic and I would describe it’s special character in the way it closes the gap between a pronounced three dimensional look and a portrait friendly (lower) level of micro contrast. A high level of micro contrast gives 3D pop for example to LEICA and ZEISS lenses, but it can be a bit harsh when shooting portraits. I don’t know how the OLYMPUS engineers made it, but they found a way to give it a lot of 3D pop while micro contrast is on a natural level.”
I have tried out the Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7, equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to 30mm, but I found the focal length an uneasy in-between, too wide for the subjects I prefer photographing with a 35mm equivalent lens and too long for those much better suited to a 28mm focal length equivalent.
When I began researching the Micro Four Thirds format for moviemaking and photography several years ago, its detractors harped on about how few M43 lenses existed back then.
The critics were factually wrong then and the number of M43 prime and zoom lenses has grown considerably since, but gaps still remain in the major lens makers’ offerings, especially at M43 system co-founders Olympus and Panasonic.
Olympus has hit the right notes with its M.Zuiko Pro collection but it needs to keep growing its prime lenses and long focal-length subsets, in the former case taking a leaf out of the book Leica Camera wrote some years ago with its Leica M-System lenses for stills photography and its recent cinema lens spin-off, Leica sister company CW Sonderoptic’s five-strong Leica M 0.8 series.
“FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) will release free firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-H1 (“X-H1”), FUJIFILM X-T2 (“X-T2”), FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (“X-Pro2”), FUJIFILM X-E3 (“X-E3”) and FUJIFILM X100F (“X100F”) X Series digital cameras. Due for release late April and May, the updates reflect the feedback received by FUJIFILM X Series users with regards to improving usability and adding new functions….
… FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (Ver.5.0.0) – due May 2018
1. Enlarged and customizable indicators or information
The upgrade allows users to enlarge indicators and information in the viewfinder and/or LCD monitor. This upgrade will also enable users to customize the location of where the information is shown on the display.
2. Enhanced Phase Detection AF
Latest updates to the AF algorithm provide the following performance enhancements
(1) The low-light limit for phase detection autofocus has been improved by approximately 1.5 stops from 0.5EV to -1.0EV, raising the precision and speed of autofocus in low-light environments.
(2) The range at minimum aperture has been expanded from F8 to F11. For example, even when using the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR with the tele converter XF2X TC WR, phase detection autofocus can now be used.
(3) Major improvements have been made to the AF-C performance while operating the zoom, which provides major benefits when shooting sports and other scenarios in which the subjects moves unpredictably.
(4) Finely-detailed surface textures of wild birds and wild animals can now be captured at high speed and with high precision as a result of improvement in phase detection autofocus.
3. Addition of “Flicker Reduction”
For enhancing the quality of indoor sports photography, the upgrade allows users to reduce flicker in pictures and the display when shooting under fluorescent lighting and other similar light sources.
4. Addition of “Select Folder” and “Create Folder”
Enable to choose the folder in which subsequent pictures will be stored. And also enable to enter a five-character folder name to create a new folder in which to store subsequent pictures….”
Fujifilm has done it again with its commitment to continually improving the functionality of most of its cameras long after their initial release with firmware updates that squash bugs, introduce major new features and update major and minor core functionality.
As an X-Pro2 owner my interest in the current round of announced and already released firmware updates is primarily to do with that camera but I note the usefulness of Fujifilm’s updates for the X100F, X-E3, X-T2 and X-H1.
I am grateful that with X-Pro2 Firmware Version 5.00 Fujifilm will be adding the ability to enlarge information and indicators in the X-Pro2’s remarkable Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder and its LCD monitor as some, under the current firmware, are a little too small to be as useful and easy to read as they could be.
I am looking forward to the coming enhancements to the X-Pro2’s Phase Detection Autofocus although I tend to prefer using back-button autofocus in Manual mode for precision focussing when shooting documentary stills in available darkness.
The X-Pro2 is nothing if not versatile given its four different viewing methods – LCD, OVF-only, EVF-in-OVF and straight EVF – that effectively make it four cameras in one, and I use it for a range of other subjects and shooting conditions which call for improved AF-S and AF-C focussing functionality.
As the cliché goes, my X-Pro2 may well feel like a while new camera again, yet again.
The addition of a flicker reduction feature will also be very welcome.
I am based in a country with 50 Hz mains power and despite following the common advice to select shutter speeds that are multiples of 50, banding or flicker can be a constant problem especially in places lit by ageing fluorescent lights or mixed lighting that includes flickering light sources.
The ability to choose folders or enter five-character folder names on my SD cards is one the usefulness of which I have not considered but it may be worth trying if I am shooting two or more different subjects or projects in the same day to otherwise needing to keep files clearly separate.
X-Pro2 Firmware version 5.00 does not, however, include improvements that we have been waiting a long time for now.
Foremost of these is pixel-level view of photographs to ensure accurate focus of critical image elements, an essential professional-quality feature even the X-E3 comes with straight out of the box.
Second is exposure zebras for fast and accurate exposure-to-the-right aka ETTR, instead of the blinkies that appeared in an earlier X-Pro2 firmware update.
Blinkies on already shot images are fine when chimping in poor visibility but diabolical when actually shooting.
The X-Pro2’s blinkies often drive me mad especially when used in conjunction with focus peaking for manual focussing which also blinks in unison, a needless distraction that should, at the very least, be able to be switched off in the menu settings.
Thirdly, the EVF badly needs improving if that can be done in firmware alone so that its clarity and colour cast can be made to approach if not match the quality of non-Fujifilm EVF cameras such as those made by Panasonic or by Fujifilm in its also-flagship X-T2 and X-H1 cameras.
If this problem with the X-Pro2’s EVF is a hardware issue, then I hope it will be fixed in the X-Pro3 when it arrives, perhaps, sometime in 2019.
Missing feature number four is the ability to apply picture profile customizations to video in the same way currently exists for JPEGs.
I am grateful to Fujifilm for finally giving us the long-promised 4K video in X-Pro2 firmware version 4.00 but they forgot that decent quality video also requires the ability to customize Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color and Sharpness exactly the same as exists in Fujifilm’s other stills and video-capable hybrid cameras.
Lastly, and as firmware wishlist item number five, I would love to see the X-H1’s Eterna film simulation come to the X-Pro2 as a more viable alternative to Fujifilm’s more stills-appropriate film simulations.
Other useful features come to mind but these five are first and foremost for me as a documentary stills and video creator who needs all her cameras to be as capable and as feature-rich as possible.
As a purely self-funded independent visual storyteller, I no longer have the commissions nor the budgets to maintain a number of different camera systems in parallel, nor do I have the physical strength to carry two complete sets of cameras and lenses with one for stills and one for video on any given project.
Accordingly, each camera system that I have must be capable of producing good enough stills and good enough video as the project, the subject and the often unpredictable circumstances of the day demand.
“… “In the 60s and 70s you could look at my street photographs and trace lines from the eyes of people connecting with other people’s eyes, setting up these force fields.”
Today, what entranced Joel Meyerowitz about the street is all but dead. “Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones.” But street photography still exists? “It’s thriving but not in the way I used to do it. The best street photographers now show humans dwarfed by ad billboards. The street has lost its savour.”…”
“… At the Cp+ show Panasonic is displaying that history tree table….”
Panasonic’s latest action in apparently replacing the professional-quality Lumix DMC-GX8 with the enthusiast-level Lumix DC-GX9, more accurately named the Lumix DC-GX7 Mark III in Japan, has the many professional users of the GX8 asking questions that are simply not being answered.
Two recently published graphics, the Panasonic camera family tree displayed on a wall at the CP+ trade show in Japan and a different Lumix G camera family tree distributed as part of the company’s celebrations of the launch of the first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) camera, the Lumix DMC-G1, back in 2008, are inducing even more questions that remain unanswered.
Is Panasonic’s professional rangefinder-style camera line really now dead, with the GX8 the very last of its kind?
Where is the update for the GM5, the best small, discrete, near-invisible camera for street photography and unobtrusive documentary photography I have ever seen?
I missed out on buying my own GM5 and have been searching fruitlessly ever since for a tiny but top-quality camera equipped with interchangeable pancake prime or zoom lenses to be carried at all times wherever I go.
Until Panasonic shocked and disappointed its professional stills and video user base with the GX9 aka GX7 Mark III, I had been planning on adding a GX9, what should have been the real GX9, to my kit for use in documentary moviemaking and photography.
Now that may never happen.
Now I am wondering if I should be spending my money on Fujifilm cameras instead even though there are no direct substitutes for the GX8 and GM5 in Fujifilm’s otherwise promising camera collection.
Fujifilm’s rangefinder-style X-E3 does not have the GX8’s unique tilting EVF nor its more pro-quality stills and video features although it is reportedly a great little interchangeable lens camera for stills and video though crippled by Fujifilm’s bizarre aversion to exposure zebras.
The X-E3 might otherwise make for a good, discrete, near-invisible documentary and street camera when equipped with Fujifilm’s only pancake lens, the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, though I have yet to obtain an X-E3 review loaner to put this hope to the test.
There is also the fact that Fujifilm does not make other equally good pancake prime lenses and nothing like Panasonic’s amazing though awfully under-rated Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Mega OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm’s real-rangefinder fixed-lens APS-C-sensored X-100F makes for a great little documentary and street photography camera though it badly needs its own version of the Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip, a crucial accessory given the X100F’s small, slippery body.
Panasonic’s recent design, manufacturing, marketing and naming decisions and lack of communication about them have thrown me and not a few other professional users into a quandary to the point where we are wondering if we should be looking at other makers’ products even though the Micro Four Thirds Super 16 format has its many advantages and those other makers also have their own bizarre blindspots and weird omissions.
Then there is the question of the GX8’s unique and irreplaceable tilting EVF, the one thing that allows me to shoot in the magnified waist-level viewfinder manner of great classic analog cameras like the Rolleiflex TLRs and that no other camera maker emulates in the digital era, not even with tilting monitors you have to squint at and shade with your hand in order to have a hope of seeing well enough under bright outdoor light.
If Panasonic no longer makes the stills cameras I need and my GX8 finally wears out after too many shutter actuations, I face kissing goodbye to a way of seeing and photographing upon which I built my style, my career and my life.
There is so much more to the GX8 and the technology it gave me and that is mostly absent from the GX9 than an homage to some of the best of the past, as I was reminded on absentmindedly picking up and handling my GX8 just now.
Its combination of fully-articulated touchscreen, touch focussing, tilting viewfinder mechanism and beautiful, brilliant EVF screen is an incredibly potent one for unobtrusive, immersive documentary and portrait photography often at times mere centimetres away from your subjects.
If you are lucky enough to have a GX8, pick it up, turn it on, flip up its EVF, open its monitor to the left and tilted slightly flat, place your left thumb on the touchscreen to perfectly nail focus, operate the camera’s buttons and dials with the fingers of your right hand, all simultaneously, and feel the power and control in your hands, the GX8’s uncanny ability to help you capture the perfect moment.
Now consider what has been lost to us with the GX9.
“… My attraction to optical viewfinders has to do with visual simplicity. Specifically, when composing a photograph, I don’t want to have to peer through a barrage of backlit numbers and flashing icons. I want zero distractions—I don’t want my subject bordered by a Broadway theater marquee….”
The appearance of this article by Allan Weitz is a timely one given I am currently contemplating buying a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R ultra wide-angle prime lens for my Fujifilm X-Pro2, for architectural and documentary photography.
I had hoped to use this beautifully optically-corrected 21mm equivalent (in the 35mm sensor format) lens to shoot high quality 4K video on my X-Pro2 too but have set this plan aside after finding that Fujifilm dropped the ball on allowing us to customize picture profiles and especially sharpness settings in their recent 4K video firmware update for the X-Pro2, doing a Canon by crippling a long-promised, much-needed functionality.
I hope we do not have to wait too long for the ability to customize sharpness, noise reduction, contrast, colour, highlight tone and shadow tone for video as is permitted on all the other current and recent generations of Fujifilm cameras so I can put my X-Pro2 to work on producing great video footage to match the high quality of its stills.
The Eterna video picture profile would also be very welcome on the X-Pro2.
The X-Pro2’s amazing Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that I love using in its ERF-in-OVF mode for stills and video, with electronic rangefinder (ERF) image lower right in the camera’s optical viewfinder, can only properly handle focal lengths between 18mm and 56mm inclusive, so I must rely on the X-Pro2’s excellent though non-articulated monitor or its suboptimal electronic viewfinder (EVF) for lenses wider than 18mm or longer than 56mm.
When reading Mr Weitz’ article on optical viewfinders, I was reminded of how useful I found the OVFs on the Linhof, the Graflex Crown Graphic upon which I relied in my magazine photography career, my Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras and the odd borrowed specialist camera such as the superb Hasselblad XPan panorama camera and Hasselblad SWC Superwide.
The XPan was made by Fuji Camera as it was then known and marketed in Japan under its own product designations, the Fuji TX-1 and Fuji TX-2.
Leica has produced its superb but incredibly expensive external optical viewfinders for many years now, from long before the famous portrait of a young Henri Cartier-Bresson with external OVF-equipped early 20th century Leica was made.
Something I especially like about composing through an optical finder is that unlike the black-bordered, tunnel-like view of the scene you get with LCD, electronic, and conventional reflex viewing systems, optical finders allow you to see beyond the borders of the frame, which gives you a definitive edge when photographing fleeting moments.
I am now in the market for a good but affordable 21mm optical viewfinder to go with the second-hand Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R that its current owner is currently using on a trip to India and hopefully the lens will return safe, sound and free of dust.
Fujifilm, Voigtländer or another brand altogether, I am looking forward to the digital version of a camera view-finding experience that I grew to love during the era of analog cameras, film, photochemicals and, sadly for me, a debilitating photochemically-derived dermatitis that prematurely ended my magazine photography career.
Roll on digital photography!
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These sorts of side-by-side tryouts are useful when assembling an optimal set of lenses for any camera system, and are something I would love to do myself with more of an in-the-field as-close-to-real-life-as-possible tryout, less of a techie pixel-peeping and specifications-comparing spiel.
Given my relative lack of access to the range of gear I would want to try out and write about, I am glad that others out there in the northern hemisphere do have access to items of interest, like MirrorLessons’ Wales-based Heather Broster and Mathieu Gasquet, and are great at more technical reviewing.
Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 17mm and 45mm f/1.2 primes and their f/1.8 counterparts
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens with manual clutch focusing via retracting focus control ring. Equivalent to 90mm in the 35mm sensor format. If only ALL lenses offered manual clutch focus!
I learned to select camera systems first by the quality of their lenses, second by the functionality of their camera bodies and those principles remain in force despite the digital era’s constantly evolving hardware and software technologies.
Lens choice should be based on genre, camera shape and size, and other shooting stills, video or both.
In my case (mostly) available light documentary, small to medium size mirrorless rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras when possible, and both video and stills, often in the same project.
I do appreciate the smaller Micro Four Thirds and APS-C lenses, especially the pancake and “Fujicron” lens designs, for allowing me to be discrete and unobtrusive when shooting in public but find manual clutch focus lenses invaluable when shooting video and for critical focus with fast apertures and longer focal lengths.
Most lenses in the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection feature filter diameters of 62mm or more, wide focussing rings suitable for follow-focus devices and lens bodies large enough to grip well.
Video brings other lens features into consideration, too, especially when shooting in the great outdoors under bright sunlight or with fast sensors of 400 ISO and over.
One thing to bear in mind when shooting video outdoors on sunny days is that variable NDs with maximum densities of 6 stops may be inadequate, so please consider variable NDs with higher density values such as the Aurora-Aperture or SLR Magic products in the list at the bottom of this page.
Alternatively, if choosing fixed NDs then space them well and ensure the highest density is 10 or more stops for shooting in bright sun with high ISO sensors, an even more important consideration with Panasonic rumoured soon to be announcing a new low-light version of the GH5 with higher base ISO sensor than the current GH5’s 200 ISO.
TheCameraStoreTV – Focus By Wire: Why It Sucks (Featuring Possible Solutions!) – “It seems every other TCSTV episode, Jordan Drake is complaining about focus-by-wire lenses. So Jordan and Chris Niccolls decided to explain what focus-by-wire is, and why you probably don’t want it if you’re shooting video.”
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Aurora-Aperture PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops) – B&H
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Lens – B&H
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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
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?
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.
“… This camera has stuck to its roots and continues the tradition. If you already own a Fujifilm camera and you love everything about it (image quality, colours, styling, etc.), then consider the X100F as your everything camera. You can pretty much use it as your primary digital camera within the limits of its design and feature set, including shooting decent 1080p 60fps video. I used it as a professional tool, as a video camera, and as an everyday shooter….”
Take Kayo is correct in his assessment of the Fujifilm X100F hybrid optical viewfinder rangefinder camera though I cannot agree with the love-hate underdog thing he has going.
The X100 changed everything for the better for me when I was relying on but uncomfortable with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR that my beloved late Uncle Brian bought for me for stills and video just before he died.
Deep gratitude sprinkled with worthy sentiment keeps the 5D in my storage closet along with my yet-to-be-repaired Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit lensnotorious for its prone-to-failure internal circuitry but wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Fujifilm had been making its mirrorless cameras at the time?
I was raised on non-SLR analog cameras, especially rangefinder cameras of all sizes and descriptions, and the X100 was such a pleasant surprise when one suddenly appeared in one of our many now deceased local camera stores.
The long wait for my very own X100 proved more than well worth it and I still have mine after relying on it for all sorts of professional and personal stills photography projects for some years.
The X100F is a worthy successor with sensor and processor matching or approaching those of its top-end Fujifilm siblings the X-Pro2, X-T2 and X-E3.
Until the X-E3, the X100F held mid-position on my stills photography wishlist, kept there only by its ageing optics and Fujifilm’s failure to update its excellent, now discontinued, Hand Grip MHG-X100 for the X100F.
All Fujifilm cameras need hand grips fitted especially when using the larger, longer, heavier Fujinon lenses and battery grips are even better options.
Really Right Stuff has released its base plates, l-plates and grips for the X100F but they lack two of Fujifilm’s own hand grips’ prime virtues, a small textured synthetic grip and easy attachment of Peak Design’s Clutch and Cuff camera straps via the simple, elegant solution of a rectangular notch in exactly the right place.
I have yet to see and try the X-E3 as our local camera stores keep vanishing and few remaining stores keep good inventories, it appears, so I am in some degree of uncertainty as to whether it is the right solution for my needs.
Despite its lack of the X100 series’ wonderful hybrid optical viewfinder, the X-E3’s small size and Fujifilm-made hand grip appeals to me as does the long-rumoured, much-demanded Fujinon XF18mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lens that still has yet to turn up on the Fujifilm lens roadmap.
I seriously hope that the 18mm “Fujicron” lens is not a myth.
If the X100F had a Fujifilm hand grip, I would have bought it and near-permanently attached the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens as my 18mm (28mm in 35mm sensor format terms) solution for event photography where the 23mm (35mm in 35mm sensor format terms) is too long and 16mm (24mm in 35mm sensor format terms) distorts perspective and especially human-shaped subjects near the edges and corners of the frame.
Will Fujifilm see sense by revamping the optical design of the X100F’s successor?
Will Fujifilm come up with a hand grip for the next camera in the X100 series?
Questions like that are on par with asking Fujifilm when it is going to add exposure zebras for stills and video to all its cameras’ firmware.
Camera and lens makers can be as resistant to good sense as anyone, but one should not stop pointing out the senselessness of being deaf and blind to necessary firmware and hardware functionality.