DPReview: Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR LM Review (video)

There’s no doubt that the Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 is a beautifully built lens. It’s also quite heavy, and at £1750 / $1900 it’s a pretty serious investment. Is the expense worth it? Chris and Jordan take to the hiking trails of Alberta to answer that question….

Commentary

Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR ultra wide-angle zoom lens is beautifully built and delivers beautiful results, but it may not be the best solution for everyone needing ultra-wide focal lengths.

Its size and weight demand mounting it on a vertical battery-equipped Fujifilm X-T3 at the very least with the now-discounted Fujifilm X-H1 providing better balance than the slightly smaller and lighter X-T3.

If the X-H1’s OIS-equipped replacement, the X-H2, is in Fujifilm’s production pipeline then it may be wiser to wait for that to appear sometime late this year or more likely early next if the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR is an important lens in your gear kit.

My experience with the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 proves it to be an excellent solution for architectural photography where street furniture, trees and other buildings dictate using the widest focal lengths to get closer to your main subject and bypass non-removable visual noise.

I have used it successfully for documentary photography in the middle of dense crowds, though there were times I would have preferred the lens had optical image stabilization built-in for when the light dropped and slow shutter speeds were necessary to support deep focus via smaller apertures.

In bright sunlight, photographing landscapes was a pleasure and the lens lapped up fine detail but its lack of provision for attaching screw-on filters meant I was unable to try it out as a video lens and I am not in the market for large, heavy and expensive third-party filter adapters or even larger and costlier matte boxes.

If you need an ultra-wideangle for documentary photography and video then I highly recommend the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R which is small and light enough for use with an ungripped X-T3 and would work well on an X-Pro2 with a Fujifilm VF-X21 external optical viewfinder sitting on its hotshoe.

If a range of wide-angle focal lengths is necessary as well as portability and stabilization then I recommend the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens especially it is stopped down below f/5.6 and preferably f/8.0, and this lens will not eat into your savings anywhere near as much as the otherwise excellent Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • FUJIFILM VF-X21 External Optical ViewfinderB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 14mm f/2.8 R LensB&H

Photoism by Mastin Labs: Which Film or Preset Should I Use? A Guide by Mastin Labs.

https://www.mastinlabs.com/photoism/articles/which-film-or-preset-should-i-use-a-guide-by-mastin-labs

Mastin Labs’ Kodak Everyday Original is now available for Capture One Pro. Will Mastin Labs’ other film simulation preset packs also be migrated over to Capture One Pro, one of the most popular top-quality raw image processing applications?

“Film is a 127-year-old medium with many contributors throughout its history. Unlike digital capture, film stocks were not made to accurately reflect reality, but to offer different aesthetic choices to the photographer.

Factors such as the culture where the film company was located and who was available at the time as test subjects greatly determined the characteristics of each film stock. This is one of the reasons that Kodak films render colors differently compared to Fuji films (for example.)…

PLEASE NOTE: Any film can technically be used for any subject or lighting condition, but if you pair the right film with the right subject, you’ll get ideal results….”

Commentary

I follow either of two essentially different paths when processing my raw stills photography files, based on available time and emotional effect.

If time is of the essence and I must quickly process a collection of selects from a project, in effect a set of proofs ready for client viewing or social media, then I always choose to apply film simulation aka emulation presets through software like DxO PhotoLab and its siblings DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, Alien Skin Exposure X4, Capture One Pro equipped with film styles from 1style.pro, or several other such options including film emulation look-up tables aka LUTs.

My choice of host application and film emulations depends on what films are available which combination and it can vary a great deal.

If there is plenty of time for slower, more thoughtful processing and experimentation with a range of possible looks, then I will spend some time in products like Skylum’s Luminar and Aurora Pro exploring their many highly original, unconventional filters and controls to follow in entirely new image processing directions.

Most of the time, though, time is of the essence and I would rather be creating new images rather than editing older ones.

Capture One Pro is one of the two raw processing applications I am most likely to turn to when time is limited, beside DxO PhotoLab and its plug-ins, and it is good to see film simulation presets specialist Mastin Labs supporting it now.

Kirk Mastin’s presets are rather pricey compared to others, but I have read nothing but praise for them from photographers working digitally as well as in analog photography.

I have yet to try Mastin Labs’ first collection for Capture One Pro, Kodak Everyday Original consisting of presets based on Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Tri-X 400 as well as tone profiles, custom white balance settings, and 35mm and 120 roll film grain simulations.

The analog films upon which this set is based are not necessarily my first choice though I shot Tri-X film in 35mm, 120 and sheet film formats for many years during my magazine editorial photography and corporate photography careers.

The Mastin Labs presets I am more likely to want to use these days are included in their other collections – Fujicolor Original, Fujicolor Pushed, Ilford Original, Portra Original and Portra Pushed – so I hope that we will see these collections released for Capture One Pro in future.

Meanwhile, there are other ways of achieving acceptable analog film simulation or something similar in a number of host applications including Capture One Pro itself, and the list of links below points to some of them.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Phase One Capture One Pro B&H

DPReview: EXCLUSIVE: Hands-on with upcoming Fujifilm XF and GF lenses [Including Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens] – UPDATED

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/9472614833/exclusive-hands-on-with-upcoming-fujifilm-xf-and-gf-lenses

“…We’re in Dubai, where Fujifilm is showing off pre-production and prototype samples of three upcoming lenses – the GF 50mm F3.5 – a compact, lightweight standard lens for medium format – the XF 16mm F2.8, and the XF 16-80mm F4 – both of which [were] designed for the company’s range of APS-C format X-series cameras.

Click through for an exclusive first look at all three, including detailed specifications….”

Staffers at the Amazon-owned photography hardware review site DPReview got their hands on three upcoming lenses for Fujifilm’s G and X series cameras at Gulf Photo Plus aka GPP’s GPP Photo Week 2019 in Dubai. Here is the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.

Commentary

As time is inching towards the release sometime in the first half of 2019 of Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 “travel” zoom lens it is terrific to get some idea of its size and features and other it may provide a solution for own needs as a documentary photographer and videographer.

I am self-funded, only able to carry a small amount of hardware on each project, and must work within ongoing limitations – thanks for nothing, Australian banksters, for blowing our refinancing out of the water after you were found out for your crimes by the Royal Commission into banking.

I must be able to get the most out of the hardware I carry and it must be able to help me create good enough movies and videos without the benefit of cases full of equipment, assistants and crews, and the big budgets that I never had anyway when working as a magazine editorial and corporate photographer during the analog era.

Gaps in their offerings

As two relatively new camera and lens systems, Fujifilm’s APS-C sensor format X system and medium format G system  still have gaps in their offerings, especially for documentary types like me who prefer to rely on fast prime lenses with all the manual controls that can be had.

Not to say that I do not appreciate zoom lenses now that their optical, mechanical and image quality are so good nowadays.

I also use and love Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses, with my most-used lens being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens and, had it been released at the time I bought my first Panasonic camera, I may well have chosen the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 OIS Pro zoom lens instead.

Slower zoom lenses are fine so long as you supplement them with moderately wide and moderately long fast aperture prime lenses for available darkness documentary work and portraiture, and Olympus offers three of  them in its M.Zuiko Pro range at the moment, with more to come I hope.

Going fast to begin with

At the time I bought my first interchangeable lens Fujifilm camera, the company did not offer a standard zoom lens like those above made by Olympus or their Panasonic equivalents, so I invested in a Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, well answering my fast aperture moderate long and wide needs.

Another longstanding need has been for a professional quality 18mm prime lens equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format and 14mm in the Macro Four Thirds sensor format.

With little sign of Fujifilm offering such a lens any time soon, I have had to consider other possibilities including adapting an EF-mount Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens to X-mount, but this solution is best suited to DSLR-style cameras like the X-T3 rather than the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 that is much more effective for hardcore immersive documentary photography.

Interest piqued

My interest in the coming  Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom was piqued when I borrowed a Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 kit zoom lens for my first tryout of the X-T3.

I loved its 18mm widest focal length, rarely used the lens at 23mm and 55mm as I was also carrying my X-Pro2 equipped with either of those two lenses, and would have loved access to longer focal lengths than 56mm for those times I could not get close enough.

DPReview’s hands-on with the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom provides a reasonably reliable impression of the lens in its shipping form and confirms it has a marked, clicking aperture ring and weather resistance, though no manual clutch focus or, probably, no clickless option.

The X-T3’s firmware offers the ability to switch focus-by-wire from non-linear to linear so I will be giving that feature a tryout during my current X-T3 loan period over the coming days.

Two out of three

Two out of three ain’t bad for the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom.

As I am not a fan of the neither fish-nor-fowl 16mm focal length, equivalent to 24mm in the 35mm sensor format, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” lens is not on my wishlist which is topped by the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R annual clutch focus prime lens to tackle the ultra wide end of things and has a 58mm filter diameter, meaning I can easily add a knurled brass Breakthrough Photography step-up ring for my neutral density filters when shooting video.

Although I would prefer to have a set of wide-aperture manual-clutch-focus primes for all my documentary moviemaking and photography, the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom would provide a range of my most-needed focal lengths – 18mm, 23mm, 27mm, 56mm and 70mm.

In 35mm sensor format terms, that is 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, 85mm and 105mm, and a limit of 120mm at the long end will account for those rare times my feet are unable to do the zooming.

Postscript

Fuji Rumors has republished images and information about the northern hemisphere fall aka autumn 2019 (southern hemisphere spring 2019) release of the XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR including these from Japanese website capa.getnavi.

Many thanks to Fuji Rumors for the slide translation:

Fujinon XF 10-24mm R OIS, Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount, Fujinon XF 14mm R and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D for architecture and documentary

I have a longterm project coming up where I need to document the construction of a house from greenfield to completion, and I need to expand my stills photography kit for that and a number of other upcoming stills and video projects.

Right now I have no idea what my budget will be, given the economy-wrecking predations of the Australian banks and real estate agencies over the past couple of years, but there are at least two options.

Minimalist:

  • Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R with Fujifilm VF-X21 external optical viewfinder for my X-Pro2.

Maximalist:

  • Fujifilm X-T3
  • Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand Grip
  • Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS
  • Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR
  • Breakthrough Photography 72-82mm knurled brass step-up ring x 2
  • Breakthrough Photography lens cap, 82mm x 2
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 UV filter x 2
  • Fixed or variable neutral density filters, 82mm diameter

There are other lenses available that receive good reviews and are suitable for architectural photography though they are too ultra-wide for documentary photography, the Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount at 18mm equivalence and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D at 13.5mm equivalence in the 35mm sensor format.

If only one lens it is to be, then the minimalist option makes sense as I rather like the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R’s 21mm equivalence for figures in landscapes, emotive close-up documentary shots, and architectural and cityscape work.

This lens will need Fujifilm’s VF-X21 viewfinder sitting on top of my X-Pro2 as a 14mm field of view falls outside the X-Pro2’s 18-56mm optical viewfinder bright frames and the X-Pro2’s EVF is not what I would like it to be.

Will the X-Pro3 improve upon that and other weak points?

If there is budget enough, then of course I would prefer the maximalist option camera and lens plus upgrading my ageing post-production facility.

The X-T3 plus grips and two zoom lenses, with the addition of my three current 23mm, 27mm and 56mm Fujinon prime lenses, makes a good Super 35mm video set-up combined with Fujifilm’s X-Trans 120-rollfilm quality stills.

The Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS is an ageing lens design, however, and lacks weather resistance and appears to be at its best optically speaking from f/8.0 rather than closer to f/4.0.

I want to see Fujifilm bring it up to current standards with a Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom that will make a great match with the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens, giving the equivalent of 15mm through to 120mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H
  • FUJIFILM VF-X21 External Optical ViewfinderB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM MHG-XT3 Metal Hand GripB&H
  • FUJIFILM VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 14mm f/2.8 R LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 23mm f/1.4 R LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 56mm f/1.2 R LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS Lens for Fujifilm X-MountB&H
  • Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens for Fujifilm XB&H

Trying Out Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R WR Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens on the X-T3

Thanks to Fujifilm Australia, I have been lucky enough to try out the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR ultra-wide zoom in combo with the amazing Fujifilm X-T3 DSLR-style camera and its VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip.

My primary motivation in requesting the loan was so cinematographer/director Paul Leeming could use the X-T3 to shoot video footage in order to create a custom Leeming LUT Pro for it.

He did the same for my X-Pro 2 camera, and I am looking forward to eventually relying on Paul’s various Leeming LUT Pro 3D look-up tables to quickly and easily combine footage from those two cameras with video shot with my Panasonic cameras and, hopefully, Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.

fujifilm_vg-xt3_vertical_battery_grip_04_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.

At the moment I am using the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR for stills photography and for a self-funded independent documentary photographer and moviemaker I believe it is stills to which this lens is best suited.

Reason number one?

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR does not permit attaching circular filters.

Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR

Large and costly adapters are required in order to attach square or rectangular filters in front of the lenses convex front element, though someone may come up with a similar adapter for attaching wide diameter circular filters to it.

Another large and costly solution is to invest in a matte box, though which one may be best is beyond my current knowledge and experience.

As a budget-driven documentary video solo operator I need to keep my equipment load and expenses down so I rely on circular variable ND filters.

My current VNDs are built with ageing technology, and more recent ones are reportedly sharper, more colour-neutral and offer a greater range of filtration density stops for today’s sensors.

I want to find the best contemporary VND, need a great set of fixed density NDs for less run-and-gun style projects, and I want to upgrade from 77mm to 82mm to future-proof for coming bigger lenses.

All that aside, I absolutely love the results I have been getting with the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR.

It balances well on a battery grip-equipped X-T3 whereas it is far too large and heavy for an ungripped camera.

I cannot comment on how it works with a gripped or ungripped Fujifilm X-H1 as I have yet to experience that particular camera.

I wish the X-T3 had the X-H1’s in-body image stabilization aka IBIS and optical image stabilization on the 8-16mm lens would have been terrific.

The X-T3’s ungripped body makes for a great companion camera to my X-Pro2 as I discovered during my first X-T3 tryout late last year, equipping the latter with a Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 alongside the former with my Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R attached.

Adding a Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip to the X-T3 turns it into a great handheld portrait camera with the addition of my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

But I digress.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR is the first Fujifilm Red Badge zoom lens I have tried, and so far it looks like it adheres to the common praise heaped upon the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R WR, that it is like having a set of top quality primes at your disposal but all in the one lens.

The widest lens I have ever used until now was the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to one of my favourite focal lengths for immersive documentary photography and video, 21mm.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR goes well beyond that excellent and affordable little lens with a focal length range from 12mm through to 24mm in 35mm sensor terms, the latter not one of my preferred focal lengths by any means.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR’s focal range is particularly well-suited to cityscapes and ‘burbscapes, though it can handle documentary shots in a pinch provided you set it at 16mm and watch out for weird volume distortion of people and objects too near the corners of the frame.

Some of that corner volume distortion can be corrected in post-processing with DxO ViewPoint but that can also introduce other distortions in the centre of the photograph.

I would rather have a pro-quality 18mm lens for immersive documentary work, but Fujifilm has yet to update its current quirky 18mm offering or release the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.

In my analog days I often made architectural photographs with 4”x5” sheet film cameras as part of corporate photography assignments, and as it was a sideline rather than a speciality did not have the set of wide-angle large format view camera lenses I would have liked.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR gives me all of those focal lengths and more.

Shooting architecture with a small handheld camera is a very different dynamic than doing it with a tripod-mounted field camera.

The small camera’s fast and easy mobility means one feels free to dart all around the subject and the zoom lens makes it so fast and easy to try out plenty of alternative camera positions.

I often found myself using the lens at its widest focal length when street furniture, signage and random objects and people got in the way.

So long as you keep a keen eye on potentially detrimental volume and perspective distortions due to distance from and angle of view to the subject, you will do fine.

On the other hand, if you want radical perspective and even more radical near/far object size comparisons, select one of the lens’ wider focal lengths and distort to your heart’s content.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR is possibly the sharpest lens I have ever used, with excellent resolution and micro-contrast.

Whether using Adobe’s Enhance-equipped Camera Raw 11.2, previous versions of Camera Raw or another raw processor or image editing application, its unsharpened raw files are impressive onscreen.

If adding sharpening in post-processing, go easy with it and you may also wish dial down your in-camera sharpening for certain subjects if you are a JPEG user.

The Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR zoom lens makes for a superb addition to your Fujifilm lens collection if your work demands ultra-wide focal lengths, though its current high pricing will give some pause to stop, think and postpone purchase.

Many video-oriented users of Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 cameras may be better off considering the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens for one or more of its most prominent differences – price, size, weight, optical image stabilization and not least the ability to easily mount circular filters of 72mm diameter or larger.

In terms of focal length, one loses 2mm at the wide and gains 8mm at the long end with the 35mm sensor equivalent of 15mm to 36mm, thus providing my preferred documentary photo and video focal lengths of 14mm, 18mm and 23mm or in 35mm sensor terms 21mm, 28mm and 35mm.

Add a medium-to-long zoom lens or some longer primes and you have most bases covered.

The Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens is reportedly not as sharp or as high-resolving as the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR and I have read complaints about its lack of corner sharpness at certain wider apertures, so I hope it will be one of the lenses Fujifilm considers for revision in the very near future.

If the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR meets your needs despite its inability to take a screw-on filter and lack of OIS, and its price is beyond your budget, wait for the discounts and sales seasons or for Fujifilm to substantially drop its price.

If price is no object and if I were a full-time architectural photographer, this would be my number one and possibly only lens for the job.

Gallery, Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR on Fujifilm X-T3

Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR at 16mm and 8mm

The XF 8-16mm f/2.8 for architecture with the X-T3’s 3D Electronic Level indicator

fujifilm_x-t3_electronic_level_manual

One of the great X-T3 features rarely if ever covered in the many reviews of the camera is its optional 3D level indicator that can be assigned to a function button.

I have long wished that all Fujifilm cameras had the same always-on 3D level indicator that Panasonic puts in its cameras so that levelling shots involving parallel verticals is made better than guesswork.

Without much if any fanfare Fujifilm has upgraded its electronic level function from just displaying a simple virtual horizon, and if one assigns Electronic Level to a function button then the function becomes even better, a 3D electronic level that displays roll and pitch indicators.

I assigned Electronic Level to the X-T3’s front function button and, when pressed, its 3D form appears onscreen as an overlay for a fixed period so you can quickly tilt your camera in 3D space to avoid what they used to call “keystoning” of buildings.

I found myself using the 3D Electronic Level all the time when photographing architecture and street views, though sometimes I would run my images through DxO ViewPoint after raw processing in order to further refine perspective and volume deformation.

DxO ViewPoint works as standalone software as well as a plug-in in Photoshop and Photoshop-savvy image editing software, as well as a plug-in in DxO PhotoLab which does not, regretfully, support Fujifilm X-Trans raw files.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • FUJIFILM X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • FUJIFILM VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 14mm f/2.8 R LensB&H

Bounce-Back and Sore Eyes: Why to Choose Black-Bodied Cameras Over Half-Silvered Ones

I have been trying out a Fujifilm X-T3 loaded up with the latest firmware in order to shoot some HLG video footage and further try out the camera’s radically improved autofocus functionality which will reportedly be getting better again in a future firmware update, possibly in April this year. 

The first X-T3 I borrowed was half silver and half black while the current loaner is all black, and what an unexpected and pleasant difference that has made.

I made great use of the silver X-T3 in a two-day documentary photography project and shot quite a bit of footage with its Eterna and F-Log picture profiles, on location in available darkness and the brightest of high UV sunlight.

Each time, halfway through the day I would notice my eyes becoming sore and by day’s end the soreness would be unbearable, especially in my right eye.

_5780135_1024px_80pc
Plenty of reflective silver. Fujifilm X-T3 minimally rigged for video with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens, 58-77mm step-up ring, variable ND filter and lens cap for protection in your camera bag when out walking about.

I am ambidextrous and tend towards right eye dominance though that is not exclusive, and with DSLR-style cameras always use my right eye to view through their electronic viewfinders.

I had attributed the unaccustomed soreness to the slowly worsening eyesight of my ageing myopic eyes, and had feared the worst for my eyesight despite recent eye tests showing expected slow, steady but not marked deterioration in vision.

I wondered whether using an EVF camera might be the cause of the soreness given I own two Fujifilm viewfinder cameras, an X100 and an X-Pro2, and use their optical viewfinders in preference to their EVFs.

But then I also have two Panasonic Lumix EVF cameras, one viewfinder-style and the other DSLR-style, and have never experienced problems like this with either of them.

This week, after extensive use of the black X-T3 for shooting video and stills, I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the silver X-T3 and its highly reflective silver-coloured magnesium upper body might be the reason for my previous and constant eye soreness.

I have had no eye soreness with the black X-T3 at all.

Of course, this observation about the difference between the two versions of the X-T3 is a deduction and not the result of any form of scientific test, but it is something worth thinking about when I am in a position to invest in my own X-T3 and the coming  Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.

I had been wondering whether my eye soreness was the product of the EVF in the X-T3, and was worried the problem might rule out investing in an X-T3 or any other DSLR-style Fujifilm camera, but the electronic viewfinder clearly is not the source of that problem.

Postscript

I used the black X-T3 in a wide range of lighting conditions throughout the weekend, in bright high-UV sunlight, deep shade and in poorly-lit train stations and experienced none of the eye soreness that I had when using the silver X-T3.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR – to be released later in 2019.

Fujifilm Global: Fujifilm announces firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-T3

http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n190214_04.html

“… FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) will release new firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-T3 (“X-T3”) X Series digital camera in April.

Firmware Version:
[ FUJIFILM X-T3 Ver. 3.00: April 2019 ]

1.Strengthened the accuracy of face / eye detection AF performance

The AF algorithm has been improved along with the accuracy of face / eye detection AF. The ability to detect faces in the distance has been enhanced by approximately 30% and AF tracking is now more stable, even when an obstacle appears in the way. The improvements in AF are applicable to both still photos and video recording.

2.New Face Select function

The Face Select function has been introduced to provide priority auto-focus, tracking and exposure on a selected subject when multiple faces have been detected. The priority face can be selected by using the touch screen or focus lever.

3.Faster AF speed for subjects at a distance

Thanks to the improved AF algorithm, faster AF speed is achieved when shooting from short to long distances (or vice versa).

4.Intuitive operation of touch screen

A Double Tap Setting and Touch Function has been added to the touch screen settings*. The two settings must be set to OFF to provide a better touch screen response. These new settings allow a more intuitive touch operation when shooting, AF and focus area select.

*By default, Touch Screen Setting, Double Tap Setting and Touch Function are set to all OFF.
For improved touch screen response, Touch Screen Setting must be set to ON.”

fujifilm_x-t3_15_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens.

Commentary

Autofocus is a feature I had assumed would be nice to have rather than crucial when I first got back  into moviemaking and photography with hybrid digital cameras.

As time passed, and as autofocus steadily improved on the gear I was using through firmware updates and new camera models, I have come to see the utility value of autofocusing for stills photography and now, with the X-T3 having the best autofocus functionality for video yet of all the mirrorless cameras I have tried, it looks like it will be getting better again with April’s coming firmware update.

Improved face and eye detection is particularly welcome given I am in the process of getting back into portrait photography and manual focus with longer lenses and moving subjects does not always cut the mustard, as it were.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

sigma_18-35mm_f1.8_dc_hsm_a_02_1024px
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens for APS-C sensors and for adapting to M43 with Metabones SpeedBoosters, lens available in Canon EF or Nikon mounts.

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • 8Sinn camera cagesB&H
  • Angelbird 256GBGB Match Pack (2 x 128GB)B&H
  • Angelbird AtomX SSDmini (1TB)B&H
  • Atomos Ninja V 5″ 4K HDMI Recording MonitorB&H
  • Atomos Handle Adapter for AtomX SSDmini (5-Pack)B&H
  • Aurora-Aperture variable ND filtersB&H
  • Bluestar Eye CushionsB&H
  • Breakthrough Photography CPL, UV and ND filtersB&H
  • Chiaro UV FiltersB&H
  • Formatt-Hitech Firecrest fixed value ND filtersB&H
  • Fujifilm CVR-XT3 Cover KitB&H
  • Fujifilm EC-GFX Round Eyecup – B&H
  • Fujifilm EC-XH Wide Eyecup – B&H
  • Fujifilm EC-XT L Long Eye Cup – B&H
  • Fujifilm EC-XT M Medium Eyecup – B&H
  • Fujifilm EC-XT S Small Eyecup – B&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand GripB&H
  • Fujifilm NP-W126S Li-Ion Battery PackB&H
  • Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • Fujifilm Fujinon XF LensesB&H
  • Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • LockCircle camera cagesB&H
  • MindShift Grea and Think Tank Photo camera bags and accessoriesB&H
  • Peak Design camera strapsB&H
  • Phase One Capture One ProB&H
  • Røde video microphonesB&H
  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon EFB&H – can be adapted for Fujifilm X-mount cameras via third-party manual and autofocus smart adapters.
  • SLR Magic variable ND FiltersB&H – SLR Magic was reputed to be working on a collection of fixed value ND filters though they do not seem to have appeared at B&H yet.
  • SmallRig camera cagesB&H
  • Sony 128GB M Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card Kit (2-Pack)B&H

Nick Thomas: A Memento of Life | A Fujifilm X-T3 Short Film

A MEMENTO OF LIFE | A FUJIFILM X-T3 SHORT FILM from Nick Thomas on Vimeo.

Commentary

When I was trying out Fujifilm’s X-T3 as a video camera, shooting footage at DCI 4K 10-bit 4:2:0 F-Log All-Intra 400 mbps and recording internally rather than onto an external monitor/recorder such as the Atomos Ninja V, I was gobsmacked at the quality of the images even though it was just a little short of the 10-bit 4:2:2 footage that external recording makes possible.

Although cameras that shoot raw or ProRes footage such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and the like are traditionally termed, well, cinema cameras, the X-T3’s footage is clearly more than good enough for many projects that independent documentary and feature moviemakers are likely to create.

It certainly is for me, and it certainly appears to be a step up from the reportedly excellent 10-bit 4:2:2 the Super 16-like Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S camera is cable of recording internally and that is apparently a step-up from the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s 10-bit 4:2:2 footage, also recorded internally.

We appear to now be living in the realm of ‘degrees of excellence’ and so image quality may no longer be the number one deciding factor when choosing how one may shoot a project.

Other factors such as colour science, camera size, shape, handholding ability, available lenses, rigging and more will become the deciding factors and that is no bad thing.

It is great to see what the Fujifilm X-T3 is capable of when shooting short features with it and Nick Thomas and his team have my thanks for kindly sharing their work here.

Bravo!

Links

  • Help support ‘Untitled’

    atomos_ninja_v_02_1024px_80pc
    The Atomos Ninja V 5-inch HDMI monitor/recorder, perfect for recording 10-bit 4:2:2 F-Log video footage from the Fujifilm X-T3.

    Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

    • 8Sinn camera cagesB&H
    • Angelbird 256GBGB Match Pack (2 x 128GB)B&H
    • Angelbird AtomX SSDmini (1TB)B&H
    • Atomos Ninja V 5″ 4K HDMI Recording MonitorB&H
    • Atomos Handle Adapter for AtomX SSDmini (5-Pack)B&H
    • Aurora-Aperture variable ND filtersB&H
    • Bluestar Eye CushionsB&H
    • Breakthrough Photography CPL, UV and ND filtersB&H
    • Chiaro UV FiltersB&H
    • DJI Ronin-SB&H
    • G-Technology Atomos Master Caddy 4K (1TB)B&H
    • HPRC 2500 Hard Case for DJI Ronin SB&H
    • Formatt-Hitech Firecrest fixed value ND filtersB&H
    • Fujifilm CVR-XT3 Cover KitB&H
    • Fujifilm EC-GFX Round Eyecup – B&H
    • Fujifilm EC-XH Wide Eyecup – B&H
    • Fujifilm EC-XT L Long Eye Cup – B&H
    • Fujifilm EC-XT M Medium Eyecup – B&H
    • Fujifilm EC-XT S Small Eyecup – B&H
    • Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand GripB&H
    • Fujifilm NP-W126S Li-Ion Battery PackB&H
    • Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
    • Fujifilm Fujinon XF LensesB&H
    • Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
    • LockCircle camera cagesB&H
    • MindShift Grea and Think Tank Photo camera bags and accessoriesB&H
    • Peak Design camera strapsB&H
    • Phase One Capture One ProB&H
    • Røde video microphonesB&H
    • SLR Magic variable ND FiltersB&H – SLR Magic was reputed to be working on a collection of fixed value ND filters though they do not seem to have appeared at B&H yet.
    • SmallRig camera cagesB&H
    • Sony 128GB M Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card Kit (2-Pack)B&H
    • Zhiyun-Tech Crane-2 3-Axis StabilizerB&H

The X-T3 is Fujifilm’s Finest Camera for APS-C Photography and Super 35 Video Right Now

Moments after I unpacked the X-T3 it became clear that Fujifilm had created something very special with this, the latest in its APS-C sized line of DSLR-style hybrid stills and video cameras.

No time for contemplation  though so I placed it in my shoulder bag and dashed off down the road to where the venue for an historical commemoration was being prepared for the following day, and my first few minutes documenting the action with the X-T3 proved my initial impressions were absolutely spot on. 

fujifilm_x-t3_05_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens, the combination I have been trying out for this article.

Gallery: the Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm’s X-T3 hits the mark

With the X-T3, Fujifilm has really hit the mark and is now fulfilling the promise of affordable, high-quality hybrid stills photography and cinematic video that other makers had dangled back way in 2008 with the 35mm and APS-C DSLRs of the day.

I’ll go even further. With the X-T3, Fujifilm has delivered on the promise of a camera little-known when new and now almost completely forgotten, a revolutionary camera which vanished almost almost as rapidly as it had first appeared, the Samsung NX1.

The Fujifilm X-T3 not only picks up where the NX1 took us back in 2014 but signals a bright future for other top-end Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 cameras that are hopefully coming soon, specifically the X-Pro3 and the X-H2.

The Fujifilm X-T 3 for stills photography

Amazing feature film-quality video is anything but the whole story for the X-T3 – it is also an amazing stills photography camera.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for documentary photography and photojournalism

_5780195_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and Fujifilm X-T3: a perfect two-camera two-lens documentary photography and photojournalism combination?

I come from a newspaper and documentary photography background, having worked for newspapers, magazines and corporate clients from a ridiculously early age.

I did that work with a range of camera types and sizes, ranging from a Pentax Spotmatic SLR through Nikon SLRs, to sheet film view cameras handheld and on tripods, to Leica’s M-System masterpiece rangefinder cameras and then to a number of medium format roll film cameras in twin-lens reflex, single-lens reflex and rangefinder configurations.

I most found myself at home with rangefinder cameras, small, medium and large, the reason why I was so besotted with the Fujifilm X100 when it was launched in 2010.

As a result I immediately bought an X-Pro2 when it appeared and have loved it ever since.

There is more to documentary photography than the 18mm to 56mm focal length lenses that the X-Pro2’s amazing Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder can handle, though, and I have been hoping for an improved X-Pro3 or some other suitable companion camera that makes the most of lenses longer and wider than 56mm and 18mm.

I certainly hope that the X-Pro3 is on its way, but those other focal lengths continue to beckon.

Having tried the X-T1 and X-T2 and having appreciated them without loving them, I know now that the X-T3 is a big evolutionary jump beyond both older cameras and makes a great companion for my X-Pro2.

The X-T3 side-by-side with the X-Pro2 and all on its own

I loved the X-Pro2 as soon as I picked it up not only for its rangefinder-style optical viewfinder but also for its looks and its feel in the hand, in the way it leaps into my hands every time I get it out of my camera bag.

The day of the X-T3’s arrival I placed it in the bag alongside my X-Pro2, carrying three lenses that day, the Fujinon XF 18-55mmm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom, my Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R prime lenses.

I had chosen those two fast primes after reading wedding documentary photographer Kevin Mullins’ blog at F16.click and seeing the results he was getting in the usual ill-lit churches and wedding venues.

I had worked as a wedding photographer to supplement my income as a kid, relying on flash units and medium format roll film cameras, so appreciated the speed and ease with which Mr Mullins creates his images.

I covered the commemoration event with the X-T3 and X-Pro2 draped around my neck via two Peak Design SlideLite camera straps, relying more on the X-Pro2 at the start then quickly switching to the X-T3 after discovering how beautifully it handled the venue’s available light, or more accurately its available darkness.

I usually rely on Fujifilm cameras’ Auto ISO feature, with aperture priority auto exposure, choose reasonably high ISOs and shoot with fairly wide open apertures in those circumstances and found I was getting better results from the X-T3.

It proved easier and faster to use, faster to autofocus especially when using eye autofocus, produced less noisey images, and most pleasantly of all, it felt just as good in the hand as my X-Pro2, with the result that I began to rely solely on the X-T3 for the rest of the loan period, and loved it.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for monochrome documentary photography

Most of my photography in monochrome, or black-and-white as its more commonly known, is reserved for documentary photography in poor lighting or when the colours of my subjects and their environments carry little to no meaning.

These commemorative event photographs are typical in that the lighting in parts of the venue was low, of mixed sources with some continuous and others prone to flickering, where colour played little to no part in conveying information about the event and its participants, and where I was prepared to shoot in at high ISOs with resulting grain-like digital noise.

The X-T3, frankly, amazed me with its low noise at high ISO to the point where I could easily have shot at ISOs greater than 3200 which I usually set as my upper limit only to be used in emergencies.

Chalk at least some of that up to the X-T3’s new X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for colour photography

Fujifilm cameras are rightly celebrated for their colour science and the richness and veracity of their film simulations for JPEGs and video footage, but I tend to rely on raw files that I process in a number of different applications and plug-ins depending on whether I am after realism or pictorialism, or whether I wish to emulate analog films or go entirely digital in my effects via high dynamic range imaging by merging 5 or 7 exposure brackets in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019.

Since buying my X-Pro2 I have tried out a number of custom picture styles for JPEGs by following the recipes shared by photographers like Kevin Mullins, Thomas Fitzgerald and others.

They have proven to be great reminders of how I visualized the final rendering of my raw files but rarely if ever have I used my JPEGs for final reproduction.

If I were working for a fast-moving client with tight deadlines that deny me time enough in the digital darkroom then I would take my JPEGs more seriously, but those days may well be long over for me now.

And then Fujifilm put Colour Chrome Effect in the X-T3 and what a difference it makes!

Colour Chrome Effect was the crucial step needed to persuade me to finally take JPEGs seriously.

For me, shooting JPEGs for reproduction is akin to shooting colour transparency film while shooting raw is not unlike shooting colour negative film then fussing and mussing it in the colour laboratory.

With an X-T3, my JPEGs to raw files keeper percentages would be more even than they are now when I often chuck out my JPEGs or use them as a quick reference and reminder and not as final art.

The Fujifilm X-T 3 for video

With Fujifilm positioning its X-H1 as the most videocentric DSLR-style camera in its range, as well as the highest performance camera of the whole X Series, the X-T3’s pro-quality video features came as a complete surprise.

In the run-up to Fujifilm’s X-T3 announcement, rumour websites had placed more emphasis on it as a stills photography camera than for video, and I was left wondering whether there would ever be an APS-C hybrid camera that approached or even surpassed the revolutionary Samsung NX1.

Samsung’s NX1 foreshadowed the video capabilities of Fujifilm’s X-T3

_dsf9672_iridientxtransformer_monochrome_1024px_80pc
Until Fujifilm released the X-T3, Samsung’s NX1 was the undisputed innovation leader in APS-C hybrid cameras capable of professional-quality 4K video as well as excellent stills. Now the X-T3 is the one to aim for and to beat.

The Samsung NX1 had taken everyone by surprise with a slew of video features nobody could have foreseen at the time it was announced back in 2014.

Those features included its 28.9 megapixel backside illuminated sensor (BSI), autofocus phase detection points covering almost all the sensor’s frame, subject tracking that was incredibly effective for its day, great 4K video, 8-bit 4:2:2 4K video out, a dynamic range and low light capability that was outstanding, high-speed burst stills, touch screen, fast and intuitive menu system, built-in Wi-Fi, an almost lag-free OLED viewfinder and, looking to the future, its H.265 video codec.

DPReview’s Pros and Cons lists for the NX1 included the same item in two places, the NX1’s H.265 video codec in the Pros list due to the small size of H.265 HEVC video files and in the Cons list because many computers of the tine were just too underpowered to handle it well.

The X-T3’s H.265 HEVC video codec and contemporary computers

Those relatively underpowered computers of the day when the Samsung NX1 was new are no longer as much of a concern now, something I proved by putting the X-T3’s H.265 video files to the test in an Apple Store on a range of current computers from an entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro through an entry-level 27-inch iMac up to a mid-range iMac Pro maxed out with RAM.

The two entry-level machines were low in memory for their CPU but they had enough video RAM and graphics processing power to easily handle my H.265 files whether in playback or editing in Final Cut Pro X.

Internal and external graphics processing units like Blackmagic Design’s  Blackmagic eGPU are the key to the big video files that cinema-quality cameras like the X-T3 and NX1 produce, especially when maxing out on resolution, bitrate, compression and aspect ratio.

I carried the Fujifilm X-T3 in this Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear Exposure 15 adventure shoulder camera bag throughout heavy downpours and the occasional sunnier days. Until this bag with its innovative gel shoulder strap, I was unable to carry larger shoulder bags due to longtime spinal injuries but now I can carry two cameras and several lenses as well as a host of other items large and small with impunity.

I initially tested the X-T3’s ability to shoot great video with settings I would apply to making records of family and friends, choosing from Fujifilm’s legendary film simulations for instant television playback via HDMI.

However I shot most of my test video with the cinematic combination of F-log, the cinematic 17:9 aspect ratio of DCI 4K, shooting at 24p and 400Mbps, chose the H.265 (HEVC) codec for 10-bit 4:2:0 on the SD card which would have been 10-bit 4:2:2 if I’d had an Atomos Ninja  V monitor/recorder handy, and ALL-I movie compression instead of Long GOP.

Fair warning: if you choose to shoot whole projects at those settings, make sure you have plenty of internal hard drive space and plenty more fast external hard drives to store on and edit from.

Transcode to ProRes when editing on older computers

I was pushing it on my ageing 27-inch iMac Retina 5K, with video playback stuttering whichever software I used, including the ever-reliable Kyno media management application.

For older machines like mine, be prepared to transcode your H.265 footage to ProRes using your choice of Kyno, EditReady, Compressor or any other capable transcoding software so your computer playback goes smoothly and your editing goes even smoother.

And be prepared to investigate how to use external GPUs on likewise ageing computers, and to invest in a workable solution.

The external GPU community website eGPU.io is a great place to start your research into adding extra graphics processing power to older computers.

Alternatively, choose the older H.264 codec, Long GOP compression and 1080p if you don’t need to future-proof your footage by shooting and editing in 4K.

“Simples!”

Fujfilm X-T3 lightly rigged for video

It is still early days for camera cages and accessories makers coming up with designs for the X-T3 and I do not currently have access to gimbals and other stabilization devices so used it handheld.

Equipped with an optically stabilized zoom lens, however, the Fujifilm X-T3 makes for a very good run-and-gun video camera and its great balance and weight easily accommodates popular video mics from makers like Australia’s very own Røde Microphones as well as headphones or earphones for a little more on-location discretion.

The X-T3 benefits from larger, faster SDXC memory cards especially when shooting video for the high road, and I have some suggestions in the list at the borrow of this page.

You will also need neutral density filters especially when shooting in available light outdoors as the X-T3 has a base ISO of 640 in F-Log and 160 in Rec. 709.

Documentary cinematographers often rely on variable neutral density filters aka VNDs while feature filmmakers choose sets of fixed value ND filters in circular screw-on frames, or square or rectangular filters for sliding into matte boxes or filter holders.

I use both, depending on the project and its circumstances, and there are some recommendations in the list at the bottom of the page.

I also recommend rigging your handheld X-T3  up with ample camera strapping for safety and better grip, and I equip every camera I use with Peak Design’s Clutch, Cuff and SlideLite.

Still frames from DCI 4K video shot in F-Log then minimally graded with Fujifilm’s free LUTs

The video still frames above were shot at DCI 4K then downsized to 1080p to keep file sizes down but they give a good idea of the video image quality delivered by the X-T3 at high road video and in-between settings.

The X-T3’s Super 35 4K footage is eminently gradable, looks beautiful whether shot with F-Log or Fujifilm’s Eterna Rec. 709 film simulation, and I am looking forward to seeing what it does with Fujifilm’s Hybrid Log-Gamma aka HLG profile when it is released via a firmware update sometime later this year.

With the arrival of HLG on Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras the Lumix DC-GH5 and DC-GH5S last year and this, many documentary and feature moviemakers have adopted it as their go-to profile and the same may very well occur with X-T3 users.

I have shot all but one of these in F-Log with the exception of one as Eterna, and have graded the F-Log footage with Fujifilm’s recently updated set of three LUTs for F-Log along with some creative looks LUTs from LookLabs’ SpeedLooks and DFS aka Digital Film Stocks collections.

The X-T3’s Eterna footage looks like it is more than usable ungraded and can take a modicum of grading as well.

The X-T3 takes video autofocus seriously and now, so do I

fujifilm_x-t3_pan_autofocus_00044421_1080p_80pc
A great opportunity to try out the Fujifilm X-T3’s video autofocus and tracking capabilities while panning on fast-moving subjects in dull light during a typical gloomy Sydney October day. Looks good enough for me. Lens used was the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom minus ND filter, at about 18mm and with aperture fairly wide open.

For years there has been no end of to and fro online about whether serious moviemakers use autofocus or not, with the implication that real professionals only focus manually.

My motto is ‘take nothing for granted’ so I put the X-T3’s video and eye detection autofocus to the test in some rather trying conditions and found they certainly work well enough for use when shooting run-and-gun style video and during fast-and-loose handheld camera movements.

The Fujifilm X-T3’s autofocus, and autoexposure capabilities for that matter, are well worth putting to the test under a range of conditions.

From the evidence of the still-frame above and others I would me more than happy to rely on the X-T3’s autofocusing in a pinch, especially for use in documentary projects.

My Fujifilm X-T3 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Slightly larger body, dials and buttons – better grip, more stability in the hand, easier to locate without looking, easier to click or turn.
  • Slightly larger built-in grip – though I would still add the metal hand grip or vertical battery grip for larger lenses and portrait photography.
  • Size, shape and silver colour – aids in being ignored when shooting side-by-side with Canon and Nikon DSLR users as I look like an amateur playing with a toy or an old analog era camera.
  • Linear or non-linear focussing with focus-by-wire lenses.
  • Faster and surer face/eye focus detection – in available light, available darkness and with the face turned sideways, defeated only by subjects wearing glasses.
  • Faster and more accurate autofocus – in stills and especially video.
  • Flicker reduction using mechanical shutter.
  • Locking diopter adjustment!!! – no more knocking off its settings and annoying resetting.
  • More megapixels at 26.1 MP – leading to less noise when shooting in available darkness at high ISOs.
  • Size, shape and silver colour – aids in being ignored when shooting side-by-side with Canon and Nikon DSLR users as I look like an amateur playing with a toy or an old analog era camera.
  • Minimal blackout of the electronic viewfinder.
  • Better video dynamic range than other APS-C and M43 cameras.
  • Beautiful stills and videos. 
  • Wide range of film simulation picture styles – augmented by Colour Chrome Effect, Eterna and F-Log.
  • Good low noise results at high ISOs. 
  • Built-in microphone and headphone ports – on-camera instead of only on battery grip.
  • Zebras – for accurate video exposure, with ability to set percentage.

Cons:

  • No in-body image stabilization – wait for the X-H2?
  • Three-way tilting LCD monitor instead of fully articulated LCD monitor – limits the operator’s range of positions relative to the camera, especially in tight spaces, and eliminates the possibility of mounting detachable hoods and loupes.
  • Small battery – while the NP-W126S delivers more sustained power than the NP-W126, shooting throughout the day requires carrying several of them and so I recommend the Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT3.
  • Blinkies only – for accurate stills exposure and not zebras and percentage settings as with video.

Conclusions

The Fujifilm X-T3 has been a revelation, the first contemporary DSLR-style APS-C/Super 35 format camera I have used that has impressed me as much as the revolutionary Samsung NX1 did, for photography and for video.

The Fujifilm X-T3 is the first APS-C DSLR-style camera that proved to be as comfortable, as at-home in my hands while covering an all-day event as my Fujifilm X-Pro2, and I would have no hesitation relying on it for plenty more of the same.

The Fujifilm X-T3 also proved to be just as usable and as comfortable in my hands in its role as a Super 35 movie camera shooting beautiful high-end DCI 4K cinematic footage with its video settings maxed out, and its straight-out-of-camera 1080p video shot using the Eterna and other film simulation picture profiles was a delight.

The X-T3 will be as at home shooting family videos with stabilized zoom lenses attached as it will be on the set of a commercial movie or television production, heavily rigged up with adapted cinema prime lenses or Fujifilm’s two geared parfocal X-Mount cinema zoom lenses, the Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and the Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9.

I have only touched on the surface of this amazing camera and its capabilities, but even so I was deeply impressed and excited about the future of Fujifilm’s X-Mount system for stills photography and moviemaking, and have no hesitation in recommending the X-T3 for users at all levels of expertise.

Links

This is an exhaustive list of hardware and software products that may be of interest to those using the Fujifilm X-T3 for stills photography or video production. I use or have at least tried out most of these products and can recommend them.

Many of them are available for purchase via my B&H Photo Video affiliate link account if you wish to help support may work in producing articles like this one, or you may wish to do so via the shorter list at the base of this page.

    • 1Styles.pro – maker of film simulations styles and presets for Capture One.
    • 8Sinn – maker of popular camera body-hugging camera cages and accessories, currently designing cages for the Fujifilm X-T3.
    • Alien Skin – maker of Exposure X4 raw photo editor and organizer.
    • Aurora-Aperture – excellent quality UV, neutral density and variable neutral density filters for photography and cinematography, including the PowerXND-II VND series featuring a range of 1 to 11 stops of light reduction.
    • Apple – Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter – … “a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new Thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port and macOS Sierra.”
    • Blackmagic DesignBlackmagic eGPU – external high performance graphics accelerator for photograph and video editing and grading, currently sold exclusively through Apple stores.
    • Blackmagic DesignBlackmagic Raw – “the world’s fastest RAW format with better quality and better features!” – imagine if this raw codec was implemented in all cameras, especially the X-T3!
    • Blackmagic DesignDaVinci Resolve – “DaVinci Resolve 15 is the world’s first solution that combines professional offline and online editing, color correction, audio post production and now visual effects all in one software tool!” – available in excellent free version as well as paid-for Studio version.
    • Breakthrough Photography – makers of some of the finest brass traction-framed and non-framed UV and fixed ND filters as well as the best brass traction-framed step-up rings though the company does not make every single size that may be needed. If the size you need is not available, consider the brass step-up rings made by Heliopan and Sensei, UV filters made by Chiaro and ND filters made by Formatt-Hitech and SLR Magic.
    • Chiaro – excellent high transmission UV protection filters in brass frames.
    • CoreMelt – Australian maker of plug-ins for Final Cut Pro X that are considered must-haves for all video editors, with its Chromatic plug-in especially essential for quality colour grading within FCPX.
    • divergent mediaEditReady 2 – affordable macOS-only application for transcoding video files.
    • DxO – maker of DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as well as the new owner of the Nik Collection Plug-ins. Sadly, DxO does not support Fujifilm X-Trans raw files in its applications but they can be applied as plug-ins.
    • eGPU.io – macOS user community website dedicated to external graphics processing unit solutions for current and older Mac computers including those that predate Thunderbolt 3.
    • F16.click – Fujifilm X-Photographer Kevin Mullins’ blog, where he shares his excellent SOOC JPEG custom settings amongst other things. Like me he is a rangefinder camera-using documentary photographer and I recommend his articles on the X-T3 from that point of view.
    • Formatt Hitech – makes Firecrest Ultra ND and Firecrest ND fixed value neutral density filters in framed and unframed versions, the “world’s first hyper-neutral ND”.
    • Fujifilm GlobalApplication Software – free software including Fujifilm X Raw Studio, Fujifilm X Acquire and Tethered Shooting Software HS-V5.
    • Fujifilm Global – Digital Camera Firmware : Interchangeable Camera Body / Lens – check that you have the latest camera and lens firmware here.
    • Fujifilm Global – Fujifilm launches new mirrorless digital camera “FUJIFILM X-T3” – press release.
    • Fujifilm GlobalFujifilm X-T3 – product pages.
    • Fujifilm Global – LUT for F-Log (Look Up Table) – set of three free LUTs for X-T3 video, an excellent starting point when grading F-Log and other video from the X-T3. I particularly like the F-Log to Eterna LUT.
    • Fujifilm Global – RAW FILE CONVERTER EX 3.0 powered by SILKYPIX – free raw file convertor.
    • Fujifilm X/GFX USA
    • Fujifilm X Series Official Site
    • Image Alchemist – maker of presets for Capture One.
    • iridient digital – maker of Iridient X-Transformer and transformer software for other cameras’ raw files as well as Iridient Developer for processing raw files; helping get the very best out of Fujifilm X-Trans raw files.
    • Leeming LUT Pro – Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming makes “the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec. 709 starting point for further creative colour grading.” and is working on a LUT for the Fujifilm X-T3.
    • Lesspain SoftwareKyno – unique application for macOS and Windows that is effectively a Swiss Army Knife media management toolset for moviemakers, that works in close conjunction with Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro.
    • LockCircle – run by Italian-Australian director/cinematographer Dante Cecchin, this Italian company makes some of the best camera cages and accessories for digital moviemaking.
    • LookLabs – makers of SpeedLooks and Digital Film Stocks aka DFS looks LUTs based on scans of film stocks and popular feature film grading looks.
    • On1, Inc. – maker of On1 Photo Raw 2018, soon to be upgraded to On1 Photo Raw 2019, raw image editor and organizer.
    • Phase OneCapture One Express Fujifilm, Capture One Pro Fujifilm, and Capture One Pro for all cameras – Express version is free, other two must be purchased, both offer tethered shooting on top-tier Fujifilm cameras, and all versions provide top-quality raw image processing of Fujifilm raw files with integrated Fujifilm film simulations coming soon.
    • Silkypix – maker of Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 9, Silkypix Developer Studio 8 and free raw developer software for Fujfilm cameras.
    • Skylum – maker of Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 2018 image editing and organizing software.
    • SLR Magic – makers of neutral density and related filters popular with professional documentary moviemakers, includingSLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops) and SLR Magic 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhancer Filter (4-Stop) as well as a range of fixed neutral density filters.
    • SmallRig – maker of cages and accessories for cameras including the X-T3, with two cages in Pre-Order at time of writing, SmallRig Cage for Fujifilm X-T3 Camera with Battery Grip 2229 and SmallRig Cage for Fujifilm X-T3 Camera 2228.
    • Thomas Fitzgerald Photography – blog by JPEG and raw file processing expert whose ‘Fuji Jpegs: Shooting and Processing Guide’ eBook contains some excellent advice and recipes for getting the best out of SOOC JPEG custom settings.

    Image Credits

    • Header image by Jonas Rask on commission from Fujifilm.
    • Press image product shots courtesy of Fujifilm.
    • Photograph of Fujifilm X-T3 and Samsung NX1 made on location at a local event as a 5-bracket HDR image with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens then processed in Aurora HDR 2019 and DxO Nik Collection plug-ins.
    • My own product shots made as 5-bracket HDR images with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens then processed in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019, Alien Skin Exposure X4 and DxO Nik Sharpener Pro as plug-ins.

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    Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

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    • Bluestar Eye CushionsB&H
    • Breakthrough Photography CPL, UV and ND filtersB&H
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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Wide Angle Zoom Lens, Heir to Leica’s Tri-Elmar-M MATE and WATE Prime-Quality Stepped Zooms

During the run up to photokina 2018 after the first rumors about Panasonic working on a 35mm sensor hybrid camera system, dismay at the possibility that Panasonic may be planning to abandon the Micro Four Thirds sensor format flowed thick and fast. 

M43 aficionados who love the format for its affordability, its small and light cameras and lenses and their ability to make photographs or videos in public without drawing undue attention are well used to copping criticism from 35mm fanboys for not using real cameras and lenses, for their lack of devotion to “full frame” or “full format”, both highly inaccurate terms for 35mm that have, alas, become deeply embedded in the popular imagination. 

Was Panasonic about to jump the fence and side with M43’s detractors, demanding that its current customer base fork over the high prices customarily demanded for 35mm hardware and start carrying bulky, heavy 35mm cameras and lenses wherever they go? 

“Oh my aching back and aching wallet,” was the cry. 

And then at Panasonic’s photokina 2018 press conference, we discovered the fear of Panasonic abandoning M43 was unfounded. 

https://creativityinnovationsuccess.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric zoom lens. Swap this lens for Panasonic’s in-development Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens and you have the perfect 5-focal-length lens set in one for documentary photography and photojournalism. Add a fast telephoto lens to taste, such as the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS prime lens.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens  appears…

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… followed by Pulitzer Prize winning Australian photojournalist Daniel Berehulak…

Daniel Berehulak uses his Panasonic Lumix cameras and lenses photographing in some of the most challenging conditions on the planet, telling stories about some of the most heartbreaking events such as the Ebola crisis.

… and Panasonic shares its Lumix brand growth strategy…

The Lumix 35mm (I refuse to use the silly term “full frame”) and Micro Four Thirds camera and lens systems “will co-exist and grow simultaneously”.
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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are amongst the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism.

The announcement of a brand new lens for Panasonic’s Lumix G M43 cameras was wholly unexpected, and was the best sort of confirmation that Panasonic will be continuing with its Micro Four Thirds lines for the foreseeable future.

Personally I cannot see myself buying and carrying a full two-camera, multiple-lens 35mm sensor format camera kit to create the sorts of agile, immersive documentary photographs I want to and so will be using Panasonic’s G System cameras for some time to come, provided at least one of them will be a professional rangefinder-style camera with tilting electronic viewfinder like my Lumix DMC-GX8.

Details about the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 are scant and are limited to the press release lower down this page due to it being in-development and not ready to release just yet.

While watching Panasonic’s press conference livestream I was struck by how the lens was spoken of as being, in essence, five lenses in one – 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm in 35mm sensor equivalent – or  10mm, 12mm, 17.5mm and 25mm in M43.

I would add 21mm and 40mm to that list because for me, Leica got it so right years ago with their classic rangefinder camera M-System lens line-up illustrated above.

Thus if this lens works well at 21mm, 28mm, 35mm and 40mm and, to some degree, 50mm, then I will be well pleased as they are the focal lengths I most use for the work I do.

I would add a 75mm equivalent prime lens for documentary work and an 85mm or 90mm prime lens for portraiture and that would be a complete two-prime, one-zoom documentary photography or photojournalism lens kit for those of us who relish getting up close and personal.

Some commentators are wondering whether Panasonic came out with this lens in response to the common practice amongst indie moviemakers of defaulting to Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art zooms and other such lenses adapted to M43 with Metabones EF-to-M43 Speed Boosters on their Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, DC-GH5 or DC-GH5S cameras.

Quite possibly.

Sigma’s Art wide aperture zoom lenses, popular for adapting to Panasonic Lumix M43 cameras with Metabones Speed Boosters

I like to think that the even closer ties between Leica, Panasonic and Sigma established via the L-Mount Alliance have led to cross-fertilization between old and new, zooms and primes, and that Leica’s amazing Tri-Elmar lenses past and preset have influenced Panasonic’s decision to collaborate on a zoom lens that may well share some Tri-Elmar traits.

Leica’s legendary MATE and WATE Tri-Elmar-M prime-quality stepped zoom lenses

Leica’s MATE and WATE lenses appear to have been merged into what I might start referring to as Panasonic’s WAMAVS lens, standing for Wide and Medium Angle Vario-Summilux.

I hope we will hear more about the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 as time goes by.

Will it have optical image stabilization aka OIS and Dual IS in conjunction with cameras like the GH5, the GX8 and the G9?

Will its focusing ring have a manual clutch focus mechanism like the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens collection?

Will Panasonic add the choice of linear or non-linear focussing to its focus-by-wire control ring via firmware?

Is this lens the first of a series that may come closer to the sorts of lenses I have been wanting for my M43 cameras all this while?

Press release

Panasonic develops fast wide-angle LEICA zoom lens

  • Professional LEICA DG 10-25mm zoom lens (35mm camera equivalent: 20-50mm)
  • The world’s first full-range F1.7 wide zoom lens (as of 25 September 2018)
  • The ultimate photo/video-hybrid digital interchangeable lens
  • Constant aperture ensures harmonic depth of field while zooming

25th September 2018 – Panasonic is pleased to announce the development of the LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 wide zoom digital interchangeable lens (35mm camera equivalent: 20-50mm). It is the world’s first* F1.7 wide-angle zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system.

Taking full advantage of the MFT system standard, the new LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 lens is both bright and compact. It is the first interchangeable lens to be introduced to the market featuring a full-range F1.7 high-speed aperture.

Integrating a click-less aperture ring that provides seamless aperture control, the new LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 lens aims to be the ultimate photo/video-hybrid digital interchangeable lens.

The zoom range of the VARIO-SUMMILUX covers 10-25mm: starting from a wide angle and reaching to the natural perspective of human vision. It is  designed and developed to fully support photography as well as video recording on a professional level.

LEICA DG lenses are designed to exceed the stringent LEICA quality standards and boast excellent optical performance. The new LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 is no exception, achieving exceptional imaging performance over the entire zoom range, empowering users to capture precise details and expressions.

Panasonic is committed to further expand the camera and lens line-up for the MFT system to meet customer demands and needs.

* As of September 25, 2018
• Details of the product specifications, the date of release and the price are yet to be advised.
• Leica is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH.
• SUMMILUX is a registered trademarks of Leica Camera.

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