Panasonic’s recent announcement of the amazing Lumix DC-S5 had me wondering where Meike and other makers of manual focus cinema prime lenses might be in their offerings for Super 35 hybrid and cinema cameras.
I was pleased to see that Meike, currently offering an attractive range of cinema primes for Micro Four Thirds cameras, has just announced the first of its range of cinema primes for Super 35 cameras with EF and PL mounts.
Investing in Meike lenses with Canon EF mounts gives owners of non-EF cameras the most options when adapting to L-mount cameras such as Panasonic’s 35mm sensor-equipped S-Series Lumix S5, S1H and S1, Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Lumix GH5 and GH5S, Blackmagic Design’s cinema cameras and Fujifilm’s X-mount and G-mount Super 35/APS-C and medium format cameras.
A good first cab off the rank
Meike’s 35mm T2.1 Super 35 prime is a good choice of first cab off the rank given its equivalence to 52.5mm in the 35mm sensor format, with 50mm and equivalent focal length lenses often being first choice when investing in new lens systems.
I look forward to seeing more examples of stills and video shot with this lens, given I currently don’t have a cinema lens at this focal length and that Meike is offering a decent prerelease discount right now.
I would choose the EF-mount version and then adapt it for L-mount, Micro Four Thirds mount, Fujifilm X-mount and G-mount hybrid cameras.
Meike states that its coming “Super35-Prime Cine Lens Series with industry-standard 0.8mm pitch gears on the focus and aperture ring” includes “18mmT2.1, 25mmT2.1, 35mmT2.1, 50mmT2.1, 75mmT2.1, 105mmT2.1” focal lengths.
I would love it if Meike added 14mm, 21mm and 40mm lenses as they are three of my favourite Super 35 video and stills focal lengths.
Meike 35mm T2.1 Super 35 Cinema Lens
Images courtesy of Meike.
Meike 35mm T2.1 Super35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount.
Meike 35mm T2.1 Super35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount.
Meike 35mm T2.1 Super35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount.
Meike 35mm T2.1 Super35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount.
The sudden closure of Ryan Avery’s Veydra cinema prime lens design and manufacturing enterprise several years ago created a huge gap in the affordable ciné lens market and many self-funded independent moviemakers were dismayed if not devastated by the ending of the line.
Luckily, HongKong Meike Digital Technology Co., Ltd has ramped up its lens division to the point where the company appears to be rivalling if not outstripping Mr Avery’s noble efforts.
I had been planning on obtaining my own set of Veydra Mini Prime lenses for native use in documentary production on Panasonic and Blackmagic Design cameras, spurred on by Duclos Lens’ creation of its interchangeable mount to enable using a subset of the Veydra lenses on Fujifilm X-mount Super 35mm/APS-C cameras.
Two things dampened my enthusiasm, however.
First was the sheer cost of a complete set of Veydra lenses in M43 mount along with the Duclos X-mount kits needed when adapting them for Fujifilm X-mount cameras.
Compare the cost of the Meike primes with the now discontinued Veydra primes by looking at the Duclos Lens product pages for proof of the radical price differences between lens lines.
Compare the Meike lenses’ USD400.00 average price and reported superior quality to the Veydra lenses’ USD1200.00 average price and the conclusion is clear – consider investing in a set of Meike cinema primes.
At time of writing, seven focal lengths are available as Meike Cinema Primes in M43 mount :
12mm = 24mm in the 35mm sensor format
16mm = 32mm
25mm = 50mm
35mm = 70mm
50mm = 100mm
65mm = 130mm
85mm = 170mm
A subset of the Meike Cinema Primes is available for Super 35/APS-C cameras in Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount:
25mm = 37.5mm in the APS-C/Super35 sensor format
35mm = 52.5mm
50mm = 75mm
65mm = 97.5mm
85mm = 127.5mm
Whether for M43 or Super 35 cameras, the Meike Cinema Primes provide a well-spaced and feature-matched set of focal lengths that should meet most cinematographers’ daily needs.
I would very much like to see Meike release a super wide angle in the 10mm to 10.5mm range, and an 18mm moderate wide angle lens with coverage enough for M43 and Super 35.
I have written before about the need for a professional-quality 18mm lens for stills photography with Fujifilm X-mount cameras, as an alternative to Fujifilm’s quirky and semi-pancake Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.
Meike’s current cinema prime lens offering for Super 35 goes no wider than 25mm and a complete lens set needs, nay, demands, a medium wide and an ultra wide lens in the equivalent of 28mm and 21mm.
That is, an 18mm and a 14mm.
Ryan Avery had been pursuing an 8.5mm ultra wide-angle Veydra M43 lens design but eventually ruled it out due to cost and size considerations.
And then disaster struck with a break-in at the company’s lens storage facility, followed by a court case with Mr Avery’s Veydra business partner.
Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses recently shared all he knows about Veydra’s demise at his personal blog.
Meike Cinema Lenses with Ryan Avery
Meanwhile, Ryan Avery is retailing Meike Cinema Primes at his Revar Cine website.
“Meike Cinema Prime lenses are designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. Available for MFT, Sony E, and Fuji X Mount cameras from Micro4/3 to APS-C size sensors. Compact, lightweight and perfect for a true cinematography experience on most mirrorless cameras.”
Meike Cinema Primes on Fujifilm and Panasonic hybrid and Blackmagic Design cinema cameras
Meike Cinema Prime 12mm T2.2 lens on Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC4K with Micro Four Thirds mount. Image courtesy of Meike.
Meike Cinema Prime 12mm T2.2 mounted on Panasonic DC-GH5 Micro Four Thirds camera. Image courtesy of Meike.
Meike Cinema Prime lenses with Fujifilm X-mount in 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 65mm focal lengths. Image courtesy of meike_global instagram account.
Meike’s cinema lens lineup for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount are welcome indeed given their affordability and the absence of OEM cinema prime lenses by brands such as Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony.
After the end of Veydra, I was contemplating the direction to take with video-capable prime lenses for Super 35/APS-C and Super 16/M43.
I grew up relying on prime lenses for filmmaking and still feel most comfortable with cinema primes for video production over the reportedly excellent zoom lenses in several lens mounts made by Fujifilm in its Fujinon MK pairing for X-mount, E-mount and M43.
With Olympus’ recent announcement that it had sold its camera and lens division, and the possible outcome of its excellent M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses going the way of Veydra, I have been wondering if my beloved Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro should plan on welcoming some M.Zuiko Pro siblings if there was a sudden sell-off of the lineup.
But the M.Zuiko Pro lineup does not answer the need for X-mount cinema lenses whereas Meike appears to be on the right track not only with its current Meike Cinema Prime offerings and possible additional focal lengths but also its coming so-called “full frame” aka 35mm sensor format cinema prime lenses.
More power to Meike’s arm, though I do hope the company will see fit to loaning cinema primes to a range of well-qualified stills photography and video production reviewers so we can get the full measure of these exciting new lenses.
Now to find out if there is a way of converting their M43 mounts to Fujifilm X-mounts when needed.
When the folks at Fujifilm Australia’s PR consultancy asked if I wanted to borrow a Fujifilm X-H1 and some lenses I leapt at the chance to put this intriguing camera through its paces and to see how well Fujifilm’s first effort at XF camera in-body image stabilization aka IBIS and increased dedication to video production had turned out.
Since experiencing the many joys of using vertical battery grips on DSLR-style mirrorless cameras with Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4, DC-GH5 and DC-G9, I have been in the habit of always requesting vertical battery grips with loaner cameras that have them.
Unfortunately, a Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip wasn’t available so I used the camera ungripped and found, despite that preference for adding hand or battery grips to all Fujifilm cameras, the X-H1 acquits itself well without one when used with smaller lenses.
Fujifilm X-H1, Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and XF 18mm f/2.0 R
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens.
By the time the loan opportunity arose, there were rumours the Fujifilm X-H1 was about to be listed as discontinued and that soon occurred with heavily discounted camera, vertical battery grip plus lens packages appearing in foreign camera retailer websites shortly followed by similar deals in Australia.
Now the X-H1 and its camera-specific accessories are no longer available on the retail websites that I checked this morning, and I am in two minds about that.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional standard zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kist standard zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R WR zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens and Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip.
Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip in portrait/vertical orientation and 3-way tilting LCD monitor untilted.
Fujifilm X-H1 with 3-way tilting LCD monitor flipped up for portrait aka vertical shooting.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R WR zoom lens.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 200mm f/2 OIS WR telephoto lens on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip.
Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip and Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR telephoto zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens.
Fujifilm Wide Eyecup EC-XH W.
The X-H1 is an innovative camera but its release suffered from unfortunate timing, falling as it did between the X-T2 and the X-T3 and thus having the same sensor as the Fujifilm X-T2, the X-Trans CMOS III sensor as well as its own CPU, the X-Processor Pro.
At time of writing, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the X-T4 contain the latest generation sensor and processor, the X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4.
There are all too few female camera store staff members hereabouts and possibly not so many with my particular background so it is understandable male staffers might point her my way.
She ended up taking advantage of the end-of-production-run X-H1 special offer after I gave her the pros and cons of the X-H1 and X-T3, and I hope she is doing well with her purchase.
She told me she already had a Fujifilm X-Pro2, loved it and relied on it for most of her work but there were occasions when she needed to photograph in low light and at night so was interested in the X-H1’s in-body image stabilization aka IBIS.
I related my experience with the camera’s IBIS and added that I could comfortably carry either the smaller X-Pro2 or the slightly larger X-H1 around in my hand all day long in a way that I found I could not with the X-T2’s and X-T3’s more minimalist and less sculpted body shapes.
As above, Fujifilm describes the shutter release button and grip area of the X-H1 as a “firm-release design”, having the same configuration as other mirrorless and DSLR cameras which is more often described as a “trigger” or “pistol” grip by aficionados of the latter types of cameras.
My first digital camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, has the same configuration and, despite that camera’s bulk and weight with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L USM kit zoom lens attached, its “pistol grip” and soft-touch shutter release button made carrying and using it in the field on documentary projects easier than one might think.
It was, simply, a matter of balance. And then the kit zoom’s notoriously poor manufacturing quality control left me without a lens for it altogether until I adapted a couple of vintage manual focus M42-mount lenses via a GobeM42 Lens Mount to Canon EF & EF-S Camera Mount adapter.
The X-H1’s shutter release button is more sensitive than that of previous cameras like the X-Pro2, X-T2 and the like, the increased sensitivity apparently being aimed at professional photographers needing minimal lag between hitting the button and making the image.
In practice I found this lag minimalization to be very effective for portraiture, photojournalism and urban documentary photography, ensuring a higher percentage of selects than usual, as well as reducing subtle camera shake at the start of clips when shooting video.
Having now experienced both types of shutter release button, I much prefer the one on the X-H1 and hope to see it used in more Fujifilm cameras for its speed gains, boosted stability and lack of a threaded cable release hole that can attract dirt.
In contrast, the lack of an exposure compensation dial on the X-H1 slowed down my shooting speed and efficiency somewhat compared to the ease and speed with which I can set exposure changes on X-Pro and X-T cameras.
Pros and cons where you gain speed in one aspect of the X-H1’s design yet lose speed in another.
The X-H1’s IBIS bestows two overlapping advantages, being able to shoot at shutter speeds slower than can usually be handheld, and having the confidence that one can resort to it if one must.
As anti-IBIS pundits are always keen to tell us, shooting moving objects while stabilized at shutter speeds too slow to handhold unstabilized will result in at least something being blurred through movement.
But the contrast between unblurred and blurred through movement can be a wonderful creative device to draw attention to the main and unmoving object in the picture.
Other advantages of the Fujifilm X-H1’s design and manufacture
Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.
The Fujifilm X-H1’s “grain size of the exterior coating has been improved to achieve scratch resistance equivalent to 8H surface hardness”.
The Fujifilm X-H1’s body is “made of magnesium alloy, 25% thicker than previous models. The lens mount’s structure has been revised to achieve a compact and lightweight design that is also of high precision and more resistant to shock or damage than other models in the X Series”.
The Fujifilm X-H1’s shutter shock absorption mechanism. I found myself using its mechanical shutter far more than I would for other Fujifilm cameras.
I have focused here on the X-H1’s design and manufacturing qualities because the DSLR style is not my first choice when it comes to cameras for documentary photography and yet many aspects of the X-H1’s body design work for me in a way I have not experienced with Fujifilm’s X-T series cameras.
I have used the X-H1 alongside my X-Pro2 on day-long documentary projects and not once have my hands been fatigued in the way I have experienced with the Fujifilm X-T1, X-T2 and X-T3 cameras whether equipped with vertical battery grips or not.
Fujifilm has got the design of the X-H1 body closer to perfect for me, at least, than that of the X-T series.
Fujifilm, please seek inspiration from Olympus for lens design
Which is not to say that Fujifilm does not have some way to go with its X-H, X-T and X-Pro series cameras.
The Fujifilm x100 camera radically improved digital photography for me but its poor video quality and that of subsequent cameras meant I had to look elsewhere for a while and I settled (solely) on Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras for their great stills and video quality and (mostly) Olympus’ M. Zuiko Pro lenses for their manual clutch focus and excellent optical and mechanical qualities.
As good as they already are, the M.Zuiko Pro professional lenses for video and stills would be even better with the addition of an aperture ring that can be used clicked or declicked at the flick of a switch.
When Fujifilm released the X-Pro2 and I discovered I could use it due to its built-in diopter correction, I looked for the closest to my ideal lens design amongst then-current Fujinon lenses: manual clutch focus, all-black metal body and aperture ring.
I was hoping to find three lenses to cover my most immediate documentary stills and video needs, but compromises and cost narrowed my choice down to two, and I ended up with a Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R.
The first lens is manual clutch focusing and the second is focus-by-wire only.
My preferred extended focal length set for documentary work is:
14mm = 21mm in 35mm
18mm = 28mm in 35mm
23mm = 35mm in 35mm
27mm = 40mm in 35mm
50mm = 75mm in 35mm
My preferred focal length for portraiture is 70mm, equivalent to 105mm, but the closest XF prime lens is the longer and non-manual-clutch-focus XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, equivalent to 120mm in 35mm sensor format.
I prefer prime lenses but might have considered the red badge Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR had it been available at the time, though it is sadly not a manual clutch focus lens.
I would have added an XF 14mm f/2.8 R and an XF 23mm f/1.4 R for available darkness work, making a set of three covering 14mm through to 82.5mm with two lenses having manual clutch focusing.
These three lenses have filter diameters of 58mm, 62mm and 77mm, allowing easy attachment of industry-standard 82mm circular neutral density filters via step-up rings.
I understand some Fujifilm moviemakers use Fujicron-style lenses, but
Fujicron lens filter diameters:
XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR = 49mm
XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR = 43mm
XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR = 43mm
XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR = 46mm
These lenses present a problem for moviemaking in that step-up rings for these smaller diameters are rare.
Stepping up to industry standard 82mm (or 77mm for that matter) neutral density filters demands stacking multiple step-up rings.
Knurled brass step-up rings are the best option, being stronger than aluminium and less prone to binding.
Due to gaps in step-up ring sizing by all manufacturers, one ends up with a mixture of aluminium and brass, knurled and unknurled, mixing and matching brands and hoping for the best.
Brands I currently use include Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, Sensei and some no-name aluminium rings that came from who knows where, but I note that Polar Pro makes some great-looking knurled brass step-up rings as well as fixed and variable neutral density filters.
None of them supplies the full set of diameters needed to step the Fujicron lenses up to, say, 52mm, 58mm or 62mm.
Stepping up from 43mm to 82mm requires a stack of rings so one may be better investing in a set of smaller diameter fixed or variable NDs such as those made by Aurora Aperture, Inc. which lists 43mm, 46mm and 49mm diameter NDs as well as sizes down to 37mm and up to 105mm.
Then there is the question of attaching focus-pulling devices, gears and matte boxes.
Fujicron lenses may be best suited for more casual video projects that demand discretion and that may be shot with the X-Pro3 or X-T4 as a B-camera.
A rumour is circulating that Fujifilm has finally taken onboard the reportedly constant barrage of requests for the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R to be updated but so far we don’t know whether that will take the form of the current lens’ semi-pancake design, that of the Fujicron lenses above or of the Fujilux manual clutch focus design of the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 lenses.
I vote for a Fujilux-style XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR as the best possible default documentary stills and video lens, though I suspect that an 18mm Fujicron may be appearing sometime soon instead.
Pity, but let’s see what comes down the turnpike soon.
Fujifilm, please seek inspiration from Panasonic for camera design
Despite a torrent of comments against fully-articulated LCD monitors like the one in the coming Fujifilm X-T4 by pundits opining that photographers would refuse to buy any camera so equipped, I love and enjoy the LCDs on my Panasonic cameras for stills photography and video.
Two-way, three-way and fixed LCD monitors, not so much.
Panasonic has gone one step beyond its usual fully-articulated LCD monitor with the “tilt free-angle touchscreen LCD” on its DSLR-style camera best suited for feature documentary production, the Lumix DC-S1H.
I tried out Panasonic’s Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R 35mm sensor cameras at touch-and-try events and was pleasantly surprised at how easy to handle they were despite their much larger size and weight than their smaller siblings, Panasonic’s G-Series Micro Four Thirds cameras.
I have ruled out considering the Lumix S-Series cameras and lenses for now as they would be a huge investment for not enough gain in stills quality and not a lot in video quality as I would be shooting Super 35 rather than so-called “full frame” video with them.
On the other hand, I already have a foot in Fujifilm’s Super 35/APS-C camera system and would rather see Fujifilm lift its video game well beyond what it has gained in the X-H1 into the realm of Panasonic’s many moviemaking achievements.
The other thing I really like about Panasonic’s S-Series and DC-G9 body designs are their big, hefty and easy-to-hold “pistol grips”.
I prefer fully-articulated over fixed, two-way or three-way LCD monitors
One of the many advantages of fully-articulated or vary-angle LCD screens is that they can be used with detachable sun hoods like those made by Smallrig for cameras and monitor/recorders, as above.
Try staring at an LCD in bright light when shooting stills or video then compare that to using a shaded LCD.
Hoods are invaluable when needing to forgo heavily-rigged cameras for video production but wanting to use the camera away from one’s eyeball on tripods, monopods or gimbals.
Accordingly I hope that the Fujifilm X-H1 will have some form of fully-articulating or vari-angle LCD monitor screen suitable for mounting a sun hood.
The Fujifilm X-H1 for Super 35 moviemaking
Panasonic must be doing something right given its Lumix DC-S1H is the first and only DSLR-style stills/video hybrid camera to be approved by Netflix.
Many hybrid shooters have apparently been investing in the camera and its rather large and pricey L-System zoom and prime lenses.
Did Netflix approve it for its Super 35 video or for the fact that it also shoots 35mm video?
Super 35 has been a standard format for high-end feature-quality moviemaking for many years now but can Fujifilm offer a high-end Super 35 alternative?
Even one that will tickle Netflix’s fancy?
(Further commentary coming soon.)
Fujifilm cameras, photojournalists and World Press Photo 2020
I first spotted a Fujifilm X-H1 in use by an expatriate Australian photojournalist, Jack Picone, alongside an X-T2 when shooting in available darkness, and events like World Press Photo show that more and more photojournalists are relying on Fujifilm cameras for their daily work.
Fujifilm first used former Leica aficionado National Geographic photographer David Alan Harvey to promote the X-Pro2 and he is now using the X-Pro3 in his magazine work.
I and others in the magazine and newspaper spheres have also relied on non-rangefinder-style cameras to supplement our rangefinder cameras over the years and it is interesting to note how many World Press Photo award-winners this year are Fujifilm users.
Yasuyoshi Chiba uses Fujifilm X-H1 and GFX100 in-body image stabilized cameras for his available light photojournalism work, testimony to the cameras’ capacity to handle challenging environments and poor available light.
Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R
Photograph made with Fujifilm X-T3 and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS kit zoom lens at 18mm setting, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm sensor format. The 28mm focal length is perfect when one needs enough width to depict figures in landscapes and interiors, but without the exaggerated, attention-grabbing perspective of wider focal lengths such as 24mm and 21mm, 16mm and 14mm respectively in the APS-C sensor format. Photograph by Karin Gottschalk.
Up close and personal with Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR Fujicron-style prime lens. The lens’ 24mm equivalent focal length can boost the feeling of being mere inches away from your subjects at the cost of exaggerating perspective. Photograph by Karin Gottschalk.
The Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR wide-to-long zoom lens has been one of the most long wished-for, long-awaited optics for Fujifilm’s APS-C/Super35 system cameras in recent years, and early reports from Fujifilm X-Photographer have been positive, especially regarding its apparent parfocal lens design.
But then one might well expect brand ambassadors to wax lyrical and skip over possible pre-production and early firmware defects given reasonable expectations that Fujifilm will get it right in the end or at least in time for offical product release date.
Not quite this time, apparently, as Fujifilm recently issued firmware version 1.02 for this now-shipping lens and some reviewers are already hoping that further firmware updates are in the pipeline.
I was lucky enough to have a short time with a preproduction version of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom at a recent Ted’s World of Imaging touch-and-try event for the Fujifilm X-Pro3, and found it worked well enough when shooting event stills on a Fujifilm X-H1 unequipped with firmware updates for the lens.
The lens is situated price-wise in-between the pro-quality, pro-priced red badge Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR and the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS kit zoom, and there was some speculation that the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR might be bundled with later-release Fujifilm X-T3s or the coming X-T4 as a higher-specced kit lens, especially for video production.
The 16-80mm’s parfocal focusing is especially attractive for video use as well as the lens’ apparent 6 stops of optical image stabilization that helps make up for its f/4.0 maximum aperture when handholding in low lighting when used on non-stabilized cameras like the X-T3, X-Pro3 and the coming X-T4.
Questions about the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR’s optical qualities throughout its focal range were bandied about during the long pre-release period and I have yet to find a complete set of in-depth tests of the lens’ image quality and focusing performance.
In the meantime, pal2tech’s initial and subsequent video reviews have rather dampened my enthusiasm for the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR.
Are what he is seeing in action when shooting video in particular early production model teething problems, uneven quality assurance, limitations in current firmware or the outcome of too many design and engineering compromises?
Zoom lenses are a set of such compromises compared to prime lenses and a certain amount of them are to be expected, especially in a lens with a longer-than-usual focal length range, but has Fujifilm compromised way too much?
pal2tech’s videos may help you make up your own mind, but I would recommend going off in search of more reviews by video professionals before definitively deciding against the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR.
While some optical and autofocusing problems can be compensated for via firmware and during processing of raw stills images, video is more demanding of lens quality given that shortfalls in optical quality cannot be corrected in video non-linear editing software.
My experiences with Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses, as well as Fujifilm’s APS-C/Super 35 gear, have amply proven the advantages of having a stabilized zoom lens in one’s kit when shooting documentary stills and video in trying conditions and available darkness rather than available light, so the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR would, theoretically, fill a yawning gap in my Fujinon lens collection.
Provided that it is as good for video as it seemed to be for stills during my all-too-short time with the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR at Ted’s.
Like many others, I have had high expectations for this lens given my longtime need for a gap-filling zoom lens for video and photography, and given the poor Australian dollar and consequent high price in local online and bricks-and-mortar stores.
Should I be reconsidering the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS kit zoom lens instead, and go off to ebay to look for the latter secondhand?
FUJIFILM X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip Kit – B&H – bundled with the unstabilized Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR, this stabilized camera may still be the current best option for video despite its older generation sensor and processor.
Australian photographers rarely if ever feature in camera and lens makers’ marketing materials and few Australia female photographers are invited to become brand ambassadors whether they are based in Australia or overseas.
Documentary photographer Megan Lewis features in one of two recently-released Fujifilm X-Photographer videos about the X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera with documentary photographer Michael Coyne being her male counterpart.
Both are long-time Fujifilm users and are well-qualified to offer their insights into the X-Pro3 as a dedicated documentary and photojournalism stills camera.
I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting either photographer, though I am keen to spend time with Megan Lewis to photograph her at work for ‘Unititled’ in order to show other female photographers that one can succeed as a documentary photographer or photojournalist.
In the immortal words of Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “if she can see it, she can be it”, and so stories, photo essays and videos about female creatives like Megan Lewis are crucial to creating the possibility of women succeeding in their chosen professions to the point where we gain parity with men.
FUJIFILM X Series: Megan Lewis x X-Pro3 / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILM X Series: Different Breed: Michael Coyne x X-Pro3
Fujinon lenses used by Megan Lewis and Michael Coyne in these videos
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
I attended Fujifilm Australia’s First Look Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019, and had a brief opportunity to handle a preproduction version of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera that has already been well-covered in Fujifilm X-Photographer videos and articles, and first-look commentary by a range of online camera pundits.
As the camera is in preproduction at time of writing, the usual request not to shoot or publish photographs made with it applies, so I will not comment on its stills and video capabilities but will attest that the X-Pro3 is an interesting evolution of Fujifilm’s professional rangefinder line.
Fujifilm is marketing the X-Pro3 as a camera for “street photographers” as Panasonic did for its latest rangefinder-style GX series camera, the Lumix DC-GX9, and I am hoping that with its X-Pro series Fujifilm will not be imitating Panasonic’s decision to make its GX series something less than a great camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers.
I dread the day my Lumix DMC-GX8 gives up the ghost given Panasonic so unexpectedly dropped the ball on pro-quality rangefinder-style cameras in favour of DSLR-style cameras like the admittedly otherwise excellent Lumix DC-G9.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera
Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Throughout my career I have relied on a range of camera styles and formats – rangefinders, rangefinder-style cameras, hand and stand sheet film cameras, SLRs aka Single Lens Reflexes in 120 and 135 film formats, and a DSLR upon Canon’s accidental revolution in the form of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
My first choice for immersive documentary photography has always been rangefinder cameras and I have been hoping the X-Pro3 would receive many of the advances found in the X-H1 and X-T3.
Until I have a proper hands-on with it, I will not know whether that is truly the case, but the X-Pro3’s loss of the ability to use its otherwise improved optical viewfinder aka OVF with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R moderate wide-angle prime lens is a concern.
For many documentary photographers and photojournalists, as it has long been for me, the 28mm focal length (on 35mm sensor cameras) is our default and its 18mm APS-C equivalent works well on the X-Pro2 and especially in its OVF.
Since 2015 I have been daydreaming of a radically improved X-Pro3 being released alongside an even more radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens with both aimed at documentary photographers and photojournalists, but Fujifilm seems to have decided on setting its sights lower than that, upon street photographers whom I humbly suggest might be better served by the forthcoming X100V.
Time will tell where Fujifilm is heading with its cameras, but I hope that it will not forget its documentary and photojournalism customers as Panasonic appears to have done.
Both companies employed celebrated photojournalists to publicize previous versions of their rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras but dropped them in favour of street photographers in their latest versions.
“Paul takes a first look at the Panasonic S1H. Is this simply a full frame GH5S or is there more to this DSLM? Perfect camera for vloggers or a real cinema competitor?”
Things have been quiet over at Panasonic Australia it seems since the release of the Lumix DC-GH5 and I have not heard a sound from the company’s PR people, so have not had any extended hands-on time with the Lumix DC-GH5S, Lumix DC-G9, Lumix DC-GX9, Lumix DC-S1, Lumix DC-SiR or the recently released Lumix DC-S1H.
So I am grateful for Paul of extrashot for this first look at the S1H, especially in the light of Netflix certifying the camera for use in Netflix 4K Originals productions.
I look forward to more in-depth reviews of the camera for use in movie productions appearing soon.
Panasonic’s longtime weak point has been its depth-from-defocus (DFD) Contrast Detection Auto Focus (CDAF) system that many users would prefer was actually Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), but is this a big problem given potential users of the Lumix DC-S1H are more likely to use manual focus with it, as illustrated in the product shot above?
DPReview – DPReview TV: Panasonic S1H First Look – “Jordan takes a first look at the new Panasonic S1H and wrestles with the moral struggle of cheating on his beloved GH5. Click below to download some ungraded sample clips from the S1H, including 6K footage.” – video
Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is 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 Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.” – some reviewers have been commenting adversely upon the skin tones rendered by Panasonic’s S-Series and GH-Series cameras, but applying Leeming LUT Pro restores excellent colour to their video output. Paul Leeming is currently working on LUTs for S-Series Panasonic cameras so keep on eye his website.
Australian feature film cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has released the first camera profile correction look-up table in his Leeming LUT Pro set for Fujifilm X-Trans sensor-equipped cameras, for Fujifilm’s F-Log logarithmic shooting profile, with Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std and HLG for Rec709 LUTs to come.
This is a significant and long-awaited event given that Fujifilm has finally delivered on its longtime promise to radically improve its cameras’ video capabilities with the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-H1, with the coming X-H2 hopefully improving on the X-T3 as a moviemaking hybrid mirrorless camera in Super 35 format.
Super 35 has long been the feature film format of choice for narrative and documentary production, and the arrival of improved video capabilities on Fujifilm’s X-T2 cameras was a relief after the disappointment of the X-Pro2’s video support.
Leeming LUT Pro for F-Log on Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans sensors
Even the recently announced X-Pro3 appears to have 4K Super 35 video features that may prove good enough in a pinch when more video-oriented cameras are unavailable.
The Leeming LUT Pro expose and correction methodology is based on exposing to the right aka ETTR followed by correction via camera-specific look-up-table files in one’s nonlinear editing suite or colour grading software of choice.
The ETTR method’s most vocal proponent was the late Michael Reichmann who was in favour for its use in photography and videography, and although he and many other photographers constantly lobbied camera makers for auto-ETTR in their Live View-capable cameras, to no effect so far.
Why camera makers continue to ignore the necessity of optimal exposure is anyone’s guess.
For that reason I am grateful that Paul Leeming has applied himself to solving the problem of correct exposure followed by correcting colour via Leeming LUT Pro, with the added benefit of making footage shot on a variety of affordable cameras usable in the same timeline without excessive shot matching work.
The ideal, maximum possible dynamic range and realistic colours, using Leeming LUT Pro and Expose-To-The-Right (ETTR)
Uncorrected camera maker luma and colorimetry
Luma curve and colorimetry levels corrected with Leeming LUT Pro
In the light of camera makers’ tendency to fudge their camera’s video output as illustrated above, exposing to the right appears to make footage appear darker than one may be accustomed to, but Mr Leeming has made available other, secondary, LUTs to quickly and easily raise footage low values, as explained below.
As usual, the LUT will “darken” the footage, which really just means it will make the curve perfectly LINEAR. Examine the attached image using your waveform scope in your favourite editing software, and you’ll see what that means, with the exposure steps forming a perfect “X” shape in linear fashion. This is of course ETTR, so if you under-expose your image, it will look darker.
The LUT(s) don’t make the image darker. The LUT(s) correct the manufacturer luma curves to be linear. In most (but not all) cases, this results in the image “appearing” to be darker, but it’s not affecting anything, nor clipping anything, nor adding additional noise that wasn’t in the shot to begin with.
Don’t forget, you also have the Apollo Pro Quickies to use after the corrective LUT in case you want to brighten the image without clipping the highlights or adding any more shot noise. But when you can, please ETTR and save yourself the problems (and give yourself the cleanest possible log image to begin with).
If your shot after LUT application has its highlights not reaching 100% IRE, then you underexposed it. Use the zebras as per the guide to see where the clipping point is. Expose just shy of that and you’ll maximise sensor dynamic range and minimise shot noise.
If you HAVE underexposed or simply want a brighter image post-corrective LUT, try following it with one or more of my Apollo Pro Quickies, which are expressly designed to lift the shadows in a natural way without clipping the highlights.
Stills frames from feature film shot by Paul Leeming, ungraded then graded with Leeming LUT Pro
Ungraded, straight out of camera footage. The sort of non grading currently popular in Australian TV commercials.
Graded with Leeming LUT Pro. Cinematic and filmic, and far more emotive.
Settings for shooting video Fujifilm cameras for processing with Leeming LUT Pro
Pro Neg Std, Eterna Cinema, F-log or HLG
H265 recording format
DR100 for all profiles
Highlight tone 0
Shadow tone 0
Noise Reduction -4
Zebra level 100%
Quick and dirty Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log tryout with Fujifilm X-H1 F-Log footage
Ungraded, out of camera footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with F-Log.
Graded footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log, plus a LUT from Leeming LUT Pro Quickies and colour correction.
I shoot documentary stills and video rather than make narrative feature movies, so often work alone under challenging conditions as in this example.
The Fujifilm X-H1 had a vintage Zeiss Jena Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 MC Auto prime lens attached to it via a Gobe M42-to-X-mount adapter with no neutral density filter, and I fudged on setting a custom white balance as I was more concerned with understanding the creative possibilities of this lens for video than in getting technicalities perfect.
An adapted 50mm lens on an APS-C/Super 35 camera equates to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format, which is one of my favourite focal lengths for documentary photography and video.
I have been throughly enjoying trying out this lens and its companion, a Panagor PMC 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle prime lens that Paul Leeming kindly gave us.
These sorts of vintage prime lenses are rare and overpriced here in Sydney, at least ever since camera stores like Foto Reisel with their secondhand gear cabinets closed down.
Fujifilm Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras capable of shooting 4K and Cinema 4K F-Log video as well as in other picture profiles: X-T3, X-H1 and X-Pro3
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.
The Luminous Landscape – Expose Right – This once-essential website is now paywalled, though a limited number of free page views is permitted before paying for access.
The Luminous Landscape – Optimizing Exposure – “In 2003 I wrote a tutorial titled Expose Right. To my knowledge this was the first generally available essay that discussed the realities of digital exposure, as opposed to that required for film. Since then the technique described has become known as ETTR (Expose To The Right)…. A live-view histogram-based auto-exposure system is all that needed to generate the best possible exposure from a technical perspective.”
Wayback Machine – Optimizing Exposure: Why Do Camera Makers Give Us 19th Century Exposures With Our 21st Century Cameras? – “In digital photography, exposing to the right (ETTR) is the technique of adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount. So – here we are, more than a decade into the DSLR revolution (and the new century) and camera makers are still using 25, 50, even 100+ year old exposure technology in our latest cameras. Why? I really can’t say, but they should be taken to task for not delivering the best image quality that their cameras are capable of and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor.”
Worse eye relief in the X-Pro3 and an optical viewfinder that is not as good as the one in its predecessor, the X-Pro2, when it should have been radically improved upon?
I can see why so many online commentators are saying they may acquire a second X-Pro2 instead of an X-Pro3 when the prices drop or abandon rangefinder-style cameras altogether for the DLSR-style X-T3.
The proof is in the pudding, however, and such decisions are best made by trying out any new camera, just as Hugh Brownstone has done albeit all too briefly with the Fujifilm X-Pro3.
As for me, I am off to check the X-Pro3’s eye relief data, the OVF’s magnification factor and whether it still allows use of focal lengths from 18mm through to 56mm with full view and not cropped, as occurs when using a 16mm lens on the X-Pro2.