Does Camera Accessories Maker JJC Produce a Better Fujifilm X-Pro2 Rubber Eyecup?

I just came across a possible solution to the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera’s less than perfect rubber eyecup when researching for an article on the coming Fujifilm X-Pro3, and am sharing what I know so far. 

Fujifilm chose a rather minimalist solution for the rubber eyecup on the X-Pro2’s viewfinder eyepiece, one that seems to have forgotten the needs of those of use who must wear eyeglasses, just as they did when designing the X-Pro2’s less than perfect eye relief and viewfinder magnification. 

 I hope that these design solutions will be improved in the coming X-Pro3, but meanwhile I have been searching for ways to improve the experience of using my X-Pro2. 

jjc_ef-xpro2g_eyeglasses_03_1024px
JJC EF-XPRO2G silicone rubber replacement eyecup for Fujifilm X-Pro2 cameras. This version is for photographers who wear eyeglasses.

Since getting back into photography and video with recent generations of digital cameras, there is not a single camera that I have used without modifying it in some way in order to improve my experience with it.

I usually do that via camera-maker or third party accessories including hand grips, vertical battery grips, lens hoods, rubber eyecups, terminal covers, camera straps, thumb grips, self-adhesive buttons and sometimes even improvised solutions made with Sugru, “the world’s first mouldable glue”.

Interesting to note that Sugru, once pooh-poohed by the owner of our now tragically defunct local hardware store, now has its imitators with at least three different pseudo-Sugrus turning up on the shelves of an inner-city Bunnings SuperStore last month.

Sadly, DIYing it may not be the best solution for some camera or lens improvements and that is when I go searching the more obscure corners of the non-dark web for readymade alternatives.

Chinese camera and lens accessories maker JJC has improved its design and manufacturing quality since I first purchased some of their products for my Fujifilm Finepix X100 way back when, so much so that I had no hesitation in almost permanently attaching a JJC LH-JXF23 Lens Hood to the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens that is almost always attached to my Fujifilm X-Pro2.

So, my first port of call after returning from a documentary photography shoot last weekend was the JJC website as a result of which I ordered two JJC products for the X-Pro2.

They are the JJC EX-XPRO2G and JJC EX-XPRO2 silicone rubber eyecups and I am waiting for their arrival with bated breath

As an eyeglasses wearer with less than perfect vision, I have problems when shooting outdoors in Australia’s laser beam sunlight as well as indoor locations lit by harsh LED downlights.

The X-Pro2’s minimalist rubber eyecup does little to nothing to help block out either forms of hard, bright light, often making it difficult to see well.

JJC’s description of how to attach and detach the two versions of its silicone rubber eyecups for the X-Pro2 pretty much non-existent, and I wish that manufacturers would bother to hire some brilliant technical writers and technical illustrators such as my BFF who worked in those roles for Canon until the company began closing down its global research and development arm.

How any camera and lens maker can continue to effectively innovate and communicate without an R&D department much less tech writers and technical illustrators is beyond me but there is no accounting for corporate male egos I suppose.

I am looking forward to seeing if JJC’s rubber eyecups will do the trick and will be glad to learn how they are to be attached to my X-Pro2’s eyepiece, if the packages contain actual instructions.

Meanwhile I hope that Fujifilm has come up with a better solution for the X-Pro3’s viewfinder, eyepiece and eyecup.

I note that Fujifilm offers five different options for eyecups on its X-T3, X-T3 and X-H1 cameras so hope that they have the same amount of thought into the one, or ones, for the X-Pro3.

I shall add a postscript to this page when I have received both pairs of JJC eyecups.

JJC EF-XPRO2G silicone rubber eyecup for eyeglasses wearers

JJC EF-XPRO2 silicone rubber eyecup for non-eyeglasses wearers

Fujifilm rubber eyecups for Fujifilm X-T3, X-T2 and X-H1 cameras

Guerrilla alternative and Panasonic Lumix replacement rubber eyecups

Postscript

Rubber eyecups are one of the more vulnerable things on digital camera bodies, in my experience, and I have had several of them drop off in the street or into the crevasses of camera bags in the past despite careful treatment when using and carrying my gear.

When that happens the last thing you want to do is frantically search online for replacements that can cost a fortune and take days if not weeks to arrive when shipped from overseas online retailers.

Accordingly I have replacement OEM and alternative third-party rubber eyecups for all my non-Fujifilm cameras, and the lack of either for my Fujifilm cameras gave me extra motivation for researching and ordering JJC’s two silicone rubber eyecups, the JJC EF-XPRO and the JJC EF-XPRO2G.

The JJC EF-XPRO has just arrived and the JJC EF-XPROG may be here in the next couple of days.

My first conclusion is that both JJC rubber eyecups are replacements and not supplements to the one that comes attached to the X-Pro2.

That is a good thing in that if friction or accident causes the camera’s rubber eyecup to come off, as it apparently has for a number of X-Pro2 owners, then it is possible to use the JJC EF-XPRO or JJC EF-XPRO2G as a do-it-yourself replacement.

The downside is that JJC offers no explanation of that or how to do it in their website and there are no instructions or illustrations on the procedure and the tools and possible adhesives needed on the packet.

Oh dear.

I am not a techie by any means so I may need to find someone who is skilled and equipped to do the replacement for me, if I choose to go ahead with it.

I am guessing that involves detaching the currently well-attached eyecup currently on the camera and then glueing the replacement on in its place.

Examination of the JJC EF-XPRO shows it is almost exactly the same size and shape as the eyecup that goes with the X-Pro2.

As an eyeglasses-wearer, I am more likely to seriously consider replacing the camera’s current rubber eyecup with the JJC EF-XPROG, which is 25.4mm wide compared to the JJC EF-XPRO’s 22.8mm width.

I will consider that possibility further when the JJC EF-XPROG arrives.

One thing makes me nervous, though, and that is how much damage might be done to the camera’s viewfinder eyepiece by removing the current rubber eyecup.

I don’t have the required skills, experience, tools and glues to do it myself, so will have to find someone who does, if I decide to go ahead.

Meanwhile…

I have just one across an optional, that is, not a replacement, rubber eyecup for the Fujifilm X-T3 camera that can also be used on the X-T2, X-t1 and GFX 50S cameras.

The JJC EF-XTLIIG appears to go several steps beyond the five optional Fujifilm rubber eyecups that Fujifilm offers for these cameras, and looks particularly well-suited for shooting video with the X-T3.

Once again, detailed use and attachment information about this product is limited and I will need to do more research, especially in regard to using it with eyeglasses.

The X-T3 is a great camera for high-specced HLG and F-Log video as well as portraiture with vertical battery grip and longer lenses such as the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, and I have experienced problems with bright light affecting my vision when using it for those purposes.

I have not tried removing an existing rubber eyecup from an X-T3, but review loaner X-T2 cameras came with loose rubber eyecups or in one case no rubber eyecup at all so they may be easily replaced in a way that the one on the X-Pro2 is not.

Once again there appears to be a lack of clarity in the JJC and third party online retailer pages about the JJC EF-XTLIIG rubber eyecup with images of two different eyecups purporting to be the same product, as seen in the last two images above.

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FujiLove: Why I Want the XF18mm f/2, by Charlene Winfred

https://fujilove.com/why-i-want-the-xf18mm-f-2/

“… I think I want-need another lens. No, none of those fancy new ones Fuji recently released. It’s another small prime, six years old, an original XF lens.

I want the XF 18mm F2.

I’ve been told it’s optically not quite up to par with the newer Fujinon lenses, but that doesn’t bother me, and I love it for all of the reasons I love my other gear:…

fujinon_xf_18mm_f2_r_01_1024px_60pc
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens, for me regrettably much too slow to focus manually or via autofocus and its aperture ring too flakey and quirky for fast-paced professional work in stills and video, though some folks seem to like it for the quirkiness that made it so frustrating when I tried it out..

Commentary

leica_elmarit-m_28mm_f2-8_aspheric_1024px_60
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-System cameras, for me the archetypal 28mm documentary and photojournalism lens whose short barrel and narrow front diameter does not protrude into the camera’s viewfinder window. I want something similar for my X-Pro2, an 18mm f/2.8 or faster. When I had my own Elmarit-M 28mm lens for use on analog Leicas, f/2.8 proved fast enough, though Leica also does f/2.0 and f/1.4 28mm lenses.

I sympathize with Charlene Winfred’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R GAS* attack.

A new lens is a new way of seeing the world and if that new lens is a focal length far away from those you are most accustomed to using then it can be exciting, even liberating.

Ms Winfred has relied on some of the longer Fujinon XF focal lengths for some years – 23mm, 27mm, 35mm and 56mm – and felt the allure of 18mm while borrowing one a couple of times.

That I can well understand.

I felt the same after buying into the Leica M-System with a secondhand Leica rangefinder camera and a new Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens, the perfect one camera, one lens combination for environmental portraits, cityscapes and documentary work.

The 35mm focal length – 23mm in Fujifilm APS-C, 17mm in Micro Four Thirds – is a great one prime lens compromise along with the slightly longer 40mm lens – 27mm in APS-C and 20mm in M43.

I felt the 28mm urge – 18mm in APS-C and 14mm in M43 – after getting deeper into documentary photography, needing to better share my close proximity to the people, events and emotions in which I was embedded.

My 28mm Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens was my documentary go-to lens for years, and when Fujifilm finally released its first interchangeable lens rangefinder camera, the X-Pro1, I hoped that the 18mm lens released with it might have qualities located somewhere in that particular ball park.

It didn’t.

Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R is quirky, what some commentators refer to as a character or art lens with properties that suit some subjects and  photographic styes but not others.

Especially not the sort of photographs I like to make where every single part of the photograph is important and the whole visual field needs to be in sharp focus, near to far, left to right and right up into all four corners.

If I want radical bokeh or a curved image field instead of flat, then I will consider an art lens or two, some day.

A number of other documentary photographers have expressed the hope that Fujifilm will finally release a Fujicron style Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 R WR to go with its current Fujicron 23mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses and the coming 16mm ‘Fujicron’ prime.

I would prefer to see Fujifilm release an 18mm lens in the style of its excellent 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 lenses with their manual clutch focus mechanisms, so useful for video and available light photography with the aperture wide open.

Why can’t Fujifilm issue two or more versions of some focal lengths, just like other lens makers do?

They are about to do exactly that with the 16mm focal length, a focal length I do not particularly like, that is so wide it draws undue attention to itself and detracts from what it depicts, and that I find so distorting for human subjects that I must apply volume deformation correction to images I have shot with 16mm or equivalent lenses via DxO ViewPoint.

Fujifilm, keep the current 18mm f/2.0 semi-pancake lens, by all means, for those for whom quirky is an essential creative character trait, but please, please, please Fujifilm, give us a professional-quality 18mm lens too.

What have you got to lose?

Not as much as I have by not being able to have a good enough 18mm prime lens on my X-Pro2.

I hope that Ms Winfred gets hold of her own Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens very soon as its immersive, wide but not too wide focal length can be a real liberation after years of narrower ways of seeing.

Fujifilm, are you reading this?

Some views of Chatswood with a borrowed Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R on my X-Pro2

The folks at Fujifilm Australia kindly loaned me a subset of Fujinon XF prime and zoom lenses a little while ago and one of them was the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

I took it out for a spin several times but found it frustrating to use in making my usual urban documentary photographs as above, and found I needed to bend my usual way of processing raw files shot with it into more of a quirky, funky direction than I like, substituting clarity all across the frame with something a little more retro, an almost 1980s analog style.

Not my favourite era, frankly.

One of the other loaner lenses was the Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens and I found myself relying on that mounted on a loaner Fujifilm X-T2 on preference to the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R mounted on my X-Pro2 when needing the 18mm focal length.

I have yet to try Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens but note that veteran photojournalist David Alan Harvey spoke of using that lens at its 18mm focal length setting during Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 launch event in Tokyo.

I have also tried out the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens on a Fujifilm X-T1 at the 18mm focal length setting and found that a very satisfying experience too, even though my needs are for rangefinder and rangefinder-stye cameras with prime lenses that do not protrude into those cameras’ optical viewfinders if they have them.

Theoretically the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom should provide a decent match for the X-Pro2 in its optical viewfinder aka OVF mode given the OVF’s brightline range from 18mm to 56mm, but I suspect the 58mm filter diameter of the lens may protrude into the OVF’s lower right somewhat.

That is a problem that can be palliated to some degree by using the X-Pro2 in M for manual focus mode with the EVF-in-OVF switched on to give you an overall view of the scene, or in S or C autofocus mode with the focusing area set to smallest.

Some urban documentary photographers render the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R more usable by taping its aperture and focusing rings up on selected settings while others use the lens untaped-up and set for zone focusing, like Sydney urban documentarian Steve Dimitriadis in his article below.

I have tried using the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R for the up-close, immersive, available light documentary projects for I which I also loved to use my Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 but found the 18mm even more frustrating in use than for urban documentary at a distance from my subjects.

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Postscript

As a result of this article I have been accused online of demanding that Fujifilm must now make two versions of every lens that they currently make, one with a wide maximum aperture and one with with a less wide maximum aperture, and thus that I am demanding that Fujifilm bankrupts itself.

Reference to some facts is in order.

I am asking Fujifilm that they consider releasing the updated 18mm lens design that has apparently been on their internal lens release roadmap for some time since it was first reported by Fuji Rumors.

Given Fujifilm is about to release a 16mm Fujicron lens to sit alongside its current 16mm f/1.4 lens, surely it is not outside the bounds of imagination that the company may be capable of having two 18mm lenses in its collection, a quirky and characterful 18mm art lens and a professional-quality 18mm lens.

If two different 16mm lenses are unlikely to bankrupt Fujifilm then perhaps two different 18mm lenses may not bankrupt Fujifilm either.

Other lens makers manage to issue two and sometimes even three different versions of the same focal length without bankrupting themselves.

I would hope Fujifilm is capable of doing the same.

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Veydra Mini Prime 19mm cinema lens available in Sony E-Mount, Micro Four Thirds mount and Fujifilm X-Mount. An alternative to the disappointing Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R in case Fujifilm does not bother to issue a professional quality 18mm prime lens? Only if you are using it on an X-T2, X-T3, X-H1 or future X-H2 I suspect as it is long, heavy and the filter diameter of 77mm means it will protrude far too much into the X-Pro2’s optical viewfinder. Or it may work in EVF mode on a future X-Pro3 if Fujifilm improves it beyond the X-Pro2’s EVF. Desperation makes its demands and takes it tolls. I have never used any of Veydra’s Mini Prime lenses but they apparently render not unlike Zeiss prime lenses.

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  • Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2 LensB&H – Cosina makes excellent lenses under its own brand name, Voigtlaender, as well as on commission from camera and lens companies. Voigtlaender lenses for Leica M-mount tend to be far more affordable than Leica own-brand lenses
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Footnotes

  • * Gear acquisition syndrome

Fujifilm Global: Fujifilm announces firmware updates for X-H1, X-T2, X-Pro2, X-E3 and X100F coming soon

http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n180412_03.html

“FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) will release free firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-H1 (“X-H1”), FUJIFILM X-T2 (“X-T2”), FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (“X-Pro2”), FUJIFILM X-E3 (“X-E3”) and FUJIFILM X100F (“X100F”) X Series digital cameras. Due for release late April and May, the updates reflect the feedback received by FUJIFILM X Series users with regards to improving usability and adding new functions….

… FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (Ver.5.0.0) – due May 2018

1. Enlarged and customizable indicators or information
The upgrade allows users to enlarge indicators and information in the viewfinder and/or LCD monitor. This upgrade will also enable users to customize the location of where the information is shown on the display.

2. Enhanced Phase Detection AF
Latest updates to the AF algorithm provide the following performance enhancements

(1) The low-light limit for phase detection autofocus has been improved by approximately 1.5 stops from 0.5EV to -1.0EV, raising the precision and speed of autofocus in low-light environments.
(2) The range at minimum aperture has been expanded from F8 to F11. For example, even when using the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR with the tele converter XF2X TC WR, phase detection autofocus can now be used.
(3) Major improvements have been made to the AF-C performance while operating the zoom, which provides major benefits when shooting sports and other scenarios in which the subjects moves unpredictably.
(4) Finely-detailed surface textures of wild birds and wild animals can now be captured at high speed and with high precision as a result of improvement in phase detection autofocus.

3. Addition of “Flicker Reduction”
For enhancing the quality of indoor sports photography, the upgrade allows users to reduce flicker in pictures and the display when shooting under fluorescent lighting and other similar light sources.

4. Addition of “Select Folder” and “Create Folder”
Enable to choose the folder in which subsequent pictures will be stored. And also enable to enter a five-character folder name to create a new folder in which to store subsequent pictures….”

fujifilm_mhg-xpro2_hand_grip_x-pro2_01_1024px
The brilliant Fujifilm X-Pro2 optical viewfinder aka rangefinder camera with Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 metal hand grip and Fujinon XF 23mm f.2.0 R WR lens brings the digital form of classic rangefinder photography to the rest of us in a relatively affordable form. It handles like a cross between a Leica M-series camera and a Fuji analog 120 roll-film “Texas Leica” but with all the benefits, bells and whistles of a cutting edge digital hand camera. Excellent for documentary photography and photojournalism.

Commentary

Fujifilm has done it again with its commitment to continually improving the functionality of most of its cameras long after their initial release with firmware updates that squash bugs, introduce major new features and update major and minor core functionality.

As an X-Pro2 owner my interest in the current round of announced and already released firmware updates is primarily to do with that camera but I note the usefulness of Fujifilm’s updates for the X100F, X-E3, X-T2 and X-H1.

I am grateful that with X-Pro2 Firmware Version 5.00 Fujifilm will be adding the ability to enlarge information and indicators in the X-Pro2’s remarkable Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder and its LCD monitor as some, under the current firmware, are a little too small to be as useful and easy to read as they could be.

I am looking forward to the coming enhancements to the X-Pro2’s Phase Detection Autofocus although I tend to prefer using back-button autofocus in Manual mode for precision focussing when shooting documentary stills in available darkness.

The X-Pro2 is nothing if not versatile given its four different viewing methods – LCD, OVF-only, EVF-in-OVF and straight EVF – that effectively make it four cameras in one, and I use it for a range of other subjects and shooting conditions which call for improved AF-S and AF-C focussing functionality.

As the cliché goes, my X-Pro2 may well feel like a while new camera again, yet again.

The addition of a flicker reduction feature will also be very welcome.

I am based in a country with 50 Hz mains power and despite following the common advice to select shutter speeds that are multiples of 50, banding or flicker can be a constant problem especially in places lit by ageing fluorescent lights or mixed lighting that includes flickering light sources.

The ability to choose folders or enter five-character folder names on my SD cards is one the usefulness of which I have not considered but it may be worth trying if I am shooting two or more different subjects or projects in the same day to otherwise needing to keep files clearly separate.

X-Pro2 Firmware version 5.00 does not, however, include improvements that we have been waiting a long time for now.

Foremost of these is pixel-level view of photographs to ensure accurate focus of critical image elements, an essential professional-quality feature even the X-E3 comes with straight out of the box.

Second is exposure zebras for fast and accurate exposure-to-the-right aka ETTR, instead of the blinkies that appeared in an earlier X-Pro2 firmware update.

Blinkies on already shot images are fine when chimping in poor visibility but diabolical when actually shooting.

The X-Pro2’s blinkies often drive me mad especially when used in conjunction with focus peaking for manual focussing which also blinks in unison, a needless distraction that should, at the very least, be able to be switched off in the menu settings.

Thirdly, the EVF badly needs improving if that can be done in firmware alone so that its clarity and colour cast can be made to approach if not match the quality of non-Fujifilm EVF cameras such as those made by Panasonic or by Fujifilm in its also-flagship X-T2 and X-H1 cameras.

If this problem with the X-Pro2’s EVF is a hardware issue, then I hope it will be fixed in the X-Pro3 when it arrives, perhaps, sometime in 2019.

Missing feature number four is the ability to apply picture profile customizations to video in the same way currently exists for JPEGs.

I am grateful to Fujifilm for finally giving us the long-promised 4K video in X-Pro2 firmware version 4.00 but they forgot that decent quality video also requires the ability to customize Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color and Sharpness exactly the same as exists in Fujifilm’s other stills and video-capable hybrid cameras.

Lastly, and as firmware wishlist item number five, I would love to see the X-H1’s Eterna film simulation come to the X-Pro2 as a more viable alternative to Fujifilm’s more stills-appropriate film simulations.

Other useful features come to mind but these five are first and foremost for me as a documentary stills and video creator who needs all her cameras to be as capable and as feature-rich as possible.

As a purely self-funded independent visual storyteller, I no longer have the commissions nor the budgets to maintain a number of different camera systems in parallel, nor do I have the physical strength to carry two complete sets of cameras and lenses with one for stills and one for video on any given project.

Accordingly, each camera system that I have must be capable of producing good enough stills and good enough video as the project, the subject and the often unpredictable circumstances of the day demand.

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B&H Explora: Using Optical Viewfinders on Cameras that Already Have Viewing Systems – COMMENTARY

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/using-optical-viewfinders-on-cameras-that-already-have-viewing

“… My attraction to optical viewfinders has to do with visual simplicity. Specifically, when composing a photograph, I don’t want to have to peer through a barrage of backlit numbers and flashing icons. I want zero distractions—I don’t want my subject bordered by a Broadway theater marquee….”

leica_viewfinder_m_21mm_black_1024px_60%
Leica Brightline Finder M-21 optical viewfinder for 21mm lenses (14mm in APS-C and 10.5mm in M43)

Commentary

fujinon_14mm_f2.8_white_square_1024px
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens, equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm sensor format.

The appearance of this article by Allan Weitz is a timely one given I am currently contemplating buying a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R ultra wide-angle prime lens for my Fujifilm X-Pro2, for architectural and documentary photography.

I had hoped to use this beautifully optically-corrected 21mm equivalent (in the 35mm sensor format) lens to shoot high quality 4K video on my X-Pro2 too but have set this plan aside after finding that Fujifilm dropped the ball on allowing us to customize picture profiles and especially sharpness settings in their recent 4K video firmware update for the X-Pro2, doing a Canon by crippling a long-promised, much-needed functionality.

linhof_master_technika_classic_square_1024px_60%
The art school’s Linhof 4×5 Master Technika Classic rangefinder metal field camera taught me the value of optical viewfinders and optical/mechanical rangefinders as well as large format sheet film photography, for documentary photography and portraiture.

I hope we do not have to wait too long for the ability to customize sharpness, noise reduction, contrast, colour, highlight tone and shadow tone for video as is permitted on all the other current and recent generations of Fujifilm cameras so I can put my X-Pro2 to work on producing great video footage to match the high quality of its stills.

The Eterna video picture profile would also be very welcome on the X-Pro2.

The X-Pro2’s amazing Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that I love using in its ERF-in-OVF mode for stills and video, with electronic rangefinder (ERF) image lower right in the camera’s optical viewfinder, can only properly handle focal lengths between 18mm and 56mm inclusive, so I must rely on the X-Pro2’s excellent though non-articulated monitor or its suboptimal electronic viewfinder (EVF) for lenses wider than 18mm or longer than 56mm.

graflex_crown_graphic_b&h_slant_01_1024px_60%
Graflex Crown Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film field camera for use in the hand or on a tripod.

When reading Mr Weitz’ article on optical viewfinders, I was reminded of how useful I found the OVFs on the Linhof, the Graflex Crown Graphic upon which I relied in my magazine photography career, my Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras and the odd borrowed specialist camera such as the superb Hasselblad XPan panorama camera and Hasselblad SWC Superwide.

The XPan was made by Fuji Camera as it was then known and marketed in Japan under its own product designations, the Fuji TX-1 and Fuji TX-2.

Leica has produced its superb but incredibly expensive external optical viewfinders for many years now, from long before the famous portrait of a young Henri Cartier-Bresson with external OVF-equipped early 20th century Leica was made.

Something I especially like about composing through an optical finder is that unlike the black-bordered, tunnel-like view of the scene you get with LCD, electronic, and conventional reflex viewing systems, optical finders allow you to see beyond the borders of the frame, which gives you a definitive edge when photographing fleeting moments.

_fujifilm_vf-x21_external_optical_viewfinder_for_14mm_lens_02_1024px_60%
Fujifilm VF-X21 External Optical Viewfinder originally for the Fujifilm X70, for use with 21mm and 28mm equivalent lenses such as the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and XF 18mm f/2.0 R on the X-70 and other cameras.

I am now in the market for a good but affordable 21mm optical viewfinder to go with the second-hand Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R that its current owner is currently using on a trip to India and hopefully the lens will return safe, sound and free of dust.

Fujifilm, Voigtländer or another brand altogether, I am looking forward to the digital version of a camera view-finding experience that I grew to love during the era of analog cameras, film, photochemicals and, sadly for me, a debilitating photochemically-derived dermatitis that prematurely ended my magazine photography career.

Roll on digital photography!

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Fujifilm Announces Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Collapsible Power Zoom Lens, Affordable Option for Documentary Photos and Videos?

Fujifilm has announced the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ collapsible power zoom lens and the first Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 rangefinder-style cameras for which it will be the bundled kit zoom, the X-A5 and X-A20. 

The XC 15-45mm offers a short standard focal length range of 15mm to 45mm in APS-C sensor format, the equivalent of 23mm to 69mm in the 35mm sensor format, and is well-priced for purchase separately from either camera at less than half the cost of Fujfilm’s XF series kit zoom, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS

fujifilm_fujinon_xc15-45mm_header_1920px
Fujifilm Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ power zoom lens
Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 LM OIS kit zoom lens, in effect the longer equivalent of the new Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ power zoom kit lens.

Since purchasing my Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with an eye to using it for fly-on-the-wall documentary stills and video, along with two of Fujifilm’s best available darkness prime lenses, the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R, I have experienced twinges of regret for not being able to add the XF 18-55mm lens at the time for access to some of my other favourite documentary focal lengths – 18mm, 27mm and 50mm – or the 21mm-equivalent XF 14mm f/2.8 R.

Although I have yet to try either of Fujifilm’s current XC zoom lenses, the Fujinon  XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS and the XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS, I have read about them being surprisingly good for the price.

My ideal 35mm prime lens lineup from my Leica M-System rangefinder documentary photography days, comprising 21mm, 18mm, 35mm, 50mm (I preferred the all-too-rare 40mm though), 75mm and 90mm focal lengths. In APS-C format, these are 14mm, 18mm, 23mm, 35mm, 50mm and 60mm.

I look forward to reading about the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ’s performance in coming in-depth hands-on reviews by well-qualified photographers and moviemakers.

Will I be adding the Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ or the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 LM OIS kit zoom lens to my Super 35/APS-C documentary moviemaking and photography kit?

Will either grant me access to some of my favourite focal lengths that I miss despite the incredible image quality of my two fast prime lenses?

Will either zoom lenses’ optical image stabilization help compensate for their slower variable maximum apertures?

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FUJIFILMglobal: Dual Vision -A Tale of 2 Cameras and 2 Photographers

“X-Photographer Flemming Bo Jensen and Charlene Winfred go head to head. Find out why Flemming uses the X-T2 meanwhile Charlene uses the X-Pro2. Filmed 4K on FUJIFILM X-E3…”

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Fujifilm Releases Firmware Updates for X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S, Still No Live Zebras for Perfect Exposure when Shooting

Fujifilm has released its firmware updates for the X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S APS-C/Super 35 and medium format cameras, along with the new, free Fujifilm X Raw Studio raw convertor and Fujifilm X Acquire 1.7 for settings back-ups, restoration and tethered shooting on Mac or Windows computers, while firmware updates for the X-Pro2 and X100F remain on-course for late December 2017. 

Fujifilm’s support for Super 35 video in the X-T2 flagship DSLR-style mirrorless camera appears partially complete. Looks like we may need to wait for the Fujifilm X-H1 for the arrival of a full set of top-end professional video features some time in 2018.

Of the three Fujifilm cameras in question, I am most familiar with the X-T2 having been lucky enough to have borrowed a review loaner, so will confine my comments here to that but readers interested in the X-T20 and GFX 50S may wish to read up on their firmware updates in my list of links below.

I am currently the proud owner of an X-Pro2 rangefinder camera and am looking forward to late December’s release of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Version 4.00 firmware for 4K video mode, tethered shooting, new autofocus algorithm and support for Fujifilm Raw Studio and Fujifilm X Acquire.

How to access RGB histograms and overexposed areas blinkies, from page 1 of the X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00. But is this the whole story?

Version 3.00 of the X-T2’s firmware does not include the much-requested exposure zebras persistent in shooting mode, one of the two most essential firmware features needed for professional-quality work, along with focus peaking which previous firmware did have.

Instead, Fujifilm has included “overexposed areas blink” aka “blinkies” which is activated by pressing “the function button to which Histogram has been assigned” as per Fujifilm’s X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00.

The Guide does not specify whether the RGB histogram and overexposure blinkies can be viewed and remain persistent while shooting photographs or video thus allowing exposure adjustment as the light changes.

Having both the blinkies and the RGB histogram on-screen while shooting as illustrated in the Guide would be distracting to say the least, and blinkies alone while shooting would have been preferable.

Fujifilm’s blindness to zebras persists

Percentage-adjustable exposure zebras as featured on numerous contemporary and recent digital cameras and camcorders would have been even better again, but Fujifilm seems to have a persistent blindness to zebras as I have mentioned in many articles on this website, most recently Fujifilm… I’m Cross Over Your Aversion to Zebras.

This zebra blindness is surprising given Fujifilm’s legendary willingness to listen to its user base as well as its famous Kaizen – “improvement” or “change for the better” – philosophy.

Is there something Fujifilm knows that thousands of professional and enthusiast moviemakers do not?

A cunning plan?

Does Fujifilm have a cunning plan?

Is Fujifilm really serious about fully supporting professional-quality video functionality in its cameras?

Will exposure zebras and other essential pro video features like internal F-Log recording, on-camera headphone ports and many more hardware and firmware functions eventually find their way into a future, more video-worthy version of the X-T2 or one of its descendants?

Or is Fujifilm having a cunning laugh at video functionality while continuing to aim its cameras more at photographers than videographers?

I would love Fujifilm to take some hints out of Panasonic’s and Samsung’s books, and their cameras’ many cutting-edge video achievements, to produce a truly remarkable, market-leading Super 35/APS-C hybrid video/stills camera.

If FujiRumors’ report that the Fujifilm X-H1 will be Fuji’s [sic] first IBIS Camera (no longer X-T2S) is correct, and their rumour accuracy has proven to be high in the past, then will the X-H1 be the very first Fujifilm camera worthy of being attached to Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK Series X-Mount Ciné zoom lenses, currently only available with Sony E-Mounts as the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount) and
Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount).

Leaning elsewhere for video, but…

Right now, I am not holding my breath but am leaning heavily towards Panasonic’s mature Super 16/Micro Four Thirds offerings now and in the very near future for video in combination with Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus prime and zoom lenses.

For immersive fly-on-the-wall documentary stills photography on the other hand, nothing beats a real digital rangefinder camera and Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 hits the spot in combination with Fujifilm’s Fujinon aperture-ring-equipped manual clutch focus prime lenses like the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, my current favourite documentary photography lens.

More power to Fujifilm’s advanced hybrid rangefinder and fast manual clutch focus prime lens arm, as it were, and I am looking forward to December’s firmware update for the X-Pro2.

I am relishing being able to shoot great 4K video on this wonderful rangefinder camera at long last.

Postscript

FujiRumors has shared a video showing how focus peaking and overexposure blinkies flash when both are switched on.

I hope there is an option to at least turn the flashing off as I would find this  irritating when shooting, just as I did when viewing this video.

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Image Credits

Image concept and quick hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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How I Use My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Advanced Multi Viewfinder OVF Rangefinder Camera for Documentary Photography

Events involving more than a handful of people closely interacting with each other in public rarely occur where I live now and creative events are rarer still, so this year’s Fujifilm People with Cameras event in the city of Sydney provided an excellent opportunity to exercise my documentary photography muscle memory.

I carried my Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens attached and my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 in a Think Tank PhotoSpectral 8 shoulder bag.

The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera Bag is also a terrific waist bag for the urban documentary photographer. It can carry one mirrorless camera and one, or two or three lenses if they are small primes or zooms. This model easily carries an X-Pro2 with two Fujicron lenses or a Panasonic Lumix GH5 with standard zoom lens.

The Spectral 8 looks like anything but a typical camera bag, making it a great choice for working events and crowds, and it is the first shoulder bag that has not given me spine and shoulder problems whichever mirrorless camera and however many lenses I carry in it.

If working with just one lens and one camera, and traveling light with personal items too, I choose a Cosyspeed waist bag such as the Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera Bag.

The Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder

The Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R is an excellent lens for documentary photography and photojournalism, especially when working in available darkness.

I chose the X-Pro2 for its Hybrid Multi Viewfinder (HMVF), a considerable evolutionary step beyond the non-digital optical viewfinder (OVF) cameras in all film sizes from my analog photography days.

My documentary photography style was shaped by my first rangefinder camera, a second-hand Leica M-4P, and my first Leica M-System lens, a Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0.

I soon added an Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 after finding the narrower 35mm focal length more suited to a feeling of contemplative distance rather than emotive immersion in fast-moving events.

I purchased my X-Pro2 along with the 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses after reading about Kevin Mullins, a documentary-style wedding photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer from the UK who often works in adverse lighting conditions, reminding me of when going down the mines as a corporate photographer.

Available light and gestural photography

The Fujinon XF 56mm f1/2 R lens is one of the best head and shoulders or full face portrait lenses I have ever used. I also use it for urban documentary photography as a short telephoto lens.

I was excited about these two lenses due to their reportedly high image quality when used wide open in available darkness, a lighting condition common to events I had covered with other digital cameras and lenses for a charity for several years.

What I enjoy about using rangefinder cameras, as opposed to rangefinder-style cameras, is their conduciveness to being used in a gestural manner, seeing the world as if through a window into deep space, and making creative decisions and photographs within a fraction of a second without shutter blackout.

One of my two battered old Leica M4P rangefinder cameras, sold after I contracted severe photochemical reaction dermatitis, prematurely ending my professional magazine photography career. I had to wait years until digital cameras and software were affordable and at the right stage of development to buy back into photography and moviemaking.

All that is the direct consequence of the cameras’ optical viewfinders showing you more than what will end up in your photograph, in combination with having both eyes open at all times, seeing the wider scene with left eye and through viewfinder with right, superimposing one upon the other.

A short movie was once made of me photographing a public event, and the cinematographer swore that I surely could not have been making photographs at all, so rapidly and so casually was I handling my Leica.

Camera in right hand attached by wrist strap, concentrate on the scene, anticipate and visualize the possibilities, wait until a fraction of a second before the perfect conjunction of people, objects and events, raise camera, pass in front of eyes, snap and it is done.

Repeat until you are in the zone and amazing images keep coming thick and fast.

I use my X-Pro2 in manual focussing mode in a similar but now digitally enhanced way, relying on the electronic rangefinder (ERF) set to show the whole scene at lower right of the OVF and with focus peaking set to on.

Fujifilm, exposure zebras please!

The Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera’s Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder is key to how I get the best out of it. Depicted, the X-Pro2’s finder window with ERF-in-OVF viewing mode selected.

If the firmware for X-Pro2 and other Fujifilm cameras had exposure zebras built-in then I would swap zebras for focus peaking in full image ERF view to ensure perfect exposure under challenging extreme subject dynamic range such as blacks in deep shade combined with whites in bright sun.

In combination with back-button focus on the X-Pro2 via AF-L button or the 23mm f/1.4 lens’ manual clutch focus mechanism, I can see everything on all four sides of the lens’ field of view, have access to plenty of focus and exposure information, can make creative decisions rapidly and accurately, use joystick to select the most critical point of focus then make the exposure with minimal lag time.

A photograph from Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event in the Sydney CBD in October 2017.

As a result the X-Pro2 is the first digital camera that allows me to achieve split-second speeds to photograph the perfect combination of actions and encounters across the frame.

You will notice that I often place my main subjects within a broader field of view, depicting unrelated figures going about their daily business yet in apparent choreographic unison with each other, as if under the command of a dance master instead of blind chance.

Another photograph from Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event in the Sydney CBD in October 2017.

These are image design decisions I came up with years ago after studying painting and visual storytelling throughout the ages in art galleries and museums in Europe.

I find a particular satisfaction in suggesting possible deeper stories and apparent relationships than what may really be going on in the central focus of the action.

More than meets the eye?

The Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric lens. I loved using an older, larger version of this lens for immersive, gestural urban documentary photography.

In other words, my photographs are intended to suggest that there is more there than meets the eye.

Although I enjoy the remarkable optical qualities of the 23mm f/1.4 lens, I often find myself wishing for a similar but wider lens for more immersively photographing events outdoors and indoors.

My Leica 28mm lens hit the immersive sweet spot in comparison with wider or narrower lenses and there is no substitute for that specific focal length.

The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 lens, one of the first three lenses released by Fujifilm for its interchangeable lens APS-C cameras along with the XF 35mm f/1.4 R and XF 60mm f/2.8 R Macro lens. It needs to be updated to current lens optical and mechanical design standards to suit my needs for high-speed gestural documentary photography.

Its Fujifilm APS-C equivalent is 18mm, but having tried the Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 lens, I rejected buying it due to its lack of manual clutch focus, slow autofocus speed, clanky aperture ring and clunky construction despite its quite reasonable optics.

Fujifilm needs to produce a radically updated version of this lens, and although I prefer the clutch manual focus design of the 23mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8 Fujinon lenses, I could cope with a Fujicron-style design such as that of the small XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR, XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR and XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR primes that are particularly suited to the X-Pro2 due to their small front end that protrudes less into the camera’s OVF.

The curse of funky chic

The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lens, equivalent to 75mm in 35mm sensor terms. One of my favourite analog 35mm film format lens pairs was 28mm and 75mm, an excellent combo for two-camera, two-lens documentary photography so long as each lens is quick and accurate to use.

On Sunday I was told that the ageing XF 18mm f/2.0 lens has undergone a sales resurgence recently, and I suspect that is due to its olde worlde funky chic that is being promoted online by certain photographers.

If I really wanted funky chic there are plenty of other lenses that go the extra mile and were built specifically for that.

Fujifilm, please do not shelve your reported plans for a Fujicron-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR just because funky chic has become a thing with a clearly mechanically inferior lens.

I have considered adding Fujifilm’s reportedly excellent kit zoom, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, to my nascent lens collection but having tried it out at an event last year decided it was not for me due to its size and its front element protruding into the OVF.

The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens, which I had considered purchasing when I got my XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses but had to let go due to budgetary constraints and other reasons.

At the 18mm setting, the X-Pro2’s 18mm bright frame is almost equivalent to the whole of the OVF window and with ERF activated I would be losing fast and easy view of a crucial percentage of the action.

That view would be further reduced with the addition of Fujifilm’s lens hood for the 18-55mm lens, a necessity in the extremes of light and shade found in an average city scene.

I like the idea, though, of the 18-55mm zoom for its access to much-loved focal lengths from my Leica days – 28mm, 40mm and 75mm in the 35mm sensor size or in APS-C terms, 18mm, 27mm and 50mm – as well as 35mm which for me is more of a video focal length than a stills focal length.

Fujifilm X100F with WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion lens attached, converting the camera’s 23mm f/2.0 lens to an 18mm f/2.0 lens. In 35mm sensor terms, converting a 35mm focal length into 28mm.

The Leica 40mm true normal lens is now sadly discontinued but the closest currently available 40mm lens is the reportedly excellent Voigtlaender Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 SC.

There is one less obvious solution to my 18mm dilemma and that is an X100F with WCL-X100 Wide Conversion lens to convert its fixed 23mm focal length lens to 18mm, with Peak Design Cuff and Clutch camera straps essential for good grip of its small, slick-surfaced camera body.

The Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip with notch for attaching Peak Design camera straps, for the X100, X100S and X100T cameras, but, bizarrely Fujifilm has not released a version for the X100F and it is an essential for tight, safe grip especially when using convertor lenses.

The one downside to that set-up is that Fujifilm has, bizarrely, failed to release an updated X100F version of its small but effective MHG-X100 hand grip previously made available for the X100, X100S and X100T.

Fujifilm’s hand grips are the only ones I have come across that have a notch for attaching Peak Design’s camera strap AL-3 Anchor Links and are smaller and neater than those of third party competitors.

A hand grip for the X100F, yet another silly Fujifilm blind spot?

Primes, not zooms

Fujifilm X-Pro2 attached to 3 Legged Thing Equinox Albert Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod with AirHed 360 Ball Head via 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket, an excellent set-up for on-location portraiture. Albert extends high enough for full face close-up portraits and is great for environmental portraits too. For studio use I recommend 3 Legged Thing Winston.

For me at least, zoom lenses are more suited to EVFs and LCDs, not OVFs.

During Sunday’s Fujifilm People with Cameras event I was lucky enough to have a few moments with a save-disabled pre-production model of the coming Fujifilm X-E3 rangefinder-style camera.

It is easy to forget that contemporary mirrorless digital cameras offer two or, in the case of the X-Pro2 and X100F, three ways of seeing in one due to offering an EVF and an LCD, and in the case of those two cameras, an OVF as well.

Fujifilm has a long history of producing excellent analog film cameras, lenses and film stocks.

Two or three ways of seeing, two or three cameras in one. 

Each way of seeing equal to one camera only during the analog era, with the rare exception of the Linhof and Speed Graphic cameras that I used as handheld rangefinder cameras or tripod-mounted view cameras.

The X-Pro2 is, in my opinion, a superb OVF hand camera while other Fujifilm cameras have better quality EVFs better suiting them to use with zoom lenses, prime lenses outside the X-Pro2’s optimum range of 18mm to 56mm, and tripod-mounted use like a miniature view camera via the LCD monitor.

Matching cameras, complementary lenses

Every Fujifilm camera needs an optional hand grip or battery grip in my experience. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 metal hand grip.

Having always relied on carrying two matched cameras for documentary photography I am uncomfortable with just one camera and two lenses, thus risking dropping while changing lenses at speed in the field, or missing shots because I have the wrong lens on it at the time.

I need a second camera for documentary photography projects.

Will an X-Pro2S or X-Pro3 improve their EVFs to match those in the X-T2 and its successors?

Will Fujifilm add the X-Tn series’ excellent and incredibly useful Dual viewfinder mode to cameras in the X-Pron series?

Will Fujifilm finally relent and add exposure zebras to all its cameras, for stills and video?

The Fujifilm X-E3 EVF/LCD rangefinder-style camera with MHG-XE3 hand grip, essential for balancing big lenses and safely holding the camera itself.

Will the X-E3 make for a good EVF rangefinder-style companion camera to the X-Pro2 so I can get back to my well-proven two-camera, two-lens documentary default mode?

Should I seriously consider a Fujifilm X100F with WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens attached, now that the X100F sensor’s specifications are closer to that of the X-Pro2, X-E3 and other Fujifilm cameras?

Time will tell and, no doubt, so will access to a production-run Fujifilm X-E3 for a really good tryout in typical documentary photography conditions in the field.

One thing I know for sure, resulting from handling the X-E3 for even a short time is that, like the X-Pro2 and X100F, it needs a hand grip whether mounting small lenses or large ones on it, whether primes or zooms, as well as Peak Design Cuff and Clutch camera straps.

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Fujifilm People with Cameras Sydney Event, Chippendale Green, October 29 2017

I attended my second Sydney Fujifilm People with Cameras event in Chippendale on Sunday, October 29, 2017. Here is a selection of photographs, shot on a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 using the full ERF image within the OVF in manual mode with back-button focussing for the technically inquisitive, then quickly processed to proof quality in Capture One Pro. 

Tech Notes

I stared writing some tech notes to go with this gallery article and then they expanded far beyond the few words I had originally intended.

So now I have spun them off into their own fully-fledged article that can be found here:

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