Joel Wolfson: ON1 Photo Raw 2018 Released- Why it Rocks!

http://joelwolfson.com/photo-raw-2018-released/

“This image is from an X-Trans raw file (Fuji sensor.) These are normally a big challenge for raw processors but I was able to process it quickly and effectively with ON1 Photo Raw 2018 using 2 of my favorite filters- Dynamic Contrast and Color Enhancer….”

Photography Image Editing & Raw Processing Software is Going Through Interesting Times Right Now

We live in interesting times for digital photography with some great cameras now on the market and an ever-growing, ever-evolving set of choices in image editing and raw processing software available to those with deep pockets as well as those with less so. 

Photograph made with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens, then processed in DxO PhotoLab with DxO FilmPack plug-in, making liberal use of PhotoLab’s Nik-like U-Point masking technology to select areas within the image for application of editing controls like exposures, contrast, micro contrast and so on.

Headline news at the moment is Google selling Google Nik Collection, which it acquired when buying Nik Software for access to their Snapseed mobile image editing app, to DxO with DxO continuing Google’s recent move to give Nik Collection away for free.

DxO has stated that they will continue developing the Nik Collection though not how they will apply all the technology within it.

All hail the U Point

The company has already made good use of one key complement of all applications within the Nik Collection, its U Point technology that is a more accurate, more sophisticated alternative to using brush tools for masking.

I first came across U Point selection and masking at a photography trade show in Sydney at the Nik Software stand where Nik Collection component Viveza was being demonstrated.

I immediately bought a copy and found I could use it to bring to stunning life images shot under lighting circumstances too challenging for the image editing suites of the day to get the best out of with their then-current tool sets.

Make precise edits quickly

Use U Point® technology to selectively edit just the parts of your photos that need touching up without losing time on complex masks and selections.

As soon as I downloaded the PhotoLab trial version I put it to good use editing the monochrome image at the top of this page, relying heavily on DxO’s new iteration of U Points.

DxO is on to a winner

DxO PhotoLab was formerly named DxO OpticsPro, the Elite version of which I bought as my very first raw processor at the same time as a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, on the recommendation of a Danish photographer friend.

Photograph made with Panasonic DMC-GX8 camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens, processed in DxO PhotoLab using the Leica M9 camera profile, with U Point applied to the dog’s face. DxO PhotoLab Elite’s big collection of excellent camera profiles are only accessible when processing raw files, not TIFFs or JPEGs.

I quickly added DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, both of which work as plug-ins extending DxO OpticsPro and now DxO PhotoLab, as well as being standalone editors and plug-ins for image editing products like the long-discontinued Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

I recall that Nik’s version of U Point seemed to have worked faster than DxO’s, which takes a little longer to display the tooltips that explain just what each icon represents but I am sure DxO will be ramping up its U Point display and operation speeds each new version.

It was refreshing to get back to using U Points in DxO PhotoLab as they have always been and remain my preferred selection and masking tool.

Given Google’s neglect of the Nik Collection, recent versions including the current one under the DxO aegis fail to function as plug-ins within recent versions of Photoshop and no doubt Lightroom, causing weird error messages as seen in the header image on this page.

DxO and Fujifilm X-Trans raw files

The only downside to DxO buying Nik Collection is to do with the camera sensor types that all DxO software supports.

Photograph made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens, raw file processed with Iridient X-Transformer, exported as a DNG, converted to a TIFF in Adobe Photoshop then further processed in DxO OpticsPro applying film simulation preset via DxO FilmPack as a plug-in within OpticsPro.

Some time ago, the DxO people told me that they will never support X-Trans raw files due to their non-Bayer technology and would only ever support Bayer pattern sensors.

Right now, though I am wondering if the name change of DxO OpticsPro to DxO PhotoLab might be signalling grander intentions for DxO’s key software product.

More than a sophisticated raw developer?

If they are intending to turn DxO PhotoLab into more than a very fine raw processor with built-in camera, lens and analog film simulation profiles, with the addition of all the many image editing features of the Nik Collection, then surely they must be considering adding support for Fujifilm’s X-Trans and non-X-Trans sensors, cameras and lenses.

As I have found time and again, it can be a real pain having to process Fujifilm rare files in one raw processor then raw files from all one’s other, non-Fujifilm cameras in another raw processor, then editing them all together in an image editor once having imported them as TIFF or PSD files.

Always best to do as much as one can in one raw processor regardless of camera used, preserving the ability go back make non-destructive changes.

A range of cameras and sensor types

Like many photographers and cinematographers these days, I rely on a range of camera, lens and sensors types in order to best suit my subjects and how I wish to depict them, and having limitations imposed on me by software companies being unwilling or unable to support all my hardware is a massive pain.

I have yet to establish a fixed workflow that gets the best out of all my gear and continue to try out various options.

Now that Iridient Digital has released the first version of its Iridient X-Transformer aimed at converting Fujifilm X-Trans raw files to DNG files, I have begun running files from my X-Pro2 through X-Transformer then opening them in various image editing applications to see which may work best with them.

DxO’s three core products, PhotoLab, FilmPack and ViewPoint, accept and process TIFF and JPEG files as well as raw files from Bayer image sensors, minus certain core functionality, so they can be introduced into your workflow after your initial raw file processing stage.

Meanwhile, other developments

Lest what started as a small article grows too large and boring, let me list other recent developments in raw processing software.

Adobe recently outraged and panicked many dedicated Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (to use its full name) users by signalling the end of the non-suscriber version of Lightroom aka Lightroom CS in favour of the subscription-only version named Lightroom CC, those initials standing for Creative Cloud.

Like a surprising number of Australian pro photographer colleagues, I have never been a serious Lightroom user having stuck with Photoshop and Camera Raw for years and then jumping ship to DxO OpticsPro and other image editing software.

Irish photographer Thomas Fitzgerald is quite the expert on the pros and cons of various raw processors and image editors as well as workflows, so I will refer you to his Thomas Fitzgerald Photography blog for further details and clarification of Adobe’s now more confusing naming conventions for its two current versions of Lightroom.

Coming from a traditional photography technical background, Mr Fitzgerald is also a highly recommended authority on other software such as Capture One Pro, Macphun (now Skylum) Luminar, ON1 Photo Raw, Apple Photos and plenty more besides.

I highly recommend making him a regular stop on your daily photography reading list.

Meanwhile I will be catching up on the other new developments in software and will be covering them here soon.

My photo editing and raw processing watch list

These are the brands and products I try to keep an eye on, or have used and liked, and I currently use a subset of them in my work.

There are quite a few more of them, paid-for and open source, but I can’t keep an eye on everything out there!

Tastes and needs are different for everyone, so this list may be useful for you when working out your own photography workflow.

Trial versions are generally available.

Header Image Notes

The header image is based on a DxO OpticsPro raw sample photograph that I edited in DxO PhotoLab using the Nik Collection’s U Point adapted by DxO since buying it from Google.

The biggest difference between DxO’s version of U Point and Nik Collections’ is that DxO’s displays icons first and then tool tips appear later after hovering your cursor over an icon.

Given that there is no universally understood icon language, are icons the best solution for a GUI like this or should DxO revert to the Nik Collection’s text-only U Point GUI?

I exported the file from DxO PhotoLab as a TIFF then imported it into Adobe Photoshop where I attempted to apply the Nik Collection Analog Efex Pro 2, resulting in the error message depicted in this screenshot.

Free Open Source Raw Processor RawTherapee Gets Big Version 5 Update

RawTherapee has just received its largest update in several years, to version 5. It is always a good idea to have copies of open source raw processing and image editing software on your production computers and keep it updated.

Using RawTherapee 5 to view and process a Fujifilm X100F raw file.

Makers of free open source software are not constrained by the schedules and constraints to which commercial software makers are held and can add new camera support or innovative, sometimes even odd, processing tools to their products.

RawTherapee and its open source raw processor companions written about at The Fujifilm X-Pro2: The Optical Viewfinder Documentary Hybrid Camera for the Rest of Us? Plus Notes About the X-T2. are no exceptions.

I have just downloaded RawTherapee 5 and will explore its new features when I have some ever-decreasing spare moments. Ha! A quick scan of RawTherapee 5’s processing tools reveals some very interesting possibilities indeed.

Links:

Billy Luong of The Fuji Guys States X-Pro2 4K Video is Possible and is Fighting for It

When the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera was first announced there was a great deal of excitement about the fact that its brand new 24MP X-Trans III non-Bayer sensor would be capable of 4K video. Although the X-Pro2 was released  with 1080p Full HD video capability only, I was informed early last year by a Fujifilm staffer that the camera’s 4K video capability was forthcoming, to be released sometime after the 4K-capable X-T2. That never occurred. 

The Fujifilm X-T2 Super 35 4K camera rigged for video. Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 has the same 24MP X-Trans III sensor and can be 4K capable as well via a firmware update, according to Canadian Fuji Guy Billy Luong. He says that he is fighting for it. I support him in that fight.

I was deeply disappointed. I want the X-Pro 2 to be fully 4K video-capable  and I suspect more than a few purchasers of Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 camera were too, although they may not be so vocal about it or have simply given up on the idea and have placed their faith in the X-T2 as a viable Super 35 4K video camera.

Although there is nothing wrong with shooting video at FHD 1080p, given most television channels still broadcast FHD-delivered programs at 720p, the differences between shooting and editing in 4K then downscaling for distribution and broadcast, and shooting and editing FHD, are observable. The quality is much better.

Shooting, editing, outputting and archiving at 4K for 4K distribution when the means finally arrives makes good business sense. Why fail to future-proof your work by working only in FHD when 4K and the infrastructure you need to handle it is here now and continues to improve?

I was first alerted about Fuji Guy Billy Luong’s statement about the X-Pro2’s 4K capability and his fight for it at the FujiRumors website, in their article of the 12th February:

The half line skipping when shooting 4K allows the X-T20 to shoot 4K without overheating. Take asks Billy if this could be implemented to the X-Pro2 via Firmware update. Billy answers: “I hope so, it’s something I’m pushing all the time. I don’t understand why the X-Pro2 has no 4K like X-T20, since there is a solution for that. I’m fighting for that in Japan.“

The video by bigheadtaco aka Take Kayo where Billy Luong makes this statement is below.

The Fujifilm X-T20 is a DSLR-style EVF-only spin-off, as it were, of the X-T2 and it “is capable of recording both Full HD and 4K video using the X Series’ famous Film Simulation effects“, apparently through half line skipping.

Further, “… the FUJIFILM X-T20 also supports 4K video for amazing movie quality with minimal moiré and artifacts. The camera accepts both an HDMI monitor and an external microphone for full-scale video productions.

When I wrote my first article about the Fujifilm X-Pro2, I tested the X-Pro2’s video functionality and was impressed by its ability to shoot movies in Fujifilm’s justly celebrated film simulations. The downside then, besides the lack of 4K support, was the X-Pro2’s lack of other features necessary for high quality video.

I cover those still missing features in my article, How to Make the X-Pro2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Request to Fujifilm by Karin Gottschalk, which is a spin-off of director.cinematographer Paul Leeming’s own letter to Fujifilm about how to make the X-T2 a real force in Super 35 moviemaking, How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming.

ebook_fuji-xpro2_video_setup_guide_cover_1024pxVideographer Steve MacDonald is also a fan of the potential of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 rot be a great video camera and has written a soon-to-be-published ebook on the subject, The Fujifilm X-Pro2 Video Set-Up Guide, based on its current 1080p FHD-only incarnation.

I won’t reiterate my own arguments for cameramakers refusing to do a Canon, as it were, by not crippling their own cameras’ capabilities in firmware. I also will not restate how useful it is to be always carrying a camera equally capable of top-notch video as well as stills for those moments when amazing or important things suddenly happen in front of you.

I will state here though that Mr Billy Luong has my full support in taking his fight for 4K video in the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to the powers-that-be at Fujifilm in Tokyo. No more crippling core camera functionality, please!

The Video:

What is Line Skipping?:

Further Link:

Post-Processing Expert Thomas Fitzgerald Publishes Fujifilm X-Trans Raw Processor Software Comparisons

Dublin-based photographer and photographic post-processing expert Thomas Fitzgerald recently published the results of processing one Fujifilm X-Pro2 X-Trans raw image with seven different raw convertors or image editors with raw conversion capability. 

Tests like this are useful when considering whether to try out an unfamiliar item of software or go straight to purchase though they are seldom definitive. Processing raw files is something of a moving target and all of them are updated regularly with improvements and new features.

Likewise various raw processors’ support for Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor raw files, another moving target given that some major raw processors do not support X-Trans raw at all yet, and one that apparently never will. So it is good to know what does, currently.

Also good to read Mr Fitzgerald’s well-qualified opinions on the state of each item of software. He rates two of them as not ready for prime time at the moment. Let’s hope their makers have improvements on the way.

The raw processors or raw-capable image editors that Mr Fitzgerald tested are:

One surprise for Mr Fitzgerald is each product’s variations in default cropping, with further variation in edge detail. Oftentimes I will crop a raw file in a raw processor I have been using less lately to be taken by surprise at how much I have lost at the edge, causing me to rethink the image as I had visualized it before pressing the shutter button.

Thomas Fitzgerald is a writer as well as fine art photographer and has published a series of ebooks on processing Fujifilm X-Trans raw images in three raw processors and one on processing Sony A6000 files in Lightroom. I bought the three on X-Trans processing and recommend them.

Mr Fitzgerald also sells a number of Lightroom presets collections and a Photoshop texture pack. His blog is insightful and well worth reading.

Link:

Macphun Luminar Raw Processor/Image Editor Updated, More Speed and Power, Hot Deals

The Luminar all-in-one raw processing and image editing application by Macphun, makers of a suite of other great products including Aurora HDR 2017, is my default, go-to software for photography and image resizing and exporting duties. Luminar has just been updated to version 1.1.1 and it continues to get better every single time. 

macphun_luminar_version1-1-1_updater_screen

Luminar’s version 1.1.1 update arrived shortly after an X100F review loaner was kindly delivered by the folks at Fujifilm Australia and after processing my very first shot with the X100F, camera plus processing software feels like a match made in heaven.

Both outwardly appear stripped-down, simple even, but their unassuming interfaces hide real power. I am impressed by how well Luminar 1.1.1 handles X-Trans raw files from the X100F.

Most software companies take ages to get around to supporting the very latest cameras. Macphun is already on the ball with the X100F and I hope will be just as fast to support two other soon-to-be-released new cameras, Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and Panasonic’s GH5.

I made the above three snapshots with the Fujifilm X100F at lunch earlier today then quickly and minimally processed them in Luminar 1.1.1 using the Smart Image Enhancer preset from the Photo Essentials preset pack available for purchase from Macphun. The photograph at left was cropped while the other two were full-frame.*

I was after a naturalistic though richly coloured, dark-toned image reminiscent of slow transparency films from the analog era. The light is always challenging in this location, its centre lit with dark amber and with bright sunlight at both ends. Digital noise is not a concern with these types of images especially now that contemporary mirrorless cameramakers are doing such a great job making it appear organic.

This quick and dirty test showed that Luminar 1.1.1 has gained speed in loading raw files and when processing using filters. I have a heavy image processing session coming up later this week and that is when this latest Luminar update will really be put to the test.

Meanwhile, colour me impressed. The Macphun team published a list of coming updates to Luminar and this latest update has me looking forward to what is coming next. Right now Luminar is Mac-only but will be coming to Windows sometime this year.

Macphun Luminar Special Offer:

Macphun has a terrific hot deal going on at the moment for Luminar, so get in now!

Footnote:

* I have been noticing the term “full-frame” being applied to the 35mm digital photography format as if that sensor were some kind of yardstick by which to judge other sensor sizes. These other sensor sizes such as APS-C and Micro Four Thirds are being described as “crop sensors”. Really?

The photographs above have been made with an APS-C sensor camera. That camera has a full-frame sensor, one utilizing the full frame of the APS-C sensor. In one photograph above, the image is not full-frame but has been cropped. The sensor has not been cropped, only its output in this case. The other two images can be described as full-frame though.

The “full-frame” and “full-format” aficionados need to get over this misuse of terms that make the 35mm film format appear to be some sort of unassailable standard. It isn’t. It never was.

Throughout much of the history of analog photography, the 35mm format was regarded as “miniature”, and was often adversely compared to larger formats like 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm, 6x9cm and larger on 120 film, or sheet film in the 4″x5″ size, 5″x7″, 8″x10″ and larger sizes. The digital 35mm format is no more the standard or benchmark than 35mm film was.

Zack Arias has a terrific article and video on the subject at DEDPXL, Crop or Crap :: Math or Moment.

Fujifilm Interviewed On Being Serious About Video, Possible GFX-Series Rangefinder, User Feedback and More

Good in-depth interviews with camera company decision-makers, product designers and engineers are all too rare and very welcome when they appear, especially when from those companies with histories of listening to professional customers expressing their needs. Fujifilm has a reputation for being one such good listener. 

The Fujifilm GFX 50S sensor. Might Fujifilm consider a GFX 50R housing this same sensor in a rangefinder-style camera body? Intriguing thought as Fujifilm has a long, impressive history of producing excellent analog medium format rangefinder cameras.

Three senior Fujifilm camera division figures such as Yuji Igarashi, GM of the Electronic Imaging Division, Makoto Oishi, Manager of Sales and Marketing Group and Billy Luong, Manager for Technical Marketing and Product Specialist Group were  interviewed on new directions and past achievements by Amazon.com publication DPReview shortly before Fujifilm’s recent announcement of its latest cameras and lenses, most notably the Fujifilm GFX 50S, X100F, X-T20 and the XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR.

The interview was also a reminder that there are Fujfilm cameras I currently don’t have hands-on experience with and that are worth further thought and investigation, the X-En series and the X-Tn0 series, n standing for product version number thus the recently announced X-T20, successor to the X-T10.

Fujifilm GFX 50S and its successors

fujifilm_gfx_50s_image05_square_1920pxFor whom is the GFX 50S medium format digital camera intended?

‘Fashion, commercial and landscape photographers are the main targets,’ says Oishi. …

‘The tonality and dynamic range also mean it’ll appeal to wedding photographers,’ adds Luong. ‘And architecture,’ says Oishi.

The GFX 50S’ 50MP sensor will also prove useful for fine art and portrait photographers many of whom produce large-format prints for exhibition and for clients. For example, British photographer Brian Griffin shows his fine art portrait medium format photographs as large full-colour prints to great effect.

Architectural photography was traditionally made with 4″x5″ sheet film cameras during the analog era using camera movements for perspective correction.

Tilt/shift lenses for 35mm DSLRs are expensive and similar lenses in medium format would be even more costly, so perspective correction is more often done in software using products like DxO ViewPoint or similar features built into raw processors and image editors.

Fujifilm has taken a different direction by providing adapters so GFX series cameras can be used as sensors attached to the rear of view cameras.

Fujifilm X100F and the X100 Series

fujifilm_x100f_front_black_square_1920px

What place does Fujfilm have for the X100 series now represented by the X100F?

‘… the X100 is often photographers’ first foray into the Fujifilm system. The size, the weight, the image quality. A good proportion of our customers are saying the X100 brought back their passion for photography. That type of person is very much part of the equation,’ says Luong.

The Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a revolutionary camera bringing a precision digital rangefinder within reach of the masses. It was the digital stills camera I had been waiting for after finding DSLRs just as irritating for their mirror slap, shutter shake and lack of deep space window vision as analog SLRs had been.

I was immediately sold on Fujifilm digital cameras but they lost me temporarily when the X-Pro1 proved to be something of a promising dud, especially for spectacle-wearers and those of use needing high-speed focussing in fast-moving situations.

The X-Pro2 and X-T2 are a welcome return to cameras with traits reminiscent of Fujifilm’s analog glory days under the Fujica brand name, especially its big range of 120 roll film rangefinder masterpieces and the incredible GX680 series of technical studio cameras that combined medium format SLR technology with sheet film cameras’ tilt, swing and shift movements.

Might a medium format rangefinder camera be in the works?

‘It depends on demand and the market. The GFX 50S is one style: the ‘S’ means ‘SLR-style.’ Another way to do it would be a rangefinder style camera. Maybe an ‘R’ could be a rangefinder,’ says Oishi.

Then there is the possibility of a medium format digital rangefinder camera evolving from Fujifilm’s own many fixed lens medium format roll film cameras produced in formats from 6×4.5cm through 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm.

‘If mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is too big as a rangefinder style, a fixed lens camera could be smaller, like the GF670.’

Fujfilm X-T20 and the X-Tn0 Series

fujifilm_x-t20_black_frontup_xf18mm_square_1920px

Fujifilm’s smaller, more affordable spin-off DSLR-style camera series currently represented by the X-T20 is one with which I am entirely unfamiliar yet bears serious consideration as a second or backup camera to the flagship X-Tn series currently represented by the X-T2.

Luong explains: ‘The SLR style targets a wider audience. We find pro and enthusiast photographers gravitate towards the SLR-style camera. Back to the GFX camera, that’s why we went with the SLR style.’

Fujifilm X-E2S and the X-En Series

x-e2s_black_frontup_18-55mm_1920px

Like the X-Tn0 series cameras, I have to try out the latest representative of the X-En series, the X-E2S. Now that the X-T20 has gained X-Pro2 and X-T2 traits like the 24.3MP X-Trans sensor and speedier autofocus, I can see why X-En series enthusiasts have been agitating for similarly updated features and functionalities.

Given a choice between the DSLR-style of the X-T20 and the non-OVF rangefinder-style of the X-E2S, I would tend towards the latter. Although I prefer optical viewfinder cameras for certain tasks, electronic viewfinder cameras (EVF) have many virtues and bring a different way of seeing and depicting into play.

Luckily, ‘XE is an important series for us,’ Oishi says: ‘There are so many XE1, 2 and 2S users in the world…. Obviously we can’t confirm anything at this point but we are aware there are many requests for this type of camera.’

Video

fujifilm_x-t2_video_rig_blue_1920px

Although Fujifilm’s two current flagship cameras have considerably improved video capabilities compared to their predecessors, there is still some way to go with the firmware in both.

In his letter to Fujifilm, published here as How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming, the Australian director/cinematographer responsible for Leeming LUT One as well as a number of feature films shot on RED Super 35 and Panasonic Lumix GH4 Super 16 cameras lays out a range of firmware and hardware improvements that would help Fujifilm “blow the industry wide open”.

As a GH4 owner myself, I can attest that this and related Lumix cameras like the GX8 and GX80/85 possess a videocentric feature list and ease-of-use that have yet to be beaten by any other current hybrid camera including the Fujifilm X-T2.

‘Video is a big growth area for us,’ acknowledges Luong: ‘Our latest cameras such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2 show there’s a lot we’ve learned.’

dscf9440_hdr_blue_350px
Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4 remains the benchmark of usability in 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras. Will Fujifilm match its video feature set with the current or future X-Tn Super 35/APS-C hybrid camera? Moviemaker Brad Latta with GH4 and Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens. 

Excellent news, but as evidenced by Mr Leeming’s letter about the X-T2 and my own asking Fujifilm to improve the X-Pro2’s video firmware features at How to Make the X-Pro2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Request to Fujifilm by Karin Gottschalk, there is more for Fujifilm to learn and put into practice.

Paul Leeming and I both want to see Fujifilm bring its current and future flagship cameras’ video capabilities up to par or surpass those of the GH4 and the soon-to-be-released GH5 is that we will have excellent Super 35 alternatives to Panasonic’s Super 16 cameras.

Then there is the question of more video-capable Fujinon lenses, both primes and zooms.

‘We already have cinema lenses that are Super 35,’ Luong reminds us. ‘We’re continuing to develop video features, so we’ll continue to investigate.’

Listening to Customer Feedback

While there does not appear to be a direct channel into Fujifilm for user feedback, Fujifilm staff members are known to read certain online publications, and articles published here are passed on up the system hopefully to end up in front of Fujifilm staffers like Messers Yuji Igarashi, Makoto Oishi and Billy Luong.

‘Our X Photographers: professionals who use the camera day in, day out, that’s the first line of feedback,’ says Luong: ‘It’s quite a large group. With the GFX we had something like 50 photographers around the world using pre-production cameras.’

That figure of 5o GFX 50S pre-production camera users is impressive. I hope that Fujifilm will seek feedback like Mr Leeming’s from plenty of well-qualified video professionals and improve the firmware in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 as soon as possible while planning major video-centred hardware and firmware improvements in the X-T2’s and X-Pro2’s successors.

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs kindly supplied by Fujifilm.

Tech Notes:

Product photographs in the body of this article have been processed in Macphun Luminar using the Majestic Dreams preset from the premium Photo Essentials Pack. Portrait of Brad Latta made as 3-bracket HDR on Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 56mm f/1.2 lens then processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 and Luminar.

Fujifilm Comes Up Aces Yet Again with the X100F, Heiress to the Noble X100 Tradition

Fujifilm kicked off a global digital photography revolution when it released the X100 fixed prime lens rangefinder-style mirrorless camera in 2011 at a time when digital photography was dominated by big DSLRs made by the then two biggest camera manufacturers. 

fujifilm_x100f_hero_front_silver_1920px

How things have changed, in some quarters at least. DSLRs still dominate the local newspaper industry but most photojournalists and documentary photographers of my acquaintance here and overseas left the DSLR world for the mirrorless realm some years ago.

Little wonder. Recently I showed a DSLR-dedicated friend one of my mirrorless cameras and he began wondering why he had put up with his DSLRs’ heaviness and old-world features for so long.

Mirrorless cameras are rarely seen here in Sydney during newsworthy events like the Women’s March on Washington, Sydney, starting from Hyde Park going to Martin Place on 21 January. Newspaper and other photographers covering the event did so rigged up with double DSLRs and two or three fast zoom lenses as below. I used an X-Pro2 and a couple of prime lenses.

_dsf8906_1920px

Longevity

With Fujifilm’s announcement of the X100 series’ fourth iteration, the longevity of the original X100’s concept is demonstrated yet again.

The original X100 is a camera I use to this very day, especially when needing to be extra discrete, even more invisible than usual.

That original X100 has ably handled demonstrations, protests, festivals, conferences, travel and urban documentary projects.

Its autofocus is slow compared to the current generation of mirrorless cameras but not impossibly so, and its sensor is far from the biggest going, but the old adage holds true, that you only need 6 megapixels for a double-page spread or a single-page portrait.

Exhibition prints and 48-sheet posters are another thing altogether but Fujifilm now has those bases amply covered with its GFX 50S medium format masterpiece.

Moving up a notch

The X100F has moved up a notch to the same sensor as its X-Pro2 and X-T2 sisters, all 24.3 megapixels of it, and that is something of a minor miracle in such an affordable, professional-quality, small-bodied camera.

We are lucky to be living in the digital photography age, one no longer beset by golfball grain and beautiful though ultra-slow films – Kodachrome 25 and Panatomic-X anyone? – if the project demands sharpness and high resolution.

That a camera the size of the X100F can deliver image quality rivalling if not surpassing Fujifilm’s analog era mirrorless or SLR-based GX680 series 120-format cameras, especially when using faster films in them, is no small miracle.

I can see why photojournalism-style wedding photographer Kevin Mullins will be adopting an X100F alongside his two X-Pro2s equipped with XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses as part of his core wedding photojournalism kit.

It’s all black for me

Mr Mullins’ style is based on almost-straight-out-of-camera (almost-SOOC) JPEGs with his JPEG settings dialled down for a gritty hardness perhaps partially inspired by great British photographer Bill Brandt, but Mr Mullins’ photographs are almost grain-, or in reality digital noise- free.

Like Mr Mullins, I would definitely choose a black X100F over the silver one for its contribution to a photographer’s anonymity and near-invisibility.

Like him also, I consider the X100F as a complement to the X-Pro2, a fixed lens camera with the advantages that fixed lenses can bestow such as leaf shutter, high-speed flash sync, built-in ND filter and small form factor.

X100F and X-Pro2 compared

Photographs are not to scale.

Accessories for the X100F

There are three Fujifilm-brand accessories I consider essentials for the X100F, the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens, the TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens and an L-grip.

I would also add a Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera strap pair, the latter a wrist-strap and the former a hand-strap, both ensuring good grip and safety if the camera falls out of your hand.

I have yet to see a Fujifilm brand L-grip for the X100F, similar to the FUHGX100T grip for its three predecessors, make its appearance online but surely it is a matter of time. I have used the X100 with and without this hand grip and, given the camera’s tiny built-in grip and slippery surface, consider it a necessity. Otherwise a few third-party alternatives will doubtless be available soon.

Conclusions

As usual, the proof of the pudding is in the trying and I look forward to giving an X100F a good roadtest sometime in the near future. For those who enjoy specs charts, a specifications spreadsheet PDF is available further down this page.

Meanwhile, I wish to hail the Fujifilm X100F as the rightful heiress to the classic that the X100 was in its day, and that may itself be a future classic in the waiting.

My Fujifilm Finepix X100 is a treasured camera in my collection and I use it to this day, most especially when needing to blend in with the crowd and be as close to my subjects as possible. Despite not having an X-Trans sensor, it produces excellent colour and can be processed in a much wider range of raw processors than X-Trans raw files, in this case DxO OpticsPro Elite with DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as plug-ins.

Recommended Viewing:

Fujifilm’s global YouTube.com channel FUJIFILMGlobal appears not have received the memo about female gender equality in its product videos given that all fifteen of its video feature male photographers with not one woman photographer in sight.

On the other hand, the Fuji Guys Channel run by Fujifilm employees based in several different countries including Australia has featured two female photographers so far, both in the USA.

Let’s hope more videos featuring women appear very soon, with at least one of them being Australian.

Specifications:

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.