Buying: iMac 27-inch 5K Retina vs. Fujifilm X-Pro2

So, recently I had saved up my monies to the point where I could afford a new iMac 27-inch 5K Retina. Or a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and some nice glass. Almost to the yen, both in terms of how much I had and what each cost – cosmos trying to tell me something?

Conundrum!

Long story short, bought the iMac, cos that’s what I really needed. My ageing Mac Mini just struggles too much, with too many hangs and crashes. I feared with the larger X-Pro2 files it would fall to bits.

But the whole process brought up some questions. All about choices.

I had enough money to buy the top tier model iMac, 32GB of extra third party (Other World Computing) memory and one ‘build-to-order’ upgrade. But which one?

Internet to the rescue. Except, everyone’s an expert and it took ages to wade through opinions. Too many people just said, get everything. Yay for those with no budget limits. Meanwhile, back in the real world…

Anyway, I’ll save the nitty gritty for the next post(s). Meanwhile, here’s (almost) the first photo processed on the new computer.

_DSF0474-3 X-T1 & XF16-55mm f2.8, Capture One Pro, Lightroom, VSCO, and the speed freak iMac

Typed with a little Action Woman help

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Why I’m Buying Neither A Fujifilm X-T1 Nor A 56mm f1.2: A Mini Review

Recently I had the use of an X-T1 and XF 56mm f1.2R lens for two days. I even shot a portrait session on the first day with it, in conjunction with my X100s. 

You shouldn’t really walk into a portrait session with a paying client and try to use a camera you’ve only had in your hands for 30 minutes or so. But I did. And it was fine.

Now, while I am a primate, I’m not the kind of monkey that spends all day picking nits, so I’m not going to go into those often very personal things that also often don’t really matter. The fundamental point I learnt is, you can pick this camera up and get on with it. End of story. So, now for the middle.

What I liked about the X-T1 – just about everything. I didn’t make use of any feature not also found on my X100s, so I can’t speak to those. It worked just fine for the most part. Kinda like a big brother of the X100s, so nothing much to say there really.

That big viewfinder screen is totally, absolutely, completely, utterly, freaking delicious. So much so that it deserves this paragraph all on its own.

The only thing that gave me pause was that old bug bear, focus. Occasionally it had a little trouble locking on. When it happened, it was mildly frustrating. It didn’t overly bother me, just as it doesn’t on the X100s, but if someone was coming from the blindingly fast responsiveness of a mid to upper end modern dSLR, then I can imagine it might be quite annoying. I do though, suspect that a lot of this hinges on the photographer’s personality.*

I also had some focus issues with the 56mm f1.2 lens, but simply because I was insisting on using it with as narrow a depth of field as possible. At times I was squeezing it down too far for the specifics of the situation. That really comes down to experience and practice – neither of which I had going in. Common sense too, which I also apparently lack.

However, as much as I like the stunning results, not to mention the ability to throw the background further out of focus, I’m not going to buy the lens. That negates the body too. Why though, since they would seem natural choices, given that I spend so much of my time doing portraiture? _DSF0055 1

Space. That’s the main reason. Japan doesn’t have a lot of it to spare and I found myself constantly bumping into things as I backed up to frame. It became both frustrating and annoying. Not really the lens’ fault, just the situation.

This happened in all the places I used for the portrait session; the hotel room, the hotel lobby, on the street and even, surprisingly, in the park. It also happened the next day at my home, where I also do a lot of portrait work. It really caught me out, as I didn’t anticipate this being an issue at all – it never even entered my wildest dreams that it might be.

That’s it really. Not much else to say. Being a rangefinder orientated kind of person, I’m expecting to get all excited and tempted by the X-Pro2, if and when it turns up. That will probably lead me to reconsider the 56mm again too, as it really does give sweet results.
We’ll see…

 

*It is easy to find comments of the likes of “I need a camera that responds super fast / I can’t deal with a camera this slow / for my work I need a camera that focuses faster than this / etc.” To which, I typically think ‘really?’ along with ‘get over yourself.’ It’s not the speed that bothers me – after all, when I came of photographic age, I had to manually focus and wind film on. It’s more that I expect something is about to happen and it doesn’t. It’s a subtle distinction, and I’m not sure I’m making it effectively. So, following Homer Simpson’s sage advice, I’ll just give up.

Zack Arias On The Fujifilm X-T1

As well as the crop factor article and video I wrote about hereZack Arias also has a recent review of the Fujifilm X-T1. Interesting and direct, as usual.

http://dedpxl.com/fuji-x-t1-review-yep-its-a-fuji/

I was shopping in Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara for “other stuff” tonight,* with the whole family in tow. I somehow got sidetracked** with the demo X-T1 they had there, and Arias is so right about the viewfinder. It is freaking, fecking gorgeous.

 

Typed with a little help from Swedish indie popster Lykke Li’s No Rest for the Wicked, streamed by the good folk at Radio 1 (91FM in Dunedin that would be, not the BBC).

* technically, last night now.

** true story – for once it wasn’t me getting diverted by cameras. The kids wanted to play with the Sonys (you know, those a7 Series ones) because they had fake birds set up at the Sony display to demonstrate what great wildlife cameras they are (& fake flowers for the macro crowd). I of course went straight to the Fujifilm display

Another Fujifilm X-Series Specific B&W Workflow

I wrote a while back about a possible B&W workflow here. Here’s another possible workflow, by Gary Tyson, via Eric Kim‘s website. The article / video is here.

Tyson is addressing the X-T1, but remember, this is exactly the same sensor and engine as in several X-Series cameras and almost exactly the same as in several others – so it will apply across the board, and of course the principle can be modified easily to suit the files of other makers too.

This workflow is also presented as Lightroom / Silver Efex Pro 2 specific, but the general principle of flattening your image can be done in Aperture or Photoshop if that’s what you’re using with Silver Efex Pro.*

Early in the discussion in the comments section underneath the video, someone gives the actual settings Tyson uses to make the ‘super-flat’ preset, which is useful and helps to set your own starting point.

I don’t really like the contrasty results Tyson goes for, but that’s fine – it’s all subjective. However, note that by choosing a different film / grain setting in the last step of the Silver Efex Pro stage, you will get a different final result. For example, the more moderate Agfa APX Pro 100 or Fuji Neopan ACROS 100 will result in a more moderate and natural look well suited for portraits and the like. Of course, choosing a different preset altogether or making your own from scratch for the first step in the Silver Efex Pro stage will also give (often vastly) different results.

Still using yesterday’s work from the previous post, below are three B&W conversions of the same file. The first uses Tyson’s method and settings pretty much exactly. The second also uses his method and settings, except for film / grain being set to Agfa APX Pro 100. The final image is the same as the second, except that it lacks the post Silver Efex Pro processing stage in Lightroom (i.e. straight from Silver Efex Pro without anything else added or changed).

_DSF3772-Edit _DSF3772-Edit-2 _DSF3772-Edit-4

* as I’ve mentioned before, somewhere or other, I generally go for a flat-ish file when converting in Capture One Pro, for similar reasons of providing a flexible, detail rich file

Typed with a little revelatory help from Gillian Welch (suitably B&W too)

Why Grandma, What A Big Lens You Have

See here,* at the bottom of Yodobashi Camera’s Blog page for the new X-Mount XF56 f1.2R lens, to see just how large it looks on the X-T1.

Why Grandma…

 

* the whole article is worth look at, for image examples, as too is the blog site in general. Even if you can’t read Japanese, the photos are worth a look. Also, hunt around, as there is the occasional English language article / report.