Marco Secchi Blog

Photojournalist in Slovenia and Hungary

Archive for the ‘Photography Tips’ Category

Fujifilm X70

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UPDATE MAY 2016 After two months I decided to sell the camera, it is too flimsy and too slow and in my humble view there are much better point and shoot for that amount of money. I got a Leica Q much more expensive but a real super camera!

The new Fujifilm X70 camera has a spectacular design and a magnificent look as well with the retro aesthetics just like the some of the other Fujifilm X series cameras which make it unique and special.

The camera is easily portable and fits in a jacket/coat pocket and weighs only 340g with in-fitted memory card and NP-95 battery which makes it a perfect for an adventurous trip and street photographers since it’s highly inconspicuous. The lens is 28mm f2.8 and a 16MP APS-C sensor that provides an exquisite and high-quality image. The diaphragm has nine rounded blades and a close-focusing limit of only 10cm.

I was not in need of a new camera and just wanted to try one for a review.

 

It is super small but I really mean small but at the same time it is very nice to hold it with a rubberized front and rear grips which are well-sculpted, and the camera feels comfortable in one hand.   At the beginning was not easy for me to use the LCD and was always looking for the viewfinder but I got used quite quickly and was fun the possibility to shot or focus touching directly on the LCD screen.

It has the same functionality of my XT-1 and XE-2 (with the new firmware ver. 4 ) and I tend to use my Fuji in AF-S and focusing is very fast and precise. It seemed to me very good for street photography and I did not miss any frame even with people and boats moving.

Fujifilm X70 has an admirable feature which is the 1.04 million tilting dot LCD touch panel that is 3.0 inch and which is also capable of rotating at 180-degree angle.

The touch panel has the following functionality which includes in preview mode:

  • Image enlargement capability: this is achieved by double-tapping on the touch screen which also centers on the active focus. 
  • Image moving capability: just like the phone, one can move the image by dragging it with the finger on the touch screen.
  • Image zooming capability: one can enlarge the image by widening it by the use of the two fingers just like in a touchscreen phone. 
  • Image scrolling: one can scroll the image upwards or downwards by swiping either way by the use of a finger. 

In shooting mode you will have access to:

  • Focus Area Selection: Move the focus area before taking the image: one can achieve this by tapping on the touch screen.
  • Touch Shot: Touch to focus and shoot on a specific point.

There is a small icon in the mid right side of the screen where you can switch between the two modes as well as turn the touch function off.

Adjustments in exposure compensation can easily been achieved by the dial.

Additionally, the lens control ring can also be used to adjust continuous shooting, film simulation, ISO speed, and white balance.

On the left hand side of the camera there is another function button. It sits quite well hidden. Very useful. I have decided to assign it to external ring control.

There is also a dedicated switch with an automatic mode, that I think may come handy to less photography savvy users. The camera also has a built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and an in-camera time-lapse.

The new 18.5mm f/2.8 lens in the X70 is a super performer. The quality of this pancake design lens is outstanding.
It’s an entirely new design by Fujifilm. It consists of 7 elements in 5 groups with 2 aspherical elements. It’s constructed in a  compact way,  and because there is no collapsing necessary when turning on/off the camera, this results in a much faster startup time when you switch your camera on.

The lens autofocus quickly thanks to the X70 hybrid autofocus system with both contrast detection and phase detect AF  which offers a 49-point Single Point AF mode and a Wide/Tracking mode that offers a 77-point autofocus area. Autofocus is fast, with reported autofocus acquisition said to be of as little as 0.06 seconds.

The X70 can start up in 0.5 seconds in High Performance mode, it is amazing and has a shutter lag time of just 0.05 seconds, can continuously shoot at up to 8 frames-per-second for around 12 frames and can use a completely silent electronic shutter with exposures at 1/32,000s.

Another feature that is is packed in the X70 is the digital crop feature or “digital tele converter” as Fujifilm calls it. When shooting jpeg mode you can chose to use either a 28mm, 35mm or 50mm crop mode.  The camera does some magic so you actually get a full 16mp file, obviously you can see some compression.

The  camera has additional accessories that include the LH-X70 Lens Hood, WCL-X70 wide conversion lens, VF-X21 optional viewfinder and BLC-X70 half leather case. The camera is available in two colors, silver or black. 

The X70 is in my view meant for people who needs a compact camera, and for street photographers who needs something  inconspicuous for getting candid moments of streetlife.

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

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Written by msecchi

March 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Fujifilm XE-2 Firmware update ver. 4.0

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Fuji had always promised they were going to issue a firmware update for the nearly 3 years X-E2, mid-range mirrorless camera, to bring it in line with the XT-1 but after the release of the new camera X-E2s many were dubious.

On February 4th Fujifilm has released the new firmware update which adds a host of feature and operational improvements, including the AF upgrades, also a revised user interface and multiple Auto ISO settings. The update brings the camera into line with most of the latest X-series models and continues Fujifilm’s habit of supporting existing users.

This is one of the reasons why I moved from DSLR professional Nikon to Fujifilm. Just thinking at myXE-2 that I had since the very beginning in October 2013 I believe that thanks to the Fujifilm supportI have had a new camera probably 2/3 times with major updates in those 28 months and for sure it is is not something I was used to.
I am always surprised that not many camera brands release updates as phones, computers, tablets etc.   In my view extending the functionality with updates or fixes is always a good thing and would make for more the reason to purchase oftheir brand, especially as these cameras become more computer like and sophisticated.

 

Improvements and function enhancements with this firmware 4.0 update

New AF System
(1) New AF system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects
(2) Improvement of AF accuracy
(3) Eye Detection AF
(4) Auto Macro mode
(5) AF improvement in the Movie mode
Function enhancements
(6) High-speed electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000sec.*
(7) White Balance Bracketing
(8) Enhanced ISO Auto Setting to AUTO1/AUTO2/AUTO3
(9) Exposure Compensation control in Manual.
(10) Natural Live View function is just like the naked eye.
(11) Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility
(12) New Video Frame rates (50P / 25P / 24P)
(13) Manual Shooting in Video mode
(14) Phase detection AF support for Instant AF
(15) Expansion of shutter speed in Program Shift mode
Operability improvements
(16) The new user interface
(17) Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation
(18) Name of Silent mode changed to avoid confusion
(19) Direct selection of AF area
(20) Unlocked AE-L / AF-L Buttons
(21) Variable Focus Area during MF
(22) Q. Menu customization
(23) Interlocking of Metering and Focus areas
(24) Movie Recording
Other changes with the update
(25) Supports focus limiter function for XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
(26) “BACKGROUND COLOR” menu
(27) The maximum number of images taken in the continuous shooting mode

After this update, I really feel my XE2 ismuch faster and it added many useful things that will help my workflow

What I was really hoping with this update was to get

-Autofocus brought inline with X-T1 speeds, especially continuous focus
-Electronic shutter option
-Auto Macro Mode

I got them all

PRO
Autofocus – Single, Fixed subject isfor sure an impressive upgrade. Works in a fantastic way and really seems a new camera.
Autofocus – Single, Moving subject a great improvement
Autofocus – Continuous + Tracking again asubstantial improvement on continuous focus and very happy with it
Auto Macro mode will save time and makes life easier
Electronic shutter for still subjects it’s a dream, 1/32000th in the daylight wide open and completely silent is superb.

This new firmware is very very good, make sure you update your camera right now, these added functions bring the X-E2 in line with X-E2s and XT-1

New Firmware 4.0 can be found here

CONS
Grrrr….Why did the firmware not include 36 megapixel upgrade, tilt-able screen, IBIS, and the possibility to make an Espresso?? That was mean.
Just Joking of course.

Thanks Fujifilm! You’ve shown that the most important factor are (we) the end users.

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

February 25, 2016 at 8:31 am

Fuji Xpro2 my take!

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Fujifilm X-Pro2

The most awaited upgraded premium camera finally arrives!

During the last couple of months I was lucky enough to try the Fuji X Pro 2 thanks to Fujifilm Slovenia! I used to own the original Xpro1 and I shoot on a daily bases with 2 Leica and I use 2 XT1 and  1 XE2 with an array of fuji lenses so was really looking forward to try this new gem.

The Fujifilm has released the long-awaited modern, advanced model, the Fuji Xpro2 compact system camera. It is one of the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C cameras available in the market today.

 

The details and Capability

The Fuji Xpro2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a Hybrid Viewfinder system that incorporates both electrical and optical viewfinders. It has an ultra advance image sensor, X-Trans III technology, for a remarkable image quality and sharpness similar to full-frame DSLRs: brand new 24.3 megapixels. It features a Hybrid AF system with 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection and cover about 40% of the frame, while the rest is covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is delivering clean image quality with minimized noise value, along with a sensitivity range of ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200. Besides benefitting the low-light performance, the sensor contributes to faster overall performance, including shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, AF speed of up to 0.06 seconds, start-up time of 0.4 seconds and shooting interval of 0.25 seconds. The mechanical shutter speed is up to 1/32,000 seconds, with an enhanced flash sync speed of about 1/250 seconds, and a new X-Processor Pro that brings extraordinary improved response time for superior performance. It simply delivers the best ever result from Fuji X-Series camera.

Body and Interface Design

Fuji Xpro2 has a robust, weather-resistant body to meet the unique needs of any professional photographer in a touch shooting area. Its chassis is made of four pieces of magnesium alloy, which are sealed with more than 60 points, making it a splash-proof, dust-proof and even capable of operating at low temperatures. Besides, it features two SD card slots for reliable video and image storage.

The exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial and finder switching lever are milled from high quality aluminum for a comfortable feel and premium look. It also features water and dust resistance command dial on both the rear and front of the camera, plus a push function that are easy to use. Its design also includes various customizable function buttons together with a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD for live view shooting, image playback and menu navigation. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to share images wirelessly to mobile devices, or remotely control the camera from your Smartphone.

What I think

The X-Pro2 is something special, the performance and capabilities of the X-Pro2 make it my instant go-to camera during my travels. The X-Pro2 excels everywhere, the camera is starting to focus before I even decide to take the shot and with the speed, accuracy and amazing colour rendition I found all I had to do was focus my attention on composition. I do not need to shoot anymore in Raw I can simply use jpg.  Put simply the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is a joy to use, it is a phenomenal upgrade to an already superb camera.

The camera will officially be sold in the market in February 2016 for £1,349.00, so get ready for a new world of photography.

 

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This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 17, 2016 at 8:20 am

Fuji X Custom Settings

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Today arrived the new firmware for most of the Fuji X series cameras.  When you update all the custom settings are wiped out as well as cache memory and frame number
Here are more or less my latest  custom settings.

Name ISO Dynamic Range Film Simulation White Balance Colour Sharpness Highlight  Shadow  Noise 
Standard AUTO DR100 Provia (standard) Auto 0 0 0 0 0
Landscape Normal 200 DR100 Astia (soft) Auto -1 +1 -1 -2 0
Landscape  High Contrast 400 DR200 Astia (soft) Auto -1 +1 -1 -2 0
Portrait Neutral 200 DR100 Pro-Neg Standard Auto 0 0 0 0 0
Portrait Neutral Higher Contrast 400 DR200 Pro-Neg High Auto 0 +1 -1 -2 0
B&W Landscape 800 DR100 Mono+Red Auto 0 +1 0 0 0
B&W Portrait 800 DR100 Mono+Green Auto 0 +1 -1 -1 0

 

I have set them according to the subjects I tend to shot so I can change a whole group of settings with a push of the “Q” menu button and a quick turn of the dial.   Finer tweaks to color and highlight/shadow tone were done from experience of using the camera and the above are what I  eventually arrived at after some months of use.

I tend to play quite a bit with Highlight Tome, Sharpness and Shadow Tone so I change them often. For the ISO thee are times when I like to have in AUTO with Standard 200, Max 3200 and min shutter speed at Focal length I am using x1.8

While I like the more saturated colors and higher contrast in Astia (soft) for landscape generally, I found it tended to clip into the shadows too easily so I somewhat reduced the contrast there by making a -2 adjustment.

For portraits the Provia (standard) or Pro-Neg film simulations work well as they are rather neutral and subdued in colour, so render skin tones well.  The Pro-Neg Hi gives the same colours but more contrast.  I reduced the contrast at the shadow end as I found it was clipping to black too readily.

The dynamic range settings work really well and allow the camera to record more detail in highlights and shadows than in a normal exposure.  For the higher DR setting (DR200 is all I have needed) the camera needs to be set to ISO 400 but the sensor/processor is so effective that there is no discernible noise penalty.  It isn’t an HDR feature….my understanding is that it works like many other similar features and the camera basically underexposes the image then processes in an exposure and tone curve that avoids clipping at each end.

The Jpeg output is so good on this camera that I shoot Jpeg almost all the time, whereas I only shoot RAW on my Nikon DSLRs.  Images from the X-E1 print superbly and have amazing pixel level sharpness.  The camera seems to resolve beyond what its 16MP sensor should, probably due to the absence of the anti aliasing filter.  Strangely, when 100% images are viewed on a computer monitor, detail can look somewhat mushy due to the unusual colour filter layout of the X-Trans sensor, but images view nicely at normal sizes and print in a very natural way, giving what I would describe as an organic look to textures that look real enough to touch and bitingly sharp.

 

Written by msecchi

November 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

Fuji X100s for street photography

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I am often asked what settings I use for street photography. First, let’s make sure you have everything you will need, extra batteries and extra memory cards. A fast memory card is essential when shooting raw. …do not forget your camera!
 (Marco Secchi)

Here are my settings for street shooting:
Auto ISO: 200-3200
Min. Shutter speed limit: 1/125
Focus AF-C mode

Drive Mode S or C: most of the time I am in s mode, c-mode if the situation really calls for it.
While in AF-C mode , always awake/never sleep doesn’t work, keep half pressing the shutter from time to time, especially when you spot a potential shot, make sure the camera is not asleep
Shutter priority at 1/250 or higher in regular light
Optical Hybrid finder vs EVF: depending on the scene, if it is a context or overview shot, OHVF works, however, I found the EVF preferable for precise positioning of the af point since there is no time to reframe/refocus.
Develop a solid grip on your camera, experiment, strap around the neck or wrist strap. Learn to change +- dial with out looking at your camera, the same goes for shutter speed, keep your eyes on the street.

Use your x100s a lot, that’s it!

Fuji X Custom Settings

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Today arrived the new firmware for most of the Fuji X series cameras.  When you update all the custom settings are wiped out as well as cache memory and frame number
Here are more or less my latest  custom settings.

Name ISO Dynamic Range Film Simulation White Balance Colour Sharpness Highlight  Shadow  Noise 
Standard AUTO DR100 Provia (standard) Auto 0 0 0 0 0
Landscape Normal 200 DR100 Astia (soft) Auto -1 +1 -1 -2 0
Landscape  High Contrast 400 DR200 Astia (soft) Auto -1 +1 -1 -2 0
Portrait Neutral 200 DR100 Pro-Neg Standard Auto 0 0 0 0 0
Portrait Neutral Higher Contrast 400 DR200 Pro-Neg High Auto 0 +1 -1 -2 0
B&W Landscape 800 DR100 Mono+Red Auto 0 +1 0 0 0
B&W Portrait 800 DR100 Mono+Green Auto 0 +1 -1 -1 0

 

I have set them according to the subjects I tend to shot so I can change a whole group of settings with a push of the “Q” menu button and a quick turn of the dial.   Finer tweaks to color and highlight/shadow tone were done from experience of using the camera and the above are what I  eventually arrived at after some months of use.

I tend to play quite a bit with Highlight Tome, Sharpness and Shadow Tone so I change them often. For the ISO thee are times when I like to have in AUTO with Standard 200, Max 3200 and min shutter speed at Focal length I am using x1.8

While I like the more saturated colors and higher contrast in Astia (soft) for landscape generally, I found it tended to clip into the shadows too easily so I somewhat reduced the contrast there by making a -2 adjustment.

For portraits the Provia (standard) or Pro-Neg film simulations work well as they are rather neutral and subdued in colour, so render skin tones well.  The Pro-Neg Hi gives the same colours but more contrast.  I reduced the contrast at the shadow end as I found it was clipping to black too readily.

The dynamic range settings work really well and allow the camera to record more detail in highlights and shadows than in a normal exposure.  For the higher DR setting (DR200 is all I have needed) the camera needs to be set to ISO 400 but the sensor/processor is so effective that there is no discernible noise penalty.  It isn’t an HDR feature….my understanding is that it works like many other similar features and the camera basically underexposes the image then processes in an exposure and tone curve that avoids clipping at each end.

The Jpeg output is so good on this camera that I shoot Jpeg almost all the time, whereas I only shoot RAW on my Nikon DSLRs.  Images from the X-E1 print superbly and have amazing pixel level sharpness.  The camera seems to resolve beyond what its 16MP sensor should, probably due to the absence of the anti aliasing filter.  Strangely, when 100% images are viewed on a computer monitor, detail can look somewhat mushy due to the unusual colour filter layout of the X-Trans sensor, but images view nicely at normal sizes and print in a very natural way, giving what I would describe as an organic look to textures that look real enough to touch and bitingly sharp.

 

Written by msecchi

December 19, 2013 at 12:06 am

Weston Master III Lightmeter

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Over many years, professional photographers the world over have user Weston exposure meters. Why? Because they fulfill the professional’s needs. Extremely accurate in all lighting situations, rugged, generally no reliance on batteries.
IMG_1650

The epitome of the selenium cell meter is the Weston Master, which has a long and complicated history, not least because there were both US-built and UK-built versions: the UK company started as a subsidiary of the US-based company (which was founded by an Englishman) and became 51% UK owned (as Sangamo Weston) in 1936.

The Weston Master Universal was introduced in 1939 and remained in production in the UK until about 1950, though the Weston Master II was introduced in the United States in 1945/6. The Weston Master III appeared in 1956; the Weston Master IV in 1965; the Weston Master V in 1967; and the Euro-Master in 1970. Even after Weston lost interest, the Euro-Master was manufactured by Kilbride Instruments in Scotland from 1980 to 84 and then as the Euro-Master II by Megatron in London from 1984 to 2010.

It works as follows: moving the small tab that sticks out from the silver dial adjusts the film speed setting which can be read though the small opening in the red dial. Then take a reading by aiming the meter cell on the bottom of the meter at the subject. If the light levels are high, leave the perforated cover over the selenium cell in place; if the the light is dim, then open the perforated cover. The meter needle will point to a number on the meter scale. The range of numbers for bright light is 25 to 1600 and for low light it goes from .2 to 50. Use the turned up tabs on the black wheel to aim the large silver arrow at the corresonding number on the outermost part of the dial. You can then read all the correct exposure combinations off the silver (shutter speeds) and black (f stops) dials. In other words, a shutter speed that lines up with an adjacent f stop should provide the right exposure.

Manual is here

Written by msecchi

December 17, 2013 at 4:33 pm