Out with the Fujis

Bank holidays often rather pass me by. I’m not often working on them – there are seldom many protests taking place and I’ve gone off most of the events that are held on them. But sometimes we take advantage of my elder son being off work to go out on a walk together, especially if the weather forecast is decent – as it was for this year’s Early May bank holiday. The walks, planned by my wife and son, tend to be rather longer than I’d like, and although I like to take a few pictures, my usual camera bag is far too heavy, and this was another good opportunity to familiarise myself with the workings of the Fuji XPro1 and the Fuji XE1.

As usual I was working with raw files, and the settings that I have on Lightroom for importing files seem to me to give colour that is a little too saturated. The picture above was taken with the Fuji 18-55mm lens, and it seems pretty sharp, with very little noticeable distortion for a zoom except at the very widest focal length. This was taken at 25mm (38mm equiv) and looks more or less perfect in this respect.

Working in bright sun, I hadn’t meant to take this at ISO 3200, but given that the ISO was set at 800 and I had (by accident) and exposure correction of -2 stops dialled in, this is what it was. Image quality will have been degraded both by the high ISO, and also by the diffraction of the very small aperture that resulted of f22.  Looking at it on my screen at 1:1 – and examining portions of the almost 50 inch wide image that results on my rather smaller screen (the image is slightly cropped to 4796×3197 and my screen gives roughly 100 px per inch) there is a little noise visible, and a slight softness, but at normal print size the image is hard to fault technically.

So one problem that I have is that that exposure correction is far too easy to turn – this was on the XPro1, but the same is true of the XE1. You do get an indicator in the view, but I’m not very good at seeing such things.

But most of the time I was working with the XE1 with a Nikon adapter and the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens.  Its a little odd to use in that the lens at 305 g  weighs almost as much as the camera’s 350 g, and though it seems petite on a Nikon it seems pretty big here. The Nikon G adapter makes it stick out quite a long way more, and has a slider to control the aperture, needed as the lens has no aperture ring.  There are a lot of such adapters advertised on eBay, but those at reasonable prices seem to be of two actual makes, one with silver ridges on a black ring that changes the aperture. The example I bought of that doesn’t give infinity focus at the infinity setting on the 10.5mm, though it seems to work better with some other Nikon lenses. The other, with an all silver ring, works correctly with the 10.5mm.

Neither of them gives you any idea about the actual aperture in use, but you can get a rough idea from the change in the shutter speed. The 10.5 f2.8 works best around f5.6, two stops down, so if you get a shutter speed of 1/1000 indicated wide open, then stopping down until the shutter speed is around 1/250 will achieve this. Any lens used with the adapter of course becomes a manual lens , and the electronic viewfinder image gets dimmer as you stop down.

Once you have set the 10.5mm lens for both aperture and focus (normally at infinity) you seldom need to alter it thanks to the huge depth of field unless your subject is closer than a meter or two. If you set the focus on the camera to M then you can press the control on the back of the camera to zoom in to a highly magnified area of your picture when you do want to focus. As I found to my cost it is essential to check focus in this way; although the image in the viewfinder looked sharp I had it set wrongly for the first dozen or so pictures I took. It may not be easy to get images out of focus with this lens, but I managed it.

Processing is a bit of a pain, particularly as Lightroom 4 doesn’t offer automatic removal of chromatic aberration, which is a shame, as the 10.5mm needs some. You can improve the images by adjusting one of them, then syncing the settings across all of the the 10,5mm pictures – there doesn’t seem any real benefit from individual tweaking.

LR is so far a little of a disappointment for Fuji X users, although the latest version has improved the algorithm used for de-mosaicing the images. But I’m not entirely convinced with how it deals with the colour, and there are no Fuji-X lens profiles available. If I had time I could make my own, and there are profiles available on-line (using the Adobe Profile Downloader) for the 18, 35 and 60mm lenses, but not yet for the 18-55mm zoom.

There is of course a profile for the 10.5mm Nikon, though even when used on the Nikon I’m unsure there is any point in using it. Stupidly it attempts to correct the fisheye perspective to rectilinear as the ‘distortion’ element of the profile, which seldom if ever gives usable results. It isn’t ‘distortion’, but simply a different perspective, and the first thing I have to do is to set that ‘correction’ to zero.

Most of the images I want to run through the Image Trends Fisheye-Hemi plugin – which means exporting them as 16 bit TIFF files with the ProPhoto RGB profile. It adds to processing time and also eats up disk space, with the TIFF files being roughly 4 times the size of the RAW file, adding up to around 100Mb per file.

One of the fairly few non-Fuji lenses available for the Fuji-X cameras is a Samyang 8mm f2.8 fisheye, which also gives an image that fills the frame.  Although as you can see the Nikon does a decent job, I’m thinking about getting the Samyang.  You may wonder – as I did – why it is an 8mm rather than the 10.5, and the answer is that it uses a stereographic rather than an equal area projection (this may help.) The advantage of this is that objects near the edges are less compressed than with the Nikon and should look a little more normal – and with the shorter focal length if you use the Image Trends Fisheye-Hemi plugin you end up with a noticeable wider angle of view – something like 165 degrees horizontal, which may be an advantage. Fewer of the pixels are unused in the conversion which should result in higher quality in the corners of the image.

The Samyang is also a lighter and smaller lens, and has a proper aperture ring which will make it easier to use. As with the Nikon it is manual focus, but you seldom need to focus, and if you do for the occasional very close picture, need to use the magnified view possible in the electronic viewfinder.

I’m still not entirely happy with the Fuji cameras – though I think for most purposes the XE1 works better despite the electronic viewfinder being a poor substitute for a normal visual one. But at times coaxing the XPro1 to actually wake up and take a picture can just be too slow – normally it’s better to leave it switched off, as the start-up time is then faster! There is still something very wrong here, possibly something another firmware upgrade could cure if Fuji took photographers seriously.

Tomorrow’s Bank Holiday I’m still undecided about too. There are a couple of events I’d like to photograph, but it would be nice to go out for another family walk. So I might be using either Nikon or Fuji. Or since I’ve just been over-exerting myself in the garden – and found myself catching a very large holly branch as I pulled it down from the tree where it was held by other branches after sawing it off at the trunk – I may just need to rest with my feet up.

6 Responses to “Out with the Fujis”

  1. RogerGW says:

    Hello Peter,

    Have you tried using something like a QPcard (http://www.qpcard.com/en_b2c/color-reference-cards/qpcard-203-book.html) or X-Rite Passport (http://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?id=1257) to create Lightroom colour profiles? The respective videos explain how to use the tools.

    Also, you can get Lightroom lens profiles for the Fuji primes by running the Adobe lens profiler. They’re labelled for the X-E1 but work for the X-Pro as well.

  2. Hi Roger,

    No, I’ve not tried the QPCard or X-Rite – have you? If so are they better or easier to use that simply working with the free Adobe software without them?

    I wrote: “If I had time I could make my own, and there are profiles available on-line (using the Adobe Profile Downloader) for the 18, 35 and 60mm lenses, but not yet for the 18-55mm zoom.” The 18-55 is the only Fuji lens I have at the moment, though I’m considering the 14mm as well – neither available.

    • RogerGW says:

      I use the QPCard. It produces good results and the reassurance than I’m starting with an objectively-determined datum point when post processing. (I use LR as a tiff producer, importing to Nikon CNX2.) QPCard’s also cheaper than the X-Rite product.

      “…there are profiles available on-line (using the Adobe Profile Downloader)..” I saw that but had trouble reconciling it with your earlier statement that there are no Fuji-X lens profiles available.

      Incidentally, the Adobe downloader offers an 18-55 mm profile for the Finepix S5 Pro. Might be worth trying that.

  3. I’ll think about the QPCard, thanks for the idea.

    On the Adobe site I think it says that the profiles you can get via the downloader are not Adobe profiles, but those uploaded by others. I understood that the only Adobe-made profiles are those that come with the LR releases – so Adobe have yet to support the Fuji-X lenses.

  4. RogerGW says:

    > the profiles you can get via the downloader are not Adobe profiles, but those uploaded by others.

    Ah. I see what you mean now.

    And the practical difference is what?

  5. Who knows? If they were available for lenses I owned I’d try them.

    But Adobe are not as yet supporting Fuji-X lenses in Lightroom. It’s not a big thing, but I’d be happier if they were. Though for most of what I do it isn’t particularly important.

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