Going mirrorless. Some thirty years since buying his first Canon EOS film camera where his garage become David’s darkroom, a place he says ‘where the magic developed’ David has once again ‘found’ the love of photography after much soul-searching David moved away from the Canon brand and took the mirrorless plunge when he purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro 2.
Being a landscape photographer David was becoming concerned his work was becoming ‘too’ sharp, the image was ‘too’ perfect, today you may notice what some would call ‘noise’ within the some of the images. This would be incorrect what some call ‘noise’ is actually a reflection of his move to using the sensor in this camera and its built-in film simulations which recreate the love and the imperfections of film in this digital age.
Photographers love looking through a viewfinder to take photos, which is why X Series models have used finders from the very start. Combining the advantages of both an OVF and an EVF, Fujifilm has perfected the Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder with three viewing options. Now you can return to the roots of photography with the only viewfinder of its kind in the world.
For those not in the know, one of the big reasons why people are drawn towards the Fujifilm X series is all down to the wonderful variety of film simulations embodied in the camera. The same colour scientists who worked on the old Fuji films now labour to bring us the look of Velvia, Provia, Pro-Neg and others in digital form. Normally, photographers like to have the flexibility of the RAW file. You can endlessly tinker with the ‘digital negative’ to get the look you want, unlike a straight-out-of-camera JPEG. It’s the difference between developing your own film negatives in the darkroom and trusting everything to the lab-coats at Boots Chemist for that final print. But the way the Fujifilm cameras handle JPEGs, they create something extra-special straight out of camera and… to be honest… I found myself spending increasing amounts of time in Lightroom trying to get the RAWs to look like the JPEGs.
So why not just shoot JPEGs?
Before the third-generation X-Trans III sensor found in the X-Pro2 I toyed with such an idea time and again but always abandoned it. You see up to now It’s been something of a struggle for those hard-working Fujifilm colour technicians. The Velvia simulation for one in the older generation of Fuji X cameras looked horribly garish to my eyes, whilst the company never seem to have been able to quite fully recreate the magical beauty of the Astia and Provia simulations found in their first proof-of-concept camera, the original X100. However, it now appears to me that they’ve largely cracked it. Not only is the colour depth richer now, with a smoother gradient, but they’ve developed a very nice grain engine to go with it. The film simulations respond to how you work the highlights and shadows and what noise sensitivity you’re shooting at… and thus you get a more natural and, well, more filmic look.
When the situations allow its purely JPEG for me from now on, with just a little tone curve tweak and a bit of dodging and burning and selective sharpening now and again in Lightroom. I was excited. But so many film simulations, where to begin when out shooting? I mean, it’s all very well finding your look in Lightroom, but in the field you don’t always have the luxury of time to ponder, and whatever look you choose to shoot you’re stuck with..
Update March 2018
Seven months on I thought I would compare my thoughts then and now, to be honest little has changed. The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is an amazing camera, sure it has a few faults / niggles I have come across along the way. My main gripe would be the focus and level display, on bright scenes I find almost impossible to see them via the LCD display. As a work around I reduce the shutter speed so the display goes almost black, set the camera up then correct the aperture and focus area to the settings I feel the shot needs.
Acros film simulation, now this has rekindled my love of Black & White photography. SOOC or straight out of the camera jpg’s are truly amazing and cannot in my opinion be beaten. Check out this shot.
Fujifilm X-Pro 2
XF16mm F1.4 R WR
XF23mm F1.4 R
XF56mm F1.2 R
XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
XF1.4X TC WR
Lee 0.6 / 0.9 ND Grad
0.6 ProGlass Neutral Density
Polariser 105mm Rotating Polariser: Circular Effect
Photography is a love affair with life
Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
Ansel Adams 1902 – 1984