Photography

Acros

The Fuji X-T20 has a number of film simulations built in, as plenty of cameras do these days. One of them is Acros, reproducing a well loved film for the digital age. When I was reading comparisons between the X-T20 and the new budget Fuji, the X-T100, a recurrent feature of the reviews was disappointment that the Acros simulation was missing from the X-T100. I’ll be honest – I hadn’t heard of Acros before. But seeing as how many fans it has, it seemed silly not to shoot off a few frames with it. Which was a worthwhile exercise. I really like it. I’ll be using it a lot over the coming years, I’m sure.

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Photography

My New Toy

I couldn’t help myself. My head had been turned by the new entry level Fuji XT100, and my plotting started. I thought I could save a bit of money having a body only model brought back from the US at Christmas. But this plan had four key drawbacks. A body only model left me a lens short if Mrs P wanted to use my old Fuji X-M1. The savings from buying the camera in the US weren’t so grand. I’d have to wait till just past Christmas. And this wasn’t really the camera that I wanted.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

 

Decision One: A friend of mine bought his partner a new camera, her first ‘proper camera’. Very generous! It’s a Canon DSLR. Nice. He’s taken her for a couple of photo walks already. Good way to start off. Now he’s thinking of spending £300 on a ten lesson photography course – what do I think about that? No f*****g way! For that sort of money, you could take a three night break to a fantastic European city, including flights and meals, and throw in a Photography for Dummies  book to read on the way. I’m pretty convinced that spending a few days roaming somewhere exotic shooting at everything and anything will be a more productive and enjoyable experience. I’m a big fan of on the job training. Not such a big fan of classrooms.

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Next Level Photography

I’m pretty happy with the photo gear I’ve got. I have no complaints. The Fuji XM-1 is a great camera, I have fantastic lenses and two other good one. A decent camera bag, a Joby Gorillapod tripod and a decent sized bag to carry all of it, or most of it, around with me. But I am but human. A male human at that. I’m pretty sure that this is an inbuilt feature of the Y chromosome. No sooner have I got the latest shiny new thing than I see other shiny new things. And I start making lists. List making is an X chromosome thing. But it’s the Y chromosome that makes me put unaffordable technological items on it.

But there’s an awful lot of cool gear out there that supplements what I have, rather than being unnecessary replacements for perfectly good gear. I have an Amazon wishlist which regularly gets added to. Most of the stuff I add to a wish list is never bought. I guess that’s why they call it a wish-list rather than a gonna-get-it-soon list. The former is also easier to say. But anyway, I thought I’d share my wishlist. Why not. I have little else to share at the moment.

Cokin Filters

I would love to do some long exposure photography. I’ve created a small gallery of some samples, to demonstrate the point. I live in the perfect place for some decent long exposure snaps, with the Jurassic Coast quite literally a ten minute walk away. At least than £50, including an adaptor for my camera, it’s not entirely out of reach price wise.

Olloclip lens

The best camera is the one you have with you. Which means, for me, that is usually my iPhone 6. How to breath new life into my iPhone camera? Well, four new lenses can but help, surely? A fisheye, wideangle and pair of macro lenses all available from a single clip on unit for less than £60. Bargain. Someone remind Santa that I’ve been very, very, very good this year. So far…

Memory card

I’ve started shooting RAW+Jpg with my Fuji. It is an improvement on solely shooting in Jpg in every way but one. My 8gb memory card filled up quicker than my subjects could say ‘cheese’. For the first time in a decade, I found myself out in the field sifting through my days shots, deleting the poor ones to make room for new ones. Pft. That is a process best left when sat on my laptop. I’ve already gotten a new one. A Transcend 64gb with a decent read/write rating. Why Transcend? I wasn’t too fussy on brand. So long as it works. My last card was a Transcend and did just fine. My in-camera deleting days are over for at least another decade, I hope.

Magnification Tube

There is one small problem with my Fuji XF 60mm macro lens. That being, it isn’t really a macro lens. The magnification is but 0.5x, not the 1.0x (or better) you’d normally associate with a macro lens. What to do? Well, one option is Fuji’s own extension tube, which will ramp up the magnification to 0.75x. A significant improvement. The cost? Pence under £70.

Venus Lens

The other option is to sell the Fuji lens and buy one of the newfangled Chinese made lenses. It’s not far off half the price at £250-ish and offers 4x the magnification. Tempting, tempting….

Selfie Stick

I remember the first time I saw someone holding a selfie stick. I near jumped over a wall I was so sure he was a terrorist. Ok, maybe I didn’t, be he did look odd, up to no good and quite frankly, a bit of a k*&b. I’ve been mocking selfie stick toting photographers ever since. Until I wondered what sort of photos might I be able to get with one of these. And now I find I want one. They are only £12, after all. What have I got to lose? Yes, I know…my dignity. But apart from that…

Photo Frames

I keep meaning to buy some. They aren’t expensive. £5 and upwards. Prints from a local shop are just a few pounds for a dozen 7×5″ snaps. They’d look nice hanging on walls around the house. One day I’ll get round to it.

Remote shutter release

Some would say this is an essential piece of kit for long exposure photography. I say, how can a cable and button cost £31?! What is the profit margin on this bit of plastic? Must be enormous. It’s almost as expensive as the Cokin filters. I’ll probably just be real careful and use the timer function on the camera instead.

Fuji XT1

What’s the point of having a wishlist if there isn’t at least one fanciful, completely financially inappropriate item on it? There’s no point, I tell you. None at all. I give to you the king of the Fuji X cameras, the XT-1. The graphite version, which is the more expensive choice. But hey, seeing as I am years away from one of these babies, I might as well dream the best dream…

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Fuji X-M1: Image Quality

Ok, so I have a camera that I like the look and fell of, admire the sensible menu layout and enjoy using. But the proof in is the pudding. What sort of image quality have I gotten for my money? It must be said, this review is not solely about the camera but also the 16mm – 50mm kit lens that comes with it. I would expect better results from the X-M1 when I have a better and more expensive lens attached to it.

I won’t lie. Some of the images below have been through post processing in Lightroom. But I have selected images which have had minimal work done on the them. Perhaps a little sharpening, cropping or contrast adjustment. No filters or presets.

This isn’t meant to be a full review. There are many websites and blogs on the internet with experts who have the time and knowledge to do a far better job of that than I could. This are just some of my observations, with a few samples to demonstrate my point. You can see all the images below in full size on Flickr, although with a load more photos in an album titled First Impressions.

Low Light

The camera has a big fat APS-C sensor, so low light shouldn’t be a barrier to good photographs. The sensor has gotten rave reviews in the photography press, with favourable comparisons to full frame DSLRs. I’ve been quite impressed so far. It’s nice to see a decent level of detail from a handheld shot with some very contrasty scenes.

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Night Photography

It’s perfectly possible to get some great quality photos at night from even the cheapest of cameras. Mount it on a tripod, set the ISO to 100, give it a decently long exposure and hope that nothing, absolutely nothing, moves. Not a millimetre. The real trick is getting a good shot when things are moving and when you have the camera betwixt your fingers.

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Macro
The kit lens supplied with the camera is not a macro lens. Nor does it attempt to perform like one. So the results do reflect that. However, it finds it easier to focus on nearby subjects that the Olumpus E-PL1. And like the Olympus, I find the best way to get a shot is to move the lens back and zoom in, rather than get the lens as close to the subject as possible. Alas, there is some colour smearing to be seen.

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Colour

Fuji are famous for producing great colours and the X-M1 is no exception. It must be said that I’ve not been fortunate with the weather in the last month, and most of my shots have been underneath grey, wet skies. Which doesn’t help. But still. I’m pleased with the vibrant hues and well managed saturation. Although I have yet to explore the various colour settings, such as Velvia, which produce nicely balanced shots in daylight.

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Bokeh

That big sensor makes it much easier to throw the background out of focus. Of course, the closer you are to the subject, the easier it is. But I no longer need to be inches away. What I really want for some creative bokeh photography though, is the XF 35mm f1.4 lens. One day, one day…

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Dynamic Range

This is an area where the Fuji has really excelled. I’ve had an awful lot of cameras come through my hands that left me disappointed when the shot was a difficult scene with a lot of contrasting light. No details in the shadows. Any light areas blown out. The photo below isn’t a great photo by any stretch of the imagination. But you can see details in the shadows and blue in the skies. Which is neat.

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Fuji X-M1: First Impressions

I’ve had my Fuji X-M1 for about a month now. That’s been plenty of time to get out and about shooting with it. Enough time that I can start spouting off what I think of my new possession. Let’s start at the beginning. First impressions.

Build and Feel

The XM-1 is largely constructed from plastic. It looks like a traditional, metal camera from a distance but don’t think anyone would be fooled upon taking it in their hands. I don’t think anyone would be too bothered, either. It feels robust. It doesn’t rattle when you wave it about. It feels like it could survive a few bumps too. Although I don’t intend putting it to that sort of test.

It feels like a camera should. It doesn’t have the solidity of a Sony Nex6. When picking up the Sony you can tell straight away that one is made of metal and one is not. There’s extra heft to the Sony, although neither camera weighs enough to cause anyone back ache.

I have seen reviews suggesting Fuji designed the camera with the intention of making one handed operation easy. If that was their intention, then they got it spot on. It fits in a single hand easily and all the key buttons are placed ‘just so’.

WiFi and GPS

I was pleased to see that the Fuji incorporated WiFi, with a GPS solution built in. I say ‘solution’ because the GPS isn’t itself built in. I also have to say that the WiFi/GPS is the biggest – actually, the only – disappointment I have had with the X-M1. You can connect the camera to your smartphone, once you’ve downloaded the Fuji app, although this in itself is a fiddly and slow affair. NFC would have been a nicer solution.

Once you’ve made the connection, you can use the GPS on your smartphone to embed your location directly into the photos. However, if you’re off on a long walk or trip, the Fuji app on the phone will stop recording location data after just 99 minutes. Which could prove annoying. It’s safer and simpler to just record my location through Google Tracking and then embed the data into the photos in Lightroom later.

I do like the ability to send photos from my camera to my smartphone though. It’s a nice way to kill a long journey home – editing a few shots and posting them to Instagram. This is the one WiFi feature that I will use. I do hope that Fuji revisit the WiFi capability of the X-M1 though. I’m sure it has potential for  better GPS tagging . It would also be nice to be able to use the smartphone as a remote for the camera too.

Menu System

Fuji have excelled in their menu systems. One of the biggest pains I’ve experienced in digital photography is having to sift through menus trying to get at the setting I want. There’s nothing more frustrating that an important setting being buried five deep in the menu system.

The X-M1 has most of the key settings on the dial. But for those you need to access through the LCD, its just one button to a smart layout that reveals all the key settings. Each setting can be changed by moving to it via the arrow buttons and then scrolling the thumb wheel. Sure, a touch screen would have made it easier still, but in reality the menu as it is works so sweetly that there’s no reason at all for any serious grumbling.

The LCD

I really wanted an electronic viewfinder with my next camera. But when I chose the X-M1, I did so knowing that this was a feature I’d have to sacrifice. So the quality of the LCD really is important. The LCD on my old Olympus Pen E-PL1 was a major weakness with that camera. One of the delights of digital photography is the ability to see if you’ve got a good shot there and then. Instant gratification.

The screen on the back of the Pen was so poor that I really could not tell if the shot was any good or not. As a result, I’d often take a batch of shots, each exposed differently. And yet I’d get home to find that the lot of them were either under or over exposed or out of focus. I don;t like having to put in extra effort and still not get a result.

The screen on the Fuji is, happily, a good one. With more than 900 million pixels you can see what you’re shooting. Sometimes, light areas look as though they’re over exposed, but are actually fine when viewed on the computer. This isn’t a problem then, as the results are consistent from shot to shot. This means that I can trust the camera. Which is rather important.

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The Flash

Ideally, I try not to use the flash. Sometimes it’s necessary. I tried to use it on the X-M1, but for neither love nor money could I get it to work. Sure, I could press the button and get the flash to physically pop up. Sure, I could find it in the menu. But could I turn it on or off in the menu? Nope. I scratched my head plenty. Then I ventured online to see if there’s a reason for the non functioning flash.

There was. You can put the X-M1 into Silent Mode for some stealth photography. Which I had done. The flash will not operate in stealth mode. Problem solved. But it was a kinda weird problem. This should be fixed. If I have popped the flash up, it’s clear I want to use it. The camera should recognise this and switch out of stealth mode.

Focussing

Other than the LCD, my old Olympus Pen had another issue. It wasn’t the quickest out of the blocks as far as focussing is concerned. In fact, it was often downright slow. The Fuji is such a huge leap forward compared the the Pen. Sure, it is not on a par with Sony or the modern Olympus and Panasonic compact system cameras. But it’s quick enough.

How big a difference is this? It’s like a race between Usain Bolt, Johann Blake and little old me. With me being the E-PL1 Pen. I’ve now been upgraded to Blake. So, ok, I still might not win, but at least nowadays when I cross the line, my competitors are still catching their breath as opposed to being showered, dressed, interviewed and half way home.

Satisfaction Rating

I love the Fuji X-M1. That’s for sure. It’s a lot more complex than the Pen and I’ll have to study the camera and its manual a little more and use it in a smarter way to get the best out of it, I also really want to get a couple of new lenses for it at some stage. They are key to maximising this cameras full potential. The pancake-ish 27mm f2.8 would be a nice addition. But I’m really craving the XF 35mm f1.4 prime lens.

But the 16mm-50mm kit lens is a decent piece of kit, an I’m looking forward to the free telephoto lens when it finally arrives. They will be good enough to keep me going for now. Can I recommend the X-M1. Sure, why not? It has to be said though, that it depends on your budget. It was the promise of that free telephoto lens, worth more than £300 in its own right, which swung the deal for me. Without that offer? I may well have held out for an XE-1 or looked harder at a Sony Nex6/a6000.

But regardless of the competition, I’ve gotten myself a superb little camera with the same fantastic sensor that’s fitted in Fuji’s more illustrious and substantially more expensive big brothers.

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The Fuji Heartbreaker

Since selling my Fuji XS-1, I’ve been looking wistfully through the windows of camera shops. I’ve been checking prices on Amazon. As ever, I’ve been reading through the reviews on Photography Blog, Camera Labs and others. I’ll get a new camera. It’s all about exactly what and precisely when. There is my long term object of lust the Sony Nex 6 and its replacement the a6000. There’s also the new Panasonic GX7, which looks fabulous, gets rave reviews but is rather pricey. I really don’t think I’ll buy into the Micro Four Thirds format though. Not when there are cameras with APS-C sensors to choose from.

Why choose a format which has the limited specs of the MFT cameras? I know Panasonic and Olympus credit themselves as pioneering the Compact System Camera form factor, but the original, an Epsom, was equipped with an APS-C sensor way back in 2004. Indeed, that was a fine looking camera. Ahead of its time. But not on my current shopping list.

I do really, really like the new Fuji X cameras though. I keep finding myself drawn to the XE-1 and XE-2. The XE-1 can be had, body only for £299. Then there is a fabulous 50mm f1.4 prime lens to go with it. An extra £400. Which still makes it £80 cheaper that the GX7 bought with a 20mm f1.8 lens.  Am I beginning to waffle now? The point is, I’m working out all the different permutations between price, camera and lens weighed against my (kinda non existent) budget. And then I saw this…

fuji

Begads! The fabulous XE-2 – not the older XE-1, the brand spanking new XE-2 – can be had, body only, for £600. I know a Buy Now Pay Later shop! And the superb 55mm lens is free?! Sign me up to your club Fuji, I’m sold on this deal! I have loved all three of my previous Fujis, but this one would be ‘the keeper’. Love at first sight. I’d walk the XE-2 down the aisle. Any aisle. To think I was considering paying a £100 more for the older model and the 50mm lens!

And then I saw the expiry date of the offer. Bump. Down to earth I came. Too late. How did I miss this awesome deal? I have no idea. But I snoozed. I losed. Please Mr Fuji, let me into this deal! Run it again! Let me join your club! Alas, I suspect I have missed out. But one thing that has become clear in recent months. My next camera purchase will be chosen with a huge degree of consideration to the lens that comes with it. And that if a manufacturer wants me to buy into their format, they’ll have to buy me. With a bribe. Of a free lens. Because the market is competitive and good lens offers abound.

 

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Cameras

Farewell to the Fuji

I recently sold my Fuji X-S1. It’s a fine camera. Really fine. We had a great time together. Alas, I own two cameras but can afford to keep only one. The keeper is my three/four year old Olympus Pen E-PL1. Truth be told, the Fuji is in many ways the better camera. It has a far more powerful and flexible lens, which is also a better lens quality wise.  It’s a more intelligent camera too, getting focus, aperture and  shutter speed right more often. With a better flash to boot. The LCD screen on the back is infinitely superior and it had a decent EVF.

The Olympus does have it’s trump cards too though. The bigger sensor means I get far better low light results, especially when it’s handheld. It’s also smaller and lighter and much easier to travel around with. Image quality, when the settings are just right, can just eclipse the results I pulled from the Fuji. I like the Olympus a lot. It’s final trump card? It is, or will soon be, four years old and has since been replaced several times with newer models. It has no resale value. The Fuji, on the other hand, being just a year old and having not been replaced with a newer model, fetched a handsome price.

I will miss the Fuji. It will almost certainly be the last Bridge camera I buy. I’ve owned a few of them over the years – a Nikon Coolpix 8700, a Panasonic FZ35, a Fuji HS10 and the X-S1. But the new generation of Compact System Cameras make too compelling an argument for me to think I’ll ever go the Bridge route again. A CSC can be pocketable when you need a lightweight companion. And it can fit some powerful zoom lenses when the occasion calls for one. So it is adios not just to the X-S1, but to a whole genre of camera.

Have I made the right decision? Here’s the final photo I took with the Fuji. Nothing special. The telling point is the date I took it. September. Quite a while ago. If it’s too hefty to want to lug it around, then it’s time to move it on.

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Fuji X-S1 Video Sample

The next piece of my Fuji X-S1 review is to show what sort of video the camera can shoot. It’s nice and easy to shoot video – as with most cameras these days there is a dedicated video button on the back of the device to get recording straight away. The camera also has the option to record at a couple of hundred frames a second for decent slow-mo shooting, although I have yet to put this to the test.

The result below is a little unfair on the camera. Once I had compressed the footage and uploaded it to YouTube, the output was noticeably degraded when compared to the original video files on my laptop. But still. The result is good enough, in my opinion. For what I would need to do with it. I’m sure that with a little tripod use and more time spent with the post processing, the results would be be better still. The footage is shot from around Budapest, during my recent holiday there. It was a fantastic week away, and I will have photos and a post or two to come.

A quick note on YouTube – they have finally enabled long time users like me to change from the pre-Google ownership usernames, to my proper Google user name. Important? Well, I signed up to YouTube on a whim originally, and as an anonymous viewer, not as a producer. So choosing the username ‘Chunderbuttocks’ didn’t matter much. Nowadays though….well, Chunderbuttocks isn’t really what I want to be known as. It’s been a minor annoyance to have that moniker attached to my YouTube account all these years. But no more. Adios Chunderbuttocks.

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Fuji X-S1 Zoom and Macro

So far I’ve covered some of the key features of the Fuji X-S1 and had a look at the image quality. All of which are very important factors when judging a camera. The Fuji has delivered on all counts so far. But as this is a bridge camera, there’s another key test as to how good a camera this is. The whole point of owning a bridge camera is to have all the goodies of a DSLR (minus the giant sensor) packed into a unit with a fixed lens that is ready for any occasion.

The images above and below were taken from exactly the same spot. I didn’t move. The first shot was at the widest angle, taking in the full cityscape in front of me. I’ve highlighted a little box in the middle. That’s what you see in the photo below, at full zoom. The BT Tower, up close. Truth to be told, it’s not a great shot to show off the quality of the lens. The light and sky didn’t lend to a brilliant result. But you do get the idea of what a 26x zoom can do.

Of course, it’s not just about bringing the far away up into close up focus. A good bridge camera needs to be able to take a decent macro shot too. The X-S1 has two macro settings (Macro and Supermacro) which are easily accessed through a button on the back. In the more powerful mode, you can focus on an image just a centimetre away. I’ve tested this. It seems true to me. And focussing is quick and accurate. My Olympus Pen really struggled with macro, often forcing me to use the manual focus ring – which, with a decidedly low res screen, was not an easy or fun task.

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There’s a dozen or so macro photos in a Flickr set I created – click here. Are any of these telephoto or macro photos as good as what you could get out of a DSLR with the right lenses? Nope. But they’re not that far off when viewed on a monitor. Can you get a DSLR with the necessary lenses for less than three times the cost of the X-S1? Nope. Price wise, they’re not even close. Can you comfortably carry around the DSLR and all those lenses in one handy small sized should bag? Nope, not even close. Is the DSLR ready to shoot anything, anytime. Nope – changing lenses takes time. Enough time to miss the shot.

It’s a trade off. Cost and convenience for ultimate image quality. It’s a trade off I’m happy to make. I still have a few subjects I want to test this camera out on. A moon shot and some birding shots. They’ll follow soon. I have to say, whenever I am looking for a new camera, I check out Flickr. I go look at what owners of the camera are producing. Strangely, the results I found on Flickr were largely disappointing. Especially the birding shots. A huge number of them were worse than what I’d got from my old HS10. If it wasn’t for the fact I had owned an HS10, I might have passed this camera up based on those snaps on Flickr. I suspected that many of those shots were over cropped. The results I’ve been getting suggest my suspicions were well founded.

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Fuji X-S1 First Impressions

I recently highlighted a couple of cameras I really liked the look of. One of them was the Fuji X-S1, a rather dishy bridge camera. I had no intention of buying it, of course. But, wouldn’t you just know. Only a couple of weeks later I stumble across the X-S1 at a price that you just can’t say no to. It was a steal. How could I say no? I didn’t. My Olympus Pen may have just become redundant. I’ll have plenty to say about the Fuji in the next few weeks/months. But today, just a few early sample photos and my first impressions.

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The Fuji is a pretty substantial piece of kit. It’s well made and feels it. Lightweight is not a word you’d use to describe it, by any stretch of the imagination. It carries a fair surplus of weight over other bridge cameras I’ve used before, such as the Panny FZ35. And it feels far more sturdy than the Fuji HS10 I once owned. But I don’t mind the weight – it’s not going to break my back exactly. And it feels nice to hold in the hand. But I will buy a bag for it – it does become a little tiring to be wearing with the supplied neck strap after a few hours!

The camera is awash with buttons and dials too. It’s very fully featured, and incredibly customisable. Accessing settings is quick and easy and it takes just a few minutes to start feeling at home with the camera, although I suspect it’ll take a fair bit longer before I have fully explored every shooting option available.

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The real killer features of this camera though are the lens and the sensor. The latter is twice the size you’d normally find on a cmpact camera, which promises better low light performance. The former is not remarkable in it’s range – Canon have just released their latest bridge model with a 50x zoom, compared to the 26x zoom on the Fuji. But 26x is still pretty awesome, and probably close to the limit for hand held photography. It’s enough to be able to get the details of Nelson’s uniform in Trafalgar Square, or pick to dot of an airplane out of the sky.

The zoom is also manual, which I like. It’s an awful lots smoother than that of the HS10, which clicked up in stages. It also has a feel of quality that the HS10 didn’t quite manage. And when it’s not fully extended to catch far away details, it has a very bright f2.8 aperture that can focus just 1cm away in Super Macro mode.

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I have already uploaded a first set of sample photos on to Flickr, taken during our trip to London at the weekend, and I’m working on a couple of other sets. My initial impressions are extremely positive. It deals with colours and contrast in a very pleasing way, and the photos needed a lot less editing than the produce of my Olympus Pen. Like the HS 10, it’s a really fun camera to use. But better. A lot better. There will be more to come about the X-S1. Watch this space!

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Fuji X-S1

Over the last two years I’ve gone through a few cameras. A Panasonic TZ5, Panasonic FZ35, Fuji HS10 and an Olympus E-PL1. The latter is by the far the most capable camera regarding pure image quality. But the most fun? The most satisfying to use? I’d probably have to say the Fuji. It’s enormous 30x lens with a fast CMOS sensor and the manual zoom….that added up to one flexible package. It has it’s frustrations. Like a lot of the early 1/2.3 CMOS sensor, the images lacked a bit of sharpness. Although I did like it’s colours.

The manual zoom wasn’t of the sort you find on a DSLR either, – it still went up in notches. It would be nice to have the option to zoom through a button as well as by twisting the barrel, as Sony have done with their new HX100. The EVF was so small it was useless. And the LCD was only ok. But the good points, and there were many, outweighed the bad. I really only swapped it for the Olympus because of a desire to get more detail and quality into my photos.

The Fuji HS10 was replaced by the HS20, which did little to resolve the negative issues. But they have now revealed their latest bridge camera, the X-S1. Sporting a slightly more modest 26x zoom and a new CMOS sensor with their EXR tech the X-S1 looks a mighty good camera. The little CMOS sensors seem to have come on a long way since they first started finding their way into compact cameras. The samples aren’t a match for a DSLR if you start pixel peeping, but I’m a geek, not a nerd. I’m feeling a case of camera lust coming on…

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Redundant Camera Lust

This time next year I’ll be in Mexico London Cologne. I hope. One thing I do miss about the UK is the opportunity to go to shows, both in the UK and in Europe. Car shows, photo shows, any tech shows. At the moment Photokina is on over in Germany, and it’s a show I’d like to go see one day. Maybe next year. To check out all the latest cameras in the flesh.

There’s been plenty of interesting, dare I say exciting, cameras on show this year. Which normally sparks off a bout of camera lust, and scheming with a view to getting my hands on one. But to be honest I’m so happy with my Olympus Pen that I have no desires for a new model. Not even secretly.

Well, perhaps there’s a little camera lust still in me. If I were rich perhaps I’d be looking, but more with an eye on having myself a little mistress than on replacing the new love of my life. Five cameras stood out this year in particular. Which ones? These ones…

Top left is is an intriguing compact known only as the Olympus Zuiko. They’ve revealed very little about the camera, other than it’s got a fancy Zuiko lens on it. I suspect it’s going to be a very fast bit of glass, and pack a larger sensor in the mould of the Panny LX5 and Canon S95. But it has a port which will allow the use of Olympus Pen accessories, which is nice.

Top right is the new Canon SX30. I like the superzoom/bridge cameras, and if the specs and quality of the previous model are anything to go by, this could be the new class leader. It’s 35x zoom certainly heads the field – you do kinda wonder how far camera manufacturers can take this zoom thing! Alternatively you could buy a Leica V Lux 2, which is really a $450 Panasonic FZ100 with a Leica badge and a $1000+ price tag…

Middle is the new Pentax K-5. Poor old Pentax just don’t get the attention that Canon and Nikon get in the DSLR market, and they haven’t got an equivalent of Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds cameras to fall back on. Yet they produce top quality DSLR’s with specs and results that often outperform their more illustrious competitors, priced considerably cheaper. Not that this is a cheap camera. You’ll only get a couple of hundred bucks change from two thousand dollars. It’s not an entry level DSLR. But it is cool.

Bottom left is a new Fuji, the Fujifilm X100. A range finder with a fixed lens containing some very bright glass, painting pictures on a nice large proper DSLR sensor, with EXR tech and with all the manual controls you’d want, laid out on dials just as you’d want. Range finders are cool, but this one looks ubercool. I imagine the price tag, when revealed will be hefty. Alternatively, you could always go and pick up a Leica D Lux 5, which is a rebadged Panasonic LX5 with it’s price doubled….

Last, but not least, is the new Casio EX H20G. I know. Casio. Famous for cheap plastic watches with cruddy calculators. But along with Samsung they’ll really upped their game in the digicam world and have been seriously innovative whilst keeping their products at a respectable price level. This one is a jack of all trades that fits in a pocket and had the most advanced GPS system currently available – it can locate and tag photos even indoors or elsewhere that’s out of sight of a satellite.

Those are my five picks from Photokina 2010. Other people will have other favourites. The Canon G12 perhaps. Or the Nikon D7000 DSLR, or their G12 baiting Coolpix P7000. Perhaps the rather awesome Panasonic GH2. Or Samsung’s effort to crack the MFT type market, the NX100. The Olympus E-5 will surely have a few friends too.

Anything there to make you check how much you got in your wallet?

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Camera Lust

My Panasonic FZ35 has been ordered by an amigo in the US and I will be the very happy recipient in just a matter of days. I can’t wait! And yet, I’m planning its sale already. Not immediately. But give it a few months. I’m going to be keeping that baby in pristine condition. Why am I already contemplating its sale, before I’ve even taken delivery? Well….

The new Fuji HS10 is why. It looks absolutely awesome. Some specs for you. Backlighted CMOS sensor. A 30x lens with manual zoom ring. A fab 10fps, with a special 1000fps sport mode. Proper HD video in 1080p with stereo mics. And so many more fancy features. And it looks incredible. Why don’t I just buy it now? Well, it doesn’t come out till April for one. Secondly, as good as the specs are, I wouldn’t buy a new camera without reading a few reviews, and they’ll take a couple more months to come through.

Thirdly, the price. My FZ35 is $315, give or take. The Fuji is $499. The price will come down in a few months. Plus, I have a cunning plan. The FZ35 is costing me just a little more than 4,000 pesos, because I’m having it bought in the US. Its retail price in Mexico? A ridiculous 8,500 pesos. Like all imported products, it has a hefty amount of tax added on. I could easily sell (or so I believe) a mint condition reasonably new FZ35 for 5,500 to 6,000 pesos, thus making me enough profit to afford the Fuji. Cunning plan indeed. Click on Read More for the full official press release if your interested in all the details.

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