Monday, February 24, 2014

Camera Review: Fujifilm Instax Neo Classic

All images taken with iPhone 5S camera. Ironically, both cameras are ideal for sharing images. One analog, the other digital.

I just finished reviewing the very capable Fujifilm X-E2 at the end of January, and was awaiting the arrival of the new X-T1. I had a month in between to relax and enjoy playing with the cameras I already have, or would I try and squeeze in a quick review? What was I interested in next? While in Japan, I saw the popularity of Fuji's INSTAX instant film cameras. I also saw a resurgence in interest of classic Polaroid cameras and the resurrection of the Polaroid film formats via The Impossible Project. I own a few Polaroid cameras myself (250 Land Camera, SX-70, Spectra), so I was feeling the itch.... the itch to review one of Fuji's INSTAX instant film cameras. But which one? Which camera has the features and the look that I wouldn't feel too odd carrying around (many of the INSTAX cameras are clearly and successfully marketed towards young girls) while walking through downtown backstreets? I decided to review the very retro-inspired and X-series-looking Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Neo Classic. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

First Impression: Fuji X-T1 Has Landed!

The Fujifilm X-T1 has finally arrived! The last time I was this excited about reviewing a camera was when I first received the Leica M Monochrom in the summer... it's been a while. What makes this camera so special? Why is everyone so excited about this new X-series camera body from Fuji? Because it's the best value-performance-quality mirrorless system camera body on the market today. The best image quality mirrorless belongs to the Sony A7R, but the AF is just ok and the price is more than many full-frame DSLRs. The best overall performing and featured mirrorless is the Olympus OM-D EM-1, but the sensor is smallish (not too small for most but a bit too small for working pros). 

The new Fujifilm X-T1 lies right in the sweet spot of the market: large-enough-for-pro APS-C sensor, well priced (cheaper than the Olympus!), well featured, and performs as good or even better than it's APS-C sensored DSLR competition. At $1299 USD body only, it's reasonably priced for what you get, and cheaper than going full-frame mirrorless. To top it off, the X-series is a mature system with lots of lenses (both zooms and primes), accessories, and camera body options. Some complain its a shameless copy of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 (no pop-flash, weather-sealed, articulating screen, large EVF, lots of custom buttons and DSLR-ish form-factor and handling, etc.); but Fuji has done their homework, put their own twist to this new X-series camera and has done some innovating and improvements of their own. How good is good?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Full Review: Fujifilm X-E2 the Greatest ILC?

Image taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/42nd sec F/2.8 @ ISO 125. Very simple and sleek design.

I've just returned from my Tokyo trip with my wife. I took 3 cameras with me (Leica X-VARIO, Ricoh GR-D IV, Minolta CLE) and spent a whole month shooting and playing (and testing) these cameras. It was a lot of fun. As soon as I got back home, my special order Ricoh GR Limited Edition arrived from Gastown Photo. The next day, a new camera appeared at my door from Fuji to review. Was I photographically burnt out? Was I tired of reviewing cameras? No way! I was pumped to start putting the Fuji X-E2 to the test, especially comparing image quality with the Leica X-VARIO and my newly acquired Ricoh GR. However, all 3 cameras are very diiferent, although they all have one thing in common: they all use a APS-C size sensor. How did the X-E2 compare? 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Photo Tip 101: Take Another Look at Your Images before Deleting

Fuji X-E2 with XF18-55mm lens. 1/2400th sec F/8.0 @ ISO 1600. Shot jpeg, edited in CS5 & Photoscape
We've all done it before. We take a picture, we chimp the image, we're not happy with the image, and we hastily delete it. It's a waste of time, waste of frustration, and perhaps you could have deleted the best image you've ever taken. This is why many photographers recommend we avoid chimping (take a quick peak at the back screen right after we take the picture) while shooting with our digital cameras. It's a nasty habit. Deleting an image in the field is also a bad habit. Keep it and look at it again at home where we can learn from our mistakes...unless the mistake turns out to be a great shot!