A Weak Attempt at a Photo Blog by
The Smoking Camera
The Sony Rx1 packs a full frame, great low light and sensational dynamic range powerful punch in an unobtrusive, quiet, well-built and surprisingly small package. Nothing quite like it.
I've been shooting with the Rx1 over the past week in Hawaii - primarily in Waikiki. I've taken it to the beach, into hotels and onto the streets. I tend not to get caught up in pixel peeping or secondary technical issues. I generally concern myself with the usability and the output of the camera. And of course I realize it takes some time to learn a camera. No question, I am still learning. So far I am quite pleased with usability and output of the Rx1 with some minor issues.
Here are a few observations.
During the day, if I set the camera to aperture priority and auto-focus, the Rx1 feels like a point and shoot on steroids. I can point the camera in any direction and the camera takes wonderfully exposed images. Habitually, I tend to set my compensation to underexpose by 1/3 to 1 full stop just to preserve highlights and I don't think I've blown anything out so far.
At night or if lighting conditions are variable, I've become enamored with the manual and auto iso combo mode of the Rx1. I manually set aperture and shutter speed and let the camera determine the correct iso. When lighting changes I tweak the aperture or shutter speed and let the relatively noise free sensor do it's thing. So far I have not been disappointed with the images even at high iso.
Autofocus is adequately quick and responsive and problematic only in extreme low light. Of course, I am spoiled by my Nikon D3s. I have yet to master manual focusing, but I sorely miss a DOF indicator on the lens or in the viewfinder. There is a focus distance bar in the viewfinder, but it is much less informative than my Fuji x100. Why is this important? Because I enjoy street photography. I am disappointed Sony eliminated continuous auto focus (AF-C) on the RX-1 and I don't believe tracking is sufficiently responsive for rapidly moving street photography. Zone focusing is the alternative, but at this point I have yet to master the technique on the Rx1.
I found the camera surprisingly small - almost too small to handle comfortably - and I had to be careful as I walked around with an untethered $3000 camera. The Rx1 could certainly use a grip of some sort. However, once I received my gordy strap, I was able to handle the camera fine.
I am also slightly disappointed with the battery life. I am getting about 150 shots per charge and that means I need to always carry an extra battery or two. This is about half the number of shots as my Sony Rx100. Perhaps it has to do with my greater reliance on the LCD screen.
I do miss the OVF and EVF of the Fuji x100, but I am slowly becoming accustomed to this omission. In the bright Hawaii daylight, I sometimes have trouble viewing the screen but I don't think I've lost a shot as of yet. I've thought about adding the Sony EVF, but the cost and extra camera appendage is unappealing at this time.
I very much enjoy the bokeh of the Rx1. When shooting wide open at f/2 the Zeiss lens produces beautiful images. The out of focus smoothness rivals my Nikon 24/1.4 lens. The macro mode is a very nice feature. Smooth bokeh and subject isolation is definitely a major selling point of the Rx1.
The customizable buttons are great. The C button, AEL button and the left, right and down directions on the rear control wheel are user assignable and allow one to make the Sony Rx1 very personalized. This is a vast improvement over the Fuji x100. Kudos to Sony for this.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings - time to see a few photos. Keep in mind that most of the images have been processed in Lightroom and I am by no means proficient with this program. I use Aperture, but unfortunately Apple has yet to add support for the Sony Rx1.
Oh, regarding pocketability, the Rx1 may not fit in every pocket, but it does fit nicely in the pocket of my cargo shorts.
Hope you enjoy these photos from the pocket hercules of digital cameras.
For the first time in years, I was in downtown Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I had a nasty cold and only a few hours to capture some L.A. images. Fortunately, I had the Fuji X-Pro 1 which has become my go to travel camera.
How did it go?
Pretty well, although you can be the judge by checking out the photos below.
Here are a few observations about the Fuji X-Pro 1 and shooting in downtown Los Angeles.
I only used the 18mm and 60mm lenses in L.A. The 60 for closeups and tight graffiti shots; the 18 for everything else. My equipment is light and fits nicely in my small, discrete leather bag. The superb Fuji 35/1.4 lens stayed in the bag.
Cool photo ops in the Toy District, Grand Central Market, Bradbury Building, Olvera Street and The Standard Hotel. Would love to shoot from the upper floors of the Bradbury Building. Views and sunset shooting from the rooftop of The Standard Hotel are wonderful. Fuji's upcoming 14mm lens would be ideal at many of these locations.
An incredible number of homeless people in L.A. This is what I remember of L.A. years ago and not much has changed. However, my policy is to never photograph homeless people. What's the point?
I don't like the lens hood on the 60mm lens. Too long, too big and somewhat unnecessary IMHO. The front element is deeply recessed and the hood seems like overkill. The only positive feature is the lens hood is reversible.
I don't like the fact that I can't add or remove the lens cap on the 18mm lens without first taking off the lens hood. I realize there is a lens hood cap, but I am pretty certain I would lose this in the first hour of shooting.
Aztec dancers are faster and quicker than Hula dancers. My previous post on taking action shots was positive for Hula dancers. However, I found the Aztec dancer turned so rapidly I had a very difficult time capturing them at the right moment. I was only happy with a few of my shots from this short performance.
All images were shot in standard provia jpg mode with no in camera adjustment. Although Fuji does color very well, I am still patiently waiting for RAW support from Adobe or Apple.
Not much of a blog because I am still under the weather.
If you wish to see more L.A. and Southern California photos visit my Southern California Gallery.
Hope you enjoy the photos.
Depends. For $$$ shots - probably not. For fun shots - absolutely.
My wife and I were at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, Hawaii when I learned a Hula Show was about to begin. I happened to have my Fuji X-Pro 1 so I decided to give it a go. For those unfamiliar with Ala Moana, it is the largest outdoor shopping mall in the U.S. and there is a center stage with many free, live performances. Little did the Hula dancers know they would soon be captured with a Fuji X-Pro 1 and 60mm lens.
Earlier in the day I had been shooting with the 35/1.4 and trying out the Neg. Pro H high contrast film simulation. I switched to the 60mm lens, knowing full well this is a portrait, macro lens with a reputation for slow focus. By the time I put the lens on, the Hula show had begun. I didn't change the film simulation so I knew the photos would be a bit more contrasty than normal. Also, I shot aperture priority with a minus one stop compensation - didn't want to blow out highlights if direct sunlight was on a dancer.
I decided to use the focus trick described throughout the internet. Basically, the trick is to set the focus to AFS and then quickly press the shutter. The camera then takes an image when focus is acquired. Sometimes focus is quick, sometimes not. Obviously it takes more time for the camera to acquire focus if the focus point changes distance. If I shot the same dancer from the same distance, then focus was almost instantaneous for subsequent shots.
In addition, I alternated between using the LCD and OVF. For closer shots I used the LCD because I was concerned with parallax issues. For more distant shots where parallax was not an issue, I used the OVF.
Also, I was continuously moving the focus point in order to compose my shot. I did this because once I pressed the shutter, I couldn't recompose as I normally do when the camera is set to manual focus.
So how did the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 60mm lens perform?
Here are the stats. I took about 180 photos during the 15 minute performance, About 30 were completely out of focus. Most out of focus shots were at the beginning when I was trying to get into a rhythm. By the end of the performance I was nailing the focus. Of the 150 in focus, about 110 were non-keepers. The non-keepers were a combination of poor timing on my part, shutter lag or images I just wasn't happy with. About 40 photos were keepers. Of these I will only post a few below, but here is a link to all the keepers: http://www.thesmokingcamera.com/fuji_xpro1_60mm_hula.
So how would the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 60mm lens compare to a DSLR or the x100?
Warning, pure conjecture ahead.
Now this is a guess based on my years of shooting dance performances. If I used my Nikon DSLR, I would have taken about 300 to 400 shots, about ten completely out of focus, about 200 to 300 non-keepers and about 100 keepers. If I used my Fuji x100, I would have taken about 100 shots, about 20 completely out of focus, about 70 non-keepers and roughly ten keepers. In other words, with the DSLR I would have at least twice as many keepers and with the x100, only a quarter of the keepers.
Pure conjecture complete.
Now here is the kicker: I would never have had my DSLR with me on this excursion so the theoretical 100 keepers would have never happened. Never. Well for the most part. The only way I would have had those 100 keepers is if this were a paid gig and I had taken my Nikon DSLR. Hah! How often does that happen at a free performance? More likely, I would have had the x100 so I would have ended up with a few keepers, but probably nothing worth posting.
In conclusion, the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 60mm lens will never achieve the same number of keepers as a DSLR. However, it will produce an acceptable number of keepers for most fun shoots.
Moral of the story - you should probably not use the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 60mm lens for paid action shots, but for fun why not. I followed my advice and unexpectedly came away with 40 keepers, a handful of lovely Hula images and of course, no $$$.
I very much doubt it.
However, the reason I pose this question is I have received a number of comments and emails indicating there is a Leica-like look to a few of my Fuji X-Pro 1 images with the 35/1.4 lens. Perhaps it is the shallow depth of field or perhaps the sharpness wide open or perhaps the black and white conversions. Who knows?
I have only shot with a Leica M9 a handful of times so I am ill-prepared to answer the question. I enjoyed my M9 experience: fun camera, great images and of course it is quite exhilarating walking around with over ten grand of german-made camera equipment in a half-filled camera bag.
So to answer the question one must first explain what is a Leica-like image? Let me try. It is probably the beautiful isolation produced by the full frame sensor and the super fast sharp lenses. It is that magical look when the subject matter just pops out of the screen or the print. It also helps when the subject matter is not frightened away by a clumsy DSLR. The Leica is so discrete it hardly affects the subject matter and can therefore take beautifully natural and unique images. These are prerequisites for good street photography and the Leica has excelled in this category for decades.
Why bring up street photography? Because I had an opportunity to use the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35/1.4 lens for about two weeks in New York City - primarily for street shooting.
In the past I used my Nikon D700 which sounds like a machine gun or the Fuji x100 which sounds like a Ninja. The D700 with any of the Nikon f/1.4 primes produces superb images. However, by the time I raise the camera to press the shutter, my subject matter has turned away or raised a hand to cover the face. By the time I take the second shot, they have walked completely out of the frame. The Fuji x100 with it's 35mm equivalent f/2 lens also produces very nice images, but it just doesn't isolate the subject matter as well as a full frame DSLR or Leica.
So how did the Fuji perform in New York City?
I found the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35/1.4 lens great for street photography. It is small, light, relatively quiet and discrete. At least discrete to my subject matter. I had several photographers, including several Leica shooters who curiously approached me to discuss the merits of the Fuji. They all walked away impressed.
The 35mm lens on the Fuji is the equivalent of a 50mm lens on a full frame sensor. Classic street photography is typically shot with a much wider lens. However, I found the 50mm focal length enjoyable and workable. It produced lovely, sharp images under all lighting conditions. It was a joy to shoot at f/1.4 under relatively dim city lights. It also gave me an opportunity to get in a bit tighter than my x100. This produced some subject isolation that some may describe as Leica-like.
But certainly, the Fuji is not qualified to be compared to the Leica. It is not full-frame, it has mediocre manual focusing ability, there is no Lightroom or Aperture raw support (as of yet) and the Fuji is considerably less costly. However, the X-Pro 1 does have an innovative X-Trans APC-S sensor (sans an AA filter), world class low light capabilities, manageable auto-focusing, the highly-regarded Fuji jpg engine that produces wonderful images straight out of camera and the Fuji is considerably less costly. Hmmm.
Rather than discuss image quality, I will post a few of my street photographs using the Fuji 35/1.4. Most are shot wide open, some are not. You should be able to tell the difference.
Finally, back to my original question - Is the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f/1.4 as good as a Leica? Again, I very much doubt it. But it is somewhat exhilarating to have just a little bit of doubt.