Friday, March 16, 2012

Rust, Concrete, and Test Shots

Guerrilla Knitting
Guerrilla Knitting, Fuji X-Pro 1 with 35/1.4.

The light really wasn't great today. Bit of a waste to go street shooting, too, since there was barely anybody out there, plowing through the melting snowbanks.

But I did make another excursion, this one towards Suvilahti, the old industrial zone in the process of being converted into a culture hangout kind of place. I figured that all that rusting metal and flaking paint would at least look suitably grim on this gray, wet day. Those are in my Least Photogenic Day set too.

Gas Bells 2
Gas Bells 2, X-Pro 1 with 35/1.4.

I don't have a great deal to add to what I said in those previous two posts about the camera. It handles great and shoots great; there's nothing wrong whatsoever with the auto-focus and the aperture chatter is a completely unimportant issue. I was snapping away with no problems at all. If you know your way around a camera, and especially if you're familiar with shooting through a non-through-the-lens viewfinder, there's really nothing special to learn about it. It's not rocket science, and you don't need a ten-year apprenticeship with an ancient Japanese master to figure it out.

No Parking Because Falling Bits Of Concrete
No Parking Because Falling Bits Of Concrete, X-Pro 1 with 35/1.4.

I think you're only likely to run into trouble with this beast if you're expecting it to be something it isn't.

For example, if you've only shot with SLR's and try to shoot this like one, you'll hate it: if you shoot through the optical viewfinder, you'll constantly miss focus, because the AF point won't be where you think it is, and the framing will feel sloppy as all hell. And if you shoot with the electronic viewfinder, the momentary freeze when focusing will feel like a finger in the eye every time you half-press the shutter, not to mention blurring, smearing, and lack of resolution. Which aren't bad for an EVF, but they're still downsides of EVF's. At least all EVF's I've seen.

On the other hand, if you're coming from a Leica and flip this into manual-focus, you'll hate the long throw of the focus ring and the lack of a rangefinder spot—in fact, you'll find it plumb near impossible to focus with the OVF, and will find the EVF blurry compared to what you're used to.

But shoot it like it's intended—through the OVF, compensating for parallax error, falling back on the EVF only for special situations like extreme close-ups—and I can't see how you wouldn't love it. It's a brilliant camera, quirks and all.

Cat Portrait with Self
Cat Portrait with Self. 35/1.4 wide-open.

Test shots

I also shot two series of test shots of my bookshelf, on the 35/1.4 and 18/2.0. Those lens test series didn't hold any major surprises. The 35 is just fabulous. The center barely changes when you stop down, and the edges aren't too bad even wide-open and are fantastic from 2.8 down; from f/5.6 things just don't get any better.

The 18... well, it's sharp in the center at all apertures, and it's not awful in the corners at any aperture, but the corners don't really improve as much as you'd expect when you stop down. There are visible  issues all the way down to f/11, or even f/16 if you look closely, at which point it's starting to look a bit soggy from diffraction. Coma and purple fringing, specifically. Not horrible by any means, but I would've expected better of a modern prime with asphericals and stuff in this day and age, especially next to the fantastic 35.

Here are a few corner and center crops extracted from that series. Note the weird smudginess of "Gotlib" on the 35 wide-open—I have a hunch that's a demosaicing artifact due to the funky filter matrix Fuji uses. It's odd that it only appears on that photo and none of the others, although there's not a whole lot of sharpness difference between them.

The 35/1.4, wide-open and at f/8, center and corner:




The 18/2.0, wide-open and at f/8, center and corner:




Anyway, I think I'm done for today. Gotta go fry me some fish.

Updated around 20:50. I clarified the paragraph about wrong and right approaches to this machine, since it was a bit confusing.

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