Review – Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Photo Printer

Who doesn’t love instant photos? I have a Polaroid Supercolor 635 CL and it’s a lot of fun. The biggest problem with it and all instant cameras, aside from the ever increasing cost and availability of instant film, are the cameras themselves. Imagine being able to instantly print photos from your camera or smartphone in the same fashion. That’s exactly what the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 does.

IMG_1545

Not quite pocket sized but small enough for a camera bag or larger coat pocket, the SP-1 is wireless utilizing WiFi and CR2 lithium batteries to keep you printing wherever you are. The non-rechargeable batteries are good for 100 prints according to Fujifilm. In reality it’s closer to 75-80. I picked up an A/C cord on Amazon which uses any smartphone USB plug you already have laying around which cures my battery anxiety.

IMG_1546

The business card sized prints look great. Using the “Intelligence Filter” in the Instax App adds some color and contrast that help the instant prints pop more than unedited photos. The free app is available for iOS and Android and is easy enough for the most techno-phobic person to use.

The printer takes Instax Mini film which comes in 10 shot cartridges. The film is pricey on a per-shot basis, over $1 CAD per print and the printer is anywhere from $150-$220 CAD depending on sales or promotions. It probably isn’t an impulse buy but it’s not overpriced either.

IMG_1344

Who is the target buyer for this printer? I think that has changed since it was introduced. It has changed from a novelty item aimed at families, hipsters,  and teenagers and is now used by street photographers for making real connections with their subject matter. It’s also being used by professional photographers to show proofs to clients on the spot no matter where you’re shooting.

Fujifilm X Camera shooters can print right from their camera or use the app. Any WiFi enabled camera that can send photos to your smartphone can utilize the app along with any photos taken on said phone.  Gone are the days of instant photography guess work, you now know exactly what your print will look like before it’s done developing. The Instax Share SP-1 bridges old and new using modern image capturing technology to give you business card sized prints dripping with nostalgia. You can add text to them too, imagine being able to create a business card on the spot tailored to its recipient? So many possibilities, I’m just getting started with this thing!

Please like, subscribe, and share. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what I’m up to!

Scott.

Advertisements

Portrait lens on a budget

Have you recently ditched your bulky DSLR gear for a mirrorless compact system camera? Are you considering it? Some people go all in right away selling everything, bodies, lenses, the whole farm. Others will hold on to a body and maybe a lens or 2, it’s hard to let go. For those of you who want to keep a few lenses I’m here to tell you that you’re making an excellent decision.

IMG_20150609_190652

Most mirrorless cameras use a proprietary lens mount system. In order to simplify this post I’ll be focusing on one system, Fujifilm’s X Series. The basic premise of this post will apply to most mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras systems. You’ll have to figure out your crop factor depending on your sensor. Here’s a handy chart.

Nikon, Canon and Pentax DSLR owners probably have a huge assortment of lenses that they’ve acquired over the years. “Nifty fifty’s” to zooms and everything in between. These lenses are great quality and in a lot of instances are more affordable than their mirrorless system equivalents. If you already own them they’re practically free!

12803198_1688352278048742_8521756928710700380_n

Those nifty fifty’s, 50mm lenses with an f/2 or larger aperture, make outstanding portrait lenses on apsc sensor and smaller sized cameras. They give an equivalent focal length of 75mm on apsc cameras. Mounting them to your mirrorless camera is a simple as picking up an adapter. Adapters are available for almost every lens mount ever made and they are very affordable. I have 2 in my collection. One for mounting M42 screw mount lenses and for Sony/Minolta AF mount to my Fuji cameras.

One of the drawbacks of shooting with adapters is you lose auto-focus and auto-aperture (auto anything) functionality. Manual focusing with Fuji X cameras is very good though, I use focus peaking set to high with red highlights. The results are always true to what I see in the viewfinder. If you have lenses with manual aperture rings you’re going to get better results. Fuji’s meter very well with manual lenses. Without the aperture ring you have to shoot wide open which is good for portraits but you lose depth of field control.

Another drawback is the loss of data when looking at your files. No lens, focal length, or aperture data is recorded. If you really want to know what you shot a particular picture with use a notebook or a smartphone to keep track.

If you shoot still life or portraits you shouldn’t need to worry much about those minor drawbacks.

IMG_2162

Here’s an example of the price difference between using a 50mm lens from another system versus Fujifilm’s lovely 56mm f1.2. The Fuji lens is $1000 CAD at the moment. It’s on sale and normally costs $1150. It’s a marvelous lens. Gorgeous bokeh, blazing fast f1.2 aperture, and impeccable build quality. The closest setup I have to compete with this lens is a Pentax Super Takumar SMC 50mm f/1.4 on a Photodiox M42 to X mount adapter. The SMC 50mm 1.4 is highly regarded for image quality, sharpness, and colour. I picked mine up a year ago on eBay for $60 CAD. Since then the prices have gone up as people rediscover this little gem. They’re now between $100-$300 depending on quality and timing. The adapter costs anywhere from $12 to $100 but I have yet to see any difference between the cheap ones and the expensive ones. Worst case cost is $400 but you can easily get both pieces for under $200 total if you do some digging. You can go crazy with Leica lenses too if you have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, the possibilities are nearly endless.

There’s something magical about old glass and Fujifilm’s X trans sensor. The fact that you’ve achieved these results on a shoestring budget compared to buying a $1000 lens is the icing on the cake.

IMG_0234

The most unexpectedly great M42 mount lenses in my lineup is a Pentax Talumar 135mm f/3.5 which belonged to my grandfather. It produces gorgeous portraits like the one above even with its full frame equivalent focal length of 200+mm.

Hang on to the lenses that you love when you make the mirrorless switch. You’ll love the results and you’ll have some extra money in your wallet to buy batteries (that’s a post for another day…).

Please share, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Scott.

3 weeks with the Fujifilm X-E2s

January saw 3 new cameras and a new lens added to the Fujifilm X series lineup. All of them were given extensive coverage and praise by many outlets, all except one. The X-E2s is an updated version of the X-E2 where as everything else was essentially brand new. Sure, the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 look very similar but they’re so far apart in terms of performance it’s hard to see the 2 as a simple upgrade.

IMG_1173
Fujifilm X-E2s/Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

I owned the original X-E1 but decided to pick up an X-T10 instead of the X-E2 due to a few performance differences. The X-E2s gives you everything the X-T10 has in a sexy rangefinder style body. The grip, top plate, and buttons have been slightly restyled from the X-E2 and they are noticeable but not life changing upgrades. With the firmware 4.0 upgrade current X-E2 owners get all the internal upgrades (electronic shutter, better AF etc.) for free.

DSCF0292

If you’re a Fujiflim X series shooter you’ll feel right at home with the X-E2s. The image quality is on par with the rest of the lineup and its firmware brings usability up to the same level as well. The only thing I missed when switching between the X-T10 and the X-E2s is the front control dial/button. It’s useful when shooting in manual mode and when doing long exposure work when using lenses without a manual aperture ring. Is it a deal breaker? Not really. The X-E2s is slightly smaller than the X-T10 and that is important in some situations.

DSCF0258

Price wise the X-E2s sits in the middle of the pack (excluding the X-Pro2) at $899 body only. That’s the same as the X-T10, $100 more than the X-E2 which is on sale until March 31st and still readily available, and $450 less than the weather sealed X-T1. The entry level X-M1 ($549 body only) and X-A2 ($549 with the 16-55mm OIS II lens) occupy the bottom end of the lineup but are crazy bargains given the image quality they produce.

DSCF0276

All images shown here were shot with the X-E2s and various X Series lenses except the product shot, that was an LG G4. Out of camera jpegs are outstanding and the latest film simulations are all there minus X-Pro2 exclusive Acros black and white. These aren’t filters, they are simulations of classic film stock right down to the grain and they’re fantastic to shoot with.

DSCF0243

Should you buy an X-E2s over an X-T10 or an X-E2? That’s a difficult question to answer. The X-T10 offers slightly more functionality with its extra buttons and tilting screen. The X-E2 offers a lower price with identical specs. The X-E2s does improve the feel of the rear controls over the X-E2 and the grip is more comfortable. I would guess the X-E2 won’t be available for much longer so keep an eye out for price drops and clearance sales. If you like the rangefinder style body and can live with fewer buttons get the X-E2s. If you like the SLR-ish look of the X-T10 you won’t regret buying it either. It really is a question of style, not substance.

DSCF0264

Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for letting me test this camera and share my thoughts. I’ll be reviewing the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 instant photo printer in an upcoming post. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what I’m up to and what gear I’m using. You can subscribe to this blog or share it via the buttons below. Click some, you know you want to.

Scott.

Review – Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro Lens

A few weeks ago Fujifilm Canada sent me a brand new X-E2s to review. As a current X Series owner I have a few lenses already but Fujifilm asked what lens I wanted to test with the new body. My first choice was the XF 35mm f/2 WR but all the test units were being used so they sent me my second choice, the XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro.

Lens-copy
Photo – Fujifilm Canada

 

Macro photography is something I know very little about but I love the results. A friend of mine does amazing work with insects, check out his work at macromundo.org. I did a bit of macro shooting along with some street photography and short telephoto shots. The f/2.4 aperture is fast, produces decent bokeh and the 90mm full frame equivalent works well for portraits. It’s a bit too long of a lens for everyday shooting though.

DSCF0419
X-E2s, 1/4000 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

Handheld results are decent considering this lens doesn’t have image stabilization. Shooting in aperture priority yields the best results.

DSCF0212
X-E2s, 1/1000 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

This lens gives very shallow depth of field for macro shots which is typical. Manual focusing using focus peaking works very well, auto-focus is a different story. This is one of the original XF lenses and it’s showing its age a bit. Auto-focus is slow in most situations, especially during macro shooting. In decent light it’s fast enough and in low light it does well if there’s some contrast to work with. If you need to shoot moving subjects you’ll want to shop around a bit.

DSCF0194
X-E2s, 1/100/sec, f/2.4. ISO 200

It’s  tack sharp, only falling off a bit at the edges between f/4 and f/2.8, and produces great colour in combination with Fujifilm’s unique X-trans sensor.

DSCF0193
X-E2s, 1/2500 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

On the street this lens is great for picking out interesting details and lighting in architecture. Every shot in this post is a jpeg straight from the camera with no editing. The results are consistently good, something Fujifilm X Series shooters have come to expect from the entire range.

DSCF0403
X-E2s, 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 400

As a telephoto lens the 90mm full frame equivalent focal length is a bit awkward. It never seems right, either a little too close or not close enough. It’s very sharp stopped down a bit and again the colours are great.

I’ll be sending this lens back to Fujifilm soon and I’ll definitely miss it. Macro shooting is a whole new world to me. I can see this lens making it into my lineup at some point. Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for sending it my way.

Scott.