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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Do Point And Shoots Have A Point?

Smartphones have become the go to camera for most people. The images they produce are stunning considering the tiny optics and small sensors that are packed into mobile entertainment devices. What does this mean for the tried and tested Point and Shoot camera? Most Point and Shoots offer Smartphone equivalent sensor sizes and megapixel counts but they set themselves apart with better optics and in some cases optical zoom lenses. Then there are Action Cameras, they take still photos too. These are 3 budget friendly options for a quick comparison.

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Camera Squad.

The LG G4 Smartphone, the Samsung WB350f Smart Camera, and the Optex Safari HD Action Camera (a re-branded SJCAM SJ4000). The LG and Samsung have similar sensor specs, 1/2.3″ 16MP for the Samsung, 1/2.6″ 16MP for the LG. The Safari Action Camera claims to have a 2/3″12mp sensor but it actually has a 3MP sensor. If you choose 12MP the images are the same resolution but it creates bigger files. Ok enough tech talk, lets look at some pictures. All shots are unedited out of camera JPEG files.

In daylight these 3 cameras produce wildly different results. The LG (left) defaults to HDR in bright light producing dreamlike images with tons of colour. The image is sharp and fairly clean. The Samsung (middle) overexposes in bright light. The colours are a little on the yellow side and the details aren’t as crisp as the G4. The Safari Action Camera (right) looks like security camera footage. Grainy, dull, unimpressive. That being said with a little post processing they make very usable files for Instagram. Winner – LG G4.

Indoors with mixed lighting the results are a bit closer. The LG (left) and Samsung (middle) do a decent job with the exposure but the G4 pulls out a lot more detail in the shadows. If you open the images and look at the detail on the wall tile you can see how much better the G4 renders it. The Safari Cam (right) puts out a lot of noise, colour fringing around the windows, and muted colours. Winner – LG G4.

In harsh lighting situations the LG (left) picks up good detail in the shadows while controlling the exposure in the bight areas. The detail in the copper lead is quite good and the colours are accurate. The Samsung (middle) handles this situation well. The shadow detail is very good but the light areas are slightly over exposed. It loses some detail on the copper lead as well. The Safari Cam (right) actually does a nice job with the tricky exposure here. Too bad the colours are washed out and that 3MP sensor doesn’t give much detail. Winner – LG G4

Macro shooting is something a lot of cameras struggle with. The LG (left) produces sharp details and a nice shallow depth of field with its f/1.8 lens. The Samsung (middle) is an impressive macro shooter. It produces great detail and it focuses faster than the laser autofocusing G4. The Safari Cam (right) doesn’t do macro, not even a little bit. Winner – Samsung WB350f.

Shooting in low light is a gamble with all three cameras. The LG is good for city lights and dim restaurants but the LED flash is weak. The Samsung is awful in low light, anything over ISO400 is a disaster but the built in flash makes up for it in indoor situations. The Safari Cam should stay home at night. There’s no winner here, so much so that photos aren’t necessary. If you shoot in low light do some research and spend some money.

The clear winner here is the LG G4. Does this mean that Point and Shoot cameras are pointless? That’s a tough question to answer. Entry level Point and Shoot cameras are fairly pointless but spend a few extra dollars and you get a decent zoom like the Samsung WB350f. 21x optical zoom on its small sensor is equivalent to 483mm in 35mm terms. That’s impressive. What does this mean to the average traveler or casual shooter? It means wildlife photography and cool telephoto shots are possible with a camera that fits in your pants pocket.

All of these cameras are still available but there are newer models with higher specs and different features being released regularly. There are also similar devices available from dozens of manufacturers. The choice comes down to your personal tastes. Can you get by without a big zoom? If so most modern Smartphones will be all the camera you need. Do you want a little more control and like the options a zoom lens gives you? If you do then a Point and Shoot with a decent zoom might be for you. If you do a lot of action sports and take HD video the Safari Cam is a great choice, easily keeping pace with much more expensive Action Cameras in video quality. It doesn’t really have the goods to replace your Smartphone or Point and Shoot camera for still images though.

If you like what you see here please share and comment below!

Scott.

Disclaimer – I didn’t include an iPhone in this test because the images they produce are very underwhelming. I know some people have very strong opinions about the iPhone and that’s ok. I have a 6 Plus which does a decent job in most situation but the G4 is noticeably better.

 

 

 

Wellington Photo Roundup

It’s been 3 months since I was in New Zealand and this is my first post about Wellington. I connected with Wellington in a way I can’t explain. These are few photos I took, I hope you like them. I honestly can’t find the words to express what Wellington meant to me.

"Solace In The Wind."
“Solace In The Wind.”
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel's Cafe
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel’s Cafe
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
Rain on Cuba Street
Rain on Cuba Street
Free range balloon.
Free range balloon.
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Street Art.
Street Art.
The Bucket Fountain.
The Bucket Fountain.

Project Pocket Camera Is Finished!

I’m sure most of you know I’m a camera hoarder. I prefer to think of myself as a rescuer of vintage cameras. I have some wonderful old film cameras that get used and appreciated instead of ending up in a landfill. Film is a bit of work, it is getting expensive to buy and process, and it sucks to travel with. My digital lineup used to include a Pentax DSLR but late last year I sold it and committed to the Fujifilm X series. My first “real” camera was the Fujifilm X-A1, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It was the camera that sparked my interest in photography. It had its limitations, the biggest being the lack of a viewfinder. After I picked up my Pentax DSLR the X-A1 didn’t see a lot of action. When I sold the Pentax I bought a Fujifilm X-T10, the little X-A1 was always around though. It was a gift and I couldn’t bring myself to sell it.

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A few weeks ago Fujifilm announced some new hardware. The XPro 2, the X-E2s (I also owned an X-E1 briefly which I loved), the X70, and the XF 100-400mm zoom lens. The X70 got me thinking about my X-A1, I could essentially make a pocketable fixed focus camera with similar specs for a lot less money. Project Pocket Camera was born. I purchased the Fujinon XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens from London Drugs and stuck it to my X-A1. It fits in a coat pocket and takes fantastic photos. The X70 is $899 new, my X-A1 setup is around $200 less. $250 for a used body, $399 for the lens, and $50-$60 for the optical viewfinder I found in the Ukraine. Do you need the viewfinder? No, but it sure is cool.

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The image quality this package delivers is outstanding. The 27mm focal length works out to 40.5mm in full frame terms given the crop factor of the APSC sensor. I’ve seen a few people complain that this lens doesn’t have an aperture ring. It would be nice but the rear control dial does the trick in aperture priority mode.

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Granville Street at night
The f2.8 aperture is fast enough for most low light situations. The X series is decent up to ISO 6400 with minimal noise, even when shooting jpegs.

Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
I have a few X series lenses, the 16-55mm kit zoom, the XF 35mm f1.4 (which is dreamy), and the 55-230mm zoom. The 27mm is impressive and versatile, it is well suited to travel and street photography, and the autofocus is fast and accurate. The X-A1 is a prefect companion for this lens, the rest of my lenses do the heavy lifting on my X-T10.

Winter in Vancouver.
Winter in Vancouver.
To be honest if money was no object I’d have bought an X70 instead. This setup is a compromise but the results have exceeded my expectations and my X-A1 has found a new purpose.

raw test 1

Stay tuned for more photography related pieces in the future. When the weather clears up I have some projects I want to tackle. I have a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix coming up and I’m hoping to get into the heart of the BC back country this summer.

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @wflbc.

Scott.

WFLBC Goes To New Zealand – A Mirrorless Adventure

Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip...
Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip…

As most of you know I’m off to New Zealand in November. As a photography enthusiast I’ve been having a hard time deciding what kind of gear I want to bring along. Film was out right away because that’s too much work. It was down to my Pentax DSLRs or my Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras. When I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish in New Zealand the choice was easy, mirrorless all the way.

What's in my bag?
What’s in my bag?

My X-series cameras offer the same sensor size and resolution as my DSLRs but take up a lot less space which is a big consideration for air travel. A DSLR body, a prime and a zoom lens take up the same space as 2 mirrorless bodies, a prime, and 2 zooms. That means a smaller camera bag that can be your secondary piece of carry-on baggage. My editing/sharing tools are an iPad mini and a Chromebook. Both are light and compact and if they get lost, stolen, or damaged they’re not worth a ton of money.

The Fujifilm X-series is a fantastic camera platform. My little X-A1 (now replaced by the X-A2), the black camera pictured above, is a perfect starter camera for anyone who wants to get better shots than a smartphone or a point and shoot can produce. My X-E1 (now replaced by the X-E2) is aimed at more advanced shooters with greater manual control and a slick electronic viewfinder. I have 3 X-series lenses. A 35mm prime lens for portraits or street photography, a 16-50mm zoom for wide angle and general shooting, and a 50-230mm zoom for wildlife and telephoto shots.

Most days I’ll just carry the X-E1 with either the 35mm or the 16-50mm on it. I don’t want to pack a bag around unless I think I’ll want more options depending on my destination. I’ll pack a tripod in my checked bag just incase. Taking 2 bodies isn’t 100% necessary but if one body breaks of malfunctions I have a backup.

Mirrorless in New Zealand, That’s what’s for lunch.

Scott.

Editors note – My flag logo will be out of date soon as New Zealand is currently in the public consultation phase of picking a new flag.