Aug 12, 2012

Xboxes on a stroll

Finally back after a long period of… well, just no time for blogging. Luckily, that did not mean no chance to get out shooting (just almost no spare room for reviewing, processing etc.).



I took my X-cameras along on a full day of street photography in Brussels’ Marolles neighborhood, situated between the Law Courts of Brussels (the biggest building worldwide constructed in the 19th century) and the Brussels-South railway station. During the Middle Ages lepers were exiled to this area, where they were cared for by the nuns of Maria Colentes (Marikollen) – hence the origin of the area’s name.



In later centuries, the Marolles became a working class district, and in modern times even a laboratory for the construction of social housing. The neighborhood today is known for its social authenticity, as it houses a mix of generations and ethnicities.



Visitors and tourists will be attracted by the daily secondhand trade market on the ‘Vossenplein’ and by the many antiques in the surrounding streets. But if you venture a little further, there is much more to discover!



Not uncommon for street photography in general, I find this subject matter ideally suited to be captured in black and white. So these few selected shots got a good dose of Silver Efex Pro.



Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 & 60mm f/2.4;
Fujifilm X100

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

May 27, 2012


I am still discovering, bit by bit, the wonderful tool the X-Pro1 continues to be for me. As I grow more familiar with its operation and its characteristics – and learn better ways to deal with its puzzles and pitfalls – I take the camera to new challenges.

As I am writing this, Adobe still has not released any X-Pro1 RAW support for Lightroom 4, my preferred – and in reality uniquely used – post processing utility. Apparently an early evaluation version has been available to a very restricted number of parties, and most likely the ACR crew is busy finding out the hard way how to fine tune the demosaicing for Fuji’s X-Trans color filter array. So we’re stuck with out-of-camera JPGs for now, and thank God-san these are nice and useable well above average!

I currently shoot RAW + JPG large, so I will have a RAF file to revisit when LR4 support makes it to my desktop. On a few rare occasions I used the in-camera RAW conversion function to get an ‘alternative’ JPG next to the one with my default settings.


Not only do I find the X-Pro1 JPGs of very high quality with respect to color fidelity, tone rendering and image detail, shooting with neutral to somewhat flat camera settings leaves you with base images that do quite well with common post adjustments.

The image above got a dose of Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 filtering: a mix of Bleach Bypass and Detail Extractor that I have found to like a lot. And the X-Pro1 JPGs respond rather well to such a treatment.

Recently I accepted to shoot the wedding of a good friend of the family. I was not ready – by far – to rely on the X-Pro1 as my main camera: not enough hands-on experience, no medium tele option (still waiting for that 60mm lens…), no RAW support in LR4, autofocus to be improved (at least) for fast paced events…


My trusted D700 with its 24-70 f/2.8 took good care of the formal ceremony. But the X-Pro1 played excellent as second body, and I shot it a lot more than anticipated during the more casual and private parts of the day. More than anything else the indoor, no-flash, available light images surprised me pleasantly!

The flower arrangement of the little bridesmaid was shot with the 35mm f/1.4. That JPG went through LR4 and next through Color Efex Pro 4 AND Silver Efex 2. Yes, you can combine an ‘original’ image with both a color and a monochrome treatment thereof, all three mixed appropriately within Lightroom using Perfect Layers.
Look ma, no Photoshop!


Adding a slight touch only of a plug-in filter effect to an image is something I happen to do more often lately. This shot from the main Greek Orthodox Church in Brussels (captured with the 28mm f/2.0) received a little kick from Color Efex Pro’s Bleach Bypass and Detail Extractor filters combined, each one muted using a low opacity setting. The result shows a pinch of an HDR-like effect but keeps a natural look. All starting from a single JPG file…

I can’t wait to discover the full potential of the X-Pro1 images once the gates to their RAW richness get unlocked!

Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 & 35mm f/1.4

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

May 3, 2012

I stand corrected

As of today, I enjoy a much clearer view through my X-Pro1 viewfinder: I finally could install a diopter appropriately correcting for my vision.
I never intended for this blog to be about technical issues, but I guess my recent ‘quest for the optimal diopter’ may be of interest to many X-Pro1 owners.
Is there a problem?
The Fujifilm X-Pro1, unlike most recent cameras, does not come with any built-in means to adapt to its owner’s eyesight. Whether that is the result of some technical limitation linked to its unique hybrid viewfinder design, or as one more way to add to the retro look and feel, who but Fuji’s engineers can tell? The end result anyway is that many people with less-than-perfect vision - and especially those keeping on their glasses while shooting – will not be able to have a uniformly sharp look through the viewfinder, be it in optical (OVF) or electronic (EVF) mode.
Adding insult to injury, those using progressive lenses face another handicap: they will see the top and bottom of the viewfinder image with a different degree of sharpness, as their glasses’ corrections vary from top to bottom as well.
And then alas, there’s more… In OVF mode, electronic information is displayed on top of the direct optical view. The Fuji engineers for some reason have decided to ‘project’ the two images at different apparent distances. Some estimate that the optical image appears at about 1.5-2 meters, whereas the electronic overlay (and, in EVF mode, the full viewfinder image) lies closer.
IMG_0315wA wealth of information in the X-Pro1 optical viewfinder
Is there a solution?
The viewfinder comes equipped with a screw-in clear protection glass with zero correction. How do I know? If you remove the part and hold it over e.g. text on a page, the image seen through the glass does not shift when the glass is moved around.
That ‘neutral’ eyepiece can be replaced by a diopter, a lens with a positive or negative correction factor just like eyeglasses. The X-Pro1 accepts a 19 mm diameter screw-in type diopter, the same type as once used by Voigtlander Bessa cameras, or older Nikon F (FE, FM, FA…) series SLR bodies. If your photography history goes back far enough, you might have some lying around in a drawer. Otherwise, you can go hunt for them at the handful of specialized camera shops that still carry or cater to (used) rangefinder cameras. As these diopters recently became a hot item overnight, you will likely find them back-ordered from the manufacturer: prepare for another patient wait… (remember the anticipation for your camera to arrive?).
What diopter correction do you need?
Correction eyepieces typically come in -3, –2, –1, +1, +2 and +3 diopter strengths (a 0-D part has no correction and serves as a replacement for a lost neutral glass).
If you know the details of your eyeglass prescription, you may try to do the math. Take into account that by design the X-Pro1 viewfinder has a built-in correction of –1, as confirmed by Fuji support sources. That value has been known to work best for the ‘average’ photographer (know any?), and also was the default with the older Nikon SLRs; Leica M-series cameras come preset to a –0.5 strength. It’s not impossible to calculate the desired correction, but nothing will work better (or at least, prove to be more reliable) than a real eyes-on test.
Better swing by your local optician and look into the viewfinder through the correction lenses they always keep handy. Test first with an EVF display (or call up the Q menu), then switch from EVF to OVF. Do this while wearing your glasses, of course, if you plan to keep them on while shooting. You will be able to verify the perceived image under different circumstances (OVF, EVF).
I myself cheated. Being nearsighted, I knew I needed a positive correction *. I recently have liberated a set of three Hoya close-up filters (in +1, +2 and +4 strengths) from the drawer where they had long retired. Every accessory I have with a 52mm filter thread has become popular again: once Nikon’s standard thread for basic prime lenses, this size is now used on the Fuji XF 18mm and 35mm lenses. So I had a set of trial diopters ready at hand (and a lot of filters as well).
* Just to be clear: nearsighted (myopic) people need a negative correction from their eyeglasses for distance viewing. For more nearby objects, that correction typically (and over age) will be weaker, maybe even zero for very short distances. Progressive lenses therefore add a positive ‘counter’ correction kicking in across the lower half of the eyeglasses. And as I want/need to keep my glasses on for shooting, I need a positive correction on top of the bigger negative one already built into them.
Where do you find one?
I ordered my Voigtlander +2 round diopter correction lens online from They are sold at an acceptable GBP 15.00 excl. 20% VAT; too bad the cheapest delivery method, signed-for air mail, adds another GBP 10.50 excl. VAT. Reported out of stock at the time of my order, the diopter still came in pretty fast and showed up at home this morning.
_DS77106wLeft the Fuji original, right the Voigtlander +2 diopter
The Voigtlander diopter looks remarkably like the original Fuji eyepiece. I would not be surprised if they shared a manufacturing line somewhere East. Fortunately, the diopter glass has a discrete reflective (in my case) +2 marking, barely visible in the above (click to enlarge) picture. The diopter has the same nice rubber coated ring as on the original: ideal for eyeglasses. Beware that the Nikon diopters have metal rings!
Do diopters work well?
Of course they do! With my diopter installed, I have a perfectly sharp view on the entire viewfinder area. Well, at least on the electronic overlay part and – when enabled – on the EVF image. Which is what I find most critical: the EVF is used for an exact display of the frame-to-be-captured, and also for macro shots and for fine tuning (manual) focus, with or without the optional enlargement. There is a small but noticeable difference between top and bottom sharpness, but of course that’s due to my use of progressive eyeglasses (there’s no progressive diopters that I know of…).
However, the OVF image showing at a different apparent distance now is slightly more out of focus. Not all too critical, since the OVF frame lines are approximate anyway, and all of the electronic data still looks tack sharp.
So I managed to reach my objectives, and finally have a super view through the super viewfinder of a super camera.
Just to be 100% convinced that I did not overcompensate with a +2 correction, I also did order a +1 diopter now (see? I should have taken a better look to begin with!). I will evaluate both options in real-life use, and perhaps one of the diopters will find another home then. Will take some time: the +1 is on back order…
Gear notes: D700, Tamron 90/2.8 – iPhone 4S
Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

May 2, 2012


Just two days after getting my Fujifilm X-Pro1, I participated to a Belgiumdigital Shooting Day in the southern Antwerp area. Our route partly followed the ‘Expedition Blue Gate Antwerp’ trail, a discovery tour laid out last year through a historically significant but today largely abandoned section of the old harbor (locally known as ‘Petrol South’).


The gear was brand new to me, but coming from the X100 and having read the X-Pro1 manual long before the camera arrived, the basics were well understood. Just a matter then of getting familiar with the latest toy and two of its new lenses.


What’s so special about the old petroleum harbor? In 1863, only four years after drilling the first well in the US, Antwerp already had become the largest and best equipped import harbor for oil products in Europe. It kept that status until 1927, when Hamburg and Rotterdam took over.


At the start of the 20th century, Antwerp moves its focus for oil related activities to the south of the city. An area of 100 hectares is acquired and construction work starts: a 300m long concrete pier, underground pipelines, huge fuel storage tanks…  After only one year of operations a big catastrophe happens: one of the fuel tank ruptures and ignites. Immense fires rage for twelve days and destroy the installations almost completely.
Within the year, the infrastructure is rebuilt and industrial activities resume, and with that, the first complaints about oil leaks and the resulting pollution are recorded.

When World War I erupts, the authorities give the order to set fire to the oil tanks and destroy all infrastructure. The arriving German troops will find only a small part intact. After the war, the expansion of Antwerp’s petroleum harbor resumes. By 1920, no less than 233 oil storage tanks are counted. A final extension is realized in 1934. But the area runs out of space for new plants, and oil tankers have grown to a size that the old harbor can no longer accommodate. During the same  year a first new refinery is constructed in the northern harbor. This is the beginning of the end for ‘Petrol South’…


Today, only a few oil-related companies remain active, the rest of the area is dotted with industrial antiquities and derelict buildings. But the heavily polluted site stands on the brink of a new future: a massive cleanup and reconversion effort has begun to turn this part of Antwerp’s south harbor into the place to be for new sustainable and ecological ventures.


It’s not hard to see that ‘Petrol South’ is a visually rich area and a real treat for photographers. So it did serve as an ideal playground to discover a new camera that by itself represents a unique combination of past and future.

Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 & 35mm f/1.4

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Apr 26, 2012


The brand new X-Pro1 has been in my hands for two weeks now. There was (too) little time to take it through a full spin, but – other than the usual trial shots in and around the house – I took the camera out to two long photowalks (the recent Belgiumdigital Shooting Days in Antwerp and Oudenaarde). Here’s my first impressions and lessons learned.

DSCF0142wBeautiful color and tone rendition (with 35mm f/1.4)


I shot with optical viewfinder film cameras before and have intensively used an X100 for a year, so this type of gear is not new to me. Picking up the X-Pro1 after the X100 gave me no issues whatsoever. The camera is slightly but pleasantly larger and heavier. It balances well with the 18mm and 35mm lenses (my 60mm copy is still to arrive). I went for the additional handgrip, and I like how it adds to the handling. It will probably show even more useful with longer and heavier glass. Of course, it will take some time before I can operate the X-Pro1 without taking my eye from the viewfinder: some controls moved position, and my fingers must learn to keep away from the Q button and the AF/MF dial. The more than complete feedback through the viewfinder (in both OVF and EVF modes) is of great help!

One serious issue in this area: the lack of eyesight adjustment. Based on technical limitations or in a misguided attempt to ‘go retro’ even more, Fuji’s engineers threw a spell on anyone wearing glasses while shooting – especially those with progressive lenses. We simply cannot get a complete sharp viewfinder image, even with funny head contortions… Replacing the standard neutral diopter with an appropriate correction lens is the only solution. These once common optical gizmos today are very hard to find (and out of stock at about every dealer that still carries them).

I ordered a +2D Voigtlander diopter (of Bessa fame) from a specialized UK shop. Even better: I got news today that it just shipped by air. I soon will find out whether manual focus with the electronic viewfinder is feasible (judging from how things work from the back LCD, I am not all too worried).

DSCF0295wSubtle nuances all over (with 18mm f/2.0)


I grew to love the X100 and learned to live with its ‘personality’. The X-Pro1 improves in many areas, so it performs even better as long as you keep a conscious and ‘forward thinking’ shooting style. I will not rely on this camera as the primary body for a fast-action or be-ready-for-anything situation, but I will happily take it there as my second one. If you know nothing else but über-automatic compacts or faster-than-you-can-think DSLRs, you might end up confused and disappointed. I for one enjoy the more determined and relaxed approach that both X-bodies promote.

I looooove the extensive manual controls, and consider the new Q (for quick) button a godsend. For a Nikon fanboy like me, changing lenses feels awkward at first: the unlock button and the direction of rotation are clearly ‘wrong’…  The touch and feel of the lenses is excellent. I don’t understand why some people complain about their low weight: isn’t this kind of camera all about carrying smaller and lighter?

The aperture blade chatter was present but – to me – not overly irritating. It’s mostly gone now anyway after the 1.01 firmware update (thank you, Fuji-san, but were you really surprised?).

The battery capacity could be better, so far I cannot or just hardly make it through a full day of varied shooting (note that I do keep Power Save off and Quick Start on). Maybe battery life will improve after a few more charging cycles. The spare battery on my original order (still not delivered) will be more than welcome. Actually, I intend to buy an extra one from whatever dealer or webshop that can supply now.

DSCF0090wSizzle and detail (with 18mm f/2.0)

Image quality

As said before, I did not take the X-Pro1 through a full battery of tests - and probably never will. I did attempt to grab as many different types of shots as possible during the recent field trips.
I very much like everything I’ve seen so far. The 18mm lens is perfectly sharp, and the 35mm even more. The images are full of crisp detail, white balance is as correct as can be expected. Colors are Fuji-great, tonal range stunning. The X-Pro1’s images generally stand up to – correct that, often look better than – those from anything else I shoot with, including my trusted D700. No little feat.

DSCF0336wA dynamic range with room to stretch (with 35mm f/1.4)

Remember, all you see here comes from JPG files produced by the camera. No RAW file support for the X-Pro1 yet in Lightroom nor Aperture, and the bundled Silkypix software shows nothing that prompts me go through another learning curve. The quality of the out-of-camera JPG images is top-notch though! So far I did not experiment with the available conversion settings to get the results even closer to my taste. Rather, I leave all settings on ‘neutral’ and make minor adjustments in Lightroom, as usual.

DSCF0165-EditwPlug’em to your taste (with 35mm f/1.4)


Lightroom 4 is just great to explore and exploit the boundaries of your image data. The X-Pro1 images perfectly behave through all kinds of manipulations. Insofar those are required, beyond a basic cropping, contrast boost and occasional color twist. Obviously, JPG files come with less tweaking latitude than RAWs, so I shoot RAW+JPG and save the RAW files for later, Adobe permitting.

The JPGs are also fit for processing by your preferred plug-ins. The image above got a dash of Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4.

DSCF0418wGetting close (with Tamron 90mm f/2.8)

More fun to come

As with most compact system cameras, the X-Pro1 lenses are designed to come very close to the sensor. That setup – getting rid of the deep mirror box of a DSLR – leaves room for an adapter accepting lenses from another camera system. No doubt the current Fujinon lenses will outperform most of the old ones with similar focal length, but beyond that there’s macro, fisheye, portrait, long tele…

I already received a Chinese Kippon adapter for Nikon F lenses, and a lot of manual focus and AF-D lenses – some dating back to the 70s – are waiting to make a pass at the X-Pro1. The well-known Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens was one of the first to get mounted. The example above shows part of a postage stamp (original size about 20 x 30 mm).

A newer Kippon adapter for Nikon G-type lenses (without an aperture control ring) is already in transit from Hong Kong, soon to be joined by yet another adapter for Leica 39mm screw mount glass (I am lucky to own a few of those built around WWII).

Hope to see you back when there’s more to report!

Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 & 35mm f/1.4,
                  Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di

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Apr 14, 2012

Black box revelations

Aaah! The joys of unpacking newly arrived boxes after weeks of anticipation! Opening plastic bags, slipping out exquisite pieces of craftsmanship, pondering over what-the-heck-are-these bits!


My new Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera arrived yesterday. Together with the body, I received the 35mm f/1.4 and 18mm f/2.0 lenses – a good starter’s kit corresponding to 50mm and 28mm field-of-view on full-frame systems. The 60mm f/2.4 macro lens has not arrived yet, neither has an extra NP-W126 battery (thus limiting my shooting autonomy for a while).

In this post and a series of follow-up ones, I will cover my early findings and ongoing experiences as I discover this camera. Don’t hope for technical specs, pixel-peep test frames or side-by-side comparisons to other bodies: there’s more than enough other blogs and sites for that.  Stay here for a step-by-step evaluation of Fuji’s new FX system, and for hints and tips about it.

As you might know I have very much enjoyed my Fujifilm X-100 over the past year. An intriguing device with original technology, excellent image quality but also eh… its own ‘identity’. Those who persisted however, willing to somewhat adjust their ways for optimal results, have been charmed by its unique qualities. A number of firmware updates have made the X-100 much closer to what its engineers must have intended at the start. So expect that form time to time I will compare the X-Pro1 to the X-100.

First encounters

Just as with the X-100, Fuji brings us nicely styled and sleek but also functional packaging. Everything that should be there is indeed included with the body and lenses. This time, even the lens hoods, and quite original ones too.

The body feels nice and solid, lighter than many seem to have expected. But isn’t the reduced weight one of the famed advantages of mirrorless systems? The lenses are compact and light as well, but I don’t see any reason to doubt about their quality and robustness.

What at first sight looks like a generous piece of microfiber cloths, packed with each lens, turns out to be a handy lens pouch. The carrying strap is made from leather and more discrete than the X-100 one. Good enough to start with.


Time to put a lens on the body. If you’re a long-time Nikon user like me, you will suddenly find yourself in a universe where all things look reversed: the unlocking button seems oddly placed at the ‘wrong’ side, and lens alignment and twist direction are different too. Something to get accustomed to.

Throw in a battery (that of course was already charging in the background) and a memory card. As with the X-100, go for the fastest card you can obtain and afford: it does make a significant difference especially if you are/will be shooting RAW. I use 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC cards rated at 95MB/s, and these make me happy as a clam.

Now let’s look through the viewfinder, a hybrid one of course, that’s one of the features to want this camera for in the first place. I don’t have the impression (like others) that the X-Pro1 offers a smaller image compared to the X-100. I do believe however that the eye point is different: wearing my glasses (as usual) I find it harder to see all four corners at the same time.

But unfortunately, there’s more… Fuji has left out a built-in diopter adjustment, and that makes it impossible for me to get a sharp image across the viewfinder. Even worse, I use progressive glasses, and I can only see near-sharp through their bottom half. That means awkward head positioning and neck contortions.

It is possible exchange the ‘neutral’ ocular by a diopter lens matching your eyesight. Such 19mm round diopters have been used before on Zeiss/Cosina cameras and Nikon F-bodies. They are not easy to find, and (as I found out) mostly available on order only. I will have to wait a few more weeks for my +2 relief!


I also got the optional hand grip, as seen in the above picture. It doesn’t add a lot of weight or bulk, but makes the hold just that bit more comfortable. Having not that large hands, I am not sure I really need it, or even will end up using it most of the time. Only a lot of shooting practice will tell. But hey, I went for it anyway: you know it hurts less when extras are added to the initial order!

More accessories

The absence of a reflex mirror box makes it possible to move the elements of a ‘native’  mirrorless lens a lot closer to the sensor. That, in turn, opens the way to use adapter rings – essentially metal tubes with a different lens mount at each side – for attaching ‘foreign’ DSLR lenses at their original imaging distance.

I purchased a Chinese Kipon adapter for using Nikon F-mount lenses on Fuji FX-mount bodies. No mechanical links or electrical connections are present, so both focus and aperture control remain entirely manual, and must be set from the lens. Pre-AI, AI, AI-S, AF and AF-D lenses will do; G-type lenses (including all those for the DX crop format) will be stuck at their smallest aperture setting (highest f-number) and thus be pretty useless.

Kipon has announced a second generation device with an added control ring to (approximately) set the aperture from the adapter itself. That will make G-lenses work as well, and yes, my copy is already on its way from Hong Kong.

I have a collection of older and recent F-lenses, and some of these should be fun to use on the X-Pro1: fast ones like a 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/2.8, a 16mm fisheye (why did I sell the 10.5mm DX when I went FX?), a 90mm macro… I even kept a copy of the 28-200G, a small and lightweight do-it-all. Think compact 42-300mm sneak-in-the-bag travel lens?

The few ones I quickly slapped onto the adapter all worked well, at least mechanically. Below is the X-Pro1 with the Kipon adapter and a 1976 Nikon 50mm f/2.0, the very first SLR lens I bought from my own money!


And now for something completely relevant…

All of the above are mere impressions from my first 24 hours with the camera. Yes, of course I have initial opinions on image quality, AF speed, MF usability, aperture blade chatter… but all are way too early to be meaningful, as I have hardly made a decent shot so far (I don’t have a dog nor a black cat, no brick wall either, you see?).

The good news: tomorrow I will have the opportunity to take my X-Precious out all day long. A Belgiumdigital Shooting Day will take us to both an urban/industrial site and a nature preservation area. The X-100 will tag along (I fear that a single X-Pro1 battery will not take me through the day…).

Stay tuned for real images and more observations!

P.S. A small note to the title: Black Box Revelation is a Belgian garage rock band with a fast growing international reputation.

Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, 35mm f/1.4 – Fujifilm X100

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Apr 11, 2012

Heavenly peace

Little or no blog activity for some time, but that doesn’t mean my cameras have been idle… Most projects though were not for public sharing.

A week ago, I had to kill some time in the beautiful city of Lier. As always my Fujifilm X100 was on my side, and we paid a quick visit to the small but exquisite beguinage. While founded in the year 1258, most surviving buildings on this UNESCO World Heritage Site date from the 17th and early 18th centuries.

Amazing how this place still remains an oasis of peace in the middle of an otherwise thriving city.






Meanwhile, I am (im)patiently waiting for the X-Pro1 to arrive…

Gear notes: Fujifilm X100

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Mar 8, 2012

As time goes by…


If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I dearly love my Fujifilm X100. Since its arrival last May, that camera has brought me more photographic pleasure and satisfaction than I ever could have expected. I have no doubt that the X100 will remain my tool of choice when I am looking for simplicity and for shooting pictures for the fun of it.

There is also no doubt in my mind that my trusted D700 goes into the bag whenever I need to shoot dynamic action, a fast-paced event, or simply cannot afford to miss the golden shot. Or need a long tele, or capture ‘true’ macros. The D700 should not worry about being left in the dark too much. For what I plan to shoot in the coming months, I see no need to make a move to a D800 (although a D4 would be great, even a good used copy of a D3S).

But for a while now a new potential contender lurks around the corner. One that most likely will steal a lot of street time from the X100 – without replacing it completely. One that almost certainly will be picked up where otherwise I would have taken the D700.

I am talking about the new Fujifilm FinePix X-Pro1.

As soon as that camera was announced, I put in my pre-order for a body and all three of the initial prime lenses. There’s so much of the great X100 stuff I learned to love in the X-Pro1, and then some more. And unless something else is totally screwed up (and not being properly addressed promptly), I know I will like it a lot!

I was able to handle a pre-production X-Pro1 for some 20 minutes earlier this week, and it felt great. Late next week I should have another brief go at it. And then it will be another long wait until the black boxes arrive, hopefully around the end of the month.

I will be happy to share with you my adventures with the new X-kid on the blog, just like I did for the X100. As the old song goes:

On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.”

Gear notes: “under construction”

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 20, 2012

100X100 – epilog

At the end of May last year I received my Fujifilm FinePix X100, one of the first batch arriving in Belgium. The end of a long waiting period, as I first saw (and immediately fell for) that beautiful camera at the 2010 Photokina. It turned out to be a significant milestone, as the X100 has strongly influenced my photography ever since.


Within days I decided this camera is worth the effort of getting deeply acquainted with. It seemed and later proved to be a tool that will not simply adapt to whatever your shooting habits may be… The X100 opens up to a wealth of photographic pleasure and lots of creative stimuli, but only when you accept to explore and embrace its essence and particularities.


I decided to share my journey with the X100 on this blog. The result: twenty ‘100X100’ episodes that document my learning process, five images at a time. I also determined that I would not once put a 35mm prime on my D700 (my favorite street shooting combo at the time) before completing this X100 series.


And so I started growing into the X100 more and more. Light and compact to come along to any occasion. Clear and sharp from the hand and from the hip. Vibrant colors and smooth tones, whatever the lighting, dynamic range or ISO setting. Super quiet and unobtrusive, stealthy as needed. Simply said: a pure gem.


I relived the pleasure of letting the eye dominate the equipment. Somewhat forgotten, but never unlearned from the days that cameras were either simple and compact, or else  not affordable. Remembering to anticipate, reposition, preset and zone-focus.
To see before shooting, to capture without chimping. That joy!


The X100 also got me firmly back into ‘shooting’ black&white. Admitted, Nik’s wonderful Silver Efex Pro played a big role there too: that software allows me to dust off my tricks from the  darkroom past, as well as taking images past old frontiers.

That’s why, for this 100X100 epilog, I picked some of my favorite color shots from the series and spinned them through the B&W machine. Hope you enjoy!

Gear notes: Fujifilm X100, Silver Efex Pro

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 2, 2012

100X100 – episode 20

So glad to escape form my desk for an hour or two! Today we had a cold and windy but also rather sunny day: ideal to make the hop to a nearby recreation ‘park’, a former clay pit turned into a not-too-fashioned collection of ponds, trails, sports facilities and event areas. And the X100 came along – of course.


That little camera handles wide dynamic range situations oh so well! Its RAW files leave plenty of room for adjustment to match your memorized impression or any other creative rendering. And the latest Lightroom spin (a.k.a. beta 4) brings new strings to pull. That doesn’t just sound like fun: it is!


If you know your way around the 185 acre terrain, you can find some relics of the brick making industry that thrived in this area for centuries, until it mostly died in the seventies. Rust and dust, tones and structures: time to fire up some of the usual post-processing plug-ins!


And finally, none of these posts will do without a square and/or black&white image… Here we go!


Gear notes: Fujifilm X100, Lightroom 4 beta, Nik Color Efex Pro 4

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Jan 1, 2012

All the best to you!


I wish all you visitors to this humble blog a great 2012, loaded with exciting photo opportunities and rewarding pictures.

And, as the year’s start is rumored to come with lots of product announcements and will lead to another Photokina anyway, a healthy wallet should come handy as well…

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