Why does it always rain on a Saturday

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It’s another early Saturday morning, and yet again it’s raining. Such is the life of landscape photographer, destined to spend more time than is good for me sitting in the car watching the rain run down the windows, hoping there may be a break, when really I should have stayed in bed.
Maybe tomorrow.

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Fuji X-E1 RAW Versus JPG Versus Canon 5D Mk2 RAW (Part 2)

I’ve finally managed to get out and take a few more comparison landscape shots using the Fuji X-E1 and the Canon 5D Mk2.
This time I’ve processed the Fuji RAW files with Iridient Developer before importing to Lightroom for a final tweak.
Please excuse the differences in white balance between the Canon and Fuji images. I didn’t try to make them identical.
Lenses used where the Fuji 18-55mm and the Canon 24-105mm L.
You can see the Canon RAW CR2 file on the left and the Fuji image processed with Iridient Developer on the right. (click for a larger image)

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Bottom edge of the imageScreen Shot 2013-11-05 at 19.36.19

The thing that surprised me most was the Fuji’s sharpness at the edges of the frame compared to the Canon.
In almost all cases I prefer the Fuji images and I certainly prefer to cary the fuji around.
The canon is now finding itself left at home more often than not.

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Scotland Trip Part2

More images from our Scotland trip uploaded.

http://www.richardbowdenphotography.co.uk/album/latest-images

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Scotland Trip Part1

I’ve just finished editing the first batch of images from our West coast of Scotland Trip.
All the images were taken with the Fuji X-E1 with either the 18-55mm or 55-200mm lenses.

http://www.richardbowdenphotography.co.uk/album/latest-images

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Fuji X-E1 X-Trans RAW Development

Recently I took short tour of the islands of Skye and Arran of the west coast of Scotland. As I was short on space, I decided to leave the Cannon 5D at home and only take the Fuji X-E1 for the journey.

On returning home I started to develop my RAW files with Adobe Lightroom 4.4 and was a bit disappointed to say the least. The main issue I have is with the unrealistic rendering of grass and foliage when attempting to sharpen the image, and as you can probably guess, almost all my landscape images from Scotland contain quite a lot of grass and foliage.

So I revisited the notion of using a different RAW converter again.
I did try some convertors when I first got my X-E1 (Capture One, AccuRaw, Silkypix) but I didn’t think they were that much ahead of Lightroom to justify the extra workflow steps needed.
I then came across a convertor I’d never heard of before, Iridient Developer, so I though I’d give it a go.

I took an image and developed it in Lightroom as best I could suing the best combination of sharpening settings I could find (after much experimentation).
I then took the same RAW file and developed it in Iridient Developer.
While using Iridient Developer I paid attention to the exposure, white balance and sharpening. I exported the image as a jpeg (a 16bit Tiff would have given me more colour depth but this is just for quick test) and then brought the jpeg back into Lightroom (as I use the DAM features a lot).

Below is the full image (Iridient Developer output on the left, Lightroom on the right).
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Comparing the 100% crops is like night and day to my eyes.
The Iridient Developer output is so much sharper and renders grass and foliage so much more realistic.
Below are some 100% crops (Iridient Developer output on the left, Lightroom on the right).
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I have been so impressed by the output from Iridient Developer that I’ve switched from using Lightroom for developing the Fuji RAW files (or using the Fuji jpegs) and only using the DAM features in Lightroom.
It’s a shame because I like using Lightroom and will now have more files to deal with.
Hopefully Adobe will catch up at some point with it’s rendering of Fuji X-Trans files but until then this is the workflow I’ll be using.

  1. Import RAW files to Lightroom.
  2. Review, tag, delete files.
  3. After deciding which files to process, open and process with Iridient Developer saving to jpeg or tiff depending on needs.
  4. Import jpeg or tiff into Lightroom and store in same folder as RAW file.
  5. Do any final tweaking in Lightroom.
  6. Stack RAW and jpeg/tiff together.

 

Raw Developer is available from Iridient Digital at http://www.iridientdigital.com

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XE-1 in the Peak District

Spending the weekend on the Peak District with some friends. The four of us are squeezed into one camper-van so it’s an ideal opportunity to take the Fuji over the canon.
After a disappointing morning I’m now sat on the ridge at the Roaches on a very windy evening with just the XE-1 and the Giottos Vetruvian travel tripod with a bag of stones to weigh it down. It will be interesting if I get any good shots using this combo.

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Fuji X-E1 RAW Versus JPG Versus Canon 5D Mk2 RAW

On a recent trip to the North Norfolk coast I thought I’d try and take the same shots with both the Canon 5D and The Fuji X-E1 and compare both.
This is not a scientific comparison but a test to give some indication of image quality of the RAW files and the Fuji JPG.

Images were taken with:
Canon 5D mk2 with Canon 24-105mm zoom lens.
Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon 18-55mm zoom lens.
Editing was done using Adobe Lightroom RC4.4.

This image shows a 100% crop from the Canon and Fuji RAW files with no editing and no sharpening (click for full size image).
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This image shows a 100% crop from the Canon and Fuji RAW files with no editing and no sharpening (click for full size image).
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I think the fuji RAW file holds up well against the larger sensor (and much bigger and pricier lens) of the Canon. The Canon has a little more detail but there’s not much in it.

This image shows both the RAW files and the Fuji out of camera JPG after post processing with Adobe Lightroom RC4.4.
The JPG was processed in camera to give a very flat low contrast file using the in camera sharpening and noise reduction. There was no sharpening applied to the JPG in post processing  (click for full size image).
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Same for this image.
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Conclusions:

  • The Fuji RAW files hold up well against the Canon.
  • The Fuji in camera JPG files are quite simply the best I’ve seen from any camera ever.
  • Processing the Fuji RAW files with Lightroom is generally good (good enough for most purposes) but the sharpening still needs to be improved.
  • The Canon will still be my go to camera for landscape work when I have access to the car and large tripod and don’t have to walk too far (lazy I know).
  • For walking, holidays and travel, the Fuji will be in my bag and the Canon will taking a vacation at home.
  • I’ll be shooting RAW+JPG (set to produce a low contrast file) and using the JPG most of the time and only using the RAW when I need to.
  • I’ll be keeping the RAW files for when (hopefully) Adobe improve their processing of the X Trans files.

I’ve also been testing a beta version of AccuRaw which produces some quite good results but do I want to end up with both 26MB RAW And 100MB TIFF files. Probably not for every shot but might be useful for a special one.
I’ll take a look at AccuRaw in more detail when it’s released to the public.

 

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Fuji X-E1

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve been umming and arring about replacing my Panasonic GX1 for what seems like an eternity and now I’ve finally done it and got the new Fuji X-E1.

Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, 35mm lens

Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, 35mm lens

Why did I get rid of the GX1?
I just wasn’t getting on with it. I got the GX1 initially because I was getting fed up carrying around my Cannon 5D all the time. Big camera = big lenses = big filters = big tripod, etc. So I got the GX1 hoping that it was good enough to let me leave the 5D at home when going out hill walking and maybe even taking it on holiday as my only camera.

So What was wrong with it?
Well, it was a good camera and the images were great for street use but my I found I didn’t like the way it rendered grass and foliage. I also found that skies where a little too noisy. I found the buttons a bit fiddly, but the worst thing was no view finder. Even on dull days I struggled to see rear display. I could have got the external view finder but that then just sits on top of the camera and I didn’t like that idea. I also thought the lenses were OK but not great (apart from the 20mm f1.7 which was great).

So why get the Fuji X-E1?
I though about it for ages, looked at many cameras including the Olympus OMD, Sony Nex 6 & 7, Sigma DP1 and they all had their strengths and weaknesses. The OMD is a great all round camera and Olympus have some great (and no so great) lenses to go with it. I like the Sony Nex bodies but I felt the lenses were lacking. The Sigma has great IQ but was too specialised. The fuji just felt right, great IQ, great low noise, great lenses.

So what’s the Fuji like?
Well, it’s a quirky camera and by no means perfect. I’ll list my initial thoughts below. (These are just my initial thoughts after having the camera only a couple of days. I intend to do lots more testing against my 5D and I’ll let you know how that goes).

Whats Bad? (lets get the negatives out of the way first)

  • It doesn’t track moving subjects well. All current mirrorless cameras are rubbish at tracking focus on a moving subject but I knew that already so that’s a limitation you have to accept and I’m no sports photographer. So it’s not an issue for me.
  • Focus is slowish but not too bad and by no means a big deal for me as I mainly do landscapes, travel etc.
  • The depth of field scale is way too conservative. I’m not saying it’s not accurate just not as usable as I hoped so you still need to use another method.
  • I don’t like the fact that some of the auto bracketing options drop you out of RAW mode, what’s that about?
  • Traditional exposure bracketing allows RAW+Jpeg but limits you to +-1 stop.
    I’m not a big HDR shooter but sometimes it would be nice to take some handheld shots that could be HDR’d later and +-1 just isn’t enough.
  • The grip could be a little deeper but that might spoil the looks.
  • The quick menu is great but when I select a custom setting, say C1, why doesn’t it show me that I have C1 selected when I go back into the quick menu? I may be missing something here.

So whats good?

  • I like the aperture ring on the lenses but they could be a bit firmer, you need to pay attention to your aperture setting before hitting the shutter.
  • I love the distance scale which seems fairly accurate from the limited testing I’ve done. Something I missed on the GX1.
  • The rear display has quite a low resolution by todays standards but it looks good and shows that specs aren’t everything.
  • The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is good. It can get laggy in low light when panning around but I tend to keep the camera fairly still when I’m taking shot, not swinging it around all over the place 😉
  • I love the way you can select the individual items you want displayed on screen while shooting. Something that bugged me about the GX1 was all the information overlaid got in the way and was mostly pointless. I trick I’ve found with the Fuji is when using the EVF, you can have some on screen displays like histogram and distance scale and pressing the DISP button removes them leaving an almost clear display (nice). Press again and their back. This only works while using the EVF.
  • IQ is great. I’ve still got a lot more testing to do against my 5D but it compares quite well so far.
  • ISO performance is quite staggering. I wouldn’t normally dream of coming out of ISO100 for landscapes but the Fuji produces so little noise and no loss of detail at higher ISO settings. I’ll be experimenting a lot more with this.

Post Processing
I’m on the fence at the moment with regards to RAW processing these new X-Trans files.
I’m used to shooting RAW only and being able to get more detail from the Cannon 5D RAW file than the out of camera jpeg could give me. Not so with the Fuji. The out of camera jpeg is stunningly good and so far with my limited testing it’s been hit and miss as to whether I can beat or even match the jpeg quality from the RAW file (using Adobe Lightroom RC4.4). This leaves me with a quandary, do I shoot RAW only and accept that some images may come out only as good or slightly worse than the jpeg. Do I shoot RAW+Jpeg and take up more space for every shot. Do I look at other RAW converters which means an extra step in PP. I’m not sure at the moment so option 2 looks the best.

Conclusion
Well so far I like it. The external controls, excellent ISO performance, great image quality and the lenses are all great. If Fuji can fix some of the bugs/annoying features with firmware updates and keep the great lenses coming they’ve got a real winner on their hands.
I’ll be doing a lot more testing over the coming weeks and months and I’ll post my findings hear.

These may be too small to see but the image on the right is a 100% crop at ISO 500 in camera Jpeg.
I’ll post some more images in the near future.
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First snow

The first snow of the year. I’m determined to make the most of it this year instead of hiding at home where it’s warm.

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I seem to have been chasing the fading snow all morning wishing it would snow again but now that it has I want it to stop so I can take a picture.

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New Website Launched

Today I have launched a new website.
This new site adds a much nicer browsing experience for those of you using smart phones and tablets (e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc).

For those viewing on a tradition desktop, you can now view images at full screen, play a slideshow and share pages with Face and Twitter.

I hope you like my new site. If you do please share with your friends.

Rick

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