Testing, testing…

Yep, more testing to come. This time it will be JPEGs, JPEGs, JPEGs. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?!

Three times JPEGs. Leica Digilux 2 (already shooting only JPEGs), Fuji X-Pro1, Ricoh GR. I’ll put all in JPEG mode.

I actually have many fantastic JPEGs from all of these cameras. And I have the experience that also JPEGs allow quite much tweaking in LR if needed. And if there are some blown out areas – who cares?! Let’s call it an artistic impression then. 🙂

I’ll test this triple-JPEG approach for some time from now on. I can’t really specify the duration because I am so impulsive person. But if I am pleased to this test those cameras may well stay in JPEG mode. Or not. Let’s see.

With the GR and X-Pro1 I have very nice in-camera filters/effects to play with. B&W, high-contrast B&W, bleach bypass, positive film, Astia, Provia, Velvia, Pro Neg. Just to mention some of them. I really want to test those famous in-camera Fuji colors more.

Let’s be part of Joint Photographic Expert Group!

Shooting monochrome with Leica Digilux 2

I have been now regularly testing my Leica Digilux 2 and I have not been very convinced with its color output (yet). Of course there are some shots in each shooting session which please me but unfortunately most shots are quite mediocre. For color work I prefer this camera to shoot close-ups (see my earlier post on this) and this area it handles just wonderfully.

I have been after a camera which I could use solely as a monochrome camera (something like a poor-mans Leica Monochrom). I have tested my Fuji X-Pro1 and Ricoh GR for this purpose. Both of those cameras produce fantastic in-camera B&Ws but I prefer to use these modern cameras more freely, i.e. for both color and monochrome. And I like to shoot RAW with those two and make B&W conversions in post-processing.

I tested today my Digilux 2 to shoot in-camera B&Ws. I just put camera’s white balance adjustment to B&W and went to shoot some pics. When I opened the shots in Lightroom I was surprised very positively. In-camera B&Ws were very pleasing with nice gradations and good dynamic range. They needed very little tweaking in LR. I think the WB adjustment of my Leica Digilux 2 will be fixed to B&W from now on. Monochrome shooting suits this classic so well and I think the results are spectacular (at least by my standards) for a 10 year old 5 MP camera used by a hobbyist shooter.

Here are just few examples of the results I got:

Close-ups with Leica Digilux 2

I have been testing my Digilux 2 and today I shot especially close-ups with it. It is certainly not any macro-capable camera but it delivers nice close-ups. If you want blurred background and some bokeh with this camera it is best to use 90mm focal length and the widest aperture (f/2.4). I'm quite pleased and actually surprised how nice background blur I got (remember that this camera has a 2/3″ sensor).

All shots below are not cropped at all and present about the maximum close-up magnification you can get from it. I've noticed that it is better to put camera's sharpness adjustment to “low” to prevent over-sharpening (I've kept contrast and saturation adjustments in “standard”). The key is to use mild selective sharpening in post-processing (I used adjustment brush in LR). Another important and handy feature is camera's ability to shoot three-shot series (3 shots in about 1.5 seconds). This is very useful especially if you shoot handheld as I've done here. Shooting series minimizes the motion blur in handheld shots and usually at least one of the three will be reasonably sharp. Series shooting is very nice feature also for shooting indoor portraits without a flash. Blur is minimized and there is also an additional bonus – you'll get different facial expressions to choose from during that 1.5 second period. I used mainly “AF-Macro” but tested also manual focusing which was actually nice and I will test it more later on.

All in all I can say that Leica Digilux 2 surprised me very positively by its close-up properties.


A quick tele zoom test

Took my old trusty (not yet rusty) Olympus E-P1 (yes, that first generation digital PEN) outdoors and fixed Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F4-5.6 MEGA OIS (oh man, what a name!) zoom lens on it. This was just to see how I will behave with a zoom lens.

I was shooting at our yard and guess what I noticed after a short session? Well, the normal thing I notice every time I am using zoom lenses. I will use almost exclusively far ends of the zooms. So, in this case 45mm or 200mm. Actually this time it was 95% 200mm. I was shooting different types of subjects and I just was zooming in to the 200mm (400mm equivalent). Couldn’t help. A 200mm prime lens could have done the job (at least 95% of it). I wasn’t utilizing zoom’s versatility.

So, it really seems (still) that I am a prime lens guy. This was a very short test of course but it will give me something to think of. I have been pondering to purchase Fujinon 55-200mm zoom for my Fuji X-Pro1 but why should I do that if I am going to use only the 200mm end after all. No point to get a zoom lens for that. Fuji does not offer any tele primes at the moment (there is 60/2.4 Macro but I have had it earlier and I felt that the focus speed was too slow).

I have for my X-Pro1 the Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 135mm F3.5 lens (about 200mm equiv.) but it is manual focus only and frankly too long lens to hand-hold. Remember that X-Pro1 does not have any in-body IS.

I would be happy with something like 150-200mm equivalent focal length. But this needs more pondering because this may need rethinking of my camera system choices. I am not sure if I am ready for that…

In the end two shots at 200mm (400mm equiv.) with the E-P1 and Pana 45-200mm zoom. I am quite pleased to them.

KWH Pipe A home between trunks

X-Pro1 with Voigtländer 90mm F3.5 SL II (EF-mount)

I have tried to sell this fantastic Voigtländer lens for a some time now but nobody has been really interested in it. Quite funny because it is a stellar manual focus lens for Canon SLRs. I really enjoyed it with my 5D Mk II. Well, I still have it but no Canon cameras, so I decided to test it with my Fuji X-Pro1. I found a cheap adapter (EOS-FX) from Fotodiox. This adapter is a very basic one having no electronical contacts. This means that I am limited to widest aperture (F3.5) with this lens because it does not have an aperture ring even if it is a full manual focus lens. This is of course quite a big minus. But I decided to test it anyways.

Fotodiox EOS-FX adapter seems to be nicely manufactured and it fits very well on the camera body as well as on the lens. The Voigtländer is a very heavy lens as compared to Fuji's XF lenses and I felt that the balance between the camera body and the lens was not optimal. At least this caused some problems hand-holding the camera in a steady manner. I have to admit that I had quite big problems to focus the lens properly when hand-holding the camera. The 90mm focal length corresponds 135mm in 35mm format. I couldn't get a proper focus using 1x magnification so I had to use 3x magnification. I find 3x very nice with Fuji's XF lenses but with 90mm heavy Voigtländer it was a different story. Almost impossible to me by hand-holding. Remember that I was limited to F3.5. The DoF is not very broad with that aperture. Of course the situation is different when using a tripod. Even then it was best to shoot some still objects. I found shooting portraits quite difficult even with a tripod.

To summarize, I think it is better to use lenses which have the ability to adjust aperture. This was quite silly test I think but I still may find some use for this lens with X-Pro1. One thing I didn't test this time was to try out Voigtländer's close-up lens. I will try that out later on and maybe post some close-up shot taken with that combination. Of course the wide aperture may have limitations for that kind of use. Below are few shots from my testing:

X-Pro1 with Fotodiox adapter and the Voigtländer lens.


Shallow DoF with Fuji X100

My long time Flickr friend Richard asked me in my last post that how shallow DoF I can achieve with Fuji X100. Here are two quick snapshots to demonstrate how shallow DoF and how smooth bokeh I’m about to achieve. Both shots are F2, 1/100, and ISO 2000. Both are shot using macro mode. 




Testing reversed lens for close-ups

I didn’t have any adapter to hold the lens so it was hand-held in front of the camera. Quite tricky especially the camera was also hand-held. I think you can obtain quite reasonable results after some practice and especially if you will use a tripod and an adapter.

I used my old Canon EF 35-70mm lens for this test.