Full circle?

My very first 35mm film (aka size 135) camera was a “Willoughby’s Classic IV” made by Fujica (Fuji Camera, now known as Fujifilm – which is ironic given the state of film photography these days). It looked very much like this:

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Internet image

When it comes to modern day digital Cameras, Fujifilm still makes “classics”; great performance and magnificent retro styling, like this X-Pro3:

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Fujifilm promo image

I’d love to have one, but can not in any way justify the price (in the case of this model about $2,400 CDN). There are many ‘cheaper’ Fujifilm cameras, but when you get down to my price range they don’t have the ‘classic’ styling and the eye-level finder I’m so fond of.

Then along came Jones, as the song used to go. Just to see if Fujifilm had all the image quality others say it does I looked at some used offerings, and found one I could afford. Not new, but used. No eye-level finder, but cheap. No retro styling, but interesting specifications. Thus I forked over for a Fuji FinePix F80 EXR. It’s that ‘EXR’ part that intrigued me.

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F80 EXR

The ‘EXR’ function is a unique programming mode that does some interesting things. Like it can ‘sacrifice’ pixels in order to improve dynamic range. Now it’s only 12 MP to begin with, but for my shooting that’s more than enough. Even when it shifts itself down to 6 MP to work its image magic that’s more than enough. The weird part about this is seeing that some of the images come out as 4000 x 3000 pixels and others are 2816 x 2112 pixels – without the user doing a thing.

Now, I haven’t had much time to use it yet. I took a couple of walks around the yard taking some snapshots just to try it out. If you’ve read my posts about the nightmare of getting decent images out of the brand new and fairly expensive Lumix ZS60 you’ll understand what I mean when I say the Fujifilm started out gloriously. Charge battery, insert card, turn on, take snaps, get pictures. Right out of the box this camera returned acceptable results under admittedly not-the-best lighting conditions. Such as this:

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Bleached Marley

That is an absolutely dreadful scene to ask an automatic camera to handle: part of the field of view is in deep shadow, part is in glaring sunlight, part is in-between. The EXR ‘shifted down’ to 6 MP to enable a greater dynamic range and came up with a shot the average user would see nothing wrong with. I see Marley is slightly washed out, but only slightly. Typically either you’d get correct exposure on her and the background would be totally black, or it would try to bring up the shadows and the dog would be an utter washout of white.

The other big complaint I had with the Lumix was its disappointing lens sharpness. So let’s see what the Fuji will do:

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A full-frame shot of some trees looks fine when shrunk to ‘Internet size’, but how is it close up? Well here’s a screen shot of a portion of this image (4000 x 3000 resolution) at 100% resolution on a 1366 x 768 screen:

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The lens is sharp. Not extremely sharp or even very sharp, but sharp enough to not disappoint. Admittedly it has ‘only’ 10X zoom capacity, running the equivalent of 27mm to 270mm, whereas the ZS60 is 30X – but how much zoom do you need? Let’s face it; I’ve been spoiled by the Nikon P610 with its stunning 60X optics that are incredibly sharp – and not just ‘for the type of lens it is’.

No initial report on a camera (by me) would be complete without the ubiquitous shed shot:

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You’ll notice some distortion in this wide-angle image, but it’s not awful. You will also notice, despite no effort to correct the colour, the Fuji predilection for green-blue tones; the reds are somewhat muted.

Let’s have one more picture just for fun:

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Conclusion: This Fujica gives decent pictures right from the get-go without a lot of mucking about. I like that in a camera. It fits in my shirt pocket, which is another bonus. The only ‘downside’ is that it is used, which brings up the question of why manufacturers abandon known good products in favour of new and often questionable designs. Well we know why; to trick you into buying the latest set of impressive specification numbers.

I’m looking forward to using this camera on a greater scale as soon as conditions permit. If you want to read more about its technical aspects here’s an excellent review of it at Photography Blog.

 

A work of art: Fujifilm X-Pro3

Well the people at Fuji really know cameras. Let me state right off I have not bought one, but I would if I could. It’s not just aesthetically beautiful, its specifications are really compatible with my idea of a working camera. Too bad my tastes exceed my wallet.

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Fuji promo photo

There are some complaints about the design already, which I find ironic because some of the things others don’t like are exactly what I do. This includes not only the retro styling and eye level optical finder, but the fact the LCD display is hidden away unless you fold it out. My Nikon’s is like that, and I don’t often fold it out. My Canon’s is fixed on the back and I basically use it just for camera info: the Fuji has a separate fixed rear screen just for that purpose. They must have been reading my mind. Film simulation modes! Shutter speed dials! Dedicated controls! Oh my!

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Fuji promo photo

The only thing I don’t like is the price, currently showing as $2,700, and not because I think that’s stupid expensive but only because it’s out of my league. If I preach to the masses not to overspend on equipment I’m not going to turn hypocrite and do it myself. If I were a professional photographer I’d probably find a way to justify it. If I were a rich man, I’d buy it simply as a work of art. As it is I’m neither. But if there were a camera dealer near me that carried these I’d lie about it just to pop an SD card in and try a few shots for the feel.

Or maybe not, as that sort of thing can lead to going overboard. Hmm. Maybe I’ll check that lottery jackpot …

 

How to not buy a camera

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This is Fuji’s X-E3. It’s a beauty, eh? Nice ‘retro’ styling like a 35mm rangefinder camera from the 1950s. It also has some pretty impressive technical specifications like a 24MP sensor and being mirrorless (yet having an eye-level finder, albeit an electronic one). And Fuji has a well-deserved reputation for build and image quality. Good all around, right?

Well I like it, but this image is of a “shop worn” “warehouse deal” which even though heavily discounted in price is still twice what I paid for my Canon DSLR! Frankly I’d have a hard time justifying that money even if it were to be my only camera. In fact as such it would be a worse value as it certainly can’t do all the things any one of the four others can manage, much less what they all together can manage. What’s more, this has a single fixed focal length lens: additional lenses mean additional money, to the tune of “more than I paid for my Canon” per each.

Now if I were to go around buying cameras on a basis of how artistic the styling is I’d soon run into two problems: I’d have no room in this house and I’d be broke. No, three problems as I’d probably be divorced as well which would make storing the cameras even more difficult what with being homeless on top of everything else.

In fact you could say I’ve just gotten away from that problem last year with the forced dispersal of my accumulated massive collection of film cameras. That was not so bad as I couldn’t use most of them today anyway, and in fact hadn’t been able to in many years due to the unavailability of film. Digital cameras don’t suffer from that (except in the case of certain early models with proprietary memory systems), but the question “would you use it?” is still valid.

When I look at these shiny toys the only honest answer to that is “no, not a lot”. But I also have to admit that if the price were low enough I’d probably do the stupid thing and buy this one. And possibly some others.

In the meantime I’m waiting for the weather to get better and taking shots like this with the Kodak V1003 which owes me nothing:

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Staring into the plasma reactor

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I have a long, hard day of travel ahead of me today. There’s much that could go wrong, so let’s hope it doesn’t.

Fortunately I was able to start the day with a laugh, reading a couple of articles about really good cameras. One was the usual Canon vs. Nikon argument with the typical flawed assumption that there’s some kind of “ultimate” design which supersedes all others and therefor is best for everyone. The other was a bragging about how silly the Canon/Nikon/Fuji/Sony snobs sound – to a Hasselblad 150MP snob. Who then provided further amusement by posting “proof” of how superior his images are. On the Internet. Where the screens show his pictures just as poorly as they do my own 1/10 the resolution cheap camera results. He then went on to talk about the importance of “cropping”, which term he (like so many others) used incorrectly to mean post-shoot digital zooming (there is a difference). To be fair, his pictures were good and he is commercially successful but … well he fell into every one of the “Phools” I wrote about. With pretty poor writing skills as well.

So here’s me being a different kind of photography snob again, amused by the usual kind. Don’t think I don’t appreciate the irony in that as well. :p