Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Shipment Update

Good news on the X100 delivery front.  More cameras are on their way to the dealers now.   There has been a few too many quiet weeks for cameras - while we have improved shipments of accessories and I see some even on the shelves in NYC dealers.  These will also improve in stock levels.
UPDATE - These X100's will NOT have the latest firmware 1.10 installed since they have been in transit when the release happened.  The process is easy to upgrade and good practice!

It's really awesome to be out on the street shooting and run into other folks with the X100.  I can see that the user base is expanding.  Last night while partying under the High Line I ran into a number of people excited about the camera and I appreciate all the great feedback.  I appreciate any comments folks would like to leave here about any subject - but if you'd like a specific answer to any questions or concerns please email me directly.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Parade Street Shooting

Yesterday I grabbed the X100 and EF-20 and set out to find some grab shots on the wild streets of NYC after the Pride Parade.  It was early evening so I shot most at ISO 1000.  Saying that there was a diverse crowd out and about is an understatement as you can see.

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Lens Details

The Fujifilm X100 micro-site has some terrific info on it as I am sure you have seen.  Recently they updated the site with details about the lens and it's design and performance.  You should take a look when you can.  The X100 by all reports has an incredible lens and the image quality is backed up by statements which were made early on.  The camera was designed to match the lens to the APS-C size sensor.  Sensor optimization is one of the key factors of the camera's awesome performance.

1- The dual challenge of achieving high performance within a compact body. The solution: Fixed-type lens.

  • The X100 was originally conceived as a slim and compact camera for users to take with them wherever they go. When we first began considering the lens design, we examined the many possibilities from a variety of perspectives, for example, the aperture value and lens size in the case of a zoom lens and lens-body combinations in the case of an interchangeable lens system. As a result, we determined that a non-collapsible, single focal length lens was the ideal choice to meet our two goals of achieving the product concept and delivering the high level of quality demanded by professional users.
  • Regarding the focal length, we considered the 135 equivalent of 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm. For each length, we evaluated the relationship between the F value and lens size, capability to satisfy user expectations, and the breadth of their application. We selected the 35mm lens as the best match for the camera concept.

2- Road to the F2 aperture value.

  • Designing an F1.6 or F1.8 lens is not so difficult; however, in the case of a digital camera, even if an aperture larger than F2 is used, the light receiving elements on the sensor cannot effectively use the brighter portion of the incoming light because of low incident light gathering efficiency.
  • Also by choosing an aperture of F2, it is possible to achieve a higher MTF* level when the aperture is closed to F4, F5.6, F8, etc. In most photographic situations, we envisage that users will often use an aperture that is 1 to 2 stops higher than F2. Therefore, in designing the lens, we put a priority on capturing superior quality photos with exceptional expression of detail in the aperture range of F4 to F5.6.
    *MTF: Modulation Transfer Function is an index of the image formation performance of the lens. The value indicates the ability to reproduce contrast over a range of spatial frequencies.

3- The double-sided aspheric lens combined with high refractive index glass, results in optimum performance.

  • The use of an aspheric lens increases the freedom in lens design; however, it does not necessarily lead to the development of a good lens. For the X100, spherical lens elements are used as much as possible, and one double-sided aspheric lens made by a glass moulding process has been adopted as the most effective element for delivering maximum performance.
  • The X100 lens delivers performance in a compact body, and also boasts excellent results. The shape of the aspheric lens not only provides performance but also ease of manufacturing. As the other lens elements are spherical, a high level of design performance can be achieved when they are actually assembled in the product.
  • High-refractive-index glass is used for all 4 convex lens elements. This is necessary to correct image field curvature and achieve optimum image quality.



4- 5.6mm back focus.

  • In the case of the X100, the lens back focus, (the distance between the rear lens element and the sensor), is remarkably only 5.6mm. Incorporating the large-diameter rear lens element in the body and shaving tenths of millimeters from the lens elements and their integration, has also allowed us to retain a very slim and compact design.
  • The sensor has been specially customised just for this lens. Unlike film, the sensors of most digital cameras require incoming light to strike the sensor surface at an angle that is as perpendicular to the sensor surface as possible. Because this is difficult to achieve with a slim lens, the positioning of the microlens on the sensor of the X100 has been customised to allow the capture of light rays with up to a 20° angle of incidence. Without this sensor customisation, it would be necessary to lengthen the size of the lens by 10mm.

5- Large-diameter internal lens structure – unnoticeable from the front.

  • Exploiting the benefits of a fixed lens, the rear lens element is larger than the front lens element. By giving it a diameter of 27mm, which is about the same as the sensor's diagonal dimension of 28.4mm, ample light volume can be received in the edge areas of the sensor.

6- 9-blade aperture diaphragm and a high-performance lens shutter system.

  • In order to capture images with a beautiful "bokeh" effect with the background softly out of focus, a 9-blade aperture diaphragm has been adopted for the X100.
  • The 4-blade shutter achieves a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000s. Because the X100 uses a lens shutter system, the camera is capable of high-speed flash synchronisation.

    7- An Integral ND filter allows the X100 to take full advantage of the power of F2.

    • To enable shooting under very bright conditions with a maximum open aperture, an ND filter becomes indispensable.
    • A sheet-type ND filter which can be switched on/off is built into the lens system. When switched off, the filter is retracted.
    • The ND filter is the equivalent of an f-stop reduction of 3 stops or a reduction of light volume to about 1/8.

    8- FOCUS; the only lens design software of its kind in the world! The essence of FUJINON lens design.

    • Our unique lens design software FOCUS, (Fujinon Optical Class library & Utility System), is used in the design of Fujifilm lenses. The major difference from commercially available lens design software and FOCUS is that the software developer is able to work together with the lens designer. This enables rapid improvement of the software in response to the needs of the designer, which in turn contributes to higher quality lens design.
    • In the initial stages of designing the X100 lens, we used a configuration of a gauss-type lens and the arrangement of the cemented-type lens near the image formation plane as the basis for our study. This configuration is especially responsive to bright F values and also has the benefit of superior close-up photography performance from the standpoint of low aberration variance. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of this type of lens is that the total length cannot be reduced, so further development was required.
    • Keeping our development focused on the concept of a lens that achieves both high performance in a highly compact form, we cancelled our first design and went back to the drawing board. We then engaged in diverse experiments including the reversal of part of a lens element group, separation of the cemented-type concave-convex lens and other exercises, carefully evaluating each modification. This process was repeated many times eventuating in the production of a bespoke 6 group/8 element lens, a unique lens configuration completely different from a gauss-type lens.

    9- One more challenge: 10cm macro performance!

    • In order to expand the camera's scope of applications, a macro capability is essential. However, the adoption of a lens that has both a "bright" aperture value and slim size makes exceptional macro performance especially challenging.
    • While adopting a focusing system of a fixed rear lens element group and an adjustable front lens element group, the lens has been designed to hinder the occurrence of "image plane error" when taking a macro shot. However, when shooting macro shots with an open aperture in the neighborhood of F2, spherical aberration tends to occur. It is therefore recommended that an aperture value of F4 is selected for macro applications.

    10- All-new "Super EBC".

    • In order to maintain high image quality with exceptional clarity, the lenses are treated with FUJINON's proprietary Super EBC.
    • Of the 6 lens groups housed within the X100, 3 of the 12 faces,with the exception of cemented faces, are treated with conventional EBC. The other 9 faces are given a wide-band coating to prevent red ghosting from incident light rays, with a maximum of 9 layers of coating appropriately applied according to the requirements of the lens element.

    11- Message to photographers from the X100 lens design team.

    The X100 lens is not just about focusing on a part of the scene and capturing only that area in sharp detail, it is about achieving beautiful quality that extends to the out-of-focus parts of the image. In designing this lens, we paid attention to the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light and especially the beauty of the background "bokeh" effect. You could say that the X100 lens enables you to effortlessly achieve high image quality. With this lens, I want to make the most of its superior image quality with low distortion and high resolution to attain stunning landscape photos.
    Takashi Suzuki Senior Operations Manager, Optical Design Group, Engineering Division, Optical Device Business Division.

    Before each X100 lens is shipped, the MTF characteristics are measured and the lens is tuned. That is why I am confident that the photographer will enjoy the satisfaction of a lens that performs according to the original design specifications. My main responsibility was making the lens as compact as possible, and so I hope that you enjoy its easy-to-carry slim form and make it your constant companion, ready to capture high quality images that only the X100 can achieve.
    Yoshitaka Takeshita Engineering Manager, Electronic Imaging Products Development Centre, Research & Development Management Headquarters.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fujifilm X100 gets firmware update, 22 tweaks make the best even better

This is the kind of post I can dig.  Simple and to the point.  There are tons of reviews of the camera I am sure you have seen them.

The retro X100 brought out all our kleptomaniacal tendencies when we first went hands-on, and it has since impressed virtually every other lucky soul who's come into contact with its build quality and groundbreaking integration of a big APS-C sensor within a compact body. But, just as you often find in extremely beautiful humans, the camera's brains were slightly haywire: in particular, it tended to forget or confusingly alter crucial ISO, dynamic range, macro and drive settings when shifting between shooting modes. Fortunately though, many of these niggles can now be nuked by downloading firmware update v1.10 at the source link. The update promises a total of 22 fixes and modifications, which are listed in full in the PR after the break. Of course, some annoying issues will remain outstanding with this $1,200 shooter, including slow focus-by-wire MF and strangely buried menu settings. We don't know if they'll ever be fixed, but the next time we get hold of one it'll still be a morality-pounding wrench to give it back. 

Fujifilm USA Firmware 1.10 Download

Driving in the Country with the DB9

This week I was lucky enough to spend a little time driving a DB9.  Certainly not an everyday experience - and one I won't forget.
The Aston Martin is one of my dream cars and the feeling of punching the gas pedal is hard to describe in words since it has to be felt.  Unlike my trip with the Audi A8 which is a luxury car with impressive features in a sedan - the DB9 is sports car luxury.
The 450hp engine gives you enjoyment in so many ways.  The sound is a rumble and scream that is pure pleasure.   The acceleration is another aspect which is obviously impressive with a 0-60 in about 4.7 seconds and top speed around 185mph.  When the top is down the car brings a smile to your face and everyone else who looks at it.
The DB9 wants to be driven, and since I don't do car reviews I'll just leave it to your imagination that it is a great experience.

Both images shot with the FinePix X100.

Weekly Email 6-24-11 Water Everywhere

This week it seems like the water was pouring down from the skies every day.  I am ready for a few sunny days.  I realized during the week I shot two NYC fountains so the water theme continues.  When you stop and look around there really are an amazing amount of fountains around Manhattan.  More in the weeks to come.

Father Demo Square - Vertical Fountain shot at ISO 2000 - 1/30th @ F/2.0

Lincoln Center - Fountain Waves shot at ISO 640 - 1/15th @ F/4.5

Lincoln Center Fountain People ISO 1600 - 1/30th @ F/4.0

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Firmware Update 1.10

This is the web and thus not a static place by any measure - I can sense an almost palpable excitement about the firmware release.   This has been in the works for some time as we all know.  When the new version hits at the end of the week I think the comments will flow and the reviewers will have to take another look at some of the "bugs and quirks".
It is important to realize that firmware cannot "fix" every item that folks are mentioning in the forums.  This also isn't the last update since it is an evolving enterprise to improve on the handling of the X100.

The number guessing of what version it will be is interesting to watch - but what matters is that significant progress is being made to respond to your desires.  That really is the goal - to make the X100 the best it can be with the firmware changes where possible.  I expect over 20 changes to be incorporated into the update release.
Tonight I was out shooting with the new firmware.  The improvements are a step in the right direction towards responding to the feedback of you the customer.  Not every "bug" can be fixed as I would hope people understand.  The X100 is a unique and wonderful camera.  It has gotten a bit more enjoyable to use with the latest firmware version.  I know some changes are seen as silly to some - but that's why there's more than one flavor of ice cream at the supermarket. 
1. The following functions can be rocked during shooting by holding down [MENU / OK] button over 3 sec.
DRIVE / Flash / White balance / Macro (set on the Command Dial - 4 direction key)

2. "CORRECTED AF FRAME" menu is added in "SET-UP" menu (the last line on menu page 6) to display additional AF frame (corrected AF frame for reducing parallax) which can be effectively used for macro shots. (Factory default value is set to "OFF")

3. Adjustment in1/3 step increment for shutter speed or aperture setting is enabled in Shutter-Priority AE and Aperture-Priority AE mode, on top of those in Manual Exposure mode.
Shutter-Priority AE : Adjustment is controlled by rotating the command dial
Aperture-Priority AE : Adjustment is controlled by moving left / right on the command control lever

4. In the post-view mode (display after shooting), focused area is magnified in the LCD (EVF) display when the command control lever is pressed.
Cf. "IMAGE DISP." Setting must be set to "CONTINUOUS",

5. Setting of the role for "Fn" button is enabled by holding down "Fn" button over 3 sec.

6. Actual ISO sensitivity for shooting is displayed just after pressing shutter button halfway, when "ISO AUTO CONTROLL" is set to ON.

7. When "eye sensor" is activated by pressing "VIEW MODE" button, "EYE SENSOR" is displayed on EVF / OVF or LCD just a while to notice the status.

8. Macro mode ISO sensitivity, Drive mode, Dynamic range, Self-timer mode, flash mode is maintained even if shutter speed setting or aperture setting is changed. Also, even after changing viewing mode into shooting mode or turning of the camera, these values are maintained.

9. The size of focus frame set through viewing EVF / LCD is maintained even after changing display mode between OVF and EVF (LCD).

10. When "SHUTTER SOUND" is chosen, each shutter sound is performed in each menu setting.

11. In viewing mode, the last viewed shot is maintained as even after changing into shooting mode.
Cf. After another image is shot after viewing former image, memory of viewing the image is cancelled and the last shot is displayed as the latest image.

12. When the aspect ration of the image size is set to 16:9, the line of bright frame line on OVF is displayed with aspect ratio 16:9.

13. Viewing mode with Photo Information on EVF / LCD is maintained even if another image is shot. On top of this issue, deleting picture directly is enabled even in viewing with Photo information by pressing the command dial up, or MENU operation is also enabled.

14. Occasionally, preview image on EVF / LCD after pressing the shutter halfway might be darker than live view, according to aperture setting or brightness of shooting target. This phenomenon is improved.

15. When "DISP. CUSTOM SETTING" is set to OVF or EVF / LCD, the setting value is maintained even after customizing the menu.

16. Even for only RAW data recording mode, "RED EYE REMOVAL" setting is selectable among ON or OFF.

17. In MF (manual focus) setting with OVF mode, OVF viewing is activated after pressing shutter half way, even if "FOCUS CHECK" (magnifying center of the image) is displayed in EVF by pressing the center of the command control lever.

18. Displaying period after pressing each command dial (Macro / Flash) is prolonged from 1.5 sec into 2.0 sec for confirming correctly.

20. For resuming from AUTO POWER OFF setting, the shutter release button was required to hold down halfway for a few second. For quicker operation, resuming is activated by just pressing the button.

21. Image quality captured by Velvia / ASTIA mode is improved on mainly shadow tone (dark area), when dynamic range is set to 200% or 400%.

22. When "OVF POWER SAVE MODE" is set to ON and "Fn" button is set to "MOVIE RECORDING", the camera may be unstable occasionally. This phenomenon is improved.

23. Histogram display on OVF during exposure compensation is improved.

Firmware update from global site
ISO 800 1/2sec @ F/4.0

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Email 6-17-11 Storm Brewing

FinePix X100 Panoramic Sweep Mode
This week we had a bunch of wild storms with some amazing lightning.  Today as I headed back to the City through a hailstorm I saw the clouds moving over the Hudson towards NYC and decided to wait 10 minutes and see what happened.  I didn't catch any lighting strikes but here's the storm cloud over NYC.
iPhone shot tweaked in NIK 3.0

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Close-Up Shot

I am so happy the X100 has a great close-up ability and great resolution.  This quick snap as I was walking down the street shows how sharp the camera is.  One is with the X100 and the other with the 5D II.  Of course different lighting and exposure choice.

Fujifilm FinePix X100 w EF-20
Canon 5D II w/ 24-105

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Battery

I've seen a bit of chatter here and there about the battery options for the X100 out there.  The simple answer is that several older cameras did use the same NP-95 battery.  Among them are the amazing FinePix F30 which I still keep handy.
The new battery has a different look, with recycling info on the front and a warning label on the back about disposal and fire hazard etc.  You can see them below for comparison and there are other non-Fujifilm batteries out there as well.  The Fujfiilm X100 battery is in stock now at dealers in NYC.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Making of an Ad

This month many of the photo magazines are running an ad for the X100 which we shot here in NYC on my roof.  If we look closely I suppose we infer that we see me with the reflector (in her eyes) as Kayce shoots the image.  Here are some random shots from the fun day with the X100 back on February 6th.
The original image is also included - which we had to crop for the ad size.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Updates and Manual Mode in 1/3's

Many people are upset that the X100 has full stop movements in the shutter and aperture selections.  I usually hear people say it really stinks that I cannot have 1/3 stops and I say - "Well you can! - but you need to shoot in Manual mode". (This functionality will be expanded in the upcoming firmware release this week.)  They look at me puzzled and say - hmm ok - how?
The key is to set the camera to a shutter speed and aperture close to what you'd like to shoot with and then tweak them with the back control wheel and thumb toggle (the thumb toggle is the control at the top right of the images below).  These two controls change the values in 1/3 stops as you can see in the images shown below.  You cannot scroll the whole exposure cycle - You can select +/-2/3 values in 1/3's as you will see.  You cannot be on F/16 on the lens and choose F/2.5 - you will need to be at F/2.8 on the lens. 
I usually pick a speed I need and then tweak the aperture for correct exposure.  Below you can see I am at 1/3 underexposed - and you can see this in the viewfinder as well.

While we are at it - don't forget that you can also change the location and size of the AF point  as you feel it should be set to.  That's the green box and the little marks all over the screen where it can be set to focus at.

Firmware update coming soon.  Should be about 10 days now and we are all excited to see this come down the pipeline.

For the USA some accessories will ship next week.  This should be a significant shipment since we need to catch up on many backorders.  Cameras will be shipping again in July in decent quantity.  I do not expect anymore units to ship in June.  Though surprises have happened before - but I doubt it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Now You See It - Now You Don't !

Traveling by subway in NYC is a great thing.  I love all the people scenery and interesting human habits you can take in at any moment in any part of the system.
As changes take place and efficiencies are created the booths in some stations are removed.  Here is the before and after of one station. 

A Quick Look at the 1972 Hasselblad 500C/M

Just a few snaps of the awesome and durable 500C/M.