Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fuji X-Pro1 and Leica lenses

On my walk today I took the Fuji X-Pro1 to test with some Leica lenses, notably the 135mm Telyt f/3.4.  This lens is difficult to use on a Leica M9 because the long focal length is so small within the viewfinder window.  With the Fuji, however, you can switch to the electronic view finder.  This magnifies the image, and, although the lens is strictly manual focus, it is easy to see and adjust in such a large format.  On the APS sensor of the Fuji a 135mm lens comes out to slightly over 200mm in effective focal length.  Adding this lens and the 90mm -- with its effective 135mm focal length on the X-Pro1-- greatly extends the lens complement of the camera system.

There are several off-brand adapters available for making conversions to the X-Pro1, but the adapter actually made by Fuji, although more expensive, works best because it can relay the information from the lens to the camera and the others cannot.

Leica M9 with Leica APO-Telyt 135mm lens mounted using the Kipon adapter.  With the 1.5x multiplication factor of the X-Pro1's APS-sized sensor, this lens is equivalent to just over a 200mm focal length when mounted this way.

Kipon makes adapters for mounting various lenses onto the Fuji X-Pro1.  These adapters are readily available on eBay.  All lenses are manual focus when mounted this way, but they are easy to use with the cameras EVF finder.

You cannot see it here because of the small size of the images, but the use of the Leica lenses resulted in incredibly sharp photos.  So my initial thinking on this camera is to use it as a companion body to my Leica M9.  The Fuji accepts all the Leica lenses, has the benefit of extending the focal length range out to 200mm, and adds macro focusing with its own lenses, a feature that the Leica does not have.

In addition, the Fuji has exceptional low-light capability, much better than most cameras today.  It can easily be used at ISO 3200 and even 6400 with only moderate tweaking in post-processing to remove residual noise. Together the Leica system plus X-Pro1 make a very complete package.

All of these photos were taken in late afternoon light with the Leica 135mm Telyt lens mounted on a Fuji X-Pro1.  The Fuji Leica adapter is not available yet. I bought a third party adapter from a company called Kipon selling them on eBay.

I live close to the Empire State Building and often include it as a test for sharpness t in my camera and lens tests.  Taken from a position south of the Empire State Building this photo shows the late afternoon sun reflecting off of the building's surface.

This view was taken from the north, shooting directly into the late afternoon sun.  This blasted out all detail in the sky and left the buildings in a high-key light.

In Madison Square Park pink blossoms frame the clock of the Metropolitan Life Building in the background, as another addition to my Nature in the City photo series.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Focus test with the Nikon D4

Today I did a test of the focusing ability of the new Nikon D4 camera.  In the past, I always had difficulty with auto-focus on the Nikon 105mm macro lens.  In even moderately difficult lighting situations, it would hunt for focus, racking in an out so much that I would finally give up and either switch it to manual focus or change lenses altogether.  In today's test, I created a difficult focusing situation for the D4 by, first, mounting the 105 macro on it, and, second, by setting up an extreme back-lit situation where I was shooting directly into a tungsten light. To make matters even tougher, I shot the lens with the aperture wide open. This would be difficult for any lens, but I knew the 105mm would have the most trouble.  The camera behaved beautifully. It never hunted for focus once, and all of over 250 frames were sharply focused on the eyes.  Quite honestly, I have never had a camera perform so perfectly in a situation like this.

For this shot I put one of the Nikon's 51 pinpoint focus spots on the left eye.  You can see the tungsten lamp shining in from the left side.  This is an extremely difficult auto-focus situation for a camera/lens combo to handle.  I chose the Nikkor 105mm micro lens because I knew it would have difficulty focusing.  The Nikon D4 nailed the exposure and the focus in this situation for over 250 frames. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Testing the Nikon D800 -- Sensor crop modes

I have begun putting the Nikon D800 through its paces and will be sharing some of my observances on it and the D4 on this blog, and more extensively on my other blog.

The D800 is a full-frame (FX in Nikon lingo) 36 megapixel sensor.  Until now a resolution that high had been reserved for medium format cameras.  For traditional stock shooters who only need to supply a 50mb file, 36mp with its 100mb file may seem like overkill.  However, there are a number of reasons why a camera like this makes a lot of sense.

We really need to think about it as a new breed of camera.  In many respects it is many cameras in one depending upon how you use it.  Nikon has built into its menu system the ability to select various crop modes.  There is the full-frame FX mode of 36x24mm, a slightly smaller mode of 30x20mm with 1.2x magnification and 25.1mp, a DX crop mode that corresponds to the size of an APS sensor with a 15.4mp resolution and 1.5x magnification, and a 5:4 (30x24mm) mode that renders a popular proportion at 30.2mp for photographers producing images for the proportions of the printed page.

What is interesting is that all of these crop modes still yield acceptably high megapixel ranges to produce traditional stock photographs.  Being able to switch from one mode to another is similar to adding a telextender to your camera.  Look at the photos below to see how the magnification increases with each crop size. 

By switching the camera into DX mode you can use DX lenses.  DX lenses are smaller and lighter, but they also provide some focal lengths that are not available in full frame -- the Sigma 8-16mm zoom comes immediately to mind.

Another advantage of switching to cropped modes is that they speed up the camera because there is less information for it to process. If you add the auxilary battery pack and switch to DX mode you have a camera with a faster frame rate and a 1.5x lens magnification making it better for wildlife and sports.

I can tell you from experience that the resolution of this camera in any of its crop modes is exceptional.  I found that using the D800 in DX mode to be equally as good -- if not better -- than using an actual DX camera like the D7000.

In later posts I will discuss the high ISO ranges of the D800, which are impressive and also lead me to say this is a new breed of camera, and may be the only one you ever need. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Still no RAW converter for the new Fuji X-Pro1, but I wanted to give it a try with the Leica lens adapter I have.  So with the camera in JPG mode I took this photo of the Flat Iron Building in New York using a Voigtlander 12mm lens in a Leica-M adapter mounted on the camera, and shot directly into the sun at mid-day.