Portrait Lenses – Fuji vs Panasonic (on the streets)

Fuji Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R Lens vs Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 Lens

As an Urban Life Photographer one of my passions is Street Portraiture photographs, usually taken candidly. I’ve been lucky enough to own both of these great lenses using them on the street not the studio, so here’s my thoughts.

At this point I just want to post a disclaimer stating that none of these images were taken with a review in mind, they are just images from my photo library.

Night time crossing

Night Time Crossing: Fujifim XE-2 – 1/100s f/1.2 ISO2500 56mm (35mm eq:84mm)

Into the Cold

Into the cold: Panasonic GX7 – 1/400s f/2.0 ISO1250 43mm (35mm eq:86mm)

Lets get a few facts out of the way first:

Fuji Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R Lens

Diameter: 73mm  Length: 70mm  Weight: 405g

Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 Lens

Diameter: 74mm  Length: 77mm  Weight: 425g

Handling – So you can see that the lenses are very similar in size and weight. You would think the Fuji would be much better balanced on the Fuji X Cameras as they are generally larger than their m4/3 counterparts. In my experience the Nocticron is OK on the Panasonic GX7 (feels front heavy but comfortable to hold) and the Olympus OMD EM-1 its fine. The Fuji feels OK on the XT-1 and X Pro1 but on my XE-2 I’ve had to purchase the external grip for a more secure hold. All other cameras such as Olympus Pens and Fuji XM-1 the balance is off.

Bokeh –  On both the bokeh is very pleasing to my eye, the balls are more rounded on the Nocticron due to having 9 aperture blades to the Fuji’s 7 (one of the reasons Fuji introduced the APD version).

Smile

Smile: Panasonic GX7 – 1/400s f/2.5 ISO200 43mm (35mm eq:86mm)

Sammie Jay

Sammie Jay: Fujifilm XE-2 – 1/250s f/1.2 ISO2500 56mm (35mm eq:84mm)

Using on the streets – With both lenses being on the larger size for a mirrorless camera you do become obvious when using your camera. I decided awhile back not to become a ‘sneaky’ street photographer and make it obvious what I’m doing. This makes it easier to use these larger lenses as you are not so worried about being seen. If you want not to be seen and blend in more, then there are alternatives with the Nocticron but not with the Fuji. The Olympus 45mm is an excellent lens, very compact and a lot cheaper than the Nocticron and so this would seem to be a better choice for a street photographer. If you are a Fuji shooter, the 56mm is excellent on the streets and I recommend buying it…… but perhaps you might need to get bolder to get the shots you want.

For more in depth reviews, I recommend Gordon Laing at CameraLabs.com

Fujifilm 56mm

Panasonic 42.5mm



Fujifilm XF-1 – Pocket X Camera

XFPortlandLighthouse

Lighthouse at Portland Bill

If I could, I would like to take my Fujifilm XE-2 camera with me all the time, unfortunately I can’t. This means I need to take a smaller ‘pocketable’ camera with me sometimes. My first choice was the Fujifilm X30 but decided rather quickly it was too big and to be honest the front Lens Ring Selector button was annoying….Kept accidentally pressing it.

Second choice was the Fujifilm XF-1 much smaller but still with the same size sensor. At the weekend I was staying in Weymouth and Portland so thought it would be a great place to test the camera.

XF rocks

Portland Bill

The lens is a collapsible 4x zoom 25mm-100mm F1.8-4.9 Fujinon Lens, the lens also acts as an on/off/standby switch, so pulling and turning the lens also turns the camera on. It’s a very good range especially having the 25mm wide angle. The camera comes in three colours, Red, Tan and Black, I got mine in Red, this is one of the main reasons I didn’t get the Fujifilm XQ-1 as this is only available in silver or black.

XF pebbles

Chesil Beach

There are plenty of reviews about this camera so I won’t bore you telling you all about the camera and instead tell you that…..I really like it. The camera looks stylish, is easy to use, has a good zoom range and I’m really pleased with the quality of the photos it takes, what’s not to like?

XF weymouth beach

Weymouth Beach

As you know I do a lot of Street Photography, taking mainly candid shots so I need a quick reacting camera. Unfortunately there is a bit of shutter lag on this camera, I’ve checked for any firmware update but looks like this is one camera Fuji don’t upgrade. This is a shame as this is the one and only negative.




Fuji Grips HG-XE1 vs MHG-XE

Fujigrip4

 

This is a comparison and review of the two grips you can buy for the Fuji XE-1 or XE-2. The original grip for the XE-1 (HG-XE1) and the newer grip for the XE-1 or 2 (MHG-XE) both fit both cameras.

The original grip was introduced along with the XE-1 and is required for better handling of the camera with heavier lenses, i.e. 56mm and the 23mm. The original grip was made of plastic and screws onto the bottom of the camera, it has a very nice felt bottom and a self fastening screw.

Fujigrip

Fujigrip2

 

The second version is made of metal and has an allen bolt so you need to have an allen key tool to unscrew and screw it in, this makes it more of a permanent fixture. There is no felt on the bottom but is finished to a high quality, it also has a little lip unlike the original which is flush.

Fujigrip6

 

The main difference as you can see in the photos is that there is a cut out on the second metal addition so you can change your battery and SD card. They feel about the same weight, the grip is exactly the same and the tripod screw is in the centre of both.

Fujigrip3

Conclusion : You’d think this would be a no brainer as the second model would be superior to the first, it is apart from one major flaw. Why did Fuji change the fixing screw? I bought the grip because sometimes I use the 56mm Lens on my XE-2, you need the grip as the camera is hard to hold as its front heavy. When I take the 56mm off and put on my 27mm Lens on, the camera becomes light again and I don’t need the grip. It’s easy to remove the original grip with its self fastening bolt but using the second metal version I need to carry this little allen key tool (easy to lose) tool!

P.S I’m still deciding which one to keep!


Fuji XE-2 Signature Edition

XE-2

 

This is my new camera for 2015, it is a Fuji XE-2 with the Blue Lizard Signature Skin, the lens is the 27mm F/2.8 Pancake. This will be my primary street camera and I will be using it all year, I’ve also purchased the 56mm F/1.2 Lens as my second lens for portrait and low light photography.

I decided to go back to Fuji because I wanted to go back to having an APS-C sensor, I wanted a good looking camera which was light and had a viewfinder. The XE-2 Signature Edition perfectly fits this, its important to me to have a camera you enjoy using and don’t just regard it as a ‘tool for the job’.


Norway with the Samsung NX300

TromNL28

Having sold all my Panasonic Lumix Cameras and my trip to Norway only a few days away I knew I only had a couple of choices, either to hire a camera or to buy a cheap camera. Luckily I came across a new Samsung NX300 with 45mm F1.8 Lens for £250 browsing Amazon, having a APS-C sensor it should be good enough to get some low light shots. I knew I needed a wide angle and the 16mm F2.4 was ideal and cheap on ebay. Just in case I did some street photography I also bought the 30mm F2.0.

TromNL43

TromNL44

All my Northern Lights photos were taken with the Samsung NX300 with the 16mm Lens, I experimented with various settings but most were around F2.4/ISO1250/10secs. All photos were taken on a sturdy tripod and processed in Lightroom, most adjustments were to do with noise reduction and a little sharpening.

Trom Mountain

The above photo was taken on a Samsung NX3000 with the kit 16-50mm Lens, this was a last minute purchase at the Airport so my Wife had a camera to use. I was using a Gorillapod for this shot balanced on an oil drum.

Don't Hate Me.

Did manage to get a little Street Photography in but was difficult with the light and I experimented using a GN20 flash.

Conclusion:  Samsung cameras are without doubt the best value cameras you can buy. You need to wait a few months after release to get the best price as they usually drop quickly (never buy them at release). Ebay is a good place to source very cheap Samsung Lenses, the build quality is not up to much but I was impressed with the results.


Out with the Panasonic Gear

IMG_0699.JPG

Change of photographic gear again, quick reasons why:-

Panasonic GX7 -The most comfortable camera I’ve used but didn’t like the viewfinder and focus wasn’t as good as Olympus OMD’s.
Panasonic LX7 – Great little camera but viewfinder poor and screen is poor.
Panasonic 42.5mm & 15mm – Both great Lenses but too expensive, I would go for the 14mm pancake and the Olympus 45mm as better value for money.

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Off to Norway – AGAIN!

Oslo Couple

Oslo Couple: 1/100s f/7.1 ISO100 70mm (35mm eq:70mm)

This photo was taken last year on my trip to Oslo, Norway. The camera I was using at the time was a Sony A7 and was just using the KIT lenses, mainly due to the weather sealing.

Good news is that I’m off to Norway again but this time I’m going to Tromso, northern Norway above the Arctic Circle. I’m not sure what Street Photography I’ll be able to do but this time I’m using Samsung gear the NX300 and NX3000. These cameras and lenses are not weather sealed so unsure of what to expect, anyhow will post my results on here and Google Plus.