For the second time, my job sent me to Toulouse, France to speak at an image sensor conference. I had a few days off after and was able to explore the city.. For the most part I used the X100s, shooting only in JPG. I had the D750 as well, with AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G, AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G.
We’ve had a week of fog and unseasonably warm weather here in Southern Ontario. This Saturday I took advantage of the moody atmosphere to grab a few photos. The first two are from a walk at RIM Park with the D750 and AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (a lens I’ll talk about soon).
The night shots are from the X100s. Lately I’ve been playing with the X100s in full manual mode (AF, shutter and aperture). It’s slowed down my shooting but I’ve enjoyed having full control and better consistency from shot to shot. My method is to first set exposure for the scene using the LCD in the view finder and then switch to the optical view. To focus, turning the focus ring on the lens activates the virtual split prism, where the centre of the image is magnified and superimposed with a split image generated from the AF phase-detection sensors. Focus is achieved when the split image is aligned.
This past August I had a break-in at my house, and the savvy thief stole most of my camera equipment. Gone were the D300s, D700 and D750. 18-35 f/3.5-4.5, 60 f/2.8 macro, 135 f/2 DC and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX. With insurance to the rescue, I set about replacing what I’d lost. The D750, 18-35, 60 and 135 were straightforward to replace directly. The Sigma 50, on the other hand, was tricky.
I’d picked up the 50 EX at BH Photo in Manhattan a few years ago and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Often, but not always, sharp but with incredibly inconsistent metering and AF. It was a beautiful lens on the D700 when it was on its best behaviour but with the higher resolution D750 (and when playing around with the D800 and D810) it just wasn’t that sharp at wide apertures. Now, the EX is no longer produced and couldn’t be found at any stores. The natural substitute was the newer, bigger and heavier ART version. Much bigger and heavier. Like huge for a 50.
The resolution from this lens is outstanding across the frame at every aperture. Focusing on just the eye gives a great effect for portraits and shooting wide open with a razor-sharp focal plane and creamy bokeh is no problem.
D750 f/1.4 ISO 720
AF accuracy has been a bit inconsistent but really not bad. Better than the EX but not as rock solid as Sigma’s 35mm f/1.4 ART. Unlike the old EX, exposure accuracy is no worse than the rest of my lenses (not counting the AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G, which tends to overexpose).
I tested the lens against my AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G and found it to be considerably sharper at open apertures. Out-of-focus highlights show less of a cat-eye effect but the overall bokeh isn’t much different. I shot the two lenses back to back using christmas lights as point source highlights. In the second image you can see that the ART is sharper at f/1.4 than the Nikon is at f/1.8.
Left: ART at f/1.4; Centre: ART at f/1.8; Right: AF-S G at f/1.8
As you can see from my last blog posts (here and here), I’ve really enjoyed the simplicity of traveling with a 35mm lens or at least a 35mm field of view. The problem is that the D700 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART make for a seriously heavy and bulky combination, not to mention something that screams “I’m a photographer!” What I’ve needed is a small, reasonably lightweight camera what won’t make me miss the D700 + Sigma 35mm combo while on a trip.
Well, as a birthday present to myself I picked up a Fujifilm X100S. It’s much smaller and a lot lighter than the big FX body. It has a fixed 23mm f/2 lens and an APS sensor, giving the field of view of the D700/35mm. It has a brilliant hybrid viewfinder that combines an optical rangefinder-style finder with a LCD via a beam splitter.
I’m really looking forward to getting to know this quirky camera and I’m sure I’ll put together a more complete review sometime in the near future. For now, here are some photos from my first weekend with the X100S (including a couple of in-camera panoramas). All were shot as JPG with various in-camera film simulations.