Drumstick Nirvana

drumstick-nirvana-web

Fuji X-M1 Review

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Cropped from the above image

Cropped from the above image

The most attractive points of a Fuji X series camera are:

1. The lack of anti-aliasing filter which causes the images to be sharper and more detailed

2. The beautiful smooth bokeh of the Fujinon lenses, and of course it’s sharpness

3. The natural skin tone, natural realistic colors, good-enough micro-contrast for black and white conversions

4. Fine and clean high ISO performance in low light

5. Impressively intelligent pop-up flash. I have not encountered another pop-up flash as accurate as the Fuji X-series cameras

6. Beautiful old school classic camera design, it’s a fashion statement!

 

I bought the X10 as soon as it was available in Malaysia and have since produced quite a number of shots I love with it. Now, I have in hand is a similar size camera called the X-M1, which is lens-interchangeable, but lack of an optical/electronic viewfinder. I have always loved small (capable) cameras.

Before you think I am going to go on praising the X-M1, I have to state some major difficulties I faced while using the X-M1. After re-confirming with Fuji Malaysia, it is confirmed that the X-M1 I have in my hands is a pre-production copy.

These are the pretty annoying issues I faced when using the pre-production Fuji X-M1:

1. The LCD screen was too reflective to be used under bright daylight. I had difficulty composing shots from angles other than right in front of my face. You probably gotta tilt the tiltable screen to help, but in my case, my subjects would have been gone by the time I tilt the screen. I tried brightening the LCD screen using the Q(quick) Menu, it did help a little but honestly, not much…

2. The camera was supposed to have a minimum focus distance of 0.1m, but it only managed to focus at a minimum of 0.2m roughly. This can be achieved with or without the Macro mode activated, meaning the Macro button is redundant. It could be… the firmware not being updated yet.

3. AF wasn’t fast. It hunted quite a bit and had problem achieving focus at times. The multiple point auto focus mode wasn’t as intelligent as the X-10 I have, meaning it often selected the “wrong” subjects. I believe that most cameras’ multiple point auto focusing mode today have been programmed to understand that we often frame our subjects using the 1/3rd-2/3rd rule… meaning we often frame our subjects off-centre. But as for this X-M1 pre-production unit I had, unfortunately it wasn’t the case.

4. The LCD refresh rate was also pretty slow. It took quite a while to adjust when I pointed it indoors, then outdoors. The duration of the “blackout” was enough to make me miss my shots.

5. Even though I personally do not fancy “Art Filters” anymore, I had to test it. And the results are pretty disappointing too. First, I couldn’t find any shortcut button to change the type of Art Filters when I was using it. I had to press a minimum 4 times on the buttons to change the type of Art filter while using the Art Filter mode. Second, some of the “spot-color art filters” were too fussy. For example, the “Green Only” art filter only picked up a certain type of green and not the other types of green. Same goes for the “purple”. I have not tested the art filters more extensively to conclude, but my first impression was: it’s too fussy. The “toy camera”, “miniature effect”, “pop color” were fine, but they are not new anymore in the current market to stir any new interest. These are just added bonus for those who love in-camera art filters.

6. A minor issue: the battery charger shows GREEN while charging, which really confused me at first, because my X-10 and all the other brands of camera battery chargers I use only shows GREEN or not lighted up at all when the battery is fully charged.

7. A personal issue: as I am beginning to have long-sightedness due to my age, I find difficulty in using the LCD manual focus peaking when I mount the m-mount lenses on the X-M1. I will go for the X-E1 with the built-in EVF which is more useable to me for manual focusing.

Now, let’s look at some of the Fuji X-M1 images I shot:

These 3 are some of the Art Filters I tested:

DSCF0023web

Toy Camera Art Filter, Fine JPG, 16mm lens, ISO400, F9, 1/350s.

 

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Pop Art Filter, Fine JPG, 16mm lens, ISO200, F5.6, 1/240s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Miniature Art Filter, Fine JPG, 16mm lens, ISO200, F5.6, 1/220s.

From the next image onwards, you can scrutinize the performance of the camera at ISO6400 and ISO12800.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO6400, F2.8, 1/70s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F2.8, 1/140s.

I should have set to at least F5.6 for the following shot. I forgot the APS-C sensor has shallower depth of field than my X-10. Or I kinda expected the multi-point AF mode to be more intelligent. The focus was on the car doors instead.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F2.8, 1/125s.

The following shot, I tested the AF speed on these 2 masseuses who do not wished to be photographed.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F4.5, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F8, 1/420s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F3.6, 1/150s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F3.2, 1/140s.

The following 2 images are for you to scrutinize the camera and lens’ handling when shooting into bright light source and also the clean high ISO12,800. There are no ugly flares, unwanted red dots/circles like the Olympus E-PL2′s kit lens. Flare is smooth. At ISO12800, there is acceptable loss of details to me. This is very individual. I believe I have reasonable expectation for ISO12800′s performance from a MYR2988 APS-C camera.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F8, 1/350s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO800, F3.6, 1/125s.

Fine JPG, 27mm lens, ISO12800, F5.6, 1/180s.

 

This is just the beginning of my experience with the Fuji X-M1. Fuji Malaysia has promised that they will furnish me with an updated production unit for further reviews. I certainly hope the major glitches I stated in this review will not be repeated again in the production unit.

In my opinion, the Fuji X-M1 can potentially be a camera for the more enthusiastic beginners in photography, for those who are tired of lugging a APS-C DSLR around for travel, and for the low light extremists who love to continue to challenge themselves shooting in the dark.

I have always wanted a camera with fine and detailed high ISO for night street photography, something which allows me to achieve deeper depth of field (smaller apertures) combined with a fast shutter speed, to capture fleeting moments I see on the streets at night. Yes, I am an extremist. The Fuji X-M1 is potentially one camera which can do what I want.

Fuji X-M1 Preview

S.O.O.C: Shot with X-E1, ISO3200, F5.6, 1/30s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens zoomed to 50mm.

S.O.O.C : Shot with Fuji X-E1, ISO3200, F5.6, 1/30s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens zoomed to 50mm.

S.O.O.C : Shot with Fuji X-M1, ISO6400, F22, 1/600s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

S.O.O.C : Shot with Fuji X-M1, ISO6400, F22, 1/600s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

S.O.O.C : Shot with Fuji X-M1, Miniature Art Filter, ISO200, F3.5, 1/40s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

S.O.O.C : Shot with Fuji X-M1, Miniature Art Filter, ISO200, F3.5, 1/40s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

Converted to B&W in Photoshop: Shot with Fuji X-M1, ISO6400, F11, 1/400s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

Converted to B&W in Photoshop: Shot with Fuji X-M1, ISO6400, F11, 1/400s, AWB, X-M1 kit lens at 16mm, Fine JPG (24mm equivalent)

I have just received the opportunity to try out the newly launched Fuji X-M1 today. I understand that I have not been writing for quite a while… staying reclusive is part of me sometimes… thinking hard… living life without the internet… earning my dough… indulging in new hobbies… quietly shooting my streets but not sharing my shots as yet…

This is just a preview of more detailed personal experiences with the Fuji X-M1 later… I will keep my promise to write more this time. For those who already know where to read serious technical reviews, please go to www.dpreview.com

I am writing my personal views on it as I usually do on all cameras.

Today, I decided to push it to the limits (almost it’s final limits maybe), by using ISO6400 on a bright day. Knowing it has a APS-C sensor which boasts of clean and detailed high ISO performance (as it’s WITHOUT AA Filter) and I was practically lazy to change ISO for the darker “corridor shots” and the outdoors… I kept it at ISO6400 for my 15mins’ walk.

I wanted FAST shutter speed, DEEP depth of field for my quick snapshots as fast as my eye could see. Unlike my film cameras which I am used to pre-focusing/hyperfocusing, I wanted to test the capability of it’s AF speed and accuracy (of course with small apertures… chances of errors were being reduced).

I adapt to different types of cameras pretty fast, that’s me. I use whatever that I have to get “the shots” as much as I can because I love the challenges. So, for beginners who read my blog, do take this into consideration. Like I said, my views are purely personal.

Today’s challenge, the X-M1? Hmm… I will rate it at 3/10 (0 being the easiest; 10 being the hardest).

My first impressions would be:

1. Nice realistic colours from a digital camera. Most digital cameras have skin tones too red or pink or worse… blue.

2. Useable ISO6400 from a APS-C sensor

3. Good enough AF for street shots at smaller apertures. Still a little lag as compared to film cameras.

4. LCD screen viewing angle could be improved. It’s brightness can be tuned in menu, so no issue about that. It’s the angle of “viewability”. It has a tilt screen but I usually don’t have the time to tilt it during street photography.

5. Built-in Art Filters are not for me, but they do come in handy for some people.

I think I will not buy another APS-C DSLR from now unless I am a sports photographer. These smaller alternatives are definitely tempting.

Play Dead, The Murderer’s Game

Ex-Super Boy

Without beard it probably helped… (I shaved it off recently)… hehe… if you remember my previous post HERE, this is the same boy I see this year… NO MORE FEARS!

But now, as I look back at my previous shot… reading back my post… I realized I can’t find “the hidden maid” in the picture…. my hair stood up… I shivered in fear for a few moments… LOL.

I Love Kids

I love kids!!!

These are some shots quickly selected from a recent birthday party… more pictures to come…

If you wonder what I have been doing…

1. hibernating

2. just sold one of my favourite lens: the Panasonic Lumix 20mm F1.7 lens

3. from fiddling with my Fuji X10 to fiddling the Ricoh GXR and GRD3… and now happy with my GRD3 for daily random recordings (with the 21mm attachment of course…)

4. haven’t been touching micro four thirds for a while, happier with smaller sensors like the X10/GRD and the larger digital sensors, and above all… larger films.

5. sorting out my past works

6. teaching private lessons

7. doing selective portraits

8. a little tired of street photography

9. thinking

10. loving people

Live a day at a time, live it to your best, love the people around you. Thank you friends!

Food Editorial Photography

Here’s one of my favourite shot from a recent editorial job for an overseas magazine…

Location: Singapore Lau Pa Sat

Some of the challenges I faced in this job were:

1. Making hawker food look like recipe shots using minimum setup

2. Bringing out the essence of food culture in Singapore and Malaysia especially among the Chinese

3. Eating 3 bowls of assam laksa, 2 bowls of curry laksa, 2 plates of char kway teow, 1 chicken rice, 1 “sang ha mee”, and all the rest which I can’t remember… ALL in one day… I have a super tight deadline to meet… (Yes, I hate to waste food, so I made my 2 assistants eat with me after each shoot)

4. Finding public toilets to purge

5. Shooting professional-looking profile pictures of famous chefs on location at a fast pace with minimum setup

All in all, I enjoyed it so much that a part of me deep inside didn’t wish it would end… Hahaha…

I had to be a portrait-documentary-food-photographer all at one go! Hmm… so yummy! Visit me and we go makan!

Studio Portrait . 291010

From the Archives:

As I look through my archives, I find more and more of my past works “unacceptable”. I think I have grown much more fussy and picky and difficult to live with. LOL…

Street Shot – 2 Umbrellas and 2 Men

2 Umbrellas and 2 Men

2 Umbrellas and 2 Men

Event Shootout with Olympus PEN E-P1

It’s great joy and excitement to shoot with my friend Louis for a Big Nokia Event recently that I just can’t help, but to share some of the images from the Olympus E-P1 I was using.

01

04

02

The following are telephoto shots taken with a Leica 90mm F2.8 lens fitted on the E-P1 via an adaptor, and due to the 2x crop factor, it achieves a fantastic whooping 180mm! Due to that, I didn’t have to fight with the professional journalists using Huge Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses (also don’t have to fight with Louis who was using a powerful Canon 70-200mm F2.8 Lens), and still reasonably achieved close-up shots of the speakers on stage! The manual focusing on the sharp E-P1 screen made things possible.

Big Nokia Boss

Nokia Boss

Chief Designer of Nokia

Chief Designer of Nokia

Close-up during a coffee table dialogue session

Close-up during a coffee table dialogue session

Chief Designer giving a talk

Chief Designer giving a talk

Oh man… I was being twittered! I should really start twitting soon!

A Large 60-in LCD Screen connected to a laptop on twitter

A Large 60-in LCD Screen connected to a laptop on twitter

Some new products… …

05

06

07

08

12