Thursday, March 28, 2019

FIRST LOOK REVIEW: FUJIFILM XF 8-16mm f2.8 R LM WR

It seems like ages ago, but when I was still shooting the Nikon system pre-2012, my main three go to lenses were the Nikon 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8. Until recently, Fujifilm had us covered with the "red label" XF 16-50 f2.8 and XF 50-140 f2.8 for their 1.5 crop X-series camera bodies. 

One of the older Ultra wide angle lenses that has been available for a while is the  XF10-24 f4.0; but it wasn't a "red label" lens, which Fujifilm uses to distinguish their high end weather-sealed f2.8 pieces of glass. With the release of the brand-new XF 8-16 f2.8 (12-24mm full frame equivalent), earlier this year, this has now changed!


As an X-Photographer, the people of Fujifilm Middle East were kind enough to lend me a production copy of the new lens to test it in the field during a couple of weeks. 

QUALITY/SIZE/WEIGHT
Typical for all red label lenses this lest is of the highest built standard! Everything from the lens barrel, focus and aperture ring feels top quality with the rings moving smoothly and being very well damped. Gone are the days when some of the older Fujifilm lenses had an aperture ring that was too easy to change; the XF14 f2.8 comes to mind?


Needless to say that a constant aperture lens like this is, is larger than some of the smaller zooms; after all it has 20 glass elements in 13 groups; that is a lot of glass! Compared to the XF10-24 f4, it is about double the weight (805g versus 410g) and substantially larger but still not too bulky.

When mounted on a X-T3/T2/T1, X-Pro2/1 the lens is a little front heavy but is a joy to use.  Using it on smaller cameras like the X-E, X-T10/20/30 I would definitively recommend using one of the metal hand grip accessories for better handholding. 

The lens hood is fixed to the lens in order to protect the front glass element, which typically for a super wide angles is quite bulbous. While I normally never use the lens caps myself, this lens is an exception; even though the front element isn't exposed outside of the lens hood, one could damage it when not being careful. 




HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE XF 10-24 f4 LENS?
First of all I would like to stress that this is not a replacement lens for the above! What is below might help you decide which lens is best suited for you!

FOCAL LENGHT
Needless to say that the focal length between the two is different; at the wide end the difference between 8mm and 10mm does make a noticeable difference; it might only seem like 2mm but it can make the difference between getting a shot or not. On the other hand, the XF10-24 does zoom all the way to a "normal" focal length which makes it more flexible as a walk-around lens. 

In order to visualize the difference between 8 and 16mm focal length, I've shot the two below images; first one at 8mm, second at 16mm.



WEATHER SEALED
The older XF10-24 is not weather-sealed; if one is regularly shooting in rain/snow or other dusty environments, the weather sealing of the XF8-16 could become a major purchase decision factor between the two. I shot the new lens during a dust storm in Dubai and had absolutely not problems with it; even though it was pretty much covered in sand.


OPTICAL IMAGE STABILSATION (OIS)
When the XF 16-55 came out a couple of years ago, there was a lot of critique that the lens didn't have OIS; yes I was one of the photographers commenting on this as well! Fujifilm stated that for optimal image quality and to save some weight (cost?), OIS was left out. 

The same OIS is missing in the XF 8-16 f2.8, but making it a much wider lens, the lack of image stabilization is obviously less important, although it always comes in handy for video shooters! One can of course use the lens on a camera with IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) like the X-H1 in order to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds. I'm kind of hopeful that we will eventually see more X-series equipped with IBIS.


The older XF 10-24 f4.0 lens does however have OIS; not the latest and greatest but practically speaking a few stops and worth having it. The older XF 10-24 is known to be a bit softer when shot wide open; I normally don't shoot it below f5.6 (f8 if possible), which together with its OIS makes it comparable to shooting the XF 8-16 f2.8, wide open when only looks at minimum handheld shutter speeds. When it comes to light gathering (aperture), the XF 8-16 obviously wins.

USE OF FILTERS
Like my old Nikor 14-24 f2.8 lens, the lens lacks a filter tread which makes mounting filters more difficult. Third party filter manufactures do have solutions to mount filters, which of course make the set-up more bulky and will set you back at least a few hundred dollars/euros. The XF 10-24 has a 72mm filter tread which makes mounting filters straight forward.

AUTOFOCUS 
In both lenses the autofocus is smooth and fast. While the XF8-16 has linear motors the XF10-24 has stepping motors. While the first one has a complete silent autofocus, the latter at times makes just a little bit of autofocus noise; nothing really distracting however.

VIDEO
The lack of an easy solution to mount ND (Neutral density) filters on the XF8-16, pretty much rules out this lens as a video lens. The zoom to an "almost" normal focal length (36mm full frame equivalent) on the XF10-24 makes it also more versatile for video.

PRICE
Like its weight, the new lens is double the price as the XF10-24; the MSRP is 2000,-USD, although there currently seems to be a 500,-USD rebate/discount in some places at the time of publication. Is the new lens, double as good compared to the XF10-24? Of course it isn't, but this is the price we pay for having the best image quality!

IMAGE QUALITY
I won't be showing you any specific image sharpness comparisons but the little bit of testing I did do, shows that the XF 8-16 is noticeable sharper in the corners especially at the wider focal lengths, especially wide open; when stopping down the XF10-24 a little, the center sharpness becomes a much closer match to the newer lens. If you want the best image quality, the XF 8-16 f2.8 is definitively better, although I've never been disappointed with the XF10-24 neither. 

The XF 8-16 is a rectilinear, which makes for distortion free shooting, even at 8mm, as long as one holds the sensor parallel to the plane of the subject and perpendicular to the vertical lines. Needless to say that depending on the subject distance and placement, the wide-angle will show perspective distortion, but that is merely physics and not a lens flaw.


Lastly I'm particularly impressed by the sunstars the lens creates at smaller apertures. 


IMAGE SAMPLES
Check out the real life images I shot over the two week test period. As always, I'm a photographer and not a pixel peeping, so images are shot in RAW and edited. No distortion editing has been done on the images.

1/250s, f5.6, ISO 200, 13mm

1/600s, f11, ISO 250, 16mm

1/240s, f11, ISO 160, 15mm

1/340s, f16, ISO 160, 12mm

13s, f11, ISO 160, 11mm

1/250s, f16, ISO 320, 8mm

1/140s, f11, ISO 400, 11mm

1s, f2.8, ISO 12800, 16mm

1/1400s, f5.6, ISO 160, 12mm

1/240s, f10, ISO 160, 10mm

1/350s, f11, ISO 160, 16mm

1/350s, f9, ISO 250, 16mm

70min, f2.8, ISO800, 8mm


CONCLUSIONS



WHO IS THIS LENS FOR?
This is a question I often ask myself when reviewing gear... 

I personally see this lens as a great piece of glass for wedding, concert and other event photographers. 

Architectural photographers will also find good use in this lens for shooting exteriors and interiors. Although many are also waiting for a Fujifilm tilt shift lens to hit the X-series (and or GFX) lens road map. 

One might not think of the XF 8-16 f2.8 as being a "sport lens", but I definitively see a lot of potential where one can shoot close to the atlete/player; things like skateboarding, sailing, mountain biking, motorcross, etc... all come to mind!

Last but not least are of course landscape and astro photographers which often use ultra wide angle lenses! These will appreciate the wide f2.8 aperture of the lens, the good corner sharpness and of course the fact that the lens is weather sealed.

In summary the new XF 8-16 f2.8 lens is somewhat of a specialist list. As long as one knows how to use the wide angle perspective creatively, this lens will allow you to stand out with a unique look. As a red label lens it is not cheap, but worth every penny as long as you have a specific purpose for it!

The above review can be shared on Social media and Blogs without prior approval, as long as credit to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY (www.bjornmoerman.com) is given.  











Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 13: ABANDONED MOSQUE STAR TRAILS - Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f2.8 lens

Last week, I went out to my favorite abandoned village to test shoot the new Fujifilm XF 8-16 f2.8 lens and potentially add some images to my "When the desert take over" project. I photographed at the undisclosed location in the UAE for a few hours in the late afternoon, when I realized that I could stay till after dark and do some star trail photography... 

Although I didn't plan to do astrophotography that day, I had the tripod with me and testing the new lens for this type of photography was a good last minute challenge.

The moon was a few days short of being full, which means that it is already well above the eastern horizon just after dark. As one normally will shoot towards the North (Pole star-Polaris), the foreground subject will be nicely lit by the moonlight on the right (East/South-East) and this without having the moon in the frame. For a more simple image, I choose to photograph the empty Mosque, which sits at the border of the abandoned village.

There are several ways of shooting Star Trails, the easiest for me is to shoot a continuous series of images with a 30 sec exposure time; this during a few hours. The resulting images (2hr x 120=240) are then run through a dedicated program that provides you with a nice Star Trail image. I personally use StarStaX, which is freeware (donation appreciated!) and does a good job for me!

As I was underdressed and really started to feel cold, I wasn't able to complete the full 2 hours, which let to shorter star trails; total shots were 135. On top of that I made the rookie mistake of only exposing the images for 20s instead of 30s, which again leads to even shorter trails. By the way, StarStax will only accept jpeg or tiffs files.

On a dark night, I would normally shoot my 30s exposures around ISO 1600, but given the moon was providing plenty of light, ISO 800 was sufficient. 




Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF 8-16 f2.8 lens
  • ISO 800, f2.8, 20s (jpeg 135 images), 8mm (14mm full frame equivalent)
  • Photoshop CC to remove aircraft/satellites flying through some of the shots
  • StarStaX to blend the images together
I'm ok with the image, but it proved once again that good photography normally starts with good preparation; more careful planning would have resulted in an even better image. As I hadn't planned to do Star Trails shots, I should have taken more time to properly set up my in camera intervalometer and brought warmer clothes to shoot during at least two full hours... Lesson learnt! 

Careful viewers, might actually notice that I'm standing inside the Mosque, lit by my mobile phone. This adds an element of interest, but also allowed me stay a little warmer. And no, I didn't stay there for all of the 135 images; I used a single image to blend into the final image.

The First look review of the XF 8-16 f2.8 lens can be found here while more images of my "When the desert takes over" project, can be found here

Remember: "Only in the darkness can you see the stars" - Martin Luther King Jr


BJORN







Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 12: LOVE LAKE, DUBAI - MAVIC 2 PRO

The Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is the first unfenced natural conservation reserve in the UAE. A few years ago, extensive man made wetlands, called Al Quadra lakes were built in the middle of the desert landscape in order to attract birds, plants and other species. Today there are about 

If one wants to escape the hustle and bustle of the city of Dubai, heading out to the Al Qudra Lakes is a great idea. Once it started to become more popular, some visitors were unfortunately leaving rubbish behind, leading to restrictions on BBQ's, camping and campfires. The human race is often its own worst enemy, isn't it!

The latest lake, just to the east of the Al Qudra Lakes, are two large lakes in the shape of hearts; appropriately known as "Love Lake". It was the Crown Prince of Dubai, who in November last year posted an aerial image of the Love Lake on his personal Instagram account. Needless to say, people have been flocking to the place since!  

When I bought and registered my first drone (Mavic 2 Pro) earlier this year, I knew, Love Lake would make for a perfect place to fly it! It will become nicer once all of the planted trees will start growing a bit.



Image details:
  • Mavic 2 Pro 
  • ISO 100, f4.0, 1/1250s
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
I've also made a short-film (video) about the project. Click here to check it out.

As a professional pilot myself, I make it my personal mission to promote "safe drone flying"; make sure you register your drone and be certificated if needed. Check the local regulations wherever you want to fly your drone before flying it! 

More aerial images of mine shot from airplanes, balloons and drones can be found here


Remember: "You haven't seen a tree, if you haven't seen its shadow from the sky!" - Amelia Earhart  

BJORN

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 11: MARINA BAY AT DUSK, SINGAPORE - Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f2.8 lens

Singapore, sometimes referred to as "The Switzerland of the East", is a small island state in Southeast Asia which became independent in 1965. Just about 100 km North of the equator, it has a tropical climate with a very high humidity throughout the year but still is one of my favorite cities in the Far East.

Earlier this week I spend just over 24 hours in Singapore; just enough time to test the new Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f2.8 ultra wide angle lens, which I'm presently testing for Fujifilm Middle East. One of my favorite places in Singapore for cityscapes is the Marina Bay Area which is dominated by Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort, casino and shopping mall. Some might have seen images of the amazing infinity pool on the rooftop of the hotel. 

The lotus shaped ArtScience on the right houses 21 gallery spaces and was designed by Israeli-Canadian Architect Moshe Safdie. 

The colorful 280m long footbridge on the left is the Helix bridge and makes for an interesting compositional element. 


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF 8-16mm f2.8 lens
  • Single exposure (no HDR); ISO 160, 13sec, f11, 11mm 
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • Photoshop CC for perspective correction
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex pro 4 for optimal contrast 

I also shot a few panoramas covering more of the Marina Bay Area; one 10000 pixel wide one, can be found here

Time permitting I hope to write a short review about the new XF8-16mm f2.8 lens before the end of the month. 

Remember: "The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo" - Desmond Morris




Friday, March 8, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 10: DESERT AERIAL - DJI MAVIC 2 PRO

Earlier in the year, I picked up my first drone, a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Being an avoid Aerial photographer, I've been shooting from aircraft, helicopters and balloons, but as the cameras on the smaller prosumer drones have become decent it is time to include "modern" technology in my Aerial photography. Some shots are hard if not impossible get from an aircraft while others can pretty much only be done with a drone; there is a place for both platforms!

In the image below, I was attracted to the scene of people getting out of their car and enjoying the beauty of a sunset over the desert. I love how the tire tracks lead the viewer into the center of image and how the distinct pattern of the footprints in the warm desert sand, add to the image.


Image details:

  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Hasselblad 10.26mm lens 
  • 1/320s, f4.0, ISO 100
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development 
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex Pro4 for optimal contrast
I'm pretty happy with the image quality of the 1 inch sensor mounted on The Mavic 2 Pro. Would I love to have an even larger sensor? Of course, but being a small compact drone everything is of course about compromises! 

More of my portfolio Aerial images can be found here

Remember: "Take only memories, leave only footprints"


BJORN

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

COMPARISON REVIEW: FUJIFILM X-T30 a MINI X-T3 !

On February 14, pretty much exactly 2 year after the release of the X-T20, its successor, the FUJIFILM X-T30 was released by Fujifilm Japan.



When the X-T3 (review here) was released 5 months ago, it didn't go unnoticed in the photography community! Personally I believe the X-T3 is probably the best featured camera in the X-series line, as of today. 

Immediately after the announcement of the X-T3, some people started speculating whether a scaled down version like we had after the X-T2, would come out. Since the X-T1, Fujifilm has followed the tradition to bring out the small brother of the X-Tx line about 6 months after initial launch. 

Early February and courtesy of the great guys of Fujifilm Middle East, I was given a black box with a brand new X-T30. Yes, given is a big word. Unfortunately I need to return the camera!

It obviously comes with the usual disclaimer that the image quality and camera firmware might not be final; the hardware did however look pretty close to the final product as did the packaging. I'm an X-Photographer (brand ambassador), but what is below is my own opinion and not that of Fujifilm. I'm not paid by Fujifilm to write what is below.


HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE X-T20?
While the X-T20 is available in two colors (black and silver) the X-T30 will also be selling in a new "Charcoal Silver"; the one I tested and probably the colour I would get myself! 

SENSOR AND PROCESSOR
While some changes are clearly visible from the outside, the most noteworthy are not. The "old" X-Trans III sensor has been replaced with the new 26.1Mpx BSI X-Trans 4 CMOS sensor which also be found on its larger (and more expensive) brother. The base ISO has come down to 160 while the new extended ISO starts at ISO 80 and goes all the way up to ISO 51200. Unlike some other cameras, the Extended ISO can be used in RAW. I personally don't even think twice to shoot at ISO 6400 and will increase slightly beyond that if needed. Compared to the X-T20 (and the older X-Trans III sensor), the amount of noise is about the same. I do find that the recovery of dynamic range in post-processing is better on the BSI (Backside Illuminated) sensor. See Image quality below for more.

Similarly the X-T30 also has the new X-Processor 4 which gives the camera a lot more horsepower. Personally, I find the new processor a bigger change than the new sensor. The only caveat is that the full potential of the new processor might not be seen because of having a single UHS-I card slot versus two faster UHS-II slots on the X-T3.  



There are a large variety of fps (frames per second) settings available to choose from when using CH and CL modes. In Mechanical Shutter (MS), one can shoot at 8fps (versus 11fps on the X-T3). Using the Electronic Shutter (ES) up to 30fps (yes, that is right!) is available when using a 1.25 crop setting. At the full 26.1Mpx resolution, the camera can be shot at a blazing fast 20fps.

As the sensor read out is 1.5 times faster than the previous generation processor/sensor combo, the rolling shutter problems when using ES have largely disappeared. Even when panning fast action like fast moving car the ES does a good job. Needless to say that 8 fps and shooting the MS, is still plenty for most as well!

For high speed action there is a new Sport Finder mode which only is available in Mechanical shutter mode, and uses a 1.25 cropped image (limited to 16Mpx). The crop is indicated by a special frame on both LCD and EVF. This way one can see the action enter the viewfinder before the actual (cropped) frame is entered. A bit like when using a Optical viewfinder which of course this camera does not have. 

Another function that sport and other high speed shooters will like is the Pre-Shot function which is only available in Electronic Shutter (ES). This starts shooting images as soon as the shutter button is half pressed, constantly loading the last 20 into the buffer, initially not onto the card. When the shutter is fully pressed the last 20 images are then transferred from the buffer onto the SD card on top of the actual images made while pressing the shutter. This improves our changes when shooting fast action photography, where we are sometimes just a split second too late. The image below, is an example where this comes in very handy!



Only thing, we need to remember is to half-press the shutter a little before the actual shot is expected. 

Lastly, the new sensor now has 100% phase detection auto-focus coverage rather than the slower contrast detection focus points we used to see on the outer side of the frame. This makes for faster Auto-focus, especially in focus tracking (AF-C mode). Face and Eye detection is also vastly improved!




Like all of the recent Fujifilm cameras, the X-T30 has Bluetooth functionality for integration with the Fujifilm Remote app which will see a major update in less than a month. 






BUTTONS AND DIALS
The top plate of the X-T30 is identical to its predecessor. On the backside, the 4-way D-pad button set-up has now made place for a joystick; Fujifilm calls it the "Focus lever". The 4-way controller functionality is now available via the touchscreen interface; similar to the X-E3. While getting used to the new set-up takes a little bit of time, for me it works well on the smaller bodies like the X-T30 line as it frees up more real estate at the back. However, please leave the D-pad on the larger bodies like the X-T3, Fujifilm! 

What I initially didn't like about the new camera was the new position of the Q button on the small thumb rest . I bumped it quite a few times with my thumb; something that got gradually better towards the end of the testing period but which nevertheless remained an annoyance. For info I have medium size male hands.   

EVF AND LCD
The 0.39 inch EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) is almost identical to its predecessor; with its 0.62x magnification factor it is less than the 0.77x of the X-T3. The only difference is that the refresh rate cam be increased to 100fps when using the boost mode. 

The 3 inch LCD tilt screen on the back is also the same; the only difference is that it sticks out a little less and therefore making the camera a fraction slimmer than its predecessor.


ELECTRONIC LEVEL
Like the X-H1 and X-T3, it features a two axis (pitch and roll) electronic level. I prefer to use one of the 4 touchpad functions to be allocated to the electronic level.

INFORMATION CONTRAST ADJUSTMENT
Likely something I won't use that much, but there are four different contrast settings for all of the information text displayed on the LCD and EVF. Part of the screen set-up, this changes only the text in the EVF and LCD, unlike a change in brightness that is still available for both EVF and LCD. The latter one, changes the brightness of the image as well as the surrounding text symbols. There are 4 choices; standard contrast setting, High, Low and Dark Ambient Lighting. The last one provides you with red text only, which will protect your night vision when out and about in the dark.




WHAT IS MISSING COMPARED TO THE X-T3?
First of all, one gets pretty much a mini X-T3 for about 500-600,-USD less. Lets have a look at what we are missing in the new camera compared to its older brother!

While shooting the X-T30, one of the first obvious comparisons to the X-T3, is that the EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) is not as bright and large. It is very good and fast enough but once spoiled with the X-T3 EVF, it is really hard to go back. Having said so, the price difference needs to show up somewhere of course. 



Not immediately obvious but important if you are an all weather shooter, the X-T30 is not weather sealed. The X-T30 is 30% lighter (539g versus 383g), which is of course significant! 


While it has a nice tilt screen (unlike the X-100F and X-Pro2), it isn't a 3-axis tilt screen like on the X-T3; for myself not a big deal but a nice feature to have. 


Something that is not that obvious is the fact that the eye sensor is not automatically disabled when the LCD screen is tilted; something the X-T3 does do and which can be a bit of an annoyance when using the touchscreen with your finger hovering in front of the EVF. Likely something that can be fixed in a firmware update I guess? 

I do highly recommend using the metal hand grip if shooting with the larger lenses such as the XF50-140 and XF100-400. The Metal Hand grip, MHG-XT10, for the X-T10/X-T20 also works fine on the X-T30. Another advantage of the MHG-XT10 is that is place the tripod mount below the lens; something the X-T3 does natively. 



The camera does not have a dual memory card slot; because of the more limited space! Like the X-T20, both the battery and memory card live together at the bottom right of the camera.

The smaller brother of the X-T3 does not have a dedicated ISO dial, but one can of course tailor some of the function buttons to the ISO function. Personally I used the front command dial for that function and this worked fine for me. 

Unfortunately the camera does not have the 1/8000s maximum mechanical shutter speed of the higher end cameras. The Electronic Shutter does however allow for shutter speeds up to 1/32000s.


Autofocus wise, the X-T30 is pretty much on par with its big brother. At release date, it is even slighty ahead of the X-T3; face detection is meant to be 30% faster and one can now select a face on the screen when the camera has identify several ones. Changing the autofocus from far to close (and vice versa) has also become faster and last but not least the sensitivity of the touchscreen has improved. Now, X-T3 should not panic; all of this will be become available in the 3.0 firmware update in April 2019! 

VIDEO
Well I'm not a video shooter... but for the price point the camera has decent video shooting capabilities, including 4K shooting; but only up to 30fps. I'm sure that vloggers would have loved to see a fully articulating front facing LCD screen but there are some robust video features. Although the camera only shoots 8 bit 4:2:0, 10 bit 4:2:2 is available through HDMI. A external headphone can be connected through the new USB-C connection on the left side (third party). 

Internal Super Slow motion at 120fps is available at 1080p. 

IMAGE QUALITY 
Practically spoken the image quality of an X-T3 and X-T30 file or virtually identical as both sensor and processor are identical. After having shot the X-T3 for more than 6 months now, I've started to appreciate the full potential of the X-Trans 4 image files. 

Especially when shooting in RAW, I'm impressed in how files behave when opening shadows in a RAW converter. Although this is something I would rarely need to do in my own type of photography, but when pushing the shadow slider to the max, there is hardly any noise or artifacts added to the image. The image below is an example of this; left with the shadow slider pushed to right, while the image on the right is the basic unedited RAW file.



BLACK AND WHITE TONING
Both for standard Monochrome as well as in Acros Film simulation modes, the in camera jpeg files can now be toned.


As part of the Image Quality tab, there is a warm and cool tone setting of +/-9. Especially when being used at the smaller settings (max 2), this makes for some nicely toned black and white images. Just get rid of the Sepia Film Simulation Fujifilm and give us something useful instead! 

ETERNA
In order to have a nice "cinema" look and allow for easier grading in video, the Eterna Film Simulation is now also available on the X-T30. It makes for soft color and rich shadows. 


COLOR CHROME 
When expressing colors such as red, orange or yellow in high contrast, high brightness tends to exist. If contrast and brightness both reach their peaks, there is no longer room for tonality. As a result, the image becomes flat. Color Chrome Effect uses this to create tonality while maintaining high contrast. As a result, an image is achieved without losing its depth. This used to be done with the creation of  special "fortia" film. Today in can be done in camera.

It is something we first saw in the GFX50S Medium format and which is now also available with one of three settings; OFF/WEAK/STRONG. With the previous X-Processor Pro there was about a 1s slowdown whenever the effect was being used. Users were therefore asked to preferably use it post shooting as part of the in-camera RAW development and not while shooting. The newer processor in the X-T30 is however perfectly capable to apply the effect while shooting. Whenever you are shooting reds and yellows in high contrast situation, think about this setting! 

WHITE BALANCE LOCK
Sometimes things are being implemented and one thinks, "why has nobody before thought about this"? This is the case with the White balance Lock function. Just like one can press a button to lock the exposure (AE-L) or autofocus (AF-L), we can now do the same for a given white balance by dedicating a Fn button to the AWB lock. This is especially useful when different lights in night scenes constantly change the WB.  Yes, we can enter a custom WB but this is so much easier. All the points for innovation Fujifilm!

SAMPLE IMAGES
I'm a photographer and not a pixel peeper. The images below were shot and edited as I normally do. A careful viewer might find out that some of the first images show up as X-T3 files; this is because the RAW file converter wasn't available yet and I tricked Lightroom into believing they were X-T3 files. As the sensor and processor are identical this will of course not effect the image quality. 

I shot the X-T30 over a 3 week period at a variety of locations; from the desert of Dubai, through a ski holiday in the Austrian Alps and a few flying trips for the day-job to Paris and Nice, France. 

I have downsized the images to maximum 3000px wide in order to have a reasonable loading on this webpage. 

Post edit: Image were initially wrongly uploaded at 300px i.s.o. 3000px. This has now been corrected. Sorry for the inconvenience.


ISO 800, XF18-135mm lens


ISO 200, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 200, XF50-140mm lens

ISO 400, XF50-140mm lens

ISO 6400, XF27mm lens

ISO 320, XF27mm lens

ISO 6400, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 160, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 640, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 200, XF27mm lens

ISO 160, XF27mm lens

ISO 160, XF27mm lens

ISO 200, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 160, XF27mm lens

ISO 125, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 160, XF27mm lens

ISO 160, XF27mm lens

ISO 400, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 1000, XF18-135mm lens


ISO 500, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 320, XF18-135mm lens

ISO 200, XF18-135mm lens

CONCLUSIONS
First of all my usual question; "Who is this camera for?". Well I guess the answer is not that straight forward. I see a few main markets; first of all, it is definitively a camera I would recommend to somebody who is either new to photography or to an experienced DSLR user who wants to have a lighter mirrorless camera for travel and street photography.

Secondly, I can see some Pro-shooters looking for a back-up body which is cheaper and smaller than their main X-T3 camera. 


Last but not least, I really see the X-T30 as a near perfect "Street Photography camera"; pair it with a 23mm f2 (or 35mm f2 if you prefer) and you pretty much have the perfect fit. Want to go even smaller; throw a 27mm f2.8 pancake lens on it! I especially like the touch LCD and
 the improvements of the Electronic Shutter (ES), for candid street photography!





What would I have like to see different on the X-T30? There are two things that come to mind here... The position and shape of the Q button being the first; even after several weeks I still occasionally bump the Q button inadvertently. Secondly I would like to see an eyecup for the camera like on the X-T1/2/3 series; either directly fitted or sold as an accessory. 

Expected launch price is 899,-USD, the same when the X-T20 first came out. Both the black and silver colour should start hitting the shelves towards the end of March, while the new Charcoal Silver is expected to be available in June. Overall, I do give the X-T30  a "Recommended" tag!


The above review can be shared on Social media and Blogs without prior approval, as long as credit to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY (www.bjornmoerman.com) is given.  



BJORN