Thursday 11 April 2019

Thoughts on the X-H1

Still Hanging On 
X-T1, Nikkor 50-135/3.5 AI-S

There's been a lot of discussion over at Fred Miranda on the X-H1, especially with regards to its apparent recent discontinuation so shortly after it was released a little over a year ago.

The X-H1 sits uneasily at the top of the X Series line. It really doesn't fit either silo that the X series is split into, not the classic SLR style of the various X-T bodies or the RF-ish style of the other X bodies. That does limit its appeal to Fuji shooters, who in many cases were largely attracted by the classic UI and non-DSLR ergonomics of the lineup.

That said, it does bring a number of things to the lineup, the larger build allows better handling with the big Red Badge series zooms, it offers IBIS, heftier build and a better EVF and more powerful processor than the other 3rd gen bodies.

The caveat is that in being released only about 6 months before the X-T3 brought the 4th generation of the platform it really only had a short run before it was exceeded in terms of performance. Combine that with a somewhat high number of bugs on release and it's been a bit of a lackluster release that is to some extent undeserved.

I do think Fuji needs an X-H2, and to bring it out sooner rather than later. IMHO they need to give it clear performance advantages over the X-T3 as well. Keep the IBIS, give it a deeper buffer (100 RAW @20fps minimum), try and improve the readout speed and either add a second processor or clock the current one faster so that AF tracking can see an increase in performance (some of these will also benefit video, especially any improvements in readout speed).

As to me, I've been thinking where my kit will eventually evolve. I'd been thinking of the X-T1 as the high end of my usual high/low body mix, but it really does well with the uses that traditionally were the low side of my high/low mix. The X-H1's better large lens handling, overall performance improvement over a 2nd gen body like the X-t1 and IBIS to me make me think that it could readily be paired with the X-T1 as the high end of an X-H1/X-T1 mix, and also replace the D300 permanently. Not anything I'd buy soon, but maybe in the fall...

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Rules of Acquisition

Golden Hour in the 'Hood
X-T1, XC 16-50 OIS II

With a couple months and ~1700 images on the X-T1, I've settled into a decent working system. Right now I have 2 native lenses, the XC 16-50 f3.5-5.6 OIS II kit zoom and the 23/2 WR 'Fujinon' weather-sealed wide/normal prime, I also have the correct adapters to use all but one of the lenses I have lying around. I usually have at least 1 adapted lens with me as well as the native lenses.

In terms of what I have lying around, right now that covers 3 mounts. Specifically Nikon F, where I have a 28/3.5, 50/1.8D, 55/3.5 Micro, 50-135/3.5, 200/4 and 300/4.5, plus access to a 16-85 f3.5-5.6 VR. I also have my Nikkor 5cm f1.4 in LTM mount (with 50/75 M adapter) and an SMC Takumar 35/3.5 in M42 mount. The SMC Tak is the only lens I cannot use today on my X-T1. Thankfully it's probably the least interesting of my lenses for those uses.

In terms of currently used adapted lenses, the 55/3.5 Micro sees the most use, the 200/4 and 50-135 have also seen a fair bit and I'm pretty happy with the results from the 55 and 200. The 50-135 is a mixed bag due to handling and optics.

I'm looking at a kit which will be a mix of native lenses and a selection of adapted primes, mostly in the mild telephoto range where Fuji's selection is most limited, to round out my needs. My mount priorities as such are pretty much X & F mounts, and I want to support Leica M, Contax/Yashica & M42 because I find those interesting.

The adapter front is a little frustrating for a single reason. There are good AF adapters for Canon EF lenses, but not for Nikon F lenses (not even the all-electronic E lenses). There's certain parts of the system that I would like to pad out with less expensive small Nikon SLR lenses (I'd love the Nikkor 10-20VR for example) especially as I still have my D300 and have zero interest in getting rid of it anytime soon.

As to the current state of my adapters. I have F & M adapters today. I need to add a C/Y adapter, as that nets me C/Y and M42 support as I already have an M42 to C/Y adapter. Additionally I'd like to add a Speedbooster type adapter for Nikon F at a minimum, as that really expands what I can realistically do with Nikon kit on Fuji lenses.

Speedboosters, if you have not run across them, are adapters with integrated telecompressors, or focal length reducers. These are basically teleconverters with multipliers below 1.0. The effect is the focal length gets shorter and as a result, the f number gets wider. For a typical Speedbooster with an 0.67 multiplier, your 35/1.4 becomes a 23/1.0 which is a big win. And a 105/2.5 becomes a 70/1.7, filling a gap in the Fuji system for the very popular 105 equivalent. And for the 135/2.8, it can do double duty, functioning as a 200mm-e on the regular adapter and replacing the Fuji 90/2 when on a Speedbooster (as the 90/2 is a 135/3 equivalent in full-frame terms)

So my next steps in the system are really to acquire the 2 adapters I need, the C/Y and the F mount speedbooster. A C/&Y Speedbooster might be fun in the future, but isn't needed now. That's not a large investment thankfully. After that I'll be looking for a couple Nikkor's, specifically the 105/2.5 and 135/2.8 and probably a couple of the cheap chinese X mount primes, the Meike 35/1.7 for sure and something wider than 16mm.

All of that leads into the need to define Rules of Acquisition (lens edition).

They are, as follows:

Only buy X, F, M, C/Y or M42 lenses, in that order of priority
Only spend significant money on X or F lenses unless there is something truly unique, and even then it should be M or C/Y mount
Never sell Adapters.
No EF, no matter how tempting

Thursday 4 April 2019

2 Months and 1600 Images

Old Man & the Kids 
X-T1, Nikkor 50-135/3.5 AI-S

So I'm a couple days short of 2 months into owning the X-T1 and a couple dozen images over 1600 taken with it.

It continues to impress. With the need for gloves gone, most of the caveats about the buttons are gone (although the D-pad remains marginal) and overall the camera continues to work very well for me.

The first teasers of spring have arrived and flowers are starting to come up, which gives me some more reason to get out which was largely missing in March (and I'm mostly recovered from the cold that plagued me for all of March).