Thoughts on the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter

This week I have borrowed the XF 1.4X TC WR teleconverter for use with the 50-140 Zoom. (It also works with the newly announced 100-400 ).

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I needed to find out how the lens with converter would work in “not ideal conditions” so I took an X-T1 with the lens and converter mounted out early on a dark stormy morning before the sun had fully risen. There are plenty of technical reviews, in perfect conditions, with nice blue skies, I need to know how it performs in the poor light and conditions I am likely to get. If it functions in these, it will function on a nice bright summers day.

So, these test images are all straight from the camera shot at either 6400 or 3200 iso, slow shutter speeds and mostly slightly underexposed. Not a case of getting pretty images but a case of “what can I get away with”. All the images are taken at “Full Zoom” i.e. 140mm (200mm).

Starting with our local pier.

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50-140 Native at 140mm

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50-140 with Converter at 140mm

This shows the difference in the reach of the lens with the converter against the lens alone.

At 1:1 these images look like:

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Native. 3200iso, 1/300, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 3200iso, 1/170, F2.8(F4)

Firstly it’s obvious (or should be) that as with all teleconverters there is light loss, in this case approximately 1 stop (shown here by the variation in shutter speed).
Secondly in these conditions there is no real difference in image quality. Great.
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Native. 6400iso, 1/350, F2.8(F4)

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/180, F2.8(F4)

Remember – straight off of camera JPG, only cropped here.

Testing the optical image stabilisation:

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/58, F2.8(F4)

So yes! Thats 1/60th with an equivalent focal length of 300mm, The OIS seems to work fine! I was also testing the focusing at this point and the tracking did track the cyclist ok (ok, not that fast but I don’t do sport).

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With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/150, F2.8(F4)

I could also track this flying bird ok although acquiring the subject was a little harder/slower so I would say the focusing is defiantly affected (it would be due to the light loss) but the effect is acceptable for my work. If you shoot sports I would check for yourself.

 

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(Shop Window) With 1.4x. 6400iso, 1/120, F2.8(F4)

 

But that is not everything. There are issues:

Firstly, mounting the converter: The convertor is shaped it slides up within the barrel of the 50-140. I am sure this enables the high image quality to be delivered but it did mean I felt I needed to be far more careful mounting the converter on the lens. My routine was:

  • Lens off of camera
  • Converter onto lens
  • Finally mounting the combination back on the camera body.

Far slower than a face-to-face mounting and meaning that the body is open with an exposed sensor for a longer time than I would like.

Secondly, reported focal lengths and aperture values: When using a converter on my Nikons. The camera (and EXIF data) would report the resultant aperture (i.e. F4 opposed to F2.8) and focal length (i.e. 200 opposed to 140). The X-T1 was not doing this (tested in Firmware 4.0 and 4.20), the EXIF information reported was for the lens alone. This is addressed by ensuring that not only the camera body is running the latest firmware but also the lens. It turns out that during my testing, my lens was not running the latest. I am assured the correct data is reported when all is updated.

So to sum up:

I am fairly sure the performance under conditions I would use it are fairly acceptable with slight degradation in focus performance and an imperceptible difference in image quality. I suppose one big question is “How does the performance compare with the 55-200”. My gut feeling is it out performs it but without measurable back-to-back testing thats difficult to say.

The big lesson of the day is:

Always ensure that both the lens and the body are updated to be running the very latest firmware as there may be issues that are not apparent whist using the kit that may affect the data further down the line.

X-Pro2 : A quick Hands on

Today I got my hands on an X-Pro2 for an hour. I was not really looking at it with a view to buying one now, more as a view to “where are Fuji going” and “what can I expect from the next generation X-T”.

You will not find photos of the camera here, there are plenty of them around!

It feels nice in the hand, very nice. The slight increase in weight gives it a more solid feel, the change in grip shape on the right hand side means a nicer, more solid grip particularly  when holding single handed.

The joystick  is really nice, making it much easier and quicker to switch focus point. Although I grew up with film cameras I was slightly concerned about the “lift-up” iso dial but it works fine;  its not the fastest but is still quite easy to operate with the camera up to your eye. Whilst I am on the subject of having the camera to the eye, the new EVF is noticeably smoother than that in the X-T1.

One thing you do quickly notice though is the sound. Oh it sounds so nice. No, that should not be important but it does give you this warm feeling that this camera will be nice to use.

Mounting a flash on the camera and having it fire at the full 8fps with the jpg’s streaming into my cheap SD card in slot 2 with no delay or pausing was a relief. I did get the feeling I could put this camera into service right away and if I were shooting a job on prime lenses I would probably opt for this over my current X-T1’s.

I have not posted any full size for the pixel peepers but here are a few images I shot:

To Sum up:

Will I be buying one now?

No, I do not have a business case for one. However it does give me a really good feeling about the next generation X-T. If this camera is anything to go by the future is really bright.

I have the feeling that at some point I might move my current X-Pro1 and X100 on and replace both of these with a single X-Pro2 because it just feels so nice, nice in the same way that the original X100 did.

The Q menu

I was talking to a colleague the other day and he seemed unaware that the Q-menu was customisable. I offered to write a short blog on it (based upon the X-T1, the X-Pro-1 is very similar).

Not sure what I’m talking about?  What is the Q-menu? Basically the Q button on the rear of the camera (Fuji X-T1  X-Pro1) provides fast access to a number of settings arranged in a grid as below. This grid is called the Q-menu.

Here is my current Q-menu (although it is always in a state of flux). I don’t use all of the functions and my aim was to have the items I need to change often quickly accessible.

Q-Menu-now

You will see my first two items are to do with the focus system – to change between single point and group of points and the second item to switch on and off face recognition. I need quick access to White Balance as I change it between “Auto” and a custom setting often (this will be the subject of my next post).

So, how is the Q-menu customised?

Go to the following menu option (by pressing the centre “Menu” button and using the cursors).

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Press the menu button again and the Q-menu with be displayed in Edit mode.

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Use the cursor/arrow buttons to select the item to change. and press the centre menu button.

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Select the function you require, confirming with the centre/menu button and using the back button to cancel.

Once finished press the back button again.

And there you are….

Looking Forward

I’ve waited a week into the new year before posting this as my feed has been filled up with “my best photos of 2015 blogs”.  Although I have blogged a “best of” for the past couple of years, this year I did not want to, I wanted to look forward…

This is mostly a “Fuji Gear” blog so with that in mind, what am I looking forward to?

First I am expecting to review/test the 1.4x Extender for the 50-140 zoom. Yes I know this has been out for a while but I have not seen it nor tested it yet having held off because I’m pretty sure I would decide I need it (due to the lack of long lenses)..

Which brings me to what I am really looking forward to. The XF100-400 zoom (rumours are it should be quite soon). It’s quite clear from earlier posts that a “long” is what I am missing (for those “Royal” jobs, the music gigs from the sounddesk, the long shots at conferences). You can view the Fuji X Les Roadmap here… I’m pretty sure (assuming it performs as well as the other lenses) that I will be purchasing this fairly quickly.

The new X-Pro2 is due to be announced shortly, the specs look good and it should be an good indicator on how Fuji is developing, particularly in the area of sensors and auto-focus. Rumours are there will be a new X-T2 announced in the summer. My plan is to review these bodies and see how far forward a step they are before committing.

So thats camera gear. One of my photographic aims this year is to shoot more formal / creative portraits (most of the news work I do is informal so it would be good to get back to working with lights more). Therefore I will be looking more into speedlights/strobes vs continuous and (my favourite) LED’s. I started looking at LED’s a few years back and really like the light (I have a couple that I use for monochrome work). However the price being charged for systems with a good constant white (high CRI) was just too high along with the output being too low meant they could not become everyday tools. I am hoping that has changed. If not, I’ll have to continue with the speed lights (I like portable!) ..

Well, those are my plans, what are yours?

 

 

New Announcements and Rumours.

So, rumours are rife and announcements are expected. In fact Nikon announced new shiny cameras yesterday.

I’m a member of many so-called “professional” photography forums and yet after the announcement all the discussion was about the features, what cards the cameras took, OVF vs EVF vs Flipscreen. How many mega-pixels….

These are NOT the important questions a freelance photographer should be asking themselves:

THESE are the questions they should be asking!

“Will it enable me to deliver better product to my clients”.
“Will I be in a better position to compete with this compared to my existing kit”
“How much more money will i be able to make by investing in this? What will the pay-back time be”?
This is business, not play time!