Friday, September 24, 2010

A First Preview of the Fuji X100

More information is becoming available about this camera (Fuji X100). Here's a hands-on preview of the camera. There's still a lot of speculation. Interesting points: the VF has three modes, an OVF w/digital overlay, a pure EVF, and a playback mode. Also, it looks like manual  focusing might be achieved using a method called, peaking--where colored pixels generate around areas as they come in focus (maybe in EVF mode only, though?).
This image purportedly shows the X100 VF in optical/hybrid mode:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FujiFilm X100: A Breakthrough!

Yum! Fuji stole the show at Photokina 2010 by announcing the Fuji X100 12.3 MP camera--targeted for released in early 2011 (price unkown).

Photo from Go there after reading this blog for some of the best camera news and reviews on the 'net.

A quick perusal of the marketing specs for this baby over on shows that this is not just a another retro-styled digital camera aimed at hipsters looking for shoulder-slung adornment. No, no, no. Do not be fooled by its "classic" styling and charming good looks. The X100 is a high-end point-and-shoot style camera aimed at the professional/enthusiast market. The camera will feature a pro-level build quality, a fast fixed focal length lens with aspherical elements, a big sensor (APS-C), a hybrid optical viewfinder (VF), and manual controls on the body and the lens. [RANT ON] Now, before you freak out and start whining about its fixed focal length lens, know that the X100 is not some photographic freak of nature. There is a long and sturdy tradition of high-end, high-quality fixed focal length cameras going back several decades, so there is a proven market for this type of camera.[RANT OFF] However, :-) the most exciting single detail about the camera for me is the viewfinder (VF). It's a rangefinder-style optical VF, but it's a hybrid. That means its an optical viewfinder with digital information superimposed, which also has the capability to playback your shots.

This is exciting, because as production of film cameras has faded out and digital cameras has faded in--and as the emphasis in camera size has inched toward the diminutive--the optical finder has found itself literally squeezed out of the picture. The bulkier DSLR with its through-the-lens viewing (TTL) has been the one of the last design holdouts for the optical VF. But, sometimes a photographer wants relief from the neck-wrenching weight and unpocketable bulk of a DSLR. Therefore, photographers, who want to shoot with something less bulky than a DSLR have to compromise and settle for LCD screens or tiny, squinty, tunnel vision-styled optical viewfinders as a means of composing their images. Despite the beauty of some of the high-resolution LCD screens, the act of holding a camera at arms length to compose a shot has no correlation in the world of photography where the camera is held to the eye and up against the face (unless you care equate the grab-all blind overhead shooting techniques of journalism and sports photographer or ground-glass viewing and focusing of some medium and large format cameras with composing with an LCD). Besides, shooting in broad daylight with an LCD screen is damn near impossible! So, yes, an optical VF is a very welcomed addition to a digital body.

If the camera proves successful we could very well see the trend back toward optical viewfinders or even toward higher-quality electronic view finders (EVF). For now the X100 is a major breakthrough whose announcement has created a stir that hasn't been seen since Panasonic debuted the first micro 4/3 camera (the G1).

So, be excited all you enthusiasts. Be very excited.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vivitar Offers a Novel Solution to Digital Photography's Weakness: Getting Prints

I'm hoping this shows up, but if it doesn't here's the YouTube link. There's some truth to this video, as silly as it might seem. This kind of goes along with my previous post (err...rant). Film is easier for some, and during the heyday of film, camera (and film) manufacturers were able to provide consumers with point and shoot cameras that were very easy to use (ranging in quality from the very expensive titanium models to cardboard disposables). These 'dumbed-down' cameras were capable of producing excellent results. With the technological advances in film emulsion manufacturing and the proliferation of photo labs, there was no reason for not having quality prints in your hands. I wonder if the print output from those kiosks that crowd or replaced the one-hour photo in your local drugstore comes close to output produced by those same labs.

Anyway, think of this video the next time your mother or grandmother passes her little digital point and shoot with the three-inch screen to you so you can see the pictures from her cruise.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Magic

Still shooting film. That's me and a lot of the people I know. We still shoot film, not exclusively, mind you. Well, most of us anyway shoot both film and digital, but the fact remains, we still shoot film. For me, the reasons why I continue to shoot film are complex to most non-film shooters. It's pretty simple to me, but to others it causes head-scratching and smirking. I guess I can't expect those individuals to understand. Most of these individuals didn't enjoy film photography as I did back when it was the 'only thing going'. Most complain and offer excuses about the things that caused them to make technically poor photos, or they complain about the inconveniences and the overly complex nature of what they refer to as 'analog' photography. What I hear mostly is that digital is better, because it's easier. It's easier to make better photos.

That's what most are saying when they cite the merits of digital photography, and it's hard to argue that digital isn't easier, but argument is what they want. If you've ever engaged in such discussions or found yourself defending the virtues of film, you know exactly what I mean. These types want an admission, particularly (no especially) from a die-hard film shooter. Well, I won't admit that digital is better, but I also won't admit that film is better either. The fact of the matter is, I really don't care. To a certain extent image capture is image capture, and all that truly matters is the final product. I have as many 'final' digital images as I do 'final' film images.

What I enjoy about film, the thing that hooked me some 30 years ago is the magic, the magic of the ritual, the alchemy of the magic of souping your own film, the pleasure of holding a loupe against a strip of negatives or a contact sheet, a simplicity of a stack of slides, the wonderment of seeing a silver print hanging on a wall, seemingly emitting its own light.

So you're 'back into photography' now that digital has made things easier. Honestly, that's great. If you ever come up against a film shooter (don't stereotype them as old, because I know a LOT of "kids" who are bigger luddites than I), don't try to convert them or make them admit that digital is better. We are of the old school of photography, the school that appreciates the magic in the craft. You aren't. You never were, and that is the difference between you and I. You are as happy about that as we are. We can enjoy digital photography, but you can't and never did enjoy 'analog'.