Fujifilm X100F Face-Eye Detection

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Contrast of Johanna – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F – Acros Push-Process

One of the auto-focus options for the Fujifilm X100F is Face Detection, which, as you might guess, recognizes faces and automatically focuses on them. When on, you can set Eye Detection to left eye priority, right eye priority, auto or off. How well does it work? Is this a feature you should use?

It can be tough to nail focus on a person’s eyes, and, if a person is the subject, the eyes should absolutely be in sharp focus. If you are in a controlled environment (such as a studio) you might have time to manually focus and focus peek to ensure it is spot-on. In real world use where the subject might be still for just a short moment, it’s a lot more difficult to achieve perfect focus on the eyes. When I use the focus joystick I usually get pretty close, but I notice that I do miss sometimes and the subject’s eyes aren’t tack sharp.

This is much more critical when you are using a shallow depth of field. If you have a small aperture and much of the scene is in focus, getting perfect focus on the eyes isn’t a big deal because the eyes and everything else will fall within the focus zone. If you are using a large aperture, because of the shallow depth of field, being off even a half of an inch could ruin an otherwise great picture.

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Aunt & Niece – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – Acros Push-Process

Face Detection auto-focus with Eye Detection on the X100F does a much better job of getting the subject’s eyes perfectly in focus than I ever could. It’s quick, so it works well even with little kids who can’t sit still. I’ve captured photographs that would have otherwise been unsuccessful if not for this feature.

There are some negatives, though. There are reasons that you might not want to use face and eye detection. There are lots of people who don’t use it, and, while I use it frequently, I don’t always have it on.

One issue is that the camera won’t always pick the correct face. If there is more than one person in the scene, the camera might pick the wrong one to focus on instead of the main subject because it will pick the face closest to the center of the frame. So it works better with one person than two or more. A similar issue is that the camera will occasionally detect a face when there isn’t one. Sometimes it falsely thinks it sees a human face based on a pattern in the picture. There have been times that I didn’t get the picture because of Face Detection. It’s rare, but it has happened.

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Johanna’s Face – Edmonds, WA – Fujifilm X100F – Acros Push-Process

When the camera detects a face, it automatically spot meters on it, which is usually a good thing (but occasionally not). However, because of this, the general spot metering setting is disabled when Face Detection is turned on. For some people this is a reason not to use it. If you frequently use spot metering, it might be best to not use Face Detection when photographing things other than people.

If you use the optical viewfinder (OVF), Face Detection works, but there is no indication that it is working. It’s definitely an awkward operation, so my recommendation is to not use the two features together.

The face and eye detection feature on the X100F is slick when it works, and it usually does, but it is frustrating when it doesn’t. I think it’s worth trying if you’ve never done so. With a little practice it can be turned on and off quickly, and it’s not a big deal to change in and out of it, depending on what you are photographing.

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For The Love of Fujifilm Acros Film Simulation

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Mount Nebo – Mona, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I really love the different film simulations available on my Fujifilm X100F. There is one that I like more than the others, and it’s Acros. The contrast, tonality and grain are simply beautiful, and Acros has a true film-like aesthetic.

I know, that’s been said so much that it’s almost cliche, and, besides, not everyone wants a film look. I appreciate the look of film and I like it much more than the digital aesthetic. I grew up on analog photography, I shot tons of 35mm and 120 film, and to me it’s how photography should look. Digital is far more convenient than film, so it can be hard to justify the hassle of film. The best of both worlds would be the convenience of digital with a film aesthetic.

I’ve been trying to get a film look from my digital files for awhile. I’ve used different software options, such as Alien Skin Exposure and Nik Silver Efex, which are both excellent, to achieve the look that I want. The Acros Film Simulation on my Fujifilm X100F is every bit as good (maybe better) as what I would get using either of those editing programs, and I get it straight out of the camera, no editing required.

One aspect of Acros that Fujifilm got especially right is the grain. Digital noise, which is the modern equivalent of film grain, doesn’t match the look of actual silver grain, and the aesthetic of it is far inferior (although X-Trans noise is better looking than most). Adding a layer of faux grain over top of an image can get you closer (and Alien Skin does a better job with this than anyone in my opinion), but it’s still not the same. The “grain” found in my Acros JPEGs more resembles actual film grain than anything else I’ve found in digital photography.

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Apache Sky – Mountain Green, UT – Fujifilm X100F

If you were to scan actual film and compare it side-by-side to images captured with the Acros Film Simulation, you’d have a tough time identifying which is film and which is digital. Same thing if you printed from the film and from the digital file, and asked people to identify which is which. The Acros Film Simulation doesn’t look all that digital as it more closely resembles analog.

Images captured with Acros look beautiful. They look nice viewed from a distance and up close, on a computer screen or printed and hung on a wall. Even though the film simulation produces a JPEG file and not RAW, the results are what one would expect to achieve if they post-processed a RAW file. This isn’t typical camera-made JPEG stuff.

Great black-and-white results without hassle is what the Acros Film Simulation delivers. That’s the convenience of digital photography merged with the quality of film photography. I have two different settings, a “standard” Acros and a “push-process” Acros, that I frequently use, and they’re very good. The photographs in this article are examples of both that I’ve captured over the last several weeks.

I remember the “old days” of film photography. It was a slow process. Loading the film, using the entire roll before you could change it, rewinding it by hand, then all of the darkroom work–winding it onto a reel in complete darkness, baths in chemicals and water, drying, printing a contact sheet, then making prints. One print could take hours of work to get right. It wasn’t easy, but that’s the way it was, and the results made it worthwhile. Now, thanks to the X100F and Acros, I can achieve similar results with ease.

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One Way Or Another – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Sanitary Sewer Surprise – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Palm Shadow – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X100F

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I-15 Overpass – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X100F

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Serious Coffee – Taylorsville, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Agave Drops – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Shelf Owls – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Hot Coffee – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Bird Bath – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Aunt & Niece – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Convenience & Quickness

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Cooking Tomatillos – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – Astia

I mentioned last month that I sometimes photograph my wife’s culinary creations. Last night she boiled some tomatillos to make make chile verde, which was absolutely delicious! After she placed the tomatillos in a pot of water, she waved me over to show me how beautiful it looked. She saw the photographic potential, and, as soon as she shared it with me, I saw it, too.

The great thing about having a Fujifilm X100F is that it’s easy to grab and capture a beautiful picture without fuss. The camera does well in whatever situation I throw it in, and produces great results that don’t require any computer software. Cooking Tomatillos is a straight-out-of-camera high-ISO JPEG. It has a film-like aesthetic, yet it’s much better looking than if I had captured this image with actual 35mm film.

After capturing the image, I wirelessly uploaded it from my the camera to my phone, and then uploaded it from my phone to the internet. Within five minutes after making the exposure I could share it to whoever I wanted around the world. That’s amazing to me! Not just because technology allows one to share an image across the globe quickly, but that I can share a high-quality finished photograph quickly. Before I would have had to load the RAW file onto my computer and mess around with it for awhile in software before I would dare share it with anyone.

A couple of days ago I was out driving around and saw a white horse standing on the ridge of a hill. It just looked incredible–beautiful and majestic–and the landscape was bleak from winter. I wanted to capture it, and I knew my 10-year-old daughter, who is all about horses, would love the image, so I parked the car in the dirt along the road and got out.

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White Stallion – Mountain Green, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Whenever I’m out and about I try to carry my X100F with me, whether I think that I might photograph something or not. I grabbed the camera and headed down a trail that got me a little closer to the horse. The hill was very muddy and I wasn’t able to get all that near the animal, so I used the Digital Teleconverter to “zoom” to 75mm. Click!

Unfortunately I had the film simulation set to Velvia, which was not the look that I wanted, and I didn’t realize this until after I snapped the picture. I was in too much of a hurry. It didn’t take me long to change to Acros, but by the time I did the horse had turned away and was beginning to leave. Not a big worry, I wirelessly uploaded the picture from the camera to my phone, then did a black-and-white conversion (with some other quick edits) using Snapseed, then uploaded it from my phone to the internet. The whole process only took a few minutes. And the JPEG file held up plenty well to the editing.

Because it’s small and lightweight and surprisingly versatile, the X100F makes images like these possible. I might have captured them if I had a DSLR instead, and I might not have. What I can tell you for sure is that I never would have had so quickly a finished picture ready to share. The files would likely still be sitting on an SD card in the camera, or perhaps in a folder on the computer waiting in line to be post-processed.

I was able to show my daughter White Stallion when I got home, and she loved it every bit as much as I thought she would. She wants to hang it on her bedroom wall. That’s what makes the X100F so good, and that’s why I own it.

Photoessay: Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park

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Kolob Canyon Road – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

In late December, just a couple days after Christmas, I had a chance to visit Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park. Zion is the sixth most visited national park in America and is the most visited national park in Utah. Kolob Canyon is a lesser known section of the park that’s isolated from the rest. We found a little snow on the ground from a storm the week before.

Access to Kolob Canyon is easy because it’s right off of Interstate 15 between St. George and Cedar City. A quick five-mile dead-end road curves through the scenic canyon. Because those on the freeway are just passing through and it’s a bit out of the way for those visiting the main part of the park, it just gets overlooked. It really is a hidden gem!

Kolob Canyon is full of impressive red-orange cliffs, finger canyons and sweeping vistas. It’s higher in elevation than the more-visited sections of Zion, so the landscape is little more green and a little less desert. It’s easy to see why this area was included in the national park, it’s just chocked full of natural beauty!

My short visit to the park was not during ideal light conditions for photography. The sky was a deep blue, but the sun was harsh and nearly overhead. My family and I arrived at 12:40 in the afternoon and we left about an hour-and-a-half later. Undeterred by the problematic light, I used my Fujifilm X100F to capture the grand sights that were before me. I used my wide-angle conversion lens for many of the exposures.

All of these photographs are camera-made JPEGs; however, I used Fujifilm’s X RAW Studio to process the RAW files (click the link if that statement is confusing to you). I used my Velvia Film Simulation recipe, but adjusted shadows to -1 and sometimes -2 because the shadows were harsh. I adjusted highlights to -2 in a few of the images, as well. In retrospect, I wonder if using DR400 would have worked better. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the results, all things considered.

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Beatty Point – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Paria Point – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Paria & Beatty Points – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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The Zion Desert – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Timber Top Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Old Log In Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Sunlight Over Shuntavi Butte – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Orange Cliffs – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Kolob Canyon In December – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Trees, Rocks, Canyons & Hanging Valleys – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

My Fujifilm X100F PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation Recipe (Portraits)

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Jo – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

I’m not a portrait photographer, although I have done some portrait photography. I’m not a wedding photographer, although I have done some wedding photography. Whether capturing pictures of people is the bread-and-butter of your photography or just something you do occasionally, you’ll likely want some go-to camera settings for these types of images.

I really like the way camera-made JPEGs look on my Fujifilm X100F. I use the different Film Simulations extensively. I have different recipes for different looks and situations. For people pictures in color, I frequently use Classic Chrome or Astia. Lately, though, I’ve been using PRO Neg. Hi much of the time for portraits.

Astia and PRO Neg. Hi are the two film simulations that are most similar to each other. Put them side-by-side and it can be difficult to tell which is which because the differences are so subtle. PRO Neg. Hi is slightly softer in the highlights and slightly harsher in the shadows. Also, Astia has just a bit more color saturation, and has a barely noticeable shift towards red. As far as I can tell they’re otherwise identical and basically interchangeable. I tend to use Astia more for non-people pictures and PRO Neg. Hi more for people pictures, although this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

I’m not 100% sure which film PRO Neg. Hi is supposed to simulate. It’s not an exact match for any. Sometimes I think it’s closer to Fujicolor Pro 160C and sometimes I think it’s closer to Fujichrome Provia 400X (note that the Provia Film Simulation does not match actual Provia film). Based on the name, my guess is that PRO Neg. Hi is supposed to simulate Fujicolor Pro 160C, but, according to my fading memory of shooting the film, it’s off by a little.

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Ready To Party Like A Mother-In-Law – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

It’s not all that important if PRO Neg. Hi is a perfect match to an actual film stock or not. It produces good results that are especially excellent for pictures of people. It has punchy colors and contrast (but not too punchy like Velvia) while still rendering appealing skin tones. It’s a good film simulation that you should try if you haven’t done so already.

One thing to note is that the shadow setting is very situation specific. I have found that -2 is sometimes better, 0 is sometimes better, but most often -1 is good. DR100 sometimes works better in low-contrast scenes, but DR200 is preferable in normal lighting conditions. For photographs without people, +2 or even +3 on color produces good results.

PRO Neg. Hi
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1
Shadow: -1
Color: +1
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)
Flash: On (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs, of my PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation recipe:

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Happiness Is Holiday Family Fun – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi 

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Christmas Cousins – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Aunt, Great Aunt – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Christmas Dinner – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Happy Sisters – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Three Sisters – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Christmas Joy – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Obverse Converse – Youngtown, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

Rumor: Fujifilm X-Trans IV Sensor Will Be Made By Samsung (Not Sony)

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Fujifilm X100F

I’m going to start a new rumor right here, right now regarding the next generation of Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, which will feature an X-Trans IV sensor that has “more than 24 MP but less than 30 MP.” This was reported by Fujirumors.com, which has a great track record of being right. The rumor that I’m putting out there is that Fujifilm X-Trans IV sensors will be made by Samsung, and not Sony.

There are a couple of reasons that I think this, and I’ll get into each below in just a moment. First I want to make it clear that I don’t know anyone at Fujifilm, Samsung or Sony and that I have no insider information whatsoever, I’m just speculating. This rumor is simply a guess. But I believe there might be some merit to it, and it makes logical sense. I could be completely wrong, though, so take it for what it’s worth. Time will tell.

If you don’t already know, Fujifilm X-Trans sensors are made by Sony with some custom specifications as directed by Fujifilm. Most importantly, it has a complex X-Trans color filter array instead of a common Bayer color filter array. Something that happened a couple years ago is that Sony stopped manufacturing their 16-megapixel APS-C sensor. For Fujifilm, that meant the end of the X-Trans II sensor, which Fuji wasn’t done with yet.

Going from a 16 to 24-megapixel sensor isn’t as simple of a task as it might sound. There are processor and programming issues, which aren’t too bad to conquer, but the big problem is heat. Specifically, X-Trans III sensors, which are 24 megapixel, put off a lot more heat than the 16 megapixel sensor. That’s been a challenge for Fujifilm, and it forced the (possible temporary) discontinuation of the X70 line, and plenty of complications with their other X-Trans III cameras.

I could be completely wrong, but I think Fujifilm is a little upset at Sony for abruptly discontinuing the 16-megapixel sensor. I don’t think Fujifilm was done with it when they were forced to use the 24-megapixel sensor. I believe that they had plans to use a 16-megapixel sensor in some of their cameras and a 24-megapixel sensor in others. I’m sure they see lost profit potential from it. If I were Fujifilm, you make the most of the cards you’re dealt (and they have), but you don’t forget the position that your competitor/business-partner (“frienemy”?) put you in.

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Worth One Dollar – Oxnard, CA – Samsung NX200

When I read the report that the next X-Trans sensor was going to have more than 24-megapixels, my first thought was, “Oh, Sony must have made a new sensor!” I then got on the ol’ Google and tried to find information about it, but I found none. It may be that Sony is developing (or has already developed) a 26 or 28-megapixel APS-C sensor, but it’s not publicly known as far as I can tell if that’s the case. I’m leaning towards that they haven’t developed it, that they’re happy with 24-megapixels for APS-C.

Sony has a few competitors in the camera sensor market, but only a few. Samsung produces camera sensors, most notably for their cellphones. Canon makes their own sensors. Panasonic makes sensors. Sigma makes their Foveon sensors. Toshiba used to be a big name, but they were bought out by Sony a couple years ago. There are several small names that aren’t used by any of the big camera brands. Sony is the king of the castle as far as camera sensors go.

A forgotten camera line that wasn’t a big success, which came and went without making much noise, was Samsung’s NX line. I owned an NX camera several years ago. It was actually a pretty good camera! It certainly wasn’t perfect, but better than any mirrorless line made by Canon or Nikon.

Samsung abruptly discontinued the sale of these cameras a few years ago, pulling out of the interchangeable-lens camera business. I can think of two reasons why Samsung discontinued the NX line. First, mirrorless cameras were on the rise, but DSLRs were still the primary tool of choice for serious photographers (which is not necessarily the case anymore), so the market was limited. Second, creating a new brand to compete against the established names was a difficult task, one that proved to be too much trouble for Samsung. I think that they would have been successful had they stuck with it for a couple more years, but they didn’t have enough patience.

I figured at some point Samsung would sell their camera technologies to some other company (perhaps Nikon), but that hasn’t happened. They still own all of the NX line. It’s just sitting there, collecting dust. Samsung has seemed happy to focus on cellphone camera technology.

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Wasp & Ant – Tehachapi, CA – Samsung NX200

My theory is that, after Sony cancelled the 16-megapixel sensor, Fujifilm began looking for alternative companies to manufacture the sensors for their future X-Trans cameras. Assuming that they shopped around, it makes sense that they had a meeting with Samsung. And Samsung may have said, “You know, we have this 28-megapixel sensor….”

The Samsung NX500 had a 28-megapixel APS-C sensor that was highly regarded but quickly off the market and soon forgotten. In fact, if you visit DxOMark, you’ll see that the 28-megapixel NX500 shares the top APS-C rating with the Nikon D7200 (DxOMark has never tested an X-Trans camera), and the D7200 has the same Sony sensor that’s found inside X-Trans III cameras (with X-Trans array on X-Trans and Bayer array on Nikon). It was a very good sensor, and I bet Samsung wouldn’t mind putting it back into production, giving themselves a chance to make money off of it.

There’s not a big difference in resolution between 24 and 28-megapixels. You would have a hard time even noticing. Still, when you have an APS-C line that’s competing against full-frame, that extra 4-megapixels can’t hurt. Obviously most people don’t need that much resolution, 24-megapixel sensors are overkill for 98% of photographers. And not all lenses can even resolve that much resolution on an APS-C camera anyway, although most Fujinon lenses can.

Where I think 28-megapixels might be appealing to Fujifilm is with regards to in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The only X-Trans camera that has IBIS is the soon-to-be-announced X-H1, which will be marketed primarily to videographers. With IBIS you have the potential to lose resolution at the outside edges of the sensor as it shifts around. A 28-megapixel sensor would ensure that you still have 24-megapixel resolution even with IBIS on. Don’t be surprised if IBIS becomes a standard feature on the upper-end X-Trans IV cameras, including the X-Pro3 and X-T3, and possibly the X-T30, X-E4 and X100V.

I can’t say for sure that the next generation of X-Trans sensors will be made by Samsung instead of Sony. I don’t know what kind of image quality difference it might make if it does happen. It’s an interesting theory, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. Not that I’m in the market for a new camera, as I’m very happy with my Fujifilm X100F

 

 

 

Photoessay: B&W Cacti

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Barbs – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

One thing that I did on my Christmas visit to Arizona was photograph cacti. You can find cactus all over the place there. The spiky shrubs are common in Arizona landscaping, and a short walk into the desert will reveal even more. There are over 60 varieties of cactus that grow there. I only photographed a few different types, including Organ Pipe, Saguaro, Barbary Fig, Cholla, and a couple others that I couldn’t identify.

The ten photographs in this article are all camera-made JPEGs; however, I used X RAW Studio to process the RAW files (if you aren’t sure what X RAW Studio is, be sure to click the link), fine-tuning my Across Push-Process Film Simulation recipe. For most of these I increased the shadows to +4, and for some of them I reduced highlights to +3. I adjusted the exposure by 1/3 stop (either plus or minus) for a few of the pictures, as well.

I love the film-look that the Fujifilm X100F produces. A few years back I captured some cactus pictures in Arizona using a Minolta XG-1 and Kodak T-Max 400 film. What I get from the X100F using Acros and what I got back from the lab using the film gear are surprisingly similar. You can achieve film-like results with any digital camera using software, such as Nik Silver Efex or Alien Skin Exposure (both of which I’ve used extensively in the past), but with Fujifilm you can get it straight from the camera if you want.

People have told me, “I don’t get your fascination with film. I don’t like the film-look.” Different strokes for different folks. I personally don’t like pictures that look digital. I compare it to listening to an MP3 file versus an analog record. The MP3 will be more cold and clean, while the analog sound will have more warmth and character. Digital music is way more convenient, and that’s why it is so common.

Digital photography is way more convenient than analog photography, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. I appreciate the characteristics of film, and the ability to achieve that look while enjoying the conveniences of digital is something I’m thrilled about. One thing I especially like about Fujifilm is that they maintain their analog soul in the digital age.

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Cactus Needles – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Cactus Shrub – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Arms Up – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Old & Weathered – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Layers – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Minimal Protection – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Drama – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Finger Spikes – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Still Surviving – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F & Bokeh

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The Bokeh Tree – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ f/2.8

Let’s talk about bokeh on the Fujifilm X100F! Bokeh is an often discussed aspect of an image, and this is especially true over the last ten or fifteen years. If you aren’t sure exactly what bokeh is, don’t worry, you are not alone, and a lot of people misunderstand it. Bokeh is defined as the quality of the out-of-focus area of an image. It’s how well a lens renders blur, the aesthetics of it.

I don’t remember hearing the word bokeh spoken even once when I studied photography in college almost 20 years ago. It’s not that it didn’t exist, because obviously bokeh did exist, but it didn’t really matter. You either liked how a certain lens rendered blur or you didn’t, and few were trying to quantify it or rate it.

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Christmas Joy – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X100F @ f/4

Today you’ll hear terms like “bokeh monster” when describing a lens and “bokeh master” when describing a person. People will say that a certain lens produces a lot of bokeh, which, frankly, doesn’t make any sense, because bokeh is defined by character and is not a measurement. You can’t have more bokeh or less bokeh. You can only have nice bokeh or ugly bokeh.

People confuse depth-of-field with bokeh, but they are two entirely different things. Depth-of-field is the amount of an image that is in focus, determined by the aperture, subject distance and non-subject distance, as well as the physical size of the sensor or film. A lot of people mean depth-of-field when they say bokeh, it’s a misunderstanding of terms. Depth-of-field is a mathematical calculation, while bokeh is subjective, and what one person might think is nice another might think is ugly.

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Yellow Rose – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F @ f/4.5

To achieve an out-of-focus area within an image, one needs to use a large aperture or focus really close to the end of the lens or both, which will create a shallow depth-of-field. The Fujifilm X100F has a maximum aperture of f/2, which is plenty large enough to attain a shallow depth-of-field. You can attain blur with a much larger aperture, even f/16, if your subject is really close to the end of the lens.

The quality of the out-of-focus area, or bokeh, on the Fujifilm X100F is smooth, pleasant, relaxed, creamy, and otherwise how bokeh should be. I rate it as good, perhaps even great. I give it two thumbs up! Again, it’s subjective, and just because I like it doesn’t mean that you will. Perhaps you like bokeh with a little more character, such as a soap-bubble or swirly effect that some vintage lenses provide. The X100F has a rather bland bokeh, but that’s not a bad thing, just as bokeh with a lot of character may not be a good thing. It’s all what you like and dislike.

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Evergreen Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ f/5.6

I think rating bokeh is overrated. It’s something people on message boards talk about much too much. It doesn’t matter anywhere close to what some people would have you believe. The important thing is whether the blur is distracting or not. You don’t want bokeh to take the viewer’s eyes off of what’s important in an image, unless, perhaps, bokeh is what’s important to a particular image. And bokeh can’t be used to cover up something distracting in the background, because it’s just as distracting blurred as it is sharp.

You can have a great image with poor bokeh and a poor image with great bokeh. The quality of the bokeh has little to do with the outcome of a photograph. Since photographers often worry about insignificant things (while sometimes ignoring what is significant), especially on the internet, this is a topic that’s brought up over and over again. It’s worth discussing, but with the caveat that it is an extraordinarily tiny part of the big picture. Whether good or bad it’s not a big deal. In my opinion bokeh on the Fujifilm X100F is good, so take that for what it’s worth.

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Arizona Bougainvillea – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F @ f/10

Better Curating

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Curtain Abstract – Mesquite, NV – Fujifilm X100F

I have a difficult time with curation. Frankly, I don’t curate well at all. I want to show all of my photographs. I’ll skip the bad ones (obviously), I’ll probably include a few mediocre ones, I’ll definitely share the good ones, and mixed within that will be the few great ones.

Great photographs don’t come around all that often. Ansel Adams stated that one great picture per month is a pretty good number. That was from one of the best photographers of all time who worked harder than most. I’m not going to capture a great photograph nearly as often as Ansel did, nor will it be as great.

Nowadays we are overwhelmed by images. There are more picture-takers now than ever before, and each picture-taker is taking more picture than ever before. And there are more means to get those pictures viewed by others than ever before. Everybody is sharing like mad on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc., etc., etc., and we see so many pictures each day that we are almost numb to it. It seems like you have to do so much more to get noticed.

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Bike Rack Shadow -Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

One problem is that so many of us are so terrible at curating our pictures. We post them all! We share on social media so many images. Good, bad or ugly, doesn’t matter. You snapped it so you share it. I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else. I’ve shown a number of awful pictures on social media. I’m downright embarrassed at some of the pictures that I’ve made public.

Yesterday’s post, Photoessay: 20 Fall Foliage Photographs, actually started out as 50 Fall Foliage Photographs. Yes, I was ready to publish a post containing 50 of my autumn photographs. I then realized that I desperately needed to curate it better. So I began to trim the ones that I knew were mediocre. I still had too many, so I cut out the ones that weren’t overtly autumn. I was closer, but I still had too many, so I cut out the worst of what remained. It was now at a much better number, down from 50 to 20. I don’t think any of them classify as “great” but I hope that all of them are at least good. I probably should have kept trimming until just the 10 best remained. Less is more is a good adage.

Sometimes (or, really, oftentimes) I have a hard time distinguishing which of my photographs are actually good and which ones are not. I put so much thought and care into each exposure, I have an emotional attachment to them. I’m biased towards my own pictures. I think that they’re better than they really are. I believe that this is a common problem.

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The Company You Keep – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Time has a way of revealing which pictures are good and which ones are not. When I haven’t viewed an image for awhile, the emotional attachment fades. I can look back at my pictures from a year ago and much more easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Even more so for photographs that are two or three years old. I sometimes look at a picture and wonder how I ever thought it was any good.

My wife is good at distinguishing which photos are good and which ones aren’t. And she’s not afraid to tell me. I used to argue with her when she would tell me that one of my pictures that I really liked was no good. Later on I would realize that she was right and I was wrong, the picture wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was. I think everyone needs someone in their life who can discern good from bad and is willing to speak the truth about it. I’m extremely fortunate to be married to that person.

The conclusion to this rambling is that everyone needs to become better curators of their own photographs. There are so many pictures that bombard us daily, and most of them are ignored because they’re not great. The world doesn’t need more pictures, it needs more great pictures. Quality instead of quantity. Show fewer pictures, but show better pictures. That’s a goal I have for this new year.

Ode To Early Mourning Walks

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Dasylirion Acrotriche – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

My wife and I had for months planned to take our four young kids to Arizona for Christmas. We wanted to briefly escape the Utah cold, and we wanted to spend time visiting family that live there, people that we don’t see nearly often enough. We packed up the car and made the long drive, encountering some rough weather along the way.

One of the very first things we did upon arrival was visit my grandma Esther who wasn’t doing well at all. We found her in much pain. It was a tough sight, very heart-wrenching. We were able to see her twice. I don’t know if she even really knew that I was there.

I got a call on the morning of December 24th, Christmas Eve. Grandma had passed away during the night.

I was glad that I got to see her one last time before she died. I’m glad that the intense pain she was experiencing was gone. But I couldn’t help feel a little pain inside of myself. I had a lot of different emotions floating around. It was difficult to think clearly. How were my kids going to react? It was not a good start to the holiday. I needed to clear my heart and mind. So I grabbed my camera and took a walk around the neighborhood.

Below is a poem I wrote inspired by that walk. It’s called Early Mourning Light. The photograph at the top, Dasylirion Acrotriche, was captured that morning. This is perhaps a bit unusual for a photography blog, but I found it to be therapeutic. Yes, a camera can be a part of the grieving process. I hope that you don’t mind me sharing it here.

Waves of energy cross the universe vast
Somehow find their way and shadows cast
Illuminating the world around and within
To my heart it beckons
Clean air for a clear mind
Memories I try hard to find
Did I express to you enough?
Or did I get wrapped up in pointless stuff?
A legacy you left behind
To a cruel world you were kind
Learning and teaching
To my heart always reaching

The camera in my hand
Taking in the light
The days disappear like sand
Forever beyond our sight
Time is a thief
Taking what we love
Leaving us with grief
Moments that I think of
Wishing it wasn’t so hazy
That I had captured it clear
But I was lazy
Now it’s too late I fear

Light is a gift of grace
Freely falling on everyone’s face
Illuminating our lives
When the moment arrives
Best to capture what you see
To augment our memory
Not just to say that we were there
But to show that we did care
Time is a treasure fleeting
While my heart is still beating
Photograph what I might
In the early mourning light