Java Hafla_April 18, 2014_07

Dance in a Coffee Shop — An Outing With The X-E1

As some of you may know, I regularly enjoy spending time at our local coffee shop, Birdies, especially during the monthly Java Haflas hosted by our friend, Liz. I usually take a handful of snapshots, which I post on Facebook for the enjoyment (or embarrassment) of the participants. I had previously written about how well the X10 worked with the EF-20 flash at these events, and I decided the most recent hafla would be a good opportunity to see how my new Fujifilm X-E1 would fare capturing a lot of moving subjects in poor light.

Some of my Facebook friends have already seen smaller versions of the following images, which are the JPEGs literally straight out of the camera. I also show raw images at the same time.

When I bought the X-E1, I did so knowing that it would not be the best camera for this kind of situation, and it indeed is not. I missed a lot of shots. However, all things considered, the results are quite pleasing.

For all of the images, the ISO is either 6400 or 3200, with apertures ranging from wide open to f/10. Shutter speeds range from 1/15 to 1/125 of a second. The little EF-20 flash was used on all of the shots.

In the low light, the camera had a difficult time locking up on the action, which was exactly as I had expected it would be. I eventually switched to all manual shooting, closed the aperture down and balanced exposure with the shutter. And I zone focused everything. I haven’t been able to easily shoot this way since I had my manual-focus Canon AT-1 and AE-1.

I decided I should take a look at how the pictures would look after processing. I took one of the darker images as my test, as I figured it would be good at showing a “worst case” scenario. Here’s the original JPEG.

JPEG from camera

JPEG from camera

I did all the editing in Lightroom 5.4, which has added a lot of support for Fujifilm cameras. I started by editing the JPEG, lightening and improving contrast, pulling up details, and adding noise reduction. The result is a much better picture, but not without its own issues.

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JPEG edited in Lightroom 5.4

Colors are ruddier, and some of the shadows on Liz’s face look a bit unnatural. Dark shadow areas are also a bit blocked up. The picture is still a little more pleasing than the original.

Next, I turned to the raw file:

Java Hafla Edits_April 18, 2014_03

raw file, edited in Lightroom 5.4.

The Fuji raw file edits very nicely. Adobe now supports the Fujifilm film emulations, so I choise “Astia,” as I have always liked the look of that film. I could probably stand to add a touch of contrast, but this is a generally accurate rendering. Shadow detail is good, which I enhanced a bit, and the ruddiness is gone. I may have gone a little heavy-handed with the noise reduction, though.

Java Hafla_April 18, 2014_07With regards to the in-camera JPEGs when shooting in low light, it seems that if you nail the exposure when taking the picture, the results are pretty much ready to use. But, if heavy editing and correction is required, the raw file had better be available.

I shot 204 exposures, and found that 16 were what I considered “good,” which on one had, was a little disappointing. On the other hand, it was the first time I’d used the camera in this situation, and the camera’s really not “built” for this kind of work. In the future when I take pictures at the haflas, I’ll probably revert to using the X10 and EF-20 combination, as I know it produces results I like. I’ll reserve the X-E1 for my “more serious” work — landscapes, portraiture, etc. — which is what I purchased it for.

Is the X-T1 the Only Camera Fujifilm Makes?

It’s interesting … if you look at the various photo sites around the web, it seems that everyone’s completely forgotten that Fujifilm make cameras other than the new X-T1.

Of course, the reality is that Fujifilm make a whole line of great cameras — everything from the fixed-lens X20 and X100s through a selection of “rangefinder” interchangeable lens cameras and, of course, the X-T1.

But, everyone seems to have forgotten that.

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The Paddock

I was at the Maryland State Fairgrounds today for a model train show. Since I’m an “exhibitor,” I was able to get some special parking, and I chose to park in the paddock area. As I was walking back to the car, I glanced into one of the stables, and noted some interesting patterns, and decided to take use the X-E1 to make some pictures of something more interesting than a Dr. Pepper can.

 

I’m particularly impressed with the sharpness of the 18-55mm kit lens. This is shot at 18mm, wide open at f/2.8. Close examination will reveal tremendous detail in the chain link fence that is across the road outside the far end of the stable, which you can see in this crop:

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I’m sorry it doesn’t get any bigger, but if you look, you can see the fence. Pretty darned impressive.

I was also pretty amazed at the dynamic range in the raw file, which I processed in Lightroom 5.4. I was able to pull out most of the detail from the nearly-blown-out area outside the doorway, If I’d’ve underexposed by a half-stop, I probably could have gotten all the detail back without having to push so hard that the greens blocked up as much as they did.

Lightroom Mobile?

This image is the first I’ve done using Adobe’s new Lightroom Mobile for iOS. So, does it live up to the hype? Meh. There are many image editing apps for iOS that have a better feature set, more adjustments, etc. But none offer the ability to sync automatically to my desktop and laptop computers (once I update to the latest Lightroom 5.4 at home).

This was taken with an iPhone 5, which synced over to my iPad Mini through iCloud. I edited the image in Lightroom Mobile, saved it to the iPad, and then posted it here.

Frankly, I’m much more interested in the functionality of Lightroom 5.4, which promises increased functionality with Fujifilm raw files — Fuji’s in-camera film simulations are now supported by Lightroom (and the newest Adobe Camera Raw). Of course, they dropped these new versions today, when I have to work extra-late…

Handy Photo for iPad

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I was poking around on Derrick Story’s web site, The Digital Story, yesterday and found his commentary on Handy Photo. For $1.99, I figured I’d go ahead and give it a try. It’s available for iOS devices from the iTunes store. As Derrick says, it’s a fun little app that does a nice job of “artifying” and otherwise manipulating a JPEG. It doesn’t do layers or real HDR are anything like that, but if you’re looking for quickie edits on your iPad, this is a lot of fun. And, ain’t art supposed to be fun?

images and words from geren w mortensen jr

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