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Fuji X Cameras | JPEG or RAW ?

This post is mostly for amateurs / enthusiasts that continue to struggle with post processing or simply don’t like it.  This is not about whether it is better to shoot in RAW or Jpeg.  That’s like asking which camera is better, Nikon or Canon?  And, we all know the answer is Fuji. 😉

But, I think there is a big misconception out there that the only way to get a good picture is to shoot in RAW and then spend the afternoon in front of the computer fiddling with the tremendous latitude a RAW file affords one.  I have found that with Fuji X Jpegs, most of the time that is just not necessary.

I shoot in RAW + Jpeg (Fine) mode.  That way I get the best of both worlds, if needed. There are, of course, some draw backs with Jpegs, i.e., a little less dynamic range, unable to change White Balance, a little more noise, and generally less information in the file to manipulate.  There are some compelling reasons to shoot Jpeg though.  Fuji X cameras correct for lens distortions such as chromatic aberrations (purple fringing), lens diffraction at small apertures through the Lens Modulation Optimizer option, oh, and no mushy OOF foliage issues with Lightroom;  🙂  not to mention great Fuji colors SOOC!

Of course one has to understand the limitations of shooting / using Jpegs.  Single images with high dynamic range values are usually best left for RAW.  But know how to best shoot / use a Jpeg and wonderful images can happen.  In other words, watch that live view histogram!

Below are four images all shot with the Fujifilm X-E2 and the 18-55mm f2.8-4 OIS Fujinon lens, from a recent trip to the Florida panhandle.  This is my go to combination for travel until my X-Pro2 arrives.  All four Jpeg images have been processed in Adobe Lightroom CC using VSCO presets.  You should know VSCO says it is best to use their software on RAW images not Jpegs!  Tweaks have been made to each image to suit my taste.  In other words, the images have been majorly manipulated, but with minimal effort thanks to VSCO!  One of them was even shot at 5000 ISO!

Bottom line, watch your light, shoot within Jpeg boundaries and enjoy your photography more.  You don’t have to shoot in RAW to get nice pictures.  It’s always there, if you need it, but, if not, no worries.  Trust me.  Each image is printable.  I hate posting 100% crops!

To view more images go to my Flickr Page or my Website.

X-E2, f8, 1/1000, 400 ISO, -1/3EV ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f8, 1/1000, 400 ISO, -1/3EV ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2 f5.6, 1/200, 5000 ISO ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f5.6, 1/200, 5000 ISO ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f7.1, 1/250, 400 ISO, ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f7.1, 1/250, 400 ISO, -2/3EV  ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f8, 1/250, 400 ISO, ©2015 Rick Lewis
X-E2, f8, 1/250, 400 ISO, ©2015 Rick Lewis


New Fuji X-Pro2 or Wait for X-T2

Well, here it comes.  A lot of people have been waiting a long time for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 replacement, seeing that it is now about four years old, and so, in a few weeks time the improved X-Pro2 will ship.  I have one on pre-order.  Full disclosure here;  I have no affiliation with Fujifilm.  I buy all my own Fuji gear.  I am not an official “Fuji X” shooter.  I would not consider myself a Fuji “fan boy”.  If something better, for me, comes along I’ll buy it and use it.  But, I don’t see that happening.

In March of 2015 I posted my story about why I switched from 48 years of shooting Nikon, to using Fuji cameras exclusively.  You can read about that HERE.  Since that time I have received a lot of questions about my experience and whether the switch was worth it.  Lately, the questions have been, “Should I buy the X-Pro2 or wait for the X-T2?”

Well, I can tell you the switch was definitely worth it.  I’m very happy with my X-E2 and X-T1 and the images they produce.  Are they perfect?  The simple answer is, “No”.  But, not much is simple any longer.

Will Crockett loaned me an X-Pro1 for a week, in August 2013, with a “kit lens” and told me to shoot only jpegs because, at that time, Lightroom was really harsh on Fuji RAW images.  So that’s what I did.  I did not care for the quirks of the camera or the layout of the controls.  It was slow to focus and the viewfinder was very new to me.  I never used the optical viewfinder and found the EVF a little cumbersome.  However, I loved the images!  I can’t stress that enough.  The image below is a straight out of the camera jpeg of that X-Pro1.

X-Pro1, ISO 400, 1/300’s, f8, Velvia Film Simulation ©Rick Lewis

It’s just a snapshot but, boy was I impressed!

I found myself missing that camera after I gave it back.  The X-E2 was soon released so I bought that due to the improved EVF, and processor.  Now, I’m impatiently waiting on the X-Pro2!!

In a nutshell, why I’m not waiting for the X-T2;  I think the X-Pro is the “Goldilocks” of the X-series cameras when it comes to size.  I really liked the extra size of the camera.  I love my X-E2 but it is just a little too small for me.  The same goes for my X-T1.  The X-Pro just fits me better.  It has nothing to do with bigger is better, at all.  Some will not like the larger size, but I do.

A huge plus for me with the X-Pro2 is the ergonomics in relation to that focus “joystick”.  I had that on my Nikon D4 and loved it.  It will make focusing a breeze while looking through the viewfinder, which I find difficult on my X-T1.  The X-Pro rangefinder design just makes shooting easier for me since these cameras are so small.  I find my right cheek getting in the way when using the X-T1.  I am constantly having to drop the camera from my eye to adjust something.  I rarely have to do that with my X-E2, especially with FW 4.0 installed!

Old Coke A Cola bottles
X-E2, ISO 400, 1/550’s, f4, RAW processed in Capture One 8, ©Rick Lewis

No need for me to wait for the X-T2.  There is no way Fuji will have screwed up the image quality and I have read that high ISO, which is very important to me, is about one full f-stop better!  I can hardly wait.  I am cautious though.  I ordered my X-Pro2 through Amazon.  It won’t take more than one afternoon and just a few snaps to see whether I will keep it.  With Amazon’s fabulous return policy, I’m covered.

So, I’m not waiting for the X-T2 but to answer the question as to whether you should, maybe.  The new X-Pro will not have a tilting LCD.  That is a very big deal to some, especially nature and landscape photographers.  I never thought I would care about that feature but it really comes in handy.  The shot below was taken with my X-T1, fully extended on my tripod.  I would never have been able to compose the image without the tilting LCD.

X-T1, ISO 200, 6s, f18, RAW processed in Capture One 8, ©Rick Lewis
X-T1, ISO 200, 6s, f18, RAW processed in Capture One 8, ©Rick Lewis

The other issue I see for most that I have talked to is that they have never even held a rangefinder camera before.  I guess that’s way before their time.  They have a difficult time getting use to the “feel” of the camera.  Since, 1967 all I had ever shot was a Nikon SLR, both film and digital.  So, I get it.  If that’s the case perhaps you should wait.

Why am I suggesting waiting for the X-T2 instead of buying the very capable X-T1?  Because of that little “joystick” used for focusing.  It will undoubtably be included in the new design.  Why wouldn’t it?  The X-shooters that beta tested the X-Pro2 rave about it.  I just find focusing on my X-T1 to be a little cumbersome.  The camera still takes incredible images, but, sometimes it’s just the little things that make you smile.  Will I buy the new X-T2 when it comes out?  You bet!!  Who knows, it may even have a few more upgrades the X-Pro2 doesn’t have.

I’ve rambled on too long.  I’m retired now from my photography business, but, I would not hesitate to use either of my Fujis if given an assignment today.  They are that good and getting better.  Good Shooting!!

Nikon to Fujifilm X | One Year After the Switch

This Blog post may surprise a few of my friends and colleagues, as I have not made a big deal of switching to a completely new, (for me), camera system.  I had been a Nikon shooter since a teenager in 1967.  I started with a Nikkormat FS in 1967.  It didn’t have a light meter but it was all I could afford at 15 years of age.  Over the years I acquired a Nikkormat FTn, Nikkormat EL, Nikon F2 Photomic, Nikon D70, Nikon D200, Nikon D3, D3s, and finally the D4.

The Seeds Are Planted

During the spring and summer of 2013 I began an email conversation with a very well known commercial photographer and teacher, Will Crockett.  I read or watched a Blog post of his describing the changes he saw coming in photography.  They centered around mirrorless cameras and their ability to capture stills and video.  I was intrigued by his insights so I emailed him.  We corresponded and discussed the pros and cons of Olympus, Panasonic, and Fujifilm cameras.  I told him I was much more interested in still photography and didn’t really care about video.  He recommended I look into Fuji cameras.  He then offered to loan me one of his Fujifilm X-Pro1’s along with the “kit lens”, (18-55mm f2.8-f4, OIS) and the 60mm f2.4 macro.

©2013 Rick Lewis   X-Pro1, ISO 400, 1/900th @ f8, 18-55mm @20.5mm  Shot as Jpeg
©2013 Rick Lewis X-Pro1, ISO 400, 1/900th @ f8, 18-55mm @20.5mm Shot as Jpeg

I shot several hundred images during that week of shooting with the X-Pro1, including the one above.  I only shot jpegs, no RAW, (RAF).  At that time Lightroom 4.7 was just awful converting Fuji RAW images.  Now, I knew of Fujifilm from the wonderful jpeg machines of their early pro digital cameras, the S3 and S5 Pro.  I had no idea they made this new “X” camera.  While I was not in love with the ergonomics and quirks of handling the X-Pro, I loved the end result; and in such a small, light package.  At the end of the week, I mailed the gear back to Will.  I was still shooting with my Nikon D4 but realized I never took it with me when I left the house.  I looked back and remembered that little X-Pro went with me everywhere.  It was fun again, not hefting the brick of a camera and large glass.

The Switch

I began to, over the next several months, miss the X-Pro1 in my hand.  Even with all the faults, and believe me, there are faults.  I realized the camera made me stop and think about what I was photographing.  It was slow, but, it was more like what I remembered in my earlier days.  It was fun again.  I had always said my D3 and D4 were just outrageously expensive point and shoot cameras.  They are FAST, no doubt, and after initial set up you do just mostly point and fire off frames.  At least I did.

My needs had changed.  I moved to Montgomery, Alabama, from Tampa Florida.  My business was virtually non existent and I really did not need the big cameras and big glass that my Nikon system provided.  I was ready to downsize, and slow down.

In December of 2013 I made the switch.  I sold all of my Nikon gear and started with the Fuji X-E2 camera.  I bought all the Fujinon XF lenses I thought I would need for the new direction my business was taking me.  I bought the X-E2 because it had an updated 16MP sensor and processor and some other features that made it a little more shooter friendly than the aging X-Pro1.  And, there were rumors of a new, updated X-Pro just around the corner.

©2014 Rick Lewis  X-E2  35mm f1.4 lens, ISO 1600 1/200th @f2.8
©2014 Rick Lewis X-E2 35mm f1.4 lens, ISO 1600 1/200th @f2.8
©2014   X-E2  18-55mm @24mm (35mm equiv), ISO 200  10sec @f8
©2014 X-E2 18-55mm @24mm (35mm equiv), ISO 200 10sec @f8

The new and improved X-Pro never made it but Fuji came out with a real winner, the X-T1. That was my next purchase and my second camera body.  It has the same sensor and processor that my X-E2 has so the images look identical.  This was important to me as a professional. The X-E2 would be my backup camera on professional jobs.  I didn’t want different looks to images if I had to switch out cameras in the middle of a shoot.

My Ending Thoughts

I have no regrets in ditching my Nikon gear for the Fuji X system.  Please understand I loved the quality of my Nikon equipment.  I shot Nikon for 47 years and was a member of Nikon Professional Service (NPS).  I would never discourage anyone from buying and using Nikon professional cameras.  I preferred them over Canon for many reasons.  But, my needs changed.

I switched because I didn’t need the fast cameras and lenses, or the bulk, any longer.  I wanted to slow my photography down a notch.  I wanted photography to be fun again.  I switched to Fuji because of the wonderful image quality, the smaller size and weight, and the lenses.  It is a total package for me.  The bonus with mirrorless, is the WYSIWYG function of the EVF.  Now I can see immediately if I need to make a White Balance adjustment before the shutter fires.  I’m getting things right in the the camera and relying less on post.  In fact, I find I use the jpegs instead of the RAW images more than half the time.

I posted more X-E2 images here to show the quality of this little camera.  It’s small and unassuming but produces spectacular images.  Give the Fuji’s a try and you’ll probably be hooked too.

©2014  X-E2  18-55mm @26.5mm (40mm equiv), ISO 6400, 1/25th @f4, handheld w/OIS
©2014 X-E2 18-55mm @26.5mm (40mm equiv), ISO 6400, 1/25th @f4, handheld w/OIS
©2014  X-T1  60mm Macro lens, ISO 400, 1/200th @f4
©2014 Rick Lewis   X-T1 60mm Macro lens (90mm equiv), ISO 400, 1/200th @f4