Fujifilm X-T1 Review; Bit of Sony A7R & Olympus E-M1 Thrown In


On my desk, between the keyboard and my monitors are three goodies: the Fujifilm X-T1, the Sony A7R and the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Take the best of each, combine that and you’ll get the near-perfect camera. Fat chance of that happening, so I’ll forget that thought and focus mostly on the newest of the bunch, the Fuji.

I’ve been shooting with it only for a little over a week and only with one lens, the 35mm f/1.4. They’re both rentals. I picked the 35mm lens because it has a good reputation and because I have equivalent lenses for my Sony and my Olympus, so I could make some fair comparisons. More about that later.

I was really looking forward to the Fuji. It just looks right for a guy like me, who grew up with cameras that had dials for stuff that was important. Dials that meant something. More importantly, dials that did only ONE thing. In modern cameras, one dial can have multiple functions and you have to remember all of them.

So the Fuji looked right. The right size, the right color (I’m a big fan of black), the right dials, even some lenses with real aperture rings. Awesome. This looked like a camera I had been waiting for. [Read more…]

The Perfect Camera: Fuji Olympus Sony X-T1 E-M1 A7R


With Fujifilm’s announcement of the X-T1 today, I think I’ve found the perfect camera. It has the size and top plate of the X-T1, the functionality of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the sensor of the Sony A7R. Simple.

I’m only half joking, actually. I do love the design of the Fuji and hope that they got the actual feel and workings of the dials and buttons right. But I can’t imagine giving up the speed and especially the excellent in-body stabilization of the Olympus for the more retro looks of the Fuji.

And that Sony does beat both the Fuji and the Olympus in terms of resolution. It would be even better if my imaginary camera had a setting that allowed it to shoot in full-frame 24 megapixel-resolution RAW format for when you don’t need the 36mp.

I read a funny and spot-on comment on one of the forums last night. The person said how it’s interesting that at first the mirrorless cameras moved away from the look of DSLRs and now they’re all trying to make their mirrorless cameras look again like DSLRs. The hump is back.

Retro Right?

Yesterday, I wondered if Fuji would get retro right. It seems that they largely did, at least from the looks of the camera. Yet, DPReview* complains about some of the friction and locks of the dials and the placement of the buttons on the camera back. I won’t draw any conclusions until I have handled the X-T1 myself, at some point in the future.


*See how I link to DPReview because it makes sense for you, the reader, but that DPReview would come after me if I linked to my own site when posting in their forums, because this is a commercial site and thus a competitor. Talk about paranoia.

Here’s the commercial part. You can pre-order the Fuji X-T1 at B&H:

Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm Lens

Unfortunately, my perfect camera is not yet available for pre-orders. Maybe some day.


Sony A7R Review – Working Out a Love-Hate Relationship


After using the Sony A7R for a month, I’m still undecided about its overall merits. As a matter of fact, I’m going back and forth on this camera. I have written and rewritten this article several times, but I still haven’t reached a clear conclusion. As I move toward a new phase of using the A7R, it’s time to sum up my impressions so far and make this into a rolling review.

Regular readers know by now that I don’t mince words and that I’m not a fanboy for any brand. I’m just a fanboy for great cameras to shoot with. Image quality probably should come first, but in reality I can live with good but not great image quality while I have a hard time with good but not great camera usability. That’s where my troubles with the Sony A7R come in.

Read on for my take so far.

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In Search of Color with Sony A7R & Nikon D800e


Sony A7R with 35mm f/2.8 lens – 1/100, f/6.3, ISO 200

Hello, I’m John and I’m a fair-weather photographer.

You look at my Lightroom folders, organized by month and – boom! – as soon as the weather turns cold and gray, my shooting volume drops. Put me in sunny weather and I happily wander around. Turn off the sun, add some drizzle, dampen the colors and the cameras stay in the closet.

Except that taking pictures is now a bit of a job. I have cameras to review. I need images to adorn this site. I got stuff to compare. So, out I went the one nice day last week that I still had a rental lens to do some comparison shooting between the new Sony A7R and its dedicated 35mm f/2.8 lens and the Nikon D800e and a rented Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART lens.

I live in the northern suburbs of New York. I gave myself the challenge of finding photogenic colors in this wintry suburban area. The leaves are gone. Everything was coated in that grimy layer that’s left after some snowfall. With the exception of road signs, some cars and school buses, it’s all some shade of grey, white or black. This time of the year, color is not exactly abundant in this part of suburbia.

It’s freaking cold too. At some point, the most colorful sight were my knuckles, red from the cold as I decided to hold two metal objects without any gloves. But I’m not complaining. Once I go North of my little town, the area gets a bit rural, the roads get winding and, you know, I drive one of those German cars that love curves. [Read more…]

Pre-Review Ruminations on the Sony A7R

I started shooting with my brand new Sony A7R. A bit. Weather is miserable, fall colors are gone and I haven’t had the time yet to trek to Manhattan for some serious photography. But I dutifully carry the Sony with me and take snaps once in a while. I’ll get serious with it in the next few days.

You know how it is. You start to focus on something, like a new camera, and then your brain kind of takes that notion and runs off with it. That’s happening to me.

I’ve started to wonder what I would actually use this camera for, once I’m done reviewing it. I bought it right away to review it and because putting 36 megapixels in a small body with interchangeable lenses is no mean feat. This camera deserves attention. At the time, I didn’t think how I would use it for my own purposes or if it would buy it for myself, if it weren’t for this site. Now that I have it, I’m not sure where it fits in. [Read more…]