Another Review Another Gold Award: X100F

FujiFilm X100F : A Real Winner

Verdict From Amateur Photographer Magazine:

“Fujifilm’s X100 series has long been a favourite of serious photographers, for its unrivalled combination 
of stunning good looks, intuitive, dial-led handling, and excellent image quality. With the X100F, the firm has continued its tradition of making substantial improvements without losing the essence of the original, and its 24-milion-pixel sensor brings the best image quality 
yet. But in many ways, it’s the X-Processor Pro that’s the real star here, because it makes the camera feel that much snappier and more responsive in every aspect of its operation. This is particularly noticeable with the autofocus – I’m really quite impressed Fujifilm has managed to get the lens moving so fast.

But there’s more to the X100F than improved image quality and focusing, and it’s the accumulation of small but significant handling changes that boosts its appeal even further. Additions such as the AF joystick, full-image electronic preview in the optical finder, and extended ISO and exposure compensation control options all make the X100F an absolute joy to use. Few cameras inspire you to pick them up and go out shooting in the way this one does, and few deliver such attractive results when you get home and look at your pictures. Make no mistake; it’s a serious photographic tool.

Of course £1,249 is a lot of money to pay for the privilege of owning a camera with a fixed lens that doesn’t even zoom, being quarter as much again as the X100T was at launch. For most photographers, it’s probably not even going to work as their only camera, but more a companion to something with interchangeable lenses, which makes it something of an indulgence. But then again, the price has to be seen in the context of the competition – because there really isn’t anything else quite like it.

With the X100F, Fujifilm has produced a camera that’s as lovely to shoot as it is to look at, and it delivers image quality to match. Users of the X100S and original X100 will find it a huge upgrade, while even X100T owners should appreciate the new sensor and improved controls. One thing’s for sure – like its predecessors it’s one of the most desirable cameras on the market”.

March 2017

Olympus OM-D EM1 II: Another “Gold” award

Olympus OM-D EM1 II : As good as it gets

This weeks Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine has published a full test and review of the Olympus OM-D EM1 II and awarded Olympus’s top-end Micro Four Third (M43) mirrorless camera a “Gold Award”

AP’s verdict was also pretty straight forward:

” Its unarguable that the EM-1 Mark II is the best camera Olympus has ever made, it gives thye impression of being the best camera the firm could possibly make given current technology”

But equally AP conceded that the EM1 II couldn’t quite match the outright image quality of the best APS-C camera’s noting:

“While the EM1 II has very considerable strength, will they be sufficent to pesuade users to accept the Four Third sensor with its inevitable compromises in image quality? Its clear that it can’t match its APS-C peers when compared ISO for ISO

I’d only comment I’d add is  that whilst this is true the image quality from the EM1 II is the best of any M43 camera and in a recent DxO lab test the EM1 II’s sensor only lag that of the very best APS-C sensor but a small margin.

For the vast majority of potential users / buyers the difference is too small to either notice or matter.

And then finally there’s the cost of the EM1 II and this is AP Magazine’s take:

“The EM-1 II isn’t the only recent camera to look expensive, the huge drop in the value of the pound against the Yen in 2016 has seen to that. But as a result tthe EM1 II finds itself in the uncomfortable position of costing more than some very capable competitors, such as the Nikon D500 (APS-C DSLR) , Pentax K1 (Full frame DSLR) or Fuji X-T2 (Mirrorless APS-C). But make no mistake the EM1 is a very fine camera too, and doesn’ feel out of place is such exalted company. Anyone looking for a fast, rugged yet lightweight camera, particularily for sports or action should add it to their shortlist”

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review Image

My Take:

Personally the main reason I dumped all my Canon APS-C gear and committed myself to the Micro Four Third system were reasons of size, weight and access to some delightful optics.

I’ve always accepted that outright image quality form a M43 camera may never exactly match that from a high end APS-C DSLR or APS-C mirrorless camera but up to say 1600 ISO the difference is to my mind (and eyes) insignificant and not something to be too worried about.

The fact that the the likes of the EM1 II, PEN F and EM5 II have hugely capable  in-body stabilisation and that the M43 system offers many fast primes and zoom lenses means more often than not you can avoid high ISO settings anyway.

All things considered serious M43 shooters and in particular Olympus users will be falling over themselves to get their hands on the new EM1 II whilst others thinking of entering the more serious digital photographic world are probably best advised to put the EM1 II, the Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D500 at the top of their list and go and physically try the cameras out.

The recent Panasonic Lumix GH5 M43 camera in fairness does confuse things a little but probably mostly for people who take video seriously.

For me personally as the owner of a clutch of M.Zuiko “Pro” zooms and a bag full of M.Zuiko fast prime lenses the Olympus OM-D EM1 II is a no brainer even at its high retail price”

Mark Baynham (January 2017)

Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG “Art”

Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG “Art” : Performance & value for money

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine has review the Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM “Art” zoom designed to work with full frame DSLR’s. So has Sigma got another priceless piece of “art” on its hands?

Well the article is very detailed but the conclusion simply. Yet again a Sigma “art” lens delivers in spades and at a price that puts the big names to shame, Its worth a read if your in the market for a full frame wide angle zoom.

From AP Magazine:

“This lens has created a bit of a buzz among landscape, architectural and interior photographers, and all for good reason. Yes its heavy and may not hold the title of being the world’s widest rectilinear zoom lens like the Canon EF 11-24mm f4L USM, but it does have many of the features of its closest rival, for a lot less money.

Its yet another superb addition to Sigma’s Art line-up”

January 2017

Canon EOS M5 Reviewed by AP Magazine

Canon EOS M5 : Still a C+ / B- effort 

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine has published a full technical review of Canon’s latest attempt at a mirrorless CSC, the Canon EOS M5. So has Canon finally cracked itv and produced a truly credible mirrorless model? Well sort. Common sense indicates that the likes of Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have little to fear.

From AP Magazine:

“With the EOS M5, Canon has finally made the kind of mirorless model that users have been asking for. With its built-in electronic viewfinder and plentiful set of controls, it should appeal strongly to enthusiasts, while its Dual-Pixel autofocus works remarkably well even with old EF-mount SLR lenses.

But while there’s a great deal to like about the EOS M5, in some way it does feel rather behind the times.

Indeed the huge problem for the EOS M5 is its price, and this makes it difficult to rate.

But right now, £1049 body-only is simply too much to pay in this competative sector. However if the price were to drop closer to £800 in the future, then the EOS M5 would be a much more serious contender”

My Take:

At the moment the likes of the Fujifilm X-T10, the Panasonic G80, Sony Alpha 6300 and Olympus OM-D E10 II are far, far better options over the hugely over-priced Canon EOS M5. Besides Canon has still failed to produce truly high performing EF-M lenses to complement the camera and “M” system generally I reckon the company are simply playing mind games with the Canon faithful. Maybe they have something really special up their sleeve but somehow I am not so sure?

Mark Baynham (January 2017)

Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro Prime

Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro Prime.

Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro Review Image

Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine contained a test / review of Sony’s FE 50mm F2.8 Macro prime lens designed to be used with the company’s Alpha A7 range of full frame mirror-less camera’s.

From Amateur Photographer (AP) Magazine:

“In terms of image quality its hard to fault the Sony FE 50mm f2.8 Macro”

“In summary, the build quality is superb, optically the lens is great and if you are primarily looking to shoot macro images but also want a standard 50mm lens, then its a good option”

“Users on a tight budget could consider buying the FE 50mm f1.8 with a set of extension tubes instead”

December 2016