And this is this day: after 20 years I finally abandoned the Nikon ship. Since April I was using in parallel D810 and X-Pro2 and I have noticed two things:
Nikon was laying on the shelve, while Fuji was used frequently.
When I was using D810 and X-Pro2 at the same time, often pictures coming from X-Pro2 were better. – even when using the same lens (AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4) with both bodies.
What has convinced me to change the system?
Lenses. Fujinons are designed for DX sensor – small, light, easy to use and very good optically. Nikon offers reasonable lenses designed for FX sensor only – big heavy, not so easy to use. Of course, there are some DX lenses, but no the ones I need.
Features in the body. Nikon clearly goes for sport: fast AF, high fps, mirror-based finder. Fuji has more features I need: depth of field scale, mirrorless design (no mirror-generated vibrations, no issue with AF detectors alignment).
Is this parting final? I don’t know – time will show. But as long as Nikon has no reasonable mirrorless system (Nikon 1 isn’t reasonable by any mean) probability of my comeback is marginal.
This time next mixture of hardware: X-Pro2, AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D ED, extension rings 16mm and 11mm, teleconverter 1.4x Fuji and of course Metabones adapter ring. This setup gives magnification of 1.81. I have used Nikon SB-910 as a main source of light, with Fujifilm EF-X20 as a commander flash. Fuji flash set as “Commander” in X-Pro2 menu, while SB-910 set as SU-4 slave. This means that power of the flash was set manually. The result:
In the previous article, I have described use of the AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D ED for macro photography with X-Pro2. I use it this way because as per today, there is no real macro lens in the Fujifilm XF portfolio. But there is something what resembles a bit the macro lens (sorry, Fuji 🙂
This “something” is the XF Macro 60mm – a “macro” lens, giving 1:2 magnification and focal length of just 60mm – too short for work with living insects for instance. But I decided to give this lens a try – reaching maximum reasonable magnification I could potentially get with this lens. So I added three things to the lens.
What you can see above, are X-Pro2, Fujinon XF Macro 60mm, extension ring 16mm, extension ring 11mm and the 1.4x teleconverter. Theoretically, the teleconverter is incompatible with the Fujinon XF Macro 60mm. The teleconverter has front lens protruding far to the back lens of the Fujinon, so any attempt to mount one with the other will definitely lead to destruction of one or the other or even both. It is important to mount first the teleconverter on the body, then both extension rings and finally Fujinon. This way extension rings make space necessary to keep the protruding front lens of teleconverter in a save distance from back lens of the Fujinon. Some examples of use of this setup you can see below.
The above pictures were taken with maximum possible magnification – first the lens set to the maximum magnification and then focus achieved by moving macro focusing rail. So what’s this maximum magnification scale? Let’s see:
The above picture shows so called “millimeter paper” – the distance between two lines is 1mm. Let’s count: we can see 18mm horizontally. The sensor is 23.6mm long. So simple calculation says that the maximum magnification scale is 1.31:1. Quite nice, I would say.
Unfortunately this setup has it’s drawbacks. Let’s leave aside poor AF performance or sometimes AF not working at all – this is natural and I prefer manual focusing, using macro rail. But what is really an issue is big light falloff – flash is a must. But as we know, today Fujifilm doesn’t offer too much in this range. I was using tiny Fujifilm EF-X20 as this is the only flash for Fuji X-Pro2 I currently have. I have added a simple diffuser made of white windscreen washer bottle, installed above the lens. But I would definitely prefer two off-camera flashes, with wireless control. And the second thing – Fujinon XF Macro 60mm has the manual focusing ring. But this ring doesn’t have a mechanical connection to lens groups, instead it works sending electrical signals to the body’s CPU which in turn commands the motors inside the lens. I don’t like such thing in macro lens, where I usually use manual focusing, because turning the ring I have no idea if I have already reached the extreme setting or not. And one more thing: geometry. The above picture shows clearly the barrel distortion, which in this case has almost no meaning, but also field curvature and sharpness falling towards edges, what makes hard setting focus correctly for entire picture.
Despite the small issues, in my opinion the Fujinon XF Macro 60mm is still a nice lens – but someone who wants to achieve magnification bigger than 1:2 and photograph living insects, he will not have easy life.
…no, not FUJINON XF60mm F2.4 R Macro. It is hard to call this lens not only the best macro lens, but macro lens at all. With 1:2 reproduction ratio and 60mm focal length I would call it rather “pseudo macro”. This is why macro Fujifilm passionate have to invent something on their own. And I invented something like that:
For many years, my format of choice to write photographs has been RAW. Exclusively RAW. And then development on the PC. Partly due to the desire to write picture with most complete data to be able in the future to get maximum quality final pictures. Even if this “getting maximum quality” stays in the category of good wishes. Partly due to the fact, that my cameras so far didn’t process shots the way I would be satisfied. So there is nothing strange in fact that just after I started shooting with X-Pro2, my search for best RAW (or RAF) developer for files written by this camera has also started. Everybody rate Iridient as the top developer.
He was waiting, waiting and finally went away. Three have come instead. Or even four. The new ones are quite sexy, beautiful, shapely and… sharp! So who has gone? AF-S Nikkor 300mm G ED VR II. And who have come?
In the spare time I have made some shots with both lenses. Definitely this is neither a scientific analysis nor neutral comparison. This is because Fujinon was working on X-Pro2 – 24 Mpx, while Nikkor was on the D810 – 36 Mpx. Why this way? The simple answer: I don’t have any APS-C Nikon body. A bit more complex answer: Fujinon is an APC-C lens, so it’s natural way of working is with APS-C body. But Nikkor is a full frame lens – in it’s case the natural environment is the full frame body. So why would I use it with APS-C body? Especially when the majority of the weight is concentrated in the lens?
Generally I wanted to write something about one of the more interesting lenses, like one of the primes. But it happened that I went together with my family to the garden of Polish Academy of Sciences in Powsin. And as usually in such case, I decided to take with me only a basic, versatile set of gear. And this is why my bag was loaded with just three lenses, including the light, compact FUJINON XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.
No, this is not another, an in-depth description of Fujifilm X-Pro2. It will be a subjective description of the camera, and, in principle, what I noticed after the first few days of use. And it will not be just a series of delights, because I found things both positive and negative.