Fujifilm Gear

Fujifilm GearThere’s a new page that I created on Fuji X Weekly called Fujifilm Gear. The intention of this new page is to make it more convenient to find camera and lens reviews, recommendations, and links to buy. Up until this point it has been difficult to find that information because you had to dig for it. The articles were on this blog, but you might have been unaware of their existence, or missed them when they were new, or didn’t know how to locate them. Now it’s all in one easy-to-find place, which should improve the Fuji X Weekly experience, at least a little.

I hope to expand the page, adding more articles as I write them. As best as I can I will keep the links accurate so that you can see what gear is on sale, which will hopefully make bargain hunting a tad easier for you. I’m hoping that this will be a good resource, and it will be a page that you’ll return to often.

To get to Fujifilm Gear, simply click on the three bars (the “hamburger menu”) at the top-left of this page. Once there, I recommend bookmarking the page so that you can easily find it whenever you might want to access it. You can also follow Fuji X Weekly, if you haven’t already done so. When you are at the top of this page, click “follow” on the bottom-right. Oh, and don’t forget to look me up on Instragram: @fujixweekly.

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My New Fujifilm Camera

I bought a new camera. By “new” I mean new-to-me, as it was in fact a used camera. It’s a few years old, but in decent shape, and functions well. I’m not going to disclose the model just yet, as I’m going to let it be a surprise a little further down this article. I will give you some clues: this is a 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera. Any guesses?

Let’s take a look at some straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from this camera, and then I will reveal what it is.

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Red Trike – South Weber, UT

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Leaves By The Shed – South Weber, UT

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Flower Jungle – South Weber, UT

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Green Summer Leaf – South Weber, UT

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Dead Rose – South Weber, UT

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Factory Authorized Service – Ogden, UT

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Mary Wants You To Buy Some Books – Ogden, UT

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Suburban Fence Monochrome – South Weber, UT

What camera do you think captured these pictures?

My new 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera is…

…an AX350. You’re likely saying to yourself right now, “An AX what?!” The Fujifilm AX350 is an eight-year-old low-budget pocket point-and-shoot zoom camera. It came out around the same time as the original X100. It has a tiny sensor, and really is a point-and-shoot with very few manual controls. It has three film simulations: Standard, which reminds me more of Astia than Provia, Chrome, which is a lot like Classic Chrome but predates it by a few years, and B&W. Changing the film simulation is pretty much all you can do on this camera, besides zooming in and out and activating macro mode.

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I was surprised by the image quality. When the ISO is low (ISO 200 and lower, roughly), and just as long as the highlights aren’t too bright, it produces very lovely pictures. The lens seems to perform worst when at the widest or most telephoto ends, but it does well when in-between. It has a narrow window, but when things line up correctly, this camera creates pictures that you’d never guess came from an eight-year-old low-budget point-and-shoot. On the flip side, when things don’t line up, the pictures are just as you’d expect them to be.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a box of assorted film and digital cameras for under $40. I had no idea if any of it worked, but I thought it was worth the risk. This Fujifilm AX350 was among the cameras in the box. I tried it out just to see if it worked, and I was shocked when I reviewed the pictures! I’m glad that I didn’t pay a whole lot of money for this camera, but I think I might keep it around for a little while, as it seems to have a purpose, and can potentially fulfill a tiny niche role in my bag. I wouldn’t go out looking for one of these cameras to buy, but if someone is trying to give you one, maybe accept the offer. It is a capable photographic tool, even if just barely, in the hands of a skilled photographer.

The Ray Manley Photo Challenge

In 1939, Ray Manley, who was at the time a broke college student in northern Arizona, made a decision that would change the course of his life. Ray decided that he wanted to be published in Arizona Highways magazine, so he purchased 10 frames of Kodachrome. During that era, Kodachrome was not cheap, and Ray could barely afford those 10 frames. He had some prior experience shooting black-and-white film, but not much. Color photography was completely new to him, and he’d never used Kodachrome before. Still, Ray was determined, and he set out to make the most of those 10 exposures. Three of those Kodachromes would be printed on the cover of Arizona Highways during the 1940’s. And it was those three pictures that helped Ray launch a successful photography career, which included publication in National GeographicSaturday Evening PostPopular Science, as well as several books that featured his pictures.

The Ray Manley Challenge is to capture 10 exposures and only 10 exposures, attempting to get a minimum of three good pictures out of it. The intention of this is to train yourself to slow down and really think about what you are doing. It’s about being very deliberate and making every exposure count. Ray had only 10 exposures because that’s all he could afford, and it’s incredible what he did with it. You have unlimited exposures, yet, I know for myself, meaningful pictures are only captured sparingly. This photo challenge is a good way to refine your photography skills, and increase the odds of capturing something good.

I had considered using my Vintage Kodachrome recipe to really mimic what Ray was up against, but decided instead to use any settings that I felt would best fit the scene. I might try this again and use only Vintage Kodachrome, although I’m not really sure right now if I’ll do that. You can choose to do so for an added challenge, or use whatever settings you feel is best. It’s really up to you how you want to tackle this challenge, as the only real rule is that once you’ve made 10 exposures, you are done.

Here are my results:

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Frame 1: Mt Wolverine Reflected In Silver Lake – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.7 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 2: Flowing Creek – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.4 Seconds, f/11, ISO 320

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Frame 4: Big Cottonwood Creek – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/5, f/13, ISO 160

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Frame 5: Flowing River Monochrome – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.3 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 10: Hidden Falls – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 2 Seconds, f/13, ISO 160

How did I do? I would say mediocre.

In the first exposure there’s that bright stump on the top-left that I really didn’t want to include in the frame. Unfortunately, there was a bridal photo shoot going on just out of the right side of the frame, and I had to pick between including people in the shot or the stump. I chose the stump. Otherwise, I like that picture. I felt like I did a good job of taking my time and creating the best picture that I could with what was there, and I think this is my second favorite frame from this challenge.

The second frame is a well executed photo of a rather bland scene. I feel that there probably wasn’t a better picture that I could have created at that spot, but perhaps I shouldn’t have made an image at all, and saved the exposure for a different location.

Frame three was identical to frame four other than I didn’t get one setting right, so I made another exposure. If I had taken my time just a little more I wouldn’t have made that mistake. Frame four is a good picture and probably my third favorite from this challenge.

The fifth frame is alright. I don’t think I composed it particularly well. I put the tripod with the camera on it in the river, which was a risk. At this point the light that I wanted was quickly disappearing, and I wasn’t taking my time like I should have been.

Exposures six, seven, eight and nine were all failures. I was going too fast. I should have stopped and really soaked in the scene and worried less about the disappearing good light and saved those frames for another time. This was the lesson that I needed to learn.

For the final frame, I made sure that I got it right. I slowed myself down and really thought about how I wanted the picture to look. I moved the tripod a couple of times to refine the composition. This is my favorite exposure of the 10 that I made.

On the drive home, just a little ways down the road from where I exposed the 10th frame, I saw what I thought would have been a great picture. I stopped the car and looked at the scene, but I left the camera in the bag. If I hadn’t wasted several of my exposures, I could have captured this place. I got back on the road and stuck with my restriction.

This project didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, but it was a great photographic exercise that proved to be valuable. I learned much. I intend to do it again soon, and I invite you to join me in completing the Ray Manley Photo Challenge.

SOOC eMagazine

There’s a new online magazine called SOOC that’s dedicated to Fujifilm straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I encourage you to take a look at issue one and to support James Posilero‘s efforts, and not just because yours truly is in the magazine. There’s been an unfair sentiment within the photography community for some time that you are a second-rate photographer if you rely on camera-made JPEGs. The argument is not true, but unfortunately you will find this attitude spread throughout the internet, and you might even encounter it in person. This magazine turns that preconception on its head and debunks the fallacy, simply by the photographs found within. I personally look forward to seeing more of SOOC, and I wish much success to James.

The Diversity of Utah Landscapes in Color, Part 3: Trees

Part 1 – Water  Part 2 – Flowers  

Utah is a beautiful state with a diverse environment. There are snow-capped mountain peaks, green forests, extensive lakes, snaking rivers, vast red deserts and pretty much everything in-between. This photoessay series is intended to exhibit that diversity through my photographs, and each part will have a specific theme. This article, which is Part 3 of The Diversity of Utah Landscapes in Color, is about trees.

When a lot of people think of Utah, they think of the red-rock deserts found in the southern part of the state. You might be surprised to learn that approximately 1/3 of Utah is forested. Many of these trees are found in the mountains of the northern region, but even the deserts can be dotted with Pinyon and Juniper. There are a wide range of trees found throughout the state. It shouldn’t be surprising that trees have found their way into my photographs many times, especially in the fall when their leaves turn autumn colors. I’ve noticed that the leaves are already beginning to change this year, so it’s time once again to find some vibrant trees to capture.

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Timpanogos September – American Fork Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X100F 9/29/2017

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Autumn Beginnings – Ogden Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 9/3/2018

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Autumn Forest Trail – Fruit Heights, UT – Fujifilm XF10 – 10/14/2018

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Red Leaves In The Forest – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 10/2/2018

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Fuji Provia 100F'

Vibrant Autumn Forest – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – 11/20/2018

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Vibrant Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 10/13/2017

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Scattering of Red – Fruit Heights, UT – Fujifilm XF10 – 9/28/2018

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Winter Forest Impression – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – 12/27/2018

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Night At The Lake – Mirror Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 8/6/2016

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Lake In The Uintas – Mirror Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 9/4/2016

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Deadwood – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 3/30/2019

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Green Tree on Red Cliff – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 3/31/2019

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Monte Cristo Snow – Monte Cristo, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 10/16/2016

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Winter Saturday Sun – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10 – 2/16/2019

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Old Log In Kolob Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 10/27/2017

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Feeling Blue – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 – 2/28/2018

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Canyon Pinyon – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 2/28/2018

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It’s Not Easy Being Green – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 3/1/2018

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Kodak E 100G'

Yellow Tree Against Red Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10 – 11/20/2018

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Sunlight Through The Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10 – 9/13/2018

[Not] My Fujifilm X Urban Vintage Chrome Film Simulation Recipe

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Refine – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2 – “Urban Vintage Chrome”

Fuji X Weekly reader Thomas Schwab recently shared with me a film simulation recipe that he created. He calls it “Urban Vintage Chrome” because it has a classic analog aesthetic, it’s based on the Classic Chrome film simulation, and it pairs especially well with urban scenes. I tried it out and was highly impressed with the results. Thomas agreed to let me share it on this blog, and even allowed me to use some of his pictures in the article.

What the Urban Vintage Chrome recipe reminds me of is Bleach Bypass, which is a technique where, during development, you fully or partially skip the bleach. It increases contrast and grain and decreases saturation. The results can vary depending on the film used and how exactly it’s developed, but generally speaking this recipe produces a look that is similar to it, or at least the closest straight-out-of-camera that I’ve seen. It’s compatible with all Fujifilm X-Trans III and IV cameras.

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Hazy Rural Sunset – Woods Cross, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm – “Urban Vintage Chrome”

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: 0
Shadow: +2
Color: -4
Sharpening: 0
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain: Weak
Color Chrome Effect: Off
White Balance: 4300K, -1 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)

I want to give big “thank you” to Thomas for sharing this recipe and allowing me to use some of his photographs in this article. I really appreciate it! Be sure to show your appreciation in the comments!

Example photographs using this film simulation recipe:

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Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X100F – Photo by Thomas Schwab

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X-T2 & Fujinon 35mm f/2 – Photo by Thomas Schwab

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X100F – Photo by Thomas Schwab

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X100F – Photo by Thomas Schwab

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X100F – Photo by Thomas Schwab

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – Fujifilm X100F – Photo by Thomas Schwab

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Creek Ducks – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Green Locomotive – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Oil Toil – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Tracks By The Refinery – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Gate Arm Nut – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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CF Trailer – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Hidden Wall Street – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

[Not] My Fujifilm X-T30 “Warm Contrast” Film Simulation Recipe

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Flower Pots – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Warm Contrast”

Fuji X Weekly reader Manuel Sechi recently contacted me regarding some camera settings that he was working on. He was trying to replicate the look of the “Warm Contrast” preset in Lightroom. He felt that he was close but was hoping that I might help refine the settings to get a little closer. He showed me some of his pictures where he had applied the preset, which was helpful as I don’t use Lightroom. I tried out his settings and indeed they looked very close to the photographs that he shared. I made some small adjustments to refine it to what I thought might be a closer match to the preset, although not having the preset at my disposable was admittedly a challenge, and I can only hope that I made the recipe better and not worse.

While I call this film simulation recipe “Warm Contrast” due to its intended replication, it’s not particularly warm nor especially high in contrast. It seems to work best in mid-contrast situations, and when the light is already a bit on the warm side. When it works, though, it looks really good. I can see why Manuel was interested in creating it. I’m sure some of you will appreciate these settings, and I’m eager to share them with you.

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August Wasatch – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Warm Contrast”

Thank you, Manuel, for sharing your settings, and allowing me the opportunity to tweak them. While I put “Fujifilm X-T30” in the title, this recipe can be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. In low-contrast situations, going +4 on Shadow and +2 on Highlight might produce better results. In cooler light, -1 Red and -5 Blue might prove to be better. As always, don’t be afraid to season this film simulation recipe to taste.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +1
Shadow:+3
Color: +4
Sharpening: +1
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Off
White Balance: Auto, -2 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using these settings on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Fighting Flamingos – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Duck In A Stream – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Rural Stream – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Bee On A Pink Flower – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Bee At Work – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Kids on a Bridge – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Confident Direction – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Leaves of Various Colors – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Looking Bird – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Yarn Owl – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Green Mountain Majesty – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sloping Ridges – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Canvas Sky – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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American Fair – Salt Lake City, Utah – Fujifilm X-T30

The Diversity of Utah Landscapes in Color, Part 2: Flowers

Part 1 – Water  Part 3 – Trees

Utah is a beautiful state with a diverse environment. There are snow-capped mountain peaks, green forests, extensive lakes, snaking rivers, vast red deserts and pretty much everything in-between. This photoessay series is intended to exhibit that diversity through my photographs, and each part will have a specific theme. This article, which is Part 2 of The Diversity of Utah Landscapes in Color, is about flowers.

For some people, flower photography is the bread and butter of what they do. I’ve never considered myself a flower photographer, but in the spring and summer when there are beautiful blossoms all around, it’s hard not to find it an interesting subject for the camera. Utah seems like an especially good place to capture the blooming beauty, as there are many lush flower gardens and plentiful wildflowers to choose from, including sometimes one’s own front or backyard.

Flowers:

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Vibrant Flowerbed – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 4/29/2019

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Little Blooms, Big Blooms – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 4/18/2017

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Urban Flowers – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 4/18/2017

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Summer Sun Blossoms – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – 7/10/2018

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At the Edge of the In-Between – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 5/28/2017

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Dark Rose Blossom – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 6/13/2019

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Drops of Water on a Lily – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 7/2/2018

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Yellow Tipped Petal Bloom – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 6/22/2018

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Beeutiful – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 6/17/2018

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Purple Flower Petals – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 5/28/2017

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Purple Macro – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 10/2/2018

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Bloom Purple – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 6/1/2019

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Butterfly Bloom – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 10/2/2018

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Red Tulip – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 5/4/2018

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Tulips – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 4/18/2017

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Tulip Bloom – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 4/18/2017

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Tulips by the Creek – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 4/18/2017

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Blossoms By The Pond – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 5/4/2018

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Flowers By The Stream – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – 5/4/2018

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Field of Flowers – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – 4/29/2019

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Thoughts On Samsung’s 108 Megapixel Sensor + How It Relates To Fujifilm

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We Will Deliver – Rosamond, CA – Nokia Lumia 1020

Samsung announced (in conjunction with Xiaomi) that they have made an 108-megapixel 1/1.33-inch camera sensor that will soon be found inside of cellphones. At first glance it sounds absurd. What kind of image quality could it possibly have? How ugly will it be above base ISO? How much resolution do you really need for social media posts? But there are some interesting innovations that might someday be applied to Fujifilm cameras, so let’s take a closer look.

How this new sensor directly relates to Fujifilm is that it’s an ISOCELL Plus sensor, which requires a materiel developed by Fujifilm, and only Fujifilm has this material. What Samsung did with it is develop a sensor that has less “cross talk” between pixels, which improves color accuracy, dynamic range, high-ISO capabilities and fine-detail rendering. Essentially, it allows smaller pixels to perform similar to larger pixels. You can put 108 million teeny-tiny light sensitive sensor elements on a small sensor with ISOCELL Plus, and it will perform similar to 108 million larger-but-still-quite-small light sensitive sensor elements on a little bit larger sensor without this technology. Whether the lens will be able to resolve that much detail, as it will need to be a heck-of-a-sharp lens, remains to be seen, but if it can, that would be quite the leap in cellphone camera technology.

I used to have a Nokia Lumia 1020 cellphone, and the phone itself wasn’t especially great, but the camera, with a 41-megapixel 1/1.5-inch sensor and Zeiss lens, was surprisingly good. Well, sort of. It had a very narrow margin, as you needed to stay close to base ISO, and the dynamic range was small, but in the right situations it delivered stunning pictures that you’d never guess came from a cellphone. I have no idea if Xiaomi’s phone with the new 108-megapixel sensor will be similar or not, but it might be, and it might even be better.

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Energy – Tehachapi, CA – Nokia Lumia 1020

Aside from ISOCELL Plus, the other interesting innovation from Samsung with this sensor is quad-Bayer array. Instead of the typical two green, one red and one blue Bayer square arrangement, this has a four green times two, four red and four blue square arrangement, with the four pixels of the same color next to each other in a square. The idea is that the four same-color pixels can be merged through software into one pixel, turning the camera into a 27-megapixel traditional Bayer array. Why wouldn’t Samsung use larger light sensitive sensor elements and set the megapixel count at 27? Why do this weird tiny-pixel quad-Bayer pixel-merge thing? Well, it allows software to do some interesting tricks. For example, it can capture up to four independent 27-megapixel exposures simultaneously and blend them together, extending dynamic range, reducing noise, and/or increasing high-ISO capabilities. Or, if the dynamic range doesn’t need extended, and the noise doesn’t need to be reduced, and the ISO doesn’t need to be increased, it can produce a very large fine-detailed full-resolution picture.

Slowly the technological advancements of the small sensor world trickle up to larger sensors, and someday a version of ISOCELL Plus and pixel-merge could very well be found in Fujifilm cameras. What might this look like? If you were to take this same Samsung chip and increase it to APS-C size, it would have roughly 216-megapixels, and would deliver a pixel-merged 54-megapixel image. I’m sure, however, that there would be a reduction in noise performance, dynamic range and high-ISO over current X-Trans sensors, and, even with the excellent Fujinon lenses available, the question of whether that much detail can be resolved would still need to be answered. What I see more likely to happen is sensor elements being used that are twice as large as those on the tiny Samsung chip, and an APS-C sensor with 108-megapixels produced, which could be pixel-merged to 27-megapixels. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe a quad-X-Trans array is possible. Essentially, it might be feasible to have nearly identical resolution as X-Trans IV, but with improved dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities, and the option for full-resolution 108-megapixel pictures when the ISO is under a certain amount (say, ISO 640). It’s still questionable whether or not Fujinon lenses can take advantage of that much resolution, but even if it is “only” able to produce resolution equivalent to 50-megapixels, that’s still double what it is now. If ISOCELL Plus and pixel-merge ever do come to Fujifilm X, it could very well be a game-changer type of thing. Or perhaps the required processing power and heat dispersion are too difficult to overcome, and it never makes its way to larger sensor cameras. Time will tell.