Toy, but not.

I have a Fuji x100 camera—the original version—and I love it. Its cool looks, its brilliant dual-mode viewfinder (optical or electronic); and more.

Fuji X100 (Photo: Michael Willems)

But the one niggle has been its image quality, or the lack thereof. Everyone raved about it; I found it average, if that.

Until I set it up correctly.

And here’s what works for me:

  • First, upgrade the firmware to the recent version, 2.10. To see what you have, turn off, then press DISP/BACK while turning ON.
  • Set image quality to RAW + Large/Fine JPG.
  • Set Film Simulation to B/W plus Red Filter (or B/W plus Ye Filter).
  • Set focus to Manual (using the switch by the lens).
  • Set MF ASSIST to Focus Peak Highlight—High.
  • Set Sharpness to M-Hard.
  • Set NOISE REDUCTION to LOW.

The latter one is essential; the built-in noise reduction makes it look a little plastic. With these settings, I get excellent images even at high ISO values.

B/W is of course an option; I like top shoot B/W, but because I shoot RAW plus JPG, the RAW image still contains all the colours, so I can do my own conversion, or go back to colour, as I desire.

Learn how to use it. E.g. macro mode can be activated by simply hitting the macro button twice; no extra confirmation steps are needed.

Manual focus is a misnomer: in this setting it can be manual focus, but you can also just focus by pressing the AFL/AEL button on the back. So it is really “autofocus by separate back button, or manual if you like”.

This setup is essential in that it gives me excellent image quality and convenience in focusing and general use. Now, it is even more a great camera. Excellent for street photography, general use—or cats.

 

Fuji Happiness

Those of you who have a Fuji X100 APC-C sized small camera: the new 1.30 firmware is out. Maybe it has been for a while – reminder to self to check regularly!  Download it from here.

Then upgrade, ignoring the Fuji instructions – you do not need the extra file. Just the FPUPDATE.DAT file. Once you have that:

  1. Insert a fully charged NP-95 battery into your X100.
  2. Format your SD card in your camera. (Backup your data first!)
  3. Connect the card to your computer.
  4. Copy the FPUPDATE.DAT file to the root directory of the SD card.
  5. Insert the SD card into your camera.
  6. Turn the camera on while holding down the [BACK] button to start the firmware update process, and follow the on screen instructions.

You will need to reset date/time and all custom fuctions.

And you will now have a camera with a few major upgrades since last year. Among them:

  • Better Autofocus
  • The RAW button can now be used as a programmable Function button too – thank God!
  • Many bugfixes and other small functionality improvements

Fuji has a winner with the X100, as I have said before – more importantly, Fuji, unlike some other camera makers:

  1. Listens to its customers;
  2. Acts quickly to implement their requests;
  3. Sees  an expensive camera like the X100 as an ongoing project, not as a “I’ve sold it and now on tho the next project”

…all of which I find very refreshing!

 

Sin against the rules?

Two questions.

First: Can you shoot an aquarium whose glass is dirty? Like this?

Furthermore, can you do that using a wide angle lens instead of a macro lens? And when there is little light? At high ISO? Surely not.

Yes, you can. Provided that you:

  1. Get close to the glass - very close. This defocuses the dirt.
  2. Do not overexpose (underexposure makes black blacker, and hence helps make grey dirt go away).
  3. Ensure that behind you, it is dark, so you avoid reflections.
  4. Shoot at fairly low F-numbers.
  5. Are patient.
  6. Are willing to do a little post work if needed (to makes blacks darker and whites brighter).

Examples here – shot this morning with my Fuji X100 camera with fixed 23mm lens (equivalent to 35mm), at f/5.6, 1/60th second, at 800 ISO.

800 ISO? Is that not grainy? Well, apparently it is quite acceptable.

(More aquarium tips elsewhere on this site – search for “aquarium” on the right.)

Next question. Can you shoot JPG and get quality?

No. Yes. Wait. Of course you can. As long as you get the shot right!

On the Fuji I tend to shoot JPG, against all my usual advice - because I tend to get everything right (white balance, exposure, and so on). And these are usually not client shots, hence I feel I can just shoot JPG, unless they are for publication.

So the above shots were shot as JPGs. So yes, it can be done – though I would normally recommend RAW, since more mistakes can be fixed more easily. But when you have to, and have the ability to consistently get “close enough”, you can indeed shoot JPG. QED.

 

Fuji X100 update

Those of you who have a Fuji X100: the new 1.11 firmware is out. Download it from here.

Then upgrade, ignoring the Fuji instructions – you do not need the extra file. Just the FPUPDATE.DAT file. Once you have that:

  1. Insert a fully charged NP-95 battery into your X100.
  2. Format your SD card in your camera. (Backup your data first!)
  3. Connect the card to your computer.
  4. Copy the FPUPDATE.DAT file to the root directory of the SD card.
  5. Insert the SD card into your camera.
  6. Turn the camera on while holding down the [BACK] button to start the firmware update process, and follow the on screen instructions.

You will need to reset date/time and all custom fuctions.

And you will now have a camera with faster close-by AF.

 

Eyes Skyward

Want a dramatic sky?

Dramatic sky in Oakville (Photo: Michael Willems)

The simply do the following:

  1. Aim at the sky – fill your entire viewfinder with it.
  2. Lock your exposure, by pressing the “AE-L” button (Nikon) or “*” button (Canon).
  3. Aim down to compose the way you want.
  4. Focus on a close-by object (by pressing the shutter half way and holding it after the beep).
  5. Shoot!

Simple, innit?

And there are two ways to do this:

  • If you turn on your flash, the close by object gets lit up, as in the above image I took in Oakville on a walk, with my excellent Fuji X100.
  • If, on the other hand, you did not turn the flash on, the close by objects would now all be silhouettes. Which can also be nice.

You’re the boss-  which is what photography is all about!