Saturday, April 16, 2016

Photograph with an "S" (Fujifilm X-E2S): The essssence of photography

The Fujifilm X-E2Ssss...

If you came time to time to visit this blog you may have already notice my passion to photography which in fact is the essence of the message behind those illucubrations of mine. We see thinks, subjects, moods that we want to freeze in time and in mind and represent them after.Yes photography is a visual interpretation of our personal realities. Everybody can add to this fantastic mosaic of flashes of life.

And between you and your subject there is the "tool". For the painter it is the canvas, the colours and the brush. In photography it is the camera i.e. the device which we use to register our pictures. It can be simple like the original stenope or very complex like our actual digital cameras. For many a creative tool should be inspiring, should be the extension of our mind and soul that will allow us to express our originality of reframing, recompose and reorganize our representation of the living.

And a tool that can be raffine is something rare to find especially in this time of short consuming. That is why I fully appreciate the Fujifilm approach to allow many upgrades of their products. Yes they have also a classical way of designing cameras in the sense of the modern compact model that have been started with the event of 35mm film photography. This heritage is fully assumed by Fujifilm and the people behind the logo.

My previous post Fujifilm X-E2: The digital rangefinder without rangefinder  was my introduction  to the Fujifilm world of ILC X-Mount Series.  For sure the X-E1 have rightly preceded the second version but as usual I was late to discover the concept.

Working in the past with some Leica rangefinder models like the M4-P and the M6, I was curious to experiment the digital interpretation of those modern  and classic compact cameras.By today standards the M4-P and M6 would be no more really so-call compact cameras in the external dimensions and  relatively heavy weight but comparing with their medium format cousins they were small device as for their line of taking lenses. I think it has been a fondamental inspiration when Fujifilm designers begin to draw the first esquisses of the future ILC X-Mount Series.

The viewfinder schools: On-Off axis (action photography vs contextual) and about EVF
Are you an off-axis or an on-axis viewfinder devotee? Without discussing about the pro and con of each viewfinder location, we can advance that on-axis viewfinder are better designed for following action when using telephoto lenses. Off-axis viewfinder seem to be a better tool for contextual photography and by revealing a good part of the photographer's face it create a more intimate interrelation with the (live) subject.
Using EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) technology is different from the classical optical way (rangefinder or reflex) because it represent to a certain extent the final result extracted from your image captor. "What you, what you get" is more accurate especially in Black and White. Composition of your picture can be carefully done at the taking moment. For statical subject it is a perfect tool. In action photography you must concentrate your attention on your viewfinder rendering because of the processing delay of the picture. Simply put EVF offer you a representation of the instant past.
My only big prevention about EVF in general is the more contrasty image presented in comparison of the final picture. Because of that I have on several occasions that I have adjusted my picture expectation with an overall higher level of contrast that has to be corrected by editing the final photo file.

Modern direct dial control.
Modern direct dial controllers are the digital interpretation of the traditional film manual camera control setting for the exposure and the focus. Even if automatic setting options are now very reliable and even better than human evaluation many photographers still prefer to introduce their exposure or focus bias. Except for ISO selection all other manual controls are available on the Fujifilm X-E2S and are presented usually on the fashion manner of the past camera, You can easily parameter your shutter speed or your aperture (for most of the XF X-Mount lenses). Focus can be done manually by using either the viewfinder or the back screen. All the critical informations are clearly presented. So you can preselect your  exposure setting without actually looking  at the viewfinder/screen (Camera off if you want to save battery life). The exposure correction dial with direct appreciation on the viewfinder/back screen is also a very handy and creative  photographic tool.

Color and canvas model interpretation
That is one of the strongest advantage to use Fujifilm X  products. You can really select the color palette that will fit with your specific need. Fujifilm is really into the imaging business at first and is dedicating its products mainly for that purpose.

Lenses and lenses
Since the Fujifilm X-E2S is an ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) you can select any lenses available from the Fujifilm X-Mount Series. If you are looking for a very compact package you can try the Fujinon XF 27mm F2.8 lens. Except for its modest maximum aperture of F2.8 the 27mm lens is a good all-around optic that give a lot of  photographic opportunities.To a certain extent the same advantage apply for most of the short and normal fix focal lengths offered by Fujifilm. The zoom lens models are also another optical option especially for the trans-standard ones that are giving you larger focal range in one device which can be appreciated on travel for example.  The telephoto zoom options are somewhat big customers for a compact camera like the X-E2S especially considering its off-axis viewfinder but it works. A moderated fix focal telephoto like the Fujinon XF 60mm F2.4 is an excellent portrait option and a very efficient discriminating lens.
When you are considering the purchase of an ILC you have to question yourself about the lens combination you are looking for because it can dictate your camera choice at the end. Fujifilm offers you the two viewfinder options, on and off axis which is very appreciated.

Handling and body size
The Fujifilm X-E2S is a very light camera. If I am using the camera in combination of an heavier lens my left hand is becoming the main assise of the lens in order to maintain a correct balance of the set. With fixed shot or normal focal lenses the camera offer you a pleasant and small package that can be fully appreciated in doing spontaneous photography (street, candid, travel, etc.) Space around the right hand side is limited and unwanted function button activation may occur. Adding a grip can help but the most confortable one is the first model (HG-XE1) only available now in used equipment. The view finder and the back screen are efficient tools. The  back screen doesn't need to be direct view with is compensating for the absence of a tilting option.

Auto-focus and reactivity
Focusing on subject is part of the selective processing when you are composing your final photograph. Since the camera is not directly link with your brain it is still a difficult task to select and lock on the object or subject that has been chosen by the operator. Most traditional and pre visible subject are now well covered by the automatic focusing modern system.

Flash, in-board, external on-camera and off-camera
The Fujifilm X-E2S is doted of an in-board small flash that can serve as an emergency unit or more likely as a fill-in flash very contrasty front light situation. The flash power can be adjusted via the flat compensation option which is better to be added to the Quick menu selection for faster access. Flash photography is now less usual in spontaneous photography. It is now more related with creative photography (studio style) as a discriminative light source. In that case off-camera flash units offer a better control of the effect intended and many devices combinations are available on the market and as rental opportunities.

The revenge of B&W photography (!)
One of a nicest thing to do with Fujifilm cameras is Black & White photography. You can choose to do it right from the start or later in post-production editing. With the help of the Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) you will see in real time the final result of your picture. So doing B&W photography has never been so constructive since the event of digital camera and EVF. Monochrome picture representations are here to stay as a major visual sub-art in concentrating your attention to graphic composition and the light contrast and repartition.


X-E2S: A fashion camera? Yes because we are fashion people!
Fashion is at first a way of doing or be something.  It can be purely utilitarian or on the other simply frivolous. Qualifying the Fujifilm X-E2S as a fashion camera in trying to underestimate its creative qualities is simply the expression of personal dislike for this type of design. Because every (photographic) tool is also a cultural and social expression. The most important factor is that the Fujifilm X-E2S is beautiful photographic device from which we create interesting pictures.

Surely the Fujifilm X-E2S can be an inspiration to do photography at least for a certain kind of person. I will never contest that others models are or seem to be better performer in specifics aspects of their operating features. Nobody is perfect and it is true that things tend to get more sophisticated with time. But the "S" sense of the X-E2S is to be a productive tool of photographic expression.