Friday, July 5, 2013

DSLR vs Mirror-less? Really? My introduction to mirror-less photography...An eye opener

Good Friday from Prospect. Looks like summer has finally found us, and it's hot.

Today's post is more on the review side than anything else. I don't do reviews as a practice but if gear falls into my hands I'm all about it.

For those of you who have been following me for a while you'll recall I purchased a Canon G1X in April of 2012. I was looking for something light weight that gave me decent resolution on a C-size sensor that had the manual controls I need when I shoot but would be light and fit in a small case or pocket. Unobtrusive.

Canon 5D mark 1 50mm f1.4
click here for full size jpeg
My choice at that time was that G1X and for the most part it gave me what I wanted for a reasonable price. The kit, with filter adapters and such, took me into the under 1000.00 range. It has fully manual adjustments using readily available dials and buttons right on the body with almost no need to go into menus. It has 2 Custom, saveable setting groups for quick set-up, not unlike my Canon 5D M2. Sensor has a ratio of 1.8, slightly smaller than a typical C-size DSLR at 1.5 crop. Lens was a fixed zoom at 15.5 - 60mm (28 - 115 approx) with an aperture of f2.8 - 5.6.

This camera worked well for me and introduced me to mirror-less cameras without a big bundle out of pocket and no fuss about glass. I've shot everything from the Route Halifax Saint-Pierre race to the Tall ships primarily for this blog with potential to print (resolution is 14.3mp and shoots jpeg + RAW).

Canon 5D mark 2 Sigma 50mm f1.4
click here for full size jpeg

But as any photographer will tell you, stick to the gear you have and only move as you grow and can afford. At the time of my purchase I was trading/selling all my Pentax gear (that story is in the past and you can read about it HERE).

So the cost wasn't significant. But at the same time the Fuji X100 and XPro 1 were out at a significantly higher investment and just didn't fit what I was looking for at the time. I needed to learn what the fuss was about.

Now fast forward the June 2013. Time to move up. I had the G1X long enough to understand what I really did and didn't like about that camera and knew what I wanted. 

Fuji XPro-1 Fuji 35mm f1.4
click here for full size jpeg
I have no issues about the whole mirror-less concept, which as far as I'm concerned it is just a reincarnation of the range finder with a live view LCD on the back. Call them point and shoots if you will but that really doesn't describe them. I know of a bunch of DSLRs that fit that point and shoot description. If you're sticking your camera on auto everything, regardless on interchangeable lenses, it's a point and shoot. Hell, a cardboard, film,  pin hole camera is as close to a point and shoot as you can get.

Canon 5D mark1 Canon 16-35-II f2.8
click here for full size jpeg

Now to the review part. The problem I had with the Canon G1X was, to be honest, minor to most. Manual focus was truly non existent, the optical view finder is a joke and if I wasn't shooting stand still subject matter it just fought focus all the way. You need to really think about your focus and framing beyond the usual. Simply zooming in ever so slightly to reframe would change your aperture which would adjust your depth of field which would change your composition and on and on. Not cool! But it did have a leaf shutter and if I were to use it in a studio setting that would work. But that's not what that camera is about. They're about shooting without flash, for the most part, with available light. Street photography is where they belong.

Mind you, once I took the shot it gave me above average quality. I do compare these to top end DSLRs, that I use to put food on the table, so I'm a lot fussy.

Canon 5D mark2 Canon 16-35 II f2.8
click here for full size jpeg
Well I'm glad I chose this route of seeing if I could really rely on such a camera. June I traded in my G1X for a Fuji XPro-1. The pricing has dropped significantly and the control and quality are stunning.

Some say they are willing to give up their DSLRs for this camera. I can't say that much, unless you're comparing any of the crop sensor DSLRs on the market today. Then yeah, dump em.

I shoot with full frame Canon 5D M2 and M1. Those full frame sensors are tough to beat. They're not about resolution (being 21mp and 12mp respectively) they're about fidelity. They're about buttery mid-tones and smooth flesh-tones. And nothing beats full frame for Bokeh, especially with the right lens. 

But I've gotta tell ya this thing just performs. I doubt, IMHO, there is any C-size DSLR that can knock this camera off it's pedestal. It has every control at your finger tips, 16mp res on Fuji's new xtrans CMOS, c-size sensor. That means no anti aliasing filter in from to blur the image to get rid of moire. If you're not sure what that means it simply means sharp images right out of the gate without weird patterns from things like clothing patterns, house siding and fences to name a few.

I've posted 6 images on this post with links to the full high-res for you to view. All high res Jpegs exported from Lightroom with nothing more than  a watermark and identifying titles. All were shot in manual mode as set by one of my hand held incedent light meters to make these fair. All were RAW+jpeg modes in fine at 2000/sec, f4.5 and ISO 200. The lenses I used were Fuji's 35mm f1.4, Fuji14mm f2.8 on the xpro 1,  Canons 16-35 II f2.8 and my Sigma 50mm f1.4 (best 50mm lens on the market, bar none, IMHO) on the mark 1 and 2. The only unfair thing here is the 16-35mm ( Only wide angle I have for my Canons. I don't own the Canon 14mm f2.8. Just don't have that bread). It is a zoom which inherently don't produce the sharpness of a prime lens so the real comparison is the 50mm vs the 35 (53mm on fuji crop sensor, sort of).

Fuji XPro-1 Fuji 14mm f2.8
click here for full size jpeg
I did notice that the fuji raw from sensor colour balance is a bit colder than the Canon ones (maybe it's just how Lightroom translates the raw file). But quite expected if you are familiar with fuji as a film company. It's where they live in colour balance. I made a point to not adjust it to be fair. The colour rendition of the jpegs are much closer but since each camera modifies the image to produce the jpeg, and I've adjusted my set-ups to be closer than default, I thought that didn't make a good comparison.

I've also included a screen shot of file sizes from the three digital cameras at my disposal. If the RAW file sizes are any indication of information these are chalk full of data. This is definitely game changing technology.

Anyway you be the judge. I'll be carrying this thing every where and should be at a full comfort level real soon.

If you have any comments don't be shy. I'd love to hear them.

Enjoy, Derek

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