The fast compact normal conundrum

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I’ve been receiving a lot of email lately. This in itself is not unusual, but it appears that something I quietly bought has stirred the pot somewhat. You see, I’m now a Fuji user (again; I owned the first original X100 in Malaysia, and an X20 and XF1 and XQ1 since). The Fuji fanboys have always said I was biased and paid by the other companies not to use Fuji; the other fanboys have now started emailing me saying I sold out. Sorry guys, the simple truth is nothing so exciting. I bought an X-T1 at retail from my usual dealer in KL with my own money. Two things changed: firstly, ACR in its very latest iteration appears to have changed something in the soup to make X-trans file workflow at least acceptable, if not perfect; secondly, the fast compact normal conundrum demanded a solution.

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We have no end of choices when it comes to compacts. We have fewer choices with large sensor compacts, though this has been continually improving to the current embarrassment of riches, with even Sony squeezing full frame into what I’d consider ‘compact enough’. And we’ve even got interchangeable lens system options that are often smaller than their fixed-lens counterparts, like the Panasonic GM1 and GM5. And then there are the fixed-fast-zoom-1″ (or M4/3, in the LX100 and D Lux 109) cameras such as the RX100III, Canon G series, etc. I haven’t even gotten to the really interesting speciality stuff like the fixed-lens wides (Ricoh GR and Coolpix A – now dirt cheap) or the curveballs (Sigma Merrills and Quattros).

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Ignoring, or being ignored?

There’s good and bad here: for the most part, the matched lens-sensor combinations are really good, exceeding what you’d expect at a system synergy level compared to interchangeables. This is because the lens is obviously designed for the sensor, and usually has a rear element that’s extremely close to the sensor both out of size considerations and to correct for telecentricity – especially at the corners. The bad is that the zooms are always compromised in some way because size or speed is a priority (or worse, both) and there are optical compromises; or the makers try to cram in the kitchen sink (for example, the Sony RX10) and do a very good job…except the camera lands up being DSLR-sized. None of these are really problems for the casual snap shooter or hobbyist because they probably lack the experience with the really good stuff anyway; but for serious photographers, it can be frustrating.

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Firstly, we must abandon the idea of being happy with a Swiss Army Knife: there are too many tradeoffs (that said, if Panasonic had used the 1″ sensor from the FZ1000 in the LX100, I think they’d have a real winner). There is simply no way that a compact ‘universal’ can do the same things a larger, more specialised tool can. So, we look for a scalpel, or a single size screwdriver with a forged blade. It won’t do everything, but what it does do…it will do well. I’d personally rather have a camera with a very well defined shooting envelope in which I am completely happy with the results rather than something which I’m never quite satisfied with.

On the wide end, we have no end of choices – even for the 21 or 28mm lover; there’s the GR, Coolpix A, DP1 Merrill and DP1 Quattro, and the Ricoh GW3 21mm converter which can be adapted to fit all, and is surprisingly very good. All options have excellent optics – again, matched lenses are especially beneficial at the wide end – mostly embarrassing their DSLR equivalents. I’ve pretty much given up on using 28mm lenses on my DSLR because the GR is just more convenient, and doesn’t give up much (if at all) in the way of image quality. Clients have certainly never complained about those files. If you like 35mm, then it’s just down to the depth of your pockets – take your pick between the X100T and the RX1R.

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A little glow

I’ve always wanted something a bit longer, though. It matches the way my eyes see especially when abstracting things out from the background. Too wide and you lose the ability to stack elements; too short and your perspective becomes too dominant. And depending on your use of foreground and background, a ~50mm lens can be made to ‘read’ like either a wide or a tele. But when you get into the mid or tele ranges, the options shrink dramatically. Granted, a longer lens is less flexible than a wider one, and would probably need IS and/or a viewfinder for stability; but seriously guys, how hard can it be to have a 45 or 50mm large-sensor compact? We had plenty of these in the film days; it was much cheaper and easier to make a good fast normal than a good wide. We really only have two fixed-lens choices: a Sigma DP2, or the X100S/T and TC. The Sigmas are out simply because of the slow workflow, and the cameras have such a small shooting envelope and requires a degree of care to shoot that precludes it from being in the ‘fun’ category of camera; if I want to be that serious, I’ll use the Otus or 45 PCE. This leaves us with the X100 variants and TC. The X100T has refined the original X100 into something that’s extremely responsive and very flexible (the original one was so slow as to be unusable) – and I honestly considered this as an option. However, the price put me off; adding the 50mm TC put me off even more. Firstly, the size ballooned to the point that I was not far off a D750 and 40/45 pancake. Hmmm.

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Nonthreatening urban canyon

I need to back up a bit: why a ‘fun’ category normal in the first place? Firstly, my personal needs aren’t the same as most people’s. I could use any of my current cameras with the appropriate lens on the front – say a D810/55 Otus, or 645Z/55 SDM – but those aren’t exactly good social or family cameras, and believe it or not, there are actually times when I want to carry something that isn’t that heavy or obtrusive because I’m going out to do something else other than photography – but there might be a small chance I see something. So the image quality has to be good enough, just in case – most of these images were made when I had no intention of photographing. The camera should be therefore small and unobtrusive, and it certainly can’t be frustrating in operation. If Ricoh would make say a 55mm GR with EVF, I’d be happy. Or even a 2x TC for the current one, for that matter. Stability might be an issue, but then I’d probably be tempted to get an external finder. Needless to say, the wide end is taken care of; but often you want something a bit longer for the change in perspective – we don’t need hundreds of millimetres for compression, and that would increase size to silly levels anyway, but certainly more than 35. And honestly, there’s very little you can’t photograph with a good wide/normal combination. (You could probably even get away with just the normal and a little creative handheld stitching, for that matter.)

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Given the defined requirements – which I think are specific enough to narrow things down, and probably match a lot of people’s primary requirements (assuming quality pixels, you really don’t need >12MP unless you’re printing seriously or seriously large). Our lack of fixed-lens choices puts us back into interchangeables – small DSLRs or mirrorless. Up to this point, my solution has been to throw the 45/2.8P manual focus pancake or AFS 50/1.8 G onto one of the DSLR bodies. It’s smaller, but not small. They are ‘bag cameras’ rather than ‘coat pocket’ cameras.

This leaves us with very basic small DSLRs like the Canon SL1/EOS 100D and Nikon D3300; I really liked the former with the 40/2.8 pancake, but the viewfinder was rather off-putting, and any lens options other than the 40 and 24 pancakes made size balloon. I thus looked at the range of mirrorless options. Basically, pick your sensor size/ glass, and then pick your body according to the functions you need. I’m happy with a basic body because I just want a spot meter, RAW and an EVF; most bodies have this anyway. Glass isn’t that much of a problem either, because all of the mirrorless systems were designed recently from the ground up, and don’t have any really poor lenses. The lens-sensor synergy is at work again, and in some cases, produces results that sing. You even have AF Zeiss options for the Sony and Fuji cameras.

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Parent and child

Although the GM5 was tempting, that sensor is getting a bit long in the tooth and starting to show it; and again, we are limited by lens choices. The Olympus 25/1.8 is really the only choice for a fast normal of moderate size (I owned a 20/1.7 and it was just too close to a 35mm EFOV for my liking). I guess there is such a thing as too small: ergonomically, the body just didn’t quite feel right to me when held to my face to use the EVF. I landed up poking myself in the eye, which meant back to arms’ length – this is a no-go for stability and longer lenses.

I suppose people are wondering why I didn’t just buy an A7II or A7R and call it a day. Firstly, price. These two cameras are expensive enough – with lenses – that we’re looking at something that must be put into service beyond just fun (again, for me, anyway). And I don’t see either of them displacing my D800/810/750 just yet – perhaps a future iteration. And my evaluation of the A7R gave less than satisfactory results in shutter vibration and tonal compression, especially across large areas of smooth transition such as skies. I took a serious look at the A6000, but honestly – and this is entirely personal – didn’t really like the haptics. A pretty good sensor and excellent feature set at a very impressive price, though. If it’s comfortable in your hands, I think it’s probably a bit of a bargain especially at current sale prices.

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This really only leaves one option, doesn’t it? I’ve always liked the X-T1’s ergonomics; my one main objection to Fuji in the past has been workflow; either batch via a third party converter and still have to bring files into PS to finish, or suffer a terrible ACR impressionist water-colour mess. It appears that this is no longer the case – whilst Iridient still does a better job than ACR, the latest version – 8.7 at time of writing – appears to have made quite decent improvements. The ACR/X-trans weak point has always been color bleeding and rendering hard edges – this now appears to be gone, and high ISO performance is decent, too. Not as good as the out of camera JPEGs, but there’s more detail and no strange colours. Bottom line: it’s workable, and good. My benchmark for APS-C image quality at a system (lens-sensor pairing, workflow) level is still the GR; I now have a workflow that lets me get within spitting distance now with the Fuji/ACR combination. And that’s a good thing, because the Zeiss 1.8/32 Touit is proving to be a very nice lens indeed… MT

Coda: The images in this article were shot with a mix of normal lenses; there may have been one or two with a 28, too. I can be very happy on a casual walk with something light and flexible. And this frequently what we need for a reboot of the photographic brain, especially when you do it for a living. Also, I’m sure plenty are going to ask a) am I going to review the X-T1, and b) why Zeiss lenses. The answer is once I’ve shot with it enough, and spent enough time evaluating workflow under a wide range of conditions. Zeiss – because for this camera I’m really only interested in one focal length, and of the options I’ve tried so far, I rather like the microcontrast and rendering of the Zeiss.


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  1. I totally agree. I have wished for a lx100/x100/GR/ Coolpix A/ rx100 etc. with a fast (1.4-1.8) 50-60mm equivalent fixed prime since these cameras got out. Why do they gave to be former over the same 2 lens molds – wide prime or fast zoom..

    • The closest we’ve gotten so far are bulky adaptors (X100), crop modes (GR, Q) or the rest of the camera having a very limited envelope (Sigma). Still no dice…I am back to my compact cheap DSLR and a 40 pancake.

      • Henrik Jansberg says:

        I am still looking 🙂 I chosed the lx100 because of the focal length in the long end. However the ideal camera for me would still be a GR with a 55mm (equiv) f1.8 prime..
        Everybody has phones with nice bright primes (wide angle) so why can’t the cameramanufactures see this hole in the market?

  2. Ming,

    Would 40mm equivalent be too wide for a normal lens? – Eric

  3. So Ming, if you are back to Nikon, what lens do you find complements best the GR, the 50 or the 85? I would bet the 85…

    • Actually it depends on where/what I’m shooting. Some locations have more space and need longer; others shorter. That said, I’m either using the 45P or 85 Otus.

  4. Having shot for ages with a 50mm (even named my site after my favorite Summicron;, and tired of lugging around a 5D with the (lovely) 50 1.2L, I sold the lot and went RX1.

    I used to abhor 35. Now I’m starting to get it. I still use it mostly like a 50, but it has a nice way of letting you have elements poking in around the frame to enhance the subject. I find it to be a great storyteller.

    Still, I pine for a 50mm RX1, or better still, a compact FF Leica with a fixed 50. They could call it the Bresson.

    Glad to see another photographer who appreciates the 50.

  5. Apparently, the Fuji didn’t work out for…I see that you’ve sold it. Do you have the X100T?

    • No, the reversed dials compared to the Nikons drove me mad and made me miss a lot of shots. Never bought the X100T, I don’t get along with the 35mm FOV.

  6. Hi Ming, great article as always. Two comments you made caught my attention:

    “all cameras need profiling” and the GR colour is not as good as the Nikon A.

    I am a GR user, the colour is the one thing I would change. But I have never produced a satisfactory result. Is your GR profile available or is there material you have re a systematic guide to profiling?

    Thanks and HNY 2015

    • Profiles are as much to personal taste and artist signature as anything else…so making your own is probably the best way to go. It will be in the new PS workflow video I’m working on, along with a few other new techniques to handle challenging color processing 🙂

  7. I don’t understand what’s wrong with the Panasonic 25mm ƒ/1.4. It has great image quality and isn’t big, either. I think it has the perfect size (the 20mm is too small for my taste), and a great focus ring. The Touit doesn’t look any smaller judging from product images. If the GM5 is too small for you, the GX7 should be perfect.

    I’m not saying those are better than any of the other options – I’m just wondering why you ruled them out. Have fun with your X-T1 though! I’m really envious of the EVF. 🙂

    • I don’t personally like the rendering, and all the copies I’ve seen have had CA at f1.4 which seriously affect edge separation/ transitions. Plus the M4/3 size sensor is noticeably limited in DR, noise, color accuracy compared to larger sizes – I should know after 60k+ exposures on two E-M5s, two E-M1s and an E-PM1…in short: been there, never quite did it for me.

  8. Ming, glad to see you are giving the Fuji X-T1 a try. I have it and love it. I am very interested to see your post processing thoughts (LR vs Iridient vs Capture One) and printing experience. I picked up the Zeiss Touts when they were on fire sale last summer knowing that I was going to pick up an X-T1 a bit later. I love the 32mm f1.8 Zeiss. There is something about the way the images look to me. And I am not a pixel peeper who spends lots of time looking at test charts, etc. There is just something about the rendering of the 12 and the 32 to me. I have never compared Fuji’s 35mm and have no desire to as I am happy with the Touit look. Thanks for a great article and love the photographs.

    • Thanks. Iridient does better with absolute image quality, but is much slower than LR. I don’t like the C1 color profiles; it falls somewhere in between the two.

  9. John McMillin says:

    The Zeiss Touits don’t get enough attention and credit for the marvels they are, IMHO. Especially in Fujiland. After X-camera owners delightedly discovered the high quality of native Fuji lenses, few seemed to go on to sample the Zeiss options. Fuji cameras are unique enough to inspire strong brand loyalty, which is probably also a factor in the Touits’ low profile. But I snuck into the X- system through the back door first, with the x10, and then through the valet entrance, when the US price of the 12 and 32 were dropped by half last year. I’ve looked at the Fuji lenses, and I’m sure I would have been satisfied with them. But the Touits are more compact and lightweight, surprisingly unlike other Zeiss lenses.

    With the Touits, I’m now searching for a reason to keep my Sony a850 and its choice Minolta lenses. The XP1 and Touits surpass that for detail. When I enlarge a good Touit image, I run out of pixels before the image runs out of detail.

    I thought I noticed somethings special about your latest images. Now I may know why!

    • I have to say that for the most part, there is really something in the Zeiss microcontrast…I suspect it’s to do with the coatings and resultant color.

      • bluetwango says:

        You could expect even the best lens manufacturers to vary in this aspect of optical performance. Most other measures of a lens, like resolution, distortion and CA, are judged against objective standards (favoring more of the first and less of the other two). Contrast performance is more of a subjective parameter, which may be more clear to the artists than the engineers. I can’t say what makes my Touit images so rich and immediate and special, but I know it’s there.

      • Ming, I don’t know if you’ll have the opportunity–perhaps you could borrow a lens at one of your workshops–but with your ability to push the resolution of a lens I’d love to see a comparison between a Zeiss Touit and the corresponding Fuji lens. Especially the 32mm vs the 35mm.

        I’ve read numerous reviews–both the technical will full optical testing and the subjective–and I haven’t seen a clear winner. I’ve been tempted by the Zeiss for a long time but owning and enjoying the Fuji 35mm I haven’t been able to justify the purchase. Now that the Zeiss is frequently available used for $400-$450 US I should probably just buy one to see for myself, but I’d still love to see you wring them out.

        • Not planning to for now; if I travel and there are things I’ll only get a chance to shoot once and probably want to print, I’m bringing the big guns. Sadly modern travel restrictions mean paring things down to the absolute minimum weight.

  10. I hope you enjoy the Fuji. I converted from Canon a couple of years ago and have been quite happy but I’m certainty not used to the kind of resolution that you regularly see with your other gear–I can see how that might make the compromise a little more difficult. I rarely print larger than 24×30 (although I print regularly) and have been pleased with the results.

    I’ll be interested in seeing which lenses you use and how often you end up shooting with the Fuji. Please share any post processing tips you discover. I switched to Capture One last year for select images, finding I can sometimes skip PS, but I still use LR or ACR for the majority of my images.


    • After three weeks I’m increasingly on the fence about it. I put it down to that momentary frustration when I try to change exposure compensation or shutter speed and find that the dials all rotate in the opposite direction to the Nikons – a decade of muscle memory is proving really hard to undo and has lead to quite a number of missed images and curses…

  11. I had a feeling you’d jettisoned the Olympus OM kit, since you haven’t talked about using it for quite some while.

    I purchased an X-T1 GSE and the XF56mm f/1.2 lens myself over the holidays … adding to my X-Pro 1 and two existing Fujinon lenses. I’ve always found the results from the X-Trans sensor to be excellent; my qualms were with the speed of the X-Pro 1, which necessitates a more methodical shooting style.

    While I had no desire to add another camera into the mix, I believe very strongly that the X-Trans sensor has the best low light performance of any APS-C sensor on the market today … and the X-T1 has now added a fully electronic shutter option, invaluable for shooting silently on film or television sets (my emerging mainstay). The electronic shutter has a few caveats, but they’re readily overcome.

    I’m now wrestling with whether or not to keep my E-M1 kit or sell it and round out the Fuji kit, possibly with the new 50-140mm f/2.8 lens (a focal range I could definitely make use of).

    The E-M1 blow the doors off the Fuji in ergonomics (and build quality, I think), but IQ isn’t quite as good, particularly as the light falls or gets bad. At base ISO in normal to good light, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them, I think … but for the type of image capture I’m doing, you’re often up against the wall with your shooting envelope, particularly given that today’s cine cameras have such good low light capability and cinematographers are often choosing to use available light.

    It’s kind of a pity, really. The Olympus Premium and PRO lenses are exceptional. If one could put the Fuji X-Trans sensor into the E-M1 body, I’d have a system that could handle 90% of my needs. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

    • Don’t forget the E-M1’s excellent stabilizer which complicates things further. I’m also in two minds about the XT1’s electronic shutter; it doesnt seem to handle fluro light well with very visible banding.

      • Well, I’m toying with keeping the E-M1 for the good light / outdoor shooting [I have and love the 75mm f/1.8], faster action work, and bts. It also becomes a second back-up body [since I have the 12-40mm f/2.8] … and vice versa. In truth, not quite sure what I’ll do. Having three ecosystems doesn’t really appeal to me.

        Re the electronic shutter, here’s what my early tests have revealed thus far: No, it doesn’t work under fluorescent or mercury vapor lighting without creating horizontal banding in your images. Also, that same banding can and often will occur if you shoot under tungsten/incandescent lighting.

        The solution under tungsten/incandescent lighting? Shoot at 1/125 sec or lower. No banding. No problems. The silver lining here is that if you’re shooting under that kind of lighting indoors, you’re probably gonna be hard pressed to get a shutter speed past 1/125 sec anyway, and that’s likely gonna freeze any motion you’re liable to encounter. So mostly good there.

        Second thing is the jello effect caused by the electronic shutter’s rolling on/off requirement: shooting action that is traveling across the frame from right to left or vice versa can cause distorted jello effects. Now, in truth, a little bit of subject motion won’t be an issue. But rapid movements, or subjects moving faster than [I’m hazarding a guess here] about 5 MPH, can yield this effect. If a subject is moving quickly, but toward you, the representation of motion is far less pronounced, and you’re far less likely to have a problem [though I’ve yet to test this].

        Hope that helps a bit.

        • I’m still getting artefacts even below 1/125; it shoes up as faint color/ luminance banding. On moving subjects you should really be using the mechanical shutter anyway; at speeds required to freeze motion, camera shake isn’t going to be an issue.

          I agree that the prospect of multiple systems really doesn’t appeal to me either. Overlapping coverage is rather expensive and you’re always going to prefer one set of results over the other. I plan to eventually focus on just one system with perhaps one or two single camera-lens combinations for specific purposes.

          • Are you getting artifacts below 1/125 under tungsten/incandescent light … or under fluorescent light? You shouldn’t be under the former; under the latter you will no matter what shutter speed you pick.

            Yes, on moving subjects it’s much better to use the mechanical shutter if you can … but of course if you’re standing beside a cinematographer the camera may pick up the sound of your shutter (fortunately I have a soft blimp for that and the X-T1’s mechanical shutter is, itself, quite discreet).

            As much as I love Olympus, and I do — I have a soft spot for the OM Series cameras — I would like to just be a Nikon DSLR shooter, and a Fuji mirrorless shooter. You’re bang-on when you say you’re always going to prefer one set of results over the other and so thus favor choosing that all the time. To my eye the Fuji images are a bit richer and have more depth than the Olympus images, although I’ve seen some amazing work with the OM cameras, and have gotten some results myself that I love. But when the light gets low and mixed, and you crank the ISO to 3200, the Olympus files viewed at 100% look a bit mushy/waxy. I hate that.

            At the end of the day, everything from ergonomic memory to workflow is just easier with a single system … or, if necessary, two.

            If Nikon would get busy and give us a real prosumer grade mirrorless system [I think they will within 24 months, actually] then I might go with that. Of course there’s no way to know when it will come out, and even when it does, it may not be as appealing as what Fuji’s X-System has [which will be even more evolved in 24 months].

            Also, Fuji knows a thing or two about manufacturing lenses: for broadcast, for satellites … for Hasselblad. Their optics are outstanding. And right now nobody has a high quality APS-C lens lineup as well built out as they do. Nikon’s DX lineup, for example, is atrocious … and I think a lot of DX users who haven’t wanted to move to FX have already migrated out of Nikon.

            • Fluro, but there are often mixed sources. I find myself not really being satisfied by any of the small format options with the exception of the GR…looks like converging to Nikon/Zeiss for me.

              • As you’ve often said, it depends upon what your final output is. If you’re shooting for magazines, or making prints no larger than 16×20 inches, or indeed, only publishing on the web, m43 is perfectly usable (to say nothing of contemporary APS-C).

                But it sounds as if working with larger format gear has spoiled you for any of the “small” formats. If you’re making very large prints and ultra prints frequently, then, yes, you’ll be wanting a larger sensor.

                Perhaps staying in the Nikon ecosystem makes sense, then … particularly since I have it on good authority that seriously mirrorless is, indeed, on their radar. I still hold the opinion that the next quantum leap in sensor tech will allow for D800 level images from a 4/3 size sensor. But that may still be a few years away [god knows the industry is pushing for it because it needs a “moon shot” to jumpstart sales again].

                • Agreed – we’ve long past sufficiency for most uses, and I’ve always said that. But I’m now at the point where I have to stitch 80-odd images to make a 40×20″, and I can see the difference if there are less – so, the more the better up to a point. There are times when you’d want to stitch fewer higher MP images from MF – wind, for instance – and times when the tradeoff of stitching more from a smaller format is fine (when you’ve got to hike with it).

                  Whilst I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of the IQ race yet, I’m also pretty sure that it just needs one intelligently designed product to get people excited again – and so far, we haven’t really had that. Almost all cameras today are still following the film design paradigm; the ones that are praised are the ones that seem to be more retro – but they also offer the least flexibility for reconfiguration, and the real strength of digital is that you really can reconfigure things to suit.

                  • Yes, I certainly recall you discussing several times — I think with the Olympus E-M1, too — that we’re reached the point of sufficiency for most applications.

                    Perhaps it’s a useful exercise to look at this another way: if you were making your money strictly as a photojournalist (let’s say a Magnum photographer), and reportage for the web, newspapers, and magazines was your primary outlet, which of all the systems out there right now would you choose, assuming a balance of IQ, system capability, flexibility, ruggedness, size, weight, etc?

                    I should point out that there is currently a Magnum photojournalist who shoots strictly with the E-M5 while on assignment in some pretty hostile parts of the world.

                    People forget that even contemporary m4/3 is way past the IQ that we got from the very best 35mm cameras only 20 years ago.

                    Re printing: if one considers that the average person doesn’t print past 16×20, particularly when you stop to consider putting a nice mat around that image, and then a frame … suddenly you’ve got an object that you really need to have significant wall space for. How many people have that much free wall space in their homes? I’d wager not many. If you decide to put up three or four of those matted images in a single space, less still.

                    So, I would argue that a good m4/3 setup is more than adequate for such photography, and also for magazine output, making it a good choice for reportage, journalistic, and travel work … as long as one understand the restrictions it has when you push the envelope. And I would say that goes even more so for quality APS-C sensors.

                    • Easy. I’d probably have a GR and an E-M5 (no vibration issues) with the 25 or 45mm lenses (or both). Or just a pair of GRs.

                      I think you and I don’t have any problem understanding these tradeoffs, but you’d be surprised by how many questions I get around why go from MF to small formats and whether this means the smaller stuff is comparable for Ultraprinting…

                    • Yeah, you’re right … many don’t think of final output. And, truthfully, large fine art printing represents quite a small fraction of the photographic world. What was it that Nick Brandt was using? A Pentax 67 film camera? Pretty specialized — not only by today’s standards, but even back when it was contemporary.

                      Obviously the larger number of pixels and greater resolution per unit area has become increasingly addictive for you. Or, once you get hooked on heroin, marijuana just won’t cut it anymore.

                      That’s a metaphor, just to be clear … I have no personal experience to back up that statement. 🙂

                    • Yes, it was a 67 and some funky darkroom techniques with nonplanar enlargers.

                      I’m not so sure it’s an addiction as it has become part of my art: a lot of what I do is shot specifically knowing the impact the output medium adds, and making the most of it; it simply doesn’t have the same impact at lower resolutions. There are images and prints that work at lower resolutions/ smaller sizes but not higher/larger, and vice versa. If we have the tools…why not use them?

                    • Completely concur. Horses for courses. I would speculate that if you’re shooting enormous prints for fine art houses, even a D810 with an Otus may be pushing the sufficiency envelope … given how picky they are. But then that’s a whole realm unto itself, and frankly has been since the 1970s. Yet 35mm was still the preferred choice for most applications back in the ’70s.

                      I should add that I’ve had at least three people over the past year ask me if the Olympus is up to the task, or how I find the image quality. I explained the benefits and shortcomings, and then sent them to five different links, beginning with two of yours (for those interested):


                      And then for beauty/glamour/portraits/travel:


                      For landscape/travel:


                      Finally for specialty pro use:


                      The typical response was, “Oh … wow.”

                      I suspect if you give the X-T1 some time, you’ll find it’s well past sufficiency as a travel, walk around, reportage type camera. I’ve personally always loved the overall IQ from the X-Trans sensor.

                    • The D810 isn’t enough. I’m stitching with it, and the large prints I’m currently working on are all in the 500MP-1GP range.

                      Some great examples there. That said, I can’t but help look at some of them and think they’d be great in print…then pause and go, ‘oh, a 4/3 square is only going to be 12MP…’ – and it’s this same pause which makes me want to carry the damn D810 all the time. Just in case. Aargh…

                    • I wonder if there may be a growing obsession with resolution. I’m not sure how much is necessary to appreciate the other intrinsic [and arguably more important] elements in a photograph [again, assuming one is not displaying huge prints in galleries—let’s say no larger than 16.53 x 23.39″ size … which is larger than what most people do, let’s face it].

                      I was standing at the window of a consumer electronics store before Christmas, and they had a 65″ Samsung television on display with a curved screen. They were playing ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ on it in 4K. I could see every pimple and pore in Chris Pine’s face. There was so much resolution and clarity that I felt as though I was standing on the set, not watching a movie. And if I’m honest, it kind of took me out of the fiction … it was just too much.

                    • Well, you need to make sure the artwork matches the medium and vice versa. I’d say there are bad applications and good ones, just like everything else – resolution is merely a tool. Not everything benefits from more, and some things don’t work with less. For some things there is no substitution, such as tonal transitions, landscapes, forests etc. I do find it slightly concerning that a lot of people dismiss the difference out of hand without ever seeing the printed output. There is simply no way you can extrapolate from a screen, and it’s difficult to imagine if you haven’t seen it in person.

                    • Sure. Knowing final application is key, I think.

                      I’m sure you’d agree that even modern 4/3 images often look better when printed than what many screens can represent.

                      I’ve seen some very large fine art prints and concur that if you want to view a wall-sized print quite closely, and retain detail under close scrutiny, it requires enormous resolution. Peter Lik’s work comes to mind, actually. I think he uses a Linhof Technorama [though I don’t recall which model].

                    • Still not enough, though I’m pretty sure he uses a Phase One.

  12. john babineau says:

    Ming, love your blog! Question: Has anyone out there figured out why raw conversions are all over the place? The X100s is my first serious digital camera as I slide over from Fuji 6×9 and color neg. (Killer scans!)
    Nonetheless, as I ask many photographers what software they use for conversion the answer is invariably “It depends.” We used to know the pros and cons of film, but having a hard time understanding why there is such great digital hardware out there, yet highly subjective approaches to converting from raw.
    john babineau

    • Lack of consistency in workflow and camera profiling (or lack of), probably. I use a lot of different cameras and I think in general you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart if I didn’t note which one was used; I certainly can’t tell my clients the color is different because I used a different camera…

      The starting point also matters – if you’re not shooting/exposing consistently, it’s that much more difficult to get a consistent result.

  13. I could probably be wrong, but based on your recent posts, it looks like you are slowly moving away from Olympus or m43. Considering you had E-M1 both Olympus 25mm and specially Panny 25/1.4, I find it strange you chose to go with Fuji + lens.

    Are you now feeling some what restricted or there are other reasons to go beyond m43 for compact normal?

    • I didn’t own the Panasonic and I’ve moved away from M4/3 for quite some time because of insufficient image quality for serious printing, shutter shock amongst other things.

  14. Andrew Peverini says:

    I owned an original Fuji X100 and I liked the idea of a small capable camera, but I was very frustrated by how slow the focusing was. In your opinion, has the new X100T been improved enough to be fast enough to use on subjects that are not static? Your comments seem to indicate this idea, but I am seriously considering purchasing the X100T and would like to make sure I am not buying slightly upgraded X100. With the original X100 I was always having to tell my subjects to hold still while the camera was focusing. In my experience a smartphone camera can focus considerably faster than the X100 was able to.

    • Short answer – enormously. I’d say the X100T is one of the fastest mirrorless cameras out there at the moment. I bought and abandoned the original X100 because it just wasn’t fast enough, but don’t have that feeling at all with the X100T. It feels as though it could keep up with the E-M1 under most circumstances, which is already zippy fast.

  15. Personally, I was looking for a “snap shotter” that would produce printable images. And, went from the rx100 to GR and then the nikon A. I think for a less contemplative shooter such as myself a semi-wide. lens is the way to go for a number of reason, the biggest reason being camera shake. Looking back at your reviews , I am impressed with your assessments I find the A to be easier for me to process for color and contrast which I found a bit frustrating on the GR, but damned if BW conversion doesn’t work better on the GR files. Anyway, your reviews will be my guide for any future compact camera purchase.

    Also, I was wondering if you could recommend a workflow guide for bringing files to print?

    • Agreed – I too found the Coolpix’s color to be better than the GR, though the GR becomes usable after profiling. Nearly impossible to get a decent B&W out of the A, though. Yes, my basic photoshop workflow is print-ready and what I use to prepare my own files for Ultraprinting. There is also of course work that must be done on the part of the printer to take what you give them and faithfully translate that to paper…

  16. stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

    Well, it looks like your Ultraprint, ultrapocketable solution would be a kind of Zeiss Super Ikonta 6X4,5 with Pentax 645Z sensor. Patiencia, it`s comming.

  17. I just checked out the Fuji XTi and the Zeiss 1.8/32 Touit at our local shop. A very nice combination. Also tried out the A6000 but the EVF is much lower resolution amongst other things. The Fuji / Touit option is a nice kit.

  18. Thank you for writing this, Ming. I’ve been having similar thoughts for a long while. Personally I’ve worked my way from 50mm down to 40mm (60d+Em-1), but never found the right compact solution.

    I’ve been wondering, with the success of lenses and cameras such as the Canon 40mm, the Panasonic 20mm, old Canonettes and Olympus Trips, why weren’t there a 40mm equivalent Coolpix B on the same day as the A? Say, if the X100t was 50mm equiv, could it allow Fuji to just keep the S in the market with it? How cool wouldn’t a RX1 with a curved sensor, a 2/50 and a finder be?

    Congratulations on the Fuji/Zeiss purchase. Great choice, the proof is in the pictures.

    • That’s a very good question; the only answers I can think of are a) size (can’t be; a 50/1.8 or 35/1.8 for APSC can be pretty small) and b) they will offer it later when enough of us have bought 35s out of frustration 😛

  19. Luke Johnston says:

    I really love the 50mm focal length. I had the Touit 32 for my X-E2 bought the Fuji 35 and recently sold the former. I shoot landscapey type stuff between f/4-8 and extreme low light stuff wide open.

    I found the Touit inferior for landscape because it never seemed to become adequately sharp in the corners (even borders) when stopped down (the Fuji clearly resolves more at f/5.6-11 to my eye). And I think it’s a draw for the lowlight work because I always seem to bump up against shutter speed barriers and it’s preferrable for the 35 to be at ISO2000/3200 and in the centre less sharp at 1.4 than for the Touit to be at ISO3200/5000 and more sharp at 1.8 (since I feel like I lose so much dynanic range and detail above about ISO2000 anyway). What do you think? I am really considering getting an A77II and the 55 1.8 when prices come down (the stabilizer would be very welcome).

    I’m really glad to see you’re enjoying the Fuji. I have enjoyed photography so much more since buying the X-E2 early last year and everytime you have (kind of) said the camera system is for fashionistas it has bummed me a little. Hahaha.

    • I wonder about sample variation, to be honest, because there seems to be a clear difference already between the two samples I tried…you may well have gotten a bad one, which is of course unfortunate. I don’t have any edge issues with mine, but there is some longitudinal CA.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      For the technically interested
      finds similar kinds of optical compromise with both these lenses.

      English version at

      I miss, of course, the photographer’s evaluation…

      ( They test the lenses also of compact cameras. Camera tests only in Polish, but Google translate works fairly well.)

  20. erikjohansson says:

    Here’s to hoping Ricoh brings back the GXR with updated 28 and 50mm A12 (A16 or A24 probably) lens modules with faster focusing. I really loved my GXR…

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      There`s no need for updated A 28 with GR around, but A 50 AF ( non macro for compactness) module with K-5II sensor, preferably collapsible type, would be superb. Personally when wanting utterly compact combo, I use GR and GXR m-mount with collapsible Elmar 50/3,5. I know Elmar is 75mm on APS-C, but there are old Elmars 35/3,5 too. Such a pity Ricoh neglects GXR idea. Riccadonna from RicohForum. Cheers.

  21. I have both the Fuji (XE1) and more recently the Olympus (EP5) MFT systems. Recently compared the 32 Touit and the PL 25 wide open and otherwise and, IMHO, the sharper results center and corners was by far the PL 25. May have something to do with the cameras and not only the lenses. Yet, since both lenses cover similar normal, decided to sell the 32. Bokeh was also better. Have to admit color tonality was somewhat nicer in the Touit. Also sold the Fuji 60 macro and kept the 60 Oly macro as results were better. Yet I like both systems and will keep both. Considering upgrading to the XT1.

    I am quite happy you resolved the conundrum to your satisfaction with the XT1 and the 32. Look forward to your future postings.

    BTW, I just watched your Havana video and was very impressed with your eye and compositional mastery. Congratulations for your excellent work.

  22. I just swapped the excellent Panasonic 20/1.7 (version one) for the new “normal” FOV Olympus 25/1.8 on my m4/3’s Oly body (E-PL1). Both lenses are excellent but it’s nice to be back to the “nifty fifty” FOV/perspective equivalent, which I started with decades again via film gear. The “normal” lens is for me at least a way to image as I “see” photographically, the as-is aesthetic, “sono-mama” in Japanese visual arts. There is much to be said for using a 50, in whatever format. Thanks for this article which praises its attributes.

  23. Thanks for that article Ming! I suspect camera manufacturers to avoid the ideal camera you described for letting us run circles through their intentionally imperfect offerings. I found a combo that is close to perfection for my personal needs: a small FF DSLR with a 40mm Ultron from Voigtlander. I own other gear too, but this is what I always come back to.

  24. Ming, I still believe ACR is NOT working well with X-Trans file. I’ve used it on my X100s (a camera I loved) and later on with the XT1 files. No great luck: details, especially in foliage, are NOT satisfactory. Try IDIRIDENT DEVELOPER: X-trans files would turn magically into something at least of the same class of the GR I’ve started to love. Have a look here for a comparison btw the two RAW processors: The XT1 is overall lovely but far from being “pocketable”. And if you find acceptable the output of ACR with X-Trans file I wonder why you’re not reconsidering seriously the A7(II/R): the shutter vibration / RAW compression are much less evident problems than the mushy output of ACR 🙂 I have the A7R, that I don’t like for UI and feeling: but the files are fantastic, the size is similar to the XT1 – well the 55 is a bit bulkier, but it is full frame and potentially enough for your ultraprints.

    • I’ve seen the results but again don’t like the workflow. I looked at the A7R again – shutter vibration is FAR more noticeable and cuts your resolution in half, easily. Raw compression is noticeable in the highlight tonal manipulations I normally do and manifests as banding. Not to mention price (plus lenses), putting it in the ‘serious’ category rather than the ‘fun’ one. If I’m going to shoot serious for Ultraprinting, I’m not compromising – that’s what MF or Otuses are for.

      • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

        If I remember right, Sony solved shutter problem with latest A7RII, topping it with electronic shutter. With Summicron 50/2 Apo you would have compact Ultraprint outfit but of course the cost of lens, my God.

        • Still not really enough for ultraprints – 24 MP is a 12×8″ or thereabouts. And the cost is crippling. That’s no longer fun or cheap; it’s a very expensive compromise.

      • Agreed on the Lightroom workflow. Nothing else comes close for me in terms of speed and usability. I think the Fuji Raw/Lightroom/other raw converters debate is very valid but you can get ACR very close indeed… you just have to rethink your process slightly. This blog is an excellent starting point (essentially turn the Details slider up to 100%)

  25. As a casual, non-obtrusive, small, travel, holiday camera (minimum APS-C) with a normal lens (40-60mm equivalent) and on a budget price three cameras come into my mind: Fujifilm X-a1 with the 32mm touit or the 1.4/35mm Fujifilm lens, the Samsung NX300 (or the NX400 if it is a bargain next year) with the 30mm f2 lens, and the X100T. From the three the Samsung 300 combo is the cheapest and also provides you with a pretty fast AF and good image quality (OK I know about the bloated raw files, that is why I did not get them yet). Until 50mm equivalent I can live without a real viewfinder, but above 60mm it is much better to have an eye level EVF or OVF.

  26. The Fuji redux here at MT didn’t surprise me at all. Now if it’d been a A7 Mark II, I would have needed resuscitated 🙂 Great article and lovely photos Ming.

  27. Hi Ming,

    – Any issues with the 50mm 1.4 on the D750…?
    (You mentioned issues with the D750 and 50mm 1.8 version,,,)

    – I’m really enjoying the 28mm 1.8 with the D750. It is a fun combination.

    I’m interested in the new 20mm 1.8; however, I’m worried it may be too close in focal length to the 28mm.
    Any thoughts?

    – In terms of a two lens combination, I’m leaning towards a 28mm / 85mm (1.8) combo.

    Simplicity and choice are indeed awesome!

    • The 50/1.4 just seems rather soft until f2.8 or so due to CA; I’ve had several copies of both D and G and never really liked the rendering much.

      20 and 28 are quite dramatically different in perspective and foreground prominence.

  28. Thanks Ming, both excellent article (as usual) and perfect timing for me as I am trying to figure the “magic formula” for my needs.
    I have the GR and X100 (first version). I much prefer the GR, not so much because of the focusing (it does help), but mostly due to its portability, configuration, and stealthiness. I have a very small pouch that I attach to my belt and the GR is with me all the time, I mean really all the time. This is not something I could do with the X100. It is small, but not pocketable. It is a statement, not stealthy like the GR. So the GR completely replaced the Fuji, and as 35mm is too close to 28mm, I don’t have much use for my X100 anymore (other than being able to lend a great camera to my son :)).
    Then I need a portable tele for portraits and street… and still struggle to find the right solution. Like many here, I would jump on a tele GR, but this is not going to happen. I considered the GXR but it is expensive and I don’t want to start with a system that is already abandoned. I have the Nikon V1 and now V2, these are great camera, especially the ability to get a very small and light wide or superzoom with good IQ, but this is not in the GR league, even using the FT1 and Nikon FF lenses.
    So I was considering something close to what you had, which is the D600 with a small prime (I got the 50 1.8G, and am considering the 85 1.8G)
    IQ is there, I don’t like so much the focusing, but this is OK. It is also a bit bulky but also OK.
    I was slowly moving to this set up, maybe adding the V2 + FT1 to add more reach if needed, and then read your article and you kinda confused me 🙂
    Why did you move from the 750 + 50 to the XT1? Is it the size / weight? Does this make such a difference? I mean, the 750 is heavier, but not that heavier… in any case you need a small bag to carry them, this is an incremental difference, not like with the GR.
    Is it the IQ? the configurability? I am actually even more confused considering you already have the D810 (?) and would expect the D750 to be very complementary with the D810, while you need to buy a new set of lenses for your Fuji.
    What made you jump?

    • 750 + 50 of sufficient quality to use at maximum aperture means going to the 50 Art or 55 Otus. And that IS a lot bigger…

      I only intend to use this camera with one lens, i.e. a normal.

  29. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Thanks for your (almost complete) condensed analysis!

    You mention the A6000, but it is unclear to me whether it has the same (or similar) raw compression problems as the A7r you evaluated?

    You also mention the XQ1, how did you like the zoom adjustment (I tried it shortly but found it harder to set than on the manual XF1)? And the files?

    ( I think, looking for an upgrade path, I find myself at a similar choice between quality and flexibility.
    Have you perhaps had a chance to look more closely at the G7x or the FZ1000? I’m considering these, perhaps plus a GR.)

    • A6000 has the same raw compression. XQ1…well, a lever is always going to be less precise than a mechanical ring. GX7 – nope, lack of an EVF doesn’t do it for me. FZ1000 – not a bad all in one, but I’ve always found the lever zoom to be less than ideal in responsiveness…it’s also fairly large and somewhat plasticky in feel.

  30. Ming a while back I decided on getting a Ricoh GR over the Coolpix A, due to your GR review. Now that the GR is actually more expensive would you still recommend the GR, or should I go for the A instead?

  31. christine g says:

    +1 to what markdavisleica says: “Excellent article Ming, neatly summing up a conundrum we have all been facing.”

    I eBay’d all of my Nikon pro SLR/DSLR gear and purchased the X-T1 (and another body-lens combo.) I’m using the the Fuji M Mount adapter for X mount and “borrowing” my Summilux 35 1.4 (yes, it took my entire Nikon collection to invest in one Leica body and lens, and I had just enough left over to get the X-T1. I know there are naysayers out there, but I can’t hear them. I am IN LOVE with my Leica. They will pry it from my cold, dead fingers.) I’ve been waiting on the Fuji XF16-55 f/2.8 to attach to my X-T1, as I’ve retired from weddings and portraits, now doing mostly editorial work. I’d like to have the autofocus option on the Fuji (in addition to the Leica, which would also be with me. I don’t want to have to swap the Dreamy lens back and forth between bodies, and I can’t afford to own two of them.) Although I loved my Nikon and Zeiss gear, transitioning was the right thing for me. While I’m still manual focusing and waiting — and waiting — and waiting for Fuji to honor their lens projections, I don’t miss the horrific mirror slap of my Nikon. Often, when lumped with editorial photogs from, ahem, rival publications at news events, I’m regarded as the “polite” photog, not disruptive and annoying to spectators and officials and sources. Many make an effort to pull me aside and comment on it.

  32. Good that you found a combination that you are happy with. Just a question – did you consider and rule out the Samsung NX cameras with the 30mm (45mm equivalent)? Other than focussing speed the lens seems to get excellent reviews and even the last generation of sensors are 20mp rather than Fuji’s 16mp, so a bit more resolution to play with. This is not to criticise the X-T1, it seems like an excellent camera, it’s just that I use the Samsung so I’m curious if I’m not noticing a flaw with it. 🙂

    • Yes – lack of local availability and poor secondary market performance means large financial risk.

      • Ah, fair point. (Although I was surprised to see a number of adverts for the NX1 in KL a couple of weeks ago, so that might be changing.) Looking forward to seeing your pics with the Fuji.

  33. I like to put an old 1:1 50mm leica viewfinder on a Ricoh GR and use it in 47mm crop mode – real nice and about 5 megapixels.

  34. I find your change in preferred combinations to be interesting. I used to shoot 50mm equivalents with my Nikon DX set-up, and it wasn’t until I got the X100S that I realized how much more I preferred the 35mm FOV. Like you, I would like a longer fixed compact, but I guess if a 50mm is that hard to manufacture then my hope for something longer like a 75mm+ fixed compact has no shot of being realized.

    Definitely interested in the less is more philosophy, especially for hobbyists such as myself. So if I could narrow it down to two fixed cameras, or even an ILC with 2 lenses (28mm or 35mm and something longer like a 85mm or 105mm equivalent) that would be best for me. I honestly don’t understand how other people who don’t shoot professionally manage to have 3 or more different camera systems and 10+ lenses.

    • Think in terms of objectives rather than equipment. If I want to balance fun (weight), perspective flexibility and image quality, it’s a very different goal to needing perspective control or high speed flash sync. The multiple systems and lenses are specific tools for specific objectives, not GAS attacks. Once something fails to serve that objective, I’ll sell it. There is little emotion involved for professional work; they’re just tools to get the job done. Personal and artistic work is another kettle of fish, of course…

  35. WoW! Always great Blog posts from you Ming! The comments and your answers are almost as valuable. I’m a Fuji X convert from Nikon D3 & D4. Early on I didn’t even bother with the RAF files and LR. It was just that bad. I didn’t want to disrupt my workflow so I shot Jpeg and, as long as I watched my highlights and shadows I was very happy. For my type of work, editorial stock images, the Jpeg output is quite acceptable. Never had one rejected by my stock agency.

    I did purchase Capture One Pro last year to better take advantage of the RAF. COP (up to 8 now) does a little better job on fine detail now, as compared to LR, but LR is now quite usable. I especially like the new Classic Chrome film simulation. I am not nearly as skilled with post as you so I rely on the out of the box product.

    I am very interested in what Fuji will produce in their new X-Pro for 2015. APS-C, 24MP with a new processor?? That might be the limit for that size sensor.

  36. I feel the GR/Coolpix A ‘spoiled’ the concept of a compact camera for me. What I mean is, the gestalt of the super sharp lens + relatively large sensor + pocketability + lower price of these cameras made it difficult to find another 50mm equivalent compact camera to pair with that could keep up. There are normal/short tele options in every mirrorless mount and all I’ve tried are decent, but somehow don’t gel with the GR/A since the files of the latter are so good.

    That being said, two inexpensive sharp primes that I’d recommend trying are the Sigma 30 and 60 DN lenses. I’m not sure if they are available in Fuji X mount, but I had them in E-mount and I feel they are the closest in spirit to the GR/A: sharp wide open, moderate aperture (f/2.8), decent enough AF (but not as fast as the newer MFT lenses. And maybe most importantly, they perform way above their price range. The Sigma 19 is also decent, but lags behind the other two and is nowhere as sharp as the GR/A.

    • Agreed – it really did. Sigma doesn’t make Fuji mount, unfortunately.

      • Yes, that’s a great pity too. I have kept the two magic twins (the Sigma 30 and 19), even though I do not have an e-mountl camera at present—that’s how good I think the lenses are) and I bought BOTH for $199, IIRC. Amazing value.

        • Thats INSANELY good value.

          • Ming, that was full retail from B&H, at the time. Agree: insanely good value (and accordingly worthless on the used market, so mine they stay). I did not like the feel of the A6000 (handled one in Singapore) so did not buy, but they will get a better APS-C model in time.

  37. Do you find the 50mm focal length more versatile for you now? I’m still trying to find the focal length I’d like to carry all the time and 50 always seemed too tight at times been trying 35mm (X100s) and 28mm (Ricoh GR)

  38. Hi Ming,
    I generally shoot with a Ricoh GR these days but I also have a GX7 so I’m interested in your remark that the Panasonic sensor is showing its age. Can you be more specific? What is it sbout that sensor, that was supposedly new for the GX7, that actually prevented you from buying the GM5?

    • Dynamic range and color accuracy (though the latter may be a Panasonic thing related to how the raw files are processed in-camera before writing.).

  39. Hi Ming, you have definitely got me thinking with this post, so thanks for that.

    Responding to the comments about using a Pentax K3 as an alternative – if you were after a compact 50mm EFOV then you would put a 35mm on the K3. Pentax offers a number of lens choices, but for compactness, image quality, build quality, and AF then the HD DA 35mm f2.8 Macro Limited is where you are going to land.

    I had a look at the lens size etc. verses the Zeiss Touit 32mm – Pentax D 63.5mm x L 45.72mm, 213g, 49mm filter; Zeiss D 65mm x L 76mm, 210g, 52mm filter – so very similar, price also very close.

    The camera body sizes are of course a little different K3 – W 132.1 x H 99.1 x D 78.7mm, 816g with battery; X-T1 – W 129 x H 89.8 x D 46.7, 440g with battery. So reasonable differences in body depth and the Fuji is about half the weight.

    So, I think I will keep using my K3 for compact 50mm EFOV. I currently us a Zeiss ZK 35/2 for 50mm EFOV – it is actually the lens I have used the most in the past year, but it can’t be described as compact. I used to have a DA 35mm Limited – very impressed with the image quality, just the Zeiss 35 was better, and I stopped using it, so sold it. Perhaps I will buy another one.

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      Pity that Pentax,while producing such a great K3 body, did`t make its DA compact primes WR ( exp.100 macro). Always fly in the oitment.

  40. Not sure if you’ve read this recent article yet on Fuji sharpening and Lightroom. “…most images work best with the DETAIL slider set all the way over to the right at 100; my understanding is that when the DETAIL is set to 100, Lightroom uses ‘deconvolution’ algorithms in preference.”. You can read the article here,

  41. Hakan Lindgren says:

    As a longtime reader of your site – and an X-T1 user – I am looking forward to your comments about this camera.

    The main problem with Lightroom isn’t sharpening or foliage anymore. It’s how LR handles uniform blue areas. Things photographed against blue sky can get a faint white halo, as if LR isn’t sure about where the blue area ends. If you want to see something ugly, try shooting a red and blue street sign, such as a “No stopping” traffic sign. This has improved, but it can be improved further.

    I notice you use the Touit instead of the Fuji 35 mm 1.4. The Fuji 35 is sharp and it’s meant to be used wide open, but … it seems to be lacking character compared to the best Zeiss lenses. What is your opinion of this lens?

  42. Hi Ming,

    I’ve been lurking on your site for a long time now and love your perspectives on gear, photography, life, and other random tidbits. If you were in the US, I’d happily buy you a beer (or as many as you can drink) for all the knowledge you’ve imparted.

    I’ve got a number of mirrorless cameras already (Olympus PM2, Sony A6000, and Panasonic GH4) to go along with my more “serious” Nikon D800. What I’ve been agonizing over is what compact mirrorless system to fully invest in, in terms of body and glass. I really like the idea of a more compact system that I can take with all the time. The D800 is a lot to lug around for something casual.

    My D800 is a dangerously high bar that I use for comparison of the results from the other cameras. I’m probably being unrealistic when comparing 1-for-1 pixels currently, as I don’t have the same quality glass on the mirrorless. I have an m4/3 converter to use the Nikon glass, but it just doesn’t feel like the results are as pleasing. So, I’ll be following your path to get another expert opinion on the matter.

    One aspect you didn’t touch on in this article, though, was video. I know you’re getting more into video, though I’m not sure if it’s more at the “director” level, or if you’ll still be hands-on behind the lens. While still photography is my main focus with the mirrorless systems, having good video for me is also a requirement. I have a photographer friend who loves her Fuji XT-1, but I never really seriously considered the Fuji for the many reasons you listed plus the lack of decent video. The GH4 ticks most of the boxes, but I’m hesitant to invest in m4/3 when APS-C and FF have big advantages. Looking for your thoughts on a hybrid still/video compact mirrorless camera (if it’s something you care to give feedback on.)

    Thanks again for your service to the photographic community!

    • At the director level, we’re usually using a Red of some sort or a heavily kitted up DSLR. For my own smaller productions I either use the E-M1 because of the stabiliser, or the D750 if we’re on a static tripod.

  43. Imkerhonig says:

    It is funny to read your thoughts about the Ricoh GR and it´s focal limitation to wide angle lenses because I had the same thoughts about a Ricoh GR with a 50mm focal length. The Ricoh is so small and performs so well that I would buy an additional Ricoh GR with a 50mm lens in front of it if Ricoh would release it!

    But congratulations to your new Fuji 🙂

  44. I’m amused. I remember the photo u posted. Geez to imagine ppl actually react to what type/brand u use… Doesnt reflect photography.. Anyway great read

  45. I am shooting with a Coolpix A and/or A6000 + Touit 32mm… The price difference overcomes the not so great haptic compared to GR and XT-1 that were also considered…

  46. Taildraggin says:

    The compact market still reminds me of “Tuco buys a revolver” (

  47. Ming, I wouldn’t be surprised if you make switch to Sony this year. They will be bringing out a very compact 28/2 at some point this year. Their 55mm is already well received and is compact too. I wonder Ming if you could put an article showing the issue with compressed raw in a normal portrait or street picture and compare with say output from d750? That would be really helpful for me. Thanks

    • 1. I don’t have any Sony cameras remaining with me, so no, I can’t do the comparison.
      2. I also don’t rule out a switch, but not for a compromise.

    • Me too….one mount for videos with IBIS, s log2, partially 4k, focus peaking/magnififer more accuracy while using MF lenses and a lot of zeiss glass avaiable or coming soon although some of them are not completely new (like the loxia series due to the fact that is economically more feasible !!) just redesigned version of Zeiss Za lenses of Sonys A-Mount for the new Fe Mount and they put a new label on it Zeiss ZM FE mount of course……
      One evidence is if you see the size of the new upcoming 35 1.4….its not just due to it has to be so large its full frame /physiscs…its nearly the same zize as the zeiss 35 1.4 ZA lens for Sonys A Mount….

      My 2 cents….


  48. Excellent, thoughtful, analytic article, as always. Another problem with Sony (and I do like them, I have the RX1r) is that they still treat cameras like any other consumer product. They’ll drop you for the next version – they forget that people buy into a system. I’m thinking how you know that you’ll always be “looked after” by Fuji, Nikon, Canon, and of course Leica. One gets the impression that Sony produces cameras to be first to do so. I think they’d benefit from slowing down and thinking a bit more.

    • The lack of continuity and support is concerning. Still, they claim to have started a pro photography support arm, so we’ll see – hopefully that might improve things a bit…

    • I love Sony,they and Fuji too have shaken the stagnant market.
      good for us in the end. Fuji release updates and they better do as Their products seem untested before their release.

  49. A very interesting read. And maybe one day you will have a Df and the humble 50/1.8 as the personal fun combo. The files the Df sensor produces are exquisite.

    • I agree the sensor is great, but the ergonomics of that camera do not work for me. It’s physically painful to hold for extended periods. I actually abandoned the D750/ 50/1.8 G because the results frankly were quite lacklustre – there’s some odd focus shift or AF issues going on which mean you can fine tune for distance but not close up or vice versa; or you focus fine in the midrange and then the rest is a compromise. I’ve correlated this across several samples of the lens, so it seems it may unfortunately be an optical formula issue rather than a sample variation one…

  50. Hi Ming, Funny, having bought 2 cameras on based on your reviews, I now find my self preempting you somewhat:p Having shot with pretty much a GR for a year, I wanted something longer. Got a Sigma DPM3 its really a great camera, (the workflow is not actually so bad considering how little post work the files require) I can’t let it go as the IQ is addictive, however its limited. Wanting something more versatile I looked at a few systems, needing something that at least matched the GR for IQ. Tried a friends NEX 6, something just didn’t feel right. Odd as it does tick all the boxes, even a evf i would never use, but nothing attracted me as far as lenses go. Considered an SLR, however after a year using GR for a year even a d3300 feels like a photocopier. I had thought of FUji, xe-1/2 but…. then I found the X-M1 – A1. Tried both kept the A-1. Why? The sensor is better in my view. I’m not sure what it is is with Xtrans files, but there are certainly trade offs. The low noise achieved at mid-hi iso does so at the expense of clarity. . I find although there is more noise compared to Xtrans files the files are far more attractive overall .Having used the A-1 for a little while now, I’m pretty impressed with it considering its very consumer orientated. The 16-50 kit lens is really decent too. The sensor in the A-1 is a great, noticeably cleaner than the GR from iso 800> . The form factor is small but sensible , its responsive, and has 2 dials (although all plastic, which rules it out for many as a serious photographic tool 😛 ) Although for around $500 i cannot think of a better camera except for maybe a used GR. My 2 cents; Fuji should junk Xtrans and tweak traditional bayer sensors like they have in the A-1, they do it really well. ( yes I understand Xtrans is essentially a tweaked Bayer, but you know what i mean 🙂

    • The GR lets you decide how much NR to apply; but it gives you all of the detail.

      Hadn’t considered the A-1 because I do want the finder for stability especially with longer FLs…

      • Having owned the X-A1, it’s really all about a single lens of your choice. It works best with the 18/2 or 27/2.8, but handling with the 35/1.4 and 14/2.8 is pretty good as well.

        If only Fuji would put that sensor in the X-T1. I ended up going back to Nikon in part because of my issues with X-Trans (I’d switched from the X-A1 to the X-E1 to get a body that handled the 60 macro well. Not worth it, since the 60 macro is not more than adequate).

  51. I have to second Michael: »Parent and Child« is absolutely stunning!
    Concerning your »conundrum«: you nailed it, Ming! As you know I am also still looking for the right ‘coat pocket’ camera supporting a finder. So your thoughts will be a help to sort it out. As a rangefinder shooter I’m still heavy tempted by the X100T. Exchanged several tests with Michael so the X-trans problem of some will-known converters will no longer hold me back 😉
    @daniel: I do have the Pentax K-3 and some Limited lenses. The right focal length would be the DA 21/3.2 which unfortunately is a bit worse than the 40 pancake. Though supporting a fantastic ergonomic the K-3 with whichever lens will not comfortably fit into a coat pocket – exception: Manfrotto field jacket 😉

    • Thanks Holger – prints always available if desired 🙂

      The X100T is great *if* you’re okay with 35mm-e; there are converters but optics suffer noticeably and size increases quite dramatically. You’re going to need my magic coat to pocket the X-T1/Touit though. GM5 and Olympus 25/1.8 or 20/1.7 perhaps?

      • Well I’d be ok with 35 and I think the X100T is NOT made to screw converters on it… Though I already got the magic coat 😉 I will not wear it everyday, so the X-T1 or the OM-D 5 (which my wife owns) will both be still too big. But yes I have to consider the GM5.

  52. An excellent read!

  53. Have not reached a workflow yet in LR that satisfy me with X-Trans files so am looking forward to reading your review and (possible) shared secrets on the conversion. My primary problem now is greenery in the distance. It it still quite mushy.

    • Agreed. Compare an image from the Sigma Merrill and any X Trans sensor and you will see an enormous difference in sharpness and contrast. Enormous.

      • Definitely enormous. But Merrills have no accurate viewfinder for stability handheld, nor can you get clean results above ISO 400. That limits the shooting envelope significantly.

    • No secrets – it’s just a straight ACR conversion with everything default except for my color profile (but then again all of my cameras have a custom profile). It shouldn’t affect detail resolution. Infinity issues may be lens-related or atmospherics?

    • Perhaps supplement the Fuji with a Ricoh GR for landscapes…

  54. Thanks for this article. I’ve bought and sold the X100’s twice and have looked at everything that has come along and each year hope for a fixed lens fast 50mm camera but to no avail. I feel comfortable with this focal length and 28/35 just feel short for me. I kept trying to like the wider options but ended up selling them. I am using the LX100 and GM1 right now but still the dream of an X100 with a longer lens (no teleconverter) lives on….and yes the Sony was on the pricey side.

    • I presume you’re referring to the RX1? That’s still a 35mm unless you crop, and then you’re throwing away all that FF goodness 🙂

      • There is a built in crop mode on the RX1 that allows for 24MP with near 50mm FoV. I’ve been trying to find out more details on this, though appears to be some in-camera processing to do that. The RX1 is an odd little lump of a camera, which got my attention recently. I like the idea of not needing sensor cleaning with the fixed lens, though the price and battery life are issues.

        We know from more recent Sony developments that the A7 line will have all Model II and later a Model III version. There is some indication that another E-mount line will appear with more “professional” features, though beyond weather sealing I’m not sure what else would mean professional for Sony. While I like the idea behind the A7 line, I don’t like the ergonomics. Probably sounds strange, but I like the two handed shooting ergonomics of the RX1 better than any of the A7 models.

        • No compressed raw for a start, dammit!

          • Agreed. I think I am spoiled by the well thought out Nikon menu system too. I’m not sure what logic Sony used to write their menu system; it almost seems like different software groups never spoke to each other. 😉

            • Either that or a) they didn’t benchmark, or b) they benchmarked and decided everything had to be different…

              • It’s even simpler.

                Two completely different divisions. The RX1 is a Cybershot, developed by that team. The Alpha team is completely seperate (IIRC they’re even in different locations). The Cybershot team is pretty good at software UI. The Alpha team is not.

  55. Ming; serendipity—I started a thread over at FM with precisely the same quest in mind. Check it out here if interested:

    The fast fifty EFOV really is the all-rounder of lenses, IMHO. An OM-2 and the Oly 50/1.4 was excellent in its day.

    A comment on the K3 with 40 or 43mm lens suggestion above: these work out at 60 and ~65mm EFOV, don’t they? So not really ‘normal’ in the sense we are talking about here.

    For me (using a Coolpix A and X100s) I want at least an APS-C sensor in my 50mm EFOV setup, but the XT-1 is nowhere near as compact as either of the two I mention, in my handling of the body anyway. The LX-100 looks good though, but I really would like a dedicated lens–sensor combination at the 50mm equivalent focal length. Great article, too; thanks.

    • Thanks for the link. My bad – yes, it would be the opposite problem, being a little on the long side. I find myself very comfortable in the 45-50 range, but 55+ becomes a little tight. It’s probably why I’ve found the Nikon 60 macros to be a bit too long as normals (though optically excellent) and feel more at home with the 85 Otus than the 55.

      I don’t think there’s any way to get a compact 50mm-e and APSC – and I’m not sure we’d want it that small without IS anyway because there’s no mass damping. I don’t consider the X-T1/32 Touit combination to be that large though. It’s definitely still packing smaller than say a D750/45P pancake combination.

  56. A great read Ming, thank you very much.
    “Parents and child” – my favourite!

    I can double what Ming says about ACR. It is much better now and i am able to process around 80% to my satisfaction in ACR.
    The rest is developed in Iridient and then as a TIFF in Photoshop.
    For some images this still makes a difference.
    It is not only the sharpening algorithms but also the demosaicing.

    It will be interesting to see what you discover with the X-T1 and the workflow.

    • Definitely still makes a difference – our A-B comparisons have shown that. But the gap is much, much smaller than it was previously. We can only hope that ACR will continue to improve…

  57. Samuel Jessop says:

    A very interesting read. I have been using an X100 (original) for a couple of years and am happy with it running firmware 2.x and have recently traded in some Canon lenses for an X-E1 kit. As a long time Lightroom user it has been frustrating to see how much more work is needed compared to my Bayer workflow, even using v5.7. I have for now a workflow that I am just about happy with, but the pixel level detail you have achieved in ACR to so much cleaner and contrasty than I am getting. I do hope that Lightroom is only a step behind ACR for now, but would gratefully appreciate any posts that you could share on workflow for your X-T1.

    I am also very impressed with your images from the Touit, and will have to find one to try rather than just going for the Fuji 35/1.4.

    • Have you updated to the latest version of ACR? Both PS and LR use the same raw conversion engine, so the results should be the same. I have no idea why…but I do think the earlier conversion level was what put me off Fujis initially. Too much work, poorer results…workflow matters. A lot.

      • Samuel Jessop says:

        My install of Lightroom is up to date (5.7 Win x64), would I have to install the ACR update as well?

        Following the advice in the following blog post I have been playing around with detail and masking sliders to get satisfactory results, but the default settings with the X-E1 are noticeably softer than from my X100, GX1 or 350D at 100% zoom.

  58. “the original [X100] one was so slow as to be unusable”… Really? I’ve seen thousands of spectacular images made from the original X100. Why haven’t you?

    • Why haven’t I what? I bought one. I used it for six months. I found it much slower than every other option at the time. This was pre-firmware 2.0; I didn’t see any reason to wait on the hopes that Fuji *might* fix AF speed. And I didn’t say you can’t make a good image with it, I said I found it to be unusable – especially given the other options available.

      • Doesn’t unusable mean that the camera cannot be used (and thus, can’t take photos)? I don’t get your point then when you use a word like this.

        • I don’t get your point when you appear to be deliberately trying to find an argument, either…

          • My dictionary defines the word unusable as: Not able to be used. I don’t see how you can state the original X100 is incapable of being used when clearly, it can be. A broken camera is unusable. The new Sigma Quattro cameras were *almost* unusable at first due to SPP being a non functioning piece of software.

            Since the X100 is very much a useable camera, I don’t get your point when you call it unusable. Is there a more suitable or accurate word that would represent your point?

            I don’t see why you have to get so defensive when someone questions your writing. It is a very childish reaction. Normal adults have conversations that often require the seeking of clarity.

  59. I am happy to hear that you found a solution for your needs.

    i was very tempted with an X-T1, too, especially when it was available with a very nice rebate here in Germany. But then I played in Lightroom (latest version) with some RAWs that I downloaded and I wasn’t happy with the way it clips the highlights. It was a very hard clipping instead of a smooth rolloff, which let the images look quite “digital” to me. Unfortunately I am not that experienced with curves and other methods of working around this issue. So I am dependant on cameras that have a smooth highlight rolloff and a wide dynamic range to work with (I wasn’t happy with the DR of the X-T1, too), like the GR. I bought one in May 2013 and I begin to wonder if I will be selling it in the next couple of years. Seriously, I can’t even think of a reason why I would upgrade to a potential successor. Maybe if it has the same IQ with a 24 MP sensor and 1 stop more DR, or an f/2 lens. Maybe… 🙂

    Anyway: After I played with the X-T1 files I bought a D750 with a Sigma 50/1.4 Art lens and the 70-200/4 and I am highly satisfied with the IQ I can get out of that gear. Also B&W conversions are as satisfying as with the GR which really helps with a consistant look. Unfortunately this solution is way bigger and heavier than the X-T1. But I am not in the financial position to use many different camera systems for different needs so it has to be an allround system for me.

    Anyway: How do you feel about the highlight rolloff of the X-T1 which was keeping me from buying one? I wonder if it is a really issue or just me not being able to work with it.

    • All cameras need profiling; some more than others. I’m not having any highlight issues with the XT1 – it’s actually more of shadow blocking that’s a challenge.

      • Hmm, than it really was me having a problem and not the camera 😉 Anyway I am happy with my D750 now. How about your D750? Does it still have a purpose? You can even cover tele with Fuji’s 50-140/2.8 OIS zoom.

        • That’s a tough question. Video, certainly, and it still does better in low light than either D800E/D810 and much better than the X-T1, of course. Plus it can use all of my F mount lenses natively – so there’s still a place for it when I do commercial/documentary work.

  60. A great read as always! 🙂
    Maybe the NX1 with the 30 f/2 can be inclued in the list?

    • Can’t honestly say as I haven’t used it – nor even seen anywhere here that stocks them. I’m also hesitant to buy into something as an experiment that has uncertain resale value/possibility.

    • Have to chime in here. The Nx1 even with the pancake is not very compact. The little I have used it is a great camera (big question if its a great system yet) but its way bigger than say an XT1.

  61. markdavisleica says:

    Excellent article Ming, neatly summing up a conundrum we have all been facing. We have all come to rely on the GR so much, for its size and IQ. It really is a shame we do not have a GR normal in approximately the same size body.

    My recent solution for a carry around a light, although not fully pocketable, body is the Sony A7 with the superb 55mm Zeiss. The original A7 is now a phenomenal bargain as prices, at least in the uk, have been slashed with the arrival of the A7S and the A7II. The best aspect of this package in my view is the excellent colour rendition and shooting envelope. You didn’t mention this. Are you not a fan?

    Happy new year!

    • I’m not a fan because of the tonal compression…but remain very interested for the day they make one with uncompressed raw.

      • The RAW compression issue of Sony alpha cameras can’t be fixed with a firmware update?

        • Doubtful. I suspect it’s part of the DAC and imaging pipeline; compression further upstream reduces processing overhead and allows for cheaper components.

  62. A very interesting write Ming. I think you come around most of the gear considerations photographers are struggeling with. The superior and the allrounder. Whereas for many the alrounder is the only tool kit at hand, the superior (ultimate shooting envelope) has to be there for you for your pro work and Ultraprints.

    I’ve seen quite stunning IQ from the XT-1 files processed in Iridient and I never understood why Adobe never, until now, pulled themselves together and cracked the X-Trans file codes. X-Trans has been around for years now and Fuji cameras are popular ones among photogs. I like the ergonomics of the XT-1 a lot.and like the external controls too.

    I am sure a lot more is to come within the mirrorless compact camera world and now that rumors tells us Nikon and Canon are entering this segment some time perhaps not too far, the envelope for choises are certainly becomming larger. If those new options shows to be close to 50 MP FF sensor sizes, I hope they will sport some sort of IBIS and will not be too compact that we sell away the comfort using lenses that can resolve the 50 MP!

    Final comment, I am taken away by the ‘Stair’ shoot 🙂

    • There’s still some gap between Iridient and ACR, but I feel it isn’t as huge as it used to be. I don’t know how much more we’re going to see from smaller sensors, though. Diffraction remains a challenge and fundamental limitation of physics – unless we move to non-Bayer sensors, but then there are all sorts of other limitations to contend with…

  63. Ming, wasn’t it a year ago that you loved the EM1? What happened? Does the APSC sensor size really make that much of a difference for the “fun” shooting? Just curious.

    • I was actually thinking the same thing – but if you read carefully, Ming answered that question when conveying his thoughts on the GM5: The sensor doesn’t cut it anymore in the light of his evolving expectations. I can actually relate to this – albeit with opposite results: I’ve just recently found out that for a casual shooter like me, the mFT sensor is more than good enough, so I decided to fully commit to it for the time being (I had seriously been thinking about getting into Nikon FF – in fact I will, but later). But I’m just beginning to see the sensor’s potential, so I haven’t explored it to its limits. Ming definitely has.

      • I’m also not fully happy with the lens options in that FL range…

        • Yes, you said so … Anyway, if I’m not mistaken, the Touit is bigger than the Pana/Leica 25mm. I have never held nor shot that lens, though, and can’t comment on its qualities. I’m not in a position to question your choices anyway – knowing you, you will have considered them thoroughly. Actually, that very lens (the 32mm Touit) almost tempted me into getting an A6000 … But as things are, I’ll stick to mFT, and quite happily so. It seems to be the most suitable system for me, and the E-M10 hits a sweet spot in terms of size and handling. I personally would consider that body and the 25mm f/1.4 the perfect combo for your demands in *my* book, but it’s definitely not on par with the Fuji/Zeiss combo in *any* respect, so I see why you for one had to move on.

          • They’re about the same size without hoods; I suppose it’s also a question of which rendering you prefer. Wide open, the PL25 does have quite a lot of CA which the Touit doesn’t; it’s correctable in post but still leaves a slightly less crisp edge transition.

            That said, a GM5/PL25 isn’t balanced because of the size of the body, so that’s another consideration. File quality of the APSC cameras is definitely a step up on M4/3 still.

            • Thanks for the insights, I appreciate it. Truth be told, I suspected as much – the Zeiss is made to Zeiss standards, the PanaLeica is a Panasonic lens following Leica guidelines. Considering this, the Touit is actually quite a bargain. Have you tried the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4?

              I know you tried the X-E2, too, and it didn’t manage to win you over, so I’m quite curious as to how much better the X-T1 is in real use; so I’m looking forward to reading your review whenever it’s ready.

              Sure enough, I completely agree about the GM5 – even though I really wanted to like that camera (size matters to me – maybe even too much!), I found using it really too fiddly. It’s a huge improvement over the GM1, though, the EVF is usable, the new scroll wheel is much better, there are more Fn buttons and so on and so forth – but it just felt cramped as soon as tried to actually use it while looking through the EVF.

              And as for IQ, I know you’re right – every time I use the GR and look at its files in more detail, I’m still blown away by what this camera can do by comparison. Every camera reaching that kind of image quality is far superior to any mFT camera, no question. And now it appears that you can get something at least similar from another camera that’s small enough and offers great build quality and straightforward handling. I’m actually glad I’ve already made up my mind to stick with mFT until I can fully exploit its potential, or I’d suffer from a serious GAS attack (again …).

              • The Fuji 35 suffers from CA and lower microcontrast. They’re related optically and you can’t really fix the latter in post – if it’s not there, it’s not there.

                There’s a significant haptic difference between the X-E2 and X-T1. But then again, the price is quite different too 🙂

    • Lenses and shutter vibration. You can’t always use EFC – with fluro sources for instance, you get pretty obvious banding with all cameras because the readout isn’t instantaneous over the entire frame.

  64. Ming, in my search for a great compact, I purchased a x100s. I love the feel, weight, and viewfinder combination. However I often felt I wanted something longer than the 35mm. The TCL was an option but I also felt I was missing images of my kids with the slower AF so I tried the e-m5. I feel like the e-m5 is a very nice balance between size, AF speed, and small lenses that are fast and sharp and fit in my pockets. Stabilization keeps ISO in check as well. So I’m curious to ask you, why didn’t you stick with the e-m1 instead of buying into another system? Was it just the shutter shock issue that keeps you from going back to Olympus or do you see significant differences in image quality? Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree, but I didn’t find any normal FLs I really liked. There’s no equivalent of the way the 32 Touit renders. It’s all about the glass…

  65. Dude, this just proves it’s not the hardware. You could’ve taken these with any camera, any lens and I’d still know it was a Ming Thein shot. Good stuff! Nice work!

  66. randomesquephoto says:

    I know it’s a little off topic. But you mentioned here that the cooloix a can be used with ricohs 21 mm lens. Have you. Or anyone else used that combo? It’s almost impossible finding anything in the coolpix A via Google search. And if you have. How do you adapt it.


    • Not used it but saw it done on a forum with some step up rings.

    • I have the Coolpix A and took a chance on an older Nikon Wide Adapter, and it works very nicely. That is the Nikon Wide Converter WC-E68 which is a 0.68x converter. This mounts directly onto the 46mm thread of the Nikon UR-E24 filter adapter. The combination makes the Coolpix A lens 12.58mm, or somewhat like a full frame 19mm view. You can find these wide adapters on the used market at reasonable prices.

  67. Definetly interested in what you think. I shoot with a leica m3 and minolta cle with 50 and 28. I have been afraid to commit to digital but the fuji xt1 has me interested. I hope the files print well.

    • Haven’t made any images I’ve felt compelled to print yet, though that’s as much a function of not having enough time as it is knowing that if I plan to print, I’ll ultraprint and use something with more resolution.

  68. I am wondering, that you have not used the excellent SONY A7s yet with its incredible capacity, instead of complaining about the shutter vibration of the SONY A7r!

    • I cannot answer for Ming of course, but just want to mention I have the same problems with the A7s about the compressed RAW output as Ming refers to. Beside that it is a lovely camera.

    • 12MP and FF-sized lenses doesn’t work for me at all. It’s the worst of both worlds.

  69. Excellent Read Ming! I like the thought process. Great to hear you have a solution for this!

  70. Very nice set of images Ming, thought you weren’t a fan of the normal FL? 🙂
    And for me the Pentax K3 + any of the 40/43mm pancakes is perfect for this, maybe you’ve considered this too.

    • I am now. My ‘longer’ lens has gotten shorter and shorter – from an 85/28 combination to 50/28… The pentax didn’t make sense as it isn’t that small. 40mm is a bit too close to 35mm for me. But the in-body SR is definitely useful…

  71. But why not stick with the EM1? Your previous posts gave me the impression you really like the camera. Was it because of the sensor, shutter shock issues, and price that made you not consider it?

    • File quality differences, shutter shock and limitations of EFC (banding under incandescent light), lack of a 50mm-e that draws the way I want…

  72. I find the Sony RX100miii suits my needs for a pocketable, always with me, camera. I need the longer end, 70mm equivalent, for portraits and while it is slow at that focal length (over f7.6 equivalent), it’s still acceptable given the ISO performance.
    A 50mm version of the Fuji X100 series would be lovely, though. I’d take that around with me more often than a DSLR.

    • I had the original RX100 and used that quite a lot, but the overall file quality was behind M4/3. The current version is a bit better but still lags, let alone APSC.


  1. […] This article will be a sort of evolution of the Compact Fast Normal Conundrum… […]

  2. […] my eternal search for the perfect compact I read an article from Ming Thein on his recent thoughts on compacts.  This really made me think about what I want in a […]

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