A Sony fanboys rubbishing of the Fuji X-Pro 1. (That should get a few hits!)

At their press conference the other day, Fuji went through the somewhat undignified process of putting up a chart and placing all other cameras in inferior positions. The Fuji X-Pro 1, was of course at the pinnacle of style and quality. The only problem with doing this is that you have to be pretty sure that you can deliver the goods. From what I was reading as this "rubbishing" chart was unveiled, it seems as if m4/3 and NEX were relegated to a pretty lowly position.

My reaction yesterday was to actively want to use both m4/3 and NEX cameras. It is somewhat disappointing when companies feel the need to emphasise the negatives of their rivals rather than their own positives. Fuji aren't alone in doing this, but it was a cheap shot, and of course complete BS. 

So yesterday afternoon I went out with what I consider to be the best all-round CSC you can buy, the Sony NEX-5n, just to see what it can do. Unlike the Fuji, not a lookaleica, however to get into the spirit I decided to use two metal Voigtlander lenses, the 28mm f/2 Ultron, and 75mm f/2.5 Heliar. The camera and lenses looked rather nice with leather case, strap and add-on viewfinder. No-one would mistake it for a Leica, but hey you can't have everything.

I was particularly interested in seeing how the NEX-5n performed as a general all-round camera, and I did what I virtually never do, which was fire off a series of continuous shots. Its a fairly modest 2.3 fps, but I held down my finger on the shutter button and it starting firing and then it just kept going and going and going..... eventually I stopped as it was getting tedious. I got up to 25 shots in total of which I've put together 16 below. It would have done more, and while these were jpgs only, there was no buffer lockup whatsoever.

test

I wonder how the "Pro" Fuji will do at something like that?

In the place I was in I've always wanted to take a particular shot. There is a main railway line behind a canal basin and I've always wanted a picture of an express train with canal boats in the foreground. I've had several go's at it and haven't actually managed to get what I wanted usually due to AF hunting and shutter lag. Using manual focusing to pre-focus I waited for a train and one duly thundered along at about 60mph.

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As you can see I managed to get both ends of the train frozen and pin sharp in exactly the right position. Since the shutter button on the NEX-5n is instantaneous, it was a question of my reactions, fortunately even with freezing cold fingers I got what I wanted. If you think I was there for hours trying to get this I wasn't, this was my first and only attempt.

I wonder how the "Pro" Fuji will do at something like that?

Fuji have made a lot of fuss about their new sensor array. Lots of diagrams of coloured squares. More is better, right? This apparently gives full-frame quality in terms of high ISO performance, image quality and dynamic range. Though why they want to duplicate the DR of something like a Leica M9, which is pretty poor, I'm not sure. However since they had felt the need to relegate the Sony NEX system to the status of an also-ran in their "chart of merit" here's a few examples of what the NEX-5n can do.

DYNAMIC RANGE
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SHARPNESS

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HANDLING DIFFICULT HIGH CONTRAST LIGHTING SITUATIONS

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Fuji's previous lookaleica, the X100 (The Professionals choice), wasn't known as being particularly particularly good at either auto or manual focus. Since I was using manual focus lenses, I had no opportunity to use AF, but I would mention that I could probably have shot off half of the images in the top montage before the X100 had even locked on to something. In terms of manual focusing, the NEX systems focus peaking feature takes this to new levels.

I decided to give it a reasonable test by attempting to focus on some swans using an aperture of f/2. OK, this isn't a cheetah racing across the Serengeti national park, but those swans can swim pretty quick... really.

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I will admit they aren't that quick on land, but the object of the exercise was to see how quickly I could follow something around, continually altering manual focus at a very wide aperture. As it happens I could do that very successfully. Not all my pictures were perfectly composed but of the 20 or so shots I took, every single one was perfectly focused.

I wonder how the "Pro" Fuji will do at something like that?

On the subject of wide apertures Fuji make a great thing of how their camera / lens combinations can do all this fancy depth of field stuff (as if other cameras can't) Heres a couple of examples of the NEX-5n / Voigtlander combination in action.

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Finally an example of how the NEX-5n copes with dramatic, contrasty lighting and the colour depth its capable of producing.

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The shot above is a multi-image panoramic stitch, which is a 100MB file that looks simply breathtaking on my screen.

So, all of this probably reads like some Sony fanboy having a pop at Fuji. Well, yes it is and it isn't. Its my reaction to the nonsense that gets talked by camera manufacturers, internet pundits and your everyday internet forum contributor. As with the X100 there is the usual nonsense about how the Fuji X-Pro 1 (Couldn't they come up with a name without the Pro AND the now obligatory X) is going to change photography as we know it. I've seen "reviews" that are proclaiming that the new Fuji has better image quality than the Leica M9 and the Sony NEX-7 amongst others. This incidentally on the basis of a few, somewhat underwhelming, jpg samples on the Fuji website.

I'm still smitten by the look of the FPX1 (my new name for it) and though I'm telling myself that I'm going to wait and see what its capable of, the chances are that I will probably slap a pre-order in as soon as I can and wait impatiently for it to arrive. Even though I've been describing it as a lookaleica, I LIKE lookaleicas, and anyone who reads here on a regular basis will know that I go weak at the knees whenever I see anything with a hint of retro.

I do however feel my blood pressure rising when I read the nonsense that passes for serious comment on this thing. The almost religious faith that people put in the camera brand of their choice is amusing but at the same time unnerving in its ferocity.

I've been "bothered" recently by someone who seems to be trying to carve out a career as an internet stalker. An avowed NEX hater, he (I presume its a he) swoops on any of my posts when I dare to suggest that Sony make quite decent cameras and maybe we should actually wait to see if new wonder cameras such as the Fuji actually live up to what their manufacturers say about them. One particular set of snide comments to an innocuous post from me, pointing out that the FXP1 was actually quite heavy and how I personally was more concerned with weight rather than size, caused me to flip, with the result that I have now left a forum that I have enjoyed contributing to. However its either that or steam coming out of my ears on a permanent basis.

As I'm you sure you are all aware, I do make it very clear that what I write is personal opinion. I constantly write phrases such as "In my opinion" "It seems to me" "For me personally" etc. etc. I may, on the odd occasion leave one of these out, but if I do its because I'm not concentrating, and anyone who has read anything I write knows that I always endeavour to NOT present my personal point of view as a statement of fact.

However, I'll survive. I've been spending far too much time recently on forums anyway.

Returning from my rambles to the point of this piece, it may seem mundane and blindingly obvious to state that its perfectly possible to see the virtues of a particular piece of photographic equipment and also see its faults. It is also possible to see that one piece of equipment is good at one thing and not at another. It is also possible to point out that camera manufacturers may be prone to occasionally, possibly, be the teeniest bit biased when it comes to comparing their product to a rivals. They also, god forbid, may indulge in a bit of selective informing and exaggeration when it comes to describing the virtues of their new offering. And finally we can actually like something without signing away our souls to some multi-national and promising to proclaim them as the one true god of camera manufacture from now on and for ever more. OK, this is a bit over the top, but how often have you read and seen things that approach that level of nonsense?

In my opinion, to my mind, in my experience, from what I have seen and used, with regard to my personal use etc. etc. The Sony NEX-5n is a decent, capable, versatile high quality camera. It doesn't have as many coloured squares on its sensor as the Fuji, it doesn't look like a hand made German rangefinder, it doesn't (to my knowledge) have a soft core porn website but it works really well and does everything (and more) that I could ever want it to. I would also mention that you can buy a NEX-5n body and a couple of lenses for about half the price of the FXP1 body only, and if you want to investigate the wonderful world of m-mount lenses there are loads of S/H Voigtlanders, Zeiss's and even Leicas out there at prices within the range of virtually every serious photographer.

And last but not least, you can actually make an assessment of how it works for you since there are countless samples, reviews and user experiences to sift through. It may not be the second coming, but its here, you can buy it, and more importantly you can check out for yourself what its capable of.