Tuesday, October 21, 2014

REVIEW: Fujifilm X30–The best one yet! (Part I)

Fujifilm X30 Digital Camera (Black)
Fujifilm X30 Digital Camera (Black)

When I first got the x100 to review I remember thinking “wow, this thing is special” (despite my later disdain for the fixed lens).  When the x10 & x20 came out I had high hopes, but the x20 (at least my silver one) seemed to pale in comparison the likes of a x100s.  Fast forward to this third version and it appears that Fujifilm has got it right. The x30 feels like a camera that deserves its hefty price.

Fujifilm X30 Rear View
Fujifilm X30 Rear View

The changes are plentiful and noteworthy. From a proper electronic viewfinder to a huge new LCD and wonderful control ring, this camera feels improved from the ground up. The net result of all the good new changes means this camera is heavier (12.45 oz / 353 g for the x20 vs 14.9 oz / 422 g for the x30), but I like the solid feel. The selector buttons make a great clicky sound and this camera is loaded with new and greatly improved features from end to end.

I can confess that this cameras weight is actually a positive to me. It feels as solid as a German luxury sedan, yet it’s super fast. All this new tech requires a bigger battery which doesn’t help either. The x10 & x20 were never going to win awards for their bulky design, but it was so charming you looked past it. The x30 is a bit like a Lamborghini where it’s big, bold and non apologetic about it!

I’ll discuss more in my next installment, but so far this camera has definitely made me a big fan.

Real World Sample Images

If you read my Nikon D750 review, this gallery might seem like déjà vu! The reason why is because I duplicated many of the shots I took with the D750 on the x30 shortly thereafter.

While the x30 is no match for the dynamic range of the incredible D750, you do see the advantage of a small cropped sensor when taking macro shots thanks to the greater depth of field. It’s also quite impressive how good many of these are when compared against one of the best DSLR’s on the market.

If you are new to my blog, what follows are in-camera JPEG’s with no modifications taken through the course of a normal day. The camera is mostly set to camera defaults but I do chose my AF single point and adjust the white balance as I see fit. Most shots are aperture priority but a few are using automatic modes as well. All but one shot long exposure shot in the gallery were also taken handheld.

You may view the photos for your pleasure, but please delete them and/or remove them from your cache when done. You may not edit, print, or otherwise use these photos. All rights are reserved. The full gallery can be found at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/fujifilm/x30.


f/2.2 @ 12.2 mm, 1/140, ISO 100, No Flash

This is one of those wow, I can’t believe it’s a “point and shoot” images. It looks so real and vibrant that I want to reach through the screen and grab it (especially on my 4k review display)!


f/2.8 @ 21 mm, 1/220, ISO 200, No Flash, Provia/Std Film Simulation

Fujifilm is known for great color, but as good as the standard Provia film simulation is, I still prefer the Velvia film simulation shown below. I use this often in my review because I just prefer the vibrant colors and deeper (sometimes shadow crushing) blacks


f/2.8 @ 28.4 mm, 1/220, ISO 200, No Flash, Velvia Film Simulation

Admit it, those leaves look pretty awesome with a simple film simulation mode change, huh?!!!


f/9 @ 7.1 mm, 1/850, ISO 100, No Flash, SP Sunset Mode

The x10 won my heart with the sunset shot I took in Hawaii with this auto mode (and a plate full of food in my right hand – ha, ha). In fact, that shot is still my Facebook cover page photo. The x30 didn’t disappoint here either. While it naturally doesn’t have the shadow detail of the similar shot taken with D750, I have zero complaints with this shot straight out of the camera


f/2.2 @ 10.4 mm, 1/125, ISO 100, No Flash, SR+ Mode

This camera is so good that I joked that I could just point it at the ground and press and it would make a vibrant and interesting shot. I think it did and that’s what you want from this class of camera – you want good results so you can capture the moment and move on


f/4 @ 13.7 mm, 1/340, ISO 200, No Flash

The sunset was raining down some serious yellow on these trees so this is actually still Auto White Balance in Velvia mode


f/2.2 @ 12.2 mm, 1/170, ISO 100, No Flash

The macro mode is still just as addicting as ever on this one


f/2 @ 7.1 mm, 1/60, ISO 1000, No Flash

Despite being such a high ISO, I see photorealism that makes me want to reach into the screen and touch it. There’s definitely an improvement in high ISO performance over the x10 & x20!


f/5 @ 7.6 mm, 1/30, ISO 2500, No Flash –1 EV

This was a case where I actually preferred the X30 results to the similar shot I took during my Nikon D750 review. With a point and snap it it managed to capture the vibrant colors of the trees very well yet still not get too dark for the train tracks


f/2.2 @ 12.7 mm, 1/20, ISO 400, No Flash, SR+

Clearly the beauty of the x10’s EXR mode still isn’t in this model It is sad too because the x10 nailed tough exposures like these


f/4 @ 10.4 mm, 1/30, ISO 3200, No Flash

ISO 3200 starts to show some grain but with a little Noiseware this shot is totally salvageable and impressive for a small sensor camera!


f/2.5 @ 18.7 mm, 1/40, ISO 800, No Flash

See my Nikon D750 review and notice how the Nikon needed ISO 12,800 to get this shot taken minutes apart. As a point and shoot it once again does a great job that I feel confident IS better than your new fancy smartphone (yes, even that one)

For more photos, visit http://photos.ronmartblog.com/fujifilm/x30.

Conclusion

I’ll give my conclusion in the next installment next week, but I can already say that this is my favorite X series camera yet. The quality of the camera itself is on another level and the images are definitely much improved over its predecessor. Now I need to decide if I order one before you do…

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order on the B&H web site.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Monday, October 20, 2014

REVIEW: Nikon D750 with 24-120mm Lens with Real World Images (Part I)

Nikon D750 DSLR Camera with 24-120mm Lens
Nikon D750 DSLR Camera with 24-120mm Lens

The Nikon D750 has been a highly anticipated and long rumored camera. The D700 was a huge hit and when the D600 came out the rumors immediately began that the D700 replacement would soon follow. With the D4, D800, D7100, D610, D4s, & D810 announcements you could almost sense the frustration from the Nikon faithful that while the announced camera was cool, that’s NOT the one they were hoping to see announced.

The D700 was effectively a D3 in a cost effective package, so it’s no wonder that people were hoping for the same with the D750. However, the camera I’ve been using really feels to me like the D610 on steroids. Personally I feel this camera takes everything that is great about the D610 and addresses most of the weaknesses to result in a camera that I personally would really like to own!

Hands On Thoughts

Nikon D750 Rear View
Nikon D750 Rear View

This is an awesome camera body that features the creature comforts normally reserved for consumer cameras and frustratingly omitted from pro cameras like an articulating LCD. While you won’t be using it to do selfies, you will be able to get better live view or video shots with the camera above your had and down low, so there’s definitely value in that!

Unless I missed something, it was disappointing to see that there are no shooting banks. This allows you to switch between a set of custom configurations for the camera quickly and is typically found on models like the D4s and D810. This would indicate that this camera is targeted more to the consumer than the pro. The  articulating LCD and scene & effects modes on the mode dial certainly confirm this too. However, I do not think this is a bad thing because what I love about my 5D Mark III is that it has consumer features (like HDR that will keep the originals) not found on my 1D X (and insufficient on cheaper models because it doesn’t keep the original files). As a result this is a camera that I think the pro enthusiast will love, but they could hand it to their spouse or event photography assistant and still have a camera that is approachable and usable by mere mortals.

I’m used to pro bodies like the 1D X and D4s that are machine guns, so the D750 feels slow to me. However, it’s good for its class and price point. I also noticed that with a fast memory card it will go on for a long time at a reduced speed without filling the buffer even when shooting RAW+JPEG fine. I think this will please wedding and event photographers who can’t afford to have a buffer to fill prematurely. I still wouldn’t classify this as a pro sports camera, but it should do fine for soccer parents who want a fighting shot at  capturing sports without investing in a D4s.

Real World Pictures

If you are new to my blog, what follows are in-camera JPEG’s with no modifications taken through the course of a normal day. The camera is mostly set to camera defaults but I do chose my AF single point and adjust the white balance as I see fit. Most shots are aperture priority but a few are manual mode as well. All but one shot in the gallery were also taken handheld all using the 24-120mm kit lens.

You may view the photos for your pleasure, but please delete them and/or remove them from your cache when done. You may not edit, print, or otherwise use these photos. All rights are reserved. The full gallery can be found at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/nikon/d750.


f/5.6 @ 120 mm, 1/125, ISO 320, No Flash
, Shade White Balance
Reds and oranges are tough but I thought this sensor did a great job of showing a broad spectrum of reds and oranges. This is a fun camera to have for the fall!


f/7.1 @ 120 mm, 1/200, ISO 800, No Flash

Here the limitations of the kit lens become obvious because I think with a better lens the detail of this shot would be awesome. Even still, I was quite satisfied with what I saw overall.


f/5.6 @ 82 mm, 1/100, ISO 450, No Flash

Again, the wide dynamic range means a gorgeous spectrum of color


f/11 @ 50 mm, 1/640, ISO 280, No Flash

Shooting into the sun is the ultimate torture test but this camera did an excellent job of capturing a wide tone of colors and retaining a respectable amount of shadow detail. NICE!


f/7.1 @ 110 mm, 1/250, ISO 800, No Flash

Here’s another one that few cameras can capture this well. The alternating tones of the trees are captured very faithfully with the vivid richness coming from the shade white balance.


f/4.5 @ 105 mm, 1/30, ISO 100, No Flash

Ok, I didn’t really need to include this one (or the f/7.1 version in the gallery) but I was just having too much fun with this camera


f/4 @ 120 mm, 1/200, ISO 720, No Flash

At parks you’ve gotta photograph at least a duck or goose right? :)
The goose $hit was captured with such accuracy – ha, ha


f/7.1 @ 24 mm, 1/25, ISO 5000, No Flash

The great shadow detail means textures really come to life


f/4 @ 85 mm, 1/100, ISO 12800, No Flash

Here’s one place that the color sucked, but that can be blamed on ISO 12800, so keep that in mind if you shoot high ISO’s. The phone cover here is really bright red in real life. There was an abundance of natural daylight here so a better lens sure would have helped too.


f/4 @ 58 mm, 1/125, ISO 6400, No Flash
, AWB
While it’s impossible to have identical conditions, it’s interesting to note that my shot like this with the D600 was way better at ISO 5000 @ f/5.6. I should manually dropped down a stop and adjusted the white balance but I was getting over confident about what this camera might do on its own. This is faithful to real life but it could have been better.


f/4 @ 120 mm, 1/125, ISO 7200, No Flash, Poorly Handheld - sorry

This statue has a strong light beam on it so many cameras require spot metering to avoid exposing properly for one part of the scene while botching the other. The default metering mode did a beautiful job with the AF point on the face. This is almost what the human eye sees the scene as in real life – sweet!


f/5.6 @ 35 mm, 1/125, ISO 12800, No Flash

If I had to pick the one thing that really impresses me is how well the metering handles complex scenes like this. With the great meter and awesome dynamic range, a shot like this goes from requiring HDR in the past to just point and shoot now (single exposure – no HDR).


f/4 @ 24 mm, 1/50, ISO 7200, No Flash

I included this one because this is a case where the dark ceiling means that you usually only get detail where the lights are. However, notice how much detail you can see in the ceiling. I think this is the best I’ve seen from a camera for this common test shot that I do.


f/4 @ 46 mm, 1/50, ISO 6400, No Flash

While I screwed up and had the AWB still on, what’s impressive is how much detail and tonal range from the statue and the wall behind are picking up. This is definitely a good sensor boys and girls!

I’ll have more photos to come, but suffice it to say that I’m sufficiently impressed with my early testing. The full gallery can be found at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/nikon/d750.

Conclusion

I’ll render my full conclusion when I’m done testing, but you can tell from my comments above that I love this camera. In fact, I was going to review other products first, but this one got such a wow out of me that I had to get my first part on the web early.

I’ll have more to come, but basically my current opinion is that if you are considering a Nikon and you can’t afford a D4s (who can right?) then this is the one you want. Sure the D610 is a great compromise if your budget is tight, and the D810 is the megapixel king but who cares though right? This is the best all-around, use it for anything, general purpose camera has right now. It’s definitely a great answer to the Canon 5D Mark III, so if your in the Nikon camp and have been lusting for a 5D Mark III then know that this is the camera you really should buy. If you are in the Canon camp, I still say don’t switch camps if you have invested in more than one L lens, but if you haven’t then I think from an image quality standpoint this might be the camera to own.

In short, is this camera worth the money and/or is it worth upgrading to? Heck yeah!

More later in the next part of my review.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the D750 on the B&H web site.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Zeiss Otus 85mm, Fujifilm, Canon and Nikon reviews on the way…

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZE Lens
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZE Lens

My apologies for the lack of articles since my semi-retirement in April from blogging, but please know that I’m still working behind the scenes to bring you fresh content. In fact, I’ve got the hot new Zeiss Otus 85mm in my hands and I’ve got the Nikon D750, Canon 7D Mark II, Fujifilm x30, Fujifilm x100t, and more all in the queue for review. While my quantity may be low, I do hope to focus more on the products you care about the most. If I’m missing something, please let me know.

Printing Series Updates Coming

I’ve also got some exciting stuff coming for the printing series too with some new paper and printer reviews that are in the works.

NEC MultiSync EA244UHD 23.8" 4K IPS LED Monitor
NEC MultiSync EA244UHD 23.8" 4K IPS LED Monitor

I also can’t wait to tell you my thoughts about the new NEC MultiSync EA244UHD 23.8" 4K IPS LED Monitor which I’ve been using for several months (but I’m waiting for the final production unit before releasing my review).

Yes, I’m still at it and alive and kicking, but I’ve given up my 10PM – 4:00 AM+ shift that I had for 5 years to bring you my past articles, so I’m loving a little slower than I used to be. Your continued support in checking the blog and using my links is still greatly appreciated!

Portfolio Reviews 50% Off & Training Discounts

From now until November 3rd, I’m offering 50% off my normal rate for portfolio reviews (see here). I’m also going to do some 1:1 training specials. Contact me if you are interested and let me know which you are interested in.

Discounts & Promo Codes


Long-time readers, remember this old thing? - Yeah, I've still got discounts!

My discount coupon code page which has saved my readers millions over the years has been updated with the latest offers, so if you haven’t checked it out lately then please do! If you have any problems with any of the codes please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

And there’s sooo much more to the RIGHT –>>> side of this blog. Please be sure to check the index and the archive sections.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Friday, October 3, 2014

KelbyOne Special Offer–5 Months for $89.10 (EXPIRES November 13, 2014)

image

Check out my article entitled Nikon D810 & SIGMA 50mm Art Series Automotive Photography via Kelby One & Tim Wallace if you’d like more info about why I think KelbyOne is cool and easily the best value in photography.

Where to order

Click here and use the promo/redemption code RMKO14 as shown above to get 5 months for the price of 4 AND SAVE an extra 10%! This limited time special offer expires on November 13, so act now if you have been waiting for a chance to binge watch KelbyOne videos at a discounted rate.

If you decide you want to go for the full subscription, then check out my normal special offer for KelbyOne and Photoshop World here. I also have a behind the scenes video and more about KelbyOne in case you want to learn more.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome Topaz Webinar Visitors (30% off coupon codes until October 6th included)

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thank you to everyone who attended my Topaz Labs Webinar! Click here to see all of the Topaz Labs products and be sure to visit my discount coupon code page to get a discount on ALL Topaz Labs products.  From now until Monday October 6th, you can also enjoy these limited time special offers:

ronweb5

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code above to get 30% off everything except Impression

ronimpression

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code above to get 25% Impression. If you haven’t seen it already, Impression is an awesome (albeit a little slow at this time) product that can create some stunning artistic effects. While it isn’t for everyone, it’s certain to please those people who are looking for something unique that they haven’t seen from other products before. Here’s literally a one click example from the numerous options available:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

If you like Simplify, you will love Impression!

More about this webinar

This webinar focused mostly on the following products:

Here’s a couple of the images covered by the webinar today:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Conclusion

My webinar will be archived soon on http://www.youtube.com/topazlabs/ if you want to watch the recording.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order and don’t forget to use my Discount Coupon Code page to save on your purchase.

Other articles you may enjoy

Here’s some of my Topaz Labs software reviews:

Here’s some other articles you might also enjoy:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.