A strange copyright case

DPReview has a report of a strange copyright case where a picture has been found infringing on another picture because they have a red bus on a monochrome background of the London Big Ben and Parliament. Not the same vantage point nor even the same bus. The bigger problem is that the court found it infringing. Read it and now worry. A very unfortunate precedent.

A few thoughts on time stamps

George Jardine (a Lightroom export) wrote A Few Thoughts on Time Stamps, how he manages time stamps and deal with timezones.

It is a personal thing, and my personal choice is using UTC in the camera and timezone in the library to have the local time (local to the location of the picture). This raise a problem in Ligthroom, but it works in Aperture. And it matches with geo tagging using GPS traces.

Kodak filing for bankruptcy

Kodak just filed for bankruptcy in the US. This was almost expected as business has been declining over the years, being unable to make a come back from the decline of film.

The film division, still profitable after a reduction of costs, simplification of the product line like abandoning Kodachrome development isn’t big enough to sustain the rest. After deciding in November 2011 to sell their image sensor division to an equity firm, it sounded obvious that Kodak management didn’t know where to go.

Now several concerns:

First, what will happen to the film division? I’m sure that this is part of what they will try to offload for cheap. It is not growing anymore, quite the opposite, but they still have good film products and it would be a great loss to lose them.

Second, their patent pool is like a nuclear warhead that they are gonna sell to the highest bidder who will use it for patent warfare. Kodak has been known to litigate in the past to try to bring in some cash, unsuccessfully.

We’ll see how the reorganization goes.

Fuji X-Pro1

Fujifilm has announced a bunch of new cameras at CES. Amongst them, one that had leaked a little while back and that is now official: the Fuji X-Pro1. In April, I was talking about camera renouveau, and I think it could have come.

The Fujifilm X-series was started with the Fujifilm X-100, a compact camera with fixed prime lens and an hybrid viewfinder. It came with mixed reviews, with clearly very good reviews from user that appreciate the viewfinder and the compact nature. The sore points are the firmware user experience, that as of today Fujifilm hasn’t addressed. Still even with that it remains a perfectly capable camera with a very good image quality, thanks in part to the decent size sensor.

The Fujifilm X-10 came second. It dropped the hybrid viewfinder, added a zoom with manual control, coupled to the optical viewfinder, and a smaller EXR sensor. But it remains an excellent camera, with decent low light performance. I had it in hand for 15 minutes and I really liked it.

I’ll skip the Fujifilm X-1 that just got announced directly go to the X-Pro1 that was announced Monday at CES.

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a “retro-styled” camera with interchangeable lenses, an hybrid viewfinder, and an APS-C sensor. So far, déjà-vu, almost.

Note: I will be talking about a camera without having actually tried it. I’ll try to provide the information based on what is publicly available. Mistake or omissions are not deliberate. I would love to be able to review it and when I can get my hands on one, I’ll review it. This could take a while though.

Interchangeable lenses

The new Fuji X-mount designed specifically for this camera. Nothing special except a shorter flange, more appropriate for shorter lenses on small sensors. And a completely electrical coupling like most modern systems.

One would think they could have used an existing mount, like m4/3. m4/3 would be impractical due to the sensor size, and there is no other mount they could use, short of the older mechanical mount like M or M42 or LTM that don’t carry elecronic.

The good news is, there will be a M mount adapter. Let’s hope there will be adapter for other mounts as well. I remain confident.

APS-C sensor

The size of the sensor matters much for image quality and we have seen that an APS-C sensor is good compromise.

The difference with that sensor is its color matrix. Instead of using a 2×2 it uses a 6×6 color pattern with alternating positions for the 3 colors. The claim from Fujifilm is that it should avoid the moiré effect and provide a more natural image. We’ll see what it actually does and I do believe RAW processing software vendor might have a fun time to support it. Fujifilm called this the “X-trans CMOS”.

The hybrid viewfinder

First, this is not a rangefinder camera. Nonetheless the viewfinder is the single feature that would drive the adoption of this camera within a certain segment of the photographer market.

The hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro1 is an evolution of the X-100 viewfinder: optical viewfinder with electronic overlay, switchable to EVF. To manage the different field of view from the different lenses, there are two “mechanisms” in place.

The first one is a system of frame lines from the overlay, changing depending on the effective field of view (the focal length). This is not unlike a rangefinder camera. But the electronic natures do not preclude zooming.

The second one is an optical magnifier. The problem with frame lines is that the longer your lens is, the smaller the frame lines become. To compensate, there is a magnifier that slide in font of the viewfinder. This is not without reminding us of the Leica M3 goggles.

The firmware allow setting the focal length manually for the viewfinder, which clearly indicate that, like m4/3 cameras, older manual lenses will be able to be used. How the focusing will work using the EVF remains to be seen. But it can’t be worse than what m4/3 camera with the back LCD can do. Let’s hope.

Lenses

For now 3 prime lenses have been announced:

  • Fujinon Lens XF 18mm f2 R
  • Fujinon Lens XF 35mm f1.4 R
  • Fujinon Lens XF 60mm f2.4 R Macro

Wide, standard, short telephoto with macro. Quite a standard range to start with. Rumor has it that this is just an early set and more are to come.

There is no in-body image stabiliser, unlike in the Olympus Pen.

Price

The prices are rumored to be $1700 for the body, and $600 for each lens. Quite not low end, more than the average m4/3, but still largely more affordable compared to a Leica M9.

Fujifilm hands-on preview video

The Fujiguys from Fujifilm Canada have a couple of videos to show product. It gives you a good idea of what it does (but this is not an independent review) and give you a good overview of the overall ergonomics.

It seems to be clear that the gripes people have about the X-100 firmware have been addressed, at least to some extent, in the X-Pro1 as the hands-on preview shows.

Part 1 (view on YouTube)

Part 2 (view on Youtube)

Would I get it?

On the paper all of this sound really appealing. It seems to be the affordable digital rangefinder everybody has been waiting for, without being actually being a rangefinder.

My biggest concern is Fujifilm commitment to their customers. The lack of real update on the X-100 firmware is not encouraging ; it remains be seen how well they will do with the X-Pro1. We’ll see, maybe they will address the X-100 as well.

Still I remain tempted.

Sample Pictures

It is somewhat early for sample pictures. Fujifilm posted the mandatory demo pictures. Also, DCFever has its own set of pictures (in Chinese). And there is a set from hugo poon hp on Flickr (no full size pictures). But lot of other testers were not allowed to even take the pictures “home”.

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