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X marks the spot: The Lake District, UK

One photographer, one Fujifilm X-series camera, a whole lot of great images

Ian Allington
Ian Allington

The Fujifilm X-M1 was made for photographers who like to travel light. Incorporating all the best elements of the X-series, including the superb X-Trans sensor, its compact dimensions and light weight set it firmly in the sights of photographers who don’t want a day in the field to result in a bad back or poor-quality images. Photographers like England-based Ian Allington (right), in fact, who regularly treks many miles in the picturesque Lake District to combine his two great passions: walking and photography.

We gave Ian an X-M1 along with the XC 16-50mm to accompany him on his latest trip into the hills and asked him to report back on his findings as he walked around the famous Old Man of Coniston. Click on the map to see his images and read his thoughts about the X-M1 and lenses.

1.The old man and dow crag

The old man and dow crag
Lens: XC16-50mm at 35mm setting
Exposure: 1/50sec at f/10, ISO 200

I decided on an early morning start and took this shot of The Old Man (on the right) and Dow Crag (on the left) from Torver before I started climbing. At this time, there was a deep shadow across the lower fields whilst the top of the hill was enjoying some early morning sun, so I was interested to see how the X-M1 coped with these conditions. As you can see, it’s coped extremely well with the contrast, retaining detail both in the shadows and the sunlit peak.

The camera offers different Dynamic Range settings to cope with strong contrast like this. Although this was taken with the standard 100% setting, 200% is available at ISO sensitivities of 400 and above, while the highest 400% setting is available at ISO 800 and above.

2.Winch cable tower

Winch cable tower
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/9, ISO 200

One of the most striking features on the landscape in this area is the number of slate mines dotted around the hillside. I’ve taken many pictures here before, but what I particularly liked was being able to take pictures from ground level without having to lie on my stomach in the mud! Thanks to the huge three-inch tilt LCD screen on the X-M1, getting creative with low-level shots was a piece of cake. This is a picture of one of the old winch cable towers and the X-M1 has captured plenty of detail in the cables and the distant spoil heaps on the slopes of The Old Man of Coniston.

3.Old winch room

Old winch room
Lens: XC16-50mm at 30mm setting
Exposure: 1/350sec at f/6.4, ISO 320

Climbing up from the ruins you get a view down on the old winch room, or what’s left of it. The area below is known as Smithy Bank, which was one of the platforms used to transport the slate down the mountain. Here, I tried some of the X-M1’s in-camera filters. The first of these two shots was taken with the Miniature setting and gives an impression of the hut being a model, similar to the tilt shift function created by Photoshop editing, but much quicker and simpler! The second image was taken with the Toy Camera filter giving the effect of being shot with a plastic lens camera. The filters are fun to use and can change a simple image into something far more interesting.

4.Summit of the old man

Summit of the old man
Lens: XC16-50mm at 50mm setting
Exposure: 1/350sec at f/10, ISO 200

After a short climb from Low Water, which nestles below The Old Man, I finally reached the summit which stands at 803m. This view over the summit trig point is looking towards Wetherlam with the Eastern fells in the distance partly obscured by low cloud. I had been mainly shooting in the manual exposure mode up to this point, but here I took the opportunity to switch to the Landscape function on the camera. Comparing results to ones taken in Manual, there was very little difference so the X-M1 can clearly be relied upon for point-and-shoot simplicity. Again, the tilt screen was used to get a low down shot across the summit. My very first Fuji camera – the S9600 – had one and I’d forgotten how useful it could be!

5. View of low water

View of low water
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 640

Time to start heading back down, and I took this picture looking over the edge towards Low Water below. The village of Coniston is visible nestled just at the end of Coniston Water with a glimpse of Windermere beyond. The colour reproduction is excellent with the greens in the distance well displayed. All the images today were taken using the standard setting as the light and natural colours were vibrant enough, but there are also a range of Film Simulation modes that replicate popular Fujifilm emulsions, should I have wanted to boost or mute colours. I’m sure in the future I’ll be pressing these into service.

6. The Scafell massif

The Scafell massif
Lens: XC16-50mm at 50mm setting
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/11, ISO 200

I descended via Goat’s Water, mainly because I love this view across England’s highest mountains; the Scafell massif. From left to right Scafell, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Great End viewed across the dappled flanks of Grey Friar. The X-M1’s 49-point AF system with the ability to select your focus point was very useful when composing shots like this. Normally, I would select the focal point in the image, half depress the shutter then recompose before shooting. With this facility it was so easy to select the correct point without the need for recomposing. Just press the AF button on the back of the camera, then use the selector buttons to choose the focusing point on the rear LCD.

7.The cove

The cove
Lens: XC16-50mm at 16mm setting
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/14, ISO 200

After leaving Goat’s Water, the footpath leads you across the Cove. This shot was taken looking back at the imposing face of Dow Crag and the wonderful blue skies above it; I made no adjustment to the saturation on this shot, another example of the vibrancy of the images produced from the X-Trans sensor.

By this point, I’d spent some time with the camera round my neck. I usually store my DSLR in a camera rucksack as I walk because of the weight and the bulk, but the X-M1 is so light and compact it was no problem. It also speeds up picture-taking, as does the inclusion of the Q button, which provides quick and easy access to all the major features of the camera.

The Fujifilm X100s One Year On

By David Cleland

x100s-flixelpix

Visit the official product page for the Fujifilm X100S

In December 2012 I received my first X100s, a pre-production camera and was tasked to capture some images of Northern Ireland in advance of the world launch in February.

As a big Fujifilm X100 fan I was obviously excited to see how the latest release performed and boy did it perform!  I posted my first “Hands on the X100s” post in January and since then little camera has gone literally everywhere with me.

I pack my X100s in the original X100 leather case and it rarely escapes compliments from people often when it is still in the stylish leather case. The leather case offers a great deal of protection yet manages to keep the whole package small and portable. I can carry the camera in my everyday bag without the fear of damage.

I love everything about the X100s, the 35mm focal length is perfect for documentary photography, it is a versatile camera capable of capturing stunning images in everyday situations without drawing the fear factor often associated with a DSLR.

All of the following photographs were captured either on days when I wasn’t setting out with the aim of taking photos or in the case of the music photography images the X100s was acting as a second camera. I take the X100s literally everywhere, not just for the portability but for the fact I can rely on it to capture stunningly sharp and vibrant images. Click on any of the photos to view large on flickr.

Towards the Mournes
This image of the Mourne mountains was taken during the Easter break after one of the heaviest snow falls in a decade.
Early Morning
This mono image was captured on White Rocks Beach in County Antrim during a cold morning just after Christmas 2012. This photo was captured with the pre-production camera and I was struck my the sharpness and speed at which the camera performed.
The Duke of York
Stripes were definitely in last June. This lowlight image was captured during an evening out and a visit to the brilliant Duke of York in Belfast.

You can see more images on David’s blog here: http://www.flixelpix.com

About David

David Cleland is a documentary and landscape photography from Ireland. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his blog.

FUJINON XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens test

Sample 4
200mm setting, 1/2000sec at f/6.4, ISO 320
At the 200mm setting, the lens can produce frame-filling shots from the side of a track. This was taken in a public area through a mesh fence

FUJINON XF lenses are all about quality. Quality of build, quality of performance, quality of results. With prime (single focal length) lenses, quality is to be expected by virtue of their more simple optical construction. But good results are less of a foregone conclusion when it comes to zooms. Until recently, the XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R was the only telezoom in the Fujinon line up. It’s since been joined by the XC50-230mm f/4.5-6.7, which was launched alongside the X-A1 and is designed for mid-range X-brand models. But the XF55-200mm remains top dog by virtue of its faster maximum aperture and more solid build, making it the perfect accompaniment to the X-E and X-Pro models. We tested the lens on the latter model.

Sample 1
141mm setting, 1/1250sec at f/5, ISO 320
No problems with vibrant colours, and the level of detail is impressive, as is the car!

The first thing you’ll notice about the XF55-200mm is its impressive build quality. It looks and feels as though it’s built to stand the rigours of daily use and feels reassuringly solid in every aspect of construction. The zoom collar is both large and very smooth to use, while the manual focusing ring at the end of the lens and the aperture ring near the body are both well sized and a real pleasure to control. It comes supplied with a deep lens hood to keep a tight control on flare, plus there’s a switch to turn Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on and off, alongside the automatic or manual aperture control switch. The OIS is worthy of note. Offering up to 4.5 stops of compensation, we found that even at the 200mm setting, we were able to shoot with shutter speeds around 1/20sec without any evidence of camera shake.

Sample 2
164mm setting, 1/20sec at f/4.6, ISO 400
Optical Image Stabilisation is excellent, this shot was taken at 1/20sec but there’s no hint of blur

With the XF55-200mm attached to the X-Pro1, the combination is neither heavy nor bulky – it’s fine to sling over your shoulder while you’re out for a walk, plus the zoom action is constructed in such a way that there’s no zoom creep, even with the lens pointed down.

A focal range equivalent to 84-305mm on a 35mm camera means the lens offers plenty of versatility. We used it for a wide range of subjects, from portraits through to sporting action. The focusing proved accurate and the out-of-focus areas were lovely and smooth thanks to the seven-blade aperture diaphragm.

Sample 3
200mm setting, 1/120sec at f/4.8, ISO 400
Regardless of focal length setting, the lens delivers high-quality results. You can count every hair in this dog’s fur

The real beauty of the lens, though, is in the quality of the results. In keeping with the Fujinon XF philosophy, the resulting images display impressive levels of sharpness thanks to the combination of high-quality optics and the X-Pro1’s wonderful X-Trans sensor. The lens also showed great consistency through the focal range and aperture settings. Whether you’re shooting wide open at 55mm or stopped down at 200mm, you can be confident of getting great results every time.

Lens tested by Roger Payne