New(ish) Camera – Fujifilm X-A5 – 680nm Infrared

O.k. it’s not new but a Fujifilm refurb sold on Ebay by a bloke called Tim who sells cameras converted to Infrared (he may sell normal stuff as well).

X series
X Series Collection

The X-A series is unusual for an interchangeable lens camera as it’s lacking a separate viewfinder, however you have a large touchscreen LCD which can be articulated up and down.

I’d noticed the X-A series when I was looking around for a carry round camera, but my preference is a viewfinder rather than a rear LCD screen – so I had pretty much ignored it. Pity really as the camera is really solid and actually construction wise feels better than the X-E3. Anyway, so why buy if I hate the view finder so much? Well, the truth is cost. This unit was £220 delivered, I could’ve picked up a X-E3, X-Pro 1 or a XT series for another £100/200 on top of what I paid, but I figured this is a trial run so I went with a camera that has a similar sensor to my existing kit at the lower price (you can get some older X-A models for £185) and maybe if IR is something I look to do more of then maybe then I’ll consider the more expensive kit later on.

With IR there are options as well, conversions of camera can have various filters fitted, or if you want you can have a Full Spectrum conversion which I believe you need to use filters on lenses to achieve the effect you want. Other typical conversions are 520nm, 680nm, 720nm and 850nm. I went sort of towards the middle and bought the 680nm camera (although I cocked up and ordered the 850nm, but that was sorted by Tim). The fixed (frequency/light wavelength?) models are just that, although you can add filters to the lenses for some of them to get similar effects – this is where it can get complicated hence why I just picked a model and IR level and stuck with it.

X-A5 with Articulated LCD Display
X-A5 Side profile, Strap hides the Flash mechanism release and microphone socket
X-A5 – Hotshoe and controls

The menus are similar to the other X-Series cameras I use (X-Pro2/X-E3) so learning wise it’s not too much of an issue. This camera does have a touch screen, which is useful – but was annoying when I kept accidentally changing the AF settings (typically this is a switch on the front of the other X-Series models). The LCD is clear and large enough for me to use comfortably. I have a touch screen option on the X-E3, but I disabled that as I felt the buttons on the camera gave me the control I wanted. Maybe after using the X-A5 I may revisit this.

As with a lot of smaller cameras you typical loose some of the command dials. This camera is no exception to that, after years of have Canon Eos and now Fuji with a front and rear dial how will I cope?

X-A5 Command Dial

The truth is, the really small black command dial behind the thumb rest works really well. I mainly shoot in Aperture and have done with most of my cameras, so one dial is fine. If I use manual mode then the command dial on the top right is used for Shutter Speed (its normal role is for exposure compensation).

The camera as you’d expect is compatible with X Series lenses, and yes I did try the 100-400 on it (not with the 1.4ex though!). One of the advantages of another X-Series Camera is another battery – so that’s 3 decent batteries now, I’ve got a couple of compatible batteries which work fine most of the time. With the compatible batteries I have the camera and battery never seem to be able to give a reliable usage indication so they tend to die at around 50%.

Another plus of similar spec’d models is this camera also works fine with the Fujifilm App on my phone – allowing me to easily upload and edit files when I’m out and about without access to my Mac and Lightroom.

So what’s the appeal of IR. Not sure, I tend to see the occasional image and I like them. IR images tend to be either Black and White or a Fake Colour – both can look really nice or terrible to be honest. For me I’d probably lean initially to Black and White as it’s much easier to deal with.

The raw file out of the camera looks odd, like a Bladerunner 2049 image where someone’s gone mad with the colour sliders……

IR Raw File (o.k I’ve converted it Jpeg)

As you can see it looks odd, Black and White controls it to a certain degree, but it still looks strange. There’s a number of decent blogs/websites than explain the reasons, but I’ll settle for ‘I like the effect’.

Washing Line Test
Black Spot on the Trees

You may or not be able to tell, but the IR filter on the camera really shows the black spots on the leaves for this tree. Not sure if that means the tree is doomed or not.

UK Garage Scene

We’ll end it here, as you can tell I’ve not really had the time to visit anywhere decent other than my back garden and over the fence into the drive way. But I guess I had to start it somewhere and to be honest the IR selfies I took were disturbing.

Hopefully in the next few weeks/months I can get out to more exotic places (or the country side around Birmingham).

Fujifilm X-E3 & XF27mm f/2.8 Lens

My intention at the Photography Show wasn’t to pick up another camera body, but anyone that follows the blog will know that often other things get purchased instead of the original item.   My recent Fuji pondering was pretty much centred around the 100-400 and 1.4 TC – which I did pickup.   I could’ve been sensible and saved some of the money, but no not me (actually I’m generally being sensible with my money – just this Canon to Fuji swap left me with unallocated cash!).

I do have a preference for primes – but I’ve yet to make this happen on the Fuji system.  My Canon primes were generally 100mm plus (apart from the 15mm fisheye) so the 100-400 covers most of that range.  So the thought of shorter primes was one thing I was looking at.   Mainly the 18 or 27mm lenses.  My intention was to pair the X Pro 2 with a smaller prime – but then the X-E3 came to my attention, it’s almost a mini X Pro 2 – albeit with a few compromises size wise.   Both are rangefinder style – for me this represents a move from the SLR format – there’s nothing wrong with SLR’s but I like the rangefinder style and handling.

Double Trouble?

From the back the missing bits are obvious, the sort of wheel button arrangement is missing but all of the settings can be adjusted using the Q menu.   The Screen on the X-E3 is a touchscreen, but I  don’t like the sensitivity of it – so for the moment it’s disabled.

Rear Differences

The compact size means this is now my carry to work camera – I’ve managed to pick up a small bag to drop in my rucksack for the cycle to work.   I’m still a little worried about it bouncing around the bag – but I’ll look to securing it some how.

Lowepro Format 100 – Discontinued range

A surprise for me with the X-E3 was in the inclusion of the mini EF-X8 flash unit.   It’s a tiny flash that was supplied with the XT2 model but not the X Pro 2.

It works fine on the X Pro 2, in time it’ll prove useful or useless as it’s so small.  The unit (not referring to it as a flash gun!) is powered by the X camera’s internal battery so I guess we’ll use it with caution (or whilst carrying spare batteries).

On the subject of batteries it uses the same W126 type as the X Pro 2, so there was no need to unbox the charger.

One obvious omission is the Optical View Finder, to be honest whilst that is a nice idea, for the X-E3 its a logical removal – I do find on the X-Pro I’m using the EVF for most things – mainly due to the film mode being replicated in the electronic view finder.

Below are  a few samples from my first walk around Brum.   Nothing has been done to the images.  They are shot in Fuji Acros + Red Filter mode, transferred to my iPhone and then copied to my WordPress server.

Trams 1/250 – f/8 – ISO 400

Distracted 1/120 – f/2.8 – ISO 400

Cracks are appearing in Birmingham’s facade 1/2000 – f/2.8 – ISO 400

The following image was taken Thursday 22nd March and corrected a little on LR/Nik Efex (looks better large – click on the image to check).

Colmore Building  1/350 – ƒ/3.6 – ISO 400 – Acros + R mode.    Perspective corrected in Lightroom and contrast adjusted via Nik Efex

Overall I’m pleased with the little X Series, it’s the sort of thing that I should have tried years ago.