Prime Lens Plunge

Almost a year ago I bought a used Fuji XE3 camera with the idea of doing some street/urban photography – great timing eh. It’s an excellent camera (still to be used for its intended purpose) which is small, light and fun to shoot with. It also came with a brilliant, tiny 23mm prime lens.

After taking the 23mm lens out locally I was impressed and bought two more prime lenses. The well respected Fuji 56mm and a Fuji 16mm f/1.4. After shooting with the 16mm lens on my infrared camera I was hugely impressed by its performance. The lens renders detail in amazing quality and there is very little distortion.

As often happens when I’m impressed by something, I decide I want more of the same, so I’ve now bought a used Fuji 14mm prime lens. To date I’ve only been able to photograph the front of my house (which I won’t share) but it’s another optically well corrected lens. It’s small, light and doesn’t cause any hot spots when used on the infrared camera. I can’t wait to get out to use it properly.

But because I don’t have any images shot with the Fuji Prime, I thought I would share this one instead.

Cactus on the Isla Incahuasi in the Bolivian salt flats

There is a tenuous link to the subject of lens quality here. I shot this in 2014 in Bolivia using an Olympus EM5. The lens was the Olympus 12-40 pro lens which, now I’m looking back, produces exceptional image quality. At the time I didn’t appreciate how good this lens was. I just looked at it as my go to workhorse lens. Now I can see the results are excellent and I think that I might start using it with my new Panasonic G9. And with that, there’s another link to the next subject.

Huge Prints from a 16Mpixel EM5

How would you like to be able to make an exceptional quality print, measuring over 5 foot, from a 16Mpixel RAW file?

I’m sure many of you will have seen the new Super Resolution feature in Photoshop already. There are certainly a lot of people talking about this and a couple of you have also asked for my thoughts. This week I found some time in my schedule to try it out.

If you want to know what I found, you can see my Super Resolution video on YouTube.

In the video I explain how to use Super Resolution as well as share some tips. I then demonstrate how to quadruple the dimensions of an image. This would allow you to make a 5 foot print from a 16Mpixel micro 43 image. After then I compare the results from resizing an image using Super Resolution with resizing it in Photoshop and using Topaz Gigapixel. What I found was extremely interesting.

I hope you enjoy the video and have a great weekend.

12 thoughts on “Prime Lens Plunge

  1. One of my favourites and a very underrated lens is the 27mm (40mm equiv), came with my original xpro1 and now resides in my xt3 when out and about with the kids (usually with the 16mm in my pocket). My only gripe is lack of aperture ring so very excited by the new version which is water resistant and has the ap ring in the same size pancake. For wide angle shots I do pano and stitch in affinity.

    1. I thought about buying a 27mm as well but decided to hold off. I already have a 23mm and 34mm so thought it a bit near to both. I would also need to buy the new version (I think) so may wait until some appear on the second-hand market.

  2. I use Nikon FF and Hasselblad H6D. Do not want to lose the quality of both sensors and the resolution with compromises regarding lenses, so I use primes as often as possible. On the negative size one has to carry more and in bad weather changing the lenses is not always possible. It is a heavy load! Well, it is a compex and complicated world… 😉
    Interesting your findings regarding Super Resolution. Until now I used Gigapixel AI, based on my testing some time ago, which Gigapixel won hands down. The question of I see, new tests are necessary. Particularly, the less pronounced „artificiality“ is interesting, as for my taste this is the problem of digital imagining. Thank you for the reminder to test regularly.

    1. It’s true there are drawbacks to using primes but it does strip photography back to being more of a skill. They make you work for the composition. I’m pleased that you liked the video. I’m always testing and playing to see what I can improve. I quite enjoy that aspect.

  3. Hi Robin,

    I’ve just come across you blog and really enjoy it and your great photos.

    I have a question about using primes for landscape photography. At the moment I have a couple of the Fuji f2 weather sealed primes as well as the 18-55mm kit lens my camera came with. The camera is weather sealed but the 18-55 kit lens is not.

    I’d really like to try my hand at landscape photography but live in the wet south west. Do you think it would make sense to use the prime lenses for now and invest in a wide angle lens (the Fuji 10-20) or would you suggest getting a better zoom such as the Fujifilm 16-80mm or a used Fujifilm 16-55 rather than a wide angle to avoid frequent lens changes?

    Best wishes,

    Jerry.

    1. Hi Jerry,

      Great to hear you like the blog but I don’t know if I agree the South West is wet. You should try photography on Saddleworth Moor some time.

      Seriously though it’s a good question but I would like to suggest a different approach. Firstly don’t worry about weather sealed lenses. I can’t imagine that you don’t try to keep your lenses dry in wet weather even if they are weather sealed. I use both weather sealed and regular lenses (including the 18-55) in the rain but I always put a plastic bag over the camera and lens to keep it dry. It’s better than keep trying to wipe down the lens filters. This is enough protection and I’ve never had a problem in 20 years.

      Assuming you are happy to use your lenses like this, I would suggest picking the most appropriate lens design for the task at hand. All lenses have their design problems that limit their use in Landscape Photography. The 16-55 is a great lens but I sold mine because it was like carrying a brick around the hills and it doesn’t have IS. The 16-80 (which I also have) is lighter, has IS and a longer range but the image quality is a little disappointing. I’ve also had problems with the IS (there’s no switch to turn it off) when used in windy or sub-zero conditions. Here’s my review https://lenscraft.co.uk/photography-blog/fuji-16-80-lens-review/

      My suggestion is to use your existing lenses and only buy others when you find a problem that they need to solve.

      1. Thanks Robin, that’s really helpful. I previously used m43 cameras and had the Panasonic 12-35 2.8 which I absolutely loved, and the Olympus 9-18mm which I wasn’t at all keen on IQ wise (but I do miss having a wide-angle lens). Thanks again.

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