20.11.2013 Yukio Uchida

XF27mmF2.8 review by Yukio Uchida

Yukio Uchida

Born in Ryotsu City (currently Sado City), Niigata Prefecture. Began free-lance work after working as a civil servant. Built a reputation for monochrome snaps while shooting celebrities on the side. Shown at solo exhibitions at Nikon Salon, Fuji Photo Salon and other well-known galleries. Contributes articles to camera magazines and newspapers, and shares his experience as a teacher. Styles himself “the last liberal arts photographer”.
Books he has authored include: “Leica to Monokuro no Hibi” (Black-and-white days with Leica), “Itsumo Camera Ga” (The camera always…) and “THE FinePix X100 BOOK”.

The XF27mm (41mm equivalent in 35mm format) is between the focal lengths of the most commonly used 35mm and 50mm standard lenses, and therefore often thought of as “redundant”.

However, the XF27mm is considerably different. While the 35mm can create distortion and too much perspective and the 50mm can create blurry backgrounds with excessive emphasis on the main subject, the XF27mm does neither. It captures an honest picture of the subject and allows you to effortlessly take a great photo with a clever composition in either small or large spaces.
Photographers sometimes debate about “the best lens”, and often come to the conclusion that “the 40mm is by far the best”.

It is a versatile lens that can be used for different shooting styles and, furthermore, shooting with a single lens adds cohesiveness to your work in creating a narrative. Here, I would like to present the world of “Windows”, a work which I photographed using the XF27mm installed on the X-Pro1/X-E1.

I took these shots inside a European-style mansion, mindful of the details such as the position of the lamp and the windows. To shoot these photos, I took advantage of the particular characteristics of the XF27mm which gives an angle of view which is not too narrow or wide and gives little peripheral distortion. In the left hand photo, I placed the lamp at a single point and included three windows to get a wider perspective. The contrast between the bright outdoors garden and the cool indoor light is well balanced, without blown-out highlights or deep shadows despite the great difference in brightness. This scene is the product of a perfect fit between the high contrast and clarity of the XF27mm and the wide dynamic range and high sensitivity of the X Series. Also, the lamp is a fitting addition to the scene because it is blurred without too much emphasis.

Because the X Series has excellent white balance, I usually leave it in “Auto”, but for this shot I changed it to “Light bulb” and “Daylight”. While the cool colours of the “Light bulb” mode create a cold and tense atmosphere, the warm colors of the “Daylight” mode create a warm scene. I think that the beautiful blue tones in the “Light bulb” mode are reminiscent of Fujifilm’s exceptional tungsten film. This camera can be enjoyed endlessly by changing the white balance or using different combinations of film simulation modes.

In this photo of the mansion’s piano, the soft light reflected on the surface of the taut metal strings is beautifully reproduced. The shadow of each individual string is depicted, and there is smoothness to the monochrome tones. It is like watching a work of modern art. The highly efficient resolution of the XF27mm, high resolution power of the X-Trans CMOS sensor installed in the X-Pro1/X-E1, and richness in tone are fully demonstrated in these types of scenes. In particular, the accurately reproduced middle tones, difficult to do in digital cameras, is a strength and appeal of the Fujifilm X Series.

It’s strength is particularly demonstrated when photographing lace. The smooth transition from focused to blurred areas of the drape create a three-dimensional quality. Individual stitches of the lace are clearly visible when magnified. A great result is achieved even when shot with such little effort. The X Series is truly awe-inspiring.

This portrait was taken outdoors using the XF27mm. Like the 50mm, it can also be used for portrait photography.

While still part of the landscape, the guitarist stands out in the foreground. Because the size of the Fujifilm interchangeable-lens camera installed with XF27mm is extremely compact, the subject seldom gets nervous and this allows you to capture them in their relaxed state.
In addition to the splendid reproduction of “skin” and “green” colors that is unique to the X Series, the string’s sharp texture and the guitar’s wood grains are well represented. One can almost hear the beautiful tunes emerging from the sunbeams that shine through the tree leaves.

The photo is beautiful and of high resolution even when casually taken. Most people would be pleased with the quality of this portrait.

This photograph may seem a little strange. This work is of a Tatami room surrounded by a garden in a Japanese house that is inverted on itself and shot with a multiple exposure mode.

The vertical lines of the sliding door and pillar frames were shot to perfectly fit with one another. This perfect fit is possible because there is no distortion with the XF27mm.
The contrast between the thin and thick lines stands out. Also, the contrast between the highlights and shadows add to the quality of the work. I am pleased with the results of my multiple exposure photography technique achieved thus far.

Multiple exposure photography allows you to see things from a different perspective than usual. It allows you to re-discover the beauty and features of a building’s form.
The X Series makes it possible to enjoy great results straight from the camera without the use of complicated PCs. I highly recommend you try it.

As I walked outside and looked up, I instinctively shot the the beautiful sky reflected in the window. It was already dusk but the XF27mm’s quick response is an attractive feature for taking instant shots whenever you want.

You will capture details of the window if you brighten the exposure but the reflection in the window will be lost. The same goes for the colour of the sky and clouds. This scene can be shot by using positive film but it is difficult to shoot with a digital camera.
The X Series makes it possible to photograph such scenes. You can photograph the window, reflection, sky, and clouds, or what ever you want by lowering the exposure. This high responsiveness is the product of the XF27mm’s versatility to accommodate a wide range of scenes, and the camera’s wide dynamic range that allows you to precisely capture the desired tone.

The speed and precision of the AF at low contrast has been boosted due to X-Pro1/X-E1 firmware update, further improving its usability.

Weighing only 78g and 23mm thick, the XF27mm is not only compact and lightweight but also versatile and delivers excellent results. When added to the X-Pro /X-E1 with their high resolution which surpasses many full-size SLR cameras, it’s portability opened up many doors for me. If I could only take one lens on a journey to photograph cities, I would choose the XF27mm as it would undoubtedly perform the best. It’s compact size frees up my body and mind from carrying the camera and helps to motivate my desire for shooting.

Initially, it may feel a little difficult to master the XF27mm, however, you will soon feel an improvement in your technique by exploring composition and finding good angles in your shots. You will instinctively learn how to frame scenes or fill in gaps in each shot.
Shooting these scenes with the XF27mm will bring back memories of the situation and conditions at the time and is, I believe, an added pleasure of photography.

The XF27mm leads you into new territory with the X Series. Make those dramatic moments yours.