|Patriot (click to enlarge)|
Fujifilm X-T1, 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens @ 25.4mm; 1/320th sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
A few manufacturers have worked very hard to improve not only the resolution of EVFs (now over 2 million dots), but also the software in their cameras to help photographers see more dynamic range, color, contrast and give us higher refresh rates. Fujifilm, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony are the leaders, in my opinion. From what I have read and researched, it seems the new Leica EVF is at the top of the heap with the others close behind. Since I own Fujifilm gear, I want to pass on what I have discovered over the past couple of years using my X-T1 in providing me with the closest experience to an OVF that I can achieve.
Fujifilm comes along and gives us an excellent EVF that can serve photographers well, whether the photographer prefers RAW or JPEG files. With JPEGS, the photographer can choose any of Fujifilm's Film simulations as well as black and white with several choices of filtration and get a excellent rendition of how the color, saturation, contrast, shadows and highlights will look in the final image file. That is huge. I have utilized that feature regularly and have been very pleased with the accuracy of what I see to the image I later look at in my editing software. No matter your preference, Fujifilm gives you choices as they did when film dominated the craft. But what about RAW shooters?
When one prefers to shoot only RAW that is the situation which I described above that can be problematic. EVFs don't necessarily simulate the entire dynamic range of what will be captured in the RAW file. However, Fujifilm gives your a couple of options to closely simulate the full dynamic range of the sensor so as to give the RAW shooter as close to an idea of what the final RAW image file will look like in editing software.
First, again if you have your camera set to only record RAW, one can set the Film Simulation feature to Pro Neg S with the highlight and shadow tones both set to -2. Pro Neg S is Fujifilm's proclaimed lowest contrast film simulation. In fact, it is low contrast similar to the wedding and portrait negative films of the past. Wedding and portrait films had to record white wedding dresses together with black tuxedos, keeping detail in both. Also, color had to be natural and accurate. Pro Neg S is about as close as one will get to that.
Second, let color stay at 0 and noise reduction at -2. Color will stay natural and you really don't need any noise reduction for these sensors until you get very high up on the high ISO range.
I recommend setting the sharpening to +1, since the image you preview on the LCD is a JPEG rendition of your RAW exposure and you will want to check sharpness (after all you aren't planning on using the JPEG anyway). If you set it to -2, the image will appear as though it is not sharp and kind of drive you crazy (because you know the Fuji lenses are very sharp, you carefully focused the lens and used a shutter speed far higher than the reciprocal of the focal length! In other words, good technique). +1 will look sharp on the LCD so you can better judge.
Those settings will give you a preview of pretty much all the dynamic range the sensor will capture as well as a neutral color rendition with normal saturation and contrast. In fact, the image may look too flat but the idea is to see the capability to the sensor to better judge exposure, composition and detail in highlights and shadow, not a finished image in the LCD.
If you are a RAW + JPEG shooter (I always shoot RAW + JPEG Fine in my Fujifilm cameras as that is the only way to get a 100% preview of the image on the LCD; RAW alone will not allow an LCD magnification at 100%), you can go into your menu system and and find Preview Picture Effect. Turn that off. On my X-T1 with the latest firmware (4.31), that can be found under the second Wrench menu, under Screen Setup, then it will be the eighth option (which is on the second subsequent screen). By doing this you can set your JPEG rendition to whatever you like for your JPEGS but keep the EVF and LCD showing you an image file as close to a RAW image as possible. This is a nice compromise that gives you the most flexibility. You see approximately what the sensor will record but your JPEGS are processed according to your tastes, whether in Velvia, Classic Chrome, etc.
All that being written, if you want to shoot only JPEGS (you just don't want to mess with RAW files at all or you may not have an editing program that can deal with RAW files), want maximum flexibility and maximum ability to edit the files to reflect your personal vision for color, contrast, saturation, shadow and highlight detail, you will want a file with all your setting set as low as possible in your menu. Instead of the settings I recommend above, go in and set them all for -2, except sharpening as I would still keep that at +1 since Fujifilm's sharpening algorithms are pretty good. However, to get the most flexibility, set sharpening to -2 as well, then sharpen in your editing software. That will give you a flat, lifeless, relatively unsaturated file with plenty of highlight and shadow detail (if you properly exposed the file). That will give you an opportunity to create the final look with as few constraints and as much flexibility as possible, losing as little quality as possible from the 8-bit JPEG image file. It is easier to add color and contrast than trying to recover shadow and highlight detail from a contrasty JPEG file.
Fujifilm must have real photographers continuously giving them suggestions and feedback (they do) as most camera companies would never think about these types of choices and what is important to RAW shooters, JPEG shooters and those who like both RAW + JPEG.
Another nice aspect of the Fujifilm cameras is the ability to set function buttons to almost anything. Since I don't do any video, I have my red video button set up as another function button and have the Preview Picture Effect function set there so I can easily toggle it on or off.
Try out these settings and see how they work for you. It is always best to understand everything about your gear and know its capabilities so when you find a scene that is really challenging, you know what your gear can do. No guessing.
Thanks for looking. Enjoy!
Dennis A. Mook
All content on this blog is © 2013-2016 Dennis A. Mook. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to point to this blog from your website with full attribution. Permission may be granted for commercial use. Please contact Mr. Mook to discuss permission to reproduce the blog posts and/or images.