A couple of weeks ago, we took a short but much needed break from the Belgian winter and from all other things-as-usual. We set course on Granada, a city of UNESCO World Heritage fame that we hadn’t visited before. This was to be a relaxing family trip, so I was told to go tourist-style and leave behind any heavy stuff or tripods.
My travel kit was easy to assemble: first the X-Pro1 with the just arrived all-new 14mm f/2.8 wide angle, then the X-E1 with the 18-55mm zoom, and finally the 35mm f/1.4 just in case. Everything fitted comfortably in my Think Tank Retrospective 7, with room to spare. Sometimes things fall nicely in place…
Alhambra – The Courtyard of the Lions in early morning light
(ISO 400, f/11, 1/170s)
We found ourselves in a sunny but bitterly cold Granada, with above-zero temperatures between mid-morning and late afternoon only. The wind had a nasty chilling bite. This time of the year the light is very harsh: perfect conditions to challenge the sensor’s dynamic range. The quality of the out-of-camera JPEGs keeps surprising me, it is simply amazing how much shadow and highlight detail is captured and available to be further exploited in post-processing. I did often shoot at a minimum ISO 400 or 800 to maximize the potential dynamic range enhancement.
The harsh lighting conditions and the huge contrast between indoor and outdoor scenes however call for shooting RAW followed by careful post processing: that remains the best approach to reveal all highlight detail while maintaining low noise shadow information. Adobe’s Lightroom 4.4 release candidate finally brings us X-Trans demosaicing support at the level of the sensor’s image quality; this software was used for all sample images in this post.
The Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 proved to be all that is reported by many reviewers and early adopters. The lens is sharp right from its maximum aperture, shows excellent micro-contrast and is virtually distortion-free. Color rendition is superb. Autofocus is more than adequately fast (behaving like a true tourist on this trip, I almost never selected manual focus). Shooting handheld only, I was able to use fairly long exposure times with a very high keeper rate. In one word: the 14mm prime is a pleasure to work with!
The very wide field of view of course means that perspective distortion always lies just around the corner. Lightroom’s lens correction tools make it easy to compensate when desired, and the image files allowed so without visible loss of quality and detail.
Let there be no doubt: the 14mm prime is a beautiful lens that is likely to come along on many more trips. And that’s just one of its many potential applications!
More images from Granada and its wealth of monuments and sights to follow.
Gear notes: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8
Click on the image(s) to see a larger version