All posts by billfortney

XF 100-400 f 4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. Yes Virginia…….There is a Santa Claus!


INTRODUCTION:  OK … he either came a little late or really early!  So, before I gush like a teenager, and sadly I’m going to,  let’s go over the physical information on the new Fuji XF 100-400 f 4.5 – 5.6 R LM OIS WR .  Above is the lens mounted on a  tripod with the X-T1 Graphite body.  The first great news is that the new lens takes 77mm filters, far smaller than we had guessed it would, most rumor sites were thinking around 82mm! This means polarizers and close up diopters, (like the Canon 500D work great!),  more on that later!  Below is the 100-400 with the lens hood attached, which bayonets on very positively and has a cut out for adjusting a polarizer, with a handy sliding door, much better than the removable, and easy to misplace, one for the 50-140!

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.26.37 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.26.56 PM

The lens is not much larger than the 50-140 and when it extends out to 400mm it only grows 2.5 inches!  It is solidly made and feels good in the hands, and trust me, with the great OIS you will shoot it hand held, sometimes!!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.27.13 PM

THE SIDE CONTROLS;  Top to bottom, the focus limiting switch that allow you to choose full range or 5 meters to infinity.  The Program or Aperture Priority switch and finally the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization on and off switch).  Between the zoom ring and the aperture ring is the Lock switch for keeping the lens locked in the 100mm position.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.27.26 PM

PHYSICAL IMPRESSIONS:  The lens is solid, and wonderfully finished.  The zoom is butter smooth but with the perfect amount of resistance, it does not feel like it will get loosey, goosey!  The tripod collar is a near mirror image of the one on the 50-140 f 2.8. which is good, because it is well finished and solid.  The two thumb screws that hold the bracket to the lens could use a very small (very, very small) dab of blue Loctite,  beats constant re-tightening.

DOES IT PERFORM IT’S INTENDED PURPOSE?    For me a long lens is my tight landscape lens, my wildlife and bird lens, my shooting things I want to shoot close up and tight but want working distance from, (like poisonous snakes!), my compression lens for tightening the scene, and my sports lens, even though I do little sports anymore.  I took the lens down to St. Augustine, Florida this December and captured some tight wildlife images, I’ll let you be the judge.  All shots at the long end 400mm (600mm equiv.)  All of these images, except the wood duck and the monochrome alligator, were shot from a  tripod.  Those two were handheld.  With wildlife you either can’t get as close as you would like, or you don’t want to be any closer!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.27.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.28.01 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.28.39 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.28.52 PM

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE: The lens is tack sharp wide open and at every focal length.  At maximum aperture the edges are a tad less sharp, but they sharpen up nicely as you stop down a couple of stops!  The lens is remarkably sharp across the board!  Below are a couple of images of a historic billboard on old US 25 shot at 100mm and at 400mm.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.29.11 PM

HOW DOES IT DO WITH THE 1.4 CONVERTER?   The image below was shot by my dear friend and killer shooter Jack Graham, it is the 100-400 with the new Fuji 1.4 Converter, he is posting a vertical of this same shot on his blog post today that shows, even more clearly, how sharp this lens is with the converter!   Below there are a few other examples of the 100-400 with the Fuji 1.4 converter.


The following three images are images of one of my favorite places to test lens for sharpness and old wooden door with peeling paint and a door handle with great detail.  The shots below are;  first, the 100-400 at 100,  second is the 100-400 at 400 and the final image is the 100-400 at 400 plus the new Fuji 1.4 converter making it an equiv. 840 mm lens!!!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.41.13 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.40.45 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.40.11 PM

AUTO FOCUS TRACKING SPEED:  I shot some cars on a  local street going around 45 mph at 10 fps and got sequences of 15 and more images all tack sharp.  Here are a few from each end of the sequence and the middle shot.  Admittedly this isn’t NASCAR,  but for the kind of action shooting most X-Shooters do, this is great performance.  I shot some interstate traffic at almost twice that speed and they were tack sharp as well.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.30.29 PM

CLOSE UP PERFORMANCE:  Below are examples of a penny taped to my small Route 66 mini license plate. The first shot is the lens at 200mm at the close focus distance, the next at 400mm at the closes focus distance with the Canon 500D diopter.  The distance from the front of the lens to the penny for this shot is an amazing 16 inches. By-the-way, both were hand held!!!!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.30.52 PM

HOW ABOUT THE OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZATION?  I would never consider hand holding a lens of this focal length, however in the interest of giving the OIS a fair chance, I shot the penny above at near 1:1 (life size).  Ready for this…. at 1/67th of a second.  Think about that, this lens at 400mm is actually the equivalent of a 600mm lens, and the penny images above is shot at high magnification, and it’s tack sharp.  A remarkable performance, it also works very well with the Fuji automatic extension tubes.  The image below is of a CD case on my office desk shot with the 100-400 at 400 at the closest focus distance at 1/400th of a second wide open f 8 with OIS turned on.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.31.37 PM

O.K. SO WHERE DOES THIS LENS FIT INTO MY SYSTEM?  One of the best things about the X-System is the incredible selection and quality of the lens line.  The only big hole in the system just got filled with the 100-400.  I can now have coverage from 15mm to 600mm and beyond thanks to the 1.4 converter.  Would I like a 400mm f 2.8?  Not really, don’t want to carry it, pay for it and actually don’t need it.  The 100 to 400 is a 5.6 at 400, or (600mm equiv.) and the overall performance is just stunning.  Now, what is  most exciting to me is we have now seen Fuji come out with twenty one lenses and there is yet another on the Road Map for this year.  I own the vast majority of them, and I can say without any reservation that I’ve found each and every one to be spectacular!  When I bought my first three, (18-55,  35 1.4 and the 60mm Macro f 2.4) I never thought that I was going to see the parade of great glass we have been treated to!  What I appreciate most is that Fuji has taken my advice and that of  many other dedicated X-shooters, don’t compromise your high standards for their optics!  I hate to admit that for a while I held my breath with each new release.  It didn’t take long for me to realize they were keeping their promise.   They certainly have with the 100-400!

What is a Fuji Workshop?

bill fortney, stream in mt rainier national parkJack and I just completed the first of several planned Fuji Workshops, and I get a number of questions about just exactly what is a Fuji Workshop?  Let’s take a trip down memory lane.  In the days of film, seems like yesterday but it is going on 15 years now, the most common kind of camera was the Single Lens Reflex (SLR).  Yes, of course, there were rangefinders and view cameras, but the vast majority of us were SLR shooters.  Later the SLR became the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) and it had many advantages, mostly a clean, clear view of the world, through the lens.  With film this was just great since the final image didn’t look anything like what you saw through the cameras viewfinder anyway.  You see, when digital cameras came along images were “processed” in the camera.  Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras “still” only show you what the lens sees when viewing through the viewfinder, not what the processed image will look like.  Mirror-less cameras process the image according to “your” desires, and let you actually see that processed image through the viewfinder.

bill fortney mt rainierThe point of a Fuji Workshop is to teach students how to take this wonderful new technology and use it to make better photographs.  We teach the students how to use the “What You See Is What You Get” viewfinder to get correct exposure by simply dialing it in with the exposure compensation dial!  We also teach how to use the film simulation feature to get a great variety of options every time you push the shutter release.  We find all the ways that the mirror-less revolution has made image making easier and better.

The Fuji X-System is a great combination of full featured, retro controlled bodies, and stellar lenses of virtually all focal lengths and speed ranges!  Long glass and macro lenses are on the way and then the system will be pretty complete!

bill fortney, sunset at mt rainierThe bottom line is pretty simple, very capable photographers with years of experience, including Jack and I, are using the Fuji System to make some of the best images of our lives.  We’ve worked hard to find all the ways to make the most of this incredible system.

I’ve included some images from this Mt. Rainier Fuji Workshop … enjoy!

reflection lake at mt rainier by bill fortney

Why do I need a 16mm f 1.4 lens?

chevy by bill fortneyIf you already own the Fuji 10-24 f 4 XF lens, or the Fuji 16-55 f 2.8 XF lens, why would you invest in the new Fuji 16mm f 1.4 lens?? I just got a new production copy of the 16mm f 1.4 XF lens and I was wondering the same thing!!!

First let me dispel what many people believe about extreme wide angle lenses, that they are designed so we, as photographers, can take in more area in our images.  It is true that the wider the lens, the wider the angle of view, and thus; more stuff in the image. That’s not the most effective way to use a wide angle lens though!  A very effective way to use a wide angle lens is to move in close to your main subject and make it the sharpest thing in the image, and then allow the background to either be equally sharp, by stopping down to a very small aperture setting like f 11 – 16 or 22, or to make the background “very” out of focus, by opening the lens to its largest aperture setting.  Therein lies the value of a f 1.4 wide angle lens, the depth-of-field is extremely shallow when shot wide open (f 1.4) thus making the background a very dreamy out of focus!!!

violets by bill fortney

An important part of the photographer’s bag of tricks is to use shallow depth-of-field effectively, to focus the viewer’s eye on a main subject, letting the rest of the image go out of focus.  I went over to my neighbor’s garden and then down to a used car lot that had a very interesting 1949 Chevy wrecker I had been wanting to photograph.  All images were shot at f 1.4 to show the effectiveness of a shallow area of sharp focus.

old truck by bill fortneySo how does the news Fuji 16mm f 1.4 XF lens do?  I will let you judge.  But at 100% on my computer screen, the in-focus areas are razor sharp.  The color quality of the new lens is outstanding and the build quality is rock solid.  The 16mm also has a clutch focusing mechanism that allows smoother and deadly accurate manual focusing, however the autofocus is among the fastest and most accurate yet!

black beauty by bill fortneyOK … I already own the 10-24 and the 16-55, but this one is staying in my camera locker, for very special assignments that requires its lovely abilities!!!

Well done, Fuji … another Five Star Winner!

~ Bill Fortney

For more information, visit

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Bill Fortney, NPS

Sorting out the lens maze…….

Fuji has offered a bewildering choice of both single focal length and zoom lenses!  How do you decide which you need???!!!

May I offer some thoughts?  I happen to own almost all of them and you might be wondering, along with my wife, why? Actually there is good reason to own a few of each.

If you are a nature, landscape or outdoor shooter the three lens package of the 10-24, 16-55, and 50-140 will cover all the bases, and adding the 60mm Micro doesn’t add much weight and really completes the package!  Want to save a little money, OK. Try the 10-24, 18-55, and the 55-200, plus the 60 Micro, and you have saved weight and money, and these are all still superb lenses!

camera bag set up

Really want to save weight for a travel system?  How about the very versatile and tack sharp 18-135, teamed up with the very sharp and wonderfully compact 14mm f2.8!

OK. We have some zoom ideas but how about the single focal length lenses!  If you want the very best optical performance and the fastest lenses for available light work the f1.4 and f1.2 lenses really rule.  In the pre zoom days every photojournalist, (Kings of low light), had a 24mm, a 35mm, a 50mm, and a 85mm plus a 180mm all at fast speeds!!!  In the Fuji system you can have all these (except the 180mm) at f1.4 to f1.2!!!!!!!  The 90mm f 2, which should be available this spring or summer, gets you close with an “effective” 135mm @ f2!  The other big advantage to speed lenses is the great shallow depth of field effects that are possible.

A word about the two newest lenses that I’ve been able to pick up and shoot, the new 16-55 f2.8 and the 50-140 f2.8.  Both are among the sharpest lenses of those focal lengths I’ve ever shot!!!!!  The OIS in the 50-140 is so effective that even an old codger like me can get tack sharp images at 140mm (200mm equiv.) at 1/8th of a second – it’s truly amazing!

Which are my favorites????  Not a fair question!  I truly love them all!  The 10-24, the 16-55 and the 50-140 get the most use, but the 56 f1.2, and the 23 f1.4 are two of my favorites. But then the 16 f1.4 is getting rave reviews – I really want to try it out!   The promised 120 mm Micro is already on my wish list big time, and of course the 90 mm f2 … geeez … this is a disease, but a fun one!!!