#1279. “For god’s sake stop dithering…”

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Apr 15

I doubt I’d have justified the cash, if fate hadn’t played a major role; the pay out for a burglary at my home near Cape Town in September last year has been sitting in my bank for a while, giving me time to decide what to do.

The thieves took inter alia every single item of Nikon kit I’d ever owned, including my much loved D700, 28mm and 50mm non-AI lenses. They also relieved me of my laptop, iPad, phone and quite a lot besides.

Duxford – the last Handley Page Victor, one of the UK’s “V” bombers of the 1960s and ’70s. Still looks incredibly menacing though
 

Having replaced the computers, phone and so on, I was left wondering what to do photographically. I’ve collected lots of Fuji kit over the years and my dalliance with a Leica M9 had never really blossomed into the full-on love that I’d hoped. Fortunately, they were safely locked up in the UK at the time.

Winter morning near Bedford
Do not obstruct
No. 4
 

If possible, I wanted to move away from APS-C, to full frame, or possibly even medium format. I also wanted a camera I could put into a large pocket, to avoid carrying a camera bag or backpack.

With the well intentioned help from several of DearSusan’s contributors, I found myself pulled this way and that. A lot. Pascal’s Hasselblad X1D is nearing end-of-life and he’s itching to buy either a newly released X2D, or one of the 100mp GX Fujis. He wanted me to go the Hasselblad route and report back on my impressions. Adam (Bonn) and I have had several earlier discussions regarding his shift to Leica and he felt an M10R might be a good move for me.

Curio shop, St Ives
Close up – Fairey Swordfish at Duxford
St Ives
 

Steve (Mallett) has also recently moved across to an M10 with great success.

There I sat, short list; Hasselblad, Fuji, Leica to which I added the Nikon Z7 II or possibly the VIII or the Z8 if it appeared.

Eventually, I had to rule the Nikon out – it’s got way too many bumps and knobs to do the pocket thing, likewise, the Fuji is also quite lumpy. Hasselblad, or Leica then?

Yet more development at Broadgate
Easter Saturday at Liverpool Street Station
 

In the end it was a no-brainer. I put my money down and my X2D arrived last week from Sweden via Wex in Whitechapel. I bought the Lightweight Field Kit; X2D, 45mm f4 and 21mm f4 lenses as a package, which arrived, security seals on every box. Fully packed, it was surprisingly heavy too.

What’s it like? A little bigger than my D700 and D800, similarly heavy, but incredibly well made. I’ve tried both lenses – the 35mm equivalent 45mm lens is small, light and pin sharp. The 21 wide angle is quite a lot bigger and heavy – hardly a carry around, but no doubt it’ll do great things with a landscape.

Winter skyline
Liverpool Street Station abstract
B52 abstract at Duxford
 

Downsides? Battery life isn’t great, but getting used to a camera means lots of switching on and off, fiddling with controls and I’m sure I’ll see better performance as I get used to things. A second battery is due in the post shortly.

Westgate abstract
 

If I do have a hassle, it’s the limited post processing software options. Hassleblad’s Phottix is available for free download, but other than that there’s only Photosop and/or Lightroom. Capture 1 is owned by a Hasselblad competitor and won’t recognise the RAW files – to me, a very juvenile way to do business. Anyway, I’m less concerned about that than I might have been a year or so back as Capture 1 has revised it’s pricing policy and is now charging at Adobe’s inflated level for a single product that remains under featured and poorly supported. I’d already decided in principal to move back to Lightroom and the arrival of the X2D, made that decision all the easier to finalise.

Performance-wise, on an early M1 powered MacMini, Lightroom copes well with the X2D’s .3FR files and is pretty snappy, despite their 200+Mb size.

Station approach
Restaurant, Stratford
No. 3
 

I’ve shot around 500 frames so far and I’m absolutely delighted. The IBIS works well, images are much sharper than I’ve been used to and the colour exquisite. Long may it last.

Oh and Pascal, buy the X2D. You won’t regret it.

 

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  • Pete Guaron says:

    OMG – whoever did the plumbing on the building labelled “do not obstruct” needs to be sent back to a suitable trade school, to learn his craft!

    Paul, this is a remarkable and very eclectic selection. While you might be having pangs & missing SA, you’ve certainly found a fascinating place to replace it with.

    As to the choice of cameras – it’s always a very personal thing, and our reasons often vary enormously.

    I have had a lifelong fixation about Zeiss – their lenses, their cameras, their binoculars. Which makes me veer towards cameras that are compatible. And of course that gave me a very happy mix, with the D850 and my Otus 55mm.

    But it’s never that simple, is it? I was browsing through my old photos the other day and came across one that I took with the Otus’s predecessor – the SIGMA ART 50mm f/1.4 – on my old D810. Hand held, on top of the Arc de Triomphe, gazing towards l’Arche de la Defense. And you can read the signs on the office towers either side of the Arche, even at that distance. Of course pixels were larger on the D810 and that does nothing for the sharpness of the image. But it’s still a remarkable achievement, for any glass or camera, at that distance, under those conditions. I doubt whether the shutter speed was less than about 1/125th, either.

    What you are doing, what Pascal’s been doing, is “different” – your thing. Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it every bit as much as you do. Plus one – I enjoy yours AS WELL AS mine! Even better – you guys do all the work, for me!

    PS – I am curious what Nik’s up to – the idea of a Z8 is enormously appealing. Sony has just released a 60 MP sensor that would be perfect for it, too. Maybe we have to wait for the Z8II, just as the Z7II has taken over from the Z7?

  • pascaljappy says:

    Paul, I’ve been staring at your photographs over and over again. The IBIS and internal storage are very desirable, not to mention the OS stability compared to the “quirky” X1D. But not to the tune of 9 (euro) grand. So my consideration has to be image quality, beyond the resolution increase.

    Can I spot the difference?

    That’s a tough one, particularly as we do not PP our images in the same way. But yeah, I think there is a difference. Those two doors, in particular, are spectacularly natural in their rendition. Whether that’s worth the price of admission for someone who uses outrageous mono PP on his files is debatable, but it sure is food for thought.

    You @#$§ç@!! 😆

    • jean pierre guaron says:

      Largest I ever went was a film camera – a Linhof 4×5 (inches). God only knows what that’d be like, in pixels!

      You two are presumably chasing something we all know you can only get by stepping up from FF to MF (at least). It’s not just your Hassy’s. All the larger ones give it to you. It’s the tonal range – the depth of detail in both highlights and shadows. I think, personally, that it’s mainly from the larger size of the pixels. They can probably make the things in sizes down to one micron, if they try hard enough – but the smaller the pixel, the less information it can contain.

      And with your larger format cameras, you get both – more pixels AND larger ones!

      Where you miss out is firstly the range of available lenses and other accessories. And secondly, bulk – weight. They’re pretty obvious. And if you go this route, you’ve obviously accepted that and don’t care – your photography doesn’t need all the toys that the rest of us want to play with – they aren’t relevant. Which BTW solves the other one – if you don’t need an 800 mm super tele, then the weight you save on that will more than compensate for the larger size of your cameras. And with the money you save on the 800 mm, you can probably afford a Leica M anyway, if you want something you can shove in a pocket and have there, always – for street, for example.

      Of course it probably means you won’t be a birder – or a sports ‘tog. But so what? You don’t shoot that stuff anyway!

      What’s REALLY interesting in all of this is Pascal’s remarks about the X1D – at the start, so happy – blown away by it. Pascal, do you ever go back in DS? – back, back, back – and compare the latest camera – the one you’re still using – with the one[s] you described years ago, on this site? I know it sounds a bit cheeky – but the comparison is quite interesting. Funny, even.

      [How do I add an emoticon here – LOL]

      • pascaljappy says:

        Very true. These cameras bring benefits and come with limitations.

        Ultimately, I think the two are linked, and part of *what we look for* Just for kicks, I have used the X1D to photograph football (soccer), Formula One, birds, astronomy, and more subjects not typically associated with slow cameras with limited lens ranges. The idea is to train that decisive moment eye, rather than gun for productivity or spray and pray. We don’t mind missing a shot, which is unthinkable for a pro, but enjoy the process and the results more than the certainty of ‘getting the shot’. In fact, I think both Paul and I would classify the certainty of “getting the shot” as one of the most boring things on the planet. What, exactly, is the point, if your livelihood doesn’t depend on it? 🙂

        • jean pierre guaron says:

          LOL – so true! Pretty much all of what I do, I just do for the fun of it. I’m the only person on the planet who really cares what the result is, anyway!

          Read something of interest this AM – more pixels = more noise – less, theoretically, means less sharpness but LESS noise. And of course with modern software you can attack either – noise OR sharpness.

          What that does NOT cover, is the comment I made earlier – about better detail in highlights & shadows, with MF. That, you can’t cure with software!

          So you resolve that – but have less lenses to choose from, and heavier, bulkier gear. Which I fix by having a range of cameras, from the s9700 through to the D850, as well as my first Z-range. And of course the fact you guys have gone with Hassy’s doesn’t stop you from having two cams, yourselves.

          In fact, the deeper I dig into these issues, the less they seem to matter. Back to having fun, instead!

      • PaulB says:

        Pete

        Be careful what you ask for when a tech-ie photo-camera-junky might be lurking about. 😉

        Were you a fan of Fuji Velvia 50?

        If yes, and if we can believe Fuji’s resolution claim for Velvia, a 4×5 sensor with equal resolution would be 293.33 MP. Lesser emulsions would be lower.

        PaulB

        PS. Which Linhof did you have? Mine was a Super-Technika IV.

        • jean pierre guaron says:

          I liked the Fuji colour film – never tried their cameras.

          The Linhof was a “studio” camera – I bought it because of the ability to tilt the panels, fore and aft, to correct verticals in camera. I was doing a lot of architectural and food photography at the time. The results were always stunning – unless I bombed, of course. But eventually I shifted to 6×6, because it was handier.

          70-odd years is a long time to mess with cameras. Still have a couple more in mind – SIGMA keeps promising us a full frame Foveon – and Nikon Rumours keeps telling us that this year will see the introduction of the Z8. Sigh – then I suppose I’ll want their 800mm super telephoto, too!

        • Pascal Ravach says:

          Paul,
          I can confirm Fuji’s claim… I used mostly Fujichrome 50 Velvia and Provia in the 80’s, and scanning with my Nikon V ED clearly shows that 4000 dpi is the needed resolution; 24 Mpx for Full-Frame; that would be 320 Mpx for 4×5”, so their value of 293,33 is totally reality-based.

    • Paul Perton says:

      Hit the nail on the head as usual, Pascal. If I didn’t have the money nestling in my bank, I doubt I’d have gone this route, but I’m glad I did. Thanks for the kind remarks.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Nicely done, Paul! Your new kit has already been put to great use, no surprise! I’m in love with Winter Skyline & Station Approach – both are fabulous abstracts and very inspirational in a photographic way. Looking forward to seeing more from you soon. Kudos!

  • Regarding CaptureOne, I don’t think the lack of Hasselblad support is a matter of policy any more, if indeed it ever was. First they are quite decoupled from PhaseOne, and second, Hasselblad doesn’t really compete with Phase anymore. I think it is probably just a matter of commercial reality – how many extra licences would they sell if they added X system support? Especially as they would need to at least match Phocus, which Adobe does not.

    Also I think it needs to be remembered that CaptureOne is a tiny company compared to Adobe, who have massive resources. Personally I find CaptureOne a far more pleasant and motivating working environment than Lightroom. And it has far better tools for manipulating tonality. Every now and then I think to myself, Adobe is much more convenient, cheaper, and surely would be a more sensible choice. Thirty minutes later I’m back in CaptureOne….

    • Paul Perton says:

      Yeah David, I get the same want – some things in C1 work so well etc. So now, I’ve stopped dithering over hardware, I’ve still to resolve the software. I could convert the Hasselblad files to .DNG, but that seems counter productive and just more work when I want less.

  • Leonard Norwitz says:

    Yo Paul,

    I was in much the same place a month ago, feeling the need to expand from MFT and my very fun to use OM-1. The X2D and GFX were both on my short list but I eventually went for Fuji’s XH2 for reasons of portability and — dare I say it — cost.

    I had no previous experience with Fuji so it’s been more of a learning experience than anticipated. More on a future posting.

    Your images are awesome. I’m already grieving.

  • PaulB says:

    Hi Paul

    Paul here! 😉

    I think you should be happy that you took the time to make your decisions. I think it shows in your images, which are stellar for getting to know a new camera. These images have the Hassy clarity that a certain member that shall remain nameless likes to share. An aviation museum is a great place to experiment. I really like the reflection in the B52 image and the Liverpool Station images.

    Please keep sharing as you experiment more.

    PaulB

  • philberphoto says:

    Paul, your purchase on the Hasselblad X2D is also interesting in what you didn’t buy. You had tons of Fuji gear, yet did not buy a GFX. You had a Leica M9, yet did not buy a Leica, whether M, SL or even S. That speaks volumes about the attraction of the Hassy, and must make people at Leica and Fuji cringe. Also, and more importantly, your images speak volumes as well. Effortless elegance and class, sumptuous colors, and powerful expression of paulpertonian style, what’s not to love? My two faves, like Paul-the-un-Perton, B52 and Liverpool street. Kudos, kudos, and more kudos!

    • Paul Perton says:

      Thank you Philippe. The Fuji kit remains a favourite – need a camera, grab a Fuji. Less so the M9 and it may well see the resale market soon.

      Buying the X2D was easy – the GFX is too lumpy, hard to secrete in a hand or pocket, while the Hasselblad is svelte, stylish and to my eyes, hugely desirable. So far, I’m getting my money’s worth.

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