Using the iPhone 8 Plus Camera’s Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting (Contains Cat Photos)

I did it. I bought a clown-shoe sized iPhone. I got the iPhone 8 Plus because I was interested in the camera features in this photo. Portrait mode, and the new portrait lighting, are useful features for portraits of people, but also of pets, and probably still lifes (I’ll try that later).

Here are some examples of photos I shot of Rosalind the Cat in portrait mode. The first is portrait mode with the natural light option chosen in the portrait lighting option.

IMG 6646

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Two Months with the Fujifilm X100F Camera

I’ve had a Fujifilm X100F camera for about two months. After the first month, I wrote this review, but now that I’ve become familiar with the camera, and comfortable with the way it works, I thought an update would be useful. So here are some thoughts on using this camera for two months, together with some of the photos I’ve taken.

I bought the X100F about a month after buying an Olympus Pen-F (my first impressions of that camera). I upgraded from an OM-D E-M10, and had been familiar with Olympus cameras for a long time, since back in the 1980s when I shot on Olympus film cameras. I wanted a second camera that worked differently, from a different manufacturer, and I liked the feature set in the X100F. (, Amazon UK)

It’s never easy adapting to a new camera system. The ergonomics are different, the controls are in different places, and the menus are organized and named differently. So it took a while to get used to the X100F, but not that long. The camera is comfortable and well-balanced, the controls are in easy reach, and once I wrapped my head around its logic, everything made sense.

The main advantage to the X100F is what many people would see as a disadvantage: the fact that the camera has a fixed lens. As I have written here, this can be liberating. The 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens on the X100F is very sharp, and is excellent for many types of photography. However, there were situations where the Pen-F was useful (see below).

I was initially quite smitten by the film simulations in the X100F. At first, I got used to the camera by shooting JPEG only. Here is one of the earliest photos are shot with this camera; it uses the Velvia film simulation (note that all photos here have been downsampled for web use):

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Use Fujifilm Film Simulations In Camera, and on Existing Raw Files

I’ve been writing a lot about my Fujifilm X100F lately. It’s a great compact camera, and the fact that it has a fixed lens actually makes it more practical to use.

One thing people like on these cameras is Fuji’s film simulations. These are profiles that the camera uses to reproduce the look of its film stocks: neutral Provia, vivid Velvia, stark black and white Acros, and more. For many people, these JPEGs created by the camera will make great photos, and you may never need to go to your raw files.

I do shoot raw, though, because of the greater dynamic range, and the better results when you need to adjust exposure. Yet, in many cases, I like the look of these film simulations.

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The Virtues of Using a Fixed-Lens Camera

I own two cameras (not counting my iPhone): the Olympus Pen-F and the Fujifilm X100F. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each has its own feature set. But there is one big difference between them: the X100F has a fixed prime lens.

When most people think of a “good” camera, they think of a DSLR, a big, unwieldy beast with humungous lenses. They see this as part of a kit, one element in a big bag of stuff needed to take photos: extra lenses, filters, tripods, flashes, and more. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.)

But there are a handful of excellent cameras that don’t require all that stuff. I’m not talking about small point-and-shoot cameras, but rather full-featured cameras that offer the quality and features that are found on DSLRs. Ricoh, Sony, and Leica all make fixed-lens cameras, and Fujifilm’s X100F is a great example of how to create a compact, full-featured camera that can shoot wonderful photos. Among this type of camera, the X100F is one of the only models that has a viewfinder. (Some people may not find this feature important, but I cannot shoot pictures looking at an LCD screen.)


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Should You Use Your Camera in Manual or Automatic Mode?

There are a lot of debates in photography around how you should use a camera. Some ask whether you should use a filter to protect a lens, or whether you should use prime lenses or zoom lenses, and many people have fundamentalist responses to these questions. One of the big questions is:

Should you use your camera in manual or automatic mode (or, as some cameras call it, program mode)?

There are thousands of photographers who write articles about photography, discussing how to use a camera, how to focus, and how to work in photo editing apps. And many of them address this question.

Obviously, there are two answers. And it’s not surprising that many of these photographers who churn out articles and videos tend to say that manual mode is better.

Since these photographers mostly talk about gear in their articles and videos, they say that the choice that focuses on the gear is the correct one. But take a step back for a minute.

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How to Use the Q Button on the Fujifilm X100F and other Fuji Cameras to Easily Change Settings

I have two cameras (not counting my iPhone): the Olympus Pen-F and the Fujifilm X100F. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each has its own feature set. One thing I really like on the X100F is the Q button.

The Q (or Quick Menu) button is on many of Fuji’s cameras. On the X100F, it’s on the right, and is easy to access with your thumb. It provides quick access to a number of settings that you may want to change quickly when shooting.

Q button

As you can see above, I’ve selected the Film Simulation setting. If you like Fuji’s film simulations, you may want to use this one often. To change any of the settings, just turn the rear dial. To move around from setting to setting, press one of the four sides of the Selector (those are the buttons around the Menu/OK button).

The settings available include Auto-Focus, Dynamic Range, Noise Reduction, Shadows, Highlights, and more. Here are the defaults:

Q menu settings

In the top left, you can see the button marked BASE C1. You can assign up to seven sets of settings that you can quickly access by selecting this and rotating the rear dial. To apply custom settings, go to the menus: IQ > Image Quality Setting > Edit/Save Custom Setting.

But it gets better. You can also change the settings available from the Quick Menu. Press and hold the Q button, then move to the settings button you want to change. Press the Menu button, then scroll through the list that displays. Find the setting you want to add, then press Menu/OK.

This is practical if you want to easily access settings like the ND Filter, Conversion Lens, Shutter Type settings, or others. You can personalize what displays when you press the Q menu by choosing your own settings, or by selecting the settings you use most for the buttons that are at the top or left, which are easier to access. So, if you want to move, say, the Film Simulation setting to the top left – so it’s selected as soon as you press the Q button – apply it instead of the Custom Settings button, but put that button where the Film Simulation setting is. I admit, it would be easier if there were a quicker way to move these buttons around, but this method works.

Take some time to get to know the Q button and the Quick Menu screen, and customize to so the settings you often change are easily accessible. You’ll save time, and you won’t have to dig through menus as much.

Tips for Using Auto and Manual Focus on the Fujifilm X100F Camera

(This article is a follow-up to one I wrote yesterday about my other camera, the Olympus Pen-F, where I explained how to get precise focus using both auto and manual focusing.)

Auto-focus on modern cameras is great. It is often very precise, and makes it a lot easier to shoot photos quickly. However, it’s not always perfect, especially if you’re trying to focus on something with a lot of different elements that are at slightly different distances. If you’re using a wide aperture, with less depth of field, it’s possible that part of your shot may be out of focus. You may even see this on portraits, where part of a face may be sharp, and other parts soft.

Most good modern cameras also offer a manual focus option. You won’t find this on a point-and-shoot camera, but any camera with interchangeable lenses, and some without, give you the possibility to focus manually. One of my two cameras is the Fujifilm X100F, which offers manual focus, and has some “Focus Assist” features which are really useful.

First, you want to set the camera to use both auto and manual focus. Go to the AF MF Menu and turn AF+MF On. This means that the camera will use auto-focus when you press the shutter halfway. But if you want, you can also use the focus ring on your lens to adjust focus; just start turning it while you’re holding down the shutter. When everything is ready, press the shutter the rest of the way to shoot a picture. (Note that on this camera you also have to set the switch on the left side of the body to S to have it perform single auto-focus.)


What’s really useful with this camera, however, is the fact that you can press the rear dial to zoom in on your subject, making it easier to see if you’re precisely in focus. This looks like a 10x zoom, and, as you’ll see, gives you a very good close-up allowing you to make sure that your subject is sharp.


And if you move the wheel to either side, it switches to what looks like a 5x zoom, which, for some subjects, is a lot more helpful. (I don’t shoot portraits, but I can imagine that zooming to 5x would make it easier to ensure that an entire face is in focus.)


Another option in the MF Assist menu – just below the AF+MF menu – lets you use Standard assistance or Focus Peak Highlight. This second option displays white lines that highlight the areas in focus. You can adjust the color and intensity of these lines in the Focus Peake Highlight sub-menu. In that menu is also a third option, Digital Split Image, which is only available when you’re in full manual mode (the side switch set to M). This recalls old film cameras, where you had a circle in the center of the viewfinder that was darker, and you aligned the two halves of the circle to ensure that your subject was in focus. I used to like those circles, but I find the split image here – which is a pair of rectangles – is hard to use. But you can zoom in the same way as above using the rear dial, so you can get good focus with this tool as well.

So learn how to use these tools to get all your photos in perfect focus.

Camera Lens Review: Panasonic 20 mm F 1.7 for Micro Four-Thirds Cameras

Panasonic 20mmWhen I bought my Olympus Pen-F camera two weeks ago, it was joining a collection of lenses that I’d purchased over the past two years for the Olympus OM-D E-M10. I have a 25mm f 1.8, a 45 mm f 1.8, and a 17mm f 2.8, as well as the kit lens (14-42mm) that came with the camera. While the 17mm Olympus lens is good, it’s pretty slow at f 2.8. I like that it’s a pancake lens – about an inch thick – which keeps this small camera compact. Other lenses, like the 25mm, are much thicker, and add a lot of volume and weight to the camera, but it’s nice to have one very slim lens to use when I’m just walking around with no intentions of shooting specific scenes.

When I started taking pictures some 40 years ago, I used an Olympus OM-10 with a 50mm lens. I like that focal length, but having something a bit wider is helpful. (Note that lenses for micro four-thirds cameras are half the equivalent focal length of 35mm cameras. This can be confusing, but it means my 25mm lens is equal to 50mm; the 17mm equals 34mm.) The 17mm Olympus lens I have is a bit too wide, and I saw that there’s a 20mm Panasonic lens; that’s equal to 40mm in the 35mm world. (I know, this is a drag to have to specify like that…)

Anyway, I thought I’d try out the Panasonic; while it’s not an Olympus lens, it is a micro four-thirds lens. This is a standard that Olympus and Panasonic developed together, so their lenses and bodies are compatible. (, Amazon UK)

Pen with lens

I’m not qualified to go into detail about the potential distortion of the lens or chromatic aberrations; suffice it to say that it’s a good, solid, compact lens, which offers the advantage of being fast; having a very wide aperture, at f 1.7. As you’ll read if you check any sites that do more technical reviews, it’s a bit slow to focus, and this can be a problem if you do street photography and need to focus quickly. In that case, you’re better off with, say, the Olympus 25mm (the 17mm isn’t that fast in focusing, or in aperture).

What this lens offers is excellent image quality in a small package; at about an inch thick, it won’t get in the way, and it won’t weigh you down. I’ve found it to be fast enough to focus on what I shoot, and it offers excellent depth of field at smaller apertures. If you want a small, light, unobtrusive lens for the Pen-F – or for any micro four-thirds camera – check this one out.

Comparison of the Olympus Pen-F Monochrome Profiles

I’ve been shooting pictures with my new Olympus Pen-F camera this week. (, Amazon UK) You can read my First Impressions of the Olympus Pen-F Camera, and see some sample photos.

Today, the weather was very nice, so I went outside to take some photos in my village. I wanted to compare the three different monochrome modes in the camera, because I very much like black and white photos, and it’s a feature that I plan to use a lot.

You can set up the camera to bracket photos, and if you do this with the Art filters, you can choose the three different monochrome modes. To do this, go to the menus, then the second shooting menu. Choose Bracketing and turn it on, the go to the right and choose ART BKT and turn that on. Then go to the right again and select the presets you want to use (and deselect those you don’t want). You can have lots of presets automatically applied to any shot, these aren’t additional shots, like when you bracket for exposure or aperture, but it’s all internal processing from your image. I shoot RAW + JPG, so when I do this, I get four photos.

Here’s just one example of the different monochrome profiles. The first shot is the color shot, then the three next photos are monochrome profiles 1, 2, and 3. I haven’t made any alterations to the photos. Note that I’ve turned off grain for all three profiles; by default a couple of them have grain on.

Olympus describes the first profile as neutral, and it is, soft and smooth. The second is the high-contrast profile, modeled after Tri-X Pan film, and in some shots the contrast is excessive, but here it looks fine. The third shot is meant to look like infrared film; in some photos it does have that look, but not so much here. However, the clouds contrast well with the sky, as if there’s a red filter.

Of the three photos here, I prefer the house in the second profile but the sky in the third. It would be possible to combine these in post production, and since they’re exactly the same photo there’s no problem aligning them. But I find the first photo to be very well balanced, with a softer look.

These black and white profiles are one of my favorite features of this camera, and the ability to bracket all three – together with a RAW file – is very useful. I’ve yet to tweak the profiles, other than turning off grain – I’m not a big fan – but I’ll look into that soon.

Sample Photos Shot with the Olympus Pen-F Camera

Earlier today, I posted my First Impressions of the Olympus Pen-F Camera. (, Amazon UK) At the time, I hadn’t taken many pictures with it, because the weather was terrible. So when the rain stopped, and the clouds cleared up a bit, I went out in my garden to shoot some photos. All these photos were taken with the Olympus 25mm (50mm equivalent) f 1.8 lens.

All the following photos were shot in aperture priority mode, and the color photos were converted from Raw by Apple Photos. The black and white photos are all the JPEGs from the camera. I haven’t made any adjustments to any of the photos, other than cropping some of them, and scaling some of them down so they’re not too big. I’ll explain why for each one.

Please note that it may take a while for this page to load. If you’re coming from the main page of my website, or an archive page, you’ll need to click the link below to see the pictures.

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