Meet the Fujimatic (casual review of the XM-FL body cap lens)
A week or so ago, I found myself deeply intrigued by this thread and decided to order a copy of the Fuji XM-FL body cap prime. This 24mm f/8 fixed aperture/fixed focus more or less toy lens is sold only in Japan, but the Internet will provide.
And then I ordered a secondhand X-M1 body to go with it. A little plastic body cap lens just didn't sound like a good match for my X-T10, which seems so perfect when paired with the 35mm f/1.4, and I didn't have another Fuji body. The body cap on the small, simple X-M1 might make a pretty passable modern version of the old fixed aperture/fixed focus Kodak Instamatic that was my first camera; a Fujimatic, if you will.
Well, we have seen the Fujimatic, and it is a ton of fun. First, a few observations, then a few sample images.
- The Fujimatic is super small and light, just as I hoped: a genuine shirt pocket camera, assuming you favor a work style shirt with generous pockets.
- Pay very close attention to subject distance. The minimum focus distance on the XM-FL is specified as a full meter (that's 39 inches in American distance) and you better believe it. This may not be as much of a problem when using a body with a viewfinder, but I found myself underestimating how far back I had to get while using the rear screen. When in doubt, step back.
- If you are using a camera without a viewfinder and aren't used to it, handling is rather iffy. Since the aperture is fixed at f/8 and the X-M1 body tops out at 6400 ISO, shutter speeds are going to be on the slow side, especially indoors. I am going to have to learn some clever hand holding skills to get the best out of this combination.
- For some reason, the Fujimatic seems to work particularly well when shooting in 1:1 format, like the Instamatics of old. Maybe it's purely sentimental, but if you like squares at all, give them a try with this lens.
- Also for some reason, I really hated some of the images I made when I experimented with the Astia film simulation. I am no great fan of Astia anyway, and when combined with the slight softness of the lens some of the results were decidedly wimpy. Of the limited options available on the X-M1, I like Provia and Black and White the best. If you are trying this lens on a body with a wider selection of film simulations, I bet Classic Chrome will work well.
- Finally, watch out for the Soft filter! The XM-FL has a system of rotating covers and filters, including a hard cover, a plain filter, a Star filter and a Soft filter that renders everything in soft focus. I ruined several low light shots this morning that I thought were soft due to camera movement at a slow shutter speed-- and then I went outside and discovered I had the Soft filter on. Learn the code of the notches on the side of the wheel and only use the special effects when you want to use them.
Here are a few of my better shots from the first day with the Fujimatic. All are JPEGs, straight out of camera, no crops or tweaks, with the camera body set at factory settings.
Nice texture effect with Provia, .
Banana tree in Astia.
Hydrangeas because I cannot pass a hydrangea without taking a picture of it.
I was sure this was going to be a good car spotting lens, and I was right.
Backlit sunflower, over my head, in a high breeze.
Indoors, with an increased awareness of careful hand holding.
It's early days yet, but I think this experiment is going to be a success. Remember that I love toy lenses and lo fi images, so I am dedicated to meeting these images halfway and judging them by their own standards. If you demand super sharpness from every lens, this one is not going to please you.
And, well, I've ordered a second lens (secondhand of course) for the Fujimatic body, and I bet you can guess what it is.
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