Hi {name},

Welcome to Lenscraft in Focus for May 2023.

If you read the introduction to last month’s newsletter, you will know that I took the plunge and bought a Fuji XT5. When I wrote that newsletter, I had only used the camera once but was already pleased with its performance. I wasn’t seeing the “soft and blurred” images reported by some commentators and the in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) appeared excellent.

Since then, I’ve used the camera several more times, including a trip to the Lake District where I shot this image.

Lenscraft in Focus Newsletter May 2023 introduction image at Blea Tarn

This is a view of the Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn, shortly before sunset. I used the Fuji 16-80 lens at 60mm for this, with the XT5 mounted on a tripod. It’s a 1/17” exposure at f/11.0 and ISO125 (base ISO for the XT5). I also used a 0.9 (three stop) soft ND Grad filter on the sky.

After I shared that I had bought the XT5, I received quite a few emails asking me what I thought of it. I’ve therefore included a short piece in this newsletter with some of my initial thoughts. So rather than me continuing to waffle through an introduction, let’s start with that.

I hope you enjoy it, together with the other newsletter articles this month.


Fuji XT5 First Thoughts

I’ll start by stressing that this isn’t a full review. I tend to write reviews only after I have several month’s experience of using a camera. This is more about sharing the first thoughts that I’ve had whilst using the XT5. These may or may not turn out to be strengths and weaknesses of the camera, but only time will tell.

Here’s another example shot from my recent trip to the Lake District.

Example XT5 image at Blea Tarn

The first thing that struck me about my XT5 shots is how neutral and natural the colours are. They feel very similar to my original XT1. When I moved to the XT2 the colours felt a little warm, and in the XT3 many images had a purple tint as well. I should stress these colours all felt natural, but they definitely had a tint that was difficult to remove.

The IBIS of the XT5 is extremely powerful. This makes it great for shooting handheld with the Fuji prime lenses which aren’t stabilised. But it also works fabulously well with the stabilised lenses.

Something else that’s surprised me (and that I can’t yet fully rationalise) is that my Fuji 16-80 lens appears to perform better on this camera than on my XT3. I’ve yet to use the temperamental Fuji 16-80 in testing conditions, but I’m beginning to wonder if that lens was originally engineered with the XT4 or XT5 in mind.

When used on the XT3, I’ve always found the corners and edges of images shot with that lens were a little soft at the wide end. Because of this I would often stop the lens down to around f/13.0. But when I use this lens on the XT5, I’m not seeing this soft edge effect. In fact, I found myself able to shoot many landscapes at f/8.0, whilst achieving good depth of field. This was though partly due to my next “discovery”.

Something that I noticed after shooting this photo inside Norwich Cathedral is that the corners of my 14mm Fuji prime were soft and didn’t have enough depth of field. I put this down at the time to having only used an aperture of f/8. But then I saw the same effect when in the Lake District when using the Fuji 10-24 lens at f/11.0. I did a few experimental shots and was surprised to discover that my usual focus point positioning was too close to the camera; a lot too close. Whilst the centre of the frame was pin sharp, I could see the circular area around the edge of the frame where focus dropped away. But by moving my point of focus out by a few meters, the entire image seemed to snap into focus, even at quite wide apertures. I need to investigate this further but wonder if something has changed in the lens and camera mount design that’s affecting the best point of focus.

And all this may be part of the reason for some of the claims that earlier lenses like the Fuji 10-24 aren’t good enough to cope with the XT5’s increased megapixel count. The reality may be that they are not well engineered for this camera body.

But there’s something else that may be affecting the results which is the RAW processing. I’ve always maintained that Lightroom doesn’t do a great job of displaying the Fuji XTrans RAW file unless you first use the Enhance Detail mode. Most of the comparisons criticising lenses like the Fuji 10-24 show their comparisons in Lightroom. Whilst I don’t use the Enhance Detail or Super Resolution feature (in Photoshop), I do pre-process my images using DxO PureRAW 3. Here’s a comparison, although I don’t know how well it will show in the email.

Lightroom Vs PureRAW3

This compares the corners of a RAW file shot with the Fuji 10-24 at 11mm. The preview is shown in Lightroom at 200% magnification. The image on the left is how Lightroom renders the RAW file and is clearly much softer and less detailed than the image on the right. The image on the right was first processed into a DNG file using DxO PureRAW 3.

In summary, there have been quite a few surprises with the Fuji XT5, many pleasant. I believe it’s an excellent camera, far more capable than the XT3 I was using, but it will require careful experimentation to get the best from it.

Affinity Universal License Competition

Last month, I held the third and final prize draw for the Affinity V2 Universal License codes I had. Congratulations to Alan Segar of the West Midlands (UK) who won the draw and is now enjoying all the Affinity products. If you are considering purchasing Affinity Photo 2, the Affinity V2 Universal License may be the best value. As someone who purchased all the individual V1 products, I’ve found the Universal License gives a big saving.

New Lenscraft Content

Over the past month, I’ve been publishing new tutorials and updating old ones. Here’s the list of what you can find on Lenscraft.

DxO Pure RAW Version 3 Reviewed
Most photographer’s spend a small fortune buying the best cameras and lenses, hoping to achieve excellent image quality. Whilst cameras and lenses certainly play a part in image quality, this…
How To Crop A Photo For Instagram Using Affinity Photo
In this tutorial, we look at how to crop a photo for posting to Instagram. As well as explaining how to crop the image, you will learn how to resize…
Resizing Photos For Instagram without Cropping in Affinity Photo
In this tutorial, we look at how to resize a photo for posting to Instagram. It covers the correct dimensions for a square image and more importantly, how to resize…
On1 Sky Swap AI Plug-in Review
In this review, we’re looking at the new On1 Sky Swap AI plug-in for Photoshop. Although we don’t cover it in this article, I’ve also tested this plug-in with Affinity…

From Around the Internet

A selection of interesting photography related resources from the internet.

More About Micro 43

Someone shared a link with me to this article on the merits of a smaller camera sensor. I thought a few readers may enjoy it as well, so I wanted to include it.



Your Favourites

If you have any favourite articles, blogs, videos, or podcasts that you would like to share, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for material to include in this section of the newsletter. This is especially true at quiet times of the year or when the only talk is about new equipment coming to the market.

Do let me know of anything interesting by emailing [email protected].

Thank you.

Photographers You May Not Know – Rach Stewart

Rach Stewart Photography website

In 2018, I was fortunate to take a 6-week trip to New Zealand (I can’t believe that it was so long ago). I returned totally in awe of the place and it’s high on my list for a return visit. It’s also the location of this month’s photographer you may not know.

Rach Stewart is an award-winning professional photographer based in New Zealand. She has amassed a huge following on Instagram and you can see why. Her photography is stunning and whilst you can view it on Instagram, I would recommend visiting the gallery pages of her website. It’s well worth taking the time to do so.

Books & Course News

Latest book and course news.

Affinity Photo Course

A couple of newsletters back, I shared that I was working on a series of Affinity Photo mini courses. Whilst this progressed well, I’ve had to pause the project for reasons that I would never have foreseen.

The company hosting my courses has changed the terms of my contract with them. This limits the number of courses I can publish to 5 (I currently have 9). They’ve also increased my annual fee for this by 50%. Worse still is that if I want to release further courses, I must upgrade to an account that’s around 400% more expensive.

I won’t give the prices, but it runs into the thousands, which I can’t afford. That’s without considering the investment I need to make to produce these courses. Until I can find a viable alternative (which handles international digital taxes) I will be focussed on book publishing.

I’m very sorry for the news.

Photoshop Luminosity Masking Book

I’m now putting the final touches to this book and expect to publish it during May. I had intended to produce the book in an additional format, a hybrid book with an embedded video course. Unfortunately, I’ve had to scrap that plan for the reasons explained above. I will however be producing the usual digital and print versions of the book.

I expect to price the eBook at around £6.99 but will confirm this once the text is finalised. The final price depends on how much the large retailers charge me for the eBook delivery. I work to fine margins in trying to keep my books affordable, so this is critical.

If you’re interested in this book, watch out for an announcement in May.

Until next month, I hope you continue to enjoy your photography.

Robin Whalley

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