Welcome

Welcome to my blog! 

I am a fine art, portrait and wedding photographer based in Berkshire ( UK ).  I shoot with the Fuji X system mirrorless cameras.  This is my blog site and contains a lot of information for photographers, especially those interested in the Fuji system.

For wedding bookings and info this is my main website…Croshaw Photography.

 

 

Bird shots with the 100-400 and X-Pro2

I had the opportunity to do some bird photography with the 100-400 and finally this lens showed me what it could really do.  I was very impressed with its performance and can’t wait to use it again.  I’ll do a proper review shortly but in the meantime here are some of the shots ( they did need a little sharpening, to be expected on a lens like this ).  Also please bear in mind I’m a beginner bird photographer and also new to using this focal length.

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Some 365 project images

It’s still early days on my 365 project ( one photo a day for a year ), but I’ve already taken some shots I’m pleased with ( some I’m not, but at least its making me do stuff outside my comfort zone, which is the point really ).  Some days it is hard work but so far I’ve stuck to it.  Here are a few of the images.

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There was only one thing I was ever going to photography the day after completing my first ( and last ) marathon….

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Sometimes I plan the shot for the day ( easy if I have a shoot booked, like I did with the shot below ).  Other times I have no idea and its very spontaneous, the shot above of my daughter happened just because I noticed the strong light on her just as I was about to leave for work.  The x100T is perfect for this kind of project as it’s always around when I need it.

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Xpro2 7000 shots and a review

I’m not sure the world needs another X-Pro2 review, but as this is my blog the world can sod off, I’m doing one anyway!  I’ve had the camera 6 weeks and shot as wide a variety of stuff as I possibly could.  I’ve shot a wedding, several model/fashion shoots, wildlife, football, family life, landscapes and a music gig.  I’m over 7000 shots in now on this camera so I think this is a fair time to write a review.  Overall the camera just feels great, fast , powerful, no sluggishness whatsoever, it performs more like a DSLR than any Fuji yet in terms of speed ( although totally different in form factor ), but still retains the mirrorless fun factor.

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Ergonomics and build quality:

The ergonomics are almost perfect..I used an X-T1 extensively for 2 years and I wasn’t sure I was going to bond with this camera, as I’m by no means a rangefinder fanatic ( although I have had an X100s and now x100T for the past 2 years and really love it ).  I haven’t really noticed the smaller EVF compared to the X-T1, and I do like the OVF a lot.  This is a camera that gets out of your way when you are shooting.  I found this with the X-T1 as well, and that’s a good thing.  The only miss is that ISO dial..it drove me nuts initially as it’s awkward to use quickly and it’s too hard to turn without messing with the shutter dial.  I have found that I’m getting better with it and it may be that six months down the line I love it.  Luckily I normally use ISO 200 in the studio and spot metering with auto ISO when outside.  I’ve also gotten a lot better at slowing down slightly and taking my time when changing ISO and it’s ok..not as nice the X-T1 solution but ok.  Everything else is amazing, the camera feels much better built than the X-T1, I’ve already dropped it on concrete once thanks to the crappy strap Fuji give you, and it was fine.  I’ve used it in all sorts of weather, no problem.  I’ve not noticed the over heating issue and I’ve only had about 3 instances of the reset camera issue in 7000 shots..I hope they fix that but it’s not a big issue for me.

Autofocus:

The AF is as fast as you will ever need in decent light, and very very good in bad light, especially with the newer lenses.  It feels like a step up from the X-T1, the new processor just makes it a bit faster and more sure footed.  I’ve captured moments I think I might have missed on my X-T1 if I was relying solely on autofocus.  One thing that has really surprised me is how good the tracking/zone focussing is now.  I’ve shot two games of kids football and my keeper rate shot up compared to the X-T1.

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Battery Life:

I’ve seen a bunch of people saying they are getting terrible battery life with this camera ( less than 200 shots ).  I’ve not had that experience, but it does depend on which lens I’m using.  On a studio shoot I was typically hitting around 550 shots, but that includes using the 50-140 which I’d expect to drain more battery.  At the wedding I shot, it was more like 600 shots, using mostly fast primes and chimping quite a lot.  I do use high performance mode, but I also switch the camera off when not using it.  I also heard of people wearing it round their neck and leaving it on, which might trigger the eye sensor.  One further thing that may be happening is people not charging the battery fully..the battery charger shows green while charging and the light goes out when fully charged I think, which is very confusing, as it also shows an amber light when you first put the battery in.  Anyway, to sum it up, the battery life for me is no worse than the X-T1 and its faster to switch on and use so I have no issues switching it to off when not in use.  When using the 100-400 the battery level drops a LOT faster..not surprising when using a lens like that I guess.

Image Quality:

The images are great out of this camera, its nice having 24 mp but I was happy enough with 16 for the past few years so it’s not a big deal for me. I’ve been messing around with the noise reduction, at -4 I find it too noisy at high iso but then I’ve never been much good at applying noise reduction in post processing.  I’ve heard from people who prefer it that way and get great results.  I’ve generally gone for -2 on NR.  I’ve found the camera great at high ISO, I’d say about half a stop better than the X-T1 but the real bonus is being able to shoot in raw at 12800.  Depending on the quality of the light, you can get some fantastic images all the way up to 12800.

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Film Simulations:

I find I’m using these more with dual card slots, as the jpeg just gets written to the secondary card slot.  Velvia is has been improved and I’m using it more now than I did on the X-T1 ( I used it for the colour football shots above ).  Acros is very nice as many have reported.  Overall they are still great.  Dual card slots and weather sealing are both a big deal for me, and just add to the value of this camera.  I’ve tested the weather sealing pretty thoroughly and all seems well so far.  Time for more images!DSCF5168 DSCF5107 DSCF2965 DSCF1182

Conclusion:

The X-Pro2 is not the most capable camera I’ve ever used, that would be the Nikon D750, which is just a great all rounder.  However, the X-Pro2 is waaay more fun to shoot with and I don’t need the full capabilities of the a D750.  It gives me 95% of the capabilities of a top end DSLR with 100% more fun and I’ll take that!  It’s definitely my favourite camera so far I’ve used, it just begs to be picked up and used and as a result, I make better images than I would with a more powerful camera ( I’m not saying this is not a powerful camera, it is, it’s amazing ).  Now excuse me, I need to go shoot stuff, the X-Pro2 is calling me again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting sport with the XPro-2 and 100-400mm lens

I have been waiting a while to be able to shoot some football ( soccer if you are an American ) on the xpro2.  I always used to shoot matches for my sons team back in my DSLR days but I found it a bit frustrating on the X-T1 even though I did manage ok.  I never found the tracking on AF-C that useful even though I know others got on with it ok.  The X-Pro2 is much improved though, this time I didn’t have any issues tracking using zone tracking( the second AF option ), and even AF-C, long the red headed stepchild of the X System AF family, was working really well.  I shot in Velvia and Acros. I used the 100-400 for most of the match, just to get some practice with it, but I did enjoy being able to zoom in close, I think in future I’ll keep using this lens and mix it up with the 50-140 as they both give different looks.  Here are some shots from the 100-400.

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And now for some shots from the 50-140..I knew this lens would be superb for this and combined with the X-Pro2 it was awesome.  This was the first match I’ve shot with mirrorless where I’ve not felt the lack of a DSLR.  I’m sure the pro DSLRs would still do a lot better, but most of the misses today were to down to my lack of skills, the AF system was brilliant and I didn’t get frustrated with it at all, unlike many times in the past trying to shoot these matches on various Fuji cameras.

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Godox wistro AD360 ( shot with the Fuji X System )

I’ve been tempted to get this piece of kit for a while.  I’m getting fed up charging a bunch of AA batteries for my speedlights only to have them still go flat really quickly.  This looked like a step up without being in the same price bracket as as an Elinchrom Quadra.  I ordered the main unit alongside the following accessories..

  • power cord extension
  • double power cord plugin ( makes the recycle time faster for one light )
  • octabox/beauty dish modifier ( £20 ).
  • wireless trigger unit ( £20 )

They all took a few weeks to arrive from China, I was immediately impressed by the build quality though, its really very solid especially considering the price, and everything seems really well designed.  Total cost was around £350 for everything, this unit has been superseded by newer  more powerful versions, but I only needed a simple manual unit, as the Fuji does not support HSS yet and I don’t use ETTL.  The octabox modifier is brilliant, it folds up really small and is very easy to assemble.  As for the main unit, it feels very well put together, and the battery unit is surprisingly light and you can either clip it to your belt or hang it on a lightstand, which is what I tend to do if I’m shooting without an assistant.

It took me a little while to figure out if the battery unit was charged ( it takes about 3 hours ).  You need to plug the speedlight in and then hold down the power button..it will then show you 4 power indicators, these will flash on and then straight off if the flash is not connected, if the flash is connected it will stay on.  4 little lights mean you are on full power and good to go. The godox wireless trigger is very simple to use, the receiver is like a small usb stick which you just plug into the side of the power unit..this means there is one less battery you need to worry about as it gets it power from the main battery ( another of those great little design touches that this unit has a lot of ).  You then out the transmitter on the camera, its easy to put it on the wrong way round, but if you think about it, all transmitters usually work with the lcd facing towards your face so you can see whats going on.  Once you get it all set up, you can fire away.  Here is a picture I took of a model to break up the wall of text…

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So how does it work on a shoot?  Well, I’ve now done 5 shoots with this thing and not had a single misfire.  The documented recycle time on full power is around 4-5 seconds I believe.  In practice, you are very rarely on full power, so the recycle time is pretty much instant.  If you do need full power alot, get the double cord plug in and it will greatly speed the recycle time up.  Compared to a speedlight, it feels FAST.  It’s a lot more powerful than your average speedlight, but you can dial it down to 1/128 and it then produces a lovely fill light, especially with the superb Octabox modifier.  Because it is a bulb rather than a speedlight it provides what I feel is a softer, more rounded light source..it’s like having a mini studio strobe with you.  I absolutely love it, for me it’s a game changer for location shoots, its just so much more powerful and reliable than my speedlights.  However..some caveats..

  • it is not waterproof..if it rains it’s back to my speedlights
  • it is twice the size of a speedlight so you won’t want to mount this on a Fuji body directly, it would be horrible

I can’t think of any other drawbacks..I did 3 shoots in a row without recharging it and it was still showing almost full power!  Godox indicate you will get 1000 full power shots from one charge, but I almost never use full power so I’m getting more like 3000-4000 shots..which is crazy considering the size of the unit.  It means I don’t have to spend hours charging AA batteries anymore.  You can use Cactus triggers with this unit, just put the Cactus trigger on on the hotshoe and then plug in the godox one on top of it. This means you can easily use 1-2 Cactus flashes as backlights/hair lights and use the Godox as the main light..or optically trigger other speedlights if you need to.  The various light modifiers are very cheap for what you get and seem very well designed.  This is possibly my favourite bit of lighting kit I’ve ever bought.  If you do a lot of location shooting and don’t enjoy charging AA batteries get one! I’m using it with my X-Pro2 and it seems to work very well..instead of HSS I’m using ND filters when I need them..but I find the Octabox modifier when used with the beauty dish it comes with has plenty of diffusion built in so sometimes the 1/250th shutter speed is enough in late afternoon/early evening.   Here are some more images taken with this setup.

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Some recent work with models and the xpro2

I’ve been pretty busy on numerous shoots recently, often working with my new Godox 360 flash as well as using natural light and studios.  Here are some recent images…

This was taken with the xpro2 and 50-140 2.8 zoom in a studio. I love this zoom for studio work, it pretty much lives on my camera in these circumstances.  Here I was using gels and the coloured background to work with Natasha’s outfit.

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This was a completely different style on a shoot with Marla.  I used the 16mm 1.4 to get the wide angle look and a Godox 360 flash to provide the fill light.

DSCF3548Once again a shift in styles..this time using the 90mm f2 and just plain old natural light ( which I do love using when I can ).   I love the way the 90mm renders the background here and how sharp it is.

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Finally, on a shoot with Jodie, this was using the Godox to give just a kiss of light on her face, I used the 90mm f2 with a 3 stop ND filter on it to allow me to shoot at f2.  The idea is to make it look like a natural light shot, even though I’m using flash.

Fuji 35mm f2

I’ve been meaning to do a review of the 35mm f2 for a while, but it keeps getting getting lost amongst all the other new stuff I’m testing ( like the xpro2 and the Godox 360 flash ). I used to own the 35mm 1.4 and loved it, but it was very noisy and was not exactly a speed demon in the focussing department.  So what does this newer version bring to the table..

Well, it’s a lot faster to focus, no doubt about that.  When it does hunt ( which is when you get a bit close to the subject in low light I’ve found ), its still very smooth and does eventually lock on.  That hunting happens far less frequently than on the 1.4 and only in extreme low light or back light conditions, where I would expect any lens to struggle.

The weather resistance is a big deal to me, I shot in Iceland last year and I’m often out shooting in the wet in the UK, this lens just adds to the growing number of fuji lenses I can use confidently in these conditions.

Bokeh is lovely, as was the 1.4.

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Sharpness..the sharpness is right up there with all the other fuji lenses, it’s as sharp as you could wish it to be, like all my other fuji glass, I no longer really bother sharpening images in post.  I’ve read some more technical reviews of this lens and it’s been very highly praised for sharpness, lack of chromatic aberration and all that technical jazz that really is of minimal importance to me.  I look at images taken with this lens, and they have that magical quality the 1.4 had..punchy, sharp and beautiful.

The lens is also pretty much designed to work with the xpro2 and its OVF..it lives on my camera pretty much and is such a useful focal length that its become my go to combination since I got the xpro2.  I like the look and feel of it, and it’s a great all rounder.  I do miss that extra stop of light though, if I still owned the 1.4, I’d probably hang on to it for when I need that extra light.  For the price, either the 1.4 or this f2 are both stellar lenses.  Some more images now..

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Dublin with the XPro2

Firstly..I’m not a landscape or street photographer, so these are just snapshots.  I took the XPro2 to Dublin on a business trip.  I had one evening spare so went and took a few snaps.  The camera was awesome, bracketed shooting is so fast now!  These shots are all raws from camera run through Nik Analog FX2, which is a set of filters I love.  I don’t always use them but here I thought they worked quite well.  These are all shot with the 35mm f2 which is a lovely lens and works brilliantly with this camera.  For the bridge shots I just rested the camera on the bridge and shot at 0.3 seconds exposure, ISO 250.

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Fuji X-Pro2 initial thoughts and a model shoot

I was lucky to get hold of an XPro2 slightly ahead of the general UK release date.  I was really keen to get one as I’d been holding out for one as my main camera and I have a wedding to shoot this weekend.  I’ve read all the reviews, but I took most of them with a pinch of salt, as the people who wrote them are mostly X-Photographers.  While I respect and admire a lot of them, at the end of the day, they get free gear from Fuji so of course they will be positive.  However, I’m really happy with the camera, here are my first impressions based on a day of heavy shooting.  This was a shoot for a mature model, who needed some shots for an agency.  I used a combination of lenses, the 50-140, the 56mm 1.2, the 35mm f2 and the 90mm f2.  All worked flawlessly.

1.It’s FAST, seriously fast.  Everything feels quicker, from just navigating the menus to autofocus, taking shots, even with flash, just felt quicker.  I used off camera flash for some of the shots on my shoot and it worked beautifully ( only for the indoor ones, the outdoor ones were natural light and a reflector ). This is the first X Series camera that has felt close to a DSLR in terms of general responsiveness.  I’ve used my X-T1 heavily for 2 years, so I really noticed the difference.  The speed I was able to fire off shots, even with the flash, but especially without it, was awesome.  You can tell the processor has had a serious speed hike.

2.It’s built really well..obviously we’ll see in 6 months, but I already dropped it on concrete thanks to catching that stupid strap Fuji supplies with my hand as I turned around.  The camera landed on its top, but other than a tiny dent, it was fine and I carried on with the shoot.

3.Ergonomically it has way more in common with the X100 series than the X-T1.  It took me half an hour to get it working the way I wanted, the only thing I had any difficulty with was setting up the dual card slots, and even that was not too bad. (I did need to read the manual for that one )

4.AF speed..seemed very good, and a step in my opinion from the X-T1.  The EVF is a joy to use and so smooth now, I used it in a dimly lit pub and it was just superb.

I’ve only tested AF-S and single point AF,as that is what I mostly use.  I’ll test the continuous focus when I get a chance in a week or so.

5.Image quality – top notch as you would expect, I’ve not really tested super high ISOs but I did accidentally shoot a shot at ISO8000 this morning and it looked a lot better than the X-T1 would have.  Anyone saying there is no ISO improvement must be smoking something good.  In terms of real life use, the improvement is totally apparent to me, I don’t care about charts and pixel peeping, if I’m shooting in a dark pub or church with the XPro2 using the same lenses as the X-T1 I get better results, that’s all I care about.

6.Dynamic range – very good, I was able to pull back some nice detail from shadows and highlights, its easily as good as the X-T1 in that regard, hard to tell if better but I had no issues with the DR on the X-T1, I’ve always thought it was fine and I’ve been using that camera heavily since it first came out.

Here are some images from the shoot, all shot in raw and then converted to Astia in Lightroom..no other postprocessing bar a quick curves tweak in photoshop.

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