Studio shoot with Robyn

Had a great studio shoot with Robyn Elizabeth recently.  Great fun to work with and another great shoot with the Fuji system.  Here is one of the portraits from the shoot.  This was taken on the XE-2 with the 56mm 1.2 lens using continuous lighting.  Barely any post processing here, didn’t even need to sharpen around the eyes, which I always used to on my DSLR shots.

DSCF5208 Studio shoot with Robyn

 

A day in London with the X100s

Well, more like an afternoon.  Having recently gotten hold of an x100s I thought a trip to London was the ideal time to test it out.  My wife and I headed to the British Museum first, where I enjoyed watching almost everyone else lugging around gigantic DSLRs ( I did spot two people with XT-1s on the way there though! ).  Here are some shots from the museum..its a great place to take photos, especially with a small camera like the x100s.

DSCF5247 v1 A day in London with the X100s DSCF5290 v1 A day in London with the X100s DSCF5294 v1 A day in London with the X100s DSCF5307 v1 A day in London with the X100s

Next we wandered over to Waterloo and did some tourist like rambling around.  My wife wasn’t used to street photography so kept thinking I was going to get us mugged by pointing the camera at people, but its so small and quiet no one really noticed.

DSCF5337 v1 A day in London with the X100s DSCF5348 HDR A day in London with the X100s DSCF5352 v1 A day in London with the X100s DSCF5376 v1 A day in London with the X100s

Overall I found the camera a joy to use, and got some images I was really pleased with.

Fuji XT-1 Review and Conclusion

I’ve had the XT-1 for a few weeks now and have used it in a variety of situations.  So rather than structure this review in the standard way ( build, handling, image quality etc ) I thought I’d go through all the usage scenarios I’ve put it through and give my personal opinion on how it did.

Studio Shooting:

It does just fine in the studio.  The XE-1 used to struggle a bit, it was a bit slower to use than a DSLR, especially on the 55-200, which is my favourite lens in the studio.  Studios are often quite dim unless you have the modelling lights on all the time, which is often not the case.  So your camera needs to be decent at low light focussing.  I found that setting the AF area to its second or third setting up from the smallest was sufficient for rapid focussing and the camera did not slow me down at all.  You do have to switch Preview Exp. in Manual Mode off though, which is under screen setup.  The reason being, the camera has no way of knowing that you are using strobes, and you will generally be shooting at f8 and above in a studio, so if you leave this on, your EVF will display a dark pit.  Other than that, I often forget I’m using a mirrorless camera in the studio when using the XT-1, much more so than with the XE-2 as the handling is more like a DSLR.  Here are a few of the studio images I’ve shot on the XT-1, mostly shot in JPEG as up until now ACR was not up to converting XT-1 RAW files, also the JPEGs are so good I don’t need to shoot in RAW in general.

DSCF3457 1 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF2115 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF4044 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion

 

Location Shooting:

Well, this is where you need to turn Preview Exp. in Manual Mode back on, as I found to my cost the other week when attempting a beach shoot straight after a studio shoot and not being able to see anything!  Once I remembered to actually use the EVF it all went fine.  The camera does struggle with bright backlighting, especially on the 55-200.  I’m generally using spot metering, and it gets the metering fine, it just struggles a little with autofocus.  Luckily using manual focus is easy even for someone like me who is not at all used to it ( I only got into photography 3 years ago, so I’m an autofocus all the way noob ).  As I’ve become more experienced with the camera over the past few weeks, location shoots have become even easier.  Yes there is an issue with changing focus on the D-Pad on the back, it should be more tactile, but if you have fingernails, then its not that bad.  Overall location shooting is even easier than a DSLR in many ways if you use the EVF to your advantage.  In bright sunlight don’t use the backscreen to view your images, use the EVF.

Some images from my location shoots…

DSCF5691 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF2436 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF4910 v1 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF3294 1 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion

Sports/Movement:

It’s a heck of a lot better than any other X series camera, and I’d say probably better than most other mirrorless cameras.  I’ve shot my sons football match on this camera quite easily, and also a few family shoots with kids running around like luncatics.  For these situations I’ve used APC mode, and high speed burst mode, and gotten some amazing images even on f1.2 on the 56mm lens.  Generally for sports I would use the 55-200mm lens, for the family shots I use the 56mm 1.2, which is just a thing of beauty to use and pretty fast as long as you remember to use the AF points in the middle of the screen. I remember taking the XE-2 along to a motorbike rally at the end of last year and really failing to get any keepers.  It was a frustrating experience and made me wish I’d brought the DSLR.  I’m confident that the XT-1 would do just fine, so much so that, this being the area I was hanging onto my DSLR for, its now been sold.

Some images from sports/family shoots with a lot of movement..

DSCF3754 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF3881 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF4172 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF4738 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion

Low light shooting:

The XT-1 is pretty similar to the XE-2 for this, as long as your subject is not moving rapidly, then the low light focussing is pretty good.  You will miss a few, but its more than good enough for most purposes and I’m confident it will handle 95% of the wedding work I do with no problems.  For that other 5% my brother has his D800:)  Even if he did not, I think with practice I could nail that last 5% as well, it just takes a little more skill than with the DSLRs.  Knowing how the focussing system works helps, and the newer lenses definitely seem faster.  Also, when you do get focus, you can be pretty confident you’ve nailed it..for my natural light close up portraits I’ve been using the XE-2 and 35mm 1.4 in preference to my DSLR for some time now as I’ve been more pleased with it’s accuracy when it does focus.  Here are some low light images from the XT-1.  There is still a bit too much noise reduction going on with the JPEGs in low light, I’d turn NR to -2 if you are shooting in JPEG.  Personally, I’m going to be shooting RAW now as I have just about gotten used to PhotoNinja.

DSCF5157 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF3338 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion DSCF5209 Fuji XT 1 Review and Conclusion

 

So those are my main usage scenarios..Overall I love this camera.  I’ve owned and used a 5d mk3 and a D800.  While I appreciated their power, I didn’t really enjoy using them the same way I do this camera.  The DSLR gear has now gone, with the XT-1 I was finally able to totally make the switch to the Fuji system with confidence.  There are some niggles though..

- flash system – I don’t use small flash much, for people who do and rely on ETTL, then Fuji need to step up with this and sort out a better, more robust small flash system.

- D PAD – not as good as it used to be on the XE-2, I can live with it

- The secondary dials on the top, which I love, can be a little easy to move by accident.

- Custom profiles – I’d love to be able to switch quickly between modes for studio and natural light modes

These are all small niggles, the positives far outweigh the negatives and the XT-1 has become my primary and favourite camera ( with an XE-2 as backup an X100s for everyday walking around duties ).

 

 

 

Fuji XT-1 Beach Shoot

Some time ago when we had out brief taste of spring in this country I was able to do a beach shoot one weekend with a couple of great models, Bexie and Poppy.  It was a very challenging shoot ( but great fun ), as we had no shade, it was 2pm and the sun was pretty strong.  I shot these images in raw on the XT-1 and used PhotoNinja to pull back some of the highlights.  I have to say, it did a great job and this was one of the few times I was not happy to shoot in jpeg.  The jpeg results were not bad, but I was able to get better results from the RAWs.

The backlighting was a bit of an issue and I couldn’t see the results on the back screen very well.  Once I remembered to turn manual exposure preview back to on ( it was off for a studio shoot the previous day ), and to use the EVF to look at everything rather than the back screen, everything went smoother.  I found the 56mm focussed a lot better in this situation than the 55-200.  Next time I would use manual focus a bit more I think.  Anyway..here are a couple of the images.DSCF4910 v1 Fuji XT 1 Beach Shoot DSCF4985 v1 Fuji XT 1 Beach Shoot DSCF5137 v11 Fuji XT 1 Beach Shoot

 

Some more studio work with the XT-1

I’ve been back in the studio teaching lighting and also doing the odd shoot myself, so the XT-1 has been having a good workout.  The only thing I’ve found is that heavily backlit images can make it struggle if I’m quite far away.  Close up and it is not an issue.  For these times I’ve got to get better at using the excellent manual focus system.  Image quality has been amazing, I don’t need to sharpen these images at all and they generally require way less post processing than my D800 files did.

Here are some sample images anyhow.  These are not standard studio portraits of course, I wanted to show that the XT-1 is just fine for the more creative side ( I’ve blown the highlights on one shot on purpose and used one of the advanced filters in camera for the blurry effect top and bottom).DSCF3457 1 Some more studio work with the XT 1 DSCF3668 Some more studio work with the XT 1 DSCF3758 Some more studio work with the XT 1e

 

Some bridal images with the XT-1

I had a bridal shoot last week which I shot just using the XT-1 and XE-2 ( no DSLRs! ).  It worked really well.  Again, backlight images are not too bad but the focus can struggle a bit, as I get more used to it I think even these shots will be a lot easier.  Here are some sample images.

DSCF2298 2 Some bridal images with the XT 1 DSCF2436 Some bridal images with the XT 1

This next one was shot with the 14mm lens, which I recently bought.  I’m still getting used to using a lens this wide, but I really like how this one turned out.

DSCF2843 Some bridal images with the XT 1

 

XT-1 one week on

OK so I’ve been shooting a lot more with the XT-1.  I took it to the Reading Photographers and Models Social for starters, which is a very badly lit environment, and took some shots there.  I wasn’t seriously trying to capture some great images, I was socialising, but here are a few shots..Shot in JPEG, which is still a little soft on the skin for my taste even with NR down to -2.  But they are not too bad and the camera performed extremely well.

DSCF5209 XT 1  one week on DSCF5157 XT 1  one week on DSCF5248 XT 1  one week on

 

I’ve also been shooting with it in the studio.  This is also a dimly lit environment when the strobes are off, but again the camera has been performing very well and I’ve not missed having my DSLR at all.  Here are a few shots from the location shoots I’ve done ( the studio work has not been edited yet ).

DSCF3294 1 XT 1  one week on DSCF5691 XT 1  one week on DSCF5767 XT 1  one week on DSCF3183 1 XT 1  one week on

There were a few focussing issues with the shots that were heavily backlit, but nothing drastic and I was with my brother who had a few issues on the DSLRS he was carrying too.  He also had to carry gear that weighed twice as much as mine and the end results were not significantly different or better.  In short, I feel totally confident in this camera and have sold all the DSLR kit now.

 

Fuji XE-2 and Fuji XT-1 Comparison

As a lot of people seem to be trying to decide between these two great cameras, and as I am lucky enough to own both, I thought I would try and compare them, based on the weeks shooting I’ve done with the XT-1. Every day that I use this camera I learn new things about it, so this is far from complete.  If anyone wants me to add anything to this comparison let me know.

Size:

Not much difference..the XT-1 is a tiny bit larger due to the lumpy bit ( technical term ) on the top.  So don’t worry that people will suddenly think you are lugging around a DSLR if you get the XT-1.

Layout:

Quite significant differences..

The XT-1 has an ISO dial on the left of the viewfinder, which is locked.  Some people hate it, I love it, as on the XE-2 changing the ISO was the main reason I had to dive into the menu system and now I hardly need to bother.

The ISO dial has a second lever underneath for switching modes, from single to high speed to bracketed etc.  Again I absolutely love this and use it all the time, mainly for switching between burst modes and single shot.  The shutter speed dial to the right of the viewfinder also has a secondary lever to change exposure mode.

On the XT-1 the exposure compensation dial is stiffer, I can still change it while looking through the viewfinder I just use my thumb AND my forefinger rather than just the thumb.  Some people prefer the XE-2 one, for me there is not that much difference.

The pop up flash is different on the XT-1, it comes separately, this might be an issue for people who use it a lot, for me, I never use it so I’m glad to be rid of it.  If you do use it, its a bit bigger than the XE-2 one and rotates upwards just like the XE-2 pop up flash.

Overall I much prefer the top layout of the XT-1 as I can avoid using the menus.

Now for some other differences..

Central viewfinder on the XT-1 – I don’t have a preference for this over the XE-2 layout, they both work ok for me.  If you are a cyclops you will really love the XT-1 though.

The XT-1 has an Fn button on the front near where the lens joins the body.  Some people have complained that they keep hitting this by accident.  I don’t.  The Fn buttons can be mapped to toggle face detection and this is the button I use for that purpose, as far as I know, you can’t map an Fn button in the XE-2 to toggle face detection.  I hope they fix this via firmware as I find it very useful on the XT-1.

Focus Assist button – this lets you zoom straight to the focus point when previewing an image – I find this incredibly handy and miss having it on the XE-2.  I’m not sure if there is some way to replicate this functionality to the XE-2.

OK enough on layout, here is a quick summary..

XT-1 pros..

- focus assist button

- top dials mean you rarely need to bother with the menus

- can toggle face recognition

 

Other differences:

EVF – bigger and has more functionality on the XT-1.  Love the manual focussing on the XT-1 with the split screen thingy.

You can tilt the screen!  Quite awesome for when the light is annoying you from a certain angle, and also for being a ninja when doing street photography, you can pretend your looking at the screen while secretly snapping away.

AFC mode is very good.  Its pretty awful on the XE-2.

Weather sealing.  Seems to work, I tested it pretty well.

Image Quality:

The same.

Speed:

The same in single shot mode, way better on XT-1 when using AFC.

Build Quality:

Slightly better on the XT-1, which feels more pro level and a bit heavier, but I have no complaints about the XE-2, its still a lovely camera to pick up and I have no intention of selling it, its now my backup body.

Overall thoughts..

The XE-2 is still a wonderful camera and I’m going to be using it as a second body on shoots to save me changing lenses ( and also at weddings ).  The two cameras are similar enough that I can easily swap between them, but if I have to pick up just one, I will go for the XT-1.  Its the little things I love, like not having to use the menus as everything is in easy reach on the top of the camera, the speed of AFC/burst mode which I’m finding useful, the focus assist button, the ability to quickly toggle face detection on and off.  These things may not seem important on paper, but they all add up to make a more powerful, compelling camera in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuji XT-1 initial impressions

I’ve had the XT-1 for nearly a week now and have been putting it through it’s paces in a variety of situations.  Here are my findings so far ( if you want the short version – it’s awesome ).

Ergonomics

I’ve had an XE-1 and and XE-2 ( which I will be using as a backup body for weddings now ), and I really like the ergonomics on this camera.  It’s fantastic to be able to change almost everything without going into the menus.  I personally love the ISO dial and have no issues with the exposure compensation one being a little stiff.  I’d prefer to take a few more seconds to adjust it than have it adjusted by mistake.  As has been widely pointed out the menu buttons are the main weakness.  I’ll have to stop biting my nails so that I can actually use them.  I suspect they will become easier with practice and they are not a major issue for me.  All in all, I prefer this to the XE-2 ( which I liked alot anyway ).

Test cases – AFC speed

So I’ve been testing how good the AF-C mode is, because on the XE-1 and XE-2 I found it pretty awful and never used it.  I tested it at a local running event shooting with the new 56mm 1.2 ( review of that to come ).  Just to make life difficult for the camera I was generally shooting at 1.2.  Here are some of the results…( the young boy is my son before anyone gets concerned !).DSCF3754 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions DSCF3881 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions DSCF3626 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions

The speed and accuracy really surprised me, it was close to using a DSLR for me, it just felt FAST and it nailed so many shots even at 1.2, it was amazing.  My next test was this weekend when some friends of ours came to stay with their three children.  Getting candid shots of kids running around playing is always a challenge.  I put the camera on high speed burst mode and again used the 56mm 1.2.  Again, it did spectacularly well, nailing shots I’d never have gotten with the XE-2. I thought I didn’t need AF-C mode..I was wrong, it rocks!  The light leakage is deliberate, it was very bright and I wanted to create the flare effect.  It was easy to avoid the flare, I just chose not too ( I was curious about how it would come out anyway ).

DSCF4172 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions DSCF4574 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions

 

My next test was the weather sealing.  I was doing a fashion shoot last week and it was raining quite heavily.  I wouldn’t have considered using the XE-2, but I wrapped the lens in a plastic bag around the seal where it meets the XT-1 and went out in the rain.  I coped fine and we got some great shots.  I also shot some natural light portraits with it inside and this one is my favourite, it shows how wonderful the colours right out of the camera are.  The fine detail in the jpeg made editing this image a pleasure and I barely had to do anything.

DSCF3492 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions

 

Time for the next test..extreme low light shooting!  I tested the camera in a dimly lit pub at a photography social.  Unfortunately I forgot to turn the noise reduction down and was shooting jpeg ( I’ve not bothered finding a raw converter yet, I’ll wait for RPP and lightroom to get updated ).  So the skin on the ISO 6400 images ended up a bit mushy.  I remember having this issue on the XE-2 when it first came out, although it was much worse ( on the XE-2).  Having tested it again with NR set to -2 it seems to be much better, but I would prefer to do this type of shooting in RAW and then sort out the noise reduction in post.  Anyway, again, the camera was a pleasure to use in this environment, focussing was fast and accurate although it did hunt occasionally ( pretty sure even my D800 would have as well ).  Here are a few images.

DSCF3338 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions DSCF3397 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions

 

Finally, I took the kids to the park yesterday and decided to test the AFC a bit more and get some birds in flight.  I’d tried this with the XE-2 with zero success ( I’m sure some people have managed it, but I’m not an action photographer so I need some help from the camera! ).  Results are below, another success for the XT-1.  These were taken with the 55-200, which on this camera seems to me to get a new lease of life and really feel fast and responsive.

DSCF4738 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions DSCF4740 Fuji XT 1 initial impressions

 

Overall I couldn’t be happier with this camera.  I’m selling my D800 and all my nikon kit, this camera now does everything I need it too and I’m confident I can shoot weddings with it ( and the XE-2 as a backup ).  I’ll do a review of the lens soon, but lets just say, its incredibly sharp and a beautiful portrait lens.