Shoot with Darren

I don’t get to shoot male models all that much, so I was really pleased to be able to shoot with Darren.  We covered a wide variety of styles and shot both studio and location.  I don’t really think “oh I’m using a mirrorless camera” any more, its just a tool and I don’t notice any difference to when I was shooting with my 5d3 or D800, especially in the studio.  On location I notice, as the awesome EVF gives me a much clearer picture of how the image will turn out.  The only thing missing is a higher shutter speed and the ability to use high speed synch with a flash.  Once I get some high quality ND filters for the 56 1.2 and 35mm 1.4 I will not even miss that so much.

DSCF4740 Shoot with Darren DSCF4738 v1 Shoot with Darren DSCF4672 Shoot with Darren DSCF4662 Shoot with Darren

 

Summer Fair with the X-T1 and 23mm 1.4.

Every year the primary school where my children go has a fund raising summer fair. It’s usually good fun but hard work as a parent as you’re having to keep track of the kids. So I took just the one camera and lens this year. I would normally have gone for the 35mm 1.4, but I’ve not had much practice with the 23mm so I wanted to see how it did. It’s very sharp and very fast, I was hugely impressed with it. A few photos of my kids below from our family weekend.

10462562 620422941389031 6808767470429588299 n Summer Fair with the X T1 and 23mm 1.4.

10420189 620422928055699 1732527722607904218 n Summer Fair with the X T1 and 23mm 1.4.

10526160 620422921389033 3321868943335926194 n Summer Fair with the X T1 and 23mm 1.4.

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Waddesdon Manor on the X100s

Went to this fantastic old house near Oxford at the weekend.  Well, I say house, its quite a large house, with incredible grounds and very intricate interiors.  I took the x100s with me and took a few snaps.  Processed most of these in PhotoNinja, which really pulled out the details.

DSCF0064 v1 Waddesdon Manor on the X100s

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Is the Fuji X-T1 as good as my 5d3 / D800?

I see this question alot on the facebook groups in particular.  And there is always a lively response.  There seem to be a small crowd of people in these groups whose lives have no meaning unless they are bashing the fuji cameras and comparing them to their high end DSLRs.  Then there are the fuji fans who take the opposite tack of course.  It’s very tiresome so I thought I’d post my thoughts here on the subject.  The fuji X-T1 is not as powerful a tool as the 5d3 or D800.  There is no doubt about that.  However, most of us do not need all the power these cameras bring, and the tradeoff in weight and expense may mean the X-T1 is a better camera for you ( or it may not ).

The fuji haters tend to bang on about certain things in these comparisons so I will deal with my take on them here..

Autofocus…I’ve seen some pretty outrageous claims from the pro DSLR crowd about how bad the Fuji autofocus is.  One guy claimed he could only shoot still life with the fuji, for everything else he needed his DSLR.  Well I’m sorry, but that guy just fails at using the X-T1.  Of course its not as fast as a pro DSLR..people expecting it to be are, frankly, deluded.  But unless you are a professional sports or wildlife photographer, or just suck at taking photos without machine gun speed autofocus, its fast enough..here are some of the shots involving movement that I’ve taken.

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The key points to watch when shooting movement..

- high performance mode must be enabled, its off by default.  I personally find it makes a huge difference to the camera.

- use the central nine AF points, those are the phase detect ones.

- I set the autofocus to release priority.  It sometimes is a little slow getting that initial lock on, but with 8 frames a second, you will get a few frames anyway in my experience.  Some people put this on focus priority but I find it slows me down too much.

- turn off the EVF image preview

- do not use the smallest AF focussing area.  The 2nd or 3rd smallest ones ( the mid range ones ) are best.

Overall I find the AF perfectly useable for all the tasks I need it for, but of course it won’t be as fast a pro DSLR, anyone who buys one expecting that has not done their research.

Next up..image quality.   How does this camera compare to a high end, full frame DSLR.  Well obviously there will be less detail..but…

- I find the jpegs better than either the out of camera jpegs on a D800 or Canon 5d3.

- I find the colours more pleasing as well, and it produces better results out of the camera in tricky lighting conditions.

- I rarely need to sharpen images, and in general do less post processing than I used to.

- the dynamic range in the RAW files is better than my 5d3 used to be, but not as good as the D800 ( not far off though ).

A lot of us shoot for web use, very few shoot for billboard size posters.  Even printing up to A1 the fuji holds it own.  Obsessing about pixel peeping seems very strange to me, but there are people who loathe the X-Trans sensor look.  These people are the minority, but its best to test the waters with the camera before ditching your DSLR, in case you are one of these people.  There is nothing wrong with being one of those people, they just don’t like the look the camera gives.  But there are some big things to watch out for if you are having issues…

- the jpeg processor in this camera applies very aggressive noise reduction, even when you switch NR to -2, in low light.  These can lead to really smeary skin textures.  If you are shooting in low light I would recommend shooting in RAW.

- different RAW converters give very different results.  A lot of landscape shooters in particular seem to have issues with the way Adobe process the RAW files, so its worth checking the other ones out if you don’t like the way Adobe does it.  Personally I find the latest version a lot better and fine for me, but it seems to leave some people incandescent with rage.  For greater detail I use Photoninja.

Here is a portrait that has had almost no editing, shot on the 56 1.2, which is the sharpest lens I’ve every used.

DSCF5208 Is the Fuji X T1 as good as my 5d3 / D800?

 

Full Frame vs APSC…well I’m not getting into that one too much.  Full frame gives you shallower depth of field and of course a wider field of view.  Personally I don’t need it, with lenses like the 56 1.2 and 35 1.4 I have no problem getting shallow depth of field when I want to.  But this leads nicely to..lenses…

Fuji of course does not have the same breadth of lenses that the big DSLRs do.  So you need to decide if the lenses they do have are enough for you.  The lineup is growing rapidly though and the ones so far have all been amazing in terms of image quality if not always in terms of speed.  The lenses I own are the 55-200, 35mm 1.4, 56mm 1.2 and 14mm 2.8.  They are all superb, equivalent in quality to Canons L lenses and much cheaper and lighter. I think the lens line up is a real strength of this system, and it will only get better.  But if you need a fast 70-200, or a super zoom, then hold on to your DSLR, because Fuji are not there yet.

 

Flash system…

Its quite possible to use flash wirelessly on manual mode, but if you need a ETTL wireless flash system ( I don’t ), hang on to your DSLR.  I hope this is an area Fuji addresses soon.

Conclusion:

As an all round camera system the X-T1 is not as good as a pro full frame DSLR.  But that does not mean its not good enough for you, and there are huge benefits to the system that for many people will outweigh the gains of a big, heavy, pro DSLR.

- size and weight

- cost

- jpegs are beautiful

- much more fun to shoot with  ( in my opinon )

- amazing lenses at much lower cost than full frame

- looks way cooler!

I kept my DSLR until I was sure I could rely on the fuji for all my work, and I think if you can afford it, this is the way to go.  It’s not a complete system or a DSLR killer..yet.  But for me, and for a lot of people, its now good enough to use without having a DSLR there as a backup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Photographers and Models Social ( and MUAs )

This was the 4th of these socials.  The idea is to gather together photographers, models and mua’s of all levels for a drink and a bit of networking in Reading ( UK ).  We had about 20+ people this time, so it’s getting busier each time.  As always, I took along my camera, this time the XT-1 with 56mm 1.2 and the X100s.  All the colour shots were on the XT-1 shot at 1.2, between ISO 3200 and 6400.  The black and white ones were on the X100s.  Shot in RAW and converted in Adobe Lightroom 5.4.  Focussing was not an issue, even in a dimly lit pub environment.  I was much happier with these shots than the last time I tried this when I had to shoot in jpeg and the skin tones were mushed.

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Shooting a wedding with the Fuji System

I shot my second wedding on Friday using just the fuji system.  I can’t show the results from the first wedding I shot with them as the bride and groom want to see the images before they let them out in the wild.  But for the Friday wedding, I was second shooting and I know they are fine with me sharing the experience.  I found this second wedding much easier to shoot, I think the experience of the first wedding taught me a lot about how to use these cameras in this very demanding environment.   In both weddings, any shots missed were down to my incompetence rather than any deficiency of the cameras.  I used an XT-1, and XE-2 and an x100s, and they all performed admirably.

Anyway, here are some images, I tried to shoot it documentary style and capture as many moments as I could..the lenses used were the 56mm, 35mm, 55-200 and 14mm.

The dance shots were shot in very low light without flash, so are generally at 3200 or 6400 iso.  They are not all perfectly in focus, but I love them , as I think they really capture the atmosphere.  The other photographers were all using their flashguns and I’d be interested to see the results for comparison, I’m not sure which works best, maybe a combination.  I shot the dance ones as jpegs, as I needed that 8 frames a second and I don’t have a fast SD card so shooting raw just slowed things down too much.  I was shooting them at 1.2 on the 56mm, which I found worked really well ( continuous focus mode for AF ).  More to come soon from the Abbey, where I shot more with the 55-200.

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Some more edits..

 

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Ryan-brenizers-full-presentation-wedding-event-season-seminar

This was hosted on http://petapixel.com a few days ago.

http://petapixel.com/2014/04/29/ryan-brenizers-full-presentation-wedding-event-season-seminar/

I found it pretty interesting, but a few people I’ve shared it with have found it a bit long and struggled to get to the interesting parts, so I thought I would attempt to sum up some of his major points ( I’d recommend watching the whole thing though ).

- He shoots 70+ weddings a year, which brings in enough income to allow him to delegate the jobs he hates to other people..giving him even more time to do the stuff he enjoys ( shooting, a bit of editing ).  He hires someone to answer his emails, and put together albums, that sort of thing.

- To get that turnover, he charges slightly less than he could, but it means he gets more weddings.  More weddings = more referrals, which means a more stable, reliable income, even in lean years.  A lean year for him is 50 weddings, which is still enough to pay the bills.  This way of working smooths out the ups and downs of the business in terms of reliable income, at least, that’s  my take on it.

- Money may not make you happy, but you can buy cake with it, which will ( probably ) make you happy.  Internet fame won’t make you happy and won’t even buy you cake.

- Photographers are not famous, except to other photographers, who are probably not potential clients ( exception – if you are selling training this could work – this is my experience and not part of the talk ).  A girl who takes selfies of herself in yoga pants is more famous on the internet than you will ever be as a photographer.

- He gets up really early, as a lot of photographers are night owls.  This improves his social life and allows him to get a lot more done before most other photographers even get out of bed.

- Answering emails promptly is really, really important and will get you more bookings than almost anything else.  If you are not good at this, hire someone to do it for you.

- Keep pushing yourself to try new things, don’t shoot weddings the same old way hundreds of times.  That doesn’t mean take risks with the key shots, take risks when you already have the key shots in the bag.

- The more weddings you do, the better you will get at shooting weddings, which is one reason he shoots so many.

- You don’t have to be a better photographer than the competition, just a better business person.  This is easier than competing with people on a photography skill level, as most photographers are really bad at business.

This is what I took from the presentation, I hope this encourages you to go watch it in full,as its pretty entertaining and inspiring and there is a lot more to it than my brief summing up here.