A few images from the Fuji 90mm f2

I’ve not had a long time with this lens, but I already love it.  Super sharp, great bokeh, fast AF.  I wasn’t sure I could justify having 3 portrait lenses, but all three of the ones I have do different things and all are incredible in their own way.

– 56 mm 1.2 – the best one for low light, very flexible focal length and the most useful for weddings.  Better than the 90mm for low light as its easier to hold steady at lower shutter speeds and lets in a lot more light at 1.2.

-90 mm f2 – when you have space and decent light, this thing is amazing, its so flattering to subjects and is the best lens for lovely smooth backgrounds ( although the 56mm is no slouch ).  There is just something about this focal length that really stands out and the images are very different from the 56.  I’m surprised by how different to be honest.  It also is weather sealed, unlike the 56.

– 50-140mm 2.8 – the action lens, also useful when maximum compression is needed and better in low light as the incredible image stabilisation lets you handhold it easily at 1/30 shutter speed.  Bokeh is the least attractive of these three lenses but it is still lovely for the most part and its unlikely a client will complain about it.  Sharpest zoom lens I have ever used on any system.  Also weather sealed and you have the flexibility of a zoom.  My go to lens for sports and studio work, both of which I shoot a lot.

Now for some images..I was at a friends house for a garden party/barbecue and took the 90mm along, this was a great opportunity also to test the new focus tracking in firmware v.4, and I was very impressed with it..

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And last, a portrait from a model shoot…

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All in all, I’m loving the look of this lens and can’t wait to try it out more to really get the hang of this focal length.

Natural light & speedlight shooting with the Fuji X System

I thought I’d take a break from talking about weddings and talk about natural light shooting.  It’s something I’ve been asked about a lot this year and run some courses on, both one to one tutorials and group tutorials.  This normally involves dragging a model around a forest and showing people the best way to take photos of said model in the very varied light we get in the UK.  It’s great fun and something I really enjoy.  The Fuji system is great for natural light shooting for many reasons…

– the EVF means you can see what you are getting before you pull the trigger

– the x100 series is a sunlight killer, it will effectively triple the power of your flash compared to using a DSLR and high speed sync.

– very light kit makes location shooting a lot less tiring.

– all the lens are super sharp wide open and don’t need micro adjustment, this is huge for natural light shooting where you are often shooting wide apertures.

There are cons..

– slow flash sync speed

– some lenses can struggle with backlight at certain distances, although I’ve not found this to be a big issue.

– flash system in general sucks

However, I’ve managed to get some great shots with flash, which I shall talk about now.  I use a Cactus RF60 flash, a nikon SB700 and two Cactus triggers.  I find the Cactus triggers to be very reliable and they don’t have the tendency to switch themselves on in your bag that other triggers do.  They are a bit big for the Fujis and obscure the shutter dial, but I find them very simple to use.  Of course you don’t get High Speed Sync off camera with any flash at the moment on the Fujis ( the Nissins I think will do it on camera ).

Anyway..here is an image..

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This was taken with the X100s before I got the Cactus triggers.  My previous triggers had, as usual, switched themselves on in the bag and drained the battery, so I triggered the SB700 with the built in x100s flash.  I also used the built in 3 stop ND filter in the x100s to really up the sunlight killing power of the flash, as we were fighting with a midday sun that was casting some very unflattering shadows on the model.  The flash was on a stand, at full power off to the right and front of the model.  Sync speed was 1/1000s and I was at f2.  This sort of shot is what the X100s excels at, with its leaf shutter and ND filter it doesn’t need HSS, and you get more flash power for your buck as HSS greatly reduces the power of the flash and we are not using it here.

Next up.. a natural light shot just using a reflector and the 56mm 1.2.  The light was very flat here as it was a cloudy day so I just positioned the model so that the flowers would make a pleasing backdrop.  The distance between lens and model is important but also the distance between model and background plays a big part in creating pleasing bokeh. I’m not sure I really nailed that here but I still like the shot.  A reflector is without doubt the most essential accessory for this type of shoot.  If I have an assistant, they will hold it so that the light fills in the face of the model and creates catch lights.  Usually I don’t have an assistant so I will often just place it on the ground or prop it up somewhere so that it provides at least a little fill.  It’s surprising the difference this makes.  If I don’t have a reflector then I will use whatever surface available to reflect light back onto the model in a flattering way.  This could just be a light patch of ground the sun is hitting, or a light wall, there is almost always a way.

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So in summary the kit I’m using is…

– Fuji X-T1

– Fuji X100s and TCLX100 converter

– Cactus RF 60 flash and 2 Cactus triggers, SB700 flash

– 2 lightstands for the flashes.

– Reflector

– 56mm 1.2, 16mm 1.4, 90mm f2 lenses, I do also use the 50-140 telephoto when I want to compress the image

I don’t carry all this stuff all the time, but its at least in my car if I need it.

 

 

Jenny and Simon’s Dorset Wedding

I’ve already posted some of the images on my wedding website for this, but thought I’d do a post for the photographers going through the gear used etc.  I shot the bridal prep and my second shooter did the groom prep.  I’ll avoid posting any of Marks images, excellent as they are, as this article is focused on the Fuji system and he was shooting Nikon.  I will note however that after seeing me use the Fujis and the images I produced he was looking at the Fuji website the next day!  So..bridal prep..small room, lots of excited people, some small people.  The X100s with the TCLX100 converter was the camera I used most here.  Its completely silent, so I was able to grab lots of candid moments.  I like the 50mm point of view the converter gives, and the extra DOF.  Here are some of the images..

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Next, onto the ceremony.  I used the 50-140 for these next two, they are some of my favourites from the day.  I’d talked to Jenny before their big day and the moment I captured with Simon seeing her come up the aisle was one of the key moments she wanted captured from the day, so I was really please it worked out ok.  My second shooter was up at the front getting the walking up the aisle shots.  I opted to stay at the back as I figured the Fuji was more suited to capturing a static groom than a bride walking up the aisle in a VERY dark church.

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For the ceremony itself I was mostly back on the X100s.  I was in a little alcove at the front of the Church and I didn’t want to disturb the ceremony, so the totally silent X100s was the best choice.

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After the ceremony I dug out the 56mm 1.2 and one of the X-T1s and used the 16mm 1.4 on the other body.  Those were used for the reportage style shots and also the couple shots and I pretty much stuck with those two lenses for the rest of the day.  The 16mm 1.4 is awesome for group shots and for the dance shots.  I used a flash for the dance shots as it was getting pretty dark and there was a nice low white ceiling to bounce it off.  To fire it remotely I used a Cactus trigger ( the flash was a Cactus RF60 which has a built in receiver ).

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Shooting a band with the X100s and Fuji X-T1

I shot another gig recently at the Turks in Reading.  It was a band I’ve not shot before, and I was allowed to use flash!  So I stuck an SB700 on a rafter above the band, with a Cactus trigger, and used the X100s with it for a quite a few shots.  I shot at ISO 1000 to try and mix the ambient with the flash a bit.  Then I switched the X-T1 and used the 16mm 1.4 lens extensively.  It performed really well and I didn’t seem to have many problems focussing.  Here are some of my favourite images…

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Latest Fuji wedding analysis

I thought I’d put down my thoughts on the latest wedding I’ve shot with the Fuji system.  I don’t shoot weddings full time, so it’s a been a little while since the last one and a lot has changed.  I have a different lens line up for starters, plus there has been a major firmware update since the last wedding I shot ( sadly not the 4.0 one which I think will be a game changer for some wedding shooters ).

Here is a list of the gear I took..

Fuji X100s with TCLX100 mounted

Fuji X-T1 – one with the 56mm and a second one with the 16mm 1.4.

10-24 mm f4

50-140 mm 2.8

Cactus triggers and Nikon SB700 flash ( didn’t use it in the end ).

I’ll start with the bridal prep..I shot a lot more on the x100s than I did last year, using the TCLX100 to make it a 50mm equivalent lens.  I really appreciated the silent operation and discrete form factor, although I did miss a fair few shots so I need more practice with this camera.  Here are some of the shots I took with the x100 before the main ceremony.  I have to say, I love the TCLX100, it didn’t seem to slow the camera down at all and there is no loss of sharpness.    I shot in raw and then did most of the post work in lightroom ( there was almost no post work, but I did find a cool user preset that mimics Classic Chrome really well, so I used this to bring the colour shots in line with the ones from the X-T1s I was using).

 

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Next up..the 50-140mm 2.8.  I wasn’t sure how I would use this lens on the day but it turned out to be incredibly useful.  I used it for the processional ( although my second shooter was concentrating on the B&G as he had a better angle, I got the bridal party ).  I also used it to pick out members of the congregation doing funny stuff during the service, and to get some good shots of the B&G at the altar.

During the reception I used it to take shots of the speakers and also to capture members of the audience doing fun stuff ( especially when the bubbles made an appearance..see below!!).  I used this lens way more than I expected to and it performed amazingly.

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The 16mm 1.4.  I love the sense of context this lens gives.  Its very sharp and just a great all rounder.  For much of the wedding I had this lens on my backup X-T1 body and it proved very useful.  It really came into its own when shooting the dancing though, which is one of the main reasons I bought it.  I’m amazed how many keepers I got from the dancing shots, its a big improvement on last year when I was limited to the 56mm 1.2.  When the new autofocus firmware comes in this lens will be even more useful.  Here are some of the images from the 16mm.

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The 56mm 1.2..I don’t need to say much about this lens…it is still my go to lens for weddings and produces such beautiful, sharp images.  If I had to take just one lens to a wedding it would be this one, without a doubt.  For the sake of completeness, here are some 56 1.2 images.

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OK time for some stats!

My most used lens was the 16mm 1.4, at 837 shots, followed by the 56m 1.2 at 400 shots, then the x100s at 310, and the 50-140  at 120 shots.  The stats are skewed by the fact I shot the dancing with the 16mm 1.4 in burst mode, which I didn’t use for the other lenses.  Still, it shows how useful the 16 was, its just a great general purpose lens.  Overall I was happier with the results from this wedding than any of the ones from last year, I think the Fuji lenses we now have access to are really amazing and I’m looking forward to seeing the effect of the new firmware.

 

My Fuji Greek Wedding shoot

I had the privilege of shooting a great wedding in London last weekend.  Chris and Leasa are a lovely couple and their family and friends were very welcoming.  I’ll do a full blog post on the wedding with more details on the equipment used once I’ve finished the editing process.  For now, here is a quick video montage of some of the edits so far ( there is music, so turn it up if you like it, off if you don’t!).  Most of the shots are fuji, one or two are from the Nikon of my excellent second shooter, Andrew Green.

Fuji X100s and TCLX100 at a wedding

I used the X100s and the teleconverter at a wedding for the first time this weekend.   I had read that the AF was a bit slower with this converter on, but I didn’t notice any real difference.  I am no expert with the x100s, so it is not used for the majority of the shots, rather as my third camera I need to grab every now and then, and also when I really want to be inconspicuous ( bridal prep, reception ).  I really enjoyed using it think I’ll keep it on the camera for the next wedding.  I also found a great Lightroom preset for Classic Chrome on the internet, which seems to work great for the x100s ( its not an official preset, its a user preset made by someone else, I’ll try and find the link and update this article with it ).  It does occasionally over saturate the reds, but I still really like it, up until now I’ve been using black and white conversions a lot on the x100s but this little preset has driven me back towards colour.   Here are a few shots from the wedding…

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Fuji 16mm 1.4 at a wedding

I tried the new 16mm 1.4 from Fuji at a wedding I was shooting last weekend.  It performed really well and is a very useful focal length for a wide variety of subjects.  It has no OIS, so you do have to be a little careful taking your shots, if you want them to be sharp.  But when you get it right, this lens produces some lovely images, with great bokeh if you get reasonably close to your subject.  I’m intending on using it on one camera, with the 56mm 1.2 on the other one, for the next few weddings ( I also used the X100s with the TCLX100 but that is another story ).

Focussing was as fast as any other lens in the lineup ( i.e. I didn’t notice any particular issues ).  I particularly enjoyed using it for the dancing shots.

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Fuji 16mm 1.4 some more images..

I’ve had a bit more time with this fantastic lens, really liking it so far.  Great for people shots and for landscapes.  Love the depth of field you can get, and its just a great all round lens.  It rained a lot on my second day in Cornwall so tested the weather proofing and it did fine.   This lens gives a great sense of context, with the wide angle, but is also really sharp and gives great background separation with the 1.4 aperture, there are not many lenses that do this.  Here are some images…

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Fuji 50-140 2.8 revisited

A few weeks ago I returned my first copy of this lens.  There was nothing wrong with it, it was just too big.  I had only one X-T1 body at the time and lugging this thing around and swapping it with the 56 all the time was a real drag.  At the time my system consisted of..

X-T1, plus 56mm 1.2, 10-24mm

Nikon D750, plus 50mm 1.8 and Sigma 105 macro

Fuji X100s

It was a pretty good system but the D750 is still quite large and I just couldn’t fit the big Fuji zoom in the bag easily.  So it went back, even though I missed being able to shoot my son’s football matches, and I missed its super sharp images.  Then the job that I’d bought the D750 for finished and I realised something.  I was no longer using it.  It only ever got used for work purposes, not for fun.  I appreciated its power, speed and video capabilities, but I didn’t enjoy using it.  I also wasn’t using the macro lens as much as I thought I would, I just didn’t get the time.  So the D750 and Nikon gear is now sold, goodbye D750, you did a great job but I no longer need you.  I decided to get a second hand X-T1 body and have another go with the 50-140.  I figured for the weddings I’m about to do it would come in really useful, especially for the processional.   I also have a bunch of football tournaments over the summer where this thing will get heavy usage.  That started this weekend, where the lens did a fantastic job and I got some of my best football images yet ( soccer for any Americans reading this ).  Here are some shots from the football.

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About 2 days after I got my second copy of this lens, Fuji announced the firmware update coming to the X-T1.  That will make this lens even more useful, so I’m pretty happy I gave it a second go.  Here are some candids from the weekend and a couple of flower shots that illustrate the bokeh ( acceptable IMO ) and sharpness ( incredible ).

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These are all straight conversions..no sharpening other than the default you get when creating jpegs.  Someone on one of the forums said they noticed about 1mm of play where the lens meets the camera, I get this on my lens as well but it doesn’t seem to affect the lens in any way so I’m not bothered ( I’ve tested it in the rain and it was fine ).  I’ve also used the lens in the studio a bit and that is the other area I see myself using it a lot, as the 70-200 focal length is pretty important to me for studio work, especially things like full length fashion shots.  Here is a quick portrait from a tuition session I was running, its not perfect ( I don’t take many shots when I teach, I prefer to let the students do that ), but it hopefully gives a glimpse of how awesome this thing is in the studio.

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