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.

 

 

Movement tracking with the XPro-2

Just a quick article on how I shoot this kind of stuff.  I still see a lot of moaning on various forums about how the AF on the Fuji X cameras is still way behind the competition.  I really don’t think that is the case these days and a lot of reviews are written by people who don’t really get to know the camera and how to shoot with it.  There is a definitely a steep learning curve with these cameras and practice makes a huge difference.  These days I’m more confident shooting my son’s football matches with the X-Pro2 than I would be with a DSLR simply because I’m used to it and how it works.  Give me 6 months shooting with the DSLR and I’m sure I could get better results, but the gap is not as big as it used to be.  I’ve been shooting football and other sports with these cameras for a few years now and the frustration level used to be pretty high with the X-E2 and the 55-200 for example.  Even with the X-T1 and the 50-140 when it first came out, it drove me nuts how low the keeper rate was.

Firmware 4 improved things greatly but I still found the tracking quite poor for football, but ok for people running in straight lines.  Alot of reviews of the XPro-2 seem to think the AF is not much better than the X-T1.  My personal experience is that it is a lot better for tracking movement, even football matches.  I think it is down to the increased processing power, and the blackout between frames basically disappearing as the camera is now so fast.  Which lens you use also makes a massive difference, the newer lenses are noticeably quicker, my favourite being the 50-140 f2.8.  I use Tracking as my AF-Mode, put AF-C on the front ( continous ) and use high speed burst ( 8 FPS ).  The buffer on the XPro-2 is quite deep, much better than say the D750, but no where near the top end DSLRs.  Still, it’s plenty for most uses.  Here are a couple of shot sequences.  For the running one I shot 20 frames and 2 were out of focus.  For the football, I get more out of focus but its still a very satisfactory amount that are in focus and I no longer wish I had a DSLR.  I’ve not tested face detection yet, but I hear the Sonys do a much better job.  For something like a wedding I still can’t trust the camera, no matter how good, to decide the focus point.

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Now some shots of my kids running around the garden this afternoon.  I used a mix of the 50-140 zoom and the 35mm f2.  The camera nailed almost every frame.   Granted this was good light, I know indoors it would be much harder, but that goes for most cameras.

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Now I’m not saying this camera is as good as a DSLR at tracking shots, or better than the Sonys or other brands, all I’m trying to say is..

  • it’s significantly better than the X-T1 ( I shot 100k plus frames on my X-T1 so I know that camera very well ) at tracking shots, probably due to the processing power bump
  • it’s good enough for me.  I prefer 5% less performance than a big DSLR  for all the other benefits this camera gives me.

Wedding with the XPro2 ( and a cameo by the D750 )

So I shot my second wedding with the XPro2, a few months after the first one.  When I shot the first one I was very new to the camera and made a few mistakes in how I set it up.  I set NR to -4, which is just too much for me, and I forgot to enable high performance mode.  I also hadn’t worked out how to get jpegs writing to the second card.  It’s been 3 months and 13000 images since that wedding and I really know this camera well now.  I took along a D750 as a security blanket really, thinking I’d use it for the fast bits ( the processional can be quite speedy, the confetti, and most of all the dancing ).  After about half an hour of trying to use the D750 I realised two things..

  1. the XPro-2 is more than capable of everything I need it to do for a wedding, its FAST.
  2. I’m so used to the Fujis after 3 years that I totally suck at using a DSLR and I was getting way better results with the XPro2 as a result.

So I packed the D750 away and shot the rest of the wedding with the following:

Fuji XPro-2

Fuji XE-2 with firmware 4.0

X100T

The lenses I used were…

16mm 1.4: 30%

35mm f2: 40%

23mm f2 on the X100T: 10%

56mm 1.2 :10%

50-140 2.8 :10%

What surprised me was how little I used the 56mm, which has been a staple of previous weddings.  Not sure why, it just didn’t get used that much, I think because the 35mm f2 is so fast, I used that way more.  I was also surprised how often I used the 16mm 1.4, that thing is just awesome.  I got on average 500 shots per battery.  The camera performed flawlessly, no restart issues, no overheating issues, it just did its job and didn’t get in the way.  It rained, and that didn’t slow it down ( I wouldn’t have used the D750 in that rain!).  Anyway, here are some images…( the dance shots were lit by bouncing a flash off the very high ceiling, it was a Godox 360 so way more powerful than a normal speedlight ).

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Some useful links for photographers

OK so I don’t have any new images to post today, I’ve been super busy getting ready for a hectic weekend and a wedding on Friday.  However I thought I’d share some of my favourite resources on the web.

First up is Creative Live:

https://www.creativelive.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=S__BRAND&utm_content=B__VARIATIONS&gclid=Cj0KEQjw-YO7BRDwi6Stp7T296ABEiQAD6iWMd9VWHN6cHT5KEofYKkhLd_Ov-CSFtRYQbqVRG5evjEaAhAC8P8HAQ

Plenty of good stuff on here from all sorts of photographers.  Some of them do get a bit emo but if you can get through that its very useful.  One of my favourites is Sue Bryce for how to pose models and Brooke Shaden for general floaty inspiration/creative stuff.

Next up is Phlearn…

Welcome to Phlearn

This is one of the best photoshop teaching sites out there, and they cover some pretty advanced stuff, I’m still learning loads from them after 5 years of photography.

Finally the big one, you tube ( and the above two both have great youtube channels.

I’ll link a few of my favourite youtube videos on photography..

 

 

 

Dorset coast with the X100T

I went on a family break down to the lovely Dorset Coast last week.  I must admit to having a private laugh at all the people lugging huge cameras around, it was a hot day and hilly terrain.  I was quite happy with the little X100T, which did a great job of capturing the day for me.  Given that we ended up walking 14 miles, I was very glad of the weight saving over a traditional DSLR.  Here are some shots.

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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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