The Fuji 50-140mm 2.8 and why I didn’t keep it

I picked up a copy of this fantastic lens a few weeks ago and have been putting it through it’s paces.  It does everything I expected it to.  The build quality is fantastic, easily a match for the Canon L 70-200 I used to own when I shot Canon.  Autofocus is a marked improvement over any of the other Fuji lenses I own, even when tracking.  Here are some of the shots I’ve taken with it…

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It is amazingly sharp, easily the sharpest zoom I have ever used.  However, I’ve now sent it back within its 28 day warranty period..why?

1.Weight..it’s like being back in the bad old days of lugging around big heavy camera gear.

2.It doesn’t fit my system.  I’ve gravitated over the last couple of years to a system mostly using primes.  My mainstay is the 56mm 1.2 fuji, but I also have the x100s with its fixed lens, and the D750 with the 50mm 1.8.  This pretty much covers everything I need for portraits and weddings.  I took this lens out on a shoot and found I was constantly changing between it and the 56, and for my purposes, mostly I ended up going back to the 56 as the bokeh is a little more pleasing.

I think this lens fits nicely into a system where you have two zooms and two bodies, say the 16-55 and the 50-140..but I used to have a system like that when I shot with Canon and I found it a bit dull and way too heavy.  Clearly there as a demand for this focal length and I think its great that Fuji have given X System users the option to have the 70-200 equivalent zoom.  If I were mostly shooting in the studio and weight was not an issue, I’d probably have kept the lens.  So, in conclusion..great lens but it just doesn’t fit my current system.  Still kind of sad to see it go..but I am looking forward to next year when Fuji release the 120mm f2, and the 16mm 1.4 is looking mighty tempting as well.

Berrington Hall – Fuji X-T1 and 10-24 mm lens

I love going to National Trust properties, especially now I have the amazing 10-24 mm lens to play around with.  These are just snapshots really, as I’m not a landscape/architecture photographer and I was running around after my kids doing the Easter trail.  Ideally I’d have had a tripod and used some long exposure shots to get rid of all the other tourists, but that was not really practical.  So here are a few snapshots.  At the long end ( 24mm ) you can get away with people shots, although its not as sharp as the 56mm 1.2 ( no surprise ) or the 50-140.  It really shines at the wide end for me though.

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Street fashion shoot with Anna Rose and the Fuji X-T1

I’ve been stuck shooting in studios since November, so when the chance came to do a location shoot I jumped at it.  I also wanted to break out the 10-24 lens again, which I’ve not used that much recently.  When shooting people on location most photographers go for the wide aperture & shallow depth of field approach to isolate their subject.  This works well and is something I do as well, but for this shoot I also wanted to mix in some wide angle shots.  Finally, I got to briefly try out the 50-140 and it was just as good as I expected it to be.  The 56 1.2 is still my go to outdoor lens, the 50-140 though has it’s uses and will be my main studio lens and I will break it out anytime I want to shoot movement ( more on that in a later post, we did do some jumping shots which I used it for but I’ve not edited them yet ).

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Shooting a football match with the Fuji 50-140 2.8

I’ve tried this before with the 55-200 and found it to be a frustrating experience.  I could always get a few decent shots, but nowhere near the number of keepers I would like.  I recently got hold of the 50-140 2.8 and had heard great things about it’s speed in good light.  For the first half of the match I kept the shutter speed at 1/500, but that wasn’t quite fast enough, once I cranked it up to 1/1000 the images were finally where I wanted in terms of sharpness.  The lens is much, much better at getting and keeping focus in AF-C mode than the 55-200 ( of course, its way more expensive ).  And my initial impressions are that for normal shooting its a lot sharper as well ( and the 55-200 is no slouch, its a very good lens ).  Anyway, I’ll do a more detailed review soon but my keeper rate at least doubled, maybe even trebled, over the 55-200. Here are a few shots, no sharpening, standard jpegs ( I did do a curves adjustment on a few to bring down the midtones a little ).  The combo of the X-T1 and this lens is still not as good as something like a D750 with a 70-200, but it is getting closer ( still a way to go ).  Can’t wait to try this lens at a wedding, I feel confident it could nail the down the aisle shots.

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A year with the Fuji X-T1

I hadn’t realised until a few days ago that I’ve now had the Fuji X-T1 for a year, and its been just over a year that I’ve been shooting almost totally with a mirrorless system.  My gear list currently is…

Fuji X-T1

10-24mm f4 lens, 56mm 1.2, 55-200

Fuji X100s

Nikon D750, 50mm 1.8 and 105mm Sigma 2.8 macro

More on the D750 later..here is an image from the first shoot I did with the Fuji..in the rain.

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Since that shoot I’ve completed around 50 model shoots, 5 weddings, a few football matches, family events too numerous to mention, around 10 lighting workshops and one trip to London shooting street photography and buildings.  Basically, I’ve shot every week of the past year and loved almost every minute.

The most challenging environment for this camera was without doubt the weddings.  I’m still not confident of my ability to capture the down the aisle shots or the dancing.  That being said, I’ve managed ok, but I’m sure I could do better.  I see photographers like Andrew Billington and Kevin Mullins shoot those moments all the time, but they have their workarounds and they shoot this stuff every week, I don’t.    Here are some of the wedding shots from the past year.

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I think the X-T1 is a great wedding camera, I just need to be a bit better with it in that environment.  In the meantime, I have the D750 for those moments where I’m not totally confident of getting it right on the Fuji.  For 90% of the weddings I’m shooting this year I’ll be using the X-T1 with the 56mm lens ( which is my favourite lens ) and the X100s.  I generally find that continuous focus and shooting at high speed burst means you get enough keepers to get by when people are moving around ( like the running shots above).

In the studio, the Fuji has been awesome.  I’ve shot alongside people using the Canon 85mm 1.2, using continuous lights for portraits, and the 56mm 1.2 has nailed every shot while the guys using the DSLRS are getting soft and mushy focus issues and just can’t seem to nail it at 1.2.    I’ve lost count of the people who have seen my images from the studio and then gone and bought a Fuji.  At the start of the year when I was running courses, I was the only one using a mirrorless camera ( I usually teach 6 photographers on the courses I run ).  On the last course on March 1st there were 3 people using Fujis, one using Canon and one using Nikon. On the previous course to that someone showed up with an X-T1 and every single lens in the Fuji lineup ( hint: strobes don’t fire if you are using the electronic shutter ).

Here are a few examples of studio work from the past year..DSCF5558 5965-230121855 DSCF4662 5965-296018303 5965-1748590975 5965-107602303

Out on location shoots the Fuji shines even more.  The EVF is a godsend, not only does it show you the exact image you are going to get ( a feature you cannot use in the studio when using strobes ), but when its really bright outside you can review your images in the EVF rather than squinting at the back of the screen on the camera.  The 56mm 1.2 is a great portrait lens and by far my most used lens out on location ( I tend to use the 55-200 a lot more in the studio ).  I still remember hiking a few miles on one location shoot alongside my brother, who had a D800 at the time.  I barely noticed my gear while he was sweating buckets by the time we got to the shoot location.  The next time we shot together he’d traded in his D800 for a mirrorless system.  Here are a few location shots from the past year.

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Finally, social events.  Again, having a small, quiet camera has been a revelation.  I organize socials for photographers in my area and always feel a bit silly taking a DSLR along, but now I usually take the X-T1 and one lens, or the X100s.   I have taken the D750 along just to test its low light capabilities ( which are astounding ), but people REALLY notice when you point that thing at them, where as the Fuji is so much more subtle and quiet that you end up getting much better candid shots.  I’ve had no problems getting focus in dark pubs with the 56mm in particular, and I really wonder what all the people moaning about AF issues in similar situations are going on about, I’m guessing its poor technique.  When people are moving quickly it does struggle, but not for people just standing around and talking.  Here are some shots from the socials and a few from a band I’ve shot a couple of times this year.

 

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Family shots..Here the X100s really comes into its own.  I just tend to grab it as my take anywhere camera.  I’ve also shot a lot with the X-T1 as well when the kids have been moving around outside and have taken some lovely images I’m super happy with.  Yes, there are a lot of misses, you will get that with small kids running around, but like the weddings there have been plenty of keepers and I really appreciate having a smaller camera in these situations.    Here are some of my favourite family shots from the last year.

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Last..landscape.  I don’t shoot a lot of landscape as I don’t have much spare time with all the other areas of photography I’m interested in.  The fuji system is great for landscapes though and I’ve taken some of my favourite images with the 10-24 and the X100s.  Here are a few below…

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Conclusion:

It’s been a great year, easily my best in photography ( I’ve been doing this for 3 years now ).  I’m amazed how much photography I’ve managed to fit in and the variety.  I don’t regret switching to the X system at all.  I know some people who have tried it and it hasn’t worked out for them, these cameras are not for everyone.  I do think that because it is such a small, light system that I’ve taken it to places I wouldn’t have taken a DSLR.  I’m still hanging onto the D750 for a few specific jobs ( video, 10% of the weddings, macro work ).  Once the XPro 2 comes out I have no doubt I’ll be ditching the D750 and just using the Fujis, I don’t like running two systems particularly, but there are a few things I still want from this sytem..

– dual card slots

– better video

– better AF tracking..the single focus mode works fine for me, its just in motion tracking it still is not great.

That’s pretty much it, roll on the next year!

 

 

 

 

My Birthday

It was my 42nd birthday at the weekend.  As this is a photography blog I won’t dwell on that too much, it doesn’t feel too much different to 41 but it is amazing to me how much photography based stuff has happened in the past year.  This was the first year I moved fully over to mirrorless, and it was my third year of pursuing photography seriously, albeit as a part timer.  I’m going to do a review of that year soon, but first a few images from the weekend.  These are taken on the x100s and the Fuji X-T1 with the 10-24 f4 lens ( I’d forgotten how much fun that lens is, as I have not used it since Christmas ).  The indoor ones are a bit grainy as they were shot at ISO 6400, as usual, I forgot to take the ND filter off after using it outside where it was very bright and sunny.  I’m sure I’m not the first X100s user to do this.

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Some recent studio work with the Fuji X-T1

I was in the studio recently and thought I’d get a bit creative.  I had some great models, a smoke machine, some amazing outfits, some blue paper and some continuous lights.  Oh, and a really good makeup artist!  Here are a few of the early results, mostly shot with the Fuji, I think one or two might be from the D750, as my fuji battery charger ( a third party one ) died on the day of the shoot so I had to do the second half of the shoot with the Nikon and a 50mm 1.8 prime.

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Portraits with a Sigma 105 and Fuji 56 mm 1.2.

I was engaged in a do or die game of junior scrabble with my daughter when I decided to test out my two main portrait lenses.  I’ve recently gotten hold of a Sigma 105 2.8 macro lens for my Nikon D750, mostly for macro work but its a very good portrait lens as well.  It’s also pretty cheap for such a high quality lens and very, very sharp.  I wanted to see how it fared against my current favourite portrait lens, the Fuji 56mm 1.2, in quite low light.  So while playing scrabble I took a few shots with each and here are the results.  Other than the default sharpening that happens when you convert a raw file to jpeg I’ve not sharpened these images at all.

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Next..another shot from the Fuji, but at a slightly lower ISO ( the light kept changing, as it does ).  I processed this in lightroom to add the Classic Chrome filter which I really like..ISO was 1000 this time but all other settings stayed the same.

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Now for a couple with the Sigma 105…

This was shot at f3.2, ISO 10000(!!!), 1/200.  This being a macro lens, the aperture changes as you get closer to the subject, which is why I couldn’t shoot at 2.8.   The quality of the image given the ISO is staggering I think.

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And here is one at a much lower ISO (f4.0, ISO 3200, 1/100).

DSC_3571colorSo what have I learnt from this exercise..

1.My daughter kicks my ass at Junior Scrabble.

2.Both these lens produce lovely portraits

3.The bokeh on the 56mm can be a little distracting ( see to the right on the second image ), although its still very good.  On the Sigma the bokeh is very smooth.

4.The 56mm obviously lets in more light, as it’s a 1.2 lens, but the ISO capabilities of the D750 make up for this.

5.Both lens are super sharp.

That’s as much pixel peeping as I want to do for now.  I’m very impressed with the Sigma and wouldn’t hesitate to use it for portraits. My go to lens will still be the 56mm 1.2 though ( which is considerably more expensive than the Sigma ).

 

 

 

Sigma 105 2.8 macro ( 2012 ) – first impressions

I’m a complete beginner when it comes to macro photography.  As the Fuji doesn’t have a macro lens that I want ( I don’t need the 60mm ) I thought I’d give this one a go on the D750.  When it originally came out in 2012 this was almost the same price as the nikon version, and it still got rave reviews.  I’ve had very mixed experiences of sigma before so I was a bit nervous about it.  I still remember that 24-70 that I just couldn’t get sharp even after hours and hours of micro adjustment.  This lens just worked flawlessly out of the box however..tack sharp with no micro adjustment.  And its half the price of the Nikon now, so an absolute steal. Here a few images..more to come once I’ve had a chance to use it more.  As the shot of my daughter shows, its also a pretty great portrait lens for when I want a slightly different look to the one the 56mm 1.2 on the Fuji gives me.

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