Closing in on the cold with the XF80mmF2.8 macro lens

By Ben Cherry

The Fujifilm system is now at a stage where the last lenses needed to make it, in my opinion, a ‘complete working photographers system’ are on the roadmap and set for launch at some point this year. With the recent announcements of the FUJIFILM X-H1 and the MKX lenses, the system can really cater for a wide variety of needs. One of the lenses I had been missing, until its launch in 2017, was the XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS.

I regularly work in close proximity to my subjects. In the past I have used the Fujifilm extension tubes to get up close and personal. These were super, ‘get out of jail’ add-ons for lenses like the XF56mmF1.2 and XF50-140mmF2.8. You can find a blog I did on these handy accessories, while working as a researcher in Costa Rica here.

As well as these lenses, I have also been using the ever adaptable XF16mm F1.4 for close up wide angle shots. This truly is one of my favourite lenses. I have used it to photograph lightning storms and stars, elephants in rainforests and the release of baby turtles. I find it incredibly adaptable; one of the reasons for this is down to its incredible close focusing distance. So, when I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in the Black Mountains of South Wales, I grabbed some zooms and my three favourite primes: XF16mmF1.4, XF35mmF1.4 and the XF80mmF2.8 then headed off.

I spent the night in the mountains in a remote cabin, which was made all the more remote by a fair sprinkling of snow.

X-Pro2, XF16mm F1.8, ISO 1600, 13 seconds

It was a relaxing trip so had to stay hydrated and cosy…

X-Pro2, XF35mm F1.4, ISO 800, 1/600

When daylight hit, I went for an explore around the surrounding valley, taking in the magical scene. All the while I was looking for suitable circumstances to test out the XF80mm. Then, tucked around one of the many hills, I stumbled across a small waterfall with natural steps built into it. I thought this would be a good place to start.

X-T2, XF100-400mm F8, ISO 400, 1/200

Macro photography usually requires large amounts of light as you often have to use large F-stops to ensure a decent depth of field, which is proportional to the distance from the camera. To compensate for this, I added an extra level of creativity, I brought along two mini portable LED lights. These allowed me to illuminate the icicles whilst keeping the background dark.

X-T2, XF80mm F8, ISO 1600, 1/950

The bokeh of the XF80mmF2.6 lens is really pleasing. Even when stopped down to F8, the light glistening off icicles in the background was beautiful.

X-T2, XF80mm F8, ISO 1600, 1/2400

I deliberately underexposed the above image to keep the light subtle on the air pockets, highlighting the tiny but beautiful detail of this icicle. The XF80mm had so much to give, the issues I experienced were down to me! I was hand-holding this set up, camera in one hand, LED light in another, whilst my feet were slipping on the rocks as icy water flowed over them. Health and safety would have had a field day! But the camera/lens combo was easy to handle. Because of my instability, I had to use very fast shutter speeds. The autofocus was snappy, which is not usually a strong feature of macro lenses.

At one stage I put the LED light in the water (thankfully completely waterproof) and was able to brace for some slower shutter speed images. I was very impressed. With the addition of the X-H1 (can’t wait to pair these two together) the potential to go even slower is very exciting!

X-T2, XF80mm F11, ISO 100, 1/17

Being able to get two different macro perspectives from two fantastic prime lenses was fantastic. Here is a shot taken with the XF16mm F1.4 showing how the focal length makes a huge difference to the image, despite the close focusing.

X-T2, XF16mm F1.4, ISO 200, 1/1900

All in all, I am very impressed with the XF80mm F2.8 OIS Macro. I think it will replace the XF56mm F1.2 in my backpack. X-T2, X-H1, XF16mm, XF35mm, XF80mm, XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm, XF100-400mm, plus accessories like some lights, batteries, etc makes for a fantastic set up which is still suitable for airline carry on. The prospect of the impending XF200mm F2 OIS makes the set up near perfect for me. I can highly recommend the XF80mm, I’m sure it will make for a brilliant portrait lens too.

Until next time, happy snapping!


More from Ben Cherry

Website: http://www.bencherryphotos.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benji_cherry/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Benji_Cherry


More about XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS

Mid-Range Telephoto Macro Lens

The first 1.0x magnification mid-telephoto macro lens for X Series
This lens features a focal length equivalent to 122mm (on a 35mm format), a maximum aperture of F2.8, and 1.0x magnification factor, a first in the X Series interchangeable lens range. By achieving high resolving power at the focus point and beautiful bokeh, this lens is optimal for shooting flowers and nature photos. Combine this lens with Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulation such as Velvia, for truly stunning close up images.

7 Tips For Macro Photography With Fujifilm X Series

Some images are larger than life. Macro photography, at its most technical definition, involves capturing something bigger in your frame than it appears in reality. Think of a tiny bug filling a large print, for instance. But used loosely, macro photography describes anything close to a 1:1 ratio of reproduction.

To get into macro photography with your Fujifilm X Series camera, keep in mind these seven tips.

Purchase a macro lens for larger reproduction.

The easiest way to take macro photos is with a macro lens, which is designed to have a short minimum focus distance. Macro lenses come in different focal lengths, from 50mm to 200mm, and magnify at a large reproduction ratio, though not always 1:1. For the Fujifilm X Series, there is the XF60mmF2.4 R macro lens, which mounts onto each camera in the series.

Experiment with an extension tube.

If you do not feel ready to invest in a macro lens, work with your current lens and add an extension tube, a light-tight accessory that fits between the mount and the lens. By shifting your lens farther from your body, the extension tube allows you to increase magnification. The Fujifilm MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 are built specifically for X Series cameras and attach sturdily to their bodies.

Photo by Ivar Fjeldheim (@ivar_fjeldheim), Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF90mmF2 R LM WR + MCEX-16

Use ring flash or a softbox.

Flash lighting can be too harsh for many macro photography shots. Instead, shoot with a ring flash or a softbox. If you must use flash lighting, set up a reflector to help you fill light evenly throughout your frame.

Be adventurous with unconventional angles.

Getting your small subject to fill the frame is nice, but don’t let that be the only intriguing element to your shot. Work from different angles. Try filling the frame diagonally with your subject. Shoot with front lighting to emphasise the subject’s colour and with side lighting to emphasise its detail.

Photo by Leigh Diprose, Fujifilm X-A1 with XF60mmF2.4 R Macro – F5.6 – 1/150 second – ISO800

Hold frail photo subjects in place with a clamp.

For macro pics of flowers or other outdoor objects, you may want a way to steady your subject from wind gusts. A plant clamp sometimes called a “plamp,” keeps them in position while you take your shots.

Steady your shot with a remote release.

Great macro photography shows intricate detail on its subject. To get minuscule attributes to appear clearly in the image, you want to avoid camera shake. Use a remote release to reduce the possibility of blur.

Photo by Leigh Diprose, Fujifilm X-T1 with XF60mmF2.4 R Macro – F2.4 – 1/1000 second – ISO200

Stack images to bring focal points into one shot.

Some of the fun in macro photography happens in post-production. Take many pictures of your subject, with the composition maintained in each photo but with slightly different focal points. Then, using software such as Adobe Photoshop, “focus stack” the images to see all of the focal points present in one image.

Photo by Leigh Diprose, Fujifilm X-A1 with XF60mmF2.4 R Macro – F5.6 – 1/170 second – ISO1000

Macro photography takes practise, but with effort and with the right accessories for your X Series system, you will soon have some great big images of the tiniest things.

Enthusiast to pro photographer – My first jobs

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By Rachel Riley

rachelriley2How time flies! It has been a fair few months since the tentative decision was made to start the journey to being a professional photographer. As it seems to have been with a lot of people, 2016 was not a good year, so development of the new business was more or less put on hold while efforts, energies and emotions were channeled in more pressing directions. That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities for photography, and it was at times an excellent way to escape some harsh realities.

Never one to do things by halves, the first job was quite Continue reading Enthusiast to pro photographer – My first jobs

Capturing interiors – a photographers guide

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By Maria Fernández

Beautiful interiors are no longer only to be seen in interior design magazines. From restaurants and cafes to hotels and offices, every business, no matter its nature, is making an effort to incorporate some type of style and design to their interiors. We can’t deny there is a big trend to make spaces look simply beautiful. Interiors are one of my favourite subjects to photograph. As in any other type of photography, lighting is the Continue reading Capturing interiors – a photographers guide

How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography

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By Ja Soon Kim

I was a graphic designer and an art director in advertising for many years.

I hold a BFA in fine art. Photography is my passion.

Photography is an art form in that you are able to create or captures images that are uniquely your own vision. But first, you have to have the right equipment that is perfect for what you envision.

I used to shoot with an iPhone camera until I saw the color quality in the images shot with Fujifilm cameras. I knew I had to switch in order to achieve the subtle tones, colors, textures and depth that would enrich my images.

I had been considering several cameras. When a friend showed me his Fujifilm XT100, I knew this was it.

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You don’t have to go somewhere special to find things to shoot. If you take a closer look, there are things you never noticed before that are beautiful. These are leaves I found while walking my dog.

I have been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for over a year. I started with a borrowed X100T and now I shoot with an X-T1. It is the perfect camera for me, just the right size and surface texture, not too heavy, great retro look, and it fits perfectly in my hands. It’s fun to shoot with. It didn’t take me long to learn the basics but there are endless possibilities with this camera. It has given me exactly what I was looking for in a camera.

One of the handy features I love about X-T1 is that I can transfer pictures directly, via WI-FI, from the camera to my iPhone. This is perfect for Instagram users.

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I found all this beautiful spring growth on a walk in the countryside. I arranged them with a sense of movement using a variety of plants. Against a black background, they look elegant with their vibrant green stems.

 

Flatlay, or tabletop photography, is different from landscapes or portraits in that you are creating your own subject to shoot rather than shooting what is already there. It provides a totally different experience, creative control and it shows in the resulting images. This process has been deeply meditative for me. I work alone, without a crew, as I used to as an art director.

Shooting flatlay gives us total control over the subject and allows us to be creative in our own unique way.  You can use any material you find interesting. I work mostly with found or foraged props from nature that we all see every day and are readily available all around us. I don’t purchase props for shooting.

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These fallen leaves were collected under an old cottonwood tree. I was fascinated with bug-eaten holes and the varying stages of fall colors. I used a simple arrangement for these. 

Light is everything in photography. I almost always set up my shots near a big window in my house. My typical background is a piece of plywood painted black on one side and white on the other or foam core boards in black or white. A very simple set up.  I use a tripod whenever necessary.

When I travel, I shoot on what is readily available: sandy beaches, beautiful rock, etc.

The lighting is the most important component of photography. I don’t use artificial lighting. I’ve tried them but it doesn’t have the depth and subtle variations that natural light offers. I love the shadows that appear with natural light. Shadows give depth and dimension to images.

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These wilting flowers were found in my neighborhood and in my garden. Some are wildflowers.

This is a simple grid with various stages of fresh to wilting late summer blooms. I frequently save and reuse props as they dry, mixing them with other things to make new and different images. Nothing is wasted and ultimately all goes to compost.

 

Often they are more beautiful when they dry, so be playful and experiment.

My subjects are almost always found or foraged. The process of collecting, imagining how they might look together in my mind is part of my creative process. Ultimately, they do need to be selected and arranged in your own creative way that makes the picture beautiful and compelling.

Cultivate Your Own Style

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These varieties of wild sunflowers bloom everywhere in the Southwest in late summer. All of them are collected from the sides of the road and arranged while still fresh in a very simple vertical design. I use reusable plastic containers to keep them fresh until I get home. Shot on silver PMS paper. 

Most of my pictures are shot with the XF35mmF1.4 R lens, a great everyday lens. I shoot with other lenses but I love the honesty and zero distortion of this lens.

I love shooting with wide angle lenses XF16mmF1.4 R WR or XF18mmF2 R when I am out shooting landscapes. I also shoot with the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro when I want to play with close ups or create different affects.

More recently, I’ve began shooting with the X-T2 and look forward to the types of images I can create with this beautiful camera.

Discover more of these images created with FUJIFILM X Series in my instagram feed!

 

(Soft)box of tricks

How a cardboard box can be turned into a useful light modifier for the grand sum of 60p

I was in my garage the other day and realised something; it’s full of empty cardboard boxes. It’s a shocking confession I know, but what with eBay and other things you just never know when you might need a box, right? The 53 I counted, however, maybe considered a little excessive. I started to think whether I could trim the numbers down a little and my mind drifted to the fact that I’d been taking some flash images a couple of weeks earlier where I’d been a little disappointed by the harshness of the direct flash light. Within moments, a plan was hatched.

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After a root around in the section of the garage not populated with cardboard, plus the kitchen drawers, I ended up with this selection of goodies with which I decided to make a softbox:

  • 1x small cardboard box
  • 1x roll of kitchen foil
  • 1x roll of electrician’s tape
  • 1x pair of scissors
  • 1x flashgun (I’m using an EF-42)
  • 3x sheets of tracing paper at 20p a sheet
  • 1x bottle of glue (optional)

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I started by placing the flashgun in a central position on the box and drawing around it to give me an approximate shape of the flash head.

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Grabbing the scissors, I cut the shape out, going slightly inside the lines I’d drawn to make sure that the head fitted through snugly. 

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Confident my cutting skills had progressed from primary school, I taped the sides of the box down. They could have been cut off, of course, but I preferred to tape them down to create slightly more robust sides to the box.

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I used a couple of lengths of foil to coat the inside of the box. This could be glued down if you wish, but the nature of foil meant that it moulded to the shape nicely and stayed put. There’s no need to smooth it down, just as long as the light can happily reflect around, you’re fine.

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Having covered up the hole in the box, I then cut a second hold through the foil and pushed the flash head back through.

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Putting the box to one side, I took a sheet of the tracing paper and folded it in half to provide the diffusing panel for the front of my softbox. As it transpired, I only needed the one sheet, but you could use more if you wanted an even softer result.

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The tracing paper was then taped on all four sides of the box leaving it ready for action.

Now, it’s pretty evident that my box had a flaw in that it covered up the AF illuminator. As I was only working in dim light, this wasn’t an issue, but if you want to shoot in pitch black you’re going to struggle. There are no worries about metering, though, the X-T2 I was shooting with has TTL metering so I could be sure of accurate exposures.

So, just how good was my softbox? I’d say the results speak for themselves:

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This first image was taken without the softbox attached. As I was close to the subject with the EF-42 flash mounted on the camera’s hot-shoe, there’s an issue with coverage. The flash hasn’t illuminated the bottom part of the frame very well, plus the shadows behind the soft toy are very harsh. All in all, not the best.

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With my softbox in place, however, there’s a real improvement. The coverage is much more even and the shadows are far less harsh.

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But this shot is arguably even better, created by pointing the flashgun, with softbox attached, straight to the ceiling. It’s created a lovely even top light to the toy, which looks more like studio lighting than a flashgun with a cardboard box stuck on it.

Not bad for 60p and 30 minutes of my time, is it?

Perfecting Food Photography with FUJINON Lenses

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By Nicole S. Young

One of the most common questions I receive from new photographers is which lens to use when photographing food. When choosing gear there is never a correct choice; it all boils down to the type and size of the food, your workspace and setup, the style you hope to achieve, along with how you want your final image will look. Each lens will have advantages, and even disadvantages, depending on your setup. Here is a list of a variety of lenses, along with why you might choose each type of lens for food photography.

Macro

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FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF60mmF2.4 R MACRO Lens at 1/7 sec at F4, ISO 200

A macro lens is an obvious choice for photographing food. You can get really close to the food to highlight certain elements, and also easily photograph and fill the frame with small items, like berries or tiny bites of food. Depending on the camera you use, macro lenses come in different ranges of focal lengths.

Keep in mind that a macro lens is not always necessary to photograph food. With full-frame cameras it is sometimes necessary to use a macro-capable lens in order to get close enough and fill the frame. And, in some cases, getting too close to your dish may not be the best way to photograph it. With crop-frame cameras, such as with the FUJIFILM X-T2 used for this photo, a macro lens is not always a requirement. Because of the crop factor there is the perception that the camera is closer to the subject, and so a macro lens is only a real necessity when you want to get really close and fill the frame with small items.

Wide-Angle (12–24mm)

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FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens at 1/4 sec at F6.4, ISO 200

In most cases a wide lens will be best for overhead setups. The space I use to photograph food in my home is too small for a wide-angle lens to be used without including other elements, such as the window or reflectors. Instead I reserve the wider focal lengths for overhead shots.

Mid-Range (35–75mm)

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FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF35mmF1.4 R Lens at 1/20 sec at F2.8, ISO 200

A mid-range lens, especially one that has a close focusing distance, can be a good option for food in any environment. I like to use this type of lens when I know I will want to photograph my dinner while traveling (for example). It is long enough to compress and blur the background, but narrow enough to not include too wide of an angle of view. I can also still sit quite close to the food; with a longer lens I need to move back a few feet, which can be difficult when sitting at a dinner table.

Medium Telephoto (90–120mm)

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FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF90mmF2 R LM WR Lens at 1/9 sec at F4, ISO 200

The medium telephoto lens, also known as a good range for portraits, is also a great focal length range for food photographs. One of my favorites is the FUJINON XF90mmF2 R LM WR; I can get in close to the subject, and also compress and blur the background quite well.

Telephoto (140mm+)

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FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens at 1/10 sec at F4, ISO 200

When you have a lot of space to work in and really want to compress and blur your background, then a telephoto lens might be a good option for you.  This type of lens will typically work well with crop-frame cameras, which is great news for Fujifilm users! On full-frame cameras, however, you may find that the focal length will not allow you to get close enough to the subject to get it in focus. However even with this setup (a small item of food) I was unable to get a tight shot of the bruschetta with my FUJIFILM X-T2 because of the limited focusing distance, but with a larger dish this lens might work well.

The One I’ve Always Wanted

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By Bill Fortney

As a Fujifilm X-Photographer and dedicated fan of the Fujifilm X Series System, I had a feeling that something new was coming!  The X-T1 was a terrific camera, one that has served me very well for the past few years, but when I experienced an early prototype of the X-Pro2, I started wishing and praying the X-T2 would have those fantastic improvements if and when it arrived.Long flowing streamFor just a minute, let’s pretend (I love to pretend, so let’s pretend) that Fujifilm called me and said, “Bill, what would you like to have in the new X-T2?”  Well, when I got the chance to shoot an early prototype of the X-T2, I realized just how innovative and talented those folks at Fujifilm really are: it’s as if the X Series engineers could read my mind! Wormsloe State Park 2.jpgFujifilm doesn’t make life very easy for us, choosing between the already incredible X-Pro2 and the now newly released X-T2.  The new X-T2 is the perfect option for people like me that do a number of different kinds of photography: nature/landscape, wildlife, travel, close-ups and Americana.  The newly developed viewfinder in the X-T2 is the best electronic viewfinder of any Fujifilm camera so far – and that’s saying a lot!  With increased magnification and resolution, the X-T2 is a pleasure to see the world through – and with that viewfinder, it’s a beautiful world.Sunrise - Dead Horse Point FujiOne of the new features that is especially valuable for capturing a variety of moods in landscape photography is the new ACROS Black and White film simulation.  I shoot in jpeg file mode and shoot Velvia, Provia and Acros as my three film simulations.  When studying a landscape’s potential, I need the three options for capturing the best scene in the most effective way. The X-T2 is wonderful in how easy it makes it for me to do just that: this camera is the perfect instrument for all landscape photographers.DSCF0246The newly developed X-Trans CMOS III sensor gives a great boost in resolution with its 24.3 megapixels. It has gorgeous gradation and maintains superb low noise performance as the previous X-T1 sensor, actually even around a stop better.DSCF0112Another sheer joy on the X-T2 is the placement and action of the buttons and dials, all making the use of the camera sleekly enhanced. The new joystick is a great improvement for moving the focus points and one improvement I can’t live without now that I’ve experienced it.Frosted Ruby HeartHey, all this is wonderful but the bottom line for any camera is the image quality and the new X-T2 delivers in spades. Team the new X-T2 with those incredible FUJINON XF lenses and the results are simply amazing. Once again, Fujifilm has delivered up a fantastic tool for us to go out into this beautiful world and capture it all.Multiple falls

Crafty little number

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One of the reasons I turned to photography is because I was completely hopeless at any other form of art. My paintings look like they’ve been done by a three year-old and even my stickmen are proportionally challenged.

My wife, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Anything she turns her hand to creatively, she’s very good at. Recently, that creativity has been directed towards old pieces of furniture that she’s revived using the ‘shabby chic’ technique. Don’t worry, she’s not taking beautiful mahogany pieces that she’s daubing in chalk paint and then sanding them to within an inch of their wooden lives. Nope, we’re talking unloved bits of furniture that most people would just take to the skip.

I’ve suggested to her on more than one occasion that when she creates these pieces, she should photograph the progress and blog about how they’re created. So when she tackled her latest project, I offered to shoot the images for her – using a Fujifilm X-A2 – just so she could see what was possible.

Here’s how the shoot evolved…

DSCF9371Getting established

The work is normally carried out in our garage, but given that various rusting bicycles, cardboard boxes and garden equipment don’t create a very flattering backdrop, I convinced her to do this little milking stool in our back garden, wrestling the kitchen table out there to provide her with a working surface. Once that was done, I quickly set up this establishing shot, which shows the constituent parts and the stool before anything was done.

DSCF9363Going through the motions

Over the next couple of hours, my wife went about weaving her artistic magic on to the stool and I busied myself taking photographs every step of the way. Naturally, these shots could be put into a specific order for a detailed blog, but this selection primarily shows some of the steps and the different angles I chose. I rarely asked her to pose, instead it was just a case of observing what was going on and moving into the right position to get the best angle.

Pass the time shooting incidentals

Although the chalk paint she used dries very quickly, there was still time to capture some incidental images as we waited for the paint to dry properly. This gave me the perfect opportunity to capture various detail images that add a lifestyle look and feel to the shoot. There was no setting up, I just shot all these objects as I found them, opting instead to change lenses and vary viewpoints to create interest.

Finished work

Once she’d done, I took a final shot in the same place as the starting shot and then took a second shot using a chair that she’d created a few days earlier. All ready to blog and sell!

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DSCF9480The camera

xa2 screenV2Along with the Fujifilm X-A2, I shot using three lenses – the standard XC16-50mm, the XF60mm macro and the XF35mm F2. I think the results speak from themselves. Minimal post production was required and the images are bright, vibrant and super-sharp. The flip out screen on the camera was ideal, giving me the option to shoot down low and also hold the X-A2 above head out and shoot straight down on to the table. The version I used – black & silver – appealed to my wife’s artistic eye too, plus with the WiFi functionality, she was able to transfer shots to her smartphone and share them quickly and easily on social media.

Funnily enough, a couple of days after I took these images, I found my wife using the camera and it has since been found along with her paints and brushes. I’m expecting a blog to be started imminently!