Fujifilm at Photokina 2014!

Last week we were at photokina, the world’s largest imaging fair, from Tuesday 16th to Sunday 21st September. It’s been a complete blast and this post will hopefully highlight the bits you missed if you couldn’t make it to Cologne this year.

Our booth was big. It was made up with lots of different sections covering many different areas of our business, all with the same common goal – helping people with photography.

The X-Photographers Gallery

We had images from many different photographers displayed how they were always meant to be seen – printed.

Some were printed on FUJIFLEX Crystal Archive Printing Material and others on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Digital Paper but they were all amazingly good to look at. We’ve combined our X series cameras with many years’ experience of printing and finally the creativity of real users of our cameras to create a truly awe inspiring array of beautiful prints. Many visitors to the stand told us that they thought these were the best prints on display at the show.

The X-Photographers Stage

For me the stage was the real star of the show.

We had 23 photographers from all over the world talking about a wide range of subjects. Some were very inspirational, other educational, but all were very interesting. We will post another blog post shortly with more detail on each of the photographers and what their talk was like. Sign up at the top-right of the page to receive notifications when it is published.

“Touch and Try” section

On the stand we had the new X100T and X30 cameras and the new XF50-140mm F2.8  and XF56mm APD lenses available in our “Touch and Try” section for people to use. We also made sure there was something beautiful to shoot in the way of a BMW i8 and some lovely models so everyone had something to shoot.

The X100T is an evolution from the X100 and X100S with the main upgrades being a 1/32000th electronic shutter, digital rangefinder and new Classic Chrome film simulation.

Shot by Kevin Mullins at f/2 and 1/32000th in bright sunlight using Classic Chrome film simulation
Image by Kevin Mullins using the X100T at f/2 and 1/32000th using Classic Chrome film simulation

The X30 takes the popular X20 and gives it a new high-resolution Electronic Viewfinder, tilting LCD, new control ring, lots of new customisable Function buttons and the same awesome Classic Chrome Film Simulation as sported by the X100T.

Image by Alex Lambrechts using the X30 with new Classic Chrome film simulation
Image by Alex Lambrechts using the X30 with new Classic Chrome film simulation

The XF50-140mm is our first weather resistant constant aperture lens. It boasts f/2.8 throughout its focal length range and contains a lot of amazing technology to make sure the results are comparable to prime lens quality

The XF56mm APD is a fast, sharp prime lens that contains an Apodisation filter that helps produce an even smoother bokeh affect than the standard XF56mm.

The final new product people could get their hands on was the new X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition pictured below.

The full X line-up

Additionally, behind a glass cabinet we had the entire range lined up (click the image below for a larger display)

Full X series lineup. Click to enlarge
Full X series lineup. Click to enlarge

Notable products were:

The XF16mmF1.4 has the same focus ring as the XF14 and XF23 with focus distance and depth of field guide on the barrel itself.

The XF16-55mmF2.8 appears to have OIS dropped from its name suggesting that the final lens will not have OIS, but instead aim for absolute optimal image quality. This is still to be confirmed though.

The XF90mmF2 looks like it’s going to be a big bit of glass. Similar in length to the XF56mm but a bit thicker.

Finally, previously known as the Super Tele-Photo Zoom Lens on the roadmap, a lens with no label underneath. However, it had an inscription bearing the specifications “XF 140-400mmF4-5.6 R LM OIS WR”. I’d like to point out that these are not 100% final specifications. They just needed to put something on the front of the mock-up lens to give a better idea of what the final lens would look like. Either way this gives us a guide as to what sort of spec the final lens is likely to be, and also how big it will be.

Free maintenance and camera loan service

maintenance

We offered a FREE maintenance service and a FREE camera loan service for the six days of photokina, In total we were able to service 510 cameras and loaned 433 cameras and lenses combined.

Technologies

We showcased a few of our technologies – some current and some in development

Film simulation
Fujifilm Film Simulations
Film is our heritage and therefore we spend a lot of time developing (pun not intended) our film simulation modes for our digital cameras. The latest film simulation mode we have released is Classic Chrome and it is available on the new X100T, X30 and will be made available via a firmware update for the X-T1 later this year.

Electronic rangefinder
tech-x100t-viewfinder
Here’s what the Hybrid Viewfinder in the X100T looks like. Learn more about the X100T Electronic Rangefinder here.

Lens coating demo
Nano GI comparison demoAlthough it’s pretty hard to see in this photo, here we demonstrate the lens coating on the new XF50-140. It has a special coating applied to reduce the amount of light that is reflected away.
Learn more about the technology that goes into the XF50-140mm lens, including Nano GI technology, here.

Remote “Multi-shooting” application
tech-multi-shoot Here’s a new app we’re currently working on that allows you to wirelessly control and shoot up to three cameras at one time using the same tablet computer.

Applications for this could be for recording video, creating 3D imagery or shooting event photography.

Since the launch of the X-T1 we have seen some amazingly creative uses people have found for the existing remote shooting app so we hope that this will allow people to be even more creative with their photography.

 

The Cologne photokina Photowalk

photowalk

On Saturday night we held a photowalk with X-Photographers Elia Locardi and Ken Kaminesky. 213 people showed up, despite the threat for heavy rain beforehand. Most people brought their own equipment to shoot with and Fujifilm X-T1s and lenses were available for people to borrow if they wished.

We met at the Dom and then walked as a very large group around the cathedral and then across the river to watch the sunset from the East bank. It was a great event and we’re sure everyone enjoyed themselves and made a few new friends that share their love of photography.

These guys even won some prizes by having their names drawn at random:photowalk-prize-winners

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Fabiano Dallmeyer , Richard Powazynski, Jens Fricke, Ken Kaminesky, Carl Nasman, Patrick Mayon, Elia Locardi, Florin Lucian Patras and Michael Magner

Participants soohting the padlocks on the bridge (image by Naomi Locardi)
Participants shooting padlocks on the bridge (image by Naomi Locardi)
An after-dark image by Naomi Locardi
After-dark (image by Naomi Locardi)
Me, being mocked by Justin from Fujifilm USA... (image also by Naomi Locardi)
And finally me, being unwittingly mocked by Justin from Fujifilm USA… (image also by Naomi Locardi)

Many more photos from participants of the event have uploaded and will continue to be added to the Google Plus public event here: https://plus.google.com/events/chu5ri84smk6smt9ags8inu36l4

Fujifilm X Live

For more photos from the whole photokina event, and to keep up to date in real time with future events like this, please check out our Social Media accounts:

– http://www.facebook.com/FujifilmXLive
– http://twitter.com/FujifilmXLive
– http://instagram.com/FujifilmXLive

Why lens choice is important?

Use of different focal lengths

This blog is going to try and cover the fundamentals of lenses, explaining when to use them and why. If you have any questions after reading this then please get in touch via:

If you haven’t already seen Dale Young’s great blog on “What focal length I should use and why?” Then check it out here.

I too took some photos at different focal lengths (see the below slideshow), between 10mm and 135mm, to emphasise how certain focal lengths are generally better than others for portraiture. This topic has brought up lots of comments and I have edited this part a number of times to try and get the best brief explanation, without going off on too big a tangent! To break it down to fundamentals, the thing that affects perspective is distance, the distance between the camera and the subject. The focal length you choose affects the framing of a subject. With the series of photos below, I tried to keep the framing the same for all the focal lengths; the thing that changed was the distance between the subject and me. At 10mm I was a mere few cm’s from the subject’s face (awkward), while at 135mm we were a few metres apart. This longest example (135mm) shows a flattening effect, where the content seems compressed. This occurs because of greater distance between the subject and myself. Making the depth of the face (e.g. from the nose to the ear) proportionally less compared to the distance between the subject and the lens… The opposite is true for the wide-angle photos. Take the 10mm example again; I am so close to the subject that the depth of the face makes up a larger distance than the distance between the lens and the nose, making the perspective exaggerated (also note how you can see the shadow behind the model with the wide-angle shots but you can’t with the telephoto portraits because of the narrower angle of view).

In full frame or 35mm film terminology, 50mm is deemed the ‘standard focal length’, as it is close to our eye’s central angle of view. This means that a 50mm lens produces a perspective very similar to what we see. Because the sensors in Fujifilm X-Series cameras are generally 1.5X smaller than full frame sensors (APS-C sensor size), this standard focal length equates to a 35mm lens, like the XF35mm F1.4 R. This is quite complicated to explain (it could be a whole other blog!)… So much so that I have spent hours editing these paragraphs, but hopefully you get the gist of how different focal lengths affect the perspective of a picture. There are some very informative comments about this topic at the bottom of this blog if you want to find out more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wide-angle lenses can create exaggerate perspectives which produce amusing (which is good as it’s engaging) portraits, especially with animals!


Apertures

Before we go any further, lets just check you understand the fundamentals of using apertures. If not then check out my previous blog that helps to explain how different apertures affect a picture (plus there are cute labrador puppies!).


Putting both together

35mm f1.4
35mm f1.4

Now that we understand how different focal lengths and apertures affect the look of a picture we can look at how to combine the two. First of all lets think about portraits: If you want to isolate a subject generally you are going to want to use a standard or telephoto lens with a low F-stop, such as the XF35mm F1.4 RXF56mm F1.2 R or the imminent XF50-140mm F2.8 R OIS WR. For the image to the left I wanted to try and isolate the woman from the background as it was very busy and distracting, and while it isn’t entirely clean it is made better as a result of using F1.4 for a shallow depth of field.

If you want to capture an environmental portrait generally you would use a wide-angle lens and depending on how much of the environment you want to make out in the background you’d range the F-stop between F2 and F11.

Both of the pictures above were taken with the X100s (I love using it for these kinds of photos). The left image is at F2 and while you can make out the room the clarity of it is poor. Compare that to the right image where the use of F11 results in the mountain behind the boarder being sharp.


Prime vs. Zoom

This is very much a personal preference, there is no right choice. It depends on lots of factors, from space and weight restrictions to financial limitations. Because prime lenses have a fixed focal length, they tend to be smaller, lighter and have larger minimum apertures (F1.2-2.8) compared to zoom lenses. While zoom lenses have the convenience of effectively including many different prime lenses, generally these have more restricted apertures (F2.8-5.6). For me, it depends on the situation. I prefer prime lenses because of the greater depth of field control. As well as this I believe that the fixed focal length makes you think more about your photography, particularly composition. However, the convenience of zoom lenses in situations that are changing quickly can be invaluable as you don’t have to change lenses as often to obtain a variety of photographs. When conditions are unpleasant this is vital in order to protect the sensor. A point to consider is that the XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR plus the recently released XF50-140mm F2.8 and XF16-55mm F2.8 R WR (hopefully arriving in the first quarter of 2015) are all weather sealed making them ideal partners for the X-T1, creating a weather sealed system.

If I am working in relatively controlled conditions where it is easy for me to change lens regularly then I try to use prime lenses.

But if conditions are not suitable for continuous lens changes or a situation is quickly evolving and I need to be on my toes the zoom lenses are what I grab.

The zoom lens examples above are all wildlife examples (which are often taken in difficult conditions where a situation is quickly changing) were captured with the telephoto half of the XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. The reason why I chose these examples is because I wanted to show what can be done with F5.6 as the maximum aperture, showing nice bokeh in the images where I’ve tried to keep the attention on the subject. Now imagine what will be possible with the new XF50-140mm F2.8 R OIS WR! Can you tell I’m a bit excited about it…?


What lens for the occasion?

The main reason I first moved to the Fujifilm X-Series was the prioritisation of high quality lenses. With the announcement of the X-Pro1, the first lenses available were the XF18mm F2 R, XF35mm F1.4 R and XF60mm F2.4 R. These are all high quality, lightweight prime lenses that, together, offer a wide focal length range package. From there the lens road map laid out Fujifilm’s intentions to create a strong lens collection covering a wide range of uses.

Generally lenses are associated with a particular genre of photography based on their focal length. For example wide lenses such as the XF14mm F2.8 R and XF10-24mm F4 R OIS are intended for landscapes and long lenses like the XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS are for wildlife and sports. But rules are made to be broken and your lenses don’t necessarily have to be used to fit those stereotypes. The photograph below was taken with the 14mm lens, generally intended for landscape photography, however I used this lens to capture this macaque foraging for stranded marine life amidst a sunset scene.

14mm - Foraging macaque
14mm – Foraging macaque

The important thing to remember with your lens choice is to think “what do I want to convey?” On this occasion I wanted to show the scene as a whole. In the landscape shot below I focused on the distant hills over a bay with the setting sun using the 55-200mm lens, which is usually associated with wildlife and sports. This helped to emphasise the golden glow which wasn’t as prevalent with a wider-angle view.

120mm - Landscape
120mm – Landscape

Conclusion

Hopefully you now understand that lens choice can have a huge impact on your end result. If you understand the principles of focal lengths and apertures then you have a grasp on what lens to use and why. Remember that lenses are tools designed to help fuel your creativity. For me, a lens that I am very much looking forward to is the XF50-140mm F2.8 R OIS WR. This lens offers the versatility of a zoom but with a constant aperture of F2.8 it gives very good depth of field control. A lens such as this has many uses and I’m sure it is going to be a big hit with photographers from all genres.

A good exercise to try would be to force yourself to use one focal length next time you go for a walk. No matter if you’re using a prime or a zoom lens, try and restrict yourself. The purpose of this is to understand what you can capture with certain focal lengths so that in the future you will hopefully be more decisive with what focal length to use in a given situation. Remember that you can change the end picture dramatically through different apertures. Why not give it a go and then share with us the variety of photographs you managed to capture with the same focal length. Or you can change it up and use one aperture but change your focal lengths. Share your results with us and if you have any questions please get in touch via the contact details at the top.

Until next time, happy Shooting!

Ben Cherry

The X100T – from concept to product announcement in seven short months

In February 2014, during my first ever trip to Japan to attend the CP+ Show in Yokohama, I was also lucky enough to be present at one of the early planning meetings for the X100T, along with a few carefully selected professional photographers – Yukio Uchida (Japan), Bert Stephani (Belgium), Gianluca Colla (Italy) and Kevin Mullins (UK). Each one of the photographers used Fujifilm CSCs for their work, but also an X100S for personal work, and some professional work where it suited. After spending a few days talking about how our equipment affects their working lives in a positive light, they were given very specific instructions to tell us exactly what they didn’t like about them.

Less than seven months on and I’m holding in my hands a pre-production version of a camera that was based on many of the subjects discussed in this meeting.

How do you make something “more perfect” ?

There were two sides to the meeting. First up, the Japanese developers worked through a list of their ideas to understand what the photographers thought of them.

I paraphrase of course but here’s kind of how the conversation went:

Developers: Do you want a full-frame sensor?
Photographers: No because the camera would need to be bigger and that would degrade the purpose of the camera

Developers: Would you like an f/1.8 or larger aperture lens?
Photographers: As above. No because the camera would need to be bigger.

Developers: Would you like a tilting screen?
Photographers: As above again.

At this point you could see that the Japanese product developers are getting a bit nervous. How can you further evolve and develop a product if the users of the product are already perfectly happy with the existing one?

Developers: Does it need an Electronic Shutter?
Photographers: Not sure… what would be the benefits?
Developers: Shooting much faster shutter speeds, even with the aperture wide open – no need for the ND filter

OK finally we have our first TICK!

Developers: Would you like better movie functions? More frame rate options, manual exposure control?
Photographers: Yes, as long as it doesn’t have any effect on the camera’s ability to shoot stills

And another TICK. We’re really cooking now.

Developers: What about Wifi?
Photographers: Would be useful, as long as the camera doesn’t get any bigger

Developers: How would you like to be able to use manual focus while shooting OVF?
Photographers: We’re listening…

The developers pulled out a concept modified X100S with a special LCD panel installed outside the Optical Viewfinder. They went on to explain how this LCD display would actually be inside the camera and the user can switch on or off the ability to fine-tune the focus without switching from OVF.

I’ve had a go with this on the pre-production version and I can really see the value. I’m a big fan of coloured focus peaking so to be able to have it while looking through an OVF is really nice. It’s quick to toggle on or off, much faster than switching between OVF and EVF, so you can pay attention to the frame and just check the focus when you need it.

They then went through a pretty long list of changes / enhancements etc… of which a lot made it into the X100T I’ve got in my hand.

“We will consider”

In my experience, one thing that Japanese people hate to do is to outright say the word “no”. Every suggestion for a change to any of our cameras always gets one of these two responses:

  1. “We will do this” – this actually means “We have already done this”
  2. “We will consider” – And they do!

Next up in the meeting it was the photographer’s turn to suggest changes, all of which met one the answers above. Here are a few things I remember our guests asking for. This is not to say that these were not already in consideration by the development team.

  • Ability for the user to customise the Q menu – check
  • Standardise the main layout of the camera controls – time will tell on this but the X100T button layout is more like the X-T1 than the X100S, particularly on the user’s right thumb.
The rear controls of the X100T are more like an X-T1 than an X100S
The rear controls of the X100T are more like an X-T1 than an X100S
  • Various different film types to be considered to be added to the list of Film Simulation modes – Classic Chrome making it into the range
  • More Function (Fn) buttons – check
  • Black version available at launch – check
  • Everything above, but retain the same size, shape and pretty much weight as the X100S and X100 – check

It’s not to say that the entire product was built from that one single meeting. Of course not. The team in Japan do an amazing job considering requests from Fujifilm staff and professional photographers all over the world. It is this constant ability to listen to feedback and then build on it that makes this an incredibly exciting and rewarding place to work.

On top of these changes, here are a few others that I’ve heard customers ask for that have made it in:

  • Allow users to select the AF area with the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn Key.
  • AUTO ISO “profiles”
  • Ability for Exposure compensation to still work when the camera is in M mode, as long as the ISO is set to AUTO
  • Aperture ring moves in ⅓ increments.
  • Increase the grip on the manual focus ring

And finally some nice changes that made it over from the X-T1:

  • Coloured Focus Peaking
  • Remote shooting / wireless image transfer
  • Awesome updated GUI that rotates based on camera orientation
  • Interval Shooting
  • 3 stops Exposure Compensation
Here's what my X100T will look like when I get it. Much love for the WCL-X100
Here’s what my X100T will look like when I get it. Much love for the WCL-X100

Conclusion

The whole experience opened my eyes to what an amazing company it is that I work for. Staff and customers alike have a voice that is constantly helping to shape future development to produce the perfect products.

Many of these changes have been added to already-released cameras via free firmware updates. In my opinion this is a great move by Fujifilm as we are relatively new (this time round) to the professional end of the market and building trust is very important to help us gain a good reputation.

But whether we’re able to update existing models, or evolve the models with newer, improved versions, the reason it is working well is because everything is being carefully developed based on what actual users want. I’ve now seen this with my own eyes, and hold the proof in my hands.

改善 (kaizen) – Good change.

Come and see the X100T

The Fujifilm X100T will be available to get your hands on in the Touch & Try section of the Fujifilm stand at Photokina 2014 – Tuesday 16th September to Sunday 21st September at the koelnmesse Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre in Cologne, Germany.

http://fujifilm-x.com/photokina2014/en/whatson-touch-and-try.html

Oh and I’ll be there too if you fancy coming along and saying hello 🙂

Links

X100T
Learn about the new X100T camera
Read the X100T announcement

X-Photographers website’s
Kevin Mullins
Gianluca Colla
Bert Stephani
Yukio Uchida

Shoot like a pro, with a pro – win the chance to shoot a band live with one of the biggest names in live music photography

We’re offering you the opportunity to learn from and shoot with one of the UK’s best music photographers, Tony Woolliscroft, and to win a Fujifilm X-T1 and XF10-24mm.

Fujifilm and Tony have created an amazing opportunity for one lucky person. What you’ll win:

  • One-to-one mentoring from one of the biggest names in live music photography during a gig with a world famous band.
  • Learn what it’s like to be on the road with a band.
  • Learn how to shoot with the X-T1 and XF lenses and understand from Tony why he’s moved over to the Fujifilm X system, the best techniques, the optimum settings and some of Tony’s best kept secrets.
  • Meet the band, shoot the sound check and crew and understand what can be improved / worked on before the live gig.
  • Shoot the fans waiting to get into the gig.
  • Shoot the headline gig – shoot the first three songs in the photo pit with Tony.
  • After the first three songs you can enjoy the remainder of the gig.
  • Post-show feedback. After the gig, the winner will sit down with Tony and you can talk about the whole experience and a summary of what you’ve learnt.
  • On top of all this, you’ll be using your brand spanking new Fujifilm X-T1 and 10-24mm, the same kit which Tony uses.

About Tony

Tony has shot some of the biggest rock bands on the planet today – Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The 1975, with over 20 years photographic experience the winner will be in safe hands.
Click here to check out his website

The Fujifilm X-T1 and XF10-24mm

The X-T1 features evolved SLR-style handling, mechanical dials and weather-resistance, together with all the benefits of an X-Series camera, such as compact size, excellent mobility and high-speed performance. What’s more, its newly developed electronic viewfinder is almost indistinguishable from an optical viewfinder thanks to its ultra fast display speed. The XF10-24mm is ultra wide to standard focal length capabilities make it the perfect choice for shooting dynamic, high impact images with excellent detail from the foreground to the far distance.
Click here to learn more about the Fujifilm X-T1

Event details

Date of event: September 29th
Time: Mid afternoon onwards
Location: Wolverhampton Civic Hall

How to enter

Send an email to competitions@fujifilm.co.uk that contains a link to your portfolio and a short explanation as to why you want to win the prize. Tony Woolliscroft will then make his selection.

The deadline for entries is 17:00 BST on Monday 15th September 2014 and the winner will be notified by 17:00 BST on Friday 19th September 2014.

Good luck!

Terms and conditions

1. Entry is open to residents of the UK
2. The entrant must be aged 18 or over.
3. Proof of identity and age may be required.
4. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification.
5. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition.
6. No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, delayed or corrupted, or due to computer error in transit.
7. The prizes are as stated, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
8. The winner is responsible for expenses and arrangements not specifically included in the prizes, including any necessary travel arrangements
9. In the event of a prize being unavailable, the promoter reserves the right to offer an alternative prize of equal or greater value.
10. The winner agrees to the use of their name, photograph and disclosure of county of residence and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests by Fujifilm UK Ltd relating to any post-winning publicity.
11. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner. If the winner cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, Fujifilm reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random, or in the event that the promotion is being judged Fujifilm reserves the right to offer the prize to the runner-up selected by the same judges.
12. Confirmation of the prize will also be made in writing to the winner.
13. Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize.
14. The decision of the judge is final and no correspondence will be entered into over this decision.

All images in this post are © Tony Woolliscroft and taken on a Fujifilm X-T1

My love affair with EVFs

When I first started using the Fujifilm X-Series last summer I didn’t realise how helpful electronic viewfinders (EVFs) can be. Being able to see a live view of the exposure and then adjusting this via the exposure compensation dial means that I am more efficient. When using SLRs it is often difficult to get exposure compensation exactly right the first time around, this often means you take a photograph multiple times to get it just right. With X-Series cameras you are able to see how an exposure adjustment will effect the exposure of the image before you take the photo. This is especially helpful for fleeting moments, especially in quickly changing light.

The exposure compensation can be adjusted in post-production but I feel the live view produced by EVFs has helped me improve my photography. This makes my editing workflow shorter, which is always an advantage.

I found this feature particularly helpful when taking silhouettes, such as the images of Chesterton windmill in the gallery below.

EVFs are also very helpful with non-Fujifilm lenses or using Fujifilm lenses in manual mode as they can accurately show when the focus is correct. Even with the X100s and X-Pro1, which have hybrid viewfinders, I use them almost exclusively in EVF mode instead of OVF mode because, for me, it offers more benefits.

What focal length should I use and why?

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerHere’s a quick, hopefully informative snippet as to why you might choose one focal length over another, and why.

The idea for this blog came about when I was asked recently “Why don’t you just zoom-out to get the person in the frame?”. This is a very good question and I felt it needed a mini demonstration to really help answer it. All one needs to conduct this experiment is the following:

  • A willing volunteer – I had a Marc
  • A zoom lens of any kind – In my case, the XF18-135mm lens
  • Oh, and a camera!

The experiment is simple; frame your subject (Marc) the same each time and take a picture at different focal lengths. I chose four focal lengths along the barrel of the lens to best demonstrate. With this, we had the ever-helpful Terry to hand with a camera to capture the experiment from the third person perspective.

Hopefully what you will notice is that the wider the angle, (18mm) the more clutter there is in the image whereas at the 135mm setting, pretty much all clutter has ‘disappeared’.

Why does this happen?

Without going into huge mathematical detail (that I don’t even fully understand) it is because wide angle shots will achieve a larger angle of view and long zooms won’t. This is how much ‘fits’ into the shot – peripheral vision if you like.

As a rule of thumb, wider angle lenses work great for landscape photography and indoors (where you don’t have a lot of room to manoeuvre) as they can fit more in. Wider angles, however, are not great for portrait shots as they will pull the centre of the frame forwards creating distortion in perspective – example image below.

Longer zooms on the other hand work great for de-cluttering a frame to create stunning portraits. This is because the angle of view is smaller, and more importantly, they have a compressing effect. In essence, a long zoom pulls the background closer to the foreground and can give a more natural, slim looking head shape whilst also helping aid the bokeh effect – increasing the focal length of a lens decreases the depth of field.

Here are two example shots I took that hopefully help demonstrate the difference:

The image on the left (135mm) shows Marc’s head in proper perspective. However, the right shot (18mm) shows the nose being ‘pulled’ forward towards the lens and his head being turned into a rugby ball! You will also notice there is more of Marc’s surroundings in the wider angle shot – this diverts some attention away from his face, which, in a portrait shot we don’t want to do.

I hope this post gets you thinking more about which focal length to use rather than just zooming in and out for convenience.

Having a zoom lens is incredibly helpful at times, but it would best to think of your zoom lens as a series of prime lenses. Most photographers, if not all, use specific focal lengths for specific purposes; this is due to the individual optical effects each focal length provides. It really does make a difference to the end result – as (hopefully) shown above 😉

If you can, please go and try this yourself to get a real feel for it. It will help with your own understanding as to what focal length you might want to use, and for which subjects

 

Saying ‘I do’ to the X-E2

I start to get nervous about two weeks before I shoot a wedding. It’s around this time that I start taking an unhealthy interest in the weather forecast, start worrying about whether I’m going to get enough time to shoot everything and start limiting the use of my camera because I’ve convinced myself it only has a few more shots left in it before the shutter combusts. This all happens because I don’t shoot weddings very often, I’m what fellow photographers would call a ‘Weekend Warrior’ and what pros lovingly refer to as ‘a pain in the arse’. I shoot weddings for friends and acquaintances and don’t charge much; I see it more as part job, part wedding present. You may be the same.

18-55mm @55mm, 1/60sec at f/4, ISO 800
18-55mm @55mm, 1/60sec at f/4, ISO 800

My most recent part job/part wedding present represented two firsts for me. It was the first same-sex marriage I’d photographed (congratulations Gemma and Fiona!) and it was also the first time I’d added an X-E2 to my camera line-up. I’ll be honest from the outset and admit that the X-E2 wasn’t my primary shooter. Although I’m well versed in its capabilities, having previously blogged about using the same camera on a trip to Rome, I still don’t feel I know it well enough to use it as Camera 1. Instead, I’d earmarked it – along with the 18-55mm, 60mm and 55-200mm XF lenses – for specific tasks throughout the day, plus it would also double as a more than capable backup option should Camera 1, as prophesied, burst into flames during the nuptials.

Of all the things to have sleepless nights about before a wedding, camera gear shouldn’t be one of them. My search continues for methods of controlling the weather and bending time, but I prepared the night before safe in the knowledge that my camera gear was ready; firmwares updated, batteries charged, lenses polished, straps attached.

The X-E2 was the first camera out of the bag the following morning when I arrived early at the reception venue to shoot details on the tables. It quickly established itself to be a reliable focuser and exposer, while the image previews looked sharp and full of colour. As planned, it then came out on a number of other occasions throughout the day. Its near-silent operation and more discreet appearance enabled me to wander around and capture a whole host of shots that, had I attempted to shoot with Camera 1, would inevitably have resulted in wedding guests standing bolt upright while affecting cheesy grins. Not so the X-E2 which, with the 55-200mm attached, is the perfect combination for candids.

Its hushed credentials also proved their worth during the speeches at the reception. After selecting the Silent mode I was able to capture a wide variety of images, without causing the assembled guests to turn around every time I pressed the shutter. In short, the X-E2 and I got on famously during the day, even though it did show a larger than expected appetite for battery power.

18-55mm @55mm, 1/60sec at f/3.5, ISO 250
18-55mm @55mm, 1/60sec at f/3.5, ISO 250

The bigger news was to come in post-production. I’d shot nearly 1500 images, so editing in Lightroom was a lengthy affair, especially when you consider everything was captured in Raw. But while general tidying up of images is to be expected, I found myself spending far less time on the X-E2’s files. They were supremely sharp straight out of camera, wonderfully vibrant and showed impressive quality at high ISOs. The speeches, for example, were shots at ISO 3200 and 6400 because of the low light levels at the reception, yet noise was well under control – far better, in fact, than Camera 1.

55-200mm @156mm, 1/90sec at f/4.5, ISO 3200
55-200mm @156mm, 1/90sec at f/4.5, ISO 3200

So what did I learn? Well, I’d certainly pack the X-E2 if I was shooting a wedding again – it’s agile, easy to use and cuts down post-production time, all of which are huge positives. Its retro charms didn’t go unnoticed by guests at the wedding, either. As I mingled at the reception, a DSLR-toting attendee came over and asked about the X-E2. ‘Is it a Leica?,’ he asked. I explained what it was, showed him some shots I’d taken and invited him to have a try. He took a couple of shots and handed it back, gave it the one over and said, quite simply: ‘Lovely’.

I’d have to agree.

Interview with professional landscape photographer Paul Sanders

We recently held a small internal training course for the Fujifilm UK team and we asked professional photographer Paul Sanders to join us and help teach us more about landscape photography. After spending some time with Paul and listening to him talking about his work and his thought process in regards to photography, it became apparent that Paul had a very interesting story that I’d love to share.

Below is Paul’s story from being a trainee photographer in 1991, up to his current passion, hobby and luckily for him, profession – Fine Art Landscape Photography. If you have any thoughts or questions for Paul, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Fine Art Landscape Photographer Paul Sanders

Paul Sanders avatar“I’ve been involved in news photography since 1991 when I started as a trainee photographer at The Daventry Express in Northamptonshire. I’m incredibly driven and knew straightaway that I wouldn’t settle for life on a weekly newspaper, I wanted the big time, the only place I could see myself working was for a national newspaper and one in particular; The Times. I think essentially it was because The Times is in my opinion the best newspaper in the world for it’s reporting and accuracy. I got my head down, worked hard sacrificed everything, relationships, family, friends and social life all in the single minded pursuit of my dream job.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 - F8 - 120 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 – F8 – 120 Seconds – ISO200

“By 1998 I was working for the international wire agency Reuters in London and in 2002 I got the call from The Times to join their team. When The Times changed from broadsheet to the more modern compact format I was given the job of revitalising the way pictures were used in the new format. Finally on 1 April 2004 I was made Picture Editor, I had total responsibility of the entire visual content and a team of the finest researchers and photographers working with me. To say I was in my element was an understatement. However success at that level comes with a high price. Daily I would view between 17 and 20 thousand images, direct photographers, manage budgets, layout pages and train young hopefuls. By 2010 I had reached breaking point, I suffered with chronic insomnia and depression, my marriage started to break down and the wheels came off my train. I hid this all from the world until December 2011 when I announced that I was leaving the job I had pursued for years.

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm - F14 - 180 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm – F14 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“When you have a breakdown your body and mind are telling you to change a few things, I needed to slow down, take stock and recover. My recovery began with shooting large format landscapes. I’d wander the country 5×4 camera and tripod over my shoulder trying to be Ansel Adams or Joe Cornish and failing miserably. The process of shooting film again slowed me down, enabling me to organise my mind a little and start to get in touch with the joy of photography. In many respects my early foray into landscape work was such a failure because I wasn’t being true to myself – I wasn’t connecting with my subject at all.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 140 Seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 140 Seconds – ISO200

“During 2013 I had an epiphany in seeing, I realised that actually it was ok to shoot the images I wanted, not the classic views, but using my emotional and spiritual connections with the landscape to create images that resonated with my soul. I had switched from 5×4 to DSLR during 2012, to save weight and money. Still I was finding it hard to work, I would always think can I be bothered, many times I would lug my equipment to a location and not bother getting it out of the bag; it was too much hassle. I wasn’t enjoying my work at all.

“However what I had realised was that to truly see what I wanted, the sitting, watching and listening had really opened my eyes and my heart to the images I wanted to create. What I needed was a camera that didn’t get in that way of my connection or creativity.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F22 - 1/2 sec - ISO 200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F22 – 1/2 sec – ISO 200

“In early 2014 I handled the Fuji X-T1 for the first time and instantly fell in love, I actually had goose bumps on my skin, such was my connection with this camera. It was a bit like the moment Harry Potter picked up his wand for the first time!

“As soon as they came to market I bought two, a variety of lenses, and swapped out much of my DSLR equipment totally committed to these tiny miracle workers.

XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm - F4.5 - 1 second - ISO320
XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm – F4.5 – 1 second – ISO320

“My energy and creativity were revitalised, the camera wasn’t in the way, it was literally a plug in to my imagination allowing me to record what I wanted in the way I wanted without the weight or cumbersome nature of my previous equipment. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and shot the images I had been feeling. I stopped trying to be accepted by the majority and concentrated on being true to myself. If no one likes my work really it doesn’t matter to me at all. If people do and I sell a few pictures then that’s a bonus.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm - F16 - 800 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm – F16 – 800 Seconds – ISO200

“I still sit for hours watching and feeling the landscape in front of me, but now I feel that I am truly connected with my work through the little Fuji. The X-T1 isn’t a barrier like my Canon, it’s a conduit. They are virtually invisible to me, instinctively my hands fall in all the right places, there’s a wonderful simplicity to them which helps me as I’m quite simple in many ways too. The less complex the process of making pictures the less I have to be concerned with. I have no desire to pixel peep or get bogged down in the technical arguments about shadow detail or sharpness, I just want to create images that please me.

X-T1 with XF55-200 - F16 - 180 Seconds - ISO200
X-T1 with XF55-200 – F16 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“The work I shoot now totally reflects how I feel about the world and myself, I can pour my soul into those little black bodies and know that they are keeping it safe for me.”

 

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm - F22 - 70 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm – F22 – 70 Seconds – ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 200 Seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 200 Seconds – ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F11 - 280 seconds - ISO200
X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F11 – 280 seconds – ISO200
XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm - F20 - 8 Seconds - ISO200
XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm – F20 – 8 Seconds – ISO200

More info

All of the images featured in this blog post are available to purchase as Fine Art Prints on Paul Sanders’ official website
You can also follow Paul on Twitter or Facebook.

Yerbury Studio and Fujifilm Power of the Portrait Seminar

I’m so lucky. I have one of those jobs where I get to speak to creative people on a daily basis, share ideas, see amazing images all the time. It can be quite overwhelming, inspiring visions springing out of nowhere, ideas being converted from the written word to a physical printed image. In an industry which is (thankfully) teeming with creative types, there are certain names which keep being talked about. One of those names is Trevor Yerbury, in fact two names Trevor and Faye Yerbury. For those who don’t know Trevor and Faye own the Yerbury Studio, based in Edinburgh, one of the most highly respected and regarded photographic studios in the UK. Trevor Yerbury is a 4th generation photographer, the business founded by his great grand­father in Edinburgh in 1864.

2Trevor joined the family business in 1968 and has been driving the business forward, with his wife Faye and team, ever since. Together they create the most amazingly simple, striking and sophisticated images, creating an overall elegant and timeless collection of images. Both Trevor and Faye have received accolades over the years from Masters of Photography, Fellowships and between them hold 15 Kodak European Gold Awards. Internationally they are also respected judges.

Trevor and Faye organise a series of very successful seminars, both in the UK and abroad, sharing their experience, skills and passion with fellow professional photographers.

Both Trevor and Faye are now passionate users of the Fujifilm X range of cameras and Fujinon lenses, using them pretty much exclusively for all their work now. Trevor uses the X-Pro1 and Faye the X-T1, but as with all married couples they are pretty happy to share cameras and lenses. That’s how it works, right?

I recently joined them on one of their seminar tours in the UK at St Albans. They’ve been producing a series of seminars based around The Power of the Portrait.  Here they spoke to an eager congregation of professional photographers, who were there to learn the secrets to success in portrait photography and help fine tune skills in marketing and promoting a profitable portrait business.

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There are many things which I found fascinating. Firstly, just how generous Trevor and Faye are with their knowledge and understanding. Of course, they are experts in terms of photography skill, but they’ve fine-tuned all aspects of their business, will talk about most commonly made mistakes and also how to maximise the profitability, the relationships and the longevity of the business.  They will talk to photographers in a way which really resonates, especially elements such as creating your own photographic style, the importance of relationships, after sales and creating unique products.

Secondly, how passionate they are about our cameras – you may find this hard to swallow and a bit contrived coming from the PR Manager, but they really are. To hear terms like, ‘The Fuji system is the future of photography’ and ‘they should change the shutter sound to one that makes the same sound as a cash register’ is totally from their mouths, not ours.  It’s wonderful to hear because you know it’s honest. They wouldn’t be using the X cameras if it wasn’t going to work for them and help produce shots to showcase their work.  Obviously these guys have been in the business a good while now and know what they like and what they don’t like. It made me very happy to hear what they were saying and to see so many people in the audience already with their X cameras ready.

Throughout the day they shot a few attendees, showing how simply you can produce an amazing image, using one camera, one lens, one reflector and one light box.  Amazing.

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After the seminar you could tell that all the delegates were energised and motivate, ready to get back to their studios with fresh ideas and a revitalised view of how to run their business and also seeing some of the amazing pictures taken by two of the most respected photographers in the UK, on the X-cameras.

Further information regarding The Power of The Portrait can be found here, new dates have been added:

http://www.yerburystudio.com/power-portrait-2/

Information about the Fujifilm X- Series cameras:

http://www.fujifilm.eu/uk/products/digital-cameras/