Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

By Kevin Mullins

Of course, we all know that’s not strictly true, but I do believe, indirectly, that using Fujifilm X Series cameras do empower us to be better at our craft……read on and I’ll explain. Continue reading Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

Through a Photographer’s Eye: Drew Hopper

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Through a photographer’s eye is the first in a series of interviews featuring Australian photographers. In each interview, we learn about the person behind the camera and how they use Fujifilm X Series cameras to photograph the world around them. Our first interview is with Sydney based photographer, Drew Hopper.

 

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Drew, what do you look for when taking a photo and how has photography shaped your career?

 

To me, photography is the art of observation. I try my best to find something interesting in everyday life and transform it into something surprising and captivating. For me, photography is about seeing things from a new perspective. If I can capture a moment and create some kind of tension that makes the viewer feel something then that to me is a successful photograph. As a photographer specialising in travel and documentary, stories are an integral part of my work. I strive to capture images that convey a sense of discovery with a story from everyday life moments. My goal as a visual storyteller is to be utterly infectious so that my audience can connect and feel something on an emotional level.

 

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/100 second – ISO 200

 

I never intended on becoming a full time ‘professional’ photographer. My love for the craft has kept me moving forward. After my first trip overseas the travel bug hooked me and there was no turning back. My journey as a photographer originated as a landscape photographer on the beautiful Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. My passion for the natural world led my desire to explore other parts of the world, which saw my journey as a landscape shooter evolve into the travel realm. I spend a lot of my time travelling abroad, mostly in Asia.

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F8 – 1/125 second – ISO 200

 

 

By the looks of things, you travel abroad often to capture people and subjects that interest you. Did you choose the X100S for this reason and what do you like most about the camera?

 

Yes, I spend a lot of time travelling throughout Asia. During my first trip overseas I packed way too much camera equipment, which ended up becoming a burden. On my second trip I still carried my Canon DSLR, however, I also purchased an X100S. I ended up leaving my Canon kit at the hotel most days and went out shooting with the Fujifilm system. I just love how compact and discreet the X system is – it definitely was beneficial in mixing with the locals without standing out too much with a big camera. I find that when I shoot with the X100S people tend to turn a blind eye towards you being a ‘pro’ with a fancy camera.

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Fujifilm X-E1 – XF18-55mm – F2.8 – 1/40 second – ISO 250

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F5.6 – 1/4 second – ISO 800

 

Did you have any travel photography tips you could share with our readers?

 

The best advice I can offer aspiring travel photographers is to always ‘work the scene’ to get that perfect shot. This is usually a subtractive process, which means excluding certain elements from my frame to remove any clutter or unwanted distractions from the image before taking the shot. I apply this technique of shooting to all my photography, even landscapes. I cannot simply move part of a landscape; I must work the scene in order to make the scene work for me. If you want that shot then you need to really work for it – the X100S is fun for this as it’s so compact.

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/210 second – ISO 400

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F5.6 – 1/240 second – ISO 200

 

 

Can you tell us the story behind your favourite photo captured on the Fujifilm X100S?

 

I don’t really have any all time favourite photos, but there is one that resonates with me. I’ve been focused on geometric patterns and shapes a lot when I’m travelling especially in places like Vietnam with the conical hats. I took this image in Hoi An Ancient Town on a sunny morning with the X100S. I waited patiently for about 10 minutes after finding my backdrop (the yellow wall) with a triangle shadow falling into part of the frame. The electronic viewfinder allowed me to position myself to compose the image, all I had to do was wait for someone to pass by to finish the shot. It’s a pretty surreal feeling watching your images unfold in real time right before your eyes – The X system rocks for this!

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F4 – 1/2000 second – ISO 400

 

How did you get into writing for publications such as Australian Geographic, Outdoor Magazine, Australian Photography Magazine and UK Digital Photography Magazine?

 

I was never really interested in writing, however since taking up photography and looking for other ways to generate income I fell into being commissioned for assignments that involved writing articles. I found out very quickly that it’s not what you know, but who you know in this competitive industry.

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/180 second – ISO 400

 

 

If you have some advice for someone starting out in photography what would it be?

 

Just get out there and shoot! It is not about becoming famous or having all the gear available on the market. It is about enjoying yourself and finding your own style. Shoot what you like shooting, and avoid copying the work of others with the belief that it will make you a ‘better’ photographer. It’s totally fine to follow other photographer’s work, that’s how you find inspiration, but don’t compare yourself to other people’s success. Make your own success. Most importantly, save your money for a flight somewhere, not camera gear. Memories are worth more, and great photos wait for no one.

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/320 second – ISO 400

 

 

Recently you expanded your reviews to include the Fujifilm X-T2. In four sentences what do you like most about the camera and what do you think needs improving?

 

The discreet and compact size in a nice lightweight package offers me an abundance of photographic opportunities that I may have never imagined lugging around my bulkier DSLR system. Mirrorless is evolving so quickly and it’s an exciting time to be experimenting and using these nifty cameras to their full potential. There’s not much I can really fault the X-T2 on, however, I do wish the articulating screen folded back in on itself, similar to the articulating screen on the Canon 60D. Overall it’s a quality build and shoots impressive images.

 

 

 

How important to you is getting the photo right in camera first? Does the Fujifilm X Series system help you achieve this?

 

I’m a firm believer in nailing the shot in camera rather than relying on editing software to ‘save’ or manipulate what could have been achieved at the time of capture. The electronic viewfinder combined with Fujifilm’s dedicated dials has enabled me to master my shooting style and post-processing workflow. I find myself shooting jpeg a lot more since switching to Fujifilm. The jpeg files are beautifully rich in colour and contrast, which does not require much enhancement in post-processing. For me, that’s the biggest selling point for Fujifilm cameras. Less time in front of the computer and more time out doing what I love!

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Fujifilm X100S – 23mm – F2 – 1/250 second – ISO 800

 

To see more of Drew’s work visit his website or follow him on his various social media accounts including; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 500px and Google+

Extreme sports with the FUJIFILM X-T2 and X-Pro2

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Daniel Tengs

dt_self-portrait_daniel-tengsI am a Norwegian extreme sports photographer and a Fujifilm X-Photographer. I was lucky to get a call from Fujifilm in the beginning of 2016 regarding switching to Fujifilm. I got to try their gear and immediately fell in love.

I was curious of how the equipment would work for my use but as it turned out it worked great.

When I started the transition to Fujifilm, I brought my full frame setup with me just in case the Fujifilm system didn’t perform the way I needed it to. Lets just say that the full frame system quickly found a shelf in my office.


Small and lightweight:

One of the first and very important things I noticed when switching from full frame to the mirrorless system was weight. That is a considerable change and a massive advantage, when hiking, not only in the back country but also in ski resorts. When I am shooting in a resort for example, I usually ride snowboard with the camera in my hand, it goes without saying that I need a camera that is durable and can withstand rough treatment, and I really feel that has been the case with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2.

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I do most of my work in harsh conditions around the world, but Norway is usually the biggest challenge, with both snow and humid weather. It really puts the equipment to the test. I was struggling a bit, with my previous setup, with moisture in my lenses, and they would fog up when I was shooting in sunlight, but I have not had any problems with that after switching, which has been great for me. That is mostly thanks to the WR lenses that Fujifilm are producing.

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Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

Together with being lightweight, the EVF is a huge change when switching from a standard full frame camera to a mirrorless camera. It took me two days to fully adjust, but once I did, I have never looked back.

On sunny days up the mountains with snow all around, using the screen to check focus, details, or just look at your picture used to be a big challenge because of all the ambient light. But now I just look though the EVF, browse my photos, check details, sharpness exposure, just to name a few, and all that without ambient light spilling on to the screen.

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The EVF also gives you a live exposure, which means that you see the final result with the settings you have chosen on the camera. That has made me a better photographer. I don’t shoot over or underexposed files any more. When a cloud covers the sun for only a brief second I am adjusting to get the perfect exposure, because I can see the smallest change. That is also a serious advantage when working with snow, which can so easy be over exposed.

Sometimes I shoot sequences. I do that to show a trick, or a big jump. When you are shooting a high-speed trick you need a quick shutter. That is exactly what the X-T2 has to offer. When you use the camera without the grip it produces 8 fps, but when you put the grip on, and turn on the boost button, you get 14 fps. Which is ridiculously fast!

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Favorite lenses

In my line of work I sometimes just put one or two lenses in my jacket pocket and ride with the camera in my hand. That is why I am very dependent of flexible zoom lengths. So the three mostly used camera lenses I have are the XF50-140mm, XF16-55mm and the XF10-24mm. Those three I rely on with most of my field shooting but I do love to play around with prime lenses and I do it more and more. I just love the XF35mm for portraits and lifestyle. I bring it with me everywhere I travel.

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Feeling

You know, when you are holding a Fujifilm camera. You just want to go out and play with it. I could definitely recognize that when I picked up my first Fujifilm – the X-T1. I fell in love with the way Fujifilm makes their cameras. Shutter, ISO, Aperture, all on the outside. It is the feeling of crafting a picture with you own hands, and it looks beautiful.

I am really looking forward to a full season of shooting with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2.  And the old bulky and heavy full frame setup is out for sale.

I am not saying that you have to go and buy a Fujifilm camera, but I can strongly recommend everyone considering a new camera to have a serious look at the Fujifilm X-series.

To see more of Daniel’s work, please visit: www.tengsphoto.com

 

Why I switched BACK to the Fujifilm system

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By Scott Johnson

I first dabbled with Fujifilm WAY back in 2003 while working on a cruise ship.  In an all-film world, we were the first team to go digital with the Fujifilm S2 Pro, and I was really impressed with the quality, so much so, that when I started shooting weddings, I brought an S3 and for the first few years, this was the main camera I used at all of my weddings, but then I went full-frame and moved over to Nikon, and stayed there until the spring of 2016, and the arrival of the X-Pro2.

I’d been lugging around my D4s’ and a handful of prime lenses at weddings for a few years, and it was doing my back no good at all, but it wasn’t until I booked a wedding in the United States that I looked at changing my equipment. “Why change your entire wedding set-up mid way through a season for just one wedding” I hear you shout.  Well, the Continue reading Why I switched BACK to the Fujifilm system

The X-T2 gets a test drive with X-Photographer Damien Lovegrove

damien-lovegrove-profile-200x200Damien Lovegrove is considered by many to be one of the worlds most influential contemporary photographers. He is best known for creating portraits that make women look fabulous. He is a confident director and great fun to shoot with too. Damien’s lighting style is distinctive and his picture composition unique.

Damien is an official Fujifilm UK ambassador and a renowned Fuji X-Photographer.


It was in May 2012 that I ditched my SLRs for a Fuji X-Pro1 and the three prime lenses it launched with. From day one I utilised the mirrorless advantage to leap ahead of my competition. I had been using a Fuji X100 fixed lens camera for a year integrating it into my workflow alongside my SLRs and I loved the pictures I captured with it so the leap to mirrorless was a gentle one for me.

X-T2_BrochureImage_TopThe Fujifilm X-T2 is the camera I’ve been waiting for. It’s no surprise it’s here but what I love most is that the consultation period with X-Photographers has delivered a camera that is spot on mechanically. Everything that could have been improved on the X-T1 from the dial locks to the tilting screen has been perfected on the X-T2.

The Fuji X-Pro1 gave me mirrorless shooting and it rekindled my passion for photography. The X-T1 gave me the extra usability I craved, The X-Pro2 took the image file to the next level and brought the technical specification of the X system bang up to date. Now the the Fujifilm X-T2 has brought it all together and raised the bar again. The sum of all the tweaks and changes in this new camera make a huge difference and leave me not wanting more.

 

The Fuji X-T2 features that I love the most:

•    The locking buttons on the ISO and Shutter speed dials combined with the higher profile work perfectly. Being able to lock the dials in any position is genius.

•    The bi-directional tilting screen is wonderful. It’s a must for a portrait photographer.

•    The camera size and weight are spot on. The ultra reliable and compact W126 battery has been retained. The weight of the camera in the hand is really important to me. I never want my photography to feel like a chore again.

•    The media door has a newly designed latch that is really secure.

•    The joystick to move the focus position makes the shooting process faster.

•    The 1/250th second flash sync is welcome and is the new setting for all my studio flash working.

I team the Fuji X-T2 with the fast primes because I love a shallow depth of field combined with absolute resolution. A prime lens is lighter on the camera than the equivalent zoom and this suits my way of shooting well. I have the XF16mm f/1.4, XF23mm f/1.4, XF35mm f/1.4, XF56mm f/1.2, and the XF90mm f/2 lenses. There are times when a telephoto zoom is the perfect lens for a shoot and I use the XF50-140mm or the XF100-400mm lenses depending upon the assignment. The zooms offer optical image stabilisation and this really comes into its own at longer focal lengths.


And the results?

I had planned this first sequence of shots about a year ahead of the shoot. I bought the dresses from an Asian manufacturer via the internet and I transported them to the USA in my luggage. The location is in the high deserts of Arizona, USA. I used the XF100-400mm and XF50-140mm lenses to compress the perspective. These frames were all lit with natural sunlight.

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I spent 12 days touring the USA and in that time I shot about 5000 frames on the Fuji X-T2.

Arielle down on a farm in Utah. There were snakes keeping us company as we shot a wonderful sequence of images. XF50-140mm f/2.8 at f/4
Arielle down on a farm in Utah. There were snakes keeping us company as we shot a wonderful sequence of images. XF50-140mm f/2.8 at f/4
Arielle sits by a cattle coral in Arizona. The dust on the wind has turned the sky a shade of pink. This figure in the landscape style is one I want to further develop in the coming months and the extra resolution of the Fuji X-T2 really comes in handy when making big exhibition prints. XF50-140mm f/2.8 at f/5.6
Arielle sits by a cattle coral in Arizona. The dust on the wind has turned the sky a shade of pink. This figure in the landscape style is one I want to further develop in the coming months and the extra resolution of the Fuji X-T2 really comes in handy when making big exhibition prints. XF50-140mm f/2.8 at f/5.6

Since then I’ve added another 4000 frames in Europe to my camera testing routine. The camera feels just right in the hand and there is nothing I would change about the mechanics of the build.

 

Discover creative resources for photographers written by Damien Lovegrove at Prophotonut and Lovegrove Photography

 

 

Should I buy the XF16-55mm lens?

X-Photographer strip BLACKBy Chris Upton
chrisupton-168pxThere has been no bigger advocate of the Fujifilm XF18-55mm f2.8/4 zoom lens than me. With it’s diminutive size, robust build, superb image stabilisation and excellent image quality it seems disparaging to refer to it as a “kit lens”.

As a travel photographer, where weight is an important factor, and one of the key reasons for me moving to Fuji in the first place, it has been my mainstay lens. Covering key focal lengths from wide angle to modest telephoto it is a perfect “walk around” lens.


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Taken on the XF16-55mm lens

So when Fujifilm launched the XF16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR I dismissed buying one pretty quickly, mainly because of the increased size and weight and lack of Optical Image Stabilisation. Fujifilm apparently decided not to incorporate OIS as it would compromise image quality and add to the size, weight and cost. It should be noted that the major DSLR competitors equivalents do not include this feature either.

However, when Fujifilm offered me the opportunity to try out the 16-55 I jumped at it, intrigued to see for myself how it performed and if it could justify its premium price point versus its smaller sibling.

XF16-55mm_FrontWhen it arrived I was immediately struck by the obvious! It was much bigger and heavier than the 18-55 weighing in at 657g versus 310g, up to 130mm long v 98mm and featuring a 77mm filter thread v 58mm. All in all a beast of a lens and one that seemed to fly in the face of the compact system concept.

There was no image stabilisation but the lens did feel reassuringly solid. The weight is a result of the sheer amount of glass Fujifilm have used to construct this lens. With 17 elements in 7 groups and a metal body it has a real “pro / workhorse” feel. I should declare at this stage that I also own a Canon DSLR and some L lenses including the 24-70  f2.8 mkII – the full frame equivalent of the Fuji lens. Though consigned to the cupboard and waiting for the inevitable eBay listing, it was interesting to compare the two lenses. Suddenly my “new” Fuji lens felt like a nimble lightweight and I was eager to test it out.

Mounting the lens onto my X-T1 meant that I had a weather resistant pairing, really useful for any photographer shooting outdoors. The aperture ring has definite clicks in 1/3 stop increments, there is a red marking on the lens to denote its position as a premium lens and I noted that the filter thread was metal, important with frequent use of filter systems like Lee and Hitech.

Although this lens is wider by only 2mm versus the 18-55 for me this is important as I quite often find that 28mm equivalent is not quite wide enough and I have to swap to my 10-24mm. Not a big issue but having a 24mm – 85mm equivalent is much more useful.

I had the perfect opportunity to test it out on a trip to Cinque Terre where I wanted to not only check out the image quality but also how it felt to manage the increased size and weight.

I was determined to use the lens as much as possible and to do a direct comparison with the 18-55. So what were my findings?

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Using the lens was a dream, uncomplicated, reassuringly solid and a quality feel.  If I’m honest I think that the lens looks just about OK when mounted on the X-T1, it certainly looks better and feels more balanced when using the VG X-T1 battery grip – a pity I sold mine as I didn’t want the extra bulk! The petal shaped lens hood worked well too.

A slight downside for me was using filters. As a Lee Seven5 filter system user on the smaller lenses I had to use my 100mm filters on this lens which duplicated the filters and added slightly to the weight and bulk of my kit.

Of course an f2.8 lens throughout its zoom range means that you can achieve some pleasing bokeh particularly at the longer end of the zoom range when close to your subject. Though on a crop sensor you get the equivalent of roughly f4 on a full frame. The autofocus was fast, quiet and accurate and internal so that the front element doesn’t rotate, again important for filter users.

However, ultimately what’s most important is image quality and here the 16-55 didn’t disappoint.  It is an extremely sharp lens throughout the focal lengths with very little fall off or distortion and the contrast and colour rendition, in common with all Fujifilm lenses, was stunning. Several images were shot into the sun and I was impressed that the ghosting and flare was minimal due to the nano GI coating on the front element.

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As for testing there are various websites that show detailed performance MTF charts but for my field test I shot comparison images of Vernazza, Cinque Terre on an X-T1 body, tripod mounted at 23mm. I shot the same view at f2.8 – f11 on both the 16-55 f 2.8 and 18-55 f2.8/4.

I then ran a further test photographing Southwell Minster on an X-Pro2 using both lenses at a range of popular focal lengths 16 / 18mm, 23mm, 35mm and 55mm and at apertures of f2.8/4, 5.6, 8, 11 & 16.

In summary both lenses produced excellent results though, no surprise, the 16-55mm delivered stunning image quality at virtually every aperture.

The 18-55 performed best, looking at centre and edge sharpness, at f8 at 18mm and 23mm and f11 at 35mm and 55mm. When shooting landscapes I use a tripod, selecting f11 or f8 for many of my shots, so it is not a surprise therefore to see why I have been so pleased with its performance. As you might expect that performance falls away a little at f4 particularly in the corners. That is where the 16-55 comes in. The 17 elements and lens coatings combine to deliver a performance that is superb with amazing sharpness in the centre and edges especially at apertures of f5.6 and f8. The lens is not quite as sharp in the corners at f2.8 and diffraction starts to set in at f16, in common with most lenses, though still acceptable.

Directly comparing the two lenses I would say that at their optimum apertures they perform similarly but the extra quality in the 16-55 delivers better results at the wider apertures and extremes of focal length in both the centre and at the edges.

Here are some results showing 100% crops of the RAF file with no processing, though it should be noted that Lightroom automatically applies lens correction for chromatic aberration and distortion.

So which one should you choose? That’s perhaps a tricky one as it really depends on what’s important to you and what you shoot.

If weight, bulk, image stabilisation, smaller filter sizes and very good image quality (excellent at certain apertures) and not forgetting of course the price is important to you, then the 18-55mm will serve you very well.

However, if it’s ultimately all about image quality and you would benefit from weather sealing and don’t mind the extra weight and lack of OIS then the 16-55mm is a stunning lens. A zoom that performs like a prime, it is well worth the extra money.


To see more of Chris’ work, visit www.chrisuptonphotography.com

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