Changing the game at Photokina 2016

Photokina 2016 kicked off with something rather special. We held a press conference to tell the world about a little project we’ve been working on for a few years now.

The world’s press gathered in the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany in eager anticipation to see what we were planning to bring to the world of photography.

Toru Takahashi, Senior Vice President of Fujifilm Corporation, was welcomed to the stage to talk about our long history of launching amazing products at Photokina.

img_5064

Although Photokina started in 1950, Fujifilm’s first appearance was in 1966 and has attended the show, which runs every two years, for every show since.

  • 1968 saw us launch the FUJICA 690 medium format rangefinder.
  • 1978 was the launch of the “FUJINON W Series” of large format lenses.
  • 1988 saw the world’s first digital camera, the DS-1P.
  • 2010 saw the announcement of the X100 – the launch that combined our analogue legacy expertise with our digital future.

We hope that 2016 will be another historical landmark in our Photokina announcement history, as this was the year that we announced our new format – GFX – which will be available from early 2017.

img_5066

The FUJIFILM X Series is focused on the perfect balance of size, mobility and image quality and has brought back the joy of photography to many people.

GFX, with its large sized sensor, will provide the ultimate image quality, whilst also inheriting a lot of “X DNA”.

These two systems will complement each other perfectly. They are the two answers from Fujifilm for this era of photographic creativity.

Once the video finished playing, Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing was welcomed up onto the stage to explain more about this new camera format.


G FORMAT

“G Format” – the name comes from Fujifilm’s heritage of Medium Format cameras – the G690, GS645, GX680 etc…

The sensor that will be in the first G Format camera will be a huge 43.8 x 32.9mm in size. It’s 1.7x bigger than a standard 35mm sensor and the first generation sensor will record 51.4 million pixels. This means that if you compare it to a 35mm sensor of the same pixel count, each pixel is 70% larger which allows them to capture a larger amount of light.

Toshi went on to explain that the sensor is completely brand new. It has been designed and customised for the G Format. It has specially shaped micro lenses that will collect light very effectively and the silicon process has also been optimised to maximise resolution and widen dynamic range.

This new sensor will sit behind a newly designed mount called the “G Mount”. This mount will have a 4mm thick plate to ensure it is strong and stiff, and will be equipped with a 12-pin terminal to supply power to support the AF speed.

There is no mirror in the G Format system. One reason for this is mirror shock which affects image quality. Additionally, the mirror constrains lens design. The typical flange-back distance on a Medium Format SLR is about 70mm. This will be approximately 26.7mm which will give us more flexibility to design high quality, small lenses.

The back focus can be as short as 10mm so there is less drop-off on the light’s final part of the journey onto the sensor’s surface.

Toshi then spoke about the shutter. The mount is equipped with a focal plane shutter so the maximum shutter speed will be 1/4000th to allow capture of fast moving subjects or shooting in bright scenes with wide aperture settings.


GF LENSES

Moving onto lenses, Toshi introduced our new range – “GF Lenses”. This large sensor is going to need high quality lenses as without excellent glass, there is no point having such a large sensor.

The lenses should last many decades after launch. To ensure they are future proof they have been designed to confidently operate with sensors of up to 100 megapixels in the future.

We set ourselves new standards that the lenses must meet. Normally, MTF of 35mm lenses is measured at 30 and 10 lines per mm. When converted to 33×44 sensor, this would be the equivalent of measuring at 20 and 7 lines per mm. However, the MTF of GF Lenses will be measured at 40 and 20 lines per mm. All GF Lenses will have to exceed this standard.

All lenses will be designed to be sharp regardless of the aperture setting and thanks to a large sized sensor, the image will hardly be affected by diffraction at all..

Our philosophy for lens design has always been to minimise correction of signal processing. Our XF Lenses for X Series are a good example. This philosophy will be applied to the GF Lenses.

img_5069

The system will ideally be launched with the following lenses available:

  • GF63mm F2.8 Prime Standard
  • GF32-64mm F4 Zoom Standard
  • GF120mm F4 Macro

And the following lenses will hopefully be available before the end of 2017:

  • GF45mm F2.8
  • GF23mm F4
  • GF110mm F2

GFX DESIGN

G – Fujifilm’s Medium Format heritage
F – Film-look image quality
X – Design and operability of X Series

img_5073

The first GFX camera body will be the GFX 50S. With the weight of around 800g, it’s incredibly small and light compared to existing Medium Format cameras and even lighter and smaller than most 35mm DSLR cameras. With it’s tilting LCD you will be able to shoot at waist level.

csm_dscf8300c_3a60f6976f

You can attach the Electronic Viewfinder that is included with the camera to shoot in an SLR style.

csm_dscf8302c_f7c8ea923e

You can even add a tilting adaptor between the EVF and the camera and can shoot in any angle with your eye on the viewfinder which helps with low-angle shooting.

csm_dscf8301c_67c6ec67ec

To allow you to precisely control focusing you can also use an optional external screen.

csm_dscf8297_f6b2a840d7

Toshi finished his presentation by saying that GFX is here to re-invent Medium Format.

“We will look back on Photokina 2016 in the future and I believe we will say it was a game changing event.” – Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing

img_5074

Photokina 2016 is on until 25th September 2016 and the GFX camera and GF lenses can be seen behind a glass show case on our booth in Hall 4.2.

Photokina 2016 Microsite
GFX Special Contents


The Number One Focus Tip When Using a Rangefinder in Low Light

Creating beautiful scenes at night can be difficult and sometimes frustrating if you don’t have the experience needed to master your camera settings.

Knowing the correct focus settings, shutter speed, aperture and ISO does take the time to master, so hopefully this article provides you some clear insight into photographing at night or in low light.

Vivid Sydney 003Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR – ISO 320 – 1/55 second at F2.8

To start with you need to understand what type of camera you are using because all cameras perform differently when capturing the same scene. For instance, is the camera a heavy digital SLR, premium compact camera or lightweight rangefinder?

Types of cameras

Based on what type of camera you are using many of the same settings apply, however, there will be variances in shooting technique due to the way the camera performs. An example of this can be found between a digital SLR and a rangefinder like the new Fujifilm X-Pro2.

Vivid Sydney 004Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF10-24mmF4 R OIS – ISO 3200 – 1/210 second at F4

At the Vivid Festival in Sydney, Australia the light instalments attract large crowds and there are plenty of opportunities to photograph in low light. The problem is when there is little light falling on a subject, focusing can become a struggle. This wasn’t the case for the new X-Pro2 rangefinder though. Using one of the advanced features on the X-Pro2 it was easy to overcome the out of focus hurdles that many Digital SLR might have struggled with.

Vivid Sydney 009Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF56mmF1.2 R APD – ISO 320 – 1/250 second at F1.2

The Challenge

Photograph a low light scene from the festival with a shallow depth of field.

To achieve the shallow depth of field in low light shown in this photo above there were a few settings that needed to be set on the camera. The first was changing the camera to aperture priority and selecting F1.2 as the aperture. This would give a shallow depth of field. The second step was to select manual focus on the front of the X-Pro2.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 005

Now that manual focus was selected the attention turned to the rear of the camera to change the manual focus mode. To select the correct mode simply hold down the rear dial and ensure ‘Focus Peak Highlight’ is selected. If you don’t see this mode when you first hold down the rear dial, continue the process to cycle through the other modes until Focus Peak Highlight appears.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 008

Next, select your desired ISO setting based on the amount of light in the scene. Don’t be afraid to use high ISO likes ISO 2000 through to ISO 5000 or even higher as Fujifilm cameras are famous for their low noise at high ISO’s when photographing in low light scenes.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 007

At this stage make sure you are using the electronic viewfinder on the X-Pro2 as this will provide the huge advantage of being able to see in low light. If you are looking through the viewfinder found on a larger Digital SLR you won’t be able to see in the same lighting conditions because the optical viewfinder will not be able to gather enough light. This is one of the biggest advantages of low light photography on a mirrorless camera like the X-Pro2 over a Digital SLR.

The only way around this on a Digital SLR is to utilise the rear LCD screen as the ‘viewscreen’. This shooting setup almost always leads to a higher chance of capturing an out of focus image or a blurry photo due to the camera missing focus and not being as supported next to the photographer’s’ eye like a rangefinder camera would. Plus, you are bound to get a sore back from holding a heavy camera away from your body all the time!

Fujifilm X-Pro2 006

Finally, while looking through the electronic viewfinder adjust the smooth focus ring on the lens and you will be able to see areas within your frame ‘peaking’ (you can’t do this on a Digital SLR). What is peaking?

It means the camera will automatically add a thin white and black line around every object, and at the sharpest point-of-focus, these lines will suddenly ‘peak’. This peaking area equates to the area of sharpest focus in the frame. Therefore, if you nail the peaking on your subject, you will nail your focus every time!

As shown in the video below, you can also change the colour and contrast of the focus peaking lines to see them more clearly. The viewfinder shown in the video is from the Fujifilm X-T1.

Remember, photographing in low light can be a challenge and we encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try a new setting. Practice the new setting when there is plenty of light and then master it before you attempt a low light scene. You should know where all your settings are without having to look at your camera. Master this and you will go far.

Introducing The New Fujifilm X-T2

Australia strip BLACK

Imagine a camera that takes the best features of the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-Pro2 and combines them together to create the ultimate photographers and videographers tool.

Well, today we are excited to announce the combination of these cameras in the new Fujifilm X-T2!

The Fujifilm X-T2 is one of the most anticipated cameras in Fujifilm’s history. Not only will the impressive 24.3MP APS-C X Trans CMOS III sensor capture the joy of photographers around the world, but now with the addition of 4K and 2K video formats you will be able to film the emotion too!

Adding to this is a bundle of features that includes an electronic shutter with a limit of 1/32,000 second, an Intelligent Hybrid Phase detection AF, a robust weather resistant body, an impressive 3-way tilting 3.0” LCD and a 2.36 Million dots Electronic Viewfinder and dual SD UHS-II memory card slots that will capture up to 14 frames per second with the Performance Boost Mode turned on.

All of these features sound impressive (and they are), but the list of specs doesn’t stop there. As mentioned earlier the 4K video quality this camera now records is on par with some of the other professional cameras out there. When filming video you can expect excellent sharpness and low noise when recording up to a maximum of ISO 12800.

Fujifilm X-T2 007

Another important feature unique to videographers is the ability to choose a video frame rate. Fujifilm has liaised with various professionals and industry leaders to determine what settings best suit. Within the new Fujifilm X-T2 videographers will be able to select 29.97P, 25P, 24P and 23.98P when filming in 4K and if Full HD is selected; 59.94P, 50P, 29.97P, 25P, 24P and 23.98P at a 100Mbps Video Bit rate.

There are also a lot of settings that can be changed once you press the record button. You will be able to change exposure in ⅓ stop increments, correct the colour and the angle of view. Added to this is the option to change the exposure via the external HDMI port, which is well suited for videographers using external monitors.

Fujifilm X-T2 001

When you first handle the Fujifilm X-T2 you will immediately feel the magnesium alloy chassis that has been redesigned based on photographers feedback. With weather resistant sealing to suit rugged outdoor conditions, this professional body is slightly larger than the Fujifilm X-T1 due to improved control dials that turn easily with or without gloves. The new lock buttons located on the shutter and ISO dials are easily pressed to turn on or off the action of selecting a new setting. Also the enlarged drive mode and photometry selection dials can easily be accessed due to this new ergonomic design.

As shown in the video (above) the 1.62 million-dot 3-inch LCD screen has been redesigned to suit photographers. Now with a 3-way tilting screen, the photographer can turn and rotate the screen to a visible position when holding the camera above their head in a portrait orientation. Previously on the Fujifilm X-T1 the screen was only visible in a horizontal orientation.

Fujifilm X-T2 010

The launch of the Fujifilm X-T1 saw photographers from many different genres switch over to Fujifilm due to the large range of Fujinon lenses available. Sports and wildlife photographers were among the newly acquainted, but this was not only due to the lens selection, but also the features on the Fujifilm
X-T1 like autofocus and UHS-II memory card compatibility. Learning from this the new Fujifilm X-T2 takes autofocus speed and memory card storage to the next level.

The Fujifilm X-T2 is slightly different in the way the camera focuses when compared to the Fujifilm X-T1. This is because of the new Intelligent Hybrid Phase detection autofocus. The new X-T2 will allow you to select up to 325 autofocus points allowing for precise focus. What this means is no matter whether the subject is within the frame, the camera will autofocus very quickly to pick up the subject.

Adding to the list of new features is also a dual memory card slot that is now capable of recording to two UHS-II compatible cards. What this means for photographers is they can record photos up to 14 frames per second (when Performance Boost mode and Electronic Shutter is selected), which will result in a total of 42 Jpeg frames or 28 RAW frames stored at Lossless compression. This option is only available when the VPB-XT2 grip is on the camera.

Not only does the optional VPB-XT2 (Vertical Power Booster Grip) increase frame rate, but it also will accommodate two additional batteries (NP-W126S) at the same time to boost in shooting interval, shutter release time lag and blackout time while extending 4K video recording to a maximum of 30 minutes.

Fujifilm X-T2 011

As mentioned, when you use the optional VPB-XT2 battery grip you can select different frame rates like 14 frames per second, however, if this is too fast 11 frames per second can also be selected.

When 11 frames per second is enabled 75 Jpeg frames or 30 RAW frames stored at Lossless compression can be captured. However, if you require more frames to be recorded before the cameras buffer fills, the frame rate can be dropped to 8 frames per second enabling 83 Jpeg frames or 33 RAW frames to be stored at Lossless compression. Finally, if you need to record an endless amount of Jpeg frames, 5 frames per second can also be selected.

The X-T2’s ISO range of 200 – 12800 (RAW shooting) is exactly the same as the Fujifilm X-Pro2. When recording at high ISO like 3200 or 6400 photographers will find images and video to be very clear resulting in smooth graduation and deeper blacks.

Fujifilm X-T2 014

Studio and wedding photographers will enjoy using the Fujifilm X-T2 as the camera can now act as a commander when firing off multiple flash units when using the newly announced Fujifilm EF-EX500 flash. Found within the camera’s menu is the ability to select ‘COMMANDER’ mode, which enables full manual control of up to three supported Fujifilm flash units. Each supported flash can be manual adjusted to ensure you get the best possible picture.

Fujifilm X-T2 013

It is Fujifilm’s hope to design a camera that will suit a photographer’s requirements and it is refreshing to see that the X-T2 does this. Something many were not predicting though was the ability to film in 4K. Having mentioned this, it is worth thinking about to expand upon your skills to embrace this chance. Not all photographers will embrace this addition and that is okay, but to those who wish to expand on their skills the feature is there for you to explore and the same can be said to videographers when it comes to taking photos.

Fujifilm X-T2 008

This article hasn’t covered all of the specifications nor the implementations of the Fujifilm X-T2, so we would encourage you to follow this global Fujifilm blog which is now supported by Fujifilm Australia, Fujifilm UK, Fujifilm USA and Fujifilm Canada. We also ask you subscribe to the global Fujiguys YouTube channel to learn more about the Fujifilm X-T2 from contributions around the world. Together we are one and together we are here to listen to you the photographer – and now the videographer too.

Understanding the Advanced Multi-Hybrid Viewfinder on the X-Pro2

When photographing different events under extreme lighting conditions it is good practice to understand how your camera works before the start date. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 is new on the market and therefore learning the advantages of the Advanced Multi-Hybrid Viewfinder is essential to great imaging success. Many new photographers starting out would bypass the viewfinder altogether and stick with the clear bright LCD, but there are many advantages to the different screen modes the camera offers.

X-Pro2 with XF100-400mm 002

For starters, take this example at Sydney’s light festival – VIVID (below). When trying to photograph bright bursts of flames at 1/8000 second using the XF100-400mm at full extension – handheld, looking on the back of the LCD screen becomes almost impossible. This is because holding the camera away from your face will present some unwanted movement causing blur plus achieving focus in the pitch black becomes almost impossible, as the fireballs only appear for less than a second in different positions.

Vivid 015

X-Pro2 with XF100-400mm 003

To overcome this situation the X-Pro2 has a handy trick. Positioning your eye up to the viewfinder presents a welcome opportunity to either select the Optical Viewfinder (OVF) or the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). Both modes have advantages, but there are a few default settings that are worth changing to obtain the best results.

Vivid 003

The image above was captured while looking through the OVF with an electronic overlay over the optical image. What this means is when you look through the viewfinder you can see the focus point, but the rangefinder view (framing) doesn’t change – it stays at the widest point. The advantage of this is you can see what’s happening outside of the frame you will end up recording. The disadvantage is you won’t be able to see all of the frame due to the long XF100-400mm lens protruding into your optical view.

Using the X-Pro2’s amazing single point autofocus in this mode you can easily half-press the shutter button to obtain correct focus, all while seeing the subject in low light conditions. Of course with all things digital there are many ways to operate the camera to obtain the same result. The second way of going about taking the same photo is the far better option, however as mentioned previously, you will have to change a few default settings in the menu.

When you put your eye up to the viewfinder and turn the viewfinder selector clockwise (located on the front of the X-Pro2) you will notice that the screen changes from OVF to EVF. Now you can see what the final image will be. This is a fantastic mode to photograph in if you are in excellent lighting conditions.

The default setting for this mode is to show you exactly what the end result will be. If you are photographing a bright blue sky at 1/250 second then you won’t have any troubles, but if you are photographing at a high shutter speed like 1/8000 of a second the image you will see through the viewfinder will become dark, making it impossible to see anything and obtain focus on whatever you might be looking at.

X-Pro2 with XF100-400mm 001

The camera will still work automatically of course and pick up focus (but the obvious thing is you can’t see anything). To obtain the same image you will need to change the default setting in the ‘SET UP’ menu.

Navigate to the following and turn each setting to ‘OFF’

SET UP > SCREEN SET-UP > PREVIEW PIC. EFFECT
SET UP > SCREEN SET-UP > PREVIEW EXP./WB IN MANUAL MODE

Turning off these settings will now reward you with the ability to see at a high shutter speed while using the EVF.

From what we hear, this seems to be one of the main frustrations many photographers face when trying to photograph using the EVF on the X-Pro2. Now that you know what to do to overcome the frustration, we encourage you to share this with your friends.

X-Thusiast Featured Photographer of the Month: Michael DeBeen

Australia strip BLACK

Fujifilm Australia is thrilled to introduce our June 2016 X-Thusiast Featured Photographer: Michael DeBeen. Hailing from Geelong, Victoria, Michael is a horologist, calligrapher and gifted photographer with a penchant for exploring the great outdoors. In this month’s Q&A, Michael shares how he uses the science of photography to capture striking shots in vivid detail with his Fujifilm X-T1.

LittleGepetto“Little Gepetto,” Fujifilm X-T1 + XF56mmF1.2 @ F2.5

How did you develop an interest in Fujifilm photography, and how would you describe your photographic style?

This is a tough question—I’m not sure what was the pivoting point that led me to photography. Throughout my life, I have been attracted to ideas and pursue them obsessively. It is simultaneously a gift and a fault of my personality, and photography is a product of this.

I consider myself technical-minded, and it may have been the science of photography that initially gained my attention. Things like lens and sensor design are fascinating to me. One of the reasons I became interested in Fujifilm was its unique X-Trans sensor array that negates the need for any anti-aliasing filter to minimise moiré.

My first exposure to photography was almost two years ago now, when, after much deliberation, I bought my first camera: the Fujifilm X-T1.

Before my interest in photography sparked, I never considered myself creative. I had a clear structure in my mind where science and arts were on opposite sides of a great divide. It wasn’t until recently when a friend commended my creativity that I realised there isn’t such a divide, and you can’t have one without the other.

While consistency is important to me, I don’t actively seek it in my photographs. I take each photograph as they come and try to find an ideal look for that particular image. It has a little to do with intuition and a lot to do with over-analysis and micro-adjustments. Perhaps some day someone wiser than I will help me understand and articulate my photographic style. Until then, I’ll continue being my usual oblivious self.

_DSF3483_1

“Cappuccino” Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 @ F1.2, 1/2000sec, ISO200.

What’s your favourite location to shoot in Australia? Your favourite subject?

So far, in Australia, my favourite location to shoot is the Great Otway National Park and the Great Ocean Road. It is wonderfully refreshing and calming, even from a non-photography perspective.

I look forward to exploring more of Australia in my future, and discovering more of its sights.
As for my favourite subject, that can change by the day. I appreciate minimalism—especially if I can find something striking without distractions.

Beach

“Beach” Fujifilm X-T1+ Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 @ F1.2, 1/4000, ISO200

Why did you choose the Fujifilm X-T1, and what is your favorite aspect?

Touching on what I mentioned before: The X-Trans sensor contributed to my choice, but it wasn’t the only deciding factor. My priorities for a camera system were quality (both image and physical), functionality, weight/size and support.

The Fujifilm X-T1 ticked all these boxes.

I was (and still am) impressed with the clarity and colour rendition of the X-Trans II sensor. Fujifilm’s choice to implement additional features such as an intervalometer, filmic profiles in-camera and their commitment to support even their dated cameras via software updates is a benefit some other manufacturers often overlook.

The X-T1 was Fujifilm’s current flagship interchangeable lens camera. I liked the X-Pro1 aesthetically, but couldn’t justify it over the technical improvements that the X-T1 offered. I love the idea of the X100 series, but I wasn’t in the market for a fixed lens system.

It is difficult for me to choose one feature over any other as a favourite, but the 0.005-second refresh rate of the electronic viewfinder is at the top of the list.

Which Fujinon lens(es) do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-T1 camera?

My favourite X-Mount lens is the Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 (~85mm full frame equivalent). It is such a flattering lens, it’s practically impossible to take a bad photo.

And while I was traveling through Europe, the Fujinon XF23mmF1.4 (~35mm equivalent) was invaluable. It is an incredibly versatile lens.

Could you describe your photographic workflow/process? Do you prefer any particular editing tools, social networks or camera accessories to enhance your work?

There is not much to say other than I still have a lot to learn. That is true of everything in life.

Although the X-T1 is very capable of producing brilliant results straight out of the camera—especially when you consider Fujifilm’s film simulations—I always finalise whatever I envisioned in post-production.

Beyond exposure, my most valued in-camera settings are the RAW file-type and the Adobe RGB colour space. I pay close attention to the histogram. The dynamic range of the X-T1 is admirable, so unless I am in an unusual situation, I will prioritise highlights and do my best to not clip them unless it is unavoidable.

Ideally I try to keep a rounded histogram so that when I get it to my computer I have as much data as possible.

My post-production workflow is probably best described as disorderly. I have not yet found a single software solution that can do everything I need in one neat package. I extensively use Adobe Photoshop CC as a tool to refine, polish and offer greater levels of photo manipulation. To complement Photoshop, I also use Adobe Lightroom and Phase One Capture One Pro 9 regularly.

_DSF3973-2

London Tourist, Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF23mmF1.4 @ F1.4, 1/2000, ISO800, polarising filter

Do you have any advice to new photographers?

Do not delete your photos! Once you become more confident in your abilities, you will return to them with a fresh perspective, and you will find hidden gems that you previously overlooked. If you are happy using your camera on auto, the best thing you can teach yourself is how spot, matrix and scene metering modes affect your exposure.

Any final thoughts, tips or advice?

A significant influence to my ideas and final results as a photographer is print and framing—how the image will appear on different paper stock, and how it can be complemented by a different frame.

Photography now being a predominantly digital format makes it easy to forget about your photos. Even if you are just starting out, don’t shy away from printing them. It’s important to have a tangible representation of your work.

MichaelDeBeen

You can find more of Michael’s compelling work on his Instagram account here.

Interested in joining the X-thusiast community and sharing your own story? See the full X-Thusiast Gallery and Submission details here.

Enthusiast to Pro Photographer – My first steps

Guest Blogger strip BLACK

By Rachel Riley

12938283_10156677220760567_2341754691662753021_nSitting here, cup of tea in one hand, a sleepy puppy curled up by my side, I wonder I got to this point – writing a blog for the good people of Fuji about my journey in photography so far. After a good deal of umming and aahing, long, heart-searching conversations with those I love most, the decision has been made – leaving my 20-year career in education behind to take the first tentative steps into professional photography.

Like most folk of my age, I guess, photos played a huge part in my youth; from family snaps in albums to hilariously poor quality shots from primary school day trips, all blur and thumbs, either over the lens or enthusiastically held up by school friends. Growing up, through school and then into student years, photographs were a record – of parties, events, drama productions, collages of images of friends and family from home adorning the walls next to a dog-eared “Taxi Driver” poster. Photos always surrounded us, but as a way of recording our lives. My late Dad, as a gifted artist, used many media to great effect in his work, but never film – photography wasn’t really seen as an art form in our house.

HW trees2

Despite this, one of the first images of which I was very proud was taken in 1992 on a school Classics trip to Greece. I had in mind a shot I really wanted to capture – that of the Parthenon against a clear blue sky. In the end, our visit coincided with snow in Athens – so my eventual photograph was the Erectheion dusted with snow against a moody grey sky. Not quite what I had intended but I was pleased nonetheless!

Digital photography soon began to seep into our every day existence – although our wedding in 2003 was shot entirely on film – at about the same time as the birth of my daughter. Sharing photos suddenly became an instant activity – grainy snap shots from my Nokia 3650, or on our tiny 1MB digital camera were so easy to ping via email to family at a distance and, by the time my son arrived in 2007, social media provided the perfect forum for visual sharing.

For me, the turning point in photography from babies and holiday snaps came when our family relocated to Portugal in 2009. Leaving behind my teaching job to give my children the chance to experience another country and to support my husband in his own career, I was keen to grasp the opportunity to use this sabbatical wisely. The original plan had been to co-write a sitcom with a friend back in the UK, but once faced with the fresh light and unique environment of the Atlantic and the river Douro, the ranging, tightly-packed cobbled streets of Foz and the beautiful city of Porto, my heart was lost. Capturing the curious fog on the beach, the mussel beds and driftwood revealed at low tide, the endless beautiful tiles and ancient doors became a wonderful challenge.

wave web

Lizzy1smallArmed with my little point & shoot and a woeful lack of technical knowledge or expertise, I wanted to learn more and, indeed, achieve more at such an opportune time. After a while, a DSLR seemed the logical next step. Slipping back into a little teaching at the local British School meant I could save up for a Nikon D5000 which, from the moment of purchase in April 2010, rarely left my side. My new hobby grew from that point on. A little win in a Facebook Photography competition led to joining a group of similarly minded keen amateur photographers around the UK and beyond. They were undertaking a 365 photo a day project which proved to be a fantastic experience – a daily image, shared with the other group members, learning from each other, through both successes and mistakes!

On our return to the UK, it was back to work. Although with a lot less time for photography, it continued to play a big part in my life. Through some work with Photobox, I met landscape photographer Paul Sanders and together we started Camera Kids, working with Fujifilm, to teach children photography in school-based workshops and after school clubs. We had some success with this, even working with Travel Photographer of the Year at their annual exhibition. I attended an Aspire training course in Cumbria – right out of my comfort zone – and fell in love with the intuitive design and ease of use of the Fuji X-series cameras, eventually choosing the X-E2. And so my photography took another huge step forward.

last day bw small

Having taken another break from teaching as my husband was working in Kazakhstan for two years, I had a little time back to concentrate on photography again. Requests began to come in – from a local gardening business, to portraits of family and friends for gifts and special occasions, greetings cards featuring my Instagram images (shooting square is something I love), photographing plays and events at my children’s school, running a photo booth at the summer fair. Gradually, however, it became clear that my interest lay in children’s portraits – after years of working hard to get the best out of youngsters and being blessed with two very patient and photogenic kids myself, this was surely what I wanted to do.

Phoebe

And so here I am. My husband is back in the UK and working reassuringly near by,  and the decision to become a photographer seems to have been the right one. I have a batch of pleasing square Moo business cards, a Facebook page and website up and running, and six jobs under my belt already – there are a myriad of other things that need to be done and carefully thought about! But, for now, with my cup of tea and sleepy puppy, the love, enthusiasm and endless support of some wonderful people, here’s hoping that I am finally on the right track and facing the challenging but exciting times that lie ahead.

Rachel Riley


To see more of Rachel’s work click here.

Naomi 3

Preparing and maintaining your kit for the great outdoors

Sloth - Ben Cherry
When I’m heading out for a long day(s) in the outdoors this is the kind of equipment I usually take with me. Now it may be more than you would ever need, but for those looking to get into landscape or wildlife photography, particularly those about to head out on safari – this blog is for you.


A bag for your gear

Camera gear ready for Costa Rica!

There are too many camera bags in the world, meaning that the choice available is verging on ridiculous! If there is one item that ignites G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) over anything else it is probably camera bags. I’m currently using a Pelican 1510 hard case with a Thinktank Ultralight (discontinued) that fits inside the case. This basically acts like a backup backpack as it isn’t the comfiest bag for long treks, so it generally acts as a safe and secure place to store gear. I took this set up to Costa Rica because I’m based there for such a long time so the pain of travelling with such a heavy pack was negated by the benefits it offers me over the six months away, namely water-tight, lockable security.

All fits in my Millican Dave

For when I’m out and about I have two non-camera bags to choose from: Millican Dave, a great hiking bag that when combined with a cheap padded insert becomes a very good camera bag. Or a dry bag backpack which I often use on light treks where the conditions are looking a little ominous. This isn’t to say that Dave isn’t up to the challenge (he’s pretty good at being water repellent and has rain cover), but out here in the rainforest, when it rains, it pours! And having a bag that can in fact be submerged helps to ease the mind. The advantage of both of these bags is that they are easy to stuff lots of items into. One of the issues I usually have with camera bags is that once all of it is padded, it has lost of significant percentage of space for misc items. Misc items are usually seen as add ons with certain bag companies, leaving little room for other helpful items, so hiking bags can be really helpful non-camera gear.

Gear for Ice Hotel Commission
Gear for Ice Hotel Commission
Kit in action, covering ice church!
Kit in action, covering ice church!

What photography equipment do I take?

Cameras:

  • 2 x X-T1 (fantastic all-round cameras, definitely brought the X-Series to a wider audience, and very much looking forward to trying out the new X-Pro2!)
  • X100s (Out of all the Fujifilm cameras I’m lucky enough to have this is the one I’d probably sell last! Does everything very well, wonderful lens/camera, makes you think much more about your photography. Above all else, it is small enough to carry around everywhere. So some of my most treasured photos are taken with this because otherwise it would have been left to my phone. Combined with the wide angle and telephoto adapters, makes for a brilliant little system. I haven’t had the chance to work with the T yet.)

Lenses:

  • XF10-24mm (Almost perfect – fantastic lens, hoping for a WR version in the near future.)
  • XF16mm (Generates so much creativity, from the extremely close focusing to the fantastic depth of field control, 24mm equiv. is quickly becoming my favourite focal length.)
  • XF16-55mm (Fantastic workhorse of a lens, built to last and equipped with image quality to make any prime-lover happy.)
  • Soon to be – XF35mm F2 (when I get back to the UK this is high up on my list – 50mm equiv. lens, small, fast and discrete WITH WR!)
  • XF50-140mm (My most used lens – can’t really say a bad word about it, produces the goods every time, simply fantastic!)
  • Nikon 300mm F2.8 ED Manual focus (The elephant in the room, because my current role is focusing on birds, I needed something longer than 200mm equiv. As the much anticipated:
  • XF100-400mm Isn’t quite out yet I opted for a quirky alternative… Yes it is heavy, yes it is manual focus, but thankfully peaking assist and a sturdy tripod help to make this a viable option. Nevertheless, my back is looking forward to Fujifilm’s new super telephoto zoom!)
  • Fujifilm extension tubes and Nikon 2x teleconverter (yep, that gives me a 900mm equiv. lens… Absolutely bonkers!!)
Frankenstein X-T1 filming sloths

Misc:

  • Filter system (Depends on what you prefer to photograph but I highly recommend a neutral density graduated filter set up and a circular polariser.)
  • Flash system (Lots of options out there, depends what you can afford/prioritise – space or power output.)

Things to always keep in your bag

Get some silica packs and store some in your backpack, these can be the difference in saving your precious lenses. Many believe that fungus is an issue reserved for older lenses, unfortunately this isn’t the case, and in particular non-weather resistant lenses are vulnerable so please look after your expensive investments! Bearing that mind, always have some lens cleaner and lens cloths in your bag. You never know when a speck of mud or raindrop will ‘attack’ your lens. Though easy to deal with they can easily ruin a photo, so best to deal with any artefacts asap.

Other items I have in my bag:

  • Duck tape (If you use lights in particular duck tape can be invaluable to secure lights in obscure locations to light your photos or simply to repair your watertight gear)
  • Pen knife (Always ends up being useful for different things but of course be mindful of this when travelling internationally.)
  • Table top tripod (Lets face it, tripods are always annoying to carry around and generally always scream PHOTOGRAPHER, but they are invaluable for certain situations. Nevertheless on some occasions you might not be carrying around a full size tripod so as a small, light back up is generally a good idea, so have a little tripod in the bag.)
  • Remote trigger (I have a variety from wired to wireless, all with their own pros and cons)
  • Rain cover (Generally not for me as in the tropics it is nice to get rained on! But I have a cover for my camera if I’m still shooting in moist conditions.)
  • Rogue Flashbender (A relatively inexpensive flash accessory, easy to pack and very effective, especially when used off-camera to help quickly improve a portrait.)
  • Food and water (Especially if you are trekking, these are the most important items to have on you!)
  • Insect repellent (Insects love me so I usually carry some form of bug spray, DEET is the best but pretty grim stuff to cover yourself with so I have a natural remedy that I prefer. Also a form Vitamin B is meant to be good for repelling mosquitoes so if you know you’re off to a problem region then start some Vitamin B pills or alternatively marmite.)
  • Hat and layers (Yes suncream helps to fight off sunburn but a hat can make all the difference when you are out all day. Depending on where you are, the weather conditions can change quickly so it is important to have spare clothes if it is likely to get cold.)
  • Rehydration sachets + general medication (You can never fully guarantee what is going to happen when you go out and about so it is best to carry some simple things with you to negate any ‘niggles’ that could hamper your day.)
  • Communication (Generally a normal mobile phone to contact anyone if necessary. Not for selfie usage!)
  • Scarf/shall (This might sound strange, being described as a ‘must have’ item, but they have a wide range of uses, from portable shade, towel, dust remover, etc.)

Thick straps, and a comfy all-round design. Makes long days so much more enjoyable!

Thick straps, and a comfy all-round design. Makes long days so much more enjoyable!

Other items to pack in the hold:

  • Sensor cleaning kit (I’ve made the mistake far too many times of not bringing this with me and regretting it pretty quickly. The X-Series is very good for countering this problem, especially considering how often I change lens, but it’s best to pack safe.)
  • Spare chargers/cables (This may well be over the top for certain trips but if you are going into very remote regions the last thing you want is to not be able to charge your batteries or download your photos.)

Kit care in the tropics

Taking a look at the gear I have brought with me to Costa Rica. From camera gear to items keeping the cameras working, I hope this will give you a good visual representation of what to take on your next adventure!


Keep your kit dry

If visiting the tropics or areas where conditions can often be very humid then it is important to figure out a way of keeping your kit dry, generally wiping away any moisture and having some silica gels in your bag should be fine but for my current placement I created a form of ‘dry space’, an area which I draped a tarpaulin in front of and had a light bulb at the top, this is generally left on whenever it is raining and works as a dry location to keep kit dry, anything slightly damp is kept as close as possible to the light bulb to dry it out and to hopefully kill off any fungus.

My camera bag system is constantly evolving but hopefully this will help some of you looking to take your camera into the great outdoors. First and foremost, remember to enjoy yourself, that is the priority. Cameras are wonderful tools for enjoyment and capturing moments, but don’t let the very item you use to capture moments get in the way of them. If you have any suggestions or ideas for other things to take with you in the great outdoors then comment below.

Until next time, happy shooting!

Ben


Ben CherryA little about Ben

Ben is an environmental photojournalist, zoologist and Fujifilm X-Photographer. His passion is showing the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Find more of his work at:

Lightning Photography 101

BY BEN CHERRY
Ben Cherry Lightning-4
Witnessing a lightning storm can be frightening, but it can also be energising, certainly to photographers. The thrill of capturing lightning in a frame is like nectar to a photographer’s calling. Before we get consumed by this exciting subject it is important to remember that lightning storms can be extremely dangerous so please take suitable precautions when around a lightning storm; photographing lightning is great but it is not worth putting yourself in danger.

Lightning occurs all around the world, at different frequencies and strengths. I’ve been lucky enough experience a good few lightning storms, with my most memorable occurring in the tropics. But this isn’t to say that you can’t get great lightning shots wherever you are, all you need is some knowhow and then the lightning! Here is a brief 101 of lightning photography to get you started.

“It’s all about the light”

Like a flashgun, lightning is over in but a moment, and like flash if it is the predominant (or only) light source then it acts rather like its own shutter speed.
When using a flash at night for example, you might set the power output of the flash and then move to the camera settings. Generally speaking you turn the shutter speed to the maximum flash sync speed and then use ISO & aperture settings to compensate for the power of the flash. If it is too bright you increase the aperture and/or drop the ISO, if it is too dark then you do the opposite; much the same applies to lightning photography.
The intensity of the light from lightning is affected by two things:
The first is the power of the lightning: if it is a particularly large strike then if you’re set up for some previous strikes that weren’t as powerful, it’s more than likely the lightning will have blown out your highlights in the image.

The second thing to affect the light intensity is the distance between you and the lightning itself. Generally, lightning storms are large storm clouds which means that the lightning can be very close by one moment and then many miles away the next. These fluctuations in light can’t really be predicted but it is something to be aware of, and even to account for by increasing your aperture by a stop more than required to save your highlights.

Ben Cherry Lightning-3

Composition 

Lightning is spectacular by itself but sometimes a scene can be made all the more special by being aware of your surroundings and looking for things that could add to the moment.
If you’re lucky enough to have something of interest in the foreground then see if you can add this to the electric scene. If there is still some ambient light around then you should be able to illuminate the foreground via your long exposure. If not, then illuminate using a torch or flash. This simple addition to the frame can help to better portray the scene. However bear in mind that you want to photograph as much of the lightning as possible so a sky-dominant frame will help to ensure this.
Ben Cherry Lightning-9

Intervalometer

Built into many of the X-Series cameras, an intervalometer allows you take a set number of photos with pre-determined intervals between each shot, this is set by the photographer and can be between 1 second to 24 hours. This is very helpful for lightning photography as you can set the camera to take a series of 30 second exposures (or less if this is overexposed) and sooner or later you’ll capture a lightning strike within one of those frames.
Ben Cherry Lightning-7

Be patient 

The curse of photographing lightning is you can never guarantee where or when it will strike so you should always be prepared to wait a while for a good shot!  At the same time though, be aware of where the storm is moving to and adjust your composition if it is moving out of frame.
Ben Cherry Lightning-5

Shoot RAW

This really can make all the difference! Because the exposure changes so frequently due to the intensity of the lightning, you cannot always achieve the perfect exposure 100% of the time. A RAW file records so much information compared to a JPEG that you can recover many more files which have the highlights blown out according to the histogram.

Daytime

If you come across a lightning storm during the daytime my method is to set up the aperture and ISO to the most light-demanding settings possible (e.g. F22 ISO 200) and then simply use the intervalometer to repeat the suitable shutter speed. It can produce some interesting results.
Ben Cherry Lightning
Let us know if you’ve caught any lightning photos using the hashtag #fujilightning
Ben Cherry Lightning-2

Ben CherryA little about Ben – Ben is an environmental photojournalist, zoologist and Fujifilm X-Photographer. His passion is showing the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Find more of his work at:

Five wedding photographers who made ‘The Switch’

So you’re thinking about making the switch to a Fujifilm mirrorless system. You’ve read the reviews, watched the videos and listened to people tell you how their experience of shooting weddings has changed since they halved the weight they carry around for 14 hours every Saturday. They might have also mentioned how much time they have saved with post processing due to the quality of Fujifilm’s JPG files. Or how many candid shots they are getting now since they blend in with the other guests.

But you’re still not sure.

Let these five professional wedding photographers tell you about their experience of making the switch.

If they can do it, why can’t you?


Ian Weldon – Ian Weldon Photography

“I had my Canon 5D II in my bag and a 580 EX-II Speedlight, just in case. My head was spinning all day and I must have opened that bag 3 or 4 times and had to force myself to not take the ‘easy way out’.”

S&D-454

“After that day, nearly 4 years ago, I’ve never used anything other than Fuji cameras for my wedding work. Light, inconspicuous and all round pretty cool. What more could a documentary style wedding photographer need?”

L&B-345
“80% of my wedding work is shot with the X-Pro1 and 18mm f2 and the rest, mostly dancing shots, are with the X-T1 and 18mm f2. I do switch to the 35mm f1.4 on occasion for that extra bit of reach and use a Nissin i40 flash with sync chord. That’s it, liberating!”

L&B-297

See more of Ian’s work

Website: http://www.ianweldon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ian-Weldon-Photography-124854627581367/timeline/ & https://www.facebook.com/ian.h.weldon
IG – @ianjweldon
ello – https://ello.co/ianjweldon
tumblr – http://ianweldon.tumblr.com


Paul Richards – Albion Row Photography

“I first used Fuji at a wedding way back with the original X-Pro & 35mm in July 2013, originally using it alongside a DSLR. I loved it, but it wasn’t until 2014 and the purchase of an X-T1 along with the 23mm & 56mm that the system really took over my wedding photography.”
fujiwedding-1
“The Canon 5d3 was rather swiftly retired; there’s a lot that I love about the Fuji system but for me the main eye-opener that changed the way I work is the tilt-screen. I shoot weddings in a documentary fashion and the tilt-screen has become a firm favourite of mine. I love being able to move among guests in tight receptions with a wide-angle prime and the ability to shoot with the back screen as a waist level viewfinder. I get so many shots without people noticing I am there and without the intimidation of a camera raised to the eye. I can get closer and make shots with a feeling of intimacy and of being there – with a guest’s eye perspective.”
fujiwedding-1-3
“For a wedding photojournalist I think the combination of image quality, ease of use, discretion and weight (or lack of!) that the Fuji system offers is outstanding. Nowadays I shoot with 3 X-T1 bodies and mostly the 16mm f1.4, the 35mm f1.4 and the 90mm f2 lenses and I am immensely happy with the system as a whole.”
fujiwedding-1-2

See more of Paul’s work

Website: http://www.albionrow.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weddingphotocornwall
Paul has also written a couple of blog posts about his switch that you can find here and here.


Lord Parker – Lord Parker Photography

“I switched from Nikon to Fuji in the latter half of 2014, after Damien Lovegrove advised me this was the future. I’m a disabled Photographer, so the weight of the DSLR has always been a problem by causing me to be more unbalanced.”

Sat in the Field

“When I switched to the Fuji X-T1 I was astonished by the weight of the camera and the images that were coming out of it, in my opinion superior straight out of the camera compared with the Nikon. The Fuji X-System has really helped me with my disability, no more arm aches and back ache”

Mrs Smith

“I shoot all my weddings using nothing more than the Fuji X-T1 and the X-Pro 1 with the 27mm, 18mm and the 16-55mm lenses. I don’t use flash, unless I’m getting creative after the wedding with a Cactus for some off camera flash work, I find that the ambient light, a low F-Stop and an ISO of 6400 is easily manageable.”

77

See more of Lord Parker’s work

Website: http://lord-parker.co.uk


Steve and Samantha Vaughan – SSV Photography

“We are documentary style wedding photographers, based in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Our style is to photograph the whole day, from preparation to well past the first dance. We starting using Fuijfilm X-series equipment a couple of years ago, to lighten the load on a long wedding shoot, but to also make us less obvious during the day.”

Lucy and James final images FB Size-262

“With our DSLR gear, we found guests would pose and point at us. Using our 2 X-T1’s and X100T we are able to mingle with the guests and take natural, relaxed images. It is truly liberating to shoot a whole wedding with just a small shoulder bag, two bodies and 4 lenses.”

Jeanine and Tom social media size-98 (1)

“The image quality from our X equipment is fantastic, as are the lenses. We are totally committed to Fujifilm equipment now.”

Emma and Ricky FB and Web Size Images-257

See more of Steve and Samantha’s work

Website: http://www.ssvphotography.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SSVPhotography
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BicesterPhotos
Instagram: https://instagram.com/stevevaughanssv/


Mike Riley – Michael Riley Photography

“I’ve been a commercial photographer for a while now but have recently decided to start offering a documentary style wedding coverage. I’ve thought about it before but I’ve always resisted as I’ve never liked the wedding pictures I’ve seen in the past – all grip and grin, faked smiles and endless group shots which don’t tell you anything other than what people wore on the day.”

DSCF9780

“As a contrast to the highly technical staged commercial studio work I do I want to tell stories. To tell stories I have to be in the middle of the action or at least very close to it and so when picking kit to do this with I settled on the Fuji X system.”

DSCF9328

“I already had an X-Pro1 for personal use and the quality was fantastic – so good in fact that its sometimes hard to match the jpg quality with a RAW edit. The X-T1 I’ve added to the kit bag now is even better as it its a more responsive in use and is completely silent with the electronic shutter allowing me to be stood right next to the registrar or vicar and shooting without them knowing about it.”

DSCF0012

“I can be right in the middle of the action capturing the story of the day without people stopping and gurning at the lens. Because of the small size of the kit I can move fast and easily and not worry about a massive lump of glass and metal swinging around as I move. I’ve shot one wedding this way so far and look forward to many more.”

DSCF9960

See more of Mike’s work
Website: http://www.michaelrileyphotography.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikerileyphotography
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MRileyPhoto
Instagram: https://instagram.com/michaelrileyphotography/