X-Thusiast Featured Photographer Janice Kho

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Our final X-Thusiast photographer of 2016 is Janice Kho. Born in Malaysia, Janice now calls Perth her home, using her X-T10 to capture landscapes, food and nature.

Tell us a little about yourself, Janice. Where are you from? What are your hobbies? What inspires you from day to day?

My name is Janice Kho and I live in the beautiful coastal city of Perth in Western Australia. I was born in Malaysia and spent some of my childhood there before I migrated to Perth. For as long as I can remember, I always had a passion for the arts and creative pursuits. While I ended up pursuing a career in health care, photography has become my passion and creative outlet. Besides photography, I love travelling to new places, sharing food with friends and family and curling up with a good book.
Exploring new places, meeting interesting people and gaining new experiences is what inspires my photography. I’m also inspired by people who pursue their passions while contributing to the world in a positive way.

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“A view of Mt. Cook at the end of Hooker Valley walk, New Zealand,” by Janice Kho, Fujifilm X-T10 + XF18-55mmF2.8-4.

 

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

Before jumping into the Fujifilm X-Series, I was using a Canon DSLR. While I loved shooting with that camera, I found the weight and size of it was stopping me from taking it everywhere I went in my day-to-day life. It was also harder to blend into the crowd when I was travelling. Since the first Fujifilm X-Series camera came out several years ago, I was instantly attracted to the retro look and have been looking for the perfect mirrorless system to switch to. When the X-T10 came out, that sealed the deal. I was attracted to the inconspicuous look and the small size. It was perfect for everyday use and for longer trips.
I think my photography has evolved over the years and I’m still trying to find my photographic style. I enjoy shooting a variety of subjects but landscapes, nature, urban life and food dominate what I shoot. With that in mind, I would say I’m driven to document life and experiences through my eyes in an unobtrusive way.

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“Urban reflections,” by Janice Kho, Fujifilm X-T10 + XF18-55mmF2.8-4

What constitutes a good photograph for you? Could you describe your shooting strategy?

I think a good photograph is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Personally, though, I’m attracted to photos with really strong composition, especially when I’m viewing landscapes, portraits and architecture photos. I’m not sure if I have a shooting strategy as such, but I try to take my camera with me when I head out of the house on the weekends and will think about the sorts of photo opportunities that will be there so that I’m prepared with the right camera/lens combination. I’ll also do the same when I’m packing for a longer trip away.

Why did you choose the Fujifilm X-T10? Why do you prefer the X-T10 model and what is your favourite aspect?

When I was looking to get a smaller, nimbler camera, I spent some time researching the various mirrorless systems available on the market but I kept coming back to the Fujifilm X Series cameras. At the time, the Fujifilm X-T1 was the closest to what I was looking for but the price point and weight put me off a little. When the X-T10 came out, I knew that was the camera I was looking for. It was the right price point for me to swap from my DSLR and it had a familiar DSLR feel to it in my hands. It’s also smaller and lighter while still maintaining the same excellent image quality of the X-T1. My favourite aspect is definitely the small weight and size. It means I take out my camera more often and I have the freedom to shoot unhindered.

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“Beautiful Perth city at twilight,” by Janice Kho, Fujifilm X-T10 + XF35mmF1.4

Which Fujinon lens or lenses do you prefer to use with your Fujifilm X-T10 camera? Tell us why.

I currently have three Fujinon lenses, the XF27mmF2.8, XF35mmF1.4 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4. It’s a tough choice to state which is my favourite lens of the three as they are all such high-quality lenses, each with a specific purpose in my kit. I found the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 to be the perfect lens for travelling because it’s versatile and can cover a variety of subjects, but it’s probably the lens I use the least because of its heavier weight compared to my other two lenses. The XF35mm F1.4 creates beautiful images with amazing bokeh, and it’s the lens I use whenever I’m photographing people or night scenes. The XF27mm F2.8 is by far the most used lens of the three. It’s super light and small. It’s a great focal length for everyday shooting. It’s the lens I have sitting on my camera by default. With all that being said, I’m itching to get my hands on a fourth lens to shoot some wide, sweeping landscapes!

Could you describe your photo processing? Do you prefer any editing tools, social networks or camera accessories to enhance your work?

My post-processing is pretty simple and I don’t tend to spend a lot of time on editing. I use Lightroom for photo editing on the computer. Given how good the Fujifilm jpegs are, I will generally only do some small adjustments before it’s ready to be shared on my blog or social media. My more recent photos tend to have a subtle, faded look, but I’ll mix it up and create something with more saturation and colour when I feel like it. If I want to share a photo fairly quickly on social media, I will upload the photo directly from the camera via Wi-Fi to my phone using the Fujifilm Camera App. I’ll then use VSCO to edit the photo on my phone before sharing it on Instagram and Facebook.

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“Coffee stop at Hylin Café after a hike,” by Janice Kho, Fujifilm X-T10 + XF35mmF1.4

Do you have advice for new photographers or the next potential X-Thusiast?

Don’t worry so much about the gear you have, just get out there, shoot and experiment. Eventually, you’ll find what you like and dislike shooting. If you’re new, focus on learning the basic principles of the exposure triangle (ISO, aperture and shutter speed). I think it’s also important to slow down when you’re shooting and focus more on composition. I find a lot of inspiration following photography blogs and looking at photos on places like Instagram.

Any final thoughts or tips?

Keep shooting what you love and eventually, your passion will be noticed. But most importantly—have fun shooting!

If you would like to see more of Janice’s work follow her on Instagram, Twitter or visit her blog.

If you, or someone you know in Australia, is interested in joining our X-Thusiast community, check out the full X-Thusiast Gallery and Submission details.

How a frying pan can help with your picture taking

After my last blog encouraged you to make a tripod using a piece of string, I’m going to go a little more surreal this time by explaining how an old frying pan can be used to get dramatic low angle images. The standard route to getting a low viewpoint is either to lie on the floor, use a camera with a tilting screen or mount the camera on a tripod that can be dropped to ground level. The first two options can involve you getting wet and don’t work if you want to use a longer exposure as you’re hand-holding. The latter can be a real fiddle. My frying pan groundpod, however, overcomes all of those issues.


So here’s what you need. An old frying pan, a tripod ball & socket head, a nut & bolt and tools including a drill with a 10mm bit that is suitable for going through metal.

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First up, you need to check what size screw thread the ball & socket head has. The standard size is ⅜” but you can also get little inserts – as I have here – that converts the thread to a ¼”. In either case, these imperial sizes are not readily available in DIY stores as the world has gone metric, but they can be found online. You’ll need both nut and bolt.

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Raise the frying pan off the ground and drill a hole in the centre. It doesn’t have to be absolutely central. Take care if you’re drilling through a Teflon-coated non-stick frying pan like me and, as you’ll discover, this can take some time as frying pans are pretty tough. Once you’re through, tap any sharp edges of metal down with a hammer.

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Now take your tripod head, pass the bolt through the hole and screw it into the base of the head. If you have a long bolt like me, cut the excess length off with a hacksaw and then secure it all with the bolt. Your frying pan pod is now ready for action. Obviously, with a bolt in the base, this can’t be used on a solid surface, but it’s perfect for grass, soil, pebbles, mud and sand. I headed to the beach to try mine out.

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With an X-T10 attached to the tripod head and its LCD screen flipped out it was easy to frame up my shots exactly as I wanted them at the water’s edge. The sides of the frying pan kept both sand and sea away from the camera so I was able to try a variety of images.

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Here’s one of my favourites, I think the sail on the horizon makes it.

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Finally, just a couple of notes. While the groundpod can help you get some great low angle images, I can’t be held responsible for any funny looks you might get while using it – it does look as though you’re frying your camera! Also, if you are taking pictures at the sea be aware that cameras and saltwater are uneasy bedfellows.


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For more information on the Fujifilm X-T10 click here.

 

Banish camera shake with a stringpod

Tripods. They’re very useful when it comes to avoiding camera shake, but they can be quite bulky things to lug around – even the lighter carbon-fibre versions. But while Fujifilm have created impressive Optical Image Stabilisation systems in their lenses, there is a way of beating the shakes using nothing more than a piece of string and a tripod quick release plate. Better still, you can fit this set up in your pocket so you’ll never have an excuse for leaving it at home.

These are the constituent parts needed to create your stringpod. String (funnily enough), a tripod plate and a pair of scissors (unless you’ve got very strong teeth). I’ve used green garden twine largely because it’s easier to see in these pictures. Normal string does the job just fine.

DSCF0084Start by passing the string through the oval handle on the bottom of the quick release plate.

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Now, pull a double length of string out and place it under your foot. Don’t cut the string just yet, you’re just sizing up at this stage.

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With the string under your foot, hold the plate so the string is taut and make sure it’s at eye level. It’s worth screwing your camera on to the plate and repeating this process, varying the length of string as required until you get the height perfect for you. Only when you’re happy, cut the string.

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Being a failed boy scout, I only know one type of knot, so I tied it here once I had the height right for me. My stringpod was now ready for use.

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If you want to use the stringpod standing up and have a Fujifilm camera with a tilting rear LCD, you have two options. First, just place it under one foot, pull the string tight and use the camera’s viewfinder. Alternatively, to shoot at waist level, flip the screen out, stand with your feet around shoulder width apart, pass the string under both feet and, again, pull it tight to create a triangle.

Finally, if you want a lower angle, wrap the string around one wrist, pass it under both knees and pull the whole set up tight. The key to reducing camera shake, is keeping that string tight.

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So, how well does it work? Due to a motorbike accident some few years ago, I have the weakest wrists known to man so I don’t really like to stray below 1/60sec when I’m hand-holding. This shot was taken at 1/20sec at f/22 and, as you can see, it’s all over the shop.

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Using my stringpod, however, I was able to get a shake free result using the same exposure combination. I’m not saying it’s going to work with ten second exposures at night, but it could well get you out of a tight spot when you’ve left the tripod at home.

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Promotion: Fujifilm Australia X Series Cash Back

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Fujifilm Australia is pleased to announce a cash back promotion on selected X Series cameras and lenses. This promotion is only valid to Australian residents who purchase from an authorised Australian participating dealers / retailer. For the full terms and conditions click here.

Fujifilm Australia X Series Cash Back

From June 1st 2016 until July 31st 2016, consumers who purchase one or more of the following lenses will receive $200 cash back per item.
The lenses include:

– XF16mmF1.4 R WR
– XF23mmF1.4 R
– XF56mmF1.2 R APD
– XF90mmF2 R LM WR
– XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
– XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
– XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

It doesn’t stop there; it also extends to the Fujifilm X-T10 with $200 cash back and the Fujifilm X100T with $150 cash back.

To put these savings into perspective if you were to purchase a X-T10 with a XF56mmF1.2 R APD and a XF16mmF1.4 you will receive a total of $600 cash back. That’s not too bad at all!

To find the full list of authorised Australian participating dealers / retailers click here.

What a difference an angle makes

Low level angle

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In this tutorial, I want to show just how easily the feel of an image can change just by shooting from a different angle. 


Shooting from different angles allows you to create something a bit different, something with a different perspective to how the viewer of your image might normally see the world.

Portraits

We’ll start by the standard “hand held at eye level” height. If I take a photo of Marc using the same eye level as him, it gives a fairly flat, neutral look. There’s nothing wrong with this point of view at all. However, if I change the angle I shoot him I can really change the feel of the portrait.

I’m using an X-T1 camera which comes with a handy pull-out tilting screen. If I angle the screen down, I can shoot Marc from above. This can be quite a flattering angle ( in his case though with that expression… I’m not so sure 😉 ) when one looks upwards towards the camera. Equally, if I pull the screen out I can angle the camera low and shoot up towards him. As you can see, this makes him look more powerful and authoritive and with a little bit of Dutch tilt, almost epic!

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And it’s not only portraits where this works.
See the difference between a “high”, “standard” and a “low” shot of something like a car. The low shot definitely gives a far more epic feel, whereas the high shot has that Autotrader look about it.

Landscapes

For shooting landscapes, going low removes the “middle ground”. The “Mid” and “High” shots below show the same scene taken at different heights. They both contain the foreground and background elements, but if you decide that the middle area is dull, you can go lower (as in the “Mid” shot) and effectively remove it from your shot.
And also, if the foreground is something small like a flower, mushrooms or even a bit of dog-chewed wood, getting low allows you to bring them in to be the real focus of the image, rather than just a minor element of the shot.

Hopefully that’s given you a bit of inspiration to go out and try shooting from down low, or up high and see how you can affect your images.

Until next time.. Happy Snapping!

🙂

X-T1 or X-T10 ?

I’ve been using an X-T1 for the best part of a year now after finally admitting to myself that my X100S didn’t quite stand up to the variety of different photography subjects I had started to shoot. Don’t get me wrong, the X100S has a permanent slot in my camera bag, and will always be my travel-light camera, but apparently there’s more focal lengths out there than 35mm equiv!

The X-T1 has served me extremely well and as an amateur photographer with no real need for a second body, I wasn’t massively excited about the X-T10 for my personal use.

Then I actually used one…

Firstly: What I love about the X-T1

Image quality
I love the image quality of the X-T1. Pretty simple really. The RAW files are great for what you can do in Lightroom. So much data is captured that can be brought in. And the JPEGs are just beautiful, with plenty of in-built features and film simulation modes to give your images that final touch.

X-T10, XF35mm, 1/950th, f/8.0, ISO200
X-T10, XF35mm, 1/950th, f/8.0, ISO200

Live view
I shoot everything as close to what I want my final image to look like and I like to be able to see it before I shoot. For example, I’ll shoot street in black and white (JPG+RAW) and under exposed by 1/3 or 2/3 stop. For landscape photography (my biggest vice) I can see where my Grad filters are on the screen as I move them around. Same goes for the Polarising filter. (In case you’re interested, I use the Seven5 system from LEE. Great quality. Very small. Very Fuji!)

X-T1 with XF35mm 1/250 f/8 ISO200
X-T10 with XF35mm
1/250 f/8 ISO200

 

Amazing quality EVF
I do not use my screen for anything other than composition (see below). For exposure checking and for quick previews of shots I just took, it’s all about the EVF. So clear. So high resolution. I cannot stress enough how useful this thing is for me.

Tilting screen
I’ve already mentioned that I love landscape photography. For this I will almost always use a tripod and when the camera is on the tripod, I’ll use the screen for 99% of the time. I’m a big lad – 6 foot 4 / 193cm to be precise, and I tend to prefer to shoot with my camera far below my eye level. The tilting screen saves me a lot of backache. Even in the sunshine, I just crank it right up to +5 brightness and it works fine (just remember to turn it back down when you turn your camera on next in a dark environment!)

Q menu + custom settings
I set my camera up to have 3 different custom settings. I have a “ready to edit” colour profile, a “ready to go” colour profile and a black and white profile. If you’re interested, this is what I currently have:

C1. Ready to edit colour: Pro Neg Std, -2 NR, -1 sharp, -2 highlight, -2 shadow, -1 color.
C2. Ready to go colour: Classic Chrome, -2 NR,-1 sharp, 0 highlight, 0 shadow, 0 color.
C3. Black and white: Mono+G, -2 NR, +1 sharp, +1 highlight, +1 shadow.

I still change on the fly, and I use the Q menu to make tweaks with the above settings as my starting point. C2 and C3 JPEGs will frequently be used straight out of camera. C1 JPEGs will have a bit of contrast added back and then used.

Looks amazing, feels amazing*, is a pleasure to shoot with
Not sure I need to expand on this. I love the manual exposure settings – aperture, shutter speed, ISO all at your finger tips. I love the simplicity of using the camera and how few buttons you can really get away with using. I also love the look of the camera.

X-T1 with XF35mm 1/1000 f/7.1 ISO200
X-T10 with XF35mm
1/1000 f/7.1 ISO200

 

Wifi
I use this a lot in my work as “social media guy for Fujifilm UK” and also in my personal life as “proud dad, must update Facebook with pictures of kids / cats”. It’s one of those features that some people can live with out, but I’m not one of those people.

And finally…

My lenses
I have an XF14, XF18-55, XF35 and XF56. All four of them get used regularly and all four of them are simply amazing.

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X-T10 with XF35mm 1/4000 f/1.8 ISO200

 

 

So what about the X-T10?

Well look at the list above. The X-T10 has all of these.

What the X-T10 doesn’t have, when compared to the X-T1 is weather resistance. This doesn’t bother me personally. I’m so scared of catching a drop of water of the front lens element and ruining a shot that I’ll do my utmost to keep it dry at all times. It’s still an incredibly robust camera and I’m sure it’ll take a quick downpour and be fine (disclaimer: probably best to not try this at home).

Also, it doesn’t support UHS-II. This is only a problem if you are shooting continuous, which I rarely ever do. It can only shoot 8fps for a maximum of 8 frames. The X-T1 can shoot 8fps for 47 frames on a UHS-II card. This is obviously a massive difference and if you intend to shoot High-Speed Continuous, the X-T10 is severely lacking compared to its big brother.

The reason for the * next to “feels amazing” in my list above is that it comes with a caveat. It does feel great, but it doesn’t quite fit my hand “out of the box” and therefore is not as comfortable as the X-T1. It’s fine to shoot with while you support the lens with your left hand, but it doesn’t feel as comfortable in my hand in between shots. To me there’s not quite enough grip there. HOWEVER, there is an optional Hand Grip MHG-XT10 which resolves this. It doesn’t make the camera much heavier or bigger, but it adds a good bit of bulk to the hand grip which resolves this issue.

X-T10 with XF35mm 1/1000 f/8 ISO200
X-T10 with XF35mm
1/1000 f/8 ISO200

 

Now for the advantages of the X-T10 over the X-T1

The most important advantage is the size and weight. It’s a really tiny camera and (with the optional grip) is still comfortable to shoot with. It looks “even less pro” than the X-T1 to the uneducated, so if you’re shooting in places where security guards etc are not happy with professionals shooting, you are going to blend in as any other tourist. However the build quality is still top notch, check out this video below for a quick “factory tour”:

Another advantage is that it doesn’t have an ISO dial like the X-T1 has. I know what you’re thinking: “How can this be an advantage?” I’ll tell you why. After using the camera for a bit and spending some time talking to Damien Lovegrove who has been using one professional for a week now, I realised the benefit.

Damien shooting Amber Tutton during the recent Fujifilm Xperience day. X-T10 with XF35mm. 1/1000th, f/1.4, ISO800
Damien shooting Amber Tutton during the recent Fujifilm Xperience day.
X-T10 with XF35mm. 1/1000th, f/1.4, ISO800

On the X-T1, the ISO dial has a lock button that is a little clunky to use. On the X-T10, the front wheel is one of the function buttons which can be set to ISO. Once you do this, you can change the ISO value by pressing the wheel in, moving it left to right to change the setting, and then pressing it once more to save the value. You currently can’t do this on the X-T1 because ISO is controlled by a physical dial. Something I’ll ask Fujifilm Toyko to look at as it would be nice to be able to set the dial to A and then have a manual over-ride.

The last advantage is that it’s easier for a novice to use. I have very few images of me and the reason for this is my wife and kids don’t really use my cameras. The Auto switch on the top will definitely come in handy when I hand it over to one of them to use on family trips.

So what would I buy?

I work for Fujifilm and therefore inevitably get access to gear that would normally be way out of my budget in terms of how much I want to spend on my hobby.

I love my X-T1 and never thought I’d be looking at an alternative camera already. But the truth is, if I didn’t already have an X-T1, and if I was putting my own hand in my pocket to pay for the camera, I would definitely buy an X-T10.

I hope this post has helped to explain the reasons why and might come in handy if you are making a similar decision. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please leave a comment below.

Summary

Need weatherproof? Go X-T1
Need High Speed Continuous Shooting? Go X-T1
Want a bit more bulk in your hand? Go X-T1
Need an additional battery grip? Go X-T1

Not too concerned about any of those points above? Go X-T10!