We asked a few of our X-Photographers why they love the widest of our super-fast aperture prime lenses, the FUJINON XF16mm F1.4 R WR. Here is what they said..
Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings
At first I wasn’t sure if I would be attracted to the 24mm full frame focal length having tried that several times in my Canon days. However, as soon as I got the 16mm I just knew it was going to be a flyer. This lens is PIN sharp wide open, focuses incredibly quick and works so well with the continuous shooting mode of on the X-Series. It gives that extra width when shooting in tight areas at weddings and is perfect for shots such as the recessional and really close up but powerful images of the confetti throwing etc.
I love the 16mm f1.4! It’s a surprisingly versatile lens that is equally at home shooting portraits as it is landscapes. The X-Series lenses are all fantastic, but I would say the 16mm f1.4 has something extra special. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is just something magical about it. There’s a cinematic quality, an epic look, yet a sense of real intimacy when working in close. I like to work with two bodies at a time and the 16mm paired with a 35mm or 56mm is an amazing combo that gets any job done, no matter how low the light!
Stuck in dark, hot conditions with F2.8 being on the borderline of usability, even with high ISOs, the XF16mm offers a popular standard focal length with a wide aperture range that makes it surprisingly versatile. Though you can stop this down for a larger depth of field, many want to use this at F1.4 or there abouts. A very close minimum focusing distance and beautiful out of focus rendering make this a superb lens for placing your subject within an environment but keeping the viewer focused on the subject thanks to that narrow depth of field.
This is lens is so sharp and so fast it’s unbelievable, I carry it with me at all times to get me out of trouble in low light conditions. I used to use a 24mm on my old film camera for Street when I was shooting wide, but now I use the XF16mm. It really comes into its own on busy city streets as it allows me to get in close but also grab lots of other detail in the background. I love the lack of distortion when shooting in cities with lots of vertical & horizontal lines.
Our X-Photographer “Why I love” XF lens series continues with our super sharp, super fast aperture prime lens, the FUJINON XF56mm F1.2 R.
Kevin Mullins – Reportage Weddings
Most wedding photographers want to be able to separate their subjects from the background at some point during the day and the amazingly fast 1.2 aperture of the 56mm (85mm full frame equivalent) allows me to do that. Even when I’m shooting fast moving subjects, such as a confetti throw, I will sometimes want to offer a luscious depth of field and there is no other lens that offers that f1.2 aperture that allows me to do that right now. This lens, along with the 23mm lenses are my goto lenses for every single wedding I shoot.
The super fast aperture of f1.2 and the full frame equivalent of 85mm make this lens an essential part of my kit. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting a documentary wedding, a jazz artist in a dimly lit room or a well lit portrait, the 56mm lens has a unique look and produces some of the best shallow depth of field creaminess of any lens I’ve ever used. Like all the Fuji XF lenses, the 56mm is also razor sharp and it beats the best of the high end 85mm lenses from the other big manufacturers. I haven’t tried the 90mm f2 yet, but it looks like that too will be an amazing portrait lens.
Many photographers came to the X-Series because of this lens. Offering F1.2 at 85mm equiv. focal length in a compact package that happens to be one of the fastest focusing lenses in the range… The F1.2 effect has so many benefits, from striking portraits to being invaluable in low light conditions. The later is particularly helpful for me. In tropical rainforests you don’t often see wildlife from a far but instead stumble across it. Here the F1.2 helped to capture this baby elephant dozing, ISO1600 F1.2 1/120sec. If this were with a F2.8 lens I would have been shooting at 1/30sec, risking motion blur as I tried to contain my excitement.
The 56mm F1.2 is my most used lens, it’s almost always the first lens I reach for on every shoot. I love the narrow depth of field and the super fast focusing. As a landscape photographer people are surprised when I say that I often shoot with the lens quite wide open, but for my style of long exposures where I’m trying to create a sense of infinite space the wide aperture looses the background nicely obscuring details I don’t need in the image.
When Fuji released this lens (75-210mm DSLR Equivalent), my intrigue questioned whether this would be an equal to the 70-200mm F2.8L series I had used on my DSLR; would the optics be as good? After trying it I could only describe the results in 2 words ‘Blown away’; the image quality was absolutely outstanding. I use this lens a lot in the studio for its narrower angle of view and the compression it applies to the depth of my images. The focusing & sharpness of this lens, even when hand held is amazing!… I had no need to question this lens, it more than equaled my DSLR equivalent and it’s much lighter too.
It’s obviously a little bigger than the other Fujinon lenses, but who cares when it delivers truly incredible results like it does.
I’ve shot on Fuji for almost two years now, but it was the release of the 50-140mm lens that really sealed the deal for me. Shooting fast equestrian sports needs a fast, longer lens – whether you are looking to capture pin sharp action pictures, or deliberately looking to include creative movement with interesting bokeh.
Even in low light the wide aperture, teamed with the brilliant OIS means I can still hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also, shooting horses, whether on the polo field or out in the wild, means one thing – rain and mud! The X-T1 body with the 50-140mm gives me a robust weather sealed system I can take anywhere.
I shoot prime lenses most of the time, but as my primes top out at 56mm (85mm in old money), I often need the reach and speed of the 50-140mm f2.8 for music photography (especially for stage work). With a full frame equivalent of 75-210mm, this is the the classic workhorse zoom that has the beautiful look of a full frame 70-200mm f2.8. Put it together with the 16-55mm f2.8 and you have the ultimate fast twin lens zoom setup that can cover just about any type of event. The OIS is essential on a lens of this size and it does an amazing job, even allowing me to shoot handheld at 1/15th sec while zoomed all the way in.
This is strapped to the front of one of my X-T1s at all times. Sharp, fast and built to withstand some strong abuse, the XF50-140mm is designed for those who need a lens to rely on and not to let them down. With beautiful bokeh and tack sharp wide open, this F2.8 zoom has such a useful focal range that it is in the kit bag of nearly all working X-Photographers. The autofocus is able to track moving animals and it has turned out to be the game changer for many of my recent wildlife encounters.
I love to shoot prime lenses but at events and festivals you just cant get close enough to your subjects due to the crowed density, so the next best lens to a fast prime is a fast Zoom and the 50-140mm lens is just stunning. I have used top of the range glass from all the other big names when I used to use DSLR’s but nothing compares to the sharpness of this 75-210mm equivalent. What makes it even better is I can shoot with this lens all day and still not have shoulder and neck ache. It gives me beautiful out of focus areas, pin sharp subjects and the image stabilisation comes in to its own when the light drops.
The XF50-140 is a real workhorse of a lens and without doubt, a lens I am loathed to leave behind.
The incredible optics deliver superb definition and contrast throughout the entire aperture range. But for me it is not the technical specifications that make this lens worthy of the plaudits it receives across the web and throughout the photographic world.
It is the fact that in a cluttered world, I can isolate my subjects, drawing attention to them by shooting with the aperture wide open, deliver exceptional details, stunning candid portraits and most of all dramatic landscapes that have impact & power over the grace of a wide-angled image.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is a different discipline but it is one worth persevering with & utilising every mm of focal length this stunning lens offers you.
It’s ideal for shooting panoramas and the tripod mount gives it an incredibly stable base for shooting long exposures without a hint of camera shake – but for those who only shoot hand held the image stabilisation is second to none.
In short, if you want to add one zoom lens to your bag, this is the one – it is worth every penny and will never let you down.
When this lens was created there was nothing else much like it in the range. And to date, it is still the finest long lens in the line up. Tack sharp from 50mm to 140mm – this constant f2.8 lens is fast enough & stabilised enough for you to think less and shoot more. Combined with the most recent updates leaves this lens as one of the most reliable lenses – regardless of genre or type of photography.
It’s packed full of all the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech, such as nano Gi coating, LMO (corrects for diffraction), HTEBC Coating (ensuring ghosting and flare are controlled), five ED lens elements, one Super ED lens, 23 glass elements in 16 groups and then seven rounded aperture blades to create a smooth, circular bokeh. It has a massive 5.0 stop stabilisation too. Internal barrel movements combined with large rubber grips give this lens a wonderful sense of balance whilst also feeling very natural to hold.
In short, this lens is one of the most vital items in my kit bag alongside the 56mm APD & 16-55mm lens. The real world interpretation of the technology being used in this lens is simply that it does what you would expect it to as a working professional photographer. Combine this with the focus tracking in the X-T1 and you can confidentially take on any genre of photography. Whether it be a fashion catwalk, motorsports or even wildlife photography knowing you can get the shots you are looking for, every time.
Excellent colour reproduction is the charm of the X series by FUJIFILM, a company with its
roots as a film manufacturer. With beautiful images and sophisticated design, the number of X series users are on the rise in recent years. You may wonder “how does the X series achieve such high image quality in APS-C format? Are they going change for full frame to achieve even higher image quality?”
Amazon Japan met with Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Manager Takashi Ueno to follow up a previous interview, and talked about the reason why the X series will not go for the full frame format.
Who is Ueno-san?
Takashi Ueno worked for the Professional Film Photography Division from 1996 to 2011 as a manager as well as a lecturer of workshops and galleries to promote the fun of shooting with film. He now works as a product planner for the X Series of digital cameras. He has been taking photographs since the age of 7 and is a certified photo master expert.
Chapter 1: “X series” – compact and lightweight cameras that excel in image quality
Amazon: It has been a year since the last interview, and X series fans have significantly increased. We can see that the Fujifilm X fanbase is expanding, and as a result, we’re starting to hear comments like:
“FUJIFILM is well regarded for its color and image quality, but why are the FUJIFILM cameras APS-C mirrorless instead of full frame DSLR?”
Generally speaking, when we hear the words “high image quality”, we tend to think of full frame D-SLRs, but why are the X series interchangeable cameras APS-C mirrorless?
Mr. Ueno: First of all, when the company started developing its own interchangeable cameras, there was nothing that we had to drag from the film days. For example, SLR manufacturers kept the same lens mount when they shifted from film to digital in order to make their already existing lenses compatible for both formats. FUJIFILM had already withdrawn from the 35mm film SLRs in the early 80s, so we were able to start everything from scratch. This was a huge advantage.
Amazon: Starting from scratch was a huge advantage. Why so?
Mr. Ueno: Building an interchangeable lens camera from scratch meant that we could choose any sensor size from full frame, APS-C, to Micro Four Thirds. We gave a lot of thought to this, and reached our conclusion that APS-C is the best format for the optimum balance of body size and image quality.
Amazon: Generally speaking, I think many people believe that the bigger sized full frame sensors capture more light and therefore can achieve higher image quality. But why did you choose APS-C?
Mr.Ueno: Yes, higher image quality can be achieved with full frame sensors, but in order to maximize the use of the sensor size, the lens will be very bulky and heavy.
As you know, the size of full frame sensor, 24x36mm is exactly the same as the size of 35mm format analog film. But how they each receive light onto the imaging surface is completely different.
Firstly, the angle of light that film and imaging sensors can receive differ from each other. Film can receive light at the slanted angle of up to 45 degrees without any problem, but in case of the digital camera, the light needs to be as perpendicular to the sensor as possible. Slanted angle light causes mixed colors and therefore the real colors sometimes cannot be reproduced. In order to receive the light perpendicular to the sensor, it is important to make the rear glass element on each lens as big as possible to put the light beams parallel from the outlet of the light to the sensor. Finally, the back-focus distance should be shortened as much as possible to eliminate the degradation in image quality.
In case of SLRs, there is also the mirror box, it is very difficult to design an ideal lens especially for wide-angle and standard focal length lens. It is physically impossible to shorten the back-focus distance. As a result, many of the high image quality lenses for SLR bodies are designed with extended forefront and are of the larger diameter. You can see that by looking at the SLRs lens lineup.
Amazon: Yes, I see. The lenses are bigger for brighter and high performance lenses. It also is a burden for users to use larger sensors and lenses.
Mr. Ueno: Yes, if you attach the large and heavy high performance lens to the full frame DSLR, then you will certainly get high image quality. The combination will maximize the potential of the full frame, but if you have to carry the bulky lens everywhere to achieve the high image quality, then this is not what FUJIFILM is aiming for.
With the X series, we wanted to create a camera system, like the 35mm format in the analog era, that combined the elements of high enough image quality, portability and photo expression, and that are best suited in the field of snap shooting and portraiture, or reportage and documentary for the professionals.
We aimed for the system with the optimum balance of high image quality and compact lightweight body that professionals can use. With that idea in mind, we came to the conclusion that the APS-C mirrorless system is the way to go as opposed to full frame D-SLR.
Amazon: OK, Smaller and lightweight body can be achieved with APS-C but how about the “High image quality” part?
Mr. Ueno: The technology of the FUJINON lens has a lot to do with that. With the power of FUJINON lens, we can achieve the full frame image quality with the APS-C sensor. We have the technology at the FUJIFILM. FUJINON lenses are widely known within the industry for their TV and Cine lenses and they are even used for satellites. They were already well regarded as high quality lenses in different fields. APS-C is certainly smaller than full frame. We learned that the disadvantage can be recovered with the lens performance through various simulations.
Amazon: The technology of FUJINON lens is that great.
Mr. Ueno: Here is an example. It is generally believed that the lens performs at its best with 1 to 2 stop down from the maximum aperture. We tried to break the norm. Because if there is such belief, then the lens is very unlikely to perform at its best from corner to corner with the aperture wide open. But if we can break the norm, then we will achieve bokeh and sharpness that is equivalent to that of a full frame with 1 to 2 stop down. We can achieve the image quality that is equivalent to that of full frame.
Which is better? An f/1.4 lens on a full frame sensor and then used 1 stop down to prevent degradation in the image quality in the corner or an f/1.4 lens on an APS-C that see no degration in the image quality at its maximum aperture value?
You cannot really see the difference in bokeh between the APS-C wide open and the full frame one stop down. However, if the APS-C is wide open, then the shutter speed will be twice as fast as the full frame resulting in be less blur caused by hand shake or subject movement. If the picture becomes blurry, then the high image quality becomes meaningless.
Amazon: I see. The Image quality of large and heavy “Full frame body + High performance lens” can be achieved with “Small APS-C body + High performance lens”. This is very unique to FUJIFILM.
Mr. Ueno: Yes, we can only do this with the FUJINON technology. Some may think that the system stands at halfway between of everything, but we believe it has the best balance of everything. And this is why we chose the APS-C format. Of course, this is not only achieved solely by the FUJINON technology. We cared about the lens, so we had to consider about the sensor and processor carefully, too.
Chapter 2 ：Expanding the lens lineup that meets the performance of “X-Trans sensor”
Amazon: FUJIFILM also looked into the sensor.
Mr. Ueno: Yes. The first X100 used the bayer patterned sensor. Later, when we were in the process of creating a new interchangeable lens camera, we planned on using the “16M X-Trans” sensor that had a unique color filter array, as opposed to the 12M bayer sensor that the original X100 had. Through various simulation, we learned that the 16M X-Trans sensor had the potential to rival the resolution of a 24M bayer sensor.
The combination of FUJIFILM color reproduction, the X-Trans sensor, and the FUJINON lens technology, allowed us to create an interchangeable lens camera that could rival the image quality of full frame D-SLR in the APS-C format.
Amazon: We can see the advanced technological level of FUJIFILM not only by the lens, but also by learning the process of developing its own sensor. How do the X-Trans sensor and lens performance relate to each other?
Mr. Ueno: If we make a cheap low performing lens, then the degradation in image quality is more apparent for the X-Trans sensor than a typical sensor. X-Trans sensor requires high performance lens.
When we made our first kit lens with the X-E1, the image quality that this lens created was completely different from the other ordinary kit lens.
Amazon: X-E1 kit lens – you mean the first zoom lens of the XF lens XF18-55mm?
Mr. Ueno: Yes. The maximum aperture of XF18-55mm is F2.8 at wide and F4 at telephoto. A typical kit lens is F3.5-5.6, but that wouldn’t create enough bokeh nor photographic expression for an APS-C sized sensor.
We made it f/2.8 to achieve both brightness and high image quality. Consequently the cost would be higher, so there was the problem with the price even though we wanted a wider range of people to use our product. This is why we then created the XC lens “XC16-50mm” and “XC50-230mm” as the beginners’ model. The only difference is the material used for the lens exterior. The inside is the same optical design and technology as the XF lens.
Amazon: I see. The XF lens lineup is further expanding now, especially for the zoom lenses.
Mr. Ueno: Yes. During the first three years since our launch of the first interchangeable lens camera in 2012, we mainly targeted the first year on the short prime lenses that are best matched with X-Pro1 which had optical viewfinder. The second year, we focused on the practical lenses that allowed users to expand the focal range. And the third year we developed high spec lenses for the professionals and enthusiasts.
The result are the XF50-140mmF2.8mm in September 2014 and XF16-55mmF2.8mm in February 2015. I think we have a lineup now that covers a complete typical shooting range.
Amazon: The XF50-140mmF2.8mm and XF16-55mmF2.8mm are your “red badge” series?
Mr. Ueno: Yes, the red badge series are the zoom lenses intended for the professionals.
Amazon: Where does the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R lie? It is a kit lens for the X-T1 that many professionals use.
Mr. Ueno: The versatility is the first priority for XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R. We understand that the image quality is not quite the same as the f/2.8 constants, but still good enough so that the user doesn’t need to change the lens while shooting. We design each XF lens to have highest image quality possible for its presumed usage and purpose.
Another example of this is the minimum working distance of 70cm on the XF56mmF1.2, We sometimes hear customers demand a shorter working distance such as 40cm. As you know, the image quality in the peripheral parts are reduced when the distance gets shorter. The XF56mmF1.2 is a lens designed for portrait and snap shooting, so we believed that shortest distance of 70cm would be enough.
If the minimum working distance had been 40cm with the compromise on the image quality on the peripheral parts, then we had to extend the focus lens movable range. And as a result, the lens will be bigger and autofocus speed will be slower.
Our priority was to create a lens that has high resolution from corner to corner and that has adequately fast autofocus, so the minimum working distance became 70cm, which is enough for portrait photography – its presumed purpose.
If you want to get closer, then we have the XF60mmF2.4 Macro, which is another great lens. We make it so that beautiful description of each subject will be delivered to the maximum potential.
This is the fundamental idea of X series.
Amazon: I understand well now. Which lens do you recommend for those that want to get into using the
Mr. Ueno: I would recommend the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 as the gateway to the X series. As I said earlier, although the lens is a kit lens for starting out, it doesn’t mean that the image quality has been compromised. You can actually experience the high image quality of the XF lens and it covers the standard shooting range. We would recommend to use the lens, and then search for other lenses that satisfies your need 100%.
The start is easy, and the goal is endless. This is the charm of the XF lens.
This interview was originally conducted in Japanese and published on Amazon Japan’s website. It was translated into English by Fujifilm Japan for use here.
Beautiful locations? Not essential. Golden hour? any time is good. prime lenses? zooms are fine.
Meet X-Photographer, Pete Bridgwood who will make you think again about how you take landscape photographs
For decades, the debate has raged as to whether photography is art. For most, the crux of the argument revolves around the camera itself, some considering that using a machine to capture images is ‘cheating’, while others argue the camera doesn’t create images on its own. Fine art landscape photographer Pete Bridgwood cuts through these years of discussion with incisive clarity: “I think the term ‘art’ is as relevant if a four-year old child produces a piece with crayons as any photograph or grand master painting – it’s still art,” he tells X Magazine. “Some people think it’s stuffy to define your work as art, that you put yourself on a pedestal if you define yourself as an artist, but I define it simply as ‘photographs that I take for me, not for anyone else’. I don’t shoot commercial images, I shoot to make prints that hopefully will sell if people like them.”
Pete studied medicine at university and subsequently followed this career path, but photography has always been an important part of his life; and despite a passion for both disciplines, he defines himself as a photographer rather than a doctor. “I was into photography at school and we had this great art teacher who ran a course after school, so I signed up. We’d sit around in a big group and he’d talk about the compositional elements of famous photographs, so from a young age I was looking at photographs in a critical way. “We learned all the wet processes in a traditional darkroom, so I learned the hard way with film. I think that teaches you to be more careful with exposure because if you get it wrong there isn’t the latitude to get it back. I was very lucky to have that grounding.”
Like many photographers, as the interest grows, the choice of subjects to shoot becomes more refined and when it came to choosing a specialism, Pete’s choice was simple. “Landscape is more controlled, you can take your time. With people photography it’s more reactive and interactional and maybe I’m not that good at interacting,” he jokes. “I tend to exclude people from my landscapes, because I think it’s nice for the viewer to be invited into the image and if it has people in there, the viewer has to share it with someone. There is a counterargument, of course, because featuring people invites others into the image, but I do tend to Photoshop a lot of people out as they always seem to walk into frame wearing bright dayglo clothing!”
While some may question Pete’s use of software in the context of his fine art image making, he’s very clear that post-production work is a very important part of creating his images. “It’s changed from film, when all the effort was put in in-camera. Now, I think half the effort comes in the field and half in post-production. Documentary landscape photographers would disagree, but I think you can do a lot in post-processing to create a more emotive result. It depends on the scene,” he explains. “Every photograph is a combination of three things: the photographer, the scene and the viewer. The percentages of those three elements vary from scene to scene and I love to actively play with those ratios. You could completely remove yourself and just take a picture and it will look gorgeous, or you can get a scene that you apply a lot of changes to and alter the feel. The trick is to not make it look that apparent.”
Emotional connection is one element that Pete considers crucial in his images. He works hard to convey a sense of place and communicate the essence of the location. This can be done in a variety of ways, but Pete feels much of it is down to exposure choice. “Every image has its own shutter speed that will make the image look quite different. I think it’s important not to just think of that as a panacea,” he explains, “what I’m more about is finding the right exposure, an exposure that matches the emotion of the scene. How much do you want the grass to sway? How much do you want the sky or the water to move? It’s really about controlling the texture rather than simply taking a blasé attitude, which is what I like to get across.” Pete’s pursuit of this emotional connection doesn’t always necessitate him travelling from his home in Nottinghamshire to ‘honeypot’ locations in the UK and abroad, he feels that great landscape images can be captured virtually anywhere. “In some places it’s more difficult than others, but all you have to do is look around. The barn you don’t subconsciously see on the way into work, the single tree on the top of a hill, you should pencil those locations in for revisiting,” he advises.
“I feel the same way about light. I love the golden hour and there’s no doubt it’s quite magical, but there’s no reason why you can’t get evocative landscapes in the middle of the day. Or in the pouring rain.” Whatever time of day he’s out, Pete always carries his X-series cameras: “I used to use Canon DSLRs, but I haven’t touched them in months,” he says. “I started with the X100, but the X-Pro1 was a game changer for me and I use both primes and zooms on it. I’ve also recently got an X-T1, which is wonderful. I shoot the vast majority of my images on an XF18-55mm lens. The attraction is obvious: all my Fujifilm gear fits into a small waist pack – camera, lenses, full filter kit – and that’s very liberating.” This latter point is crucial to Pete, X-series cameras help him to communicate an essential part of his creative process.
“The whole essence of fine art photography is freedom,” he tells us. “Freedom to express. Freedom to interpret. Freedom, freedom, freedom.”
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?
Hey hey, I shoot weddings and travel – I am a creative, contemporary wedding story teller and London is home for the time being.
I became a photographer by accident; I went to university to study economics, it was during this time that I decided to buy a camera instead of a PS3 to kill time. I would hop on my bike for a ride and have the camera along with me to capture the things I saw in my new surroundings.
Even though I have achieve a level of consistency within my body of work, I like to think that I am still training my eyes. It is an ongoing process and I find that I switch things up every two years – not everything, but I have noted that every two years I make a change in one area or another. I guess you can say that how I feel often translates into the approach I take to the work I create, and as someone who is still young and curious about the world, I don’t think that I will ever stop developing my style.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
Out of curiosity really, and after 2 years and some change, I am happy that I took the risk. They offer a unique and refreshing way of doing things – having to compensate for parallax when using the OVF due to the rangefinder design of the X-Pro 1 & X100s, or the traditional shutter speed dials & aperture values on the lenses, this is a fun way to create images. For some strange reason, the image quality that I get out of these little cameras still amazes me, and the lenses that I have used have all been stunning.
A very important element of the Fujifilm X-Series that maybe doesn’t get enough attention is the community that these cameras have created, I have exchanged emails with people from all over the world about these cameras. I have discovered the work of other amazing photographers who use these cameras and even became friends with a few, like Bradley Hanson (USA), Patrice Michellon (France), Robin Weil (France) and Fred Frognier (Belgium) for example. All these guys were complete strangers at one point.
I would love to network with other official X-Photographers too! I have exchanged words with a few but thats not enough, I am thinking along the lines of a collaboration on project or something.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
There IsAlways More! I think photography is a lifelong journey without a destination so we have to keep going, keep striving to improve and never settle – There Is Always More!
Key Inspiration- What & Who inspires you?
The What – Life, all aspects of it – the good and the bad. Music, football, culture and the people I meet and exchange stories with on my travels.
The Who – Those who strive to master their craft and set new rules, e.g. Lionel Messi and Nas. In terms of photography, there are so many good photographers out there that it is difficult for me to pick one. I like to draw inspiration even from those that don’t shoot the type of stuff that I shoot.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share?
Create limitations in a world where is there none, mine was deciding to shoot with just two focal lengths for the majority of my work these last two years and I couldn’t be happier! In fact, deciding to shoot with just prime lenses 5 years ago was probably the best thing I could have done for my portfolio and development as a photographer.
Remain curious about the world, be willing to learn and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Shoot through the tough and uninspiring periods.
What’s next for you?
Um, the X-Pro 2 😉 – haha. I really want to live in various countries & cities around the world in the next couple of years. To explore and experience different cultures etc and even shoot some epic weddings whilst I am out there too – the thought of shooting a Japanese wedding in Tokyo one day really excites me. I will be starting this chapter of my life with a move to Barcelona at some point this year, things haven’t gone as I had hoped but I am determined to make it happen. Then from there, maybe NYC + LA for a year, Cuba too at some point, Japan – who knows. I want to explore as many places as possible and meet as many interesting people as I can.
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?
I was really into photography as a teenager – I remember saving up to buy my first SLR camera and two kit lenses from Dixons! I won’t mention brands but I soon moved onwards and upwards to a beautiful Nikon SLR, shooting grainy black & white film and then developed an addiction to Fuji Velvia. I spent many an evening cycling and driving round chasing sunsets and beautiful light.
Style-wise has taken a lot longer – I had a big gap in photography when horses and work took over – until I revisited my then hobby, about 12 years ago.
Since then photography has become a significant part of my life and now business. I’ve shot portraits, boudoir, bumps, babies, business portraits and even an odd wedding or two, but that didn’t do it for me. I found myself shooting images to keep others happy – not fulfilling my own creative destiny.
These days, subject wise, I’m entirely focused on my other passion in life: horses. I have ridden all my life, and I truly believe if you totally love and connect with your subject, it makes your work stronger.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
I’d been carrying around heavy Nikon kit for years and frankly was quite tired!
I started shooting mirrorless fairly early – and given my love of Fuji way back, it seemed the logical place to start. Plus, there is no denying the cameras are beautiful. I love beautiful things… I love the images which the Fuji kit produces, I love the handling – and I love the lightness and flexibility the system affords me.
I’ve tested, tested and tested a bit more – some days I think my X-T1 might actually go into meltdown shooting high speed horses day in day out, but it continues to deliver.
Alongside my workhorse 50-140mm, I’ve also become a complete convert to the fast Fuji prime lenses. The quality and sharpness is amazing. Favourites include the 14mm, 23mm and 35mm lenses.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
I guess my philosophy is a recent and personal one: Follow your dreams and shoot what you love.
As a photographer you have to develop a thick skin – and that’s something I wasn’t good at! I’ve spent most of my life trying to keep everyone happy all of the time. Obviously a fruitless task, but I still do my best!
Especially when you shoot one very niche subject, some people will love what you do, others just won’t get it. So long as I stay true to my core and get to the end of each year with images I am proud of, I’m happy. I shoot horse pictures for horse lovers – they get it, they see it, they feel it.
The fact that people then buy those images for their own walls is a huge compliment. It was a real buzz when prints were first sold to overseas clients in the USA and New Zealand – the hard work is paying off.
Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?
Wow, how long have you got?! I was the kid who saved up her pocket money to go into Waterstones (still love Waterstones!) to buy the Ansel Adams calendar each year. When the year was done I framed the pictures. My world was black and white, surrounded by snow-laden trees and lived under inky skies.
I’m a book person – and the bookshelf is crammed with a variety of beautiful publications which I revisit regularly: Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Colin Prior, Paul Kenny, Tim Flach, Amanda Lockhart, Jonathan Chritchley and most recently Michael Levin. Michael’s work is a quest for modern perfection – I admire him tremendously.
Mother nature also inspires me – light, breeze, weather, the ocean and of course, horses.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
My tip is to stay true. There’s another good quote I live & work by: ‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.’
Another photographer recently said to me that ‘I make my life more difficult trying to shoot horses with a mirrorless camera’ – why didn’t I shoot an easier subject? What would be the joy or fulfilment in that?!
Do your own thing – if it’s difficult, try harder. If you have an idea – work out how to achieve it. If you are not sure – seek & learn!
What’s next for you?
I’m off to Wyoming to a remote ranch to shoot…you guessed it, horses!
It’s a completely new location for me. If I don’t shoot different horses soon, I’ll be ‘the woman who was obsessed with grey horses’.
The Polo season has just started too, so I’m working on a creative idea to produce beautiful art prints from this adrenaline fuelled sport.
I’ve also just taken on a beautiful but slightly broken racehorse. She’s likely to feature in future work – and she’s NOT GREY!
In fact this is her, in her previous life…my amazing girl.
We get a lot of love for our Fujinon XF lenses and it’s hardly a surprise; we’ve been making them for a long time! We’ve created a short series of videos to help you understand the history of Fujinon and the heritage of our XF lenses,
Episode 1 – The history of FUJINON
Shigamitsu Mort, Ex-President of the Fujifilm Optics Mito factory, talks about our lens polishing technology across our wide range of lenses and describes the long time spent designing and perfecting the Fujinon-Z 43-75mm f/3.5-4.5.
Kazunori Oono, Ex-Senior Manager of the Optical Device Division talks about the testing and evaluation that went into the EBC X-Fujifilm 50mm f/1.2 back in 1979
Episode 2 – Professional vs Professional
Takashi Suzuki, Optical Design Division Senior Manager talks about how Fujifilm, professionals in the photography field, responded to professional photographer’s requirements to launch the GX680 Professional large format system in 1986. The lenses for the system had to be high enough in resolution in order to maximise the benefit of large format film.
Takao Araki, Optical Design Division Software Manager talks about Fujifilm’s amazing and unique approach to improve the calculation process that goes into each lens design. In 1956, they built one of Japan’s very first computers!
Episode 3 – The heritage of XF lenses
Taiga Noda and Hiroki Saito, both of the Optical Design Division in Tokyo talk about how without the heritage of Fujinon, many of the new XF lenses would not have been possible.
The result? The craftsmanship of FUJINON
See all of the steps that go into making each and every hand-made XF lens in our factory in Japan.
Issue 9 of the Fujifilm X Magazine is now available to view online, or download to your mobile or tablet via the Android or Apple app.
In this issue check out the brilliant fine art landscape work of Pete Bridgwood and Bruno Morandi’s colourful Lisbon cityscapes. If you’re more of the indoor type, there’s advice and tips to help you shoot still-lifes and close-ups. Plus, don’t miss your chance to win a superb XF18-135mm weather-resistant zoom!
Interview – Pete Bridgwood
Pete Bridgwood explains how X-series cameras and lenses help him to produce stunning fine art landscapes.