Closing in on the cold with the XF80mmF2.8 macro lens

By Ben Cherry

The Fujifilm system is now at a stage where the last lenses needed to make it, in my opinion, a ‘complete working photographers system’ are on the roadmap and set for launch at some point this year. With the recent announcements of the FUJIFILM X-H1 and the MKX lenses, the system can really cater for a wide variety of needs. One of the lenses I had been missing, until its launch in 2017, was the XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS.

I regularly work in close proximity to my subjects. In the past I have used the Fujifilm extension tubes to get up close and personal. These were super, ‘get out of jail’ add-ons for lenses like the XF56mmF1.2 and XF50-140mmF2.8. You can find a blog I did on these handy accessories, while working as a researcher in Costa Rica here.

As well as these lenses, I have also been using the ever adaptable XF16mm F1.4 for close up wide angle shots. This truly is one of my favourite lenses. I have used it to photograph lightning storms and stars, elephants in rainforests and the release of baby turtles. I find it incredibly adaptable; one of the reasons for this is down to its incredible close focusing distance. So, when I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in the Black Mountains of South Wales, I grabbed some zooms and my three favourite primes: XF16mmF1.4, XF35mmF1.4 and the XF80mmF2.8 then headed off.

I spent the night in the mountains in a remote cabin, which was made all the more remote by a fair sprinkling of snow.

X-Pro2, XF16mm F1.8, ISO 1600, 13 seconds

It was a relaxing trip so had to stay hydrated and cosy…

X-Pro2, XF35mm F1.4, ISO 800, 1/600

When daylight hit, I went for an explore around the surrounding valley, taking in the magical scene. All the while I was looking for suitable circumstances to test out the XF80mm. Then, tucked around one of the many hills, I stumbled across a small waterfall with natural steps built into it. I thought this would be a good place to start.

X-T2, XF100-400mm F8, ISO 400, 1/200

Macro photography usually requires large amounts of light as you often have to use large F-stops to ensure a decent depth of field, which is proportional to the distance from the camera. To compensate for this, I added an extra level of creativity, I brought along two mini portable LED lights. These allowed me to illuminate the icicles whilst keeping the background dark.

X-T2, XF80mm F8, ISO 1600, 1/950

The bokeh of the XF80mmF2.6 lens is really pleasing. Even when stopped down to F8, the light glistening off icicles in the background was beautiful.

X-T2, XF80mm F8, ISO 1600, 1/2400

I deliberately underexposed the above image to keep the light subtle on the air pockets, highlighting the tiny but beautiful detail of this icicle. The XF80mm had so much to give, the issues I experienced were down to me! I was hand-holding this set up, camera in one hand, LED light in another, whilst my feet were slipping on the rocks as icy water flowed over them. Health and safety would have had a field day! But the camera/lens combo was easy to handle. Because of my instability, I had to use very fast shutter speeds. The autofocus was snappy, which is not usually a strong feature of macro lenses.

At one stage I put the LED light in the water (thankfully completely waterproof) and was able to brace for some slower shutter speed images. I was very impressed. With the addition of the X-H1 (can’t wait to pair these two together) the potential to go even slower is very exciting!

X-T2, XF80mm F11, ISO 100, 1/17

Being able to get two different macro perspectives from two fantastic prime lenses was fantastic. Here is a shot taken with the XF16mm F1.4 showing how the focal length makes a huge difference to the image, despite the close focusing.

X-T2, XF16mm F1.4, ISO 200, 1/1900

All in all, I am very impressed with the XF80mm F2.8 OIS Macro. I think it will replace the XF56mm F1.2 in my backpack. X-T2, X-H1, XF16mm, XF35mm, XF80mm, XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm, XF100-400mm, plus accessories like some lights, batteries, etc makes for a fantastic set up which is still suitable for airline carry on. The prospect of the impending XF200mm F2 OIS makes the set up near perfect for me. I can highly recommend the XF80mm, I’m sure it will make for a brilliant portrait lens too.

Until next time, happy snapping!


More from Ben Cherry

Website: http://www.bencherryphotos.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benji_cherry/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Benji_Cherry


More about XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS

Mid-Range Telephoto Macro Lens

The first 1.0x magnification mid-telephoto macro lens for X Series
This lens features a focal length equivalent to 122mm (on a 35mm format), a maximum aperture of F2.8, and 1.0x magnification factor, a first in the X Series interchangeable lens range. By achieving high resolving power at the focus point and beautiful bokeh, this lens is optimal for shooting flowers and nature photos. Combine this lens with Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulation such as Velvia, for truly stunning close up images.

Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

By Chris Weston

Wildlife photography throws up many challenges. For starters, weather and environmental conditions are rarely ideal. Dusty African savannahs, humid jungles, persistent precipitation in rainforests, sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic – they all demand the very best of the equipment I use, in terms of both performance and reliability. In reality, it’s about confidence – I need to know that when the going gets tough the camera I’m using will perform consistently and uninterrupted. Having worked with X-T series cameras in camera-hostile environments around the world, I already have surety in the Fujifilm system.

I have recently spent time working with the FUJIFILM X-H1, including a trip to the stunning Camargue region in the South France to photograph the wild horses there. It’s obvious the designers and engineers have taken weather resistance to even higher levels with this new camera, with more robust seals to prevent electronics’ two main enemies, dust and water, leaving you high and dry. Continue reading Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

Sports Photography as a Spectator – Football

By Jeff Carter

In a series of articles X Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass.  In this blog Jeff gives you all his top tips for photographing football matches.


Continue reading Sports Photography as a Spectator – Football

A Story of Composition: We don’t take a photograph, we make it

By Mark Gilligan

Whilst out and about on your travels, I am sure you have come across a view that demands your attention and you instantly reach for the camera. “Wow, we were on this ridge and the view? Well you should have seen it. I tried to photograph it but it didn’t come out right. Why could I not do it justice? It just didn’t look the same as I saw it.”

I hear this all too often. Now I have to say here that there isn’t a generic answer, as every location, the available light etc. is different at that time but we can put a process into place that will ensure we do capture it well. A phrase I use regularly is, “a beautiful view doesn’t necessarily make a beautiful photograph”.

The great man Ansel Adams said, “We don’t take a photograph. We make it.” He is absolutely right.

So what does that mean? Putting it simply, it doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it and create the best from what we have in front of us. To explain, I often refer this to the analogy of baking a cake. Stick with me please! If we give six people the ingredients for a fruitcake they will blend them differently. They will present us with a fruitcake and whilst some will taste similarly they will all come out different. Subsequently, if you ask six people to take a photograph of the same view… you can see where this is going.

So, I liken the natural features we see in the landscape as ‘the ingredients’ and how we blend them and present will decide upon the way the photograph looks. Told you we would get there….

We know it as composition.

Understanding how your camera works will always help rather than just putting it on auto and hoping for the best. They are good but they all need controlling by us. No matter how technically competent you are with a camera, your photographs will lose impact if they are compositionally poor. The two factors go hand in hand.

We will assume then that you do have the technical under control. I find that the majority of people who come on my workshops have a basic knowledge of the dials and menus but struggle with composition. I have to say that that is not uncommon with those who are proficient too. A good image will ‘pull you into it’ and make you want to keep looking at it. The beauty of photography is that it is subjective. You only have to look across social media to see a plethora of genres being put out there for us to view. Interest is the key, inviting the viewer to become immersed in the photograph. Once lead into it, their eyes then dance around the frame.

We all have our own perspective on what we see but there are some rules or guides that you can use to enhance your photography. Of course ‘rules can be broken’ and occasionally something that goes against convention can still work. The most common guide that we read about is ‘the rule of thirds’.
Most camera menus now carry the simple grid that you can ‘impose’ in the viewfinder thus helping you ‘balance’ the image by placing interest in all three sections.

Mark Gilligan, Snowdonia – FUJIFILM X-Pro1, f5.6, 1/400th sec, ISO 200, Lee 0.6 soft Grad

This image of a waterfall with the magnificent Tryfan providing the backdrop is a good example of an unbalanced image. Whilst it is a nice memory shot for the photographer, it visually jars with you. Too much sky has made the photograph top heavy.

By changing position, introducing more interest into the frame (those ingredients again) and showing us how the falls integrate with the landscape, creates a much more pleasing photograph.

Mark Gilligan, Snowdonia – FUJIFILM X-Pro1, f13, 1/60th sec, ISO 200, Lee 0.6 soft Grad

Earlier this year I was invited by Granada TV to take Kerry Gosney, one of their weather presenters out for a full day’s workshop. It was to be filmed and inserted into the local news programme, recorded in the Longdendale Valley in Derbyshire. I was delighted to be asked and having produced and directed many programmes over the years, it would be a change for me to be on the other side of the lens!

When we met, Kerry readily admitted that she had no idea about taking ‘real photographs,’ but wanted to be able to. She had a basic understanding of how the camera worked and I talked about ‘the fruitcake’. That’s the analogy not me…

After introducing her to the FUJIFILM X-Pro1, we put on our wellies and stood in a delightful river called Middle Black Clough. The director shouted “Action!” and Kerry said, “So tell me Mark, why here? It is beautiful, such a lovely spot; the trees, the river, its waterfall and lots of rocks but why here?”

I asked her what else she could see. She shook her head. Why did she think I had picked this particular spot when there were a lot of options to explore? She reiterated the features of the scene again and whilst I agreed, I then pointed to the grooves that had been etched into the fault plane right under our noses. They lead the eye to the waterfall she was admiring. You will often hear people quoting leading lines and these were classic. Of course I mentioned the ‘fruitcake’ again and how we now had all the ingredients for a nice photo.

After getting the settings, we then set up the tripod and I showed her how it all looked in camera. Kerry was literally taken aback. “Wow I would never have seen that. Amazing!” I had added more depth to the image, allowing the foreground to dominate and by using a wide XF10-24mmF4 lens that exacerbated the lines, drawing you into the picture. “So, you are telling us that we should open our eyes more?”

I couldn’t have put it any better.

Kerry Gosney, Longdendale Valley – FUJIFILM X-Pro1, XF10-24mm, f13, 6.5 sec, ISO 200

The culmination of the shoot was to be an image that she managed to visualise and capture. As the producer said “We need a show stopper Mark, something that presents the development in a day.” No pressure then…

It was good to see Kerry being more deliberate about her choices and spotting things she felt were ‘good ingredients’ for a picture. After settling on a place by the river with a nice array of natural features, we set up and I liked what she had come up with.

Kerry Gosney, Longdendale Valley – FUJIFILM X-Pro1, f14, 125.0sec, ISO 200, LEE Big Stopper

This shot is thought out with the foreground rocks leading you to the little waterfall. You are taken into the image and then your eyes look around it. To give the photograph a little bit more appeal, I suggested adding a big stopper to create the swirls in the stream.

These are just a couple of examples of ways in which you can tighten up and present your photographs. Whilst you will initially be presented with a view that you come across, looking with your own eyes, it is good to approach the same vista by then looking through a lens. After all, that’s how the finished image will look. That’s the view you will present to people.

Never be afraid to experiment and you will find that different lenses will create different perspectives. Be choosy and only press the shutter when you are happy that you have the best of the scene captured. Just as importantly, enjoy what you do. It’s a great way of presenting the world the way that you see it to other people.


More from Mark Gilligan

Website: http://www.wastwaterphotography.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GilliganPhotography/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wastwater1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wastwater1/

A Day in the Life by Kevin Mullins

By Kevin Mullins

My core business is as a documentary wedding photographer but I also shoot, and greatly enjoy, ‘Day in the Life’ family sessions.

A ‘Day in the Life’ session is a photoshoot based on the same ethos as the way I shoot my weddings; 100% candid.

It’s critically important for me that my clients can look back at these day in the life images in 10, 20, 30 years’ time and remember the actual moments with their family. Moments that happened naturally, rather than ones that I, as the photographer, stage managed.

By using the very small and very silent Fujifilm X Series cameras I can really blend in as much as possible and just observe the family, photographing the moments that I think are important to photograph. Continue reading A Day in the Life by Kevin Mullins

IN FOCUS: 7 Fujifilm camera features loved by the professionals

IN FOCUS is a series of articles where we ask some of the UK X-Photographers to give us advice, provide insight into their photography and share some of their favourite images of all time. In this blog, we asked our photographers what their favourite Fujifilm camera features are and why.


Continue reading IN FOCUS: 7 Fujifilm camera features loved by the professionals

The Wonders of Winter

FUJIFILM X-T2 | F5 | 1/8000sec | ISO1600 | Exposure bias 0

By Chris Weston

Winter is my favourite season for photography. For the camera, there is something uniquely special about the quality of light. For me… well, I simply love photographing in snow and cold climates. Give me the Arctic over Africa anytime.

Of course, the challenges in such wintry conditions are many. First of all, the gear has to be up to the job, which is the reason I’m so enamoured with the Weather Resistant lens technology that Fujifilm has put into the three lenses I mainly use: the XF16-55mmF2.8, XF50-140mmF2.8 and the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 zooms. Continue reading The Wonders of Winter

IN FOCUS: Film Simulation modes used by the professionals

IN FOCUS is a series of articles where we ask some of the UK X-Photographers to give us advice, provide insight into their photography and share some of their favourite images of all time. In this blog, we asked our photographers what Film Simulation modes they use and why.


Continue reading IN FOCUS: Film Simulation modes used by the professionals

Wide vs Tele: From one extreme to the other

By Mark Gilligan

Everything we do in photography is a matter of perspective. My view is different from yours. We can stand side by side and look at the same thing but we don’t view it in the same way. We might recognise the exact features our eyes see but how we perceive and construct it is never the same.

Aren’t we lucky because if we all saw it exactly as each other surely the world would be a boring place? Continue reading Wide vs Tele: From one extreme to the other