X100 to GFX Journey: The Evolution of the X Series

By Kevin Mullins

I’ve been using the Fujifilm system since its inception back in 2011. My very first Fujifilm camera was the Fujifilm FinePix X100 (remember when it was still called the FinePix?).

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the X-Photographer community since those early days and even after nine years or so find the X Series range of cameras the tools that I still use for all my work.

As the system has grown from the embryonic MLC that was the X100 to the high-resolution machine that is the GFX 50S, I’ve witnessed a system that has taken its first baby steps to winning platitudes and awards every year.

Going right back to the FinePix X100, this was one of the first images I took with the camera:

FinePix X100, 1/60 F2, ISO 25

I was smitten with the camera, but I think it’s fair to say that the original X100 definitely had some teething problems.

When I was shooting with the FinePix X100 I felt a deep assimilation with the JPEGs that the camera was producing.  However, trying to achieve focus, especially in low light situations, proved challenging.

And then something quite unheard of happened… a firmware update.  Not only did the firmware update fix small bugs, it made the whole camera more responsive and even added a feature or two.

This was the sign of things to come, of course, and I think one of the things that define Fujifilm’s success is their unwavering support for the photographic community via firmware updates.

Ironically, according to my Lightroom Catalog, the last personal photography I took with my FinePix X100 – which I still have (I never sell a classic camera!) is this shot of it’s successor, the X100S (note, FinePix no longer in the name):

FinePix X100, 1/480, F2, ISO 3200

This was the camera that I wrote my first book about, such was my love for it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trawling through my archives of personal family snaps that I’ve taken with the X100, the X100S, X100T & X100F.

I had over 10,000 images that I considered good enough to keep.

Of course, these are family snaps, nothing particularly arty about them and absolutely the most important thing is the memories for me and my family.

Anyhow, here are the 100 family snaps, taken with my various Fujifilm X100 Cameras and in chronological order. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the original X100. It’s the camera that made me realise photography is fun rather than just for work.  Here is my little homage to the X100 and all its incarnations.

This was really when things started changing with the little X100 format cameras, but before the X100S came out, we were bamboozled by the X-Pro1.

Now, my introduction to this camera was somewhat forced.  I was writing a monthly business column for Professional Photography magazine when the editor asked me to review the camera;

Him:  “Would you like to review the new Fujifilm X-Pro1?”

Me:  “Well, not really, the reason I love the X100 is because it’s fixed lens and I don’t want to invest in another interchangeable lens system as I still have my Canon cameras”.

Him: “We’ll pay you £200 for the review”.

Me:  “Oh, go on then….”

Fast forward five weeks and I have to take the review copy back to Archant House in Cheltenham.  As I hand over the review packages to them, the editor asks me what I thought.  I showed him a copy of my order email from WEX where I’d just pre-ordered the X-Pro1 and the three launch lenses.

Not too long after I took delivery of my X-Pro1, XF35mm, XF60mm and XF18mm lenses I sold off all my Canon gear.

At this point, we were then beginning to see new sensors and later, new Film Simulations too but really, what everybody in the photographic world was realising was that these new breeds of mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm were: smaller, lighter, cheaper and crucially, performed very well compared to what we had been used to using.

Of course, there are still some rare situations where a DSLR might be a better option for a particular shooting style, but with the emergence of the X-H1 I think even that is becoming mitigated and the Fujifilm system is catering more and more for all types of photographers.  It’s not true that Fujifilm cameras are “only for Street Photographers”.

At some point in 2013, I was in Tokyo and I was using another new Fujifilm camera, the X-M1.  The X-M1 used the same X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1 and X-E1 but didn’t have a viewfinder.  It had a tilt screen and was actually the first camera to have Wi-Fi too.

To be totally honest, I never really got on with this camera.  It was too fiddley, and I really missed the viewfinder.  I’ve never been a huge lover of tilt screens, and I’m pleased Fujifilm continue to pacify people in both camps with cameras that have tilt screens and cameras that don’t.

The camera did yield me an image on that trip to Tokyo which went on to win SWPP Landscape photographer of the Year award though.

X-M1, 23mm F1.4 lens @ F8, 1/200 ISO 200

When the X-T1 arrived, the game changed for many people.  The X-Pro1, X100S where good cameras, but they were perhaps not quite sharp enough for many to consider for professional work.

However, when the X-T1 came along with its continuous focus and high-speed shooting, this was when I first started seeing a big influx of shooters coming to the Fujifilm stable.

Some of my favourite images to date have come from the X-T1:

X-T1, 56mm F1.2 lens @ f1.2, 1/1,800 ISO 200
X-T1, 23mm F1.4 Lens @ f1.4, 1/2,700 ISO 400

And of course, later came the X-T2 and the X-Pro2 and little curve balls such as the X70.

The X70 remains one of my favourite cameras; despite what I said about the X-M1, the X70 is also an LCD only camera and it has ergonomic issues too, but that camera has so much character and is so small that it is still one of my most use cameras when shooting.  I shoot with my X70 at weddings as well as personally and I really hope there is a future for that line of camera.

X70, F2.8, 1/125, ISO400
X70, F2.8, 1/900, ISO 400

And, as we come to the end of this whistle stop tour of my time with the Fujifilm X Series of cameras, I can’t possibly leave out two of the new guys in the stable; the GFX 50S and the X-E3.

For me, the GFX is all about prints.  I use in mainly in my family photography business which is prints only and I find it incredible that I can shoot with a medium format camera, handheld, in a candid way.

It’s a big camera of course, and that’s why it’s not really suited, for me at least, for fast paced shooting, but anything where the pace is slower, and the images may end up in print, then the GFX is the way forward.  I can’t wait to see how this branch of the series matures.

Here is a little snapshot of my own summer, all shot hand held with the GFX 50S:


More from Kevin Mullins

Website: www.kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk

Blog: https://f16.click/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevin_mullins

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/documentaryeye

El Camino with the Fujifilm X100S

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The Camino de Santiago (also commonly known as ’The Way of St James’, or ‘El Camino’ in Spanish) is the name given to the pilgrimage routes that start all over Europe, but all lead to the same destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain).


By Danny Fernandez

Since moving to Spain in 2011, I had heard many people talking about doing ‘El Camino’, and each of them saying how incredible the experience is (life changing for many). For the past few years, it has been on my ‘to do’ list, and this August, I decided to combine three of my passions (travel, cycling and photography) and see what all the fuss is about!

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The first choice I had to make (although it wasn’t really much of a difficult one) was whether I should walk, or cycle. As a keen cyclist, the choice was simple; I would do a cycle tour. By cycling, it also meant that I could see much more of the coast in a shorter time, and also easily take detours if I wanted to explore the area.

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The second choice that I had to make was which camino to do. It was a toss up between the most popular, but easier and better facilitated route; the Camino Frances, or the more difficult and less crowded Camino del Norte. I decided to do the ‘Camino del Norte’. This is the route which follows the northern coast on Spain. I chose to do this route as I had heard it is the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult routes due to all of the mountains! I decided to start in the beautiful coastal town of Castro Urdiales (50km west of Bilbao), and had approx 17 days to cycle the 780km to Santiago de Compostela.

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The third choice that I had to make was where I would stay. Typically walkers (commonly known as Pilgrims during the camino) stay in Albergues (which is like a simple hostel, solely for pilgrims). However, cyclists get the last priority of beds in Albergues (walkers first / those on horses – yes, horses – second / cyclists third). As I had no guarantee of a bed, I decided to bring a tent and camp where possible.

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My Way

There seem to be as many reasons for doing the camino, as there are pilgrims. I met people from all walks of life, including entire families, married couples, adventurers, grandparents and even one guy who had walked out of his front door – in the Netherlands – 11 months ago, and is still walking now!

At the start of my camino, I overheard people saying things like “The Way gives you what you need”. I rolled my eyes and blew this off as some hippy thing, but after 17 days of cycling, I agreed with this.

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I think that the nature of any repetitive action (in this case ‘wake up/eat/cycle/sleep/repeat’), gives you a lot of – almost meditative – headspace, and can teach you all sorts of things about yourself. I had a lot of time to ponder on things (I was, after all, cycling by myself for on average 5 – 8 hours a day).

I also feel that the challenges taught me a lot about myself, and man, there were challenges! It was way more difficult than I could imagine. Some days I would battle a constant uphill mountain for more than 2 hours without escape. On average, I was ascending and descending between 800 – 1000 metres of altitude a day. And when it’s 32 degrees, and your loaded bike weights 30kgs, you feel every meter.

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Before starting, I expected to have many highs, and many lows (such is the beauty and the curse of solo travel), and the camino gave me both of these. I had extreme highs after making it through hours of rainy mountains to be rewarded with parted clouds over the most breathtaking views. And I had extreme lows when I questioned my reasons for this ‘stupid idea’ and was 90% sure that I was going to quit and just hang out on a beach for the remainder of my trip.

Each persons experience of the Camino is unique and I feel that if you listen, you can learn a lot about yourself during this journey.

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Why I chose the X100s

I’m not sure if other photographers are like me, but I spend so much time in a constant debate over which camera equipment to bring before any trip.

Since selling my Canon gear 3 years ago and slowly building a collection of Fuji (X100s / X-T1 / X-T10 / XF16mm / XF35mm / XF56mm) I was fortunate enough to have the choice of what to bring for this trip.

x100sI had narrowed it down to the X100s, or the X-T10 + XF16 and XF35 lenses. After changing my mind on a near daily basis, I eventually decided to simplify EVERYTHING on this trip, therefore I would only bring my X100s. I had previously spent 3 months backpacking around India with this camera and think it’s an incredible travel camera.

My reasons for bringing just the X100s was that I wanted simplicity. This was very much my philosophy behind the entire trip – to get away from every day life of choices and go back to basics (this was also the basis for my terrible decision of bringing only 2 pairs of socks for a 17 day cycle trip). I was clear that this was not a photography trip; it was all about the experience of the camino, and the X100s was always at hand to document it.

And if I had to choose only one reason why this is still my favourite travel camera, it’s because it doesn’t interrupt your experiences; but instead is there to complement them. Photography has taught me how to see, and when a camera fits in so seamlessly with your life, it can help deepen your appreciation of that moment.

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X-Pro2 in Barcelona

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X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Derek Clark

My aim for a recent trip to Barcelona was to travel light. Last year I was in New York shooting jazz musicians for a book I’m working on and I had to carry a lot of kit. The Fuji gear was light, but I also had a laptop, flashes, light stands and a background too. But traveling light was a high priority for this trip to Barcelona.

I packed the X100T with the WCL-X100 (giving me the full-frame equivalent of 28mm & 35mm), plus the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 and the 18-55mm f2.8-f4 zoom. The zoom was the tough choice as I prefer primes, but I wanted to take something longer than the 35mm. The 56mm f1.2 was an option and I also considered the 16mm f1.4 because Barcelona has so much great architecture and I knew a really wide angle would be useful. But I had to be strict about travelling light and so opted for the 18-55mm. In the end, I probably shot 95% of the X-Pro2 pictures with the 35mm f2 and 95% of the X100T pictures with the WCL (so 50mm and 28mm in FF).

“I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again”

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I have to say upfront that the X100T is probably my all time favourite camera, even though at this point it has been overtaken in performance by newer models. But it’s still a design masterpiece in my opinion that just begs to be held and used.

X100T & The WCL
X100T & The WCL

That said, I’m in love with the X-Pro2. The camera feels great in my hands, especially with the Gariz half case (Fuji half case also available). The performance is amazing and I’m still being surprised on a daily basis by how great the focus is (especially with moving subjects). Autofocus has reached new heights on mirrorless cameras and I can think of two major DSLR brands that could be an endangered species if they don’t wake up, see what’s going on and adapt quickly.

 

“The X-Pro2 takes things to another level”

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Shooting on the streets of Barcelona was a blast! The X100T is my favourite street camera, but I have to say that the X-Pro2 did out-perform it and produced far more keepers. I’ve always been happy with the image quality on the X Series cameras, more than happy in fact. But the X-Pro2 takes things to another level wth the 24 megapixel X-Trans III sensor giving a welcome increase in resolution. But I’m glad to say it is without doubt the same Fuji look and feel, which is more important than megapixels!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Film Simulations have always been a big part of the X Series cameras. A while back Fuji gave us Classic Chrome, which was unexpected, free, and became an overnight success. I use it most of the time and love it. These are my settings for Classic Chrome.

-1 Highlight tone
+2 Shadow Tone
+3 Colour
-3 Noise Reduction
+2 Sharpness

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X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

But when light gets low I find this can be a little harsh and the shadows can get blocked up, so I reduce the Shadow Tone setting to -1 or even 0. Sometime I’ll switch over to Provia as it’s a good general all rounder and much more forgiving.

I don’t often use Velvia (too saturated for me), but I found myself quickly switching to it when photographing rooftops against an orange Barcelona sunset.

X100T & The WCL
X100T & The WCL

Another film simulation fanfare came along with the X-Pro2 in the shape of Acros. The original black and white film simulations were pretty good, but I didn’t shoot a lot with them unless I was in RAW+JPEG to have the option of the colour version later.

I just preferred to do my B&W conversions in Lightroom or Silver Efex Pro. But with Acros I find myself wanting to shoot in-camera B&W a lot. In fact I have to force myself to switch out of it again.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

X Series cameras have always had the option of bracketing three film simulations at a time, but I wish we could shoot two at a time with our own recipe of Highlights, Shadows, NR, Colour and Sharpness baked in, but without the delay of bracketing (where you can see the processing in the viewfinder). Classic Chrome and Acros…ahh. But I digress.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2 (Acros)
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2 (Acros)

Acros is beautiful, especially with a bit of highlight & shadow tweaking. There’s a grain in Acros files that just gives the pictures a timeless documentary look, and that’s without using the grain feature of the X-Pro2. On the subject of the in-camera grain feature. The two settings of light and heavy are great, but the same again with larger grain would be nice too!

I like high contrast black and whites, so my settings for Acros are:

-1 Highlight tone
+3 Shadow Tone
-3 Noise Reduction
+2 Sharpness

Don’t worry if you like to see tons of detail in the shadows, because Acros can do low contrast B&W too, plus you still have the option of adding a red, green, or yellow filter as well (I mostly use Red).


Derek explores the Acros mode further in ‘Jazz With Fuji’s Acros & The X-Pro2 – SOOC

The Hybrid viewfinder is now an Advanced Multi-Hybrid Viewfinder, similar to the X100T’s where you can have a tiny screen in the bottom right corner (as an option) that shows a zoomed area of the focus point to assist with manual focus. I use this now and again and it works really well.

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again on this trip. I wear glasses, but peer over the top of them when looking through the viewfinder (I’m so happy to see a built in diopter on the X-Pro2), so I can’t get my eye right up close. With the OVF I can see the frame lines and some space around them which allows me to see what’s about to enter my picture.

With the EVF I need to move my eye around, looking at the corners of the frame individually, but there isn’t always time to do that. Plus the Harsh sunshine of Barcelona can make it hard to see the EVF because your eyes are adjusted for the brightness, which makes it hard to see if your exposure is ok. That’s when I like to dial in my exposure 100% manually and switch to the optical viewfinder. It’s not as big as the X100T’s OVF, but it’s still big and bright and the frame lines are easy to see. Using the OVF just feels more old school and I like that!
X100T
X100T

‘My Menu’ is another great feature that allows you to store frequently used menu items on a single page. The best part of this is that it pops up as soon as you press the Menu/OK button. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make all the difference!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

Fuji have took a great camera like the X-Pro1 and improved everything that needed improving. Then they added all the best bits from the other X-Series cameras and threw in a few features that we didn’t even know we needed. The fairies then sprinkled just the right amount of magic dust and hey presto – The X-Pro2. It’s an absolute joy to use!

X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2
X-Pro2 & The 35mm f2

I now have a dilemma. Do I upgrade my two X-T1’s for two X-T2’s or sell them both and buy another X-Pro2? But while I’m thinking about that one, Fuji – how about a 24mp X100 with identical features and an identical button layout as the X-Pro2.


To see more of Derek’s work, click here. 

 

Make a home studio – in your bath!

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Written by Roger Payne

The time had come. I’d been trying to justify keeping my X100S and X100T for some time but, in reality, since T had arrived, S had been spending increasingly lengthy spells in the cupboard. So, with a heavy heart, I decided to sell. The obvious route was on eBay, so I cleaned the camera up and took a couple of snaps before preparing my listing.

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My initial shot (above) was very typical of the sort of image you see on eBay – lit with flash from the front, it hardly shows my lovely X100S in the best light, while the background is distracting. I didn’t think it would appeal to buyers, so I decided to try an alternative tack and headed upstairs into my bathroom…

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Admittedly, this isn’t the most obvious room in the house to start taking product pictures but, in reality, it’s got a ready made studio for product shots – the bath. White, with a nice curve, the bath bounces plenty of light around to get even coverage and it has a clean, uncluttered background that won’t distract from the item on sale.

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Using an X-T1 with an XF18-55mm lens, I positioned the X100S at the opposite end to the taps, flicked out the X-T1’s rear screen and used the lens cap under the end of the lens to keep everything nice and straight. The X-T1’s screen is perfect for images like this, although fixed screen X-series models will be fine – you might just have to contort yourself into the bath a little! I chose an aperture of f/11, ISO 1600 and used the two second self-timer for hands-free shooting and took a shot.

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Not bad. Considering this was under tungsten light in my bathroom, I instantly had a better image than my earlier front-on flash lit effort. There was, however, a slight orange colour cast as I’d left the X-T1 on the Auto white-balance setting. I switched to the Incandescent white-balance option and took another.

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Better. The colour cast has now all but gone, but I still thought it could be improved further – the highlight on the lens and on the handgrip were distracting, caused by the main light above and to the left of the camera as you look at it. To overcome this problem, I deployed a diffuser on the bath over the top of the camera. I had a ready-made one, but you could use a large sheet of tracing paper to get a similar effect.

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Hey presto, the distracting highlights had disappeared! But I still wasn’t completely happy, so I tried one more option, leaving the diffuser in place and attaching an EF-42 flashgun on to the X-T1. I pointed the flashgun head straight up so the light bounced off the ceiling and switched the white-balance back to Daylight.

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The result is below. Good isn’t it? And you’d never know it was taken in a bath. Naturally, you don’t have to use this idea purely for auction site listings, you could be far more creative, but there’s little doubt that this is a great way to boost the look of items you’re selling. I posted the listing and sold the camera for the price I wanted within a couple of days. What did I use the proceeds of the sale for? To buy an X70, of course!

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Why I chose Fujifilm X – Andy May

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Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

Andy_May_HeadshotI’m a photographer based just outside of Bath, UK. Reading books as a child was all about the pictures. I’m a visual person and love to create. I guess being a visual person photography has become a natural creative outlet for me. I’ve had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember, I don’t recall a specific moment that made me fall in love with taking pictures, it’s just been a life long love that crept up on me.

I did the whole college course thing, read books (looked at the pictures) and tried to improve my photographic knowledge and skills. My first ‘real camera’ was an Olympus OM-1n. Learning on film was slow and expensive.

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In 2004, I moved to a digital DSLR with which digital photography brought a whole new learning curve. But the addition of Photoshop and digital processing really opened up a new world of creative options for me.

I think that having children of my own was what really got me hooked. I started to appreciate the significance of capturing moments in time. Kids are one of the most challenging and rewarding subjects to photograph.

As my photography progressed I found myself leaning towards studio shooting as a firm favourite, as I liked being able to experiment and control light. I don’t think that you can beat great natural light but you are at the mercy of mother nature – when you are shooting to a schedule, artificial light is your friend.

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Why did you choose to shoot with the Fujifilm X series?

I have always been an SLR shooter, but it got to a point where my gear was impractical to carry everywhere with me. Even carrying a “Lightweight” bag wasn’t really that portable – and after a whole day on the shoulder you certainly felt it.

My journey into the X-System started with the X100 in 2012. This gave me the quality that I wanted in a small & light package. As a result, I started to carry a camera about with me everywhere.

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Having used the X100 for a while I found that I was using my SLR system less and less for personal work. And when the X-T1 came out I decided to take the jump – flogged my SLR kit and moved to Fuji. The layout of the controls on the X-T1 is an absolute godsend for me. I love being able to turn a physical dial for all the important stuff and in 2015, I used the X-T1 for a 365 project. I used it with just the XF18-55mm and a Samyang 12mm. This little combo went everywhere with me, everyday for a whole year.

It didn’t let me down, not once.

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I don’t consider myself to be a niche photographer. If I see something that interests me, I’ll shoot it. I enjoy portraiture and people do make up the majority of my work. Part of the appeal of the Fuji system was its small size. When photographing people with the X100 or X-T1 it stays out of the way so I can get a better connection with my subject, it’s less imposing.

Credit: Ben Lowrey
Credit: Ben Lowrey

What is your favourite lens in our range and why?

I guess with portraiture making up the majority of my work, it has to be my most recent addition – The 50-140 f2.8. Yes it is starting to get into heavy gear territory but not so much that I notice it. The quality of this lens is simply stunning, at any focal length and at any aperture.

Model: Freyalily
Model: Freyalily

The above image was shot using the X-T1 and 50-140mm in very low light (using UV) the autofocus had no problems locking on, and the OIS really helped here.

It’s great in the studio too. Having the flexibility of a zoom really helps. If your lucky enough to have the extra space you can make the most of it -from mid telephoto to telephoto gives a great deal of flexibility quickly without breaking your flow.

Model: Paul Walker
Model: Paul Walker
Models: Jaz Talbot & Paul Walker
Models: Jaz Talbot & Paul Walker

Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

I’ll admit that I’m not the most organised photographer. I don’t plan things in any great detail and tend to shoot by feel. When shooting people it’s always tricky to get them to relax in front of the camera, very few people feel completely at ease under the spot light – even models. Communication before the shoot is key – even if you don’t have every last detail planned, share what you do know with your client.

When you are ready to shoot, don’t. Put the camera down and talk to your victim (I mean subject). The usual pleasantries are fine, “How was the traffic” or talk about the weather (I’m allowed, I’m British) anything to break the ice and try to build rapport.

Once I’m all set up a trick I often use is to ask my subject to keep looking in my general direction and don’t worry about me. I tell a little white lie and say that I’m just testing my light / exposure to make sure I get everything set up correctly. I know my gear and through experience I know my settings are fine. The thing is that the subject doesn’t think that the photos will be used. I find quite often these first few frames can be the most natural.

Model: Layla Leigh
Model: Layla Leigh

The image above was taken with a beauty dish against a white wall, using the “Don’t mind me I’m just mucking about technique”

Talking of mucking about, relax and enjoy yourself. Everyone likes to have fun and a bit of silliness now and again makes great images.

Model: Layla Leigh
Model: Layla Leigh

What’s next for you?

The last 12 months or so have been amazing for me. I’ve met so many great new people through photography. I’ll keep on getting out and about, planning shoots and producing more themed work. The summer will soon be here and I’m hoping to be ready for it. I’m always on the lookout for a great location that can be used to shoot in / on / over / under. I have a couple of things in the pipeline that are still just concepts at present but will develop over the next few months – I just need to find the time somewhere !

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Contact info

To see more of Andy’s work, please visit his website and social channels.

Twitter @Kuhlephoto
Instagram @Kuhlephoto
Blog www.kuhlephoto.tumblr.com
Facebook https://m.facebook.com/andymayphotography/
Website www.andymayphotography.uk

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:

To Glastonbury and beyond with Tom Corban

By Tom Corban

I went down with a crash. Almost immediately the mud started to seep through my trousers which were already soaked by the rain. I had cradled the two X-T1s in my arms as soon as I felt my feet sliding away from me. The rain had no affect on them, it just collected into droplets and ran off. The rain that fell on me however seemed to go into my bones. I sat up and looked around. I was surrounded by thousands of people all bent on having a good time – and succeeding. I looked down at the rain soaked cameras, it was then that I realised what I had become. How on earth did this happen?


Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 25 June 2015. Aerial view of part of the Glastonbury Festival site from the Ribbon Tower. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 25 June 2015. Aerial view of part of the Glastonbury Festival site from the Ribbon Tower. © Tom Corban

But first, a bit about me. 

UntitledI first became interested in photography at the age of 8 or 9.  My parents bought me my first camera as a birthday present shortly afterwards. As my interest grew I went to the public library to learn about processing and printing. I managed to acquire a second hand enlarger, a developing tank, some dishes and had managed to blackout my bedroom by hanging all the clothes I possessed over the window. This was well before the days of central heating, and I had a wall mounted infra red heater that glowed red which I used as a makeshift safelight when printing. Surprisingly this rather makeshift approach worked and the experience of seeing a print gradually appear as it was gently rocked in the developing tray was magical. I still have that sense of wonder when I look at prints today. The technology is different but the magic of creating a record of a moment that makes up life’s experiences remains. It gets even better when I can create an image that goes beyond straightforward recording something and which connects with other peoples emotions from when they saw or experienced something similar. That’s the reason I love combining travel and photography. It creates so many privileged situations and I find it increases the possibility of creating the types of images I love.

I continued to dabble with photography into my 20’s but life gets busy and a career in Public Service refocused my priorities until much later in life. Now with that career behind me (and contrary to public belief Public Service can have high job satisfaction and be fun) I have reengaged with photography and am now building a second career.

Why Fuji?

Why indeed. To be honest it all came as a bit of a surprise to me as I considered myself to be a Canon shooter.  I did buy an X100 when they first came out. I was seduced by the look and feel of it. The handling reminded me of and old Leica I used to own. I loved the simplicity, the clear controls and small size.

Unfortunately it did not work out for me. I found the focusing too slow and the camera stayed in a draw for a few years. In time the X100s was released but I was still not tempted. Eventually someone told me that Fuji had released updated firmware for the X100. It took me another few months before I downloaded it and gave it a try.

What a difference! It became the camera I thought I had bought in the first place. What impressed me more though was the fact that Fuji made the firmware available for the X100 rather than withholding it in order to get more people to to buy the X100s.

0074

I thought that it was remarkable that a company would show such loyalty to its existing customers, especially in this day and age where incentives are only offered to new customers. I was so impressed with the improved handling that, when the X100t came out I bought one. I took it with me that same day when I took the dog out for a walk with the intention of trying it out. Nothing spectacular, just a nice shot of sheep and lambs in the sunshine on the Dorset coast with the sea as the background.

I was wondering if I could use the WiFi app to simplify my news workflow so, just to test things out,  I used the Fuji app to put an image on my phone and from there uploaded it to the news agency. It was only when the license fee arrived some months later that I realised that the image had been published on the Telegraph Online website before I got home. I love the simplicity and size of this camera, and unsurprisingly, my Canon 5D large and heavy by comparison.

I had a trip to Spain coming up and I really wanted to reduce the weight of the gear I was carrying in the backpack, so I decided to buy the X-A2 with the kit zoom lens and the 10-24 f4 lens. Although there were clear limitations compared to using the 5D kit there were also wonderful benefits. It was not just the weight either, I was less “visible” as a photographer. I could hand hold at lower shutter speeds, the electronic screen was wonderful in dark environments, the lenses were sharp and significantly I found that I was using the Jpeg files with little or no tweaking rather than the RAW files which resulted in less time in front of a computer screen. The GPS tagging via the Fuji phone app helped enormously when it came to captions and keywords. Overall a considerable saving of time.

It’s a slippery slope. I went and tried out an X-T1 with the idea of trading in my 5D mk 2 but keeping the 5D mk3. The logic being that I would have a lightweight travel kit and shoot news stuff using either the X-A2 and the X-T1, or the Canon 5D mk 3 and the X-T1 depending on the circumstances. On trying the X-T1 out, I found I loved it as much as the X100T, and it has the same WiFi capacity. I also found out that Cactus make some speedlight triggers that will allow Fuji cameras to use canon speedlights using the Cactus transmitter to control the power of the flash. That was it then, I bought one and a 50-140 f2.8 lens. I was intending to use it and the Canon 5D mk 3 a couple of weeks later at the Glastonbury Festival where I was one of the team of accredited photographers. As I prepared the kit for the event I wondered if those nice people at Fuji would lend me another X-T1 and a couple of lenses so I could cover the festival using only the lighter Fuji gear. Well-they can only say no.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 23 June 2015. On the night before the Glastonbury Festival opens to the public festival participants build a small fire to keep warm. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 23 June 2015. On the night before the Glastonbury Festival opens to the public festival participants build a small fire to keep warm. © Tom Corban

They said yes, which is how I came to be sitting in the mud in the company of 175,000 festival goers, countless volunteers, specialist staff, police, performers and somewhere on the site, that nice Mr Eavis. As I wiped the rain off the cameras and checked them for damage I realised I had become a “Fuji shooter”.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 27 June 2015. Rain, what rain. Stilt wearing bicycle riders prepare to entertain the crowds in the Theatre & Circus area as Saturday turns into a scorcher. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 27 June 2015. Rain, what rain. Stilt wearing bicycle riders prepare to entertain the crowds in the Theatre & Circus area as Saturday turns into a scorcher. © Tom Corban

So how did it go?

Well it all went rather well, which was pleasantly surprising considering that the X-T1s were a new camera to me. The firmware in the cameras was 3.11. I had been hoping that version 4.0 with the significantly improved focusing would be available by the time the festival began. Unfortunately it wasn’t. Despite that, the focusing on the X-T1 was better than I expected. In most conditions it worked well and was accurate. I struggled with it a little in low light though and it was too slow for some fast moving situations. Having said that, I changed my technique over the course of the festival and my results improved.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. Roger Daltry and Pete Towshend, otherwisw known as The Who headline on the Pyramid Stage. © Tom Corban

Shooting the Pyramid Stage at night was the most difficult environment because of the rapidly changing lighting and the continually moving musicians. I ended up using continuous focusing, with the pre focusing switched on and the drive set to continuous fast. I also ramped the ISO up more than I would normally do and stopped the 50-140mm lens down a bit rather than using it wide open. To keep the speed up I shot Jpegs. With this combination, the number of sharp images increased dramatically. Unfortunately so did the overall number of images shot resulting in taking considerably longer to edit them. Up until then I had been shooting Raw and Jpegs intending to use the Jpegs and have the RAW files for anything where the Jpegs were inadequate. It’s a credit to Fuji’s technology that, despite some challenging lighting conditions the Jpegs remained superb throughout. With exquisite bad timing I picked up an email as I walked out of the festival on the Monday morning saying that Fuji just released the significantly improved version 4 Firmware!

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Several heavy downpours soaked the crowd during the afternoon. Despite the soaking spirits remained high and the Glastonbury mood prevailed. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Several heavy downpours soaked the crowd during the afternoon. Despite the soaking spirits remained high and the Glastonbury mood prevailed. © Tom Corban

The camera’s handled well and sat in my hand nicely with most of the controls easily accessible. It was a bit tricky at first to change the focus point with the function buttons on the back, but that improved as I got used to the camera. Even so replacing the OK/Menu button with a joystick control that would perform both the OK/Menu control and move the focus point would be wonderful. Like all these things though, its about getting the right balance and I am aware that such a change may not be possible without compromising the size and style of the camera body.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Nadya Tolokonnikova addresses the Left Field where large crowds attended to hear her and Masha Alekhina, the founding members of Pussy Riot, talk about their experience of the Russian Prison system and their continuing fight for human rights. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 26 June 2015. Nadya Tolokonnikova addresses the Left Field where large crowds attended to hear her and Masha Alekhina, the founding members of Pussy Riot, talk about their experience of the Russian Prison system and their continuing fight for human rights. © Tom Corban

Having the shutter speed, the ISO setting, the drive and the exposure compensation easily accessible via dials on the top of the camera was wonderful. Perhaps it was because I spent my early life using cameras with that sort of arrangement but I took to it immediately and it felt more natural that having to go through a menu system, especially with the ISO setting. This ease of access combined with the Electronic Viewfinder meant that I could accurately assess difficult lighting conditions and make the necessary exposure compensation without having to take a shot and play it back on the LCD to check the histogram.

The combination of one body with the 16-55 f2.8 and the other with the 50-140 f2.8 worked really well. Most of the images were created with these two lenses. It made working fast and easy. Given small size and low weight of the kit it also made swapping between cameras fast and easy. I don’t like changing lenses when I am working in this sort of environment as I have to work fast and upload news pictures soon after they are taken. Dust on the sensor slows down the processing stage enormously.  When I did change lenses though, I did not get any dust problems, or if I did the built in sensor cleaning mechanism got rid of it. I don’t know if I was just lucky of if the design of the Fuji sensor made a difference but it was a refreshing change.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 29 June 2015. On the morning after the Festival ends a weary revellers make their way up the hill and out of the Festival Site. © Tom Corban

After a couple of days using the cameras, when I had got to the stage of not having to think about it I began to really enjoy them. The fun and experimentation of photography seemed to be coming back and I really enjoyed using the tilting LCD screen which made it easier to shoot from unusual angles. I also was not getting the aches and pains I was used to in these sort of environments. Given that I was on my feet and working from about 7:00 am to 1:30 am the next morning (with a short break sometime in the afternoon) I felt remarkably relaxed.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 27 June 2015. The Glastonberry Festival relies on many voluntary Stewards who need no encouragement to enter into the efestival spirit. © Tom Corban

As I enjoyed this new found freedom it all went wrong..

I had found somewhere to sit and have a coffee. As I stood up I realised that I had lost a camera. As the knot in my stomach formed my mind tried to work out where I had been and where I could have left it. My pulse rate went up as I started to take straps belts and bags off so that I could find out if I had lost my camera or the one Fuji had loaned me. Neither, they were both still there. So what had I lost?  I checked the other lenses, the Speedlight, the other accessories. They were all still there.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. Lionel Richie performs live during his first ever British festival appearance in the traditional Sunday “legend” spot on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. Lionel Richie performs live during his first ever British festival appearance in the traditional Sunday “legend” spot on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. A youngster shows her appreciation as Lionel Richie performs live during his first ever British festival appearance in the traditional Sunday “legend” spot on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. A youngster shows her appreciation as Lionel Richie performs live during his first ever British festival appearance in the traditional Sunday “legend” spot on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival. © Tom Corban

All that had happened was that I had got used to using the cameras and had forgotten about them. I had stood up, and being used to carrying two Canon 5Ds with L series lenses attached, the load I was carrying was so light that I thought I had lost a camera. This happened a few times over the subsequent days, that sudden feeling of panic followed by a feeling of relief, then foolishness.

One final thing worth mentioning is the viewfinder. Its fabulous.

One of the reasons I bought full frame cameras in the past was that I had used the C type sensors and was not impressed with the size of the image in the viewfinder. The X-T1 viewfinder with its magnification factor and “Full” mode is a joy to use. For me it was a game changer.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. As the festival gets into full swing for the last day the Emergency Exit Company Staff Team with their Disco Turtle and deep sea entourage, hold their Office Party. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 28 June 2015. As the festival gets into full swing for the last day the Emergency Exit Company Staff Team with their Disco Turtle and deep sea entourage, hold their Office Party. © Tom Corban

So in summary, as I said earlier, it all went rather well. In a couple of heavy downpours the cameras, the 16-55 f2.8 and the 50-140 f2.8 were unaffected, It seems that the weather resistance really does work. The X-T1 is a joy to use, handles well and is robust & light. The lenses are sharp and considering the max aperture, remarkably light. The combination of the 16-55 and 50-140 were used most of the time (although I must confess to having a soft spot for the 10-24mm). The focusing with the 3.11 firmware is not up to the speed of a DSLR but the version 4 firmware seems to be a considerable improvement.

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 29 June 2015. On the morning after the Festival ends a weary reveller makes her way up the hill and out of the Festival Site. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 29 June 2015. On the morning after the Festival ends a weary reveller makes her way up the hill and out of the Festival Site. © Tom Corban

So what next?

Well I have just started the planning for a 6 week trip to India and its definitely the Fuji camera’s that will be coming with me. And, if you would like to see more of my work please visit me at:

www.tomcorban.co.uk

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 29 June 2015. As the festival goers leave the site seagulls move in for the pickings. © Tom Corban
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, UK. 29 June 2015. As the festival goers leave the site seagulls move in for the pickings. © Tom Corban

 


Learn more and buy now


Click here to find retailers selling the Fujifilm X-T1


To learn more about the XF16-55mm click here

To learn more about the XF50-140mm click here

WARNING TCL-X100 causes more X100 series love

I was lucky enough to receive the TCL-X100 for Christmas and have barely had it off my X100s since. My beloved X100s goes with me everywhere and this is why it is probably my favourite camera. Though the TCL does make it far less ‘pocketable’, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyable shooting experience. The jump from 35mm to 50mm equiv. doesn’t sound like much but it does change how you shoot with this camera. It is definitely better for portraits, where the narrower angle of view helps to isolate a subject.

TCL-3
This isn’t the best example, but if this was taken without the TCL then you would see a lot more of the barn, which might distract from the dog. For some reason I seem to have used lots of dog pictures as examples!

In terms of how this affects image quality and auto focus, I haven’t really noticed any difference, the images are still coming out wonderfully and auto focus doesn’t seem to have been affected in real world situations.

What is nice about this converter is that it is so simple, no electronics, just a well made metal barrel filled with beautiful glass. This is nice as it doesn’t add anymore complexity to X100 series shooting, which is so wonderfully simple and intuitive. Combined with the WCL-X100, this gives you a lens set up option of 28mm, 35mm or 50mm equiv. focal length, giving this little package a whole lot of usage options.

TCL-4

Though the original joy of the X100 series is that it is a fixed lens, the ability to simply screw on an adapter for a wider or narrower lens option makes this a really flexible set up.

TCL-6

The XF35mm F1.4 is a gorgeous lens but the benefit of using the TCL-X100 over the 35mm for portraits, especially using lights, is the leaf shutter which gives me flash syncing up to 1/1000 second! Yes I lose a stop from F1.4-F2, but generally for low light situations when working I would have the XF23mm F1.4 and the XF56mm F1.2 because they are wonderfully fast and sharp. I’m sure there are people who will still prefer the XF35mm F1.4 over this converter but for me it is going to replace it.

TCL

Have you had a go with the TCL-X100? If so then let us know what you think of it. Any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Guest post: My Wedding Photographer Mindset. Or: How I learned to stop worrying and Love Fujifilm.

By Mick Servodio

Ok. Let me start by saying: that this is not another fanboy drooling over his Fujifilm gear. I won’t be talking Tech in this Post. I will be talking from the heart. About me, my experiences. I know you know about the cameras (those Fujifilm cameras). So, no drooling here. This is a bit more than that (and hopefully not less than that!).

Let me start by telling you who I am. I’m a bit like you. I love photography. I love the arts. I sort of fell into it. You see, I’m a cook by trade, and have had photography as a hobby. But I do now consider myself a working, semi-professional, whose main focus is wedding photography. I lived in Brisbane, Australia, where I built up my business, but now I live in Perth (for about 18 months). I’m working under the name of Velvet Photography (Check out my website)

X100S

In that short time in Perth, I have pretty much built up my business from scratch. It’s doing Ok. But luckily I know how to cook for a living while I continue to lock in those bookings (and I am).
I’ve come from Team Nikon. Starting with a d80, then a D700, and all that great glass that came with the cameras. It was my gear, and I was used to shooting with it.

So what happened?

I wanted a personal camera. Something for my own. Something that didn’t remind me of a workhorse. That’s when I found the Fujifilm X100. It was the camera that got me totally hooked. I loved everything about it. The retro Chic styling: the Hybrid viewfinder. Just everything. And once I got used to it, I even got used to its quirks. But you know, most of all, it got me loving my craft again: Photography felt passionate again to me. It was more than just work

Now I’ve read this a lot from other photographers. But why do we hear it over and over? We seem to hear this commonality because it’s a common truth for so many of us. I can say for certain that it was 110% true for me.

Initially this was just going to be a camera just for me. I needed something to be separate from the job. Something to take to all those family functions without cringing every time someone asked me to bring my camera with me.

The X100 was my loved personal camera right up until I sold it, and bought a 2nd hand X-E1. This camera made the addiction serious. When I brought it along to a wedding, I became surprised with how much it was getting used. The client ended up getting about 40% of their images with the X-E1, and the 35mm lens.

But the transition for me wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The real challenge was breaking away from the headspace of what it means to be a Professional Photographer, and how one should look. And in my mind, it had to be a guy with BIG cameras, and massive, long, heavy lenses. That was it. There was no other look. And all I could think for ages was what would people (that is: paying clients) think when I rocked up shoot their Lush wedding with some tiny cameras that were smaller than Uncle Bobs Gear. It was on my mind so much and often that I almost put it out of my mind. There was no way I could pull this off. How could I be taken seriously as a pro? It shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. I wanted to work through this. And this is how it did it:

X100S

I used my D700 as a security blanket of sorts. It was hung over my shoulder as I shot with the x-e1 at my next wedding. This was my way of working through this Image I was (self) programmed to project. For me, the Image of Velvet Photography (me) was everything. I had to look the part. But in the end, I worked through it. The new mindset was: “I’m making choices for both myself and my client. These cameras make me happy, and so, if I’m happy to shoot a wedding like this, then my clients will benefit”. Or something like that.

But like any addict, I wanted more. That’s when the X-T1 came in. And then that WAS it for me. This was the game changer for me, and I didn’t care about Nikon. Suddenly it was a paperweight. Suddenly I was drooling (but not like a fanboy). I was enamoured with the dials. OMG: the dials spoke to me. And suddenly I wished I had grown up shooting on Film. Because this was what it would have been like. All this control at one finger tips.

The images coming from the X-T1 were great, and best of all the response time from this camera was something that I could finally take more seriously than the previous two cameras I had owned.

There seems to be a consensus that the focusing of all the Fujifilm cameras just are not fast enough (well, this is what I keep reading on forums and blogs), but for me, and for what I’m doing, the X-T1 is fast enough for me. And this is what this line of cameras has taught me: to slow down as a photographer, and to think about everything I shoot a little more. There is no more “spray and pray” mentality here. This camera was all about increasing the percentage of keepers. And there were more keepers than ever before, even though I was shooting less than before (totals, I mean).

So what’s my new line-up now?

Well, there’s the X-T1, with the 18-55 the 35mm 1.4 (which gets a lot of use), and the 56mm 1.2 which is without a doubt the nicest lens I have even owned. I don’t have to worry about shooting wide open because I know the images will be tac sharp. TAC. SHARP.

X100S

Back by my side is the X100S with its fixed field of view (23mm). I had forgotten how much I loved shooting with this. After all, it was a little sentimental buying this camera that looked identical to the first camera that had started it all for me. And yes, I admit it, I LOVE the retro chic look of it.
At the time of writing, I’ve just ordered the 23mm Prime for my X-T1. I’ve only heard good things about it, and I can’t wait to add it to my bag.

Having this new line-up of gear means a little retraining for myself. You see, I was used to shooting with the Nikon 24-70 , and the 70-200. The longest lens in my bag now is the 56mm, but I have found this to be enough reach. It just means I have to think differently. Time to freshen up the approach to my business, and my craft as an artform.

And as far as what people think? Well, all I know is that the X100S was a great conversation starter at a couple of weddings. Stuff like: “How old is that camera?” and “Is that a leica?”

X100S

The transition wasn’t smooth sailing, but it’s been great. For me and the Photographic journey I’m on, it’s all been about getting out of a rut, getting into a new mindset, and believing in a new system. The system may not be right for everyone. Some may not even have an interest in what else is out there, but the Fujifilm range of Bodies and Lenses works for me. It really does. It’s not about Pepsi or Coke anymore, I keep saying to anyone who will listen. I needed to change the way I was working, because I’m not getting any younger, and the idea of carrying around gear that was optically on par with what I was using, not to mention lighter was more than appealing. But in reality it was a lot more than that. I needed to find that spark again. I didn’t have it (even though I was producing some very fine work with my Nikon line up). I’ve found it now, and I stand tall and proud with these cameras over my shoulders as I work. I thank Fujifilm. My back also thanks you.

Related links:

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X100S

X-E1

X-E1

X-E1

X-T1

All of the images in this blog post are © Velvet Photography.