I’m still getting used to the Fuji X-T10 and when the opportunity arose yesterday for a few hours on Marsden Moors I grabbed the camera, the Samyang 12mm and my Lee filters and headed for the moors. Let me firstly say that it was freezing and windy up there. It was warm and still when I set off and therefore I was in shorts and a fleece but fortunately my old coat was lurking in the boot of the car as when I stepped out on Buckstones Edge (also known locally as Nont Sarah’s) it was anything but warm and still.
To my mind it takes a brave soul to leap off Buckstones Edge to go paragliding but when I arrived there were four such hardy individuals in the air. With a 12mm lens I was never going to capture action images but they do add a sense of scale (above).
I had previously experimented with using the Lee Seven5 filter system on the Samyang 12mm lens but found that the full-sized 100mm Lee filters were less problematic particularly when stacking filters. Even so, when using the polariser (above) there was slight vignetting in the corners. Not a huge deal as it could be handled in post-production but nevertheless worth remembering. Another way around the problem is to frame the scene a little larger than you need in order to crop out the corners I guess.
So despite the user being rather cold the Lee 100mm system acquitted itself well up on Buckstones Edge and the smaller size of the X-T10 and Samyang, compared to a Nikon D800E and 14-24 f2.8, was not a problem in any significant way. I did need to get my reading glasses out at times to check the screen information but I do that with my Nikons too.
I tried some long exposures with both Little and Big Stoppers but the sky was coming out mainly white with few streaks of colour so gave that up for another day and headed down to Scammonden Water to try my luck there.
The vegetation around the beck, indeed around the whole of the area was particularly lush and verdant and so I did something I’ve never done before and switched the shooting mode to Velvia. I am a big fan of Velvia transparencies but have never been convinced by Velvia simulation modes on cameras or indeed plug-ins for post production. However, in the spirit of getting to know the X-T10 I turned it on safe in the knowledge that I was shooting RAW+JPEG so had a safety net.
As I think the image above shows, the “Velvia” JPEG, this is straight out of the camera, did a pretty good job overall. Velvia was noted for highly saturated, vivid colours and the X-T10 simulation delivers just that.
I work mainly in black & white but have to say that the richness of these JPEGs means that I have lost my aversion to Velvia simulations. I was already a fan of the “Classic Chrome” simulation on the X-T10 but in the right situation I think that the Velvia option is worth using too.
So, my “journey” with the Fuji’s continues to be very positive and I am starting to really appreciate how this system can complement and work alongside my larger Nikon DSLR-based system.
It may just be because of my recent researches but I’ve seen a lot of blog posts along the lines of “My journey with Fuji”, “My switch from [insert brand here] to Fuji” or “Moving to Fuji – my story”. So the virtual world probably doesn’t need another such post. But then again I figured that as my posts are read by approximately one and a half people each time perhaps it would be OK to slip this one in under the radar.
I was as it happens a very early “adopter” buying the Fuji X100 when it first came out and I instantly became enamoured by its retro styling and the way it forced me back into a way of shooting I’d last enjoyed thirty years previously.
That however was the honeymoon and whilst I continued to use the X100 regularly as shown by the images above it’s shortcomings and quirks finally led to it being left at home more and more until 2015 when, whilst switching my DSLR kit from Canon to Nikon, I finally decided to part company with the Fuji.
It was a difficult decision, in so many ways it was a joy to handle but it could be a frustration to actually use and despite its image quality (I won a club competition with an X100 image) the fact that it was spending so much time in the drawer meant I wasn’t getting any meaningful benefit from ownership. The major firmware update in late 2013 came too late for me, by that time the X100 and indeed Fuji were rarely in my thoughts and I completely missed the announcements. I did update the firmware before selling the camera but by then the die was cast. I cried quietly inside at how little I got for it but that’s another story.
Looking back this morning I am well pleased with some of the images I made with the X100. On those occasions when I could be bothered to wrestle with it’s idiosyncrasies I was usually happy with the results even if getting there was sometimes somewhat painful. I never used the Fuji JPEGS from the X100 but was always more than happy with the quality of the RAW (RAF) files it produced. From time to time though after selling the X100 I did regret the decision.
Recently however I’ve been looking again at the Fuji X100, now in its third iteration as the Fuji X100T. I initially started looking at classic film rangefinders with no intention of reentering the premium large sensor, fixed prime lens digital market. However, wherever I looked the Fuji X100T kept cropping up in articles, blog posts and discussion groups. Which naturally meant I followed the threads and dug deeper. And deeper. And yet deeper still.
So deep in fact that the X100T entered the house and I have very quickly embraced this newest iteration of the X100. The handling is the same but the user experience vastly improved. Using this style of camera needs a different approach compared to a (D)SLR, more akin to a traditional rangefinder, but as with everything the secret is in getting to know your kit and actually using it regularly. I’ve used the X100T daily since I got it and the mechanical side of things is starting to become intuitive; muscle memory is being formed and changing settings is becoming easier through repetition. I think that is the secret with any camera, practice, practice and yet more practice. Several of the buttons on the camera can be customised and I’ve been through three separate formations so far, each slightly more helpful to my way of working than before.
Getting to know the camera hasn’t been without its frustrations of course but I’m already feeling at home with the X100T and the quality of the images who I get it right make the effort very worthwhile. Two main things stand out art present. Firstly, the camera tends to under-expose to my taste in most situations, not a major problem as I now keep the EV dial on +1 most of the time but I do need to keep an eye on exposure. I will experiment further with exposure modes and see if that helps in this regard.
The X100T is great for candid photography and the image quality at ISO 6400, when exposed correctly, is superb. No complaints from me. The image above was shot at 1/60th second at f4 and ISO 6400 from a distance of five feet or so with the camera sat on my leg.
Which leads me to my other frustration, which I would stress is down to my handling and NOT the camera, and that is the number of blurred shots I acquired when street shooting due to the shutter speed being too slow. My bad as they say but I have been setting far too small an aperture for street candids I think. As a landscape photographer I am used to defaulting to f11 as my go-to aperture. When shooting portraits I often use f2.8 or even wider on occasions. Out on the streets of London last week I set the X100T to f8 or f11, auto ISO (with a maximum of 6400) in aperture priority and manual focusing. Looking at the images this morning far too many are blurry and when I dig deeper I’m seeing shutter speeds of 1/15th second or less. When moving on the street I suspect that even 1/30th or 1/60th of a second might be too slow. This is NOT a fault of the camera but it is something to be aware of and for me it is a case of getting used to a smaller, busier viewfinder and keeping my eye on the shutter speed.
Looking back through the images, an aperture of f4 would be ideal with the 23mm lens of the X100T when shooting candids or street photography. This was indoors and 1/100th sec at f4 ISO 1600 with camera to my eye.
Last weeks experiences on the streets of London have taught me a lot about this style of shooting and also given me the confidence that insofar as I am concerned the X100T is going to be the perfect tool for the job.
But of course, I didn’t stop at the X100T as you will know if you’ve read any of my recent posts. A flurry of activity online, selling my Nikon 16-35 lens and the entire EOS M3 kit amongst other items, has provided the budget for a new Fuji X-T10 and four lenses (8mm fisheye, 12mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm).
One thing I have been very conscious of more recently is the weight of my Nikon kit. It is less of an issue when out in the fells for the day with one of my photographic partners but for a day out with the family it is frankly a liability. However, spending five days away, as we did last week, I prefer to have some options other than just a DSLR and 24-70 zoom. But it is not practical, my full Nikon kit is bigger than the suitcase we use for a start! So, whilst researching the Fuji X-series I realised I could put together an excellent system which would mean I could cut down on bulk and weight without compromising on versatility.
Spoiler alert: I bought the X-T10 as my lightweight alternative to the Nikons and at this stage it is not my intention to ditch the DSLRs so don’t expect a “Road to Damascus” moment later in this post because there hasn’t been one … yet.
The images above were all taken with the Fuji X-T10 on a day spent in Kew Gardens, London. I used three lenses during the day, the Samyang 8mm fisheye, the Fujinon 18-55 “kit lens” and the Fujinon 55-200mm. As you will have worked out I had a full-frame equivalent of 27mm through to 300mm at my disposal (if you exclude the slightly more esoteric fisheye) which compares more than favourably to the 24-70 I would have restricted myself to if I’d brought the Nikon DSLR on this trip. Weight-wise I didn’t get the scales out but my shoulders reported no more strain from the Fuji and three lenses than it would have from one lens plus DSLR Nikon set-up.
It is too early to make any detailed conclusions about the X-T10 although I have already fallen for the quality of JPEGs from both Fujis. I used the X-T10 mainly on a walk along the South Bank one afternoon and for a full day in Kew Gardens. It was in my bag at all times though and so did get a brief outing in the West End as the image above shows.
First impressions are very positive though both in terms of handling and in terms of image quality. I was very happy with the Canon EOS M3 I was using recently but have to say that the Fuji experience has been far superior so far. That is not to say the M3 is poor, far from it I still rate it highly, but the Fuji’s have so far provided an even better user experience so I am more than happy with my recent purchases.
Whether or not it becomes a DSLR-killer remains to be seen. I am not even going to entertain the idea of ditching my Nikons until I have used the Fujis for a good six months, which takes us into 2017. I feel confident enough with the X-T10 though to have invested in a Lee Seven5 starter kit and will be testing the system out on my next couple of landscape shoots. If all goes well I will take both systems to Skye in November and use the Fuji for those days when the walking is mostly steeply upwards. But that is jumping head.
At present my introduction to the Fuji X-series has been a very positive one. From having mixed feelings about the X100 in 2011 I find myself in 2016 with an X-T10 and X100T feeling very positive about the system and looking forward to exploring the Fuji X-world further over the coming months.
My grandson recently came downstairs one morning and when asked what he’d like for breakfast replied “McDonalds please”. Now it’s usually porridge or his current cereal of choice, occasionally pancakes but never, until last week, a McDonalds. But why not! So into the car and off to breakfast.
Now I’m not a fan of the McD breakfast experience so grabbed a camera as I left the house. In keeping with recent practice (see this post) it was the first camera and lens I laid my hand on. So it was that whilst Zac tucked into pancakes and syrup I played with the Fuji X-T10 and 18-55 “kit lens” that featured in an earlier post.
Initially I took some pictures of Zac which I immediately sent to family members using the inbuilt wifi capabilities of the Fuji and my iPhone. My attention then wandered to the other diners in the restaurant as the following images show.
I hadn’t really thought of the X-T10 for candid photography; it isn’t completely silent (unlike the X100T) and is also a little bulkier. However, it worked well in this setting. The first two above were not likely to have been noticed by the subjects given one had his back to me and the others are the other side of the room with two glass walls between us. However, the couple below were sat at the next table and no more than six feet away.
“A candid photograph is a photograph captured without creating a posed appearance.”
I’m very cautious with regards to this genre of photography, not least because it seems very loosely defined but mainly because it can be misinterpreted at times. I regularly take photographs of other peoples children in a candid style; unposed but with their full knowledge, and indeed permission. I rarely however take candids “on the street” where the subjects may or may not know I’ve taken their photograph. Every now and then though I do take a camera out with the express intention of making some “street photographs”.
To reference Wikipedia (again):
“Street photography is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment.”
My own take on a definition is a little less pretentiously worded, I see it as documenting everyday life and society around me. People are a large part of street photography but not a necessity to my mind; capturing a slice of life can be done without the presence of people. That said, most of my “street” work contains candid images of passers-by.
There are however definite limits to what I will and won’t photograph in the name of street or candid photography. Pictures that exploit a persons situation for the sake of it without making a social (or political) point are in my mind a no-go. I’m not suggesting that a portrait of a homeless man for example is not legitimate, it is, but for me I would only feel comfortable making the portrait with permission. Juxta-positioning wealth with poverty however might be a different matter (I won’t know how I’d react however until the opportunity arises). Similarly, photographing children is an absolute no-no. That is probably a sad reflection of modern-day Britain and almost certainly means that the kind of socially-driven street photography of the immediate post-war years for example will not exist for future generations to see. I love seeing black and white images of the London street urchins in the 1950s East End but in the twenty-first century that is evidently a taboo photographic subject.
However, slices of modern life, such as the example above, are what I look for when shooting candids on the street. Contemporary life in a multi-cultural society obsessed with technology. The next image echoes this theme.
Neither of these two images mocks or exploits its subjects to my mind, both show a slice of contemporary life and would show future generations a glimpse of how we live now. Incidentally, I took two photographs of this young couple and in the second you can see that she was aware of my presence as she is smiling and looking straight at me.
Another “street” image (above), another mobile phone paired with that staple of British conversation – the weather, or more precisely the rain. All of these fulfil the definition of both candid and street photography. I suspect for many “street photographers” the use of candids is their primary approach although I do know of several photographers who actually approach strangers in the street and ask to take their portrait. These are undoubtedly “street” to my mind but definitely not candid. At present I am more comfortable with the candid approach however there have been several occasions when the subject has noticed I was taking their photograph; in some instances they’ve simply carried on walking or turned away but in others they’ve simply smiled, a courtesy I’ve returned before carrying on my way.
Finally, a vibrant colour image to end this short series, that still manages to maintain the theme of multiculturalism and mobile technology.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a change of scene can be good for my photography so what better opportunity than a day in London. I will post a selection of images when I get back up north at the end of the week.
All images JPEGs from camera with most having no post processing whilst a couple have a vignette or frame added using Snapseed on the iPad.
Ten minutes with Ted whilst he waited for his tea to arrive. All handheld and available light. Lens was the 18-55 “kit” lens. Why “kit”? Well I have never owned a kit lens in a similar configuration of this quality. My research suggested that these Fujinon lenses have been made to a far higher standard than traditional kit lenses and that has been borne out by my first impressions of the Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, to give it it’s full title.
Another new toy has found its way into my kit bag. I only played briefly with it yesterday, the first proper test will come next week when I go to London for a few days. However, I had a blast with it despite only having ten minutes or so and here are the first few shots from this little gem.
The lens is a Samyang 8 mm F2.8 II Fisheye lens which I bought to pair with the Fuji X-T10. It is a fully manual lens which probably helps to keep the costs very low for such an item but they have not skimped on build quality or optical performance if my first few shots are anything to go by. I shall probably do a real-world user review in due course but as someone brought up on old manual film cameras using a fully manual lens is not an issue.
As the shot above shows real care is needed to avoid appearing in the frame yourself but I guess this is part of the fun.
As photographers we tend to try to make our images as appealing as possible on the whole, especially those of us with a leaning towards the pictorial. Let’s face it unless the images are part of a documentary-style story who wants to see the crummy face of town? I guess many of us therefore approach places with a “picture-postcard” mentality, looking for the attractive, quirky or quaint side of town.
Whilst I am at heart a pictorial photographer I have always been drawn to the less-glamourous face of the towns and places I live and work in. I’ve even been known to seek out the grimier side of town when on holiday or visiting somewhere new.
As I perambulated around the edges of Elland today (“Edgelands” – I’ll come back to that in another post) I was musing on how run-down the town is and initially started to wonder how I’d photograph it to attract visitors, say for a tourist information website. But then I thought, how much more interesting to document it as it really is. The plain, unvarnished truth rather than the glossy, beautified fiction of a tourist guide. In truth, I have lots of both types of these images already on my hard drive, particularly the less picturesque; the one above was taken two days ago for example. Thus was born “Elland – Unvarnished”.
Over time I aim to collect these together in a book format but that is to fast-forward to the end of the project. For now I’m going to make a conscious effort to document all of the corners of the town and share them here. I walk around the town a lot and always carry a camera, this will encourage me to walk untrodden streets as well as my familiar thoroughfares.
Today’s pictures (above and below) all have green as the theme. This was not a conscious decision whilst taking them but rather it struck me when I got home and sat down to write this post.
The edges of the town show the effect of the decline in industry, particularly textiles and allied trades, that has caused Elland to become run down over the decades since textiles ceased to be King in this part of the country. Surprisingly, behind some of these crumbling and dilapidated walls business does go on, albeit in far less skilled trades and far less grand surroundings.
From sunsets to baby’s first steps and from the commonplace to the spectacular, from family portraits to macro studies of flowers and from wildlife to architecture, all are subjects I am happy to tackle. For me photography is about documenting every aspect of our lives and surroundings. That is why I will just as happily photograph urban decay and neglect as the sunrise over a picturesque Scottish loch. Both have their places in my work and in all honesty one of them is slightly more accessible than the other!
Just a small selection of images from the Fuji X100t, continuing the exploration of Fuji’s in-camera JPEGs. This time seeing how the camera worked in a high-contrast scene with bright sunlight and deep shadows together with the challenge of shooting into the sun and on the whole it’s handled very well.
These were all taken using the B&W – yellow filter profile in its native state. I’m not unhappy with these straight-from-camera at all but they could do with some extra punch to my eyes so I’m off to find out how to customise these profiles to better suit my tastes.
Once again these are the in-camera JPEGs however I have had to lift the shadows a touch in some of them due to the very high contrast scenes. That said, the post-production work was simply that, a quick tweak to shadows or highlights and re-save. I spent less time processing and saving these eight images than I would normally spend processing just one RAW file. With a bit of tweaking these profiles are going to save me a lot of time at the computer in the future I suspect.