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If you’re shooting landscapes, interiors or even wide environmental portraits on Fujifilm X Series cameras, you’re choices are limited. You’ve the Fujinon 10-24 or the 14mm. If you have the money and want a wide prime, there’s the Touit 12mm f2.8-the jury is out on the value of it. At 1/3 of the price and a full stop faster is the Samyang 12m f2.0. Samyang also goes by the Bower or Rokinon name, but they’re all the same lens. If I was giving advice to someone who want a versatile lens choice at a price, that would be a 17-40 and an 85 on full frame. That’s the 10-24 and 56 (or 60 at a push) on Fuji. I didn’t go that route myself as I started with the 18 and 35 Fujinon lenses. So for my wide I stayed prime and got the cheaper Samyang 12mm. By way of reference, that’s 18mm full frame equivalent field of view.

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Don’t let the price fool you. This isn’t a cheap imitator hoping to wile away your cash and leave you disappointed. Think great value rather than cheap. As with most Samyang lenses, this is a manual only lens. That’s less of a problem than you think, because for most of the things you’d use this for, manual is fine. Set at f16, focus before the infinity more (using Hyperfocal Distancing) and it’ll all be in focus. For Astro stuff, where you really would make use of the f2.0 aperture, it needs some testing to get it just right, but when it’s set, it stays there. The focus ring is quite stiff, which is exactly how you want a manual lens. Mark the lens across the ring and distance scale, that way you can get it bang on the next time with no fuss. Be warned that the distance scale isn’t accurate, so do test with it before committing to shoot. The ring is also a back focusing ring, so the front element stays fixed. If you use screw on filters, or filters holders, you’ll be thankful for this! Personally I’m using the new Hitech-Formatt 85mm system with new holder design, using a 67mm ring. The new design is far better than the old one by miles and miles-but I digress.

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Being a manual lens, you get a manual aperture ring. This goes from f2.0 to f22 with a defined click at half stop intervals. It’s reasonably tight, so not prone to moving. At f22 you are hitting the limits of the APS sensor and getting diffraction, but again on APS f11-f16 with hyperfocal distancing should be in focus from front to back, without diffraction. If you don’t know what diffraction is, it’s blurring due to light bending through the aperture hole and not quite getting into the sensor photosites straight on. Smaller sensors with narrow apertures are susceptible to it. Generally I avoid f22 where I can. On the other end, it’s pretty sharp at f2.0. Often you have to open up for better sharpness, but this lens is quite good for it.

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I have 2 copies of this lens. The first was second hand and has a scratch which the buyer failed to mention on the lens. It’s generally not an issue, and only shows as flare when facing the light source. Of course, I shot a lot of interiors, so after a while, it did become a problem for me. I was happy enough with the lens performance, so I bought a new copy. It’s equally as good as the first, if not better (excluding the scratch, of course). The fact that I was willing to do this should show I’m a firm believer in the lens.

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So far the pros are great value, great range of aperture, solid focus ring, internal focus, sharp at f2, still sharp at f16. There are some cons. There are six aperture blades so bokeh is hexagonal. It does flare a little, giving lovely hexagons on your image (I’m being facetious, it’s not lovely). This is part of what drives the price down of course and it’s a fair trade off. Just keep the lens clean and it’s not as bad. It not so much direct sunlight as windows blowing out in an interior that make it obvious.

One bonus that’s happened since my purchase, is that Lightroom now has Lens Profiles for all named versions of this lens, so the distortions can be fixed automatically.

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Verdict? If you want to go wide on a budget with Fuji, and don’t mind going manual, well, then this is a no brainer. If you need a zoom, then there’s only the 10-24 right now.. and it’s f4, so you’re losing 2 whole stops of light on this one. Amazon Amazon UK B&H Photo Video (Affiliate links)

Note, the silver version can be cheaper.

The Fujifilm X-T10 was announced on the 18th June 2015. I rang Galway Camera Shop, got a price, had a think, then rang back and ordered one. That sounds a bit like a fanboy response, but it wasn’t. In fact, inside my head, I was done with Fuji at that point. The X-Pro1, much as I loved the image quality, was slow to focus.. and just slow in general. I had 2 lenses at the time too, an 18mm f2.0 and a 35mm f1.4. I shoot landscapes, interiors and portraits (of many kinds). The 18 mm wasn’t wide enough and 35 mm wasn’t long enough.

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When the X-T1 was announced, it solved many of my issues, but based on my lack of faith and the expense, I just couldn’t take the risk. When the X-T10 came out with a great feature set and a better price, I decided to give Fuji one last chance. Boy, am I glad. I was far more pleased than I ever expected to be. The X-T10 made me fall in love with photography all over again.

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The camera is really customisable, with plenty of features that made it an indispensable tool. Important things like being easily able to set up a button to turn the viewfinder Exposure preview off for my studio work- meaning it shows the scene in front of you, but not how it’s exposed. I could also turn the exposure preview back on to see how the photo are would look exactly when using natural light. I now find it hard to go back to digital SLRs, I have gotten so used to the electronic viewfinder on the X-T10. Why? Because with exposure preview on, what you see in the viewfinder is exactly what the photo looks like. And because I’ve the preview time set to 0.5 sec, I’m straight on to composing the next shot as my photo flashes by. (I’d even go shorter if it were possible).

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For easy access I’ve set a single press of the shutter speed dial to change it to the control to ISO. The camera focuses directly from the sensor, so the focus point can be anywhere on the image. I’m not restricted to the centre of the image like most digital SLR’s. By adding more glass to the system I’ve gained a lot of options. I now run from 12mm to 140mm, which is 18mm to 210mm in full frame terms. I have that Samyang 12mm, the Fuji 18mm, 35mm, 60mm, 18-55mm, and 50-140mm. This covers what I need for work. Had the camera not worked out, I’d have sold the what I had and continued with Canon full time. But fortunately, the X-T10 just clicked with me.

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I don’t believe the system is complete yet but there is bright news on the horizon. One thing I missed from Canon is high speed sync(HSS). Fuji do not have it implemented in their flash system, though the new flash the EF-X500, will have HSS and an optical trigger system. Chinese manufacturer Cactus have announced version two of their V6 trigger which is multisystem compatible and will work with Fuji (including HSS). That solves my main concern with the system and flash. The remaining concern is flash in low light. Digital SLRs can use a red focus assist being to create contrast, allowing the lens to focus. Because mirrorless cameras focus from the sensor they really need light to focus. Hopefully this can be resolved so I can use Fuji for nightclub work and sell my Canon gear.

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I’d like to talk about my progression with the camera. Initially I only used the Fuji for personal work, but as time passed I started using it more and more for commercial work. There were a lot of benefits to the system. The Wi-Fi connectivity was helpful for remote photography allowing me to shoot rooms while not present for my interiors work. I could set up the shot, turn on the Wi-Fi, then leave the room. From on my phone or tablet (iOS or Android) I could see the shot and remotely change the settings on the camera. It also enabled me to put the camera up on a tall pole making use of height for elevation photography. I also love the tilt screen for interiors. I tend to shoot slight about mid room height, so being able to angle the screen is perfect.

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For my people work I found the electronic viewfinder helped me nail more images. Because what you see is what you get you know before you shoot exactly what the shot is going to look like. For travel and speaking, the X-T10 with four prime lenses weighs less that my Canon Digital SLR. I’ve been able to fit the camera, the four prime lenses (12,18,35 & 60), a flash (Neewer TT850), triggers, spare batteries, memory cards and charger in a camera bag smaller than the Ryanair second carry on bag. Meaning my normal check-in bag is for my clothes again! Now if only there was room for a 7″ tablet in the small bag.

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I am a member of the IPPA the Irish Professional Photographers Association. At one of the Association meetings I met Irish Fuji X photographer, Tom Doherty. Tom explained a little bit about the process of becoming Fuji X photographer so I made contact with Fuji Ireland. From that initial contact I was eventually made a Fuji X photographer myself. I was absolutely delighted when this happened. It’s amazing that a camera, especially one of the cheaper cameras, could have made such an impact on my photography and I’m delighted to be included with this group of ambassadors for Fujifilm.

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Over the past few months I’ve been working with GalwayNOW doing some of their editorials and business sections. It’s been a joy to do this work, and the X-T10 has met no resistance with clients. Using either an Eye-Fi Card, or the Remote app, I show work as we go. Tether is definitely beneficial, so I really hope that we can get wifi tether added to the current wifi options.

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I’m still speaking and teaching a lot. I did classes for The Societies Convention in January, and got to hang with Nathan Wake from Fuji UK-total gent. I’ve also taught at a residential week in Buxton in the UK, again using the Fuji. The most recent event was for the IPPA, where I did a half day class in flash, showing the X-T10 in operation. I did pull out the Canon for about 20 minutes to show HSS.

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I see myself getting more lenses, the new flash, and the rumoured X-T2. Quite a turnaround from where I was just over a year ago! So after a year, is there anything I’d change? Well, I’m delighted with it, but yes there are things. One of them is huge. I’d lose the Drive dial. It’s worse than useless. It forever getting changed when I don’t want it too. Fortunately I know quickly now, but it had me confused. The times I need to change it are few and far between, and I’d rather have an ISO dial than a Drive dial. One thing I need for interiors is more accurate electronic levels. The current one has too wide a range to be useful and I use a hotshot bubble level instead. I also need an up down level so walls are straight. Canon do have one, and it’s great. Faster preview time too, like 0.3 or 0.2 sec. Um.. I’m sure there’s more, but honestly, the features are so good in general. Here’s to the next year with Fuji.

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One of the weak points of the Fuji X system is the flash. The EF-42 is the current flagship, but it overly large in comparison to the camera systems. The Nissin i40 is a far more pleasing flash in that regard, albeit even more basic than the EF-42 in terms of control. I do find that using the EF-42 in TTL and bouncing seems to work better than the Canon equivalents, which often need additional flash exposure compensation to get the light right.

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The EF-42 Flash

There’s a whole lot missing in the system though. No off camera remote control for TTL-either optical or radio for example. But the big thing for me is the lack of an on flash AF Illuminator for club and event work. I’m shooting in places where I often can’t even see the people I’m shooting, so having the flash send out a beam to help focus is essential. Both the EF-42 and i40 have these in the camera (The EF-42 is actually a rebranded Sunpak flash), but they’re not turned on in the Fuji firmware.

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The Nissin i40 Flash

In addition, both of these flashes are relatively low power- at 42 and 40 in Guide Number(GN), they’re shy of the power of most flagship flashes which have GN52 or above. Also, most other flashes can do High Speed Sync, allowing you to shoot with faster shutter speeds than the normal sync speed of the camera.

There is something on the horizon to help with some of these issues: The EF-X500 which was announced (and perhaps overshadowed by) with the launch of the X-Pro2. This flash has a GN of 50, meaning more power. There’s also optical TTL control of up to 3 flashes (though I assume they mean 3 groups, rather than literally 3 flashes). I tend to use manual flash off camera, but can see situations where mixing TTL and flash would work well (like a wedding with fixed background light level and TTL for table work). Someone at the SWPP mentioned they would have radio TTL as well, but the specs doesn’t back this up. Radio TTL is possible with the RoboSHOOT triggers from Serene Automation, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.

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The EF-X500

High Speed Sync is something I did use with Canon to get shallow depth of field outside on bright days with flash, so I am looking forward to seeing this in action on Fuji!

One thing that I’ve not been able to find out is if there is now AF Illumination on flash. This would be the nail in the coffin for my Canon system. It’s the only main thing that has stopped me moving completely. Well, that and Tilt Shift lenses. Hopefully Samyang will step up to the plate on that one!

One aspect of my lighting Masterclass at the Societies Convention was the modifiers you can use on speedlights. For a lot of my work (some of it is on the site and the blog), I use a Godox 120cm Octa (which can be bought from this Ebay link for less than $30 shipped). You can also get it on Amazon UK US Affil. I’ve had others before, but the key advantage of the Godox (besides the excellent material), is that it uses fibre glass rods, making it really robust. So much so that I was able to bend it enough to fit in my suitcase safely. I use this as both a key light and to get a white background on headshots.

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On the other end of the pricing scale is the Elinchrom Rotalux 70cm Deep Octa (Amazon UK/US Affil). This is one of my favourite modifiers of all, because it’s so versatile. Without any diffusion, it acts as a parabolic reflector, focusing the light for a really efficient response. Because it’s an Elinchrom product, it can be used with any of the Elinchrom deflectors, making it act like a beauty dish (it ships with a white one). With just the inner diffusor attached, it gives a beautiful soft light, but with a little kick from the visible silver on the outer part of the softbox. You can add the outer diffusor for even softer, less contrasty light. There’s also nothing to stop you using just the outer diffusor; this will give soft light, but not as soft as with both. So that’s at least 5 different looks you can get from one modifier.

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The Deep Octa is a studio product, but there are a few different product that allow you to use them with speed lights. I’ve gone through a few of them, and by far the best is the Godox Bracket for Elinchrom (Amazon UK/US Affil). Firstly, the flash is clamped in place, rather than using the hotshoe, so balances better. The tilt arm is really robust. It also takes an umbrella or deflector via spring clip. Finally the wide outer ring fits any of the Lastolite EZ Box softboxes-Godox also do their own softbox kit version with a bracket.

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The other value product I showed was the Meking Studio Ringflash. This softbox ring flash works on camera for a softer ring light look, but works just as well off camera. You can also put gels inside it via the next modifier! Again here’s an Amazon UK/US Affil link, but you can get it cheaper on Ebay.

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The final modifier is the MagMod system. This is a mounting system that uses strong rubber and magnets to support a range of modifiers that include gels/holder and grids. I love it. Gone are the velcro straps that are a pain to use, and attaching a grid or gel is so much easier now. I use them with both grids and gels and will add a snoot at some stage.

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Note: Affilialte links are marked as such. It’s not Irish law until March , but I’m showing them as such right now. I don’t get much from them, and it doesn’t cost you any extra. If you find the information useful, please use them to buy!

A big shoutout to the MPA folk that attended my one day seminar ‘Lights Camera Enhance’. Had a great time talk lighting, and being creative, then editing the images we shot in the morning in the afternoon. The lighting was all done with speedlights- The Ryanair photographer way! The Magmod gels and grids went down a treat, as did the Palette in the afternoon.

As well as going through selections and finishing in Lightroom, I looked at retouching in Photoshop, and Alien Skin Exposure and on1’s Perfect Effects 9.5.

Dominika was our model for the class. She was a joy to work with. Here’s a mix of shots, some edited in class, and others lightly edited here at home.

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I made the decision to get a Fuji X-T10 before it was officially launched on June. At the time it was a hesitant choice. I did love the files from my X-Pro1, but the feature set was truly lacking compared to even the E-M5 from Olympus that it replace. I didn’t know if I want to go down the Fuji route at that point. Having only 3 lenses up to then (I’d only just got the 12mm Samyang at that point), I couldn’t do all the jobs I wanted it for. I got a good price from Ray at the Galway Camera Shop, so I decided that if I bought it, at least it’s new enough to get a good price if I needed to sell it on. Reviews of the camera essentially said that it was 90% of Fuji’s flagship camera, at 60% of the price, so I felt it was great value.

Joy. Newest member of the #fujifilm #xmount series, the #xt10 arrived today.

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

So do I have a Fuji X-T10 for sale 2 months later? Not a chance in hell. While not the ultimate camera, I truly love it. I love the size, weight, files, the ergonomics. I love that I’ve been able to customize it, making it really responsive. I’ve used it for studio portraits, location fashion, press shots, food photos, astrophotography, etc etc.. the list goes on. It’s just a beautiful camera to use. I’m now trying to decide do I get another one, or go for an X-T1.

All of my interiors work since then has been shot on it. I worried if the files would be rejected from the Airbnb reviewers for their submissions, but everything has sailed through-bar one where I needed to lighten some of the images. Model clients, headshot clients and business clients have all been delighted with their images. The camera size has never been an issue.

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Now that I’ve waxed lyrical, let me talk about one thing that I can’t do with the camera. It’s not really the fault of the camera though, but a decision made by Fuji in relation to their flashes. Most companies have a red beam that fires from the front of the flash when it’s dark to aid focus. Fuji’s own EF-42 (which I own) is actually based on a Sunpak flash that has such a beam. The 3rd party Nissan i40 also has this light. But. And it’s a big But, Fuji don’t make use of it. So for my nightclub work, it misses focus on way too many shots. Like 50% of them. And it’s simply because of the lack of the red focus beam. The camera does have a focus assist light, but it’s not good enough in the club situation. The flash system is the weakest part of the Fuji ecosystem and one I desperately hope they look into soon.

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For off camera flash, studio work and ambient lighting, the photos this camera creates are just gorgeous. I really want to switch to it full time. And what’s more, the JPEGS from the camera are so good that I’d often consider using just them.

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Other great features I use often: the wifi connection. It’s great being able to remotely control the camera via Wifi. The articulated screen. Great for mid room height shots! Shutter speed. I love having the quick dial for stop jumps, but set it to T and you get all shutter speeds. Electronic shutter. Some of the gigs I’ve shots have been in churches where you can hear a pin drop, so having a silent shooting mode has been great.

Different approach today.. Added wifi! #fujifilm #workflow #property #airbnb #samyang #xt10

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

So would I recommend this camera? Yep, not even a hint of hesitation on that either. I’m still recommending I buy myself a second one. I went for the Silver/Black version (faff).. it’s just cooler than the black one, and I say that as someone with a black X-Pro1!

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My mother used to say that I shouldn’t play with my food. I remember some gag about not playing with your food until you’ve eaten all your toys.. but instead I was playing with my toys while playing with my food.

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For the photographers: Neewer TT850 (a rebadged Godox V850) into a 120cm Octa, with silver reflector. Fuji X-10 with 18-55mm OIS at 55. 1/8 power ISO250 1/180 f5, f7.1. Triggered with Yong Nuo RF602 set, as the Godox transmitter wasn’t in the bag. First image had Octa on the left, the second from behind me.

After uploading the post, I realized the gear was still set up from before I got distracted with editing the site after changing the sites theme (did you notice?). So I went out and did a little more styling and did a BTS shot. Also for processing I just changed the Profile to Pro Neg Std and tweaked shadows and highlights. While a little darker and less saturated, I think it looks more natural. Here’s the shot:

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And here’s the BTS, with the Octa on the left and the reflector (a windscreen sun shade) on the right. Pardon the mess, it was unplanned!

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I’ve been investing in my gear, and because I love the Fuji X-T10 so much, it was time for their pro tele zoom to make its way into my camera bag.. of course my Fuji bag was tiny, so I got a new bag as well.

New bag too #lowering

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

I picked up the Lowe Pro Urban Reporter 250 in a half price sale at my local camera store, Galway Camera Shop. It’s also where I got my new lens, the Fujifilm X 50-140 F2.8 OIS. It’s a red badged pro lens and weighs only slightly more than the slower non IS Canon F4 L 70-200 (The Fuji is 75-210 equivalent). While I do love bargains, I have bought a lot of my gear locally when I can.
This lens is perfect for portraits, sports, and just for shooting things at a distance. At some stage I’ll get the other main Pro Zoom lens, the 16-55 f2.8 OIS. For now the 18-55 f2.8-4.0 OIS will handle that range-something it does admirably.

Bought! #fujifilm 50-140 #lens #photographer

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

The lens is superb. I gave it a go first out at the summer fairground at Leisureland, using it for detail shots of the Big Wheel there. Not all the lights appear to be working on it, but I still got some great shots. As the lens has a collar, I put the tripod release plate onto it for better balance. The X-T10 is a small camera, so I’m not risking that weight on the camera mount unsupported. Obviously I remembered to turn off the OIS (image stabilizer) when using a tripod.

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I’ve used the lens for a studio shoot this week for a client, but I did play with the lens using the wifi on the X-T10 to shoot some self portraits. They were mostly terrible. But I did get some I liked so I ran one through Snapped on my iPhone and then posted to Instagram. Can you tell I’m impressed with this lens?

Playing the #wifi on the #xt10 testing the 50-140 before shooting. It's really sharp. #photographer #selfie #selfportrait #snapseed #blackandwhite #sandisk #elinchrom #beard

A photo posted by Sean McCormack (@seanmcfoto) on

I’m shooting a lot of my work on the Fuji now. All my Airbnb work is done on it now. The Wifi means I can remotely shoot when space is tight. I still use the Canon system for some work, especially low light work with flash like in nightclubs.

About 6 months ago I changed my flash system to Godox. It gives great light, and best of all, I have remote control of the flash power and trigger from the camera. They’re also the only brand on the market with a Li-Ion battery. That means they give 3X the life of a set of AA batteries. In fact, they’ll give 650 full power flashes, and at 1.5 sec recycle time. Practically this means I can work faster in houses so get out of peoples hair sooner. There’s 2 models in the  range; one manual and one TTL. The TTL versions is the Godox VING V860C, US Link. It looks similar to a Canon 580EXII and offers the same features. HSS, Zoom, fill TTL, master slave control. I have a 580EXII… and I don’t use it any more. The 860 is my TTL flash of choice.

The manual version is the Godox VING V850.The one I’ve linked to there also contains the FT-16s trigger set that gives the off camera control. Here’s a US link with no triggers: Godox V850 . Triggers: FT-16s Tigger set

These look very similar to the v860, without the TTL. They also have a handy feature that I wish the V860 had… a beep. This is great for letting you know which flash is being changed. Perfect for background and remote flashes.

I’ll be demoing the flashes as part of my upcoming SWPP talks.

By way of note, my original set of 850’s were rebranded Neewer TT850. The flashes are identical to the V850, but Godox is the original maker. I had terrible battery problems with the Neewer batteries, but replacing them with Godox batteries made it all good.

As a fashion, portrait and beauty photographer here in Galway, I do both studio and location shoots. My studio lights, and my high power battery flashes are made by Elinchrom, so I can mix and match my modifiers between them for consistency in my lighting choice. Even though the Rangers are relatively lightweight for their power, you can’t just leave them in the bag in case of a job. In these case I prefer to use speedlights. I’ve mentioned the Neweer rebranded Godox flashes before, but I’ve also gone with a Godox V860C TTL flash. This is now my main speedlight for both TTL and Manual usage. I really only use TTL for my club event photography, and for occasional on camera bounce flash work.

I do have a range of modifiers for speedlights, which I’ll discuss in the future (including the awesome MagMod stuff), but by and large they don’t meet the standard of the studio modifiers. One of my favourite modifiers is my Deep Octa 70. It’s just so versatile. I’ve blogged about this before when talking about ‘Shooting with 4 lights‘. It packs down enough for a suitcase for travel, but not quite Ryanair size. For my upcoming talk on speedlights at the SWPP Convention, I have a suitcase so I may bring this.. because I have a way to use it with my Godox.

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There’s a really common bracket that used with loads of speed light softboxes, and some genius has modified one to hold Elinchrom modifiers. I’ve actually had my one a while from eBay (here’s a sample one; I’ve not bought from them), but I was really busy so never got to even test it. I’ve been using the Lastolite 36″ Triplefold Umbrella, and an Ebay 120cm Octa recently, but really wanted the look of the Deep Octa. One thing I’ve noticed with the 120cm Octa (it’s a reverse Octa-so the flash faces into it), is that the best light comes when I use the Wide Angle Diffuser (WAD) on the flash. With the Godox, that’s a 14mm zoom; Really wide.

So I mounted the Godox on the bracket, and then mounted the whole lot to the Deep Octa. It’s easier doing it this way than trying to mount the Deep Octa onto the bracket. Trust me, you’ll look far more clever on the job if you do. The flash is really secure because you have both the flash screw and the coldshoe screw to hold it in place. That’s the beauty of having the trigger mount to the side of the flash.

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Next is the test to see what works best for spread. I set Fuji XPro-1 & Godox up to render expose the interior of the Octa. I shot 2 shots, one with the flash at 24mm, with the WAD off, and the other at 14mm with the WAD on.

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We can see the most even light is from the 14mm. I could use a Stofen style cap to diffuse more, but that requires additional power from the flash. Not as much of an issue with the Godox with it’s 650 full power flashes per battery, but still one to consider.

I did shoot some test shots with my wife, but needless to say, they’re not going up here; late night shots are not for publication. Still they came out well and I’m looking forward to using this in upcoming location shoots. Here’s the Deep Octa in action with the Quadra on location
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