I’ve been a Digital SLR user for over 13 years now. Before that I shot film. Loads of Neopan and Velvia, as well as some Reala. I started with a particular camera brand, so when I changed from film to digital, I kept with that brand. Despite having a full complement of cameras and lenses in that system, I also kept a compact camera for travel. I was always looking for a smaller, lighter camera that did what my main body did. I even had cameras like the Fuji F10 and the F5000 as part of my kit at times.
As time passed I got a pro compact from my main system maker, simply because it had a hotshoe. The hotshoe became a requirement for me in a compact system because I’ve been lighting as long as I’ve had a Digital body. When the mirrorless revolution came along, I watched with interest. In 2012, based on a lot of reading and study, I finally bought a mirrorless body and some lenses. There was a lot of influence from a UK photo educator, based on the fact that I love his work. It wasn’t a Fuji. It had loads more features and lenses than the X-system at the time, so for these reasons, I went for it. It could be completely customised to be like my main system, but still I fought with it. It was hard work and I eventually gave up and sold the whole system, camera, lenses and flash to a mate that makes a tonne of money with it!
At the time, the X-Pro1 was on offer with 2 lenses, making the body effectively free. I tried one at a trade show and just loved it. It boiled down to Image Quality. The X-Pro1 simply outshone the other system. The files were on par with my main camera. And for me, it’s always been about the image. Features can be added, but the image quality has to be there first and foremost. Using the money from the first mirrorless system, I took the Fuji offer. The kit came with the 18mm f2.0 lens and I chose the 35mm lens as the 2nd lens. I opted not to get the 60mm at the time, though I have added it since. I began shooting a lot of personal work with those 2 lenses. There was so much to love about the X-Pro1. The handling, the feel. It was just right. But I wasn’t convinced yet. First, I didn’t have enough gear to use it as a main system. Secondly, it could also be a little slow to focus, and I did miss shots with it. But when it did focus, the shots were just brilliant. I tried it on some small jobs. It did ok, but I knew I’d probably have worked faster with my DSLR.
When the X-T1 came along, I was very interested, but still wasn’t ready to make a move. I’d lost money changing systems already, and wasn’t confident enough based on my experience with the X-Pro1. In fact I was close to just selling the bits I had. Could the X-T1 cut it for paid work? I really didn’t know and it was beyond the level of investment I wanted to make to find out. I’ve often said to new photographers to choose wisely. You’re never just buying a camera. You’re buying into a system, so you have to be sure.
The X-T10 was announced, and the features and pricing made it irresistible. Here was a camera that was 60% of the price of the X-T1, with about 90% of the features. I ordered one that day from my local camera shop. I fell in love with it straight away. While not a compactly sized person, I am short. The camera fitted my hands no problem and with a few changes to the many custom buttons and dials, I was ready to rock. Some personal shoots and a lot of playing with the camera increased my Fuji comfort level. I even learned that some of the features from the X-T10 also applied to the X-Pro1, so it went into my bag as a backup camera.
My love for the X-series really expanded at that point and so did my lens arsenal. I now use it for over 90% of my work. The quality of the lenses are superb. The 50-140, despite the size is just incredible. I use Lightroom, which is very average with Fuji files, but the sharpness of this lens even wide open can overcome that. Even the kit lens, the 18-55 is magnificent. The shots are just gorgeous. I’ve done band work, TV work and even magazine work with the camera. I’m utterly delighted with it. I know the system will progress further and I look forward to using it exclusively. Recently I’ve shot a lot of commercial work with it. I make a point of showing my work as I go, and it instills confidence in the client that despite the small size of the camera, there’s no question of the quality.
Despite the gushing, the system isn’t there yet. DSLR cameras use a secondary mirror system to focus, while mirrorless cameras focus directly from the sensor. DSLR flashes use a criss cross red/infra red beam to allow the camera to focus in low light. Fuji flashes, both system and third party don’t have this beam because the sensor can’t focus with it. It really needs more light to focus. So for my nightclub work, I use my DSLR, and pray for the day I can leave behind the weight! The new EF-X500 seems to have a white spot where the focus assist beam usually comes from, so I’m hoping this is a new LED that helps focus while shutting off during the flash phase!
The other aspect of flash that holds me back is the lack of support for High Speed Sync. I do use and demo this at workshops, using my old system. It means I can use flash in open sun and still use prime lenses wide open. It’s something that’s much needed in the Fuji flash system. Again the EF-X500 promises this with the X-Pro2, but it still hasn’t landed yet.
While the X-Pro2 looks like an amazing camera (and that 24MP sensor size was a big temptation), the X-T2 was a better choice for me. I’m glad I waited for it. It arrived yesterday, and instead of all the test shots you see on forums, I went straight into a job with it. It performed impeccably. In the meantime, it’s time to replace the 18-55 with a 16-55. I feel the need for one every day now. In what’s perhaps an ironic thought, my most used lenses on the full frame were the 17-40 and the 85mm. These translate to the 10-24 and the 56 in the Fujifilm lens lineup. Guess what? Those are exactly the lenses that I don’t have. If you’re a bit of a generalist, and want to have a good starting setup with Fuji, then grab an X-T10, the 10-24 and either the 60, or the 56. You won’t regret it.
Since I started writing this post, I’ve also been using the Cactus V6II triggers to get High Speed Sync working on the X-T10. It’s just beautiful to use. Beautifully lit portraits with shallow depth of field outdoors. Just gorgeous. It’s not compatible with the X-T2 as yet, but that will come, I’m sure. Meanwhile the EF-X500 has been held back until Oct.
With the increase to 24MP outmatching the Canon 5DIII, I’m even more confident with the system being able to give me everything I need for the bulk of my work, both commercial and personal. I’m not shooting billboards as yet. Maybe when that happens it’ll be time for the rumoured Fuji Medium Format system. Who knows, but until then, onwards any upwards with Fuji.
With the official announcement of the new Fujifilm X-T2, the silence of the lucky testers can now be broken. Alas, I’m not one of the lucky ones. This time there’s a mix of Fuji X-Photographers and non Fuji users having gotten them to test, so being an ambassador doesn’t mean you’ll get one. My buddy Piet Van den Eynde got the X-Pro2 to test, but not the X-T2, for example. As I can’t write about a camera I’ve not used, here’s a roundup of blogs that have a range of things to say about this new camera.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. AmazonAmazon UKB&H Photo Video (Affiliate links)
Rumours abound that the much delayed successor to the ancient EF-42, the EF-X500, has been delayed again until September. Originally due an end of May launch, it’s being pushed back further and further. The imminent July 7th announcement will supposedly have both a price and a Sept release date. Just another week in the Fuji Flash Saga. (Fujirumors have more pics and a potential price of over €500 for the EF-X500).
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really great that it’s finally coming. I did get to see a mockup version at The Photography Show, but it’s both really late in terms of what’s out there, and in terms of the continuously delayed launch. What do I mean? Well, flash has been the weak point of the system all along, and the original specs for this flash show that it will have remote commander functions-but in optical form. Anyone using remote flash knows that even the super cheap systems out there now use radio triggers, which don’t require line of sight, and will still work outdoors in bright sunlight. Personally I’m hoping the addition of radio is part of the delay, but I’m not optimistic.
The X-T10 already has a commander mode option in the camera, so hopefully, this will work with the new flash. And hopefully it will be either able to use HSS (high speed sync), or get a firmware update for it. Now, the Nissan i40, a 3rd party flash for Fuji, does HSS in full manual power, through a secret handshake on turn on, so it is possible to get it that way, but on a low powered flash. So the sooner it arrives in official Fuji form, the better!
As for remote TTL via Radio, I’ve already looked at the RobotSHOOT triggers. They’re well up to that task, and as bonus, let Nikon users keep their flashes for Fuji TTL use. The SB910 is a far better flash than the EF-42, and by using a camera bracket, you could easily run TTL with a more powerful flash off a Fuji camera.
In reality, the long wait for a Fuji flash isn’t from a lack of trying on Fuji’s part. The current flagship flash is the EF-42. This is a rebranded Sunpak flash, made for the S series DSLR’s that Fuji once made. It also shows that Fuji depend on 3rd party manufacturers for flashes. They had Metz on board, but when Metz went under, it made for a major setback. Still, news from around the world is not bad for Fuji users with regards using flash.
Cactus Image have announced the V6II triggers which provide HSS to Fuji through a range of other flashes, so the external competition is already on. Piet from More Than Words, a fellow Fuji X Photographer, has a review set and it raving about them, and at how great the HSS is.
There’s the other issue with Fuji flash, that I mention, but seems to be less public. On camera flash is used to light up dark and low light environments. In my case in nightclubs. On DSLRS, the flashes send out a red criss cross kind of pattern. The camera detects these via the secondary mirror system used to focus. The contrast allows the camera to focus, then the shot can fire. Mirrorless cameras focus directly from the sensor, and don’t respond to the standard focus assist beam. They need light to focus. This means a compatible flash needs a light beam, like an LED video light to focus. Product shots of the EF-X500 seems to show a white rectangle, which I really hope is a LED. Why? Because I’m tired of having to use the 5D3 for this one regular job, where I’d rather be using the Fuji.
It’s taken a long time to get to this point, so I really hope that this July 7th rumour pans out and that the EF-X500 will in fact put the flash weakness with the Fujifilm X-Series to bed.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Fujifilm X-Photographer website was updated today and I delighted to announce that I’m on it. Yep, I’m an X-Photographer. I love the system and am overjoyed to be there. You can check out recent images I’ve shot with either the X-Pro1 or the X-T0 at http://fujifilm-x.com/photographers/en/sean_mccormack/#01
2015 has been a bizarre year for me, and I look back with mixed emotions on it. The most consuming thing has to have been the writing of ‘The Indispensable Guide to Lightroom CC’. I was writing close to 10,000 words a week for nearly 12 weeks, as well as creating all the screen shots, and doing all the edits and approving changes from the wonderful Maggie Yates at Rocky Nook. The initial pitch for the book happened through a chance conversation with Dave Clayton, and I’m delighted to have written for Rocky Nook on this project. All told, the first half to 2015 was leading towards the release of the book.
With something that pretty much told the entire first half of the year, where do you go to talk about what happened the rest of the year? I didn’t get to shoot as much personal work as I would’ve liked. Even at that a lot of the shots that were planned didn’t happen. We’ll look at the ones that did shortly.
Commercially, I was busy this year. There was my ongoing work for Carbon Nightclub, which included one photo of a couple kissing, where the fella was texting at the same, went viral. It was pulled from the club website after 4 hours (at the request of the girl’s father), where it already had 7000 likes and had been shared over 550 times on Joe.ie (with the headline ‘Romance isn’t dead’. You couldn’t really see the girl in the photo, but for the sake of her modesty, I’m not reposting it. Here’s a pre Halloween one instead!
I shot a lot of properties for Airbnb. Initially these were all lit, but as the year went on, they changed requirements, so it went to mostly natural light for the listings. Of course that’s a whole new workflow! I’ve been building up my product and still life portfolio as well, and aim to launch a dedicated commercial photography website in 2016.
I also took another step into changing my camera system. I received the Fuji X-T10 at the end of June, less than a fortnight after it was launched. I fell in love with it immediately. It was such a vast improvement from the X-Pro1. I love the X-Pro1, but the speed of focus, and the low light abilities left me wanting more. The X-T10 gave that more. I’m still using the Canon 5DIII for nightclub work, as the TTL flash system on Fuji is still weak. The majority of my work is done on the Fuji though. I’ll have more news on it next month too. As part of the move to Fuji, I’ve bought more lenses to round the system out. I also expanded on my use of the Godox v850 system, albeit as Neewer rebrands.
I’ve mentioned my book, but that’s not the only writing I’ve done this year. The Maximum Workflow column for Photoshop User Magazine has been a monthly staple for me. I also had the pleasure of meeting Ben Brain from Future Publishing at a Scott Kelby seminar, and this lead to a monthly Lightroom column with Digital Camera magazine. I’m still doing articles for Clarity magazine, though it’s not as frequent. I applied to write for Digital-Photography-School.com recently and got a writing trial. The article is out next week and talks about creating and shooting Orb photos.
So. Let’s look photos I loved from 2015! It’s a mix of everything, so not a specific genre of photos. There are a few editorials awaiting publication, so those images aren’t included.(click into the post for more) Continue reading ›
I’ve shot the production stills for TG4/Gael Media’s show ‘Glor Tire’ (it translates as Country Voice) for over 5 seasons now. This is the first one where I’ve gone all Fuji for the show. For the live performances, I used a dual strap system with a Fuji X-T10 with 50-140 f2.8 Pro lens, and a Fuji X-Pro1 with an 18mm lens. For the interviews, I used the X-T10 with 18 and 35mm lens. Finally for the studio style portrait shots, I used the X-T10 with a 35mm lens. As these were horizontal shots, the shooting distance required mean you weren’t getting the distortion you often get with close in vertical shots on 50mm equivalent lenses (the 35mm is about 53mm equivalent).
For years, I’ve been shooting this on Canon, with the 5DII, the 60D and the 5DIII. Lens included the 28mm f1.8, the 85mm f1.8, the 70-200 (both f4 and f2.8) and the 17-40mm. While I’ve had the X-Pro1 for a few years now, I didn’t feel it could compete in this area-much as I love it.
This year the arrival of the X-T10 has changed that. It’s such a capable camera that my 5DII sits mostly unused, bar nightclub and occasional video work. I use it for everything else. Houses, product, models, head shots. Personal and professional work. For Glor Tire, there were a number of features in the camera that I used to boost the number of keepers I got to choose from, as well as just make life easier in the process. Shooting 11 episodes of a show over 5 days is a stressful work environment and anything that can ease that is more than welcome.
In no particular order, the features that really helped were:
1. Face Recognition: With performance, there’s a certainly amount of swapping orientation, so often I’m using centre focus point to handle the change. With Face Recognition turned on, the camera selected the face over 90% of the time over the selected focus point, and with far less hunting. This meant that I got far more shots with the face completely in focus. Some of the previous failures are based on both the performer and I moving, but often it was just simply missed focus due to hitting the nose rather than eye with focus. This still isn’t perfect. For example with a female performer that had hair falling over her face when in profile, the camera want to select a band member instead-even though they were on the edge of the frame.
2. Continuous Focus: Mixed with Face Recognition, this meant that I was able to shoot as the performer moved about and still get the shot. Yes, Canon has this, but it just worked better for me with the X-T10-probably because of the Face Recognition. And of course, it’s a switch on the front of the camera, couldn’t be easier to change.
3. Continuous Shooting: The X-T10 has 2 continuous modes: CL and CH, low and high speed. These are changed from the Drive knob on the top. For the most part, I hate this knob. It often gets knocked into a toy camera mode by accident. However given that it’s so easy to change to continuous from it, I have to forgive this. A lot of them performers on the show, while excellent singers, are not necessarily trained in stage craft. This means they can sing with closed eyes for a lot of the song. You can get emotional shots in this case, but for promotional shots, they prefer eyes to be open. Continuous shooting means you get a chance to get those rare moments. Yes, the Canon can do this as well, but it’s the combination of these first 3 features together that make it killer for keepers.
4. Electronic Shutter: For the interviews, the recordings are made using flesh coloured DPA headset mics. These are particularly sensitive, and would pick up the sound of the camera firing. Normally you’d need a Blimp for this situation. In the past, I’d just shoot the rehearsals, but now, with the electronic shutter, (with the camera audio features turned off), the camera is silent in use. The camera itself is cheaper than a Blimp. Win win.
5. Flip out Screen: Having a flip out screen means that I can capture more angles easily. Rather than be restricted to head height, I can match the angles used by the crew, as well as shoot ones that they can’t do.
I could add more, but those are the 5 main things that made a huge difference to the work for Glor Tire. I will mention the 50-140mm lens though. It’s ridiculously sharp, even using Lightroom, which is a little mushy with Fuji files.
Working on the show is great fun, albeit rather intense. Not to mention the amount of work after the show in selections. As with anything live (while the show is recorded, the performance elements are live takes), you’re hoping to capture moments that can promote the show. That said the final 4 episodes are broadcast fully live, making it even more pressure! Episode 1 will air on TG4 Wed 13th Jan 2016.