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.
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.
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.