Professional photographer and current PPANI Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, Steven Hanna is from Northern Ireland and specialises in wedding and landscape photography. The FUJIFILM X-T2 and FUJIFILM X-Pro2 are his usual weapons of choice, however eager to try out the FUJIFILM GFX 50S, Steven recently put the medium format system through its paces. In this interview, we find out how he got on.
Hi Steven, could you describe a little about your approach to photography and where you draw your inspiration from?
My landscape photography seems to focus a lot around the coast. I love the draw of the sea and the ruggedness of the Irish coastline in particular. I love exploring new locations and shooting during the magic hours around sunrise & sunset.
What was it that initially drew you in to the Fujifilm X Series?
I had been using the FUJIFILM X-T1 for some personal work and a little bit of wedding work alongside my full frame DSLRs. Initially I was drawn to the look and size of the X-T1, the X Series cameras have to be the nicest and classiest looking cameras out there. However, it wasn’t until the FUJIFILM X-T2 arrived on the scene that I began to seriously re-think my whole professional setup. For me, the X-T2 was the game changer! Could I ditch the heavy DSLRs for something smaller and lighter but still continue to deliver the same quality to my clients? The answer was most definitely YES!!
Why do you shoot mirrorless and what do you feel are the advantages of mirrorless technology for landscape and wedding photography?
It’s probably best to answer this separately. For my landscape work, weight is a huge issue and so I was looking at a system that would allow me to travel lighter yet still deliver amazing raw files to work with. I love the colours of the Fujifilm files; I usually use the Provia Film Simulation as I think it suits my style perfectly. Dynamic range was another big selling point for me. Occasionally I would have felt the need to bracket images to ensure I was capturing all the detail, from highlights to shadows. With the X-T2, I still bracket, but 90% of the time, I actually only use one image as I can pull an amazing amount of detail back in the shadows thanks to the X-Tran sensor. Another plus point of the X-T2 is the flip screen, a very welcome addition for my landscape and astro photography.
I guess some of these benefits also filter through to my wedding work. For me, a typical wedding day can consist of anywhere from 7 – 10 hours shooting, depending on location and coverage. When I saw the quality of the X-T2 I slowly began filtering it into my wedding day setup until eventually I was shooting the whole day with it. I knew then that it was time to make a complete switch and invested in another X-T2 and an X-Pro2. I also sold all my DSLRs and lenses and invested in a variety of Fujifilm prime lenses, my favourite being the XF35mmf1.4! Having an electronic shutter is a real game changer for me during ceremonies, and I know that there are shots that I would have missed had it not been for the EVF. I was a little apprehensive about an EVF at the start but now I couldn’t be without it!
What are your thoughts on the FUJIFILM GFX 50S and how suitable was it for shooting landscapes and wedding?
The best camera I’ve ever used. Period. It is actually that good! The detail that it captures is just phenomenal. I’ve never used medium format before and to be honest, I never really knew what all the fuss was about. Now I know! A medium format image just has a different feel about it, it’s hard to explain. And the fact that Fujifilm have made a mirrorless version is just incredible. For me, it’s definitely the dream landscape camera. I would be willing to add a little weight back into my bag! I did bring it along to a couple of weddings to test out the GF110mm lens, yet I think my style of wedding photography is probably better suited to the X Series range. I tend to shoot quite fast and a lot of time I like to blend in as a guest and document a lot of the day as it happens.
Which lenses did you use and what were your thoughts on these?
I shot a lot of landscapes with the GF23mmF4 which is around 18mm in full frame terms. Probably the first thing that caught my attention about this camera was the dynamic range and the colours. When I was testing it, I really pushed the histogram to the right and was sure that I would be blowing out highlights but so often when the image came back on screen, the histogram was perfect. Having a wide dynamic range for landscape photographers is so important, and the GFX didn’t disappoint. The edge to edge sharpness when shooting with the GF23mmF4 was staggering. It got a little addictive zooming in on the touch screen just to see how sharp the image was!
I also tried the GF110mmF2 for weddings & landscapes. For me, this would be more of a portrait lens than a landscape lens, even though I did happen to capture probably one of my favourite landscape images of this year handheld with the 110mm! When you shoot the 110mm wide open at f2, it is pretty epic, with dreamy bokeh! On one of the images below, when zoomed into 100%, you can actually make out the pores in the bride & groom’s skin. Phenomenal.
Want to see more from Steven Hanna? Watch his recent Vlog on shooting Landscapes with the GFX 50S at one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s most iconic spots, Fanad Head Lighthouse.
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The FUJIFILM GFX 50S delivers the world’s best image quality. It combines outstanding resolution of 51.4 megapixels with exceptional tones, advanced color reproduction and high-performance lenses. This level of image quality is purely motivational. The world around you changes the moment you hold this camera in your hand. Appreciate all that can be achieved with Fujifilm’s new medium format mirrorless camera system, GFX.