X-Photographer Kevin Mullins shoots ‘Day in the Life’ sessions with the same ethos as how he shoots weddings, 100% candid. Let him inspire you to to capture those natural moments which happen around you.
A ‘Day in the Life’ session is a photoshoot based on the same ethos as the way I shoot my weddings; 100% candid.
It’s critically important for me that my clients can look back at these day in the life images in 10, 20, 30 years’ time and remember the actual moments with their family. Moments that happened naturally, rather than ones that I, as the photographer, stage managed.
Danny Fernandez decides to combine three of his passions: travel, cycling and photography by taking on The Camino de Santiago with his FUJIFILM X100S.
The Camino de Santiago (also commonly known as ’The Way of St James’, or ‘El Camino’ in Spanish) is the name given to the pilgrimage routes that start all over Europe, but all lead to the same destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain).
Since moving to Spain in 2011, I had heard many people talking about doing ‘El Camino’, and each of them saying how incredible the experience is (life changing for many). For the past few years, it has been on my ‘to do’ list, and this August, I decided to combine three of my passions (travel, cycling and photography) and see what all the fuss is about!
The first choice I had to make (although it wasn’t really much of a difficult one) was whether I should walk, or cycle. As a keen cyclist, the choice was simple; I would do a cycle tour. By cycling, it also meant that I could see much more of the coast in a shorter time, and also easily take detours if I wanted to explore the area.
The second choice that I had to make was which camino to do. It was a toss up between the most popular, but easier and better facilitated route; the Camino Frances, or the more difficult and less crowded Camino del Norte. I decided to do the ‘Camino del Norte’. This is the route which follows the northern coast on Spain. I chose to do this route as I had heard it is the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult routes due to all of the mountains! I decided to start in the beautiful coastal town of Castro Urdiales (50km west of Bilbao), and had approx 17 days to cycle the 780km to Santiago de Compostela.
The third choice that I had to make was where I would stay. Typically walkers (commonly known as Pilgrims during the camino) stay in Albergues (which is like a simple hostel, solely for pilgrims). However, cyclists get the last priority of beds in Albergues (walkers first / those on horses – yes, horses – second / cyclists third). As I had no guarantee of a bed, I decided to bring a tent and camp where possible.
There seem to be as many reasons for doing the camino, as there are pilgrims. I met people from all walks of life, including entire families, married couples, adventurers, grandparents and even one guy who had walked out of his front door – in the Netherlands – 11 months ago, and is still walking now!
At the start of my camino, I overheard people saying things like “The Way gives you what you need”. I rolled my eyes and blew this off as some hippy thing, but after 17 days of cycling, I agreed with this.
I think that the nature of any repetitive action (in this case ‘wake up/eat/cycle/sleep/repeat’), gives you a lot of – almost meditative – headspace, and can teach you all sorts of things about yourself. I had a lot of time to ponder on things (I was, after all, cycling by myself for on average 5 – 8 hours a day).
I also feel that the challenges taught me a lot about myself, and man, there were challenges! It was way more difficult than I could imagine. Some days I would battle a constant uphill mountain for more than 2 hours without escape. On average, I was ascending and descending between 800 – 1000 metres of altitude a day. And when it’s 32 degrees, and your loaded bike weights 30kgs, you feel every meter.
Before starting, I expected to have many highs, and many lows (such is the beauty and the curse of solo travel), and the camino gave me both of these. I had extreme highs after making it through hours of rainy mountains to be rewarded with parted clouds over the most breathtaking views. And I had extreme lows when I questioned my reasons for this ‘stupid idea’ and was 90% sure that I was going to quit and just hang out on a beach for the remainder of my trip.
Each persons experience of the Camino is unique and I feel that if you listen, you can learn a lot about yourself during this journey.
Why I chose the X100s
I’m not sure if other photographers are like me, but I spend so much time in a constant debate over which camera equipment to bring before any trip.
Since selling my Canon gear 3 years ago and slowly building a collection of Fuji (X100s / X-T1 / X-T10 / XF16mm / XF35mm / XF56mm) I was fortunate enough to have the choice of what to bring for this trip.
I had narrowed it down to the X100s, or the X-T10 + XF16 and XF35 lenses. After changing my mind on a near daily basis, I eventually decided to simplify EVERYTHING on this trip, therefore I would only bring my X100s. I had previously spent 3 months backpacking around India with this camera and think it’s an incredible travel camera.
My reasons for bringing just the X100s was that I wanted simplicity. This was very much my philosophy behind the entire trip – to get away from every day life of choices and go back to basics (this was also the basis for my terrible decision of bringing only 2 pairs of socks for a 17 day cycle trip). I was clear that this was not a photography trip; it was all about the experience of the camino, and the X100s was always at hand to document it.
And if I had to choose only one reason why this is still my favourite travel camera, it’s because it doesn’t interrupt your experiences; but instead is there to complement them. Photography has taught me how to see, and when a camera fits in so seamlessly with your life, it can help deepen your appreciation of that moment.
My aim for a recent trip to Barcelona was to travel light. Last year I was in New York shooting jazz musicians for a book I’m working on and I had to carry a lot of kit. The Fuji gear was light, but I also had a laptop, flashes, light stands and a background too. But traveling light was a high priority for this trip to Barcelona.
I packed the X100T with the WCL-X100 (giving me the full-frame equivalent of 28mm & 35mm), plus the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f2 and the 18-55mm f2.8-f4 zoom. The zoom was the tough choice as I prefer primes, but I wanted to take something longer than the 35mm. The 56mm f1.2 was an option and I also considered the 16mm f1.4 because Barcelona has so much great architecture and I knew a really wide angle would be useful. But I had to be strict about travelling light and so opted for the 18-55mm. In the end, I probably shot 95% of the X-Pro2 pictures with the 35mm f2 and 95% of the X100T pictures with the WCL (so 50mm and 28mm in FF).
“I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again”
I have to say upfront that the X100T is probably my all time favourite camera, even though at this point it has been overtaken in performance by newer models. But it’s still a design masterpiece in my opinion that just begs to be held and used.
That said, I’m in love with the X-Pro2. The camera feels great in my hands, especially with the Gariz half case (Fuji half case also available). The performance is amazing and I’m still being surprised on a daily basis by how great the focus is (especially with moving subjects). Autofocus has reached new heights on mirrorless cameras and I can think of two major DSLR brands that could be an endangered species if they don’t wake up, see what’s going on and adapt quickly.
“The X-Pro2 takes things to another level”
Shooting on the streets of Barcelona was a blast! The X100T is my favourite street camera, but I have to say that the X-Pro2 did out-perform it and produced far more keepers. I’ve always been happy with the image quality on the X Series cameras, more than happy in fact. But the X-Pro2 takes things to another level wth the 24 megapixel X-Trans III sensor giving a welcome increase in resolution. But I’m glad to say it is without doubt the same Fuji look and feel, which is more important than megapixels!
Film Simulations have always been a big part of the X Series cameras. A while back Fuji gave us Classic Chrome, which was unexpected, free, and became an overnight success. I use it most of the time and love it. These are my settings for Classic Chrome.
-1 Highlight tone
+2 Shadow Tone
-3 Noise Reduction
But when light gets low I find this can be a little harsh and the shadows can get blocked up, so I reduce the Shadow Tone setting to -1 or even 0. Sometime I’ll switch over to Provia as it’s a good general all rounder and much more forgiving.
I don’t often use Velvia (too saturated for me), but I found myself quickly switching to it when photographing rooftops against an orange Barcelona sunset.
Another film simulation fanfare came along with the X-Pro2 in the shape of Acros. The original black and white film simulations were pretty good, but I didn’t shoot a lot with them unless I was in RAW+JPEG to have the option of the colour version later.
I just preferred to do my B&W conversions in Lightroom or Silver Efex Pro. But with Acros I find myself wanting to shoot in-camera B&W a lot. In fact I have to force myself to switch out of it again.
X Series cameras have always had the option of bracketing three film simulations at a time, but I wish we could shoot two at a time with our own recipe of Highlights, Shadows, NR, Colour and Sharpness baked in, but without the delay of bracketing (where you can see the processing in the viewfinder). Classic Chrome and Acros…ahh. But I digress.
Acros is beautiful, especially with a bit of highlight & shadow tweaking. There’s a grain in Acros files that just gives the pictures a timeless documentary look, and that’s without using the grain feature of the X-Pro2. On the subject of the in-camera grain feature. The two settings of light and heavy are great, but the same again with larger grain would be nice too!
I like high contrast black and whites, so my settings for Acros are:
-1 Highlight tone
+3 Shadow Tone
-3 Noise Reduction
Don’t worry if you like to see tons of detail in the shadows, because Acros can do low contrast B&W too, plus you still have the option of adding a red, green, or yellow filter as well (I mostly use Red).
The Hybrid viewfinder is now an Advanced Multi-Hybrid Viewfinder, similar to the X100T’s where you can have a tiny screen in the bottom right corner (as an option) that shows a zoomed area of the focus point to assist with manual focus. I use this now and again and it works really well.
I fell in love with the optical viewfinder all over again on this trip. I wear glasses, but peer over the top of them when looking through the viewfinder (I’m so happy to see a built in diopter on the X-Pro2), so I can’t get my eye right up close. With the OVF I can see the frame lines and some space around them which allows me to see what’s about to enter my picture.
With the EVF I need to move my eye around, looking at the corners of the frame individually, but there isn’t always time to do that. Plus the Harsh sunshine of Barcelona can make it hard to see the EVF because your eyes are adjusted for the brightness, which makes it hard to see if your exposure is ok. That’s when I like to dial in my exposure 100% manually and switch to the optical viewfinder. It’s not as big as the X100T’s OVF, but it’s still big and bright and the frame lines are easy to see. Using the OVF just feels more old school and I like that!
‘My Menu’ is another great feature that allows you to store frequently used menu items on a single page. The best part of this is that it pops up as soon as you press the Menu/OK button. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make all the difference!
Fuji have took a great camera like the X-Pro1 and improved everything that needed improving. Then they added all the best bits from the other X-Series cameras and threw in a few features that we didn’t even know we needed. The fairies then sprinkled just the right amount of magic dust and hey presto – The X-Pro2. It’s an absolute joy to use!
I now have a dilemma. Do I upgrade my two X-T1’s for two X-T2’s or sell them both and buy another X-Pro2? But while I’m thinking about that one, Fuji – how about a 24mp X100 with identical features and an identical button layout as the X-Pro2.
Professional press photographer Rachel Megawhat tries the X-Pro2 in action – find out how she got on in this review.
Rachel Megawhat is a British photographer based in London. Having trained as a photo-assistant Rachel has worked both as a Fine art Photographer, and commercially focusing on Fashion, News and Portraits. Her work has been published in countless newspapers, magazines and books, both in the UK and Worldwide, including The Sunday Times, Financial Times, Guardian and The Sun
I’ve had the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 on loan for 2 weeks, along with the FUJIFILM XF50-140mmF2.8 and it’s been a real pleasure (and no, I don’t actually want to return it!). Normally I work with an X-T1 as my main camera and I still have my X-E1 as a back up so that’s what I am comparing with.
“I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.”
One of the main differences is the dual function viewfinder, at first, I found it a little confusing and found myself automatically using the digital finder, but I realise it has its uses, especially with the longer 400mm lens. The ability to switch between the two is extremely helpful.
Without a doubt my favourite feature is the focus stick / lever. I quickly became so used to it that I was searching for it on my X-T1. This is such a user friendly design, perfect for fast shooting conditions.
The design aesthetic of this camera also really attracts the attention of photographers, I’ve had more people come over and ask what I’m shooting with than a year of using the X-T1!
The 2 card slots is also a major plus. I often shoot jpeg only as much of my work is online and the speed of the edit and distribution is vital, but the option to have separate cards with raw and jpeg makes it a brilliant piece of logic that works well for me. I can still have the speed of a card with only jpegs to upload, but backed up with raw.
The only thing that I did find a little fiddly was the ISO & shutter speed being on a combined dial, as there were times when I wanted to change the ISO but I accidentally moved the shutter speed instead. In most shooting conditions this isn’t an issue but when you need to change quickly back and forth it can be trickier.
I was worried with August being a slow news month that I might not have much interesting content for this review but I have used the X-Pro2 to photograph our two most marmite politicians (people either love them or hate them), a trip to the zoo and a studio shoot with a couple of fashion models.
I covered one of the many rallies that Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party has been attending up and down the country. This one was in Kilburn and this shows the range of the 50-140mm lens, obviously 50mm on the left and a slight crop of a 140mm image on the right. As you can see I couldn’t resist experimenting with the distortion through the perspex podium.
The next morning I met with Nigel Farage. Some people will be aware that he recently grew a moustache so I had planned a very simple black and white shot hoping to feature that but unfortunately for me he had shaved. I used the Acros settings for this shoot. Here is a screen shot from Breitbart London.
As I would have gone for something more creative had I not been hoping the moustache would be the main feature, here is an image from the shoot that I played around with just because.
I also managed to do a small studio shoot with a couple of young fashion models, Hazel Fuller and Nathan Taylor.
My absolute favourite way to shoot is very low-light studio work and the Fuji cameras are a joy to work with in these conditions. In fact, it was shooting this that I decided that I have to own the 50-140mm lens asap.
I have also done a few daylight shoots, covered a few protests including two burkini protests in as many days. This man decided he needed a selfie of his ‘beach ready body’ in front of the burkini protest. I’m not sure what it all means.
As well as looking and feeling very stylish the X-Pro2 proved to be a good workhorse of a camera, I think with longer to play with it I would get more out of its settings. I had assumed I would move from the X-T1 straight to the X-T2 but now I need to think seriously about whether or not the X-Pro2 is a better option for me. I guess I need to get my hands on the X-T2 to decide. Fun decisions to be making either way.
When I first received the Fujifilm X70 I looked at it and thought…….hmmmm. Then I scratched my head and glanced sideways at my X100T which was looking back at me with suspicion and concern.
I have to admit that I also had suspicion and concern when I first picked up the X70. It’s teeny. In terms of length and width it’s almost a third smaller than my mobile phone.
My X100T, on the other hand, is larger.
So I challenged myself to see if size really does matter and, more importantly, does the X70 live up to its big brother X100T when it comes down to image making.
Brief Differences and Similarities between the X70 and X100T
This isn’t a review of either camera but it makes sense for me to point out the fundamental differences, and similarities between the two cameras.
Both cameras share the same 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II sensor but that, possibly, is where the similarities end.
We already know about the size difference, but really the biggest differences are the interface to shooting and the lens and so I will concentrate on these during this post.
“Beat the fear of Street photography by allowing people to come to you, instead of you to them.
Then just… Click. No pressure.“
The X100T has an excellent 23mm F2.0 lens. Way back when I was shooting DSLR, my preferred focal length was 35mm (full frame equivalent), and actually it still is.
I LOVE the lens on the X100T and this is one of the critical changes because if you also LOVE the lens on the X100T, you need to know that the lens on the X70 is different.
The lens on the X70 is a slower F2.8 but wider 18.5 mm focal length or 28mm (35mm equivalent).
So straight away, we can see that the X100T is going to be better at low light shooting, albeit marginally.
However, the size and weight of the X70 means we can shoot at slower shutter speeds to mitigate this to a certain extent (depending on the subject matter of course).
For me, I love that 35mm FF focal length and I’m getting used to the slightly wider view from the X70.
I instinctively lifted the X70 to my eye when I first got it out of the box. Big mistake as there is no viewfinder in the camera (you can purchase an external viewfinder attachment that slots into the hotshoe).
For me, the reason I never really gelled with the Fujifilm X-M1 was because of the lack of viewfinder. But then the X-M1 was bigger…..and didn’t have the X-Trans II Sensor.
I’ll give it a try I thought.
And you know what, I have learnt to really like the LCD shooting experience of the X70. I’m not a hundred percent convinced I wouldn’t prefer a viewfinder as at least an option, but obviously one of the reasons this camera is so small is because of the removal of the viewfinder.
Instead of the traditional way of shooting, in the X70, you have a remarkably versatile tilting screen, which even tilts vertically above the camera to allow you to take “selfies”.
When shooting with the X100T I have to use the viewfinder, or shoot from the hip using a zone focus technique.
I can still use zone focusing with the X70 of course, but the benefit of the flip down screen is plain to see. Additionally, the X70 implements some neat touch screen features where you can use your finger to very quickly touch, focus & shoot.
That’s a great advantage when out on the street shooting.
“I adore elderly people holding hands and I strive to look for pictures like that.
Pretty much, I just want to be like that with my wife when I’m elderly too.”
Which camera would I use?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself a lot. When would I use one over the other? And I actually sat down and came up with a list of scenarios where I would use either the X100T or the X70.
In really low light I’m going to need the X100T. I don’t use flash, and I find that I use the Optical Viewfinder on the X100T a lot when shooting in low light.
For that reason, and also because of the build and form factor, the X100T will remain one of my primary cameras as a wedding photographer.
However, the X70 really comes into its own when I pick up a camera to go and shoot street photography.
In fact, for me, its superseded all other cameras in the range when it comes to shooting on the street.
I like to get in close and I like to observe and prepare to shoot. Unless I need to use different lenses (for example, I may use a MF lens on the X-Pro2 or X-T10 for rapid zone focusing and shooting), the X70 is an ideal camera for shooting on the street.
The fact that you don’t even have to press the shutter button is a marvellous thing in itself and lends the camera perfectly to candid street shooting.
The X70 isn’t going to replace my X100T, but at the same time, my X100T will be a lot less active for my personal and street photography work.
“These images below were shot using Auto Focus, at F2.8 without the flip screen down.
Simply pointing and shooting from the hip. One handed (as the other was occupied with Guinness at the time).”
Part 2 – Tom Corban takes you on a rollercoaster ride adventure into North & Northwest India sharing his experiences, challenges and beauties discovered all whilst using the Fujifilm cameras and lenses.
This is a two part blog into the adventures of Tom Corban and his trip through North & Northwest India, if you missed the original post you can view it here.
As the trip went on and the temperature increased, I appreciated not having a rucksack covering my back. I began to realise that I was missing something. It was really brought home to me when we went north into the Himalayas to do some mountain biking. We were cycling downhill on a narrow bumpy mud track with a steep cliff face going up on one side and a sheer drop of over 1 kilometre on the other and I realised that there is only so much weight you want bouncing around on you, irrespective of how you are carrying it. I started fantasizing about my X-E2 with its kit lens, but more about that later.
One of the nice things about this trip was that it was a holiday. There was no pressure and no deadline for any images. This gave me the chance to experiment with the Fuji kit without worrying about making any errors. It may sound unprofessional to some people but I have been so impressed by the Fuji Jpegs that I now rarely shoot RAW files. I had not really explored the various film settings and tended to use the Standard and Velvia settings almost exclusively. Having now experimented with the film settings, I am developing a soft spot for the Black and white with a yellow (or in some instances red) filter and I have found that in the right setting the Chrome can be stunning. I had an almost childish delight in finding out what the camera could do.
We had decided to limit our travel to the north and north west of the country, travelling by train, bus and in the more remote areas, camel and 4 wheel drive. I was interested to see how the Fuji kit stood up to the rigour of travel and how it performed in some challenging environments. I was aware that my photography had already changed as a result of using Fuji cameras but it became much more noticeable on this trip. I made fewer images and I have become, on the whole, slower. This is not a bad thing as I find that I am getting the results I want with the Jpegs straight out of the camera.
Slower behind the camera and then less time in front of the computer suits me well. I have also found that I have fewer “technical” rejects. I find that the focusing on the X-T1 is not as fast as the Canon 5D mk 3 so in some circumstances I have more out of focus shots than I would expect. However, for me this is more than made up for by the fact that I have far fewer unsharp photographs caused by camera shake in low light settings because of the wider aperture of the Fuji lenses, the lack of a mirror and the vibration it causes and the ease of holding the camera steady.
Perhaps if I were doing a lot of fast action work I would be more tempted to use the full frame camera but as things stand the Fuji suits me fine.
In low light settings such as religious services in Varanasi, the Fuji kit showed its strengths. Wonderfully sharp lenses and a camera that I could hold in my hands at slow shutter speeds.
The weather sealing stood up well in some difficult situations with temperatures of over 50 C in the desert and below freezing in the Himalayas, as well as rain, sand and huge amounts of fine powder dye during the Holi celebrations in Jaipur. There was a little wear on the camera body and the rubber cover that protects the HDMI, remote release and USB sockets has become a little misshapen with the heat but it’s a solid body built to last.
Did I make the right decision to take the Fuji Kit with me on this trip?
Absolutely. It’s a joy to use. The full kit fitted into a small waist bag with the lens hoods still on the lenses, I had no difficulty keeping the sensor clean, the Jpegs were wonderful straight out of the camera and the film simulations are good (I mean really good). I can also hold it in my hands at low shutter speeds, the lenses are sharp and I had no trouble with chromatic aberrations.
With a kit that performed like that, what more could I possibly want?
Well my X-E2 with its kit lens really.
I said earlier that we had been lucky on this trip. Whilst that’s true, we did have some difficult times. We had a bag with my Fuji X-E2 and Jo’s phone in it stolen on a sleeper train from Varanasi to Agra. I had taken my X-E2 on a various trips around Europe during the past couple of years and was really fond of it. It was the sort of camera and lens combination that you could carry unobtrusively and I loved wandering around new cities with it. Heat, rain, fog – just tuck it under your jacket. As our India trip went on, I found myself wanting it as a second camera. I know that this sounds a bit excessive but the option of occasionally leaving the full kit in the hotel and just spending some time wandering around with a smaller, lighter camera and the kit lens was very appealing and certainly would have been useful when we were cycling.
It had never been an option before as there was never anywhere secure that was large enough to lock up my full frame camera and lenses and, as a result, I would carry everything with me all the time. You do get used to it but it’s an ongoing nuisance and wonderfully liberating when you get home and don’t have to carry a heavy bag everywhere. To my delight, I found that the small safes that hotels all over the world use was large enough to fit all my Fuji kit in and still leave room for a backup hard drive and a few other odds and ends.
It’s a real game changer as it gives me the option of going out with the full kit or just the X-E2. Well it would give me that option if someone had not stolen the X-E2! I will clearly have to replace it. Mind you I have not seen the X Pro2 yet but it certainly looks good on paper and the reviews are encouraging. Now, back in England, I find myself wondering if the X Pro2 will be the camera that finally makes me sell my Canon kit and move to Fuji completely.