I first became interested in the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 lens when I had an idea for a specific photo series which came to mind as I was travelling around my home city: Manchester. There’s a lot of history here but there’s also been a great deal of new architecture built in the last 10 or 15 years. For a few months, I imagined a series of images where I could get closer to the architecture that was catching my eye everyday around the city. I wanted to explore the relationships between the old and the new, whilst examining the styles and materials of the recent developments more closely and the XF100-400mm was the definitely the lens to do this. Not only was I interested to see how a lens typically used for sports and wildlife photography could work in a city; but I was excited about the new perspective it could gave me on buildings that I pass on a daily basis. Read More
In a series of articles, X-Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass. Read More
Flight of the Swans has finally left Russia, only ten days behind schedule… Ten extra days I am very happy to have spent in this dramatic country. Enormous in every sense of the word, we barely scratched the surface, but what we did see left a lasting impression. From incredible generosity to gorgeous autumnal scenes, this rugged place has wilderness to truly get lost in.
Hazard lights cast against the roadside trees as the convoy headed to Kimzha. We were very much alone on this dirt road and the stars were simply spectacular!
The 19th September greeted us with a 32 hour stay at the Estonian – Russian Border, an experience that I’ve recently had a case of deja vu with as we returned from the other direction on the 19th October for a 18+ hour stay to return to the EU. In-between that time we have raced up to Kimzha, Arkhangelsk region, 1800+KM away within five days, via roads where for periods our trailer towing vehicle had to crawl at 6kph. It was a mental run, marred by a diesel spill in the trailer at 2am and paramotor pilots arriving at the collection point ahead of schedule, resulting in some all-nighters.
X-T2 XF10-24mm (24mm) F8 ISO 400 1/20
X-T2 XF100-400mm (330mm) F16 ISO 1600 30 seconds.
Once we linked up with the pilots who had just crossed the tundra section, things were marginally less hectic, marginally.
X-T2 XF100-400mm (100mm) F8 ISO 200 1/125
X-T2 XF100-400mm (370mm) F5.6 ISO 1000 1/680
X-T2 XF100-400mm (360mm) F5.6 ISO 1000 1/900
X-Pro2 XF16-55mm (55mm) F10 ISO 800 1/550
X-T2 XF100-400mm (226mm) F11 ISO 800 1/550
X-Pro2 XF16-55mm (16mm) F6.4 ISO 800 1/1900
Sacha has done an amazing personal journey so far, she even dislocated her knee! But still going via a trike to take stress off her legs. The Flight of the swan’s team have been featured on news channels all around the world and the ground team are doing their best to engage local communities, particularly through school programs. All to raise awareness of the Bewick swan and other migrating wildfowl. The aim is to improve international awareness and cooperation, to find out more and to sign the WWT’s petition to help their conservation, which can be found here.
Personal highlights included witnessing the northern lights and catching a glimpse of a wolf as it slinked off into the darkness of a moonlit woodland road. But the biggest surprise has the be the incredible generosity that our team witnessed in Russia, I haven’t experienced anything like it before, where families would happily take in 8-12 people, feed us, give us a place to stay and even offer us a banya (Russian bath)! We were welcomed with open arms. Meeting conservationists, or simply random families along our journey, all seemed to have a deep connection for nature and the importance for managing it suitably, including the declining Bewick’s swan. We would be let into the lives of these people and get to know them, usually over a skinful of vodka.
Time-lapse taken with X-Pro2 and XF16mm F1.4 using the in-camera intervalometer.
X-T2 XF10-24mm (10mm) F4 ISO 200 960 seconds.
Frame from the time-lapse. X-Pro2 XF16mm F1.4 2 seconds ISO 1600
Cine Fujinon Lens
As well as using my personal X-Series kit on this project we are very proud to be sponsored by Fujifilm with a Fujinon ZK3.5×85 (85-300mm). Our media team are documenting the project in as wide a means as possible, from virtual reality experiences to documenting the project with various filming equipment, to hopefully continuing to share this project to a wider audience and help communicate the importance of Bewick’s swans conservation.
Here is one of our cameramen, Ben Sadd in the Gulf of Finland, Russia searching for swans.
Because so much of this trip is about communicating with as many people as possible, I have been using my instax SP-1 printer a lot to leave little mementos. It always gets a fantastic reaction, the business card sized prints are perfect for travelling with. Giving a physical print has such a positive effect on an experience compared to simply tagging someone in a digital photograph. instax has for a long time been one of the first things in my bag whenever I travel, this feeling has been encouraged further. The benefit-to-cost ratio isn’t even worth talking about as the effect it has on a situation is huge, it sounds cheesy but seeing the smiles appear as the photo develops on the instax is worth it.
I’ve found that it develops a situation from a set of friendly acquaintances to the start of friendships, leaving both the recipient and photographer with lasting, fond memories.
Some of our media team were taken in by a Russian family and joined them for a big meal. instax proved to be really popular and it was a pleasure to leave them with a dozen little prints.
Leaving a physical memory from one of our school visits.
It even proved popular with our team medic for her birthday!
As well as directly sending images to my SP-1 printer, the ability to send lightly edited files (via the in-camera RAW converter) to my phone and then share on the Flight of the Swans social media channels has helped to massively streamline my image sharing process. You can follow these channels here:
The team are now in Estonia. Russia was an amazing experience but the project is still very much on the move. There is a major set of wetlands in Estonia which we want to visit and hopefully witness more migrating Bewicks. You can stay up to date via our live map, with trackers on birds, vehicles and of course Sacha! Click here.
Flight of the Swans is a fascinating project, where WWT has taken a big leap into the unknown to try and reach a new level of engagement to help improve conservation of wildfowl. If you’re interested in travel, extreme sports or wildlife then hopefully this project will be of interest. If so, then please help us by signing our petition here. Until my final instalment in a month’s time, here are a few more photos from our Russian experience. In the next blog I will update you on the project as well as talking about the 4K capabilities of the X-T2 and how it has been incredibly helpful to film the swans.
X-Pro2 XF16-55mm (35mm) F2.8 ISO 400 1/750
X-Pro2 XF56mm F1.2 ISO 400 1/2700
X-T2 XF100-400mm (190mm) F5.6 ISO 1600 1/120
X-T2 XF100-400mm (150mm) F11 ISO 200 1/200
X-T2 XF100-400mm (150mm) ISO 200 1/200
X-Pro2 XF16-55mm (37mm) F2.8 ISO 1600 1/60
X-Pro2 XF16mm F1.4 ISO 1600 10 seconds
Steve Flanagan being won over by the X-Series. X-Pro2 XF16mm F2 ISO 200 1/250
Which XF zoom lenses are regulars in your gadget bag – and why?
You join me in the midst of a fascinating experiment. The kind folk at Fujifilm UK asked me to write a couple of blogs on which lenses you should you use for what subject, but I think that’s been done a few times already. So, as an alternative, I’m using the power of Lightroom to uncover which lenses I use the most and explain why. My last blog, which you can read here was all about my favourite primes, I was somewhat surprised to find which my most popular prime lens choice actually was. This time, I’m turning to my XF zoom options.
If you’re a Lightroom user and fancy trying this experiment yourself, it’s easy enough to do. Just select the Library Module and then in the Library Filter bar at the top, choose Metadata and you’ll be presented with a series of drop down menus that you can further refine. As with the primes, I’ve used a fair few of the XF zooms; all of them, in fact. But Lightroom showed that four stood out more than others and, as with my prime selection, there’s nothing saying that I’m putting the lenses to their optimum uses shooting what I do. From widest up, they were as follows:
1) XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
It’s no surprise that this is on my hot list as it’s such a versatile lens and – in the 10mm setting – reaches extremes that XF primes lenses currently can’t touch. Compact, lightweight and capable of outstandingly good results even in my hands, it’s a go-to lens for landscape and architecture photographers. Naturally, I’ve shot both of these subjects regularly with the XF10-24mm, but I’ve also pressed it into service when I’ve been overseas; it saw a lot of action on the streets of Rome and San Francisco, for example. Some may bemoan the F4 maximum aperture, but the addition of OIS cancels out any drop in light gathering capabilities and it’s often one of the first lenses in my gadget bag.
Surprised not to see the XF16-55mm? Yes, so was I, but although the wider and faster premium zoom was used, this more modestly sized optic saw many more frames rattled through it. Normally, I’d be reluctant to use a standard zoom lens to capture images, but the quality of this compact optic really is everything it’s cracked up to be. It’s a true all-rounder, too. As images below show, I’ve used it for a range of images from shooting on the street to shots of architecture and the optical image stabiliser gives low light confidence, too. In my opinion. No X Series user should be without this lens.
The zoom that thinks it’s a prime, the XF50-140mm is a real favourite for me. It can be used for some many different applications and, with the added versatility now offered by the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, can be used to capture pretty much anything from sport to distant details. Before I did my Lightroom test, I would have thought my shots with this lens would be very portrait heavy but, in reality, I couldn’t have been more wrong – I’ve shot pretty much everything but portraits with it! Time to line up some models and redress the balance!
Much like the XF90mmF2 R LM WR which has become a recent favourite in prime lens terms, so too has this monster. It’s the lens that X Series users had been crying out for and although the mainstay of the lens’s capabilities are primarily sports and wildlife that I’m hopeless at, I’ve just modified my shooting and tried it on other subjects – including landscapes. Picture quality is tremendous and with the extra power from the compatible teleconverters, I can see why this lens has quickly become a favourite for many. Despite my having the XF16-55mm for longer, the XF100-400mm has seen many more frames!
Again, I was a little surprised. I expected it to be the XF10-24mm, but Lightroom told me otherwise confirming the XF18-55mm as my most regularly used zoom. It’s no surprise, it’s a great little lens, but what this exercise does confirm is that my photography is largely working in rather tight parameters, lens-wise. I think I need to branch out a little more and see the world from a slightly wider (and more telephoto) viewpoint.
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