Photographer Craig Whitehead has been using FUJIFILM X Series for his street photography for many years, most recently having purchased the X100F. In this interview he talks about his experience with the X Series and shares some of his images from the X-T1, X-Pro2 and X100F. Read More
I first moved to the X Series four years ago because I was carrying too much equipment on trips and I wanted to switch to a smaller, lighter alternative. Now with X-T2s and the superb range of lenses available it is often difficult to decide what to take on assignments or trips, making sure it all fits in one backpack. But my kit is still smaller item for item than what it used to be before, its just a question of knowing exactly what you’ll need for each job (not always easy, particularly with nature photography). Read More
By Braden Gunem
I like to travel alone. Partners and friends are great, but they can also hold you back from really experiencing a culture deeply. Solo travel allows you a freedom and adventure rarely achievable for those rushing back home for dinner. So when a group of friends and I booked a house in a rather touristy area of Panama, I didn’t plan to spend much time shooting. I grabbed my trusted X-T1 and my favorite lens – the XF23mmF1.4 R.One of the local attractions in this area is a beach only accessible by boat or a long muddy trail through the jungle. After attempting the trail, we opted for the boat and were dropped at a small dock in a lagoon filled with mangrove trees. A short walk across the island towards the sound of surf led us to a beautiful beach. We were walking along the beach when a foreign couple approached saying that a man with a machete had tried to rob them, but they were able to run away. Suddenly. I regretted bringing my camera. We stopped walking for some time. We swam, did hand stands, and drank beer. Eventually, the allure of discovery won over and we continued along the deserted beach.
On my extensive travels, I often have a specific image in my mind when I’m shooting. Sometimes, the search for this image blinds me from all the other potential shots present. It’s refreshing to go out with no expectations and see what organically appears. When I saw locals on horseback approaching, I sank into the jungle looking for a frame to contain them as they passed. They had ridden the muddy trail, and were headed to the far end of the island to go hunting.This long strip of sand is interrupted occasionally by large trees overhanging into the ocean. They are a natural jungle gym, and soon we were climbing all over them. From the trunk of a tree,I realized there was a good shot and picked up the camera again. I tilted the LCD to get super low to the ground and avoided wallowing around myself.As my friend Laura was working on a new route for this particular tree, I switch on the Cinematic Mode; it’s accessible on your camera by turning the mode dial to CH and holding down the shutter release button. As it’s clicking away, I’m able to make slight adjustments to the composition. But, I’m mostly waiting on the subject to look at their best. Yes, it fills a memory card really fast. That’s why I use Lexar 128s, so I don’t have to worry about changing cards very often.Beyond the beach, we came across some boys walking around with machetes. They seemed to be out honing their skills with these essential jungle tools. One boy was carefully opening a coconut to drink the water. I sat my X-T1 on the ground near his feet, using the tilting LCD to compose. It must be great to grow up in a land where snacks fall readily from the trees.In the evening, we returned home to discover the hunt had been successful. It’s rare that I do a trip with no photographic objective. It’s refreshing to travel light and go with the flow – and it’s authentic and easy to capture with FUJIFILM X Series. On to the next adventure!
Do you know which prime lenses you use more than any others? I do.
Things you and I already know about the Fujinon XF lens range:
1) They’re as sharply designed and as beautifully well made as the cameras they attach to.
2) They can, without exception, deliver outstanding results.
3) There’s already a superb line-up and it’s only going to get better.
But there was something that I didn’t know about my own use of XF lenses and felt that I really should; which lenses did I use for what subject and, perhaps more importantly, why. In order to find out, I decided to apply a small amount of science to this with the aid of Lightroom.
If you select Lightroom’s Library module, you can quickly see which lenses you’ve used and how many shots you’ve taken with them by selecting the Metadata option in the Library Filter bar. Once this option is selected, you can use the individual drop down menus below this bar to further refine your search. I did this and quickly discovered that I’d shot with a wide variety of XF lenses, but some definitely got more use than others. What follows here are my top five prime lens choices, in focal length order, what I use them for and why I love them. It’s worth pointing out before we get started, of course, that my suggestions may or may not be up your street. You can use the XF16mm for portraits just as much as you can use the XF90mm for landscapes, so be sure to experiment!
1) XF23mmF1.4 R
This is a firm favourite for plenty of X Series users, but based on my Lightroom-based search my primary usage seems to be in two main areas: landscapes and travel. Both of these are pretty obvious, I guess. The lens offers a modest, distortion-free wide-angle view that suits a whole range of subjects and flicking through my images it’s easy to see the appeal – the XF23mm is spectacularly sharp, right from F1.4. Delving a little deeper into the metadata, I discovered that I rarely used the lens at its minimum aperture, favouring the wide apertures more, except when I was striving for plenty of depth-of-field. I expect the new XF23mmF2 to get similar levels of usage once I get my hands on one (hint, hint…)
Given my regular use of the XF23mm, I was surprised to see that I also gave the XF27mm plenty of outings, too. Looking at the resulting shots, though, it was evident that I shot very different subjects with this more compact lens. It’s definitely the one I pick when I head into a city or town to shoot street images, or just want a lens that I can pop on a camera body and head out. There were an inordinate number of pictures taken with the XF27mm when I was out walking my dog (see the shot at the top of this post) and it was interesting to see that my use of the XF27mm had greatly increased when I was testing the X-Pro2. This duo make a killer combination in both portability and image quality.
3) XF56mmF1.2 R
The 35mm focal length lenses barely registered on my Lightroom search, so the next in my top five was this beauty in its non-APD form. Compared to the XF23mm and XF27mm, this is a real lump of a lens, but in a good way. It’s supremely well made and the optical quality is truly exceptional – if you’ve ever used one, you’ll know exactly what I mean. My use of it, however, was a little more surprising. Sure, there were a few portraits in the selection, but the majority of my shots were taken with the lens at its widest aperture (or thereabouts) to make the most of the tremendous bokeh effects it offers. Less than 10% of the shots were taken at an aperture of F4 or smaller.
4) XF60mmF2.4 R Macro
Another surprise, given its proximity in focal length terms to the XF56mm but, as with my 23mm/27mm lens scenario, the XF60mm gets used for a different set of images. In fact, I’ve shot a great deal with this lens, probably because it remains one of the sharpest in the XF line-up, despite being one of the first introduced with the X-Pro1 back in 2012. Weddings, portraits, still life images, close ups and product shots have all been shot with the Macro, and on a variety of X Series bodies, too. I even took some street images with it, but I guess it’s because I left the XF27mm at home that day…
5) XF90mmF2 R LM WR
A late entry into my list of top five primes largely because I’ve been shooting with it so much of late. This is an absolutely stunning lens that has a look all of its own and delivers outstanding image quality. I used it for a lot of shots in my Fun in the Sun blog from a couple of months ago and since then it has stayed pretty much permanently on a Fujifilm X-E2S body. Yes, it’s great for portraits, but I also found that I shot lots of close-ups and detail images with this lens, making the most of its fast focusing and high quality optics.
So, which one have I used the most?
This surprised me. Based on this Lightroom search, my undisputed king of prime lenses is the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro which beats the second most used lens (the XF23mmF1.4 R) by almost two to one. I’ve always loved the 60mm, but I never realised that I used it quite as much as I evidently do. It may not be the fastest focusing lens in the XF line-up, but it’s an optical gem which must be the reason why I keep on going back to it. Right, I’m off to do the same experiment for zooms…