Feminine Portraiture with Fuji – The search for the optimum tool

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Szabó Lásló

"I am a 36 years old self taught photographer and I started photography about 3 years ago as a hobby. I am hungarian, and I have been living in Debrecen since I was born, which is the 2nd biggest city of my country. Currently I work at an IT related multinational company as a process specialist. I have a side job as well, as a music composer/producer."

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Before my switch to Fuji System, I used a Canon 5D Mark I and an old Japanese manual lens, the Super-Takumar 85mm 1.8. I always wanted to try shooting in full-frame format and the old Canon 5D Mark I was the only option which was affordable for me.

I used to use it, with the Canon’s 50 f/1.8 nifty-fifty, but I was not really impressed of its optical performance, and focal length. I mainly shoot, shoulder and tight headshots, so I thought that maybe a longer focal length would be more suitable for me.

That is why I ended up buying a cheap chinese adapter and a manual Takumar lens. I have read a lot of good reviews and tests about the performance and mechanical quality of these lenses and I really found the 85mm 1.8 really standing out amongst the others.

I found a very good deal on the second-hand market here in Hungary, so I immediately bought it when it was for sale. I was blown away of it’s performance. It produced, very colourful, saturated and sharp images wide open, with only a small amount of vignetting, which actually can be useful regarding portraiture, because I always add vignetting in post to my pictures, to let the subject be more highlighted.

Since it was a manual lens, focusing was not that easy at 1.8, but I practiced a lot, and also bought a precision magnifying focusing screen to my camera, which helped me a lot.

Then a few months ago I decided to upgrade my system, and after reading many-many articles on the web, I decided by switching to Fuji. Seeing the results, out of the Fuji cameras and lenses, convinced me about the switch, and I didn’t regret it. My workflow is much much faster and easier than it was before.

This is the best system I have ever used.

About the Body (Fujifilm X-T10)
I really like the weight and the retro design of this body, not to mention its small size. I can place it easily into my bag and take it out fast when I need to. I don’t even have to use a photo camera bag, I just keep it in my streetwear backpack. It turns on really fast and I can access the menus very easily.

Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/180″ . ISO 800
Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/180″ . ISO 800

The 16MP X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensor is amazing. It captures a very wide dynamic range and its 16MP resolution completely satisfies my needs. I also love the built in Film Simulation Modes. I almost everytime use the Classic Chrome Film Simulation, which gives a kind of saturated cinematic look, and for me it is very easy to modify the colours afterwards in Photoshop, according to my taste.

I can also frame and compose my pictures very easily due to the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor. With the aid of the LCD, I always have properly exposed pictures and I like the “what I see, what I get” shooting. I like the focusing modes as well, although I always use the single focusing mode, because of the style of my photography. The 8 frame/sec is more than enough for me, I couldn’t even explore it, because at the moment I have a really slow SD Card.

Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/1000″ . ISO 800

About the lens (XF 90mm f/2 R)
The best Lens I have ever used! It is optically just perfect! Super sharp wide open, even at F/2, and I haven’t experienced any vignetting or chromatic aberration so far in my images. The Bokeh is amazing. Exactly what I like, very smooth and creamy, and since I use this lens mainly for portraiture, it pops the subject up very well! I don’t know, somehow it gives a certain type of medium format look, which I just Love.

Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/400″ . ISO 400
Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/500″ . ISO 400

I know that there are a lot of reviews about lenses, where we can read that they are sharp and very well performing even wide open, but this one really is! It is also very well-built and massive. I like that it is also weather resistant, so maybe in the future I will attach it to a WR body and will shoot safely in the rain.

I chose the 90mm instead of the 56mm because, although I can’t see much difference in optical quality, somehow I find the 90mm’s bokeh better, and this focal length is much more suitable for me for tight shoulder and headshots.

Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/800″ . ISO 640
Fuji X-T10 . Fuji XF90mmF2R . f/2 . 1/1250″ . ISO 400

On the top of this, it is so sharp that I can shoot full body pictures as well, and the effect is still very nice what this lens produces. The only issue is usually the distance to my subject, what I have to take into consideration, therefore it is rather usable outdoors, when I am planning full body shots.

The only disadvantage of this body and lens combination for me is it’s weight. With the XT-10, the 90mm is a bit nose heavy, but who cares…


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  • Jesper Lind

    Dident pay to much attention to the text as the pics are amazing 🙂 are you able to give away some hints on how you give them that very detailed yet soft treatment ?

    • László Szabó

      Hello Jesper! Many thanks for the kind words! :). I belive that the sharp and still soft look, comes out from the Fuji sensor and the 90mm F/2. I always use the Classicchrome film simulation, which is the starting point for me. Everything is at 0 value usually, and -2 noise reduction. Afterwards i always use the colorbalance tool in Photoshop. I add a bit cyan and yelow to the highlights, and blue and green to to shadow tones to my liking, and furthermore a bit blue and red to the midtones, it depends.It helps me to take away a bit red colour, what the ClassicChrome simulation rendres very well. Hereby the subject’s face pops out better,That is the part where i usually expose my pictures. On the top of this, i use a plugin called Alien Skin Exposure, and apply a filter which matches the colour sclae of the picture. I am just freestyling, and setting the proper exposure, and shadow tones how I like. I also use minor frequency separated re-touching and a bit dodge and burning. Shometimes i use also the selective colours tool to adjust the background colour, and mask it. Thank you for the reading!

      • Karlon Cromwell

        Are the 1st set of images shot with FUJI and a Takumar or with the 5D Mark I and a Takumar?

        • László Szabó

          Hello Karlon! The 1st set is with the Takumar on th 5D!

  • Nafis Ahmed

    awesome!! ..I was in a fix between 56mm and 90mm .. after reading this, surely gonna get the 90mm ..keep posting ☺

  • Gilles Caraguel

    The 90mm is a perfectly fine lens but is not for everyone. To use it indoors depending on your style of photography, you really need to have a lot of space between you and your subject. Just something to pay attention to before spending all this hard-earned money. Just my 2 cents. Your work is really first class !