GO TO(U)IT! Food photography with the Zeiss Touit 50mm and the Fuji X-T1

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Iulian Marcu

"I'm a self-taught photographer living and working in Iaşi, Romania. I started with Nikon in 2009, but switched to Fuji in 2015. After almost a decade of photography, I can say I have developed a passion for food photography, but I would never turn down the architectural one."

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Some of my dearest childhood memories refer to a store room my father transformed into a dark room. I grew up surrounded by the smell of the chemical substances, the red light, the timer, and the miracle of seeing blank rectangular paper turning into pictures.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/2.8 . 1/125″ . ISO 200

Although magic to me at those times (I was about 10), I never imagined I would make a living as a photographer. After years of radio shows and sales, I made the final carrier change to photography about 9 years ago.
I had a short passion for Olympus, but sold the kit after a few months, due to the incredible noise above ISO 800. Made the switch to Nikon, which served me very well for 6 years. But then Fuji X100 appeared, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. After reading many reviews and articles, I decided to wait: the camera was gorgeous, but lacked a lot of technical qualities the DSLRs had.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/4 . 1/125″ . ISO 200
Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/3.2 . 1/60″ . ISO 200

A year later Fuji incredibly improved it, and I found myself with a brand new X100S in my hands. I loved and still love its design and image quality, and for the first time I was considering switching completely. X-PRO1 was praised, but not enough to make me change the equipment, so I waited for almost 6 months: I wanted to be sure that selling all my Nikon gear and buying the X-T1 was a wise thing to do.

After reading countless articles and reviews, watching days of video on YouTube, I made the change: the autumn of 2015 found me as a Fuji photographer.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/5 . 1/60″ . ISO 200
Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/11 . 1/60″ . ISO 200

After a rather short learning curve, I intended to go slowly towards architecture and real estate photography, but these types of images seem to be less appreciated in my home town. At the beginning of 2016 I was asked to create the menu images of a local restaurant, and so it started: I had the technical knowledge, but no experience at all in this field. I created 3 shots, the client was very satisfied with the result, and that’s my main expertise since then.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/4 . 1/125″ . ISO 200

After working with a borrowed Nikon 50mm (used with an adaptor), I felt the need for my own 50mm macro lens. I read all I could find about the Fuji 60mm, but many reviews said that the Zeiss Touit would be a better option. And a more expensive one, indeed, but I had the luck of a 30% off campaign. I bought the lens in January 2016 and 16 months later I’m still overwhelmed by its image quality, contrast, sharpness and colors.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/11 . 1/80″ . ISO 200

I can easily say it’s the best lens in my bag. It’s not built like a tank, but it’s very easy to feel the quality once you grab it. I wished the auto focus was a bit faster, but as I use it 99% of the time in manual mode, I don’t find this a flaw. The focus ring is incredibly smooth and the Focus Peak function of the X System makes it very easy to get sharp images. The German company is so appreciated in Romania that the people came up with a saying: “Merge Zeiss (It works as a Zeiss)”.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/3.6 . 1/30″ . ISO 200
Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/2.8 . 1/30″ . ISO 200

I didn’t sell everything I had from Nikon. I kept my 3 flashes (two SB700s and one SB800), and together with the Phottix triggers and two Yongnuo lamps I can create the light I need. There are many accessories I use (filters, gobos, cardboards, stands, etc.), as well as props: cups, plates, old spoons, various fabrics, old books, and generally everything I consider I might use with food photography. I enjoy creating the visual story and I often find myself using items most people would not consider useful for this type of photography.

Post processing often implies working with masks and fine retouching. I prefer shooting and saving a lot of time by getting as much as possible straight in camera.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/5.6 . 1/125″ . ISO 200

Most of the time I shoot food photography using the Zeiss Touit 50mm. After more than 5,000 frames with this lens, I am sure that I’ll get the best result every time. It may not be the best macro lens around, or the fastest, but it’s definitely worth using when shooting food. I fully recommend it, especially if you are into this focal distance.

Fuji X-T1 . Zeiss Touit 50mmF2.8 . f/5.6 . 1/30″ . ISO 200

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Zeiss Touit 50mm Fuji XF60mm Fuji X-T1


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