We’ve now been travelling for over a month so I’ve settled in nicely to my workflow and the kit I’m shooting with. Before we left Australia I changed things up quite a bit, upgrading my body from the Fuji X-Pro1 to the X-Pro2 and changing round a couple of lenses to offer a little more versatility with my wide angle and go weather resistant on the 35mm to match the new body. The current kit is as follows:
- Fuji X-Pro2
- Fuji 56mm f/1.2
- Fuji 35mm f/2.0
- Fuji 23mm f/2.0
- Fuji 10-24mm f/4.0
The decision to pick up the 23mm f/2 was quite a last minute one and I decided on it mostly because I could get a really good price on it at the time. If I have to choose only one lens when I want to leave my backpack at the accomodation for the day, I find myself gravitating towards the 35 which makes me think I might sell the 23 at some stage. I really don’t need both. I’ll go into why further down.
The X-Pro 2 has been the best purchase I made changing up my kit before I left. I absolutely loved the X-Pro1 and it served me really well for the 4 years I was shooting with it but with the mildly unreliable auto focus abilities I was missing shots that a DSLR or faster mirrorless cameras would have had no issues with. The 24mp sensor is fantastic, but to be honest, I had no issues with the 16mp X-Pro1. None of my work is printed on large billboards and I really only shoot for myself. I’m sure I’ll print some images from our round the world trip once we return home but nothing large enough to see the difference I’d suggest. The ability to crop in a little more in post has been handy on occasion.
The other main feature that drew me to the X-Pro2 was the weather resistant body. In the month that we’ve spent in India it’s already allowed me grab some amazing shots that I would have otherwise never got. The camera just wouldn’t have come out with me.
We ventured out to see the Taj Mahal at sunset and as we walked it started to rain. With a 1.5km walk to the Taj, I threw on my raincoat and switched to the 35mm so the camera was protected. As we continued it started to absolutely bucket down! Everything was drenched included the camera. Luckily it held up and I was able to shoot a quick panorama just as the sun snuck out from behind the clouds. Stupidly, I didn’t put the wet weather cover on my Brevitè backpack and that took a good couple of days to dry out.
There’s also been a few features that I’ve found really helpful that I hadn’t really expected. The electronic shutter function has been a lifesaver. It’s let me get the exact shots I want without having to compromise on my aperture or having to add on an ND filter. I leave the camera in MS/ES mode and I shoot in aperture priority riding the exposure comp dial fairly constantly. When the camera selects a shutter speed of 1/8000 or less it uses the standard mechanical shutter and when it needs a speed faster than 1/8000 it simply uses the electronic shutter. For these portraits of our desert camel man, I wanted to shoot the 56mm wide open at f/1.2. With the ISO at 400 (the lowest ISO I can use without dipping into the lower dynamic range setting of 100%) the camera had selected a shutter speed of 1/12000. Pretty easy way to shoot without me having to compromise and change what I’m doing.
The only real downside I’m finding with the new body is the diopter dial on the left of the EVF/OVF. As soon as I put the camera down by my side or pack it away in my bag it gets shifted EVERY SINGLE TIME. To combat this I’ve had to put a small piece of gaffer tape over it. This has worked fine but it just shouldn’t have to be done.
Fuji 56mm f/1.2
This is the longest focal length I have in my kit and sometimes it’s just not long enough, That’s always the way though. I just can’t justify buying the 90mm or big zoom lens for the few times they would have been nice. I try not to change lenses too much while walking round and I tend to choose a lens depending on the type of shots I feel like shooting at the time. The 56 is great for when I want to really isolate a subject. It feels like the slowest lens to use in my lineup but with the new bodies focusing power it gets by even when I throw the camera into continuous mode. Below are a few shots of a rickshaw rider coming straight towards me. It didn’t miss a beat. I have the continuous mode to prioritise ‘focus’ over ‘release’ which creates more keepers and less frustration. Finding shots I thought were great at the time to be out of focus once I get back to the computer is always disappointing.
Fuji 35mm f/2.0
This is such a cracking lens. I sold my 35mm f/1.4 and bought this one before we left and I certainly don’t regret it. As I said earlier, the weather resistance has paid for itself already. I expect it to come in handy while we trek around Nepal as well. I don’t really miss the extra bit of light and if you’re close enough to your subject you can still separate it really well with some very pleasing out of focus areas. This is my go to walk around lens because I can cover off most things if I need to. Great on the street snapping things that interest me and its also a fantastic portrait lens. I’ve always been fond of the 50mm equivalent length for portraits. All personal preference though. Sure, it doesn’t quite compare to the Canon 5D mkIII, Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 setup I used to use for weddings but with a form factor this small it’s pretty damn good!
Fuji 23mm f/2.0
I have no complaints with the 23. It’s a very good lens that focuses fast and takes sharp images. I’ve taken some images I really like with it but I think I’m a 35 man on the APSC bodies.
Fuji 10-24mm f/4.0
I bought this lens as an upgrade from the manual focus Samyang 12mm f/2.0. I hadn’t really shot mush wide angle until I bought the Samyang. I found I really enjoyed it in certain situations but the lens let me down in aspects. I felt the manual focus slowed me down a bit too much when I just wanted a quick shot without being too obvious and I thought the quality wasn’t quite up to scratch with the Fuji glass. The colour cast on the Samyang was extreme to say the least. Easy fix in post but just one more thing to adjust.
I’ve found the 10-24 a joy to use. It’s my go to lens when I’m at something like the Taj Mahal or one of the many forts in Rajasthan. I’ve also used it for a couple of portraits that I’ve been really happy with. Image quality is top notch for my needs.
I really didn’t intend to write this much, it just kind of got away from me 🙂 I was going to touch on my Brevitè backpack and my workflow for the images but I’ll leave that for another day.
Below are some photos from the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi. All shot with the 56mm.
This article was originally published here.
“I’m a Melbourne based cinematographer and when I’m not shooting moving images I’m shooting stills and travelling as much as I can.”