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Tag Archives: fujinon xf 35mm f/1.4 r
Three main things that evoke the fans of Anime Expo®, AnimeCon and Comic-Con are the colorful merchandises, the ludicrous cosplay characters and the photographic opportunities for both the coplayers and the photographers.
I don’t know exactly how or when cosplay slipped into America and progressed into a type of performing art; nonetheless, the trend quickly spread and became a subculture revolved around roleplay. These gatherings are not only attract the cosplayers and their fans but also photographers. While the cosplayers show off their elegant costumes and accessories, the photographers demonstrate their skills and their newest gears. A win-win situation for both groups.
Beside hunting for pictures, I come to these events to learn about this subculture. And sometime, to conduct experiments on my new gears. Events like this are also good opportunities to meet other local photographers. To my surprise, I’m the only one who walks around this second year conference of AM2 —Anime, Music, Manga— at the Anaheim Convention Center with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1.
Numerous Canonians and Nikonians stop me with a similar question, “How do you like it?” Jokingly, I reply, “I like it enough to throw away my Canon gears.”
In my previous entry, I mentioned that I learn to use the camera by experimenting and taking notes. I find ways to control the X-Pro 1 more efficient, along with tricks to modify its film modes to get the color tones that I want. I actually have more fun shooting with the X-Pro 1 than any other cameras I have; including the Leica M9-P. It’s now the chance for me to test my previous notes and gather new ones.
As I drift through the Exhibition Hall, a group of teenagers catch my attention with their bright pink and yellow hair. How they dress for their roleplay characters are just as quirky as some characters of the Fujifilm X-Pro 1.
Come to think of it, we’re all born with a few quirky traits. They are the aspects of our personalities that we’re self-conscious about. The aspects that we usually too shy to display in public. Quirks make us special. It makes others pay attention and remember us. I call them memorable quirks.
A Nikonian strikes up a conversation on the slowness of the Fujinon XF lenses. To show him that the lens isn’t that bad, I walk by the group and snap the shot above while he’s still focusing and composing and let the awkward movement of the teen in the photo slips away. Compare to the AF of the Fujinon XF lens, human reflex seems to be much slower.
The Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R is perfect for small group shots, portraits, close-ups; both indoor and outdoor. More often, I choose to shoot at two stops smaller than the largest f stop available to achieve the optimal image quality. In comparison to Leica, Zeiss & Schneider optics, I choose the Fujinon XF lenses for their prices and fineness. Although the AF speed of the XF lens can’t beat any of the AF lenses from other brands, it’s still one of the best optics on the market at the moment.
Since I plan to shoot the entire gathering using high ISO to bring up the noise —shoot me. I love noisy photos; especially, when it comes to black and white, I decide to attach a Fader 52mm Mark II Variable ND filter to the Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R. The ISO for these photo were set at 1250.
The Fader Mark II Variable ND filter is indeed a fine product. It works much like the traditional circular polarizer filters; in the flick of a wrist, I can cut out from 2 to 8 stops of light. However, its front end is slightly larger than 52mm, the Fujifilm duckbilled hood won’t fit once the filter is attached to the lens.
My main uses for the Variable ND filter are,
- To enable slow shutter speeds to create smooth, fluidlike movement in subjects such as waterfalls, clouds, or cars
- To decrease depth of field by allowing wider apertures to be used
- To enable ISO above 800 setting and allow the setting to be used in brightly lit scenes
Once I satisfy with my exposure setting, instead of adjusting the aperture or the shutter speed, I turn the Variable ND filter to alter the amount of light if needed.
By design, the LCD screen will automatically adjust its brightness. To be able to view the effect of the Variable ND filter, I assign the Preview Depth of Field feature to the Fn button.
The X-Pro 1 menu may appear as chaotic as the exhibition hall during a cosplay event, but it will become organized after you learn its layout. I appoint certain settings to the seven Custom modes and the most used feature to the Fn button. Then, I use the Q mode to switch my Custom Settings during my shoot. Take your time to memorize the X-Pro 1 menu. It will pay off some day. Trust me.
Toward the end of the day, I hope that Fujifilm will soon produce a 23mm lens—equivalent to 35mm/135 format. Even better if they make it a pancake lens version and another with f/1.2. As much as I enjoy the equivalent 53mm focal length, I feel that a Fujinon 23mm lens would be more proper for street photography and event reportage.
Now that I have found a way to handle the Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R, it’s time for me to move on to the 60mm Macro lens.
I spend an afternoon in downtown Los Angeles with a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and a Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R. Learning to use the X system requires lots of patience, some trials and errors and many notes taking. Challenging but fun.
On top of that, Adobe Lightroom 4.1 begins to support X-Pro 1 RAW, the real fun starts. More possibilities to manage color, sharpness, noise. Even making books.
These days, one can never stop learning.
That’s one of the reasons why I keep notes of everything. From apertures to distances, from Clarity to Curves. Another reason for me to keep notes is that I can’t capture the breeze, the smell, the temperature of the scenes with my camera. Sometime, these things do play crucial parts during the editing process.
For me, editing RAW files is just as fun as wandering through La-La Land with a camera in my hands. The visual sensations, the thoughts when my thumb pressed down the shutter release to capture the shots flashes through my mind like a movie clip the seconds my photographs appears on the monitor’s screen.
Moments like these helps me to decide either my photographs should be in color or in black and white. It’s difficult for me to explain, but to me, photography isn’t what happened at the moments I took the shot. Photography is what happened at the time I processed the images, reshaped the photographs, fine-tuned their colors, gave them the titles. And then, the memories that will come back when I look at those images years later. Moments like these turn street photography into an addictive drug.
Those little stories I captured would never make the front page of a newspaper, nor would it make the cover of any book. Still, I love them. I love them not only for the people in my photographs but also for everything I’d learned during the progress of the art.
Street photography—or any field of photography—isn’t that difficult. Anyone, who has the right equipment, can do it; but if you take street photography seriously and you want to create some decent photographs, you need to study every tool you have in your possession. Do not think your X-Pro 1 is a simple camera. Once you dig into this little black box, you will realize it’s much more complex than you have thought. Do not blame the awkward focus by wire or the shutter lag. Once you master your X-Pro 1, these faulty designs seem to disappear on their own.
I mean, how do you enjoy street photography to the fullest if you don’t have the love for your camera, right? But how are you going to love your camera if you don’t know a thing or two about it? You’re not going to learn anything by going to forums and read other people’s issues with the same camera you have. You need to find your own problems with your equipment and learn the ways to solve them. That’s what photography all about, my friends. It’s not about the most expensive camera or the fastest lens but rather about learning to solve problems.
Surprise you, don’t I?
Think about it. Composition is a problem. Getting the correct exposure is a problem. To see what others can’t see is a problem. And there are more…
You’ve seen folks who spent thousand of dollars on DVDs, books, seminars and workshops but learned nothing much. Have you wondered why? That is because they tried so hard to scratch the surface but barely made the effort to learn from themselves. In reality, no teacher will be there for you when you need to solve a photographic problem; and ninety percent of these problems are from the hands of the users.
Learning from your own mistakes has never been an easy task. However, once you get to know your habits, the learning process will accelerate. Your photographic foundation will also be strengthen.
Take a notebook with you the next time you’re on the streets shooting. Experiment with things you’re not already know and things you’re already know but wanting a better solution. Give your strength and knowledge a test. I’m positively sure that you will amaze yourself with with things your notes are going to reveal.
It’s time to explore and conquer, my friends.