Why I’m Buying Neither A Fujifilm X-T1 Nor A 56mm f1.2: A Mini Review

Recently I had the use of an X-T1 and XF 56mm f1.2R lens for two days. I even shot a portrait session on the first day with it, in conjunction with my X100s. 

You shouldn’t really walk into a portrait session with a paying client and try to use a camera you’ve only had in your hands for 30 minutes or so. But I did. And it was fine.

Now, while I am a primate, I’m not the kind of monkey that spends all day picking nits, so I’m not going to go into those often very personal things that also often don’t really matter. The fundamental point I learnt is, you can pick this camera up and get on with it. End of story. So, now for the middle.

What I liked about the X-T1 – just about everything. I didn’t make use of any feature not also found on my X100s, so I can’t speak to those. It worked just fine for the most part. Kinda like a big brother of the X100s, so nothing much to say there really.

That big viewfinder screen is totally, absolutely, completely, utterly, freaking delicious. So much so that it deserves this paragraph all on its own.

The only thing that gave me pause was that old bug bear, focus. Occasionally it had a little trouble locking on. When it happened, it was mildly frustrating. It didn’t overly bother me, just as it doesn’t on the X100s, but if someone was coming from the blindingly fast responsiveness of a mid to upper end modern dSLR, then I can imagine it might be quite annoying. I do though, suspect that a lot of this hinges on the photographer’s personality.*

I also had some focus issues with the 56mm f1.2 lens, but simply because I was insisting on using it with as narrow a depth of field as possible. At times I was squeezing it down too far for the specifics of the situation. That really comes down to experience and practice – neither of which I had going in. Common sense too, which I also apparently lack.

However, as much as I like the stunning results, not to mention the ability to throw the background further out of focus, I’m not going to buy the lens. That negates the body too. Why though, since they would seem natural choices, given that I spend so much of my time doing portraiture? _DSF0055 1

Space. That’s the main reason. Japan doesn’t have a lot of it to spare and I found myself constantly bumping into things as I backed up to frame. It became both frustrating and annoying. Not really the lens’ fault, just the situation.

This happened in all the places I used for the portrait session; the hotel room, the hotel lobby, on the street and even, surprisingly, in the park. It also happened the next day at my home, where I also do a lot of portrait work. It really caught me out, as I didn’t anticipate this being an issue at all – it never even entered my wildest dreams that it might be.

That’s it really. Not much else to say. Being a rangefinder orientated kind of person, I’m expecting to get all excited and tempted by the X-Pro2, if and when it turns up. That will probably lead me to reconsider the 56mm again too, as it really does give sweet results.
We’ll see…

 

*It is easy to find comments of the likes of “I need a camera that responds super fast / I can’t deal with a camera this slow / for my work I need a camera that focuses faster than this / etc.” To which, I typically think ‘really?’ along with ‘get over yourself.’ It’s not the speed that bothers me – after all, when I came of photographic age, I had to manually focus and wind film on. It’s more that I expect something is about to happen and it doesn’t. It’s a subtle distinction, and I’m not sure I’m making it effectively. So, following Homer Simpson’s sage advice, I’ll just give up.

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Another TCL-X100 Portrait

Here’s two versions from a portrait session last Sunday. One fairly straight up VSCO rendition of Fujifilm Superia 100, and the other a bit more adventurously soft toned. Shot with the TCL-X100 at f2.8 (from memory).

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Early Birds And All That – 6 am Shoot To Catch The Blossoms…

Just back from a 6am family portrait session. Cherry blossom season tends to last at the most a week here in Japan, and much less if the wind picks up. You have to get the photographs while you can. Nothing to show yet, other than this blossom strip.

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While coming back, I saw that we had not only beaten the professional cherry blossom photographers time wise, but also location wise. If they had only gone to the effort of going another 200 yards down the road and around the corner…

Checklists – A Portrait Session Necessity

This morning, after having done two quite rapid portrait sessions, I realised that under the pressure of getting things done quickly, I had once again forgotten a few basic things.

Typically, these tend to be about the person in front of the lens, because while worrying about all the technical considerations, which need to be taken care of if anything at all is to happen, it is so easy to overlook the subject.

There are lots of “checklists” online, but they are all (so far) about more sweeping things, like having charged batteries, location permits, changes of wardrobe, etc. What I’m talking about here is a specific checklist to jog one’s memory during the actual session, while the shutter is firing.

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I actually have this kind of checklist already, one that I made up a while back. However, it grew far far too long to be useful – especially since it combined technical aspects with shot types / moods and posing considerations. It grew into a giant session workflow. Not so useful in the heat of things.

Now I’m going to try to make a short, quick reference one, just off the top of my head, of the things, in relation to the subject, that must be nailed down but that I at times forget. In no particular order, here goes:

1. posture 1 – erect

2. posture 2 – shape of spine

3. shadows in off-side eye socket (more fill?)

4. orphaned appendages (esp. hands / fingers)

5. head tilted down, creating double chins

6. stray elements entering edges of frames

7. fly aways (hair)

8. hot spots on nose, cheek or forehead

9. waist – visible?

10. larger number of / more variety in poses

11. umm, other stuff

That’s all I can think of now, off the top of my head. I’ll refine this over time, into something useful and sleek, and therefore easy to print out and quickly refer to.