Since I got my first iPhone, I enjoyed using it as camera, not really to compete with a normal compact camera, but more to see what you can do with a camera, I have with me all the time. The image quality was not that great at that time, but things evolved over the years. The iPhone 5 came close, but the iPhone 6 changed a lot in my perception and experience of the built in camera.
Under good light conditions, the camera performs very well and is a joy to use. As it is part of my phone, I have it with me most of the time. Back in February, I decided to replace my broken iPhone 5 with the iPhone 6 Plus. This was not my first choice, but it was the phone that was available. In the end, I am glad I went with the bigger version.
Until the iPhone 6, the iPhone was more of a creative challenge than a camera replacement. Retouching on the phone was almost a necessity.
On Saturday, I went for a trail walk/run (it was faster than a walk, but slower than a run – make your choice) starting at Cecilia’s Forest going up Nursery Ravine (Cape Town, South Africa).
Originally, I planned take my Fuji X100s with, but frankly forgot it at home. At the end, I do think that I would not have taken as many pictures as I did with the iPhone. The camera would have been in my backpack and doing a quick snapshot would have meant to stop seriously, take off the backpack, take the camera out, take the picture, pack the camera back…
I carried my phone in one of my pockets and it was always easily accessible.
When I came back home, I was impressed by the quality of images I got from my little adventure.
The iPhone won’t replace my Fuji, but it is very handy and produces good quality images for my memories.
I started working on the images with Snapped and found that they looked more interesting in b/w than in colour. So, I went with it.
Snapseed, is for me by far the coolest photo editing software for the iPhone. You can work in layers, change things after the fact and it is a joy to use.
Anyway, I had lots of fun and enjoyed the ease of an easy accessible camera.
One of the most exciting things for me, is to see my images in print. A few weeks ago, I photographed Bruce Good and William Rupert from Our Hood for an article written by Anneleigh Jacobsen for Fast Company South Africa.
We worked on location at the Woodstock Exchange in Cape Town. It was a fun assignment and working with only available light made it even more interesting.
Our Hood is an app that allows users to connect with their immediate neighbourhood they live in. It is a social network with real life impact.
What made the evening very special were two things. The event was held at Steenberg High School, one of the schools in the program. The principal Andre Kraak gave an inspiring testimony on how Partners for Possibility brought positive change to his school.
Then there was the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who handed over the prize to Louise. He did it with style and humour as only he can do it. I enjoyed seeing his energy and spark in his short speech.
I was able to work with the Fuji XT 1 for a couple of weeks now on a couple of assignments and want to share some of my impressions here. This will not be yet another review of this camera. There are already enough around.
I am focusing on my personal experience in my professional context.
Where I come from
About two years ago, I made the switch from convetional DSFRs (Nikon) to mirrorless cameras. Weight of gear and mobility became more and more an issue. I met Steve Huff briefly an event I was assigned to photograph. He was there to photograph Seal’s live performance. Steve shot a combination of Leica and Sony. After that event I started to investigate a move to mirrorless. I looked at Leica as one option, cost and the system’s limitations ruled that out.
Eventually, I decided to buy into the Sony Nex system. For a while I worked with Nikon and Sony simultaneously. When I realised that I used the Sony for 90% of my work, I committed to the switch.
Sony’s cameras are great, the sensors fantastic (and Nikon uses Sony sensors in their cameras), but they lack a selection of great lenses.
After I learnt to work with the limitation of Sony glass (using also 3rd party lenses, such as Contax and Canon FD), it was time for a camera upgrade. For a while, I was seriously researching the Sony A7 and Sony A7r cameras. Great cameras, but again there was a serious back with good lenses.
In the meantime I bought myself a Fuji X100s have been using it alongside my other cameras and have been enjoying it’s elegance, image quality and traditional controls.
This year, Fuji announced the Fuji XT 1 and remedied a lot of the issues the Xpro 1 had.
Fuji always offered a decent selection of great lenses. Of all the reviews I read (and I read quite a few) there was not a single negative one.
The XT 1 received similar positive reviews and I made the decision to go for the system. I was very happy with the result I got from the X100s so far and
would expect the same from the XT 1.
I am using the Fuji XT 1, the Fuji X100s, the 56/1.2, the 18-55/2.8-4 and the 55-200/3.4-4.8. The 35/1.4 is arriving hopefully very soon.
My bag, the Thinktankphoto Essential arrived last week and I bought based of Zack Arias experience with it. So far, I am happy with the bag and it’s capacity to cater for my assignments and very importantly keeps me organised.
I used the camera at almost the full range of my work, including corporate events, portraits, product photography and also some landscape photography.
During one of the product shots the camera acted up and produced a mysterious green colour shift in a few images. Switching off the camera and removing battery and restarting the camera resolved the issue. This was a once off error and I wasn’t able to reproduce it again.
It took me a while and a Google search to setup the camera for studio work. If you don’t do this, you will only see a black screen as the images are underexposesd as the main lighting comes from strobes.
Go to: Menu – Wrench Symbol 1 (blue menu items) – Screen Set-up – Preview Exp. in Manual Mode – OFF
The viewfinder displays now a correctly exposed image in manual mode regardless of the level over- and underexposure. This does not affect Program mode or semi-automatic settings such as aperture priority and shutter priority. Just remember to change the setting, when you work in full manual mode outside your studio and want to see the effects of the exposure.
For my portrait work, I fell in love with the face recognition option for focusing. Once the camera identifies a faces, it locks the autofocus on the nearest eye. This is incredible useful when you shoot with the 56/1.2 wide open and increases the number of shots with eyes in focus.
External manual controls
I love the manual control rings. You can change shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, drive control and metering without switching on the camera. Having said that, I experienced the drive control and metering ring to change to easily, especially during events when I move the camera a lot. Overall, this all fashioned look is simply practical. You can fine tune aperture and shutter speed with the command dials.
The lenses are solid, sharp, and even the kit lens is more than just usable. It is very good. My favourite is the 56/1.2, though and not only for portrait work. Image stabilisation would be an interesting add on, but other than that, I love the bokeh, sharpness and contrast of that lens. the 55-200/3.4-4.8 performs very well, even though it doesn’t have a constant aperture. In my Nikon days, I used to shoot with the 80-200/2.8 a lot, but learnt in recent years not to rely too much on longer than 135 mm focal lengths. The range is a nice to have and image stabilisation is a bonus for the Fuji lens.
For the time being, I am happy to use the Fuji X100s for the 23mm focal length. The sensor is the same as in the Fuji XT01 and the lens is outstanding. The 14mm and the 23mm might find their way into my photo bag at some stage next year.
What is missing?
Fuji speedlites are not the greatest and don’t have yet the level of sophistication that I got used to with the Nikon SB lights. Hopefully, that is only a question of time. I still use the Nikon strobes in manual mode for some of my assignments. Autofocus could be faster at times, but I hardly ever had issues with that.
Other than that, I am pretty happy and with the handling of the camera and the professional image results the camera produces.
I photographed Louise, a while back for her website and marketing material. Louise needed a variety of images displaying professionalism and approachability. She is a mediator, facilitator and stakeholder engagement expert who works with groups of any size to get back to the basics of effective collaboration. With deep roots in the corporate citizenship domain, Louise is passionate about reconnecting organisations and teams with a sense of shared purpose, and helping individuals develop skills to build better relationships. She specialises in early workplace mediation to anticipate and avoid conflicts before they emerge. If you’re keen to strengthen your business relationships, get in touch with Louise to find out more about her services.