Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fuji X-T1 with a handful of Fuji XF lenses -- all that's needed for available light, lifestyle photography

More and more I find myself switching to my Fuji X-T1 to cover indoors, available light lifestyle shoots. It still amazes me that a small handful of photo equipment is all I really need for most shooting situations. Not too long ago I would have thought this impossible.  But with Fuji continuing to add high quality, pro glass to its optical array and supporting its top camera with firmware upgrades to improve speed and accuracy of focus the day of relying exclusively on a compact array of mirrorless gear has arrived.

Yes, I still never go into an important lifestyle shoot without a similarly equipped backup Nikon kit nearby, but more and more I use the Fuji first, and many times exclusively. One reason is that I have become a real fan of the Classic Chrome look. I always shoot both RAW and jpg -- the RAW to actually process later, and the jpg as a reference of how the Classic Chrome or other color mode looks while I'm shooting. I also find correctly exposed Fuji RAW files very easy to process in Adobe Camera RAW making my post-production experience much quicker than it used to be.

The fast apertures of the Fuji lens set coupled with the fact that I tend to use them fairly wide open keeps my ISO in a comfortable 200-400 range with an occasional push up to a high of 800, but rarely higher. This is helped also because I find I can hand-hold an X-T1 at lower shutter speeds than heavier DSLR cameras. This provides me with another 1-2 extra stops.

When shooting lifestyle outdoors with a DSLR I usually switch over to two standard zooms, a 24-70mm, and 70-200mm. Now Fuji even covers that range with its similar 16-55mm f/2.8 and 50-150mm f/2.8 zooms. Once the newly announced X-T1 firmware arrives in late June, I may be using the X-T1 for all lifestyle photography.

This is all the equipment I needed to photograph the excepts from two lifestyle photo sessions illustrated below. From left to right the lenses are the Fuji 35mm f/1.4, Fuji 23mm f/1.4, and mounted on the X-T1 is the Fuji 56mm f/1.2

The 56mm used in close with an open aperture of f/2 give really pleasing bokeh to both the foreground and background areas. 

Pulling back a little to include the entire girl in the shot the 56mm is still a good choice to soften a complicated background scene so it won't interfere with the subject . 

For straight portraits it's hard to beat the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens. I generally use it with a fairly wide open aperture -- f/2.5 here --and it is still very sharp with a pleasing depth of field. 
This dimly lit profile was taken with the 56mm lens set to f/2.2 with focus placed on the foreground eye.  

At f/1.8 the 56mm lens is great for throwing a portrait background completely out of focus while still maintains sharp detail in the subjects face.  

When I am shooting selective focus and what a blurred foreground I vacillate between the 35mm and 56mm depending upon how much of a feeling of depth I want in the scene. Here I settled on the 56mm with an f/2.5 aperture to squash the perspective a bit without sacrificing story-telling detail in the foreground and background objects. 

A normal lens, like the 35mm f/1.4, provides a "normal" perspective in a scene like this one and the one below of the painter contemplating her canvas. I use the 35mm -- generally fairly wide open -- when I want to give the viewer a sense of actually being in the room with the subjects and not just peering into it from afar. 

A normal lens, like the 35mm f/1.4, provides a "normal" perspective in a scene. I use it when I want to give the viewer a sense of actually being in the room not just peering into it from afar. 

The 23mm brings the viewer even more dramatically into the scene than does the 35mm. I try to use it very wide open to keep the background as soft as possible. Even at f/1.8 and f/1.6, the apertures used for this image and the one below, there is still plenty of focus in the background.  


  1. Tom I must say you do really nice work. Always a pleasure. Thanks for sharing the lens info as well. The primes for the X-T1 are nice and basically compact given the low aperture values. The zooms seem to get a bit large (which is to be expected). I appreciate your choices. I'm curious if you had considered an X100 S or T rather than the 23mm?

  2. Funny you should mention using the X100T. I am doing a week long test of it right now and will be making a blog post about it soon. I used it today during one of my lifestyle shoots and was really pleased with what it offered. More on all this in the review. - t

  3. Thanks for sharing Tom!

    Another inspiring set of photographs!

    Can I ask how do you get those lovely warm tones in your shots, and yet the neutrals are so clean and fresh looking? Would love to see a guide for the post work on for instance the two last images. How to get those beautiful warm tones but still with clean neautrals, that warm flare etc. When warming up shots, I often feel the whole image tends to look "dirty" from all the warmth...