Friday, May 16, 2014

So where did I put that little X-T1 flash again?

Don't know about you, but I am constantly misplacing the little auxiliary flash (EF-X8) that came with my X-T1 as a replacement for a built-in model. Admittedly, its small size makes it convenient to pack, but it also makes it convenient to misplace or forget to pack.

Its tiny size makes it look like a toy, however it has a respectable guide number of 36' (11m) at ISO 200, or 26' (8m) at ISO 100. That is better that the Fuji EF-20 and EF-X20 flash units with their guide number of 20' (6.1 m) ISO 100.  The small size of the EF-X8 is a primarily a result of drawing its power from the camera battery.

The flash folds down when not in use and back up when needed. It cannot tilt back anymore that this so bouncing it is not an option, unless you improvise, as I demonstrate below.
The EF-8 flash comes with the typical modes for for rear curtain, slow sync, full on, and off. Accessibilty for these options and the new "Commander" mode is conveniently located on the Q menu, although flash exposure compensation must be set using the camera menu system. Don't mistake the Fujifilm "Commander" mode for the sophisticated Commander modes of Nikon and Cannon cameras used to control their off camera flash units. The Fujifilm "Commander" mode simply cuts out any pre-flash so the unit can be used to trigger a studio flash. Sync shutter speed of the EF-X8 is 1/180 second or slower.

When open, the EF-X8 sits high enough to avoid casting a shadow from the front lens hood, but it does not tilt backwards to be used to cast bounce light. See my tinfoil reflector work-around for this below.

The guide number is 36' (11m) at ISO 200 or 26' (8m) at ISO 100, which is more powerful that the other two small Fuji flashes  for X cameras, but far below the output of the much larger Fuji EF42. The little extra umph the EV-X8 has over the other two small Fuji flash units coupled with the height above the lens plane adds to its use as a fill flash in daylight or high contrasty lighting situations, and in slow-sync mode it provides just the right amount of extra fill in the shadows.

EF-20 or EF-X20 = 20' (6.1 m) ISO100 at 50 mm position
EF42 = 138' (42.06 m) ISO100 at 50 mm position

This is a make-shift tinfoil reflector I fashioned to re-direct the light from the flash so it would bounce off the white ceiling. It is held in place by a strip of velcro. It is made from one piece of tinfoil folded in thirds for stability and intentionally crumbled to soften the beam and make less directional. It is very easy to also dip the front down slightly to allow a tiny bit of direct light to hit the subject and fill shadows when necessary.
The Flash accessory for the X-T1 does cannot be tilted back to bounce the light from a ceiling or wall. I rarely like using a direct light right off the camera so I devised a simple reflector to bounce the light from a ceiling or wall. Using tinfoil instead of a white card to serve as the reflector provides a bounce light with more intensity.  Sooner or later some company is going to make this accessory for the EF-8 flash. Until they do, this work-around will get the job done. Sounds like a good idea for a Kickstarter project.

With the flash coming directly at the subject the light is harsh with pronounced shadows -- never a flattering way to light a portrait.

Here I added the tinfoil reflector to the flash to re-direct the light and bounce it off the ceiling. The result is much softer and pleasing. The flash was used in as full flash mode, not slow sync to illustrate how much softer it is than using it directly. Combined with slow sync it would be even softer.
Below is another sequence of images to demonstrate the use of softer bounce flash.

An interior scene back lit by window light with dark shadows. 

Filling the shadows with a direct flash is too harsh and artificial, and even casts its own shadow.
Bouncing the flash off the ceiling with the tinfoil reflector brings in the shadow detail without destroying the natural light of the scene. 
The three other accessory Fuji flash units that fit an X-camera can be ordered here:

Fujifilm EF-20 Shoe Mount Flash can be ordered at:  BH-Photo   Amazon
Fujifilm EF-X20 Shoe Mount Flash can be ordered at:  BH-Photo   Amazon
Fujifilm EF-42 Shoe Mount Flash can be ordered at:  BH-Photo   Amazon

Of the three flash units, the EF-20 is my favorite. It is small, can tilt to bounce, has a pull-out diffuser, and EV adjustment controls in 1/2 stop increments on the rear.

The EF-X20 has manual controls of power settings and EV adjustments in 1/3 stop increments, but it cannot tilt to bounce. It was made specifically for the X-cameras.


  1. The use of the tinfoil to bounce the flash is a simply brilliant concept. However, there ought to be an attachment that will do the same thing that clips onto the flash in some fashion. I am sure that there is someone out there who will come up with one or more prototypes to do just that????

  2. I am looking for a replacement EF-X8 flash for a Fuji X-T1 camera. Can anyone refer me to a vendor or supplier that carries this flash unit?

  3. Ef-20 guide number is 20 Meters at ISO 100, much stronger than EF-X8

  4. You have your feet and meters mixed up in the guide numbers and are thus giving entirely incorrect advice as to the power output of all models. I don't think I've seen such a cockup before.