Friday, January 29, 2016

Fuji X camera with studio flash

It has been more that a year now since I have changed over from a DSLR to using the Fuji X-T1 for the lifestyle shoots that I do two days a week. There are several reasons I prefer a Fuji X camera for this, first among them is the exceptional lens quality from its primes. I tend to shoot backlit a lot, which means very low contrast on the subject. The Fuji lenses can really deliver the detail  in these areas, so much so that I rarely even need to fill the shadows.

My recent photo shoot involved working exclusively with studio strobes. For most of the shoot I set the lights up for backlighting. Normally I use a DSLR when working with strobe, but because of the backlight situation I wanted to use the Fuji X lenses instead.
This scene was lit with two strobes lighting the background seamless. No other lighting was used.

I set up two Elinchrome strobes in slit banks and pointed them at the white background seamless. There was no light on the model at all, not even reflector fill. My studio floor is painted a gloss white, and by positioning the camera right on the floor I was able to capture a wavy reflection of the model. With the camera right on the floor I needed to focus using the tilt screen of the X-T1 -- another good reason to be using it for this shoot. 

I set the Elinchromes off  with a Pocket Wizard, a system that has worked extremely well with my Nikon cameras, and now seems to work equally well with my Fuji X-T1. The X-T1 needs to be set up to work with strobes. First of all, the camera needs to be in single shot mode. It will not trigger from the flash shoe when set for continuous shooting. Second, the camera needs a menu adjustment that allows the EVF to show a bright image. Otherwise the image will be too dark to see. The adjustment is made on the fifth Shooting Menu by changing the "Interlock spot AE & focus" option to "Off". 

Alternatively, you could go to "Set-up" menu 1 and select "Screen Set-up", then navigate down to "Preview Pic. Effect" and turn it "Off". This does the same thing

Finally, with the shutter speed set to 1/180x for flash sync, you're good to go.


  1. Tom,
    I have my pocket wizards left over from my Nikon days. Did I read this correctly that I can use my PW's on my Fuji? How? I also kept my Sb700 which I've had very little luck with and I also own the Fuji EF42 (which is way too slow) Any advice? I would love to use my 700 either on the hotshot, or with my PW's. Many Thanks!

    1. Yes, my PW works on my Fuji X-T1 to trigger my studio strobe lights. These are not the Nikon flash units, which require a different trigger, like the Yongnuo.

  2. Tom - I didn't know about that menu option. Instead I turn off "show exposure preview in manual mode." Don't have my camera with me now, but it's buried in the menus somewhere -- under Screen Option I think.

  3. Excellent point. This essentially does the same thing. I added it into the blog post above. Thanks.

  4. Hello Tom,
    I was just introduced to your work by our mutual friend "Patti D" from NYC. I just wanted say that I was blow away by your "Metropolis" series! The composites of the city are beautiful and inspiring. Also, as a first time visitor to your blog, I'm thrilled to see that your using Fuji equipment. I'm just getting to know my new XT-1 and it looks like I found a great resource here. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  5. Not to be rude, but the interlock feature for AF and AE has nothing to do with the problem at hand (although yes, it should be engaged forgoing AE evaluation when exposing in backlit situations). When shooting strobe- based images, what you need indeed is to turn off the “exposure preview in manual mode”, or switch to OVF if your camera has one.