Knowing your gear, part II

In part One of my little insight tour of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1, I was talking about the advantages of regular firmware updates and the characteristics of the Optical and Electronic Viewfinder.

// The “new” M-Mode (Manual)

Setting the Aperture and Shutter Speed (for a given ISO value) manually allows the full control of the exposure. So far so good. Changing ambient light makes it necessary to adjust the ISO-setting in order to keep the desired Aperture and Shutter values.
The X-Pro1 and X-E1 allow the use of a “floating parameter” The ISO-parameter can be set to “Auto-ISO”. The standard ISO-sensitivity (minimum ISO value) equals 200. The maximum ISO-sensitivity can be freely chosen up to ISO 6400. A future firmware update will also hopefully allow the definition of a minimum shutter speed like for the X-M1 or X100s e.g. This allows to adjust the highest ISO value depending on the ambient light situation to influence the noise (I prefer the term ‘digital corn’) and keep the full control of desired aperture (DOF) and shutter speed in order to control motion blur or freezing of a movement. A very convenient way of shooting manual (accepting the help of the camera in choosing the ‘appropriate’ ISO setting). As the quality of the Fuji-noise is really nice up to ISO 3200 (my personal level one) and still useful in most cases up to ISO 6400 (level two).

// RAW-shooters, please listen …

Being an (almost exclusively) RAW-shooting Photographer for more than a decade, what I am going to say now feels a bit strange even for myself. Setting the file format to RAW+jpg (jpg FINE to be more precise) allows to have a very precise control over critical image focus. It’s important to understand that the preview file generated by the cameras set to “RAW only” is not showing all image details with that precision. I still want to go through my full PostProduction workflow in certain cases. In many cases, especially when my time frame is tight, I chose one of the FUJI film simulations (Provia, Astia, Velvia or black and white) or use the camera internal RAW-conversion. The latter one gives a huge amount of free parameters to apply corrections and adjustments. A .jpg file of this particular version is stored – with the option to use the .RAF file for external image processing later. Very convenient.

My personal Autofocus Tips

I am not going to write about Autofocus Speed here – one short remark: I use the X-Pro1, X-E2 and the X100s for practically all my professional and personal shots. Pro-DSLRs or (digital) Medium Format cameras are used for image sequences where “10 fps with 90-percent AF on spot” or “small part of the original – super large cropped part” are key.

The AF-performance can be drastically enhanced if you know how the Fuji-AF works. It’s a Contrast-Detection AF. So, don’t focus on the edges of the object. The AF works most efficiently when the AF frame is aimed at a high-contrast part of the subject. Monotone surfaces in low light situations are problematic. In situations like this, make sure the AF-assist light is activated (SHOOTING MENU – AF ILLUMINATOR) and/or try to help with some additional light source. Furthermore it’s important to be sure all of the object in the AF-frame is at one same distance. If not, re-adjust the AF-frame size or reposition the AF-frame / the camera. The AF-frame should be always set as small as possible and as large as needed.

One efficient way of using the AF is to (pre-)focus as soon as possible on the subject and then when the image has to be taken pressing the shutter right away fully through. The AF stays on the position that was set first and has no problem fine-adjusting to the ‘real position’ – assuming the subject did not move (a lot) between the first and second step. With a little bit of practice this allows to have a very high “hit-score” also with difficult and fast moving subjects.

end of part two …

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