Knowing your gear, part iii

New camera models come out at a higher and higher speed. The ‘number one’ point on the list of customer requests is probably auto-focus speed. Not only for sports- or action Photographers a fast and reliable AF is key to a smooth workflow.

As already stated, the AF-performance of the FUJIFILM x-series cameras is fast enough (for me and many other Photographers who totally switched from (Pro-) DSLR gear to the X-Pro1 or X-E1/2. Feel free to have a look at my Portfolio here in order to see what I am usually shooting.

I would summarize like this: Knowing your subject and you gear very well helps a lot in order to get the shot you are looking for. When it comes to situations where I have to ‘nail the shot’ with fast moving subjects, I switch my camera to M – and even two times … What ? you might think. Wait and see …

// Maximizing Focus performance on the X-Pro1 / X-E1/2

In any situation where I have to concentrate on the timing in order to capture the ‘perfect moment’, I prefer to use (semi-)manual focus instead of fighting with the AF. First step: Switch your camera to manual focus with the little lever on the front (*). Second step: Go to sub-menu four in the camera menu and set the AE/AF-LOCK MODE to ‘switch’ and the AE/AF-LOCK BUTTON to ‘AE+AF’. Let me repeat here that step one is essential for this whole thing to work!

FUJIFILM X-Pro1, X-E1 - camera menu #4

FUJIFILM X-Pro1, X-E1 – camera menu #4

In order to focus on my subject, I press the ‘AE-L/AF-L’ button with my thumb. Doing so the camera focuses or tries to focus on the subject. Once focus is locked, pressing the shutter button only takes the picture and does not try to (re-)focus. The faster the subject moves, the more often I re-focus pressing the ‘AE-L/AF-L’ button. The important thing is, that in the phase of firing a series of pictures (up to the max. burst per second) the camera shots with its maximum speed as the AF can’t slow down the shooting process. Side Note: Using fast class-10 SD-cards helps. Having most images ‘in focus’ is achieved here by setting the camera and lens to the appropriate aperture and shutter speed.

Shooting portraits of a rather nervous speaker on a conference might make me set f=4,5 and t=1/125 and DRIVE to ‘single’ while shooting a Flamenco-dancer in action would rather ask for f=8 and t=1/250 with DRIVE to ‘burst’ and several frames per second. The outstanding hi-ISO performance of the X-cameras come in very handy here. Having the needed depth of field (by adjusting the aperture) for the scene you are shooting is an essential factor here. It takes only little practice to judge if the subject is moving 10 to 15cm or more something like half a meter. Pre-setting the camera accordingly and then adjusting the frequency of ‘AF-help’ by pressing the ‘AE-L/AF-L’ button allows me to keep shooting at the appropriate speed. (*) As FUJI X-shooters know, also in fully manual focus mode the camera does use its auto-focus when pressing the ‘AE-L/AF-L’ button.

The big advantage shooting like this is that it allows me to fully concentrate on my subject and not having to worry about AF-performance. Once this little ‘dance of the thumb’ happens automatically and does not eat up too much of your brain-power you can fully profit from this method of getting fast moving subjects in focus. Obviously not all shots will be in focus (which is not really different from shooting a DSLR) but the ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio for me is at about 90 percent and therefore totally fine with me.

Give it a try and let me know what you found out!

That’s it for today. It’s a wrap ….

8 thoughts on “Knowing your gear, part iii

  1. Hi, This is an excellent post! I tried it with my X-E2: I set the AF Lock Mode to AE+AF, but the AF-L button will only lock focus instead of both focus and exposure while in manual focus mode. This is only an problem in Manual focus mode. If I switch to Single-AF mode, the AF-L button does lock both focus and exposure. Is there any way around this? Thanks! – Chris M.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your kind words. Coming to your problem: Did you set the AE-L/AF-L button to SWITCH ? That is important. Which lens did you have the problem with ? I do not have my X-E2 here at the moment. But I would like to try it out and I will get back in touch with you.

      Cheers,

      Peter

  2. I may have answered my own question. I wasn’t pressing AE-L first to activate it. If I do that, then each time I press the AF-L button, the camera refocuses and recalculates the exposure. Both settings stay locked till I press AF-L again. Is that how you’ve been doing?

    1. YES ! According to my understanding the setting “switch” for the AE-L/AF-L button in menu 4 should be read as “switching from one focus position to a new one”. First you activate the function, then you press it each time you want the camera to (auto-)focus. In any case pressing the shutter does NOT change any focus … 🙂

  3. Glad I came across this Jan 5/14 post. I currently own a Fuji X100 Ltd. The post today, of which I have tried what you recommended, reminds of the “infamous” Back-Button Focus” method used by DSLR shooters like me. I would have never thought that this method was available via the Fuji. The only thing different is that in my DSLR (Nikon D700) I do not have to switch the camera to manual focus mode.

    I will test you recommended method out over the next few weeks. In case you have never heard of the “Back-Button Focus” method I offer this one link of which there are many available to learn about this DSLR shooting method.

    Thanks again, now I will peruse your web site for additional Fuji tips.

    http://improvephotography.com/4552/back-button-focusing/

    Don J J Carroll

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