Making intimate pictures means packing light and indiscreet
I just got back last week from an amazing 11 days in Europe, mainly in Paris and Amsterdam. When you get to do what you love time passes quickly and sometimes you look up and it’s been 2 years since you’ve been able to take a vacation. So was my wife and my situation. So after a snap decision we booked our plane tickets.
As any obsessive photographers might admit, when planning a trip, one of the biggest anxieties is what will I need ? How much gear can I squeeze in my carry on?. This was my first time out of many trips to Europe where I brought a small kit, and left my DSLR at home. For this trip I packed one of my favourite cameras I’ve ever owned the Fujifilm X-E1 and the brand new Fujifilm X-T1, 3 batteries, and for lenses the XF 18mm f2, XF 14mm f2.8 and the beautiful 35mm f1.4. All this fit into my small shoulder bag, versus the backpack I used to have to lug around.
Outside of my fashion, beauty and commercial work I consider myself a documentary photographer, not for any other reason other than telling my story to the world, and making photographs of things that move me, sadden me, and enlighten me. Having spent almost 4 years living in Paris, and being the birth place of my love and now lifelong obsession of making photographs, I was excited to see the city through new eyes after not visiting for almost 3 years. At the end of 11 days spent in Paris and Amsterdam I shot about 400 photographs with my X-E1 and X-T1, and 2 rolls of film with my little Canon Canonet, all photographs were processed with VSCO presets for Adobe Lightroom. As I’m sure I mentioned a million times, in the end there are two factors in a great camera for me, simplicity in design and use and beautiful RAW files, which is why I use Fujifilm. C’est tout.
The Seine River, Paris, France 5am
The River Seine, Paris, France. 5am
View of the Sacre Coeur from the George Pompidou Centre
A tourist naps infront of the George Pompidou Centre.
The Palais Royal, Paris, France.
Pigeon and flowers, The Palais Royal. Paris, France.
Woman relaxing in the sun at the Palais Royal. Paris, France.
View of the gardens in the Palais Royal. Paris, France.
A man reads the paper infront of the Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires.
Door of the Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires.
Roma Immigrants at the entrance to the St. Eustache Church.
Entering the Louvre.
Roma immigrant with a dog on the streets of Paris, France.
A Roma Immigrant young woman and a child, surrounded by volunteer Red Cross workers.
Small street off of Rue des Petits Carreaux, Paris, France.
A couple embraces near midnight along the Seine River.
Man smokes a cigarette as he watches through the packed windows of a local gambling shop.
Elderly lady that I remember from years ago taking a break from the sun near the Fontain St. Michel
Roma in Paris. Recumbent people of Paris.
I spent 2006-2009 living in Paris, France. It was in this city my life changed drastically. The most important, it’s the birthplace of my love for making photographs. I remember the first time I went to Paris in 2004, emerging from the RER I was immediately in love. The class, the grit, the architecture, streets that were alive at all hours. Having done my fair share of travel, and in spite of all it’s faults, Paris remains my favourite city in the world. 2 days ago I got back from a trip to Paris with my wife, after 2 years of working and not taking a vacation we decided Paris would be the perfect place for a vacation to find some much needed inspiration.
Back in 2006 one thing about life in Paris that struck me was the large number of Roma Immigrants. For many years the Roma immigrants have been a very contentious issue for French people. What does France do to deal with what they perceived as a pest. In all honesty I was blown away at the number of Roma in Paris, taking the RER first thing in the morning I would be serenaded by Roma women, or entertained by young boys with instruments (violins with a single string ), or karaoke machines belting out pop songs to not so enthusiastic French people on their morning commute to work. Anyone whose done the trip from the Chatelet metro station out to the Charles de Gaulle Airport can attest to the hundreds of camper cars packed tightly into any empty work site outside the city. Beyond the singing, dancing there were other methods being used to evoke sympathy from passers by. Puppies. All over the city young Roma men and women sitting on dirty blankets with adorable puppies. Back to my trip this May, I noticed that the puppies that used to garner spare change from Parisians and tourists were being replaced with newborns. Very young looking women, sat on mattresses with newborn babies, or surrounded by multiple children. As mentioned the Roma have been a long debated topic for Parisians, and I myself am hard pressed to see this as a black and white situation. Regardless they are there, everywhere, and nowhere at the same time. Stuck between modern society that expects “integration” and an antiquated style of living outside societal norms.
Since I began taking photographs on the street I’ve photographed conditions of poverty and the homeless. I can’t help that no matter which huge city I visit around the world, I’m hard pressed to ignore what I see beyond the beauty and allure of a city like Paris. A comment made recently on a social media site called my photos in this series “inhumane”. I can’t say I agree with this comment. As a photographer I feel it is my duty to document life as I see it. My hope is that future generations will be able to look at these photos in shock of how people “used to” live. Whether we want to accept it or not, there are growing numbers of men, women, children, and elderly living in extreme poverty around the world, turning a blind eye or ignoring these people won’t make them go away. The following photographs touch on two perspectives of life on the street in Paris. Meant to spur a reaction and hopefully a debate, in you the viewer.
Films not dead, it’s just sleeping
Inspired by a recent growing need to understand what it means to choose a moment for a photograph. I just shot my first roll of film in a long, long time. Having shot a lot of photographs with digital cameras the last 4 years has helped me immensely as a photographer, I’ve learned a lot about my own sensibilities and how to anticipate a moment, as well that you don’t need to shoot 300 photographs every time you pick up your camera. Even with my digital Fujifilm cameras (which I carry with me every single day), I mostly shoot around 30 photographs in a week. Quality over quantity is never more apparent than in photography.
My favourite camera type to use is a rangefinder, and for the last 2 years I’ve hummed and hawed over at what level I wanted to invest in shooting film again. I’m a meat and potatoes guy, fast glass, aperture, ISO and shutter speed, all I need. So there I was on Craigslist and stumbled across the Canon Canonet G III QL, a very well known and sought after rangefinder. I passed on a Canonet 2 years ago and thought I shouldn’t let that happen again, next day, I managed to get my hands on one. In my experience at least, whenever I’ve bought a camera that is 30 or more years old, I always feel like the 1st roll of film I shoot with it will determine whether I bought a POS or something good, almost all my film cameras have been from flea markets, weird estate sales or from family. After developing my first roll of Fujifilm Superia 400 I have to say, I’m in love with the Canonet, and not only that I’m even more in love with photography.
Anyways, here are a selection of 15 of 24 photos from this first roll.
Goldwell Colorzoom 2014 – Learn and shoot with Goldwell’s Top Artists
Are you a hairstylist that works with Goldwell color and are thinking about entering the Colorzoom ’14 ? I will be joining 2013 Colorzoom Gold Winner, Derrick Zeno and Goldwell Artistic Director, Rodica Hristu for the 2014 Creating a Color Challenge workshops.
Where?: Mississauga, Ontario March 16th, 17th and 18th 2014. Winnipeg Manitoba April 6th, 7th and 8th 2014. Vancouver, BC April 13th, 14th and 15th.
Why take the workshop ?: At the 3 day workshop you will be guided by 2013 Gold winner Derrick Zeno and Goldwell Goldwell Artistic Director Rodica Hristu through the whole process of creating a winning entry and on the final day you’ll shoot your winning look with me ! Did I mention the finalists go to BERLIN GERMANY ?!!
A little about myself:
I am a professional fashion and beauty photographer currently based in Vancouver, Canada. For the the last 4 years I have specialized in hair photography helping many of Canada’s top hairstylist bring home multiple awards including; Contessa Awards – Canadian Hairstylist of the Year 2013, Salon Team of the Year 2014, BC Hairtylist of the Year 2014, Goldwell Color Zoom Partner Category Gold Winner, Derrick Zeno, 6 out of 9 Finalists for Canada (2 Gold Winners. 1 Silver Winner and 3 Bronze). My photographs have been featured in Estetica Magazine, Highlights Magazine, Modern Salon and Salon Magazine. Having extensive experience as a specialist in hair photography I have the knowledge and tools that are needed to produce beautiful, original and award winning photographs.
What to expect:
Expect 3 full days of awesome ! For 2 days you’ll learn and work with Derrick and Rodica from concept to creation of your Colorzoom entry and have your own photo shoot on the 3rd. I had the chance last year to work with Derrick Zeno and Michelle Pargee and was blown away. Derrick and Michelle were incredibly attentive to each student through out the whole process, always there to help with questions or suggestions to help attendees unleash their creative power. As they say the proof is in the pudding, with so many attendees making semi finalist and finalist from last years workshops there’s no doubt this workshop will not only be a super fun time but it’ll also help you create an incredible entry. The class this year is taught again by Derrick Zeno and joining him, Goldwell Artistic Director, Rodica Hristu, a truly dynamic duo
The shoot: I will be arriving the day before the shoot so we’ll have the chance to and go over your look, at this point I will be able to answer any of your questions and get an idea of what angles you’d like to shoot and the over all goal for your final photo. The day of the shoot we’ll be taking each hairstylist and their model in to the studio to shoot your look! Whether you are an experienced stylists that’s entered before or a total noob, this class will have something for you.
After the shoot: You’ll receive your top 5 images to choose from for editing. This is when the fun part happens. We’ll work together to give you the best possible photograph for entry in Colorzoom.
For all the details follow the links below:
Briefing Kit www.colorzoom.com/briefingkit
More info: www.colorzoom.com
Well I hope this has inspired you and given you a bit of any idea of what to expect at this years Goldwell Colorzoom Creating a Color Challenge Entry workshop ! I’m really looking forward to seeing you there!
Kale JF Photography in Social Media: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KaleJFPhotography Twitter: @kalejfphoto Instagram: @kalejfphoto
I took a Fujifilm X-M1 and 18-55mm f2.8 lens up a mountain – Here’s my thoughts
So I’ve had the Fujifilm X-M1 for a while now and used it here and there, not really ever sure where it fit in to my kit. I knew with the “pancake” XF 27mm lens it was a great super compact camera that took stunning photos, but I thought I’d give it a chance in some harsher conditions, like -10 degrees celcius on a blowing mountain. So first off I had the ISO at 200, white balance Fine, if memory serves me aperture around f11. On the front of the camera I popped on the “kit lens” XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 lens which as you see in the photos is one of the best “kit” lenses you’ll ever buy.
Design thoughts: Keeping with the classic styling of all the X series cameras the X-M1 is no exception. The Good: Dials, I’m a fan of dials the more control I have with less scrolling through menus the better, depending on the lens aperture can be controlled with the back dial or on many Fujinon XF lenses on the lens itself. The Q button means access to everything you’d really need to change on the fly, another great design idea from Fujifilm. Regardless of it’s position lower down the ladder of X series cameras the X-M1 still has a solid build and feels heavy enough in the hand with a lens like the 18-55mm kit lens attached. Room for improvement: First off the fact that all the buttons on the back of the camera feel a little cramped I found myself pressing all kinds of different things while handing the camera, which is a problem if you have bigger hands (or are using gloves), what I would love to have seen is a bigger built up spot for your thumb to go to keep my hand from mashing all the buttons (maybe even less buttons) when using it with one hand. Shutter button seems a little crammed between the top two dials, but not a big deal. I find almost all cameras have an issue with accidental bumping or changing settings, and if you are like me with one around my neck at all times, even it moving around and brushing up against my shirt can sometimes move the shutter dial on my X-E1. Possible Design Solution: A lock switch or button that locks down ALL controls, preferably on the front of the camera for easy access. This means we wouldn’t have to worry about depressing a button or turning the shutter dial by accident, in turn ruining that 1/1000th of second.
click on photos for a close up view
AF and shooting with the X-M1: Well no qualms here, the AF with the XF 18-55mm is very snappy and even while shooting at passing objects moving in the opposite direction ex. Sky lift chairs, the AF performed very well. Keeping in mind this was a light soaked condition being surrounded by snow, in darker light I would imagine AF would be a bit slower, but as well as lots of light there was very little contrast in the scene which is what surprised me the most in how quick the AF performed. No viewfinder no prob… actually: In a lot of situations the fact that you are looking at the back of the camera is okay, I’d still take a viewfinder over none every day of the week, but up on the mountain or out in bright sunlight day you can’t see a damn thing on the back of the camera, any glare or direct light leaves you shooting completely blind, which was fine when I was shooting at 18mm end but when I tried to shoot a friend snowboarding I was completely blind, “spray and prey”?. I thought about the idea of an added eye piece on to the hot shoe but considering it’s probable cost ($150-$200) one would be inclined to just invest a bit more for an X-E2 or other X series with a viewfinder, but regardless a little optic to help with framing would be a cool addition to the X-M1 and it’d look neat.
What counts most at the end of the day?: For me, it’s image quality. And as David Hobby put it well, you are getting the same amazing sensor as the bigger brothers in the X series line up at a lower cost, which in itself makes this camera great. As you can see from the images below, this camera takes really good photographs, good enough that I would print them big and proudly hang them in a gallery or even use them in magazine print. Having shot accidentally (damn touchy dials and buttons !) some photos overexposed I was still able to bring back a lot of detail and get very usable photos. Bang for your buck factor is high for the X-M1.
Final Thoughts: If you are looking for an awesome compact camera with as many or little options of automation or manual use to capture day to day snap shots, stunning vacation photos this is your camera ! Do you have a big heavy DSLR but can’t stand lugging it out to take pictures of family or events ? This could be your new little friend ! If you already own another Fujifilm or are hoping to invest in one of the more “professional” Fujifilm cameras in the near future this is a great entry point, and hey you can use the same lenses on your X-M1 as all the other interchangeable X series cameras. Again for me, it’s all about image quality, which the X-M1 scores huge, usability scores slightly lower due to the button mashing and lack of viewfinder. Well I hope my 2 cents have helped a bit in understanding the little powerhouse that is the Fujifilm X-M1. PS. Shooting all day with the X-M1 in the cold I had no issues what so ever to report !
NYC. I love you.
Over the last couple years I’ve had the chance to do quite a bit of travel in and around North America, the thing is, it’s usually for work or attending events, which means little to no time to walk around with my camera and explore. So when my wife and I decided to slip over to New York City from Toronto (attending Contessa Awards) earlier this month I was super excited, having travelled to many major cosmopolitan centres around North America and Europe, this would be my first time in NYC. Like any photographer, the first thing you do is stress out about what gear you can bring and how the hell am I going to fit it all in my carry on. But that was the old me, the huge DSLR carrying me. With my Fujifilm system it was pretty damn simple to fit a couple bodies and 4 lenses into a small bag. Although, as we had planned to squeeze in a shoot at the beautiful Wella Professionals Studio at the Rockefeller Center, I still had to lug my Canon and 85mm along, I would have just used my X-E1 or X-E2 for the studio shoot but (ahem..) alas no tethering capability. Just before I left for this trip I got my hands on a couple of lenses I knew were going to work nicely in the city, the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 and the Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4, as I knew the sun would be down by 5pm and I would need that sweet large aperture to suck up any light to make photographs. As we got off the plane and took a taxi in to our hotel in Manhattan, I made what turned out to be one of my favourite photographs of the trip, with the sun almost completely down, from the window of the taxi I saw the Manhattan skyline for the first time, *click. Hello New York City, I love you already.
Now, here is where as a photographer the greedy, selfish side of me comes out. I find now more than ever that when I travel some place new, I go in to almost a trance in the street where I’m not really taking part in what’s going on around me, I’m immersed yet on the outside of everything going on around me, it’s a liberating and intoxicating feeling that I think only other photographers can understand. But as I was on vacation with my wife I really had to fight the urge to spend the entire trip with my camera up to my face. Another difficult part of visiting a new city is that you want to try and cover as much ground is possible, see all the sites, eat at good restaurants, visit museums, etc. etc., so inevitably you end up at 9pm with blown out feet and zero energy left to hit the streets to take photographs. In my mind the only way to over come all these difficulties is to find a great new city and move there, which is why my wife and I are currently going through the heavy process of attaining visas and if all works as planned will be New Yorkers sometime mid to late in 2014. So when I got home and realized I only took about 200 photographs while in New York City, which in this digital age seems like nothing, but I know that each time I took a photograph it was with care and attention.
Fujifilm X-E2 Is here ! – Improving on an already amazing camera – My first impressions
When I first heard that there would be an X-E2 coming out this year, I have to say the gear nerd inside of me did a tiny fist pump. I’ve been shooting on my X-E1 for almost a year and I really can’t imagine not having this camera in my life, so I figured with the X-E2 things could only get better, and as I had hoped, I was correct. The design, well no surprise here, no real major changes from the body shape and design of the X-E1, which I don’t mind one bit, I’m a ‘don’t mess with a good thing’ guy, and the bonus ? my grip from my X-E1 fits perfectly, one less accessory to purchase. The couple changes you will find are; the Q button has moved, there is no longer a View Mode button and there’s now a F2 button to give you another button to program, making 4 in total. For you photographers that like to do a lot of button pressing on your camera this should be a welcomed edition as well you can now set the exposure compensation dial now goes to 3 stops.
I think the biggest and best changes to the X-E2 happened on the inside. They’ve upgraded the guts to the 16MP X-Trans CMOS II & EXR Processor II and the Intelligent Hybrid AF (Phase & Contrast Detection) which promises a great improvement to the AF function of the camera as proved by the X100S. There is a list at the bottom with a break down of all the features of the X-E2, but for me this camera is all about taking a very well designed camera and making it take better photographs, simple as that. You’re probably asking yourself, what about manual focus ? No huge changes here, you’ll find the two different options available for a highlight or split screen, of which I’ve found I prefer the highlight option as it’s less obtrusive in the frame, I noticed as well that the improved processor means the EVF reacts noticeably smoother and quicker in manual focus mode . I only had a few days with the X-E2 so this isn’t as much as review but a ‘First Impression’ but the good news is I will be taking an X-E2 with me to New York City in November to put it through it’s paces on the street and on some fashion shoots for one week, so I’ll be able to update this post with more of an in depth analysis and a huge pile of photos !
As in all things in life, nothing is perfect, so let me get my one bugaboo out of the way now. I shoot with the EVF or OVF on any camera I use, I never have image preview turned on, never shoot from the LCD and for the most part I don’t chimp, my issue is that on the new X-E2 it’s not possible to shoot through the EVF with the LCD turned off and then hit the play button to preview a photo or use the menu, you have to look through the EVF which I’ve found to be dangerous and down right clumsy if you are out in the street shooting, the new options are LCD only, EVF with eye sensor or EVF only, I undestand the idea of having the eye sensor is to save on battery power while you walk around with your camera on all day, but if you are like me, my camera lives on a strap over my shoulder, so the fact that the camera is laying against my body means the sensor is on anyway, as I mentioned earlier in general I don’t chimp but there are some moments where you want to take the time to check your photograph and make sure you got what you were intending, as well sometimes you just want to scroll through the menu on the LCD. DISCLAIMER; The version of the X-E2 I received was a pre-production model so the good people at Fujifilm will be ironing out some quirks before they hit the shelves, so it’s my hope that this simple oddity can be fixed on the production models in the form of a firmware update, and bring back the same preview system as the X-E1, other than that I really can’t think of anything I don’t love about this camera.
Well, to the meat and potatoes. What’s new ! Here’s a list of some of the most important updates and features found on the new X-E2 and below some sample images I shot on the camera.
• 16MP X-Trans CMOS II & EXR Processor II
• Intelligent Hybrid AF (Phase & Contrast Detection)
• Focus Peaking & Split Image Focusing
• Lens Modulation Optimizer technology
• Face Detection (Stills and Movies)
• Super Intelligent Flash (Super i-Flash)
• 8 Advanced Filters
• 1.04M Dot LCD
• 4 Customizable Buttons: Fn1, Fn2, AE, Down Direction Pad
• Full HD 1080p with choice of 60/30fps
Here are some photos I shot over the couple days I had with the X-E2. As there wasn’t any software out there that could work with the pre production RAFs, I had to convert them to JPGs in camera and import, but I’m excited for some updates that will allow me to work with the RAFs to work with photographs in all there uncompressed glory. All images straight from camera JPGs with slight adjustments to White Balance and exposure in Adobe Lightroom.
Well I hoped you enjoyed my first impression of the brand new Fujifilm X-E2, now get out there and take some photographs !
Some other blog posts by my fellow Canadian X-Photographers on the new X-E2
Riley Joseph http://rileyjoseph.com/
Head over to Fujifilm Canada for more details and the official announcement ! http://www.fujifilm.ca/products/digital_cameras/index.html
Fujinon XF 23mm (35mm) f1.4 Lens will help you take beautiful photographs
In a previous post, I spoke about how the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens was my favourite lens of all time, well… I may have spoken too soon. Don’t get me wrong I still think the Fujinon 18mm f2 lens will always have a near and dear place in my heart, but change can also be a good thing.
When I began taking photographs, the work that inspired me the most was all taken on a 50mm lens, so being young an impressionable I thought this would be all I’d ever need to take my best photographs, slowly over time, and hundreds of thousands of photographs later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think the truth for me is I have focal lengths that I’m more comfortable with than others and that speak to my minds eye when it composes a photograph. Enter one of the most classic focal lengths 35mm, in all honesty, I’ve never owned a 35mm lens in my entire life, but I knew many of my favourite photos were shot with this focal and length, so I figured there must be a reason why, and finally I can safely say ” I get it”.
As I mentioned earlier, focal lengths are a matter of comfort for me and I guess one thing that I really like about the 23mm (35mm) lens is that it fits snugly between my classic 50mm focal length and my other favourite 18mm, the field of view is wide enough to get a lot in the frame, but not wide enough to distort the image and at f1.4 you can get beautiful separation of subject and background, allowing you to shoot a street scene as well as a portrait.
Upon first receiving the Fujinon XF 23mm(35mm) f1.4 lens, the build quality speaks for itself, metal, solid, lots of glass. Aperture is adjusted right on the lens body like other XF lenses, which I prefer, I like that I can glance at the body and see what shutter speed and aperture I’m at, ISO is pretty much always 100 or 400 so nothing else I need to know. Manual focus is achieved by pulling back the collar on the front of the lens body, similar to the XF 14mm f2.4 lens, the feel of the focus ring is resistant enough that you can smoothly and quickly pull focus and coupled with the highlighting system you can confidently shoot this lens in full manual. The weight on the lens adds a great balance to my X-E1 but for me personally it’s at the limit of a comfortable size lens on this body size, one little detail, would love to see a round lens hood, or one similar to the one that comes with the XF 18mm lens. I’ve been trying, but there’s not really anything bad to say about this lens. Really.
For my professional work which is beauty and fashion photography I could see this lens working amazing in any location shoot situations where I need to bring outside elements in to the composition and not distort the features of my subject too much, and with another lens around 85mm I am very confident that I could shoot pretty much anything from studio to location.
For my personal photography, which includes lots of family, friend portraits and street photography this lens is the true jack of all trades. Solid build and fast aperture of f1.4 mean I can confidently walk around all day shooting in the street and still take some beautiful photographs of my wife or family at dinner.
If you have the chance I highly recommend putting this lens on the front of your Fujifilm camera and trying it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Portrait of my wife Alina with the Fujifilm X-E1 and the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 lens
Family portraits shot on the Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 23mm(35mm) f1.4 lens. ISO 400 1/80th at f1.4 processed in Lightroom with a Fuji Superia 400+ VSCO preset
Budding flowers in October, Vancouver BC. Shot on the Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4
Beautiful photographs are happening everywhere, so don’t forget your camera !
One of the absolute best parts about being a photographers is that you can do almost any activity you enjoy from skateboarding to a walk in the park and you can create art while you are doing it, the same can’t be said about painting, right ?. Well, thinking back, the last time I visited a fair was probably around 15 years ago, I’ve always loved the idea of them, but don’t consider it a must do activity in the summer. Needless to say I had an amazing time with my wife, riding the ferris wheel, old wooden roller coaster and many others at the Vancouver PNE and Playland. Wonderful thing was I had my camera along to capture this rare and nostalgic moment. You can almost smell the popcorn and hear the dinging bells of the games !
No, thanks. hahaha.
Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens and why it spends 95% of it’s life on my camera
Disclaimer: I am part of the Fujifilm X-Photographers but am not being bribed or paid by Fujifilm to talk about their cameras, I do it cause I am genuinely a fan of their camera system.
I receive a lot of questions by email and DMs on my Facebook page about which lens for what from other Fujifilm fans. I try my best to give my insight but often it comes down to personal preference, that being said, I wanted to share why the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens spends so much time on my Fujifilm X-E1. I thought about making this a ‘review’ but realized that there are a million reviews out there floating around the interwebs, with boat loads of technical information and facts so instead I’m going to tell you why I love it so much.
Size: The XF 18mm lens is considered a pancake for how flat it sits on the camera body and it’s true, I’ve often tucked it in to my jacket pocket (without lens hood). Along with the lens you get a full metal lens hood, that not only looks pretty rad it also will help to protect your lens, as you can see mine has gotten it’s fair share of bangs and scratches, and is even large enough to keep light rain off the front lens.
Build: Metal. Lightweight. Quality. Not much to say here, aperture is controlled on the lens body, the aperture ring is firm enough you know you are turning something and are met with a nice click sound when adjusting aperture. I haven’t had many issues with accidentally changing the aperture which I have encountered with the Fujinon XF 14mm f2.8. This lens is built with the same quality that would be expected from any Fujinon lens.
MF/AF: In manual mode this lens has been improved by firmware updates, meaning less spinning to move from closest to furthest focus, in addition the focus confirmation works nicely with this lens. Again, autofocus has been greatly improved through firmware updates to the point that I rarely miss a shot in AF mode even in low light. Again nothing fancy and crazy here, this lens will work well in either focus mode for you.
Image quality and ‘look’: The Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens gives in my opinion a sharp but not TOO sharp photograph with my X-E1. I am the type of photographer that doesn’t mind a little (sometimes a lot) of softness in an image, and I can say honestly that I never sharpen my photos in post, not saying there’s anything wrong with sharpening, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I tend to dodge and burn to bring a sharpness back in a photograph. It sounds a bit tacky but I think this lens produces a ‘natural’ looking
What I shoot with the XF 18mm: Everything. Streetphotography, nice environmental portraits with shallow depth of field, clear stunning landscapes, my nieces birthday, moon landing, etc., this lens can do it all. If I had to choose I’d say the Fujnon XF 18mm is my favourite for shooting street photography, I spent years shooting solely with a 50mm lens, and there is a special place deep down inside me that will always love this focal length, but nowadays I just crave a little more in the frame. And that’s what the XF 18mm is going to give you. These days I’m finding myself carrying my camera in hand and shooting from the hip 50% of the time when I’m in the street. There is something interesting in shooting from below, which naturally emotes a feeling of strength and nobility to your subject, which is often seen in renaissance paintings of royal and noble figures. After this long ramble, my point is that even when walking down the street and swinging my camera around to take a photograph, this lens rarely misses the mark.
Final thought: As glowing as this all sounds, this may not be the lens for you and it certainly isn’t going to magically transform you or I in to a great photographer, it’s just a tool, and it’s my hope that my thoughts will help you decide if it’s the right lens to stick on to the front of your Fujifilm.
Street photography sample images from my Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 18mm f2 lens.
All images property of Kale JF Photography. 2013