Portrait

Fujifilm X100F As A Studio Portrait Camera

All pictures taken with a pre-production Fuji X100F

Most people might not think of the X100 series cameras as portrait or studio tools. For a start, the 35mm field of view is not the best focal length for portraits (unless you're aiming for environmental portraits of course). The small size of the camera can also be deceiving and not something that would come to mind for studio work. But as you will see in this post, the X100F is very capable in a variety of styles in photography. 

For this shoot with my daughter Janel, I used the TCL-X100 teleconverter lens to switch the X100F from 35mm to 50mm, which takes it into a more suitable focal length for portraits. Don't forget to set the camera to TCL mode in the menu. I have assigned it to an Fn button, but My Menu is a good place for it too. It's worth pointing out that at the time of writing this post, there are version 2 of the conversion lenses on the horizon. I don't know yet what the differences are from the original ones, but it might be something to keep in mind if you're thinking of buying the TCL (50mm) or the WCL (28mm).

I used a single Bowens Streamlite 530 daylight balanced fluorescent light with the diffuser sock attached and a Lastolight background. Hair and makeup was handled by my wife Fe and after shooting the first few pictures, Janel grabbed Fe's hat and started to pose with it. We then took a peace of black velvet from my lighting bag and wrapped it around her for a darker look. Janel has been my model all her life, so she just moves and poses without having to think about it. She's a natural!

I also used a Color Checker Passport to set a custom white ballance, but I still felt it was a little too warm. I shot RAW + JPEG, but everything you see here are the JPEG's. I used Single Point Auto Focus for the full shoot, but aperture, shutter speed and ISO were all set manually. 

When the original X100 was released with the fixed 23mm lens (35mm FF), some people complained that it was a disadvantage. I never subscribed to this point of view and felt that it was an advantage in some situations and that shooting with a single focal length can make you a better photographer. But there's no denying the two conversion lenses (28mm and 50mm) opened the X100 series up into a system and three times more capable.

The X100F is a real joy to use for shooting portraits. The quality is on a par with the X-Pro2 and X-T2, which means it's as good as any DSLR. I'd like to end this post with a couple of screenshots from Lightroom. What you see below is every picture taken on this shoot. The 13 black and whites you see were shot in camera with the Acros film simulation. There were a couple of shots where Janel moved and I missed focus, but other than that, each shot was usable. I'm looking forward to a lot more portraiture with the X100F.

UPDATE 28th Nov 2017

Jeremy asked in the comments about using the TCL-X100 with the X100F's Digital Zoom feature, which would take the focal length up to 100mm and producing a more natural shape to the face. Thisis indeed true, but at the cost of losing shallow depth of field. This wouldn't matter when shooting against a plain background at f8, but it would if you were shooting at f2.8 to produce a nice bokeh. Here's an example.

I used my feed to make sure Janel's head was roughly the same size in the frame

I used my feed to make sure Janel's head was roughly the same size in the frame

Fuji X-T1 & Bowens Streamlite 530 Portraits

I have around thirty head shots to do this week and I want to use a really simple 'one light' setup that I could see exactly what I was going to get straight off. I would normally use a multiple speedlight setup for this kind of location shoot, but space and time are tight. So I opted to use a single Bowens Streamlite 530 constant light. The Streamlite series use daylight balanced florissant bulbs, five of them in the case of the 530 or 3 in the Streamline 330. But I thought it would be a good idea to test the setup before the actual shoot as I will need to hit the ground running. would one Streamline be enough? So I enlisted my kids to model for my. That's why photographers have kids...right? I'm not sure what background I want to use, so I pulled out three of my favourites from Lastolite. I chose the Washington/Dakota, White/Grey and the Black Velvet. I shot all of the pictures below with an X-T1 and the 35mm f1.4. The Bowens Streamlite had all five bulbs switched on. I shot in JPEG with the following settings:

  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125th
  • Aperture: f2.8, f3.6 & f4
  • Film Simulation: Classic Chrome
  • Noise Reduction: -2
  • Sharpness: +2
  • Highlights: -1
  • Shadows: 0
  • Colour: +2
  • Dynamic Range: 200
  • White Ballance: Auto

All pictures received +10 Clarity and +10 Contrast in Lightroom, and a slight vignette was added to the ones shot against the plain grey background. To be honest, I could have used them straight out of camera, but it's ingrained in me that I have to do something to them. But it's great to be at a point with digital cameras like the Fuji system that we could actually use JPEG's straight out of the camera.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 :: Street Portraits & Post Processing

This street portrait was shot using the 35mm f1.4 at 200 ISO, 220 sec at f2.8. It was a very sunny day, but I waited for this guy to move into the shade and then asked if I could steal his soul. He had just completed a run for Sport Relief (charity). Please click on the images and pixel peep larger files on Flickr. CONVERTED TO BLACK & WHITE IN NIK'S SILVER EFEX PRO

I love Nik Softare's Silver Efex Pro! Don't get me wrong, you can get a nice black and white out of Lightroom 4 or CS5, but Silver Efex Pro is just amazing!

EDITED IN LIGHTROOM BY ADDING +20 CONTRAST, +20 CLARITY & +0.55 EXPOSURE

It doesn't take much post to make the X-Pro1 files look even more stunning. I think I'll make a Lightroom preset to batch proccess the files, as the +20 Contrast & +20 Clarity seams to work on most photos.

STRAIGHT OUT OF THE CAMERA

Even straight out of the camera, the results are great. I'm pretty happy using this, but when you tweak it slightly (like the second image), it really shines!

HERE'S A CROP TO SEE THE QUALITY BETTER

I can't make up my mind if I prefer colour or black and white for this guy, so I've posted one of each. Let me know in the comments what you prefer. It was a very sunny day, so I'm ok with the shirt being blown-out, I'd rather that than the face being under exposed. Click HERE to see their opposites.

Shooting Street Fashion with a 50mm

I thought I'd post a few photos of a fashion shoot I did last year. All of these shots were taken with a Nikon D300s & a 50mm f1.4G and they were all shot with the lens wide open, except for the last photo, which was shot at f4.

With the 1.5 crop factor of the APS-C sensor, the 50mm is equivilent to a 75mm in full frame terms, which is a pretty good focal length for portraits. At f1.4 and shooting close to the subject, it is important to move the camera focus point on to the eye closest to the camera. Focus and recompose won't work at this distance!

Although I was shooting at f1.4, the 50mm G lens is sharp where it should be, but with beautiful buttery bokeh that does wonders for skin, even before photoshop (these are obviously not straight out of the camera though). Click HERE for a 100% crop.

We were lucky that the day of the shoot was planned to coincide with a public holiday, so the streets were unusually empty.