Lens in the Bag

One of the most annoying questions I see (almost every day) posted in Facebook groups and the like are “what lens should I buy next”, often with very little explanation. (I am willing to accept that this is my issue and lack of tolerance).

With this question in mind, this post is a run-through of the lenses I took to Cannes along with quick explanations of how I used them along with samples.

This is the list of lenses I used and image count of each from this years Cannes folder (taken from Lightroom)

Tackling that list in order, I start with the workhorse; the 16-55/F2.8 Of all the lenses, this is the lens that is probably of most use in general purpose photography. From a wide angle through to a slight telephoto (full frame equivalence of approximately 24-70), it is suitable for almost everything and should (almost) be the starting point for any kit bag.

In Cannes, my main use of this lens is on the Red Carpet, mounted on a X-T3 with the V1 flash fitted for shooting the full-length fashion type images as well as half-length portraits.

16-55 @ approx 16mm / F3.5
16-55 @ approx 32mm / F2.8
16-55 @ approx 52mm / F3.5

At the start of the week, I experimented using the 27mm pancake lens on the Red Carpet – mostly I use it as a camera body cap and walk-around lens. The way it deals with light coming directly into the lens (flare control) means it was not really suitable on the carpet or at gigs

27mm @ F3.6

Both of these lenses are perfectly good and produce nice contrast images (if you set your camera up appropriately) but for me, they show up the limitation of using an APS-C sensor, there is a limitation on getting a shallow depth of field. For this reason my two really favourite lens are the 56mm/F1.2 & the 90mm/F2 . I use both of these in a similar way.

The 56 is a great portrait lens, the distances involved on the Red Carpet means I usually create 3 quarter or half-length images with it, always shooting wide open. After all there is no point using a nice fast lens and then not making use of the shallower depth-of-field.

56mm @ F1.2

The 90mm I use in the same way, just tighter images (normally on the X-T2 body as the focal length leads to the images rarely needing much cropping). One thing I will say is the 90mm does seem to produce richer images than the 56.

90mm @ F2

The 50-140 telephoto lens is another real workhorse lens, enabling me to get fairly tight portraits when the subjects are at a closer range or full-length group shots up on the staircase. I think (on my X-T3’s with grips) that this lens handles fantastically, the zoom ring is lovely and smooth.

50-140mm @111mm / F2.8
50-140mm @140mm / F2.8

Because of distances, crowds, my love of tight portraits and less posed images, my 100-400 is my second most used lens (after the 16-55). With it I can shoot the talent in the crowds at the head of the carpet, create really tight and personal looking portraits on the carpet as well as head-shots up the stairs.

100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @400mm / F5.6
100-400mm @234mm / F5
100-400mm @190mm / F5

Hope this post gives a little insight on how my use of lenses helps to create different images and gives me more creative options.

Next week I will write my guide to back restorative exercises needed after carrying them all around for 2 weeks. Actually I will probably write about the GFX50R which I purchased last winter during the lockdown with the prime aim of shooting more landscapes (and for use in the studio shooting portraits).

Happy Shooting. J

Godox V1f – Things I learned in Cannes

It’s seems I always have something new to understand when I go to Cannes. (Well thats a general in life – the day we stop learning/have something new to understand is the day we die).

This year it was the Godox V1f Round Head Flash .

As usual this will not be a really technical write up (there are far more techie blogs and better writers for that), what follows are a few of my thoughts and experiences.

The first thing to talk about and one of the real reasons for getting this flash is the quality of the light. Not only is the fall off of the light at the edges far more pleasing, the hotspot in the centre seems, well less hot and more flat. (The above images have had the white and black points expanded to hi-light the fall off pattern.)

The second thing to talk about is the quality, this flash feels solid, well made, very similar to the AD200 and a definite improvement over their other on-camera units.

The battery is chunky and comes with it’s own USB-C charger which charges quite quickly. That said, even with heavy use (on the evening of amFar) I do not think I used more than one bar.

This quality and battery add up to a unit that is quite heavy and when top mounted on an X-T3 (even one with a fully loaded grip and 16-55/F2.8) the result is very top heavy. As my main use for flash during red carpet events is to shoot full length images, I use a custom flash bracket CB Mini-RC and in this configuration it does not feel to bad at all).

Stella Maxwell at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Actually using the unit took a little getting used to. Although it does support High-Speed Sync and has TTL Metering, in red carpet situations I found this combination to be a little sporadic and the additional power required for HSS meant slower recycling (and the manual states that the thermal cutout is likely to cut in earlier). In slower situations this has not proved to be a problem.

Sharon Stone at amFar . X-T3/16-55 : 1/200 @ F5 & 320iso

Once in manual the unit really is consistent (see the two images above). With a bit of experimentation I came to the power setting of 1/16 +0.7, which allowed the unit to keep up with my X-T3 in High Burst Mode for the short bursts I shoot (Its a technique to try and ensure no other flashes and open eyes on the subject).

With the manual power set and the shutter fixed between 1/200 & 1/250 (so not using HSS) I worked back to get a suitable iso from the selected F-Stop.

Gemma Chan attends the Closing Ceremony Red Carpet. X-T3/16-55 : 1/250 @ F4.5 & 400iso

As the subject distance varied on the carpet, I needed to allowed for the fixed output of the flash by opening the aperture slightly (maybe 1.2 a stop) so I think the zoom head was also helping as little in this regard.

Overall I am very happy with the unit and its a great addition to my Godox kit, adding to the two AD200’s , the TT685 and single AD600. Like the other units it can act as a slave, controlled by any of the Godox Remote Controllers. Or it can act as the Master in a multi-flash set-up (which is how I will use it for portraits with the AD200 at the up-coming Frightfest where I will be returning as the house photographer)

Wandering with an X-T3

Finally I have upgraded one of my X-T2’s to an X-T3!

X-T3 / 27mm@F3.6 / ISO2000

The delay was down to a number of factors: Firstly I run my business in a cycle, needing to ensure each investment improves the business and pays for itself over its lifetime and my X-T2’s have been doing the job more than adequately.

X-T3 / 27mm@F3.2 / ISO2000

Secondly, having used and loved the X-H1 I was hanging out for news on an update to that form factor using X-T3 technology. Unfortunately the X-H2 seems unlikely at the moment according to the rumours and the opportunity arose for a “cost effective” upgrade.

Christmassy selfie’s. X-T3 / 27mm / ISO2000.

This led to my Christmas wander around the west end being the first chance I had to get aquatinted with the X-T3.

X-T3 / 14mm@F2.8 / ISO2000

Moving from the 2 to the 3 is painless, I configured the buttons and menus on the new camera within 30 minutes and the only real issues were getting used to stiffer front and rear dials plus a new way of transferring images wirelessly.

X-T3 / 27mm@F3.6 / ISO2000

This later model is definitely more responsive than the model it replaces.

X-T3 / 27mm@F2.8 / ISO2000

As I was walking around Covent Garden on a dark, wet evening I was using higher ISO’s, aiming to show the Christmasy atmosphere. Despite the file size being bigger there feel much cleaner than from the “2”.

X-T3 / 27mm@F3.6 / ISO2000

It has been widely documented that the focusing is much better – I totally agree and the face recognition is way quicker working in lower light. The image below was shot through a bus window as we passed, I’m not sure the X-T2 would have focused quick enough.

X-T3 / 56mm@F1.2 / ISO80

The lower ISO’s are also very useful when working wide open with the faster lenses like the 56mm/F1.2.

Overall despite using the X-T3 without a battery grip (which I always to on my X-T2’s), I was very impressed by its responsiveness and the clean images. This does still leave me in a quandary though, especially with a lack of indicators coming out of Fuji on the future of the more robust professional X-H body. Fuji are brilliantly open with their lens roadmap which really helps business planning, it’s just a shame the openness is not being carried through on the camera bodies (although I do understand this as it is more competitive).

X-T3 / 14mm@F3.2 / ISO2000

So the question remains… Do I upgrade my remanning 2 X-T2s’ or do I continue to wait?

Merry Christmas xxx