ATRAX PHOTO by Clifton Beard | A Totally Fuji Wedding!

A Totally Fuji Wedding!

May 24, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I just shot my first completely Fuji wedding following a couple of others where I had taken along Fuji X cameras to supplement my Nikon gear.  A combination of my own improving confidence in the system, the inspiring content of X-shooter Kevin Mullin's website and a recent live presentation by the man himself, pushed me into making the decision to just do it with Fuji!


It definitely made a difference to the day from my perspective.  In practical terms it saved my back and the frustrations of lugging big, heavy bags of DSLR gear about all day.  The smaller cameras made it far easier to get into the intimate action of the day without being noticed in a negative way.  Shooting was enjoyable and liberating, working with just an X-T1, X-T10, X100T and 56mm f1.2, 16mm f1.4 and Samyang 12mm f2 lenses from a compact ThinkTank Retrospective 6 shoulder bag.


This time I decided to go for a shooting style much closer to documentary, just capturing real moments as they happened and not driven by the photographer.  As part of the unobtrusive process and moving with the flow, I shot largely with available light, using the wide aperture excellence of the Fujinon lenses and accurate autofocus to get decent IQ in dimmer light.  Any group shots I took were driven by the subjects themselves just grabbing each other spontaneously and letting me get the shot rather than me making requests.  I do still like to do a few posed couple shots as clients do like these.  On this occasion the weather was grey cloud and windy so it was unlikely to lead to any appealing images outside.  Instead we did a few bedroom shots for which I used a single Profoto B1 and 2 foot octabox.  Losing the luxury of TTL with the Nikon system I soon got the exposure OK in manual mode.  Moving faster outdoors I would miss the TTL, but in this fairly fixed environment it was OK without.


For the first dance I prefocused the wholly manual Samyang 12mm f2 lens at a modest aperture of f5.6-8, shutter 1/15th sec and used the nice little Nissan i40 speed light held out high to the side on a low-cost JJC TTL cord.  It worked great in firing a pool of light onto the subject in the dark environment.


The most liberating thing of all was the way the cameras worked in the social environment.  I went unnoticed a lot of the time and where anyone did pose for the camera, this moment was fleeting and they soon disengaged, allowing me to get the real shot.  Sometimes using the LCD to compose while interacting directly with the subject worked really well, with no camera covering my face.  Nobody at all, and I mean nobody, looked away from the camera as if bothered or threatened by its presence, which says a lot for the benefits of the system in a people environment.  This was especially true of kids, who often get shy with a big camera pointing at them.


I love Fuji Jpg files and do not value computer time.  I also think many wedding images are far more emotive and effective in mono, so I shot in mono plus yellow filter with RAW alongside, as clients want a few shots showing the colours of their outfits and any flowers.  These can easily be done using my favoured Classic Chrome or Pro Negative film simulations tweaked from the Lightroom presets in the software camera calibration panel.


Compared to a DSLR system the Fuji cameras have advantages and disadvantages with focus.  They tend to be slightly slower to focus, but when they do it is truly accurate, even at f 1.2 and f1.4, which is confidence-inspiring compared to the shotgun approach of DSLR accuracy.  I do not generally trust the AF-C  and where subjects are moving I tend to prefocus and try to capture the shot as the subject enters the focus zone.  


For weddings especially, I am now tending to use back button AF to prefocus so I  can take a succession of shots with the focus locked.  This avoids forcing the camera to refocus before each individual shot, so I can better wait for a decisive moment to trip the shutter and I can avoid the risk of the camera failing to find focus.  


Using manual focus and an EVF is far more accurate and easier than an optical finder, especially with focus peaking.  Manual focus also allows me to use back button AF in riskier situations such as dark shadow or weak contrast.  If the AF works, all well and good....if it fails to lock or gets close but not spot-on, I can simply tweak the focus manually to get it right.  I lost perhaps 2 shots to focus issues and one at least was my fault because I released the AF lock button and forced the camera to refocus on a low contrast area, which it failed to do.  Rather than complaining about the system, it works fine if you take the time to make the best of how it works and use it accordingly.  I just love the focus accuracy at the widest apertures and that is one of the biggest things for me that makes this system better than a DSLR system.  I am happy to shoot f1.4 and f1.2 on the Fuji system, whereas I would tend to stop down to f2.8-4 on a DSLR for critical shots to negate any focus issues, thus losing the theoretical performance advantage of the larger sensor system in low light.


Here are a few from the day.


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