The Big Fun Fair on the Rhine - Duesseldorf, Germany, 2014

Untitled

Untitled - Duesseldorf, Germany, 2014

Audi TT

Audi TT - Duesseldorf, Germany, 2014

Only The Best Die Young

Only The Best Die Young - Duesseldorf, Germany, 2014

Fujifilm X100 and Street Photography

As a few people have been asking me the question, I thought I’d assemble a short tips and tricks on how to use the Fujifilm X100 for street photography.

Manual Focus

The first thing I do is to set the camera in manual focus mode and reprogram the AE/AF Lock button to work as AF only. I manually set the focus to a distance of about 1.2 meters (figure that out in feet). The distance at which other photographers may find their sweet spot is purely personal, I know people that prefer a distance of 90cm and a distance of 2 meters they switch back and forth from.

In order not to spend too much time I usually keep the camera a bit over my navel, point at my feet and push the AF lock button. That makes roughly 1.2m, it doesn’t need to be exact. You may find other positions that are better fitting your needs.

Ueno area - Tokyo, Japan, 2012 - 1/1000s, f11, ISO400

Refocusing

If you think that your subject won’t get covered from the DOF of your current setting, that is you want to refocus your camera, I think that the AF Lock button to refocus and then recompose works 90% of the times. Sometimes you can judge the distance of the subject and move the ring.

I’d like to have the focus distance marked on the lens, so that I can set it without looking in the viewfinder. In bright light refocusing is quite fast and not an issue.

Shinagawa area - Tokyo, Japan, 2012 - 1/600s, f5.6, ISO 400

Hyperfocal and depth of field

The depth of field scale of the X100 isn’t correct. To me it seems that it matches the depth of field of a 50mm lens. The lens of the X100 is told to be 35mm equivalent, but keep in mind that it is a 23mm lens, with a quite huge DOF. You can refer to the table below to know what gets in focus or not when taking a picture.

I have my own theory on how Fujifilm got that wrong…

aperture

f4

f5.6

f8

f16

distance

near

far

near

far

near

far

near

far

0.9m

0.78

1.04

0.76

1.11

0.71

1.22

0.59

1.92

1.2m

1.02

1.46

0.96

1.6

0.88

1.86

0.7

4.17

1.5m

1.23

1.93

1.14

2.19

1.04

2.71

0.79

14.1

2m

1.54

2.85

1.41

3.47

1.25

4.97

0.91

infinity

3m

2.07

5.46

1.83

8.26

1.58

30.1

1.07

infinity

5m

2.85

20.2

2.42

infinity

2.00

infinity

1.25

infinity

source: http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Now, don’t even try to memorize the table, pick a couple of settings and develop some kind of feeling for the distances! Notice how at f16 you can make everything between 1.25 meters and infinity sharp, by setting the distance at 5m. With the same setting at f8 you can make just everything between 2m and infinity sharp.

ISO

I don’t find myself at ease with Auto ISO, some other may do. I usually use either a value of ISO 400 or ISO 1250. I reprogram the Fn button to work as ISO button and that allows me an easy switch of values. I am used to shoot Kodak Tri-X, so I am accustomed with the f/shutter apertures needed according to different light conditions. I seldom push over 1250 because I think that the image quality starts to suffer a bit above that mark.

Keep in mind that a higher ISO doesn’t only mean more noise, but also a lower dynamic range. It is also possible that the true ISO sensitivity of the X100 only goes up to 1600 (as rated on the camera), as these DXO measurements would suggest.

Lens Aperture

f4 is daring, f5.6 is safe. The shots taken with f4 look better (to me) than the ones taken at f5.6.

O-KE-DOKE - Chicago, Illinois, 2014 - 1/40s, f4.0, ISO 800

Shutter Speed

Mileage may vary, some people feel comfortable only with tack-sharp photos, you need 1/250 to achieve that. Other people feel comfortable also with motion blurs and all the rest, that means that you can go way down as much as you want. The shot above is taken at 1/40 s and it’s perfectly fine for me.

Shutter Lag

The shutter lag of the X100 isn’t the shortest, but you can improve its response if you keep the shutter release button half-pressed. If you do that, the response will be as immediate as you need. It will worsen the battery life, so it is a good idea to keep one or two spare batteries with you. They are cheap and light and this shouldn’t cause you any problem.

Optical Viewfinder, Back LCD or Electronic Viewfinder?

With a few exceptions I always use the OVF. It gives the best detail, there is no latency, I also have the impression that it gives the lowest shutter lag.

M, A, S, P

Doesn’t really make a difference. I dig the A and M mode the best.

Framelines

The framelines of the X100 suffer from a bug that didn’t get corrected in any of the firmware revisions: they show the correct framing for when the focus is set on infinity. If your focus is actually set at 1.2m, then the framelines will move only after you half-press the shutter release button. This is another reason for keeping it half-pressed before you want to actually take the shot.

If you are used to rangefinder cameras as Leica, you know that framing is never 100% accurate, not the kind of things you are going after when you’re doing street anyhow.

Untitled - Chicago, Illinois, 2014 - 1/75 s, f4.0, ISO 400

Image Review

Turn it off, by any means, it will just get in your way when shooting!

Color, shadow, highlights, film simulation

(Almost) Regardless of how do I decide to process the picture at a later stage, the settings that I use for the camera are:

Film simulation: Astia (soft)
Highlights: soft
Shadows: soft
Color: doesn’t matter much

this gives me the maximum amount of highlight or shadow detail if I’m using the EVF or if I am reviewing the shots in order to check exposure on the LCD.

Finally

Have fun.