Welcome to my updated 2016 resource for shooting weddings with Fuji cameras.
Back in 2013 I wrote a blog post on my wedding photographer website that outlined the Fujifilm equipment I was using at the time to photograph weddings. I went into lots of detail about configuration, settings and shooting methodology.
This blog post will replace the 2013 version as a lot has changed in the world of Fuji. I checked the statistics for the 2013 version; 328,000 unique visits, 3,000+ shares on Facebook and over 800 Tweets. It also had well over 150 blog comments. It seems like it was a useful resource, and hopefully this version of my shooting weddings with Fuji blog post will be as useful.
When I’m Shooting Weddings with Fuji I’m looking for humour, emotion and human interaction. These are the very essence of a wedding for me and hopefully you’ll see that in the pictures throughout this blog post.
I know that my style of wedding photography is totally subjective. I get a lot of questions about the way I’m Shooting Weddings with Fuji and how I shoot them so I’m hoping this article will answer many of those questions. Whether this type of wedding photography is to your taste or not, I do hope you get a lot out of the technical and theoretical elements of the information contained within.
Whilst this blog post is primarily about Shooting Weddings with Fuji, hopefully anybody shooting with the X-Series will find it useful. Especially those shooting in a documentary style, such as snapping the children at home or Street Photographers (which is my other passion).
A Brief History of me Shooting Weddings with Fuji
I have been shooting weddings full time, professionally, since 2008. I used a Canon system that was excellent. The images it produced were excellent and the lenses were amazing.
However, in 2010 I spotted a little rangefinder like camera at Photokina which was the original Fuji FinePix X100. I was intrigued, more than anything, at that point at whether a small camera like that could fit into my working methods.
At the time, I shot only 35mm and 85mm (full frame) lenses on my Canon systems. So the X100 with its 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) seemed like something I at least wanted to try out.
So I bought one. And I took it to a wedding. It was OK. That original X100 was never going to be a camera I solely shot my weddings on though.
The camera was good, but slow, and not responsive enough for my liking. I did however, see the potential at that time of Shooting Weddings with Fuji and the image quality when I downloaded them was simply incredible.
I was never going to introduce a new camera system into my professional business if the image quality was not up to my standards.
There was one image I took at that first wedding, of a little girl and her dad, that I’m convinced to this day not only would I not have got with my DSLR system, but that the actual moment would not have occurred. The little girl was very conscience of the camera and using the small X100 certainly enabled me to get a picture I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
So I was sold. Some time later I reviewed the Fujifilm X-Pro1 for Professional Photographer magazine and after I handed the equipment back I spent £2,500 on the X-Pro1, 35mm F1.4, 60mm F2.4 and 18mm F2 lenses.
Fast forward to 2016, and I’ve been lucky enough to have used almost all of the Fuji X-Series cameras in my professional work. Notably the X-E2 and X-T1 and more recently the X100S, X100T and Fujfilm X-Pro2 (my initial review of the X-Pro2 is also on this blog).
I’ve been extremely lucky in this short time to be invited by Fujifilm to talk to the camera engineers and give presentations about my work in Tokyo on two occasions. They are a reactive company that listen to photographers and react to them.
When the X-Pro2 was released, I was gifted one by Fujifilm. This was in thanks to the 150+ hours I put into testing and sampling the camera. I subsequently purchased my own X-Pro2’s from a local camera store as I needed a full set. With the exception of two gift cameras, I have purchased all my Fuji equipment – and this equates to many thousands of pounds in total.
I think everyone who knows me, knows that I place a huge regard in integrity and I hope you can see that in my previews, reviews and posts that I talk about both the good and the bad of the Fuji X-Series. However, bear in mind always that I would never risk my business by using inferior equipment….and you know what, the Fuji X-Series is just perfect right now for the way that I shoot weddings.
So lets get going….
Current Cameras and Lenses I use for Shooting Weddings with Fuji
Fujifilm X100T with Wide Angle Converter, Two X-Pro2s with 23mm F1.4 and 56 F1.2 Lenses
When I start shooting a wedding I am almost always using the same equipment, which is:
- A Fujifilm X100T with the Wide Angle Converter
- An X-Pro2 with the XF23 F1.4 Lens
- An X-Pro2 with the XF56 F1.2 Lens
When I’m Shooting Weddings with Fuji, I really want to get into the mix. I often talk about shooting weddings from the inside out and that it is really important to me that the wedding clients get to remember their wedding from their own and their guests eye point of view.
To that end, I like shooting like this:
Let’s have a quick look at the lens choices.
Fuji XF23mm F1.4
This was the lens that I had eagerly anticipated the most and when it was announced I put a pre-order in straight away for it.
This lens has a 35mm equivalent field of view and as mentioned earlier, 35 & 85 (ff equivalent) have been a long standing preference of mine when shooting weddings.
Whilst it’s not exactly a tiny lens, it is relatively light and this is the lens that is usually attached to my X-Pro2 and hanging off my Spider Holster on my belt.
It’s a great lens for getting in close and using the AF-C focus tracking I find with this lens leads to around 90% success rate while moving rapidly.
I use this lens a lot throughout the day when Shooting Weddings with Fuji but it comes into its own during the drinks reception and for elements such as recessional and confetti run.
Both of the following images are shot using the Continuous focus mode of the X-T1 (more on AF-C later).
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/150th Sec at f/4.5 ISO 400
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/140th Sec at f/2.5 ISO 400
Fuji XF56 F1.2
Another lens that I was extremely anxious to purchase as soon as it was released was the 56mm F1.2 lens.
Up until these lenses being available, I was working with the 35mm and 60mm lenses which were fine, but were not cutting the mustard in terms of shots I needed to get.
By introducing the 56mm (85mm equivalent), Fuji were giving me a like for like for the Canon 85mm F1.2 which I used and adored.
The 56mm is the largest of the lenses I use and again, it can sit on my spider holster if I wanted it to. Compared to the Canon equivalent it is about half the size (and half the cost!).
This lens takes a little more patience to master, but coupled with back button focusing and a keen eye it can make what I believe to be superb images.
Its this lens that lets me peer into the intimate moments of a wedding that I perhaps wouldn’t want to get too close to with the 23mm lens.
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/100th Sec at f/1.2 ISO 400
Fuji X-T1 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/1,800th Sec at f/1.2 ISO 200
I’ll talk a lot more about the camera later in this post, but I thought it might be useful to introduce it here.
I’ve been shooting with the X100 camera since 2011 and know it well. The X100T was the camera that introduced Classic Chrome film simulation and I can honestly say that every single colour frame I’ve shot since has been shot using Classic Chrome.
Of course, its an able camera without that, but the extremely quick mechanism of shooting with the leaf shutter and its small size means that this is one stable of my camera bag when Shooting Weddings with Fuji that will be there for the foreseeable future.
The X100T is perfect for getting in close and photographing those moments that simply need to be cherished. I can think of many many times when I would not have even dreamed of taking a photograph if I didn’t have the silent X100T in my hands.
It really does blend you in. I feel just like a guest when shooting with the X100T and I can get images that I just wouldn’t be able to get with a DSLR, and even sometimes, with my larger X-Series cameras.
Fuji X100T with WCL 1/1,000th Sec at f/2 ISO 320
Fuji X100S with WCL 1/550th Sec at f/2 ISO 800
Backup and Reserve Gear
Up until October 2015 when the X-Pro2 came onto the scene, I shot with two X-T1s and an the X100T. My shooting pattern remains the same, with pretty much the same lens choices too.
However, as I no longer use the X-T1 as a primary camera. I have sold one and use another as my main reserve camera when shooting weddings.
Fujifilm X-T1 XF 18mm F2, Samyang 12mm MF and 16mm F1.4
My X-T1s have seen some action (as you can tell) and all in all have shot around 100 weddings I think.
Additional lenses that I take with me to weddings are:
Fuji 18mm F2 Lens
The 18mm is a great lens and has always been one of my favourites. In fact, I’m using it more and more again now for the evening and dancing part of the wedding.
It is so light and when connected to the X-Pro2 with its much faster AF it becomes a wicked lens for moving about quickly with.
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF18mm F2 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/2 ISO 1,600
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF18mm F2 Lens: 1/210th Sec at f/2.2 ISO 400
Samyang 12mm f2.0 NCS
The Samyang 12mm f2 is a Manual Focus lens that I think is perfect for those wider shots.
It’s a tricky lens to master, and you’ll need a good understanding of zone focusing to get the best out of it.
I like using it for the dance floor on the rare occasions where I do use (or even need) to use a flash gun. I also like the ability to show low down when out in good light at say f8. Pretty much everything will be in focus and I always enjoy thos “from the hip” type images where people have no idea a shot is being taken.
Using Manual Focus Lenses with the Fuji X-Series
Its worth noting at this point that in order to use The Samyang or any Manual Focus lenses that do not pass data to the camera via the contacts you *must* set the camera option accordingly:
XF16mm F1.4 Lens
For a while, whilst Shooting Weddings with Fuji, this lens replaced my 23mm as my prime “short” option. However, in the end, it wound up back in my bag as a reserve lens.
No real reason other than the focal length. I find myself much more attracted to the 23mm focal length on the APS-C sensors.
The 16mm of course does have a place, and I will often pull it out for dancing shots or scene setting shots.
I personally find that I like to try and get frame filling images and with the 16mm lens I have to work a little closer, and harder, to achieve that.
It is a fine lens though of course.
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF16mm F1.4 Lens: 1/900th Sec at f/2 ISO 400
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF16mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.8 ISO 5,000
Retro Looking Cameras?
I once got asked if the reason I’m Shooting Weddings with Fuji cameras is because they “look cool”. Well, the answer to that is “no”. I use them because they do the job perfectly well.
You’ll notice above the X100T is a Chrome version, and that is because I purchased it before the black edition came out, but all of the rest of my cameras including the X-T1s are black versions.
One of the things I admired about Fuji the most when it came to the design of the X-Pro2 was that they didn’t brand the camera on the front.
You’ll notice that I tend to tape over my logos and branding wherever possible using electrical tape. This is because I actually want my cameras to just be little boxes that do what they are meant to do, rather than them be a thing of aesthetic admiration.
All of my cameras are bashed and scratched and they are very much work horses, rather than show pieces.
Looking at shooting Weddings with Fuji?
Here is an example of one of my weddings shot entirely with the above gear. I sold all my DSLR gear a long time ago and have shot, I reckon, in the region of 150 weddings using just Fuji X-Series cameras.
It would be disingenuous of me to say that I think all weddings should be shot on a Fuji system. Or even a mirrorless system. I know that, for some people, a DSLR system suits them perfectly well and I have many friends who shoot amazing weddings without feeling any need to downsize.
However, for me, when I first started shooting Weddings with Fuji I realised straight away that I was getting more emotive, more powerful type images.
The essence of a good photograph is:
And if you can achieve all three of these in one frame, then you’ve likely got an award winning photograph.
For me, I strive to achieve these things but whilst I’m always on the look out for good light and always try and compose my images accordingly, the moment is the thing I’m looking for the most.
I’d rather have technically bad but great moment than miss the moment completely. But that may just be me.
Shooting Weddings with Fuji X-Series has kind of re-educated me a little bit. In the past, I’d probably rely on exposure compensation a bit too much and really I often shot more with hope, than any kind of flare.
Now, especially with the tactile exposure triangle and the Electronic View Finders I can see the shot before the exposure is created. It helps me greatly when I need to shoot quickly and reactively.
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.4 ISO 1,000
Fuji X-T1 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.2 ISO 6,400
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/250th Sec at f/5 ISO 400
Some X100T Considerations
The Fuji X100 Range has been one of my core cameras since its inception. I still have my original one, and I even wrote a book about the Fuji X100S. I’ve even shot a few weddings using just a couple of X100Ts and nothing else.
It’s very liberating of course and really, if I had to pull one of my cameras out of a burning fire, it would be my X100T. I think it’s such a versatile little thing and combined with it’s size and image quality its perhaps the perfect all round journalistic camera I know of.
My Fuji X100T with Wide Angle Converter and Dead Cameras Leather Wrist Strap
Quite a lot of how I use the X100T is relevant to how I use all of my cameras, even back when I was shooting with my old DSLRS.
There is quite a bit of overlap between the X100T and the X-Pro2’s but I’m going to cover the core details that I think are relevant for each camera.
Back Button Focusing with the Fuji X100T
See the main section later on about configuring back button focusing on each of the cameras.
Using this technique, along with a focus and recompose methodology means I can shoot much much quicker than using the standard single shot auto focus.
The Wide Angle Converter for the X100T
The Fuji Wide Angle Converter (WCL) is probably my favourite accessory that Fuji have produced. I simply don’t take the thing off the camera.
In essence, the WCL magnifies the image in the X100T by 0.8x which means the camera becomes an equivalent focal length of 28mm (as opposed to 35mm without the WCL attached).
The optics in the WCL are fantastic and I can’t perceive any difference in images shot with and without it.
The camera still operates at its faster aperture of F2 with the WCL attached and again, to my eyes, with no perceived loss of sharpness.
Function Button Configuration on Fuji X100T
The X100T was the first camera really that allowed my to configure the buttons comfortably for the way I like to shoot.
In the menu shot below, you can see I have my function buttons set up like this:
- Fn1 – Photometry (metering). I change metering a lot on all my cameras. Much of my work is spot metered and I need an eas(ier) way of controlling the metering at a touch of a finger tip. Having my metering here, I can very quickly change it and when I don’t have my eye to the viewfinder I can even change it instinctively (knowing that if I’m in Spot already, I just go up one to Multi, and vice versa).
- Fn2-fn5 – I have these set to focus point adjusters.
- Fn6 – This is set to my shutter type. On the X100T there is a less of a need I find for the electronic shutter because the mechanical shutter is pretty quiet anyway. It also, of course, has a built in ND filter which I would rather use when trying to shoot wider open in bright light.
- Fn7 – And to that end, I have this button set to my ND filter. Its easy to reach and I can’t mistake it for the button above or below because of its position.
A little tip; Holding down the disp/back button will bring up the Function Buttons Configuration screen.
As mentioned, much of what I talk about in the rest of this Shooting Weddings with Fuji post is relevant to the X100T too so please keep reading. I’ll try and separate out the relevant settings where I can.
Shooting Weddings with Fuji
The rest of the content in this blog post will apply to almost all of the cameras I currently use – the X100T, X-Pro2 and X-T1.
I will separate the information that is camera specific, but generally everything applies across the board.
Fuji X-Pro2 or X-T1?
The Fuji X-Pro2 has quickly become my tool of choice as mentioned for shooting weddings.
In a nutshell it’s got a 24.3mp X-Trans III sensor. much better processing engine, Acros film simulation, dual card slots etc.
This doesn’t mean the X-T1 has become a poor camera overnight of course and for many people the X-T1 or X-T range at least will be the system they continue to use.
Yes, I do sometimes find myself wishing the X-Pro2 had a tilt screen but I have to say the responsiveness, the performance and the sheer lushness of the files the X-Pro2 produces beat the X-T1 hands down.
Of course, as I said, I still take an X-T1 with me to every wedding and it acts as my backup camera. More than that though, I have found myself occasionally dragging it out of the bag and using it in some of the more cramped wedding venues we can get here in the UK where the tilt screen is a real added benefit.
Function Button Configuration on Fuji X-Pro2
My Function button configuration for the X-Pro2 is fairly similar to the one mentioned above for the X100T.
The important thing is that the buttons I need to use often are at the tips of my fingers all the time.
- Fn1 – Photometry (metering). As per the X100T. Having my metering here, I can very quickly change it and when I don’t have my eye to the viewfinder I can even change it instinctively.
- Fn2 – I have the depress of my view finder lever on the front of the camera set to Shutter. This way I can flick between electronic shutter and mechanical shutter very quickly. This is a function button I have become very accustomed to using like this.
- Fn3 – I have this set to flash mode. Seems odd, as I don’t use Flash…..much. On the rare occasions I do use flash though I tend to use it for a few frames for the first dance, and then resort back to available light. I like to be able to toggle this here instead of manually.
- Fn4-6 – Because the X-Pro2 has a joystick to change focus points, I actually programme these buttons to do nothing.
A note about metering on the Fuji X-Pro2
Fujifilm have added a fourth metering option to the X-Pro2; centre-weighted metering is ideal for everyday shooting when using the optical viewfinder. As it is a more basic metering method, it’s perfect for photographers who don’t want to rely on high levels of metering automation….that’s what it says in the manual.
I actually find myself using the centre weighted option a lot, second only to spot metering on my X-Pro2.
I believe strongly that as a photojournalist it is my responsibility to use light, composition and moment to create my pictures.
Sometimes, we can make the most of the light by using the using the camera a bit more efficiently. To that end, I like to use the spot metering capabilities of my cameras to help me make something out of a difficult situation.
Fuji X-T1 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.2 ISO 640
In the image above, for example, I wanted to try and get an image of an otherwise camera shy mother of the bride.
This isn’t a staged portrait in any way, rather, I saw the window light falling on her face as she was talking to her son who was sat opposite her.
In this case, I wanted to try an make an image that would typify the strong lady I saw in front of me and simply changing the photometry to Spot enabled me to achieve this image.
On the X-T1 the photometry dial is easy to reach and use. On the X-Pro2 and the X100T I assign the option to a function button to make the selection easier.
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/3.2 ISO 400
The above image is another example of where using the photometry a little cleverly can make an image more appealing.
This is obviously a detail shot, and the light falling on the table is coming from a skylight in the roof at Cogges Farm.
Metering accordingly, and locking the exposure into the camera manually allowed me to explore this scene a little more and, I think, make a more appealing details shot using that light.
Fuji X-T1 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/100th Sec at f/1.2 ISO 400
In the above image I’ve quickly popped the camera into spot metering to help me make a more powerful image using the light and exposure of the lady laughing in the congregation.
Here is another wedding Photofilm. Notice during the ceremony at least how I’ve used the strong window light with Spot Metering to try and make the bride and groom more apparent in the frame. At the same time, by using this metering, I’m throwing a lot of the background and perhaps confusing elements out of the image and into darkness:
File Naming Conventions
As anyone who photographs weddings professionally knows, when you use multiple cameras, it can become quite confusing when downloading the cards and backing up the images.
To that end, I have all my cameras configured so that the file names that come off the camera are easily recognisable. It means that before I do the edit I can simply look at all the files in Windows Explorer and know straight away which camera the card came from.
I always shoot in sRGB mode so I’m only concerned with those file types when configuring the names.
The settings I use are:
- X100T: 100Txxxx.jpg
- XPro2 (camera 1): P201xxxx.jpg
- XPro2 (camera 2): P202xxxx.jpeg
This naming convention allows me to add more X-Pro2’s if needed and also conforms with my X-T1 naming convention for my backup cameras which is:
- X-T1 (camera 1): T101xxxx.jpg
- X-T1 (camera 2): T102xxxx.jpeg
In Camera Card Management and File Types
One of the features I, and many other photographers, lobbied for for the X-Pro2 was dual card support.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think we actually “needed” dual card support. The only time I’ve ever lost (albeit temporarily) a card is during the change of cards at a wedding. From that point onwards I used single large cards to mitigate this.
However, one of my concerns with dual card slots was that it would slow the camera down when buffering the information.
I would have prefered Fuji did not include dual card slots if it was going to slow the camera down. Luckily, they did they homework, and managed to get a dual card system that has no noticeable lag when writing to both cards.
This is a good thing of course, and whilst I still don’t think we “need” dual cards, its definitely something we “want”.
The Fuji X-Pro2 is armed with one UHS-II (super fast) and one UHS-I (regular) card slots.
Somewhat confusingly, the Slots are the opposite to how you might expect them:
- Slot 1: UHS-II
- Slot 2: UHS-I
No bother though. It’s not quite as confusing as the “Sound and Flash OFF – Off/On” menu setting.
As you may know, I’m generally a JPEG shooter, but it seems crazy for me not to be using the opportunity to have data redundancy at my finger tips. To that end, I’ve started using the following in-camera card management system when Shooting Weddings with Fuji X-Pro2’s.
Using one large card for data redundancy all through the year
I use a SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro 95MB/Sec SDXC Card in Card Slot Two.
This is set to record JPEG – Fine.
I use a SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro 280MB/s SDHC UHS-II in Card Slot One.
This is set to record RAW files.
Why such a large card for the JPEGs? Well, the reason is I can get around ten full weddings on that card.
When I get home from each wedding, I download the JPEGs from the day, then just put the card back in the camera.
Even though I have a back-up workflow at the studio, I’m pretty much always know I have the original file still on the card too.
The 32gb UHS-II card is used for the RAW files throughout the day. I generally only reach for the RAW files if I have got the exposure wrong on the JPEG or I need to do some work that is beyond the latitude of the JPEG file.
Really, the RAW files are my backups and the JPEG files are my main working files.
Remember, when using the the dual cards to save RAW+JPEG, you also have to set the FINE+RAW option in Image Quality menu.
Performance and Battery Management
One of the things that comes up in the Facebook group for Wedding Photographers using X-Series group that I manage is the subject of performance and battery life.
I can quite easily get 700-800 frames out of a full X-Pro2 battery. Sometimes more.
The official quote from Fujifilm is much lower, because they have to benchmark it against a very strict set of criteria that include zooming and using flash in every other “click”.
Here are my top ten tips for getting the best performance from your batteries when Shooting Weddings with Fuji:
- Turn the camera off when not using it: This is the most crucial element. If you let the camera go it sleep mode, even when set to the minimum time of two minutes, that’s two minutes of battery life being sucked out of your camera when no shots are being taken.Get into the habbit of flicking the power switch as you drop the camera from your eye or your hip. Certainly, by the time the camera is holstered or hanging by your side it should be fully powered down.This alone will double the battery life.
- Use High Performance Mode: All of the cameras have a High Performance mode. Now, if you read the manual, it will tell you that this uses more battery power than the Standard (or even economy mode on the X-Pro2).The key is that if you have implement #1 (switching the camera off when not being used), you *must* have high performance on because this means the camera will be wide awake again by the time you raise the camera back to your eye (assuming you have switched it on).High performance mode also makes the refresh rate of the vf faster which means you are likely to shoot quicker. Which leads to the next point.
- Shoot quickly: By that, I mean if you are using the EVF and taking 10 seconds to compose then that’s 9.9 seconds of wasted battery. Sometimes you have to do that of course, but the way I shoot is very reactionary and very quick.The less time you have the camera to your eye and gazing throgh the EVF (not so much for OVF users) the less battery you will drain.
- Try and use the LCD of EVF for image review as infrequently as possible: Certainly I would switch off the automatic image review feature (Image Disp. in the menus).The less you are chimping, the less battery you will use up. Those using the EVF really shouldn’t need to chimp so much at all as you know the exposure at point of shooting.
- Switch off the following options:
- Focus Check – this is an annoying feature where the camera automatically zooms into the image to check focus accuracy. Useful in some circumstances. I can’t think of any of them right now though.
- AF Illuminator – unless you are shooting in very low light, then you are unlikely to need this. Useful when needed of course, but will drain battery more.
- Sound Setup – unless you have a good reason to use them, switch them all off.
- Pre-AF – this is where the camera will constantly hunt for a focus point. The quickest way to draining your battery.
- Face / Eye Detection – I’m being cautious by adding this here as I do sometimes use Face Detection for recessional etc. However, having it on all the time will drain the battery quicker too.
- Turn off most information in the HUD/EVF: Each of the cameras has an option for “Display Custom Settings”. Here you can choose what is displayed when you are in either EVF/LCD or OVF mode.The more you have showing, the more the battery is required. In fact, sometimes the *only* thing I display is the battery gauge.Remember, if you are using this, you need to press the Disp/Back button when viewing the screen and choose the “custom” view.
- Use the official Fuji Batteries and charge in the original charger: I do have third party batteries, but, as with my DSLR days, I trust and believe in the original batteries more. I think they hold juice longer…though I have no concrete evidence on that.
- Avoid Zooms: I know, I know….. some of you will use Zooms and that’s fine. I’ve always been a prime person myself but its a fact that using zooms will use up battery more.
- Avoid Flash: Again, very much a personal preference of course but it is very much obvious that the more you are flashing the greater the drain on the battery.
- Finally, if you can get used to it, use the Optical Viewfinder wherever possible if your camera supports it.
Synchronising Camera Times
One of the features I’ve requested in the past is for a quick way of synchronising similar cameras.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to configure one X-Pro2 with all your custom clock, settings, function buttons, film simulations etc and then, via inter-camera wifi, just set another X-Pro2 to be configured the same?
I’m really hoping this is something that will come in the future of the X-Series, or perhaps even a firmware update. Who knows!
In the meantime, when it comes to synchronising my clocks in my cameras I use a rather slap-handed method, but one that will ensure accuracy to nearest second.
To get around this, I have installed a World Clock app on my iPhone.
For each of the cameras I am going to use that day I take a snap of the clock (this usually takes place as close to time I start shooting as possible).
Later, in Lightroom, I can adjust the time accordingly (if it needs to be done).
Adjusting time in Lightroom is easy enough to do.
Firstly, you need to look for the image of the clock that you photographed in Lightroom and take a note of the difference in the actual capture time (if any):
As you can see here, the time difference is actually over an hour. I need to correct this in Lightroom for all of the images that came from this camera.
Unfortunately, Fujifilm choose not to pass the serial number in the EXIF data of the files so we can’t use the Lightroom Filter to simply select cameras based on the Serial Number.
However, remember above where I suggested naming your camera files based on the body of the camera?
Well it comes in very handy now. I have set up Lightroom Smart Collections to group each set of files from specific camera bodies.
Using the Smart Collection will allow you to filter all images that were created on a certain camera body.
The next step then, of course, is to actually update the time of these files accordingly.
You need to select all the images you wish to change then choose “Metadata > Edit Capture Time”
Ensure the top option is selected “Adjust to a specified date and time”. All other images (though not video clips) will be adjusted accordingly.
This is the way I get around worrying about time synchronising in the camera. However, I long for Fuji to introduce a wifi camera sanitisation option.
When I’m Shooting Weddings with Fuji I use the same Auto ISO setting on all the cameras. Its pretty straight forward:
- Base ISO 200
- ISO Limit 6400 (12,800 on the X-Pro2’s)
- Minimum Shutter Speed 1/125th.
I shoot Auto ISO almost all the time too. I will shoot Aperture Priority when I want to control the depth of field, and shutter/time priority when I want to do something artistic with a slow shutter speed.
If I’m shooting manually because of light then I will set the ISO but other than that, I shoot Auto ISO for around 90% of the wedding day I would guess.
I’m a big believer in allowing the camera to do as much work as possible for me. That’s why I often shoot in “P” mode and Auto ISO. I’ll also allow the camera to do a majority of the work for me by shooting in JPEG.
Some people have asked me about Auto-ISO and how reliant it is.
Well, there are some other settings that affect the ISO base levels. For example, the Dynamic Range option affects the lowest level of ISO the camera can attain.
If your Dynamic Range setting is anything other than 100, it will effect the minimum ISO value.
At Dynamic Range 400, the minimum ISO attainable is 800 and at Dynamic Range 200 the minimum ISO attainable is 400. These figures are also taken into account when using Auto-ISO.
However, the Minimum Shutter Speed is just a recommended value. If the camera cannot attain an exposure using that shutter speed it will drop it accordingly.
In cases where the camera can’t attain the perfect exposure, you will see the exposure data is displayed in red across the bottom of the viewfinder of LCD.
I think the question I’m asked the most about Shooting Weddings with Fuji cameras and weddings that are fast moving at that is how do I keep up with the action? Are the cameras quick enough to focus and shoot?
And the answer, at least for me, is yes – if you are using a type of shooting known as Back Button Focusing
The mechanics and principles of back button focusing are the same across all of the Fuji cameras.
There are slight differences in some cases; for example, the X100 range has a dual AEL/AFL button whereas the X-Pro2 and X-T1 have dedicated buttons for AE and AL.
The simplest way to activate back button focusing when Shooting Weddings with Fuji is to simply pop the camera in [M]anual focus mode on the front or the side:
That will actually kind of get you going.
At this point, I use the AF-L button to “snap focus”. This basically means the AF mechanism kicks in and then it locks the focus for me. I can shoot much quicker this way.
Important Note: You don’t technically need to put the camera in “M” mode – this is a legacy from the X100/X100s/X-Pro1/X-E1 and X-E2. However, I prefer to do this, and do this automatically as it gives me focus peak highlighting options and it does truly disable to AF from the shutter button this way.
At this point, the way the camera operates depends a little on how you have configured the AF-L button.
You can set it to be both Exposure and Focus lock, or simply focus lock.
You can also choose how the button reacts to the press.
In all the cameras you have the AE/AF Lock Mode setting. The options here are pressing or switch. I typically have this set to pressing and it means you have to hold your finger on the AF-L button to keep the lock.
Switch, simply means that pressing it again switches out the focus lock.
Try it. Once you get used to it I don’t think you’ll shoot in any other way.
Continuous Focus and Focus Tracking
With the X-T1 Firmware 4.0 came an updated continuous focus tracking options:
- Single Point
- Wide Tracking
The X-Pro2 of course has the same and these mechanisms come into place when the focus selector on the camera is put into AF-C mode.
I have to be honest and say that I only ever use the Singe Point for focus tracking. I’m usually tracking individuals in a busy environment, such as bridal recessional or confetti run and so I want the camera to keep its eyes on the centre of my attention.
Using the other two modes introduces the risk that the camera will start to track something other than the person I have in the centre of my frame.
The Focus tracking on both the X-T1 and the X-Pro2 are amazing and whist it still can be a little bit “seat of your pants” when shooting, I get great results with the new tracking.
When I’m photographing fast moving subjects like a bride recessional I will put the camera in the High Speed Burst in the Drive menu (X-Pro2) or CH mode on the dial (X-T1).
Once the camera is in AF-C mode, you can start the tracking by half depressing the shutter button and then once you are happy, fully depressing the shutter button (and holding it down) to start the burst.
However, there is a menu settings that I advice you look at before starting to shoot this way.
It is called Release / Focus Priority.
On the Fuji X100T and the X-T1 this is found by navigating:
- Shooting Menu 1
- Autofocus Setting
- Release / Focus Priority
- Autofocus Setting
On the X-Pro2 this is found by navigating:
- AF / MF Setting (page 2)
- Release / Focus Priority
As you can see from the above screen shot I have my cameras all set to AF-S (Focus) and AF-C (Release).
What does this mean?
Essentially you are telling the camera that when you are in AF-S mode (and also when using AF-L button in Manual focus mode) that you want it to concentrate on acquiring focus and locking the focus before allowing the shutter button to be fully depressed.
For AF-C however, if you have this set to Focus, then its going to try and ensure every single frame has acquired focus before releasing the shot. This is usually going to force the tracking to falter.
That’s a lot of technical shizzazle…..let’s look as some more pictures before moving on.
This next wedding was shot in November using an X-Pro2 and an X-T1. Watch out for the times where I’ve used the AF-C and also during the hugging and congratulations period I wouldn’t be able able to shoot quick enough in my opinion if I wasn’t using back button focusing.
Best Settings for Fuji X-Series Cameras
When it comes to configuring my camera for the image finish, I’ve been pretty consistent for around four years with my “recipe”.
I get asked a lot about my film simulation and camera configuration settings so I thought it would be useful to list them here.
By and large, they are very similar. In fact, the X-T1 and X-100T are identical. The X-Pro2 is the only difference, and that is because the much-awaited better granularity in the settings is now available.
Colour: Classic Chrome
Black and White + R on X-100T & X-T1
Acros + R on the Fuji X-Pro2
Here are my in camera film simulation specific settings that I use for Shooting Weddings with Fuji:
- Colour (when shooting colour): +3
- Shadows: +3
- Highlights: -2
- Noise Reduction: -3
- Sharpness: +3
- White Balance: Auto (mostly)
- Colour (when shooting colour): +2
- Shadows: +2
- Highlights: -1
- Noise Reduction: -2
- Sharpness: +2
- White Balance: Auto (mostly)
Why these settings?
Well, I’m a fan of punchy black and white imagery. I always have been and until the Classic Chrome film simulation came along I shot practically everything in black and white on my Fuji cameras.
The Classic Chrome did change things for me. I was actually sat in the meeting in Tokyo with the product planners when the idea of a chrome film simulation was first mentioned.
The classic Chrome film simulation is pretty much perfect for me when shooting colour and I like to blend it with a strong setting in the colour menu as I like to add a little to the saturation of a relatively muted colour palette.
The black and white reasons are similar. I choose to have a relatively contrasty film simulation and with the Red filter applied I can get some quite dramatic effects with the contrast.
If I couple that with quite strong Sharpness I’m partly there will the film simulation recipes that I like to use when shooting weddings with Fuji.
The Shadows and the Highlights settings are usually where the subjectivity comes into it. By using + settings in the shadows I’m asking the camera to give less emphasis on saving details in the shadows at the expense of other exposure elements. Remember, I like dark blacks and contrasty shadows.
The highlights option is very similar. In this case, I’m choosing a negative value as I want the camera to look after the highlights a bit, but not totally.
With White Balance, I pretty much set this to Auto all the time. If the disco or dancing lights are problematic I will set a manual white balance.
The Big RAW v JPEG Debate
It seems pertinent to move straight into the whole idea of RAW v JPEG after discussing the film simulations.
I actually wrote a blog post on the subject of JPEG v RAW in Fujis recently. If you want to read more, head to that post, but the essential summary is this:
I used to shoot just JPEG, with the ceremony and first dance possibly shot in RAW too. Since the X-Pro2 has come along, and the dual card slots, it makes sense for me to make use of that redundancy option and so I shoot JPEG & RAW (as mentioned previously in this post).
That said, JPEG is my primary file and the RAW is the backup.
I’m not in any way shape or form here to say which is best – they both have merits over the other. Instead, I’m just explaining that I prefer to allow the camera to process the image for me.
It speeds up my workflow immeasurably and the results of the JPEGs out of the Fuji cameras cannot be beaten in my opinion.
Take a look at the following screen-cast I did discussing this very subject:
One thing that I get asked a lot about shooting JPEG files is about the blocking of shadows etc.
The thing is, shooting JPEG shouldn’t excuse you from taking care over your exposure. Sure, the film simulation and the recipe you choose for the in camera settings all play a part but ultimately I try to use the EVF in addition to the Histogram to make sure my exposure is accurate.
Keeping an eye on the histogram is still important, even when shooting JPEG
If you find your blacks are too blocky, or your highlights are being clipped, then the histogram will give you a heads up and you can adjust accordingly (exposure compensation, changing your jpeg settings, adjust metering etc.).
Sharpening X-Trans Files
This is my preferred working method for the Fuji files but of course there are many people who will shoot RAW and for valid reasons.
I typically don’t sharpen my files as they are from JPEG, so the sharpening is in the camera. I personally wouldn’t recommend additionally sharpening Fujifilm files that have come straight from JPEG.
The images can become over sharpened very easily this way.
However, if I am working on RAW files, I do obviously need to apply sharpening to my files.
Typically, I do this at the output stage, depending on whether the images are going to be used for digital or whether they are going to go into one of my matted albums.
There are some great articles on the internet regarding the Fuji files and it would be remiss of me to not mention this X-Trans Sharpening post by Pete Bridgewood.
If you are shooting RAW and you want to understand more about the seemingly complex world of sharpening X-Trans files then please take a look at Pete’s post. It’s invaluable.
Acros Film Simulation
When it comes to black and white images especially, I really do adore the Acros film simulation in the X-Pro2 and as mentioned above, it’s my go-to film simulation now for all my monochrome work.
By that I mean, by using Acros you are using a film simulation where grain is added as part of the process. You do not need to use the additional Grain option that is present in the X-Pro2 to add grain to Acros film simulation.
I’m writing this section of my blog post whilst away shooting a behind the scenes documentary of my good friend and master chef Eduard Grecu who is the head chef at The Woolacombe Bay Hotel.
I’ve added two grab images from the shoot and placed them below. These images are untouched and directly from the camera using the Acros film simulation.
They are pretty much done as far as I’m concerned in terms of what I’m looking for in the image. The only additional work I need to do is a very subtle warmth tone and I’m good. No long processing time in Lightroom needed for these images.
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF18mm F2 Lens: 1/160th Sec at f/2 ISO 100 (Acros SOOC JPEG)
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF18mm F2 Lens: 1/120th Sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 (Acros SOOC JPEG)
Fuji X-Pro2 / XF35mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.4 ISO 640 (Acros SOOC JPEG) Fuji X-Pro2 / XF35mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Sec at f/1.4 ISO 640 (Acros SOOC JPEG)
Using Flash Photography when Shooting Weddings with Fuji
As mentioned earlier, I’m not really a wedding photographer that uses Flash. When I do use it, I use it as a last resort as I personally prefer to use natural or ambient light where possible.
Of course, there are some amazing photographers out there who are shooting very creative and artistic work using flash – many of them Fuji Photographers like Faundo Santana, who, in my mind, is one of the best “dance floor” workers out there.
However, when I do absolutely need to use flash, I will turn to my little Fujifilm EF-X20 flash unit. This is a tiny, but powerful TTL flash unit that can be easily attached to the camera, or, as I prefer to use it, attached to an old Canon OC-E3 of camera cord:
Using the OC-E3 cord means I can shoot with one hand on the camera and with the other hand I can actually direct and push the flash where I want.
Typically, when I resorting to flash, I’ll shoot manually using Zone focusing. I’ll likely use a light lens, but a wide one – light because I’m holding the camera with one hand – so something like the XF18mm F2 or Samyang 12mm would be perfect.
I’ll set the ISO very low generally and use the the Sync Speed (1/250th on the X-Pro2 or 1/180th on the X-T1 and X100T) for my standard shots.
If I want to create movement, then I’ll drop the shutter speed to something like 1/8th or even 1/4 second and drag the shutter whilst moving the camera very slightly.
Fuji X-Pro2 / Samyang 12mm f2.0 NCS CS Lens
Fuji X-T1 / XF23mm F1.4 Lens: 1/4th Second ISO 200 F10
If do use Flash with when Shooting Weddings with Fuji you will definitely need to be aware of the fact then when looking through an electronic viewfinder (OVF is fine), you are likley to see a black screen depending on your exposure settings.
In order to combat this, there is a setting in all the cameras called “Preview Exposure & White Balance”. You want to make sure that you set this to show the preview.
High ISO When Shooting Weddings with Fuji
I’ve purposefully put this section of the post directly after the flash section, quite simply because I prefer to rely on the camera’s ISO capabilities before resorting to flash.
With the X100T and the X-T1 I would top out my ISO at 6,400. Regardless of whether I’m shooting RAW or JPEG.
The higher ISO’s are JPEG only and are not, in my opinion, quite up to the levels of the excellent higher ISO capabilities of the X-Pro2.
I firmly believe that if I’ve invested £1,350 in a camera that I am going to allow it to do the job its designed to do. To that end, I’ll shoot upto 6,400 ISO on my XT1 and X100T and as high as 12,800 ISO on my X-Pro2.
Of course, its important to remember that if shooting with an EVF, we can see the exposure clearer and I definitely find I make better decisions based on the exposure triangle than I ever did with my DSLRS (when I used to effectually rely on exposure compensation and the extremely high ISO capabilities of the Canon DSLRs that I used).
In Camera Noise Reduction
I set my Noise Reduction options to -2 on the X100T and the X-T1 and -3 on the X-Pro2.
I asked Fuji this question:
“Is NR-4 on the X-Pro2 the same as Noise Reduction OFF”.
The answer was “No”.
This means there is still no way of switching off noise reduction completely in the cameras (remember, affects JPEG only).
I have established with my X-Pro2 that NR-3 is my happy medium and I’m generally happy shooting my JPEGs in that area.
I think it is fair to say that the Fuji Cameras are exceptionally capable at high ISO and the X-Pro2 has taken it to another level.
Fuji X-PRO2 / XF16mm F1.4 Lens: 1/125th Second F1.8 ISO 10,000
Fuji X-T1 / XF56mm F1.2 Lens: 1/60th Second F4 ISO 5,0000
The above image is a particular tender moment which you can read more about on my wedding photography blog. Needless to say, flash really wasn’t an option.
In terms of equipment and exposure correlation this would be the same as me taking a shot with my old Canon 5D Mark II with the Canon 85mm 1.2 lens – hand held at around 1/100th. I don’t think I’d have got a stable exposure and perhaps missed the moment. Definitely a case of where smaller, lighter equipment prevailed (though to balance the argument a little, the Canon being FF meant I could have reduced the ISO by one stop perhaps and shot at a little faster shutter speed).
Fuji X-PRO2 / XF35mm F2 Lens: 1/125th Second F2 ISO 6,400
But can you REALLY get by Shooting Weddings with Fuji?
Well, I’d like to think you can. Of course, its entirely up to you whether you you want or need to start shooting weddings with a Fuji but I think, for me, the size of the cameras and added ability to get in closer without disturbing the moment is the key factor for me.
Below are two Wedding Photofilms – from the same two day Indian wedding. The first day, the Hindi celebration, is somewhat different to the second day, the Sikh ceremony.
During the second day, at the Sikh temple, it was imperative that I used silent cameras and all of those images were shot using the electronic shutter to mitigate any noise. I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to get the shots I did using a louder DSLR system.
Turn the sound up and I hope you enjoy these photofilms, all shot with X100Ts and X-T1s.
I’d love to use my Fuji more at weddings like you but I’m worried I won’t look professional enough.
Grrrrr. Nothing makes me more grumpy than this statement. YOU.ARE.THE.PROFESSIONAL. You choose your gear. It may well be that a Canon 5D Mark III is what you choose but never, ever, let the decision of what equipment you use be dictated over your fear of perceived professionalism from the client (note: I’m talking about weddings here remember).
I can honestly, hand on heart, tell you that the only people to ever ask me about what clients think of the size of the camera is….other photographers.
I’ve never once had a client ask about it. Not once. Occasionally a guest might ask me “is that a Leica” or “wow, you are using a film cameras”…. but not once has a client queried the camera. And neither should they as using a smaller camera, be it a small DSLR, a Fuji CSC of Sony or indeed a Leica M9 should actually make creating documentary style pictures easier.
I have several Fujifilm Street Photography workshops planned at the moment.
And you can see all other workshops and books etc that I have by going to my photography workshops section of this site.
How downsizing saved my business
I think it really is true that when the Fujifilm system came along it saved my business.
I was falling out of love with shooting weddings and, truth be told, I was falling out of love with photography.
Those of you who shoot weddings know there is so much more to it than just turning up and shooting. There is marketing, business, accounts, albums and editing. Along with so much more.
The photography part seems to be just a small part of what I do as a professional wedding photographer, but, at the same time, its the best part.
When the Fujifilm system came along it genuinely turned things around for me.
What happened was very simple; Photography became enjoyable again.
I know that this sounds almost ethereal but I do believe that these little cameras, these little black boxes of clicks and dials, apertures and glass have a very honest feel about them.
The tactile nature of the cameras, the ever so reassuring clunk of the shutter dial, the ability to plan and respond to a scene via the view finder make the experience of shooting weddings….well, it makes it an experience again.
Since I started Shooting Weddings with Fuji X-Series I have been fortunate enough to use pretty much all the cameras and I have one available at all times. No matter where I am.
I enjoy the spontaneity of photography and I enjoy the fact that my images are rough around the edges, they are not master pieces but the fact of the matter is, I take pictures every day – and taking pictures every day of the most important people in my life is something I didn’t do when my gear bag was crammed with DSLRs and big old lenses.
Thanks for reading through all this. I hope that it does help those of you Shooting Weddings with Fuji at least a little.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
You might also be interested in my Facebook group for those Shooting Weddings with Fuji .
Please also check out some of the most talented Photographers I know at The Kage Collective.
- Happy Snapping – Kevin (in my Studio in Malmesbury, listening to Concerto Romano at the 2015 Rheinvokal Festival in Germany on Radio 3)