I did it ! I made the jump and I am OK !
Last year at Africa Oye I was shooting with a Nikon D3s and a variety of Nikon Pro glass, as well as my favourite Sigma 300mm lens. I also had a Fuji X100 with me. I was thinking about trying out Mirrorless but had not made up my mind. I managed to get a few shots with the X100 and one got published.
I was worn out after two days shooting at Africa Oye 2013! If you have never shot an event believe me two or three days shooting all day with a heavy DSLR body takes its toll on your back and shoulders. I had been exploring the Fuji option for a while but felt I could not give up my D3s and 300mm f/2.8 !
But as most of you know from my previous posts I did give up my D3s last year at the end of the festival season. I went over to Fuji from Nikon and then spent the rest of the year shooting Fuji but in the back of my mind I was worried about the festival season.
My first event in the 2014 calendar was Africa Oye, this will be followed by Brazilica, the Giants and LIMF. Even after spending quite a while shooting with the XPro1 and the X-T1 I would not have a fast enough lens for the job in low light. The 55-200mm is fine but it’s not a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 so would struggle in low light and is a little slow at times. The Fuji bodies only go up to 6400 ISO so my fear was as the light dropped I would run out of light and not be able to shoot!
I decided to shoot the crowd up close and personal with the Fuji XPro1 and 35mm lens and use the X-T1 with the 55-200mm for when the crowds were too tight for me to walk through or reach the subject. I should explain, Africa Oye is family friendly and everyone is there with tents and blankets having a very nice family day out with BBQ’s etc so it’s not always that easy to get close to your subject as the day moves on.
I decided to shoot the stage with the 55-200mm on the X-T1 on the day and also get a few crowd shots with the 10-24mm from the pit. I also took the 60mm f/2.4 with me for when the light dropped off. I would have taken the 56mm but I have been holding off buying the 56mm due to the fact the 50-140mm f/2.8 will be out this year. To be honest the 60mm worked out fine but the 56mm would have been better.
I have to say my plan worked like a dream, getting in amongst the crowd paid off with the XPro1, it was so nice getting close to all the people I have shot at previous events with a 70-200mm I was asked for business cards and where the images could be found. It was so nice to talk to people I see year after year at the events. So, not only had the change from Nikon to Fuji made me rethink the way I shoot, it put me right back in the crowd where I should be ! It was like going back to my Nikon Fm2 and 50mm lens in the film days. Yes the change from Nikon to Fuji has made me more social! How mad is that …
I was standing in the crowd halfway through the first day thinking how great the day was, how amazing the crowd was and how great the music and atmosphere was. I was not thinking about the weight of the camera around my neck for a change. I was worried about battery life as the Nikon D3s battery would last all day on most shoots. I had a few back up Fuji batteries with me but was not sure if I had enough. I had three for the X-T1 and two for the XPro1 and went home on day one with one full battery and plenty of life in the two of the others. On day two I went home with a full battery and very little left in any of the others. I am not one to hammer the shutter to be honest and prefer to pick my shots. One of the reasons I love the XPro1.
The whole weekend went to plan as the light dropped the 55-200mm was no good to me as I was at the ISO limit, so changed over to the 60mm f/2.4, those few extra stops allowed the ISO to drop to a more useable level. I shoot Auto ISO at events, it gives me the flexibility and speed I need to concentrate on the subject and composition. When the lights come up I instantly get 200 ISO. I shoot both camera bodies on Auto ISO setting the base speed to 1/125sec and ISO 6400. If I want to play around with effects I will switch back to manual or Aperture priority.
In the end I am not sure why I even questioned myself. Africa Oye was a great way for me to test the Fuji system at an event and it went very well. I can’t wait for the new 50-140mm f/2.8 to come out later in the year and I might have to invest in the 56mm as the 60mm does hunt a lot more in low light that the 56mm from the reports I have had. I managed to eliminate a lot of the 60mm hunting issues by just pre focusing using the back button focus in manual mode method.
Africa Oye was an amazing weekend with record crowds but the best bit of all I went home without shoulder ache. Did I miss my Nikon D3s and Pro glass? No way, I am more than happy with the Fuji X-T1 and the XPro1 and the stunning Fuji glass. I had a friend ( Rich ) shooting with his X-T1 at the same event and he was using an adaptor with his Canon glass. This is an option I did think about a while back but decided for me it defeats the object of downsizing. When I shoot street with the Fuji XPro1 and 35mm I love the fact it gets me up close to my subject because I have had to change the way I shoot at events by changing to Fuji it’s opened my eyes to a whole new style and I love it. I still had to shoot with the 55-200mm to pick out a few subjects from the crowd and the stage but hopefully in the future Fuji will bring out a 300mm Prime and a few more primes that will be useful at events. I can’t wait to see what Fuji bring out in the future in the way of Bodies and Lenses.
I will leave you with a couple of shots of Finley Quaye the headline act at Africa Oye 2014.