It’s the end of my second GFX50s hire today and it’s left me with lots of ideas spinning round in my head. The good news for me is that I now have my own! If you follow my blog you will know that I bit the bullet and purchased this stunning camera.
It was the hardest decision I have had to make for quite a few reasons and one was size!
The whole reason I moved over to Fujifilm was camera size. After working with a pair of Nikon D3s Full frame bodies I needed to downsize for the sake of my back and neck. Back then my work was varied but I shot a lot of gigs etc where I carried lots of heavy gear around all day and it was taking its toll.
I changed to the Fujifilm X System on a wing and a prayer and the amazing thing is the X System has developed in to a range of great cameras and lenses with such a massive choice for all the tastes out there. The X System cameras are stunning and offer choice between Rangefinder and more conventional style bodies. My favorite X series cameras for Street Photography are the XPro2, X70 and X100F. These cameras are perfect for my Street style small, compact and light. I have also recently bought an X-T20 for travel and occasionally Street mainly because I love that touch screen. I do prefer the Rangefinder style for Street photography as I find they handle better for the way I shoot and I hate having my nose squashed on the rear screen of a camera. The X-T20 works really well with the tilt out screen and the X70 is just so stunning I cant even put it into words. I really do hope that one day Fujifilm do make an X80 ! We can only hope.
I have been fighting with myself over the GFX50s for a while now and I even said at the start it has no place in my workflow it’s just too big. I was lucky enough to see the GFX long before it was put into production and thought at the time this is very big but the version I held had the grip on it.
So along came a few changes in direction for me as far as my business is concerned and then the big V small argument in my head started. I had quite a few Fujifilm bodies and lenses at the time and decided what ever happens I need to sell some of my kit off and make way for new. Yes of course I had the GFX stuck in my head but I also had the BIG camera issue stuck in my head.
As I started to sell off my gear I had to decide what to keep and what to sell and as I picked up the X-T2 I realised I only really used this camera for Landscape work and with any Landscape work always came a bag full of gear to put in the van for all those occasions ! So that is when I realised that some photography does require quite a bit of kit that weighs more than you would like. I also had quite a few lenses I used for landscape and none of them gave me what I wanted ! I wanted massive field of view.
So I started to sell off my spares bodies and all the lenses I did not use ! I will not even tell you the amount of times I put lenses in boxes to sell then changed my mind. In the end I got there though.
I am lucky because I plan to semi retire this month so want to get back to shooting what I love and want to start using the best camera for the job so this process was very therapeutic bit like a spring clean in my head and it’s not even spring.
So what lenses did I keep in the X series range ! The 16mm 1.4 was the first one to stay it’s just the best lens that Fujifilm make for the X Series. I also kept the 23mm 35mm 50mm and 90mm F/2 lenses because they are small light and sharp I also kept the 18-55mm Zoom it’s just such an amazing travel lens. I would not part with it and also if I had an accident on a trip with any of my other primes this lens would get me out of trouble. I nearly sold the 50-140mm f/2.8 about 5 times but in the end could not part with it or the 1.4 teleconverter. The 50-140mm is so good, so much better than my old Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII so it had to stay. I also kept the wide conversion lens for my X100F. The rest I sold and I had all the lenses Fujifilm make and most of the bodies. My shelf looked bare but I was happy with my decision.
Then the real argument started in my head, how can you buy a GFX when you want to only use small cameras ! How will this work !
To solve the argument in my head I had to pretend I was not an X Photographer and that I could buy any camera on the market ! So if this was the case what would I buy myself.
Well it would not be a DSLR because I have grown to hate mirrors ! So what could it be ! The answer I came up with every time was Leica or Phase ! Because of the sensors and image quality mainly but I still wanted quality glass. I sat down with a calculator and worked out the cost of a new system and then added the GFX50s in to the pot. In the end after a few days the answer was the GFX and so I hired it to find out.
I was blown away by not just the image quality but also the fact the camera was not as big as I thought it was ! I documented the hire on here and then I hired it again. This time with the 23mm lens and I was lucky enough to have the new 45mm pre production on loan from Fujifilm. The 45mm is a very nice lite lens and makes the camera so much more usable with a light fast light lens it really is not much bigger than a D800.
So that was it I was sold, I bought the GFX with a 23mm 110mm and 32-64mm for a retirement present for myself with no real business plan ! I do however have some ideas for future projects and exhibitions.
Its quite funny though because the day after I bought the camera I picked up work with it and then picked up a bit more and so far I now have £3500 in outstanding invoices from buying it so I guess at this rate it will pay for itself in six months !
I always say over and over again to people it’s got nothing to do with the camera it’s the final image that counts and I still believe this is true. I have been excited by very few cameras in my life the first was the Nikon Fm2 then the Nikon D3s then the Fujifilm X100 in fact the X100 changed the way I thought about my work and the way I shoot. I have also loved most of the X Series line up and I am sure a few will end up classics one day.
I did not think the GFX would do this to me and in all honesty I did not realise it was getting to me that way, it was Jane who woke me up. She was sitting with me in the office the other night and she said “it does matter though !” I said “what does ?” She said “I have not seen you this excited looking at images since you had your X100” ! She is right I am blown away by this camera and Fujifilm are right to call it a game changer.
I guess it’s come at the perfect time in my life and I hope to produce some new and interesting work with it over the next few years.
I think what will make a difference to quite a lot of people thinking about this camera is the new Smart Adaptors that are now appearing on the market. Now all you guys that don’t want to part with all your Canon glass can get an adaptor and use it with the GFX.
I have not tried any of the Adapters yet I was going to but so far Fujifilm have all the lenses I need.
I still love my Little X Series cameras for Street and travel and they will stay my default cameras for that style of work, but I really want to find a place for the GFX in my street work too. I might just have to adapt the way I work to suit the camera. Where have I heard that before ? Yes it was what I said that day I got the X100 !
I have lent out a lot of personal Fujifilm kit over the last five years and the result has always been some love hate relationships and personal battles with the kit. I always find this very interesting. I remember my first time with the X100 and how it wound me up no end that the sensor was giving me better black and white images than my Nikon D3s but how hard it was to get used to the camera and menus. Most of all the focus system was hard work and so much more. This all made me question my choice but the images spoke for themselves ! It felt like a toy camera compared to the mighty D3s ! But who cared about the feel when the images were just so great …
On a recent trip to Edinburgh I was having a facebook conversation with a friend who had brought an X100T on my recommendation for her Street Photography. She hated it out of the box and many times I looked at her comments on social media saying how she wanted to get rid of it. One day it was driving her nuts the next it was fine. I could see the personal battle taking place this Marmite camera was tearing this girl apart !
She even asked me when the XPro2 was out and then the X-T2 and the X-T20 but all the time she went out shooting with the X100T. On this trip to Edinburgh she messaged me and said ” I love this camera Matt I really do, but it’s taken me 18 months to make it work for me” I laughed and said I know ! I said to her the problem with the X100 series is you have to adapt your style to the camera and no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to decide on every setting from Jpeg to focus mode. You can’t just look up what other people do on the internet or blogs you just have to go out every day and have a personal battle with the camera and almost fight over who is in change !
I have taught over 200 workshops over the last two years and so many people come on the workshops who have the same battle not just with the X100 series but some of the other Fujifilm models.
I was talking with another friend tonight who has my X-T10 and she said I am getting there but I am having a love hate relationship with this camera ! I just laughed and said I know…
I would say 99.9% of the people that have this battle win and they fall in love with the X Series Camera system. I know a few people who have lost the battle and gone back to their chosen brand. I have noticed one thing though, the people that battle on don’t just learned how to adapt to a new camera system their work changes for the better too.
I think the the personal battle teaches them more than just how to use a new camera it makes them look at the way they work as well. It’s all too easy to pick up a DSLR out of the box and go out and shoot on auto, it’s not so easy to use the X100 you have to start to understand your craft more and in doing so your work improves.
Quite a few people love the way the X Series slowed them down at the start but then became frustrated by that very fact ! Fujifilm responded to customer feedback and have made the XPro2 and X-T2 but you still have to know what you are doing to get the best out of these cameras. You can use them out of the box on Auto now but once you really learn how to set them up you take a great big step up on your photography journey.
The shame is that most people just look at these cameras on the internet or for a few minutes in a shop ! They never get to use them for 12-18 months and so never get to experience love hate battle and that is such a shame. So many people don’t like change but I think that is where the X100F comes in. You can buy it as a back up camera and take it everywhere. Some days you will want to throw it in the river or bin some days you will want to hug it and kiss it ( possibly a bit far ) but when you look at those images you know you have an amazing bit of kit in your hands that you can stick in your pocket and take everywhere ! Take the X100F challenge buy one or borrow one and see how you get on, then come back on here in 18 months and leave a comment.
I get asked quite a lot “what is best the X100F or the Xpro2 ?” I always find this an interesting question because I don’t quite know why I am being asked the question !
I dont think people want to know what camera I prefer, I think they want to know what one I would recommend they buy ! To find out what would be the best camera for the other person I would need to know so much more about them and their photography. So I will answer this question as if it was directed to me.
I am not that worried about the bells and whistles that are thrown at modern cameras I just want the exposure triangle on the outside of the camera and I want to be able to use it quickly without putting too much thought in to it or digging into the menus.
I do love the rangefinder style because I am a right eye shooter, so with the rangefinder my nose is not squashed on the back of the camera and 9 times out of 10 no one knows where you are pointing a rangefinder !
I am also not that worried about the viewfinder or the rear screen as I need glasses these days for close up work so don’t spend a lot of time using either. If I do use the viewfinder or rear screen it’s just to compose the image so it can be all blurry as long as I can see the composition.
The main difference between the X100F and the XPro2 is the fact it has interchangeable lenses and in all honesty this is the one deciding factor the rest is almost irrelevant.
But I am lucky as I have both cameras.
One thing I must point out is that for Event work I also use the Fujifilm X-T2 and the main reason is for balance the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 and battery grip with extra battery capacity for a long day shooting is just perfect. I will still use the X100F and XPro2 on the day just to have a variety of lenses with me at all times within easy reach.
At the moment when I am teaching Street photography I just use the X100F.
When I am out shooting in the UK on my own at the moment I use two X100F bodies, one with the fixed 23mm and one with the Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens.
The XPro2 stays at home, so in a way I have answered the question.
I moved away from Nikon to be able to lighten my load and enjoy my day out shooting and over the last 6 years I have only used the Fujifilm system and got to know it very well. In that time the X100 has come a long way and the X100F is now everything I need in an everyday camera for shooting Street, its got a great sensor and exposure triangle on top and the autofocus is now as fast as I need it to be. I used to Zone focus the X100 and X100s and even the X100T to get the results I needed but the X100F has such a great AF system I dont need to use Zone focus for anything anymore. I guess the only time would be in low light or awkward situations and in that case I would just switch to M and back button focus.
When out shooting Street my only consideration now is, is it moving if so switch to C (continuous AF) is is stationary switch to S (single AF)
I like the camera to do all the work for me so I set the camera in to Auto ISO with the following settings – Default Sensitivity 200, Max.Sensitivity 6400, Min. Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.
This set up is basically the same for the X100F and the XPro2 except I alter the Min Shutter speed to suit the lens I have on the camera for the XPro2.
For me the X100F is my Desert Island camera, and this camera now goes with me everywhere I go its the first camera I pack for any trip. One great thing about a fixed lens camera is the fact there is no sensor cleaning so that is a big bonus.
I have adapted the way I shoot to suit the X100F and I think this is important, I see so many people moaning online about the fact a camera has not go this or it has not got that and the biggest moan about the X100F is the fact it does not have a tilting screen ! When it first came out I even thought thats a shame, after using the X70 and all the others with tilting screens I did wonder but now I get it. Why do we keep wanting more and more and more this is why the DSLR’s got so big ! besides the XPro2 does not have a tilting screen.
I love the freedom of the X100F and if I have to pick one camera from the Fujifilm range this would be it.
So what about the Xpro2 ? Its water resistant and it is slightly faster on AF and it has interchangeable lenses, so it’s far better than the X100F and if I travel anywhere out of the UK it comes with me, also for assignments I use the X100F and the XPro2 with a longer lens on to give me something wide and something long to be able to capture the moment no matter where it happens.
I love my XPro2 and in the Fujifilm range it comes up as my favorite camera but it also annoys me because it gives me lens choice ! The Fujifilm lenses are all so good you then end up taking the XPro2 and 3 or 4 lenses with you and you only ever use one ! So it puts more weight in your bag is counter productive.
The XPro2 is perfect for travel and perfect for assignments and just about anything but when it comes down what one I prefer based on weight, size, portability etc the X100F wins hands down.
We all want diferent things from our cameras and Fujifilm have an amazing range of bodies and lenses now and I love to use them all but the X100F is still my desert Island Camera.
As quite a few people know I am changing the format of my workshops in 2018 so if anyone wants to take part in the present format, please choose one of my Street Photography Workshops from the list below.
This is the format for 2017.
The workshops will encourage debate about Street Photography and help the participants to be more critical about their work.
The workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels. We ask you to familiarise yourself with using your camera and learn how to change settings quickly before attending the day, this will enable you to enjoy the experience fully.
The day will start at 10.30am and conclude at 16.30pm with a break for lunch and plenty of comfort breaks throughout the day, most of the day will be out on the streets. There is a lot of walking during the day and the event may take place in inclement weather so come prepared.
You will spend the day with myself exploring the streets picking up tricks and tips on my style of Street Photography throughout the day. My Street photography workshops and courses are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.
I uses the Fuji X100F and XPro2 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens.
You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm is ideal for full frame and 35mm film uses. APSC size sensors 35mm is ideal or lenses around the normal focal length.
The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. We will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area.
Next we will discuss camera set up for the day and the best set up for street photography with a practical demonstration of street camera technique.
Matt will cover what Street Photography is, and show you some of his favourite Street Photographers images. He will also show you the best way to approach his style of Street photography.
We normally spend around two hours covering these subjects then around 12.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.
We break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quiet place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share our experiences.
We then go back out on the streets to practice your new street techniques and try and find your street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light!
We stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work.
I know the majority of you guys that read my blogs and attend my workshops are Fujifilm users but for all you that have other brands of camera please feel free to book on any of these workshops as all camera brands are more than welcome.
Here are the available dates left this year, please click on the dates for availability:
These will be the last Street Photography Workshops in this format at this price.
I have some interesting ideas for Locations and Styles of Workshops for next year, these workshops will be a little more complex so require a lot more planning.
I will advertise the 2018 Workshops around about October time.
I will be leading the Fujiholics Photowalks in London, Edinburgh and Bristol this year so make sure you sign up before all the places are gone. We have over 350 people signed up for London already.
Hope to see some of you on a Free Walk or Workshop and if you are a Fujifilm shooter then our new Facebook group might be for you here.
Here we go again, another year of Photo Walks. This year I will be leading four Fujiholics Photowalks. The Liverpool walk has already taken place but Bristol, Edinburgh and London are still up for grabs.
I would like everyone to know that you can bring any make of camera with you and that includes smart phones. You can also come without a camera just for a day out. It’s all about like minded people getting together to have a great day out and to share ideas and meet new people.
The walks are free to sign up to, I only ask that if you sign up then change your mind, please follow the link from your Eventbrite confirmation email to remove yourself so other people can sign up as numbers are limited.
So far this year London is in the lead with 280 people signed up.
We would like to see more families and children on the walks and would like you all to know that kids are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Why not bring them to London and make a weekend of it. They can use their phones or even buy them a throw away camera.
Photowalks are great, I have met friends for life on the walks and also made some amazing business contacts. They are a great way to explore our cities on foot with a great bunch of people.
A route and map is emailed out to everyone that signs up approx 1 week before the event to download to your smartphone or gps device or you can print out the map. You don’t have to keep up with the guys at the front as we tweet our location throughout the day and use a unique hashtag for the day. You can stop for refreshments along the way or even a cold beer and then catch up a bit later by taking a shortcut using the tube.
In London this year we have the Fujiholics Team and a few other Pro Photographers as well as some retailers so hope to bring you a few offers for the day. There will be quite a few Fujifilm X Photographers and Ambassadors about as well. The Fujiholics Team really do make you all feel welcome.
I would love to see as many of you guys on one of the walks this year, the last three walks are spread out all over the UK so feel free to come and join us.
Here are the links to the walks..
If you want to buy cheap train tickets then here is a link to sign up to The Train Line ticket alert.
If you need to know any more details then feel free to contact us email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you sometime in 2017…
I was last in Venice with the Fujifilm XPro1 back in 2013 and have been missing it like crazy for the last four years. I have just got back from Venice with Paul to run a Fujiholics workshop. The weather was a mixed bag but Venice gets so busy it is always at its best out of season. My favorite times of the year are October, late February or early March.
I took with me the X100F, XPro2, XT2 and will write about the others when I get time after TPS and probably next month.
I decided to just use the X100F with Jpegs only as part of my 2017 Year of Colour, forcing myself to just use Jpegs with no RAW backup was the name of the game. So I set the camera to Image Quality Fine, Film Simulation Velvia, Dynamic Range 200, White Balance Auto, Highlight Tone -1 and Shadow Tone +1 to start off with.
I was editing the images out in Venice on the Ipad Pro with Snapseed and as part of this process in the end decided to set the Highlight and Shadow tones back to 0 for now and just make the changes in Snapseed. I have always wanted to be able to process very quickly so making changes in camera confuses me at times because I find myself undoing the changes I made in camera at the processing stage.
I must point out all the images in this blog are shot on a preproduction X100F.
Even though I am a Candid Street Photographer I have included a few other images here from my trip. Venice is an amazing place for photography. I have never seen so many cameras in all my life as I did on this trip but that was probably down to the fact the carnival was just finishing as the workshop started. There are some seriously big back packs around in those small alleys thats for sure !
The only downside to this time of year is the ever changing light, even though the colours don’t have quite the same depth and beauty in the shade or shadow, I do like the way the X100F handles the fast changes with the Auto ISO, I know most people are scared to ramp up the ISO but I haven’t ever worried about this and set mine to Auto with the base at 200 ISO and the Max at 6400 ISO. I know you can ramp it up to 12800 but there was no need during the day. I do prefer what you see is what you get and if it’s dull its dull, you can’t have great weather and images all the time. This is the down side to colour photography and this is a great learning curve for me on my Year of Colour.
I used to shoot manual all the time but for Street I prefer aperture priority. That way I can just get on and shoot and not have to worry too much about the camera settings. I do switch back to manual when I have more time on my hands to think and compose.
I do quite like breaking the rules and playing around with camera settings when I get a new camera. It is always interesting to see how the combinations of ISO and shutter speed affect the tones in the images. I have to know what I can get away with in what light and at what speed.
Venice is an amazing place and feels so safe to wonder about day or night, so it’s a great place to walk around with your camera. I caught the last few days of the carnival so managed to capture a few of the interesting characters. I have to say I love the X100F, it’s a great upgrade from the X100T and the sensor is stunning. The lens is a little soft at f/2 as it was on the X100T but I shoot most of my work around f/4 anyway these days so its not a big issue for me. Its great to now have a battery that lasts most of the day, but that was also not much of an issue for me on the X100t once you realise your camera’s limits you can compensate yourself. I used to carry 3 batteries for my X100T and for the X100F I carry two.
I do like the way all Fujifilm cameras handle colour and black and white. I used to shoot Nikon and it was a real pain in the bum trying to get Nikon RAW files to look the way I wanted in colour and the Jpegs were worse. The images in this blog are all Jpegs and only had Lightroom cc edits and most of them have had only slight changes with a crop or minor contrast of clarity changes. I can’t bring myself yet to just use out of camera jpegs due to the fact I need a colour style and that is what 2017 is all about. I do however think if you just take images for you and you dont need a style then you could just set the camera up to shoot Jpeg and with a few changes in the settings you would not need to process the images and you could just use the Jpegs with no editing and this is amazing ! In the days of social media you can just wifi the Jpegs from camera on the fly and you are done. The X100F is just perfect to carry in your pocket everywhere you go and makes a great street travel camera.
With its fixed lens you have no worries about sensor cleaning and if you wanted to, you could add the conversion lenses to your collection and still not have sensor dust issues.
With the addition of the Digital Zoom this is a serious amount of reach for a pocket camera, the TCL-X100 Converter will give you 50mm, 72mm, and 100mm reach.
All my Street Photography workshops apart from Liverpool are with Calumet Photographic this year.
I have already been to Birmingham and London and this weekend I will be back in Edinburgh on Friday and Glasgow on Saturday. If you are starting to get into Street Photography or have been doing it for a while and have lost your way or your mojo then this workshop with give you all you need to take your Candid Street Photography to the next level. The workshops are tailored to enable you to think out of the box and show you all the skills you need to handle your camera in a discreet way so as not to upset your subjects.
The images in this blog where all shot in Glasgow or Edinburgh on Fujifilm cameras, but even though I am a Fujifilm Ambassador you do not need to bring a Fujifilm camera on these workshops. Any make of camera will be good and that includes a smart phone if that is all you have.
I am still running my own Liverpool workshops and these can be found on my Eventbrite page HERE. In 2018, I hope to be running some joint Street workshops with some of the great Street Photographers though Fujiholics and you can find all the future dates for the Fujiholics Workshops HERE.
The workshops in Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend will start with a brief on What is Street Photography? which will last 2 hours. We will also look at some of the great Street Photographers past and present images.
I will be offering a practical approach to candid street photography with camera handling techniques.
I only shoot Candid street photography but we will have an open discussion on other styles, with the way other people view this approach.
I will give you an insight into the importance of projects and themes in Street photography to help you grow and develop.
My workshops are for anyone interested in Street Photography to bring like minded people together so you not only learn from my style but you can also learn from each other. It always amazes me when you bring like minded people together how much you can learn and be inspired by each other ! I love to share my passion of Photography and Street with you all and I get a great deal of pleasure in watching you learn and grow following a workshop.
A large percentage of Street Photography is learning to see and studying the masters, and my workshops give you all the tools you need to follow the path. Many of the people who have been on my workshops have developed their Street Photography and taken it to new levels. I have seen some amazing images in Black and White Street and Streets in Colour on FaceBook, shot by some of my workshop attendees, and this always brings a big smile to my face. Its always great to see their work getting selected for the main gallery.
I look forward to seeing you guys on one of my workshops in the future and if you need any advice on other Street Workshops in the UK worth attending then please let me know.
I would also recommend a great book by David Gibson The Street Photographer’s Manual