I guess I have fallen in love with this camera, it blows me away every time I use it and to think I left it so long before I invested ! I have always secretly wanted to get a medium format camera but I never really had the need for it or a business case to buy it, as I said in my previous post about the GFX I just decided to buy it as an early retirement present to myself, not that photographers ever really retire.
I have three projects to shoot with the GFX this year as well as getting back in to Landscape photography and this is the perfect tool for the job.
Three of the projects I am involved with will include really large prints and even though the other X Series cameras are capable of large prints they cant hold the detail as well as a bloody great images sensor in a medium format camera.
One amazing thing about the GFX is the ability to switch it to C Mode once the Lens is set to C and the ISO dial is set to C and the shutter speed dial is set to T the camera is in Command mode and the back and front Command dials act as a DSLRs command diles do and control the Speed and Aperture. Also if you push the front command dial you can then alter the ISO so this puts the Exposure Triangle at your fingertips.
The command mode gives you the control you need to dial in the exposure you require for LE Photography ( Long Exposure ).
The old way was to take and exposure and then calculate the filter factor with the current exposure time to give you the time it would take to make the exposure. Well that all just changed the GFX50s can’t do a timed exposure up to 60 minutes on its own.
Let me explain, you set up the shot focus the lens then set the lens to M to prevent it from re focusing when you press the shutter. Then you simply place the filter you require like the Lee 15 Stop in the holder and adjust the Aperture do the desired depth of field. Then you move the shutter speed all the way until the camera meters for the sceen through the filter. Once you set you then just set the self timer in the Q Menu to 2 seconds to prevent camera shake and make your exposure. You don’t even need a cable release so that’s one thing less to blow around in the wind.
This function alone as made my whole life so much easier and considering the GFX is about the same size as a D800 and my Landscape kit now consists of one camera and three lenses I am really happy. I use the GF23mm GF32-64mm and the GF110mm and this little lot is quite a light lighter than the Nikon D3s and pro lenses I used to carry and the images from the GFX are outstanding as it the dynamic range.
Right I best get back to wales and see what else this thing can do.
What a year ! Its now December and my Year of Colour project is nearly over and I am glad. Its been a very busy year for me and the project has been dragging along behind me instead of inspiring me to get out and shoot ! I always thought it would be hard but it was a lot harder than I expected. I have never been a fan of colour so I already set myself up for failure before I started.
Colour for me growing up in a black and white world with black and white TVs in the house and all my film cameras loaded with black and white film 99% of the time was never going to be easy. I think after learning to see in black and white colour just does not do it for me. I very nearly gave up on several occasions but I am glad I stuck with it. I think black and white is my escape from the real world, the fantasy land of TV as a child.
The project does not really finish until the 31st of December but I have had some back problems and whilst trying to get that under control I really am not inspired or motivated to get out and create anything remotely interesting.
I wanted to force myself to shoot Colour for a year to see if I could fall in love with it and get some form of continuity in my work and develop a colour style. I soon found out Colour does not work like that, to have continuity you need continuity in lighting every day and that is the hardest part. Its easy to set up in a studio and have the same lights and white balance but out in the real world the light is diferent every day so the only way to get a consistency would be to light the subject the same no matter what the weather conditions or time of day. In bright light the colours pop and we are cooking on gas. When there is no light or poor light we have dull washed out colours and these images require a lot more work. In a very short space of time at the start of the year I got fed up with the issue of continuity.
I did however start to look at and play around with film simulation modes on the Fujifilm cameras and even though you could not quite get the continuity you could get a consistent body of work that looked the same. I also looked in to colour grading as they do when they make films but this started to get very complicated. I am in the process of learning to edit film and thought it would all come in handy and it did. I shoot my video in colour so I guess my year has not been wasted as I am putting some of the things I have learnt about colour to good use in camera for my blogs.
I started out hating colour and to be honest for still images I am still a Black and White lover, in all honesty I prefer black and white films as well. I guess colour is so very distracting that it confuses me. My black and white has a consistency and style that works for me. Black and White is a story telling media and colour sometimes can distract you from the story if you get it wrong or are super critical of the way colour works in a scene. I dont hate colour as much as I did and I have a newfound respect for anyone who can keep their outdoor work consistent in every lighting condition without elaborate lighting set ups. I want to do more exhibitions in the future and this is where I need continuity.
Iso also has a big to play in this situation the higher the ISO the darker the image and the more noise is introduced, this looks fine in black and white and even better when printed but really does darken your colour images down. The other issue with colour is my mood ! In black and white you can see my mood changes in my work and this is shown as you would expect in dark moody images with lots of black. In colour they just look more dull and boring ! Primary colours can also be so very distracting in colour images form the story or from the main subject so this to can be very frustrating.
I used quite a few Fujifilm cameras during my project and have to say that helped me to decide on what cameras to keep and what to sell. With black and white there is always a small difference in how you process between sensor upgrades but with colour this is huge. I soon discovered that as long as you keep to the same sensor across the board when editing then the files are the same across the editing range, but as soon as you work on say and X-T1 file and an X-T2 file they are worlds apart. As you all know I am not a bit fan of editing so I need a simple workflow that does not take up much of my time.
When I did my year of black and white I did change cameras because of the project and the same has happend this time. I sold all my older X Series cameras and updated to the newer versions to keep sensor continuity across the range. So now I have X100F, XPro2, X-T20 as my main X series work horses. I did however buy a second had X70 to stick in my pocket and take everywhere. I also splashed out on the GFX but that’s more for some projects I have in 2018/2019. I also sold quite a few lenses to lighten my load but that was more due to lack of use. I always do regular lightroom searches to see how much use a lens is getting and if its not getting used it’s not earning its keep so needs to go.
Projects help me to make these camera and lens decisions as well as other work I do, because I might use a diferent lens for a project than I do for my street or client work.
The year of colour was not a complete waste of time I did learn a lot and I did have a good play around with film simulation because I did quite a few edits on my ipad and not on my macbook so I found taking a Jpeg in to SnapSeed or Lightroom Mobile was a lot more simple if I had already applied a preset and got it to as close as I would like in camera first. Most of the time it just needed a slight crop or straighten before posting the image. I am not a fan of editing on Tablets and that I think is just down to my eyesight. I prefer 27″ monitors so that I know there is no dust on the sensor or other issues.
I set my X70 on Jpeg and RAW on classic chrome and in 2018 I will change this to Acros and green filter. I use my X70 as an extension of my iphone for blogging etc I know the XE3 is now out and far better but I prefer the screen on the X70 as it’s so much more versatile. Hopefully one day Fujifilm will make an X80.
I think we all see colour in a slightly diferent way and I know I have a few friends who are colourblind. I also think we all like to view other peoples work not just for the subject matter but for the colour style they have. I think in time I could find a colour style that would suit me but I really do just prefer black and white. It’s been an interesting experiment. Its not been as interesting for me as my year of black and white way back in 2013 but I have decided to go back to 90% black and white for 2018 and have a play around with colour when the mood takes me.
I have some new projects in place for 2018 / 2019 and these are all secret projects. One I am doing with a few friends and two by myself but they all work quite well together. Hopefully all the projects will come together as a book and also at least two exhibitions. I normally do a book at the end of every project but this year I don’t feel the images from my year of colour are strong enough for a book so will skip 2017.
I am going to take some time off over December and January to give my back a chance to sort itself out. I have had two quite serious accidents in the past one that broke my back and it appears this is all coming back to haunt me. Taking time off to heal and to put some thought into my projects.
I hope you all have a great Christmas see you all in 2018.
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 !
Not sure where to start but I will start here ! So after my first Hire I was hooked.
So during me second hire that started on the 9th of November I decided to buy the GFX50s for a early retirement present without any thought of return on my investment or a businesses plan to get any return.
I have already managed to pick up some work with the camera and that was not the intention but you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Who knows at this rate I might even have this thing paid off in a year !
I know the size of Instagram and Twitter will not do the GFX files justice but in conjunction with this blog I think it will work fine.
On the 18th of October I turn 55 and its time to start winding down my workload and making time for my projects. I will not fully retire ever but I will work more and more towards projects and ideas that have sat in my head waiting for this very year.
Some will remain secret until they are seen at an exhibition others will be documented all the way through.
For me the future starts here….
2017 has been my year of Colour project and it’s not over yet !
It finishes on the 31st of December and I cant wait, I have only taken a hand full of black and white images and they were taken over the last month or so. I feel like a sprinter stuck in the starting blocks for 9 months ! I think in a way it’s a good thing as I am bursting with black and white creativity I want to get out of my system.
As for colour ! I never really have liked colour and on my recent trip to Scotland I had some time stuck in my camper on the really bad weather days to reflect on the Year of Colour project so far. I started the year hating colour and I will be ending the year really hating color ! I was hoping to come out of this year with a colour style as well as more understanding of colour. I do have a better understanding but the colour style is a sticking point.
I understand that every day light is diferent and even the weather the light and the time of day has a bearing on the scene, so shooting on Auto colour balance will give you a neutral look but it won’t give you the consistency within the dynamic range.
I am a very lazy editor and only want to spend 3-6 min per image in Lightroom or Snapseed and one thing I know I should like but don’t is presets ! I don’t understand why I don’t like them I just don’t and I think the only way I could get colour consistency and style would be to start making presents. The downside to presets for me is the fact I use quite a few diferent camera bodies with different sensors so I would have to make a preset for each sensor and I really get fed up when the preset makes all the wrong changes and I then have to spend longer fixing the issue. So I don’t use presents and I don’t think I want to !
My black and white work for the last 10 years has all been without a single preset and just processed by eye, it’s all very consistent and apart from the blacks getting deeper with the mood of the scene or my mood they just seem to work !
I am not sure I will pursue colour in to 2018 but if I do I think I need to start to learn Colour Grading for Style ! The downside to this is every film ever made is colour graded for that style of film ! So for me to colour grade and try and find a unique colour style is a pain in the arse ! It used to be so much easier with Film !
You might have noticed there were quite a few rainbows in Scotland this month !
I have just sold quite a few cameras and lenses and started to reduce my Fujifilm kit to make way for possibly the GFX50s but am still deciding. However I have now brought an XT20 and sold my X-T2. The X-T2 was great but I just do not need it anymore because I am stopping shooting events. The X100F and the X-T20 and the XPro2 work so well together and do have more consistency as they all have the same sensor so I might look in to Colour Style over the next three months and give you more details at the end of the project. I know this combination of cameras works so who knows.
I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.
What can I say ! Days 11/12 did not go to plan but thats Photography for you.
I am sitting here waiting for the GFX to be picked up to return to Hire A Camera. Its a strange feeling thats for sure and made even worse by the fact the last two days did not quite go to plan. I guess I am going to miss the GFX so I have Hired it out twice more and I have also sold quite a lot of my X Series camera bodies and a few lenses.
So what went wrong on day 11 ! It was my own fault to be honest, I had decided to go into town with my mate Richie and shoot the Liverpool Library Roof and the amazing Stairs as well as the Picton Reading room. I was quite excited about this but had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday ! When we got there the Library was shut, I was not happy with myself and instead of picking myself back up and cracking on with another plan I was deflated and not even coffee and an Oat Cookie in Caffe Nero could help.
My new plan was to shoot some Street but after wandering around town for 10,000 steps it was quite apparent the light was not great and the subjects were all quite boring ! Not many interesting people about just people shopping. Some days no matter how hard you try you just cant make it work or you overthink it. I was also still fed up from the library being closed. We even went to some of my favorite spots in hope of insperation but in the end just gave up looking.
Day 12 was then written off by a couple of Jobs that came in so the GFX went back in the box !
I have the GFX50s coming back to me in October so my plan is to revisit the Library and have a few more ideas up my sleeves.
I have spoken to quite a few people that now own or have hired the GFX over the last few weeks and asked them for their thoughts ! Not one person has given me any Negatives, this is quite interesting. People normally come up with a niggles but not one negative, very strange. The only slight negative is the fact the GFX is bigger than the rest of the X Series but this is well over compensated by the amazing camera.
Personally I love it, the images out of this thing are stunning and just a pleasure to process in Lightroom. I love the RAW files and love how easy it is to take the RAW to a very quick colour edit. I also love the RAW to Silver Efex conversion it’s like the very first XPro1 sensor but on Steroids.
The camera is easy to handle and the touch screen is stunning with some amazing quick swipe features. Its not light but its not as heavy as I had expected.
I hired the GFX to convince myself it wouldn’t fit into my workflow, but this has backfired. I do not shoot commercial work and I do not need images the size of billboards. I do however print my work but not in any great size. Most of my work apart from Exhibitions and Prints only ever gets seen online. So I was sure this camera had no place in my workflow because most people that view my work do so on a smartphone or tablet. I now admit I am wrong, you can see the amazing sharpness and depth to the GFX images even on Instagram.
Fujifilm call this camera the Game Changer and it is that and so much more. The first image out of the GFX and boom, you wake up to all new possibilities. Its an inspirational camera thats for sure. I think this camera is a Rule Breaker for sure. You should not be able to take images like this on a camera under the 20k bracket but here we are stonking great big amazing images for under 10k and yes in price point of a high end DSLR ! Games has now changed Rules have now been broken and the future has just been brought so much closer !
Yes I do NEED a Medium Format camera…
Well day 10 did not turn out as expected due to far too many phone calls first thing this morning followed by a few to many important emails. So the Liverpool Street plan was scrapped hopefully I can get out on Monday and Tuesday and try again.
I instead decided to go to Speke Hall and take my tripod for some long exposures if the weather held out. Unfortunately as soon as I got there the sun came out and the clouds started to clear so I only managed one LE shot and that is the black and white image below. Its also the School holidays and I had forgotten about that so the place was packed. Great for LE as you can just make the people disappear. I did manage to grab a few shots with no people as well.
I have work commitments for the next three days so wont be able to use the GFX again until Monday and Tuesday so will have to write up days 11 and 12 then, after that the GFX has to go back to Hire A Camera !
I only managed one LE shot but was blown away with the dynamic range of the GFX I did one practise LE shot and underexposed by about 3 minutes. When I moved the exposure slider in Lightroom I found I could rescue the image. I then moved the slider to + and – 5 stops and was blown away but the fact the image could go to both extremes without loss of detail ! This camera is truly quite amazing.
I used to dream as a lad of being a photographer and always wanted to have a great big medium format camera for Landscape and Portraiture. I have owned some MF film cameras but only Hired MF digital cameras due to cost. I think now that Fujifilm have brought MF into the realms of high end DSLRs it’s time for me to fullfill a little boys dream and look at purchasing a MF camera for myself. Once you have used the GFX it really does put all other cameras to shame. Low Noise High Iso Capability combined with super sharp images with a depth and feel you can only get from MF is just the start of this love affair with MF and the GFX. The tones out of the camera are just stunning and the handling is just so intuitive. The touch screen is so clever I found out today that when viewing a scene on the rear LCD if you swipe down you get a heads up aircraft style display to help you get the camera level on all axis.
I did not manage to get many images from today but here are a few, all images shot on 32-64m lens.