Matt Hart

Big v Small

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

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GFX50s 23mm Lee 15 stop IRND 0.6 Soft Grad

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.

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Fujifilm X70

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.

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Fujifilm X70
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Fujifilm X70

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.

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GFX50s 23mm Lee 10 stop IRND 0.6 Soft Grad

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.

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GFX50s 23mm Lee 10 stop IRND 0.6 Soft Grad

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.

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GFX50s 23mm Lee 10 stop IRND 0.6 Soft Grad

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 !

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GFX50s 23mm Lee 16 Stop IRND 0.6 Soft Grad

GFX50s The Future.

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

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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 !

This is a very short post just to say I have opened a Twitter and Instagram account so you can follow my GFX Projects over the coming years.

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….

Colour

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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.

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X100F

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.

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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.

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XT20 16mm 3 shot Pano 

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 !

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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 !

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XT20 16mm

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 !

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X100F 6 shot Pano 

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.

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Fujifilm X-T20 16mm

I do feel at the moment I will be returning to Black and White next year, but we shall see.

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Fujifilm X100F

 

GFX Days 11/12

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

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.

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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.

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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…

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GFX50s Day 10

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

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.

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GFX50s ISO 200 645 Sec f/16 0.9 soft grad 16 stop ND 

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.

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GFX50s ISO 200 1/100 Sec  f/16 0.9 Grad

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.

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GFX50s ISO 320 1/160 Sec f/10 0.9 Grad
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GFX50s ISO 100 1/90 Sec f/11 0.9 Grad 

GFX50s Days 7,8,9

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

I have been busy the last three days with making a short film with two guys from London in Liverpool can’t go in to too much detail but the GFX was involved.

I cant share images from the film but did manage to grab a few shots during the filming over the last few days.

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GFX50s 63mm ISO 12800 1/140 Sec f/2.8

I decided to only use the 63mm f/2.8 over the last three days and make myself work for my shots. I am yet again blown away by this camera ! I might have to take back all I have said about being to big to shoot Street ! Its not the smallest camera in the world and even with the shutter sound turned off it sounds like and old fashioned film camera but no one seems to notice !

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GFX50s 63mm ISO 10000 1/60 sec f/2.8

I did how ever get some looks from staff when I entered some of the buildings in Liverpool and I have never had that before ! One even said now Filming in here you know !! That was a first for me so I had to explain it was a stills camera !

As you have probably noticed this is no way a technical look at the GFX, I dont ever feel the need to give you all that information there are people far better than me to google to get tec reviews.

Shooting the Albert Dock at night at 12800 ISO (ISO set to Auto) was very interesting ! I still can’t believe I was walking around in the dark even after the blue hour shooting hand held in very dim light and still looking for shots.

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GFX50s 63mm ISO 5000 1/60 sec f/2.8
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GFX50s 63mm f/2.8 ISO 12800 1/70 sec f/2.8 

This is one very versatile and incredible piece of kit.

I am just just about getting used to its size and weight now, and starting to work out how to handle the camera in the Streets. The menu is a breeze as it’s the same as the other X Series cameras.

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GFX50s 63mm ISO 100 1/450 sec f/2.8 

I am hoping to get out tomorow in to town and give some street a go with the Zoom and the 63mm and see what I prefer ! I am not a Zoom kind of guy but on the GFX its growing on me.

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GFX50s 63mm ISO 100 1/200 sec f/5

 

GXF50s days 4,5,6…

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BRFFUK0002 FUJIFILM X PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE-H UK_MATT HART

GFX days 4,5,6 are all a bit of a blur, it was such a great weekend with great friends and went far to fast.

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It was Fujiholics Wales Weekend. This year a small group of Fujiholics met up in Beddgelert for the weekend with no real plan. Well there was a plan, take a few photos drink some beer have a few coffees and some cake ! Share some stories and catch up with friends old and new.

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We all met up on Cae Du Campsite on Friday night and had a few beers and discussed the plan for Saturday ! This was a complete waste of time as we changed our minds in the morning.   We decided to take the Steam Train from Beddgelert to Porthmadog on the Welsh Highland Railway.   The original plan was to do a Circular Walk.

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It was a fantastic little journey and Jane was just a little bit excited !  She even got to drive a Steam Train at Porthmadog station with some of the girls in the group.

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We went in to an amazing cafe called Jennys for breakfast in Porthmadog, they had some of the best home cooked cakes we had seen for quite a while ! The Lemon meringue pies were to dies for and we brought two for the journey home !!

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We had a great journey back and ate most of the lemon meringue and finished the evening off in the village in Saracens Head with a very nice meal and a few pints.

We all made our own way home on Sunday as North Wales was quite busy and there were not to many places to park for a Fujiholics tour…

I shot all the images from the weekend on the GFX in a variety of lighting conditions and processed the black and white images with Silver Efex Pro and the colour images are all just a very quick lightroom edit.

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I carried the GFX around all weekend and I have to say it was not as heavy as I expected but its still on the heavy side. You know you have it round your neck after a days walking thats for sure. The point is though does it matter ? The answer is yes and no ! Its heavy and if it was a DSLR there would be no point in the extra weight when you have the X-T2 or XPro2 but this thing is so good you dont care ! I again only went out with the 32-64mm lens just to save carrying the other lenses with me and found it just perfect a very versatile lens indeed.

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I am shooting a film in the morning and will be taking the GFX and might try one of primes just to change things up abit.

I will try and get you some images online tomorow night when we finish shooting the video but if I get in late I will skip it until Wednesday night.

So far I am loving the GFX and so much so I have just hired it again for another project in November. I have hired a some diferent lenses for November so will be able to show you the a few images shot on those then. I still have to use the 63mm and the and the 120mm and hope to do that this week at some point.

I cant wait to get up to Scotland to shoot some Landscape with this amazing bit of kit.

One thing is for sure I will be sad to see the GFX go back at the end of the hire its got to be the best camera I have ever used in my life and the files are just so easy to edit ! They are a breeze in Lightroom, I am for the first time just starting to fall a little in love with Colour !!! Yes on my year of colour I am starting to work out what I like about colour and thats all down to the GFX.

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