This week was my first time taking the Fujifilm X-T1 on a portrait session! I'm always nervous when going into portrait sessions, but this time around I found myself more nervous than usual. I've had little experience with this camera and even though it held it's own on the street, I had no idea how it would perform in a portrait session. I'm honestly not 100% comfortable using the camera, there are just so many dials and because portraiture work requires so much adjustment I just, yeah, didn't feel confident.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the electronic viewfinder, it pains me to say this because this was one of the main reasons I bought the camera, but shit, it can be so misleading. On one hand, it's amazing, but sometimes I'm not sure if I'm in focus, even with the focus assist (peaking) feature I've been second guessing myself. Every now and then I'd snap a picture and I'd just feel like it lied to me. It worked great in situations where I was really close to the subject, but pictures at a distance not so much, it would just lie and tell me the entire frame was in focus.
The other small flaw is some of the manual controls at the top. You would think because they were visually in front of you they'd be easy to change, but I almost find it more convenient going through the camera's menu system. I also feel like I'm unsure as to which setting I'm in, which causes me to second guess, which eventually leads to a longer setup time. I also feel like the system is much harder to use at dark, you never know what you're doing... My easy fix to this is holding the viewfinder to my face, that way I can see which settings are changing, however, this can be a little annoying if you're constantly moving things around. Again, these are just small complaints, I'm almost certain that I'll regret everything I've said about this camera a few months from now.
Now that the negatives are out of the let's talk about the things I like about this camera. It's flat out amazing! Initially I purchased with the idea to use mainly legacy glass, as I wanted to take advantage of its focusing assist feature, however after using the XF 18-55, well I might just invest in Fuji's XF lenses just to take advantage of their autofocus system! The face detection feature is insane when properly used it locks right on to the eyes! Easy easy easy! Once I got my exposure right the shoot was a breeze, I honestly didn't have to do much, composition was my only task, as the camera did the rest of the work.
On the shoot I took with me Fuji's 18-55mm kit lens, Helios's 44-2 58mm and the Super Takumar 135mm, these focal lengths are all based on the 35mm system. With the vintage lenses I used a Fotodiox lens mount adapter, and as always I shot the images in raw.
One of my biggest fears when switching back to a crop sensor camera was the loss of bokeh. I love what shallow depth of field does to a portrait... I know it's capable to achieve on any camera, but obviously, full frame gives you a better fall off, even with glass that isn't as fast. However, when using the XF 18-55 I didn't notice too much of a difference. Of course, it wasn't as creamy or apparent as it would have been on my 6D, but I'm still impressed with the way it looks.
The Helios 44-2 is a lens that produces the "swirly bokeh" effect. It's hands down one of my favorite lenses, I was really excited to see how the X-T1 would perform with this little piece of magic mounted on it. I hate to let everyone down, but I wasn't able to replicate the look that my Canon 6D produced. I'm not sure if this was due to the crop sensor or the excessive amount of distance between my subject and the background.
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The 135mm worked brilliantly with the X-T1, which is the total opposite of what I'd say if it was mounted on on Canon! Fujifilm's focus assist feature isn't perfect, but it at least gives you an idea of where the focus point is when shooting, this is light years ahead of Canon's system.
As a portrait photographer, I was really impressed with the camera, not only with its performance but also its ergonomics. The camera is small, but it fits perfectly in my hands. Initially, I was nervous that clients wouldn't take me seriously because of its form factor, but I'm beginning to see that won't be a problem. It's not much more to say, for portraits, I'm completely satisfied with this device and if you haven't made the switch to a mirrorless system, then I highly recommend it, it's such an easy system to adapt too. I'm almost certain that with a little practice you'll be able to yield the same results, with a fraction of the equipment and cost. View the full spread from my shoot with Jesmina below.
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