Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras, Saturday November 17 2018, in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

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I attended this year’s Fujifilm Australia People with Cameras event in Sydney’s The Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday, November 17, carrying my Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens, Fujifilm MHG-XPro2 metal hand grip and Fujifilm LH-XF23 lens hood in a Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus waist bag.. 

I also had a Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens in my Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear rotation180° Travel Away backpack, now sadly discontinued, along with a surprising amount of personal and other items carried in the event of rain during this strange weather we have been having. 

The event was very well attended, with Fujifilm Australia supplying a large amount of free food and drink later that afternoon, and I was grateful for the ease with which both bags held all my gear and took the weight off my permanently damaged spine and shoulder. 

With the end of photography trade shows in Sydney for several years now, events like this where one can see and try photographic hardware before making the decision to buy are welcome, crucial even, and I would love to see Fujifilm and other vendors put on more such events more frequently.

The previous Sydney People with Cameras feels like it happened over two years ago now even though it was in October 2017, and I hope that Fujifilm and other vendors will be offering some see and try events before the next People with Cameras in Sydney.

The space in front of Fujifilm Australia’s tables at this year’s event was densely packed, attesting to the amount of interest in Fujifilm’s X and GFX cameras and lenses.

Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras, Saturday November 17 2018, in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR

I am about to begin rebuilding my portrait photography portfolio using a new approach aided by the latest generation of raw processing and image editing software, and have been pondering which lenses would best do the job.

My Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R is a great choice for environmental portraits featuring people in their surroundings while my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 is excellent for full-face or head-and-shoulders portraits especially with aperture set to just under wide open.

I have a gap in my Fujinon XF lens collection for portraiture however, midway between both focal lengths, for use in full-figure portraits when photographing subjects sitting or standing.

Right now I am considering three lenses as candidates to fill that gap, the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR, but have only had the chance of a reasonable try out with the latter lens.

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Made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.

I reached through the crowd at People with Cameras to pick up the 35mm f/1.4 lens, tried it on a couple of quick shots, but not enough to come to any conclusions.

I had a chance to try out the 27mm f/2.8 several years ago for some urban documentary photography and was impressed at the results but would prefer a lens that is also useful for shooting video and so has aperture and focus rings, the latter offering the option of manual clutch focus rather than just focus-by-wire.

Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 and Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8

Two of the two lenses that got me started in portrait photography back in art school were the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 and Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, alongside a Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 lens for environmental portraiture.

Both Micro-Nikkor lenses were great for close-up as well as normal distance portrait photography and quickly taught me the emotive and informational differences of standard and longer focal lengths with photographing people.

These three lenses on a secondhand Nikon F were my gateway into serious portrait photography and I soon graduated into relying on 120 roll film and then 4″x5″ sheet film cameras.

I much preferred the 3:4 and 4:5 aspect ratios of roll film and sheet film, especially when making photographs in vertical/portrait format  and when compared to 35mm’s tighter 2:3 aspect ratio.

I would love it if Fujifilm came out with lenses like these two Micro-Nikkors, especially given I prefer manual focus for portrait photography.

Another possibility is to mount these lenses on a Fujifilm camera via Metabones Smart Adapters and Speed Boosters or their equivalents in other brands, although there might be a focal length penalty that may translate 55mm and 105mm into something a little longer.

Time to pull out the slide rule and do the numbers!

I need a second Fujifilm X-Series camera as a backup to my X-Pro2, for use with wider and longer focal lengths and zoom lenses, and the X-T3 is a good candidate for that given its excellent electronic viewfinder and Super 35 video capabilities.

Another possibility is to wait for the Fujifilm X-H2 for the sake of in-body image stabilization which has proven handy for portraiture on my Panasonic cameras, as well as the video features that are on the X-T3, but the X-H2’s release may be some years off according to some pundits.

It just occurred to me that there is one more possibility again regarding Fujifilm APS-C lenses for portraiture, the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

Although this lens is apparently aimed at travel photography, its 24mm to 120mm focal length range contains the equivalent to the two Micro-Nikkor 55mm and 105mm lenses as well as other personal favourite focal lengths such as 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 75mm, and its f/4.0 maximum aperture is not too much of a penalty when photographing subjects where bokeh is not essential and when I prefer to stop down to f/5.6 or smaller.

So far there is no word on the 16-80mm’s possible close-focussing capabilities, and given the need for critical focus it would best be used on an X-T3, X-H1 or X-H2 for the sake of their excellent EVFs.

Mind you, if the X-Pro3 appears with an EVF much-improved over the one in the X-Pro2, then my preference for rangefinder cameras may well convince me to invest in that instead.

Image Credits

Photographs by Karin Gottschalk, all rights reserved, made on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens as raw image files processed with Phase One Capture One Pro using film emulation styles with some images further processed in Skylum Luminar 2018.

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