Australian photographers rarely if ever feature in camera and lens makers’ marketing materials and few Australia female photographers are invited to become brand ambassadors whether they are based in Australia or overseas.
Documentary photographer Megan Lewis features in one of two recently-released Fujifilm X-Photographer videos about the X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera with documentary photographer Michael Coyne being her male counterpart.
Both are long-time Fujifilm users and are well-qualified to offer their insights into the X-Pro3 as a dedicated documentary and photojournalism stills camera.
I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting either photographer, though I am keen to spend time with Megan Lewis to photograph her at work for ‘Unititled’ in order to show other female photographers that one can succeed as a documentary photographer or photojournalist.
In the immortal words of Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “if she can see it, she can be it”, and so stories, photo essays and videos about female creatives like Megan Lewis are crucial to creating the possibility of women succeeding in their chosen professions to the point where we gain parity with men.
FUJIFILM X Series: Megan Lewis x X-Pro3 / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILM X Series: Different Breed: Michael Coyne x X-Pro3
Fujinon lenses used by Megan Lewis and Michael Coyne in these videos
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
I attended Fujifilm Australia’s First Look Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019, and had a brief opportunity to handle a preproduction version of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera that has already been well-covered in Fujifilm X-Photographer videos and articles, and first-look commentary by a range of online camera pundits.
As the camera is in preproduction at time of writing, the usual request not to shoot or publish photographs made with it applies, so I will not comment on its stills and video capabilities but will attest that the X-Pro3 is an interesting evolution of Fujifilm’s professional rangefinder line.
Fujifilm is marketing the X-Pro3 as a camera for “street photographers” as Panasonic did for its latest rangefinder-style GX series camera, the Lumix DC-GX9, and I am hoping that with its X-Pro series Fujifilm will not be imitating Panasonic’s decision to make its GX series something less than a great camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers.
I dread the day my Lumix DMC-GX8 gives up the ghost given Panasonic so unexpectedly dropped the ball on pro-quality rangefinder-style cameras in favour of DSLR-style cameras like the admittedly otherwise excellent Lumix DC-G9.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera
Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Throughout my career I have relied on a range of camera styles and formats – rangefinders, rangefinder-style cameras, hand and stand sheet film cameras, SLRs aka Single Lens Reflexes in 120 and 135 film formats, and a DSLR upon Canon’s accidental revolution in the form of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
My first choice for immersive documentary photography has always been rangefinder cameras and I have been hoping the X-Pro3 would receive many of the advances found in the X-H1 and X-T3.
Until I have a proper hands-on with it, I will not know whether that is truly the case, but the X-Pro3’s loss of the ability to use its otherwise improved optical viewfinder aka OVF with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R moderate wide-angle prime lens is a concern.
For many documentary photographers and photojournalists, as it has long been for me, the 28mm focal length (on 35mm sensor cameras) is our default and its 18mm APS-C equivalent works well on the X-Pro2 and especially in its OVF.
Since 2015 I have been daydreaming of a radically improved X-Pro3 being released alongside an even more radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens with both aimed at documentary photographers and photojournalists, but Fujifilm seems to have decided on setting its sights lower than that, upon street photographers whom I humbly suggest might be better served by the forthcoming X100V.
Time will tell where Fujifilm is heading with its cameras, but I hope that it will not forget its documentary and photojournalism customers as Panasonic appears to have done.
Both companies employed celebrated photojournalists to publicize previous versions of their rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras but dropped them in favour of street photographers in their latest versions.
Videos by and about camera brand ambassadors as well as product reviews by them, more properly referred to as articles given their often fiscal relationship with those brands, can be often frustrating affairs when needing to know how well the cameras and lenses in question perform in the field in the hands of users not unlike me.
That is, self-funded independent documentary photographers and videographers.
I would love it if camera and lens makers made early efforts to get their gear to people like me for use in real assignments so we can hear how well or not it performs in the often demanding conditions in which we work.
The too-often generic overviews of just-released new gear by brand ambassadors and professional YouTube reviewers have their uses in painting broad-brush pictures, but they need to be rapidly followed by in-depth insights into performance in the field during real projects and for use in a range of specific moviemaking and photographic genres.
In my humble opinion.
Fujifilm has, in its marketing material, pitched the X-Pro3 at street photographers and photojournalists, and given photographing in the street is a form of documentary, one I prefer to know by the name of urban documentary, and the X-Pro3’s rangefinder form factor is just as appropriate to portraiture, event photography, other forms of documentary, fine art photography, travel photography and more genres besides given this camera has apparently radically improved on its predecessor’s optical viewfinder and electronic viewfinder.
When I wrote about the X-Pro2, I saw it as three cameras in one – a Leica or Contax-style OVF camera, an EVF camera like my Panasonics and a miniature view camera thanks to its excellent fixed LCD monitor.
Over the years I have relied on my X-Pro2 in all three camera guises, for architectural photography, portrait photography, photojournalism, urban documentary and product shots, just as I did with a range of rangefinder-style cameras in film formats from 35mm through 120 roll film up to 4″x5″ sheet film.
Even, in a pinch, for shooting 4K video in a way not dissimilar to how I used 8mm and Super 8 rangefinder movie cameras during the height of the analog era.
Seeing the world OVF-style is a rather different thing to seeing EVF-style and even DSLR-style when shooting stills and video, I have found, and it is good to get out of one’s comfort zone in a regular basis.
I have yet to study the X-Pro3’s specifications in any depth, and the same applies to the videos and articles I am sharing on this page, but it appears that the X-Pro3’s video capabilities are well beyond that of the X-Pro2 though they do not, of course, match those of the amazing X-T3 and are somewhat in the ball park of the oddly-timed X-H1.
Four videos featuring two female X-Photographers, one female retail store staff member and one unnamed female photographer against the usual slew of male photographers and professional reviewers. Surely camera makers can do better than this in this day and age?
bigheadtaco – First Look: The Titanium Clad Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “Warning: This is a long and nerdy video. If you want a shorter version, check out my shooting impressions video (link down below). Come back here if you want more details”
FUJIFILM France – Imaging Business – Cyril ABAD X Pro3 – “… Mes attentes en terme de vitesse d’AF, de réactivité, de fluidité de l’EVF sont satisfaites. Le X-Pro3 est plus rapide, plus précis.”
FUJIFILM UK – Looking back, moving forward. – The New X-Pro3! – “Say hello to the all-new X-Pro3. The exciting newcomer to our X-Pro range has been designed to minimise distractions, keeping you focused on the craft of photography. Watch the video to discover some of its exciting new features.” – depicts an unnamed female photographer.
Fujifilm X / GFX España Oficial – X-Photographer Matías Costa – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “El #XPhotographer Matías Costa fue seleccionado por FUJIFILM Corporation como uno de los integrantes del selecto grupo de probadores oficiales de la cámara #Fujifilm #XPro3. El resultado de su trabajo es el proyecto “La triple frontera de Gibraltar”. “
Kevin Mullins – Fujifilm X-Pro 3 Review and Feature Overview – “… It’s a camera that may divide opinion, but if you are looking for a camera that will last forever, is amazingly quick, tactile and, in my opinion, the best Fujifilm camera fro Street Photography and Reportage work – this is the camera for you….”
Lee Zavitz – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – Hands On Review – “So I was able to test out the new Fuji X-Pro3 for a week now and I made sure to shoot with it a lot! So much that I feel like it’s safe to call this a review. How do you feel about the hidden screen / Sub display? Love it or No?”
Matt Brandon – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – Review – “Just days before the official release of the new Fujifilm X-Pro3, I managed to get my Friends at Fujifilm Malaysia to send me a sample camera. It was a preproduction. I say this because it had some very beta firmware in it, making it impossible to test out many of the new features. But the real buzz about this camera isn’t the latest software or new features like HDR and even the new film simulation, it is about the new design of the camera. The new LDC display or lack of it – so to speak. It features a controversial hidden display. In this video, only hours after I received the camera, I took it for a spin. Special thanks for Fujifilm Malaysia for the loan of the camera.”
The Art of Photography – HANDS ON with the Fujifilm X-Pro 3!! – “It doesn’t have all the video options that the X-T3 does, but this camera is designed for still shooters. Having said that you still get 4k video and 8 bit log. I filmed all of the b-roll footage of the actual camera with an X-Pro 3.”
Given current attitudes to research and development, the manufacturing industry and the presence of women in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), it is a wonder that Australian female tech entrepreneurs stick to it and sometimes even thrive.
Noreen Roesler of Permanence located in the Sydney CBD and the suburb of Drummoyne has persisted in the long, hard fight to revive, improve and educate about galvanic electrology aka electrolysis in the face of its almost complete disappearance from the 1970s onwards.
Ms Roesler has survived as a self-funded entrepreneur against all the odds and and has thrived given the evidence of her two outlets in Australia, but continues the battle to re-establish galvanic multi-probe electrolysis as the only permanent hair removal method under the name of the Permanence Method.
Galvanic electrolysis was developed by ophthalmologist Charles Michel in 1869 in St. Louis, Missouri, as a technique for treating ingrown eyelashes, and was reported in the medical literature in 1875 after which its use took off in medical practice and then beauty salons.
The Permanence website contains a detailed history of galvanic electrolysis and other methods of hair removal touted as permanent but which proved to be less so compared to Permanence’s galvanic multi-probe electrolysis technique.
Other hair removal methods include blend, depilatories, epilators, friction, intense pulsed light aka IPL, laser, shaving, sugaring, tweezing, thermolysis, threading, waxing and x-rays (sometimes fatal).
Better characterized as hair reduction rather than hair removal techniques, none of these are permanent with the US Food and Drug Administration aka FDA stating in 2007 that “only electrologists are allowed to claim permanent hair removal in their advertising” as “no other device for hair removal has the unique identification of ‘destroying the dermal papilla of a hair’”.
Having run the gauntlet for far too many years of nonpermanent hair removal methods that are falsely claimed to be permanent – read that word in finger quotes – I have just undergone my first galvanic multi-probe electrolysis session at Permanence.
So far I can report that this first electrolysis session appeared successful in killing the hair follicles and bulges to which it was applied and that the sometimes reported pain was more of a briefly intense sensation that soon abated followed by the rewarding feeling of the hairs sliding out when the needles were removed.
One thing is certain, and that is that the sensations I experienced during the session were nothing compared to the 24/7/365 pain, itchiness and unsightliness of hairs being where they should not.
I dropped into the Media + Entertainment Tech Expo 2019 trade show component on its first day to catch up on recent developments in hardware and software from the point of view of the self-funded independent media producer that I am.
METexpo, for short, is the rebranded and relaunched biannual conference and trade show exhibition formerly referred to as SMPTE, not to be confused with the Australian section of the organization known as SMPTE standing for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
Although METexpo 2019 aimed to be more inclusive than previous SMPTE conferences and exhibitions, by “focusing on all aspects of the industry that drives the ‘creation, distribution and consumption’ of media, entertainment and technology”, this year’s version was a much smaller affair than all the previous ones I had attended and many Australian and foreign brands and retailers were missing in action.
While previous SMPTE trade shows demanded at least one full day to get through all their exhibits, I found I could see everything of interest in the space of a morning due to the many no-shows this year.
I hope that future METexpos will see their exhibitor numbers climb back up but am wondering at the wisdom of staging it every two years given the high pace of change within all the categories covered this year – “Audio Mixers, Audio Processing & effects, Audio Production, Cameras & Lenses, Capture Devices & Software, Cloud Technology, Delivery & Distribution, Digital Solutions, Esports, IP Broadcast Solutions, Lighting, Microphones, Mobile/Vehicle Production, Motion Picture/Virtual Production, Motion Picture/Production, Networking Technologies, Post Production, Set Design/Props/Furniture, Workflow Solutions”.
Two important global Australian-based brands missing from METExpo 2019 were Blackmagic Design and Miller Tripods while the long list of other absent long-established and breakthrough companies in the media and entertainment technology aka MET space included Adobe, Canon, Dedolight, Dell, Dolby, Fujifilm, Hewlett-Packard, Pelican, Think Tank Photo, Vitec Group and its many brands, while Rotolight’s only inclusion this year was one boxed-up product on display in a vitrine in the CR Kennedy stand, a Rotolight Neo 2 HSS and continuous LED light unit.
I had particularly hoped to see, touch and try Blackmagic Design’s breakthrough Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K along with a range of suitable accessories, lenses and rigging, but was disappointed.
Meanwhile other brands of interest had much smaller displays of their products than usual and were minus the on-floor speakers and try-out displays of previous SMPTE trade shows.
A sad loss given the lack of all-in-one retailers in this country and especially Sydney, places where one can see, try and buy items of interest rather than going by word-of-mouth or Youtube reviews before placing back orders or ordering online from overseas.
One long-established MET trade show tradition that remained in full force is exhibitors’ tendency to ignore females on the show floor in favour of almost exclusively paying attention to the males of the species.
Useful if one is going about making documentary photographs as I was, standing up close to my subjects while they engage with each other and ignoring me as if I am invisible, but not so great if I wanted directly engage with exhibitors to ask questions and try out new items.
The METexpo 2019 modus operandi as I and a number of attendees I watched experienced it was essentially one of being left to our own devices to gaze into display cases or accost passing floor staff in search of answers about the items within.
With Fujifilm taking Super 35 video production more seriously with its X-T3 and X-H1 cameras, and hopefully even more so with possible successors X-T4 and X-H2, the need for geared cinema quality prime lenses like SLR Magic’s MicroPrimes can only increase.
As a documentary person, 1.3 to 10 stops variable neutral density solutions like this one by SLR Magic are a must and even more so with recent cinema and video cameras having higher base ISOs than on previous generation hardware.
Given my other duties as a carer and limited funds I was unable to attend the METexpo 2019 conference and had to miss out on the Women In Industry Function and Women in Media and Technology Breakfast but hope that they may prove to be turning points for female inclusion and visibility in the MET industries and especially METexpo itself.
I made all the photographs illustrating this article with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 equipped with a Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens kindly loaned to me by Fujifilm Australia’s PR consultancy, and also carried a loaner Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens as well as three of my own Fujinon lenses.
The 16mm lens’ fast back button focus and autofocus proved more useful in the circumstances than the much older 18mm lens, despite the 28mm equivalence of the latter being my all-time favourite focal length for immersive in-situ documentary photography and video.
I found that the 16mm “Fujicron” allowed me to quickly lean forward and back, left and right, in order to reframe my images as human elements constantly moved position relative to each other, and it proved quite a pleasurable experience.
Normally I would reserve the 24mm equivalence of 16mm for superwide establishing shots though I much prefer 21mm equivalent focal lengths for that purpose.
However, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR’s width proved an asset under the trade show floor’s oftentimes difficult lighting and limited space and I rarely needed to crop my images to exclude extraneous details.
Adobe Australia is presenting an educational program during the St Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne on Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd June 2019, and it is, apparently, entirely free of charge.
The Festival organizers describe the Adobe Presents: The Big Picture program thus:
The 2019 St Kilda Film Festival‘s two-day filmmaker development program covers everything you need to know about making a short film, from inception to distribution and everything in between.
Sounds great, but I want to see this program or something even better offered all around Australia or at least in Sydney.
How about it, Adobe?
When I was a kid growing up in another state of Australia, there were two possibilities there for training in film and television, a film and television institute and the state branch of the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Minorities needed not apply.
The institute was for wealthy, Anglo white boys from the “right” background and the cadetship at the ABC was for not-so-wealthy Anglo white boys from the “right” background or something very close to it.
This was a state still dominated by its Anglo Ascendency and having money and the “right” background remain the prime requirements for getting through the door.
Heaven help you if you were poor, ethnic, indigenous, working class, rural, non-male, of a certain age, a member of the LGBTQI community or some combination of these.
Heaven help you if the stories you wanted to tell fall outside the approved types or genres.
Heaven help you if that meant breaking the rich, white, non-ethnic male dominant narrative which we all perfectly well know is far from the only one that needs to be shared and the near-total dominance of which has lead to the dangerous state of the world today.
Pity if you have been discriminated against all your life, always coming up against closed doors, and yet are still trying to make a positive change for yourself and for those whose stories you need to tell.
Pity if you don’t have the cash or the means to take out a loan to move interstate and get yourself into a course at AFTRS, a university, a private college or some other film, television and digital media training organisation.
Even when Metro Screen in Sydney was operational, its short courses in various production skills were unaffordable for those without the “right” background.
That is why I was pleased but disappointed when I spotted mention of Adobe Presents: The Big Picture on social media.
An overview program like this is certainly better than nothing even if it is not as in-depth and as hands-on as one might like.
An overview program like this is certainly better than the nothing that is accessible to those of us not from the “right” background.
Sheila: A Foundation for Women in Visual Art was officially launched in Perth yesterday (28 May). The initiative comes out of a swelling need for greater gender equality within the visual arts.
‘According to The Countess Report (a Sheila-funded project) women are 75 per cent of art school graduates but only 34 per cent of artists exhibited in our state museums and galleries. Gender inequality is apparent in art prizes, representation of female artists in media and the proportion of female artists represented in exhibitions at state museums,’ reminded Sheila Cruthers on the occasion of the launch.
Sheila aims to redress that in a multi-prong way: to provide scholarships for art historians and curators, assist the purchase and commission works by women artists, and run annual lecture and symposiums focused on women’s art….
Sheila: A Foundation for Women in Visual Art – website
“As revolutions go, this one got off to a quiet and unassuming start in the early 1970s. It was achieved slowly, one female photographer at a time, each hired by The New York Times for her talent with a camera and her desire to practice the best journalism possible.
The men who hired the first of those women quite likely weren’t thinking about altering the prevailing concepts of photojournalism. But over time, as more women were hired and gained acceptance, they began to push successfully for publication of images that were different, for the truths they saw in people and events, for assignments that had once been denied them and for assignments that had not been envisioned before….”
“Not one woman was nominated for this year’s best director Oscar. But some of the hottest forthcoming movies are female-led – so has gender discrimination in the industry been busted?…
… “I think you have a generation of women who will never know if they could have been successes because they never had the opportunity,” says Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, which campaigns for diversity and equality. The factors preventing women from having sustained movie careers are numerous, Silverstein says. There is institutional sexism, conscious and unconscious, as well as motherhood….”