Versatility and stellar results for long exposures
Update 9 April 2013:
As this post has become my third most popular, there seems to be great interest in long exposures with the Fuji X-Pro 1. If you are interested to read more posts on this blog about long exposures, be sure to look here.
Having happily used the X-Pro1 for my work and personal photography since I sold my Leica M9, I have been incredibly pleased to see how well the camera and X-mount lenses work for long exposures.
I have always been intrigued by LE photography and have shot it with the same variety of cameras that I have used for my other photography. Starting out with DSLRs and moving to rangefinders, I never felt like I was achieving the results I wanted nor did I feel that I was using the appropriate equipment. Perhaps that has changed with the Fuji X cameras.
Shooting LE photos with rangefinders was a step in the right direction. Since the viewfinder isn’t connected to the lens, there aren’t the same issues of keeping light out of the viewfinder and you can still frame your shot with ND filters in place. Also, I love the ability to use a simple cable release to trigger the shutter. That and all of the manual controls make LE photography a snap with a rangefinder.
With the X-Pro1, I feel like I have the benefits of the rangefinders, plus a lot more versatility and amazing image quality. Not only can I use the camera like a rangefinder, I also have the benefit of using the rear screen like a view camera. The interactive horizon line is a big benefit for insuring that I have the camera level, as my tripod doesn’t have a level on the head. Also, when shooting in Bulb mode, for exposures of over 30 seconds, the X-P1 displays a timer on the rear screen. It’s great.
The X-Trans sensor is also performing really well. Image degradation is often a problem with digital cameras as exposures get longer. White or dark pixels may start to appear in the image as the sensor heats up. My lovely Epson R-D1 couldn’t handle exposures of more than a handful of seconds; that old sensor just wasn’t up to the task. Even the Nikon D3 had a difficult time handling long exposures, particularly on hot days. My X-100 is very convenient for LE photography as it even has an internal, 3-stop ND filter. Yet, the sensor isn’t up to the quality of the X-Trans and I stay clear of exposures longer than a couple of minutes.
Lens choice is a critical component of LE photography. Although wide-angle lenses are a common choice among photographers, I find that I prefer using the 35mm (53mm equivalent) X-mount. It produces outstanding results and it’s been interesting to stack a group of ND filters on it and shoot wide open. This results in a slower shutter speed, but not truly a long exposure, and a nicely out of focus background. The 18mm lens is a good alternative. I look forward to using the 23mm lens, when it’s available. Soon, I hope!
The versatile X-Pro1 has enabled me to do more LE photography, with better results. This has inspired me to shoot more long exposures, which has led to an interesting new opportunity. In March, I will be teaching a LE workshop at Lúz Studio & Gallery. Since it’s Winter right now, that has meant doing a lot more standing around in the cold, but it has also opened up the way I use my camera and how I see the world.
If your are interested in LE photography, you might be interested in some of the links available on my Resources page.