Pragmatism and dabbling

“It isn’t that. I can’t do it. That’s all.”
Harry Morgan, To Have and Have Not, by Ernest Hemingway

In Harry’s world, I would be one of the “Haves” and not one of the “Have Nots.” Unlike Harry, my choices aren’t that difficult. Shoot with this camera or that lens. Or not. And, I get to choose of my own free will what to use for any particular job. That said, I do have to meet the requirements of my job, which does dictate, to some degree, which equipment to select. And for my personal projects, the choices are as open as the money and time I’m willing to invest in them.

From this very flimsy jumping off point, I will address a few thoughts I have had of late. A little dabbling and a dose of pragmatism follow.

A tale of four lenses

In the digital world I shoot Fujifilm. You know that. You also know that X-cameras have quite the arsenal of lenses to front them. Recently, I tried two of their newer lenses, the XF 16mm and 90mm lenses, for an extended period of time. What great lenses. Really. With these two lenses, Fujifilm have hit their stride. If you need these focal lengths, you can’t go wrong with either lens.

Wide-angle lenses

Of the two, I was drawn more to the 16. It is just about perfect for much of what I shoot. Just about. You see, I own the XF14 f2.8 already and it’s a darn good lens too. So what was I suppose to do. Well, check my Lightroom catalog naturally. That’s right. Find those photos that pay the bills that were shot with the 14. Could I afford to give up that little bit of extra width? Nope. I need that extra width, so I’m keeping the XF14. Phew, saved a little cash there.

Portrait lenses

The 90mm lens was an easier decision. Although one of the nicest lenses I’ve ever tried, it’s just too long for my needs. Clearly intended as a portrait lens, it excels when you have the space to move away from your subject. I did find the lens to work very well for a few job applications and if I didn’t have the XF50-140mm f/2.8 lens already, I would look seriously at owning the 90.

A few portraits shot during the past couple of weeks with the XF56mm f/1.2 lens.
A few portraits shot during the past couple of weeks with the XF56mm f/1.2 lens.

In my portrait work, I don’t have that space to use the 90mm lens. In the tight confines of my “studio,” the XF56mm works better. It turns out that I also like the look of the portraits from the 56 better than the 90. This surprised me. The 90 flattens out the features of the face too much for my liking. The 56 does just about everything right, even working well for full-length portraits and for event shooting too. It remains one of my favourite Fujinon lenses. …and a bit more cash saved.

New and old

You might have heard the announcement of a couple of new cameras from Fujifilm recently. Fujifilm announced the release of a new flagship camera body, the X-Pro 2, along with a fixed-lens camera aimed at street shooters and selfie takers, the X70, during their five-year X celebrations. They did a great job of promoting the new cameras while reminding everyone how much they have accomplished in the past five years. The top-of-the-line X-Pro 2 sounds like it will be a significant upgrade on the original X-Pro 1. I have been looking forward to that camera since I owned the X-Pro 1. So much so, that I ordered my X-Pro 2 as soon as I heard about it. No need to try it out first, I am looking forward to shooting with the fulfillment of Fujifilm’s promise to make a truly pro camera.

However, as much as I am looking forward to having the new camera in hand, I am reminded daily what great cameras I already own. I use my X-E2 and X-T1 every day for work. Every day, they deliver great results. Again and again and again. With the most recent firmware update, particularly for the X-E2, these cameras continue to improve with age. So, I will be replacing the old with the new, however, I will be replacing really great cameras with a refined model that I have been craving, but not really needing. It’s a nice place to find myself. And for the lucky person who buys either my X-E2 or X-T1, they will be getting a much refined tool as well, at an extremely good price. Just sayin’.

Returning to Harry Morgan, Hemingway was writing about a different time and place. A time that is hard to identify with in my privileged life. Today, most of us are offered the opportunity to make photos with great cameras and lenses. I can’t speak for you, but I feel fortunate.

Disjointed prose: me. Work photos: Fujifilm X-E2 and X-T1.

2 Replies to “To have and have not”

  1. Don,

    Hello. I was curious about your flash set up that use use for portraits. I am a long time Canon user since the coming of digital, and prior to that, Nikon.

    I still own a 5D III, and a few 600 RT’s. I found that younyoung (sp?) makes a radio transmitter that works with the XT-1.

    I know different gear exists in different countries. Just wondering if you are using studio lights, small strobes or a combination. Thank you.

    Jerry Mennenga
    Sioux City, Iowa

    1. Hi Jerry, thanks for reading.

      For the work portraits I am currently using Godox Wistpro 360s with Firefly softboxes. The Godox flashes have a great radio transmitter/receiver setup and have about twice the power output as on-camera flash. I am very happy with them. Previously, I used Nikon SB800 and SB900 flashes triggered with Cactus 5 triggers. In both cases, I am using the flashes in manual mode. I have also used full-studio strobes with the X-cameras. In the studio, where you are most likely to use the lights in manual mode, there is no difference between using the Fujifilm cameras and any other type of camera.

      For on-camera flash work, I still use the Nikon flashes with my X-cameras, using A mode, where I set the aperture and ISO on the flash to match, more or less, the camera settings. If you need to adjust relative flash power output, just change your aperture on the camera to allow more or less light into the lens.

      Hope that this helps,

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