Hard at work

XF16-55mm f/2.8 WR lens added to the kit

Since January, work has been busy. It’s so busy that one might think there will be an election in a little over a year. One might think that.

For the past few years, I have been using prime lenses on a couple of bodies and on occasion the excellent XF50-140mm zoom, while shooting work events. This works well, however, I often found myself wanting to be shooting tighter or wider than I could in the position I found myself.

I recently made my life at work a little easier. I picked up the XF16-55mm f/2.8 mid-range zoom from Fujifilm. I just couldn’t resist the convenience of using one mid-range zoom on one body. For most events, I can now get by with one X-Pro 2 and the XF16-55mm lens. Plus flash, but more on that later.

On my own, I still prefer primes and will adjust my position to accommodate their field of view. At work, i don’t always have the luxury. A recent example of this found me leaning backward over an open fish tank, my second body and 50-140 dangling a little too close to the water, trying to get a shot of the Premier and a fish monger, while surrounded by media and MLAs. With the XF16-55 at 16mm, I could get the shot. At the other end of the zoom spectrum, I can take tight shots of podium speakers or even the odd musician.

Getting the most out of this lens

The transition to the 16-55 hasn’t been without some adjustments for me. Losing a stop or two has been a little inconvenient, but for the most part, not. Shooting wide open can produce really sharp images, if you hold still while making the photo. Therein lies the biggest adjustment that I have had to make. The lens is heavier and larger than any of the primes I normally use and I need to concentrate that little bit more when shooting at slower shutter speeds to make sharp images. I do wish it had image stabilization, but I wouldn’t want it to be any larger, so I’m OK with it the way it is.

An adjustment that has benefitted me in getting sharp, in-focus images, is to switch to AF-C mode if the subject is moving at all. This also helps if I’m not holding perfectly still. Given the improvements that have been made with AF-C mode on the X-Pro 2, this has been fortunate timing for me to start using the XF16-55 lens.

In good light, getting sharp images isn’t a problem. However, in those low light situations, shooting at f/2.8 and 1/125 second or slower, I can use any help I can get. So if it means switching from M focusing mode to AF-C, so be it. It works.

Speaking of sharp images, the 16-55 lens produces sharp images throughout most of the zoom range. I do find when shooting at the widest angles of view, the edges are not as sharp as the centre. This improves as you stop down to f/8. This lens has some tough competition for sharpness with the excellent XF wide angle primes, but it holds up well enough to make it a good choice for the type of work photos I take.

A second body

Particularly for outdoor events or events in large venues, I will use the XF50-14mm f/2.8 lens on my second X-Pro 2. This is a stellar lens which produces great results. There has never been a question about owning this lens; I can’t imagine work photography without it.

On those occasions where I don’t need the reach of the 50-140, I will put my XF35mm f/1.4 lens on my second body and set the JPEG film simulation to Acros Red Filter and shoot wide open. This tends to produce my favourite results from events, although it’s rarely used for the main action. It is a nice addition and gives resulting photos an interesting combination of safe colour and contrasty, black-and-white images to tell the event’s story.

More light

Sometimes, there is no getting away from needing to shoot with an on-camera speedlight. Be it a large group shot, where I need to stop down to get everyone in focus or a poorly lit room where flash is the only answer, using a speedlight is a fact of event photography.

As many of you might know, I rely upon Nikon SB800 and SB900 speedlights with my Fujifilm X-cameras. Using them in A mode is nearly like shooting with TTL flash. Nearly, but not quite.

I still rely upon the Nikon speedlights when I need to push a lot of light out, but I recently acquired the handy Fujifilm  EF-X20 flash. You know the one. It looks like a little rectangle with a exposure compensation dial on top. This is one great, little flash. I does shoot TTL with X-cameras, naturally, so using it is very simple. I keep it in a pocket or on the X-Pro 2 with the XF16-55mm lens. When the need arises for some additional fill light or even to light a group shot, where I have to stop down a bit, it works really well. Given that it runs on two AAA batteries, recycle times aren’t blazing. But combine it with ISO 800 to 1600 and moderate large apertures and it can keep up pretty well when shooting multiple images at a time.

The EF-X20 isn’t the answer to all of my flash needs, but it certainly handles a lot of the more important ones.

A ramble

Yes, this post has been a bit of a ramble. Work has been so busy, that I have been making a lot images. I just haven’t had much time to reflect and write. Since the XF16-55mm f/2.8 lens has made such a significant change to the way I shoot work events, it seemed worth rambling on a bit about.

Images captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and fronted with the XF16-55, XF50-140 or XF35mm f/1.4 lenses.

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