On being a Fujifilm X Photographer

On being a Fujifilm X Photographer

I’m really excited to share that Fujifilm have asked me to become one of their ambassadors. I am now a Fujifilm X Photographer, one of a worldwide group of photographers selected to help the company show what its gear can do.

As an ambassador I will assist or speak at various Fujifilm NZ events, review new Fuji equipment, write some social media content, and provide Fujifilm with some publicity images shot on my GFX-50S, XT-2 and XT-1. I’m encouraged to express my unbiased, honest opinions in my reviews, in case you’re wondering!

And no, they don’t give me free cameras and lenses, sadly. :) I do get a discount though, and if I ever want to try out equipment I don’t own, they’ll send it down from Auckland so I can have a play with it for a couple of weeks. Where possible I can preview new equipment before it’s released to the market, and my work will feature (soon) on the Fujifilm Global X Photographer website. And I get a free t-shirt. :)

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Retired engineer Martyn Spencer, Wellington, May 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/125th at f4, ISO 1000

Just recently I was in a quandary over which portrait lens to buy for my medium-format GFX-50S; the 120mm f4 macro or the new 110mm f2, so I was able to test them side by side. If I hadn’t, I reckon I would probably have gone for the 110mm, because I tend to gravitate toward shooting wide open. But you get less depth of field at a given aperture on a medium format camera, and at f2, it’s such a fine sliver that you’re talking some eyelashes sharp and others on the same eye out of focus. That is a beautiful but potentially dangerous thing! Especially as I’m often shooting fast-moving children; I could imagine having to throw out heaps of photos because I’d totally missed my focus. A medium-format camera is already naturally a slower beast than a 35mm dSLR, so I don’t want to restrict myself too much.

The f4 maximum aperture on the 120mm still offers a gorgeous drop-off in depth of field while giving me a little more of a safety net, and it has the added benefit of the macro capability. The 120mm focal length is the equivalent of 95mm on a 35mm format camera, so it’s a beautiful length for portraits. Neither the 120mm or the 110mm are cheap lenses, so it was great to be able to make the decision with confidence.

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Artist James Ormsby with his 2x4m charcoal drawing of ancestor King Tawhaio, Wellington, July 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/125th at f14, ISO 1600

It’s funny because I didn’t ever set out with a plan to switch to Fuji from Canon, but a few things happened along the way that made it the logical choice. I loved my Canon gear! But in 2015 I started looking at getting a medium format camera too, and borrowed a 10-year-old Hasselblad H3D with a view to buying it. It was glorious at ISO 50, great at ISO 100, and pretty awful at ISO 400. So I decided against it, but looking at the incredible details and colour at ISO 50 certainly planted a medium-format seed, so to speak. At around that time Hasselblad announced a completely different (and much cheaper) style of medium format, the compact, mirrorless X1D-50C. Still a very expensive camera, but nothing like previous Hasselblad prices. I was seriously tempted, but then Sean Aicken at Wellington Photographic Supplies mentioned that Fuji was about to come out with a competitor.

Three years ago I had bought a Fuji XT-1 as a ‘handbag camera’ to take on a trip to Sweden, and I fell in love with the old-school styling and the way most of the key controls were on quickly-accessed dials. There’s something wonderful about making quick adjustments with your hands, rather than beeping your way through electronic menus. That was quite a big reservation for me with the new Hasselblad X1D actually; it’s a beautiful camera to look at, but it didn’t feel as good in my hands as my little Fuji. So when Sean said Fuji was coming out with a medium format camera, and at a similar price level to the Hasselblad, I was pretty much sold already.

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Ramso, Sweden, July 2015. Fujifilm XT-1, XF18mm f2 R, 1/1000th at f5.6, ISO 200

I bought my Fuji GFX-50S medium format in March, and now have two lenses for it - the versatile GF32-64mm, and the GF120mm macro. That was obviously a big outlay. I still had a big Canon kit; two DSLRs, two flashes and seven lenses. For a while I used both systems, but when I made the decision to cut right back on my wedding work, I realised it didn’t make financial sense to keep straddling the Fuji/Canon fence. So, much as I love Canon, I found myself jumping down on the Fuji side. I now have an XT-2 as well, so I mainly use the two small mirrorless cameras for location work, and my GFX in the studio, although there’s a degree of crossover.

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Shand Shelton architects Phil Conroy (L) and Roger Shand backstage at the St James Theatre, Wellington, August 2017.  Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, 1/60th at f14, ISO 1600

And now here I am, part of a group of passionate X-Series and GFX users worldwide who’ve been selected to represent Fujifilm’s commitment to image making, and to the tools used to create those images. I feel very honoured to have received this invitation, and hope I can inspire other photographers using X cameras and lenses. I’m excited to meet some of my fellow New Zealand X photographers next month in Auckland - will keep you posted!

Family shoot at the beach, Wellington

Family shoot at the beach, Wellington

Homegrown photography talent at Brooklyn School

Homegrown photography talent at Brooklyn School