Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fujifilm X-E2: Using only available light for meeting

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/90

I walked into the room and along one side of the room was a wall with handprints. It was lighted and the brightest spot in the room.

The problem as you can see in the first photo is this was the background for the speakers. They might have been standing in front of window with sunlight coming in.  There were not lights on the speakers except for the room lights, which were of course much darker than the wall.

This is the first thing I do in any situation—look around and see where the light is and isn't. I then pay attention to the type of light that is in the room.

I am assessing the direction and the quality of the light in the room.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/70
As long as I wasn't photographing the speakers, the rest of the room really didn't present the same issues of the backlit speakers.

Custom white balance

To get the best possible color in any situation I rely first on the ExpoDisc.  I bought the original version in the 77mm size. I just hold this in front of the lens to set the white balance.

The new version you can get filters that you put over the ExpoDisc which let you warm up or cool down your color temperature.

If you use a slightly blue filter then your camera will add the opposite color, which is yellow to try and color correct the image. This process will warm up your photos.

If you used a slightly yellow filter the camera will add blue and therefore make your photos cooler.

Since the ExpoDisc is going over the lens and capturing the light as it hits the filter this is giving you an incident light reading.

A general rule is an incident light reading is more accurate than a reflective reading because it is not influenced by the object the light is hitting. It just reads what the amount of light is hitting or the color of the light.

The camera set the Kelvin to 3650 and added 30+ magenta for my photos.

Since I was under a fluorescent/sodium vapor type of lights I had to use a shutter speed slower than 1/100 to avoid getting color banding in the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/70
Exposure Value Adjustment

I shot the photos using the aperture priority mode on the Fujifilm X-E2.  I picked the A for the shutter-speed and then I shot wide open with the aperture.  I am using the MULTI metering mode for the Fujifilm X-E2.

I had the camera set to use AUTO ISO. The low end ISO was set to ISO 100 and the high end to ISO 6400. The shutter speed was set to 1/100 since I didn't want to go above this due to the fluorescent/sodium vapor lights.

I am using the electronic viewfinder (EVF) while shooting. This gave me a great advantage over my DSRL because I am seeing what I will get later. The minute I put the camera on the speaker all that backlight was silhouetting my speaker.

To get the correct exposure on the speaker I just adjusted the EV dial by +2.7 and the result is what you see above.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/50 [focal length 200mm & 35mm equivalent 300mm]
I am handholding the Fujifilm X-E2 with the XF 55-200mm. In this photo of the speaker the lens is equivalent to a 300mm lens on my full-framed DSLR. So shooting at 1/50 shouldn't be this sharp. The reason is the lens has optical image stabilization (O.I.S.).  The image stabilization function allows the use of shutter speeds 4.5 stops slower. As you can see the photo looks pretty sharp for 1/50.

O.I.S. cannot help you if the subject moves a lot while you are taking the photo. It just helps keep your camera steady.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [RAW image processed through Adobe Lightroom]

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/30 [JPEG from camera no Adobe Lightroom]
Why not ISO 12800 or 24600?

Frankly I am not that thrilled with the way the Fujifilm X-E2 handles skin tones. They tend to come out just a little waxy for my taste. To use an ISO greater than ISO 6400 on the Fujifilm cameras you must shoot JPEGs and not RAW.

If the photos were not working I would have shot at a higher ISO and lived with the trade out of the waxy skin tones verses not so sharp of photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/75
For Comparison

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
The one thing I still like about the Nikon D4 over the Fujifilm X-E2 is shooting raw at even higher ISO settings. Here the photo above is shot available light just like the Fuji and the lens also has image stabilization to help with camera motion.

How about strobes?

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]
I also shot photos using two Alienbees B1600 lights with Pocketwizard Plus II on the lights receiving the radio signal from the Pocketwizard MiniTT1 Transmitter on the Nikon D4.

Obviously the flashes helped a great deal with the quality of the image, but at what sacrifice? They announced to everyone in the room when I was taking a photo. It made the people too aware and less relaxed.

No question that you get better quality light with strobes, but unless you are dealing with professional actors/actresses you are not going to get the best expressions over the course of a meeting. Sure you will get some, but I believe available light is the way to go—if possible.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]
Couple more photos for you

Fujifilm X-E2, XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.6, 1/110

Nikon D4, 28-300mm. ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/160 [2 Alienbees B1600 lights bounced on 1/32 power]
Hair bit nicer color with the flashes, but if I am getting the photo with the Fujifilm X-E2 that looks this good without flash, why use flash?