Monday, 27 February 2017

Review: Testing the X-T2 and XF100-400mm at International Rugby

Scotland's Captain John Barclay is tackled by Welsh Fly Half Dan Biggar
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO2000 (zoom 400mm)
For the past month I have photographed three top flight rugby matches to put the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Fujinon XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 through their paces.  After shooting at the Scotland v Ireland international (4th February) and Sale Sharks v Wasps Aviva Premiership matches (19 February), the final test was last Saturday (25th February) when I was on the touchline for the Scotland v Wales RBS 6 Nations international at Murrayfield.

Shooting in a stadium environment, even in daylight, provides some unique challenges on the lighting front.  Even with the floodlights switched on, the challenge for any photographer is to keep the shutter speed high enough to capture the action while keeping the ISO as low as possible to minimise the sensor noise.  

Can the X-T2 and the XF100-400mm shoot fast action sports in a  stadium environment?  Yes it can.  Is it as good as the current crop of pro DSLRs and fast telephoto primes - no it isn't, but it is damn close! 


Scottish forward Jonny Grey is tackled by Wales' Jake Ball 
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/2500mm @ f5.4 ISO1600 (zoom 335mm)
The X-T2 is excellent with it's fast, consistent AF, fast processor and X-Trans III sensor, the limiting factor at the present time is the 100-400mm lens.  Don't get me wrong, the quality of the 100-400mm is fantastic, it is as sharp as a tack, but the slow f5.6 maximum aperture limits its use for stadium sports. 

The ideal shutter speed is 1/1000 second to freeze the action and if this is the minimum shutter speed the aperture is usually left wide open.  

Now at Murrayfield with a mixture of daylight and floodlights and an f5.6 maximum aperture means I am shooting at 1600 to 3200 ISO.  The guys next to me with their Canon 400mm f2.8s are shooting at the same shutter speed but are at 400 to 800 ISO for the same shutter speed.  

'Well the XF100-400mm has a 5 stop Optical Image Stabiliser' I hear some of you saying.  OIS is great for keeping things steady at slower shutter speeds but it does nothing for freezing a fast moving object.  For that you need a fast shutter speed and if your aperture is small then the ISO has to go up to compensate.  That's just the way it is!  The X-T2 handles high ISO noise very well but it is still no substitute for a faster aperture. 


Scottish Winger Tommy Seymour and Welsh Full Back Leigh Halfpenny jump for the ball
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1000mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
The other advantage of a fast f2.8 aperture is the subject to background separation. With a f5.6 aperture on a crop sensor the background is not going to be as out of focus as an f2.8 on a full frame sensor.  Once again that's the laws of physics and that's something we all have to accept.  

When shooting very close to your subject with the 100-400mm, less than 5 metres away, the background does look very nice - see the shot below taken during the anthems at the start of the match - but shoot further away during the game and the background is not separated as much.


Richie Gray singing the Scottish National Anthem 'Flower of Scotland' before the game
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
This week Fujifilm added a fast telephoto prime lens to the 2017/18 roadmap and for me, and many other sports / wildlife photographers, this lens cannot come quickly enough.  We have the camera, we just need this lens to close the gap currently held by the Canon and Nikon DSLRs.

What about the XF50-140mm f2.8?  Well this lens is not long enough for international rugby.  I did shoot with this lens fitted with a 1.4x converter on a second X-T2 on Saturday but this makes the lens a 300mm f4 equivalent and is only useful when the action comes inside the 22 metre line at Murrayfield. 

One solution is to use the camera and 100-400mm like you would at a race circuit, using a slower shutter speed and panning the camera.  With the shutter speed set to 1/125th second I was able to drop the ISO back to around 400 but the hit rate of usable images also dropped sharply.  Unlike a race car, which moves in a predictable direction, rugby players move erratically and this didn't make it easy for shooting.  When it did work, the effect was quite dramatic, as illustrated below, but for every shot like this twenty were deleted.


A SLOW SHUTTER SPEED PAN SHOT - Scotland's Full Back Stuart Hogg runs through
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/125mm @ f5.6 ISO640 (zoom 400mm)
As I have said many times before on this blog, the X-T2 autofocus system is excellent.  I can follow the action while shooting at 11fps and it doesn't get confused when a player or the referee runs between me and the subject. The EVF is also a huge plus point because I see the exposure before I press the shutter release and can adjust it accordingly.

So we have the camera, we just need the faster lens.  In the meantime I will continue to shoot different sports with XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6, including stadium sports, but with the knowledge that Fujifilm have a solution on the horizon that should make a huge difference.

Back to Saturday's game and a brilliant game of rugby finished with Scotland beating Wales for the first time in 10 years with a 29-13 margin.  The next round of matches will take place on the 10th and 11th March with Scotland traveling to Twickenham on the 11th to take on the might of England for the Calcutta Cup showdown.

For more information on the 2017 RBS 6 Nations CLICK HERE and for more on Scottish Rugby CLICK HERE

Welsh Captain Alun Wyn Jones (right) leads his team in singing the Welsh National Anthem before the game
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1000mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
Scotland's Centre Huw Jones charges the Welsh line
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1250mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 335mm)
Scotland's Prop Forward Zander Fagerson charges through
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
fans celebrate the first  try of the match for Wales
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 320mm)
J K Rowling - literary royalty in the Royal Box at Murrayfield
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/500mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
Welsh Captain Alun Wyn Jones takes the ball in the line out for Wales
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
Scotland's Scrum Half Ali Price looks for an opening to pass the ball
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
A SLOW SHUTTER SPEED PAN SHOT - Scotland's Full Back Stuart Hogg runs through
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/125mm @ f5.6 ISO640 (zoom 400mm)
Welsh Full Back Leigh Halfpenny picks up the ball
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1000mm @ f5.6 ISO3200 (zoom 400mm)
Scotland's winger Finn Russell is crunched by two Welsh forwards
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
Scotland's winger Tommy Seymour scores the first Scottish try fending off the tackle by Scott Williams
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5 ISO2000 (zoom 155mm)
Scotland's Winger Tim Visser leaps for the ball against Wales' George North and Dan Biggar
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1000mm @ f5.6 ISO2500 (zoom 400mm)
Scotland's Fly Half Finn Russell converts a Scottish try
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/1250mm @ f5.6 ISO3200 (zoom 270mm)
Scotland's winger Tim Visser runs in to score Scotland's second try
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/500mm @ f5.6 ISO2000 (zoom 400mm)
Welsh Winger Liam Williams is tackled by Scotland's winger Tommy Seymour
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO3200 (zoom 185mm)
Welsh Scrum Half Rhys Webb passes the ball
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/800mm @ f5.6 ISO3200 (zoom 400mm)
Ali Price, Huw Jones and Alex Dunbar take the applause from the crowd at the end of the match
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/200mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 400mm)
Ryan Wilson acknowledges the crowd on the lap of honour at the end of the match
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/200mm @ f5.6 ISO1600 (zoom 180mm)


One of the Scottish super fans
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 - 1/640mm @ f5 ISO5000 (zoom 160mm)
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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability


Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'




Sunday, 26 February 2017

Snowdrops at Hailes Castle


This afternoon we took a trip out to Hailes Castle to see the display of snowdrops that surround the ruins on the bank of the River Tyne.

Snowdrops are a wild woodland flower than comes into bloom at the end of winter.  With the mild weather of late, the carpet of snowdrops at Hailes Castle is earlier this year.


Galanthus (snowdrop; Greek gála "milk", ánthos "flower") is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous perennial herbaceous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae. The plants have two linear leaves and a single small white drooping bell shaped flower with six petal-like (petaloid) tepals in two circles (whorls). The smaller inner petals have green markings.  Snowdrops have been known since the earliest times under various names but were named Galanthus in 1753. 

Here are some of the shots I took this morning on the Fujifilm X-T2 with either the XF35mm f1.4, with extension rings fitted to enable closer focusing, or the XF10-24mm f4 wide angle zoom.







CLICK HERE for more information on where to see snowdrops in Scotland



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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability


Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'



Thursday, 23 February 2017

Tarbert Castle


Tarbert is a small fishing town on the main route down to Campeltown at the end of the Kintyre peninsula.  Sitting high above the pretty harbour is the ruin of Tarbert Castle, one of the most important castles in Scotland at the time of Robert The Bruce and later in the reign of James IV

Tarbert Castle is located on the southern shore of East Loch Tarbert at the north end of the Kintyre peninsula. Tarbert Castle was a strategic royal stronghold during the Middle Ages.  It overlooks the harbour and although pre 14th century in construction, the tower dates back to 1494 and the visit of  James IV to the Western Highlands. 



The castle is now a ruin with just the remains of the tower still standing but you can still see the outlines of the building and curtain walls that made this such a strong fortress.




Today the castle is surrounded by walks and is part of the Kintyre Way that runs down to Campbeltown.  We didn't have that much time so we went for a walk up the hill to an outcrop overlooking the loch and across the water to Portavadie on the other side.

The surrounding woodland and moor is home to common frogs and we saw a few on the path as we were walking. We were careful to step over them.  We were also surprised to see frog spawn in the pools of water and had to remind ourselves that it was only February.  While the weather was unusually warm it was still very much winter in the Highlands.

We then walked back down to the harbour to get some provisions before heading off.

All of the images were taken on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and either the XF18mm f2 or the XF50-140mm f2.8.

CLICK HERE for more information on Tarbert Castle and HERE for information on the Kintyre Way












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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability



Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'




Wednesday, 22 February 2017

X Series Telephoto Prime On Its Way

GREAT NEWS!!  This morning Fujifilm sent out a press release to announce some new developments for the X Series and GFX systems.  The thing that caught my eye is the one item I, and my fellow sports photographers, have been asking for ever since the 100-400mm telephoto zoom was launched last year and that is a fast telephoto prime lens has been added to the road map for 2018.  

Now if you have been a regular reader of this blog you can't have failed to have seen my rugby images and the issue with having to crank up the ISO under the floodlights due to the limits imposed by the f5.6 maximum aperture.  The Telephoto Prime Lens will solve this issue and the other prime consideration and that is background separation in the images.  

Now Fujifilm haven't said what the maximum aperture will be on the new lens but the Fujinon primes to date have all been f2.8 or wider. The standard lens for a sports photographer is either a 300mm f2.8 or 400mm f2.8 so we should expect the new lens to match these standards, maybe even surpass them!  So it is a case of watch this space.

There is also an ultra wide angle zoom on the road map for next year and this is also something we have been asking for and I look forward to seeing that lens when it is released.

As a Fujifilm X Photographer specialising in sport and wildlife I really look forward to getting my hands on these lenses in due course.

Here is the paragraph from the Fujifilm press release sent out this morning.

  1. Telephoto prime lens” and “Ultra-wide angle zoom lens” for still images
    Fujifilm has constantly expanded its lineup of interchangeable lenses for the X Series to cover a wide range of focal lengths from wide angle to ultra-telephoto. The company now plans to develop “Telephoto prime lens” and “Ultra-wide angle zoom lens” in response to numerous requests from professional photographers and photography enthusiasts to further expand the lineup of XF lenses, optimized for shooting still photos.
Fujifilm will continue to expand the lineup of the X Series of cameras and its interchangeable lenses to cater to a wide range of needs from still photography to video filming, thereby boosting the appeals of the X Series even further.
CLICK HERE to see the press release in full which includes the announcement of two MK Cinema lenses for the X Series.


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MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability



Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Calm before the Storm



Living on the Scottish coast provides a great variety in the weather. This evening the clouds were gathering to the south west as a new weather front came across East Lothian with the forecast predicting high winds and heavy rain.  

However this evening, just before sunset, the seas were relatively calm.  I took the Fujifilm X100T along with the Manfrotto Pixi Evo mini tripod and a cable release down to the rocks below Dunbar Castle to capture a few long exposures as the light faded.



Two of the fishing boats returned to Dunbar Harbour as I was sitting enjoying the view, so I managed to grab a few images as the boats passed in front of me before entering the harbour.

All of these images were taken on the Fujifilm X100T using the cameras fixed 23mm f2 lens.




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ALL IMAGES (UNLESS INDICATED) ARE THE PROPERTY OF MACLEAN PHOTOGRAPHIC AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION

MacLean Photographic run Tours and Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  CLICK HERE for more details and availability



Jeff Carter is an Official Fujifilm X Photographer and was named as a Fujifilm brand ambassador in June 2015. In 2016 he worked with the company on the launches of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in Tokyo and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Paris in July 2016.  You can view his profile and gallery on the Fujifilm website HERE

If you like what you see on this blog please visit our Facebook page and click 'like'