Fuji X-T1 in the Studio

DSCF0637
Film

I have owned this wonderful camera since March and finally decided to see how it can shoot in a studio setting. Using both available light and also the strobes. I shoot primarily food photography, and try to earn a living doing it but that’s another story. When I was shooting with the Canon 5d MkII, I used the Canon 100mm macro lens for the bulk of my food shots. On the Fuji, I have the Fuji 60mm macro lens. Did the Fuji live up to my expectations? Boy did it except for a few quirky things.

First off, I tried some available light shots. I have this pretty cool setup using of all things an Ikea kitchen cart that I modified to hold a small backdrop. If you’re interested, here is the link for the cart. I have some amazing light that comes in my living room window so that’s where I have the cart. It’s a pretty basic setup. Camera on tripod, of course, light coming in on the right side of the cart and a small reflector on the left side. If the sun is shining really bright, I have a diffuser panel that I can put in front of the window. Anyway, the above shot was available light and no reflector. I didn’t do a whole lot in post to fix the backdrop so that’s why it’s a little gray. Could have been a better shot, but that’s my fault. I had the Fuji set on manual and the settings were – ISO 400 1/30 sec. @ F7.1. I used Autofocus and auto white balance but I shot in RAW. Like I said, not the best shot.

Challenge Butter
Challenge Butter

Using basically the same setup, I tried some butter. I just love the packaging! Again, available light, no reflector and manual settings. ISO 400 .5 sec. @ F20. I did fix the background in Photoshop, just adjusting the whites a bit so it didn’t look so gray. I am really impressed at how sharp the 60mm macro is. Sure it focuses slow and makes noise while it focuses but I don’t care, it’s sharp. Here is a crop of the stick of butter. Oh, I did have the camera set to the macro setting. Don’t really know if it makes a difference but what the hell.

Butter Crop
Butter Crop

The last things I tried with available light is a Greek salad. Love this salad. This time I used ISO 200, .5 seconds @ F18.

Greek Salad
Greek Salad

Wow! Don’t you want to just pick up a fork and eat it? I edited some in Lightroom, mainly just tweaking the whites and sharpened it ever so slightly. One thing I do when shooting slower shutter speeds is set the self timer to 2 seconds just to make sure there isn’t any camera wiggle. I also manually focused this shot. I love the picture in picture viewfinder and the focus peaking is spot on!

Alright, next I tried some shots using the strobes. I made a tabletop studio a few years ago and it works really well. I’m able to use a backdrop and I also built some diffuser panels for the strobes to shoot through. I added a roll-up window shade that covers the top of the tabletop studio to diffuse the light even more. I might do a post on the tabletop studio sometime. Anyway, I have a strobe light on both sides, one with a 20º grid and the other with a 30º grid. To me, the grids take some of the harshness away from the strobes. For all the studio shots, the strobes were set to 3/4 power. I have a Pocket Wizard that I used on the Canon and it will work on the Fuji but I am not able use any of the settings. It just acts as a trigger for the strobes which is fine. You also need to remember to take the camera out of silent mode when using the Pocket Wizards.

Veggies
Veggies

I didn’t do anything in post on this shot. I manually focused it simply because the settings I used wouldn’t allow me to use autofocus. Here is where the quirkiness comes into play. Let me explain. I shot it at ISO 200 1/60 sec. @ F16. Since I’m using the strobes, the room is kind of dark. I knew I wanted to use F16 and since I’m using the strobes for light, what the meter in the camera is telling me won’t work. Basically, I couldn’t see a thing though the viewfinder, it was dark in the viewfinder! To see what I was doing, I had to open up the F stop enough to focus and then reset the F stop to shoot. If there is a work around for that, I’d love to know what it is. It’s really kind of annoying.

Next, I shot a red onion. This time I wanted to see how close I could get with the macro lens. I was about a foot away from it.

Red Onion
Red Onion

I really like this shot. Crazy sharp! Settings were ISO 200 1/15 sec. @ F13. Of course manual focus. Did I mention that the focus peaking is spot on?

Last, I shot the Greek salad again. This time on a different plate.

Greek Salad Again
Greek Salad Again

The only thing I don’t like about this shot is the background. I should have adjusted my light a bit to even out the background. Still, I like the shot and that macro continues to amaze me. ISO 200 .5 sec. @ F18.

So, do I miss the Canon 5d MkII? Nope, not at all. I think the Fuji X-T1 is a very capable camera in the studio, except for the dark viewfinder. The camera really excels at available light shots in my opinion but the fact that I can still use the Pocket Wizards and strobes is great. To recap, I shot everything in RAW and had the preset set on Provia. White balance was auto.  I really love this camera and I’m anxiously waiting for the firmware update in December. The Classic Chrome setting intrigues me. Also the graphite X-T1 is calling my name – buy me, buy me!

 

15 Comments

  1. > Basically, I couldn’t see a thing though the viewfinder, it was dark in the viewfinder!
    I have the X-E1 but I think this is common setting in all the series. In the set-up menu there is an entry “preview exp. in manual mode”. If you turn that off the viewfinder doesn’t darken. Glad you like the beast, made me hungry with the Greek Salad.
    Cheers Eric

  2. I had the same problem on the X-E2. The solution is to switch the screen to NOT show the exposure. It can be done in the screen setup menu.

    When I did that everything was fine.

    Best regards
    Jørgen

  3. Hi! I have had a similar journey (many years with Canon equipment and have now replaced with all Fuji X-T1 and X100S) and the studio strobe issue had me baffled at first as well. There is a fix. On the X-T1, go to menu, select the 1st blue tab ( the wrench icon), go to the last item (screen set up), press the right arrow to expand the menu, 3rd line item is the “preview exp. in manual mode”, this setting will allow you to see what is happening with the light from the modeling lights or ambient. makes everything much easier. 🙂

  4. In the menus go to the blue wrench menu–#1. Then to Screen Setup, and then to Preview Exp. In Manual Focus. Turn that off and the EVF quits trying to show the exposure in the viewfinder and just gives you a nice bright display regardless of your exp settings. This is made for shooting with strobes, studio work, etc.

    Great article! Good luck!

    JerryR

  5. It is not intuitive, and it isn’t very descriptive of the actual function, but this should solve your problem.
    Go to Blue Wrench Menu #1 > Screen Setup > Preview Exposure in Manual Mode.
    Turn it “OFF”! It is turned on by default!
    When it is turned “ON”, it basically becomes full-time, auto “stop down” mode and is totally useless in low light.

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