Friday, November 22, 2013

Photographing beauty with the Fuji X-E2

You can read my complete hands-on review of the X-E2 camera by clicking here: X-E2 - HANDS ON REVIEW.

There is no doubt in my mind that the new Fuji X cameras can be used professionally so I decided to give it a trial workout in a real situation. We had a beauty shoot scheduled with one model and I thought that would be as good an opportunity as any to see what the camera could do.

I had the Fuji X-E2 and three lenses: the 55-200mm Fuji zoom, Fuji 35mm f/1.4, and a Leica 50mm f/1/4 Summilux with a Fuji Leica M to X mount converter. On the APS sensor of the Fuji the 50mm lens was equivalent to 75mm, and I used it as my main portrait focal length. The enhanced focus-peaking combined with the split-image rangefinder mode of the X-E2 made it a snap to achieve pinpoint focus with the manually focusing Summilux lens.

For this shot I wanted a high contrast look and the color red to be the dominant color with the model's skin over-exposed to white. Normally I would have used a strobe for this effect but the X-E2 does not have a flash sync connector. Instead I used the built-in camera pop-up flash as the source of illumination. 

Two important changes in the X-E2 over the X-E1 made this shoot easier to pull off. The first was the ability to move the auto-focus point in AF-C (continuous focus) mode. When photographing models I strive for a pinpoint focus on the eyes, which means having a small focus point coupled with the ability to move it around for placement on the eye. The full screen grid of focus locations on the X-E2 was very helpful in achieving this. Most cameras have focus points congregating in a central area so it is sometimes hard to position one over an eye that is located in the corner of the image frame. The second important change was in the refresh rate of the EVF finder in the 3fps drive mode. This allowed me to actually see what was changing in almost real time.

The longer Fuji 55-200mm zoom lens was used here to compress the perspective a bit, while stopping it down a bit increased the depth of field.
The model had very beautiful, smooth, light skin that I wanted to emphasize. With the exception of the red lips shot above, I kept the contrast low and enhanced a monochrome color cast in each situation in keeping with the predominant coloring of the styling. I photographed in our daylight studio using all natural light. The only exception is the red lips shot where I used the camera flash. The X-E2 does not have a built-in flash sync so studio strobes were not an easy option.

For an ethereal look with low contrast I shot backlit against a strong window light with no fill whatsoever from the front. This meant opening the lens up to slightly over-expose the model.

For the fuller body shots I switched to the Fufi 35mm using it mostly towards its more open apertures settings. 

For all the tight beauty shots I relied on a 50mm (75mm eqivalent on the X-E2) Leica Summilux lens, which I used fairly wide open in the f/1.4-f/2.8 range.

Strong backlit window light provided the only illumination  here. There was no front fill, but in this instance I kept the exposure down to for a darker  foreground than I achieved in the ethereal blue portrait shot done in the same situation.
This is the camera/lens combo I used for most of the beauty shoot - a Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux lens mounted on the Fuji X-E2 camera using the Fuji Leica M to Fuji X mount adapter. I have to say, the Summilux looks really nice on the X-E2 body.


  1. Thanks for the review! So all your pics are made with available light or the Build in flash?

  2. The top photo of red lips was lit with the built-in flash. All the rest are available light.

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  4. Thanks for the review!
    you used a simulation film for these shots?

  5. Francesco - I shoot only in RAW where film simulations don't really work. I do all of my coloring later in post processing.

  6. Wow amazing images, I thought some of them had been lit in the studio, this is really eye opening.

  7. Shows how really good this little camera is. The shot up top that's all in blue was shot entirely back lit and did not even have any fill added it to it, yet the image still has decent detail and contrast and is not washed out. Of course it is a high key effect, which is what I wanted. All the other shots have a large fill reflector bouncing back the window light.

  8. No PC flash connection? Use a Nikon AS-15 or simply a radio trigger?

  9. quick question - what focus method do you use to get sharp focus right on the eyes? Thanks, Ash

  10. I make the focus square as small as possible and then position it over an eye.