X100s for wedding formals?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by ilkka_nissila, May 23, 2013.

  1. I'm thinking of the possibility of using the Fujifilm X100s, an APS-C sensored (1.5X) fixed focal length 23mm f/2 compact camera for formals and group shots at weddings. The quality of the image I think is sufficient for a lot of documentary work at close range, and the AF seems accurate and fast, but I'm a little uncertain about the quality for large groups vs. a DSLR such as the D800. The reason I'm thinking of using it is simply that it can flash sync up to 1/1000s or so without issues or power loss (at largest apertures there can be some issues at very fast speeds apparently, but I'd use the lens stopped down to f/4 ... f/8 for many of these images). So it can be used to balance bright daylight with flash using less powerful (and heavy) flash equipment than a DSLR like the D800. David Hobby in particular seems to have taken a liking for this camera and has been blogging about it. I'm wondering if anyone here has experience using it so far for this application?
     
  2. Would you be the only photographer or perhaps the main photographer in this wedding? Do you have access to any backup cameras or bodies? If you have shot weddings before then the experience should serve you well with a different type of camera. However, if you haven't shot one before and you would be the main photographer, you need to study the wedding forums here, check what your Fuji can't achieve and balance it against what could be done better.
     
  3. Take a practice shot now, before the wedding and see how well it enlarges. I'd go up to a 16X20, because if someone wants a wall print it needs to be a clean photo without pixelation or often called noise.
     
  4. I have shot weddings as the only photographer, as well as with a second photographer; in most cases I would be the only photographer.
    I don't have the X100s yet, but have sufficient other equipment (including backups and second backups for lenses, flashes, and DSLR bodies). I have played a bit with a X100s to get a feel for the camera but didn't test flashes and triggers with it as I didn't realize at the time that it has this ability to sync normally at fast shutter speeds; this information is new to me. Unfortunately currently it is difficult to find the camera locally (and online stores give 2-4 week wait time, which is really something they post in place of "we don't know when we will have a batch of these again") so I wanted to see if someone is already or has tried using it here at photo.net. I have skyport triggers (not the new "speed" types) and speedlights for lighting; I am considering the purchase of a lightweight battery powered studio flash (such as Elinchrom Quadra) to reduce recycle times and get a bit more power without being weighted down by gear (I figured the battery pack can be mounted on the stand to act as a substitute for a sandbag, saving weight) - I prefer to work alone instead of having an assistant carry some of the gear. This is mostly a question of cost effectiveness (here the whole cost for a typical mid size wedding is about equal to the cost of just the engagement ring in the US (!), so wedding photography cannot be an expensive service). I figured the 1/1000s sync would give me a bit more leeway with the balancing the flash lighting with daylight, but don't want to buy the camera if the quality is not quite sufficient for a large group shot. Yes, it is possible that a large print needs to be made if I can get the quality to that level. I am generally happy with the quality of portraits I can make but want to improve my groups, both in terms of crowd control and lighting.
    Once the X100s becomes available at my local store again I can do some testing of my own with flash sync etc. and also get a better idea of the resolution and noise. Actually in Finnish summer weddings there is usually the opportunity to wait for the daylight to slowly become dimmer and dimmer, and as the sun spends a long time at a low elevation, there is still a surprising amount of natural light at 11pm. Thus it may be possible to do groups with more subtle lighting (e.g. at 8pm), but sometimes the couple request otherwise. If the ceremony is at noon, and if the couple want to do the formals and groups right after, then it's possible that light is very bright (usually not California bright, but maybe a bit less, i.e. f/11 ISO 100 1/125s may be typical). I have previously managed this situation regarding formals of the couple by adding two speedlights behind one umbrella (I now have a tri-flash, which unfortunately makes the setup top heavy) and positioning the couple so that the sunlight shines through trees in the background; this was just barely workable and I think I need to have more margin for lighting this situation. I am concerned that if I buy a powerful portable studio flash setup I may not use it often enough that its cost is justified, and the batteries may not stay in good shape.
    I will try the Skyport triggers with the X100s when I can get my hands on the camera again and ask someone to stand in at various places so I can test the lighting and sharpness I can achieve. I hope the store folks put up with me through all this! ;-) Ideally I would do rigorous testing in a realistic environment but I would need to purchase the equipment to do that.
    Other applications for the camera include when I'm working with a telezoom (70-200), I don't want to carry a second DSLR on my body at the same time, but I could get some wide angle establishing shots between the tele shots by using the X100s. I can have a pocket added to what I wear to make it possible to keep it there and pick it up without having to put down the DSLR. The X100s offers advantages of quietness and small size, but with its small lens I think the look of the images is more dreamy than what I get with my Nikons. I have to say that I really love the somewhat rangefinder like optical viewfinder, with its continuous display of the subject and clarity! It is an elegant camera.
    Thanks for the comments so far.
     
  5. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I'm wondering if anyone here has experience using it so far for this application?​
    I think Ilkka is asking something quite specific here about the X100s, and I'm curious, too.
     
  6. For lighting and syncing, you want to read this: http://www.khousen.com/blog/files/Fuji%20X100s%20Shutter%20Speed.html It goes without saying that you you should follow the Strobist
    Issues with large formal groups - 35mm FOV lens and APS-C sensor: The lens on the X100s is about as wide as you would want to go, and a little long would probably be preferred. Smaller groups (under 5-6) should really be done with a 50mm or long FOV lens.
    Sharpness/resolution requirements always are, and always will be, driven by how the image is viewed, how close and how large. I, and the rest of the wedding photographers I know that care about technical image quality, use a tripod for these shots. There are many reasons and sharpness is just one of them. These types of pictures have been shot for over a decade with APS-C cameras with high quality. Just make sure there's enough light to avoid high ISO's.
     
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I have been intently researching this camera for several months. My (main) intended use is different to yours. I too, have not yet been able to use one.
    However, I do understand the value and usefulness of Leaf Shutter Flash Sync and I understand the application you are describing and although I don’t shoot weddings anymore, I will use the application of Leaf Shutter Sync for group shots, outdoors, but this feature will be a “value add” to me and not the main reason for buying the Fuji and I believe I will buy one.
    Lindsey Dobson, has several blog posts in her website under “For Photographers”, which I found exceptionally useful, adaptive relevant information for me. Although none are about the X100s, specifically, there are many about the applications of the x100 and other similar cameras - and she knows her stuff.
    ***
    I'm thinking of the possibility of using the Fujifilm X100s . . . for formals and group shots at weddings. The reason I'm thinking of using it is simply that it can flash sync up to 1/1000s or so without issues or power loss . . . So it can be used to balance bright daylight with flash using less powerful (and heavy) flash equipment than a DSLR like the D800.​
    To answer your question directly:
    I think that for a Pro’s Wedding Kit the X100s would be a valuable asset.
    BUT, although I might use the camera as you describe, I would NOT put all my eggs in one basket and have it as the ONLY tool in my bag for the Formal and Group Shots requiring Flash as Fill in Bright Sunlight.
    As well as having other tools - my first general option would be NOT to have (large) groups in bright direct sunlight, at Shooting Distances beyond the power range of a couple of Speedlites which I could manage by myself and thus requiring a more cumbersome Flash Fill arrangement.
    Moreover, I think the X100s would have more uses in a Wedding Kit, than only using the Leaf Shutter for HS Flash Sync: primarily these other uses would be centred around the more INformal Captures and the captures NOT using flash. I think also that this is in accord with the raison d'être, of the camera.
    WW
     
  8. The reason I'm thinking of using it is simply that it can flash sync up to 1/1000s or so without issues or power loss (at largest apertures there can be some issues at very fast speeds apparently, but I'd use the lens stopped down to f/4 ... f/8 for many of these images). So it can be used to balance bright daylight with flash using less powerful (and heavy) flash equipment ...​
    To balance bright backgrounds by using shorter sync speeds, while stopping down, requires more flash power, not less.
    Double check the top sync specifications of the EL Skyport, including the Speed version. To my knowledge, only the Profoto AIR transmitter can sync to 1/1000 ... which I can confirm as I use a Leica S2 with CS lenses that all sync to 1/1000 with Profoto AIR lighting.

    The 16 meg, 14 bit, Fuji X100s should be fine for group shots if shot at lower ISOs and in RAW mode with good exposure levels ... and when shooting closer portraits step back and include more image than needed to avoid distortion, and crop tighter in post (this assumes use of base ISO and lighting).
    -Marc
     
  9. To balance bright backgrounds by using shorter sync speeds, while stopping down, requires more flash power, not less.
    Yes, I understand that I would not be gaining depth of field by using a faster sync speed, but I may not need to. For a group of 80 depending on arrangement I think f/8 is needed on FX and that would mean approximately f/5.6 on DX for similar depth of field. f/5.6 is not that far outside of the possibilities of small flash.
    Here is an interesting report on using sync cord vs. PocketWizard with the X100s:
    http://www.khousen.com/blog/files/f9ec55a80ee0fbde5e9c97c0183beec2-2.html
    I have read reports that radio triggers work up to 1/800s with the X100s, but you have to use automatic exposure as the manually selectable shutter speeds are in one stop increments (which is something I'd really be annoyed with, as not only does it limit flash sync options, it means that manual exposure mode cannot always be used with the maximum aperture for available light photography).
    I'm starting to think I will have more depth of field control with the D800; e.g. I can use tilt to even out sharpness differences across rows - yes, I know it takes time to set up and there are risks with using tilt/shift lenses in a hectic scenario like a wedding, but if I use dummies to set the shot up it may work. And I can use another camera to get some regular shots quickly if the tilt/shift setup is on tripod. But for acceptable sharpness I still need to be at f/8 (with 24mm PC-E; the 45mm PC-E may be ok at f/5.6 but then feet won't be sharp), and that then means there is (still) need for more flash light.
    I guess this was never meant to be easy.
     
  10. Sorry for the dumb question, but is the X100s the new model that replaces an earlier version? Similar but with faster focus? I think it would be a nice addition to a wedding kit for various reasons including its lightness, angle of view. I would think it would also be good for those candid or "street" style photographs that some wedding photographer like. I'll be interested to see if you get and like it.
     
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The Fuji X100s was recently released and it replaces the Fuji X100
    WW
     
  12. As I used to do 16x24 prints from my old Canon 10D, the quality of the Fuji sensor will be just fine
     
  13. I ended up buying the camera. I'll report back once I'm familiar with it and have used it a while.
     
  14. Thanks William for the info. I did some research and it looks an interesting camera. I have a friend that uses the X100 and the images she gets are quite nice, but its more in daylight on the street. Will look forward to your experience Ilkka, especially with flash.
     
  15. Looking forward to the results.
     

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