Wedding photography with the Fuji X100S

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Anyone that has followed my blog previously, read my twitter ramblings or indeed seen me working over the last couple of years, will know that I’ve spent quite a bit of time using a type of digital camera known variously as mirrorless or compact system cameras. Most of this usage has been to date with Fujifilm cameras using their pioneering X-Trans sensors, firstly the X-Pro1 in 2012, and then last year moving on to the Fuji X100S. They have other models available as well of course, but these are the two I chose to use representing the top end of their range.

Moving from using heavy but capable DSLRs such as the Canon 5D Mark3 (which I still use), there is a level of adjustment to using these smaller cameras. They’re not quite as quick to use and in particular don’t have quite the same performance in low light, whether that’s autofocus or image quality. I should temper these statements by emphasising the ‘not quite’, and the fact that the 5D Mark3 is an exceptional performer to compare against in all of these regards. Although the X100S is a real step forward in the focussing performance, it’s not best in class in the mirrorless world. Of course everything has a flip side, pros and cons, and if speed and low light performance are weaker areas of the mirrorless cameras, then their size, weight and quietness, are huge, tangible advantages.

It’s a camera that people love to talk about with distinct looks and actually pretty awesome image quality. I’ve been asked more about the Fuji by guests at weddings than any other camera or kit I’ve used. Which brings me to the reason for this post. In compiling my End of Year Review, I also had a separate look at all of the images I’d created in 2013 with the X100S. As I’ve been asked many times by photographers about using the Fuji for weddings, I thought I’d share some specifically, many for the first time. It’s almost an End of Year Part 2 – The Fuji Special Edition.

I’ve chosen images across a range of wedding scenarios – candid, church, portrait, details, etc – and I think these demonstrate just how capable it is for this style of documentary work. All of these were delivered to clients, with many ending up in albums. It suits some scenarios better than others, but even so a lot of these are created in low light or other tricky situations. In good light, images are nice and clean; at the higher ISOs they develop a very pleasing grittiness and grain. Most of these images are using the WCL-100 wide convertor which for me transforms the camera again into a much more usable beast (I like wide).

Observant twitter followers will know that I’ve also been using another mirrorless camera recently from Olympus. I’ll save that in detail for another post, but whilst I feel that may be the direction I’m moving in with my kit, I’m undecided about whether I move on completely from the X100S. There is definitely something special about it and the images it creates, despite it’s quirks in use.

Finally I will say that all of these differences now are becoming less pronounced with each new release of camera, and we really are at a fantastic point with imaging technology. I am confident that mirrorless is the direction the majority of camera technology will go over the next few years and certainly even with the current crop of models, the cameras are not the limiting factor to producing outstanding images.

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15 thoughts on Wedding photography with the Fuji X100S

  1. Great blog Andy and perfectly timed too!

    Currently planning to add an X100s to my arsenal of Fuji’s for wedding work. This has pretty much removed any doubts that I had.

    P

  2. Very impressed with the b/w,am I assuming that pp was used.If not,there is some great contrast there.
    For the record,I’m just a hobbyist in the photographic world,but I do like to see great photos,and I think these were.

    Steven

    • Hi Steven. You’re correct in that all the B&Ws are post processed. Everything is from RAW and whilst I like the colour from the X100S, for me it excels with B&W conversions.

  3. Great post Andy, I have kind of gone the other way, I have owned most of the mirror less including EM1, GH3, and now own an XE2. Whilst I love the XE2, I find it way behind my newly acquired 5DMK111 in some areas, mainly focusing, The EM1 is blisteringly fast but I didn’t find it as good with moving subjects, I do feel that after a couple more generations mirror less will have AF to match the best DSLR’s out there

    • Agree with all that Phil. I haven’t tried the XE2 but certainly the X100S is behind the 5D3 in focussing. Given that AF is supposed to be improved in the XE2, it sounds like it’s still off the SLR performance. In side-to-side tests with the EM1 and a 5D3 with 35L I’ve found the EM1 faster to focus. And again I agree with you it’s not quite as good with moving subjects. I get the feeling there may be a technique to this and plan to practice some more! I might even read the manual…

      Thanks for your comment.

  4. An interesting read, thanks for sharing. For me the b&w photos stand out from the rest. I’m considering the XE2 in addition to the 5D MkIII and am interested in Phil’s comments too. With the pace of wedding photography I’d be reluctant to use the Fuji if I have the DSLR on me – although perhaps I’d use once I’d got the ‘safe’ shots…

    • Thanks for your comment Paul.

      I agree on the B&W from the X100S being the standout performance. As mentioned in another reply, these are all post-processed from RAWs. My use of it at weddings has been mainly when things were a little slower (eg, reception) but that said, I’ve used it in most scenarios and tried to represent that in the image choices here. A lot of the AF slowness can be avoided by using manual focus with peaking, as you can see a lot of what’s in focus without even having to send the lens on it’s little journey backwards and forwards focussing!

      Another thing that made a huge difference to me was adding the wide convertor. There was little point in using the Fuji at the same time as my 5D3 with a 35 on, but the convertor gave me that bit of extra view (28mm equivalent) which is a nice focal length to work with.

  5. I have been mirrorless for a number of years preferring the small size as opposed to the large DSLR’s, I have changed between Panasonic and Olympus, my heart always says Oly, but my hands prefer Panny.

    My reasons for chopping and changing between m/43 and full frame have mainly been the latitude for tweaking Raw files, the M4/3 does not have the same scope for post processing for me, I am only shooting as a hobby not professionally though, but I do like the push and pull the files around in Raw.

    The Fuji however changes this, the files really seem pliable, the XE2 is certainly improved over the XE1 regarding focussing speed, which is a Camera I would not have bought, however this Xmas chasing my 2 year old Grandson around the house with the XE2 was frustrating, it just couldn’t acquire focus quick enough, I ended up getting the GH3 out which has excellent AF.
    The latest M/43 from Paany and Oly are really excellent, I borrowed a GX7 from my dealer for a week and found it a terrific Camara and would probably be my Mirrorless choice to date

    The Fuji though has an appeal it’s hard to put your finger on, Fuji also seem to be listening to customer feedback and developing in line with that, they have some work to do on the flash side of things as this is lacking in the system, it is however a system I think will grow into a very solid platform.

    Oh Andy, I am on the mentoring scheme this year, can’t wait.

  6. Thanks for the post, its really interesting to hear the views of other photographers using these new mirrorless cameras’. I am getting more and more tempted to switch. For personal use I am desperate to get my hands on one, I hate having to lug around a big heavy DSLR when out with the family.

    Keep up the good work

  7. Andy,

    Really interesting post, and from someone who shoots with 2 x5DIII’s for weddings, but shoots with a Fuji X20 for funny/hobby photography and is considering the upgrade the X100s, it an interesting read.

    One thing Im still unsure of… and this may not be relevant to you, is that i find my 35L my most used lens…. by a long way. Its nearly always on my camera. And nearly always at 1.4 The other 5D usually has an 85 on it, something wider like a 16mm.

    So would I have any need to have a X100, as that is basically just another 35mm lens? I know I could add the 28mm adaptor on, but 28mm/35mm is still quite close and I would (probably) always go for the 5D & 35L in a pinch.

    I want to need the Fuji… I want one, and one day I probably will have one… but Im struggling to see how I could effectively introduce it into a wedding bearing in mind I nearly always shoot 35mm anyway!

    any help would be great!
    Cheers

    Ps – love the B&Ws too!

    • Hi Nick. A little late replying but hopefully might be of help soon! I too find the 35L my most used lens which is where I started running into problems with the X100S, in that it just wasn’t getting used much. It may be the reason I spent most of the time using the Wide Converter Lens as I wanted a slightly wider option. There are times when the smaller, lighter setup of the X100S was appreciated, but does that mean it’s necessary to keep? I made the decision that it wasn’t whilst having some more comprehensive kit changes.

      Cheers for reading and commenting :)

  8. Thanks for the great blog post! I’m seriously considering adding an x100s to my bag for weddings! I’m currently using 5D MkIII and 5D MkII and plan to continue using them. I’m curious if one can tell the difference in the color when an x100s photo is next to a 5D MkIII photo in an album? I would most likely shoot RAW, convert to DNG, and process in LR5 with both cameras. Any ideas Andy?

  9. Fantastic work Andy. Really interesting insights too. Can you share any thoughts on raw conversion from the Fuji files? Are you converting with ACR/Lightroom? Any issues with the much discussed smudgey foliage or skin tones? Many thanks.

    • Hi Paul. Thanks for the comment.

      I always used Lightroom / ACR to convert from raw. Personally never had an issue with the smudging (or even noticed that I can remember!). I always go easy on noise reduction at every stage. Clarity and sharpening can help, and I personally love adding a bit of grain back in. All things that may help.

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Andy Rapkins is an Associate Photographer within the Allister Freeman Photography Group