Fuji XE2 and Manual Focusing 2

You’ve been waiting for the Year-End Blog, well, I have to say, I’m having a hard time writing it. I did start something several days ago, but I am not satisfied and I left it aside … Considering the title of this Blog, you must be wondering if I went out with my Fuji XE2 on the street again?

Fuji XE2 | 105 mm | f2.5 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

I have already told you that I no longer take it in the street. I find it bulky and a bit heavy. I’ve spent so much time with lightweight cameras like the Ricoh GR (D) or the Fuji XF10 that I can’t stand having a big camera in my hands when I’m on the street. It’s a question of feeling. I need to be nimble and discreet in the street. It’s a matter of habit, I’m sure. But after 5 years of using small cameras, I can’t see myself taking out my Fuji XE2 for my street work.

Fuji XE2 | 105 mm | f2.5 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

I have always used 28mm to photograph my children and my family. I don’t have a problem with that because I photograph them as I photograph people in the street. I like this spontaneous side, not posed which surprises my parents somewhat. They don’t understand my approach. I can explain to them that the photos are more alive and natural like that than when we take photos posed in front of the lens, my parents prefer not to be caught off guard and for them, we pose in front of the photographer …

Fuji XE2 | 105 mm | f2.5 | 1/1000s | ISO 200

My children are growing up and Joachim has just celebrated his 12th birthday. I’m not going to spread your word by telling you that they grow up quickly … But they really are! He entered adolescence full force and it shows when I want to take a picture of him. He is already very posh and is already influenced by what he sees on social networks from which he quickly learns the codes. Not a day goes by without him asking me to take a picture …

Fuji XE2 | 105 mm | f2.5 | 1/320s | ISO 200

The problem is that with my 28mm, I couldn’t take the photos he asked for. Too much distortion and clearly the 28mm is not a portrait lens! For a while I had brought out an old Nikon film lens that I mounted with an adapter on my Fuji XE2. It was a 105mm f2.5 … So I would like to point out that the Fuji XE2 has an APS-C sensor. This means that the 105 mm mounted on it corresponded to a 150 mm in 24×36 format. Not really the ideal focal length for portraiture.

Fuji XE2 | 50 mm | f1.8 | 1/200s | ISO 1250

So I bought a Nikon 50mm f1.8 on Leboncoin for the modest sum of 65 €. I received it a little before Christmas and since then I have been really happy with my purchase. Of course, there are tradeoffs to be made. The files keep the ISO and speed information. On the other hand, the aperture goes through the trap. There are no connectors on the lenses so this information is lost. Of course, the device is used in manual mode. Finally it concerns the focusing, because with the EVF (the electronic viewfinder) of the Fuji XE2, you know when it is badly exposed because the image turns black. It is the same when it is overex. It remains manual but you are nevertheless helped for the exposure. What between us is very useful!

Fuji XE2 | 50 mm | f1.8 | 1/1000s | ISO 200

The focus is therefore as I said manual. It’s been a while since I last used manual focus. It goes back to the early 2000s when I had my Nikon FM2. Since then I had switched to digital with the Nikon D200. The rest you know with the Fuji XE2 in 2016 … So it’s not really easy. I took countless photos that were not really sharp because the focus was not done correctly. There’s no denying it, AF is really cool as long as we know exactly where the focus should be. For portraits, very often, it is on the eyes where the focus is done (do you confirm John?). And even there, depending on the distance, I couldn’t do it right. And it’s not forgiving when your lens is open at f1.8

Fuji XE2 | 50 mm | f1.8 | 1/200s | ISO 200

It takes time for me. I have to gain speed because even if the portraits are posed, it’s difficult to ask the models to keep a natural attitude if you take too much time focusing. I think that by using this lens, I will gain in speed of execution. I discovered a very useful button on my Fuji XE2. This is the help magnifier for the focusing. By pressing a button, I cross-hairs my image which is magnified to confirm that the focus is correctly done. If not, I can turn the ring to rectify. All this is done quickly and allows me to take pictures in focus.

Fuji XE2 | 50 mm | f1.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

It’s pretty fun to use this camera in manual mode. The easiest way would be to buy a Fujinon lens with AF so you don’t have this focus problem anymore, but I find manual focusing adds a bit of soul to what I’m doing. In this all-analog world, it allows me to use technology while keeping a little control and not being subjected to it. For the use I make of it, AF is not essential and there is a significant element. This Nikon 50mm only cost me 65 € !! When I see the quality and the sharpness of the rendering of the photos, I tell myself that this old film lens has nothing to envy to the most recent.

Fuji XE2 | 50 mm | f1.8 | 1/200s | ISO 250

So no, I don’t train because I plan to buy a Leica M10 for my street work. The GR series is fine for me, but when it comes to photos of my family, I will be using my Fuji XE2 more regularly. The 50mm (75mm in 24×36 format) is perfect for portraiture, but I ask if a small 35 mm (50mm) wouldn’t be more useful because it is more versatile. I can continue with the portrait but also other style of photos. I’ll see if there isn’t a good deal on Leboncoin!

All photos were taken with the Fuji XE2 with 105mm | f2.5 and 50mm | f1.8

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2 thoughts on “Fuji XE2 and Manual Focusing

  • John Harper

    Man he’s grown up! That shot of him in his patterned shirt really is exceptional. The eyes have to be in focus in my opinion Jeff, or at least the one nearest to the photographer. Try f/0.95, it’s torture with manual focus, a struggle to get candid and not posed photos, but it can be done. Best answer to that problem is not to get close, far more keepers are possible that way and of course be fast. I suppose a 35mm would do the job on a 1.5 crop. I have to say though that your bargain 50mm (75mm) Nikon lens looks just about perfect. Much more flattering for your subjects although anyone looking at the evidence here can tell they don’t need that, they’ll all look absolutely fabulous whatever lens you use.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Nikon has only done one 35 mm at an aperture of 0.9. Not made for my camera. I might buy a 7 artisan 35 mm f0.95. I could find an old nikon 35 mm at a more reasonnable price, but the f0.95 interest me. I want to have that noctlilux effect ;). It’s something like 260€. I think it’s worth the money. I admire your skill abilities to use this lens at this aperture. And you don’t have the help magnifier ! I need to use more this lens to get use to the manual focusing. As you said, I should avoid close up when it comes to candid ones because it’s too tricky to get the focus right.
      All the best of the forthcoming year John. You and your lovely family. Take care see you next year 😉