Sunday, April 17

Street photography and the Fujifilm FinePix X100

Is the eagerly awaited X100 a suitable tool for street photgraphy? Probably not, in its present state. In short, it seems that the autofocus isn't up to speed and the manual focus poorly implemented, with several turns of the focus ring required to get you from near to far.

Nigel Cheffers-Heard on this Flickr thread commented (my headings)

"The autofocus is leisurely to say the least, and for candid photography is a nonstarter (by the time it has locked on, the subject has seen you and the moment has passed).

Manual focus
"One alternative is to have the camera set in Manual Focus, and to momentarily press the AFL button to achieve focus. Frankly, too fiddly and time wasting. And the gearing! But more of that anon...

Another alternative is to set the focusing distance manually using the focusing ring and the scale on the rear screen. Sadly, the implementation of this is nothing short of disastrous. The actual linking between the focusing ring and the lens focus travel is electronic. So presumably you can have any “gearing" you choose to program in. For reasons best known to themselves, Fuji have programmed this so that to focus from infinity to minimum focus takes three complete turns of the focusing ring. Three turns!

I have to ask if they let any serious photojournalists used this camera during the alpha testing phase, because I cannot be alone in thinking this is not a good decision."

Street photographer John Goldsmith has written a detailed review on Street Reverb Magazine, and has similar misgivings (my headings):

"the autofocus is reasonably fast though not nearly as quick as my 5DMkII, even in great light. In short, I didn’t find the autofocus performance fast enough. In the case of the X100, the freezing EVF, the lack of a focus tool in the OVF, and the relatively slow autofocus, don’t leave any quick and reliable focusing options for speedily composing a street photograph. ...

Manual focus
"This focus ring, which seems to have been dipped in high-grade honey, can take as much as 5 full rotations to move to the opposite end of the scale. Fortunately, if I understand the mechanisms of the camera, the focus is electronic, or fly-by-wire, and this suggests that a firmware update could be an easy fix."

Tuesday, April 5

Format Festival in Derby, UK. Part 4: Monday

My last day at Format, and I bid farewell to the Kingsway Retail Park Travelodge at the crack of dawn. I have accumulated an array of portable food over the past few days – fruit and biscuits mainly – and the leftovers come in handy for a quick breakfast, as the hotel has no dining facilities.

The University is the main item on the agenda today – it is host to more than a dozen exhibitions, and is a little way out from the town centre. After getting the bus into town, I stop to study the outdoor Magnum display outside Quad in real detail for the first time. I get into conversation with a man with a camera who turns out to be Jack Simon – an excellent photographer whose work I have long admired online – who is exhibiting at the University.

Trudging out to the University – usually it would be a stroll, but my feet are still giving me gyp – I hear a Monkees song blaring out from a vintage clothes shop. Yes, them again. I pop into Vintage Romance to discuss the finer points of the Monkees career (including the experimental stuff) with the owner... She likes taxidermy.

I am tempted by these leftover chips but I had just eaten an egg, mayo and onion roll from The Cob Shop (awarded five stars by Derby City Council Food and Hygiene).

I spend about an hour at the University in the end – I wish it could have been much longer. The University is a very impressive modern building. Although a bit off the beaten track, the exhibitors generally have a lot more space here than at Quad. As well as Jack Simon’s pictures, of particular note are Andrew Glickman’s large subway pictures (within black frames but without glass – this seemed to be a great way to display prints), Alessandro Marchi’s large street landscape work, Stephen McLaren’s London work, and Laurence Stephens’s supermarket pictures. I chatted to Lawrence on the opening night, and he gets permission from the shop owners to shoot inside, but then takes candid close-up shots with a big SLR and flash, which must take a lot of nerve.

Then back to the town centre to see the In-Public show again, and then train station. I just make my 1 o’clock train.

UPDATE: Format is now officially over, although the exhibitions are still up at Quad and the Museum and Art Gallery according to the festival guide (please check before travelling!). The University shows are definitely no more.