Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Four: Using the X-Pro2 in a Portrait Session

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Note:  This is part four of a five part review series on the soon to be released Fuji X-Pro2:

Hello again!

Part four of this series will focus on shooting portraits in studio with the Fuji X-Pro2.  The truth is that I don’t shoot in studio very often,  I much prefer environmental portraiture such as this:

DSCF6164-Edit

I wanted to test the X-Pro2 under as many different situations as I possibly could though, so I contacted a close friend (and beautiful model) who I shoot with often and we spent a few hours making some portraits.

A few quick notes about shooting in studio with Fuji cameras:

  1. The sync speed on the Fuji X-Pro2 is now 1/250th, up from the X-T1’s 1/180th.  This small increase doesn’t make a huge difference in studio when you are using 100% studio lighting, but it is a helpful addition when balancing flash against ambient light.  The king of the X series in terms of sync speed definitely remains the X100t and its leaf shutter though.  I love that camera.
  2. I commonly see people asking why everything is black in the viewfinder when shooting in studio with Fuji cameras and studio lighting.  This is almost always because the camera has exposure preview turned on, and the low ambient light and typical studio settings make for a very dark scene when the lights aren’t firing.  When shooting in studio it is often necessary to disable this option.

We started our day by shooting a few portraits in natural light, using diffused light coming in from a north facing window.  Here are two shots from that part of our session, taken in the new Acros film simulation:

DSCF4898-Edit(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, Acros film simulation, f/2.8 at 1/125th at ISO 200 – Natural Light)

DSCF4925-Edit(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, Acros film simulation, f/3.6 at 1/140th at ISO 400 – Natural Light)

I am really falling for the new black and white Acros film simulation.  It has a beautiful look to it, and works very well for portraits in my opinion.

When we were done the natural light shots we started working with studio lighting.  The following setup was used for each of the images below:

  1. The camera was set to ISO 200, the shutter speed was set to the max sync speed of 1/250th, and the aperture ranged between f/8 to f/11 depending on the light to subject distance.
  2. All colour images were shot in Provia / Standard.  The final black and white image was shot in Acros.
  3. The light is coming from camera right, using an Alien Bee 1600 in a 50″ Westcott Apollo softbox.  For some images a reflector was used on camera left for a little fill.
  4. For these images I used the 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, and the 90mm f/2 lenses.
  5. We did not use a make up artist, and these images have had very little done to them in post other than the usual RAW conversions.

Here are a few of the images we shot under studio lighting, starting with the one from the top of the post:

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thoughts from the day:

The X-Pro2 was a pleasure to use in studio:  The new max sync speed of 1/250th is a welcome addition, and there were no autofocus issues shooting in a dim studio.  It was nice to have the option of the optical viewfinder, the new sensor renders beautiful images, and of course the new Acros film simulation is ideally suited for black and white portraiture.

I did have to make an adjustment to the way I hold the camera in portrait orientation.  My standard grip, with my left hand on the bottom supporting the lens and body, obscured the viewfinder on a few occasions until I learned to change it up slightly.   Once I did it was not an issue.

This shoot reaffirmed for me how much I enjoy working with small rangefinder style cameras.  Many respected photographers have spoken about the position of the viewfinder in a rangefinder camera, and how your face isn’t completely covered by the camera when you look through it.  There is a truth to this:  The whole time we were shooting,  my model and I were able to see each other as there  was no barrier between us.  It is a small thing, but I think it made for a more personal and relaxing shoot.  It was a good day.

In part five of this series I will sum up my experiences shooting the Fuji X-Pro2 throughout February, and of course there will be a few more photos to share!

Cheers,

Ian

27 thoughts on “Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Four: Using the X-Pro2 in a Portrait Session

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Ken,

      These were shot in compressed RAW, with minimal editing in post. The skin tones can largely be chalked up to a model with amazing genes. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

      Cheers,

      Ian

    • Dave says:

      Great article …. I have just purchased an X Pro2 and fell foul of the exposure preview issue you spoke of. Had a studio setup and model but for reasons I won’t bore you with didn’t get chance to test everything out ahead of time. Needless to say due to lack of Fuji experience I found I was blind through the EVF. I reverted to my Nikon DSLR but am now educated and have discovered the preview disable …… school boy error, won’t make the same mistake again !

    • Ian says:

      Hey there!

      In terms of image quality not a huge difference, which is actually a testament to how good I think the 16MP sensor is. I do think the low light performance is actually a bit better, and it definitely allows for more latitude when cropping.

  1. Bjarne says:

    Nice:) Love the b/w pictures, nice lighting and really great skin tones on the b/w. Does this new emulation give those out of the box or did you lighten up red/yellow colors in post? So beautiful pictures. Maybe a little reddish in colors, are there any issue with Fuji and red tones?

    • Ian says:

      Hey Bjarne!

      I do very little post work on my portraits, especially with someone as natural in front of the camera as my friend here. The only adjustments made were basic RAW adjustments. That is probably a reflection of the street photographer in me. 😀

  2. Bjarne says:

    Will either your light and exposure is every good or this new film simulation is really great for skin tones, because I never get those light beautiful skin tones that easy:) I have tried a little using monochrome with red filter, that helps but these of yours are gorgeous.

  3. Marc Cooper says:

    Hi Ian, wonderful photos and thank you for a great post. Question about shooting raw – how do you get the Fuji film simulations on your raw files? I use LR and have copied settings via camera calibration, but I find that they don’t match the ‘impact or ‘shine” of the jpgs – they seem slightly faded or washed out. Thanks in advance….

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Marc,

      I literally just apply them in the calibration panel in Lightroom, then tweak from there. There is definitely something special about Fuji’s jpegs, but I find I can take my RAWs where I want them to be.

      Sorry, wish I had more helpful advice for you.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  4. john canavan says:

    Fab pics very natural thanks for the review , looking forward to final thoughts.
    I have the xpro 1 and love it to bits, i have been shooting Canon for about 30 years up until a couple of years ago and good as they are i have never enjoyed my photography more than when using the wee Fujis.
    Cant wait till i get my hands on the xpro 2 i have just about enough saved for it.Going to the Photography show in Birmingham England next month and hope they have some for sale there.
    Thanks again Ian i love your simple style here and with not farting about in post you have kept the natural beauty of your lovely wee lass who is modelling.
    More power to you.
    John

  5. ailukewitsch says:

    Really nice portraits. One question regarding how the fuji functions, with exposure simulation set to off, (so you can shoot with studio lights), does the camera still closes down the aperture to focus? Lets say you set aperture to f11, will it be wide open to focus, and then just close down when you shoot? With the A7ii, it closes it down to focus, so in a studio setting with dim lights, its struggles to capture focus.

    Thanks!

    • Ian says:

      I will check that as soon as I can, but I haven’t encountered any times where the X-Pro2 struggled with low light autofocus. It is a significant step up from the early X series cameras in that regard.

  6. Immanuel says:

    Hi Ian 🙂

    I just started talking pictures in November, but I have shot close to 10.000 pictures since then. I am not so trained with judging focal lengths yet, but I believe I have seen a tendency toward some differences between some of the lenses’ (which I do not own) optical characteristics. The five last pictures. Are they 90, 56, 56, 56 and 35 F1.4? 1, 3 and 5 are the ones I am most confident in recognizing.

    • Ian says:

      For that shoot most likely Pocket Wizards (plus IIs). I also use the Cactus V6 system occasionally. They all work just the way you’d expect.

      Cheers,

      Ian

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