Fujifilm X100 Settings for portraiture

Here are the two distinctly different ways that I use my fujifilm X100 with firmware V2.

X100-1

Taken from my gallery of X100 portraits and featuring Chloe-Jasmine Whichello

1. Out and About ~ This is my most common set up and uses aperture priority in conjunction with auto ISO. Here are my settings for that working method…

ISO set to 200 Auto on ~ max 3200 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/80th
Shutter speed dial set to A
Aperture dial set to f/2 (wide open)
Jpeg Fine + Raw
Auto WB
Monochrome with G filter
AFS with the focus activated by a half press of the shutter button
The central focus zone set with the smallest activation box

I use this configuration for location shooting using natural light or reflectors. I also use it when shooting interiors lit with continuous lights. I just pick up the camera, switch it on and start shooting. My only setting adjustment during the shooting process is exposure compensation via the very convenient dial.

The vast majority of my pictures with my Out and About settings subsequently use 1/80th second at f/2 and the camera adjusts the ISO from 200 to 3200 to suit the light level. I find 1/80th second is the perfect setting to ensure my pictures are free from camera shake* (See the section on shutter speed below). On the very rare occasion where subject movement is likely, I just dial in a 1/125th or 1/250th second on the shutter speed dial and let the auto ISO function compensate automatically.

X100-2

Shot in the Manchester Hilton with Carla Monaco using the X100

2. With Flash ~ My second working method is using the X100 camera in manual exposure mode. I use this mode when I’m shooting with flash on location or if I’m in the studio. Here are my settings for that working method:

ISO set to 200 Auto off
Shutter Speed and aperture set as required
Jpeg Fine + Raw
Sunny day WB
Astia S film simulation
AFS with the focus activated by a half press of the shutter button
The central focus zone set with the smallest activation box

Focussing the X100 is not as tricky as some people make out. Because the lens is a simple design I find the focus reframe method of shooting works well. I usually use the centre focus zone and a half press of the shutter to lock the focus before recomposing and shooting. Scooting the focus zone around using the rear dial works a treat too. I always use the X100 with AFS and don’t bother with rear AF button focussing method.

Why the X100 and X100s are fabulous portrait cameras: I love the silent shutter and the unobtrusive nature of the X100. When I shoot using the LCD I can maintain my connection to my client and I like that aspect of shooting too. These characteristics affect the pictures I shoot and in some ways make SLRs less capable as portrait cameras.

X100-3

Shot using the X100 in Fuerteventura and featuring Katy Ruth.

*A note about shutter speed and focal length with Fujifilm X cameras. For hand held shooting I have found that the pixel pitch of a 12mp APSC sensor (X100) requires a shutter speed of 1/ (3*F) where F is the focal length of the lens. So for the X100 where F=23 I use a shutter speed of 1/80th second as it is the closest value I can set using the auto iso function above my calculated value of 1/69th second. When I’m shooting hand held using a manual exposure system I have to choose 1/125th second as the shutter speed dial is in whole stop increments.

For the X100s and indeed the X-E2 and X-Pro1 that use an APSC size sensor but have a smaller pixel pitch to accommodate the 16 million pixels I find I have to use 1/ (4*F) as my minimum shutter speed for hand held shooting. With the 23mm lens of the X100s or with the 23mm lens on the X-E2 or X-Pro1 I need to use 1/100th second to get sharp pictures. The auto iso function of the X100 s and the X-E2 allow this setting. The X-Pro1 doesn’t have a useable auto iso function so I dial in 1/125th second instead.

Using the same formula to get sharp hand held pictures with my 60mm lens on the X-E2 or X-Pro1 I need to use 1/250th second. If I drop to 1/125th second I get noticeable camera shake on perhaps 40% of the images when I view them at 100%. So I use my monopod for any shutter speed below 1/250th second with my 60mm lens. Conversely when I set the 55mm – 200mm lens to 60mm I find I can shoot hand held down to 1/30th second because of the image stabilisation. Obviously subject movement plays a part shooting portraits at those speeds so I choose to use 1/125th second with the long zoom lens at any focal length right up to 200mm. I never use a monopod with the long zoom lens as there is no advantage.

The future: I hope that the X200 goes full frame because the X100s is just an amazing camera as it is and there is a demand for a full frame fixed lens camera out there and the organic sensor FF Fuji could be just the world beater that Fujifilm needs.

I hope the X-Pro2 has in camera, on sensor, stabilisation especially if the pixel count goes to 21 million pixels on an organic sensor. That will ensure the 56mm or 60mm lenses can be used hand held at 1/60th second rather than 1/250th second. Having to use a monopod is a bit of a pain that I can do without. I doubt I’ll ever be shooting the 56mm lens wider than f/2 except for full length portraits.

Please feel free to comment below or ask questions. Please visit my gallery of X100 images to get some ideas and inspiration for shooting portraits.

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  1. Thanks for the nice post! You use the same logic of settings as I use with my D800.

    But I do wonder which software do you use to process your RAW files? Lightroom does not seem to have a good engine when it comes to the unusual Fuji pixel arrangement.

  2. Hi Seb,

    I use Lightroom to process my Fujifilm files. It is fabulous at creating natural very detailed images quickly. Obviously the X100 uses a standard Beyer type array and is just fine. 18 months ago Adobe were having problems getting the best from the Xtrans sensor. Since then Fuji worked alongside the team at Adobe and the output is now wonderful. I prefer it to Capture One and Silky Pix. The workflow in Lightroom is way better than the competition too. So ever since Lightroom 4.2 the X-Pro1 files have been tremendous. I’m just waiting on Adobe to build the camera profile for the X-E2 now. The beta version of their camera profile is a bit broken in the shadows. Until then I will be shooting jpeg on the X-E2 :)

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

  3. Hi Damian,

    Interesting article, I’m slightly surprised that you should opt for Auto WB when shooting outside, I assume you are adjusting white balance in LR as required.

    Great pictures

    Murray

  4. Hi Damien,

    Are there any other differences in setup between the X100s or Xpro and Xe series that you use for raw or jpeg capture? I’ve been getting use to the XE2 over the past week. Can’t wait to build a solid prime kit as it has been forever since I used zooms.

  5. Hi Terrence,

    There are numerous differences in my working methods between the various X camera models. I’m working on a blog post that highlights my working systems for each of the cameras I own. I’ll get it live as soon as I can :)

    My perfect prime choice for the X-E2: 14mm, 23mm, 35mm, 56mm (if it has fabulous bokeh) or my 60mm.

    Cheers, Damien :)

  6. Hi Murray,

    The Fuji X-E2 auto white balance is as near perfect as it is possible to get. It’s not like my Canon or Nikon where I have to correct every frame in Lightroom. Fuji have nailed colour accuracy and are world leaders in this field. The jpegs straight from camera with auto WB are good to go.

    Cheers,

    Damien.

  7. Hi Damien,

    I have been following your blog for a few months now, many interesting articles you wrote here. I am a newbie in photography.

    I have a question regarding Flash power setting. How do I set the power of my flash? When it should be set to have full power or half power or quarter power etc. I have Fujifilm X100S and YongNuo 560 III. Trying to learn using off camera flash. For example, I set ISO 200 at f4, should I only guess the power of my flash to get the best exposure? Or is there any rule of it?

    Thank you very much

  8. Hi Damien

    Thanks for all the useful information on the X100, you really do demonstrate the possibilities that can be achieved from this fine camera. I love how you are so open with your knowledge.

    Regards

    Clifford

  9. Ciao Damien,
    thank you for these infos about settings. The shots are absolutely wonderful.

    A question about DR: do you use AUTO DR or DR 100?

    Best regards,
    Maxime

  10. Hi Maxime, I use DR 100. I’m no expert on these issues. I read once that it was the thing to do and I’m happy with my pictures. I’ve never tried setting auto or any other value. It must be an option for a reason but maybe that’s an investigative task for boxing day.

    Cheers, Damien.

  11. Hello Damien,

    I have been admiring your web portfolio for quite some time. Thanks for sharing your X100 preferences. What settings for sharpness, hilight/shadow tone and NR do you use for your OOCJ images?

    Regards, Steven

  12. Hi Steven,

    I rarely use ooc jpegs but my settings for NR is -2, Sharpness is -1, Highlight tone is -1 and Shadow tone is -1.This gives me the screen image I like and I revisit the look in Lightroom.

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

  13. Hi Danny,

    Nope, I used an Elinchrom Quadra on a boom arm but it was on quite low power. I could have used a Speedlight instead but the Quadra head with standard diffuser is about 5 times the area of a Speedlight lens and the look is significantly softer as a result.

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

  14. Thanks for sharing your x100 presets
    I set my x100 up using your out and about and love the images I get in the camera, but when I taken them to LR4 the presets are gone all I have is Raw color images what am I doing wrong?