Natalie Westcott boudoir with the X-Pro1 & X-E2 ~ discussion and pictures

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An update on my X-E2 journey and 90 pictures from one shoot with the Fuji X system to enjoy…

I shot both my X- cameras side by side because I wanted to see how easy it was to switch between them. My conclusion is that the X-Pro1 and the X-E2 have such different operating set ups it was a challenge. However when the new firmware for the X-Series cameras is released next week most features will merge and the cameras will seem far more coordinated. At the moment they both have their strengths and weaknesses. The ‘exposure preview when in manual mode’ function on the X-E2 is fabulous and is due to become a feature on the X-Pro1 too along with the minimum shutter speed setting in auto ISO. I hope the X-E2 gets the X-Pro1 focussing characteristics when in manual mode because at the moment the focus zone on the X-E2 is far too big. Both cameras could do with the best bits of each becoming integrated into a more coherent firmware with common characteristics.

I used three prime lenses for this set of pictures. Every frame here was shot wide open. On the 23mm and 35mm lenses that is f/1.4 and on the 60mm lens it is f/2.4. I used ISO 400 to ISO 1600 depending upon the light level and exposure characteristics I wanted to capture. All the pictures were shot hand held and I much prefer the handling of the X-Pro1 with the RRS ‘L’ bracket and grip to the X-E2 with no grip. A bracket and grip will become available for the x-E2 soon enough.

Ever since I embarked on my Fuji X journey there has been a useable set of prime lenses. The original three offerings 18mm, 35mm and 60mm set me on my way 15 months ago and now with a system comprising of 12 lenses and counting there are still two primes that I am patiently waiting for. The 56mm f/1.2 portrait lens and the 90mm f/2 IS long portrait lens. The 56mm lens should be with us next month. The 90mm lens is in my dreams. How is it when faced with fabulous tools we always want more? I’m now carrying two X bodies with me to shoots, 4 lenses and filters too so I’m going to need a bigger camera bag when the 56mm arrives. I’ve lost count of my camera bags but this time I think I’ll have a hand me down. My Canon 5D2 kit with it’s primes is living in my Think Tank Retrospective 20 in Pinestone. This will be a perfect size for my Fuji X / prime kit. I will be able to carry 2 bodies, 4 lenses and accessories at about half the weight of one DSLR and just three lenses in the same bag.

A three prime set up is always going to be a compromise in my book but with the new Fuji XF 56mm just around the corner I’ll be using a four lens set up comprising the 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm lenses. Some photographers have asked me if I feel the 23mm and 35mm lenses are too close and ‘is there a need to have both’? I love this combination because I use the 23mm lens to capture the establishing shots, telling the story and I use the 35mm to capture the intimacy in my portraits. The intimacy comes from a close proximity to my subject. If I want to go tighter than head and shoulders it is the turn of the 60mm macro lens. I also use the 60mm lens when I’m wanting to create long shots with a feeling of distance and separation. The lenses are merely allowing me to express what I want in the image by the nature of my proximity to my subject.

Photography is perhaps more exciting for me now than at any time in my 30 year career to date. That brings me on to this assignment. I was booked for a 1:1 tuition day in Bristol. My client stayed at a boutique hotel for a couple of nights and we spent the day between shooting in his room. My delegate chose to shoot on a Nikon D800 and a D700 with a set of top shelf primes while I worked the Fujis. I collected Samantha from Temple Meads station on my way to the hotel and after a rapport building session over tea and coffee we were taking our first frames in natural light. I’ve never worked with Natalie before and I’ve no idea why that should be because she is a fabulous model, fun and kind. Thank you Natalie.

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Model: Natalie Wwstcott
Photography: Damien Lovegrove
Lighting: Sunbounce Pro reflector in Silver/ white, Lupolux LED 1000, Lowel iD light
Filtration: Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/4 filter on 23mm and 35mm and 1/8th on the 60mm lens
Make up and hair: Natalie
Styling: Damien Lovegrove and Natalie
Corsets by: Lisa Keating
Camera kit: Fuji X-E2, X-Pro1, 23mm, 35mm and 60mm lenses
Post production: Adobe Lightroom 5.3 – no Photoshop, no presets

Here are 90 of my pictures from the shoot. The misty look was created in camera by shooting into the light with the pro mist filters. What you see is what we shot. If you would like to book me for a 1:1 training session click here for more information and get in touch. There really is no better way to improve your photography than a bespoke learning experience.

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Well there you have it. There are more pictures here than in any other post on this blog. This represents a typical Lovegrove album selection. The energy and variety comes down to direction and the fabulous range in Natalie’s personality and acting ability. I’m sure she was laughing at me rather than with me at times. That’s okay, what matters is we had fun and it shows in the pictures. I’ll report back on the Fuji X cameras after my next shoot with the new firmware. In the meantime please feel free to take a look at my galleries of images here. There are 22 galleries to date containing just over 2000 photographs.

Please comment below :)

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

15 thoughts on “Natalie Westcott boudoir with the X-Pro1 & X-E2 ~ discussion and pictures

  1. A wonderful set of shots, and 90 to choose from!
    Lets assume that Samantha is an extremely pretty and competent model, and we’re looking at the pictures that show of the Fuji X’s in a studio.

    For me, the following are the ones that really stand out:

    Group 23 – main shot. The Bokeh of this is just glorious, but even more so is the tones created in the image, and not a Silver Efex to be seen anywhere!

    Group 17 – left side. Just look at the detail captured in her face! This is not a 5D2/3, 1Ds3 or D800 – this is a 16mp sensor – ok its an X-Trans 16mp sensor, but you get my point.

    Group 5 – left side. How wonderful is that shallow DoF? Right eye perfectly focused, left eye could almost be on the person next to her… This really shows the quality of the lens.

    Group 4 – right side. This picture really shows what lovely colour rendition is captured by these cameras. For me, far superior to what I would ever get from my 5D2’s.

    And my personal favourite, irrespective of what camera and lens was used, or post processing:
    Group 23 main – i really love that smiling face and the subtleness of the toning, rounded off with some wonderful use of open aperture. If some spare cash comes my way, I know which model I want to work with. I already have the X-Pro 1 :-)

  2. Beautiful images Damien! Do you primarily use “Pro Neg. Std.” film simulation for your portrait work? I saw your Blog post on settings and am trying to figure out what you mean by Ns for film simulation.

    Thanks for your very informative posts. The quality of Jpegs SOOC on these Fuji X cameras is just staggering. I just don’t see the need to shoot RAW when you have control over the light like this. Just causes more work than is necessary.

  3. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your comments and observations.

    Obviously this is as far from a studio as you can get so I’m not sure about your assumption. A studio in my book is essentially a black box without light that can be lit as required. The photographer is in complete control of all parameters like contrast etc. In these pictures nearly 2/3rds of them were shot by the ambient light in the room alone. Sometimes I used a reflector to change the direction of the light coming through the windows :)

    Shot 23 set are taken on the 60mm lens at f/2.4. This lens has the finest bokeh of any portrait lens I’ve used. It’s very painterly.

    Shot 17 left is also on the 60mm lens. The detail in the original file is far greater than on the blog. The Fuji X system doesn’t leave me wanting more. That is why I left my Nikon and Canon in the cupboard for the past 20 months.

    Shot 5 is also the 60mm lens at work. It also shows why I don’t focus on the nearest eye. I focus on the mouth and sometimes it is in the same focal plane as the far eye as in this case.

    Shot 4 colour is what the Fuji X system is all about. Right from the days in 2001 when I bought a couple of Fujifilm S1 cameras the colour rendition of Fuji cameras has been head and shoulders of the competition. My Canon 5D mk2 is second best in terms of focus accuracy and colour rendition to the X system so it gets left at home.

    All the pictures you pointed out were captured on the 60mm lens. Here is a gallery of my portraits captured with the 60mm lens on an X-Pro1 :)

    I find the principal asset of the X system is the greater intimacy that can be conjured without the bulk of an ugly lumpy DSLR getting between me and my subject.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Kindest regards and happy shooting,

    Damien.

  4. Hi Rick,

    Thanks for your compliments. On the Fuji X-E2 and the Fuji X-Pro1 via the Q menu I set the film simulation to Ns (big N followed by a little s) I’ve no idea what it is, I only know it is the look I like the most.

    Kind regards,

    Damien :)

  5. Damien,

    So refreshing to see such clean images! I’m so bored with the over processed cliche’s, think I have become de sensitised to them. These are beautiful. Thank you for the post.

    Kevin

  6. Hello Damien.

    Great shots as usual – the Fujis are capable of great results, and you are capable of getting the most of the cameras and the models. An amazing combination…

    Regarding the grip: I use the “iShoot”-grip and L-bracket from eBay on my XE-1 and XE-2. They work great, are affordable and allow the access the battery/card-compartment. May be it’s worth having a look…

    Best regards
    Matt

  7. So I’m trading in my Nikon 70-200 in order to start rounding out my fuji kit. Torn between getting the 35mm and 60mm or going with the 23mm. Or waiting on the 60 and going with the 56mm. Decisions, Decisions, LOL

  8. Thanks Kevin, I think we will start to see a move towards more natural looking imagery, not just over smoothed skin but a drift away from fake vintage and VSCO naffness. It’s about time photography became believable again.

    Cheers,

    Damien.

  9. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately the iShoot grip is a little loose in my RRS ball heads with lever lock. If it were made to the industry standard size adopted by Wimberley, Kirk and RRS I’d have one in a flash and Dremel it out to fit the larger screen of the X-E2. Thanks for the suggestion though.

    Cheers,

    Damien.

  10. Hi Terrence,

    That is a mighty choice to make. Stick with the primes! The zooms are good but the primes are so much faster. Work out what you will eventually be using and start to build towards that kit. The 23mm is wonderful, the 35mm a bargain and lightweight too. The 60 is a wonderful optic and not as slow to focus as people make out. The 56 is likely to cost the earth and may be great at wide open apertures but might not work at f/16 in full sun. My Canon 50mm f/1.2 was shocking at f/11 and smaller. The 60mm is a great performer and a bargain too. Here is a gallery of the work I’ve done with the 60mm lens: http://www.lovegrovephotography.com/fujifilm-xf-60mm-pictures/

    I could just be months before we meet up again,

    Take care my friend. Damien.

  11. Nice insight into your thoughts on the Fuji X system, I’m looking at having the system to work along side and possibly replace my pair of 1Dx’s, I’ve had the Olympus EM1 to trail, amazing camera but its small sensor lacks the quality i desire. but then there is the Sony A7r but lacks lenses at the moment and question Sonys commitment to stick to a system, time will tell but will be a fun time.

  12. Hi Karl,

    I think that the next generation of APSC sensors for the Fuji X series will be the organic technology that Fujifilm developed with Panasonic. If this is the case then the X system will be the one to go for in my opinion. The lenses are superb. There are still no continuous f/2.8 zooms but the primes are wonderful. The A7 is not at all pleasant to use from what I hear but is a pixel peepers delight. I’ve not sold my Canon kit yet but I fully expect to by May or June 2014.

    Have a great Christmas,

    Damien.

  13. After reading articles like yours Damien, I am tempted to give the X-series try. Great set of photographs with a beautiful model. How would you rate Fuji lenses when shooting wide open? I am on Nikon D800 with fast primes and love to shoot wide open. Also, in the past I found quite hard working with small DSLRs as my hands are not the smallest:) Are these cameras good to handle over longer periods?

    Cheers,
    Martin

  14. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your kind words. It’s the Fuji lenses that are why I bought into the system. I’ve always loved Fuji glass and the reputation for great performance and build quality goes on. I’d encourage you to look at some of my latest posts to see how I’m using them now. I have an X-T1 (it’s the camera to get) and 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm. If you want zooms you might be best to wait until the fast zooms are out later this year.

    I hope this helps.

    Damien.

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