It's been a few months now since I made the choice to go full Fuji when photographing weddings, the choice was one I was thinking about ever since getting my hands on the XE1 and the 35mm lens, after having this along side a Canon 5Dii I was thinking how I would be happy doing a whole wedding using only this lens and camera.
Since then I've invested in a full bag of fuji gear which I'm using at every wedding now, its light, small and gives incredible image quality, it also helps me remain inconspicuous when shooting, as I'm a documentary photographer I don't want to be waving massive lenses about attracting loads of attention!
Above is a brief outline of the gear I use, there are many more batteries and cards etc, plus a backup X-E1 and X100, I feel this setup covers all my needs and allows me to be quiet whilst still capturing images at an awesome level of quality.
I've only shown the original trinity of lenses here, that is the 18mm, 35mm and 60mm, to be honest about 80% of my wedding work is with the 35mm, I love the 50mm equivalent and feel it can be used almost all the time. I would be happy to try the new 56mm for a wedding in place of the 60mm, but I'll wait a while to do this I think as this kit is all I need.
Obviously this all fits in a very small bag which is great so depending on how I'm feeling I'll either have one X-E1 with the 35mm on a strap over one shoulder and the rest of the gear in the bag with the other X-E1 armed with the 60mm lens incase I need a sudden bit of reach.
The X100 is great for quiet parts such as the ceremony and when trying to be subtle, its also my go-to camera for dancing shots with a Yongnou flash on top; wide open, drag the shutter, awesome.
How I Shoot
My shooting style is to be quick, subtle and simple, I try to make it as easy as possible to capture an image and that means having some things on auto, this allows me to concentrate on the moment knowing that the camera will give me what I want.
Documentary photography is very fast moving you don't have time to pose people so capturing a smile or hug needs quick reactions and a camera thats ready to go, this Fuji are not famed for their speed, but using the settings below I've managed to get shots very quickly and accurately, try some of these for yourself.
Camera settings are as such:
ISO: Auto | Base: 200 | Limit 6400 | Min. Shutter: 1/60
Image Quality: RAW + JPeg
Dynamic range: 400
Film Simutaiton: PRO Neg. Hi
White Balance: Auto
Highlight Tone: -2
Shadow Tone: -2
Noise Reduction: 0
Other than that I shoot aperture priority and use the exposure compensation and spot metering to get what I need, all this mean I don't have to worry about most of the settings in camera at all, I have the AE-L/AF-L button set to auto focus lock, this allows me to lock focus then 'grab' exposure by using the centre focus point. The X-E1 gives me a live preview of my exposure so I know right away if I've got what I need, this method is crucial for those silhouette shots, it also means you can shoot fast without going into burst mode, just keep holding the AF-L button and fire away, give it a go its quite quick.
I like to shoot what I see so if it's a dark day then I'll focus on the light that is there, more often this allows for a much more realsic and honest photo rather than blasting the scene with flash.
I shoot most things wide open so I'm literally thinking about moment and composition, all this allows me to be quick, no messing around with settings just getting shots.
I also use mostly JPegs, the RAW is there for fixing any errors in exposure or white balance, but I love the PRO Neg Hi simulation and shoot quite flat [no harsh shadows or highlights] to give me a nice clean exposure to work from.
ISO 6400 is a common sight on my camera at weddings, dark conditions mean I need to ramp the ISO up to get a good exposure, but the Fuji's can handle this with ease and still produce very good and usable images.
I'm not the kind of person who obsesses about sharpness, I like images to be in focus but sharpness, as I'm sure I've said before is an overrated concept, I'd rather a soft image of a great moment that a sharp image of the back of someones head.
All these shots are at ISO 6400, they all have had a bit of extra noise reduction done in Lightroom, I also then add a grain onto the top of all my shots, I sometimes go to 12800 in Jpeg but to be honest things start to fall apart quickly at this boosted level.
At every wedding at least one person asks what cameras I'm using, and I love it, people think I'm shooting with film or just think I'm a guest, all this is awesome, it means I'm not seen as the 'photographer' and helps me blend in.
These cameras give me all I need to shoot weddings and I love using them, they make shooting fun and exciting while giving you image quality that can take on a full frame any day, if I could ask for anything it would be dual card slots, more battery power and a little faster autofocus, but I get on really well with what I have so these changes aren't super important .
Whats next? I like the look of the XT-1 for sure but I'm gonna wait for a long while I think, I'm confident in getting what I need from this setup so why change, sure the XE2 would be nice as its a bit quicker but the button layout is a little different and the change isn't worth the money at the moment. I think I'd rather invest in more glass, maybe getting the 56mm to see how that works, plus there are a lot of new lenses being realised by Fuji over the next year so lets see what they give us.
Let me know what you think and I'd love to hear from you if your shooting weddings with Fujifilm cameras and how you get on-