Using a Fuji X30 as an emergency backup for a portrait shoot  by Paul Lentz

Paul Lentz

I’m out traveling and was tasked with shooting a portrait session for a family. They were very excited that I was in town for the a bit and that I would be able to create some photographs for them. Yet before I went to do their session I had a lot of free time and decided to go shoot some street and cityscape shots. I came upon two problems. The first was that I took my Nikon out of an nice air conditioned house and car and brought it out into the hot humid air. Rookie mistake number one. Some tricks that I have read about with cold weather shooting is to be really careful causing lens fog. Well, this is a similar situation. One trick is to leave the camera in a plastic bag and let it cool down to the ambient temperature in the bag. This will prevent the moisture from condensing all over the cold camera body. I was excited and forgot about this until I took my camera out and then bam, foggy lens, foggy view finder, and foggy LCD. Not too bad because I just wiped it off but I think the sensor also got a little fog on it as the pictures were terrible. I didn’t like the spot I was in either so I left and got back in my car to run into problem number 2. I dropped my camera. I placed it in my bag and didn’t secure the claps. Another rookie mistake. After picking the camera up, it seemed find, the lens didn’t break, nothing was scratched and I thought I was in the clear. I went to test the autofocus and try a few snap pictures and then heard what sounded like a large pop. The camera completely stopped working. I tried switching batteries but nothing worked. I was in town very temporally and didn’t know where I could get my camera fixed and I had a family session the next day. Two not good things. 

I have read a few articles on the ‘backup’ camera. It seems many wedding pros have two or more camera bodies for just such an occasion. They use them so they always have a camera incase one breaks, but they can also use the second body with a different lens so they can easily switch shots. Well, I’m not a profession wedding photographer and I don’t have a second body per se but I did have a Fuji X30. The X30 is my entry into the mirrorless camera world and more of an enthusiast point and shoot type. It doesn’t have an interchangeable lens and it only has a 1” sensor. However, it still has an EVF, flash, tilt LCD, a hot-shoe, Wifi, and full manual controls. It is a really nice camera that has a lot of features. The most important feature for this case was the hot shoe. My portrait session required off camera flash. I have a remote trigger for my flash and thankfully the Fuji works with it. 

Despite breaking my Nikon camera, I was able to pull off doing a full portrait shoot with a much smaller camera. The X30 is a great street photography camera but thankfully I was able to adapt it to a portrait session. I find that using an EVF is pretty hard for portrait work though. When using flash, it’s usually not as bright in the room. Since the EVF shows a real time view of how the picture might show up and it’s very dark since the settings are set for a flash. Another problem, is the autofocus has trouble working since it is so dark. Perhaps there is a way to  brighten up the EVF that I haven’t found yet but I just shot with both eyes open to try to figure out my framing. 

Photography can be about adapting to new situations and this was certainly the case here. I broke a camera and had to adapt. Even though I wasn’t fully prepared to use the X30 as a portrait camera, I was able to because I had tried it out before. 

The Photo Journey Begins by Paul Lentz

I would like to share with you my journey becoming a photographer. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of resources out there and a lot of photo education sites and blogs. I want to add one more. I do this mostly because a lot of sites are run by photographers that have been doing this professionally for a while. They may have forgotten what it’s like to start fresh and navigate the waters. 

So I started several years ago with the idea that I wanted a nice camera so I could take better pictures than with my phone or some point and shoot. When I initially had this, phone cameras were good but not great. I also had the idea that I just wanted to create my own art. I love the idea of hanging up pictures on my wall and being able to say they were mine. I still love that idea and when I look around my house, I can say that now. I also seem to have a poor memory and when I see old pictures, I immediately get brought back to the moment that it happened. I love that fact with pictures. So this brings up a good point, shoot pictures or live in the moment? Well, a lot of people go on vacation or trips and spend the whole time trying to take pictures instead of just enjoying themselves. This is personal preference. One should probably just take everything in moderation and do both. Live in the moment, enjoy the location, and try to capture a few memories. Since coming up with this way of thinking, I have slowed down the amount of pictures I take, but I also know that I almost forget being someplace without seeing pictures later. My goal is to balance this as much as possible. 

Another thing that has happened to me, is that I had a tendency to travel and take pictures of everything pretty that I could see. I also tried to do this with family in tow and it didn’t always work out. I either didn’t spend enough time capturing the picture, ended up at places during the worst part of the day, or didn’t spend enough time with family. Now I try to visit places with the specific intent to create photographers or just to visit. I like going places now by myself because I can take the extra time to enjoy a scene, think about composition, and take the required time to create a good picture. When I am with family, I consider myself more in ‘snapshot’ mode where I take pictures but am not looking to make some large print with them. 

I went back and forth for a time on the snapshot versus photograph debate. It doesn’t really matter what you call what, great pictures are great pictures. However, for just normal conversation, I consider a snapshot something that I pulled my phone out, captured, and didn’t think much about. A photograph is something I thought about and took extra time to create. I also might spend a lot more time in post processing with a photograph. So I had this idea that my phone would be for snapshots and my DSLR would before photographs. I also had a period where I would shoot snapshots in JPEG and ‘real’ photos would be shot only in RAW. I think I’ve come to the point where I always shot raw on my main camera and usually shot snapshots on whatever I have if that’s what I have on me. I tend to leave the bigger camera at home unless I have a specific purpose for it. I have captured some great images on my phone. I still like to spend some time tweaking even phone shots with a little post-processing. 

I have gone through many other debates and discoveries on this journey from I just want a nice camera to where I am now and I will share as many of those as I can think of here.