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.