New subject, new camera / by Ed Walker

One of my concerns about moving the Edinburgh was that my best work has always been in artificial light, tube stations and darker environments. There is something about this ‘stage’ type lighting that I love. Shooting on the London Tube has formed the majority of my work and where was I going to find that in Edinburgh?  Luckily on the first weekend here Enna took me to a car boot sale held on level -4 of the multistory car park in the centre of town; perfect.

Not only had I found a great setting with great lighting but also a subject to explore that was different to my work in London. Now I just had to find a way of shooting it.

I’ve been using the X100 for about 6 months now. It’s pretty much been my only camera and I’ve tried numerous different approached to shooting with it. Each week I’ve been trying a different approach to shooting with widely different results.

Week 1 - Fully Automatic : Dynamic ISO - autofocus - aperture & shutter speed on auto with flash switched off but focus light on.

Really just walking around to see what it was all about and shooting to see peoples reaction and what I could get. The result astounded me.

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Week 2 - Manual - Dynamic ISO - range focus (set to about 2 to 5 metres) aperture set to 2.0 shutter speed around 125

Disaster strikes, I thought I would try and see if I could get better results with a more manual setting but the shots were often out of focus because estimating the distance is hard and also under exposed. So much so that there wasn’t one good shot.

Week 3 - Semi Automatic : Dynamic ISO - Focus set to infinity - aperture & shutter speed on auto with flash switched off.

There is one thing to be said for shooting with the focus set to infinity, fast, instant actually. You can see why in the daylight, where you can set the aperture to f16 this is a solid approach but it’s a lot more difficult in low light, you have to stay very still because the shutter speed plummets.

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Week 4 - Back to fully auto

As you’ll see with the image below with autofocus on twitch shots are really difficult, I came to the conclusion that it was time to see what the Nikon could do.

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Week 5 - Nikon d7000 - 50mm f1.8 - Auto focus but manual everything else. Settings changing shot to shot.

I thought I would try taking the Nikon and seeing if the old girl could outclass the Fuji with my old approach and shooting style. The result was underwhelming. I realised the autofocus on the Nikon was only marginally better than the Fuji and it’s size and weight meant it attracted a lot more attention.

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Week 6 - Fuji X100 - fully auto

So back to the Fuji and while this week was a very poor show (the clocks went forward which I think might have had something to do with it) the same autofocus problems raises their head.

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So what conclusions do I come to? well the Fuji needs more time. You need more to autofocus, and shoot and I can’t manage as many ‘snatch and grab’ shots that the Nikon is better at achieving. But more time isn’t always bad and a new approach is always a good thing for your photography, wouldn’t you agree?