Manual Gear with the 7Artisans 35mm F1.2 & the Fujifilm X-T3: A Very Casual Review of a Rather Joyful Combo
Stuck in a rut? Yeah, I've been feeling that way a bit until recently. As I've quietly wound down the work I was pursuing with weddings (still love 'em) and focused on other elements of my life and career, finding inspiration and a drive to challenge myself hasn't been easy.
I was hoping, though honestly doubtful, that picking up the new X-T3 at release was going to be a big a big kick in the backside to feel inspired and discover some newfound glory. As you would expect however, not much changed in my sense of inspiriation despite loving the new camera and its improved feature set.
Fast-forward a few months to 2019 and I stumbled across the rather awesome and inspiring artist Alik Griffin. I spent many evenings in January reading his various posts about camera gear along with his approach to photographing various subjects. A few of his reviews really stood out for me as a Fujifilm user – the Mitakon 35mm 0.95 and the 7Artistans 35mm 1.2.
With a weekend trip to Paris on the cards I knew that there was a golden opportunity to test out a dedicated manual lens with my X-T3. Unfortunately my budget on a U.K. income doesn't readily permit the flippant purchase of things like a £400 'might be alright' lens so I instead threw down a more modest £97 on the 7Artisans 35mm F1.2 lens.
At the time of writing this post I've only had the lens for 6 days so take everything you read and see here a good pinch of salt.
So is it any good? Did it help break the rut?
In one word — yes!
In several words — Heck yes it did and every Fuji user should grab one of these nifty little manual lenses that are loaded with flawed character.
For all the pictures included in this post I have shared JPEGs using my customised Acros and Chrome settings. They were imported into LR and reexported in a more manageable size with ~20+ clarity on most images. Nothing else other than a possible crop on some was added. Spot metering was used throughout the capturing process.
After tinkering with the lens a day before my travels I got the camera set up right and started to get the hang of shooting at F1.2 manually (what other F-stop would you use?). There's a lot to be said about being challenged by your gear in this age of advanced AF systems that, if I'm honest, can make creating a bit of a brainless affair. I sure to love the X-T3's focusing system that breathed new life into my beloved XF56 F1.2.
I've found the lens extremely easy to get used to and have adjusted to its reversed focusing and declicked aperture rings (they're opposite to Fujifilm's) which are solid and easy to keep in place whilst walking around cities and streets. I've generally been able to nail focus in a prompt manner, however, I have found that some images, which I thought were in focus, simply aren't and the whole image just seems 'off' with no discernable focus point. I'll be investigating this intermitent issue further.
As far as the character of the lens is concerned, much like an interesting humanbeing, its the flaws that give it character and make it far more unique than what a lot of the photography industry is driven towards these days — perfection.
Is it soft up close? Yeah. Does it have a sweet spot? Sure does. Is it an inspiring piece of kit to go out and shoot with? Definitely!
In a time where many of us will bend over backwards to justify spening exorbatant amounts of money on that piece of gear there's a lot to be said with this lens and its price of admission. If you've been on the fence about purchasing one, just go and do it. If you're tinkering with vintage glass and adapters, go give this a shot whilst you're at it. Its compact size and features make for a fantastic combo that I'd like to think would inspire you like it did me. The folks at 7Artisans really nailed it with this bit of gear and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.
After a very welcome few months of rare 'high' U.K. temperatures, the summer holidays dawned upon us and we were free to enjoy ourselves to the absolute in Italy. I can't express how much of a pleasure this trip was with my wife and two couples that we traveled with in parts of this wonderful country. Across two weeks we dined, sunshined, and Aperol'd our way through Milan, Lake Como, Florence, and Tuscany. As expected, the scenes, people, food and culture did not disappoint, greatly surpassing my expectations, and the daily doses of mozzarella and wine never grew tiresome.
In the interest of keeping things simple and reliable I packed my trusty X-T2 and XF35mm F2.
Between this combo or my X100F I have enjoyed traveling with minimal camera gear when enjoying local European trips, however, I must say that after about 1 week of enjoying my simple 50mm setup I realised that with longer trips (> 5 days) I should pack an extra lens or two. I certainly didn't need any extra lenses but at times I felt a little itch to break things up with a different perspective. That said, my go-to combo was a top performer as always, leaving me with memories for decades to come.
Whether you're old or new to FujiFilm the XF35mm F2 is a must have for all shooters.
Hope you enjoy 'em!
What more could you want than to shoot an awesome Aussie couple in Berlin?
Merren and Chris moved to Berlin for an 'adventure', which was supposed to last a year or two. Three+ years later, and with the addition of little Hayley to the fam, they seem to have settled into the Berlin life for good.
Merren and Chris wanted to show off their Berlin life to all their friends and family, and took guests on a tour of the city by through venue hops and walking routes. It was super thoughtful and full of unique and quirky touches (cue mini schnaps bottle favors).
There was a sweet pre-ceremony reveal at Museum Island, where bike tour guide Merren often takes visitors. Merren's colleages from Fat Tire bike tours even dropped some bikes down for a photo opp! We then headed to the absolutely stunning Clärchen’s Ballhaus Spiegelsaal (aka Hall of Mirrors), for a heartfelt ceremony, including ballad vows! A walk down to a local Späti for beer and pretzels followed, and then a short trip on the Ubahn took guests to the reception at Schönwetter beer garden.
Merren and Chris's happiness was overflowing and contagious, and made for the most amazing day! We are so lucky to have been a part of it!
Sunshine, glorious florals, and classic English styling in Oxfordshire.
What more could a photographer want?
Well, I was lucky enough to shoot Anisha and Arun's intimate wedding ceremony at the Old Swan Minister Mill as my first U.K. wedding earlier this year and it was nothing short of stunning.
Anisha reached out to me shortly after moving to Oxford asking me to cover her special day that was only to be attended by close family and friends; a special affair that required a candid and discrete approach across the afternoon.
Honestly, I could not have wanted for a more picture perfect couple who executed classic style in such an honest and down-to-earth manner. Just two people in absolute love celebrating it with a sincere gathering of wonderful people in a picture perfect setting.
Much love to you awesome folk!
You know you're privileged when you start losing track of how many significant places you've traveled to for pleasure in less than a year. Well, we didn't exactly move to the U.K. for amazing pay rises or weather but it sure is incredible being so close to so many significant parts of the world that are accessible on the cheap, just like in this case with our ~4 day trip to Olhao, Portugal and it's surrounds.
On a whim some months ago we booked this one in so we could see Seu Jorge live in concert and enjoy a bit of sun and damn good food. We certainly got all that and more. Having gloriously good coffee, toasted sandwiches, and sunshine greet us each day was a blessing. The few days spent relaxing on beaches and even being able to drive across the boarder to Spain for dinner one evening was everything we needed. Sending an impromptu message to Adriano, drummer for Seu Jorge, that it'd be great to say hello, only to be given AAA passes and photo access was the most perfect icing on the cake, topped off with great 3am hangs with the man himself and his band. I have never received such a sincere embrace from a stranger and someone whose music has been there with me in so much of my adult life; he is a true gentleman and a star! Many, many thanks to the whole crew for welcoming us like family throughout the whole evening.
Olhao is a truly beautiful and humble part of the world that really helped me empty my head for a few days and look for new visual experiences. I have walked away hooked on the textures of its streets and architecture, and the reassuring message the less is more by having packed only my X-T2, XF35mm F2, and 3 batteries for 5 days. The only downside is that it has left me wanting more, but that's what those EasyJet price alerts are for!