After my agonising first few days with the camera trials and software tribulations the fun is now back and I venture out in suburbia to see what I can capture.



Success! Finally! In focus and captured as expected... it may seem simple: some flowerpot on somebody's doorstep. But it is not that simple. At least not with a new camera that has so many options as the FUJU Xt1. But I am starting to figure this little darling out. First and foremost because I have set my focus mode to Spot AF. And I have found how to change which focal point is active and how big I want to area of focus to be.

I think I made 2 mistakes in the beginning
First, I confused FUJI's M in the ViewFinder and the M focus mode on the front of the body.
 The focus mode M switches on manual focus via the lens ring.  The M in the display or EVF showed that I had manually set shutter speed and aperture. So I got nicely exposed blurry pictures, one after the other... Which was not that apparent on the display either...  :/

The other mistake was that I never checked which focal point was active. It was not until I attached the visibility of these points to one of the function buttons on the camera button that I realised this. I also misinterpreted the impact of the size of these points.

I feel kind of silly that this fooled me for an entire day to the point that I wanted to give the camera back to the store... But we live and learn!


Flash helps a small subject "pop!"
On this day I also brought along the tiny flash that comes with the camera as an accessory on the hot shoe. I am not a big fan of on-camera flash devices, but sometimes they have their use. The most obvious one being as a fill-in light source for subjects that have the sun in their backs. Or, as you can see below, to emphasise the presence of a flower in a sea of leaves. By popping up the flash I forced the camera to fire it. The light was good enough to make the shot without flash, but I wanted to give more pop! to the small flowers of a wild Honeysuckle bush.



Aperture for ambiance
During my snapshot expeditions I quickly found that Aperture priority mode worked best for my test images. Aperture, to me, is the most effective tool in our photographic belt to determine the ambiance in the shot. When we stop down to the smallest possible opening of the lens (the highest aperture number e.g. F22) we get maximum depth of field. When we go for focus on details, we open up the lens completely (low aperture njmber e.g. F4) and blur out the fore- and background.

My favorite m
nemonic:
high light, high aperture value versus low light, low aperture value.
Similarly: high aperture value, high detail (depth of field), low value, low detail.

Shutter speed
The only reason to keep an eye on the shutter speed is to know if I can still make it a hand-held shot. So most of the time my objective for an ordinary walk in an ordinary suburb with ordinary subjects is: not having to bring a tripod. It puts to the test what I can get away with without the use of bulky and possibly heavy accessories. Hand-held photography also allows me to make some candid shots without everybody noticing that I am setting up for photography. Especially since I can switch off the sound of the shutter...


Moving objects
By the same token: if I go into a scene that has moving objects/subjects I will choose to click-in a fixed high shutter speed value and let the camera deal with the best shutter speed to get a correct exposure. The other day I took a day-trip to Collingwood. Wonderful place with a nicely restored old-style city centre, beautiful beaches and an attractive waterfront area. I happened to be in the right spot, at the right moment, when a teenage girl decided to take a dive in Georgian Bay.

The perfect speed experiment! I set the focus mode to C for Continous. Then I checked my light. Early afternoon with high light allowed for maximum detail at F8 with a shutter speed of 1/680th seconds. Perfect for a subject moving from left to right with average speed at a standard ISO of 200. I stuck with S for Spot Metering so that the teenager would be properly exposed. My drive mode was Continuous High or, in other words: motor drive with as many shots per second as the camera can handle. My focal distance was 41mm with my 18-135mm Fujinon lens. Below is one of the shots and below that a manual Photomerge that shows the complete dive.


This time I did not expect much from the camera and thought there would be quite a bit of unsharpness. But the results were a pleasant surprise. Given that there is enough light, this camera can in fact freeze the action quite well. Have a look! 



The inset shows the picture in more detail. Note that the hand is in focus but the girl's head shows some blurring. Either the continuous focus was on her hand or it could not keep up with the speed of the movement. However, in the total image with all shot merged into one to depict the plunge this does not really matter. The photo can be viewed at a larger size in the Gallery.



Low light performance and flash
When the light circumstances are good, the camera does well with quick snap shots. Duh. No merit in that. In low light however, hand-held captures can take longer to focus and camera shake can easily mess-up the results.  Solution? Patience. Tripod. Or use manual lens focus with the help of the very handy "Focus assist" button on the back of the camera. This will enlarge the area of focus to almost frame-filling size so that you can check your focus.

See below two zoomed-in screen shots of a swallow photographed on the fairly dark inside of a gazebo in a park. I pointed the camera and pressed down the shutter button for almost a full second before focus was obtained. Of course, this means that getting a "quick shot" when the swallow's head was in the best photographic position was a matter of luck, even when flash was used. Both shots were taken at ISO 3200. Flash was used in the second picture. I am quite impressed with the limited noise introduced by this high ISO value. The first shot shows the merits of working in raw format and thus being able to recover a lot of detail from underexposed areas. The second shot demonstrates how the little flash adds to the shot. Both are not award-winning but acceptable captures as far as I am concerned: