How Well Do You Really Know Your Camera?

I am a devotee of reviews, books and tutorials that are camera-specific. About 6 months ago, after a lot of study, it dawned on me that I am virtually clueless as to what my current 3-year-old camera (Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless) can really do! This eureka moment came because I paid special attention to how the authors of these resources were using the camera I also own. 

My “ignorance” caused me to decide that there were several things I wanted to learn how to do and that I was going to begin doing just that:

  1. My camera looks something like my old film cameras: lots of dials and buttons, many of which allow themselves to be customized. What works best for me? 
  2. Fuji, as you probably know, earned a great deal of fame as a manufacturer of a variety of film products: Provia, Astia, Velvia, etc. My camera has a series of “film simulations” that mimic these classic films. And…you can tweak these to adjust shadows and highlights and dynamic range for each. How does this work?
  3. I kept reading about the advantage of being able to set focus on the center, sharpest part of a lens and then move the camera for a better composition for the subject while keeping the focus on where you set it; “back button focus,” in other words. Could I learn to do this and would it help me?
  4. Finally, the one thing that Fuji users are consistent in talking about is the ability of a Fuji camera to produce jpeg files that are ready to go, SOC, “straight out of camera.” Little or no post processing needed. Can this really be true…for me…for my standards?

I put all of this on the line last Saturday, driving over to Nathan Bedford Forrest State Historical Area for the 154th Anniversary re-enactment of the Confederate side of the Battle of Johnsonville. I set all the customization features as a starting point, with changes to come after I have had time to practice with all 7 of the ones I formulated. (I just used one this time, what I call a “punchy black and white street photography look. This would be the first time in my life producing black and white with a camera rather than shooting color and converting it later.) I set the Fuji on full manual, including ISO. For every shot I tweaked the knobs and buttons according to the histogram and exposure scale in the viewfinder and used back button focus to compose.

WHAT A REVELATION! The images above are all SOC except for cropping and sharpening. Judge for yourself. I’m not sure I like all the deep shadows but, overall, I’m both pleased and surprised at what my Fuji did using only 1 of the 7 different presets I had ready to test. Modifications may be made later in some or all of these to bring things around more to my liking? Who knows? What I do know is that I am nowhere near to exhausting the possibilities in the camera. I have work to do.

How about you and your camera?

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