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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Paris street photography - traveling X-Photographer style


Every time before I pack my travel photo bag, I try to envision what kind of photos I expect to take on location for the job or portfolio work. In my early days of photography I was prepared for every possible photo situation by bringing most of my gear. I recall one time where I lugged 20 kg (40 lb) of DSLR gear in a backpack through Paris. That was an awful experience!

Since my switch to Fuji X cameras 3.5 years ago, thankfully my travel photo bag has become a lot lighter. The night before this trip to Paris I decided on the following gear to bring:

- Fuji X100S
- WCL-X100 (wide conversion lens) for the X100S
- Fuji X-Pro 1
- Samyang 8mm f2.8 fisheye lens
- Fuji XF 14mm f2.8

That's 2 camera bodies plus 4 fast prime wide angle focal length weighing around 1.6kg (3.5 lb)!!! Add spare batteries and ND filters and you're still well below 2 kg (4lb) in your bag. That is only 10% of the weight of the gear that I took along a few years ago!


Paris streeet photography gear
My Paris streeet photography gear

Everything plus my iPad Air and battery chargers fit comfortably into my ThinkTank Retrospective 10 bag. With the small bag and photo gear there have been no hassles at airport security for me any more. A great way to start my trip quite relaxing despite the early red eye flight.

For my style of street photography I prefer wide angle lenses. I want to be close to the scene while still providing enough space around my subject to explain the situation to the viewer. In terms of 35mm film equivalent field of view I covered 12mm (8mm fisheye),  21mm (XF 14mm), 28mm (WCL-X100) and 35mm (23mm on X100S).

I stepped off the plane at Charles de Gaulle Airport with my X-Pro 1 + XF 14mm and X100S ready for action and right there was already my first frame to be captured. Always be ready is important in street photography!


the lone traveler - Fuji X-Pro 1
The lone traveler - Fuji X-Pro 1

For a street photographer to start the day with a portfolio keeper is equivalent to an athlete who manages to get a great result in his first attempt. Unposed street photography is like a box of chocol... I guess you already heard that analogy too many times ;)

Off to downtown for breakfast and more street photography:


La Cigale Paris - Fuji X-Pro 1
La Cigale Paris - Fuji X-Pro 1


Bulldog roaming the city - Fuji X-Pro 1
Bulldog roaming the city - Fuji X-Pro 1

Comparing the Fuji X-Pro 1 autofocus to the improved AF on the X100S, the X-Pro 1 AF feels a bit long in the tooth now. While you can still get good results - especially when following some of my AF tips from a previous post - I really wish for a X100S or X-T1 style performance boost on Fujifilm's top of the line camera carrying the "Pro" in its name.


Industrial Bird Production - Fuji X-Pro 1
Industrial Bird Production - Fuji X-Pro 1


Don't ignore photo art - Fuji X-Pro 1
Don't ignore photo art - Fuji X-Pro 1


Shadow walk and talk - Fuji X100S
Shadow walk and talk - Fuji X100S


"2" - Paris Street Photography - Fuji X-Pro 1
"2" - Paris Street Photography - Fuji X-Pro 1


Paris is a giant catwalk - Fuji X-Pro 1
Paris is a giant catwalk - Fuji X-Pro 1

And while the X-Pro 1 AF is slower than the one on the X100S I still used the X-Pro 1 for most of my photos in Paris. The XF 14mm with it's 90° field of view feels very natural to me and it gives me enough surrounding environment of the scene to put my subject into a context - like the girl in the photo above looking at the Eiffel Tower in the background.


Victory anniversary celebrations Paris 2014 - Fuji X-Pro 1
Victory anniversary celebrations Paris 2014 - Fuji X-Pro 1

And the XF 14mm has the wonderful manual focus mechanism that allows me to zone focus the "traditional way" with the focus distance on the lens instead of the "virtual distance scale" in the viewfinder. This is a huge advantage and I really hope that future wide angle lenses (besides the XF 14mm and XF 23mm) and maybe even a future X100 will get this great feature, too.


Cliché Citroën 2CV and Sacré-Cœur photo - Fuji X100S
Cliché Citroën 2CV and Sacré-Cœur photo - Fuji X100S



Spaceship hiding in a Paris metro station - Fuji X-Pro 1
Spaceship hiding in a Paris metro station - Fuji X-Pro 1




Circle of trust - Fuji X100S
Circle of trust - Fuji X100S

I went to Paris with a very light photo bag and only wide angle lenses. If I would go back tomorrow with a street photography assignment, would I pack differently? Not at all! It was very pleasant to move around freely with a light back and small unobtrusive and quiet cameras. And those are important requirements for successful street photography!

If you have any further questions or want to share your Fuji-X experiences just leave a comment below, Twitter me @HamburgCam or visit my Homepage at www.MarcoLarousse.com

And if you liked my post I am always happy if you spread the word and retweet, like or google +1 it :-)

30 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Denis! I'm glad that you like the collection of images :)

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    1. Thank you Jim! I have switched from DSLR to Fuji X 3.5 years ago and not regretted it one day. And it looks like you are very happy with your X-T1, too :)

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  3. Very nice blogpost and a nice set of photos! I can totally relate to what you say here. I never really tried ultra-wideangle lenses because I don't really feel comfortable with them but for setting up a lightweight bag, the X-System and a nice set of good lenses or the X100 Series with the two conversion lenses is really a good choice. Something I didn't think was possible only a few years ago. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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    1. Thank you Martin! Choosing a focal length has a lot to do with personal preference in your photography. In my very early days I felt comfortable with 50mm and longer lenses. I was able to stand back and capture from a distance.
      Then I discovered the classic 35mm f1.4 (on a full frame film camera) and it never left my camera.
      Today 35mm field of view is pretty much the longest lens that I use (23mm on APS-C) and I feel very comfortable with wider lenses.
      And I'm really excited about the XF 16mm f1.4 to come :)

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  4. Nice images and great writeup :)

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Dade! :)

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  5. Well-written post and great images. Excellent work!

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  6. Stephen McCullough04 September, 2014 04:21

    Most street photography, or what is called street photography, just does not grab me. I don't fine it emotionally engaging. This set is different - Some of the most enjoyable I have come across in a long time. Your emphasis on context comes across clearly. Beautiful stuff.

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    1. Thank you very, very much Stephen! Street photography is a very broad genre of photography and does not have clear borders or rules. That is what makes it interesting and diverse but not everything is appealing to every person.
      As a fine art photographer I have chosen an approach of puting the person in a context to the surrounding scene. I do not want to focus on the face of the person but rather on the situation and try to give the scene an emotional context. This way I hope to engage the viewer to use his imagination to think of a story what happened before and after the image was taken.
      Telling a story in one frame is what I'm trying to create :)

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  7. Great and inspiring blog about shooting street photography.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I am happy that it inspired you :)

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  8. I was thinking about your technique. I've taken some shots while out with my Fuji XT-1 but feel uncomfortable pointing the camera at someone when they walk by. Feels like I am invading their space without permission. I think with a wide angle lens, you can focus at infinity and get everything in focus while someone walks by. And you don't have to point directly at their face, can have camera on your lap and it becomes an innocent looking accessory.

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    1. Yes, that is the general approach to my style of street photography! I respect other peoples private space and don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. And I'm also not trying on focusing on an individual but rather the scene that they are in.
      With a wide angle lens, and especially the XF 14mm and XF 23mm with their fantastic manual focus mechanism and distance scale markings on the focus ring, it becomes really easy to zone focus. And that is the approach that I often use.

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  9. Wonderful review and set of images. I've been thinking about a wide angle lens for a while now to add to my X-Pro1 and this may well just push me over the buying line!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Dave! If a wide angle lens suits your style of photography, the XF 14mm is really a fine lens! I have reviewed it some blog post ago and I'm still very happy with it.

      The MF focus mechanism with distance scale is perfect for zone focusing and the 90° angle of view feels very natural to me (like the classic 21mm on a FF camera). One drawback might be that it's "only" f2.8. Not a huge problem as the X-Pro 1 handles high ISO well. But I often need at least 1/100s shutter speed not to blur the people walking by (if that is not intended in the situation) and in low light that is sometimes pushing it.

      But for still objects like architecture or landscapes where you can use slower shutter speeds it is absoluetly no problem.

      But I will most likely also get the XF 16mm f1.4 lens when it is released next year. It would be good for low light street photography for me :)

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  10. I sure enjoy your posts and very much relate.
    Have fun,
    Tom

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  11. Love the Cliché Citroën 2CV and Sacré-Cœur photo....

    A great blog post. I have been thinking of ditching my DSLR ... But still trying to get used to the idea.

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    1. I can understand that feeling. We have been told for so long that we need a DSLR if we want to take good pictures. And there are certainly still a few areas where DSLR's shine.

      But in my opinion in terms of portability and unobtrusiveness while delivering high IQ the mirrorless cameras have passed the DSLR's - by a healthy margin :)

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  12. What a picture ("2" - Paris Street Photography)? The rest are wonderful as well.

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  13. The lone Traveller and 2 images are great.

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  14. Very nice street photography. I really liked the "Industrial Bird Production".

    I own also a mirrorless camera and I'm reaaly happy with it. For me to be able to go anywhere and catch the right moment while traveling light is very important.

    Inspiring Post. Congratulations.


    Best regards.
    Luis


    www.behindtheobjective.com

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  15. Awesome Post.
    We are so happy to see.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Edmonton Travel Photographer

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  16. I never shoot a ultra-wideangle lens because I never felt a need for them and I didn´t like the thought to get so close to people.

    I love portrait and then the people realy know that they are my subject of photograpy. But your way to show context of the scene gives me new ideas and a I have to think aubout it - or to try it :-). (I see an other difficulty in the personal rights of the shown people - but that´s an other theme)

    Your photos are really enjoyable to me - nevertheless I´m not an street photographer I love your pictures and get inspired to try new things in photography..

    Herbert
    p.s.: Isn´t the retospective 10 to big for such a small photo gear?

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  17. Lovely. Been to Paris many times yet each visit one sees new things

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