Earlier this year I spent a weekend on the Fujiholics trip to Wales, to secretly test the Fujinon 50-140mm F2.8 lens with the new 1.4x teleconverter .
I spent the whole time with my shiny test lens and converter covered in a storm cape, unconvincingly trying to pass this off by telling everyone that “well it might rain “– “well we are in Wales and all that”, and “NO of course I’m not testing anything new”. I think most of them bought the story in the end!? They are a nosey lot that bunch of Fujiholics…
During our time in Wales, I took a few landscape shots, but what I really wanted was something fast and difficult to capture…So I decided to break out The Beast. (My dog) She only has one speed – 200mph! So with this in mind, I thought it would be a perfect challenge for both the lens and me. The group went on a lovely river walk, and while everyone went off to shoot waterfalls and streamy, dreamy, landscapey stuff, we decided to get The Beast into the water. Being a spaniel based creature, and a little bit crazy, she didn’t need any encouragement at all. It’s actually getting her back out of the water when we usually get problems.
I’ve been photographing dogs for many years, especially my own, and I find they make for a great model and they never get bored whilst you use them for practice. As she went wild playing amongst the rocks, I fired off frame after frame.
Its amazing really, how much speed you need to ‘freeze’ an animal in motion. Combine that with the water, and I reckon you’ve got to be at a shutter speed of around 1500th to 3500th. Maybe start there, and experiment to suit…. You can come right down and get some artistic pans in the water, but for this exercise it was all about freezing the action and details. I found the best settings for this were around a shutter speed of 1/2000s and aperture of f4.
I shot natural light, as I really wanted that ‘Horse & Hound’ country dog vibe. The natural colours along the river bank and shaded areas just really make the water pop.
- Shoot Fast F2.8 to F4
- Auto ISO with a bit of exposure compensation
- Shoot low, get below the level or same level as the animal for a more dynamic and intimate feel to the image
- Get your feet wet! If the dog is in the water, get in it too, or as close as possible
- Shoot the highest shutter speed you can to freeze waggy tails, and water droplets
- Keep shooting! Normally I wouldn’t do it, but for animals in action I tend to ‘machine gun’ the action. Dogs blink lots and move unpredictably, so take LOTS!!!
- Get an assistant with a good throwing arm and who can throw consistently to a spot. They are going to be there a while so maybe bring cake.
I tried a few of the new focus modes out while I was shooting. Zone focus worked great on The Beast, tracking her erratic movements and providing some very accurate focusing even through water droplets.
I’m a die-hard fan of centre point only focus. It’s how I shot when all I had was film, back in the day! Auto focus at centre point is fantastic! I normally set the point up one from centre. This helps in framing the final shot.
The lens is stunning, The IOS is fantastic when using the lens handheld, The AF is so much better after the new firmware update FW4, and accurate. The new 1.4 converter extends the range and versatility of the lens, giving you a rough 300 f4 feel with a great isolating bokeh and feel to the image. The 1.4x has zero effect on the lens quality or performance and so for me it’s a no brainer! This one lens means that for the last 6 months I have hung my old DSLR system up, and used only the Fuji kit. On an X-T1 it has firmly replaced my 7D and the 70-200 f2.8 lens on it. I now take this to all the races in europe and international, as my main kit!
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