My original intention was to take my Fujifilm X-T1 and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 over to the Augarten today and see what happened. But since the flat was warm and the outside air cold, I decided to call it a lazy Sunday and see what other challenges I could cook up for the Fuji. I absolutely love my Fuji+Nikon combo, perhaps most importantly because of the depth of field f/1.8 can produce, and the fact that I have to manually focus the Nikon lens. That's not to say I'm going to be manual focusing only any time soon, I just love the challenge of capturing razor sharp focus in a very small plane without the aid of the camera.
But since I've used the 50mm, a wide aperture, and natural light combination so often, I thought it might be fun to try the reverse and add some artificial light, and a different lens. Heading over to the lens shelf, the first one my eye fell upon was the Sigma 18-55mm f/2.8-4.5 macro lens. And since I've just recently acquired a new ring...the Sunday afternoon project was born.
Now I really do like working with manual lenses on the X-T1, as it's brought an entire range of my tools back to life. However, because of the need for an adaptor ring between the camera and the lens, all electronic data (e.g. auto-focus, metering, etc.) is lost. What this means is that the photographer has to manually calculate ISO (film speed), Aperture (how open the blades inside the camera are - those that control how much light hits the sensor), and shutter speed (how slow or fast the shutter stays open, thus effecting how much light gets to the sensor). This is just like the old days, and I love this challenge, in natural light.
When you start adding artificial light, e.g. flash units, you want to start working with low ISO, a large(r) aperture (f/8 - f11), and and the shutter speed depends on how much ambient or back lighting you want coming into the image. The problem here is this combination of speed and size. Because of the way a mirrorless camera is constructed, you see through the viewfinder exactly what the sensor will see. All fine and dandy...when you're calculating for 1/32 and 1/64 powered flashes. These flashes will light up your subject, and you'll have a perfectly lit scene with proper lighting balance.
Have you figured out the conundrum yet? The primary culprit here is the aperture. Because the camera is set up to receive a large amount of light when the shutter is opened, it's calibrated for this blast. When the flashes are not on, the viewfinder registers a dark image.
In order to combat this loss of light, what I ended up doing was opening the lens up as wide as it would go, in this case f/4.5, doing my manual focus with peak focusing (and using the zoom in focus assist tool), and then gradually closing the aperture back down to what I would guess is around f8. There are more expensive adaptors on the market today that will provide more accurate readings and stop indicators, but honestly, I kind of like the whole guestimation process. Almost like the old days of watching your film develop in the basin.
After a number of test shots, I found the angle and lighting setup that I liked, and started dialing in the focus/aperture twist settings and ended up with the work presented above.
Tools used for this project: