We all belong to the Fuji Cult and we extol the virtues of our XT 1 and the X100 series, and the incredible sharpness of the lenses and the extraordinary color, and how much fun we are having with photography again. And we all know that the Fuji Flash EF-42 sucks, right? Nobody wants it, it’s underpowered, has no sync socket, too many limitations to be worthwhile. Yet, the only TTL is with the EF-42 and the Yongnuo 622C, except that’s too small to put good light modifiers on. Instead of complaining and arguing about the EF-42 limitations, I’ve been using it to see what I can make it do. Does the power or system compare to Nikon, Canon or Phottix? No. Does it have a good operating system with options? No. Does the TTL work? Yes, and amazingly well!
I teach a lot of lighting and portrait classes and I have gear, well, a lot of it. I’ve tried various systems and triggers and every light modifier out there and made my own. My favorite is my Paper Plate modifier, but that’s another article.
Dave Nightingale (another Fuji X Team Photographer and writer here at Fuji Love) and I lead a Photo Tour to Venice Carnival (http://www.chromasia.com/training/events/venice_2_16.php) every year. We always do demos, hire models in costume and get out and shoot the costumers at dawn in St. Mark Square, which is an out of body experience! This year I decided that in addition to all the fancy flashes and accessories, I would spend a morning with just the Fuji EF-42 and one of my favorite attachments, the Rogue Grid. (www.expoimaging.com) I love all the Rogue products, like the Flashbender, and the grid is fabulous for creating spotlights and drama. Venice Carnival is the perfect place to use this.
All of the photos here were done with just the EF-42 mounted on the camera TTL with the Rogue Grid, simple and easy. I am balancing the strobe and ambient light, dragging the shutter, and I’ll give you all the settings. All the images but the last one were shot on the XT1 and the last one on the X100s.
Boom! This first image was just the right place and right time and being prepared. I had to ask her to stay with me since she was just about to leave, and only managed to make three images, the first one I forgot to turn on the flash, then I popped of two more before she was gone. All is I need is one, right?
ISO 200 f8 1/180. The sun was just rising so it was getting brighter, and I needed increase the strobe power because the sky was getting brighter. Since the grid is direct and hard, there is plenty of power.
The next one was before dawn, just some light in the sky, shot at ISO 500, f 3.6 and 1/15. This shows off the effect of the grid way more than the first images, but damn, I love that first image! This one is mysterious, the spotlight on her and the hint of location behind her. It helps that she’s all in gray. The grid is tricky because you have to make sure that it’s pointed exactly where you want, or you can just light up the dress, or miss the face. The Rogue grid has three options of size, and this one is the smallest coverage while the first one is the largest.
I love dragging the shutter and doing all kinds of weird things to shake up the background: zooming, shaking, panning, spinning, etc. Some techniques work better than others but it’s easy to try anything and learn how fast you need to move the camera. I’ve found the shutter speeds that are the most effective are 1/15 to ½. Anything slower and there will be too much blur, anything faster and not enough time to make a blur. So it’s a constant rearranging of ISO and f stops to find the right balance. On this next shot the ISO is 320, f 3.6 and 1/15. Always start the zoom before you hit the shutter and fire the flash. You will notice here that it’s the smaller grid, and I purposely pointed it at just one of the subjects so as to let the back person have less emphasis.
Getting to St. Mark’s early is important because as soon as the sky has enough brightness to safely walk around, they turn off the street lights. I pre-visualized this image and was afraid I wasn’t going to have time to get my subjects in place. I pointed the grid slightly off to camera left because I wanted the feeling the she was lit more by the streetlight, and not have the flash feeling as strong. This is early, so ISO 1000, f 3.2 1/15. Hand held and zoomed wide to 22 mm. There is just a short time that the light in the sky and the streetlights are about the same exposure value. Notice all the photographers in the background!
The last shot was done with the X100s, shot at ISO 200, f4 1/640! Yes, it’s a leaf shutter so you can sync at any shutter speed! This shot was after the sun was up, lots of light in the sky so I needed that fast shutter speed in order to balance the exposure with the flash, and then actually underexpose the sky for more drama. Here’s where making sure that flash is pointed exactly where you want since she is off center. I did several shots just fine tuning the pointing of the flash.
Did I mention that the TTL works great? I am amazed at how accurate the exposure is and only in a few instances did I have to use the + or – buttons to compensate. The other advantage is that the EF-42 is small and lightweight so easy to pack and carry.
All of these examples are with the flash on camera. If you want to get it off camera, it will only work on the manual setting. I use the Phottix Ares radio remotes, just “dumb” triggers, but immensely reliable and very reasonable in price. I have heard that you can use some Canon flash cords, which have the same pin placement as Fuji. Syl Arena makes his own cords: http://ocfgear.com/
I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve heard it might be a great way to do TTL off camera. In the meantime, get out there, shoot and have fun!