Quite a big headline an a big question. But first of all – my name is Kirsten, I am 33 years old and live in Munich, Germany. I shoot mountainbikers for magazines and companies. I am used to work with big Nikon cameras such as the D810 and the D750. I started photographing in the middle of 2014.
All of my gear sits on my back while riding a mountain bike. For a long time I have never considered mirrorless cameras as a possible upgrade or alternative to my Nikon gear. But then I fell in love with the X-T10, its retro optics and weight. So I bought one with the 18-55mm “kit” lens, the 14mm and the 56mm Fuji lenses.
I have been riding mountain bikes since I was 15 and working in the MTB-Academy (a mountain school) as a technique-coach for the last nine years. At the beginning of March we had a company event in Latsch – South Tirol, Italy. A place famous for its micro climate an flow trails. Perfect for riding mountain bike and perfect for testing my new Fuji gear. Along with me were my coach colleges. All very good riders and some of them are bike photo models too.
Preparation and settings
I decided to take two battery packs and a maximum of two lenses with me. Most of the time it was the 14mm and the 56mm. I stored all of them in my backpack, wrapped in a jacket.
On the camera I chose to use the CH mode for fast serial pictures and set the autofocus switch to continuous. In the menu I changed the selection buttons to move the focus area. As AF Mode I decided to run the single point mode. ISO setting was assigned to the front wheel when pressed, shutter speed was also there. The speed dial on the top was turned to T. By doing this I was able to switch shutter speed on the front dial very quickly. For the white balance I chose “cloudy” (I shoot in RAW but I like to have a good preview of my images on the LCD screen).
One thing I do with all of my cameras is to create a custom color profile for Lightroom. Therefore I use a color checker and place it in the sunlight, take a picture and create the profile with the x-rite tool.
Shooting and Riding
We were in Latsch for riding and not for shooting. I know the area quite well and have had several photo shootings there, so I know the good spots for taking picutres. Since we were a larger group with 12 people in it, we had to wait for each other from time to time. During those breaks I rode ahead an positioned myself on some spots. Most of the time there were only 2-3 minutes to pull the camera out, set myself into position and get the camera set up.
Then 12 people where passing by me and I took my pictures.
On those four days we had all kinds of weather. Snow on the top and dust in the bottom. Nice sun and heavy slow falling snow flakes…
Most of the time I set the f-stop to the minimum value and tried to reach shutter speeds for 800-2000/s. This is my kind of picture style. I want everything to be frozen and sharp. Because I love the dynamic range, I took the setting to DR400. On lower ISO the camera corrects this automatically.
In my pictures I try to use the rule of thirds, so the autofocus ist set on the outside of the possible area.
On the camera I set my exposure compensation dial to +1. Dynamic range and information on the sensor seem to be bigger by using these settings. So for manual metering I always try to get a value around +1 on the viewfinder.
In Lightroom I use a preset upon importing my pictures. The preset dials down lights and blacks, and cranks up deeps and whites. The preset also compensates exposure by -1 and activates my color profile and lens compensations.
As you see my pictures get a nice look only by the preset itself:
The next step is to accentuate the rider. Therefore I use the correction brush with a settings that puts up clarity, saturation and tiny bit of exposure. The brush has a very soft edge.
In steps 3 and 4 I used graduated filters to lead the eye of the viewer. One filter at the top right corner and one for the foreground. In those two filters I work on the lights, brightness and clarity.
This is my workflow for editing my X-T10 sport pictures. Takes me one or two minutes per picture.
Here I made a comparison between the picture without corrections (as shot) and my final image:
Another comparison of color profiles: my own, Fuji Provia and Velvia:
Coming from Nikon autofocus and megapixels I have to say that the X-T10 did a great job. In most situations the AF worked well and accurate. In situations where the rider was driving towards me there are hardly any unsharp pictures, but when the rider was coming from a side angle, not all of them were sharp. After a while I worked out a mixture of pre-focusing on an area and aiming the focus on the rider. What I really liked was the fact, that I didn’t needed test shots. EV made a great job. Buffer size of the pictures is not the best and after 7-8 pictures the camera had to write them on the memory card, which took quite some time even when using my Sandisk Extreme Pro cards. Other thing that bothered me was the fact that there was hardly a way to take only one picture when in CH-mode. My fingers are quite sensitive but this is a thing Fuji has to fix.
Both lenses are great and the 56mm with its 1.2 aperture is a dream. Both are very sharp and there was hardly ever need to stop down beyond f/5.6.
Although there were low temperatures of about 5-8°C, one battery pack worked for about 600 pictures.
Although low on megapixels there is a lot of information and editing those pictures was a big fun. I really like the Fuji colors and the sharpness.
Final words: I really like the fuji X-T10 and especially the lenses. It’s a very light, small and powerful system and I will surely continue working with it.