Gear Inspiration

X-E2 in London

· 6.January.2016

During 2015 I undertook a personal project to document my day-to-day life in London, UK as I knew it would be my last year in the city I’d called home for the past 8 years. In early 2016 I was leaving London to start a new life in Toronto,Canada.

This is a guest post by Ian Messenger (personal: www.ianmessenger.co.uk / weddings: www.imessengerphotography.net). Ian Messenger is a wedding and portrait photographer based in London, UK (although soon to be Toronto, Canada). Since 2013, he has used the Fuji XE-2 to capture and document several personal projects. Thanks so much, Ian! 
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For the past 4 years I have been a wedding and portrait photographer serving London and the South East of England. I had always been a Canon photographer trusting in the 5D3 workhorse for my professional needs. 2 years ago I decided that I needed reignite my passion for photography and start taking photographs for myself also! But I needed something smaller and less instrusive than a DSLR: and thus my love affair with Fuji began!

I opted for the Fuji XE-2 as my first step into the Fuji CSC world with the 18-55mm kit lens, though, like many others, I wouldn’t want to disrespect this lens by calling it a ‘kit’ lens – for the price its an amazing all-purpose lens. Over time I added the 35mm 1.4 and 27mm 2.8 lenses to my collecion; each merticulously researched before clicking purchase.

This year I hope to add the 56mm 1.2 to my Fuji collection.

From my London project, I selected the following 10 images. The entire project was shot using the Fuji XE-2 in RAW and then edited with VSCO in Lightroom.

ISO 1600, 40mm, f5, 1/900 – “London Eye”

ISO 1600, 40mm, f5, 1/900 – “London Eye”

One of the most iconic landmarks on the River Thames is the London Eye. I pass this iconic structure everyday so felt it was the most appripriate to start off the project. In fact it was one of the first images I took in 2015.

For this image I used the 18-55mm lens,. This was the lens that was attacted to my XE-2 for the first half of the project, until I bought the more compact 27mm pancake.

The image was shot on a cold overcast morning in January. Therefore I opted for ISO1600 to ensure a high enough shutter speed; without gloves my hands were freezing and I wanted to avoid shake!

ISO 1600, 18mm, f2.8, 1/125 – “Commute”

ISO 1600, 18mm, f2.8, 1/125 – “Commute”

An unavoidable part of the daily commute in London is travelling on the London Underground. For nearly 2 hours every day I travel beneath the streets of London and being underground, there is a lot of time spend on escalators (and time spent reading advertisements).

Due to the low light situation I opted for ISO 1600 for this image. With the XE-2 I’m happy to go up to ISO 3200 in most cases but ISO 1600 was enough in this case. To capture as many advertisements in the image as possible I opted for 18mm, the widest possible on the kit lens, and shutter speed of 1/125. In hindsight I should have opted for a faster shutter speed on a moving escalator as several attempts to get this shot didn’t work out so well.

ISO 2500, 18mm, f2.8, 1/12 – “Telescope”

ISO 2500, 18mm, f2.8, 1/12 – “Telescope”

Along the River Thames there are many viewing telescopes where you can pay for a time-limited look across the river. In the 8 years I have lived in London I’ve never actually seen anyone use these!

This image was taken across from the Houses of Parliament in the late evening. Because of the near-darkness I opted for ISO 2500 and the fastest aperture possible (again on the kit lens). I shot this in Aperture Priority mode, which is my default setting for quick street photography where there is no time to fiddle with manual settings. In this case the XE-2 opted for 1/12 shutter speed, which thankfully worked as I was holding the camera very close to my body (and holding my breath).  If I was to take the shot again I would have bumped the ISO to 3200 – or possibly 6400 as I intended to convert to black and white – and increase the shutter speed.

ISO 800, 18mm, f2.8, 1/200 - “Pier”

ISO 800, 18mm, f2.8, 1/200 – “Pier”

The River Thames is littered with many piers and walkways belonging to its former industrial life. They aren’t used for this purpose anymore but they make great viewing platforms (perhaps why no-one pays for the viewing telescopes?).

From this pier near the iconic OXO Tower you can the beach which emerges at low-tide and St Pauls Cathedral in the far right of the image. I often shoot engagement and couple sessions around this area – I do like this pier.

Plus it is right next to a coffee shop!

I used the 18-55 lens for this image at ISO 800 and the widest aperture. This was again due to the overcast nature of the day. 1/200 was the shutter speed I selected partly to ensure it was shake-free in my cold hands but also to allow enough ambient light in when using a rather optimistic ISO 800.

ISO 400, 18mm, f2.8, 1/30 – “Big Ben”

ISO 400, 18mm, f2.8, 1/30 – “Big Ben”

This image was taken, not suprisingly, across from the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben.

In this image I wanted to capture some of the tourist nature of London so waited for the opporutnity to get someone posing in the frame.  Using the widest focal length of the 18-55 I was able to capture both the subject and the background.

The image was taken just as the sun was setting, and it was setting quick, so I knew ISO 400 would be optimistic. Therefore I quickly – not wanting to miss the moment – dialed the aperture to its widest and hoped that Aperture Priority wouldn’t select a shutter speed too slow. Thankfully 1/30 worked fine.

ISO 400, 18mm, f5.6, 1/160 – “Gatwick”

ISO 400, 18mm, f5.6, 1/160 – “Gatwick”

During 2015 I spent a lot of time in Airports travelling to Europe and the Middle East. The most memorable place being Pripyat in the Ukraine: a place long on my ‘bucket list’. This image  was taken at London Gatwick Airport in the early morning as I was on my way to Dubai.

I had actually visualised this frame on my frist trip of the year but didn’t have my XE-2 with me. I did however have my Canon 5D3 but with the vertical grip and 24-70 lens attached, I felt too self-conscious! Therefore on my 2nd trip of the way I made a point to carry my XE-2.

ISO 125, 27mm, f2.8, 1/4000 – “Brick Lane”

ISO 125, 27mm, f2.8, 1/4000 – “Brick Lane”

Summer arrived in London and I knew I would be taking more images so I purchased the discreet 27mm ‘pancake’ lens. After reading many reviews I was expecting a little trade off on image quality for such a small lens but from my experience this little lens is well worth the investiment. For the first time I was able to put my XE-2 in my jacket pocket with a lens attached! As Brick Lane is a very popular and busy area in the summer, I was glad to have a more slimmed-down camera setup.

This image was shot in London’s Brick Lane, an area full of rich and diverse street art. I actually took this frame to test out the 27mm at f2.8 but it actually became on of my favourite images from Brick Lane. I would happily shoot the 27mm at f2.8 as there isn’t any noticable loss of sharpest (at least when viewing on web).


ISO 800, 55mm, f3.2, 1/250 – “Kings Cross”

ISO 800, 55mm, f3.2, 1/250 – “Kings Cross”

In the autumn I had an early morning commerical shoot in Paris to attend and I took the Eurostar from London’s Kings Cross St Pancras station. I had travelled through the station before but, perhaps due to my early arrival and excess free time, this was the first time I had acually observed the architecture in the staton.

The above 2 images were shot using the same settings and were actually shot from the same position, I just rotated my body. I wanted to capture element of the architecture free from human distraction so I opted for the longest focal length of the only Fuji lens I had that day – the 18-55mm.

For the commerical shoot I had packed my Canon 5D3 and lighting equipment into several Pelican cases but also my Fuji XE-2 for behind the scenes and more relaxed shooting. I’m glad I packed the Fuji otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take these frames.

ISO 400, 27mm, f.2.8, 1/250 – “Wall Art”

ISO 400, 27mm, f.2.8, 1/250 – “Wall Art”

This image was taken in Peckham, London towards the end of the year. You see lots of graffiti in London but this was the first I had seen for a while that had a cohearent message.

This image was taken with the XE-2 using the 27mm pancake lens which since the summer had become my default Fuji setup. Since getting the 27mm lens I found myself focussing more on my compositions and moving with my feet, rather than zooming, to get the frame I wanted.

Over the course of the project I found myself choosing prime lenses over the one zoom I had. Mostly this was the 27mm pancake lens simply for its compact size – perfect for fitting in a jacket pocket. But I also found myself using the 35mm f1.4, another recommended X Series lens, because I wanted to challenge of a fixed focal length.


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