Super-Wide Street Shooting w/ Samyang (Rokinon) 12mm F2.


I doubt there is a day that goes by, when on one forum or another someone is either asking about the Samyang 12mm F2 or someone is telling us how good it is. I fall into the latter. Often.

This lens is terrific value for money. Period. I think I paid £210 for mine. Brand New. I have no idea if its better or worse than the Fujinon 14/16/10-24 or the Zeiss Touit – and furthermore, I don’t care. I can manage expectations on a two hundred quid lens, and if it turned out crap I could always send it back. But I’ve had it three years now, and its going nowhere.

As I have alluded to, many times, on previous posts – street photography is what I love to shoot most. I’m a film maker by trade, so naturally, I want to shoot the polar opposite of the gruelling, mentally draining and highly regimented world of film production. Street photography is my release – I am alone with my thoughts, not relying on anyone else, yet still being creative and striving for that one ‘decisive moment’…sorry, Henri. And I cant blame anyone else but myself if I’m disappointed with the results…  🙂

I normally use my 23mm F1.4 for street. Sometimes the 18mm, sometimes the 35, but the 23 covers most of the subjects I like to shoot. The 23 offers *some* width, optical excellence and is pretty snappy on the X-Pro 2 – and 1.4 is pretty bright, so its good for most conditions, even without flash. Its a solid lens – the Angry Photographer is dead wrong about this glass, unusually.

I first started to use the 12mm for street a couple of years ago on my X-Pro 1. There were times when I got REALLY fed up with the AF (like we all did) on the early X bodies in certain conditions, and of course the great thing with ANY manual focus lens is a) there is no focus delay and b) hyperfocal shooting is a DODDLE – so easy on super wides. So I began to take the 12 out with me more, especially to events where I knew there would be packed crowds, as this focal length would allow me to fit a lot in without getting too far back. I also realised the 12mm has a REALLY short focus throw, especially from 1m to infinity, so you didn’t have to be super accurate with distances to subject. I would set it to 1-1.5 meters, and just snap. No delay, and pretty much always ended up with a sharp (sometimes sharp-ish) image.


The one drawback (some may not consider it a drawback) is you really do have to get in close. The 23 was perfect, 2-3 meters back, great. The 12? Nope, a meter…four feet, tops, or everything would just look miles away. In a bustling, large, crowd, this wasn’t really that much of an issue – there would be so much else going on, I was barely noticed at all. And I was quick. I may be getting on a smidge, but my reaction times are still pretty tasty – thankfully.

But on Brick Lane today? Not so easy.

I don’t know whats happened to Brick Lane recently. Its gotten really quiet. A couple of summers ago you could barely walk five steps in a minute. There would be fantastic street performers (Lewis Floyd Henry is really the only one left – thankfully, he’s amazing.), and incredible food vendors and colourful fruit and juice sellers all the way up to the High Street, both sides of the lane – there was an amazing atmosphere, any time of year. Now? There is barely anything happening…a lot of the food vendors have moved indoors in the nearby Trueman Building, the fruit sellers have gone, and today not ONE street performer…sad times. I hope its not the sign of things to come for East London. To a certain extent, the much maligned hipster has taken over this part of town (and a lot more vintage stores have opened as a result) – I hope the sadly depleted Brick Lane is not a by product of that.

I had to have my wits about me if I was going to make this shoot a success…looking ahead all the time, trying to spot (and prepare for) my next capture, and for the most part, it worked:


These were all shot on the X-Pro 2 at 1000ISO. The bottom ‘crossroads’ pic has about a 10% crop. And again, focus set to 1m, aperture at F3.5. A little more forgiving if my distances were a little off.

Also (and this is fairly rare these days, for me) these are all JPEGS, with minor adjustments in post. I REALLY enjoy Acros (R) +2 h/l +2 shadow. Gives me a look that reminds me of HP5 – on a good day.

And this, I think, was my pic of the day:


(I’m tempted to crop down to a square format, and try to get rid of some passers by…what do you think?)

I got bored pretty quick of the sparse looking Brick Lane, and moved down towards Liverpool Street station – it had a bit more bustle.

I stopped off to eat at a new place called The Diner in Spitalfields. They do chilli cheese fries. And they were superb:


Then a slow amble towards the station:


Overall, I was pleased with the shoot today. It was cold, surprisingly quiet – but there was still a character or two to make things interesting.

And what of the 12mm Samyang? Well,see for yourself. Its good. Sharp, and with all those long words like vignetting and  chromatic aberation either under control or a non-issue. In truth, there IS a little purple fringing in bright light/high contrast areas, but I only found this out when I was on vacation somewhere sunny. Not such a problem in London, in November.

edit: AND NO DISTORTION! 🙂 This is quite a big deal. None of these images were corrected at all. Its a standout feature of this lens, and I cant believe I overlooked it! Sorry…

It is worth mentioning build quality too. The focussing is buttery smooth, the aperture ring has a pleasant, purposeful ‘click’ to it, and it has a decent heft to it too. A good blend of metal when you need it (mount) and high quality plastics to keep the weight down. It doesn’t feel like a cheap lens.

Depending on where you live, this Korean made optic is available (and branded) as Samyang, Bowens, Rokinon, Walimex and even Vivitar (now theres a blast from the past!), but they’re all the same so you’ll be happy with any of them.

So hopefully, now, you’ll have some idea of why these incredibly good value lenses get mentioned on those forums so much. I know I wont stop posting. I do recommend these optics for street, but only if your the sort of photographer who has no problem getting really close to your subject, and doesn’t mind the possible flack that comes with it. Today, I was lucky. But this being a famously grumpy London, I could just as easily have been confronted with choice anglo-saxon and a threat of violence. It happens rarely, but it does happen.

But I like this focal length for street. Its different and fun, and forces you to think differently about composition and speed. Don’t worry about it being manual focus only – its really easy on this lens, even without focus peaking. I suggest you set your distance, and see how brave you are…. 🙂 go on, whats the worst that could happen?

Please do say hello on Instagram if you get the chance (or if you have Instagram!):

Any questions, do let me know. Have fun, stay safe, and keep shooting. Cheers!

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 in low light.

For me, shooting at night is one of my absolute favourite things to do. I do it seldom, for various reasons (normally involving tiredness and a crappy train service 🙂 ) but as a Fujifilm X-shooter, low light captures on the streets is a great test for both me as a photographer, and my latest camera.

In the seven months or so since I’ve had the X-Pro 2, I have yet to really give it a decent low light test. I’ve been satisfied in pretty much every other area when it comes to the X-Pro 2 – especially in AF improvements and overall speed of use. Having said that, my original X-Pro 1  and (especially) my XE-2 were absolute demons when it came to shooting in the evening around London in terms of image quality. In terms of their AF capabilities? Sadly lacking, as we are all aware, but as both cameras have focus peaking (fair in the X-Pro, good in the XE2) it was overcome-able.

These three shots below were taken on the XE-2 + 56mm APD (I was testing it also) at 3200ISO.


Composition-ally speaking, not the greatest – the 56 is not a street lens – but regarding resolution, clarity, sharpness and fine detail? Excellent for 3200. If you don’t plan on upgrading your 1st or 2nd generation X-trans bodies, you’re not in a bad place. Quite the opposite – the larger pixel sites are definitely working for you in terms of IQ at high ISO’s. In auto focus? Well, you still may want to stay where you are…especially if you can manually focus.

So, in comparison, how does the X-Pro 2 perform? First off, lets talk about AF performance – as that was the area I most wanted to see improvement. I was in Trafalgar Square last night, celebrating Malaysia Day 2016 and enjoying some wonderful food – lighting was poor, as is often the case at Trafalgar, sourced mainly from two large LED screens and a stage from one end on the square. Beyond halfway back, there was no lighting benefit at all – it was fairly awful.

Was auto focus better? Well….kind of. My guess is even at the improved -3EV levels of the X-Pro 2, this was still too dark in terms of shooting conditions. It was certainly faster, but still missed target a LOT, so the extra speed was of no use to me. Hit rate? 20%. Maybe 30%. Sounds pretty grim, but I’m not so sure it would’ve been all that much better on many other APS-C camera systems either…maybe the Nikon D500 could do better, but there is a limit to where any camera can lock on to contrast. There was little of this contrast unless the light fell just right, at the right time, on the subject.

Where I DID find success was switching to ‘AF+MF’ – now, this worked just fine. The 23mm F1.4 (the only lens I used in the end) works great in manual focus, and peaking is highly effective too, and this a clear advantage over the older bodies. This image was taken using this formula:


(this was shot at ISO6400, and is cropped by maybe 20%)

And what of high ISO performance? – honestly, I think its as good as the older models, maybe a tiny bit better (and this improvement only noticable at really high ISO’s). That actually means its a marked improvement, as we’re now dealing with 24mp rather than 16mp. A huge jump in resolution terms, and a triumph when you consider corresponding pixel sites (more of, and smaller).

For example, for 10’000 ISO, I think this shot below is excellent. And again, with a 20% crop (and first time AF lock, incredibly):


And these below, I don’t think, would look that much better if taken on my X-Pro 1 or XE-2. These were shot at 6400ISO, still very fast, and with minimal post and cropping:

(again, please allow for WordPress’s less than stellar compression – its better than Facebook’s, but not by much…)

The ‘eyeballing’ shot took four attempts before AF locked. Thankfully they were so in love that they didn’t even care (or notice) that there was a photographer cursing rather loudly about 2 foot away from them…

So, there you have it. Was I disappointed? Yeah, a bit…not in IQ, but a little surprised the AF hadn’t improved as much as I’d hoped for. But, to caveat again, light was pretty appalling, I ALWAYS switch off the AF illumination light (which doubtless would’ve helped, but its a dreadful giveaway for a deceitful bastard like me) so maybe I was just asking for too much. On the upside, we are just weeks away from a terrific new AF firmware update which could well improve things even more, so I wont cast final judgement just yet. Be prepared for Part 2.

Once again, feel free to stop over to my Instagram to stay updated on most of my work:    – would be GREAT to see you there.

or of course, there is always my flickr:

Any questions, I’ll absolutely answer them as best I can. As a side note, London’s Zombie Walk is October 8th. Not long now. If any of you UK based Fuji shooters fancy a really fun shooting experience, the zombie walk is AMAZING fun, one of my favourite shooting days of the entire year. Maybe I’ll see you there…

Stay well all, and keep shooting.



No longer ‘anti-zoom’…

(or how I stopped being a pompus ‘prime’ addicted ass and decided to pack light)

There is no shame in admitting you were wrong. There is, equally, nothing wrong in changing ones mind. I’m about to do both.

Having said that, I still believe X-Pro bodies are best suited for prime lenses between 18 and 60mm. They are rangefinder style cameras, and like the classic Leica M’s and Contax G’s this combination offers the user a classic style, tactile operation and a compactness that lends itself well to the kind of photography rangefinders are best suited to – street, reportage, travel and journalism, to name a few.

The original trilogy of XF lenses that came out with the X-Pro 1 are quite brilliant, by the way. The 18 (compact, snappy, sharp), the 35 (cool bokeh, optical excellence) and the 60 (sharpest lens I own, and good AF with the new bodies) should easily satisfy any photographer who uses either X-Pro. Of course, G.A.S soon takes over and I find myself the owner of the 27, 23 (my favourite), 56 APD (wish I hadn’t spent the extra), a couple of Samyangs (brilliant value) and – here we go – the 18-55 and 55-200 zooms.

I never use zooms. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve taken either out on a shoot. I used the 55-200 at the Zoo once, and it was great (see below). Maybe the odd other time. Its actually a terrific lens – optically superb at either end, really quick and smooth AF, a great performer. It just never felt right on the the X-Pro. It made the whole experience front heavy, a bit of a burden. I sensed a certain ‘cack-handiness’ looking through a viewfinder on the left. I imagine this lens works way better on the XT’s… I believe its what it was originally designed for.


The 18-55, on the other hand, was proving to be a bit of an enigma to me. I bought it cheap off Ebay, as I figured it might come in handy one day. ALL the reviews were good, and they were right – this lens is WAY too good to be called a ‘kit lens’ – but again, it felt a bit wrong on a rangefinder style body. The difference this time was it was mainly psychological rather than physical discomfort in any way. The lens isn’t that big, no bigger than any kit lens. I shoot street mainly, and it just felt like I wasn’t a valid street shooter using a zoom lens. It made me lazy, I wasn’t getting physically close enough anymore, I was just ‘zooming’ instead….nah, this wasn’t right. Not right at all. I also like shooting wide open – I like subject separation, especially on London’s textured streets – and I wasn’t always getting that. I put the zoom lens away – I’m a prime shooter.

My girlfriend, a busy portrait and wedding photographer, uses zooms almost exclusively for her work. Her images are consistently superb – I know Im biased, but they really are – and we always discuss the merits of each piece of glass we own. She’s a full frame Canon shooter for her business, and a Fuji X shooter for everything else. Her Fuji lens of choice is the XC 16-50. The cheapest lens Fuji does. Go figure. Admittedly, she gets some lovely images from it….


Like she always says, zooms serve a purpose (and I should probably stop being a closed minded ass)…

With this ringing in my ears, I got to packing for our summer vacation – to Skiathos, one of the Greek islands. Normally, I would pack a body and at least four primes. Normally. I also wouldn’t normally have a beach holiday – I like cities and the history that goes with them – but the thought of going with a bunch of glass, changing lenses in hot sandy/salty conditions made me rather concerned. The X-Pro 2 is weather sealed, of course, but not when removing glass – leaving an exposed sensor. And none of my glass is weather sealed either. In addition, I wanted to pack light – discount airlines dictate this after all – and just try to relax and enjoy my vacation. So I bit the bullet. XF18-55 and the Samyang 12. Sod It. It’ll be fine…first time ever with no Fuji primes. One body with the zoom attached, the 12mm and a bunch of batteries and filters. Certainly felt lighter…

It sure was a revelation. THIS is what a zoom is for, to me (and maybe to you as well). Convenience and quality. Was it as good as a prime? Nope, not always – but it was WAY closer than I thought it would be. I came away both surprised and really happy – this was the perfect piece of glass for a vacation like this.

First, sharpness. I believe this lens to be sharper at its widest setting than the prime equivalent. There is not a lot in it, but its sharper than the XF18. There is a smidge more barrel distortion, which one barely notices (and correctable anyway), and of course half a stop of light (2.8) but this zoom cries out to be shot at 18mm. Suits me fine, I love to shoot on the streets nice and wide. And in aeroplanes too…


(check out the corner to corner sharpness too. For a zoom, its excellent)

AF Speed – REALLY fast on the X-Pro 2. It isn’t a slouch on older bodies either – the linear motor is very good on standard single point-to-point focus  – and continuous focus is OK in good light, but thats mainly down to which body you use rather than a fault with the lens. Continuous AF on X-Pro 2 is actually pretty good, and is getting an upgrade in October 2016. Looking forward to that, but the X-Pro is not a sports camera and I hardly ever use C-AF.


Currently, the 18-55 is the only lens I have with OIS. Never been much bothered with it as the primes I have are pretty fast and ANY X-Pro body is great at high ISO’s. But I did enjoy using it on this trip, as I didn’t have a tripod and you know, four stops worth of IS is pretty neat to play around with at times –


(that bottom mono image was shot hand held at 1/6th of a second. Pretty good I would say)

The tele end (55mm) is pretty good. The downside to this is not optical performance – the sharpness is still pretty sweet, edge to edge – its the losing of two stops of light, and virtually no subject separation. This isn’t always a disaster, but F4? I cant remember the last time I deliberately shot at F4 🙂 ….


Here’s a few more random images…

trepidation and shrinkage.



the long haul.

To summarise, would I recommend getting one of these lenses for travel? Oh hell yeah. I’ll still use my primes for doing what I normally do on the streets of London – but even now, I still have not taken the 18-55 off yet. I’m still enjoying it that much and took some pics of a rainy London when I got back from Skiathos:

off Oxford St

Same as the Old Season....


I do miss my 23 F1.4 though. Maybe normal service will resume this weekend. 🙂

I paid about £285 for my lens a couple of years ago. Not bad – it was mint, and from a really good seller. I see them for less than that, and a bit more, but if you’re looking for something really high quality that you can take on holiday – I don’t think you’ll need more than this.

As always, thanks for reading – please feel free to stopover to my instagram and say Hi – – ill be back to taking pics of Londoners again soon!

And there is always my Flickr page – which features more Skiathos pics as well as a bunch we shot on 35mm film. They came out lovely – if I was loaded I would shoot analog more often:

the long haul.

Cheers All.

Be back soon!



Zeiss Planar 45mm F2(test with X-Pro 2)

A few months back I procured the well regarded Zeiss Sonnar 90mm F2.8 (G fit). I was suitably impressed with this somewhat small marvel and the review is buried on this site somewhere! It was small, well made, EXTREMELY sharp – and ultimately convinced me that buying the Fujinon XF90mm may not actually be necessary. I’m not saying it was better (it likely wasn’t/isn’t) but seeing as that focal length is not really what I use anyway (I do mainly street stuff and use the 23mm nearly all of the time) I figured the £600 I saved by not getting it could be put to better use. So I went to Whitstable for a few days with my bird…had a great time.

I have always been a fan of the Contax G1/2 – I worked in photo retail for many years, straight out of school, in fact, and this titanium tank still has a huge following today. One of the reasons people bought these beauties (and still do) was the lenses available. The most popular of which was the Planar 45. Years later, as bench tests became more advanced and sensors started to out perform film emulsion etc, this optic became something of a star, especially in the digital mirrorless world. Swedish website ‘Photodo’ actually declared it performed better in terms of overall sharpness than the Leica 50mm Summicron, and many others have it ranked the 2nd or 3rd best production lens of all time. Not that it matters THAT much, of course (as someone recently pointed out to me, sharpness isn’t necessarily the the be all and end all when it comes to a great lens) but I’ve always wanted one – especially now, as I truly believe the Fujifilm X-Trans III sensor found on the X-Pro 2 is an incredible chip – and one recently came up going for a song, so I took the plunge….

The 45mm, in APS-C terms, is 67.5mm equiv. A short tele, and most certainly what I would not normally use for street work. In addition, its obviously a manual focus optic on the X-Pro 2, and adaptors, especially the cheaper ones are not what I would call user friendly. Fotodiox do a decent one, but its £85, and I cant really justify that on a lens I wont use a lot, so I battled through using a £25 version I already had from my 90mm.

untitled (2 of 2)

I’ll be honest – its a ballache to focus. Even with peaking, you are by no means assured of a sharp image. I consider myself pretty good at focusing by hand, and the X-Pro 2 accounts for this better than any previous X-series camera I’ve ever had, but its still….not perfect. The focus ring is almost flush with the camera body too, which doesn’t make life easier, so if you rely a lot on AF – especially the new and awesome AF found in the later bodies – think carefully before blowing some fairly serious bones on this lens.

So this morning, I got on the train to London and jumped on the Victoria Line to Brixton. I went to this part of South London because, quite simply, its a street photographers dream. I never have to work too hard to get some half decent shots, so I figured, even with less than snappy focus at my disposal, I would at least get out of there with SOMETHING worth showing you. And I did….AND I had fun too.

There are no focus distances inscribed on this lens, which makes it practically impossible for hyper focal shooting. Therefore pretty much everything was shot from eye height – I’m a deceitful bugger when it comes to street shooting and much prefer a stealth approach as I prefer capturing natural behaviours. This wasn’t possible this time, so I had to pretend to be a people person. This was tough. I cant stand people. I know, right? A street photographer who doesn’t like people…

In addition, I shot pretty much all of these wide open at F2 (occasionally 2.8) as I wanted to see what the bokeh was really like. Anyway, this is how it went:

This lens is incredibly sharp (please note WordPress compression isn’t the best. Go to my Flickr below for full res). I was actually shaking my head when I was editing the images. These were all RAW images, converted in Lightroom with minimal post. I barely needed to adjust anything, but I am a ‘contrast’ whore – its just how I like my shots to look. Sorry if you don’t like them. Bokeh? Not as awesome. Its OK – my 35mm 1.4 is way better at this – but its passable. For me, this lens is all about the sharpness. Holy CRAP, its sharp. Its hard to use, but the rewards are most certainly there. I’m going to stick my neck out and say its sharper than my XF60, which up to now was the sharpest lens I owned. This is a 100% crop:

untitled (28 of 47)

(from the Bowie memorial – he was a Brixton boy)

As for as colour reproduction? Not much to say really – the RAWS look like they do from any of the Fujinons. Maybe slightly magenta, but I don’t see how this matters much.

What would I use this lens for? No idea – definitely NOT street, its not user friendly and it doesn’t have AF – but I felt it did a lovely job on some head and shoulders portraits. It focuses pretty close, so maybe a lens for copying? It certainly brings out the detail! Anyhow, if you want to see more images please feel free to visit my flickr site:

untitled (3 of 47)

or better still, stop by my Instagram: – Im posting like a demon on there, and could do with some followers!

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions, I shall always answer them.



No eye contact.

By no means do I consider myself an expert on street photography – but as many of you have realised by now, this is what I mainly shoot. I shoot daily, at least on my way to work and back again, so its become second nature to have my camera at the ready, and with the new and super responsive X-Pro 2 I am getting more and more shots that are ‘keepers’.

I’m not saying the previous generations aren’t suitable for street – they most definitely are – I am saying the advances, especially in AF, made in the later models have made shooting that little more ‘sure’ and flexible.

One of the keys to good street photography is, amongst many things, being able to predict the shot. Like a good motor cyclist, one needs to be able to see ‘what happens next’ before it actually happens. And by this, I mean looking ahead 20-30 feet at your next potential capture – having time to prepare, most importantly – and making good on this prep by getting the shot.

Case in point:

As alluded to in previous posts, I have no issues taking images of the homeless. I don’t shoot them because they’re an easy target (they most certainly are not anyway) I shoot because this is a growing issue in London, an important one to discuss, and I wont pretend it doesn’t exist just because a few dissenters find it uncomfortable to see. Fuck that. A camera records the truth. Its what it was made for – moments of truth. Amen. If you don’t like it, ask McCullin, and walk away…

I spotted the legs of this ‘moment of truth’ as I was taking my daily walk up Regent Street. He’s a regular that beds for the night outside ‘Superdry’ (ironically, I tagged the brand on this shot for Instagram, and they ‘liked’ it…odd.) and at the same time every morning he’s on his first fag of the day, and polishing off a quart of milk. I’ve tried talking to him before, and he’s not receptive to chit-chat, but he’s an interesting character all the same and I wanted to record the first moments of his day.

So, from 30 or so feet down the street, when I first spotted he was awake, I lowered my camera to just above the waist (in vertical position), ensuring it was as level as possible (this is incredibly hard actually, and I’m still no good at it after all this time and still use the rotate tool in L/R) and nonchalantly walked past, clicking as I reached the shop doorway. You can see my reflection – I didn’t even turn my head, as that would’ve gotten a reaction that wasn’t natural, and would likely have pissed him off, understandably.


Its not 100% sharp, I know that. But its a capture I really like – and highlights how lucky I am, how blessed WE are and how empathy, kindness and a little generosity can make a difference to someones day. Believe it or not, this is a mutual exchange. Yes, I got my shot on this occasion, but on others he gets a cuppa, or a few quid or sometimes just a ‘Good Morning’.

Pretend he’s not there? Not me, pal.

(please visit my Instagram: ‘capitalfaces’ –  Cheers!)


Regent Street….

…is the street on which I work. I like it – its like Oxford St, but posher. And by that I mean LOADS of shops selling luxury goods rather than LOADS of shops selling sports clothes and tat.

I walk up from Piccadilly Circus as its less packed than Oxford Circus – and its a nice walk, especially when the sun is out. Its fairly quiet, but I’ll normally see some characters. I’ve taken to using my XE2 for daily use – its faster than my X-Pro 1, and smaller than my X-Pro 2, and with the XF18 bolted on it makes a nice and snappy carry camera rig.

So here’s a few from my daily walk up Regent Street. Its sure to end being a huge collection, as I do this walk every day…


As ever, thanks for reading. I’ll be updating every month or so now – I have so few readers on here – but if you want to see more of my work you can always drop by my instagram, also called capitalfaces…..would be great to see you.

Stay well! 🙂



Forgive me for not writing much on here in a while – I have been shooting, a lot, and becoming more intimately involved with the X-Pro 2. I shall write up my additional findings at a later date – and thanks, so much, for the kind words on my original review – but in the meantime, I have discovered a new way (for me) to shoot street. I call it ‘chestshooting’….let me explain.

Ever since the dawn of street photography, people have been looking for more and more discrete ways to attain true candid and intimate shots of individuals who don’t know they’re being shot. This is, I believe, the essence of genuine street photography. Of course, if you’re Bruce Gilden (or aspire to be), and you don’t have a problem with shoving your camera in someone’s face and firing a flash from 2ft away – well, fill your boots. I happen to appreciate Bruce’s work (as I do Eric Kim’s and Charlie Kirk’s) but I also know that this confrontational style is not for me. I have no wish in imparting a negative impact on somebody’s day via the trivial act of taking their photograph. It just doesn’t seem cool.

I have no problem asking to take an image of someone either. Sometimes it works better to have your subject pose a little if their look lends itself to that kind of posture, but mostly, to me, street photography is a dark art of deception. It is one of the few forms of original camera craft left – lets face it, every view, every building, every attraction, in every country is shot to death, daily, millions and millions of times (seriously, why watermark them?). I shoot those images too – but with good street photography, you are capturing a unique moment. It will never be repeated, and it belongs to only you. And that is the attraction. Stuff like this:


(you can see my reflection 🙂 )

With my old X-Pro 1 (gloriously clunky though it is) it was very much ‘shoot and hope’ when it came to street. It was slow to focus, and would often miss the point of subject if it was off centre, so it was either set hyperfocus (which gives me no subject separation, which I dont like) or sheer bravery/stupidity/invisible cloak/telephoto lens. The latter worked most of the time, but when it didn’t? Well, let me just say it made China Town really unpleasant…

The point is, I had to face my subject, eye to camera, and shoot. I was quick, and got away with it 90% of the time, even in China Town:

20151101-untitled (15 of 50)

But simply put, my camera’s limitations did not allow me to shoot street how I wanted to shoot street.

Cartier-Bresson, probably the best of all, was full of tricks. He would hold his Leica flat against his palm, the lens peaking over his cuff – or better still, have the camera around his neck, lens pushing through his overcoat with one button un-done and pushing a cable release in his pocket. Nice one, Henri…

The arrival of the XE-2 certainly did help matters, especially after the last round of firmware. Face detect worked ‘OK’ but only really when the subject was facing the camera. Wide tracking focus too, combine the two and you definitely had potential…but shooting from the hip, still, was way too hit and miss for me:

untitled (5 of 36)

see what I mean?


Cut to February 2016 – and I am now a proud owner of this:

untitled (2 of 2)-2

As mentioned in my review, pretty much every issue I had with the X-Pro 1 and XE-2 has been ironed out with the X-Pro 2…taking out the total ballsup Lightroom does to my files, this is pretty much my perfect camera. I bloody love this thing…

Biggest improvement? AF. No question – and THIS is what has allowed me to up my game when shooting on the streets. Still finding shooting from the hip somewhat limiting and too speculative, I have taken to shooting from the chest – what I now call ‘Chestshooting’…its very simple:

Set camera to – ‘Wide Tracking AF’ (although, honestly, Im not that sure it makes a difference when combined with – )

‘Auto Face/Eye Detect’

Other settings are dictated by your shooting conditions, but I try to get as fast a speed as possible shooting at F2 or F2.8. Do not set electronic shutter though…1/8000 is surely fast enough, no? E/S makes stuff look ‘bendy’ if your shooting on the move….

Lastly, position your camera. Lets say, you’re a right handed shooter like me – place the camera in the centre of your chest, about 10 inches below your chin, with the lens facing left. Just make sure any items of clothing aren’t flapping in the way of the front element.

Now, WALK.

Coverage is WAY better shooting from chest height, you capture much more emotion and expression, and if you wear dark clothing on your top half – no one notices. And even if they do, make no eye contact and keep walking. They’ll probably think you’re shooting video….


In no way will I be shooting 100% this way – not everything I want to capture will be to my left – but this has sure been a fun way to street shoot and end up with more keepers.

The exciting thing is, X-Pro 2 will only get better. I cant wait – firmware days are like Christmas for me…. 🙂

Happy Shooting, and as always, thanks for reading.

Added 01/06/16 0r if your American 🙂 06/01/16….

Just to elaborate on the new AF capabilities on the X-Pro 2, I shot these in a similar style on the XE-2 (+ the snappy 18mm F2) this morning on my way in to work. As I was dealing with an 18 instead of 23 this time, I rested the camera on my left collarbone, again lens pointing leftwards also. Here’s what I got:


Valiantly though the XE-2 tried, it clearly missed focus point and face detect when set to ‘wide tracking’…however, it got it spot on with the one below:


She’s not a real girl, bro…

This is not taking anything away from the XE-2, its a terrific camera and still a huge step up in AF from the 1st generation cameras, but I feel way more confident shooting with the X-Pro 2.

Again, thanks for reading. Cheers!