“You’re brave,” that’s what Stan Horaczek from Pop Photo told me when I told him that I’m shooting a wedding with the new Zeiss 12mm f2.8 and 32mm f1.8 Touit lenses for the Fujifilm X series system. He said this not because he didn’t trust the products, but because he would never use brand new gear for anything paid. However, I do it all the time for this site–and a recent wedding that I photographed was no exception. Since stepping out of professionally shooting weddings years ago, I had always wondered what it would be like to shoot one with an X Pro 1. Granted, it was only the secondary camera. And after being smitten with Zeiss lenses for a while, I figured that this would be one of the best testing grounds for the new optics targeted at the higher end.
While they performed admirably, something went wrong–very wrong.
While my main camera was my Canon 5D Mk II, my secondary body was my Fujifilm X Pro 1 that was covering the normal and super wide perspectives. For that reason, the 12mm f2.8 and 32mm f1.8 Touit lenses were the perfect choice with my Mk II covered the semi-wide and long perspectives.
Weddings are usually a very standard procedure. You shoot the preparation of the bride and groom, then the ceremony, and you figure out want to do for formal and creative portraits, and then you photograph all the happenings during the reception. While this wedding was just like that, there was a big factor that made things different: it was being done on the beach and started at around 5pm and ended a little after midnight.
So why is that different?
– A beach is unlike any other situation. It was a cloudless day and there are loads of harsh shadows. Typical weddings happen at a church where there are enclosures and flash or high ISOs are used.
– Sand is blowing everywhere and some gear can’t stand up to it as well.
– There needed to be photos at a carousel.
– I had limited time to accomplish everything.
Before we go on, I want to say with full honesty that a wedding should absolutely never be about the gear. It’s about capturing moments and documenting the union of a couple. If you’re making it about the gear overall, then you’re doing it wrong.
When I was coordinating with the Bride and the organizers, they originally planned for the wedding to be in a tent–which would have made shooting significantly simpler. However, that didn’t happen quite the way we wanted it to: so it threw a wrench in the cycle. There was some intense wind blowing that almost blew my glasses right off as well as some harsh light coming from behind the attendees.
To compensate, I needed to overexpose all my images by a stop in order to fill in the shadows. Both Canon and Fujifilm have loads of information that can be recovered in the highlights and when taking that into account, I had no problem backlighting all of the photos.
Additionally, VSCO Film Tools helped to deliver a look that is super popular amongst sites like Green Wedding Shoes and more. That film-like look is totally in.
Using the Zeiss lenses to capture this moment meant getting up close or moderately close to everyone since I was shooting at 18mm and 50mm near equivalents. It was awesome and the gear worked with no problems at all.
To make things easier for the older folks, we kept part of the formal photo session on the sand. At times I shot super wide and at others I used the 28mm or 35mm perspectives with my Canon camera. This is where the 12mm f2.8 really came in handy as I was able to use it to capture larger, grander scenes.
After all of that was done, we moved onto the boardwalk to a carousel where we had 15 minutes to shoot. The couple, bride’s maids and groomsmen all wanted portraits there. That was simple enough and to be honest the Zeiss lenses were rarely used here. The reason for this is because Fujifilm doesn’t have such a great flash system–but Canon has a spectacular one.
Here’s where the Zeiss lenses came into real handy. Not only are they light and small, but they’re a joy to shoot with. When used with the X Pro 1 and a bounce flash, the combo reminded me of my old rangefinder days. It is reassuring to know that these lenses exhibit super high image quality, focused quickly on my subjects, and are kept down to a small size.
This was all a very standard run of the mill session for the most part as well: but the locations were a bit tight and so I needed to work with different angles.
My general setup was:
18mm f2.8 on X Pro 1 while 35mm f2 IS was on the Mk II
28mm f2.8 IS on the Mk II while 32mm f1.8 was on the X Pro 1
Both cameras had flashes attached.
The 12mm f2.8 performed like a champ, while later on something happened to the 32mm f1.8. After taking four photos each time, the lens would freeze up and the camera would malfunction. I’d need to turn the camera off, take the lens off, put it back on, and go back to shooting. But after four images, it kept happening.
When the couple told me to take a break, I did a quick test. This wasn’t happening with the 12mm f2.8 at all–so I concluded that the 32mm f1.8 was subjected to sand damage. Surely, sand had to have gotten into the motors via the rubber rings. This was another reason why I questioned Zeiss using rubber for these lenses.
For the rest of the night, I didn’t have a 50mm equivalent. That’s totally fine with me as I’m much more of a 35mm field of view guy. The 12mm f2.8 was saved for super wide photos, and that was about it.
Overall, these lenses performed great and even though the 32mm f1.8 suffered from a jamming issue, it wasn’t a big loss to my shooting capabilities. But it’s surely something to consider as the last thing you need to be worrying about at a wedding is your gear.
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