As time edged closer to 10:00 a.m. last Wednesday in the basement of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, the photographers from various media organizations readied their kits for showtime. Beyond the large metal door in front of us were the Rockettes out of costume and in rehearsal. I was there on assignment for school, and the Fujifilm X-A1 served as my only method of recording the hour aside from a reporter’s pad. Most of the photographers there had bigger rigs from the likes of Canon and Nikon, and they were probably more seasoned than I was. As the Rockettes dipped into arabesques and kicked high in the air, I raised the X-A1, consulted the LCD, and started shooting.
The X-A1 is not, by any means, an advanced camera that professionals would use as their main rig, but I wanted to pack light. Seeing as my time with it would be over soon, I decided to put it through its paces in a very professional environment. Fortunately, I also have the X-Pro 1, Fujinon 35mm f1.4 and SLR Magic 23mm f1.7 on loan from Chris Gampat. I politely removed the 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens before leaving home in the morning, and mounted the 35mm f1/.4, a far superior optic.
Dancers are some of my favorite subjects because they naturally make for beautiful photographs, and the Rockettes are unlike any I’ve ever photographed. The great thing, particularly about rehearsal, is that there’s a stellar amount of repetition, so it’s fairly easy to determine where your subject will be a few seconds ahead of time.
The X-A1’s focus peaking is a major boon as it helped me to get some of the shots I was looking for, and the LCD screen has a beautiful degree of clarity, better than most I’ve seen. There was a bit of write time for the RAW files, but that was negligible.
The lighting was wonderful, but the autofocus tended to hunt from time to time. The X-A1 has 49 AF points, and accessing them is a breeze. The top directional button on the back of the X-A1 doubles as the Trash and AF select functions. Click it once, a 7 x 7 grid appears, and use the four directional buttons to navigate to the point you want. You can press either the shutter or the OK button to set the AF point. The tracking AF mode worked nicely, but a good amount of the time, I focused manually.
Overall, I shot 357 photos over the course of an hour. We were ushered out at 11:00 a.m. The X-A1 paired with the 35mm f1.4 performed admirably. I imagine I’d have had a harder time with the kit lens. Of course, I haven’t seen images from the other photographers there, but the quality of the X-A1’s images are wonderful. The RAW files provided a great degree of information to work with, and almost no editing was needed.
Of course, there were moments when I had to put down the camera because the degree of the Rockettes’ synchronization is amazing. If you’ve seen them at Radio City, then you’re fully aware, but if you haven’t, it is mesmerizing. If you’re lucky enough to see them in rehearsal, then hopefully you’ll have a camera capable of getting some beautiful photographs. For me, that camera was the X-A1.
Please Support The Phoblographer
We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.