Fuji Autofocus woes

Dec 31, 2013
Louisville, Ky
I shot a show Saturday night at pretty well lit music hall. The X-Pro2 did well for the most part. But some shots I missed due to the autofocus not being able to lock on that would have been amazing. Or at least I think they would have been amazing. Which leads to the inevitable question of do I grab another X-T body for shows and events? I know when I shot with the T2/battery grip, the af was much better than on the Pro2. And then there is the pending T4 official announcement. Or maybe the X-Pro3? It should have similar af to the X-T3. There is also the suck it up and go on option. But missing those shots is bugging me.
 
Feb 6, 2015
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
I give that backlighting is a serious Achilles heel for all mirrorless.
It is one of the reasons that I never switched from Nikon to Olympus. I had issues at weddings and receptions missing some critical shots.
All that to say that this is not just a Fuji issue.

this is why I will always have DSLRs for my work, until the day that the mirrorless cameras can have as reliable AF as my D500.

more directly to your question, the XT3/4 will be better andso should the XPRO3. Better enough is only going to be answered when you have them in hand and test.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
I usually set my cameras up to AF + MF, so that if the camera is having difficulty finding focus, I can try overriding with manual focus to get the job done.

This shot --



-- was taken at about 80% dusk, and the RX10 MkIV was madly hunting focus. Manual override allowed me to get the image at least somewhat in focus. BTW, the RX10 4 has the best autofocus I've ever experienced, but when there is very little light . . .

I realize this response is not Fuji specific, but AF + MF might be worth considering.

Cheers, Jock
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
I tried mirrorless for events when the E-M1.1 came out (before the big FW update that REALLY helped). It was great for rehearsals, the ceremony, and details. Not so good for the reception, movement and lighting gave me headaches. So I reversed direction and decided to stay with my Nikon gear. For me it was just a case of using the right tool for the job.

I know things have come a long since then. But for me, if it's a paid job, get the right tool. I'd look at a "3" at least and personally prefer the central VF for action.

Is there a specific focal range you tend to use for these events? You could also look at something like the a Nikon D750. Since the D780 was just announced I would expect to see a number of nice used D750s hitting the market. Just a thought, since we're also talking higher ISOs as well.
 
Dec 31, 2013
Louisville, Ky
I have picked up a X-T2 with a battery grip. I know the AF on that, using the grip and boost mode is better than the Pro2. I’ll use that and see if it is enough. If not I’ll look at the T3 or T4.

For shows I usually shoot with the 90mm, 35mm, and 16mm. So, 135, 50, and 24 in FF. The lenses I am using have blazing AF.

A D750 would be a great option. But I don’t want to get a second system if I can avoid it. There will be a ton X-T3s hitting the used market soon also.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
some shots I missed due to the autofocus not being able to lock on that would have been amazing.
This is one of the reasons why I swear by rangefinder focusing. With a rangefinder, I can work in near pitch black darkness or fast moving subjects and still get accurate focusing (manually). Note - I have not worked with top of the range cameras like the latest Canon 1Dx that may perform better in questionable lighting circumstances.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
This is one of the reasons why I swear by rangefinder focusing. With a rangefinder, I can work in near pitch black darkness or fast moving subjects and still get accurate focusing (manually). Note - I have not worked with top of the range cameras like the latest Canon 1Dx that may perform better in questionable lighting circumstances.
That actually prompted another idea: how about PRE-focusing manually? Cine types work with pre-marked focus areas all the time. Of course, if people move and you're working with paper-thing depth of field, that won't work. It also won't work if members of the band move a great deal in terms of distance-to-camera.

Let me go all geezer on you: why, I can remember a time when everything was manual focus and sometimes we had to focus on a spot and wait for the subject to move into it, youngster! (Now I have to go find my teeth.)

Cheers, Jock
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
That actually prompted another idea: how about PRE-focusing manually? Cine types work with pre-marked focus areas all the time. Of course, if people move and you're working with paper-thing depth of field, that won't work. It also won't work if members of the band move a great deal in terms of distance-to-camera.
It's not so much pre-focusing, but rather being mega-switched-on to anticipate shots I need to make. And having the dexterity to complement the spider senses to snap the camera up to the eye, focus, and press the shutter very quickly. The more I work with rangefinders, the better I'm able to approximate where my focus is just by feel before I even bring the camera up to my eye, especially the lenses that have a focusing tab on them.
 
Last edited:
Dec 31, 2013
Louisville, Ky
Unfortunately, the Fuji rangefinder doesn't manually focus like a true rangefinder.

I remember the old days of only manual focus. I was using manual focus lenses on my Canon digital. And when I first switched to Fuji. Even shooting weddings with manual focus. Then my eyes started to give in to age. And I didn't trust them to get the important shots.

With some of the bands I shoot. The people are constantly in motion, bouncing all over the stage. Also, they tend to be very animated. So even when standing in the same spot, their face is never in the same spot for more than a second.

I realized the other day how I have come to rely on modern tools. Not just autofocus. I'm even a little out of practice pulling the camera up fast and keeping the shot level. Because over the last few years, I have come to rely on the in viewfinder level for that. I need to turn off all the doodads, the wysiwyg in the viewfinder, and get back some of the skills I've let go to technology.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
With some of the bands I shoot. The people are constantly in motion, bouncing all over the stage. Also, they tend to be very animated. So even when standing in the same spot, their face is never in the same spot for more than a second.
It really depends - if there's some space between you and the stage, even wide open at f/1.4 will give you enough depth of field to allow for slight movement of the subject.

If you're very close to the stage and your subjects, you can afford to stop down to f/2.8 or even more. This will give you enough depth of field to take into account your subject's movements. If the stage lighting people are doing their jobs, it'll mean that the stage will be well lit, you should be able to afford to stop down a bit if you're up close to a moving subject.

I used photograph concerts, live performances, plays, etc.

I'm even a little out of practice pulling the camera up fast and keeping the shot level. Because over the last few years, I have come to rely on the in viewfinder level for that. I need to turn off all the doodads, the wysiwyg in the viewfinder, and get back some of the skills I've let go to technology.
I find if I don't photograph regularly with my Leicas, I lose my speed and agility when manually focusing. I really gotta keep it up.

I guess it's like playing a music instrument, you gotta regularly play or practice or you won't be able to maintain a decent level of control over your instrument.
 
Dec 31, 2013
Louisville, Ky
I was in front of the stage. Trying to shoot the bass player using the 35mm f2@f2. He was moving just enough to get his face out of focus when I attempted get the shots. I can try 2.8 next go around. But then, I'll be working with the X-T2/battery grip. Fortunately I was still able to deliver a great set of images to the band. They have no idea of the shots I missed. But I do, and its one of those things my subconscious can't let go of.


The amount of skill set which requires regular practice to maintain in photography rivals that of athletics. I never realized it till I recently switched off the gadgets, like I was saying earlier. Unlevel photos, missing focus, off exposures, and so on. All of my lit portraits are full manual, no wysiwyg in the viewfinder. But my the rest of my shooting has come to rely on the tools available in modern cameras.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
I was in front of the stage. Trying to shoot the bass player using the 35mm f2@f2. He was moving just enough to get his face out of focus when I attempted get the shots. I can try 2.8 next go around.
With proper stage lighting you should be able to stop down further, unless you're going for a shallow depth of field look. If so, there's nothing wrong with snapping a few shots in quick succession and hope at least one of them is in focus.
 

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