I had to order something from B&H a while ago and to get free shipping to Canada, I needed to bump up my order. So I ordered a grid for my Photoflex Medium Litedom soft box. Grids are ridiculously expensive for softboxes, leading one to believe they are made of Unicorn Tears and Saskatchewan seal skin bindings. Or some such other mystical material. So I ordered the Impact brand 24×32 grid. It works and fits like a charm for the Photoflex box. I should have had a grid on that soft box from forever ago. They are so perfect for controlling light spill and adding amazing direction to the light. I hadn’t had a chance to even try it out much so I grabbed Ethan and some gear and we went outside to cash in on the amazing hoarfrost that stuck around all day.
In the really blue shots, I was playing with color temperature and gels. I went with a tungsten balance to shift the image to blue, then double CTO gelled my flash to bring the light back to a really nice warm temp. It’s a very interesting contrast in the light colours. For the other shots I used a simple overcast warmer temperature of around 6300K with a 1/4 CTO gel to give a bit warmer skin tone. The control that the grid gives is superb. There is no spill around the subject to illuminate everything. If you want to keep an image interesting, then pay close attention to what isn’t lit.
Our neighbour came home and I made her step into the set for a shot or two. It worked out well! I was using the FujiFilm X100s for these shots with the 3 stop ND filter engaged. This helped knock down the ambient light which would have been too much for a single LumoPro LP180 flash that I was using blasting through two gels, two layers of diffusion and the grid. These exposures were in the neighbourhood of f/2 1/250 ISO 200 plus or minus. And they are all JPEG images too. I seldom ever shoot my Fuji in RAW because the JPEGs are soooooooo great. Not so my Nikons. They live in RAW all the time. But Fuji has such incredible and captivating colour and skin tones. So, it’s JPEG for this Fuji slinging flashgun cowboy. So if you have a light, slap a grid on there and leave it there. You’ll be glad you did! 😎
I read a photography blog post the other day where the author responded to the general claim that Fuji’s colour reproduction is magical. He claimed that the consensus of celebrity pro-togs who love Fuji have their heads up their posteriors. It’s all hear say and media hype. Now, I love Nikon and I also love Fuji (specifically the X100s). I’ve had great success with both. But is the colour really that much better on the magical Fuji? Well I had the opportunity to really test that out today at my daughters birthday party. One of the fun activities was making bead necklaces. So we had lots of different coloured beads available. I brought my cameras and here’s the skinny. 😎
Caveat: Any of these “scientific” colour tests are inherently skewed because it’s impossible to get everything the same across camera platforms. Lenses are different, sensors are different, blah blah blah. You get the idea. 🙂
I normalized the cameras as much as I could across the settings and exposures. I decided that I would use an on camera flash to bounce the same exact light across each exposure. The frame is lit entirely by flash with no ambient bleed. The settings were: JPEG files straight out of camera with no editing whatsoever (other than the down sample of the full res files to 1024px). Fuji was on factory Provia and Nikon was on factory Standard settings. 1/250 f4 35mm ISO 200 WB Sunny/Fine. SB-600 Speedlight on Camera zoomed to 35mm shot in Manual mode at 1/32 power for both. FujiFilm X100s (23mm = ~35mm on FX) vs Nikon D800 with 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR. Take a look at the results and see for yourself.
I put the photos side by side in Lightroom and did screen captures. I didn’t downsize the D800 so they don’t line up. I put them both at 1:1 just to compare the colour. In all the shots, the Nikon file is on the left side.
So, what do you think? I noticed that there was about a 1/3 stop exposure difference between the two files. I made the histograms the same in post and brought the Nikon exposure down -.35 in Lightroom – but that difference is not shown here. These are all SOOC. Even with the slight exposure tweak, the files to my eye are different. The Fuji has an extra little bit of contrast and pop straight out of camera. And whatever it is, this magical Fuji special sauce is what all the Fuji hype is about. 😎 Just look at the difference in the pinks (read SKIN TONES), it’s quite remarkable!