Turn About Is Fair Play

Turn About Is Fair Play

As part of this week’s visit to Camera Electronic’s Murray Street shop I got involved with Olympus, Fujifilm, and Zeiss products. It was a quiet morning – just as well…the council car parking fees are fierce these days and I had run short of change. So the visit had to be somewhat truncated before the meter ran down.

Time enough to play with the new X-Pro3, the newest Olympus OM-D E-M5II, and this Zeiss lens. It’s not a new release lens, but has always been a premium mirrorless product…and this time I decided to do the experiment of turn-about shooting. It’s a Fujifilm X-mount, though available for other mounts as well.

Well, what do you get? A remarkably simple-looking barrel. Zeiss has eschewed the knurling and milling that other makers use to get traction on lens rings – this has a soft rubber grip on aperture and manual focus. More than enough grip, as the rings turn easily and precisely. But this simplicity, combined with the prime focal length, streamlines a lot of the experience.

The Planar design is particularly suited to standard portraiture and product photography…as evinced by the choice of this design by classic medium format and full-frame camera makers. This 32mm 1.8 with a decent close focusing capability could really stay as the standard lens for any X series mirrorless camera…but is it any better than the native Fujinon lenses?

Well, possibly…but when you compare what the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f:2.8-4  standard zoom lens did with the Touit to what the Touit did with the Fujinon, you will be hard pressed to see much difference. The amount of crud that collects in the milled focus ring of the Fujinon is a but off-putting but that’s what you get when you take a camera to parties.

The true advantage of the Touit would be in the slightly wider fixed focal length compared to the Fujinon standard of 35mm, and the addition of the f:22 stop. In neither case is OIS doing all that much for me – and in the case of these product shots made at CE, as they are tripod shots…it’s doing nothing at all.

In case you were wondering at the new system for in-shop table shots, they are taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55 f:2.8-4 lens but occasionally I screw a Nikon No.5 or No.6 close-up lens onto the filter ring of the Fujinon. The illumination is the EX-500 flash on manual setting – about 1/2 power, and fired upwards into a piece of whitefoam-core board that acts as a big reflector. As the flash setting remains the same, the camera’s on a tripod, and the colour temperature is set at 5900ºK, all you have to do is slide the products in front of the lens and press the button.

I’m proud that I can do it on a surface the size of a card table and not swat the customers with the reflector as I work. Stirling Street may have two stories and a lot of floor area, but it’s surprising how little free space for a studio is left. Still, the floor organisation is vastly improved since the day I started work there and fell over a display cabinet…

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