The Los Angeles Recordings

A street photography project by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

Street Photography Workflow (Part 2)

This is the second entry in my Street Photography Workflow series (part 1, which focuses on how I use the Fuji X70 can be found HERE). In this post, I’ll go over how I use the Fuji XE3 camera and the 27mm/2.8 pancake lens for my work. As with the first post, this isn’t a technical review or an example of of how anyone else should take pictures, just a look at what works for me.

I picked up the Fuji XE3 a little over a year ago but it wasn’t until I purchased the 27mm/2.8 lens that it became my ideal street photography set up. The combination of that lens and the surprisingly small body make it an extremely capable, yet discrete tool. The 24mp sensor is a big improvement over the 16mp in my X70, not necessarily in terms of pure resolution (I think that 16mp is fine) but in overall quality. The way that the images are rendered is great and there is an enormous improvement in the dynamic range. That gives me the freedom to adjust to most lighting conditions and remain confident in the image quality. The Fuji 27mm lens is a gem, though not without it’s quirks.

The biggest and most glaring difference between it and most other Fuji lenses is that it has no external aperture ring. It’s unfortunate but I haven’t found it to be a deal breaker. It did require several adjustments to my approach which I’ll detail later in this post. What I can say though is that the size, image quality, and price point more than make up for that omission. This lens is great. It’s razor sharp and the contrast is excellent. It’s also is equivalent to 40mm which is my favorite focal length and is reminiscent of my beloved Contax T2 (which is 38mm).

It took a lot of experimentation for me to find a workflow that worked for me with this kit. I usually use the aperture ring to make exposure adjustments and that was no longer an option. Going into the menu was too time consuming and took me out of the moment so I needed to change the way I worked. What I came up with is really effective for my type of work and I don’t need to open the menu at all. To start, I set my camera to anywhere between ISO 640 to 800 and I use the Acros+G profile. Using those settings as my constant I then set the aperture to between f5 and f6.4, depending on light of course. Once I select those parameters I use the external shutter speed dial to tweak exposure. The shutter speed range of 1/1000 to 1/4000 combined with those settings has me covered from bright sun to deep shade. As always, I shoot RAW+jpg to process using Adobe Lightroom CC later because there will be under/over exposed images.

As for focusing, I have found zone focusing with no aperture ring to be less than intuitive so I use the autofocus set to the widest area possible. I wear the XE3 around my neck (I rarely use the viewfinder when I shoot street) and I have found the focus to be extremely reliable. It’s very quick and accurate for the most part though I do miss the manual method. In practice I have not found it to really be an issue and I love the depth of field at the wider apertures. The autofocus on my trusty X70 was never really able to keep up but the XE3 rarely misses.

This concludes Part 2 of my street photography workflow series. I’ve covered my two primary cameras and detailed the set up that works best for my work with each one. I hope the posts have been somewhat informative, thanks for reading.