Last Friday night we had a group called the “Jazz Me Band” come and play for us. I am using some pictures I took to represent one of the extreme issues for my photography: low light and need for a longer reach.
The above pictures were taken with the Fijufilm XF 18 – 55 mm and the 55 – 200 mm zoom lenses. These pictures span the range from ISOs of 2000 to 6400; apertures of 3.5 – 4.4 (the widest for each focal length); focal lengths between 37 and 128 mm; and shutter speeds between 1/29 and 1/45 sec. In general they were taken at the extremes for low light with some movement of the subjects. All images were taken in raw format and converted using LR5. I used no adjustments in LR5 except for luminance noise reduction which varied depending upon the ISO.
First I’ll mention the positives about the X-E1’s capabilities with these lenses. It handled the white balance (WB) very well considering the circumstances. All of these are shown with the WB as chosen by the camera. While I would prefer to not use an ISO of 6400, pictures at that ISO were pretty good. The most zoomed image shown (128 mm) was at ISO 6400 so you can see how it looks relative to the others. I had no problems with focusing under these conditions. It took a little longer at the longest focal lengths, but that is to be expected.
These pictures represent my worse-case situation … photographing in the Omni room with the lighting dimmed. I found that I really need faster lenses to get faster shutter speeds and lower ISOs. The shutter speeds were too low to stop motion and thus I ended up with excessive motion blur in some other images. I would also like to reduce my ISO to 3200, especially if I need to crop-zoom.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options relative to improving the pictures. More light would help but there is nothing I can do about that. I have only three alternatives for a faster lens. Fujifilm has a 35 mm f/1.4 lens. This would be fast enough but is on the wide side. If I need to get the whole stage in the scene and I stand in the back of the room in front of the stage, it takes a focal length of about 37 mm so the 35 mm would suffice for those images, but I would be cropping a lot for closer views. With my K-5 I used a 50 mm f/1.8 and then photographed at an angle to get the whole stage and crop-zoomed for closer shots. The K-5 had image stabilization. I wouldn’t have that with the Fujifilm prime lenses.
Fujifilm has a 60 mm f/2.4 macro lens but that is just a little faster and it is slower to focus. Assuming that I had time to focus, it would be faster than my zooms but is probably not worth the cost. A better option might be to wait until sometime next year when Fujifilm is coming out with a 56 mm f/1.2 lens, but I’m afraid that it will be very costly.
For now, I am considering making-do with the lenses I have. There are no options worth the cost just for the few times that I need to photograph under these conditions. I would like to try the 35 mm f/1.4 lens but only if I have other uses for it.