I’ve shot the production stills for TG4/Gael Media’s show ‘Glor Tire’ (it translates as Country Voice) for over 5 seasons now. This is the first one where I’ve gone all Fuji for the show. For the live performances, I used a dual strap system with a Fuji X-T10 with 50-140 f2.8 Pro lens, and a Fuji X-Pro1 with an 18mm lens. For the interviews, I used the X-T10 with 18 and 35mm lens. Finally for the studio style portrait shots, I used the X-T10 with a 35mm lens. As these were horizontal shots, the shooting distance required mean you weren’t getting the distortion you often get with close in vertical shots on 50mm equivalent lenses (the 35mm is about 53mm equivalent).
For years, I’ve been shooting this on Canon, with the 5DII, the 60D and the 5DIII. Lens included the 28mm f1.8, the 85mm f1.8, the 70-200 (both f4 and f2.8) and the 17-40mm. While I’ve had the X-Pro1 for a few years now, I didn’t feel it could compete in this area-much as I love it.
This year the arrival of the X-T10 has changed that. It’s such a capable camera that my 5DII sits mostly unused, bar nightclub and occasional video work. I use it for everything else. Houses, product, models, head shots. Personal and professional work. For Glor Tire, there were a number of features in the camera that I used to boost the number of keepers I got to choose from, as well as just make life easier in the process. Shooting 11 episodes of a show over 5 days is a stressful work environment and anything that can ease that is more than welcome.
In no particular order, the features that really helped were:
1. Face Recognition: With performance, there’s a certainly amount of swapping orientation, so often I’m using centre focus point to handle the change. With Face Recognition turned on, the camera selected the face over 90% of the time over the selected focus point, and with far less hunting. This meant that I got far more shots with the face completely in focus. Some of the previous failures are based on both the performer and I moving, but often it was just simply missed focus due to hitting the nose rather than eye with focus. This still isn’t perfect. For example with a female performer that had hair falling over her face when in profile, the camera want to select a band member instead-even though they were on the edge of the frame.
2. Continuous Focus: Mixed with Face Recognition, this meant that I was able to shoot as the performer moved about and still get the shot. Yes, Canon has this, but it just worked better for me with the X-T10-probably because of the Face Recognition. And of course, it’s a switch on the front of the camera, couldn’t be easier to change.
3. Continuous Shooting: The X-T10 has 2 continuous modes: CL and CH, low and high speed. These are changed from the Drive knob on the top. For the most part, I hate this knob. It often gets knocked into a toy camera mode by accident. However given that it’s so easy to change to continuous from it, I have to forgive this. A lot of them performers on the show, while excellent singers, are not necessarily trained in stage craft. This means they can sing with closed eyes for a lot of the song. You can get emotional shots in this case, but for promotional shots, they prefer eyes to be open. Continuous shooting means you get a chance to get those rare moments. Yes, the Canon can do this as well, but it’s the combination of these first 3 features together that make it killer for keepers.
4. Electronic Shutter: For the interviews, the recordings are made using flesh coloured DPA headset mics. These are particularly sensitive, and would pick up the sound of the camera firing. Normally you’d need a Blimp for this situation. In the past, I’d just shoot the rehearsals, but now, with the electronic shutter, (with the camera audio features turned off), the camera is silent in use. The camera itself is cheaper than a Blimp. Win win.
5. Flip out Screen: Having a flip out screen means that I can capture more angles easily. Rather than be restricted to head height, I can match the angles used by the crew, as well as shoot ones that they can’t do.
I could add more, but those are the 5 main things that made a huge difference to the work for Glor Tire. I will mention the 50-140mm lens though. It’s ridiculously sharp, even using Lightroom, which is a little mushy with Fuji files.
Working on the show is great fun, albeit rather intense. Not to mention the amount of work after the show in selections. As with anything live (while the show is recorded, the performance elements are live takes), you’re hoping to capture moments that can promote the show. That said the final 4 episodes are broadcast fully live, making it even more pressure! Episode 1 will air on TG4 Wed 13th Jan 2016.