This is not a review, but more some tips on how I used the lens with the X-T2 body.
I recently switched system for the first time in 15 years. It is not without bump and it doesn’t come for free, I’m talking about money and time (isn’t it the same thing :-). We should always look for improvement:
- a positive gap in handling,
- increase of your keep rate
- bump in picture quality
All of this will help a lot any photographer. It will grow motivation and makes us seeking for better images, an endless conquest!
Let’s meet the 100–400
This long zoom put a strain on the camera body, but also yours as photographer, this Fuji lens weights 50.7 oz/1.436 kg with its foot.
If you’re not used to long zoom like this, try to get hands on it, and play around with it. Think you might need to carry it for hours if you plan to shot wildlife.
I don’t use the Fuji grip, maybe I should but since I was looking to save some weight, well, I put this on hold. I’m don’t feel the need even to use the Boost mode. It might be useful for extensive bird in flight session, just like sport.
Half of the time I use a monopod. Not a carbon one since I am not doing bird very often, but a Manfrotto three sections aluminium. Cheap and save a lot of strain on my arm and shoulder when I am shooting.
When not using the monopod I use the foot to lift the combo body+lens. Some prefer the foot at the bottom, some configure it to be at the top so you can use it as a hook. In the backpack, I used to rotate it by 90 degrees towards the body hand grip, it doesn’t add volume this way.
My X-T2 setting for bird / wildlife
RAW or JPEG or both?
I used to do only RAW (.raf file in Fuji world) and develop my photo in Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop.
There is one reason why I turned on the RAW+JPEG on the X-T2: when you need to preview your photo, the camera uses the JPEG embedded in the RAW file if there is no side JPEG. When you zoom in, you’ll be limited to the JPEG preview at 1920 x 1280 pixel. With the real JPEG the photo viewer will use the 6000 x 4000 pixels available! And you can trash JPEG files when your back home. The only trade off is the available space on the memory card, you need about 30% more space to store JPEG with Fine details.
f/5.6 at 400 mm is too soft for me, and yield a lot of vignetting. f/7.1 starts to be great, but f/8 is the setting I like the most, up to f/11 if you need a little bit of room of depth of field, like a group of bird.
I often switch between auto where I know the minimum speed is gonna be the one set in Auto ISO setting and my very own speed when I need more than 1/500s, like bird in flight often need 1/1000s or faster.
Auto ISO setting
99% of the time, I let the camera handle the sensitivity. The X-T2 handle 3200 very well and if I need to really get something 6400 could be a usable option, better than a blurry photo.
- Default ISO: 200 (native X-T2 sensitivity)
- Max sensitivity set to 3200 ISO
- Min shutter speed: 1/250 or 1/500 for fast bird
I change the last setting quite often, depending on what types of bird I shoot, if they don’t move you can really count on the lens stabilization to do a great job, see the speed of the picture below: 1/60s with 400mm focal length!
One general rule seems to work with every AF system, the large the AF area is, the better, narrow spot/dot will be more challenging for the AF system.
Knowing this, if I don’t have a difficult background, or if it is very far away, I use the AF zone by default. It is work very well with birds in flight, with the sky as background.
When background/foreground are more difficult, I use the single point and adjust the size to match or even be smaller than the bird/animal itself. I found if it is larger, the AF system is confused and do not lock the focus on the subject but somewhere distant on the front or the back.
I need to adjust AF area quite a lot, so I make sure to use the top arrow in the back to switch between zone and single point. And I adjust the size of the area pressing the AF joystick and then the rear wheel.
Back/AF Button focus
Since the day I configured my first DSLR with this setup, I can’t go back. The learning curve is not easy, you need to give it a try seriously, dozen of photo session will be required.
It is about decoupling the focus and the shutter release, instead of using the same button, you simply use two.
It means you can ask the auto-focus to work, continuous or static, and decide whenever you want to shoot. And you can do both at the same time.
With this you can recompose, you save battery to have to use the AF, you can slight press to get a static mode-like even in continuous mode.
The only difficulty I have with the X-T2 is the button on the back are small and limited. Depending on the size of your hand, if you have a grip, you might try different button to find the best comfort. On the picture above, I use the AF-Lock button. It is too small, and will give a try to assign the wheel next to it.
Here’s the options you need to change:
- Set up > Button/Dial setting > Fn/AE-L/AF-L button setting
- Choose the physical button (for me AE-L)
- Assign AF-On function
And then we disable the AF associated with the shutter only for continous mode. So when I switch to Static mode, I return to the default behavior of the shutter.
- Set up > Button/Dial setting > Shutter AF
- Set AF-C to OFF
And voila !