“Are you Ferry Corsten? Or his brother? You know, you look exactly like Ferry Corsten“. This was an actual conversation I had in the main room of Zouk, just before Ferry Corsten was about to DJ. A guy stared intensely at me taking pictures for 5 minutes and then worked up the courage to ask whether I was in fact the famous Dutch DJ – or his brother. I had to disappoint him and tell him I was David Bowie!
Our pitch to Fuji Japan for this promotinal project was Singapore by Night. The pictures are going to be used for the web, brochures, exhibitions and books from Fuji. The main story would be a photo and video shoot at a Singapore nightclub. Following up on my first impressions, here are some more random notes about Ferry Corsten’s brother using the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 lens and our experience creating the stills and the movie for this promotional project.
- Charlene and I landed in Singapore on the 8th of December, and waiting for us was a big cardbox of wonderful gear sent to us from Fuji Japan. A graphite edition (so so beautiful!) Fuji X-T1 camera with pre-release 3.0 firmware (so we could test the new manual video options) and the XF23mmF1.4 lens for the movie, and of course, the highly anticipated 16-55mm lens. Jetlagged after two days of flying from LA, we still ripped open the box like kids on Christmas.
- Over the next couple of days we filmed and shot extensively just to get used to the gear. I used the 16-55mm lens exclusively for the whole period of the project.
- The first things I noticed after attaching the lens was: wow, the build quality is outstanding! And wow, it is a different, bigger and heavier experience compared to the 35mmF1.4 prime I normally use most of the time.
- Then my next impression was: WOW, the autofocus is incredibly fast!
- We actually shot and filmed a lot of Singapore by Night, the epic light of the Singapore CDB, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay etc. We ultimately ended up not using much of this as the main story and my main work is the music photography.
- A week later we had our first of two nights, where Zouk Singapore had most kindly allowed us to shoot and film. We attended the Wednesday TGIW party and were blown away by this world-class absolutely amazing nightclub.
- Wednesday: The first night at Zouk was a night of learning, learning the lens, the club, the angles, the lights. I made one good picture the entire night. That’s ok, it was a warm-up and using this zoom at f2.8 is a very different experience to using the small 1.4 primes I normally use for my nightclub work.
- Saturday: 3 days later we had our main event, the big Saturday night with Ferry Corsten (and his brother!) and the fantastic Bonobo. This was our main night, Zouk was packed with people and the dancefloors were pumping around 2am when Ferry Corsten and Bonobo took the decks in the main room and Velvet Underground room.
- By now I was in sync with using the 16-5mm lens, and Charlene was rocking the video setup. We made a lot of good pictures and video and Zouk was at it’s best this night, pumping dancefloors and amazing sound and light show with tripping the light fantastic lasers and projections.
- Sunday: somewhat tired after a good night at Zouk, it was deadline for me to deliver the stills. Now, for a promotional shoot you have to deliver unedited straight out of camera JPEGS to Fuji Japan. No processing whatsoever, no cropping, no touching the file at all. This at least means post-processing time is zero, which pleased me. But it is quite a daunting experience to have to hand over un-touched un-edited raws and jpegs. Fortunately, Fuji X-cameras produce some incredibly good in-camera jpegs. Still, I very often wanted to crop a bit, or post-process a bit. No can do.
- It’s a good experience actually, shooting with the fact in mind that I cannot post-process. For example, knowing I could not crop an image, I took great care in composing the image in camera (check those corners). This is quite a challenge in a nightclub where the light changes every split second, and everything that happens is chaotic.
- OK, I lie slightly when I say no post-processing. The pictures are 100% straight out of camera BUT the X-cameras allow you to re-process a raw file (I shot raw+jpeg). So for some of the pictures, I could try different conversions in-camera with Provia, Velvia settings etc. Classic Chrome became available via 3.0 firmware but I don’t really like classic chrome for night club shots.
- I have shot Fuji X- cameras exclusively for 4 years almost but never really used in-camera jpegs much. This exercise made me realise (yes I am very late to the game, it’s a lot of work being Ferry Corsten!) just how insanely good the Fuji in-camera raw converter is.
- As for the lens itself, I have written my first impressions. I was mostly surprised by how well it actually worked for my club photography, it was a very positive experience. It helps that the main room of Zouk is well lit. In the extremely dark Velvet Underground room I struggled some as the 2.8 aperture was just not fast enough, even at iso6400. Here, my primes at f1.4 would be better
- There has been a lot of talk about the lack of OIS. Having used this extensively I feel that if OIS would have added more weight, Fuji made the right choice in not including it. Also, the room range is 16-55. Unlike say 55-140mm, the range of 16-55mm is still fine to handhold without OIS. Yes, Fuji makes awewsome OIS, and yes, we as photographers want it all! I mean, I want this zoom to be a constant F1.4, with OIS, and have it be smaller than the 35mm lens. Make it so!
We want it all, but that’s physically impossible – and would be boring too, what would we complain about!
All images are straight out of camera jpegs from the Fuji X-T1. Thanks so much again to Fujifilm Japan, Fujifilm Nordic and Zouk Singapore. Oh and it is worth repeating, I am a music photographer. I do not make the usual promotional low iso shots in controlled environments. These are real life images of working as a photographer in dark night clubs with next to no light at all, we’re talking shooting wide open always at iso6400. (Read my post about using the X-T1 for music photography.)
….and…. no I am not Ferry Corsten. Or his brother. David Bowie, yes!