Three photographers, three days, a bunch of Fuji gear and a country race meeting.
The result? One book.
By Noel Butcher
In 2013, the book, ‘Camperdown and its Cup’ was published and the team who put this together reformed to cover the 100th Manangatang Cup meeting held in October 2017.
Journalist Adam McNicol, designer Phil Campbell and photographers Andrew Chapman, Jaime Murcia and myself drove the 400 plus kilometres from Melbourne to Manangatang.
Left to right: Noel Butcher, Adam McNicol, Jaime Murcia, Andrew Chapman and Phil Campbell.
In covering an event such as this, there is so much more to photograph than simply the races, which is just as well otherwise I wouldn’t have become involved. I developed a substantial loathing for horse racing during my time as a young photographer on the Melbourne Herald newspaper. A country race meeting, on the other hand, is far more relaxed and when the races themselves aren’t your main focus, the job becomes far more enjoyable.
We’ll need about 200 images for the book from the 5737 taken so there will be a need for further distillation of the images. At those figures only about 3.5% of the images will be used in the book. From Andrew’s 1371 he selected an initial 332, Jamie went from 2869 to 326 and I went from 1497 to 369 which leaves 1027 to further sort through. Jaime shot almost the exact same number of images as Andrew and myself combined.
As you can imagine, with three of us in the same relatively small space, many of our images overlapped during the Saturday, which was race day. We plan to get together to fight over, sorry, discuss, the merits of all the images.
One thing I found fascinating when shooting Camperdown was how we each tackled the job. Our shooting styles are different enough to provide what I feel is a wonderfully broad coverage.
Once we have further distilled our images we will hand over to Phil to work his magic with the design. Phil has designed a number of Andrew’s books as well as all of Jaime’s and mine (that would be one each, apart from Camperdown). I was struck by the importance of great design when Phil sent me the first layouts of my book, Old Sheds.
I had looked at each of my images many times over but they took on a new persona, if you can say that about photos, when I saw Phil’s design.
All of a sudden my images looked much better as part of a collection so I am really looking forward to see what Phil comes up with this time. Combining the words crafted by Adam with our images to make a cohesive book is a time consuming process so our book won’t be available until mid to late 2018.
Jaime used an X-T2 and an X-Pro 2 and five lenses, the 10-24mm (1585 shots), the 18-55mm (85 shots) the 23mm (240 shots) 50-140 (790 shots) and the 56mm (167 shots) for a total of about 2867 images.
Andrew used an X-T2 and an X-Pro2 and six lenses, the 10-24mm (709 shots), the 18-55mm (18 shots), the 23mm (31 shots), the 35mm (53 shots), the 50-140mm (296 shots) and the 100-400 (264 shots).
Noel used two X-T2 cameras and one X-T1 and four lenses, the 10-24mm (409 shots), 18-55mm (28 shots), 50-140mm (460 shots) and the 100-400mm (600 shots) for a total of about 1500 images.
I find it interesting looking at lens choice between the three of us as all three used our 10-24mm and 50-140mm lenses quite a lot. These are the two lenses that I consider the most important in my kit.
So, how did the Fuji gear perform?
One of the best things about working with the Fujis over an extended period is their light weight. After having lugged Canons around for years and been the victim of multiple sore backs and aching shoulders, the Fujis are a welcome relief.
They also have in my (non expert) opinion, one of the finest sets of lenses available. Even the kit zooms are great and I never hesitate to use them. I’m often knocked out by the sharpness and edge to edge detail when I do large prints.
I shoot my images in RAW file mode and I find those files incredibly elastic. Fuji’s ability to open up shadows and close down highlights is exceptional and I suspect cutting edge in the photo industry.
Finally, whilst not as good as modern DSLRs in some respects, the company’s determination to increase performance via new models and also via multiple software upgrades is to be commended. The latest cameras are great and I suspect the next generation, due in a year or so, will bring them right up alongside all their competitors.
Both camera performed very well as usual, the focus is a little slow and sluggish sometimes particularly on 50-140mm but that’s compared to the Canon 5D Mk lll,
I’m fine with it.
The 56mm at f1.2 is great for shooting some really shallow depth of field portraits and great bokeh.
Of course, brilliant weight to have hanging on your shoulder and around your neck for a 10 hour day.
I can’t think of much else to say except I love these little beasts.
I was really happy with the technical aspects of my images and how the cameras performed on the day. One of the issues with earlier Fuji X series was somewhat disappointing AF performance which may or may not have been an issue depending on what and how one photographed. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t as good as a high end Canikons of this world. The new cameras were perfectly fine for this particular job.
The main issue with mirrorless cameras is battery use and the Fujis are no exception. Shooting all day with unrepeatable events means that you need to keep a close eye on battery levels although this was less of an issue for Jaime as he had the accessory battery grip on his X-T2 which allows one to run three batteries as well as squeeze a bit more performance out of the camera (that’s my excuse as to why his pictures are better than mine).
As as both Jaime and Andrew mentioned, the lesser weight of a mirrorless system is a boon on a long day shooting. Team that with the sharpness of the lenses and I have no regrets about leaving Canon. They may not be for everybody but the Fuji system suits me fine.
Below, about 0.4% of the images taken, presented in no particular order.