Having photographed motorsport professionally for over 15 years with various Canon film and digital SLR cameras I was keen to try the Fujifilm X-T1 for rally photography and ventured deep into Wales last weekend for the Red Kite Stages.
My ‘standard’ lens for shooting rallies was always a 70-200mm f2.8 but now that I photograph mainly landscapes I no longer need such fast aperture lenses and use the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS. This relatively inexpensive lens has given some stunning results on both the X-T1 and X-E1 cameras but I wasn’t expecting miracles from it in a welsh forest in the middle of winter.
For landscape work I always use the X-T1 in manual focus using the excellent depth of field scale in the electronic viewfinder (EVF) as well as the dual screen mode and focus peaking, so my AF experience with it was limited.
I had read a lot on the ‘interweb’ about the X-T1’s failure to lock on to moving subjects in the AF-C continuous focus mode and indeed if the camera is left at the default settings it does have a tendency to hunt for focus and often I found that the car had gone past before it locked on…if at all! There were 5 things I changed that solved this problem, set the AF mode to area, increase the focus area to the maximum size (150%), change the AF-C priority selection from focus priority to release priority, set the drive mode to continuous high (CH 8 frames per second) and finally turn off the face detection.
By increasing the size of the focus area there was more of the car for the phase detection system to ‘detect’, the car was large in the frame so there was no danger of the focusing system suddenly locking onto another subject. I found in focus priority that the camera would wait too long to trip the shutter even though the image looked sharp in the EVF, changing to release priority fired the shutter when I wanted it to fire. Having the drive mode in CH allows the AF-C to function correctly, with a little practice it is easy to just shoot a couple of images rather than a machine gun burst, very rarely did I ever shoot in continuous drive mode with a DSLR.
Although the day started sunny and bright there were snow showers in the afternoon and I found that the AF performance only dropped slightly as the light did, for a fairly ‘slow’ lens the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens coped very well.
Here is a small selection of images from the Red Kite Stages rally;