Personal Project: 50 shots with a 50mm lens

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Project Title:
50 shots with 50mm lens
Camera used:
Fujifilm X-T1
Lens used:
Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2/50 ZM
Theme:
Bicycle
Purpose: 
1. To practice and improve more in terms of using manual focusing with my camera and lens
2. To make use of the lens and to understand it’s characteristics

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Why choosing this project title?
Well, this is kinda common project title for “50 shots with 50mm lens”. Since this is my first personal photography project, so I decided not to do something too extreme. And since I have a Zeiss Planar lying around in my dry cabinet for awhile without being fully utilized, I think is good to start the project with it. It’s a bit “sad” that on my APS-C sized X-T1, the equivalent focal length of this 50mm lens has ultimately become 75mm instead, but anyway, just focus on the shooting and don’t bother too much on the technical side.

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Why choosing this camera?
I got no other camera… lol

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Why choosing this lens?
As mentioned above, I have this lens lying around in my dry cabinet for quite some time without being fully utilized. I really love this lens since the first time I get to try it during a photo outing, and I was addicted to it ever since. It’s kinda surprising how such tiny lens (full frame rangefinder lens!) can produce such quality and character. Later on, I got the chance to actually got this lens used from someone else at a good price and in good condition as well. But sadly, I have been pretty busy thereafter to shoot with it.

Other reason is that I want to make use of this chance to practice more in terms of my manual focusing skill. There’re a few manual focus aid functions available in the X-T1, namely AF magnification, Digital Split Image and Focus Peaking. After trying them out, I find myself to be most comfortable with focus peaking. Initially there were a lot of out of focus pictures. The more I shoot, I started to understand the peaking function better, and my hit rate is getting higher.

Shooting with a manual lens also slows down the whole photographing process, making every shots count. Every shots I took, I get to learn something from it, be it composition, the rendering, flare behaviour and so on.

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Why choosing this theme?
When talking about bicycle, the first two countries that come to my mind will be China and Japan. These two countries are famous with the mass usage of bicycle. After working in Singapore for almost 2 years, I can’t help but to think that Singapore can well be on my list for the third place.

Every morning I can see people cycling to work, and every weekend I can see people cycling around for recreation and fun. Besides that, it’s easy to spot some die hard cyclists who cycle around like those professionals did in Le Tour de France (and there have been a few unfortunate incident involving cyclist on the road as well). Perhaps people in Singapore are more health conscious.

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The fun part is other than being able to notice a lot of people cycling around, I also noticed at the same time that you can spot bicycles being parked virtually everywhere and anywhere around Singapore, from the neighbourhood apartments, train and bus stations, to the city centre, along the streets, beside lamp pole and so on. All these bicycles are in all kind of forms and conditions, being secured in every different way and being decorated with every different accessories. Every bicycle seems like an individual with it’s own unique personality and characteristic.

Oh, by the way, I can’t ride a bicycle. I never get a chance to learn it when I was young. A little sad, but hopefully I can have the courage to learn to ride someday. lol.

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What I’ve learnt?
The lens itself is a very sharp lens. At wide open it can be a little soft in certain occasion, but generally it is sharp. Out of focus rendering is creamy and to my liking. When stopped down you can get a whole lot of detail captured. Best use of this lens is to shoot with morning/evening light, when the light is angled a little. This will give a good “pop” result to you subject and picture.

The focus peaking of Fujifilm camera still has room to improve. But after shooting for some time, I get to know what it can and can’t do, therefore being able to use it better. It’s hard to describe on my findings of how to use it effectively. Try not to rely the peaking around your subject. When you peak, try to look on your subject’s surface or things around it. You will get a better idea on where the focus plane is, how deep is your depth of field and so on. Then you adjust from there and look for the highest peak on the area you want to focus on.

I’m trying out a new post processing technique which I found from the internet. But seems like it’s not all good. Some pictures seems like a little on the blueish side due to the processing. But I have remained them as it is as all pictures are processed with the same look and recipe. Will try to dig further and see if I can improve it in the future.

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So what’s next?
It’s been a fun January shooting on this project. I’ll probably take a small break during the February and kickstart another project by March. What will it be? I’m not too sure yet. There are a few things in my list and I’m still trying to sort out and see what is achievable and what’s not. I’m looking forward for the next project. Till then, hope you enjoy reading this. More pictures can be viewed on my Flickr page.

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