East (Fuji) meets West (Leica) in Event Photography

I recently photographed a Wines of Germany event, “Riesling & Co”, promoting Riesling and other German wines such as Spatesburgunder (German Pinot Noir). The German Wine Queen, Josefine Schlumberger, was also in town to host the event and co-lead, with John Szabo, a seminar pairing some great German wine with Asian food.
2016 German Wine Queen, Josefine Schlumberger. Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
2016 German Wine Queen, Josefine Schlumberger. Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
Wine and food pairing at Wines of Germany tutored tasting. "Riesling & Co" event at Arcadian Loft, Toronto, ON, Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
Wine and food pairing at Wines of Germany tutored tasting. “Riesling & Co” event at Arcadian Loft, Toronto, ON, Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2

 

To photograph the event I brought two systems with me, a Leica and a Fuji:
  • Leica M9
  • 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit (19?? vintage)
  • 75mm f/2 Summicron
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2
  • XF 16mm f/1.4
  • XF 23mm f/1.4
  • XF 56mm f/1.2
  • Nikon SB-25 Flash
The two systems complimented each other well, although as the light level dropped as night approached I did use one system a lot more than the other during the consumer evening event.

 

In the morning before the event, however, I walked around the streets of Toronto photographing commuters in around Union Station and the financial district. I used the Leica M9 with the 28mm for all of the shots. I started out in aperture priority mode, but the shadows were throwing off the centre-weighted metering system. I metered my hand in sunlight and in the shade in M-mode and alternated shutter speeds depending on the lighting that fell on my subject. For the most part I was shooting between f/5.6 and f/8 and zone focusing.

 

Man handing out the Metro paper to commuters by Union Station, Toronto. Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
Man handing out the Metro paper to commuters by Union Station, Toronto. Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
Victoria Street, Toronto, Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
Victoria Street, Toronto, Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
Aroma Espresso Bar, Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
Aroma Espresso Bar, Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit
The event venue was indoors, but was surrounded by glass and illuminated by north light. The difference between the areas close to the windows and the areas furthest from the windows was about 5 stops. I shot most of the pictures with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and used the 23mm and 56mm almost equally. Four fifths of the images and 85% of the keepers were shot with the X-Pro2. I only used the M9 during the early afternoon tasting with the 28mm Elmarit and never going above ISO 320. During the evening session I shot entirely with the X-Pro2. In the past, I’ve shot the M9 with ISO as high as 2500, but since I had the X-Pro2 with me the M9 stayed in the bag. I took a couple of pictures with the Nikon flash mounted on the X-Pro2, but it wasn’t really necessary and back in the bag it went. High ISO images with the X-Pro2 are just so clean!

 

When it came to focusing, I was very confident focusing with the split image rangefinder on the the M9. I was a little less confident with the X-Pro2 as I was still getting used to the hybrid OVF/EVF viewfinder. I had pretty good success with X-Pro2 photographing sports and after trying different methods, I found that using the OVF with the mini-EVF turned on at the bottom right and single point focusing was the right combination for me shooting social events. However, pack extra batteries as using the OVF with the EVF assist ate batteries even faster than I expected. To really save power, use OVF alone.

 

Fuji OVF and Leica Rangefinder
Viewing the scene through Fuji’s OVF was indeed like viewing the scene with the Leica in that I could see outside of the picture frame. Indeed on this day since I was using the 28mm lens on the Leica, that advantage was lost on the M9 as the 28mm frame fills the entire viewfinder. The electronic framing on the Fuji allows me to see the surrounding area outside of even the 16mm (24mm FF equivalent) frame.

 

Wifi Capability
One of the biggest benefits of many of the latest camera models, and this is not limited to mirror less cameras, is wifi capability. In this day of pretty cameras built into smartphones, I’m finding that being able to send photos from my camera to social media very important. It helps you avoid being scooped by smartphone users as well whet the appetite of your clients when they get previews of the work you’re providing.
It’s unfortunate that the Eye-Fi memory card doesn’t work in the M9, apparently because of the Leica’s metal baseplate. I used to think the wifi was “gimmicky” but now consider it essential in the event photography workflow.

 

Fuji JPEGs
In order to fully take advantage of wifi and quick social media posting, it’s very important to have great files to show and that is one area where Fuji stands head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion and I have or do shoot with Leica, Nikon, Canon, Sony and PhaseOne.

 

How They Compliment Each Other
At the event, I used the wide angle 28mm Elmarit on the Leica M9 and the XF56mm f/1.2 on the X-Pro2. I quickly switched between the two bodies depending on the angle of view I wanted.  The preciseness of Leica’s rangefinder giving me the assurances I needed to get shallow focus when I shot the 28mm lens wide open, yet put the subjects in a broader context with the wide angle. The autofocus of the X-Pro2 allowed me to get quick focus with the moderately telephoto XF56mm (equivalent to about 85mm “full frame”). This combination worked very well for me.
German Wine Queen, Josefine Schlumberg, sniffing the wine at the Wines of Germany Riesling & Co event in Arcadian Loft, Toronto. Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit.
German Wine Queen, Josefine Schlumberg, sniffing the wine at the Wines of Germany Riesling & Co event in Arcadian Loft, Toronto. Leica M9, 28mm Elmarit.
Ulrike Lenhart of WoG, consulate general Walter Stechel, and 2016 Wine Queen Josefine Schlumberger. Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
Ulrike Lenhart of WoG, consulate general Walter Stechel, and 2016 Wine Queen Josefine Schlumberger. Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
Service at Wines of Germany tutored tasting. "Riesling & Co" event at Arcadian Loft, Toronto, ON, Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2
Service at Wines of Germany tutored tasting. “Riesling & Co” event at Arcadian Loft, Toronto, ON, Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF56mm f/1.2

The gallery is available here.

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