This is a short one. I’ve had a handful of questions asking me how I set up my Fuji cameras and as I set them up almost exactly the same way I’ve always set up my digital cameras, I thought I’d address it here. Don’t let the title fool you, this applies to almost every camera I’ve used in one way or another.
We live in an age of ever-increasing options. Options add complexity, and once in a while I am grateful for those choices. However, it’s important (at least for me, and the way in which I create) to remember that what I most want is for my gear to do what I need and then get out of the way. So for me simplicity is key. I just want my cameras to do what they have always done: make the photograph I ask of it and not to second guess me or make me look stupid.
I shoot my Fuji, and almost every camera I’ve used, the way it comes, straight out of the box. Here, as I recall, is what I change:
- Set Date and Time (with terrifying inconsistency)
- Set RAW + JPG (F)
- Set Card Slots to Overflow (first fill one card, then fill the other. I don’t sweat the need for redundancy, never having had a card fail)
- I use Auto WB. Almost always.
- I often use my film emulations if I want to use Acros (B&W) or Velvia (rich slide film, dark shadows) – so one of my buttons is customized for this.
- I often use alternate crops, specifically 1:1 or 16:9 so one of my buttons is customized for this.
- I set my Fn button to activate my Wifi connection.
- I like to see my histogram and a grid in my viewfinder, so I make sure I can see those along with my ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
That’s it. So when I pick up any of my cameras they all do the same thing. There are no surprises.
I switch frequently between AF-S, AF-C, and M to focus and I move my focus point around when I need to.
I expose manually most of the time. And use centre weighted metering, though I really no longer meter so much as I watch my in-viewfinder histogram in which case my metering mode is irrelevant. Point the camera at the scene, read the histogram, expose depending on which details are more important, highlights or shadows.
I throw my ISO around like a cheap carpet. That’s one of the reasons I like the X-T2 – it’s much easier to dial this in without thinking about it.
But all the other stuff? I don’t use it. If it works for you, do it. But try to remember that a camera is a camera and the only thing – the ONLY thing – that matter is this: does it make the photographs you ask it to make and does it get out of the way when you need it to?
All I really want is a shutter speed, an aperture, and ISO, and critical focus. And I want to get there as fast I can without having to think much about it. The rest is composition and timing, patience and creativity. It’s story, moment, emotion. If you shoot in such a way that you need to tweak the sh*t out of your menu settings, do it. But then you probably already know that. If you don’t, then stop screwing around with your menu and start looking through the viewfinder and experiencing the world around you. Worry later about sharpening and contrast and whatever other setting that’s getting you bent out shape. Now is not the time. Now is the time for experiencing and perceiving and interpreting. Wait for the light. Wait for the moment. Don’t sweat the little things – because if it’s those little things that carry the photograph for you, you probably need a stronger photograph, not a sharper one. And that’s never a matter of menu settings.
For the Love of the Photograph,
PS – Want more like this? I send these articles out every two weeks to photographers around the world who want to improve their craft and explore their creativity and I’d love to include you. Tell me where to send it and I’ll send you a copy of my best-selling eBook Make Better Photographs, as well bi-weekly articles, first-glimpse monographs of my new work, and very occasional news of resources to help you keep moving forward in this craft we love.
“Each and every one of your emails inspire and motivate me to want to jump right out of my chair away from my computer and shoot for the love of it . Thank you David.” – Millie Brown