First attempt on the zone focusing method with Fujifilm X100.

man on a bike at the traffic light.[great pose by him at the light and saw no hostility in his face. so i framed it with my OVF.]

I thought auto focus was lazy enough. Actually the one technique that’s preferably used in street photography – zone focusing, it shoots pretty sharp images too, once the pre-focused focal length is in the zone of your subjects. And it can make you even lazier, or a nicer way to say it; it lets you concentrate on your composition. The distance error can often be ignored if we’re not that far off. Let say I’m shooting a subject 2m away, and my focus is just 1m. The subject can still be seen sharply.

setting for a day shoot only

By doing so, on my X100. I set my focus mode to manual and pre-focus (with AE lock) to about 1.5m-2m depending upon the area i’m shooting. Then now the aperture, set to relatively small f7.1-higher value. I found that it’s possible and safe to shot it with f7.1, ISO800+, shutter speed as auto, in the afternoon under a tiny bit of shade. I got around over 1/200s of shutter speed. It’s very well over the speed i needed to capture a shot via a viewfinder or off the hip (i’m more like “off my chest” usually).

The manual focus mode in X100 is useable in practical situation, in times like what i do. The AE-L is a cheat button, but you fall in love with it eventually.

I think i’m liking this pre-focused zone method. It saves time by not needing the systematic focus mechanism of your subject. It’s not as intelligent as the snap focusing by Ricoh. But it’s the same token. I got some great results from a shoot during the weekend near Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tai. And yea, many interesting faces and things in those area.

Jeremy Lin on the frontpage!
[A very special week of the NBA history made by J.Lin, keep it up!]
Old lady taking a late afternoon stroll on a quiet street
[old lady taking a stroll behind the street of a market.]
Chinese cured sausages market stall. [market stall with chinese sausages]
Lady with a funny look.
[old lady with a funny look, is she stealing her own goods?!]
TV technician repairing an old TV.[While we’re ditching our outdated thin LCD TVs, there’re people out there repairing TVs that had been out there for over two decades.]
Pineapple peeling
peeling pineapple in less than 30sec.
Using both Cigarette and Toothpick at the same time.[art of multi-tasking in the mouth with cigarette and toothpick by the man.]

I have not gone shooting at night with the zone focusing method yet. I assume I’d have to step down the aperture to a less than f3.0 in order to shoot with a workable shutter speed. And the ISO would have to go as high as my camera can. It’s like a game of working a perfect mix between the aperture and ISO. Fine tuning is always needed anyway.. there’s not a textbook setting of what’s best. I personally found it more comfortable and easier to get a better shot with the aperture almost wide open. I’ve no idea when I hurt my ankle. It’s been a few days now. Seems not healing too well..it’s bugging my daily exploration.

Update: Check out my results 3 months later
The Colorful Hong Kong: Collection (5-6/2012) – Part I 

7 thoughts on “First attempt on the zone focusing method with Fujifilm X100.

  1. Great post and fantastic street photography. The X100 is on my short list of things I want. I really wish they would have made it with an M mount instead of a single fixed lens though. I would have loved to be able to get Leica glass for it… Great post and keep up the great work, thanks for the zone focusing review!

    1. Thanks!! i feel you 96arley. But I look at it this way, the whole Fuji package is sleek enough including the fujinon prime lens. A prime lens allows the camera to keep its identity, for many years to come people would remember the story of the X100 more than the follow-the-flow of a mirrorless X-Pro1.

      But yes, being able to interchange with other lenses give more option to the user. I had a Lumix G3 once and I got myself so confused sometimes. Which lens should I play with today? It turned out I had my GRD IV with me most the time before selling the G3. It distracts my whole learning process.

      Now I’m pretty happy to not get distracted by lenses anymore. Sometimes we just have to trust the engineers why they designed this focal length for this camera and not longer/shorter/wider/etc.

      The Ricoh GXR might be something you’d want to own. Now the M mount is available!😀

      1. Thanks for the reply, I’ll have to take a peek at the Ricoh. You have a point on the X100, I suppose it all depends on what you’re using it for. I’ve found myself more and more just popping my 60mm prime macro on my D3s for a day of fun shooting rather than take a whole bag of lens goodies. Great work and keep it up!

    1. I can answer without hesitation. It has to be the GRD! There is something about this compact camera that making photos look rustic and raw. That’s what I LOVE about the camera.

      I think the photo images produced from the camera names nowadays are way to smooth with the advanced technology. It’s lacking a personal touch at times no matter how hard you process it.

      X100 is my backup camera now. I still I like it don’t get me wrong. Beautiful skin tones and everything.

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