Objectified | shooting products with the X-PRO1

I’ve read a few reviews of the X-Pro1 dismissing its use in the studio, confining it purely to the realm of event and documentary photography. Obviously this a genre at which it excels and the core of the system’s philosophy. But as most of you know these cameras have now become my main system, not merely a fun add-on. Which means they ARE used for studio jobs. All kinds of studio jobs.

I recently did a shoot for Serdy Media, a production company which owns several specialized TV stations in Quebec — namely Zeste and Évasion, the french food and travel channels. This was a studio product shoot for their new online boutiques.

After thoroughly testing the setup, I decided to again forego my Nikon kit and do the entire session using only the X-Pro1 and the 35mm Fujinon XF f/1.4 lens. It worked beautifully.

The X-Pro1 actually has several things going for it for this type of work:

  • The ability to use the rear LCD for live view without changing how you usually work with the camera.
  • The two zoom levels with built-in sharpening to pinpoint the focus.
  • Large focus point coverage.
  • Horizon line and framing guides.
  • The ability to switch the same lens to macro mode for detail shots.
  • No mirror to deal with. Combined with the timer function this is as stable as it gets.

All of this makes for a very easy going experience and allows for extremely precise work.

The two points of contention when it comes to shooting this camera for studio and/or flash photography are 1) sync speed and 2) tethering. The sync speed obviously wasn’t an issue in this case. As for tethering, I’ve discussed my solution in another post already: an Eye-Fi Pro X2 card. To be honest this was definitely the weakest link in the chain, and I was very fortunate to work with a client who didn’t mind the glacial speed at which photos were getting transferred to the computer. I’m very grateful for that. But I didn’t like it. I made jokes about it but it bugged the hell out of me the entire time. I’m glad further testing has revealed an ad-hoc network to be exponentially faster. I won’t get caught with this problem again.

If you’re curious about the rest of the setup here it is:

  • One Elinchrom BX500ri in an overhead Portalite softbox.
  • Lastolite Hilite as background lit with another BX500ri.
  • Piece of white foam core to act as bounce and fill. Yes, foam core, a photographer’s best friend (!)

The products were placed on a table with another large piece of white foam core as the base. The foam core acting as fill was positioned upright, like an angled wall directly to the right of the items. Basically I simply created a huge light tent. The correct front and back lighting ratio ensured the look of a seamless surface and I could move the overhead soft box to change the shadows and reflections as needed. I could also change the angle of the fill to make it more or less obvious. Season to taste.

I have to say: outside of shooting sports, I’m not finding much I can’t do with the X. And even THAT is debatable… ;)