My FujiFilm X-T1 and why I ditched my Nikon D800E

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Hello, I’m American photographer Chris Bergstrom from “Bushido Photo, LLC” based in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve been a photographer since 1988 when I picked up my first Nikon 35mm film camera. I have to say, I wouldn’t be where I am today without people like my friend Zack Arias, and others llike Bobbie Lane, Sue Bryce, Scott Kelby and Anton Corbijn to name a few. I’ve been inspired by many photographers over the years even one’s who were successful before I was born like George Hurrell. If you’re like me (unknown photographer) you may see other popular photographer’s images and say to yourself, “I am as good or better than that”. I have realized, this is a journey and not a competition and we all have our own unique vision. My thoughts below are my own and not meant to start a controversy about mirrorless vs. DSLR. Both have their uses, but I am dedicated to the Fujifilm system since it just makes sense…Now, for the meat and potatoes.

Back when I used to shoot film exclusively (before digital cameras were available to normal people with normal budgets) I used to, and still do, shoot Fujifilm FILM. I was not a fan of Kodak film because of the reddish warmer colors it produced. I loved the greens and blues that Fujifilm created in my images. I bought a Fujifilm S Pro 2 and S Pro 5 back in the day as my first digital cameras. I loved having the ability to shoot digital and have the same look that I was used to with film. Astia, Reala, Velvia, Provia and Superia were all great films. Some of them are no longer available, but you can still get that same look and feel with Fujifilm digital cameras shooting JPEG. I usually shoot RAW + JPEG, but 99% of the time I can get the image I want shooting the JPEG’s. The Fuji system is that good. I like the form factor, size and weight compared to my previous Nikon addiction.
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Why did I sell a 36 megapixel Nikon camera to move to a 16 megapixel Fujifilm camera? I made the move to Fujifilm after shooting a wedding and started having really bad back pain from lugging what felt like 10 pounds of glass and camera around my neck. After that, I decided that I needed to move to a smaller system that created the same or better image quality in the photos that I was used to. I used the X-Pro 1 and D700 with a double black rapid strap for a long time and loved the combo, but the D700 was still bulkier and I loved the old school feel of the Fuji. As a strobist by trade, I decided that I wanted to go with a smaller, but capable at image quality, so I then sold my D800E and purchased my X-T1 and a few lenses. I’m a portrait photographer (I do shoot everything though) and decided to give the Fuji’s a go with strobes. I had a great experience shooting with off camera lighting using radio triggers and off camera lighting. I only have two complaints, but I can live without the solutions. I wish the X-T1 would allow you to shoot with rear curtain flash sync with off camera flash and I wish it could do high speed sync (HSS). Unfortunately both of these options are unavailable. Fujifilm listens to their users and may make a firmware update available in the future that will fix these issues, but that is yet to be seen.

So, do I have any regrets leaving the Nikon system? The straight up answer is NO! I have not looked back. I can see what my exposure will look like with the full time live view, unlike the DSLR’s from Nikon and Canon. I am not just a fan of the Fujifilm camera’s, I am a long time dedicated user of their products. The funny thing about my love for Fujifilm now is that I live in Tokyo, Japan. Photo shoots are a lot of fun in this amazing city. My wife is Japanese and we love creating beautiful images and videos, both commercially and privately in and around Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Okinawa.

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How do I setup my camera and what gear do I use? I have the extra battery grip, Really Right Stuff arca swiss L bracket made for the X-T1 with the battery grip attached. I completely moved away from Nikon speedlights (except for my old SB-80DX and SB-600’s), Alien Bees and other studio lights in favor of the Godox brand. I was an early adopter of the AD-360 flashes and am now a huge advocate of the AD-600BM (Bowens Mount) flashes. These flashes/strobes can easily overpower the sun and can handle high speed sync if you have a camera capable of doing that, like the X-100T or other DSLR’s. I shoot with the 50-140mm f/2.8, 56mm f/1.2, 23mm f/1.4 and I still use my old Nikon lenses, Lensbaby Edge 80 and other Nikon mount lenses, such as the Helios 40-2 85mm with a Metabones adapter in manual focus. The focus assist in manual focus makes manual focusing really useful and easy. I also have just recently purchased the Westcott 35″ Zeppelin and it even outperforms my Mola Setti, which I love. Now, my new favorite modifier is the Zeppelin. All of these pinup shots were shot using it without the front diffusion material (in case you were wondering).

Why do I keep this blog going with so few subscribers or viewers? It’s my own documentary of my progression and to help those in need of information and truth. I’m also always available to help those in need of good advice. I’ve been there and done that since 1988 and want to help you with your learning curve. I only wish someone would have been there for me to guide me and be selfless in learning how photography and off camera flash worked. I want to pass on the knowledge I’ve learned from my mentors, some silent, some vocal, over the years. Zack, this beer is for you! Thank you my friend.

Below are some images and videos that I have created using the Fujifilm X-T1 over the last few months in Tokyo, Japan. I hope you enjoy my work and, for those skeptical people, take Fujifilm seriously as a professional camera system! I hope to become a Fuji X photographer and want to spread the Fujifilm love. These cameras are that good and even if Fujifilm doesn’t pay attention to me, my clients sure do appreciate the deliverable images they receive. I have seen a 300% increase in sales since I moved from Nikon to Fujifilm. The switch a couple of years ago may have nothing to do with the increased sales, but I think it has something to do with it.

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Model Photo Shoot – Radar Eiffel Tower in Tokyo, Japan

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I had a lot of fun creating some amazing images of a young model in Japan. More photos are coming soon, but here is a little behind the scenes teaser as well. The images were shot using Godox AD-360 flashes, Fujifilm X-T1, 23mm and 56mm lenses. I actually misspoke in the video, the second location was shot using the 56mm (85mm equiv FF f/1.2). I hope you enjoy and feel free to ask if you have any questions on how I did the shoot.

Andrea – Model Shoot – Tokyo, Japan

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Here is a video I made of an up and coming model named Andrea Silva, who is also living in Tokyo, Japan. She was a 17 year old high school senior at the time this video was made. She was a true professional and was able to work for long periods of time and maintain a good attitude. I had a lot of fun in the studio during this shoot with her and my Fujifilm X-T1. I used Godox AD-360 strobes for the entire shoot. I hope you enjoy it! -Chris

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Batman and Catwoman Trolling in Harajuku, Japan (Tokyo) with Bushido Photo

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Here’s a video I made during a photo shoot for Batman and Catwoman in Tokyo, Japan. I was able to shoot stills and quickly transition into video work on the fly. It was a fun filled evening documenting their experience as they walked down the streets and rode the trains and subways. The Japanese people were really interested and treated them like movie stars, it was really cool. I also recorded this song, which happens to be an original song with my friend Scott White on the drums. I had to play all of the instruments and sing on this track. I hope you enjoy it.

Photo Shoot in Showa Park – Tokyo, Japan

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I recently moved back to Japan (Tokyo) and wanted to meet some new people and create more photographs to get my business back up and running. I gave out a few vouchers for a free photo shoot and these images a couple of examples of what we created from the first voucher used. More images to follow as I now have a busy couple of weeks shooting. Thanks for looking and I hope to shoot your next event!

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Fujifilm X-T1 with Off Camera Flash – Radio Triggers Work!

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Hello everyone! I just got a new Fujifilm X-T1 and wanted to shoot with off camera flash using my Godox AD-360’s with Neewer FT-16S triggers. I first setup the camera and started snapping photos, but the flashes/strobes would not fire. I thought, oh my, I should have kept my Pocket Wizards… Come to find out, there are 2 settings you have to properly set to get the Neewer triggers to work (I’m sure this will solve all of the countless posts I’ve read about Yongnuo and other brand radio triggers too). So where did I go wrong in the beginning?

1. I had “Silent mode” turned on. You have to turn it off to get radio triggers to fire and then you can go into the sound settings and mute your shutter or button sounds if you want to.

2. The new Firmware 3.0 added an electronic shutter, manual shutter or the ability to use both (electronic shutter won’t kick in until after 1/4000 sec). So, you CANNOT use radio triggers with the electronic shutter. I hope Fujifilm fixes this issue and makes a Firmware update that allows a signal to go to the hotshoe at above 1/4000 sec with the radio triggers. If they do, I think high speed sync flash is possible (HSS). I’m not 100% sure it will work, but I’d love to give it a try.

So there you have it… Quick and easy fix to get your strobes firing again even if you can currently only sync at 1/180th sec. I use variable ND filters if I want to shoot wide open in the bright sun with my AD-360’s anyway. 🙂 I hope this helps. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or just to show me you were here. Thank you.

–Chris Bergstrom

New Photography Class at the Ft. Dix Arts and Crafts Center Nov 2014

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Call the Ft. Dix Arts and Crafts Center at (609) 562-5691 today to reserve a seat in my beginner to intermediate photography class. We’ll demystify your camera and take your photography skill to the next level. Classes are $45 are held 4 Saturdays in November. The classes will be held on 1, 8, 15, and 22 November from 12 noon to 2 p.m. I look forward to seeing you there!

New Jersey Off Camera Lighting Workshop – 20 Sep 2014

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Register here ———> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-jersey-off-camera-lighting-workshop-20-sep-2014-tickets-4309840850

Chris Bergstrom (Bushido Photo, LLC) is hosting an off camera lighting workshop for photographers looking to bring their photos to the next level. The workshop will be held on 20 Sep 2014 and will run all day starting at 9 a.m. and will end as late as midnight if need be. Beverages and food will be provided (please let us know if you have any special diet concerns so we can ensure that your dietary needs are met).

Introduction to lighting, fundamentals of photography, composition, studio lighting, equipment recommendations, PowerPoint slide show, questions and answers. All attendees will have a chance to take their own photos and have them critiqued by photographer Chris Bergstrom. Location shooting, post processing, having a lot of fun shooting until way past dark! This will be a lot of fun and will absolutely step up your game in photography to the professional level.

I can guarantee that each and every member of this workshop will be fully satisfied and will walk away with all of the knowledge and tools that they need to become better photographers. This course is geared toward the use of strobes/flash, but there is a lot of information about general photography techniques that will be covered.

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Popcorn Buckets and Photography go well Together!

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My friend Craig Lamere, another portrait photographer, started a contest last week asking people in a Facebook group to create a headpiece made out of a popcorn bucket and dollar store flowers. I thought it was a fun idea and decided to play along.

Since popcorn buckets are fairly rigid and made of thick paper, you can cut and shape them. My wife and I worked to create 3 of them that you see in these photos.

The following image is a behind the scenes image from the first faux vintage “Coca Cola” ad shot at the top of this post. I used a 3 light “Hollywood lighting” setup for this shot, but with modern day strobes. On the back left behind the model I used a 28″ MOLA Setti beauty dish, which gave a rim light to her legs and body. On the right I used a 20 degree grid spot with an Alien Bee B800 to create a rim light on the right side to create even more separation from the background without spilling light onto the background. Then as a key and fill light combo I used a Nikon SB-900 with a grid spot to fill in her face since it was mostly in shadow. I positioned the SB-900 with grid so that the light fell off below the chest and still lit the face. I used the touchscreen Sekonic light meter to get my lighting ratio down and then made minor adjustments until you see the image at the top of this page. I love George Hurrell and his Hollywood images from the 1940’s and decided I wanted to capture an image with the same look and feel. My studio is open for business in South Jersey and I can also bring the studio on location to your home, residence or basically anywhere. I charge $300 for on location shooting and $200 for in the studio. Prints are extra, but my photos are works of art and nobody else can be me. I am a friendly photographer looking to generate more business, whether it’s weddings, portraits, senior portraits etc… I’m a working photographer who works hard for my customers, so don’t hesitate to call or email to book your appointment. You can find my contact info in the about me section of this blog.

I hope you enjoy the following images and video and look forward to capturing your memories and creating artworks that you will cherish for a lifetime!

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