Recording fun videos with Fujifilm X-A1 and manual focus legacy lens (PEN F 38mm)

Started Jun 26, 2014 | User reviews thread
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Miki Nemeth
Miki Nemeth Senior Member • Posts: 1,439
Recording fun videos with Fujifilm X-A1 and manual focus legacy lens (PEN F 38mm)

I think many of You Fujifilm-fan Friends here are going to find this video fun to watch.

This is more a technical experimenting in manual focusing videos rather than a music/dance entertainment movie. This was recorded during the "Croatian ball" after the Misina concert in Szenna, in a beautiful village where we had great four days. I took the opportunity to experiment with recording videos purely applying manual focusing.

I used the excellent Olympus PEN F 38mm/f1.8 (legacy, old, fully manual, no-electronics) lens. Since the camera (Fujifilm X-A1) has no electronic viewfinder (EVF), I used a Clearviewer magnifier attached to the back of the LCD monitor panel as a substitute of the missing EVF. I set the aperture wide open (F1.8) on the lens, and I kept my left hand on the focus ring all the time while pressing the Clearviewer and the camera to my right eye; this way I was able to hold the camera stable enough; of course, neither this (no-electronic) lens nor the camera had image stabilization. It was fully my responsibility to control the focus point while recording, and it was an enormous fun. This was my very first experimenting of this kind of video recording, and it is clearly visible that in some points I turned the focus ring to the wrong direction, and I kept adjusting the focus ring all the time. Even with/Despite the many errors I am convinced that manual focusing is the way to go when recording fun videos; of course, it requires a lot of practice, but eventually a (near) perfect result is achievable. My goal was to use the widest aperture to get the shallowest possible depth of field (DoF), which gave a 3D look to the subjects. The 38mm on the (APS) X-A1 corresponds to a 57mm field-of-view; when combined with F1.8 on close-up scenes, the result, when properly applied, is spectacular (cool). The footage is definitely totally different from a regular consumer video recorder/mobile phone huge-DoF (tourist) video: this is the reason I buy and use F1.2, F1.4 or F1.8 (legacy) manual lenses on APS or FF (mirrorless) cameras. To my taste the video image quality of the X-A1 is excellent or at least good enough (especially when the reasonable price of this lens + camera combo is taken into consideration).

Here are a couple of points to keep in mind when using the video feature of X-A1:
(1) ISO is automatically adjusted by the camera; when I was opening or closing the aperture on the lens, the camera automatically adjusted the exposition. Since, normally (I guess), the shutter speed is 1/60s for an 30fps movie, the camera's only option is adjusting ISO.
(2) Exposure compensation works fine to make brighter or darker the image, though; but it cannot be adjusted while recording.
(3) Film simulation can be used for videos, too; but not the fancy advanced filters.

The sound quality of the built-in microphone of the X-A1 is definitely not really fine, and next time I'll use my Zoom H2 while recording. Nevertheless, it is very rare that a camera had a high quality microphone (Sony A7 being an exception, for example), though. The X-A1 has no microphone input jack, hence the need for an external recorder, which by many professionals is the best solution, and combining sound with video should be the job of post processing. Actually, a huge advantage of the deficiency that the X-A1 sound quality is so obviously poor is that I will be forced to use the proper audio recording tools, rather than expect a non-existent perfect out-of-the-camera solution.

I am a fun photographer and videographer to take documentary photos and video recordings with a reasonable amount of efforts and tools. Definitely, X-A1 is a near perfect solution for this task (performance / price). Of course, with an A7 you can achieve much better results but for a much higher price.


 Miki Nemeth's gear list:Miki Nemeth's gear list
Sony a5100 Sony a9 Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS +8 more
Fujifilm X-A1
16 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Sep 17, 2013
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