Prime Lens Action Challenge

This weekend I attended an indoor action photography workshop featuring martial arts, acrobats and aerial artists.  The workshop was attended by about 20 other photographers, shooting with Canon, Nikon and even a few Sony systems.  I was the only photographer with a Fuji and the only one using just prime lenses. 

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Going into this workshop, I knew I had a few challenges to overcome. First, I had never been to this location, so I didn't know anything about the lighting or layout.  The second big challenge was my available glass.  I wanted to stick with my Fuji system, and that would mean I would basically have a choice between my 23mm and 35mm lenses. Not ideal when you are photographing people who are 20 feet above your head. 

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I also brought a Godex speedlight with a huge umbrella. Other photographers brought full size strobes and big softboxes. In the end, with the mixture of natural light and the unusual locations of the models, I decided against trying to use the flash.  It's hard to position a bulky umbrella when someone is spinning above your head and I am constantly moving around the subject.  

 The skylights brought in great natural light, but shooting into them isn't ideal. 

The skylights brought in great natural light, but shooting into them isn't ideal. 

Overall, I was really impressed with how the Fuji X-T2 performed.  For the first time, I had a chance to try some of the focus tracking modes in the camera, but in the end, I really prefer just using a single focus point. I found the focus tracking just kept missing the face and head.  Maybe with more practice, I can find a focus mode that works best for moving subject, that I can be happy with. Either way, I found the camera focused really fast in this mixed natural light environment. 

I did most of my shooting between continuous high and low burst rates.  It is pretty amazing how fast the shutter is, making it super easy to freeze a subject and pick the exposure I liked the most.

 Fog machine was used and filled the warehouse with a little too much smoke. Shutter speed was 1/1000th.

Fog machine was used and filled the warehouse with a little too much smoke. Shutter speed was 1/1000th.

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Overall I am pretty happy with the images I captured, but for future events with unpredictable movements of the subjects, I would prefer a zoom lens like the 18-55mm (or 16-55mm) offered by Fuji. The prime lenses are great for street work and portraits, but maybe not so much for action work.  I probably would have been happy with a 56mm f1.2 lens to help capture details and blow out the background. 

 Even shooting at f2.0 and 2.8, it was almost impossible to blow out the background when using these wide angle prime lenses. 

Even shooting at f2.0 and 2.8, it was almost impossible to blow out the background when using these wide angle prime lenses. 

A video of the workshop highlights can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUWJuwGIrOY