Fresh from a short film production, cinematographer Joseph Eriksson celebrates the FUJIFILM X-H2S’s ability to help tell compelling stories at any scale
Much more than stills photography, narrative filmmaking carries the perception of being inaccessible. In mainstream cinema, budgets in the millions are spread across large casts, elaborate lighting set-ups, and rental of niche, purpose-designed tools. But there’s another sphere of video creation that balances resourcefulness alongside artistry. Every day, dedicated individuals like Joseph Eriksson are producing narrative works with a high-end look – and a fraction of the investment. He is a living testament to overcoming the odds.
“I think I was lucky,” he muses. “My dad worked as a videographer when I was younger, so we always had movie cameras in our home. I got to play around with them, but he always said it’s an impossible business, so he changed track after a few years.
“I always had that in my mind, but I kept making short films with my cousins and brother, for fun. I took a long break from filmmaking, then one day, realised I wanted to create again. I had a friend who owned a DSLR, so I called him and said: ‘Let’s make a film’. We met, planned in the morning, filmed in the middle of the day, then edited in the evening. We went from idea to finished product in 24 hours.”
After a few more passion projects, now into adulthood, Joseph began speaking to clients. Timing was in his favour, and an obvious dedication to the craft gave him everything he needed to begin down a professional path. He settled on fashion, later transitioning towards commercial work for global brands.
“Videography was changing,” Joseph recalls. “DSLR video specs were becoming better and editing software was more accessible. Clients were happy to have any kind of moving imagery, because it was no longer cost prohibited. And it was the dawn of the social media era. Everybody wanted to stand out.”
Countless branded projects in, Joseph’s most recent short film – created in collaboration with Fujifilm – was a return to his roots. He was presented with a FUJIFILM X-H2S, then asked to write and direct a narrative piece, alongside his usual cinematography input. Out of Stock comedically follows a modern man’s battle with online shopping.
“It’s not my typical kind of job. When I talked with the team from Fujifilm, they were super open to ideas. I’d seen plenty of inspiration from other creatives, so I knew achieving great things with minimal resources was doable. I had a vision of a comedy, but without the typical visual language of one.”
Joseph took the challenge of a light kit to its limit. While the X-H2S can slide seamlessly into high-end workflows with plenty of surrounding tools, this production saw nothing more than a small camera cage, a five-inch monitor and some stabilisation.
“Having an X-H2S, I knew from the beginning the film would go well image-wise – it’s a beautiful sensor with incredible colours – so my focus was on playing with it physically. Having such a small mirrorless, I asked myself: ‘How can I use this to my advantage?’ It’s not often you get to work at such a fast pace,” the cinematographer explains.
“I could move around, change perspective, cover any angle I wanted to, all so much more efficiently than with a bigger system. Even the smallest cinema cameras are heavy, they drain batteries rapidly and you need a full crew to man them. You’re much slower to switch environments or positions. At times, the X-H2S was on a gimbal I could hold in one hand, and the autofocus is so reliable that we didn’t need a larger monitor or focus puller.
“The camera gave us more useful production time. It’s nice to see you can work this way and still produce the cinematic image you want.”
With a wealth of video specs contained within the system, including 6.2K/30p recording, Apple ProRes and 4K/120p high speed, Joseph had to make refined selections.
“Because we wanted to have this film in CinemaScope, we chose to record at 4K. The full 6.2K really excites me for fashion videography, where you often need to deliver many cropped versions of the same footage – but given our one narrow aspect ratio, 4K gave us enough wiggle room to choose our preferred frame.
“We stayed in F-Log2 for everything filmed indoors, because we were always looking towards bright windows and we wanted to keep the most dynamic range possible,” Joseph continues. “For all the exterior sequences, when our actor was running or biking around in the city, we went to F-Log1 for its even faster sensor readout speeds. That really paid off. There’s a moment where we whip pan the camera around a corner – and looking at the clip frame by frame in post, every straight line is perfectly upright. It looks like a global shutter.”
Lenses helped shape the image in equal measure. Joseph briefly explored the FUJINON MKX cinema range but stuck predominantly with the even more compact XF Lenses.
“The FUJINON MKX50-135mmT2.9 was incredibly exciting. I’m looking forward to creating a whole project with the range, because they’re so beautiful. They’re built using a lot of glass to achieve that quality but have stayed lightweight.
“Our hero lens was the FUJINON XF33mmF1.4 R LM WR. It produced an amazing image. I work with a lot of wide-angle optics for fashion, which are perfect for that purpose, but found the 50mm-equivalent focal length to be a very cinematic perspective. We did go wider when we needed to, though – and notably used the XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro and XF60mmF2.4 R Macro for very close details on the actor’s eyes and fingers.”
For filmmakers working with similar set-ups at any point in their career, Joseph affirms that a minimised kit is not a setback but an opportunity.
“Sometimes it’s more fun to keep everything smaller, freer, and more creative,” he reveals. “You can be a lot more inspired in the moment. Lighting takes a lot of any budget, but you can photograph natural light beautifully with the right camera.
“With all of the X-H2S’s potential, and without the need for lots of equipment, a film becomes much more about planning, writing a good script, and considering your pre-production carefully. The camera is there, it will do the job, so focus on your ideas. Consider what it is you’d like to see, and what would be fun to make.”
Joseph’s parting piece of advice is grounded in his lived experience.
“You have to start creating,” he concludes. “It’s the only way to grow as a filmmaker. And find others to collaborate with, because you’ll always need people to share in your ideas. Many of the world’s greatest directors started with no budget – only a huge drive to create. You just do it, no matter what. And have fun through that process.”
Behind the Scenes Footage