PHOTOGRAPHER: Denise Silva
BASED IN: Virginia, USA
KNOWN FOR: Creative landscape, wildlife, and travel photography, as well as being a key member of Road Runner Photography Tours
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-H1 Camera, X-T2 Camera, FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 R WR Lens, XF56mmF1.2 R Lens, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens, and XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
Professional landscape and travel photographer Denise Silva spent a long time carrying around her tripod wherever she went, until she discovered the five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) in the FUJIFILM X-H1 Camera. In this article, Denise discusses how effective this impressive technology is and how it has freed her from the trappings of her tripod.
FUJIFILM’s X-H1 is simply a joy to use. I could stop the article right there, but I think some background will help emphasize the true pleasure of using this camera. There have been dozens of articles reviewing the X-H1 and its five-axis IBIS technology… this article is different.
There is no need to do another deep dive into the technology behind the X-H1, I’d rather talk about the freedom I have found using this amazing camera body. What do I mean by freedom? I mean the ability to walk out of the house and head off on an adventure without even thinking about taking a tripod and knowing the X-H1’s IBIS will allow me to adapt to changing conditions.
Now, granted, if I was going out to shoot long-exposure images with an ND filter or night photography of the Milky Way, I would take my tripod with me. But for just about any other circumstance (ie street photography or everyday shooting), even in low light, I can finally roam free without the burden of a tripod. This is liberating!
My weakness has always been my inability to handhold a camera, even when the lens had stabilization. I would struggle with camera shake whenever the lighting was the slightest bit challenging and, in some instances, even in what others would consider decent light. This forced me to carry a tripod everywhere I went, just in case I needed it.
When I first purchased the X-H1, I did so with the hopes of being able to shoot an image now and again handheld. Boy, have I been surprised! I have found that the IBIS is amazing, even in low light. I can now handhold to as low as 1/15 sec, when the body is paired with the right lens (ie the FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R or XF16mmF1.4 R WR).
Additionally, with IBIS I feel comfortable using lenses without built-in optical image stabilization, such as the XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR. The correction achieves more than five-stops of image stabilization. Simply extraordinary!
Right after I picked up the X-H1, I jumped in head first by taking the camera and one lens (the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR) to an indoor tattoo convention – an event I would never have considered photographing in the past.
Conventions are known for challenging, uneven fluorescent light that barely lights the venue and results in rather dim shooting conditions on most of the convention floor. I chose the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR for this shoot due to its wide aperture and because it would give me some reach to capture the artists and their clients at a distance, not interfering with their work.
I figured that, paired with the IBIS, I might have a chance to capture an image or two, but I actually captured tons of images of the artists and their canvases, even artists whose booths were in poorly lit areas of the auditorium. I was so happy with the images, I shared them with the artists on their Instagram pages. This is something I would never have done before due to less than stellar results.
The True Test
Although my first outing using the X-H1 was a convention, I don’t consider myself an event photographer. My true passion is travel photography and all of its aspects, such as landscapes and street photography. However, I had always been burdened with a tripod and often found travel photography tiresome and, at times, not enjoyable. This was particularly true when traveling to bustling urban areas, such as New York, Chicago, Cuba, or Bangkok. I would get back at night exhausted, aching from carrying a ton of weight and frustrated because I didn’t even need the tripod I had schlepped around all day.
For example, last year when I went to Cuba, I lugged a tripod everywhere, because I wasn’t sure when it would be needed. In 90°F weather, wearing a backpack to have my hands free of it, I was more uncomfortable than I needed to be. Although just 5lbs, it felt like 50lbs in those conditions. I also had to keep track of it; find a place in the car, in restaurants, in my room… I was always worrying about leaving it behind or hitting someone with it.
This February was different. I took a small tripod to Cuba, but only for a few night shoots that were planned. The rest of the time, it stayed in my room. I was able to walk all over Havana, at all times of day, with just a camera and lens. The experience made the photography even more gratifying, because I was able to focus on my work instead of where my gear had gone.
This amazing handheld freedom has opened up endless photographic possibilities. Check out the gallery of images at the end of this article to see just what the X-H1’s IBIS is capable of.
I’d be lying if I said IBIS can handle every situation, but I believe it can certainly expand the opportunity to capture images for just about everyone. I can’t imagine buying a body without it at this point – so much so, I own two!
Denise Silva is a FUJIFILM-compensated professional photographer. To see more of Denise’s work, visit her website.
To find out more about the FUJIFILM X-H1 Camera and explore the full X Series lineup, visit our product pages.