09.27.2022 Russell Ord

X-H2: Ocean photography x Russell Ord

Russell Ord

On his path to becoming an internationally acclaimed photographer, Russell Ord has squinted down the lens at an intriguing mix of subjects over the years. He’s shot magazine covers of world-class surfers and helped deify celebrity chefs. He’s roamed with Uunguu Rangers in the Australian outback, island-hopped across tropical fantasylands and followed his photographic instincts through urban meccas. Meanwhile, his ocean images are celebrated for simultaneously implying the cruelty and majesty of the sea.

As one of the world’s leading surf photographers, Russ’s unique talents culminated in his documentation of a violent twist of Indian Ocean known simply as ‘The Right’. In pursuit of a unique, career-defining angle, Russ put himself in a situation where the ocean’s most powerful forces converge. The hard-won image served as the focal point for his celebrated documentary, ‘One Shot’.

While he remains a passionate and astute chronicler of the ocean’s moods, Russ suggests that evolving and diversifying is the key to a long and stimulating photographic career. “I realised very quickly if I wanted to keep working as a photographer I would have to develop other skills. Most of my work now revolves around capturing people’s stories, along with tourism and brand work.”

While professionally driven, Russ is very much the type of person who thrives on the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge. “It just about works in reverse,” he states. “By sharing my experience/knowledge, it inspires me to pick up the camera and shoot for the enjoyment. Watching someone develop a new skill and how ecstatic they are when the shot works out serves as a true reminder of why I started photography in the first place.”

Russ’s diverse range of experience, superior technical knowledge and gregarious nature mean he is uniquely placed to act as a mentor to other photographers. Time with Russ is not simply a tutorial; it’s a rollicking experience that ensures you come away both entertained and educated.

This is not a review with camera specifications, data comparisons and technical jargon its simply a few of my thoughts on the new X-H2 while shooting a two-day campaign. The two-day shoot itself consisted of photographing a surfer’s journey, breaking it down into segments including the environment ( the athlete’s playground), the talent ( capturing the athlete at work/play) and all the small details that can capture the story/journey. While only having the camera in hand for a few days it still gives plenty of scope to give my first impressions on the soon-to-be-released X-H2.

X-H2 & XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR


Small and compact with a new grip making it very easy to handle and carry with no concerns of it slipping out of your hands. Comparing it with the X-T4 the new grip certainly has a better feel and is easy to keep stable with hand-held shooting. I took a few shots in the late afternoon/evening at 1/3sec to capture water in motion and was very surprised I could handhold the camera in very windy conditions keeping all the static objects pin sharp. This type of image in the past I would have only managed using a tripod (my hands are not like surgeons) the seven stops of IBIS allowing me to travel light and giving me the peace of mind that very slow shutter speeds can be achieved handheld.

X-H2 & XF56mmF1.2 R WR


Over the last few years most of my commercial and personal work has been captured using the GFX100 system, anyone that has used these cameras certainly knows what quality detailed imagery these cameras produce. I would have loved to print an image on a grand scale from the X-H2 (40MP) because enlarged to a 100% on my computer looked beautiful, very crisp details, had amazing clarity, high ISO performance and great dynamic range (easy to see when shooting surf with the very bright whites of the whitewater and black wetsuits).

X-H2 & XF56mmF1.2 R WR


Like I said at the start this is not a technical review so I am not sure what exactly they have done inside this camera but the Autofocus is blindingly fast! It was a delight to use while shooting surfing from the water (yes I managed to fit it into my Aquatech Housing which normally is set up for the X-T4) and also for land base imagery (lenses used: XF200mm and the XF150-600mm). Using face/eye detection (something I would normally not do) it was tracking the surfer in action with absolute ease so I thought I would give the subject detection a trial run and switched to bird tracking. I am no bird photographer but if I was the X-H2 would be my camera of choice, it was picking up and tracking birds incredibly quick along their flight path, on a side note I was out in the open at the beach so would be very interested to see how it would go in amongst the trees.

X-H2 & XF56mmF1.2 R WR


One of my favourite images to try and capture from the water is what I call a split shot using a wide angle lens and sharing the tube/barrel with the surfer, capturing that very last possible shot. The split shot is very hit and miss to say the least (you are not even looking through the viewfinder), the first thing I noticed when using the X-H2 (I had it set to CH-High speed burst, 15fps) was there was no buffering or lag. I could simply fire away making the split shot far more attainable when those microseconds can mean an incredible image to one that got away.

X-H2 & XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR


The first half day I spent shooting empty waves/ocean from the headland and at times in the pouring rain, now the main reason I could do this was because well to be blunt it was not my camera or lens so lets test this WR thing out. I was in waterproof gear (jackets/pants) and made no effort to cover the X-H2 paired with the 200mm f/2 and rattled off hundreds of images (I love shooting empty waves) in at times heavy rain, simply to dry off and keep shooting. While I would never do this with my equipment Fuji informed me that everything is still perfect with both camera and lens which gives me added confidence while using my own equipment. I also took photos in a surfing shaping bay which has to be one of the dustiest places to try and capture imagery from, a place I would always try and avoid at all costs but once again I was fortunate enough to be using Fujifilm’s gear for this one – lets put it through its paces!

X-H2 & XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR


Sorry people, I didn’t take any video on this campaign but I did notice you could simply press the record button (dedicated record button not just the shutter button in conjunction with the dial) and the camera will switch instantly from stills to video. This is going to make my life very easy when shooting from water and wanting to capture both photos and video.

X-H2 & XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR


One thing I do when looking at purchasing equipment for my type of work is to justify the purchase. A few simple questions – will it handle the job, am I getting value for money, does it make my workflow easier, is the camera and imagery exceptional quality, can I have the utmost trust in the equipment etc… The answer is YES, Catherine (my wife and business partner) please have the credit card ready to go!