Born in Tokyo in 1970, Norifumi Inagaki worked part-time in a newspaper photo publishing department before becoming a freelance photographer. Beginning with China's Silk Road, he has visited over 50 countries and regions, including Antarctica. His publications include a collection of photos, Tairiku Rōnin (Wanderer of the Continents), and the photo essay Tabi, Tokidoki Leica (Travel, and Sometimes Leica). He is a member of the Japan Photographic Society.
It is said that the master snapshot photographer Cartier-Bresson used a single standard lens for almost all his works. Although there are differences in the depiction of the lens depending on the year it was taken, the same photographer’s eye can be felt in all his works. You will never be bored of the framing that seemingly never leaves a single inch of space.
The world of standard lens is very profound. By controlling the camera angle and aperture, it is possible to create both wide-angle and medium-telephoto-like effects.
If you shoot from a low angle and point up to the sky, you will get a perspective effect similar to that of a wide-angle lens. If you face a building or a wall, you can feel the compression effect of a telephoto lens. Bresson’s images are a textbook of lens work.
For me, the XF35mm has always been the standard lens. 30mm seemed to have a slightly wider angle of view, but it didn’t take me long to get used to it. It felt like taking a half step forward from my usual position.
When shooting portraits at 35mm, I start by stepping back a little from the conversational distance. The 23mm, on the other hand, has a wide-angle distortion if you get too close. The 30mm seems to have a good angle of view that allows you to shoot vertical and horizontal portrait shots at a conversational distance.
Macro lenses are not designed for bokeh, but the f/2.8 aperture allows the entire face to be in good focus if the pupil is properly targeted, and the background is nicely blurred while retaining detail.
The lens delivers crisp, clear images from the wide-open aperture, and the breath of the city is captured with a rich three-dimensional quality. 40-megapixel high-resolution body gives a sharp and smooth finish, just like the GFX. I used to think that X-mount cameras do not need a high pixel body, but now I know that I was wrong.
Until now, I have always thought of standard macro lenses as the equipment for professionals.
When I was a student starting out as a photographer’s assistant, I admired professionals who used standard macro lenses as their regular lenses. Though not always required, the standard macro lens is a versatile lens that can be used for everything from close-up photography to portraits and landscapes.
In general, as the magnification of a macro lens increases, the amount of light decreases and exposure compensation becomes necessary. It was also difficult to focus with the optical viewfinders of SLR cameras at that time. As I gained familiarity with the lens, I felt like I was getting closer to a professional.
However, the new XF30mm eliminates the need for troublesome exposure compensation even when shooting at 1:1 magnification. The lens is attached to the end of the lens barrel, and the barrel will not expand or contract; instead, the lens moves inside to focus. Perhaps due to the good sealing of the lens barrel, the sound of the motor is almost inaudible, and the AF is extremely fast. There is no difference at all even in the macro range where the focus becomes shallow.
The shortest distance between the lens and the subject is a mere 1.2cm. The fact that close-up photography is possible at 1:1 magnification with no need for troublesome exposure compensation makes me wonder, “What in the world is going on? ” All you have to do is concentrate on framing and release the shutter.
Taking pictures of tree frogs.
As I gradually shortened the distance, I was able to get as close as I could until I was at the full size of the screen. When I was close enough to reach the frog’s fingertips, the frog put its hand on the lens barrel and climbed up the camera.
I also tried a close-up of a butterfly’s wing as seen in insect encyclopedias. The caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly becomes a butterfly after about 10 days of pupation. The butterfly, which had been a model for me since it was a caterpillar, cooperated with my photography without being startled by the sound of the camera even after it hatched.
When I approached the image close to 1:1 magnification, I could see overlapping scales just like those of a fish. The scales are shaded and appear three-dimensional. A close-up of the black semicircular eyes shows reticulate compound eyes. Once again, I was amazed by the technological innovation of macro lenses.
Since the focus becomes extremely shallow in the macro range, it is relatively easy to adjust the focus in manual mode. Although it is not as fast as the AF mode, it is enjoyable to adjust the depth of field with manual focus. The images look like a classic FUJINON image, sharp but without any stiffness.
Selecting a standard lens is very difficult.
A macro lens is a must, but the larger aperture bokeh is tough to discard.
After all, there is no way I can compromise on either of them, and the XF30mm Macro lens will be one of my new regular lenses.
Now, which wide-angle lens should I choose to use with the XF30mm Macro…?
I can never stop contemplating.