Anime North 2012 (My first field trip with the X-Pro1 and Voigtlander lenses!)

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Anime North is a big deal, a very big deal. Thousands of people flocked to the Toronto Congress Centre at the end of May to celebrate all things Anime (Japanese animation).

I enjoyed my share of Anime during my childhood (older shows like Space Cruiser Yamato aka Starblazers, Gundam, Macross); but back then, there was no real easy access to this foreign content. We were pretty much limited to whatever aired on television, or whatever we could find at the small book shops in downtown T.O. (The Silver Snail, being the most popular).

Today, Japanese animation is a large force in both broadcast and merchandising all across North America.

On my previous outing to Anime North, I brought along my Nikon D700 with 50mm AFS f1.4. I recall at that time, I had sprained my back, so I didn’t end up shooting as much or staying as long at the event. This time around, I brought my Fuji X-Pro1 and my Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 and 50mm f1.5 lenses. What a difference in weight and baggage! I knew immediately this would be a good day.

I ended up using mostly the 50mm lens, as it gave me fast apertures and a good working distance from my subjects. The 15mm performed admirably, with its large depth of field; but seeing the photos taken, I felt a bit disconnected. With the great quality high ISO of the X-Pro1, the 15mm’s wide open aperture of 4.5 still worked well indoors.

I did a mix of zone focusing and manual focus assist with the magnified view. Both worked really well; but I will be honest, if the action is super fast, you could run into some trouble catching the moment with manual focus. The key is to try to anticipate the action. But hey, if something is super fast, you might even miss it with a DSLR!

Using the optical viewfinder will be a challenge for most inexperienced rangefinder shooters. For those, I would suggest using the EVF and magnified focus assist. Once you get used to them, you’ll find they work quite well together. The only thing to watch out for is the EVF lag when depressing the shutter. By habit, most people will want to half-press to focus. Using an autofocus lens, you will notice the lag. I did catch myself doing this a few times; and then remembered I was shooting with a manual focus lens. So I quickly got into the new habit of depressing the shutter release all the way down in one motion. According to many other forums and sites devoted to the X-Pro1, this technique also works well for autofocus lenses if you are looking to get a faster response to freeze action.

All in all, it was a great day. It was nice to be taking photos of all the wonderful costumes, people having fun and celebrating everything Anime. The best part was enjoying my camera without the fear of not knowing how to use it.

My advice, as with any other newly acquired gear, is to learn how to use it before you head out on a day trip. It can be frustrating to be fiddling around with the settings of a camera, while your shot opportunity disappears. Bumble in and around your house, get comfortable with the camera and lenses, then go out and shoot! Less worry = more fun!

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