Fuji X-Pro2 and 56mm f/1.2 go boat racing with Oxford and Cambridge
It’s been an annual fixture since 1829, wars excepted, and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race always draws enormous crowds to the banks of the Thames between Mortlake and Putney. Thanks to the patronage of the famous race, this stretch of the Thames is one of the most popular rowing courses in Britain. Every weekend the rowers, the little sailboats and the canoes are out in force.
But before the crowds come, there is preparation to be done.
Today is Boat Race Day minus one, a quiet time except for the competing crews who can’t let up for one moment. It’s a miserable day on the Thames, drizzle and heavy winds leading to choppy conditions. The banks and all the facilities were deserted, except for television crews and event builders, but the main action was on the river.
On whim I grabbed the new Fuji X-Pro2 and clicked on one of my favourite lenses, the 56mm f/1.2 which gives an acceptably long 85mm focal length, a good compromise for static riverside shots and to allow a reasonable stab at capturing the activity on the river.
As I often do with this lens, I open it up to f/1.2 (after all, why have a fast lens if you’re not going to take advantage of it?) and shoot away. Sharpness is compromised a little by the maximum aperture but the subject isolation possible (even on an APS-C sensor) is great fun.
You have to be careful, though. At f/1.2 in close-up shots the depth of field is very limited, as demonstrated by the two pictures of the television cameraman above. However, it is nowhere near as critical in this respect as is, say, the Leica Noctilux with its full-frame f/0.95 maximum aperture. Still, it needs treating with respect. In one way, though, this lens is more fun than the Noctilux: You can use it wide open in bright conditions (not that today was very bright). With a maximum electronic shutter speed of 1/32000s, you can get away without an ND filter most of the time.
Tomorrow there will be little chance of grabbing good shots, even with a suitably long lens, because of the press of crowds along the river. Today, crowd free, was more my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I shall be pointing a lens towards the contestants tomorrow, more in hope than expectation of getting any good results.