With increasing demand from clients for video services, York Place Studios has found that the latest Fujifilm X-H2S X-Series flagship is equally adept at delivering both stills and motion.
MORE AND MORE CLUED-UP professionals these days are looking at combining video production with their stills output, simply because the demand is there and there’s no doubt that it’s growing fast. The simple fact is that if your client is looking for a service that you’re not providing then they will go to someone else who can offer them what they want, so there is a danger that if you don’t spot the trend quickly enough you could get left behind.
There’s no danger of that happening at London and Scarborough-based York Place Studios, however. Started as a local photo studio back in 2006 by brother and sister Dominique and Liam Shaw, the pair started out shooting pretty much anything that moved, but eventually found their niche in wedding photography. Five years down the line their documentary-style approach was going down a storm with their clientele, but although stills were very much the thrust of the business, the steadily growing market for motion was also on the radar.
“We started to realise how good DSLRs were becoming at producing video,” says Dominique, “and we showed the features to my younger brother Alex and my husband Matt, who both had some video and sound experience. They immediately saw the possibilities that were being offered by this emerging technology and jumped straight on it, teaming up with us to form York Place Films. Happily, it turns out that we all enjoy shooting with a similar reportage approach, so overall we make a great team!”
Over ten years later the business is firmly established as a place to go for couples who are looking for either stills or motion coverage of their wedding or, increasingly, for both.
CHOOSING THE KIT
While there might have been increasing convergence in terms of customer demand, the stills and video sides of York Place Studios stayed separate in terms of the kit being used, simply because demands were so very different. From a stills perspective Dominique and Liam had discovered the Fujifilm X-Pro 2, and its delightfully retro feel ideally suited their street-photography style.
“That camera was a complete game changer for us,” says Dominique. “We loved the compact rangefinder feel, its professional capabilities and the back-up card slot for extra security at
a wedding. Shooting with the same camera for both street photography and weddings helped us create a signature look that ended up taking us all around the world, sharing our ideas at photography and video events, with Fujifilm subsequently making us official X-Photographers.”
Given that both Dominique and Liam felt so at home with their cameras there was never any serious thought about changing, but the launch earlier this year of the new Fujifilm X-H2S flagship suddenly presented some unexpected new options.
At first glance its set of high-end video features made it appear to be the ideal model for Matt and Alex to consider, while for Dominique and Liam it’s fair to say that the appeal was less immediately obvious. “It was only when the guys at Fujifilm showed us what it could do that our interest was piqued,” says Dominique, “and, after just a few minutes, we found we were completely and unexpectedly sold on it. While the layout is a little different to what we’ve been used to it’s still relatively compact, and it comes with all the things we love about Fujifilm cameras, but with so many added benefits.
“The speed, autofocus and face-tracking is incredible, and the feel and balance is great as well, with the new extended grip really helping with comfort when shooting long hours at weddings. It’s such a hugely flexible and customisable camera that you can have it set up exactly the way you want. Even the fact that one of the SD card slots has been changed to CFexpress is hugely beneficial, since it’s made backing up cards super-fast.”
The speed of the camera is another huge selling point. “We’re always trying to include multiple stories and layers in our frames, and for that to work you have to capture the fraction of a second where everyone in the scene spontaneously looks just right, so any edge on that front is really helpful.
“The most notable thing though is the speed of the autofocus, and especially the face-tracking. We’ve used it in a wide range of lighting conditions, including really dark dance-floors, and it locked straight onto faces with no hesitation at all. We don’t use flash or additional lighting, and low-light shooting has consequently become a bit of a specialty of ours over the years, but when focusing in the dark on fast moving subjects you always expect a certain percentage to slightly miss focus. With the new camera though that percentage is so small that we’re getting perfectly focused shots on the dancefloor we wouldn’t even have attempted in the past. The ability to just flick face-tracking on and off at the touch of a button and to have the camera instantly react is amazing.”
The fact that this do-it-all hybrid marvel can cope so well in terms of both stills and video coverage is opening lots of doors for York Place Studios, who can see the distinct advantage of working with just one model of camera throughout the business.
“For hybrid shooters the X-H2S is a dream,” says Dominique. “You can have completely different custom settings saved for photo and video, and then flick between them instantly. Our set-ups for both are quite different, so having each immediately ready to go if we need them is a fantastic back-up to have when we’re working together. It’s also great that, even in stills mode, you can hit the dedicated record button at any time and instantly grab some video without having to adjust anything at all. This is going to be a huge camera for our business.”
THE FILMMAKER’S PERSPECTIVE
FOR MATT AND ALEX, who were also working exclusively with Fujifilm cameras – in their case the X-T3 – the added video capability of the X-H2S made it a no-brainer. “It’s taken all the best features of the X-T3 and X-T4 and really built on them to make it a much more flexible camera,” says Matt. “Whilst wedding films are our main focus, we also film some corporate work, conferences and other events, as well as offering live streaming, and the full-size HDMI port, wide range of codecs – including a Pro-Res Raw capability – huge dynamic range and neat cooling solution make it a great choice for all of our projects.
“For weddings though it’s really the quality of the IBIS and the facedetection that’s on board that have made the biggest difference to us so far. For our style of shooting we’re always looking for our gear to be as compact and as discrete as possible, and the IBIS is so good now that shooting footage handheld is no problem at all.
“With the autofocus now so reliable we can also use this camera as a rapid set-up ‘set and forget’ B Cam for things like speeches and ceremonies, allowing us to add an extra viewpoint without needing to monitor it continuously, which gives us so much flexibility in often unpredictable scenarios.”
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