Sven Schroeter

X-Pert 53 Interview

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Sven Schroeter is a Fujifilm X-Photographer who is also the founding Photographer of Bokeh-Monster. He specialises in portraiture and street photography. He is currently based in Northern Italy.

When first embarking on my move into the Fuji-X Series interchangeable lens system, my research into the best lenses to begin my journey with led me to an article outlining how Bokeh-Monster founder, Sven Schroeter gained his seat around the Fuji-X Ambassador table. It was through his employment of the XF35mm f/1.4 lens that did the trick, in particular with his portrait and street photography portfolio, and still to this day he admits that some of his best photographs have been taken with that legendary lens. Rest assured, acquiring that piece of information was enough for me to purchase the f/1.4 lens as my first and I haven't looked back. Sven certainly is a role model for the 53mm FOV and his photographs in support of his X-pert 53 answers will demonstrate that and why his portfolio was so prolific to Fuji and their decision to invite him into the Fuji-X Global Ambassador Program. Having a wonderfully skilled eye for capturing the perfect amount of light to create beautifully taken shots, its a real privilege to have Sven take the X-pert 53 Interview and impart some of his accomplished knowledge about the Fuji XF35mm lenses.

Here is Sven's X-pert 53.

1. What Genre Of Photography Do You Specialise In?

My passion lies with street photography, it always has and I think it always will. But I shoot weddings and run portrait sessions to keep the rent ticking over. I love collaborating with someone who has either chosen to work with me, or who I have identified as being unique and interesting for constructing an image. When you have someone in-front of you, who trusts you to make a great image, it is a great honour and responsibility to try and meet their expectations. Every person I photograph on the street is entitled to their image, I always leave my contact details in their pocket and if they wish to see the final result they are more than welcome.   

2. Why Do You Like Using The XF35mm Lenses?

The Fujifilm 35mm F1.4 lens is very special. This was the lens I used when entering the Fujifilm X system, and the one we used to create some of our most iconic street pictures (which we shared with you here). I used these images when approaching Fujifilm in NZ (New Zealand) in hope of becoming one of the national X photographers. Working with Fujifilm directly has been an incredibly rewarding experience and has opened many doors for me personally and our brand. I have been a supporter of the system since, and it has been amazing to watch it grow and evolve since its explosive introduction to the photography market.
Some of the features of the 35mm lens which blew me away at the beginning,
·      The performance wide open
·      The unique flare it was capable of producing when you learnt to control it (I have still not mastered it, but every now and then it does like to surprise me)
·      The close/macro focus performance.
·      I will be honest, the newer F2 version of the 35mm lens just does not quite hit the spot, and when you know there is a faster lens available, even though it is a little older, I would still stick with the classic F1.4.

3. What Do You Like Photographing The Best With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses? 

I love the XF35mm lens for street photography, it is a great all rounder. And depending on how you use the lens, it can be used to isolate your subject from a busy/cluttered scene, or include just enough of a subjects background to add some information about the environment. If I could afford only a single lens, or if I had to be super minimalistic in my gear choice, the XF35mm lens would be in the bag. It would be a tough toss up between the 23mm and the 35mm, but the 35mm is a little easier to use in most situations.

4. Do You Shoot Professionally With The XF35mm Lenses?

I have not done too many professional shoots with the XF35mm lenses because they are so small and do not impress clients as much as some of the larger lenses which Fujifilm offers. Most of the time I use the 23mm/56mm APD lens combo for the majority of my work. But the 35mm lens is always in the background, should a lens stop working mid shoot (which has happened). Thinking way back, I have used it for a few low key portrait sessions when working with children, where a smaller less intimidating setup is the best way to get the younger ones comfortable. 

5. Fuji XF35mm F/1.4 Or Fuji XF35 F/2? 

I rarely use any of the Fujifilm lenses at anything but their maximum aperture, their optical performance is just that good. And I am always striving for more subject isolation in our work (shallower depth of field). This allows me to focus on expression, while removing the junk from the background. Hence the largest aperture lens would be my choice, and is the F1.4 in this case (until the rumoured F1.0 hopefully becomes reality). 
I also did not like the distortion of the F2 lens. I can respect that it is cheaper and that there have to be compromises as a result, but I don't want to be correcting each shot in post (would rather be out making images than sitting infant of the computer screen playing with sliders).

6. How Often Do You Reach For Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?

Not as much as I could be, I have been challenging myself over the last few years to learn the 23mm and 56mm focal lengths. But writing up this interview has got me thinking about why I loved the XF35mm F1.4 so much, and plan to get it back on the camera again.

7. Could You Live With Just An XF35mm Lens In Your Photography Bag?

Most definitely, it is an amazingly versatile focal length and you will be surprised how many uses you could find for it. It sits right in the middle of my favourite focal length range (XF23mm - XF56mm). Coupled with the already amazing ISO performance of the X series cameras, the XF35mm lens has the ability to create a great shot under pretty much any lighting condition.  

8. Do You Like To Use Available Light Or Studio Light With Your XF35mm Lens/Lenses?

I have used both lighting techniques with the 35mm lenses, but I don't enjoy being cooped up in the studio. Plus, when you are blasting studio strobes, it is harder to create shallow depth of field images. And when owning a set of prime lenses (I don't have any zooms), you pay for the large aperture performance. So stopping down your lens to obtain a nice studio exposure seems like a waste. 

9. What Fuji-X Camera Body Do You Prefer To Use The XF35mm Lenses On? 

I have used the XPRO1, XPRO2, XT1, XT2 and the XE1 with the XF35mm lenses. But, I have a soft spot for the XPRO1/2 rangefinder style cameras. I just like the look and feel of the camera, and they are both very well balanced with the 35mm lens bolted to the front. 

10.Do You Have Any Favourite Photographs Using The XF35mm Lenses?

Most definitely, but unfortunately I don't have any grand back stories to any of them. But, a great image is a great image and hopefully you think these images are able to stand on their own two feet. 

11.Finish This Line: The Fuji XF35mm Lenses Are...

... lovable. They are the lenses you forget you are carrying and a focal length that will open many creative doors when you take the time to learn their signature.

Iain Palmer

Abundant Magazine