Ian MacDonald

X-Pert 53 Interview


Ian MacDonald is a Fujifilm X-Photographer originates from vancouver, bC, Canada.

Ian is a marvellous street and travel photographer who also writes a marvellous blog that informs and teaches photographers how to use the Fujifilm X-Series cameras. It comes as no surprise that he hails from a long background in adult education, as his meticulous attention to detail in what he instructs is filled with an adept understanding of expressing the pin-point information necessary to educate and upskill those that read his work. From my point of view, it takes a teacher to know a teacher and Ian is outstanding at it. It's a privilege to have his passionate comprehension about photography and in particular, his inspired understanding of the Fuji XF35mm lenses grace the 53mm site.

Here is Ian's X-pert 53.

1. What Genre Of Photography Do You Specialise In?

My focus is split fairly evenly between travel and street photography these days.  I also enjoy shooting weddings in a candid or reportage fashion, and take a few wedding commissions per year.

2. Why Do You Like Using The XF35mm Lenses?

When I was a DSLR shooter I primarily used zoom lenses, and like many people my switch to Fujifilm started with the X100 series where I developed a love for working with a prime lens.
When I switched fully away from DSLRs to the X-T1 (and now, the X-Pro2) I started with a few of the Fujifilm zooms, but eventually morphed my kit to include mostly prime lenses.  This included the original XF35mm f/1.4 lens, and now the XF35mm f/2 lens.  I find that both of the 35mm lenses pair well with the Fujifilm X series bodies, making for a kit that feels perfect in the hand.

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

I occasionally use the 35mm lenses at weddings and for portraits, but now I primarily use them for travel and street photography.  The 35mm, as a matter of fact, is often the only prime lens I bring when I travel (along with a wide angle and occasionally something longer as needed).  
It took me a while to grow into using the 35mm focal length (50mm equivalent) for street photography.  For the longest time I shot 100% of my street work with the X100t and its 23mm lens (35mm equivalent), so when I started using one of the interchangeable lens cameras with the 35mm lenses it felt a little tight.  I got used to it quickly though and now either focal length feels natural to me when I am working on the street.

Why Your Choice?

As mentioned above I love the way the X-Pro2 feels with a 35mm lens on it.  This is now my go to kit for 90% of my street photography.  
I write and teach about travel photography often, and one of the things I am always talking about is the need to travel light.  The 35mm lenses are small, serve double duty as a street and portrait lens, are fast for low light work, and (in the case of the 35mm f/2) offer a weather resistant solution.  It is a no brainer for me to pack one in the bag.

4. Do You Shoot Professionally With The XF35mm Lenses?

I have, yes.  Usually wedding work, the occasional portrait session, and the lens definitely gets a lot of play during workshops that I teach.

5. Fuji XF35mm F/1.4 Or Fuji XF35 F/2? Why Your Choice?

The original XF35mm f/1.4 is a beautiful lens that has its own unique character, but these days I find myself drawn to the XF35mm f/2.  

Why Your Choice?

I love the form factor of the XF35mm f/2, the fast focusing, and the weather resistance when paired with the X-Pro2.  It is like the lens was purpose built for that camera body.

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

It goes with me on all of my travels now (3-4 photography related trips per year usually).  When I shoot street I either reach for the X100t, or the X-Pro2 with the 35mm f/2.

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

Probably, but for my work it wouldn’t make sense to do so.  I shoot a lot of cityscapes, shoot in tight spaces often, and love the look and feel of great wide angle images.  I enjoy having a wide angle lens in my bag.
I could shoot a lot of my portraiture and wedding work with an XF 35mm lens, but I do love the look and character of the XF16mm, XF23mm, XF56mm, and XF90mm lenses.  They each offer something special, and I like having options in the bag.
Finally, I shoot events occasionally where it is nice to have the XF50-140mm as an option.
If my life ever morphs to the point where I am solely focused on street photography though I could easily live with just an XF35mm lens.

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

To me light is light, and I use whatever the shoot calls for.  I would say that 95% of my work these days is natural light though… I only break out lights when I absolutely need to.

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

The Fuji X-Pro2 is my favourite interchangeable lens body.  I have worked with a pre-production model of the new Fuji X-T2 and it is amazing, but the X-Pro2 feels right in my hands and I find it pairs perfectly with the X100t.

Why Your Choice?

See above.  :)

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

See attached photos.

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

... classic and versatile are the words that come to mind.  For the low price of these lenses you get amazing optics, in a small form factor that fits easily in the bag.