This past Saturday evening I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours in Chinatown and North Beach. I decided that it would be a good time to see what my present street photography setup was capable of in low light. The results were mainly satisfactory with a couple of hiccups, as is to be expected when shooting moving, uncooperative subjects in low light.
I have read and agree with many others’ findings about the X Pro 1 and its prime lenses for street photography – that the 35mm is too slow and its autofocus too inaccurate to be counted on when speed is crucial, particularly at night. Also, 35mm (52mm full frame equivalent) is too long for how I like to shoot, while 18mm is too wide. I find that the 24mm lens, zone focusing, a generous depth of field and the X Pro 1’s OVF allow me to get many shots I might otherwise miss while the 35mm/1.4 dilly-dallies around trying to focus. I love that lens and the images it makes, I just don’t love that its autofocus is slow enough in bright light to be noticeable and didn’t want to stake the evening’s results on that lens.
Another gripe is that the refresh rate of the EVF on the X Pro 1 gets awfully choppy and grainy the lower the light levels get. In some of the brightly lit shots, it’s a non-issue. In the case of the man on his phone in front of the shadowy sidewalk, it was tough to get the image in focus. In fairness, that shot is more about the shapes and shadows than it is a portrait, anyway, but I’m a pretty harsh critic of what I create.
So, what’s the verdict? Well, heck – I love this camera and lens combo at night, too. Sure, I missed critical focus many times. Sure, people moving around makes for great backgrounds with extra grainy/blurry people. At 1/125, though, I think the results are good enough to share.
Post processing is done in LR4.2. Although I’m a fan of black and white, for this exercise I eschewed black and white as I like several of these in color and feel that the colors contribute significantly to several of the images.
This is Lewis, a frisbee spinner and self-styled wordsmith. He came over and gave me his card, asking for whatever shots I happened to get of him. I was happy to oblige. Note the Banksy art above his frisbee on the building behind him. It reads, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, call an airstrike.’