Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective today! Click here to learn more.
I love using vintage lenses because they often have character. Modern lenses are often technically perfect (or close to it), but they usually lack the character that is a hallmark of analog photography—perhaps the precision engineering makes them too good. The imperfections of old glass is what gives them their unique qualities. One of those qualities is sometimes interesting lens flare. Some people love lens flare and some people hate it—if you are one of those who loves it, I discovered a trick that you might appreciate. It is simple (yet can be tricky), and you probably already have what you need to do it.
I like using vintage lenses because they often have character, and sometimes that character is pronounced in the lens flare. When light is scattered within the lens system, such as reflected between the elements, you get lens flare. Some people love it and some people don’t. Modern lenses are precision engineered and coated to avoid lens flare as much as possible. If you’re one of those who like it and try to incorporate it within your photography, you might be disappointed that newer glass just doesn’t produce very much lens flare; however, there’s a cheap and simple hack for increasing the flare in your photographs.
If you are using a lens that’s not especially prone to lens flare and you want a little more of it in your pictures, it’s very easy to do.
The third issue of FXW Zine is out now, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the February issue? The cover story is Flare For Photography, which takes a close look at lens flare. There are a total of 18 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!
If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first two issues, too!
Read more of this content when you join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective today! Click here to learn more about the Creative Collective.
Lens flare is something you either love or hate. People who love it seek it out and purposefully include it in their images. People who hate it use a lens hood. Lens flare occurs when there is a light source in front of the lens that is much brighter than the rest of the scene (such as the sun).
The lens on the X100F is “Super EBC” (Electron Beam Coating), which is a fancy way to say that Fuji uses a crazy-looking machine that has a vacuum chamber and electron gun to apply 11 layers of coating onto the lens. This coating is supposed to minimize lens flare.Modern lenses are precision engineered to maximize sharpness and minimize flaws. The less distortion the better. Lenses today are superior to older lenses if pure image quality is the goal.
I loved pairing my old Fujifilm X-E1 with vintage glass. Modern lenses are great, but in their precision they lack character. It’s the flaws that make a lens unique, that give your pictures that extra something that new glass simply cannot.Modern lenses will give you the greatest pure image quality, but in a cold and clinical way. Think of music. A digital song lacks flaws, but it also lacks the warmth found on analog vinyl. Using a vintage lens is like listening to a song spun on a record.
One complaint that I had read about the X100F prior to purchasing it is lens flare. There are some people who think it flares too much and that it’s kind of weird looking (not the typical lens flare that one would expect). An easy fix is a lens hood, but that makes the camera much less pocket-sized.I don’t want to get too technical here, but there are different types of lens flare (and different lenses will render the same type of flare differently). What I find most prevalent on the X100F is called “veiling flare” which is more of a hazy flare. The lens controls what is known as “ghosting flare” (which is probably what most people picture when they think of lens flare) really well, but it can still be found if you point the lens towards the sun. There is also a little bit of “sensor flare” which is caused by the light reflecting off the sensor and back onto the lens (a side effect of the lens element being so close to the sensor), but it’s also controlled well.
I can definitely see why people might not like how the X100F handles lens flare, but I actually appreciate it. It reminds me a lot of how the Russian-made Helios 44-2 renders lens flare. It’s a flaw, no doubt, but it gives photographs character. It’s an unexpected uniqueness. It’s not so cold and clinical and precise. It’s almost as if Fujifilm attached a vintage lens to the front of the camera (except they didn’t). So I like it. You might not, and that’s OK.