The Fun Fun Fun fest with Sony, Fuji, and Ricoh by Chad Wadsworth


The Fun Fun Fun fest with Sony, Fuji, and Ricoh by Chad Wadsworth

By Chad Wadsworth – His site is here.

Let me start by thanking Steve for letting me share some of my images with his viewers.

I’ve been covering live music and musicians for about eight years now and one of my favorite music festivals is an up and comer called Fun Fun Fun fest. Located in Austin, TX, the festival caters to left of mainstream and features hardcore, metal, rap, electronic dance, indie rock and comedy acts. Throw in skate and bike ramp, a mechanical bull, wrestling and something called the “Jambulance” and you have an epic environment for both festival goers and photographers.

I know Steve’s readers are always interested in gear so here is the rundown. In a field owned by Canon and Nikon shooters I went another direction and sold my Canon gear a few years ago when mirrorless started to gain traction. I’ve tried almost all of them – m4/3 (Oly and Panny), NEX, Fuji and today I shoot with a Fuji X-Pro a Ricoh GR and a Sony A900. For a film shooter that spent plenty of time looking through SLR viewfinders, the A900 is a digital dream camera. Mated with Zeiss primes and older Minolta classics, I’m convinced the platform gives more bang for the buck than anything else out there. On the Fuji side, I received the new 23/1.4 the morning of the festival so I was anxious to put it to the test.  35mm is my preferred FOV and if there is one criticism I can lay on the A900 is that the Sony 35/1.4 is not as good as the venerable Canon 35/1.4L. So I was hoping that the Fujinon 23mm would fill the L’s shoes.

For this festival, my goto AF lenses for the A900 were the amazing Zeiss 135/1.8, Minolta 50/1.7 (found this one for $29 at Precision Camera), and the legendary Minolta 35/2.

I’ve labeled the shots below so you can see which lens took which photo and to my eye, the new Fuji is truly special and in the same league as the Minolta 35/2. The 23mm is plenty sharp in the center and renders a nice creamy background. Unfortunately I did have some focus issues with the lens on the X-Pro. Oddly, it seemed to have trouble acquiring focus on some subjects at a distance of 10ft or more when using the OVF. Still, I got my fill of keepers and the images were very satisfying to me. It would have been interesting to try the 23mm on the new X-E2 which is reported to improve AF and speed up operation considerably.

All images were processed using VSCO.

That’s it. I’ll leave you to the images. Thanks again to Steve for giving me something to do to occupy the days before the A7 arrives. And feel free to check for more pics!

A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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X-Pro 1 and 23 1.4

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X-Pro 1 and 23 1.4

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X-Pro 1 and 23 1.4

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A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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Fuji X-Pro 1 and 23 1.4

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A900 and Minolta 50 1.7

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A900 and Minolta 50 1.7

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A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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A900 and Minolta 35 f/2

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Ricoh GR

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Ricoh GR

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A900 and Zeiss 135 1.8

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A900 and Minolta 35 f/2

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A900 and Minolta 35 f/2

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  1. Great shots from someone clearly experienced at concert photography. I recognised one band – Chromatics (3rd last photo). That makes me still hip, right? ‘Cos that’s the word all the kids use.’Hip’.

  2. Great shots. Thanks for sharing.

    I was curious; you ever use burst mode in your shooting? If so, how does the Fuji, GR, etc., work out in terms of burst mode speed and AF?

    • Not usually but it depends on the lighting. If an act is using strobes in the background on an otherwise dark stage, I will dial in a manual exposure for when the stage is lit and then set on high speed to catch a few frames. Haven’t tried it on the GR but the Fuji is ok, not great but you can do it.

  3. Fantastic shots, and I am sure the software in between the ears was the most important. A couple of standouts: The first shot is just off the hook, the eighth and ninth are also fantastic. Great work.


  4. Nice photos. I like your use of lighting and perspective and depth of field as well as waiting for the right moment. I didn’t notice any post processing distractions.

  5. Always room for both points of view, depending on what you want to achieve. I loved these pictures and will check out your blog. Thanks Chad!

    • Thanks Don, and agreed. I think it is as much of a challenge and art to make an image look “natural”. 9 times out of 10 the camera will not capture a scene exactly as your eye registers it. This is especially true in concert photography.

  6. I enjoyed these shots very much, but I have to say that they are so obviously processed that it’s busting down traditional categories of visual art. Some of them look to me like composites — figures cut out and pasted on a background. (I realize they probably aren’t.)

    You can’t simply say “photography” anymore; these are procegraphy or filtography! :^)

    Believe me, I have nothing against it at all; but we’re really challenged to find new ways of describing visual arts that start with photographs but end up somewhere nearby.

    Whatever it is, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s still obvious that it started with (a) camera(s).

    • To the comments regarding processing, both negative and positive, I would just challenge the viewer to look back into the annals of the art and present how many of the great photographs that look exactly as the eye saw the moment. Film was processing, literally. Today we just have a means to create our own signatures digitally as opposed to using film stocks and darkroom techniques. To each their own and I certainly don’t take offense to those who would prefer every photo to match a value of reality determined by a camera sensor and that camera’s processing engine.

      Thanks again for all the kind comments.

      • Speaking of the annals of photography: Some of these shots remind me of the wonderful cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s album — where it is literally composites of cut-out photos.

        In case I didn’t express it well: No, I mean nothing negative by my observations — my point was that this processed look is not “only” photography. It’s photography with other artistic processes.

        Sure, some photographers have always manipulated with whatever tools were available (and your point is well made, and well taken). It’s just that this is a very fresh, unfamiliar look that — for me, at least — is just over the line of what I would simply call “Photography”

        But hey, whatever, right? Those categories words are just labels. It’s very good and compelling visual art. Keep on keepin’ on.

      • I was thinking some more about your comments and processing aside, which really has nothing to do with the “cut out” look you describe, I think you may be confusing the processing with the perspective compression of the 135mm. A tele will flatten things out and bring the background forward. Is this what you are referring to?

        • I’m sure the tele contributes, but I think what I’m seeing is more what many filters do to edges — something related to sharpening that enhances and accentuates edges.

          Also maybe the “posterization” effect.
          On the Sgt Peppers cover, since various people are cut out of various sources, some of them are lower rez than others — so the textures of those particular paste-ins are simplified. Or else they’re b&w’s that have been colorized with flat colors.

          If it’s any help, the ones that look most “cut out” to my eyes are shots 1, 2, 4 and 6.
          The first one most dramatically, cuz of the how the background crowd, the wheel chair guy, and the blue foreground crowd are such different colors. Probably the live lighting contributed too.

          Hope you post more in the future!

    • It’s a shame you first see the filters and the processing, and only as a second-thought (if at all) the wonderful emotions captured in these shots.

  7. Easily my favourite set featured on Steve’s page. Original angles, great compositions, superb PP. Very hard to pick a favourite, but I’d go for the xpro stage dive shot – great photo all round, with a decisive moment that just about elevates above the rest. Great stuff 🙂

  8. Incredible shots! Is that Thurston Moore in B/W with the striped polo?? I like all of the different angles. I like the processing, but I’d also like to see the masters to really grasp the 135 Sony. Well done!

    • Yup, that’s Thurston playing with his new band “Chelsea Light Moving”. There are some other shots of him on my site and blog, including a portrait with Bob Mould.

  9. This is really exceptional work Chad!

    It’s interesting that you lead this post by addressing the gear you used. If you had only shown the photos, I doubt any of us would have guessed the you were using such a mix of systems. This is a direct result of your clear and concise voice as a photographer. Your work is linked so well be your personal aesthetic, the variation in gear simply doesn’t interfere.

    That said, since you pointed the gear out, I do have to echo your praise for the Fuji 23/1.4. It has a tremendous ease to way it renders a scene. I actually found that most of the photos I preferred most were taken with the Fuji. I hands down love the b&w shot with the singer hunched over kicking his leg and the mic stand up in the air. I think that photo is the strongest one of the whole bunch, primarily due to the incredibly effective composition (great energy).

    Again well done!

    p.s. despite not really using long lenses much anymore, your photos do make me miss my old 135ZA/a850 combo.

  10. I do not own the fuji, I really have no interest in owning the fuji…but every time I see multi camera comparisons I have to admit the fuji holds up really well even against the A900, to me. All of these shots are great though amazing angles

  11. There are many things to like about these photos but one thing which immediately strikes me is a great use of large aperture. Shallow DoF has become tediously fahsionable and I suspect many people who crave it don’t really know why, but here it has a point and is the making of several of the photos. I think it’s really hard to make concert photography different and special but you’ve done it here.

    • Thanks Col. In concert photography shallow DOF is usually a necessity due to light levels but you are correct, I shot wide open purposefully – actually had an ND filter on the Fuji so I could do so. Thanks again.

  12. Beautiful! I love most of the A900 135 and the GR shot with the fingers and blurred background. Amazing pictures! I guess you were accredited? Thanks for sharing these! 🙂

    • Thank you and yes, the 135mm is stellar. The fingers shot is mislabeled and was taken with it as well…as good as the little Ricoh is, it can’t pull off that kind of shot!

    • Thank you Leon! In reference to the A900 vs. the Canon, for me it is a matter of enjoyment. The A900 with its huge optical viewfinder, tank-like build and retro lines, is a testament to the Minolta heritage. It just feels like a film camera. Of course the files are awesome too. It lags a bit in low light but not as bad as some would have you believe – if it is good enough for me in the dim environments I shoot, it should be fine for most. The color balance on the files is also appealing to me, much less red and yellow than the Canon and Nikon defaults. And then there is the cost – I bought mine used and you can get into a body for $900-$1200 which is insane for a stills only 24mp full frame body.

      • $900 for a full frame camera is indeed insane! Always nice when a camera gives you a nicely coloured image. Glad it works well for you and look forward to your next post! 🙂

  13. Out of all the festival pics I’ve ever seen, these are definitely the best. And it’s nice to see pictures from my city show up on here. 🙂

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