Testing the FujiFilm GFX 50S at The Photography Show

Testing the FujiFilm GFX 50S at The Photography Show

Mark Simpson

My life in photography has encompassed many subjects from landscapes and seascapes to motorsport and ice hockey plus weddings and various commercial work.

I have over 30 years photographic experience having worked as Technical Manager for Kyocera-Yashica UK in the 1990s with their Contax cameras and Carl Zeiss lenses. During this time I repaired cameras for the likes of Lord Snowdon GCVO, RDI, David Bailey CBE, Enya, Nick Park of Aardman Animations, Michael Winner, Magnum photographer Ian Berry, Smiths ‘Salford Lads Club’ photographer Stephen Wright, wildlife photographer Stephen Dalton and Major Walter Lees (Royal Victorian Order, Military Cross and a Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur).

A family interest in ice hockey led to me becoming the official photographer for the Bracknell Bees team and the ‘unofficial official’ photographer at away games for the Cardiff Devils, all shot on film with many hours in the darkroom each week hand-printing black and white prints for the clubs, players and fans.

My motorsport work had really started to take off in the early 2000s and my company CMWI had clients such as Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Ford, MG Rover, Hankook Tyres, Global Brands and Jardine International as well as being the official photographers for the ANCRO National Gravel and National Asphalt Rally Championships, Mitsubishi Evo Challenge, Ford Fiesta ST Sporting Trophy, Peugeot Challenge, MG ZR Cup, Rallye Sunseeker, Manx National Rally, Tour of Cornwall and the Goodwood Festival of Speed Rally Stage. Editorial work included the regular supply of images to publications such as Autosport, Motorsport News, The Sun, Pacenotes, Australian RallySport, Czech Rally and many other regional UK newspapers and magazines.

Many of my motorsport images featured a car in the landscape rather than just a car filling the frame but I had never gone out to specifically shoot a landscape until 2010.
I used the name Electric Lemonade Photography for the landscape business for many years, offering tuition workshop courses and photo tours, becoming known as ‘Mr Lemonade’.
My image of Sturminster Newton Mill in Dorset was commended in the 2013 Landscape Photographer of the Year (LPOTY) competition and featured in the exhibition at the National Theatre on London’s South Bank as well as at Moors Valley Country Park. I was interviewed live on BBC Radio Solent and my commended image was also published in the Landscape Photographer of the Year book edition 7 and the 10 year Special Edition as well as the popular LPOTY greetings cards. ‘Stur Mill’ was also featured at the first BBC Countryfile Live show in 2016 at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, that one image certainly opened plenty of doors for me.

BBC Countryfile Live show in 2016 at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock in Oxfordshire

BBC Countryfile Live show in 2016 at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock in Oxfordshire

I also offer illustrated talks for camera clubs and photographic societies. Choose from ‘My Life in Photography’ featuring my time repairing cameras for the rich and famous, my motorsport and commercial images plus a selection landscapes or ‘Purely Landscapes’ featuring just my landscape and seascape images.

Having used Canon equipment since the original EOS 600 in 1989 I changed to digital in 2000 with the £1850 3.1 megapixel D30. Since then I have owned many Canon digital SLRs including various EOS 1D and 5D models plus 17-35 f2.8, 28-70 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 and 300mm f2.8 lenses.

March 2012 saw the beginning of a torrid 14 month ‘fling’, Nikon D800 was her name and she had huge megapixels, 36 million to be precise! Although there is no doubting the amazing detail of the images, I had massive problems with dust spots (100s!) and oil spatter from the mirror mechanism, my D800 also suffered from softness on the left side of the image due to poor sensor alignment. A lesson learned here is never to buy a new camera on launch day, the badly aligned sensors have been well documented and it took Nikon until the D750 and D850 models to really sort the mirror box mechanism. It is no coincidence that the D600, D610 and D800 cameras sell so cheaply on the used market.

In May 2013 I moved back to Canon with the EOS 6D using various lenses including a 15mm fisheye, 17-40 zoom, 24-105 zoom, 100-400 zoom plus a number of Carl Zeiss, Nikon AI, Olympus Zuiko OM and vintage Tamron prime lenses with suitable adaptor rings. The Canon EOS bodies are great for using old manual focus lenses due to the short distance between the lens mount and the sensor plane of 44mm.

In 2014 I started to shoot film again, for the first time this century! Using a Mamiya 645 Pro TL camera with a selection of Mamiya lenses from 35 to 210mm exposing Kodak Portra 160 and Fujifilm Velvia 50 films. The Mamiya 645 lenses also worked really well on the Canon EOS cameras using a Photodiox adapter that I imported from the USA, superbly sharp with lovely contrast.

Other film cameras used include a 1950 Rolleiflex K4/50 Automat, 1967 Hasselblad 500C, Bronica SQ-A, Olympus XA, Contax RTS, 137MA, 139Q, 159MM & 167MT, Contax T & T2, Yashica Electro 35 GTN, T4 & Yashica MAT-124G.

From October 2014 I used the FujiFilm X mirrorless camera system, including a X-Pro 2, X-T1, X-E2 and X-E1 cameras plus Samyang 8mm, Samyang 12mm, Fujinon 14mm, Fujinon 10-24, Fujinon 18-55, Fujinon 35mm, Fujinon 55-200 and Fujinon 100-400 lenses.

2018 saw a brief flirtation with the Sony A7R II, using it purely as a digital back with my collection of superb Carl Zeiss Contax fit manual focus lenses from the 1970s and 80s via lens adaptors. It was a camera I never really ‘clicked’ with, clinical, soulless images often with weird colour shifts, useful features buried deep in never-ending menus, also functions that had been on other cameras for years had to be purchased as expensive ‘PlayMemory’ app downloads (and then not supported at all on newer models) and finally, control dials and buttons that would not look out of place on Fisher Price toys.

2019 has seen a return to FujiFilm and my current kit comprises of the FujiFilm X-T2 camera plus the Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR, Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR (superb cashback and part exchange bonuses over the 2018 Christmas period meant that I got the camera just about for free!) and Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS lenses plus a Heliopan Polariser and a set of 3, 6, 10 and 15 stop Haida neutral density filters.

Update September 2019
Both the Fujinon 16-55 and 50-140 have now gone, more of this in a feature to come shortly.
I am now using the following equipment;
FujiFilm X-T2
FujiFilm X-E1 featured here - The Best Digital Camera Under £150
Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS featured here - 15 Months with the Fujinon XF 55-200 lens
Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R
Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS

I am not an ‘ambassador’ (or ‘serial blagger’) for any camera, lens or filter manufacturer and give honest, unbiased appraisals of photography equipment and gear reviews in the Features section of this site.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about landscape photography in general, equipment, workshops, photo tours, camera club talks and commercial presentations.

All images on this site are available for editorial and commercial use, please ask for full details and rates.