I’ve always been interested in some of the creative opportunities that digital cameras can offer, especially in the area of Multiple Exposures (ME) and Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). Canon cameras have long been regarded as having the best implementation of ME features in a DSLR, but having never been a Canon user, I’ve always flirted around the edges of it and tried to make the most of what I was using.
Sony mirrorless cameras used to allow you to download some apps that were very good for experimenting, but they stopped supporting these apps after the A7Rii.
This has left me waiting for Fuji to play catch up, and with the release of the X-Pro3, they appear to have finally implemented some ME features that got me excited.
I’m not going to go into any other aspects of the X-Pro3 in this post but simply talk about the implementation of ME. In summary, the features are;
Up to 9 images can be applied
You can review and retake the image just taken
Select from 4 different blend modes – Average, Additive, Light, Dark
Change camera settings, such as white balance and film sims between each shot
The EVF allows you to see the images overlaid as you go
In practice, it’s very easy to get started. You change the drive mode to ME and then set the blending mode. N.b. You cannot change the blend mode between exposures. To speed up the process I have assigned the ME blend mode options to My Menu so that it’s a little easier to find.
Once you take an image, you have the option to accept and take the next frame, retake it, or exit (which saves the ME). You do this between each frame, which allows you to consider each step of the process. If you don’t quite get right, or you want to change something, then simply retake the frame. The EVF makes all of this so much easier to do, as the images are overlaid and you can see the impact of adjusting exposure etc...
If you’ve never shot multiple exposures before, I always find using a zoom gives you far more creative flexibility, compared to shooting with a prime. Features such as maximum wide aperture and critical sharpness are not as important (imo) in this type of work. I've been using the 16-80mm F4, but the brilliant 18-55 kit lens would also be a good starting point.
This set of images were shot in Milton Keynes, as I explored the Theatre District and the new MK Gallery. The dark blend mode was used exclusively in these images.
These images of some flowers were created by combining a few ICM images, again predominantly using the dark blend mode. The contrast was boosted a little in Capture One, but other than, this is pretty much SOOC.
At present, the final output is a JPEG. The individual RAW files are all saved, but you don’t have a RAW file at the end of the process. This does limit you in terms of flexibility for editing once you’ve downloaded the images to your computer. I don’t really find this too much of an issue if you’re just sharing images online, and if you shoot JPEG Fine, then printing up to A3 is absolutely possible, so long as you aren’t doing a huge amount of editing.
Another consideration of shooting JPEG is which Film simulation you use. If you shoot in black and white, then you have no option to make it colour, unless you intend to edit the RAW's in Photoshop. I would recommend shooting in the Standard (Provia) Film sim as a starting point.
If you do not want to use the final JPEG, then the only alternative is to export your RAW files to Photoshop, or similar, where you have a lot more flexibility when working with layers.
One other small downside to the final image being a JPEG is that you have to change how you set the camera up to save the data to the memory cards. I normally have it configured so that my RAW files save to disk 1, and the JPEGs to disk 2. However, when you use this setting, you cannot review the final multiple exposure image, because it’s a JPEG, and playback uses disk 1. I have therefore had to change my data saving setup to backup so that the JPEG is on Disk 1 and can be viewed in playback. A small thing, but worth noting.
Things I would like to see come to the X-Pro3
RAW output, obviously. Having a final RAW image would give you a lot more flexibility to edit the image without the extra hassle of having to go into photoshop to blend layers. It would also make it more accessible for people who do not have photoshop or access to software that allows you to blend layers, such as Capture One.
Nikon and Canon implementations of ME allow you to select your base image, by selecting an image from the memory card. This can be a really useful feature if you have an image that you would like to build on, or use an image from a completely different location / time. Currently this isn’t possible with the X-Pro3 and it would be really useful to add in the future.
Although you can make some changes to your camera settings between frames, such as change the exposure settings, white balance and film simulation, it would be really handy if you could switch being custom settings (C1, C2 etc...) to help speed this process up.
I’d like to be able to assign the ME blend mode option to one of the function buttons too. Again, this would simply speed up the overall process and make it easier to use without having to go into too many menus.
Overall, I’m pleased with the implementation of ME on the X-Pro3. It’s a big improvement over the limited double exposure feature and gives you enough creative choices to start exploring this side of Photography. There are some improvements that would bring it on par with Canon, and hopefully, these might be possible with firmware updates. Given that they use the same sensor and processor, it may also find its way on the X-T3, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that front.
I'm looking forward to spending more time over the coming weeks using the ME mode and seeing what it's capable of in a wider variety of scenarios. I've had a few ideas in my mind for a while which I will now be able to get to work on.
Recommended Photographers to explore
I just thought I’d mention a few photographers that use Multiple Exposures, and whose work I admire greatly.
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