Shooting Portraits with the GFX 50S and Macro Lenses with Markus Klinko

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Markus Klinko
BASED IN: New York, USA
KNOWN FOR: Stunning portraits of many of the most famous celebrities in the world
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM GFX 50S Camera, FUJINON GF23mm F4 R LM WR Lens, GF45mm F2.8 R WR Lens, GF110mm F2 R LM WR Lens, GF250mm F4 R LM OIS WR Lens, FUJINON GF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter

Introduction

Markus Klinko is an award-winning international fashion and celebrity photographer who has worked with many of today’s most iconic stars of film, music, and fashion. Over the years he has photographed the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and many more – and a collection of these images is currently on display in an exhibition called “2000’s” at Mouche Gallery in Beverly Hills. In this Technique article, Markus discusses how he started to incorporate elements of macro photography into his portraiture, thanks to the FUJIFILM GFX system.

Markus Klinko

I moved to Paris in the late seventies to study at the Paris Conservatoire with the aim of becoming a classical concert harpist. At the time, I had no idea that one day I would instead end up a photographer, soon to have an exhibition of my work open to the public in Beverly Hills.

Back in Paris, I didn’t even own a camera and I never really had the urge to capture images. That was until the French edition of PHOTO magazine caught my attention. Parisian newsstands used to be covered in large blowups of the latest magazine covers. They fascinated me.

Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko
Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko

They had a distinctive style to them. Many featured tight face crops and macro close-ups. They were often detail shots, showing only part of the model’s face. Somehow, these powerful images became engraved into my subconscious. Many years later, when I started my career as a photographer in the mid-nineties, I was eager to experiment with macro photography. I tried to reproduce the type of work that had influenced me in Paris. These skills would eventually come in very handy, because I was often commissioned to shoot close-ups for editorial and commercial clients.

Things got more interesting when Fujifilm released the GFX 50S camera and the XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR macro lens. It offered 1:1 magnification and was an extraordinarily sharp lens. Achieving a 1:1 magnification ratio is often considered essential for ‘true’ macro photography. Fujifilm had achieved that for both the X Series and its medium format GFX system. It started to feel like macro photography was becoming accessible to everyone.

The next big step for me came when Fujifilm announced the addition of the MCEX-18G WR and MCEX-45G WR macro extension tubes for the FUJIFILM GFX 50S. I considered this the beginning of a new era for macro photography, as it is now possible for the first time to shoot 1:1 and beyond on a mirrorless medium format camera.

This is quite special, because precision focusing is incredibly easy and accurate, like nothing I’ve ever done before. What you see is what you get – period. There’s no guesswork involved. The MCEX-45G WR macro extension tube, in combination with the GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro lens allows for 1:1 magnification, which is really great to have.

With the MCEX-18G WR macro extension tube you can also go beyond 1:1. However, I tend to use it to gain a little extra depth-of-field so I can have more of my frame in focus. One could, of course, choose to focus bracket. This involves shooting a series of images at different focusing distances and then merging the exposures in post to achieve a single shot that is sharp throughout. However, I personally prefer to capture it in one shot.

Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko
Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko

Even a small depth-of-field gain is very valuable to me, because I don’t want to use an aperture smaller than F11. The extension tubes do not affect the excellent sharpness of the lens, however the price you pay is in light! The tubes are very hungry for light, so don’t be surprised if you need a lot more power than normal. This could be as much as 2.5 stops of extra light from your flashes.

Manual focusing when zoomed is easy and very fast, but, to my amazement, even with both extension tubes added, the autofocus of the GFX 50S is still extremely fast and accurate. I found that it nailed the focus even at 1:1 magnification, handheld, and without restricting the model’s natural movements.

Of course, each tube can be used separately as well, depending on how close you want to get. In my experience, the GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR macro lens and the MCEX-18G WR macro extension tube are a very easy-to-use combo.

Markus Klinko is a FUJIFILM-compensated professional photographer.

To see more of Markus’ work, visit his website.

To see Markus’ “2000’s” exhibition, or to register for one of his talks, visit our Events page.

Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko
Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko
Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko
Using the GFX 50S with macro lenses for stunning fashion portraits with Markus Klinko

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