X-T2

What do you really need to take a photograph ?

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What do you really need to take a photograph ?

Let’s get the gear bit out of the way first before I move on to the future of my Blog and YouTube.

A few years back I would have recommended a film camera but with the spiralling costs of film and paper it’s probably not the answer unless you can afford it.

So I will base this on Digital.

I guess first off it depends what type of photography you are in to, as will define the gear or amount of gear you need. The word NEED is the issue. What you need at what you buy and collect are hardly connected and most people quickly fall into the GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome ) section.

I fully understand there is a huge difference between what you need for Sports Photography or Landscape or even Studio work.    

Because of the years I have shot just about everything I have been through the (GAS) just as everyone has. I wish someone had told me at the start that chasing the TEC and buying tons of Kit is a mugs game ! No wait they did ! I ignored them.

There is nothing wrong with buying tons of kit and people with Expendable incomes can buy what the hell they like.

I had a friend who asked me what he needed for his new camper van a few weeks back and I told him ” you will keep buying more and more gear you think you need and filling your van up with stuff, then in two years time you will leave most of it at home and just take what you need and start to enjoy your van”

But everyone must understand the gear  won’t make you a better photographer, I really do believe struggling with cheap hard to use kit and slow lenses is part of the learning process.

Let’s face it if you are going to shoot something slow moving or standing still only a few feet from you or even a Landscape and you are only going to view it on Instagram you might at well just use your Smartphone.

At the other end of the scale if you are a full time Pro shooting billboard size images for an advertising company you might need a 100mp Medium Format Camera. Likewise if you are going to do large prints all the time the Medium Format might be the way to go.

But remember the more megapixels you have the more detail you will see in the images the more dust and imperfections you with have to deal with in the final edit. Also your computer system will need to cope with the huge file size. You will also have to deal with Dust on that Sensor.

The biggest problem is once people get bogged down in cameras and lenses they hardly use what they have and they struggle to decide what to take when they leave the house ! Some take 30-40 kilos of kit every time they go out ! It’s madness no one cares what you have on your back or what you have in your hands only you ! The people who walk round camera shows with all there kit ! Who are those people ?

I guess we all have to learn the hard way. The secret to buying cameras is to only buy what you really need and to invest in glass as body’s will be updated with the new best thing in 12-24 Months  ! That’s what I was told years ago and it’s somewhat true but buying that new body is great if you are a Pro and need to have a reliable camera under warranty in your hand at all times but for the average person it really is a mugs game.

You really only need what you are going to use. If you are a Pro that’s shoots everything from Sport to Studio work then of course you are going to need a large amount of kit. That way you can pick up the right bag for the Job and run out of the house to shoot the job and get paid. Most Pros these days have lots of kit but also Hire in for specific jobs. Most of the Pro’s I know off load kit all the time. I do it as well, I look in Lightroom to see what lenses I have been using and what cameras and focal lengths them make changes accordingly. Sell bodies I don’t use and get lenses that make more sense.

I can’t tell you what you all need because I don’t know the way you Shoot or what you Shoot so it would be impossible for me to be able to advise lots of people all in one blog post.

I do know if you are a Pro then you need kit that can handle daily use, with a big bright viewfinder because you are going to spend a lot of your day looking through that viewfinder !

If you are not a Pro don’t waste your money on Pro gear just because you can afford it.

Not many people take their driving test in a Formula 1 Car ! Sounds like a mad analogy but it’s not far off.

I learnt photography with a film camera my Dad gave me and the first camera I saved up for was a Zenit E.  I made all my own Studio lights and reflectors and only had two lenses ! I learnt so much using that camera and a light meter. I also learnt all about light and composition because I had to.

These days it’s easy to buy any modern point and shoot and it will take infocus images with correct exposure on auto without you having to think too much.

You can also get round most technical issues in post processing depending on the sensor.

So if you are starting out and really want to learn Photography buy the most basic Manual camera around and teach yourself the basics of photography. You probably won’t use it on Manual once you understand it you will probably shoot in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority or in some cases like weddings and Sport full Auto. But getting the basics right first gives you the grounding you need to move on and understand why your camera reacts to light and speed the way it does.

You don’t need a GFX or a Nikon D7 to start your journey even if you can afford it.

I was watching a film last night looking at the lighting and composition as well as all the noise in the dark areas ! I also noticed it was not always sharp or in focus. These things really don’t matter as much as you think ! People are obsessed with Sharpness.

You really don’t need to have all the latest gear and lenses to take great photos trust me.

I know I know if you are going to shoot wildlife sport or birds you need slightly better kit but let’s face it Wildlife Sport and Birds have been photographed before all the latest kit came out ! So sometimes it worth looking back instead of forwards for inspiration.

Remember that Camera that was the newest best thing a year ago ? Well it not much different a year later ! I know Press Photographers still using the Nikon D3s over newer models because the camera is better in many areas and the file sizes are much more manageable.

So what do you need to take a photo if you are just starting out ? It all depends on what you are going to shoot and your budget so I can’t answer that for everyone but what I can say is. Don’t buy a Bentley before you have learnt to drive. Because once you have learnt you will realise a Bentley is a great big fat lump of a car that costs fortune to insure does not fit in to a parking space can’t be left anywhere because it might get keyed and is great for showing off in but the wife’s Audi A6 is better all round so you end up leaving the Bentley at home and just taking the point and shoot !

Don’t do all the the research online go in to real shops and pick up there cameras and feel them try out the lenses and get a feel for them once you have decided keep going back to the same camera store over and over again and build up a relationship with the staff that way you can get better discounts and find out about second hand gear when it comes in. Ever time there is a new model out all last years models end up back in the shops so keep your eyes out for a bargain.

You don’t need a Full Frame DSLR you really don’t …

Think about what you shoot now what you will shoot in the future and research that, pick a shop like Wex or Park Camera or Wilkinson Cameras or some of the Old Favorites like Ffords of Greys of Westminster find a camera shop with Camera Enthusiasts not retail sales assistants on commission.

MPB.com is also a great way to buy Second hand I use MPB and Wex used all the time the mint cameras and OB cameras are good as new at a fraction of the new cost.

Steer clear of the internet you might think it’s cheap until you find out its fake or has no warranty in the UK !

 

One you have your kit the journey really starts…

 

 

 

Projects

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Fujifilm X100F

I have always been passionate about Photography Projects and I even include Projects in my talks and workshops. Projects are fantastic for personal development but frustrating all at the same time. The hardest part with most projects is getting started ! Once you are started its not too hard to stay motivated, as long as its a short project.  A short project is for around a year.

I started my ‘Where is Jane’ & ‘Where’s Jane’ project about six months ago but its not been going to plan. Its a long term, double project based on my old facebook posts about my travels with Jane.

I got it wrong from the start and decided to shoot the project in Colour and with the Fujifilm GFX because I wanted to put the images in a Exhibition with really big prints. The downside to this idea was I really don’t carry the GFX with me everywhere I go with Jane, so the projects were not really getting off the ground and I ended up shooting with all types of camera, also I am  not a fan of colour so it was all at a standstill !

This weekend in Edinburgh I shot the black and white image above and it was that lightbulb moment ! I was doing it all wrong and it should be in black and white and not camera specific !

So I am going to start the project from scratch but this also means I can add into the project all the old images from facebook that made me want to start the project in the first place.

‘Where is Jane’ & ‘Where’s Jane’ are two very simple projects,  one is looking for Jane in the images and the other is knowing where she is in the world ! Trust me its confusing enough for me especially as I am Dyslexic so just the wording alone is confusing.

Below is a set of images for ‘Where is Jane’.. as in where in the world…

 

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Fujifilm GFX50S

 

The following set is for looking for Jane..

Some are easy and some are a little harder !

Some are a cross between the two projects..

Still Confused ?

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Fujifilm GFX50S
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Fujifilm X100F

 

I always find it interesting how a project evolves over time. The ‘Where is Jane’ project has been stalled for far too long but now at last I have found a way forward. Hopefully one day it will be a book and an exhibition. Its still a little confusing but I am quite sure it will all make sense in the end ! I hope.

Fujifilm Love Hate !

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I have lent out a lot of personal Fujifilm kit over the last five years and the result has always been some love hate relationships and personal battles with the kit. I always find this very interesting. I remember my first time with the X100 and how it wound me up no end that the sensor was giving me better black and white images than my Nikon D3s but how hard it was to get used to the camera and menus. Most of all the focus system was hard work and so much more. This all made me question my choice but the images spoke for themselves ! It felt like a toy camera compared to the mighty D3s ! But who cared about the feel when the images were just so great …

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XPro2 50mm f/2

On a recent trip to Edinburgh I was having a facebook conversation with a friend who had brought an X100T on my recommendation for her Street Photography. She hated it out of the box and many times I looked at her comments on social media saying how she wanted to get rid of it. One day it was driving her nuts the next it was fine. I could see the personal battle taking place this Marmite camera was tearing this girl apart !

She even asked me when the XPro2 was out and then the X-T2 and the X-T20 but all the time she went out shooting with the X100T. On this trip to Edinburgh she messaged me and said ” I love this camera Matt I really do, but it’s taken me 18 months to make it work for me”  I laughed and said I know ! I said to her the problem with the X100 series is you have to adapt your style to the camera and no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to decide on every setting from Jpeg to focus mode. You can’t just look up what other people do on the internet or blogs you just have to go out every day and have a personal battle with the camera and almost fight over who is in change !

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XPro2 50mm f/2

I have taught over 200 workshops over the last two years and so many people come on the workshops who have the same battle not just with the X100 series but some of the other Fujifilm models.

I was talking with another friend tonight who has my X-T10 and she said I am getting there but I am having a love hate relationship with this camera ! I just laughed and said I know…

I would say 99.9% of the people that have this battle win and they fall in love with the X Series Camera system.  I know a few people who have lost the battle and gone back to their chosen brand. I have noticed one thing though, the people that battle on don’t just learned how to adapt to a new camera system their work changes for the better too.

I think the the personal battle teaches them more than just how to use a new camera it makes them look at the way they work as well. It’s all too easy to pick up a DSLR out of the box and go out and shoot on auto, it’s not so easy to use the X100 you have to start to understand your craft more and in doing so your work improves.

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XPro2 50mm F/2

Quite a few people love the way the X Series slowed them down at the start but then became frustrated by that very fact ! Fujifilm responded to customer feedback and have made the  XPro2 and X-T2 but you still have to know what you are doing to get the best out of these cameras. You can use them out of the box on Auto now but once you really learn how to set them up you take a great big step up on your photography journey.

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XPro2 50mm f/2

The shame is that most people just look at these cameras on the internet or for a few minutes in a shop ! They never get to use them for 12-18 months and so never get to experience love hate battle and that is such a shame.  So many people don’t like change but I think that is where the X100F comes in. You can buy it as a back up camera and take it everywhere. Some days you will want to throw it in the river or bin some days you will want to hug it and kiss it ( possibly a bit far ) but when you look at those images you know you have an amazing bit of kit in your hands that you can stick in your pocket and take everywhere !  Take the X100F challenge buy one or borrow one  and see how you get on, then come back on here in 18 months and leave a comment.

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XPro2 16mm f/1.4

Workshops Update

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As quite a few people know  I am changing the format of my workshops in 2018 so if anyone wants to take part in the present format, please choose one of my Street Photography Workshops from the list below.

This is the format for 2017.

The workshops will encourage debate about Street Photography and help the participants to be more critical about their work.

The workshops are suitable for professional and amateur photographers of all levels. We ask you to familiarise yourself with using your camera and learn how to change settings quickly before attending the day, this will enable you to enjoy the experience fully.

The day will start at 10.30am and conclude at 16.30pm with a break for lunch and plenty of comfort breaks throughout the day, most of the day will be out on the streets. There is a lot of walking during the day and the event may take place in inclement weather so come prepared.

You will spend the day with myself exploring the streets picking up tricks and tips on my style of Street Photography throughout the day. My Street photography workshops and courses are fun, informative and relaxed. They are both challenging and highly enjoyable and designed to stretch your imagination.

I uses the Fuji X100F and XPro2 with a 35mm or 16mm Prime lens.

You can bring any DSLR or mirrorless camera on this course; fixed lens compacts are also welcome. If you are wondering what lenses to bring 50mm is ideal for full frame and 35mm film uses. APSC size sensors 35mm is ideal or lenses around the normal focal length.

The day normally starts at 10.30am with a coffee introductions and a discussion about the day. We will touch on the ethics and law and how to deal with challenges in this area.

Next we will discuss camera set up for the day and the best set up for street photography with a practical demonstration of street camera technique.

Matt will cover what Street Photography is, and show you some of his favourite Street Photographers images. He will also show you the best way to approach his style of Street photography.

We normally spend around two hours covering these subjects then around 12.30am we head straight out on to the streets where you can watch the way Matt works and try out some of the tips and tricks that he shares with you.

We break for lunch around 1.30pm where we can find a quiet place for a snack to discuss the mornings work and share our experiences.

We then go back out on the streets to practice your new street techniques and try and find your street rhythm and look for some interesting characters or great light!

We stay out shooting until about 4pm, we then find a quiet place to sit as a group to discuss the day and this will include lessons learnt. Matt will share his processing techniques and preferred software. Matt will give you his views on Critique and show you how to review your own work.

 

I know the majority of you guys that read my blogs and attend my workshops are Fujifilm users but for all you that have other brands of camera please feel free to book on any of these workshops as all camera brands are more than welcome.

Here are the available dates left this year, please click on the dates for availability:

Edinburgh 3rd June

Manchester 9th June

Birmingham 1st July

London 7th July

London 8th July

Bristol 21st July

Liverpool 26th August

Liverpool 24th Sept

Liverpool 14th October

Manchester 25th Nov 

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These will be the last Street Photography Workshops in this format at this price.

I have some interesting ideas for Locations and Styles of Workshops for next year, these workshops will be a little more complex so require a lot more planning.

I will advertise the 2018 Workshops around about October time.

I will be leading the Fujiholics Photowalks in London, Edinburgh and Bristol this year so make sure you sign up before all the places are gone. We have over 350 people signed up for London already.

Fujiholics Bristol

Fujiholics Edinburgh

Fujiholics London

Hope to see some of you on a Free Walk or Workshop and if you are a Fujifilm shooter then our new Facebook group might be for you here.

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Photowalks 2017

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Here we go again, another year of Photo Walks.  This year I will be leading four Fujiholics Photowalks. The Liverpool walk has already taken place but Bristol, Edinburgh and London are still up for grabs.

I would like everyone to know that you can bring any make of camera with you and that includes smart phones. You can also come without a camera just for a day out.  It’s all about like minded people getting together to have a great day out and to share ideas and meet new people.

The walks are free to sign up to, I only ask that if you sign up then change your mind, please follow the link from your Eventbrite confirmation email to remove yourself so other people can sign up as numbers are limited.

So far this year London is in the lead with 280 people signed up.

We would like to see more families and children on the walks and would like you all to know that kids are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Why not bring them to London and make a weekend of it.  They can use their phones or even buy them a throw away camera.

Photowalks are great, I have met friends for life on the walks and also made some amazing business contacts. They are a great way to explore our cities on foot with a great bunch of people.

A route and map is emailed out to everyone that signs up approx 1 week before the event to download to your smartphone or gps device or you can print out the map. You don’t have to keep up with the guys at the front as we tweet our location throughout the day and use a unique hashtag for the day. You can stop for refreshments along the way or even a cold beer and then catch up a bit later by taking a shortcut using the tube.

In London this year we have the Fujiholics Team and a few other Pro Photographers as well as some retailers so hope to bring you a few offers for the day. There will be quite a few Fujifilm X Photographers and Ambassadors about as well. The Fujiholics Team really do make you all feel welcome.

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I would love to see as many of you guys on one of the walks this year, the last three walks are spread out all over the UK so feel free to come and join us.

Here are the links to the walks..

Bristol

Edinburgh

London

If you want to buy cheap train tickets then here is a link to sign up to The Train Line ticket alert.

If you need to know any more details then feel free to contact us info@fujiholics.com or matt@fujiholics.com

Hope to see you sometime in 2017…

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My First Camera

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Fujifilm X-T1

One of the biggest questions most professional photographers get asked this time of year is “what camera should I buy my son or daughter for christmas”  we also get given a budget, some far too low but for the majority the figure is £500-£800. Below that figure there are some great little cameras about but they will not last long and the sensors are not up to helping your kids to progress, so in my view it’s a waste of money.

These days everyone thinks in terms of the DSLR is the camera to aim for but this is not the case. People ask me do I get a bridge camera then get a DSLR in a few years time?

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Fujifilm X-T1

People don’t understand how Mirrorless cameras have taken over from the DSLR in the last few years and just how great they are. I myself only use the Fujifilm X Series Mirrorless cameras for my professional work and most of my professional friends also use the Fujifilm X Series, not many people I know are using DSLRS.

Most parents go in to a shop and say “I am looking for a DSLR” but in fact they are looking for a camera and they just call it a DSLR. The sales assistant then goes in to overdrive to sell a DSLR, the parents can’t afford it and they go home to buy something from Amazon.

My advice this year has been to look out for great offers on the mirrorless cameras as this is a great starting point. You can pick up older models of the Fujifilm X Series like the X-T10 and the X-T1 at amazing prices and these camera bodies will be perfect for School, University and for any workshops or courses. The exposure triangle is on the outside of the camera and the sensors are a 1.5 crop the same as most of the DSLRs in there price range. This way instead of buying a compact or bridge camera that you throw away in  six months you have started to invest in a system. You can then go on to investing in lenses for birthdays and Christmas and eventually upgrade the body in a few years time.

There have been some amazing deals on the X-T10 and X-T1 over the last few months in UK retailers and this is where people should look for a bargain. I was talking to a guy last week who did a trade in and got double cash back and got an X-T10 for £290 ! All he had to do was buy a lens of his choice, he got a 18-55mm with cash back and is now wrapping it up for his son for Christmas.

I have used both of these cameras professionally and all the images on this blog were taken with these bodies and a variety of lenses. I mainly shoot Street Photography in black and white but in this post I have included a few colour images and some other genres of photography.

So my advice for Christmas or birthdays is look for bargains in Mirrorless Cameras even if it’s last year’s model your kids will thank you in the long run and you wont have wasted money on a camera you will throw away.

I bought both my Sons Fujifilm X-T10 kits with 18-55mm lenses last christmas and they both love the cameras.

My first camera was given to me by my parents and it was a 35mm Film Camera that was the camera that made me fall in love with photography. I then saved up for two years to buy my first Nikon FM2, I used that camera for over 20 years. So I think it’s important to choose very carefully for your kids. If my parents had got me the wrong camera at the start I might not have fallen in love with photography the way I did.

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Fujifilm X-T2 + 90mm f/2

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I read in the week that some people do not trust the reviews by the Fujifilm Ambassadors.

I started to question my own thoughts. I decided however that I have always given an open and honest view of the Fujifilm X series. I am not one for long reviews anyway so most of my thoughts and feelings about the X Series are from hands on demonstrations and talking to people out and about on the streets on workshop days and events.

I have also never been the pessimistic type and always see the good in all the gear I use and only use very limited functions on the camera so it’s not easy for me to start pulling something apart I am passionate about.

I was asked by Fujifilm UK to be an Ambassador because of my work and because I had already adopted the Fuji X Series in to my workflow and was enjoying the refreshing change from DSLR to mirrorless. So I was already a fan you could say, but if you know me you will know I am quite blunt and honest about most things and if I did not like the X Series I would have moved to a different brand by now.

My blogs are few and far between and as you all probably know by now I am dyslexic and find sitting down to write a blog as about as exciting as sticking pins in my eyes.

Kevin Mullins has by far the best blog on the Fuji X system that I have seen as a Fujifilm Ambassador and he gives a real honest review. Although Kevin and myself both love the X Series, we have both pointed out issues and faults in some of the past X Series cameras and lenses and say so in public.

When I moved over from the Nikon system to X100,  XPro1 the 18mm and 35mm lens after using a Nikon D3s, I was under no illusion the Xpro1 was better I just wanted a change and I was making a leap of faith that Fujifilm would catch up with the mirrorless system and make an amazing camera one day to match their sensors and lenses.

Well I am so glad I took the leap of faith, I have been using the X-T2 now for a couple of months and can honestly say it’s a game changer. If this is what they can come up with in 5 years, I can’t wait for the next 5 !!!

I am not going to go into all the technical mumbo jumbo as most of you know I just use the exposure triangle and go out and shoot. So I will leave you to read Kevin’s review or even better take a look at and independent review like Cameralabs Gordon always gives a fair and honest review on most camera systems and lenses.

For me though the proof of the pudding is in the images and the X-T2 is stunning not just the images but in its handling and focus speed. I still prefer the XPro2 for Street photography but that’s just because I love the rangefinder style of  camera for shooting people in my candid style. But the X-T2 is a killer camera for my Gig and Event work as well as my Landscape work. They are diferent animals as far as I am concerned.

Today I went out for a quick meeting in town, I decided to take the X-T2 and one of my favorite lenses the 90mm f/2 and see if I could grab a couple of Street shots on my route.

I remember shooting this image below a couple of weeks back with the same set up and wanted to see if I could shoot a moving target with me moving and the focus keep up.

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X-T2 90mm f/2 Iso 400 1/1250sec f/4

I walk at quite a pace when I am out and about, even though you can learn to compensate for slow autofocus by standing still zone focusing if you need to. You don’t need to do this with the X-T2 this thing nails the shots, that some of the previous X Series bodies might have missed. The XPro2 I would say is just as good but the the X-T2 gives you a little more confidence. It just has that positive feel about it.

The next two shots with me walking towards the two subjects at quite a pace and just lifting the camera up to shoot as they walked towards me.

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X-T2 90mmf/2 Iso200 1/350sec f/4
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X-T2 90mm f/2 Iso200 1/250sec f/4

 

I was blown over when I reviewed these images over a coffee before my meeting. BOOM was the word that came in my head. I thought wow Fuji you have done it you have made the camera for all the people that doubted the Mirrorless System.  I am quite sure this camera is going to sell like hot cakes. I will just say that this 90mm lens is amazing on this camera. I love to shoot wide and long when I am out on my own and this lens has just the right reach to compliment the 16mm f/1.4 out and about.

Someone commented the other day that I used to sing the praises of the 27mm and the X-T10 and thats very true and I still have the 27mm on my X-T10 and there it stays.

I have to spend some time getting used to the new Cameras Fuji asks us to Test and the X-T10 still has a big place in my heart and a small space in my camera bag.

It all comes down to the right tool for the job and I am lucky enough to have a large toolbox to select my tools from.

At the moment as I write this the X-T2 and the 90mm f/2 are a perfect match for Street style candid portraits…