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Gillis London Bag

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I have not been one for to much gear talk over the years but I keep getting asked about my kit so have decided to start writing more about my kit.  I will also be trying to use YouTube more and more over the coming months to do the same.

I have just received my new Gillis London Leather bag, this is a 15″ MacBook bag so not small and not light, it’s made of fantastic quality leather and will last me the rest of my life.

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We all love a good camera bag and there is no bag for every occasion but I wanted a smart bag for that special occasion or meetings etc that would hold my 15″ MacBook and and also hold a reusable water bottle as well have a separate compartment for and umbrella etc

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Gillis London came up with this design that should work perfectly for me, as I start using it I will keep you informed about how I get on and what I keep in the bag.

Its not a cheap bag and retails at £320 but this is a top quality leather bag and there are plenty of expensive camera bags on the market that dont last 5 minutes. There are also quite a few at this price range that are not this good.

As you can see from the youtube video above it has plenty of pockets and lots of storage space so should hold all I need for a workshop or a meeting.

So far I just love this bag and cant wait to use it …

 

 

 

GFX50s Day 3 Liverpool

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Is it day 3 already !

I decided to take the GFX in to town (Liverpool) with me for a little walk around, again no tripod and the 32-64mm Zoom, just wanted another day with a camera over my shoulder and no bag.

I decided to shoot for Colour today following on from yesterdays black and white work, just to make a change and make me look for more interesting shots involving interesting colours.

I first went in to Bold Street Coffee my favorite coffee shop in Liverpool, I love this place the coffee is amazing and so is the fruit toast. Its not the largest place but you can always get a seat, I have never waited more than a few minutes. Great place to sit and think before you walk round the city. There is always an Exhibition on in the cafe this time it was painted skateboards.

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GFX50s 32-64mm ISO 1250 1/160 sec f/4 

I then walked down Bold St to Resurrection and noticed the have a new Cafe and Barbers upstairs. I took the shot more as a reference shot to remind me to come back when the upstairs window is more interesting. Whilst I waited for the foot fall to drop to get a decent balance I noticed the guys both in their phones at each end. I can’t get over the detail this camera shows even in web sized images. When zooming in on my Mac I am blown away. So much so that I am going to have to buy one !!! Yes its only day three and I am totally bitten by the GFX bug.

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GFX50s ISO 100 1/210 sec f/4.6

I did say there I can’t see a place in my workflow for this camera when it first came out because I have up my pair of Nikon D3s Bodies to go small ! I have decided I am going to keep my XPro2 and my X100F with the set of f/2 primes and sell the rest of my kit to fund the GFX ! This is not just a Game Changer it’s a Rule Breaker ! It should not be this easy to use a Medium Format camera in the Streets ! I have some new plans for the next few years I want to start shooting more Street for myself for personal projects and always want to Explore Cityscapes and Landscapes with simple editing in Lightroom with no PS work. This is the camera to give me my passion and creativity back in that direction due to the amazing detail.

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GFX50s 32-64mm ISO100 1/200 sec f/8 

I do love a good Pret ! I shot this image because of the poster and the guy’s arm pointing at the girl giving a lead into the shot. We get too close sometimes in Street photography and miss all the great Street Scenes. If you look at the crop below you will see what drew me in to the scene.

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Yes a crop with detail and sharpness !  

I finished my walk around the city just looking for interesting colours and scenes that interested me and started to shoot them. The GFX itself was not even a concern. But not having it in a bag in some areas I walked through did make me think this is 8K around my neck. Not a real problem and in Liverpool as it always been a very safe city. But there are some places in the UK I would feel uneasy. Will it stop me buying one no. It just means I will need a new bag !

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GFX50s 32-64mm 1/180 sec f/8

I am off to Wales tomorow so days 4,5,6 will be online by Sunday night, and next week I am shooting a Video so my posts might be a bit slow. But I will aim to put a GFX post on every day until the Hire is over and I have send it back and start sulking.

In the images below the detail in the lady’s hair is stunning !

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GFX50s 32-64mm ISO 100 1/240 sec f/8 
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GFX50s ISO 200 1/160 sec f/8 

Fujifilm XPRO 2

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Fujifilm X10

My Fujifilm journey started back in 2011 but it was hit and miss.  I was a Nikon shooter and had been for over 40 years. In 2011 I found myself looking for a camera system that was smaller and lighter than my Professional Nikon system. I looked at Sony and Panasonic  but wanted great glass and realised that only the top players in the camera market could offer this. I picked up a Fuji X10 and had a love hate relationship with it so in the end sold it. I read all the reviews and was put off the X100 but in the end found one for a good price on ebay and purchased a really nice camera.

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Fujifilm X100

The image above was one of the first images I shot with the X100 and I was hooked. This amazing little camera was producing images far cleaner than my Nikon D3s and for a fraction of the cost. Yes focus was slow and it only had one lense but it was the way it made me feel that shocked me, this camera had set me free.

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Fujifilm XPRO1 14mm f/2.8

It was not long before I walked in to Cambrian Photography and took a massive leap of faith. I bought the Xpro1 along with the 18mm, 60mm and the 18-55mm Kit lens and decided to give it a go on my trip to Venice. I had made up my mind that if it worked for me I would come home and sell all my professional Nikon Gear.

Before I went I was almost convinced this would not happen, how could this Xpro1 replace my D3s and Pro glass as it was so slow to focus and so awkward to use !

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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8

I came back from Venice and the decision had been made this XPro1 was perfect for me. I was convinced that stepping away from mainstream DSLR’s and choosing a camera that slowed me down and made me think out of the box again was the way forward. So I took the leap and sold all my Nikon gear.  I said to myself that if I needed a Pro DSLR for a job I would just hire one. That was four years ago and I have not needed to use a DSLR and will never look back.

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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140MM F/2.8

It’s amazing how the reason you changed gets under your skin at times and the slow focus on the XPro1 drove me to buy the X-T1 and the X-T10. These cameras work perfectly for my event photography and due to the small size of the X-T10 I started to use two of these stunning little cameras back to back one with 27mm f/2 and one with 90mm f/2 lenses. It is quite amazing how small the X-T10 is with the 27mm lens it’s almost the same size as the X100T.

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Fujifilm X-T10 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm X100T

My plan was if I am totally honest was to wait for the X-T2 if there was one and use my X-T10s for Street and the X-T1 for Landscape and wet events and bring the X-T2 in to play.

But then BOOM Fuji asked me to test out the Xpro2 and it’s just changed my photography all over again. When I first picked it up my first thought was where is the tilting screen ? It’s hard to go out and test a camera that is not due out for three months when you are a Street photographer I can tell you.

I started using the Xpro2 and at first I was not blown away, but this was the same feeling I have had with all the Fuji X Cameras. They are like magic in your hands, the more you get to know the camera, the more they come alive in your hands. This camera is fast to focus, it surely has to be the fastest yet.

The shape of the camera is a vast improvement over the XPro1  and the inclusion of two fast card slots is going to make quite a few wedding shooters happy.  The inclusion of the ISO dial in with the shutter speed dial, puts all the buttons and knobs back on the outside of the camera so you have the exposure triangle where you need it. There is a neat little joystick on the back of the camera and the buttons are all in the right place for me.

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8

 

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (ooc  jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 ( ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (Silver Efex Pro 2) (Japan Gallery Image)

You all know I am not one for technical write ups as all the pixel stuff does not do anything for me and there are camera testers all over the UK that can test this camera to death for you all. But one word of caution, I was put off the X System for six months before I got the X100 because of all the reviews so be careful what you choose to read. This system is not all about pixels and super fast this and that, it is about changing your way of thinking.

So why do I love this camera ? It’s easy,  I don’t have to edit any of my images any more. I have always been a RAW shooter converting in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 until now. This camera is a game changer for me and the file size is just about right. The XPro2 is going to change my photography for the better.

The design of the XPro2 compared to the Xpro1 is completely different making the XPro2 sit so nicely in your hand.

I am going to be shooting Jpeg with the XPro2 for the next year with the 35mm f/2 lens for a Street Project I am doing with a few friends on Flickr. I love a good project and this project will help me to learn how to setup and use the Xpro2 for Jpeg and never have to edit again. The time this is going to save me is life changing. At the moment I have the camera set up to black and white with green filter. I have Dynamic Range set to 200%, Highlight Tone -1, Shadow Tone +3, Sharpness +1, Noise Reduction off. I will be playing around with these settings a lot more over the coming months.

It’s been a pleasure testing this new camera for Fujifilm and it was also an honour to have one of my images that I shot on the XPro2 selected for the Exhibition in Japan with 100 other X Photographers from around the world.

I think Fujifilm have made a stunning camera and I would like to thank them for for listening to all the X Photographers and Fujiholics around the world and adding most of the requests and ideas to this little camera.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I am so glad I made that leap of faith nearly 5 years ago. The Xpro2 is a huge step forward I am quite sure the Fuji roadmap is going to be very exciting…

Here is a video I shot about the my Fujifilm journey including some XPro 2 images.

 

 

Camera Bags / Handbags

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I often hear woman say there is no perfect handbag for every occasion and this is just the same for camera bags. You can’t find one bag  for every job; most of the time camera bag manufactures get it so wrong. Most people want a camera bag that protects their gear but is also light and easy to carry. I guess this is where most  people have to compromise as most camera bags weigh a ton even before they are filled to the brim with camera gear.

I have acquired quite a large collection of camera bags over the years. I now have one for nearly every occasion from Landscape to Workshops. The only one I did not have was a decent working Street Photography bag. I was making do using a ‘Next’ canvas bag and it was great, a little padding on the bottom and lots of space, possibly too much space. Sounds mad too much space, but if you have extra space you end up filling the gaps with something. Unfortunately my ‘Next’ bag was coming to the end of its life, so I decided I needed something smaller and longer lasting.

I wanted a very hard wearing canvas bag that was waterproof and would carry just what I needed and no more. So with a little research I found ‘Domke‘ the bag is listed as water resistant and that would do for me as I can always add a cover if I needed to. I quite like the idea of a breathable bag at least then if my cameras get wet in use they have the chance to dry out.

When you look at all the bag images online people take out the packets of sweets, pens, phones etc and all the other bits so it looks good for the photo. I shot this image above with all my junk in view the only items not in the shot was my i pad and a couple of lens cloths.

So I think I have found my perfect Street bag. The first big test was a Street Workshop I led in  Edinburgh March 2015. It went well, it rained quit a lot over the weekend and the bag kept the water out so that was a big plus as my ‘Next’ bag was not waterproof.

The Domke Crosstown Courier is a heavy duty cotton fabric treated with environmentally friendly waxes and oils to keep the water out.  A tin of wax is also supplied with the bag to top up the water resisting qualities. I am told the bag looks better and better with age like a favourite pair of jeans! I quite like that idea as I hate new looking things out on the Street.

The bag has pouches at each end that detach and these are great for when I am not teaching photography courses, I can take them off to save even more weight if I need to.

The bag has a large interior compartment and padding.  I take most of  the padding out as I find the padding takes up too much room in all camera bags. I wrap my lenses and cameras in micro fibre lens cloths that double up as cleaning cloths. I put my i pad in the main compartment with my X-T1 and XPro1 with a few lenses and I put my X100T in the pocket at the front so it’s at hand when I need it.  My travel battery pack goes in the rear pocket for phone and battery charging on the move. It has two full size pockets length ways one on the back and one hidden under the flap.  A large mesh pocket and two expandable front pockets are also very useful. It also has an anti slip shoulder strap which is very handy as some bags do tend to slip off your shoulder.

There is a bigger version but I am happy with this bag. I can carry it all day and it does not become a burden.

My only negative with the bag is once full if you don’t pack the heavy gear at the bottom of the bag it swivels to a funny angle as you walk but that is probably just the way I pack mine ! I do like to carry lots of lens cloths for padding and these can end up at the bottom.

One nice little touch is the fact that you can register your bag online.  If you lose the bag  and someone is kind enough to try and get it back to you there is a bar-code riveted plate on the bag with a phone number to call.

I have been using the bag for about six weeks now and have to say I love it! At first I did think it would be too small but as a Street bag it’s perfect for me not only for teaching but when I am out on my own. I have not taken the pouches off yet as I love them for easy access.

It’s probably not the cheapest bag on the market but it’s very well made and very rugged. I think it will last the rest of my life and a lot longer than any of my other bags. So well worth the investment.

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Desert Island Fuji

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I often get asked what would my desert Island camera be! This used to be a hard question in the days of the DSLRs but not anymore it’s very simple it’s the Fujifilm X100. It does not really matter what version of  X100 you have, they are all great. The X100 was a stunning camera and I am sure will go on to be a classic, the X100s was a big improvement and the X100T might not be a massive jump from the S but it’s worth every penny, after all the other two are so last year !

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X100 Mersey Ferry

One of the main reasons for my desert island camera choice is the fixed lens, no dust or sand on the sensor is a big plus for me for a take anywhere camera. This camera fits in my pocket and can go anywhere I want all over the world and takes up no room. If you don’t add any of the great lenses and bolt on accessories this little camera even fits in your trouser pocket. I am not going to go in to the technical side of the X100T  you can find this information all over the internet. I am not going to tell you about all the great accessories or the two stunning add on lenses because I don’t use them, for one reason and one reason alone they make it bigger for my street work. However the Fujifilm Tele Conversion Lens TCL-X100 and the WCL-X100 Wide Angle Conversion Lens are on my must have list for my Travel Photography.

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Fuji X100 Isle of Islay

I am just going to share with you a few of my images I have shot with the X100 versions over the last couple of years. Besides I have to be 100% honest with you and say the last ever camera review I read was on the very first X100 and it sold it down the river! Yes I was late to the X100 because the reviews were not great. Some people still pick this camera up and don’t understand it. But to really appreciate this little camera you need to be stuck on a desert island with it. You will be calling it Wilson by the end of your stay ( for those that watched Cast Away )

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X100 Ferry Isle of Mull

I made a big mistake a couple of years back and sold my X100 ! I don’t even know why I did it but I missed it so much. Sounds crazy, when I first got my X100 it drove me nuts at times with its quirks and every time I looked at the image on the back of the screen I was convinced I had not nailed the focus, but I had. Once I had the images open in Lightroom I was happy and excited and wanted to get back out and shoot. It has its quirks but they are very easy to live with but the benefits outweigh any quirks tenfold. This little camera is a carry anywhere camera that packs a massive punch with its stunning sensor.

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X100s Manchester     ISO 5000
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X100S Manchester  ISO 5000

I have a few friends now that own the X100 the X100s and the X100T to be honest I know a large amount of people that are buying the X100 and they are shooting Fashion,Landscape,Street,Long Exposre and so much more.

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X100 Applecross Bay
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X100 Isle of Islay

For me the X100T is the go anywhere shoot anything camera and even better the X100T is so good looking you never put it away. Mine sits on my desk waiting to go out and shoot. I have a black one and this is my preferred colour for street photography, it suites my candid style.

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X100T Liverpool  ISO6400
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Lets face it, with the X100T, you can have your cake and eat it…

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Fujifilm X-T1 First thoughts.

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This is not a technical write up, it is simply what I think and feel about the X-T1 and Fuji and the reason I purchased the X-T1 as soon as it was available.

Not long after I had brought the XE2 the X-T1 was announced, I was a little gutted but decided I would stick with the X-E2 and see how things went, having moved over from Nikon Pro gear to Fuji I was actually struggling with the XE2. The sensor is better than the XPro1 and the images were very nice, but the XE2 was just a little too small in my hands and the fact Fuji removed the View Mode button was very annoying. One of the most annoying problems was shooting nighttime at events with a bright viewfinder in my face. Of course I could have just taped the sensor up to keep the EVF lit and not the rear screen but just as I was working on a solution the X-T1 was announced.

The tasters and the reviews on the X-T1 convinced me to sell the  XE2.

I shoot street and events. I am shooting Portraits this year and I shoot landscapes for pleasure.

I gave up my Nikon Pro gear in the hope Fuji had the answer to carrying around 20-30 Kilos of gear the X100 got me hooked. The XPro1 is a dream for most situations but unfortunately not events. The viewfinder is a little small even with a +1 diopitor glass, the fps rate is also a little slow and so was the af speed. The write speed was far too slow for live music events. I know I am comparing this amazing camera to my D3s and the plan was to shoot in a different way, but if there was a chance Fuji had made a camera that was as good as a crop sensor DSLR I did not want to miss out.

I was reading the write ups on the net and listening to the guys that had X-T1’s on test from Fuji in my facebook group Fujiholics Anonynous and they were all comparing the X-T1 to full frame DSLRS used for shooting sport !  It was not getting compared to other mirrorless cameras it was getting compared to full frame DSLR’s.

 I picked up my X-T1 yesterday from Sarah at Cambrian Photography with the battery grip and the nice free leather case that I will never use! I hardly got to see my own camera as the staff in the shop all wanted to see and hold it, this was great news, if they were that interested it had to be special.

The little leather case BLT-XT1 and blanket (Camera Wrap By Fuji) were great, it was a free gift from Fuji for placing an early order, the case even opens at the bottom to allow access to the battery which is nice little touch, it does not allow access to the card slot now on the site but with a 32gig card I can’t see that as a problem. I also ordered the VG-XT1 Battery grip for shooting portrait and the extra battery capacity is great for long exposures. Some people might think it defeats the object of buying a small camera, but it’s nice to have the option of extra battery power on occasions, for me it will be great for events.

The X-T1 is stunning, yes that’s my first impression, the view finder is massive and bright, the rear tilting screen is a bonus. I have seen so many people putting the tilting screens to great use a events and out in the street I decided a tilting screen was a must have. I love my XPro1 and will not part with it. The rangefinder is not my classic go to street and landscape camera. The X-T1 is my event camera as well as my Portrait camera; of course I will use it for Landscapes as well as soon as I get myself the electronic cable release.

There has been a lot of talk on facebook about button placement, but no one likes change and everyone likes to compare !   So I will compare it to every crop sensor DSLR I have used, this little camera is a game changer. It’s better than any non pro DSLR body I have ever used and its kicking at the heels of the Pro bodies. As I remember my D3s cost me £3999 and its functions are very close behind the D3s for £2999 less ! The af is not as fast as the D3s the high ISO of the D3s can’t be matched by the X-T1 but even the D4 is struggling to do that!

The af speed is the best yet for Fuji and its great in daylight. I have not given it a test at an event yet but my D3s used to struggle to focus at night at events. The write speed on continues shooting is very very good and just firing off a few bursts last night I did not wait for the buffer once and could carry on shooting in bursts, now this is a big plus point for events. The X-T1 with the grip is light and it feels great in the hands, the menus are simple and you can assign most used functions to function buttons and the Q menu is very useful. I am not going to post any images just yet as there are plenty to look at on the internet, but I can tell you the Jpegs look the best yet, I shoot RAW and will be waiting for the lightroom update so will be shooting RAW+Jpeg for a while.

I used to shoot film and this camera reminds me of the Nikon FM2. It feels just great in my hands, I set it up last night and just fell in love with this little Fuji, I also love my Xpro1 so won’t be parting with it any time soon.

My first talk this year on my Year of Black and White was to a local camera club and after showing the guys my Fuji gear one asked if I worked for Fuji ! I guess the passion that Fuji are showing for their amazing cameras and lenses is showing in me. Fuji have changed the way I think about photography and made me more passionate about what I do. Fuji are not only passionate about the cameras but the Fuji staff are excited and passionate about the end users passion. They listen to the feedback on every camera, the staff are on facebook and other social media interacting with photographers, feeding back all the comments to  Fuji HQ, the guys at Fuji are pushing forward, they have a fantastic  lens road map for 2014/15 and some very exciting cameras in their future plans.

Fuji have changed the way I think about my craft and taken me back over 40 years and made me want to start all over again.They have given me my passion back by putting all the passion they have for photography and film in to these little cameras. At last a company that are doing things for the right reasons and not just mass producing cameras for profit.

I have been so impressed by what Fuji have managed to do this year and can’t wait to see what they bring out in the future..