I have been a black and white Photographer for most of my life. From a very early age nearly 50 years ago I have been shooting black and white and I guess growing up watching a black and white TV, I learned from an early age to see the world in texture and tone, light and shade and also to work with light.
I did use Ektachrome for a while but not for long as I preferred black and white for story telling as I found colour to distracting.
When I moved from Film to Digital the sensors were so bad colour was a nightmare, sensor noise was so bad it made all images far to dark, so I guess I just gave up trying to work with Colour. On a fantastic day with great light it was easy but on a flat day with little or no light unless you had an expert knowledge of lighting it was almost impossible to get consistency.
I tried to shoot JPEG in the early days of Digital but gave up there was not enough latitude to get the full range of tones I required for my work. In fact it was not until around 2013 whilst doing my year of black and white project did I find a way to produce digital black and white images I was happy with.
I have never been a fan of sitting in front of a computer and editing. In the film days I would only print my best work so possibly one or two shots from a roll of film for personal work. So spending more time on digital editing drove me nuts. There is more to life than bing sat in doors.
There is a big wide world out there waiting to be photographed and I wanted to be out there in the fresh air and not stuck indoors. I had quite a lot of flack in the early days and was called a Photoshop Hater but that’s was so far from the truth. I use Lightroom because it was for me the fastest way from A-B. I am Dyslexic so Lightroom made more sense to me than Photoshop, so that what I used.
I was a RAW shooter and every time I tried to find a style or a way to shoot and process Colour images I gave up. It was just ridiculous the amount of time you had to spend in Lightroom or Photoshop to get consistency in your work when using colour.
Kevin Mullins decided once he started using the Fujifilm System to shoot JPEG and created his own style in this way. I did try it but gave up because it just did not work for my Black and White image style. I like my blacks to be black and my Whites White and all the other tones across the range. You could not get this from a JPEG because you had to spend more time undoing what the camera had done. I could process a Black and White image in a couple of minutes from RAW but it was five to ten minute from JPEG.
I can shoot black and white in any light and process very quickly in a very short amount of time and even though I have dabbled in Colour its never really appealed to me until now.
Why ? Well I have retired now so have no reason to have clients wanting all different colour profiles and I used to get fed up using colour charts and profiles to keep clients happy. Now I can explore colour and try and find a style that works for me and even better I have no deadlines so can just shoot colour on days when there is perfect light.
I cant explain in this blog what perfect light is because its probably subjective, but perfect light to me is light that produces an image I hardly have to edit. Its mainly golden hour light, or that magic light you get just after a rainstorm or thunderstorm or that crazy light you get just before a storm.
I used great light in my black and white images at times but most of my black and white work was shot on very overcast days, or in very high contrast light.
My new love for Colour stems from great light and has come about by using my iphone ! I have tried Nikon and Canon RAW’s and JPEGs and nothing works for me without extended processing times. The images out of an iPhone need very little if any processing. I have not picked up my Fujifilm cameras in probably 18 months and when I do if they cant produce JPEG images like the iphone I might have to have a rethink ! I very much expect I will find a way but for now I am just going to work with my iphone and explore colour from there.
Its amazing how having a Stroke and being restricted in a few ways has allowed be to develop some new ideas and ways of working. I am changing my views on the world and on the the photographic process. I want speed and constancy and I want something very portable, I also want a systems and process that are very simple.
One of the best times I had with a camera was when I was walking and climbing with Jane and just had a compact camera in my pocket and a phone to take the odd photo on a day out. Bags of cameras and lenses really don’t appeal to me anymore I just want simple.
I have never been obsessed with Sharpness or that unreal look you get with digital, I have always preferred that blemished film look so will be going backwards rather than forwards in the future that’s for sure.
There is no point in carrying lots of gear about just in the hope there might be some great light now and then ! David Noton used to spend weeks if not months waiting for the light and that was the clue to great colour photography, you just have to wait for the light. Taking images in shit light and then spending hours and hours in Photoshop is not for me when you can just go click with a phone on the right day. I know a phone shot will not be good enough for a decent print but once I have mastered waiting for the light I can then find a camera system that makes my life as easy as the iphone 11 ProMax who knows it might be one of the Fujifilm cameras I have, or it might be a simple compact camera I don’t own yet ! One thing is for sure it’s all about painting with light and always has been for me. I don’t need lots of great images a year just a couple will do me ! Taking one great image in great light once in 10 years would make me very happy.
Its amazing how quickly we can adapt to change if we have no other choice !
I have always used a camera of some form from a very early age of about 8 years old and trust me when I was 8, around 50 years ago cameras were quite basic, I used to love taking photos and it was always interesting to see what came back from the developers !
The digital age came and it was great to be able to see what you had taken on the rear screen and when mirrorless first came out it was great to see the image through the sensor as such. I embraced Mirrorless and and the Fujifilm system, I probably did this very quickly because I was very slow to move from Film to digital and once I realised the potential of Mirrorless I jumped ship from the huge Nikon Pro system to the Mirrorless system.
I then went one step to far and brought in to the Fujifilm GFX system, the system is great one of the best in the world but my work had changed and there is no way I needed all that resolution and did not need a camera system that was that heavy.
I sold my GFX system and re invested the money back in to my Fujifilm system and at that time the XT-3 was the way forward for most of my work. I also had the Xpro2 and the X100F for personal work and Street work.
One of my all time bug bares with the Fujifilm system as with any digital system was the few extra steps it takes to edit and then get your images online ! Sounds crazy right ! 50 years ago I would shoot then wait a week for the images to come back from the lab, now I cant be arsed to transfer my images to my laptop and then get them online.
The smartphone has always been ok but they have there downsides like resolution speed of focus and lens length. I did not think I would ever favour a phone to a camera but after using an iPhone 11 ProMax now for so long without any other camera its been an eye opener. I can shoot edit and upload to where ever I need in the matter of minutes.
The iPhone 11 ProMax has three lens options and although they are not as good as Fujifilm glass they are good enough, also I get fed up with a bag full of lenses and a camera around my neck.
When I started my projects after my Stroke I really did think I would miss the Fujis but I have not picked up a real camera for my own personal work in 18 months. I have done a few commercial shoots before I retired and went back to the Fujis but even found myself using my phone as well for the client ! He loved the fact he could get my work on Instagram as we finished the shoot so we were both happy.
Don’t get me wrong if you want to print large or need the images for commercial work outside the internet and social media then the smart phone would struggle but for most social media work its the perfect tool. I was even shooting my YouTube videos on my phone before I closed my account.
I made some notes in Autumn so that next year I could go back to some locations with my real cameras to get some decent Landscape shots ! But the crazy thing is the thought of dragging bags of gear and a tripod to a lake on a 5 mile walk don’t feel me with enthusiasm.
I really have adapted really quickly to just using my phone, I wonder every day if I should sell all my camera gear and just use my phone.
I don’t think I am at that stage yet and will keep it and see what use to get next year but I can see some changes on the horizon.
I would miss my long fast lenses for wildlife etc but I have not missed them for 18 months and if i see wildlife I just enjoy my time with it without a camera !
In the time I have spent not using a camera and just my Phone I have noticed Canon and Nikon have now started to move in to Mirrorless properly and have some great kit but have a long way to go before they catch up with Fujifilm and Sony. Its quite funny how you could be tempted to jump systems from one year to the next but its just a fools game. Its better to find a system stick to it and hone your craft.
I was tempted to Leica last year but to be honest a really good smart phone will do me for now.
Who knows what another 12 months will bring I guess we will have to wait and see.
I opened a new YouTube Chanel this week but have not posted any videos yet but once I do I will write a blog about it. I closed my old account for many reasons and was going to use Vimeo but changed my mind due to cost etc so will stick to YouTube and Instagram, I just need to decide what to do with the new Channel.
Have a great week cant believe its August already !
I don’t know where to start with this but after leaving a Facebook Group yesterday because the admin were demanding that every post had the camera settings I was left shocked !
They also wanted to know what Lee filter was used !
I did make a comment before I left but I think it was lost in Translation ! The guy was insisting it was not about the light !
I fully understand they most people that are learning to use there camera think they need to know other people’s camera settings and for some reason some Pro’s and some trainers encourage this, and so do lots of groups !
I remember when I was younger I even fell for this myself until I realised it’s all irrelevant!
We are convinced by other people the way to learn is to read up on camera settings so much so we get obsessed with Exiff data !
We then think if we had that camera and that lens that guy uses so we could take photos like him or her !
The brands have taken this to the next level and love all their Ambassadors to share this info.
The Photographer might as well share what they had for breakfast and how they were dressed for all the good it will do us.
If you were to take three photos with the exact same setup at three different times of day using a Photographers setting you would get three different sets of results.
We don’t know what the light was like at the time, what software was used, how it was processed or what effect the Photographer was going for.
When I used to teach Street Photography the most common question I ever got asked was “can you set my camera up for me ?” or “what are your camera settings for Street ?”
When I try and explain that’s not how it works I get the look ! I can hear the cogs ticking ! “He does not want to tell us his secrets !” “He does not want us to be better than him !”
When the truth is I Format my memory card before I go out and shoot in RAW and have my Cameras set on Manual if I am in a Studio and Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority out on the Street and probably Auto ISO ! If I am shooting Landscape it will be Manual with the lowest ISO probably.
Wherever we stand on this planet whatever country we are in, at any given time of day the light and conditions are different and also the effect we want in our camera also comes in to play.
We have to learn to Master the Exposure Triangle there and then and it’s only by going out day after day for years and years can we work out what works for us.
Yes of course you can use the Sunny 16 rule on a Sunny day but that just gets you a shot !
What if you want people with motion blur or want narrow depth of field or you even want to make people disappear from the scene ! What if you want movement in the clouds or silky water !
What if in a Studio you want High Key or Low key ?
Stop obsessing over bloody camera settings and get out and practice ! The more time you spend with a camera in your hand the more you learn.
Photography is about so much more than Exiff Data it’s about Light,Composition, Moment, Amazing Subject and Emotional impact. It’s about you the Photographer and what your vision is. Not what settings Linda Wisdom uses !
You won’t learn this stuff in a week or a month it’s a lifetime of learning !
If you are in a Facebook group that insists on Exiff Data leave the group, go outside and take some photos it will be the best thing you have done for your photography all week.
There is no shortcut trust me, get out with your camera every day or as much as you can and practice practise practise, learn by your mistakes and trial and error. That way you learn a lot faster.
You can read as many books as you want, do as many courses as you want they just give you inspiration. It’s down to you and you alone to teach yourself the Exposure Triangle and learn to speed up that process by daily practise.
Jane always says to me she does not want to learn photography because there is too much to remember ! So very true but with practice it becomes second nature. You can just dial it in and shoot. You don’t become an expert at anything if you sit on your arse and wait for it to come to you, hard work and commitment is the name of the game.
Searching YouTube for those bits of info on camera setting for hours and hours won’t make you a better photographer it just makes you a couch potato !
So get up go out and get practicing ..
I’m a bit late thinking about my 2019 project and I have not even finished my 2018 Project !
Not that I have to finish it on the 31st January this year as I have given myself and the group that are all doing the Home project extra time as we have to have the images ready for an Exhibition in Hull next October at the Hull International Photography Festival the first weekend in October 2019. My Home Project is The Plot and is all about Janes second home her Allotment.
I can just share one image with you from my Plot project and its the one below.
Part of my projects process it to work out what I would get the most out of that would also push me and take me in a new direction but because I have a few other project on the go I am probably going to be quite reserved next year, because I want to concentrate on YouTube in the first couple of months and i have a house to finish my time will be limited for a while.
I did however start thinking about my 2019 projects when I shot this image in Edinburgh a couple of months back ! It was pouring with rain and as I stood there with my X100F grabbing some frames of wet people running for the train I started to get a few ideas flooding in but most of them would be to much work.
I am already working on two projects that are long term and one is Where is Jane and the image below is from that very long term project and is all about finding Jane. She is on the Path to the left if you are struggling
A big part of my thought process for projects is taking photos and see if they would work as a body of work or how difficult the project would be to shoot and how long it would take ! I guess these thought go through my head all the time.
Ideas like the image above come and go and eventually just like when you smell freshly made coffee one such idea will excite me and it starts me on my new Project Journey.
Next year I am going to take you on that Journey with me on my Youtube Channel.
I still shoot film and in a way love film more every year. I have just picked up a Nikon F100 Film Camera for £150 second hand from Cambrian Photography combined with a 50mm 1.8G lens also second hand for £99. I now have the perfect fast action Street film camera. This camera is stunning its also in fantastic condition and cheap as chips, as I remember this camera was around £1200 new.
Everyone knows I only shoot Fuji Camera’s for Digital, but I shoot all different makes of film camera from Nikon Fm2, Olympus OM10, Fujica St750,Nikon F100, and quite a few others. I also love the old 120 roll film cameras without names that I find on my travels.
I just love to get out and shoot Street with film. I love the discipline of shooting 12, 24, 36 exposures and love the imperfections that can happen with the use of film. When I picked up my F100 from Cambrian I picked up a couple of rolls of out of date Ilford Xp2 Super, cheap to process in C41 and great for some nice grain. I could not wait to get out and shoot some Street.
I hardly ever show my film images, it’s a long story why, but to cut it short many years ago I lost all my printed images and negatives in a flat fire. Years and years of work all gone in a few hours. I lost a lot more than that in that fire, I lost a vinyl collection that included the first record I had ever brought and lots of other items of sentimental value.
I learnt a lot that day about possessions and it changed the way I see my photography and life to this day.
My love of photography is the act of going out and creating images and being out there on the streets teaching and connecting with people. The images that I have shot a week ago or a year ago don’t have much meaning to me unless I have an emotional connection with them so after a while if I lost the lot again I would not be as upset as I was the first time it happened. The images that do mean a lot to me however are backed up off site so they are always available !
The reason I don’t show my film images on social media or to anyone else is the simple fact I want them all to remain pure ! Sounds crazy, but I don’t want them to be judged by others or commented on. I want these images just for me. I am only showing these few today due to the fact this was the first roll of film I put through the F100 so it was just a test roll.
I love to go out and shoot film with a variety of cameras it makes me re think my work and also slows me down and makes me look. I get into a very fast Street rhythm and at times its to fast so changing cameras makes me see so much more. Every time I get used to shooting with one film body I will take a different one out, even though I know them all inside out just the change is refreshing.
I also find its so refreshing after a day out shooting film there is no rush to edit, you can go home sit down and have a nice cup of tea, you don’t have that urge to get the images off the memory card to see what you shot ! You have to wait.
I don’t develop or print my own any more, I leave that to Cambrian Photography and only take the film over to Cambrian when I visit for Workshops etc, this way its quite exciting to see what I have on the contact sheet when I get my film back.
I normally just get a contact sheet with the images scanned to disk and then from that point, if I like what I see I will progress to larger hi res scans or prints. Its not as expensive as some people think and this roll of 24 exposures film was £4 and it was £6.99 for developing and scanning.
I went out with my F100 and my X100T with Jim Moody the guy in the image above to have a wonder around Liverpool and shoot some Street. The images from my X100T were off the memory card and on to Facebook within and hour of getting home ! I even said to myself I am sure I shot more than that ! It was then I released I was shooting film as well.
I also changed rolls part way through the day, so I still have a few images I will forget about over the next few weeks. So it will be a nice surprise next time I take a trip to Cambrian.
If you have not shot film for a while or your have never used a film camera its worth the time and effort to get a second had camera and a roll of film and get out and have a go.
If you have a young family film is great for the children and it teaches them vital skills for the day they pick up a digital camera. I have a few friends that have introduced their kids to film and they are loving it, one lad has just gone of to UNI to study photography and has not shot digital yet ! I will never stop shooting film and the best bit of shooting film is the simple fact that when I am dead and gone all the images on my hard drive will be lost forever but the prints and negatives will be there for my boys and their family’s to look though and enjoy !
The colour images that follow are just a few that I managed to save from a snapped off roll of film from my FujicaSt750.
I just love the imperfection on this roll, it was also the first roll of colour film I put through this camera. There is something about the imperfections in photography that make me want to shoot Street more than any other subject, so combining my love of Street with my use of film just has to be done..
I have been trying to write a blog post on the Fuji X-T1 and the 10-24mm f/4 lens for quite a while now, but every time I sit down to write it, I just think about all the other blog posts out there that are so much better than mine! I am not a technical photographer my interest in photography is for business and pleasure. I don’t spend a great amount of time looking in the menus. I read the manual and then just pick up the camera and go out and use it. I then find out how it works on a daily basis by just using it. I only use the functions I need and forget the rest, therefore I am not the best person for a technical blog. Gordon Lang is probably your man for a technical insight into the Fuji cameras and the X-T1 he will give a balanced view.
I get asked all the time why I changed from Nikon to Fuji every time I do a talk or workshop, it’s my most asked question. So I am going to try and answer that question today. First my thoughts on the X-T1 and the 10-24mm f4.
I was so in love with the XPro1, I was not going to buy the X-T1, when the X-T1 was launched it had a tilting screen and I have always wanted a camera with a tilting screen. It has so many great uses for events and street photography. I then found out it would have a battery grip this was another great add on the XPro1 did not have and for my event work this was going to be a great help. The focus speed was also a lot quicker and the frame rate with a fast SD card was also going to help me at the events I am booked to cover for 2014.
So, to be honest, that is why I bought the X-T1 ! Now having the camera for a few months I know it was a great decision. I don’t use half of what the camera has to offer me as I have said, I am not that technical. I do love the fact all the functions I need I can get to from the outside of the camera very quickly and very easily. This was one of the reasons I changed to Fuji in the first place. I do also love the fact I can control the camera from my i Pad and i Phone. I love this app and it’s not just a button pressing app. I have full control of focus point, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, film simulation etc all from an App ! I hear this app will be further developed in the future, I do hope they add long exposure capabilities then it will be awesome!
I have used the X-T1 for street photography and its great. I do prefer the XPro1 most of the time and the XPro1 with the 35mm or 18mm lens is my default street camera. For something a bit different the X-T1 is great fun. The i phone app makes it very interesting for those candid shots! For events the X-T1 is my go to camera. Fuji do not make a fast event lens so I have had to adapt my style to suit the camera until the 50-140 f/2.8 is released later this year. I love the fact I can shoot all day without arm ache and I love the flexibility of the rear screen. I also love the fact I can put the camera anywhere on stage and just use the Wifi app to shoot away with full control. I can safely say I love the Fuji X-T1 for events. Yes, I could do with a fast long prime. My event lenses in the past with Nikon were the 70-200mm f2.8 VRII and the Sigma 300mm f/2.8, I do miss both those lenses but the Fuji 60mm and 55-200mm are both great, I find myself shooting with the 35mm most of the time with an adapted style !
The X-T1 is my D3s replacement and apart from the high ISO capability of the D3s and the battery life I have no real issues. There has been talk about the D Pad issue! I have great big fat sausage fingers and it’s not a problem for me! But I don’t spend a lot of time in the menus. I set up the camera and then go out and shoot, most of what I need when I am out and about in the way of camera functions, I can access from the camera.
I have been using the 10-24mm f/4 lens now for quite a while. It’s not a lightweight lens, it’s a great big chunk of glass and just the best great big chunk of glass I have had in my hands for ages ! I am a prime lover first and I also love a great zoom. In the past using Nikon for over 30 years, I have always been impressed by Nikon Primes but their Zooms have been hit and miss for me. One of my favorite wide zooms when I had a crop sensor Nikon was the 10-20mm Sigma lens, this was stunning , some people said it was soft but most of the people that thought that had a filter to protect the front element and this was the problem. Once the filter was removed the Sigma 10-20mm was awesome. When I changed to full frame Nikon I had to sell my Sigma 10-24mm and buy the Nikon 14-24mm, this lens was stunning but it had its faults. You could not use filters with it and it would flair like mad in the sun or with any direct light ! There are filter kits now available for the 14-24mm but very expensive. Well let me tell you this Fuji 10-24mm kills the Sigma 10-20mm and the Nikon 14-24mm stone dead, I am in love with this lens. I have just spent a couple of weeks in Scotland and the 10-24mm f/4 has not left my X-T1 ! Its sharp and it takes filters, what more could you ask for. There is more, it had IOS so it’s a very special lens. I am so impressed by the 10-24mm. I am very excited to see the 50-140mm f/2.8 and the 16-55mm f/2.8 due out later this year.
So why Fuji ? Well its natural progression in a way but a massive choice. I could have gone with Sony, Olympus or even stayed with Nikon or Canon. I was looking for an alternative camera to the great big pro body D3s I was carrying around for quite a while. I had tried the D7000, I had a D200 and a D300 but they were all too big and so were the lenses. I had been looking at the Mirrorless options for a while. The cameras were all good and getting great reviews but the lenses and future lenses were not that great. Then the X100 came out ! What can I say, no sensor cleaning and the lens was awesome. The camera was quirky and at first the reviews were not great. Most people said it’s just an X10 but the X10 had a Zoom. I bought an X10 from e bay and used it for a while then sold it. I did not process many of the images for a while. I kept looking at X100 reports and they were getting better and better. So I processed the X10 iamges and made a discovery, they were very nice and great in black and white. So I got a X100 from e bay with a few batteries and a few extras and that was it, I was hooked!
I hardly used my D3s for my private work and the X100 was my go to camera, it was quirky yes but it was great. Carry anywhere, sharp and no sensor cleaning, what an amazing piece of kit. I was so impressed with it but it could not help me with my work so after a chance trip to Cambrian Photography I purchased the XPro1 with a couple of lenses. I was due to go to Venice on a trip and this was going to be a big test. I left all my Nikon gear at home and just packed the Fuji Xpro1 and 18mm 35mm and 18-55mm. This was a journey of discovery, not only did I decide to sell all my pro Nikon gear I discovered the Fuji lenses were stunning ! The 18-55mm lens was one of the best Zoom lenses I have ever used. It was quite hard to decide what lens to use each day, but that’s the best bit, you can put them all in a bag and take the lot they just don’t weigh anything. I walked around Venice for miles and miles for a week and did not get back ache or shoulder ache, I was now addicted to Mirrorless.
On my return to the UK I decided to sell all my Nikon gear. I invested in Fuji glass and cameras. When I say invest I mean buy the best tools for the Job. So why Fuji over the others, it was not an easy choice, I wanted the best glass, I was always told to invest in glass as the bodies will need updating every year or so but the lenses will last 10-20years ! I had a look at what all the others had to offer and there was not much of a choice to be honest. Fuji had a lens road map that made sense. The lenses I had were very well made and looked solid and worth investing in.
Not only was Fuji investing time and money in lenses but Zeiss were making glass for Fuji. That opened my eyes to the future and I wanted to know more. After a few phone calls I found out that Fuji glass and Zeiss glass were so good people were not sure what was best.
I decided to invest in Fuji before the X-T1 came out. I have no doubt Fuji will bring out an XPro2 Next year and an X-T2 and who knows they might even surprise us with a Fuji XXL Medium Format in the future. There has been a lot of talk about full frame and quirky Fuji issues and the fact Fuji don’t have a menu to suit HDR shooters. Personally I don’t care, if I wanted to shoot HDR I would shoot it in manual and expose for the areas I wanted to blend and not have 9 shots when I only needed 3 ! I left full frame to move to this amazing Fuji sensor and don’t miss full frame one bit. I did not invest in Fuji for what they have now as such. I did invest in Fuji for the lenses they have now and the lenses on the road map. I do love the XPro1 and will never sell this camera as it’s my go to street camera. I have made the change because I love Fuji as a company. They are listening to the Pro’s and the consumers. They are making firmware updates for all their range and they are constantly making tweaks and changes based on consumer feedback. They might not add everything people want but that is a good thing. If they did we might have a camera the size of the D3s and I would be back to square one !
The rumor sites are busy in photoshop making new cameras for Fuji and coming out with all sorts of info. One thing I think is great is that there is a rumor site and page and so many Fuji related social media sites it hard to keep up ! I think that speaks volumes !
I love mirrorless and it’s a natural progression. Great big wooden plate camera and then 35mm film and 120mm film etc then the Digital DSLR and now the ever growing range of mirrorless bodies and lenses.
I am quite sure there will be a battle of the mirrorless cameras over the next few years but the X100 was a game changer. Let’s face it Nikon brought out the Df to try and make a Retro camera because of the X100 and XPro1. They were trying to make a Nikon Fm2, I still have a Fm2 and shoot with it to this day. The closest camera I have to the Fm2 in modern times is the X-T1.
We all have choice and I decided Fuji was the way forward for me. Do they have the perfect camera for me for everything I shoot ? No, but they have 90% of the lenses I need and by the end of this year I hope to have the other 10%. They do have the XPro1 my go to street camera, they do have the X-T1 my all round amazing Fm2 replacement and in the future they will bring out even more stunning lenses and camera bodies and that excites me.
It’s not the camera that takes the picture it’s the photographer. I have chosen a camera brand that excites me not just today but I am excited about the lens roadmap and the future bodies. I have been called a fanboy, it’s true in a way but after 30 plus years of Nikon I wanted a brand and camera that would inspire me to take photographs and not just inspire me but infuse me with passion. Fuji staff are passionate about their brand and passionate about the future of their lenses and cameras. I know for a fact some of the other brands are very jealous of Fuji and so they should be. I believe Fuji are shaking this industry up, they are making a camera for photographers to use and control, not just a camera that anyone can use. This statement might confuse some people, of course any one can pick up an XPro1 or any other Fuji and shoot with it, but by putting all the controls on the outside it gives the Photographer back control of the camera. Allowing the Photographer to control the camera and not the camera control the Photographer!
One life, Capture it !
I was going to wait for the XPro2 to arrive at some point next year, but just could not wait! I needed a back up camera for my XPro1 and when the XE2 came out, it just looked so good. I hear a rumor the XPro2 will be weather sealed, this is great news. I know everyone else would like a full frame model but this would impact on my investment in Fujinon lenses, so hope the XPro2 is still a crop sensor.
I decided to have a look around at some of the early images posted by Kevin Mullins and some of the other Fuji guys and decided I had to have one, so put my order in to Cambrian Photography in Wales, so a big thank you to Sarah, only a three day wait for a new camera was well worth it. If you live in the North West or North Wales I can recommend a trip to Cambrian Photography! The place is just full of great camera gear and they have a great coffee shop across the road and fish and chip shop close by! But be warned they have most of what you want on the shelf and in stock so take your credit card!!
I decided to give the XE2 a day out at Chester Zoo, a little strange you might think for a mirror less camera that is supposed to be slow! You could be right, but I am going to be shooting events in some low light situations in 2014 and need to see what this little camera can do. I opted to try the Fujinon 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 lens, the main reason for this was my preferred set up in 2013 was a 300mm 2.8 Sigma on a Nikon D3s so I wanted to see what I would be missing and how well the XE2 would cope !
I was not putting the XE2 up against the D3s just wanted to know how differently I will have to work next year, I did however get a good feel of the XE2 as compared to the XPro1 and now know how I will have to set myself up for my first event.
The XE2 has lost the View Mode button in to the menu’s this is the only annoying thing I found about the XE2 over the Xpro1. You can’t shoot and review the images on the rear screen using the EVF only! You can review the images in the EVF but the main reason I use the rear screen is to check focus, so this is very annoying, hopefully Fuji will fix this in a future update. One thing I do like is the fact you can now Zoom in to the image on the rear screen and the EVF to check focus and you can assign this to a function button, this is a welcome update.
I can tell you all that the focus is faster and the time lag on the shutter button is so much better than the Xpro1, I can’t compare it to the XE1 as I have not owned one.
I was shooing in the Zoo on an overcast cloudy day in very low fading light, so I set the XE2 to Auto ISO letting the camera sort out the ISO whilst I sorted out the Aperture and Shutter Speed.
I have got to say I was very impressed with the XE2 and the 55-200mm lens, it’s a strange combination, the lens is quite big for the body so it’s all out of balance but it does not take too long to get used to the set up, you can shoot with this set up all day without getting arm and shoulder ache, for me that’s a bonus. It’s not a D3s with a huge fast prime but in low light my D3s used to struggle to focus. The XE2 is not as fast as the D3s but its only fractions of a second off the focus and in some cases it might find focus when the Nikon cant, so that will be interesting at an event ! It’s a lot faster than the XPro1, so that’s a positive step in the right direction. The image stabilization on the 55-200mm is amazing! When I first put the lens on the XE2 with OIS turned off I thought I had made a big mistake and wasted my money on this lens, but when you turn on the OIS the lens is a different beast! I would say the OIS is stunning! I was shocked at how quiet and stable it made the lens, so much so that you can shoot at quite low shutter speeds and still have sharp images from this set up.
I have to say the light faded very quickly so the XE2 was put under a lot of pressure for its first time out of the box, I was not expecting a lot and due to the fact I set it up to EVF only, I did not have a chance to review my shots until I got home. When I did see the results I was happy! More than happy!
Last year in Applecross Scotland I had an Otter follow me along the shore line and only having my X100 with me I could not get the shot, I was annoyed with myself for not bringing my D3s out that day, but at the same time I was happy not to have to carry all that gear with me ! That day and my event work was the reason I decided to buy this 55-200mm lens, it’s not as good as a fast prime but I am quite sure that when Fuji do bring out some fast prime telephotos or zooms they will be very impressive.
I am not going to go in to the technical side of the Fuji XE2 or the XPro1, there are plenty of places for that on the web for that, but I will say I am so glad I sold all my Nikon Pro gear and went over to Fuji. Size and weight alone is a big reason, the Fuji crop sensors are stunning, I have used most of the Nikon crop sensor cameras and I can tell you they do not come close to the sensor in the Fuji X series! You can crop the hell out of the Fuji image and even at 100% crop have a great image. I don’t often, if at all crop my images, but for the people that do this is the sensor for cropping.
The day Fuji bring out a Full frame sensor if they do, I think they will cause quite a stir in the photography world, to be honest I am happy with the crop sensor and not sure I need to go back to full frame, I did say to myself that if I needed to go full frame after selling all my Nikon gear I would just hire it for the job, but so far I have just shot everything slightly differently.
I have some spare time next Friday to get back to Chester Zoo, so will give the XE2 a bit more of a test and try to get some movement for you, I always find the winter is a good time, as they Cats are a lot more active in the cold than lazing around in the summer sun.
The one surprise of the day was the tiger cub image at the top of this post, it was shot at 200mm (300mm 35mm EQ) ISO 6400 1/100 sec. f/4.8 I have got to say I was not expecting that !
I am defiantly looking forward to my next year’s project now using only a couple of Fuji cameras and can’t wait to what they can do at events.
I am getting lots and lots of e mails and questions about my switch from Nikon to Fuji!
To be honest it could have been Canon to Fuji, it’s a change that needed to be made and the main reason was size and weight, following my fall on Skye last year I have been getting fed up carrying 20-30 Kilos of camera gear around, and also I want to change the way I work, for my future projects.
It’s strange but if you go back through my blog, I have been having this dilemma for a long time, and way before all the big names in the industry made the switch! I just had to wait to finish a few projects before I could part with my D3s, and I wanted a camera system that has some great lenses! I was thinking Sony a while back but their lenses were just not up to it. When I got an X100 I was so stunned by the images and the lens Quality it was a no brainer!
So before I went to Venice I sold all my Nikon Pro gear! I have to be honest here and say the only parts of the system I will miss are the D3s and the Sigma 300mm 2.8! I sold everything DSLR related, tripods and filters etc So am now completely DSLR free and will never buy another.
I will just say this, I was Nikon for 40+ years but feel over the last four years Nikon have been all about profit and are forgetting the end user! The last 18 months they have just been clutching at straws and bringing out one camera after another! The D800 is fine but the image sensor is too big, the D4 is not that much of an improvement on the D3s and in some respects the D3s is better ! The best camera Nikon have at the moment is the D7100. It’s a shame people with the D3 and D700 and D300 were all looking for a great camera when there model was worn out. But it’s just not happening. In my honest opinion a second hand D200 is still a stunning camera and back in my blog the cheep early Nikon VR lenses are still stunning. I see Nikon are now going to follow Fuji and try and make a Nikon FM2 style retro copy ! Let me tell you the Nikon FM2 was an amazing film camera and came from the days Nikon were top of their game ! The image sensors in Nikon cameras are good but just go out for a day with a Fuji X series and think again! The X Series sensors are stunning and the dynamic range and lack of noise is also stunning. The rumor is Nikon are going to put a full frame sensor in this retro camera! Give me strength! Please Nikon get a grip, no one will be able to keep the sensor clean it will be a nightmare for any one that can’t clean their own sensor and they are going to keep the same lens mount! I think someone at Nikon needs to get there head out of the sand and look to the future!
I will just say that in the last 18 months I have never had so many faults with Nikon gear, and it was driving me mad having to send it back to Nikon for repair! It’s not great when a company forgets how it got to where it is, let’s hope they sort it out before it’s too late.
Nokia are going to shake things up over the next few months with their camera phones and tablets so the future of the consumer camera market is going to be a mess for a while, the phone companies have taken over that market!
Fuji has got it right in my opinion, using the X100 and the Xpro1 to me were like going back to my Nikon FM2. It slowed me down and made me think, and this I like. I also want to be ready for the future and the future is not in DSLR’s I can tell you that for a fact, Mirrorless are not quite there yet but they will be and I want to learn how to use them now and know them inside out.
I decided to get the Xpro1 and a few lenses, with the hope they bring out an Xpo2 next year so I can use the Xpro1 as a back up to the Xrpo2. I sold my X100 and do miss it, so I might buy an X100s but we shall see.
So what do I think so far! I am in love with Fuji; I have seen every one trying to jump on their bandwagon Olympus etc and good luck to them. But for me Fuji is where it is and I hope Fuji stick to their amazing customer focused business! When you buy a Fuji and you open the box you know you have just made the right decision, even the box is stunning! (Take note Nikon and Canon)
The X100 and the Xpro1 are quirky to use just like film cameras used to be and I love that, but some of the things you can do with a mirrorless rangefinder are just amazing. Filters work like a dream and the camera even has a built in Bulb Timer! How cool is that for long exposures! Talking of long exposures you can focus the Xpro1 in the dark using the scale in the monitor to set the focus and depth of field and its spot on. It’s not as fast AF wise as a DSLR but there is a trick in the menus to speed things up and if anyone wants to know how its done message me and I will send you details. There are so many great things about these little cameras I just don’t have time to write it all down for you, but I walked around Venice for 5 days 10 hours a day with a camera body and 6 lenses and a tripod and my shoulder did not ache once!
No one looks at you with the Fuji, so you can shoot where you like and no one bats an eyelid.
You can put a huge amount of Fuji gear in a flight bag and carry it all on and off a flight, so perfect for travel.
I will only miss my DSLR for Wildlife and high ISO and I might miss a few shots when I shoot gigs or events due to AF speed but I just don’t care to be honest.
I have a few ideas up my sleeve and a few projects for the next few years that will make me fit the system.
So that’s it for now, if you want to know more about the Xpro1 and lenses feel free to come find me on Facebook or any of my other social media links and have a chat.
I will write more on the camera and lenses when I get the chance so bare with me.