X Series

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-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T1
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Fujifilm X-T10
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Fujifilm X-T10

Fujifilm X Series Battery Life

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I have been using the X Series now for over five years. I teach Street photography and shoot events with the cameras regularly and the biggest gripe I hear from most people is their batteries don’t last five minutes  ! I went out with one guy a few weeks back and he used six in the morning session of my Street Photography workshop.

I asked him what make the batteries were and found out three were Fuji and three were another brand. I then asked him when he charged them last and he could not answer !

I shoot every day with my XPro2 and most weeks with my X-T1 and I shoot events 10.00hrs-11.00 hours and only use one possibly two in a 7-8 hour day if I shoot up to 11 hours or more I might end up on my third. I do shoot with two bodies but this is per camera and at times one is enough for the Xpro2 and two for the X-T1.

I am not talking about the NP95 batteries they do not last as long, but with good battery managment I only used to use about three of those a day in about 8 hours of shooting.

I have spoken to quite a few Pros who shoot every day and have great battery management and quite a few amateurs who have poor battery management and the conclusion is most of the people that moan about battery life have poor battery management.   There are also the semi pros that came out as a mixture of good and bad but this was all down to battery management and battery choice ! So why do the pro’s get better battery life ? Mainly because they use the cameras more regularly and charge the batteries every time before they go out.

I am not going to give you all the technical mumbo jumbo or battery tests I am just going to share with you what batteries to buy what chargers as well as good battery management.

I am fully aware a Fuji NP-W126 is not as good as a Nikon D3s battery but it’s not as big and does not cost £150 so this is not about better heavier more expensive battery it’s about good battery management.

I have quite a few batteries most now are Fuji NP-W126 batteries these might be more expensive but in my experience they  do last longer between charges and the life is longer than most aftermarket versions. The best aftermarket version I have found are the eXpro and this is my prefered aftermarket purchase.

Good battery management is key to long life and also the right charger and the rule of thumb is Fujifilm Chargers for Fujifilm batteries and eXpro changers for eXpro batteries.

I have put eXpro batteries in Fuji chargers and they don’t last as long as when they are charged in their dedicated chargers, in fact they can last half as long they also appear to discharge more quickly, if not used quite soon after the charge.

So if you go down the route of an aftermarket battery get the eXpro battery and eXpro charger, I would get the double charger for around £12 great value for money. The eXpro batteries are around £9 with a two year warranty.

Good battery management is very easy but can become more and more complicated the more batteries you have to deal with. I use the ThinkTank battery storage pouch and put the batteries in terminals facing down and when I swap them out I leave the terminals facing up. But any good case that covers the terminals is great the worst way to carry the batteries is loose, as you just don’t know if they come into contact with metal objects in your bag and discharge.

If you have one battery it’s quite simple, you charge your battery pop it in your camera go out and shoot when it’s discharged you recharge it and off you go. Sounds simple but this is where it can go wrong. If you now leave that battery in your camera for a few days a week a month it will slowly discharge. So when you go out to shoot and you think it’s fully charged it’s not. Most people I ask who’s batteries run out very quickly on a workshop can’t remember when they charged them or say a few days ago, I then say when did you use your camera last and most say a week or so !

You need to charge the battery in your camera up before you go out and that is a refresh charge. If you pop it in the charger and it comes up charged straight away you are good to go if not you might only have to wait 10-20 min but its worth it.

Now what about a pouch of four or more !

After a gig I come home and charge the batteries with the terminals facing up straight away and then pop them back in the pouch.

Before every event I charge the lot or refresh charge the lot most of the time they don’t take long but if I have been away on holiday they take a little longer sometimes you just can’t remember when you last charged them. I also carry the pouch in my coat pocket in the winter to keep them warm to stop them from premature discharge never a good thing !

You would be surprised how long batteries get left in your camera without getting charged and you just sticking them in your bag or pockets. Not charging before use you are setting yourself  up for failure.

Fuji have given some tips on longer life in your camera and you can find that Battery life management.

There is a really good double charger by eXpro and it’s this one eXpro LCD

So don’t stay in the dark with battery poor management,charge before you go.

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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 (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.