X-T1

Why Fuji ?

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !

Cambrian Show

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The Cambrian Photography Show, an annual event put on by Cambrian Photography Colwyn Bay North Wales was a big success all round. It was a very busy all day and the morning was like the first day of the Next Sales !

I was invited by Sarah Jones to talk about my Year of Black and White and also my use of Fuji cameras.

I was quite surprised that both my talks were sold out well before the event although Sarah managed to sneak a few more people in.

The event went very well with Tim Wallace giving up his time to give a two hour seminar at Oriel Colwin.

Whilst Tim is was being paid for appearing, in the time he has known Sarah, he has been so taken by Sarah’s passion for helping those in need, through The King’s Storehouse Food Bank, that he wanted to help in some way. Tim is also very keen to give back to the photography community, Sarah mentioned Lightbox the Young People’s Camera Group that Paul Sampson from Oriel Colwyn runs. This has led to Tim requesting that the price of entry be donated to both of these great organisations to help them do more and help more. I spoke to Tim after the event and he was very happy with how the whole day went and wants people to still donate if they can, and you can DONATE on this page for a while yet.

It’s no secret that I am a Fuji evangelist following my journey from Nikon to Fuji so most of the day was taken up with people wanting to know why I changed. Fuji had a great day at the show with amazing interest photographers from all fields, I know for a fact some of the other manufactures are even a little jealous of  Fuji and there amazing lens road map.

The part of my talk that people most mentioned afterwards was my passion for the Fuji brand, and this was echoed in people coming out of my talk and buying the cameras, there is a growing trend of people selling their DSLR for the amazing Fuji X-T1. I said in my talk that the Fuji XPro1 is like my Nikon Fm2, I used my Nikon Fm2 for over 11 years and it became my go to work horse camera, most of the time I just used it with the 50mm lens. Well now my go to street camera in the Fuji XPro1 and the 35mm lens lives on this amazing Fuji body.

The Fuji X-T1 is stunning, before I moved to Fuji I used to shoot with the Nikon D3s and all pro glass, now I shoot with the Fuji X-T1 and the amazing lenses! I have recently not been able to take the Fuji 10-24mm lens off my X-T1 and every one that has tried my lens has gone out and bought one! To say this lens is stunning is an understatement! One of my favorite Nikon lenses was the 14-24mm but this lens was let down by the fact it could not take filters without a stand-alone system and the fact it would flair as soon as you shot it outside.  The Fuji 10-24mm lens is by far the best wide Zoom I have ever used and it takes filters! It also has image stabilization! It’s as sharp as pins and is light and easy to carry around.

I am passionate about Fuji and the future lens road map is stunning, I can’t wait for the Fuji 50-140 f2.8mm Zoom and the Fuji 16-55 f2.8 Zoom if the 10-24mm is anything to go buy these will be world class stunning optics.

I am so passionate about Fuji that I started the Fujiholics social media groups where I try and spend some time when I am not out shooting or editing. Please feel free to come along and say hi, the groups are on Twiter, G+, Facebook and Instagram so keep your eyes open as we try to bring you information on Fuji events and product launches.

I would like to say that one of my main reasons to move over to Fuji is the passion of the Fuji team and the way the Fuji cameras allow me to control every function and not leave it to the camera. The cameras are stunning and have a great range of functions, but the fact I can control all the functions I need from the outside makes these cameras incredibly photographer friendly. I have slowly watched over the course as more and more Pro Photographers picking up and using the Fuji range. For me the XPro1 and the X100 were the game changers. But the X-T1 has taken this all to another level.

I would like to thank Sarah for inviting me to the show and Fuji for inspiring me to shoot every day of the week.

There are still a few places on my Liverpool Photo Walk so sign up quick before the weekend closing date.

One life, Capture it ..

The Journey so far !

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Photography! Wow its one hell of a journey. I picked up a camera as a young boy over 40 years ago and it was like magic, a simple metal box but when you opened the back whilst pressing the shutter button you could see the shutter move! When you changed the aperture, the hole changed size, what was that all about? The image above is one of my mothers; I remember this image and many others from the huge collection of black and white images that my parents had collated over the years. I had images of me from a baby and could see my life in images. I thought it was amazing and even more amazing the image came from that little bit of light flashing through that hole.

It was simple back then, I used to save up for a roll of black and white film but whilst I was saving I used to get the free Truprint films and practice with the colour cheap film!   By getting to know the people in the camera shops I would get film for free and every time I sent a film to Truprint I would get a free film back. I did not have a clue what I was doing but whatever it I was doing, I was getting lots of prints back and lots of negatives. It was not long before I could not cope with the wait for the black and white film to come back so I saved up and brought my first enlarger and a few trays and started developing and printing my own work. By this time I was shooting Ektachrome Transparency for colour and every type of black and white film I could get my hands on.   It was a passion with no bounds. I had a Dark Room and a Studio in my parents loft and the future was bright. As I left school I wanted to be a Photographer.

I struggled at school due to my Dyslexia but Art and Photography were a welcome release. I managed to get some jobs shooting freelance as well as a few weddings and some events but people had a habit of not paying.  This was quite difficult as once you had laid out for the film; processing and printing it all became very expensive. So a job was the only answer.

I carried on with my Photography but not with the same passion. I shot the odd wedding etc but then I lost nearly all my work in a house fire. I lost more than my images; I lost 90% of everything I owned.   I still have a few negatives but nothing from my early years of mass shooting.  Avery sad day, hours and hours of work all gone just as quickly as it was shot!

I slowed down after that and even though I still had a camera I hardly used it, generally just family and kids stuff with the occasional landscape and a sale here and there with a few images placed in image libraries.

I have always been able to shoot anything.  This was always my problem in photography as people want a Wedding Photographer or a Portrait Photographer.  I could shoot just about anything but I just wanted to shoot black and white and develop my own style.

I moved to Liverpool around eight years ago and gave my Nikon film camera to my son before I left Kent. The plan was to go digital and see how I felt about it. So I bought a Nikon D200 and hated the colour images. I then almost decided that digital was not the same and was just about to go back to film but found the black and white image files from the D200 were very nice. Hard to process to get the look I wanted but I stuck at it. The camera got a lot of use so I ended up getting a D300. Great little camera but the black and white files it created were not the same. I am not a technical photographer so can’t tell you why but they just were not the same, the tones were all wrong.

I was now struggling to process the files so just went out and got another D200. At the same time I was fighting with Photoshop to get the look I wanted in the time frame I needed. I had to find some software that worked for me and Lightroom was the answer. The early Lightroom was not great but it was easy to understand and the workflow was simple. I could process an image in 6 minutes in LR and the same process would take hours in PS so LR was the answer but I was still not getting my black and white images the way I wanted them.

But then I found Silver Efex Pro. This was a dream come true. I could now get the black and white digital files to look exactly how I wanted them to look.  They even printed better than the images I could create in a wet darkroom.  I was at last getting to the point I was nearly happy with my images.

Whilst getting to grips with processing my event work was picking up and my style was developing (pun intended) I was starting to enjoy photography again. I was now shooting with a pair of D3s bodies and using pro glass and looking for the sharpest and best image and everyone on social media was talking about sensors, cameras and the best lens etc and I got caught up in it all. I was confused.  I was happy with a film camera shooting when I was 15 but now it wasn’t the same. Everyone appeared to be obsessed with the technical side of photography and I was only interested in my style and how the image made me and the viewer feel.

It was at that point I found ‘Street Photography’ was a perfect complement to my event work. It’s taken me back to my roots as a boy with a camera that no one notices taking shots of people.  This was my first love, shooting people and telling a story. It was not about the technical side, burst rates, sensor size and functions it was all about the amount of light coming through that little hole and creating an image that made me feel happy.  The same feeling I get when I look at old black and white family photos.  My D3s was a weight around my shoulders and for many other reasons as explained in previous posts it was time for a change.

It’s no secret I fell in love with Fuji. I have spent my life looking to make my photography work for me again and Fuji combined with Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro made my style complete! I can now go out into the street with a camera I love and shoot all day. Have fun, have a laugh and make images I love. I never have to hear “look at the size of that camera” or “look at the size of that lens” again! With 20 kilos of Nikon kit it was hard work, even when I bought a Nikon D7000 and a 35mm lens to try and shoot street it was just not working. Once I got out there with the XPro1, it was like everything had all come together at once. The XPro1 with a 35mm lens is just about all you need for Street. I have the X-T1 and its great as well for Street but it’s a different style of Street.  I use the XPro1 on a strap under my coat to pull up and shoot and the X-T1 I keep in my hands ready to shoot, all the time making use of the tilting screen for some very special candid shots. So, I now have two amazing little cameras that are the closest match I have ever found to the metal box I used to have. Yes, the best camera I had ever owned was the Nikon Fm2 but that all changed with the XPro1 at first, and now the X-T1 is a modern day version of the Fm2.

I have never seen so many comparisons between Fuji cameras and the other Pro gear out there. To be fair, stacking the Fuji XPro1 up against the Nikon D3s was quite interesting considering the D3s was a 3.5k Camera body and the X-T1 is getting stacked up against the D4 and the 1DX ! These cameras are over 4k just for the body, amazing to put a little £900 camera up against top pro cameras to make comparisons! But the funny thing is the image quality is stunning from the Fuji bodies! The Fuji glass is also stunning, sharp and is also getting compared to glass twice or three times the price. Wow! Well done Fuji!

I am not a technical photographer and sometimes I cringe on social media when people spend half their lives talking about sensors, frame rates and circles of confusion etc

I just love photography. Getting out there in the open air and taking pictures, making exposures and having a go. Photography makes me happy and if you ask Jane that’s not an easy task! I think people need to take their cameras out into the open air and just use them, have fun, play about with the functions, learn to see and learn to have fun. Don’t get bogged down with all the technical information, it’s a camera and it’s designed to make images. So go out and enjoy it!

If you are not feeling the passion in the brand of camera you are using then change the brand! You never know you might fall in love again!

 

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Yes is me on the beach, I wish I was that age again !

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The image above is what its all about for me those moments when it all just comes together, shot at the Bluecoat Liverpool.

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..