This continues an earlier post where I recounted how well my Fuji X-T2 served me in my diverse photographic pursuits. Those being, landscape and street photography. Most recently, the X-T2 worked out quite well for me in Iceland where the environment there put its weather-sealing to the test…it passed with flying colors. But now we move on to the Continent, where my Fuji and I had to switch gears from wildness to artifice, from garden to city. As you may suspect, with this migration comes a ton of changes in the settings. To name a few: from low ISO to Auto, from stopping down to opening wide, and often, from auto focus to manual. Luckily these changes were not overlooked often, but they escaped my attention once, early in the first city, but it was minor and smooth sailing from there. And so let us turn our attention from the large volcanic island, to the polished and cultured cities of Europe.
The rest of the trip consisted of seven cities in France, Italy, and Switzerland. I know…so lucky! As mentioned here’s where I kicked into street mode. The primes came out, even the barely used 16mm, along with my sweet leather messenger camera bag, and some cigars. Locked and loaded! I think it worth mentioning a few aspects of my settings and how the Fuji X-T2 served me so well. There are several main kinds of street shooting that I do and when I’m in a thick crowd, shoulder to shoulder, the shutter has got to be blazing fast. This is because when people are so close, they cross the field of vision so quickly. So I had three Auto-ISO settings that I alternated between, all having a max ISO of 6400 and default ISO of 200:
Min shutter = 1/60th
Min shutter = 1/250th
Min shutter = 1/500th
Catch that? 6400 baby…now that’s cookin’! That coupled with an f/1.4 lens and you have some serious low light love going.
The City of Lights. Paris was good to us, and yet it was at a breakneck pace. Fortunately we had been before, so it was not so much about seeing sites, but rather enjoying people watching and eating around the Latin Quarter…and there was lots of both! About as much as one can squeeze in to two days.
Hi there my Fuji brethren! Oh, and visitors too. This article is, in a way, part two to an article I wrote a while back for Fuji Rumors. At the time I didn’t plan on a part two, a sort of “I told you so!” But then, that was before my wife got a hankerin’ for Iceland and Continental Europe, and we took a trip to four countries. I encourage you to read the earlier post, but the gist of it was the reason why I left my old system for Fuji, namely, I wanted one system to handle my diverse photographic interests. Specifically, I love landscape and also street photography, which are about as opposite as they come. My old beast of a Nikon did great for me in landscapes, but it was a monstrosity, aesthetically speaking, and did not inspire me while on the streets. And my Fuji X-E1 was great for the streets, but it was inadequate for wind, weather, and telephoto lenses. Thus, the Fuji X-T1 was the perfect match for this photographer with varied interests.
So then comes Europe. My wife loves travel, and with round trip tickets to Europe, including a week-long layover in Iceland, being priced unusually low, it was on like Donkey Kong! But I thought to myself that I may never make it back to this magical place and wanted a little more fire power, pixel-wise, than the X-T1 had. I actually considered picking up a used Nikon D800E, which is truly a landscape wonder if used well. But the thought of using that weighty, massive, ugly hunk of technological wonder on the dimly-lit, wet cobblestone streets of Lyon…I think not! Well, it was just about that time that the Fuji X-T2 was being shipped and so I pre-ordered one, I got it about a week and half before our departure, and tried adjusting to the few differences so I was ready to hit the ground running. Plus, my wife let me snag the 16mm f/1.4 for northern light images. But much to my dismay, the cloud cover was mercilessly overbearing most of the trip. But enough of that and on with the show! What follows is primarily a visual tale of my recent photographic journey and a further confirmation that, for me, Fuji is the bomb and can meet my needs in the wilderness and the city.
Just one quick note before proceeding: what about the gear I brought? I had rather severe luggage and carry-on concerns given the bargain airline that we flew, so I tried to be as conservative as possible for such a wide array of shooting. I won’t bore you with the less consequential odds and ends that I brought, so here’s the essence of the Fuji stuff:
I thought I’d set out to share my journey in digital photography with the good folks here at Fuji Rumors. Perhaps some of you have a similar experience and the story will resonate with you, but maybe not. I actually think that at this point I have a somewhat unique perspective on the worth of Fuji and gladly extol their virtues to the nations. Here we go…
I was raised on film. I’ve enjoyed shooting here and there since high school, but my interest really took off in college. I took a photo class, and as many of you may know, the joy of being in the darkroom can be superlative. Developing your own film, inspecting the frames on a lightbox, enlarging them creatively with the likes of dodging and burning, and finally the wonderful smell of fixing agents…incomparable memories! Especially when the picture comes to life in the chemical bath, it’s like magic! I was even privileged to have a darkroom at my house in an unused bathroom. These vivid experiences cause allegiances to be formed and so when digital came along, I was like, “Nah!”
Enter Fuji. When digital hit a reasonable price and the 4MP mark, I dove in and purchased a Fuji FinePix s5100. It got me through an amazing Europe trip to the Netherlands and France. Tons of images, easy functionality, super convenient, and absolutely terrible noise. At the time, though, excellence of image quality alluded my appetite, which was great since it dodged my budget too. The SLR-like bridge model was a perfect fit, and I was hooked on digital.
As my interest grew, especially in landscape photography, a DSLR was needed for image quality, and more megapixels would have been nice too in case I ever wanted to print…imagine that!? I decided on Nikon, and still love the ergonomics of Nikon over some other brands. I used a D80, D200, and then D300 for over 100,000 images (easily), from 2008 to early 2015. This was almost exclusively for landscape photography. Most of the landscape images at my website are from the D200 and D300. They were valiant and strong soldiers for me, but have now been mercilessly auctioned off in the halls of cyberspace. I’ll always have fond memories!
One may ask, “Well, why no more Nikon?” Glad you asked! The main reason is that my photographic interests started to diversify. In 2013 my family took a trip to Philly and Quebec with some dear friends. I knew it would be mostly urban photography, walking around the city with my crew. The idea of having my rather large D300, bouncing around my neck, my huge bag-a-bouncing, and scaring potential subjects away, was not pleasant. Plus, the fastest glass I had was a 50mm f/1.8 lens, which had a 75mm equivalent after the crop factor… no thanks.
Re-enter Fuji. I Googled “retro digital camera” and a thing of beauty was before my eyes. The X-E1 with a real leather half-case. Fugetaboutit! I had to have it, and my wife let me (did I just say that?!) So before leaving for the East Coast, I bought the X-E1, the 50mm f/1.4, and the 28mm f/2.0. Oh, and also some sundry manual focus Russian lenses that are so handsome in trying to emulate the look of Leica lenses. I ended up not using them too much (or was it not at all?), but you gotta admit, my X-E1 looks amazing! Who wouldn’t want to shoot with this in your hand?!
It was so fun! The camera inspired truly soulful and fun shooting, prompted interest from people around town (“Oh, you shoot film!?”), and was very discrete compared to a DSLR. I was blown away by Fuji’s regular updating of firmware, amazing lens quality, and ambitious lens roadmap. It felt like the place to be.
But when I got home from that trip and wanted to do some landscape shooting it was back to Nikon where I had kinda forgotten the feel of the camera. It came back soon, though, and all was fine…until. Until we went on a trip that had both city shooting opportunities and landscape. Alternating between two systems was getting to me. Plus, I was exceedingly unsatisfied when I’d use my Nikon 10-24mm on my Fuji with an adapter. Plus, it would be nice to buy gear, a battery at for example, that could serve both interests. Oh, if only Fuji had a camera that was fit for landscape shooting also!
Enter the X-T1. It was weather sealed, had a very sharp 10-24mm available, and had a form factor that was conducive to landscape and street shooting. I mentioned earlier that I felt like my satisfaction and usage of Fuji was a bit unique, and it’s in this: probably more than others, I use my Fuji for a wider swath of artistic imaging. Really, it has encapsulated the unifying theme of the artistic vision over at my website, WILDNESS & ARTifice. (and @medees on Instagram)
When I’m street shooting, I grab my stylish leather hip-bag, X-T1 body, 18mm, 23mm, and 35mm primes, batteries, and then rock ‘n roll. Fuji fits the part. At my site, which I hope you will frequent with great care (shameless plug!), over 95% of the urban street images are from my Fuji gear. Only a few are from my previous system.
But when the clouds light up a fiery red, all I do is grab my X-T1 body and batteries from my street kit, throw them into my clunky photo backpack with the, already-to-go, Fuji 10-24mm and 18-135mm lenses… boom, done! For what it’s worth I still have my Nikon 100-400mm and 90mm macro lenses with adapters. I can’t afford the changeover on those yet, but maybe someday. I’m very happy with the X-T1 as a landscape camera, with only one gripe in case the off chance that somebody from Fuji is watching: the exposure bracketing burst range is bunk! I’ve requested a firmware change (twice through the official Fuji site) that would enable a burst of 7 to 9 frames, but to no avail. Bummer, because it makes my job harder when the action is fast in the last moments of sunset, for example. I forgive you, Fuji.
And so there you have it. Started with Fuji, went off to another love, and back again. My wife inherited my handsome X-E1, and I have the more robust X-T1. Definitely a match made in heaven… me and my wife of course ;-)