Fuji X-E2 - Voigtlander 20mm - Fuji 55-200 - More beauty and the beast

On a day with a wind so bitingly cold that I could only leave the car for 10 minutes or so before my eyes started watering, I encountered some of the most incredible winter light I have ever worked in. There were brief bursts of sun between periods of heavy cloud and violent showers, classic landscape light.

WHEN - Afternoon, January. Sunny periods and blustery showers.
WHERE - Cotswolds and the valley of the River Avon, UK
WHAT - Fuji X-E2, Voigtlander 20mm AIS lens, Metabones Nikon G > Fuji X Speed Booster, Fuji 55-200mm zoom, processed in Photo Ninja and Photoshop CS6 software.

This time I did get out of the door with something other than a Sony camera. And I had my usual Beauty and the Beast, Yin and Yang scenario with a Fuji X camera.

The Beauty.

Sublime handling. The X-E2 is really a superb camera to use. It just feels so good in the hand. The 55-200mm zoom is no small lens, but it's pretty much my favourite lens to use when I'm out photographing. Somehow the combination of the beautifully crafted zoom ring and the solidly engineered barrel with the X-E2 body + PhotoMadd grip always brings a smile to my face when I use it. 

The Beast.

The unnecessarily complicated and long-winded process required to get the best out of the Fuji X files. Adobe Bridge > Photo Ninja > Photoshop. If I process my .RAF files in Photoshop only I get soft images which when sharpened have smeared detail and can look quite unpleasant. With the Photo Ninja raw processing option inserted, they look much better and like a very very good film scan with the grain virtually eliminated. A good result, but at least double the time it takes me to process anything else.

And even with this processing chore and the fact that my Sony A7 / A7r files look more impressive on my computer monitor, the Fuji X system still has a place in my heart. And will continue to do so, since I have cracked and bought an X-T1 + battery grip. And I make no excuses, make no apologies for changing my mind. My dealer with whom I placed a pre-order, then cancelled it, then placed it again emailed me to say they had the camera in, did I still want it? Having had such a positive experience with my X-E2 I was in no mood to refuse. And it is a situation where I'm happy to let my heart rule my head. 

The A7 an A7r are 'sensible' cameras. The files they produce are perfect for what I shoot, are the best I've ever seen in a camera I've owned in terms of image quality and are very 'commercial'. The Fuji's give me much more of a roller-coaster ride, but I just love using them. And I can, most of the time, put up with the awkward, time-consuming processing as it's worth it for the sheer joy of using the cameras and the wonderful film scan look of the final product. 

The X-T1 + grip will give me better battery life. Once again yesterday I had to change a Fuji X camera battery despite the screen indicating 2 bars on the meter one minute and suddenly starting flashing 'battery dead' at me the next. And of course it was just at the moment when a fleeting burst of sunlight lit up the scene before me perfectly. The people at Fuji who design these things should have felt their ears burning as I let out a tirade of abuse for having to wait another 10 minutes for a break in the clouds because of my missed shot. It's bad enough when the batteries in these cameras run out so quickly, it's even worse when the so-called battery power indicator is completely and totally useless. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS FUJI!!!!

I am looking forward to the Fuji X-T1 EVF. All the reports I've seen indicate that it's pretty spectacular. So all-in-all it should make a great handling experience even better. The X-M1 will of course be going now and that will leave me with two cameras for each of the formats that I use. I've worked out a complicated justification and piece of financial accounting trickery to justify keeping everything I've got at this moment in time and today's thinking is that nothing apart from the X-M1 is destined for ebay. That may change, but I've given up on planning anything longer than a few days in advance in terms of my gear. However I would say that things disappear a lot slower than they used to. Due I think to the fact that we are currently in a very productive period in terms of digital photography and the major manufacturers seem to have settled into what seem to their own particular specialisms. 

So my analysis of what I'm keeping (virtually everything) and what I'm selling (virtually nothing) has ended and now I'm completely sorted out for the foreseeable future. At least a week. And I'm happy to embrace this dithering, conflicted, mind-changing, instinctive, intuitive and knee-jerk relationship with my gear. I actually really enjoy it, but then you knew that already and I suspect you probably enjoy it as well. Because as I write ad-infinitum this is the least important part of the whole process. 

The coloured rectangles sitting at the top of this page are what count and what I've been able to produce this Winter in that department has pleased me enormously. Everything else, i.e. buying and selling gear, deciding whether one piece of plastic / metal machinery is better at some things than another is just entertaining messing about, and ultimately just and only that. It passes the time between the occasions when I can actually get out and create something and it livens up that process with the opportunity to try new things and not churn out the same old stuff with the same old tools. Don't get me wrong, I like cameras, lenses and the whole paraphernalia of the photographic process and like a musician and their instruments I believe it's important to 'bond' in some way with what I use, but ultimately they are what they are. A means of production.

Final N.B.

Yesterday I deleted a post on one of the Google+ communities I run because it had descended into cliched farce. When somebody posted some comments about having bought a Nikon outfit but didn't use it because of the weight and chose to use an iPhone instead, because (wait for it) 'The best camera you have is the one you have with you.' I snapped. I'm fed up to the back teeth of this ridiculous platitude that illustrates how some 'photographers' are more interested in gadgetry and their own personal comfort rather than creating meaningful images that they and others might want to look at. Be warned, my cliche / platitude antennae are very highly tuned and I will delete anything that repeats this and other kinds of rubbish. I state very clearly that I will delete anything offensive and since comments like that offend the hell out of me they are destined for the bin. Be warned!!

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N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.


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