Today I drove to my local Calumet store where I have an account. I walked out with a 14mm f/2.8 and a 23mm f/1.4 lens without paying. (No I didn't stick the place up, I will have to pay eventually!!) I then went out and shot some pictures with them. And the smile never left my face. And the warm fuzzy feeling never left me either.
Quite simply the best I've ever used, for stills and for video. This is lens based, which I prefer anyway having had some problems with IBIS systems in the past. Like anything else how successful these stabilisation systems work is largely dependent on personal practice. How much advantage you will get depends on your own personal stability and prevailing weather conditions. Consuming 10 cups of coffee and then attempting to take pictures at 1/8th. sec. in a gale may not prove entirely successful! And again, as with the rest of this piece, this is how it works for me. I find I shoot at lower shutter speeds for stills and produce rock steady hand-held video footage with my Fuji cameras as opposed to any of my other cameras. Now that may not be the same for others, but that's my experience.
So what don't I like?
Well despite having bought two of them I'm not mad about the X-Pro 1. To be more exact I don't see the point of the hybrid viewfinder and the framelines. Because they just don't work. Now it's not just Fuji, the framelines on Leica rangefinders don't work either. Now some might be happy with a rough approximation of what will be in the frame, because that's all the X-Pro 1 gives you, but I'm not. It's a shame because I love the body size and shape of the X-Pro 1.
Then there is the poor battery life. I have found it's better if I don't shoot jpgs. as well as raw and certainly manual focus lenses consume less power, but it is something that needs to be addressed. It's all very well carrying extra batteries, but without an accurate battery meter it's impossible to know when the camera will go dead on me.
And then there is the video. Now I think this is a real missed opportunity. The potential with this sensor is enormous, particularly for low light shooting. In actual fact it's not that bad. A few days ago my nephew and I did some test shooting and compared it with my Sony A7. We both preferred the look of the Fuji footage and certainly some clips shot at 60fps looked great when slow-mo'd in Premiere. But there are some issues. The footage flickers occasionally and there is some high ISO 'sizzling' in shadow areas. I know Fuji don't see this as a priority, but personally I think they are missing a trick here.
So there it is, my appreciation of my Fuji X cameras. The rangefinderesque lookaleica X-E2 and the small but perfectly formed 35mm film SLR clone the X-T1. It's become apparent over recent times that every time I've gone out with one or the other I've enjoyed the process of creating images more than with any of my other cameras. And it's partly the retro styling, but it has to be said that both are thoroughly modern cameras inside. It's mostly because of the intentions of the manufacturer though that I think is the real deciding factor. Fuji set out their stall with the X100 and have continued to pursue this path. The combination of old-school design and a new innovative sensor have proved irresistible for me. And though I shoot very little in low light, the ability to set higher ISO values and therefore have faster shutter speeds and 'sweeter' apertures with incredibly low noise is proving to be something I'm finding it hard to be without. The ability to use my 55-200mm zoom in this fashion is having beneficial results for my photography and it's pretty much my favourite lens at the moment.
I'm well aware that my Sony A7 / A7r files are sharper, but without the ability to shoot ultra-clean files at anything higher than ISO 200, it has it's limitations. And the same is true, only more so with my Panasonic cameras, which I'm very reluctant to use at anything other than ISO 125. And in terms of what I do and how I make a living, ultra-clean is preferable to ultra-sharp. Because that's what picture libraries like. And in truth, the files from my Fuji's are sharp enough and capable of upsizing to the sizes I like to make available for sale. There is in fact less difference than people imagine in real world situations and though I'm still trying to convince myself of the fact, the Fuji's are fine for what I do.
And slowly but surely, those operational and handling advantages are becoming what I think is most important. I still enjoy viewing what my A7r + 55mm lens can produce, even though the process of taking those pictures is not as pleasurable as using my X-T1 and X-E2. (I have to admit that A7r shutter noise is really starting to get to me. And yes, it does frighten the horses!!) I will also find it difficult to live without m4/3 as I've spent a lot of time with that system. But since getting the X-T1 every time I pick up the cheap feeling plastic body of the GH3 I wonder why I'm still keeping it. Yes the GX7 is somewhat better in that respect, but still someway short of my X-E2 in terms of a pleasurable experience using it.
So, some might think that some of these reasons are trivial and maybe they are, but it's my life, my job and my choice. I'm slowly letting my heart rule my head and I have to admit that since leaving Calumet with my two new Fuji lenses I have felt a distinct lifting of my spirits. And that's something I not going to argue against.
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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