Fuji X - flawed but irresistably addictive


As I've written before, for someone who has 'issues' with aspects of the Fuji X systems in terms of rendering images in certain software, video offer and battery life, I seem to have invested a fair amount of money in the system and I seem to take a lot of pictures using it. So what's the appeal?

I think it's very simple. The Fuji X system looks like cameras and lenses are 'supposed to.' It's often described as 'retro' or 'old-school' and that's as good as description as any, but somehow Fuji seem to have connected with an across the generations group of photographers who don't see modern camera and lens design as particularly inviting.

There is of course DSLR 'bloat' and the size of some of the top of the range Nikons and Canons is, quite frankly ridiculous. I realised something was up years ago when I got a couple of F5 film cameras sent to me as replacements for stolen gear and I burst out laughing. Because they were bigger than my medium format cameras. I immediately sold them and bought three Pentax MZ bodies and some lenses instead.

Those of us of the (mainly) mirrorless persuasion do, from time to time, engage in a bit of gentle mocking at the macho 'mines bigger than yours' attitude of many Nikon and Canon owners. And these days it is somewhat unnecessary, unless you have very specialised needs, to have to tote around some of these bulky, heavy and unwieldy DSLR outfits. It didn't used to be this way and it doesn't have to be that way now.

Fuji initially took their inspiration from the rangefinder cameras of the last century and consequently I coined the term, 'lookaleica'. But then copying such an illustrious and historic brand is no bad thing. And if you can make them affordable, so much the better. And so we have the X100 series. And yes the fixed 23mm lens distorts quite a bit, the optical framelines are about as accurate as Leica (i.e. not at all!) and they are hardly the fastest cameras out there. They are much beloved by "street photographers' even though most micro four thirds camera leave them for dead in terms of speed and ease of use. But hey, Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson used cameras that looked similar, so what's not to like?

So Fuji expanded this 'lookaleica' theme with the X-E1/2 and X-Pro 1 and then gave us the film SLR look of the X-T1. And there is no denying that, whatever their shortcomings and the fact that you can probably get better elsewhere for many (most) features, Fuji X look like 'real' cameras. And that's no small thing. Because if we like how our camera looks, it will inspire us to use it and hopefully take that inspiration further in terms of the images we attempt to create. And much as I admired what my Sony a6000 produced, I knew it was never going to last because it just looked so 'Sony' i.e characterless, plastic and dull, dull, dull!

Now some who aren't Fuji fanboys, may wonder what all this fuss about aesthetics, an old school lens range and recreating the past in terms of design is all about. But those of us who are, know what we want. And we want to hold something that looks and feels like it could have made anytime in the last 70 or so years and looks and feels like it's something that all those pioneers of hand-held 'in the thick of it' photography, who revolutionised where a photographer could go and what they could take pictures of all those years ago, would use. And if we take inspiration from that (and I know I do) then what's a softish jpg. here and there matter?

It's obvious Fuji haven't connected with the camera marketplace in the way say Sony have, but they have their niche. That 'support' can tend to get somewhat 'robust' occasionally, but as someone who likes to point out some of the deficiencies of the Fuji X system from time to time, I find that these days it's my Sony's that are sitting on the shelf and my Fuji's that are accompanying me on my photographic adventures.

Of course people will try to make out that they have good, solid, sensible reasons for using Fuji gear, but lets stop pretending shall we? We just love the way they look. And no one is going to dissuade us from the opinion that Fuji gear looks like Leica gear from a distance and makes us better photographers. Of course it does, well known fact! And who cares if that is all total BS. It's our money, our choice, our life. If we want to go and pretend that we are some kind of committed photo journalist, changing the perceptions of people with our art, when we photograph our lunch, who's to say that that we shouldn't? 


I rest my case!!