After recently having purchased the Fujifilm X-T1 people have been asking how this camera fits in to my current workflow and why I “suddenly” seem to have changed to the X system.
This wasn’t a wild overnight decision and my road towards the X system actually started a couple of years back and gained momentum last year. So before I’ll write my review of the X-T1 I wanted to give you a brief summary of how I slowly moved towards a Fujifilm X setup.
The road to X
Since 2008 I’ve always been happy shooting with my Canon gear. I shoot with two full frame 5D bodies (a mark III & mark II). I shoot primes only. I’ll always roll with at least these 3 lenses; the 35mm f1.4, the 50mm f1.2 and the 85mm f1.8 or 100mm f2.8 macro.
I specialize in wedding photography so a 70-200mm 2.8 is still my case to cover the ceremony and a 16-35mm for impressive venues or for some close&personal dance floor action.
On the action packed moments of a wedding day I’d carry both camera’s (with grips) and I cram everything else in my shootsac. Yet, for the last 2 years I’ve been shooting 80% of my work with the 5DIII & 50mm f1.2. One body, one lens. I just love that focal length that much. I didn’t bother carrying 2 bodies around my neck, the spare body barely got out of my bag, the 70-200 didn’t see any action.
As much as I lovethe 5DIII & 50mm combination … I started to consider that camera as … “work”.
Early in the year, a camera company that wasn’t really on my radar announced the X100. In love with the design and intrigued by the EVF/OV I preordered one. When I got my hands on her it was love at first sight.
To sum up my time with the X100. I really wanted it to work out between us, but it didn’t. After a short holiday romance with some bad arguments I sold the camera. While image quality was excellent I couldn’t get used to the handling and quirks.
Fuji launched their X-PRO1 but after seeing the steep price card and some of the same user complaints I was never tempted. (see I don’t suffer from GAS syndrome)
2 years after the indrocution of the original X100 Fuji announced the X100s . It seemed that Fuji had really listened to their users. Again I preordered. Everything I didn’t like about the original got fixed and was improved. It still took some practice to get used to it. The X100s still is a photographers camera and has a steeper learning curve than you average entry level dSLR featuring a donkey mode button.
Me and the X100s? We got along.
And while the X100S was intented for personal work rather than commissioned work I started using the X100s as a substitute for my 35mm 1.4. At receptions, I’d roam the room with that camera. Silent & inconspicuous (until people notice the strange camera and start a conversation). The main question I would get is “what is the difference?”. After 12 hours into the wedding day my answer would be …. the weight.
A couple of weeks after I got my X100s the shutter curtain got stuck and I had to send it back to the factory for repairs. A known issue and Fuji handled it swiftly. To fill the void, I started reading up on the XPROI, a major firmware update was just around the corner. How come so many pro photographers like Zack Arias, laRoque, Bert Stephani were able to make this system work. I knew I should probably wait for the X-PRO2 but I wanted to see for myself. So I got me an XPROI paired with my obvious first choice of lens: the XF35 1.4 (50mm equivalent) and a slightly wider XF18 (27mm) to push myself into trying something different. (35mm never was my favorite)
I figured I’d sell the body and keep the lenses for an X-PRO2 if I didn’t like it. But we never parted. The X-PRO1 was not as sluggish as I thought it would be and it fit so nicely into my hands, much better than the X100s. Even with the EVF and AF slower than the X100s I really started to love this camera and lens. And having some lens options made me start using this camera as a 2nd body.
Admittedly , it took me some time to really get the hang of the X system , I had to change my way of shooting (more about my settings in the next post). Over time I saw my keeper ratio drastically increased. It also got me thinking more about the picture I wanted to make, my ratio with the X system increased while shooting less.
I am now at a point that I feel confident enough shooting the X system on commissioned work, yet the 5DIII is still in my bag because for some things where I feel I can’t rely on the X-PRO1. I was already moving towards a complete X system but Fuji now released the X-T1 and I feel like that camera will be the last push over the edge.
I’m not a collector, so everything piece of gear that doesn’t see action gets booted. I sold all canon gear that I felt was redundant, including my spare body.
2014 will be a transition year. I still have a couple of specific canon lenses that haven’t been replaced yet (wide zoom & macro). Giving up the full frame look still has my scared but I just welcome the thought of having a full kit that fits inside a messenger bag.
I still haven’t answered my intro question. Why? Because the X system really matured. Because it’s much more compact and weighs significantly less. You don’t stand out from the crowd. (I now don’t mind that uncle bob is sporting a bigger L lens) The lenses are amazingly sharp and the image quality is up to par with the bigger guns out there.
But the most important reason for me is that I simply love holding & shooting these X camera’s and how they helped me rediscover my love for photography in a more pure form.
Note: All images were processed in Lightroom with VSCO presets as a starting point. In a lot of these pictures grain/noise was actually added to fine final image. (I’ll need to tweak my mogrify/export settings. Pictures look oversharpened.)