It all started like a good idea at the time. I was a Nikon nut. I had so much Nikon gear that when it was time to go out shooting whether at home, on business or holiday, I didn’t know what to choose – So I took literally everything! Nikon D50, D200, Nikon1 V1, 4 maybe 5 lenses Oh and an old F65 with film – well you do, don’t you(?) just in case! It was getting ridiculous – The bag weighed a ton or so it felt like and I never knew what camera or lens to use (should I use the 35, the 50, the 18-135 or the 70-300mm) as I said it was ‘Totally ridiculous’…
Then I had a eureka moment… Watching TWIP one day with Frederick van Johnson, they were talking about this new Fuji camera the x100! It was a game changer they were saying. Then TWiT Photo talked about the same camera with guest Zack Arias – ‘The DSLR is dead’ he was saying. This cannot be I thought. Surely this camera with a fixed lens cannot replace the DSLR… At about this time Fuji released two new cameras; the X-Pro1 and and the X-E1 both interchangeable lens cameras. This sounded really interesting and they looked so retro! (Something which I have a week spot for)… Aperture ring, shutter speed dial all to hand and a thread to take your cable – on the shutter release, Wow!
So it had to be checked out. Well the Pro1 was out of budget and the E1 with the 18-55mm was just a joy to handle. Focussing? Well I didn’t see a problem! – Fast enough for me… and that was it simply… All the Nikon gear went on eBay, all sold within 5 days, delivered, confirmed payments and the order was placed for the Fuji X-E1 with the Fujinon XF18-55 (f2.8-4).
One Camera One Lens was born! That’s all I need. The X-E1 suited me to a tee and Zack was right the DSLR was dead! Photography came back to me. Gone were the indecisions on equipment issues, not only what to take, but what to use! I didn’t even have to worry about a bag – I left that at home. Plain sailing from now on… I can now concentrate on my photography, composition, timing and looking for the story… Absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t put the camera down; Everywhere I went it was with me. No not quite as pocketable as the X100 but even so, light enough to carry rather than a Lowepro bag with all that ‘just in case” gear. The images were fantastic – Fuji had really found something special.. They were film like when printed. The performance of the camera was ‘tidy’ – No it wasn’t a super fast focusing camera, but it was enough for me, especially for my interest in photography for Street and Architectural work.
Then Fuji went and did it! They had to I suppose… Not only were they thinking of looking after their existing customers with their Kaizan approach offering regular firmware updates for all their cameras, but yes they went out and introduced newer versions – The X100s! Then The X-E2, with the X-T1 and X-T10 following very soon after that. I was like a rabbit in headlights confused is not the word… Should I upgrade? I checked the specs The X-E2 looked possible but wait a minute that X100s looks pretty interesting; Oh and that X-T10 does everything that the larger X-T1 does.
You see what camera firms do to you! Always bringing out something new that confuses you, tempts you to spend your money. They’re faster, more filter options, its got wi-fi, its got a flip screen, it’s got… Well what hasn’t it got was more to the point? And yes I fell into the trap the value of the X-T10 body only was too good to be true – and so I bought one. About 3 months before I had bought another lens the beautiful XF 35mm f1.4! (no that’s never going to be sold or traded in). So take a laugh on me two camera two lenses! and now of course a camera bag… Oh dear – just like the old days I’m getting a lot of gear now. But there was one thing that began to bug me now. The X-E1 is a rangefinder style the X-T10 is well SLR like and the amount of times I was bashing my eye as I switched from right to left eye to view through the viewfinder was becoming a pain – to say the least! For some reason (habit I suppose) using the X-T10 I switched to my left, thus banging my eye on the thumb grip! I had made an impulse purchase and had got it wrong. By the way I’d like to add the X-T10 is/was a great little camera, but I had taught my self to work with my right eye using the X-E1 and it had to go…
I really like that X100s and the new X100T had just been released – You see Fuji did it again! The ‘T’ version was better still than the ‘S’. It was raved about, the pros couldn’t say enough about it and how good it was! Fixed lens 23mm retro-style rangefinder.. Oh dear decision time again! But wait a minute, I was thinking I’ve still got my X-E1 it takes superb images, shouldn’t I be looking to upgrade that one instead. No that’s too obvious and they’re are some great used ‘S” versions out there and that would be an ideal camera to take to parties or outings where I could just put in my pocket! The X-T10 was sold and I found an X100s on Amazon and bought it! Impulse purchase again I hear you saying, yes true but the X100s is a classic in the Fuji stable.
The X100s is an absolute joy to use. Just like the X-E1 everything to hand; no need to use menus to find the aperture or shutter speed. It is just great for street photography as it so inconspicuous and no I’m not a ‘sneaky’ street photographer. The X100s in my opinion allows me to use the camera on the street without looking, dare I use the term, threatening!
I was beginning to feel sorry for my X-E1 (silly really – cameras don’t have feelings do they?) but about this time I came across some work by Simon Weir. I’d known Simon for some time we used to meet when I was regularly involved with London Nikon users group. He, I found out had also bought into Fuji (although still using his Nikon’s as well) and with one of his older Fuji’s (as it happened an X-E1) he had had it converted to Infrared with a 720Nm filter fitted by ACS. Now this really ‘peeked’ my interest as I have been a long time fan of Sir Simon Marsden. Sadly no longer with us Sir Simon is well know for his use of infrared film for his fantastic photographs of relics, cemeteries, haunted castles and houses. So I had the X-E1 converted too, with the same filter a 720Nm. Oh I had it covered now! A pure mono camera (my X-E1) that gave me the chance to replicate some infrared styled images and my X100s for the street. In passing I added the converters WCL and TCL to the X100s kit. So that was that… All sorted… A complete set no need for any other cameras or lenses all my bases covered. <Fuji X-E1 (with Ir720Nm), xf35mm f/1.4 and xf18-55 f/2.8-4 lens plus my X100s and the 23mm fixed lens with the WCL and TCL converters>.
But, Fuji weren’t satisfied were they and I think maybe some users weren’t either, even though I was. Yes Fuji announced an improved X-Pro and X-T version. The X-Pro2 and the X-T2 came to market with yet still more improvements (more filters including an Acros simulation!) to the cameras with that little bit extra – MORE pixels! – 24 inactual fact. The X-E2s and X-T20 were to follow shortly. But here was a real conundrum being thrown to would be Fuji buyers – More pixels and what was more the new X100F was being heavily rumoured. When will it all stop, I was asking myself. Well I know the answer to that one – it wont! But the pixel count was beginning to bother me. I checked this out and many reviewers were making comments. The X-Pro2 and X-T2 had lost something! Was it the increased number of pixels? Could be! One said and then another and another followed up with the same comment in their reviews. Too many pixels.
So, now do I upgrade? Sell the… Wait a minute I can’t. The X-E1 is well not worthless but converted for infrared and there wont be many takers. The X100s? I could upgrade to the ‘F’ but again do I need that new version? Probably not… (for the Acros filter? I could make a good attempt in editing in Lightroom). So I came to the conclusion no need to upgrade, those two. But taking a look on various You Tube and blogs all these guys were talking about the X-Pro1 and what great value they are… This made me think… I’d always liked the Pro1 16mp against 24mp… Mmmm and some guys are saying the 16mp is the better version.. Focusing issues again the Pro1 is not as fast as the Pro2, ( I now Ive tested that), but on the street have you heard of zone focusing! How much are the Pro1’s? Refurbished through Fuji UK £300!!! That’s a steal. I have some spare cash still from some other sold gear and I placed the order. Fuji Gear Complete! Except where am I? Back where I was before with the Nikon gear, less a few lenses..
Well time went by and I still have the decisions to make when going out what camera to take out and that beautiful compact perfect X100s, was staying at home more and more. My go to camera for the street walkabouts was the X-Pro1! My X100s? It had to go – I cant hang on to it for a ‘just in case’ moment. So, I went online to MPB.com and requested a quote for it. Two days later I got the quote back at a reasonable price, I don’t have to worry about watching eBay bids and delivery costs plus the awful commission rates. Deal done and I signed it off. What I get for the X100s goes toward the Epson P600 printer! No more, cameras and lenses, I can’t see the point to upgrade – well for now anyways! The printer? Well I’ve always enjoyed printing my work and there is nothing better than to have the physical print in your hand, not lost on your hard drive – somewhere!
The lesson I’ve learnt, as many photographers have done so as well, it truly isn’t the camera that improves your photography – it’s your eye and practice. More equipment doesn’t improve your photography either, it just improves your back and shoulder pain! Yes have equipment for specific jobs but not to the extent that you haven’t got a clue what to take out with you. Don’t buy the big bag for the ‘just in case’ moment – by the way that moment, it never arrives.
When I originally sold all my Nikon gear and bought onto Fuji, I was so delighted with the resulting images that I started a blog “One Camera One Lens“. That blog has gone a little quiet recently as I have ‘veered’ away from that ‘thesis’. Whilst I’m not back to that in terms of equipment I am at a point now that ‘I Know’ what I’m going to take out when I do go image hunting and what’s more – I leave my camera bag at home!
Until next time…