My first Fuji camera back in 2015 was the X-T10 which I bought at the time with the intention of using as a back up camera to my Nikon D800E. I was immediately impressed with what a pleasure it was to use and how good the image quality was. It also struck me that it was laudable of Fuji to give exactly the same sensor and image quality from their flagship cameras to a lower end model.
Tuscany is one of those iconic landscape locations I’d longed to photograph since I first saw pictures of it in the first photography books I ever bought. It was one of the first photography trips I ever made back in 2009 and I immediately fell in love with the area. It’s a beautiful rural landscape, all gentle rolling hills, vineyards and medieval hilltop towns, and so I was excited to be heading back there again this spring with two good friends and fantastic photographers Konstantinos Vasilakis and Kostas Petrakis. We’ll be running a workshop there next year, so our plan for this trip was to finalise all the practicalities and ensure that everything we needed was in place, but of course we also intended to do plenty of photography.
The Fujifilm GFX 50S really is a game changer for Fuji. A medium format mirrorless camera, it combines the company’s heritage of classic medium format film cameras like the G690, GS645 and G617 with their retro mirrorless digitalX Series. It’s a fascinating combination and makes sense for a company like Fuji to fuse their decades of experience of medium format film systems with their brilliant mirrorless digital cameras to create a large mirrorless medium camera system that targets users of professional full frame systems like the Nikon D810, the Canon 5DR and the Sony A7R2.
Back in February, Hugo and Mauricio from Fuji X Passion joined me for a day of street photography in Lisbon. The plan was to spend a day, from sunrise to sunset recording a film while exploring and photographing in this beautiful city.
I wanted the film to show what an amazing place Lisbon is with its atmospheric neighbourhoods, winding streets, steeps hills and views across the river, so I planned out a day where we would see as much as possible, starting with sunrise looking out across the rooftops towards the river, and finishing with a sunset, again above the river, but this time next to the beautiful modern architecture of MAAT.
First off, this isn’t really a review, it’s more an overview of how I feel about the camera after using it since it arrived in November. After 4 months I feel I’ve got to know the camera pretty well, but like my blogs about the X-T1 and X-T10 when I first switched to Fuji, this is in no way meant to be a technical review or a full look at every one of it’s features. There are plenty of those already on the internet, DPreview has probably the best in depth technical review of the camera and all it’s features. Instead I’ll focus on the improvements over the X-T2 that I’ve found particularly useful, and how the camera feels to use for landscape and travel photography.
A little background to start: It’s been about a year an a half since my switch from Nikon to Fuji, and over those 18 months I’ve been constantly impressed by pretty much everything about the Fuji X System and Fujifilms approach to their cameras and lenses.
Since I switched to Fuji last summer my passion for just going out and taking pictures again has been completely rekindled. When I first started photography around 10 years ago my first inspiration and images came from the coastline around where I lived.
It was photographing the local coastline that I learned about using a tripod, about long exposures, and about using filters. I loved the energy of the sea, and would head out to the beaches around Lisbon with my first dSLR and try to capture the water moving around rocks. It's a wonderful place for landscape photography, although some of the locations here can be a little challenging to get to. At Cabo da Roca, mainland Europe's most westerly point, a lighthouse sits atop 100 meter high cliffs that are constantly battered by the wind and waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
I got a great parcel in the post today! Fuji sent me an X-T2!
In the middle of last year when I made the switch from Nikon to Fuji, it was apparent that Fuji were on the edge of releasing their "second generation" of X Series cameras as the X100, X Pro1 and X-T1 had all been around a while. Earlier this year we got the X Pro 2, and playing with it at the launch I was blown away by the sensor, however I never expected Fuji to release the X-T2 so soon after the X Pro 2, and I certainly didn't expect them to pack it full of so many features that elevated it above the X Pro 2! Obviously it shares the same beautiful 24mp sensor, but it also has an improved AF system and shoots 4k video. Added to that it has so many tiny improvements over the X-T1, a camera I really love, that it already looks like the X-T2 might be my perfect camera.
Things like the dual SD card slots, the tilt screen which now tilts out in portrait mode, the lockable ISO dial and much better integrated video are all features which will really improve the camera for me, especially as I'm keen to start shooting a lot more video.
I'll put together a review over the coming weeks and months as I put the camera through it's paces.
I've been so busy with projects recently that I haven't been updating the blog...I haven't even finished editing the Azores photos. There's lots happening though, quite a few projects that will be coming to fruition throughout next year that need all the seeds planting now.
In the meantime though, I've just received my official Fujifilm calendar for 2016 from Fuji. It's a massive honour to see my image from Bali on there. They selected 6 landscape images from all their X Photographers for the A2 sized calendar and mine was chosen for November/December.
Lots more images and news coming soon.
This year Teresa and I decided that we'd like to see more of Portugal so instead of booking an exotic trip to someone far away we've gone on short trips to different parts of Portugal, from Porto in the winter to Alentejo in the spring. For the summer we decided to spend 10 days travelling around some of the islands of the Açores, a place neither of us had ever visited and didn't really know much about. The Açores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean midway between Europe and the USA.
The first part was planning which islands to visit. São Miguel is the obvious one, but it's also the most touristed and best known. I spent some time researching the islands and it quickly became apparent that Flores, one of the western most islands, was the one I wanted to photograph most, and next to that is the tiny island of Corvo which also looked stunning. I also wanted to photography Pico, Portugal's highest mountain, which can also be viewed from the neighboring islands of Faial and Sao Jorge. Both of these islands looked lovely, but as there are direct flights to Faial from Lisbon it made sense to spend some time there. So our final plan saw us flying to Faial, picking up a rental car and then catching a ferry for the 30 minute trip to Pico.
It’s been a little over a year since I switched to using the Fuji X System and one of the many things I still love is how small and lightweight the system is, and of course a small, light camera and lenses means that other equipment can also become smaller and lighter too.
Like many landscape photographers I’ve gone through my fair share of backpacks since I started, and one of the main criteria has always been that I want the bag to be as small as it can possibly be and still fit my needs. When I’m out on a landscape shoot my kit typically consists of an X-T1, the 10-24mm and 55-200mm lenses, a couple of spare batteries, three filters, a cable release and a tripod. Additionally I’ll have a bottle of water and some kind of outer shell for if the weather changes, along with a head torch, a fruit bar or two and wallet, keys and phone. When I’m travelling I tend to use a Lowepro Photosport 200, which I’ve reviewed on my blog, and while it’s a great bag it’s still larger than I need to carry the dayhike kit I outlined above. So, when I switched to Fuji I started to look for the smallest backpack I could find but pretty much anything smaller than the Photosport doesn’t have hip straps, which for me are vitally important as I like to get the weight off my shoulders as much as possible. Then it occurred to me, if I wanted a small bag where I could carry the weight on my hips, why not just look at waist packs? I’d always ruled them out before as they are not really effective for carrying a full frame dSLR kit, even if it’s only two lenses, but for the Fuji system it’s a different matter altogether, so I started to look at what was available.
When Portugal played France in the Euro 2016 final, win or lose, there was no way we could stay at home when half the city of Lisbon would be out cheering on their team. We walked through some of the main squares and thoroughfares of the city, as well as stopping off at a couple of bars and locals tascas to soak up the atmosphere with the tiny X-T10 and a couple of prime lenses. <!--more-->While the majority of people were congregated infront of the huge screen in Praça do Commercio, we ended up watching the extra time when Portugal scored the winner in a small square with an outdoor kiosk and lots of packed tables. By the end of the evening it was too dark to properly capture the action, and besides, by then I'd got so completely caught up in the game that I kind of forgot about taking any photos.
It's almost a year now since I ditched Nikon and started my relationship with Fujifilm and their fantastic X Series cameras. I haven't regretted the switch for a moment and have loved using the cameras since I first got them.
It's also been my most productive year photographically with plenty going on, one of which is hooking up with Hugo and Mauricio at Fuji X Passion magazine. They've invested so much time and energy in their website, as well as producing a couple of magazines; the FXP online magazine and this beautiful portfolio print magazine, which I was honoured to be featured and interviewed in. You can purchase it at their website, which is packed with useful articles and some great interviews.
Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto was voted the third most beautiful bookshop in the world and the beautifully elegant gothic staircase and carved ceilings make it easy to see why. It's also become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Porto, thanks in part to the story that JK Rowling conceived the idea for Harry Potter whilst passing time in the café there. It's a tiny place and is constantly full of people, indeed you actually have to queue to get in, which makes photographing it quite problematic.
I've just returned from 25 days in Indonesia, my first trip with Fuji cameras and my first trip without a large dSLR. We traveled the entire length of Java and Bali overland so it was important to me to have a camera that wouldn't feel heavy and cumbersome to carry around, but also one I could completely rely on to produce excellent image quality.
The experience of traveling with Fuji cameras has been a revelation! Not only in how much lighter, smaller and easier to carry around it all is, but how I've not once missed my old Nikon in terms of image quality or autofocus in any of the many situations I've encountered, from fast moving street scenes to dynamically lit landscapes. They've been brilliant, reliable and a consistent pleasure to use.
We were sad to leave Pemuteran. It had been a relaxing four days, but it was time to move on to our next location, Munduk, high in the central mountains of Bali. It's a tiny village surrounded by clove and coffee plantations with rice terraces cut into the side of the hills. The journey from Pemuteran took a little less than an hour and a half, and after we left the town of Seririt we seemed to be constantly rising in twisting roads. The landscape is so green and there is so much water. It's incredibly fertile land and so much grows here.
It's been about a month now since I picked up a Fuji X-T10, but due to a combination of being busy preparing for a month in Indonesia next week, and how cloudless and uninteresting the skies are in Portugal right now, I haven't had much chance to go out and shoot landscapes with the camera. It was important to me to try and get the chance though, as I really wanted to be familiar with what the camera can do before I go away.
If you read my last blog you'll know that I'd made my mind up to switch completely over from shooting Nikon to Fuji gear for a whole host of reasons that I wrote about there. Even so, my plan in getting the X-T10 (rather than the X-T1) was for it to replace my backup camera and to shoot with it alongside my Nikon while in Indonesia, before switching completely when I returned.
Over recent months I’ve read so many blog posts about photographers ditching their Nikon or Canon gear to switch to Fuji, and now here I am, writing my own as I undergo my own conversion.
There have already been so many “why I switched to Fuji” articles written (I know because I’ve read most of them) so I’m really not sure what I can add to what’s already out there on the web. But while reading these articles, I find myself always wondering if the writer's photographic style/process/needs/whatever are the same as mine, and so whether my experience with changing systems will be as effortless as theirs. I found myself thinking “but will I be able to do this or that like I can with my D800 with a Fuji” and occasionally, I wasn’t able to find an answer in existing blogs that completely satisfied me. I guess I was just looking for reassurance that I really could switch over from a full frame Nikon to a smaller lighter Fuji camera and have no regrets.