My love for Fujifilm and why I abandoned the system…

My love for Fujifilm dates back in time. After the film era, when using Nikon FM3a, N80 and F100 with Fujifilm and Ilford 35mm films (I was never a big fan of Kodak film), my first experience with Digital cameras was with Nikon Coolpix. I was then switching back and forth between Canon and Nikon small point and shoots or bridge cameras, until I got my first Nikon Digital SLR in the beginning of 2009.

While using Nikon D5000 and D200, at that time I decided to get into Infrared photography and I purchased my first Fujifilm camera – Finepix S5200, converted to IR720nm.

As a natural progression, my eyes was caught by Fujifilm S5 Pro and Finepix IS Pro (without low pass filter, which opens a spectrum range from 380 to 1000nm). 2009-2010 was the time when Fuji discontinued S5 Pro and the IS Pro, so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the IS Pro, and decided that S5 Pro is just too “collectable” price-wise, comparing to the base model – Nikon D200 (which it actually is), and which I could buy cheaper, so I stuck with the D200.

 

Fujifilm announced their first X-camera (X100) at Photokina in September, 2010. An year later, Fujifilm announced X10 and X-S1, followed by X-Pro1 in January, 2012, and X-E1 in September, 2012. I happened to play with an early X100 at Heathrow Airport and I immediately fell in love with the camera. What impressed me the most was the hybrid viewfinder. I hadn’t seen such thing before. If it wasn’t overpriced at the Airport store I would buy it right away. Coming back home though, I decided not to buy the camera, thinking (at that time) that it is too expensive for a fixed lens camera.

Fujifilm released the X20 and X100S in January, 2013, and that year I purchased them both – for my wife and for me, plus the X-S1, which later I gave to my cousin. I so much loved the X100S and my wife loved the little X20.

With the years she replaced her X20 with X-M1, and I added X-T1 to my arsenal. And what a treasure was the X-T1. One of the cameras I enjoyed the most in my life. One by one I purchased many XF lenses – starting with 14mm f/2.8 and 27mm f/2.8, then upgrading to 16mm f/1.4, 23mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, 90mm f/2. All primes.

I was excited to see the release of 16-55mm f/2.8 and 50-140mm f/2.8, but boy, they were big. During all these years I managed to collect quite big arsenal of Nikon and Canon equipment, which I use professionally, so I didn’t really see the advantage of purchasing Fuji’s big zoom lenses. Once you put one on the camera and the size difference disappears, making it a nonsense to double my Canikon gear. Of course I could sell my Canikon’s and keep only Fujifilm, but no matter how beautiful X-T1 was, it still could not match a DSLR for professional work. I waited to see the X-T2

And finally – it came. But uh, oh… Together with some amazing updates, there were few things which stopped me to pre-order the camera. I rented it from Lensrentals – kudos for them to have the camera in such early stage, while it was on pre-order status in all camera stores. So I rented the camera for a week and let me share how my enthusiasm was replaced by the rationality.

I asked myself the questions: What makes me feel I want or need Fujifilm cameras and lenses? and

How I was going to use them?

The main reasons I wanted Fujifilm cameras were:

  1. I liked the experience – the look and feel, the style, the “retro buttons” for everything.
  2. I needed a smaller camera system for travel photography, and the size has been relatively smaller than a DSLR system, especially when equipped with prime lenses.

But here are some “problems” I faced through the years, using my Fujifilm gear:

  1. No matter how much I love primes – switching primes is a pain.
  2. Adding fast, pro zooms, was adding significant size and weight to the system.
  3. Shooting in RAW was also a pain. JPGs coming from Fujifilm’s cameras are wonderful, but if you want to have a bigger dynamic range, ability to adjust WB, etc. you definitely need to shoot in RAW. As we all know Lightroom is not the best option for converting Fuji RAW, so you either need to spend more time in doing adjustments, or use another software, which increases the time, spent on each image, makes the workflow slower, and you need to spend more money for additional software.
  4. Video, coming from Fujifilm cameras wasn’t quite good, nor the lenses have instant manual override for MF.
  5. I have never been a big fan of Fuji colors for landscape, especially these coming from X-T1. Yes, I loved the skin tones, but for landscape, I personally found that Nikon and Canon produce more vibrant and live colors.
  6. I bought X-T1 for travel photography, but I found that I was using it only for casual “touristic” shoots while visiting different cities or places. For any serious, planned photography trips (like the one to the Canadian Rockies in the winter) I was still counting on my Nikon D810 with it’s extraordinary image quality, dynamic range, and durability.

x-t1

Then, here comes the question: Why do I really need the X-T1?

It is an expensive system (considering the lenses I mentioned above), and that I could (kind of) use it only for casual street and some “non-important” landscape photography, because if the 16 mpx sensor and the somehow muted colors. For the first part – the street photography – I had the X100S, and for the second part I had my Nikon and Canon systems. Having X-T1 and all these primes was only making it harder for me – asking myself the question “Which lens and camera to take when I go out? Is it going to be sufficient for the task I’m taking it for? Do I need to sacrifice quality and speed vs. portability, etc. I know what you are going to say here: “The camera is not important, it is the photographer, the skills, the light, the composition…” And yes, all this is true. But all we have some personal preferences and expectations about the way our equipment should work.

My hope was in X-T2. I wanted to see if it’s going to cover all my needs, and become “the ultimate“ travel camera for me. And the answer is ALMOST YES. I said almost because with the time I extended my wish list of features, which now include good 4k video, fast phase detection AF for video, fully articulated screen, ability to shoot 4k timelapse, etc.

There are many things I liked, when I read the X-T2 specs:

  • New 24mpx sensor.
  • The colors from that sensor looked better than the ones from X-T1.
  • Joystick for changing the AF point
  • The number of the AF points
  • The speed and the accuracy of the new AF system
  • Recording of 4k video and having a flat profile.
  • Slightly better ergonomics – buttons, size, etc.

At the same the very few things I didn’t like became the deal-breaker for me:

  • Lack of fully articulated screen (tilting is not a good option for me)
  • Lack of a microphone jack on the body (it is located on the battery grip only)
  • Recording of 10 min 4k video (require a battery grip to extend to 29.99min).
  • Lack of IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) to use with my prime lenses
  • Flickering issue in 4k recording indoors (I’ll write a separate article about that).

Those were few things, but they were important for me. Looking back at the question above, I can say now that I would feel more comfortable to use X-T2 for Pro landscape work. But I wasn’t happy to use the camera for my video needs. First, I would definitely had to buy a vertical battery grip (which I don’t like to use because of the added size and weight). Second, I would miss the articulated screen. And third, I missed the IBIS, which you can now find on many m4/3 and APS-C cameras.

Of course, I could buy a separate system for video, but I decided that I will look for ONE system (besides my pro gear), which I would use for travel and video at the same time. And there is some good competition for X-T2 in the face of Sony A6500, Lumix GH5 and G85, and Olympus OMD EM-1 Mark II. Without going in details, all they have some strong advantages and some flaws, which is the reason I still haven’t made up my mind of which one to purchase.

I know there is no such thing as “the perfect all-in-one camera.” But it seems there is no perfect 2 cameras setup either. In the last 9-10 years I went all over – I have had gear from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, and Olympus. My goal now is to limit this to two mounts. So far Nikon is the one, and for the second one there is quite a competition – Fuji, Canon, Panasonic and Sony. Let’s see what next generation of cameras will have to offer. I am willing to wait a bit before I invest again in another camera system. So the future will tell… sooner or later.

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