The continuing allure of the Fuji X system

I have written quite a bit recently about mirror-less camera models in particular about the Fuji X system and how I believe that this is the most balanced camera system out there (at the moment). Below are direct links to those articles:

The mirror-less camera manufacturers are innovating more than the DSLR companies at the moment and of these I think that Fujifilm are innovating the most. The mirror-less market is now I believe down to only 4 companies:

  • Olympus – Micro Four-thirds mount
  • Panasonic – Micro Four-thirds mount
  • Sony – Sony APS E-Mount and their new 35mm full-frame FE mount
  • Fujifilm – X system Mount

We have seen next to nothing from Canon and Nikon in recent months; I think that they have so much investment in their DSLR ranges they are not keen to cannibalise any possible DSLR sales. This is a shame and could end up as the wrong strategy. Pentax’s Q system is quite frankly a joke and the Samsung APS mirror-less system whilst quite capable has no real third-party support so I’m not sure if it’s worth anyone committing to this system either.

Sony A6000

Sony have recently announced the A6000, you can read my post about this here, although there is some great technology in the new model it has had some of its predecessor model’s technology removed which is worrying. By contrast Fujifilm’s new model (the X-T1) slots very nicely between the X-Pro1 and the X-E2 and leaves enough room for the X-Pro2 to have some even newer features. The Sony doesn’t have much apart from the missing features and possibly a newer (higher than 24MP resolution?) sensor to add to the NEX7’s replacement (A7000?).

Why is this post called “The continuing Allure of the X-System”?
This is the promised follow-up post about Fuji.

My journey into and out of the mirror less camera models and systems has been well documented on my blog over the past few years. There is only one other blogger I am aware of who is a bit like me and trying to find the best balance (or is compromise a better word?) between image quality and light weight with the correct camera interface that doesn’t get in the way of the pictures. His name is David Taylor-Hughes and you can read his blog “SoundImagePlus” here; I visit his site almost daily and it is always a good read.

So after struggling with the weight of the Canon DLSR and its lenses it’s happened again (maybe 3rd time is the charm), I have gone back to the Fuji X system. There I was content that the Canon DSLR was the right choice but I was only taking a few pictures (I suspect under 200 frames) and these were not were worth putting through Lightroom. I had (and still have) a real apathy for lugging heavy and bulky DSLR kit from place to place and to this the added cold air with all of the rain has stopped me venturing outside too. I suspect I feel the cold more now that I am 4 stone lighter 🙂 .

There was a lesson that I still hadn’t learnt yet, I won’t use a camera if it is a chore to take it with you. The EOS 70D whilst not as heavy as a 5D mkIII with grip or an EOS 1D-X is still not light and small enough. With the 400mm L lens attached it is a monster! I have noticed that I don’t want to take the camera with me anymore.
Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM
This fact really hit me whilst I was in the Silver Street branch of London Camera Exchange, I was trying out a second-hand 300mm f4 L lens that I was toying with the idea of purchasing; it was so heavy that after a few minutes of use my left arm started to ache. It was like a moment of total clarity, if it’s too heavy I won’t use it; the 400mm L lens was just as heavy with the same problem.

Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s a conspiracy or just maybe it’s just an excuse to change systems yet again – my first for 2014, that’s my first resolution broken already. Fuji has a lot of deals on at the moment that allow me to create a fairly comprehensive system. These are summarised in my “The allure of the Fuji X System” blog post. As predicted the free lens with an X-Pro1 promotion has been extended until the end of March.

So what did I get?

My first body was the Fuji X-Pro1 with the 18mm, as I wanted the 60mm f2.4 Macro lens too I chose this as my “free” lens” of the three on offer (27mm, 35mm and 60mm). I chose this as it costs more than the 35mm that I also wanted. Additionally I wanted to have the 35mm lens to use straight away and the (less useful) 60mm lens took a few weeks to arrive. I didn’t want the 27mm lens.

xpro1-front1

I also purchased the 14mm f2.8 lens and the 35mm f1.4 lens both of which have dropped in price by £30 recently, I also had a £50 voucher for the 14mm so that brought the cost down even further too. I used these two lenses in the £300 cash-back promotion.

ef-x20_2

I managed to get the EF-X20 flash for under £170 and I still have the cable release from last time I ventured into the X system.

I traded in my EOS System with the Silver Street LCE in Lincoln – no cash transferred it was a straight swap. The only issue was that I had to wait 2 weeks before I could send off for the cash-back and the 60mm Macro lens; this is part of the T&C’s by Fuji. I suppose this is to make sure that you don’t make use of the offer and then return the camera back to the shop. Unusually for me I hadn’t already changed my mind and switched systems by the time that the free lens arrived.

FUJINON_XF23mm_Lens_Black_Front_08dac592b9

I would like to add the 23mm f1.8 which I will get from Fuji’s Refurb store (you save over £200 and you get a free Fuji Protection Filter too). LCE also gave me a £30 off voucher for the 55-200 but warned me that Fuji are phasing out their vouchers and that the deadline for the voucher is therefore not too far away, I need to check what this is. Although I wasn’t impressed with the 55-200 last time, it is a good lens if used properly.

I went back to the store a week after getting my X-Pro1 as I was going to trade in my Sony RX-100 for a Fuji X20, the X20 is a fantastic camera and with its X-TRANS based sensor is a great replacement, you can read Richard’s impressions of this camera here. At £379 the X-20 isn’t the cheapest model out there but would only cost me £229 after trading in my RX-100. LCE (Silver Street Store) did say that I could consider the X-E1 as they were selling off their stock; the body only was £299. They also had two kits available, one with the XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 zoom lens and one with the XF 35mm f1.4 lens. I went away to think about it and after seeing that this was a good price for the body/body+lens I went back a few days later and purchased the X-E1 and 18-55mm OIS lens (I wanted the zoom lens more than the X-E1 and this costs £499 on its own). Fortunately for me by waiting a few days I got a better deal as the manager who I dealt with this time gave me an extra £30 for trade-in of my RX-100 against the Fuji X-E1+lens. As I bought the X-E1 kit I could also have Fuji’s XC 50-230mm f4.5-f6.7 lens for free. Although this XC lens is slower than the XF 55-200 and has no aperture ring; it is much lighter and optically still very good.

xe1-front

It is worth pointing out that I still have my Canon G10 camera which I still shoot with and although not as compact as the RX-100 still takes great pictures and has a fantastic battery life. This is worth very little second-hand so is not worth trading in. I still might get the X-20 though if I do I won’t get rid of the G10; the X-20 is simply newer so has many advantages over the Canon.

So why will the Fuji X-System and in particular the X-Pro1 work this time around? I have been a DSLR user for many years now in fact most of my photographic life; I have used many different models from different manufacturers (Nikon: D200, D300s, D3, D3s and D7000 Canon: EOSD30, 20D, 1DMkIV, 7D, 5D-III and EOS 70D Sony: SLT-A77 Panasonic: G1, GF1, GX1, GH3). Although they are all different with different way of doing things, they are used in the same way (if that makes sense?) – the possible slight exception is the A77 and the Lumix G’s. You get used to shooting in a specific way and after years of doing one way you get set in your ways and having to things differently takes you out of your comfort zone.

Although I do like to shoot nature, this requires a certain level of camera and lens, these combinations in the DSLR world even when using APS-C sized sensor based cameras are simply too heavy for me. Because of the weight and bulk they are left at home and the latest cold spell has also dampened my desire to go out shooting. The cost of photographic gear sitting at home unused is simply too high, it depreciates fast enough as it is and I don’t bear to think what I have spent on changing systems usually multiple times in a year – a serious case of GAS. I am not saying that the DSLR is rubbish – far from it, it is still the best system out there to take those kinds of pictures, although this may change in the future. Simply put unless I was to go on an African Safari tomorrow I wouldn’t go back to the DSLR, and even then I would rent what I needed.

So the way that the Fuji is used is different and if you try and use it in exactly the same way as a DSLR you will have problems. The fundamentals of exposure do not change but the way that they are selected does. You also need to “slow down” not because the camera is slow (it isn’t) but because you get better results that way, no spray and pray here!

The big difference is that I am aware of this now. I have performed a huge amount of research on-line using the many X-System based websites and blogs. Although I have visited the forums I have been careful not to take the users’ views as verbatim and I have steered clear of the more common forums too as they very quickly go off topic and have a tendency to go nasty and end up having personnel attacks – no thank you. That said the 100% Fuji only forum sites are really much better.

Fuji X-Pro OVF-2

There is also an excellent blog entry by a Photographer based in London (UK) called Vincent Opoku, where he has written an article about focusing with OVF (Optical ViewFinder) of the X-Pro1, you can read this here. I recommend that any X-Pro1 OVF users have a read of this, make sure that you have your X-Pro1 to hand as it makes more sense when you do.

I look forward to trying out something different in a difference manner using different tools; let’s see what happens?

Note: This post was originally written a few weeks ago and since then both free lenses have arrived and I also purchased an X-T1 too – this is a fantastic camera and there will be some posts about it once I have had chance to put it through its paces.

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