The Fujifilm X Camera System: A Cure for what Ailed Me

October 10, 2015  •  1 Comment

Over the last forty years or so that I've been involved in photography I have photographed with a lot of various cameras including those by Mamiya, Bronica, Hasselblad, Nikon, Ricoh and Canon as well as a few other strange but wonderful devices such as the Holga and Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.  I found each system to have its positive and negative points and each of them can create wonderful photographs but it wasn't until I got my hands on a Fujifilm X-E1 back in December of 2012 did I realize what I had been missing for many years since the onslaught of digital cameras.

I had shot with the older Fuji S2 and S3 digital cameras a few years ago which was my first real foray into digital photography after having been a film shooter for almost thirty years but for whatever reason Fuji had gotten out of the digital business after they introduced the S5, which I think was nothing more than a rebranded Nikon system with a few Fuji design changes.

In 2012 I had been hearing about the new line of Fuji digital cameras so I decided to rent one from the guys at LensRentals in Memphis, Tennessee. I anxiously awaited the arrival of the X-E1 and the 35mm F1.4 lens so I could just see what all the hype was about. The camera arrived on a Friday afternoon and I would have all weekend to check it out and shoot a few things. Needless to say, it was the first time in a long time that I had seen images with that kind of color come straight from the camera.

What is it about the Fuji X system of cameras that has created such a large following?  Let me attempt to explain.

As I mentioned I've shot with all sorts of cameras during my photography career and for many years everything was totally film based. I loved shooting with film and have always felt that digital left something to be desired. It seems that digital did not have the dynamic range of film and as a result images with real bright highlights and darker shadows lost detail. And to make matters worse the images had to be post processed in an attempt to bring back some of what was missing but again there was the lack of dynamic range which means the detail wasn't there to bring back in most cases.

I have been heavily invested in the Canon system of cameras for over 30 years, beginning with the A1 and original EOS film cameras and continuing with the EOS digital cameras including my last Canon purchase, the 5D Mk II. I've shot with plenty of L series lenses, my first being an old 80-200 from the late 1980s. To make a change to anything other than Canon would involve some serious soul searching and an investment in a completely new system, one that I was willing to make.

It took me about three years to finally make the commitment to change to Fuji. The final straw was when I rented an X-T1 from LensRentals for a weekend back in November of 2014. As I traveled throughout the Mississippi Delta that weekend I found myself reaching for the X-T1 much more often than I did the 5d Mk II. I had to force myself to shoot with the Canon because I really wanted to see a valid comparison between the two systems. What I discovered would cure what ailed me.

I discovered....

  • Images with the Fuji had a different look about them. The color from the camera is some of the best I've ever seen.
  • The dynamic range of the X-Trans sensor is crazy good. I intentionally pushed it to its limits and it performed wonderfully.
  • The camera looks and feels like an old film camera. The controls make sense and the things you use the most are right in front of you.
  • The weight of the camera with the battery grip is considerably less than what I was shooting with.
  • The images were beautiful and didn't compare to those from the 5D Mk II, at least not in my opinion.

And finally, there is something else that you might not understand unless you use the Fuji system for a few days....

......the camera has soul.

It has a connection that I never felt with the Canon and has brought be back to a point that I enjoy going out and shooting again.

I sold most of my Canon gear.

I am slowly building my system as I figure out exactly which lenses, etc., that I need. So far I have the X-T1 with battery grip and the 14mm F2.8, 18-55mm F2.8-4 and 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 lenses. I have also adapted my old Zeiss/Contax 100mm F2 that I had converted for the Canon EOS system to work with the Fuji. I will be adding a couple of more lenses and another body within the next six months or so.

I rent an X-E2 occasionally so I won't have to change lenses as often. It has the same sensor as the X-T1 and has a nostalgic feel.

Below are a couple of images photographed with the X-E2 and the 14mm F2.8 lens. Yes, they have been post processed because I wanted to see how far I could push things with the RAW files from the camera.  As you can see the details and color really stand out.

old bovina railroad trestle crossing the big black river with painted confederate flagConfederate Rainbow at BovinaIn rural Warren County, Mississippi the Big Black River winds it way through the hills of the local countryside. It passes under the old arch bridge near Bovina, Mississippi as it makes it way through the lowland at sunset.

This particular day a rainbow filled the sky and mimicked the arch of the bridge after a rain storm had just passed through. As as happened many times before as evidenced by the high water marks on the arches of the bridge, the rain didn't cause the river to swell which has been known to flood.

A long time fixture of this railroad trestle is the confederate flag that is painted on the inside of one of the arches. The setting sun seems to highlight that particular area of the old trestle. I've often wondered what brave soul climbed up to that spot to paint the flag. Just like in the days of Noah, the rainbow seems to be saying that everything is going to be ok as the fading light of the afternoon is focused on the flag.
the road less traveled vicksburg big black river old highwayThe Road Less TraveledAn old section of US Highway 80 in Warren County, Mississippi crosses the mighty Big Black River on an old through truss iron bridge as it snakes it way across central Mississippi near Bovina.

This section of what was originally known as the "Dixie Overland Highway" in the days before highway numbering was put into place has been bypassed by Interstate 20 and is used now by only the locals and those seeking a more scenic route.

The setting sun is reflected in the clouds that are accentuated against a blue September sky. The rain had just passed and a rainbow was overhead, a common site in Mississippi close to sunset.

 


Comments

1.Anita Bower(non-registered)
Thank you for this post. The colors in the photos are indeed gorgeous.
I am looking at buying a mirrorless. The Fuji XT1 is very attractive, but it does not have image stabilization built into the body. I shoot lots of flower close--ups and macros which I would like to be able to do hand-held wide-open. I also shoot in the northwest which is often gloomy. Hence I want image stabilization or good high ISO capabilities. How would you rate the Fuji in high ISO?
Thanks!
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