You’ve heard me sing praise of my aging Ricoh GR. And it’s true: the GR is a fantastic little camera, and holds up pretty well for something that’s almost five years old. But gradually I’m spending more and more time shooting a Fuji X-T2 these days.
This is not going to be a review. This is going to be a chance for me to share some thoughts about how the Fuji is changing my photography, and changing how I look at photography.
The X-T2 will never replace the Ricoh GR. That’s a ludicrous thought. The big benefit to the GR is that it could fit into a pants pocket if I were willing to risk re-introducing dust to the sensor. This has happened before, and it’s a real pain to clean out, so I’d like to avoid having that happen again.
But the X-T2 can replace my DSLR. In this case, a Canon EOS 70D. The bare body is just a little bigger than my Ricoh GR. But it works with a lens family that is often compared to Leica glass. I mean, it’s really really good. Maybe not Leica good. But I’m happy.
What I wasn’t expecting is that this camera is fully replacing the need for film in my life. I was shooting less film since I took up the GR anyway. But at this point, with the X-T2, I’m feeling pretty safe saying I’m done with it. Shooting actual film no longer gives me any advantages like it once did. Everything I ever wanted from it is now offered by this camera and by modern digital workflows.
It’s taken me a little while to warm up to this camera. It was so different from everything I’d been used to before, but now we’re starting to really click. One of the reasons why is that I’m slowing down. At the same time, the X-T2 really speeds up the process of composing and exposing and image.
Composing is sped up by the sheer virtue of being mirrorless. I can see in my EVF exactly what my final image will look like, because I’m looking at a live view straight from the sensor.
Exposure is sped up by the latest firmware release. With highlight blinking turned on, I can quickly eyeball a composition and see if I’m blowing out my highlights anywhere. The image above of my wife drinking a bottle of tea being a great example. The meter indicated that the image was properly exposed even while my EVF was showing me large areas with blown out highlights. I sped up my shutter speed accordingly until I exposed well for highlights. What you see above is a straight out of camera jpeg.
And that’s something worth mentioning. I’m very much a RAW shooter. Fuji offers great, rich RAW files. But more and more I find myself being perfectly happy taking a JPEG straight out of camera and publishing it. I’ve got some presets that I’ve been building up and fine-tuning that give me a few key looks that I really like, in both color and black & white. The image above was taken with my Color Portrait preset. Want to try to recreate this preset with your own Fuji? Try this:
- DR: 400
- Film Simulation: PRO Neg. Std.
- Grain Effect: Off
- White Balance: Auto (I will manually change this often when I’m shooting, but default is AWB)
- Highlight: 0
- Shadow: 0
- Color: -2
- Sharpness: -3
- Noise Reduction: -1
Hey, speaking of noise reduction, I should mention low light performance. It’s kind of insane how clever this camera is at dealing with high ISO. I’ll write something up about that and create some image samples to go with it.
I’m taking fewer photos these days, but in part it’s because I’m slowing down. I think I’d learned some bad habits, some real spray and pray type shooting. Being able to see the final image has encouraged me to really take it all in and make adjustments before hitting the shutter release. Oh, and bonus: no more “chimping”.
What about for travel?
I would never dream of taking my Canon EOS 70D to Europe on holiday, but I didn’t hesitate to do just that with my Fuji system. I was just starting out, so I didn’t have much glass yet. I brought with me a Rokinon 12mm, Fuji 35mm F2, and Fuji 18-135mm. That last one won’t travel with me again. It’s not a bad lens, per se, but it’s the first and only Fuji lens that I’ve experienced so far that doesn’t wow me. The 35mm and the Rokinon 12mm are, on the other hand, nothing short of fantastic. I wouldn’t hesitate to travel with either one again. Bonus points to Fuji for offering not just a weather sealed body, but an array of really top notch weather sealed lenses. The 35mm F2 being one of them. I’ve since added the Fujinon XF23mmF2 R WR to my lineup and I think it may be stuck to my X-T2 more than anything else now. Coming from the Ricoh (18mm), the 23mm Fuji is only a little longer and offers a very natural feel. In fact, I’m really feeling now like I wish the Ricoh were also 23mm. Bear in mind, 23mm on these APS-C digital cameras is equivalent to about 35mm focal length on a full frame sensor.
Oh, one of the other things I love about the Fuji… or really any mirrorless removable-lens camera: vintage lenses. Fuji and other cameras like it make it super easy to mate vintage camera lenses to new cameras. I’ve got a bit of an old Rokkor lens collection, so it’s good to have them back in use.
What’s next for me?
- Sell off my Alien Bees. They are fantastic, and did a great job for me when I was shooting Canon. But the Godox system is where it’s at now for Fuji shooters, and I’m getting on board. The money from the Alien Bees will be reinvested into Godox gear.
- Pick up a Fuji X100F. I need a go-everywhere camera. The X100F is a little on the big side, but I’m determined to figure out how to make this work for me. It’s also got the 23mm focal length that I love, and the same sensor/processor as the X-T2 so it’ll be easier to have a continuity of aesthetic with all of my new work.
- I’d really like to get a hold of a Metabones Speed Booster for my Minolta lenses, and maybe another for M42 if the first one blows my mind.