Hi and welcome.
After writing about my experiences while on holiday I thought I would give a little run down on the equipment I used. This post will touch on a bit of how I work and a bit on the equipment used. My take, my look. It may not be a spec heavy, in-depth detailed review but it is my own, user experience. It gets a bit gushy at the end. All thoughts and comments are welcome.
I have never really had an issue of what camera to take with me anywhere I go. I have really only owned one camera or two at any one time. There was a point, about 4-5 years ago, where I had 3 different systems but early 2011 I sold everything and bought A Fuji X100. For me that is when my photography really changed. That camera helped me change how I think and shoot while being out on the street. It slowed me down, helped me see interesting light and assess scenes as a whole. It made me move around and work an area for its full potential and it helped me capture moments as they unfolded. I have been using the Fuji X systems ever since. So it was always going to be a no-brainer as to what system I took to Florida with me. It was a very minimal setup which consisted of two cameras (the most I have owned for the last 4-5 years), the Fuji X100T and Fuji X70 along with four batteries, two chargers and three lens filters. I had planned on taking a flash gun with me but… I forgot it. I know, I know, complete rookie mistake. New lesson learnt: Always make a list, always check that list, never forget a thing in the future.
For me, the two Fuji’s were perfect little work horses, able to do whatever I required them to do. For a while I had a small issue with the X70 jamming up when it couldn’t find a focus. An error message would appear telling me to restart the camera. Upon restarting, everything would be fine but it was a fairly persistent error. I did a little research on the matter and it turns out that my lens filter was the issue. Once I removed the lens filter the error stopped. I used the Fuji x100t during the day and the X70 during the evening/ night, shooting both from the hip and at eye level. I always go round-the-houses on shooting from the hip vs eye level. What is better? How should I work? Ethics? Is one better than the other? Well the conclusion I have come to is that I shouldn’t worry about either of them. Having been inspired by people like Martin Parr, Kevin Mullins, Vivian Maier, Henri Cartier-Bresson, etc, I realised that I should just shoot as the scene requires (Martin Parr and Kevin Mullins are also the reasons I have been photographing more colour images). Sometimes an unnoticed ‘hip-shot’ gets the photo I want and sometimes a more direct ‘eye-level’ approach is what is required. It is about getting the shot. It is a philosophy that I have carried forward into my street work back home.
While working on the street I like to set my ISO to the light conditions for the day then use the aperture and shutter controls to expose my photos in the manner I want. The holiday was no different. My resting settings in Florida were ISO400, 1/250sec and f/11. From there, if I need to adjust for a change in conditions, I know what to, and which way to, move. Usually first with aperture then second with shutter. Having a system that I can intuitively use, without having to think too much, makes working a lot easier and I feel that is what the Fuji offers. Great ergonomics with all the controls I need at my fingertips in a beautiful looking package. They are great looking cameras.
I have a tendency for shooting in JPEG and for the holiday I shot in colour using the Velvia/VIVID film simulation. That way I had the option of both colour and B&W. Not what I usually prefer to do as I usually like to shot using the Monochrome film simulation but, as I was photographing for more than just me, I thought that this would be the better set up. The Velvia film simulation really makes the colour pop right out the camera. Bright and bold with little after work to be done and the JPEG files hold a lot of detail, so I don’t feel the need to shoot RAW. As I said, I rarely feel the need to shoot RAW at the moment. I like cementing what I capture and JPEG does that. If I get it wrong then I get it wrong, I use the image and learn from it. Keeps my brain ticking.
Spending hours on our feet while we wandered around parks and streets plus carrying daily essentials I was glad to have such lightweight cameras with me. As I said before the Fuji X100T was my day camera. It was rarely out my hand, or off my neck but could be easily stored away when it came to riding the roller coasters. The perfectly pocketable Fuji X70 was the perfect night companion. It’s not like the X100T is a goliath of a machine but It’s certainly not going to fit into the back pocket of my skinny fitting jeans. It is one of the reasons I was attracted to the X70 in the first place. It is, for me, all the great things about the Fuji systems squeezed into a miniscule machine. The only thing I would like to have is the optical viewfinder for it as, although the LCD screen is useful in certain circumstances, I like looking through a viewfinder when I am composing at eye level. Using the LCD screen means I am not concentrating on the area as a whole and can sometimes miss what is going on but that’s really my only little bugbear with the camera.
Juice-wise, I went through two, sometimes three batteries a day, depending on how long we stayed out. That’s not bad considering I was taking an average of 357 photos a day (I did the maths…ish), was in no way considering any kind of power saving options and was on the go for around 12 hours each day (minus the few days we sat by the pool and did nothing). The camera was always on and never allowed to rest. I didn’t always have the opportunity to stop and compose so I needed to know that, if and when I saw something appear, I could snap it without hesitation and without any sort of lag from starting up. Couple that with chopping between the OVF and EVF and the odd chimp at lunch and I would say that is very good innings indeed.
The fixed focal length of these Fuji’s force you to think about your composition. Can’t zoom in, can’t zoom out, you simply have to move your feet to get the shot (there is a function on the X70 that crops to scale in-camera and although I have used it is not the same as having a lens at that focal length). Gets you thinking dynamically about a scene, I like feeling. Both glasses are sharp and fast with the X100T boasting a 23mm, 35mm equivalent, f2 lens and the X70 hosting a slightly wider 18.5mm, 21mm in 35mm equivalent terms, f 2.8 lens. You can buy attachments for both cameras to change the focal length of each, something I think I will try in the future but for the moment I am happy with the lens length I have. It’s all about getting in close, right?
I read a piece recently that contained a snippets from Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain, who had written to his nephew with some advice on taking pictures. He told his nephew many things like ‘seek adventure’ and ‘edit ruthlessly’ but what stood out for me the most was when I read what Sergio Larrain told his nephew what he thought the most important thing about taking pictures was. The most important thing, he said, “is to have a camera that you like…you have to be happy with what you are holding in your hands”. I feel that this statement sums up my experience with the Fuji X systems completely. A tool that I can utilise to tell the stories, I see, without it being invasive or even feel like I am using a tool at all. If that makes any sense? That is why I use them, that is why I like them and that is why I think that, for my experience, the Fuji X100T and the Fuji X70 are the perfect street, travel and companion camera’s.