Tag Archives: Fuji X-T1

A Weekend In Waynesville

Pumpkin Patch at the First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina
Pumpkin Patch at the First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina

This past weekend, Kathy & I made one of our periodic visits to Waynesville, North Carolina.  Waynesville is our favorite mountain town to visit for a weekend, because it is easy to get to, there is a nice little motel right in town that we like to stay at, and there are a number of excellent hometown restaurants that we enjoy checking in at.

Random photographs while wandering around Waynesville, North Carolina
Random photographs while wandering around Waynesville, North Carolina
Vine covered bench in Waynesville, North Carolina
Vine covered bench in Waynesville, North Carolina
Dew-covered webs, Waynesville, North Carolina
Dew-covered webs, Waynesville, North Carolina

As it turned out, Saturday was supposed to be a craft fair, where they close Main Street for the day and fill it with vendors and craftspeople. Unfortunately this year’s show was a bit of a washout, although I understand the craft vendors did very well in spite of the rain, but the food vendors didn’t fare as well because no one wanted to eat standing in the rain.  Can’t blame them!

Abandoned chair on the sidewalk in Waynesville, North Carolina
Abandoned chair on the sidewalk in Waynesville, North Carolina
Random photographs while wandering around Waynesville, North Carolina
Random photographs while wandering around Waynesville, North Carolina

I did manage to take some photos around town, and on Sunday we drove to Asheville for the afternoon.  That will be the subject of another post, because I have a completely different set of photos.  So for now, here is a little taste of fall from Waynesville, North Carolina, courtesy of me!

Pictures of people taking pictures, Waynesville, North Carolina
Pictures of people taking pictures, Waynesville, North Carolina

Fuji XT1 Early Impressions

Ferry from Bayview to Aurora, North Carolina
Ferry from Bayview to Aurora, North Carolina

This may not be of interest to many people, but I’ve gotten several questions regarding my impressions of the Fuji XT1 and figured that summarizing my thoughts would be potentially interesting. I’ve rather enjoyed the process of choosing, buying, learning and setting up a new camera. It’s a lot like buying a new house or car, just on a much smaller scale. I’ve enjoyed the little bit of customizing that can be done to personalize the camera. There isn’t a lot you can do with a camera other than straps and covers, but that’s enough for me.

6 Frame Panorama without any fancy panorama stuff
6 Frame Panorama without any fancy panorama stuff

Lens choice

The first decision to be made was which lens to buy. When I decided to buy the camera I was figuring that it would be primarily my travel camera until I decided to part with my Canon gear. For travel my choice was between one of the two excellent “kit” lenses, either the 18-55 f2.8-4 or the 18-135 f3.5-5.6. I had rented them both when I was trying out the XT1 earlier in the year and liked them both. The 18-55 is small and compact, and the f2.8-4 aperture range lets in a lot of light. I opted for the 18-135 because of the range of focal length. I really like to have that much “reach” in a single lens, and the slower f3.5-5.6 aperture was less of a concern, because most of the “walking around” photography I do is at f5.6 or smaller in order to have plenty of depth of field.

I probably could have stopped there and would have had a lens to cover 90% of everything I shoot. But once I decided to make the XT1 my only camera, I wanted to be sure and have lenses to cover the other 10%. Once I knew how much I was going to get for the rest of my Canon gear, I realized that I would be able to buy a few more lenses. I was tempted to opt for the 16-55 f2.8 and the 50-140 f2.8 because they are the so-called “pro” lenses in the Fuji lineup. But they are nearly as large as the Canon lenses they would be replacing, the 16-55 lacks the amazing Fuji IS, I hardly ever shoot at f2.8 and with the 18-135 I pretty much already had that range covered. So for about same money as one of those two lenses, I opted for the 55-200 f3.5-4.8 and the 10-24 f4. The best part? My camera and three lenses fit neatly into a little shoulder bag that I can take anywhere. No more backpacks!

I did decide that I “needed” a prime lens to round out my kit and have ordered a 23MM f1.4. It arrives later this week.

Aurora Fossil Museum in Aurora, North Carolina
Aurora Fossil Museum in Aurora, North Carolina

Custom stuff

My one complaint when I first tried the XT1 with the 18-55 lens was that it was pretty small for my hands. The larger 18-135 helps with that a lot for the left hand, but there still isn’t a lot for the right hand to hold on to. To correct that problem I ordered the Fuji grip, opting for the larger version, and a thumb rest from Lensmate. The thumb rest doesn’t help as much as I thought it would while shooting, but it does give me a comfortable place to rest my thumb while I’m carrying the camera. And the grip is great! It provides a nice gripping surface for my right hand and doubles as a quick release plate to work on my RRS ballheads. The only downside of that grip is that it is not an L-bracket, and I use an L-bracket a lot for landscapes. I don’t much care for the RRS L-bracket and it is pretty pricey, so I have ordered one from Photomadd in the UK. It is currently enroute and I’ll report on that once I have it and have tried it out.

I went round and round about straps. I really like using a wrist strap, but there are times when a shoulder strap is a better option. So I was looking for a system with easily interchangeable straps. I considered a number of options and finally decided on the Peak Design system. It is a very nicely designed system with quick releases that you can actually work one-handed, and they sell a kit that has both a wrist strap and a shoulder strap, along with some extra quick releases so you can use it with more than one camera. It was a little tough to thread the quick releases through the little holes in the strap lugs, but I found that a piece of dental floss helped to thread the needle. I can carry whichever strap I’m not using in a pocket or fanny pack and change it out easily whenever I need to.

Oriental, North Carolina
Oriental, North Carolina
Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Other accessories

The camera comes with a little accessory flash, which is probably OK for occasional fill but is not something I would want to use for paying clients. So I bought Fuji’s EF42 flash but I haven’t used it yet. I’ll definitely get it out and work with it before something important comes along!

Batteries! The only downside I’ve come across so far is that the camera eats batteries. I bought two extra ones when I ordered the camera, and recently added two more for a total of five. Even with the EVF turned to auto and the back screen off, it still eats power like (choose your analogy), and I can get maybe 200 shots on one charge. There are times when I’m not sure 2-3 batteries will be enough, so better to have more than less. I thought about the battery grip, but it’s big and expensive. Plus I don’t think it would eliminate the need to carry extra batteries.

Belhaven, North Carolina
Belhaven, North Carolina

Files

The thing that most attracted me to the XT1 is the quality of the files. I can’t really put a technical finger on it, but I think a lot of it is due to the excellent quality of the lenses. The colors, the contrast and the sharpness are “just right” to me, and have a feel to them a lot like what I saw from my Mamiya 7 using Velvia slide film.

I’ve read a lot about how finicky Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw can be in processing the RAW files, especially sharpening and noise reduction. I’ve found this to be pretty much a non-issue. I have set up a couple of Develop module presets using Adobe’s version of the Fuji film styles with a few of my custom tweaks, and find the files to be excellent. I have been shooting RAW+JPEG in order to have the JPEG files as reference, and am about ready to switch over to RAW only. The good thing is that I could easily shoot in JPEG only and would have very usable files, perhaps with a bit less of the exposure latitude I can get with RAW files. I’ve never had much success with Black & White, and admittedly don’t have much experience with it, but I find that the Fuji B&W profiles are very appealing to my limited aesthetic. The camera’s dynamic range is very good, and I have had very few issues getting what I want out of a file. One thing I have not done yet is make prints, and it will be interesting to see how the Fuji files translate to paper. Soon, I hope!

Cloud formations over Washington, North Carolina
Cloud formations over Washington, North Carolina

Controls and Menus

I haven’t had a chance to do much customization, but in general I’ve found the controls to be well laid out and easy to use, and there are a lot of menus but the navigation is not too difficult. The Fuji allows for a lot of options for the functions of various controls. As far as exposure goes, at first I found myself shooting in Auto mode a lot and with Auto ISO, because I was interested in seeing what the camera will do. It works great for outdoor shooting, but indoors or in low light, I find that the camera is biased toward larger apertures before it cranks the ISO, and there are times when I need a smaller aperture. Even though it is a so-called “crop sensor” camera, the APS-C sensor still provides for pretty shallow DOF at larger apertures. I’m looking forward to seeing what the 23MM 1.4 can do!

Conclusion

So while I dipped my toe in the water early, I quickly decided to jump in head first! I have a lot more room in my closet, have several backpacks that I may or may not use, and have a really nice ThinkTank rolling bag that I may have to convert to regular luggage! 😉

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

Canon to Fuji – Making the Choice and Making the Transition

Afternoon cloud formation over Washington, North Carolina
Afternoon cloud formation over Washington, North Carolina

We all get attached to our equipment in one way or another, and the more we use our cameras and get familiar with them, the more attached we become. But over time our needs change, technology improves and we end up making a switch. Sometimes making that switch can be hard, sometimes it can be easy.

University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina
University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina

I tend to be a pretty loyal guy by most standards. Kathy & I will be celebrating our 35th anniversary later this year, although that probably says more about her willingness to put up with me than it says about me! I tend to drive cars much older than most of the people I know, and I wear clothes until they are hopelessly out of style. I used Canon digital SLRs from my first one in 2005, and my first digital camera was a Canon G5 point & shoot. Over the last 4 years I have owned 4 Canon bodies and a bunch of lenses.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

Full-sized and full-frame SLRs have become the standard for a lot of photographers. While there are and have been real and demonstrated advantages to larger sensors over the years, a lot of the so-called conventional wisdom has been as much marketing driven than anything. And that marketing was very effective, because the quality was very good, and because none of us wanted to be left behind. Over the years, the price tags of these big cameras and their accompanying lenses got bigger and bigger. The cameras themselves didn’t get bigger, but new lenses added to the collection and didn’t replace anything. Old bodies became backups or converted to infrared, and our camera bags and our closets kept getting more and more full.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

A lot of people have more camera equipment than I used to have, and some of them actually use it all! But once the gear I was using stopped fitting into a big Think Tank rolling bag, I knew it was time to make a change. The big bag was hard to get in and out of the car and took up a lot of space. Traveling by air with a lot of equipment is no treat, as it is physically a pain and can be challenging with all the security rules. I knew that the airlines were very unlikely to let me take my rolling bag onto a plane, so I got what I could into a backpack and carried it on.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

Our recent vacation to Colorado was probably the turning point for me. I had already been contemplating a move and had rented an Olympus OMD EM1 and a Fuji XT1, which I actually rented twice and was pretty sure I wanted to buy. The trip to Colorado proved to me that if I was going to continue to travel the way I want to, I was going to have to make a choice, and that choice was probably going to result in carrying less stuff. That combined with the fact that the next Canon camera was likely to render all of my ancient lenses obsolete, it made sense to start making the change now rather than waiting.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

My original plan was going to be to sell off just my surplus gear and replace it with the Fuji and a single lens. I would continue to use the Canon 5D Mark III as my primary camera and would have the XT1 as a backup, instead of the old 5D. Made sense and I was ready to roll. I had previously decided to just sell my stuff to B&H, because I didn’t want to mess with Ebay or Craigslist. I did offer my stuff to a few select friends that I thought might be interested, but getting no takers I filled out the online form with B&H, liked the prices they were offering and sent off a box of old gear to the B&H used department. About two weeks later I had a gift card worth enough to pay for the Fuji, a lens and some extra cards and batteries. Sweet!

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

Back to that loyalty thing again – I’ve never been fond of owning different types of cameras and always having to decide which one to take with me and which one to leave at home. My philosophy has tended toward buying a camera that best suited my needs and using it for everything. Why bother with a camera that isn’t my best camera? That way I never have to worry about it – I always have my best camera with me, so if there is a shot worth taking it is worth having the best camera for. Despite our best guesses, there is no way to know ahead of time what kind of photographs will present themselves and whether the camera I chose to take with me was suitable. If I only have one camera, I always have my best one with me!

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental
Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

So between processing the Colorado photos from my Canon cameras and waiting for the Fuji to arrive, I started looking back through the photos I had taken with the two rental Fujis. I was and am very impressed with the quality of files out of that camera. I think before the UPS package even arrived I had decided not to wait. I did wait, but decided that I was going to sell the rest of the Canon gear and buy as much Fuji stuff as I wanted. And as it turned out I sold off all my Canon gear, bought the XT1 and four lenses and still have a little money left over!

Belmont, North Carolina
Belmont, North Carolina

So there’s that story. I know the real questions are about how I feel about the XT1. But that will need to wait until my next post. Fear not, though. It is mostly written, so I just need to come up with a few more photos!

Downtown Washington, North Carolina
Downtown Washington, North Carolina

Farmer’s Market

Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina

Kathy & I paid a visit to the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market yesterday.  We don’t get there often enough, and every time we go I’m reminded of the availability of fresh foods from local and regional farms.  It’s also an interesting place to take photographs, although from a few of the pictures, a few of the people didn’t look too happy to see the front of my camera.  Maybe they were Nikon or Olympus fans. 😉

Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina

It probably wasn’t the best place to use a wide angle lens, but I hadn’t had much time to use the 10-24 and decided to use it there. All in all I think the photos came out pretty well.

Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, Charlotte, North Carolina

New Wallpaper – September-ish

Fishing boats at Hobo Seafood, Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Fishing boats at Hobo Seafood, Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I have this need to do a new wallpaper periodically.  Sometimes I post them, sometimes I keep them to myself.  This one looks like one to share.  Taken over Labor Day weekend in Swan Quarter, NC.  It’s a place I return to often, and there’s something about these boats that attracts me.  Sometime maybe I’ll need to talk one of the captains into a tour.  And maybe a fishing trip.

Old Friends, New Friends

Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Kathy & I spent an extended Labor Day weekend visiting eastern North Carolina, generally the towns of Belhaven and Washington, NC.  We’ve become friends with Andy & Karen Fisher who own Belhaven Water Street Bed & Breakfast in Belhaven, and we like to get out there a couple of times a year.  We checked our records when we got home and realized that we’ve been going to Belhaven and staying at this B&B since 2007.  And I like to joke that, even though we are friends with Andy & Karen they still charge us to stay there!  Of course I am completely joking – it is worth every penny, plus I think she does give us a discount.

Belhaven, North Carolina
Belhaven, North Carolina

Other friends James & Yvonne McKelvey operate Wine & Words…& Gourmet in Washington.  Just like it sounds, they operate a wine store with used books & music plus yummy food items.  We make the trek to Washington a few times a year because James specializes in good wine at good prices.  Our palates are very similar and we can count on his recommendations being spot-on.  It’s a long way to go for wine, but it’s just another excellent reason to head out that way.

Belhaven, North Carolina
Belhaven, North Carolina

Another reason I love to visit the Belhaven area is that I have a number of favorite photo spots.  I’m a firm believer in re-visiting places, and there are a number of places in the area that we visit every time we are there.  This time, I had some new equipment to try out, and what better place to try new equipment than a place I have come to know and love?

Downtown Washington, North Carolina
Downtown Washington, North Carolina
Downtown Washington, North Carolina
Downtown Washington, North Carolina

We usually spend at least part of a day walking around downtown Belhaven and Washington, and this year was no exception.  While much of the scenery doesn’t seem to change much, every so often I come across something new and interesting.  And sometimes just the change in light and shadow creates something I haven’t seen before.

But...Welcome!
But…Welcome!
Downtown Washington, North Carolina
Downtown Washington, North Carolina

Another place we like to visit is Swan Quarter.  While known to most people as the place to catch the ferry to Ocracoke, we’ve come to know it as a place with interesting fishing boats.  About the only time we visit the ferry terminal is to use the restroom, because there aren’t a lot of alternatives in that area!  Swan Quarter is home to Hobo Seafood, and a number of boats dock there.  There seems to be something new every time we visit.

Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Another place we enjoy returning to is Englehard.  It is home to several fish houses and has a fairly good size harbor with a lot of boats.  It is often a good spot in the late afternoon, but this time we were there closer to mid-day.  Fortunately it was a day with good clouds, so with good timing I was able to make some photos I am happy with.

Englehard, North Carolina
Englehard, North Carolina
Englehard, North Carolina
Englehard, North Carolina

Something new for us on this adventure was a visit to Aurora & Oriental, across the Pamlico River from Bath & Belhaven and accessible by road or ferry.  We took the 30-minute ferry ride over and back.  It is a fun way to travel and a nice break from driving.  Plus the ferry itself always has a few photo ops!  While we were there we came across RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, NC and another batch of fishing boats.  We had lunch in Oriental and spent a little time exploring, but decided that we needed to head there for a whole day when we had more time.  So it is on the list for a return visit!

Ferry from Bayview to Aurora, North Carolina
Ferry from Bayview to Aurora, North Carolina
Aurora Fossil Museum in Aurora, North Carolina
Aurora Fossil Museum in Aurora, North Carolina
RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, North Carolina
RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, North Carolina
RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, North Carolina
RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, North Carolina

I’ll write later about my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1, but suffice it to say that I am very happy with this little camera and have no regrets at all about making the switch.  I’m still learning the ins and outs but every time I use it I feel like I’m working with an old friend.

Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina
Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina

Starting the Transition

Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park

Well, I shipped off 20 pounds of used camera gear this past weekend, and plan to use the proceeds to form the cornerstone of the next collection of gear.  After nearly 14 years of lugging around the Canon stuff I’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and try something smaller.  The decision is not entirely straightforward or simple, as I tend to be a very loyal consumer, and there is still a lot to love about the full frame cameras.  And while I’m hedging my bets by hanging on to a solid collection of full frame gear, I’m pretty sure I can predict what is going to happen.

Lynx Blue Line light rail at the Charlotte Convention Center
Lynx Blue Line light rail at the Charlotte Convention Center
Selfie Time
Selfie Time
Parking Garage
Parking Garage
Legal Graffiti at the former Goodyear Service Center
Legal Graffiti at the former Goodyear Service Center
Walkway between the Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center
Walkway between the Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center

Many readers of this blog know that I have been exploring this move for some time.  Over the last several months I rented a Fuji X-T1 and an Olympus OM-D E-M1.  Both are wonderful cameras and have their pluses and minuses, and I know people who are faithful to both brands.

Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bechtler Museum of Art
Bicycles for Rent
Bicycles for Rent
Bicycles for Rent
Bicycles for Rent
Bicycles for Rent
Bicycles for Rent

I was pretty sure that my choice was going to be the Fuji, so over the 4th of July weekend I rented it again, this time trying both the 18-55 and the 18-135 lenses.  I haven’t yet placed the order – the sale prices expired before I was ready – but once I’m ready to go I’m planning to buy the X-T1 with the 18-135.  My rationale is that it will be an excellent travel lens for those times when I only want to take one camera and lens, and it will give me just about all of the coverage I could want.  Eventually I’ll probably buy at least one or two of the “pro” lenses, and I really want to try some of the excellent Fuji prime lenses, so I’ll keep my options open.

Walkway between the Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center
Walkway between the Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center
Photo Time!
Photo Time!
Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center
Mint Museum of Art and the Duke Energy Center
Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park

So while I continue to work on Colorado images, I wanted to process the Fuji files in order to evaluate them, and figured I might as well post a few.  I know it’s possible to do with any camera, but I really like the fact that I can easily create a develop preset in Lightroom to quickly process a bunch of files.  For the most part the results are very good with little fiddling.  These have had a little bit of extra work done to them, but for the most part they are as shot with a Lightroom preset applied.

The Eye
The Eye
Charlotte Transportation Center
Charlotte Transportation Center
Charlotte Transportation Center
Charlotte Transportation Center
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park
Huntersville Business Park

If It Ain’t Broke, Etc.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

I’ve got a few words left on the subject of the Fuji, and on renting equipment in general. Then I think I’d like to just get back to our regularly scheduled programming. There have been a number of excellent comments on both of my posts regarding the X-T1, and those have led to a bit of extended reflection on my part.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

I’ve always been a firm believer that everyone needs to find their own way of doing things. I’ve always felt that – for things that matter to me – it is always best to do a little research to see what is available, determine my preferences based on that research, then make a decision based on the results. Making informed decisions is important to me, whether it relates to the food I eat, the car I drive or the camera that I use. I don’t buy a lot of stuff, but when there is something I want it is important to me to figure out what best suits my needs and buy it. In general I only want to buy something once, and I tend to not be influenced by advertising, sale prices or reviews. If something suits my needs and I can afford it, I’ll buy it. If I can’t afford it then it hasn’t met all of my needs, one of the most important of which is that something be affordable.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

One of the downsides of this kind of loyalty is that I tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to knowing what the options are. I’m not a “fanboy” about anything, but once I make a decision about something I stick with it until something obviously better comes along. But for better or worse I’m not always on the lookout for the “something better,” to the point where something better might actually be available but I don’t know about it.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

When it comes to camera equipment, I have tended to pick a system and stick with it. I have purchased a couple of point & shoot cameras and I have gotten good results from them. But the dilemma I always have, especially when I travel, is that opportunities often arise where I wish I had my “serious” gear with me. As a result I have developed the philosophy that questions why I should ever take photographs with anything but my best equipment. I think that is a valid question, to the point where I carry my G12 as a backup but primarily use my 5D. Even if I only take one lens, I want to have my “good” camera with me. For a lot of folks, their phone is a good enough backup, but that’s not an approach that works for me.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

The situation that I have encountered recently, especially when we fly, is that I would prefer to not have to carry the weight of a bag that contains all the stuff I want for a vacation. I have a large rolling camera bag, but the airlines always insist on checking anything that has wheels, so I compromise by taking less stuff and using a shoulder bag or backpack that can stay with me. So the choice I have is between (a) occasionally having to carry a heavier backpack than I would prefer but having the equipment that gives me the quality that I want, or (b) buying equipment that weighs less but doesn’t quite give me the image quality I want. The great thing is that that divide is getting smaller and smaller all the time. Many folks have already made the switch, but I knew that I was going to have to see for myself.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

One of the great things about being able to rent camera equipment is that it can help us to build first-hand awareness of what else is available. There is a pretty ready market for used equipment these days, so I suppose if we wanted to spend the money we could just buy a camera and/or lens, use it for a while then sell it and buy something else. But that seems a lot like trading cars too often – it costs you a lot more than it is worth. I think renting is just an economical way to try something out – both for fun and for knowledge.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

I don’t consider this rental to be a “once and done” event, and it was never my intention to make a decision based on one rental. I’m certainly not closing the door on the Fuji or any other camera. There are many interesting cameras on the market, and new ones are coming out all the time. There are a number of very nice lenses for the Canon that might be worth looking at. I’ve never used a Zeiss lens, but have always felt that one (or more!) of those might give me the look that I used to get with my Mamiya lenses. It’s probably worth a try. I need to be careful to not let the equipment become a distraction, and I need to be extra sure that the cost of renting camera equipment doesn’t eat into my travel budget, but other than the cost I think it is pretty harmless. And it is a lot of fun!

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

So to conclude, I appreciate all the feedback and comments. It’s great to know that there are as many opinions as there are photographers, and I especially like it when we can trade thoughts and ideas about cameras and photography.

Test images from Fuji X-T1 rental

Conclusions and Decisions

Downtown Charlotte, NC from light rail overpass on Trade Street
Downtown Charlotte, NC from light rail overpass on Trade Street

I mentioned in my last post that I had rented a Fuji X-T1 for this past weekend. The last post set the stage for this one. I’ll cut to the chase and save the suspense, and say that I haven’t decided to make any changes, but I was very impressed with the camera. You can stop reading here and look at the pictures, or you can read on. 🙂

Parking garage, downtown Charlotte, NC
Parking garage, downtown Charlotte, NC

My intentions for trying out another kind of camera were simple. I had heard many good things about the compact cameras but had not had a chance to really experience one for myself. I don’t like to have multiple choices when it comes to equipment, preferring instead to have and use whatever camera I feel best suits my needs, and to use that camera for everything I shoot. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have to constantly choose between different cameras, especially where there was a clear first choice. Why, I reasoned, would I ever want to shoot with anything less than my best equipment? It just didn’t make sense.

Painted brick wall, Charlotte NC
Painted brick wall, Charlotte NC

I have been very happy with the results from my current equipment, to the point where I never really think about the gear, I just use it and it works. But I knew that if I ever did decide to change formats or brands that I couldn’t do so without trying out different options. As hard as it is to believe, the 5D Mark III is three years old, and while it isn’t close to being obsolete, that seems to be about the point in the product cycle where there is probably something new on the horizon. All of my lenses are first generation Canon lenses, and while they are certainly not obsolete, I can’t ignore the fact that three of my five main lenses have been replaced by newer technology. At some point it is likely that I am going to need to look at that, and possibly make some changes. It seemed as good a time as any to try out something new.

Lynx Blue Line light rail and Charlotte NC skyline
Lynx Blue Line light rail and Charlotte NC skyline

I decided to rent a Fuji X-T1 because I had narrowed my choices down to a Fuji or an Olympus. I have heard great things about both, but have read some really good things about the Fuji, and especially their evolving lineup of excellent lenses. I still cling to the opinion that a larger sensor is better, and reasoned that all else being equal the APS-C sensor in the Fuji would make it an attractive choice. So I plunked down my money and took my bet.

Electric meter, Charlotte NC
Electric meter, Charlotte NC

I went through LensRentals for the rental, and the whole process could not have been smoother. I reserved the camera and lens online and provided my payment and shipping information. The package arrived at my work address on Thursday as scheduled. I had the camera for the weekend, then packaged it up and dropped it off at the FedEx store on Monday. Done.

Guess what? Another brick wall, Charlotte NC
Guess what? Another brick wall, Charlotte NC

The following is not a review, and I am still evaluating as I go. But several folks have expressed an interest in my thoughts, so here I go.

First Impressions
  • While small, this feels like a well-built camera and lens. Heavier than I expected for the size and heavier than it looks, but very light compared to my Canon.
  • The top dials are laid out in a way that really makes sense, and I liked being able to adjust shutter speed, ISO and aperture with a dial instead of a menu.
  • I had a little previous experience with Fuji’s menu layout from using my X-10. The menus are very similar, and for the most part I was able to figure everything out without looking at the manual.
Roof of transit center, Charlotte NC
Roof of transit center, Charlotte NC
In Use
  • Because the camera is so small relative to my hands, I felt like I could never really get a comfortable grip on the camera, and I kept hitting buttons I didn’t mean to hit.
  • The biggest issue I had was that the battery died after about 200 frames. In hindsight I think it might have been because I had IS set for continuous (had not thought to change it) and even though I had the EVF set up for eye detection, I hadn’t thought about the fact that hanging around my neck that it wouldn’t know the difference between my chest and my eye and be on constantly.
  • The second biggest issue I had was trying to use a polarizer with the EVF. I’d be interested to hear some feedback, but I had a really hard time judging the effect of the polarizer because the camera kept adjusting the exposure – as reflected in the EVF – in real time.
  • My rental came with a standard neck strap, which was too short for me and not nearly flexible enough. It would not stay on my shoulder securely and kept getting in the way. I would definitely buy an Upstrap or a wrist strap.
Shadow on a brick wall, Marion, NC
Shadow on a brick wall, Marion, NC
Files
  • The first photos I looked at were from walking around my neighborhood at dusk, and were taken before I learned how to set up the camera. The files from the shoot on Saturday, and more from Sunday and Monday, were quite impressive.
  • The in-camera JPEGs are very nice. So nice that I could almost shoot JPEGS all the time with this camera, if it wasn’t for the next point.
  • Lightroom does an excellent job with the RAW files, and even offers the ability to mimic some of Fuji’s in-camera film profiles. This gives the ability to get the results of the in-camera processing with the flexibility of RAW files when needed. I like this very much. I could easily create a Develop preset in Lightroom and would take care of 95% of the adjustments I would make.
  • The RAW files are SHARP and show very little noise. Using the Adobe profiles for the Fuji RAW files, I needed to do very little additional adjustment. I used virtually no noise reduction on the files, even at higher ISO, and they take sharpening very well.
  • The camera seems to have an exceptionally accurate metering system, and it nailed the exposure just about every time. The only adjustments I made were for completely personal preference.
  • I did not make any prints yet, but am convinced that the files will make a 16×24 print with no problems.
Brick wall, Marion, NC
Brick wall, Marion, NC
Conclusions
  • If I were to own one, I would need to buy one of the accessory grips.
  • This would definitely be a worthy “first choice” camera when I decide that it’s time to replace what I currently use.
  • The Lensrentals experience was a good one, and I would not hesitate to rent from them again, either to try a lens I intend to buy or to just try out something I’ve heard about
  • I didn’t expect to be so “wow-ed” by a camera that it would convince me to banish my Canon gear to the closet, and I wasn’t. But it was very nice, and if I was starting from scratch I wouldn’t hesitate to consider the Fuji, although I would probably try out some of the competition.
  • I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but the files from this camera have a certain “look” that I really, really like. It isn’t sharpness or color or contrast, but something. I’m still working on it and will explore it some more and report back.
Another brick wall, Marion, NC
Another brick wall, Marion, NC
Decision
  • I’m sticking with the Canon for now (as of today at least!), but it wouldn’t take much to convince me to buy an X-T1.  If I were to buy another camera, there is a very good chance that this might be it.
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC

More to come, as I continue to process more photos and think more about my experience!

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC

Trying Something New

Transit Center, Charlotte NC
Transit Center, Charlotte NC
Back in the Day

Ever since I sold off my Mamiya 7 film rangefinder and its three excellent lenses, I have hoped to one day return to the simplicity of being able to carry all my gear in a small fanny pack. I used to be able to carry the equipment (and film!) I needed for entire weekend in one small bag. I love my Canon gear, and have always been happy with the results. The Canon bodies and numerous lenses I have owned over the last 10 years have served me well, but it has been interesting to note the gradual expansion in the amount and weight of my equipment over that time.

Roof trusses at Charlotte Transit maintenance building and offices, Charlotte NC
Roof trusses at Charlotte Transit maintenance building and offices, Charlotte NC

At first I was able to carry all of my digital gear in a reasonably-sized backpack. Soon, however, it became necessary for me to carry my equipment in a Think Tank rolling bag. For a while I was generally successful with the idea of making room in the rolling bag for something new by retiring something old. But a couple of years ago I finally reached the point where my bag wouldn’t hold what I had, and I started having to leave things at home. Perhaps coincidentally, at just about the same time I got to the point where I was getting tired of carrying that much stuff.

1BAC Building, Charlotte NC
1BAC Building, Charlotte NC

While having a wide variety of lenses at my disposal gives me the ability to pretty much shoot anything I want to shoot, the need to constantly make a decision about what to take or leave home distracts me from the creative inspiration to actually make photographs. I’ve been saying for a long time that the problem with carrying multiple lenses is that it increases the chances that I will have the wrong one on my camera. I found that carrying one or maybe two lenses is all I want to do, and I have gotten used to leaving the other stuff at home.

One of my regular Charlotte subjects - NASCAR Hall of Fame
One of my regular Charlotte subjects – NASCAR Hall of Fame
Recent History

I have had a number of “Point & Shoot” cameras over the years and have been quite impressed by their image quality. In fact it was a Canon G5 that convinced me back in 2004 that digital was the “way of the future.” I have been watching the evolution of compact cameras ever since with great interest, and was very excited when the interchangeable lens compact cameras came on the scene. Starting with the early Olympus “Pen” cameras in the so-called Micro 4/3 arena and evolving to a large lineup of small cameras with varying sizes of sensors, there are now many choices. My early experience in this area was when I bought Kathy an Olympus E-PL2 camera and a couple of lenses. That camera is a great size, and the lenses are amazingly small and light. I tried using that camera myself, but was never really happy with the image quality. That really tarnished my opinion of the camera and I never really gave the format any serious consideration. In hindsight, that opinion was probably a result of lower-quality lenses.

One of my regular Charlotte subjects - NASCAR Hall of Fame
One of my regular Charlotte subjects – NASCAR Hall of Fame
Fast Forward

Probably because of my earlier experience with the older Olympus camera, I have remained skeptical of the advances in quality of the compact cameras and the various photographers that have been singing their praises. The conventional wisdom, perhaps somewhat influenced by the marketing budgets of Canon and Nikon, has held that small sensor cameras just can’t produce the image quality of a full-size, full-frame, high resolution SLR. For anyone wanting to make prints larger than 13×19, it seemed that the SLR was the way to go, the larger the sensor the better. That was and still is pretty tasty Kool Aid.

Random electric meters, Charlotte NC
Random electric meters, Charlotte NC

Recently, I have been hearing and reading more and more stories, from people whose opinions I respect, who have had great things to say about the newer cameras on the market. Most of these cameras are from Fuji, Olympus and Sony, although there are others. Surprisingly, the entries from Canon and Nikon have been pretty weak and generally haven’t seemed to push the right buttons for people, and the general consensus is that those companies are not taking the market for these cameras seriously.

Random brick wall, Charlotte NC
Random brick wall, Charlotte NC
And Now

A few months ago I decided that the only way to find out how good these new cameras have become was to try one or more of them out myself. For me the choice seemed to be between Fuji and Olympus. So a couple of weeks ago, looking at a long holiday weekend off from work, I decided to try out a Fuji X-T1 for a few days to see just what all the excitement was about. I haven’t made any decisions but have reached several conclusions. The outcome of my little experiment will be the subject of my next post. For now, here are a few of the photos I have been working on from my time with this interesting little camera.

Random shadows, Charlotte NC
Random shadows, Charlotte NC