Fuji: First Impressions

Mt. Fuji!

Well, look what arrived the other day… the Fuji XTi and three lenses! This is the next experiment in my ongoing quest to find a mirrorless camera solution for travel and for those slightly more treacherous locations any landscape photographer wants to venture into (if you haven’t been following this thread – and want to – it all started with Sony over here. Continued here. Aaannnd most recently went on over here.).

Sony didn’t work for me. Will Fuji? First results are in… and (drum roll, please)… it might. Here are my initial impressions…

But first: one must build a mountain up into the clouds in homage to the brand. Check.

IMG_1900

Back in the day, Fuji color film was gorrrrrgeous. I used it – along with some of the Kodaks for black and white – in my film cameras. Fujinon lenses are kinda legendary. So I figured those were two good marks in its favor. The 16mg images had me a bit concerned for larger prints. Still do. But ya gotta play to win – and I’m keeping an open mind.

First Impressions

Just to be clear; I did NOT open each box objectively like a camera reviewer. Mais non! I gleefully opened each box and as just me. Part Christmas morning, excited to just this side of hyperventilating… part jilted lover, still a little achey from the let down of her first pick of a partner. It’s an entirely subjective, personal journey, this whole thing. I feel like I have to keep making that disclaimer. Everybody’s a frickin’ expert, y’know? I’m just looking for a solution that’ll work for ME… sharing the process with YOU. Simple and down to earth.

So. First touch.
Ooooooo. That’s all I have to say about that. I love how Fuji feels in my hand. I like the size and weight of the lenses. I got the weather proofed, professional lenses. They weigh a wee bit more… but they’re not very heavy by my gauge and feel amazing. Solid. Inviting. Pro. They’re ALL gorgeous, optically. I love touching them. Does that sound weird? (I kinda think so. heh.) I actually think that’s part of a legit measure of gear you’re going to use ALOT… what’s it like to physically interact with it? In my case… I lerv the feel. Naturally, the f/2.8 lens is a bit heavier than the others… but that’s normal and STILL feels worlds lighter than what I’m used to.

Getting Down With The Controls

The first thing I always do with a new camera is to put it on Auto and go shooting. See what it does all by itself. See if learning the thing is intuitive. Get a feel for how much I’m gonna have to bury myself in the manual. Burn off some excitement so I can concentrate.

Fuji’s different enough from Canon that it wasn’t entirely intuitive at first for me. It WAS, however, very similar to my sweet Minolta SRT-103 from yonder days, 30 or so years ago. Lots of dials and buttons on the outside. I still had to bury myself in the manual, though. I couldn’t just play “drop-the-needle” (you DO remember LP’s, right?) with a quick scan through. Fuji has it’s own way of dealing with the dance between knobs and menus. It’s cool – I just find I’m having to create a new set up synapses in my brain for it to be completely intuitive. It’s coming pretty quickly though… and is definitely fun.

The Pics

When I first learn a new camera, I take a whole bunch of images NOBODY wants to see! Like my foot on my desk at different settings. Huge snore. So I won’t bore with you those… I deleted most of them anyway.

But yesterday I finally felt adept enough to take my new Fuji-friend out for a walk. Much like I did the Sony a couple of weeks ago (after which I packed it all up and sent it back).
This day, I used the 16-55 f/2.8 and 55-200 f/3.5-4.8… and it was right around sunset. All images were shot handheld. All were at ISO 800 – with practically no noise. A couple are processed, but some aren’t. Like this one… it’s SOOC:

55-200 lens, ISO 800, f/16, zoomed all the way in to 200mm. If it’s a little soft that’s not the lens, it’s me. But I thought it worked for this nice moment between friends.

2Girls

Here’s another one out of the camera, no processing at all. I like the dynamic range and colors… which is one of the things I always love about Fuji film. Lovely to see they’ve retained those values.

Again, shot with the 55-200 (the real reach of these lenses built for APS-C sensor cameras is figured by multiplying by 1.6. So, 88-320 is this one’s actual reach.). ISO 800, f/5, 156mm.

NoOneLooksAtTheArch

This one was also shot with the telephoto. Only cropped a little – and I definitely processed this one. I need to see how these images hold up to my processing AND see how large I can print them. I don’t have anything definitive to say about all that yet… that’s still a works in progress. But here’s the first one I’ve done anything to… and it did fine.

55-200 lens, f/16, ISO 800,  181mm.
Why f/16 you ask? I just forgot to change it to something less. But it worked out just fine!

IceFlower

Likewise, I processed this one. Contrast, processed some colors in, some contrast/structure in the tree. No banding or problems of any kind, which I do sometimes see in my Canon images of this type.

55-200 lens, ISO 800, f/5, 136mm.
I call it the “Pinky McFee Tree”. 😀

PinkyMcFee

I just had a little fun with this one… also added one of the textures from my store. Have you seen those? They’re here. We’re just getting ready to formally introduce those… they’ve just been waiting quietly until then. But I digress…

Taken with the 16-55 f/2.8, ISO 800, f/8, 37mm.

TheCoolBus

24 thoughts on “Fuji: First Impressions

  1. I’ve had fun reading your posts Karen, hope you have a great trip to France, its such a fantastic place to photograph ( so many interesting people to photograph too). I did the whole switch thing about 18 months ago although I’m more a weddings/portraits shooter. I did try the Sony but it just didn’t work for me, the Fuji on the other hand is a keeper. Lots of quirks to this system, but once you get used to how sharp those lenses are you’ll be thinking your DSLR is missing focus all the time its so soft. The 55-200 is a little slow sometimes, but produces beautiful images. The 16-55 I’ve heard great things about, and the 10-14 I already own and love.

    1. Thanks Mike! Yeah, I’m really looking forward to some of the amazing experiences ahead in France!
      I hear you on some of the quirks with the camera – but like you, I find them totally forgivable in exchange for the image quality. Not to mention what a blast they are to shoot with. My opinion, of course, not everyone is built the same nor seeks the same experience.

      Love my 16-55… and that 10-14 makes me happy like the old country! Yep, good times.

      Glad you stopped by!

  2. Thanks for the sharing. I am using Fuji X-T1 (previously canon system)

    What I love about Fuji is their constant update of the firmware (body and lens) to improve the system and I learn that Fuji talks and listens to Photographers for their inputs then integrate into their products.

  3. I had seen some of your work before but after catching you on ‘The FIX’ I seeked out your blog and am catching up on it now as I loved seeing your methods on the episode. Great to see your’re enjoying the Fuji (I hope your later posts continue the love,) I also switched from a full frame DSLR to Fuji and personally, couldn’t be happier. One small note, the Fuji crop is 1.5x not 1.6x like Canon so the the reach is just a bit less than mentioned above.

    Looking forward to seeing what you shoot with the X-T1!

  4. Karen

    See you got your Fuji gear and it sounds like you are having some fun with it. Good. You may recall I commented on this topic previously and forgot to mention that if you do not know Bill Fortney, ask your friend Scott Kelby to introduce you, he is a Fuji convert from the Nikon world. I am sure he could share a tremendous amount of insight on your quest.
    Good luck
    Jeff

  5. You’re Welcome!

    Yeah like I said I really enjoy all my cameras, but if I had to give them all up the X100T would be the camera I would hold on to for dear life:) I can’t leave home without my phone, wallet, and X100T. It handles 90 percent of what I like to shoot. The silent leaf shutter allows me to me to shoot in the documentary still on the streets and at events that I cover. I also can use my speed lights with no worries. The X-T1 with the 18-55 and the X100T is the perfect travel kit. The size, weight, and coverage is all I need.

  6. Aloha!

    I’ve REALLY enjoyed reading your posts. There are so many great cameras out there it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. The challenge is being able to get your hands on them and to figure out which one that fits the way and what you like to shoot. Since I don’t have a wife, kids, or any pets I’m fortunate to own a Canon 5DmkIII, Sony A7s, Panasonic GH4, Olympus OMD EM1, Fuji X T1, X Pro 1, X100T, and X100.

    I enjoy all my cameras for different reasons, but I’m Love and Adore my Fuji’s the most. The original X100 reignited my passion for photography. It had me from the first time I saw it, held it and pushed the shutter. Since then I’ve had the X100 and now the X100T with me everywhere I go. Even if I decide to use my other cameras the X100T is still with me.

    The Fuji X T1 is a fantastic camera and I think the Fuji lenses are amazing and the 56mm 1.2 is the best lens I own. Also Fuji really cares about their customers. The firmware updates that they have released makes me feel like I have a new camera each time I update. I’m really looking forward to what Fuji releases next.

    I hope you find the camera that fits you best and I’m looking forward to reading what you discover and the photos you create.

    1. What an endorsement! And what an arsenal of cameras you have there, Chaz. So interesting you love Fuji the most… and I do keep hearing about that lens. The three I’m using are pretty mind blowing, I gotta say. Thanks for sharing your experience here! I might have to get my hands on a X100T. 😉

  7. Well, been following your blog and (drum roll) just popped for the Fujifilm X-T1, 18-55mm and 55-200mm after your early reports and other reviews.

    Sold off my Sony A7R and lenses and Canon Metabones (kept Canon lenses).

    Looking forward to your future posts.

  8. That’s pretty impressive that you sold all of your Nikon gear for the Fuji. I have thought about selling all my Canon Gear and going to Nikon. Guess I need to give that some more thought now.

    1. Hey Jasmine, I haven’t actually sold my gear yet… I’m waiting on that for a little bit. (It’s Canon, BTW). I need to arrive at the PERFECT solution before I turn in my trusty rusty!

  9. I’m watching your blog with interest. Have you considered the Olympus OM-D E-M1? I have it, and love it. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

    1. Hey Judy, yes – I’ve thought of trying the OMD series, a number of my friends LOVE it! I’m hesitant only because the sensor is even smaller than the Fuji (I’m still thinking “big prints”)… and honestly, I’m loving Fuji so much right now it’s hard to think about trying another system. I want to get really good at whatever set up I’m taking to France… and right now, Fuji is looking like the rig. Keeping an open mind though!

  10. KHut –

    I have been secretly reading all of your Got-the-Sony, Sold-the-Sony, Got-a-Fuji stuff. Actually I just read all of it today. It was kind of like renting an entire season of Breaking Bads and just downing popcorn while powering through it on a rainy day.

    Initially I was saddened that you dropped off the Sony love wagon, but after some time, (10 minutes. That’s an eternity for me) I was happy about it. Why happy? Because it confirms what I already knew. There is no right. There is no wrong. There may in fact not even be a spoon. (I’m not sure about that last one, but just go with it) In the end it’s all about comfort levels. The Sony wasn’t comfortable for you. For me it was like the bloody glove and OJ. They (clearly) really were a perfect fit at a certain point in time. (Maybe not at the trial, but you know.)

    I just sold all my Nikon gear (All of it.) and bought the A7s, the 55mm 1.8 Sony lens and the Sony 70-200mm lens as well. I have also stock piled up some cash in anticipation of the soon to be released A7r variant. (A7Rii?)

    A friend loaned me his A7s for a shoot I had during SXSW a few weeks back that was in a very dark bar downtown. My D800, even with the iso pumped up to 12,800 (read: unusable at that range in reality) was giving me almost nothing. With no previous experience with any Sony cameras, I got that after party in the can with amazing ease. I have never used a camera in that kind of extremely low light, with no flash, and had those results. I was blown away. And I had no issue figuring out the layout of the dials and how to adjust the big three in the dark. (ISO, F stop and shutter speed. I know you know, but, you know…)

    Anyway. I’m all in on Sony now. For me the size is perfect. If were smaller it would be annoying trying to use it with normal sized human man hands. I love everything about it. (I’d list my top 50 favorite things about it, but it’s really irrelevant why I like it. Just trust me that I do in fact have a Top 50.)

    But you didn’t. And that’s awesome. I hope the Fuji blows minds. (Well, your mind anyway. At least your mind.) There are different horses for different courses, and no one system or company will ever please everyone, or even most of everyone. I love that you are free thinking enough to not allow hype to force your hand. Your work is always consistently amazing. The equipment in your hand (easy!) really doesn’t matter. What you got can’t be bought.

    Shine on you crazy diamond!

    Your pal. …

    1. Awesomely written, as always Gino!
      And you illustrated it perfectly… different horse for different courses. I hadn’t heard that one! Lerv.

      I figured it there was one thing I wanted to say throughout this whole thing: (as you so eloquently put it) “don’t allow hype to force your hand.”
      I would add… let your soul guide it.

      High fives! For not the least of which… lasting more than 10 minutes!! WooHoo!!

  11. I’ve been very excited to be along on this journey with you. After all my research, I settled on the Fuji system so I’m very excited to see how you fare with it. So far it looks pretty good.

    I’ve been shooting mine quite a bit trying to get to know it and work out all my quirks, but I’m very happy with the system so far. The constant firmware updates, the lens roadmap and Fuji’s upfront and open communication with their customers sure does help. It’s an exiting time for this line of cameras from Fuji.

    At any rate I am excited to hear your impressions of the system. What you like, don’t like. I’ve been absorbing all I can from the Fuji pro shooters out there and they have really helped me learn a lot about the system. I follow you anyway, but if you become a Fuji shooter, well that’s just the icing on the cake now isn’t it….

    1. HeeHee… yep, icing on the cake, Clint!
      I’m liking Fuji a lot so far… and getting the hang of it’s way of thinking. Personally, I like all the buttons… it just took me a little to get my head wrapped around how they integrate with the menu system. Meaning, where you step off of one mode (buttons, knobs) and step into another (menu system). It just started to feel natural the other day. I about cheered out loud!

      I think this will be what I take to France… where i’ll REALLY get a chance to put it through all of its paces. 😀

  12. Looking forward to your reports back on your quest for “light-weight” equipment that pushes light-capturing into a new dimension.

    These are kinda exciting times for photography as this new type of equipment has finally started to emerge, and I wish I could jump to the end of the chapter to see ‘what happens’!

    There are LOTS of rumors on what & who is next to emerge, which also makes it a bit frustrating in having to wait. For example, there’s a short-range rumors of a new Sony A7rII in the next month, and long-range rumors of a Sony A9-possible professional equivalent, in the fall …

    Although these are only RUMORS, it’s inspiring that (in some companies) engineering development is at least talking about the future. And it’s encouraging to have so much chatter about the next advancement lens development.

    So while today’s lighter-weight systems “might not be ready for prime-time”, it’s fun and exciting to see what happens next.

    e

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Boy howdy, you got that right… exciting times!

      What I’m finding noteworthy is that Sony is talking A9, A7rii, 50 mp, etc… but there’s still those same lenses.
      That occurred to me when scoping out Fuji… they’ve GOT incredible lenses, more on the way… PLUS there’s talk of either full frame and/or bigger megapixel cameras coming soon. Now THAT would be a great combo. Because, what’s the point of shooting 50 megapixels (or whatever), if you don’t have the lenses you need in order use that capability?

      That’s been occurring to me lately.
      DEFinitely fun and exciting to see what happens next!

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