I got into mirrorless because of my back. My Canon was too heavy and once I’d spent a couple of hours on a photo shoot my back started to hurt, and from time to time, I also had mobility problems. As I’d already spent quite a lot of money on cameras and lenses I didn’t want to make an expensive purchase in something that I was only trying out. So I decided to go down the secondhand route, I went to my local camera shop and they had a secondhand Fuji X-T1 with an 18 to 55mm lens on a crop sensor. After a test weekend, I bought it because it was the only mirrorless they had secondhand in the shop. Obviously I knew that Fuji was a good brand and I liked the look and feel of the camera, but I was also aware that Olympus and Panasonic also make excellent mirrorless cameras.
It did take me some time to get used to the camera, not only the controls but also getting used to a crop sensor and an added feeling that the camera wasn’t quite good enough, which was all in my mind. One thing I did notice is that the camera brought me joy. It didn’t just make me happy, it brought back a simplicity that I hadn’t had since I converted to digital. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, then before I upgraded, I was watching some videos about the X-T2 and a couple of the reviewers mentioned that they liked that there was no mode dial on the camera. It’s something that I hadn’t noticed, not because it wasn’t there, but because I didn’t need it. I think that is the thing that deep down I really love about the Fuji film XT series, that everything has an automatic setting, so if you want to use aperture priority, you set shutter speed to automatic, and if you want to use shutter speed, you set aperture to automatic. It’s a very simple system, and knowing something about the way Fuji works, I’m sure it was a conscious decision to not have a mode dial.
A little over a week ago, I upgraded to an X-T2. I have a Patreon page where I upload a photo every day and I have mainly been using the X-T1 for this. So much practice (I always tell my students to do this) made using the camera second nature, which it should always be. I started to find the limitations of the camera sensor for the work I wanted to do, nothing that I couldn’t live with but the X-T2 offered many more improvements along with the better sensor. I can safely say that I have now happily converted to the mirrorless system, when I picked up my new (secondhand) camera with it’s 35mm F2 lens it just felt so good to use. Both the camera and lens are weather resistant which is important for me, I had problems with the Canon two years ago while I was photographing cyclists in a thunderstorm. The camera is an extension of me now, don’t get me wrong my Canon is also an extension of me when I’m using it, but it requires more thought and work, somehow with the Fuji I just take photos. Obviously I look at light and composition, because I want to say something with my images, but I feel like I’m 18 again and using my old Canon FP with its 50mm lens. It’s almost as if the camera has a soul which fits into an empty space in my own and makes me complete. I don’t want to get too philosophical but there is some kind of connection here, because I believe that these cameras are made with passion and with an intention, which is what photographers normally need to get interesting images.
My cameras are both old models. I started with the X-T1 and I have just moved up to the X-T2, so I am about three years behind everyone else but that doesn’t matter. I would like the latest X-T4, especially with its IBIS, but I can manage perfectly well with the old 1 and 2. The image quality is more than enough and I absolutely love Fuji’s film simulations, now I have the X-T2 I have a second SD card slot and I can take RAW and JPEG images. To be honest, I think taking RAW files with this camera is less necessary, the JPEG files are usually perfect, however, I’m using film simulation so the original clean file is useful for alternative processing. This camera has made so much of an impression on me that I have seriously considered selling my 6D. I don’t think I will because of the lowlight performance, but I am definitely going to take both of them on my first photo shoot and my intention is to leave the Canon in the bag. I had a shoot planned for Wednesday but we were sent back into lockdown so that will have to wait.
I will finish this article with a quote from a video I have seen about Fuji.
This is not a digital device. This is a camera.