I have never been a great one for keeping a secret!….
25th of April, 15:00 hours and the rendezvous point was Somerset house, Embankment, London, England.
Two very special agents from Fuji U.K handed me a top secret black box!
A black box that only 100 other photographers around the world were privy too, before its official release.
My mission was to test out this prototype and see if I was willing to defect!
Being a loyal Nikon user since my first assisting job in 1999, and having always enjoyed the quality, and build of their cameras.
A Nikon user since the film days of the F5! I invested in the lenses and bought into the ethos of quality! Yes a photographer who had stayed loyal to the brand and the system for a long while almost 15 years! Could I be swayed?
My most recent investment being the D4s, and three lenses, the 24mm-70mm, f2.8, 70mm-200mm, f2.8 and the 50mm prime f1.2. This kit has travelled with me across the world and allowed me to shoot some beautiful images that I am very proud of!! I have gained two fellowships and numerous awards with this kit!
Why should I change?
When pros are spending over £5000 for a pro body and extra for the lenses, do we not deserve the cutting edge technology? Wifi technology, 4k Video, perfect auto focus and face/eye recognition, and a better hit rate?
I work my camera hard! I expect it to perform! And it generally did!!
However, the offer of testing out a new and exciting system was just too much, and I accepted the challenge! So lets put this thing through its paces! Lets see if my worries of moving to a new system were justified?
Initially my main concerns with the fuji X system were;
The body, would it “feel” like a pro camera?
The sensor, would the image quality be as good as my current full frame DSLR?
The focus, would it have the ability to compose and capture quickly?
The Lens, would I get the same drop off when using the wider apertures?
The battery longevity, how long would it last?
I was also keen to discover what new little gadgets and tricks were included, as most photographers I had spoken to about the Fuji system have said that they are great fun camera, to work with! FUN?
So when I finally returned home to unpack my secret packages, THIS is what greeted me!
Click on an image to view larger…
New kit is always exciting, and the guys at fuji had tried to match up my current kit, so that I could give their system a fair go.
With my preconceived ideas, I did have a few worries that needed to be put to bed before I could confidently say I was full on Fuji X girl!
So straight out of the box, and this feels good! With the battery grip on it has a similar feel to my DSLR, but even with the 50mm-140mm (equivalent 70mm-200mm) it is considerably lighter to handle, and just as ergonomic! It seems to fit better to my frame, and feels very natural.
The dials, and functions are fairly obvious, and easy to figure out! Having never used a Fuji before, it was pretty easy to just pick up and shoot, without any filing through a huge manual! (I know some people LOVE reading instructions, I am definitely not one of them!) Everything feels like it is supposed to be there, kind of instinctive!
The addition of the dual card slots, a deal breaker for me before, were welcome! I travel a lot and things can go wrong! The security of that back up was very important to me, I dont want to be trekking back up to a village to reshoot images that I should already have in the bag!
Things are looking good, so far! But what of image quality?
Smaller sensor, now that was a thing for me, and the reason I had always thought that this wasn’t the way for a pro photographer to go! Surely thats a step back?
So I arranged a few test shoots, and put it through its paces! I did four back to back shoots, with kids, as I would shoot normally, and apart from a few teething problems (all sorted with firmware updates) it was pretty impressive!
Then came the file reveal…This is the lovely Lily and Robbie, the first shoot I did with this kit!
How wrong I could have been!! This can’t be right, were my initial thoughts! I’m getting better results! Whats going on here?
The files just speak for themselves! You HAVE to study them to see what I mean!
The Raws are just superb! And the jpegs not far behind! I found myself using the jpegs mostly to save on editing time! And only referring back to the Raws when the highlights had just blown a little.
I played around with a couple of the built in film settings, and found that the ones that most suited my work were either of the PRO Neg settings (as seen in this shot of Misha above), but I am keen to test out others especially some of the BW settings!
As I try and get as much as I can correct in frame, there was minimal editing needed with all of the images, they are already sharp, the tonal range is glorious, and I generally just needed to push the curves a little to get to my style of contrast.
The prints that you can achieve are impressive, I printed a few off from my Epson 3880 on Hahnemuhle glossy find art paper and they are just gorgeous!
So when other photographers ask me about the cropped sensor, I will say, “surely its the end result that you should make you decision on?” And the final result that I can see, both on screen and in print, is pretty perfect!
Click on an image of Jojo to view larger…or to read more about her portrait shoot in Leigh-on-Sea please see her specific blog post!
The new focussing system is incredible! For me the face and eye recognition was a revelation, and the speed is perfect for my style of work! As I work mostly with children this needed to be fast! As most photographers of children will tell you, there is nothing worse than a missed expression!
The focus point joystick is easy to use and with the point being moveable to near the very edge of the frame in all corners, is a fast and effective tool, and with 325, YES 325!! focusing points it is perfect for composing!
Just a quick click and it returns back to the central point! Clever little shortcuts that make this such a usable camera, and make life easier, for us hard working pros!
And the focus itself? Damn pin sharp! It is a joy to see images at 100% on my screen, the detail and clarity were staggering.
Fuji have always been renown for producing great quality lenses, and it was interesting for me to put them to the test!
The build quality on these lenses is solid, with a functionality that like the body are very self explanatory! The 50-140 has the add on of the image stabilisation, (this can be a bit noisy and I am sure a drain on the battery)
Being predominantly a portrait photographer, I shoot towards the wider end of the aperture, so around the 2.8 and 4 mark, to get that lovely bokeh that draws you into the subject.
Any toggy geek will tell you that the cropped sensor effectively shifts your aperture a stop higher, and I was keen put this to the test, o.k it wasn’t a technically exacting test, I just wanted to see wether under my normal shooting conditions that I would get results that were appealing to me!
Would I still get the gorgeous bokeh that I could capture on my 200mm at 2.8?
So I set out with my new 50mm-140mm and tried a few (a lot!) of shots with my gorgeous little models at f2.8-f4….
Yet again, I shouldn’t have questioned this!
The bokeh was lovely and smooth, and the drop of at 2.8 was just beautiful for portraiture! Of course the level of bokeh, is variable from shot to shot, the distance, from subject, subject to background etc etc, but I am liking what I am getting!
On a side note I was able to interact with my subjects a lot easier as I can be that little bit closer, so surely better expressions and a client thats more at ease.
Well with communication the most part of good portrait photography, that my friends is a no brainer!
I have been told however that the 90mm, f2 is just incredible! (oh and by the way its my birthday in 3 weeks!! ) Might just need to give that a go, just to make sure of course!
Battery power, now that has always been an issue for the mirrorless sector, with the EVF, the camera is constantly working to give you a representation of your final outcome, and this can just eat up power.
Fuji wanted to give me a similar feel to my pro body, so I had the added advantage of the pro grip which gives the add on of two extra batteries, so my worries in this respect were quelled, and I was able to shoot a full day of portraits with no worries. Even with the boost mode in gear!
Fuji have also stated that with the final version of the body that there will be a power cable to recharge all 3 batteries whilst still in the camera in approximately 2 hours! Now that would be an advantage!
So will I be changing?
So is there anything that I have found to be a negative with this system, and any reason why I would not change?
In my opinion, the Jpegs can sometimes be a little too contrasty, and as such can sometimes miss the details in the whites, but as this prototype, I would hope that this is just a glitch and will be sorted on general release.
Oh and the strap is a little thin for me! But thats nothing that a couple of quid on Amazon won’t fix!
I found that when I returned to my nikon gear it just felt clunky, and of course heavy! And really not as responsive as the Fuji, almost frustrating!
So will I be changing system? Of course! At the moment I am just using it for portraits, but it will definitely be coming with me on weddings and on my next travels to Nepal!
To me I really did ask a lot of the Fuji, and not only did it deliver, it surpassed my expectations! And it made it fun to be a photographer again!
I cannot wait to take it out and experiment with all of the other features that this body gives!
I may even delve into the realms of some 4k video, with the filters, this seems too good to be true! A portrait photographer that also offers moving portraits!? Now thats got me thinking!
A big THANK YOU to all of my beautiful models, who made the trip to the seaside for this! You were all just gorgeous!
Sorry, that should be Saraya Fuji X !
To see more of my portraiture work, please visit my main website for more details on portrait commissions in Essex, Hertfordshire and London.
And please do let me know what you think! xx