Monday, April 13, 2020

My Final Camera

Supercamera! The Fuji X-H1 with detachable battery
grip and Fuji 27mm (42mm equiv.) f2.8 lens.

Writing about (and reliving) our experiences in Eastern Europe 30 years ago was surprisingly intense for me. The writing part was relatively easy, because I had written most of it on a yellow legal pad as we traveled. But the memories revived by the photographs and the text were, as I said, surprisingly intense.

So this is a transition post. A decompression post, if you will. From the sublime to the trivial.

The title of this blog, “A Life in Photography,” means that sometimes I’ll write about photography, sometimes I’ll write about life, and most of the time I’ll write about my life as a photographer. But today, I’m going to write about photography, and more specifically, about cameras. So if that doesn’t interest you, thanks for checking in, and feel free to move on.

In 2017, I switched to the Fuji X series of cameras. I had been using Canon since 1993, first their film cameras, and then making the move with them to digital in 2003. In 2010 I added Olympus digital micro 4/3s cameras and lenses as a secondary system because of their small size and light weight.
The Canon EOS 5D with the Canon EF24-85mm f3.5-4.5
lens, one of the smaller and lighter zoom lenses in the
Canon lineup, weighs in at just under three pounds.
A pair of Olympus OM-D E-M5s with an Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens
(90mm equiv.) and a Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6
(28-280mm equiv.)  lens weighs slightly more than three pounds.
I used the Canon system for weddings and commercial work and the m4/3s system for travel and general carry-around. The Canons were super-reliable and the image quality was great, but a pair of bodies and three or four lenses made quite a heavy package. And though at six-one and 215 pounds I’m no runt, I’ve always hated to carry more weight than necessary. The Olympus OM-D E-M5s were small and light and good for many things, but I was never completely happy with their image quality. 

Dall sheep, Denali National Park, Alaska. Olympus
OM-D E-M5, Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f3.5-5.6.
This was taken at about the equivalent of 250mm.
100% crop from above. Maybe the micro 4/3s
image quality wasn't all that bad, after all.
(But I couldn't always get results this good.)

Enter Fuji. I had been reading about the Fuji X-system cameras for some time on various blogs and websites, and finally decided to dip my toe in the water. My first purchase was a used X-Pro-1, with the 16-50mm (24-75mm equivalent) f3.5-5.6 kit lens, which turned out to be amazingly sharp. I soon added X-T1 and X-T20 bodies, both of which I liked.

However, it wasn't long before I realized that the menus on each camera were slightly different. Not very different, just enough that before I changed a setting I had to think for a moment about which button to push or which dial to spin. Not good, in a fast-working situation.

I realized that for work I needed cameras with identical controls. I was thinking about getting a pair of X-T2s when I came across a young man who needed money and wanted to sell his X-H1, the flagship of the Fuji fleet, in like-new condition and complete with the battery grip, which will make the camera balance better with my heavy Canon flash.

It's slightly larger and heavier than my other Fujis, and the handling seemed a bit strange as first. But I quickly became acclimated, and now it feels just right. The more I use it, the better I like it. This camera is so solid and well-built that I think I can get by with just the one body, with the X-Pro1 as emergency backup.

The amazing thing is that for some reason, perhaps because it's a little different from the other Fuji bodies, The X-H1 did not sell well and the manufacturer cut the price drastically. This camera offers higher quality and more capability for less money than any camera I've ever heard of.

Michael Johnston, editor of The Online Photographer blog, which you should be reading, if you're not already, had this to say about the X-H1: "It strikes me as a simply amazing camera; virtually everything on it is well thought out and beautifully implemented, and works smoothly and effectively."

So, is this really my final camera? Probably not, since camera bodies are like security blankets to me. But it could be, because it's certainly all the camera I'll ever need.

(But if I do get another camera it will be another X-H1. Identical controls, remember?)

Soli Deo Gloria

No comments:

Post a Comment