Forgotten Friends, the ‘Year Old’ Camera – Fuji X10 by Colin Steel

Forgotten Friends, the ‘Year Old’ Camera – Fuji X10 by Colin Steel

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Hey Folks, it’s been a long time since I had the energy to write anything here but I thought you might like to hear about a trip I made to Bangkok recently with the now very unfashionable Fuji X10. I am continually amazed nowadays at how quickly cameras come and go and it only seems like yesterday that I was eagerly awaiting the launch of this super-sexy little cam and Fuji’s nice ad campaign really had me wanting one. However, some major travel and expense came along at that time so somehow I passed it by but I never forgot the impact that the look and apparent usability of the camera had on me so when I got the chance of one recently for S$ 450 (US$365) I jumped at it, and believe me, what a bargain I got. Here is Steve’s review for those of you that may have already forgotten it 🙂 Steve Huff X10 Review:

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So just what exactly attracted me so much about the camera given that it was picking up some mediocre reviews and some folks were making a big issue out of the ‘white disk’ sensor problem? Well firstly, this is one beautifully made and designed camera, it just oozes quality. The black finish is very understated and with the lack of front logos, very discreet as well. The metal lens cap is something I thought I would dislike but it turned into a key feature for me. I usually put a lens hood on my cams only to protect the lens from knocks as I don’t believe in putting a filter in front of good glass. I quickly developed a workflow where I can whip off the cap, turn the lens to 35mm and start shooting very quickly indeed. which leads me on to the other key feature for me and that is the phenomenal lens which serves to switch on the camera and then manually zooms all at fast apertures if you want. I find that I have judged the ‘twist and on’ movement so that I end up spot on 35mm at which I can shoot at a reasonably fast f2.2 in low light. Really classy design, well done Fuji, none of that dreaded zoom hunting that plagues small camera.

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One of the criticism I always read about with small cameras and M43 is that there is no great depth of field possible for blurring backgrounds, I am at a total loss to understand this, I want all of the depth of field I can get !!!! Take the above shot which was taken underneath a motorway overpass in the Klong Toey slum area of Bangkok and the light was not as good as it might look in the photo. I was very close to this guy and shooting at a wider aperture than my ideal for the shot in mind, but I desperately wanted to keep the people in the background at least enough in focus to be discernible, particularly the old guy with the little baby. I almost made it but this kind of shot would be impossible at wide apertures on a DSLR, I know it’s not what everyone wants but I think it’s really important to show context and other important elements that make the subject come alive.

While in Bangkok I was able to speak to Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos about this very subject and he told me that he only ever uses two ISO settings with his Leica M9, 640 for daylight and 1250 in poor light, the reason for this was simple, he wanted to shoot at F11 or at worst F8 as often as possible so that he could arrange the elements clearly in his photos. I know this will surprise many people but I also believe that for a documentary style its better to shoot at smaller apertures if you can and the more depth of field the better.

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While on the subject of Bangkok areas to shoot in, all of the shots shown so far were taken in the slum area of Klong Toey which is easily reached by train from the central areas of Bangkok. Although poor I found the people to be very tolerant and gracious to me at all times (even when they were very drunk !!!)

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Back to the X10 and it’s not my intention to re-iterate a review of the camera as, given its age, its been reviewed many times by people better qualified than me. What I want to do is let you know how I found it in terms of usability for documentary style photography and I have to say that it performed better than I expected and I have grown to really like the camera. Although I mess about with and own many cameras, very few of them make it into the ‘loved’ category but this little beauty certainly has. It is one of the few cameras that I like to use with a wrist strap and it seems to fit perfectly into my hand and, as I said, I have developed a shooting workflow where I can have the lens cap off, turned it on at 35mm and be shooting extremely quickly. This is very important to me and that usability factor along with the manual control for exposure comp really makes this cam work for me.

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Surprisingly for such a small sensor, the X10 handles difficult light really well and the dynamic range appears to be better than I would have imagined. I also mentioned the exposure comp dial and it works seamlessly with the rear screen to allow you to see the result of your adjustments. This isn’t unique to the X10 of course but is an extremely useful aspect of electronic screens and viewfinders. I used to use a Nikon D3 for just about everything I shot and I picked it up recently and was shocked at how stone age it felt with the DSLR mirror slap and noisy shutter.

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I don’t use it often but, as many reviewers have pointed out, the Fuji cameras are really classy when it comes to balancing light when you use the in cam flash. Take the above shot for example which was just completely impossible without a little help form the pop up flash on the X10. I think you can see how very bright it was behind the couple but the flash dealt with it very nicely indeed.

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One of the other criticisms of the X10 was of the optical viewfinder and its slightly narrow view and lack of any shooting information. For me I have found that I mainly prefer to use the screen to compose and that allows me to ‘grab’ shots like the one above where I see something that is going to change very quickly but I can lift the camera to above eye height, frame and shoot very quickly. It’s almost like using a giant rangefinder where you have complete visibility of everything around you but can frame what you want. The criticism of the VF is I think pretty fair but it’s not at all unusable and you quickly learn to trust the focus if you leave the focus point on centre and recompose so for me it’s no big deal. There is a somewhat strange effect here that I noticed in myself though and that is that I seem to adapt to the camera rather than have a totally fixed personal style. Let me try to explain, I also have and often use a Fuji X100 (another loved cam) but I very seldom use the rear screen and almost always use the viewfinder because it works so well. With the X10, whether its to do with size or whatever, I find that I use the viewfinder less and shoot maybe 75% of shots with the screen and I am entirely comfortable with this.

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A final comment on the usability of the X10. Most of you will have noticed by now that I have shot all of these in a 1:1 or square crop. This is something that I struggle to be able to explain and it doesn’t always work as you lose the narrative effect that comes with 3:2 however, somehow I find that I can get nice tight expressive framing with it and I find that it defines the main subjects better for the way I have been shooting. With the X10, like many other cameras, it’s so easy to set the camera to square and compose that way on the screen safe in the knowledge that you will have a 3:2 RAW file if you get it wrong. In terms of shooting approach then, I set the camera on square, RAW + Fine jpg and the B&W film effect with a yellow filter. This wont work for everyone but it certainly produces the results that I am looking for and gives me the RAW insurance policy if I need to re-crop.

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I would like to pull this together now and one of the things I hope this little article does is make people think about the ‘year old’ camera if they are thinking of changing gear. Its very clear to me that models are changing so quickly now that the previous models are just nothing short of extraordinary value. I have now seen the X10 for sale in Singapore used and in exceptional condition for S$ 350 (about US$280) and that includes the good quality fuji case that came with the camera !!! Similarly the X100 is down to S$700 (US$560) these are incredibly good if not great cameras and they can be picked up for the price of a cheap DSLR lens !!!!
Having said that, I am as prone as the next guy to marketing and my mind is already a whirl at the thought of new X20’s and X100S 🙂 its such fun though to pay small money for a camera that can deliver great results for you. Just ignore the forum talk about image quality, lens sharpness and all of that guff, find a cam that you like to use and focus on thecontent, light and form of your shots, the results will be much more satisfying.
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Well that’s about it folks. I am very pleased to return to posting and I really hope this was interesting for at least some of you. If anyone would like to see more in this style I have three free ebooks that can be downloaded from Blurb here Colin ebooks. The process is very simple, just log in (or create a free account) add the books to your cart, check out (remember its free) and Blurb will send you the link to download to Iphone or Ipad. I have found that the app looks better on the iPhone.
I have an upcoming trip booked to Sicily for the Easter festivals there and will be spending some time in Rome on the way back so I should have some more material and experiences to discuss soon.
in the meantime, safe travels and happy shooting.


  1. Great photos! Wonderful thoughtful review – Got my x10 new for 199 GB pounds ,absolute bargain. I stopped reading photo magazines and sites for years and when I came back to it everyone seems obsessed by bokeh -we just called it depth of field in the old days! Refreshing to find someone not obsessed by it!

  2. Does the B&W mode on the camera, adjusting some of the settings giving the result of that richness in the blacks? Does it has some processing? It looks really great in the skin textures! Cheers!

  3. Good article. I was looking for some great stuff taken with the x10/x20 so I could see if it was what I was looking for and this has swung it for me.

    I totally agree with the depth of field comments, I think without good DoF you lose what makes street photography, the surroundings are so important to the story, without it they are just candid portraits?

  4. old to some, new to me, spent an age looking for an everyday camera, many mirrorless once the lens was added were too big for me, the S110 and similar just to small, and other offerings way over my budget. The x10 felt great in the hand and just a tad over £200 with a year warranty in 2013, when released this camera took great pics, no reason that a few years on it will not deliver the same. Will do me fine.

  5. I love the square format too and often set my Lumix LX5 to 1:1. Your pictures are really good. Now I want a Fuji X10 to add to my Lumix and Olympus m4/3 gear.
    I’m looking forward to your photos from Sicily.

  6. Great article. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your photography. 🙂

    • Colin doesn’t need a Leica he is doing just fine with a X10! Great style and pics, Colin.


  7. your shots are absolutely great, I fully agree not the technique is the point the man behind the camera is
    the most important factor for outstanding pics,

    • It is obvious that Colin is technically proficient otherwise he would not get the results

  8. Fantastic images, you really got into the mix at street level, something I often find difficult to do, especially with a hulking DSLR ! So I use my Lx3 quite a lot, set to B&W and high contrast, doesn’t always work, and have to change the settings, but taking the colour away, leaves the eye to focus on the composition alone, and even though a little slow, it’s given me a few tasty images of late, and wetted my appetite more for the X100 as its replacement, especially now that its a lot cheaper.

  9. AAAAAAHHHHH Real Photography! Thank God! Remember, the best camera is the one you have at the moment. And you have captured the moment indeed!

  10. Fantastic work!!! Really great stuff – composition, timing, exposure. Great work all around. And a very informative article too. Just goes to show all of us, yet again (but we seem to keep forgetting when we get into ridiculous equipment debates….) that technique and vision and desire and proper composition are what’s important.

    Actually, they’re all that’s important (yes, I know exposure is also on the list ….I think everyone gets what I mean, though).

  11. Probably my gripe with the RX100 a here and there but nowhere sensor size as far as DOF goes though not in that no man’s realm of the four thirds stuff. I bought it to support the X100 for wide DOF situations alas that was a mistake. I enjoy using a VF so maybe a swing the the x20 but the price of a x10 is tempting

  12. FINALLY someone that doesn’t only shoot wide open! Extremely Satisfying to read something from someone with the same viewpoint. P.S. I like bokeh as much as the next guy but it is way overdone and typically wide open shooters disregard good composition.

  13. Great write up and yes, the X10 has been my go to camera for over 12 months now. I think it is the best digital travel camera ever made. I’ve just returned from another long trip through USA & Europe. I only take the X10 and a spare battery. (16gb SD card lasts for months).

    Long live Fuji!

  14. I enjoyed the shots and your attitude about ‘real world’ photigraphy and enjoyment. I agree wholly regarding the rapidity of change, and how quickly new, hot cameras are almost antiques within a year! I think this will increase because of the compact 35mm camera such as Sony RX1 (which I have) and truly compact cameras with relatively large sensors like Sony RX100 (which I have). These cameras are so much enjoyable to use and easy to carry. I think the next 5 years will see phenomenal quantities and quality of new cameras.

  15. And again it’s shown that real photographers need a point of view, not a fancy camera.
    Thanks for reminding us that (and for the beautiful photos).

  16. A truly astonishing series of images! Inspiring indeed. Thank you for reminding me what a great camera this is. I own one and used it for documenting my father’s 80th birthday celebration a year ago but then gave up on it because the Sony RX 100 came along. The X10 is really a very nice tool both from perspective of image quality and build. But as the saying goes: the better is the enemy of the good.

    Looking forward to see further contributions to daily inspirations.

  17. What an amazing read. I specifically opened this article when I saw the author’s name up there and I was not disappointed.

    Your reference to that person shooting a Leica at f11 was an eye opener for me.

    Your photography as well as your articles are just amazing

  18. Great images I enjoyed them very much.

    I NEARLY bought an X10 – I’m really looking forward to the X20 review.

  19. Colin you are a wonderful photographer and the little Fuji is a wonderful tool.

  20. Thanks for the article. I own an x10 and recently tried out an xe1 with the 35 1.4. After 3 or 4 days I returned the xe1. I just couldn’t see that big a difference in the satisfaction I received from the images I received from the two cameras. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt xe1 will provide some significant advantage for some photographers; I am not a pixel level camera critic and find the x10 images to be brilliant……..Not to mention its size and simplicity advantages.

    So far this year I have paid $400 for an x10 and $299 for a V1. I owe a considerable debt of gratitude to the camera critics.

    • I agree. I got a V1, 10-30mm and spare battery for $350. Thank you camera critics and web trolls!

      I’ve also got an X10 and find it brilliant for outdoor work, but am gravitating to the V1 for low light–it just works!

      Also the leaf shutter (as on the X100 I have too), makes fill flash with the X10 in bright light a snap (pun intended).

      Given how hard the world is on the the new Nikon A, that may be my next “year-old” camera when it drops to $700. Here’s hoping!

      Big discounts right now on the Canon EOS-M too for the same reasons. I’d get one except that Canon shut down remote control via EOS Utility for this camera, so I can’t use it in the manner that would make it a great value for me. Sigh….

      Lastly–but really firstly in importance–GREAT pictures Colin, just stunning. And thanks for the ebooks too.


  21. If these pics had been labelled as coming from a Leica Monochrom, nobody would have questioned otherwise. Once again it’s shown that camera doesn’t matter.

  22. Inspiring work and useful information .
    Enjoy Sicily and let us see some of the images please.
    Thanks for the ebook links also.

  23. Colin your work rocks, I remember what you did in Vietnam with the Nikon V1. Do you still use it?

    Totally agree with you on the DOF obsession. I think it began when small cameras made their plunge in the market and DSLR users hung shallow DOF above their head as one of the things that smaller cameras couldn’t do. It became a mission for people to prove otherwise, no matter if it created a better pic or not. Shallow DOF means you are cutting out elements in a pic, which can be good OR bad depending on the elements. One day we will return to rationality.

    • So true. The one that always cracks me up is when there’s a really fast lens in a smaller format and everyone says “oh, it’s not actually f1.4, it’s actual f2 (or whatever).

      No! It’s fand will provide you shutter speeds at any given iso that are one stop fatser than f2! What you mean is, the depth of field for a 35 mm lens is greater than for a 50mmm lens at any given aperture, which is a completely different point!

      Nobody would ever have said, well, the main benefit of my hasselblad is the ability to have reletively smaller depth of field than you get on your 35mm.

    • Hey, thanks guys. I still occassionaly use the V1 because I like the form and handling so much. I was gutted when Nikon didn’t develop it, the body was great and it just needed some tidy up on the controls. The new V is horrendous in my opinion, I have a very open mind towards camera design but I think its critically important that you enjoy the camera, how it looks and works for you.

      Thanks again for looking and commenting guys.

  24. Great photos Colin!! Not that the X10 is a bad camera, but your photos are good no matter what camera you use!

  25. Colin, I tend to be a moaner sometimes, and often underwhelmed by the daily “inspirations”, but this is _the_ occasion to say something positive from heart: this set of images is just amazing. It stands as a body of work on its own, but also eloquently illustrates your points about dof and the camera in use. The picture with the somewhat diagonal composition where the guy in focus is quite close and the man with baby in the background barely visible (though small senser), makes a perfect point. Not only is shallow dof used to inflation, but one fact is often ignored: that focus distance has more influence on background-blur than aperture. (Even on FF with a 40mm f2 wide open, there is hardly anything thrown oof at middle distances, let alone far).

    But the pictures: man, how did you get this set of images, being up in the face to the people? No matter under which circumstances people live, usually they are not so amused when s/o ticks a lens in front of their nose – no matter how small the lens. Do they know you, or don’t they care for some other reason? What puzzles me, is that not one of them looks annoyed – you know what I mean … “wth is this guy doing, he may ***** off” 😉 Maybe the first one a little bit, but the look is more interesting than just rejecting, a little suspicious, a little mysterious…

    Recently I have seen the Magnum retrospective in Vienna at Westlicht, and I must say, when I imagine your pictures hanging there between the great names, they wouldn’t have stood out in any way.

    • Hi Andreas, I think you just paid me the highest of complimenets, thank you so much.

      On the interacting with people and getting close, I was very lucky about a year ago to spend some time with the superb photojournalist Peter Trunley and Peter has shot and met evrything and everyone that you can think of from Castro to Mandella, 9/11, the whole thing and I learned from him how to patiently work with people in a situation, develop their trust by showing that you are non-threatening and interesting to them and that you are genuinely interested in the humanity of their situation – and it works. The best thing that Peter said to me was ‘be a photographer’ in other words think, act and go after the shots that you want.

      The guys in the photo you mentioned had been drinking all night at a little makeshift cafe in the slums under a motorway flyover and I sat there for an hour, had some coffee with them and talked to them as best I could. Eventually of course they all wanted photographed and began to adopt stiff poses and so on, but as Peter had taught me, once that passes, they get comfortable and/or bored and relax and that’s when I got this shot.

      I liked the guy in the photo very much and despite his drunken state we managed to have a decent conversation and he told me about his life and showed me the large box that he lived in and we parted in a spirit of friendship. A very warming experience for me and hopefully, for him.

      Thanks again for taking the time to make this comment and again, I am blushing as I write this at what you said,



      • Hi Colin,

        I am not sure whether you actually talked about Peter Turnley. I could be wrong here. Your photos look great! I really like the 2nd and 3rd images.



        • Hi Chaiporn,

          Yes, Peter’s workshop was a major development event for me along with another that I hope to share in a future post (its much less easy to write about) I did a couple of posts around that time and they actually led to giving up on the blog because I no longer saw any value in the travel and equipment angle that I had taken to that point. Here is the link if anyone is interested and also there is a link to Peter’s site in the article. He does workshops in fascinating places including Cuba and by strange co-incidence I am hoping to meet him in Sicily where we are both going to shoot the Easter festivals although I will not be in his workshop which he announced after I had booked my trip.

  26. Good thoughts and images. One small correction, your RAW files are 4000×3000 for a 4:3 ratio with the X10. Perfect for viewing on an iPad (also 4:3), which is probably the largest screen most images are viewed on these days.

    • That’s a very good point John that also applies in the M43 cams that I also like to use. The good thing about the 4:3 size for my purposes as shown here, is that obvioulsy you are getting close to the square anyway and I sometimes wonder if its the evolution I have had from D3 (3:2) to M43 that gradually led to liking the square crop so much as I had become used to the framing.

  27. Hi Colin,

    although I love bokeh,
    for street photography in general I think you’re totallly right that the environment adds to the power of the picture – and you prove it with a great set of photo’s!

  28. Really good to have the DOF issue so clearly illustrated with such good photos. I have much the same feelings and experience with my D-lux 4 – also a super lens. Together with a Clearviewer for the LCD – easy to swing out of the way – I have all the same advantages of screen composition and eye-level VF that you mention. Fascinated by your technique around square framing. I use 4×3 in portrait orientation, if I’m thinking of square later, because for me making final decisions about sky and ground are more critical than side-to-side.

  29. Very good photo set but would be interested to see the OOC images. These looked quite worked (good though).

    • Hi Doug, I thought it might be useful to share a quick comment on my workflow. I love shooting and the whole process of looking for interesting content, light and form but I detest sitting in front of the computer editing. With that in mind, nearly everything I do is a quick exposure adjustment in Lightroom if needed, crop of the RAW file to the 1:1 as per the jpg and then out to SilverEffex Pro where I generally just apply the TriX 100 or 400 filter, add a little bit of structure (occassionaly darken a bright area as in a couple of these shots) and thats it. If it takes more than a few minutes I know I am trying to ‘save’ a shot that isn’t worth it.

      There is nothing particularly wrong with the OOC look of any of the many cameras I have and use but I invariabley find they lack a bit of drama somehow so I almost never use them straight from the camera. I hope to post an article on my blog soon about something I find very interesting which is the conflict of style and mannerism and I will touch on the editing images subject there.



  30. Great piece of writing and very powerful shots. I too found a bargain used x10 last week at a local camera shop £269. I have had many cameras over the years including Nikon D7000, Fuji x100 and Ep3, to name but a few. I fancied a change and something that I could throw in a bag and take anywhere. The x10 is a great camera and the first one in a long time that I will keep.


  31. Stunning images from such a compact camera. Really nice article too. I must admit, im tempted to get an X10 off the back of your recommendation!

  32. Nice shots. I sometimes return to using the X10 and am always amazed at the quality of pictures it can deliver. Shallow depth of field is not always an advantage.

  33. Good story, good pics Colin. I totally support your stance for sticking with a camera for a lot longer than until the next model appears. And yes, we have to think about obsessive use of shallow DoF. It can be such a pain, but aren’t we all afraid our images will look run of the mill, touristey?

    Yours don’t.

  34. Hi Colin,
    Thanks for the post. I met Nikos in Doha, Qatar when he conducted a workshop here. It was a seminal experience. I have changed my shooting style completely after meeting him.

    The images you have posted are fabulous. Incredibly sharp (although not really important) and great contrast without losing detail. I’ll check some of your other work.

    Great post.

  35. Thanks for sharing your meaningful photographs and your insight on your equipment and photography. It’s great that you demonstrate the value of a well composed photograph with context and depth. I find your work inspired and inspiring.

  36. Hey Colin,
    I couldn’t agree more……as I am reading what you’ve had to say and enjoying your pictures….the thought
    that I picked up an incredible deal on a used GH2 this weekend past and the results are wonderful only makes me smile.
    I was in the photographic retail industry for a number of years and quickly learned that there were always
    wonderful treasures to be found in the used showcases!

  37. I believe the current fad for a blurred background stems from the fascination with gear. But also, a busy but well composed image that shows context is more difficult to accomplish than the ubiquitous bokeh image.

    Very well done documentary photography, and though the images are of a tough subject, the work is a refreshing reminder that Asia is not necessarily bright, colored clothing nor gleaming skyscrapers.

  38. Hi Colin,
    I’m totaly with you, I also have an X10 and love this little camera. The results are great for such a small sensor cam. I’m going to try out your settings of square b&w and RAW settings and see what nice pics I can take with this little beauty. Have a great trip to Sicily an Rome and hope to see some photo’s from that trip here.

  39. Context is very important, and I’m glad you mention this and showcase it in your photos. Photographers can get too caught up in the chase for subject isolation and shallow depth of field.

  40. Excellent! I like your comments on greater depth of field as an antidote to try shallow DoF obsession that seems to rule these days. I sometimes think that shallow DoF is used as an easy way to create impact in an otherwise mediocre shot. And it can become as boring as an over-used Instagram filter. If you’re shooting with greater DoF you have to work harder to arrange all the elements of the composition. The old photojournalist “f8 and be there” mantra still has a ring of truth about it. Really enjoyed your article.

  41. Very good pics. You don’t need the latest, the greatest, the most expensive, with talent or without it.

  42. I really enjoyed seeing these images. I love the last one especially. I get a bit of a kick out of shooting 1:1 and this has inspired me to try a little project of my own. Coincidentally, I also managed to acquire a Nikon V1 recently (encouraged by Steve’s reviews), so I must check out your Vietnam articles again and the e-books. Thanks!

  43. Congratulations on a truly superb set of photos. If I’m honest, most of the photographic content I see on this site from contributors does not distinguish itself but your photos here are artful, empathetic, abstract yet humane. Also, the X10 is a classy camera – I bought mine when it came out and have no regrets. A camera for photographers.

  44. I couldn’t agree more. My X-100 seems to have been “abandoned” by Fujifilm almost immediately after it was introduced. Since my wife and I are photographers, we have two of these little gems and they still shoot beautifully well for “outdated” cameras.
    (One of my favorite cameras in the 70’s was a red dial Leica IIIf with a 50cm collapsible Elmar. It would still be around if I hadn’t, in a moment of stupidity, sold it.
    Camera makers are shooting themselves in the foot by overpricing and immediate obselence. Better to go back to the days of the Nikon “F” system approach because there is not an endless supply of money.
    Your article points this out since the camera was (and is) still a great shooter.
    It makes me long again for my old IIIf.

  45. Great article. You are so right with your thoughts. And great photos with great depth of field…

  46. I like your b&w style. It’s perfect for the subjects.

    You don’t need the latest or greatest if you have talent.

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