Summer holidays with two Fuji Cameras By Ibraar Hussain

Summer holidays with two Fuji Cameras

By Ibraar Hussain

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I had a very nice summer holiday this August, A week on the southern approaches of Snowdonia; overlooked by a legendary mountain called Cader Idris, and then a few days in Norfolk, on the East Anglian coast of England.
Interesting, as both places represent different histories of Britain – with East Anglia being named after the Angles: the Saxon tribes England and English is named after, and the border of North and Mid Wales being a place where Welsh is spoken – Welsh being more or less the same language of the Britons (and the Welsh being more or less the descendants of those same Britons) who dwelt in what is now known as England before the Roman invasion, so the history of England and Wales in intertwined and it’s rich in history, myth and legend – and a wealth of photographic opportunity.

I took along two cameras: the Fuji TX-2 (Hasselblad X-Pan II) and the Fuji XE2s (X Trans sensor). Each had a purpose, and I had the opportunity to shoot the same or similar scenes with both and was able to see how they compared when I got home.
The Fuji XE2s was very impressive considering I shoot Jpeg using the in camera settings (I did tweak in PS afterwards) I can’t be bothered shooting RAW and doubling my work – that partly defeats the purpose of shooting Digital.

I chose the Fuji XE2s after a good few weeks visiting camera stores and trying out the latest gear.

I have already had a Micro 4/3 camera (The Panasonic GX7) and to be honest, I’m not keen on the rendering of the lenses and the ‘look’ I get from the M 4/3 sensor – it’s sharp and detailed but lacks depth and the feel I get from my Fujinon and Contax Zeiss lenses on the Contax G2, Contax Aria and Fuji TX-2. I did very much like the look and handling of the OMD EM5 mk II – superb body and the best eVF I’ve seen – but I think it’s Chinese made and still has that small sensor I dislike.

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 was superb, great ergonomics with a superb Viewfinder – but it was very expensive, and made in China..Pass.

I wasn’t keen on the Sony A7 camera – superb optics and image quality, and build but for starters it was expensive, was made in Thailand or some place, and I just couldn’t get on with the looks and ergonomics, the eVF wasn’t as pleasing as the OMD and that Sony logo put me off life – I want a camera, not a Playstation or Trinitron.

Sunset from Sunny Hunny – Hunstanton Norfolk. Fuji TX-2 45mm Fujinon f4

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I loved the latest Canon 5D but couldn’t justify the price, heft and the fact that I’d have to spend a great deal more on lenses – and for someone who shoots perhaps 3 times a year, it was not worth investing too much into Digital gear.

I finally settled on a Fuji, as I have had a Fujifilm GA645 and currently have the superb Fujifilm professional TX-2 aka the Hasselblad X-Pan II.

I liked them all – the XT1, XT10 and the XE2s. I passed on the XT10 as it’s not made in Japan – I wanted a Japanese made Camera so the choice was between the XT-1 and the XE2s.
I settled on the XE2s as apart from the superior eVF and weather sealing, I couldn’t justify the price of the XT-1 – the XE2s did 90% of what the more expensive XT could do and I’d also be able to get a kit including the excellent Fujinon Super EBC 18-55 f2.8 – f4 XF lens for less than body only XT-1.

The only fault with the XE2s was the crap grip – so I had to get myself one of the Fuji screw on Grips so handling was now almost as good as my other cameras.
I also sneakily bought an adaptor so i could use my Contax Zeiss C/Y lenses – which fit nicely and work well. I have a Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Planar and a Yashica ML 135mm f2.8 (these play the part of a portrait lens and a telephoto respectively).

The Fuji XE2s is made in Japan, and mostly made of metal. it is a very nice camera to hold and to use (with the additional grip), and everything a photographer needs is on the body in the form of programmable buttons – with dedicated AF and AE lock buttons.

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It isn’t a blinding fast camera to use though, it lacks the speed of a DSLR – I was using my niece’s Canon 600D a few weeks back and that was blindingly fast and this Fuji lacks that instant speed.
The C/Y adaptor easily attaches, and when set to Shoot without Lens, the focus peak feature enables fairly accurate Manual Focus with the lenses. The thing is, I’ve heard elsewhere and it’s true that the Fujinon lenses are superior in performance when compared with other lenses on the Fuji X bodies, with the Fuji X body being optimised for the Fujinon lenses.
Along with adding the Fuji Grip, I also (as with all of my cameras) added an Optech USA neoprene strap for the ultimate comfort.

I thoroughly enjoyed using the Fuji XE2s, as it’s a proper camera with the dedicated controls I am used to along with an aperture ring on that superb zoom lens.
I found the Velvia mode less pleasing that the Provia and Astia, and the other Film modes are very good for portraits (I have used it to shoot a few portraits since and the modes are excellent).
The Velvia mode had unappealing colours, so I just shot in Astia and Provia with the intention of tweaking the colours if required in Photoshop and Apple Aperture/Photos.

I included a couple of useful filters to my camera bag – namely the Tiffen Neutral Density Graduated screw in filter which is great to carry around and quick and easy to use, and has possibly the most neutral colour of any graduated filter. I have one for each of my lenses (or rather one for the 45mm Fujinon on the TX-2 and one for the XF lens on the XE2s) The Great thing about this is that it doesn’t need any contraptions at the end of the lens, but can be twisted on and off like any other filter – ver useful.

I love the fact that I could use my XE2s handheld in almost any light, and get some cracking results, so I think this is, as far as Digital cameras go, a keeper. The only problem with it, is that as with most digital cameras, it cannot handle highlights, and especially strong contrasty lighting – with the sun and other bright lights burnt out.

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I am a travel Photographer of sorts, and I enjoy photographing people, portraits and scenes with some nature in foreign climes, but my travel is often twice a year at the most so it’s not worth me investing in expensive digital gear I’ll hardly use, and which will mostly likely be obsolete in a few years, hence I stick with Film and have some excellent high quality cameras with superb optics (the Fuji TX-2 with 45mm Fujinon, the Contax G2 with 21, 45 and 90mm, the Contax Aria with 50mm f1.4 and a Yashica 135mm f2.8) and besides, I prefer the look and results of the Film I use anyway.

Overall, the XE2s is a lovely camera, great build quality, ergonomics and controls (with the added grip) are spot on, image quality is excellent and it’s a solid Japanese made piece of quality.

So here are a selection of snaps from West Wales – Aberystwyth and Barmouth and some of the region around southern Snowdonia and Cader Idris – the dominant mountain around these parts. These are but snaps, hand held and taken while holidaying and not shot with photography in mind and a small selection (email size dictates 25MB maximum size so couldn’t include the series from Norfolk and Shropshire) with some interesting comparisons.

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34 Comments

  1. Belatedly – What a fun project! I’ve not used the Fuji film camera before but invested in a (refurb) XE2S a couple of months ago. Shooting my 2 year old grandson is challenge and agreed a DSLR would make lighter work of it but the little XE2S gets there with a good few rejects but a good few great shots – I couldn’t have done it with my beloved M9!!

    But! I love this XE2S and it’s fun and it fitted the bill as the No 2 for my M9 in terms of cost, size and great kit lens (18/55) giving me just about the same range as 4 M mount lenses!!

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. I have a Fuji XE1 (made in Japan) but have to say that my old Olympus EP1 and Nikon 1V1 (both made in China) are much better built!

    • John thanks ever so much, and I enjoyed your gallery a great deal! I’ve visited many of the places but you’ve inspired me to visit the ones (you have) that i haven’t!
      I love that part of Wales

  3. Hi Ibraar

    I am a confessed film fan when it comes to landscapes. I thought the TX2 had more “pop” in the colours over the equivalent digital image even though they were not as sharp.

    I have never been a fan of ND filters especially the ND filter that is dedicated to the 45mm lens on the TX 2. In my view, it makes the images less sharp on film images. The digitals seem to cope but the film images less so. I live with the Vignetting and get the computer post scanning to compensate for the less exposed edges.

    Thanks for the comparison.

    • Thanks man
      I am not a fan of the ND filter neither – it’s distracting and I reckon you’re right.

      But in regards sharpness, these were quickly scanned with Epson Scan on an Epson 4990 Flatbed and I can tell you that the conditions weren’t perfect – my scanner is 10 years old and the surface glass has blemishes, and the Slide strips weren’t ‘flat’. I need to invest in a better flatbed (as my Plustek doesn’t scan more than 1 35mm strip) and some mounts to keep the film flat.

  4. Interesting and honest story about workflow and preferred gear qualities, which I presume more of us share with you, than what we may admit.
    I will never forget the disappointment many years ago, when I bought my first new ‘German’ camera and found out it was made in Singapore…
    Part of ‘pride of ownership’ may also be the thought/hope that the gear was made by a proud dedicated staff, working for a company with a local history, under reasonable working conditions.

  5. I think you lost me when you said “I can’t be bothered shooting RAW and doubling my work – that partly defeats the purpose of shooting Digital.” That is really too bad that you don’t want to move beyond taking snaps and actually getting the most from your cameras. Just my opinion. The OOC jpgs are nice but so much more can be done with the shots, but if you only prefer to take snapshots so be it.

    • I disagree
      The point of Digital is the instant unlimited (according to storage) results and not post processing.

      I also disagree in your view on Snaps, shooting out-of-camera Jpeg doesn’t relegate the photo to a ‘snap’. and RAW doesn’t elevate a ‘snap’ to a serious photo.
      A serious photo isn’t about Jpeg or RAW anyway. Following this train of logic one would think that shooting Slides is snap shooting and shooting Negatives is serious shooting.

      I shoot snaps along with serious images, but my Digital Fuji is solely for snapshooting – quick results and good results from the camera’s processing.

      To be honest, I think shooting RAW gives camera makers a bit of a let off – for example, shooting Slides you get exactly what you get from the slide – and this is what I tend to aim for when shooting Digital – any camera maker worth his salt would make a camera whose Jpegs from camera are as good as any RAW post processing

  6. You pretty much lost me at: ‘…and that Sony logo put me off life – I want a camera, not a Playstation or Trinitron’.
    I stopped reading what you had to say…and I’m not a Sony Fanboy either…but clearly your article is so biased that there is no point in reading on. Who cares what the logo on the camera is?? I laugh at the hate Sony gets; we as photographers should be happy that Sony is making sensors/cameras or we would still be stuck with Canon er/….2009 sensor technology.

    From where I stand the A7R2 looks like one of the best cameras out there for what I do…and I’m a Leica shooter. Fuji makes great cameras and lenses, there is no doubt about it but they’re not perfect either. As an example their bodies all feel cheap and hollow to the touch. My M240 feels solid and substantive whereas my X-Pro1 looked the part but as soon as I picked it up I was immediately disappointed at how cheap it felt. I mean…it never broke or anything but it just didn’t feel the way a quality product should….Leica guys will understand.

  7. Some lovely shots there, Ibraar, my favourite the one with the seagull (left of frame) and the red fishing boat. You nailed that one; that should be printed. Excellent.

  8. Personally I couldn’t care less what the camera logo is. If it does the job and suits my personal needs, it could carry a Gillette logo for all I care. Being a long time Nikon D300 user that was made in Thailand, I can say it took quite a beating, rain, mud and scorching sun with no consequences whatsoever. I expect my D500 to perform similarly.
    The snapshots are lovely, but in my honest opinion they belong to a family album, nothing les, nothing more. Self-censorship is good.

  9. Lovely photos Ibraar, and of course I am partial to your film shots!
    By the way, I have you to blame for my recent purchase of a TX-1 after seeing your various shots on other posts. And I absolutely love that camera!

    Best regards
    Huss

    • Thanks Huss my Film brother from another mother.
      The TX/Xpan is a keeper – superb and a joy to own and use with results to match.
      If I had a criticism it’d be that there’s no Exposure Comp dial (your TX-1 has!) and the VF is slightly occluded by the projecting lens – apart from that it’s about perfect.
      Just had a nice read of Rowell’s Throne room of the Mountain Gods and Mountain Light – and next Spring I willbe a going to the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalaya (again) and boy, I can imagine Velvia 100 TX-2 Panoramics there! I’ll be taking my Contax G2 with some (precious frozen) Ektachrome e100vs too (for travel shots and portraits)
      So watch this space!

      And when are we going to see the results of your Fuji TX?

      • Ibraar, soon my friend, soon! Just finished my first rolls through it and it is being developed. Excited to see the results.
        Your upcoming spring trip will give your TX-2 a proper workout.

  10. Thanks for sharing your holiday with some good shots and your thoughts about digital cameras. The latter very helpful. At last I have “met” someone who admits he mostly shoots jpegs! I do, too, and am much more focussed (as you might say) on composition than processing. With my three small Leicas and my three small (NEX) Sonys, I get good colour, but I share your feelings about wanting a camera and not an electronic marvel, so I admire the little APS-C Sonys, but Leica comes tops for haptics and minimal pp on the jpegs.

    • Thanks John, I only shoot Jpeg – I’ve shot in RAW once many years ago and was bored still by the (for me a worthless) endeavor. I’m sure RAW will get better results but I can’t be bothered and besides can’t teach this old dog new tricks.

      I do enjoy the feeling of getting more or less keepers straight from the camera – and this Jpeg method I feel also allows one to see the real quality of the camera (in colour anyway)

      You’re probably right about the Leicas

  11. A couple of points.

    I just wanted a Japanese made camera – this doesn’t mean it’s ‘better’ than made in China.
    The same goes for the Sony – great great camera – just not for me, just like a Leica M isn’t for me.

    And I sold the Panasonic! 😛

  12. “…and that Sony logo put me off life – I want a camera, not a Playstation or Trinitron…” Ok man, a very Pro comment…and you like Panasonic? Jajajajajaja…impressive…

  13. Some nice shots.
    Made in China isn’t equal to poor built. Many cameras are made in China due the labour cost, but the worker are well trained and supervising and control are high leveled.
    When it comes to the glass, European and Japanese manufacture is preferable.

    • I too look for Made in Japan, Germany etc why? Because a camera for me is a special purchase and I can get a Made in China, camera, TShirt, kids toy from any discount store , but you can’t get Made in Japan, Germany, England, Switzerland from a discount store, so when I spending reasonable money he it a suit, coffee machine I want it to be different from my normal everyday purchases. Plus I’ve had faulty goods from so called well known names who have outsourced, yet my Swiss coffee machine and U.K. Hover have outlasted all the Made in China stuff, ask a Dyson engineer and they tell you to hold onto your English machine and not be tempted to switch. Ok well of course for cameras but agree the XE2 is great except noise reduction on skin tones as 3200 there horrid.

      • Thanks Adam. I concur.

        Labour costs and the employment law and the fact that these are FREE countries makes a difference to me.
        I’m not keen on Tyrannies and otalitarian regimes along with Communism so that is another reason.

        Some items I have no choice but to buy which are Chinese made – such as my iPhone and possibly my iMac – but everything from my TV, music speakers and audio equipment, cameras, headphones, most of my jeans, boots – trousers, suits, shirts knitwear furniture etc is made in either Western Europe, America, Canada Japan or South Korea. I’m willing to pay extra, look further and even import for this.

        So I will choose made in Japan/germany/USA etc over China given the choice.

        • I meant to say:

          I’m not keen on Tyrannies and Totalitarian regimes along with Communism so that is another reason

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