Summer holidays with two Fuji Cameras
By Ibraar Hussain
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
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.
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.
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.