If you're a photographer I'm positive you have countless camera bags like most of us do. I've owned LowePro and Tamrac bags which I still use regularly, but given my switch to Fuji one of my Tamrac bags became way too big while another was a good size, but not as discrete and rugged as I would like.
Having done a lot of research I had always heard great things about Think Tank products. I've decided that over the shoulder types bags are right for as they give me freedom of movement, quick access to gear if I need it and don't tend to wear me down too much. I have an everyday camera bag that I'll probably still take on photo walks here and there, but I wanted something a little nicer that would take a lot of use. Think Tank offers a variety of solutions, but the Retrospective series had always interested me. These are made with great materials, feel solidly built and are favored by many photographers.
So, I decided on the Think Tank Retrospective 7 in Pinestone. They have a 5 which is smaller and three sizes larger as well. In fact the originals were only the larger ones. Given the small size of my camera equipment this would be a comfortable size that could easily fit two cameras, which I always use for weddings, and a couple lenses. It will also carry my tablet and other odds and ends if I like.
Things important to me:
Good durable build quality - You'll see in the upcoming photos that it really is built well. Their shoulder strap is really well built including a rugged, but comfortable shoulder pad. This keeps it in place and helps distribute the weight comfortably.
Enough room to hold two cameras and lenses - There are three main compartments in the bag, but you can move the dividers around to your liking. There are even a few extras in there. I also found a nice pocket on the far side as well.
Easy access - I've always enjoyed the messenger bag style and this one works just as well. It has a large flap that protects your gear, but is very easy to fold back to get access to your gear.
Secure, but quiet - My current bag is similar in that it has velcro to secure it. For easy access this is much better than having to unzip a bunch of things. But, the velcro always ends up being very loud and distracting. As you'll see you can bend back some of the velcro to hide them completely or only secure the bag slightly if you need really fast and quiet access to your gear. Most high end bags have this feature and it was one that I really wanted.
Something that looks good - Yes, aside from carrying my gear I also want something that doesn't scream camera bag, but also of a good design. The Retrospective series is just that "classic" in styling. And a style I really enjoy.
Bags I considered:
The ThinkTank Mirrorless Mover 30i - This is a new series from Think Tank specifically designed for smaller mirrorless camera systems. They did some great things with these bags including a magnetic flap and not velcro as well as camera opening up towards you instead of away from you. Also, these are much more affordable. But, I preferred the styling and materials in the Retrospective 7.
Tamrac Apache Series- These are very new bags and didn't exist when I was looking at bags last year. These also seem very well built, high quality and were over the shoulder bags. Having only one choice in color I felt it might stand out too much. But, I really can't say anything bad about these bags. They look awesome! I think my mind was set on Think Tank.
Domke bag - These are also extremely popular and come in a few colors. This is similar build to the Think Tank, but not as expensive. The one thing that I was concerned with was the size. There was only one size of the styling I liked of theirs and it was a little smaller to the Think Tank Retrospective 7. It was more on par with the 5 which I had decided was too small for carrying two cameras with lenses on them.
In the end I decided on the Think Tank Retrospective 7 and I'm very pleased with it. This will by no means be my last bag purchase so as my kit grows I'll be keeping an eye on other bags in the future.
The first photo is the bag closed. It just looks like an average messenger bag. This photo shows you the bag with the flap up. You'll see there are two large velcro areas. So you know when the flap is down it is very secure. Notice the camera bag straps. These are really well made.
This is the underside of the flap. You can see that I folded back the sound silencers onto this part of the velcro. This way the bag will be silent. In the middle you see a business card holder. You can easily fit about 12 cards in there, not bad.
On the opposite side of the bag you'll find the logo and product name. This is the part of the bag that rests on you when you walk. So this also helps to hide the fact that you are carrying a camera bag.
This is a photo of the backside area with the underside of the shoulder strap. I'm very impressed with the quality of this strap.
This is a photo of the side of the bag when its open. As you can see there are some large deep pockets to protect your gear, but also this extra pocket on the side. This would be a great place to put batteries and/or a battery charger.
This photo shows a more central look of the bag. Also, you can see on the left side the large opening where you can fit a small laptop or tablet. I think it'd be a great place to put a notebook or binder as well.
This is a side photo of the bag. You can see there is a hang carrying strap as well, but that is removable. To some a bag is a bag, but when you're out taking photos all the time you want something you enjoy, looks good, is functional and that will last you a long time.
All photos were taken with an X-E2 and 60mm
Just like everyone else in the industry I was very excited about the new X-T1 which launched a few weeks ago. Fuji had really upped the ante with this camera. It boasted a lot of new features and instead of the full retro look it looks a tad more like a mini DSLR that happened to have dials. Being a gear guy I needed to learn more about it and see what it was all about. I checked out a ton of reviews and forums and saw that it was a little different to everything else Fuji offered and could very well be a big step forward. They were in short supply so as soon as I found out it was available at my local Best Buy I had to pick it up and test it out.
In the past, with Nikon, I had been pretty quick about accumulating lenses and trying to figure out which cameras to buy next. This time around I'm trying to be a little smarter and more practical with my purchases. What is it that I need and are there any gaping holes in my kit. This camera looked amazing online, and there were lots of great reviews on it. So I waited patiently for the shipment to arrive.
First things I noticed:
- Much larger viewfinder! Playing around indoors with it I was not very impressed, but when I went outside wow! The detail, clarity and refresh rate on the EVF was phenomenal. The viewfinder is now in the middle of the camera which is an easy move as that's what it was with my Nikons.
- It feels more solid and a little heavier, but there is a better grip area and thumb rest area as well which really helps.
- There is an ISO wheel on the left side which is nice although I generally keep that in AUTO as I trust the high iso limits of the camera.
- The lcd screen is now articulated. I used to have a camera like that in the past and although fun, I always shoot with the viewfinder and will rarely tilt the screen. This also means no buttons on the left side of the camera where I was used to going to on the X-E2. (Buttons are all different yet again.)
- View mode reappears on this model, but its in an awkward place, and the focus assist button is more prominent.
- I prefer this larger exposure control dial as its raised and large. Good job with that Fuji.
- The directional pad on the back is very small, which for some is too small. To me they were ok.
- The viewfinder shows more information like side by side images, the information rotates with you and the refresh rate is fantastic in low light.
- Memory card slot is on the side vs on the bottom. Makes sense as its easier to access and allows for the option for a battery grip as an accessory. People are really pleased with that one.
Why I picked up the camera.
Currently I own the x-e2 camera which I really like. It was a rangefinder (old manual camera) look and feel to it and works really well. But, I always work with two cameras for weddings and events and I was looking for a good second camera to work in tandem with this one. The options were a second x-e2, an x 100s and this X-T1. Given my style of shooting and how the camera saw things I passed on the x100s. It is a super camera don't get me wrong, but the focal length and metering was so different to the X-e2 and what I'm used to. I will purchase one of them in the future as it makes for the perfect travel, walking companion when you want to be discrete and pack light. Then there is the X-T1 with all its new features, better build and weather sealing. Actually the x100s and the X-t1 are currently the same price while the X-E2 is about $400 cheaper as its on sale.
What I decided:
Although the X-T1 is very impressive and boasts a lot of new features the image quality and general autofocus system is exactly the same. I decided I didn't need the titling screen, different button layout, the ISO dial, or the size difference. I am super content with the rangefinder look of the X-E2. So I have decided to pick up a second X-E2 save about $400 and have two cameras with the same buttons, and that work exactly the same. This way if one goes down I have a backup that works exactly the same.
- The one thing that I will miss from the X-T1 is that gorgeous viewfinder. I can see that making a big difference in everyday shooting. Luckily the speed of the viewfinder is something that the X-E2 will be matching shortly with a firmware update.
- I will most likely wait for the X-E3 to come out as it should keep the same retro look and also cost a little less.
- IF this is your first camera into the FUJI series I would highly recommend picking up the X-T1 as it will resemble your DSLR a little more and in some ways is snappier to the X-E2. Its a serious camera for demanding photographers I just can't justify it at this time as I also have my eye on the new 56mm 1.2 lens. Going to need a lot of pocket change to pick that one up.
I just realized today that I've had my hands a variety of Fuji products in the last month or so. I'm not writing this up as a review but as sort of an overview of what I've seen. Hopefully it will be helpful to others who are also interested in moving towards the Fuji system. Please note that these are opinions and for "my purposes" and use only. I am a wedding photographer, but also enjoy doing macro, traveling and every day photography.
X100s - This is a camera with a fixed lens of 23mm, has an optical and electronic viewfinder. You have to see it to believe it, tough to describe. Only the XPro1 and the original x100 share that feature currently. This is a 16.3MP camera. The original x100 had a 12MP camera with a bayer sensor.
- It is small and compact and no need to change focal length so it slows you down and makes you think more on your composition. Very well built and also very good close focusing capabilities. This camera is pocketable (jacket, large pockets)
- Also, the leaf shutter is super quiet! You can't hear from even three ft away. Perfect for street photography and for taking candid photos without being noticed.
- The leaf shutter is also neat because it allows for flash use of up to 1/1000 of a second. For flash/strobe users this is a dream setup.
- Very good image quality up to ISO 6400 using the xtrans sensor II.
- Is a do it all camera when traveling, general walking around and produces images similar to full frame cameras.
- If you feel you might need more focal lengths you are rather limited here. Update: You can spend more to get the wider teleconverter and longer one as well. Both of these are fairly new but do add to its flexibility.
- Af in low light is slower than some of the newer Fuji cameras. For some more demanding situations its not quite up to the task yet, although with patience it can be done.
- The button layout is different to all other Fuji cameras, so although it makes for a great companion camera it will take some getting used to. For some this is not a problem at all.
- The evf refresh rate is also a little slower than other models. This could be updated in future firmware updates.
Note: Overall, this is an almost perfect camera. If the AF improves in the near future for low light situations it would be unstoppable. For many this has not been an issue, but when comparing to other Fuji models it does fall behind.
X-E2 - This is one of the newer interchange-able lens models. After the success of x100 and the x-Pro1 Fuji decided to add a line-up to their camera system. One priced in-between the x100 and the XPro1. So, the X-e1 came out. It was in many ways an Xpro1 without the optical view finder. The build was not as good, but very close to it as well, but much less expensive. Smart move Fuji to get more traction. Less than a yr later the X-E2 came out. The X-E2 although nearly identical to the X-E1 had many improvements which to me made it the best Fuji camera available (at purchase).
- First thing I noticed with the X-E2 over the X-E1 was the EVF refresh rate. It was much much faster. Even in low light it barely stuttered at all. To me it made it a lot more accurate taking photos.
- AF improvements. All my lenses seemed to focus much faster in regular light and low light as well. With the added phase detection on the Xtrans sensor II this camera is snappy. The X-E1 did not get the benefit of the new sensor. To me AF accuracy and speed is very important in low light as well.
- Vs the x100s it is very good to have a system where you can take advantage of the Fuji lens lineup which is very impressive.
- This camera is still small enough with a short lens to walk around with.
- From the start it came out in black and silver so you have a couple options there depending on your style.
- I don't really see anything glaring here. I do see that it can be improved in AF, evf refresh rate, but some of these things can be improved with firmware updates. I would like the view mode inserted in there possibly on a function button as it can be very useful. The X-E1 had it, not sure why it went away, aside from moving about buttons. This is my camera of choice and only makes me more curious to see what the X-E3 will bring to the table seeing some enhancements on the new X-T1.
X-T1 - (Please note I do not own this camera and this is information gathered via online reliable sources, and current owners of the camera) This is the brand new camera that hit the market a few weeks ago. It is set to fit between the X-E series and the X-Pro series. It adds an ISO wheel to the top left of the camera and moves the viewfinder to the middle as in many DSLRS. It looks like they attempted this styling to attract more converts. The viewfinder is much larger and faster and adds a few great features as well. They have added a tilting back screen, and made the camera weather sealed which is a big step up. I'm hoping the new X-E3 might get weather sealing as well.
- More durable, tougher build will appeal to many. Having a weather sealed camera is very important to some photographers. The improved build quality and added weight also helps balance some of the larger lenses. Weather sealed lenses will be arriving to the Fuji lineup later this year which is also exciting.
- Grip option that will hold another battery is great as these cameras don't get the best battery life as they use smaller batteries to keep their dimensions small. No other model offers a grip that can hold a battery. Also the memory card slot is placed on the side of the camera vs on the bottom. Yet another small thing, but a great improvement.
- Large viewfinder. I personally have not seen it, but it is larger than the viewfinder on full frame cameras. Its supposed to be amazing and it offers more options as well.
- ISO dial on the top left really helps to change that setting and a few others quickly without having to jump into the menus.
- Faster AF. This is always welcome and I've read it has improved on all the lenses currently available.
- Stylistically this camera moves away from the rangefinder design and looks more like a mini dslr. For some this is fantastic and for others like myself prefer the x-e2 design.
- The shutter filter thread and flash have been removed from this camera. I'm assuming they did this to help with the weather sealing. Given the large viewfinder area on this camera there was no space to put a built in flash. But, for some, having no cable release option isn't great.
- Camera is larger than the X-E2 and X100s and heavier. With the grip it starts to resemble the size of a smaller sized DSLR.
I think Fuji has done something really smart here. They have a fixed lens offering that had/has a huge following. For everyday use or as a companion camera it is just superb. They have a cost effective X-E series that seems to be replaced every yr or so. These keep that retro look and work really well and for some people making a conversion to the Fuji line it won't burn a hole in your pocket. The high ISO performance on all these cameras is just phenomenal and was my 1st reason to check them out. Then you have the X-T1 series which has just begun and is getting a ton of attention everywhere and it seems the demand is much higher than anticipated. This one is not that much more than the X-E2, but offers a hybrid DSLR/Rangefinder look that will appeal to serious pros and people more accustomed to the DSLR look. All enjoy the great knob layout for a great hands on feeling. The X-PRO series stands at the top of the line-up. To this day they have only had one version, but it was fantastic. It is now getting a little long in the tooth and the masses want a new version. The X-T1 will suffice for now, but there are huge hopes for the new X-Pro2 whenever that comes out.
The lenses are just fantastic. Most are built of all metal, have the aperture ring on the lens itself and are very sharp. Also, some are way cheaper than a comparable version with other manufacturers. In addition, FUJI releases a roadmap for the yr to let you know exactly what will be coming out several months ahead. This way you can start saving up for that dream lens. Did I mention they have been doing two huge sales a yr where most of their lenses are marked down? Unheard of!! This past month I was able to buy a lens and practically get the second one for free. This was for all retailers and not buying from Fuji directly. Super impressed with Fuji for that and thank them. This company started with three lenses and now has about a dozen available with another 3-5 coming out by the end of the year. The XF series is their pro line up and the XC lenses are the more prosumer line-up. If you're curious to what's hot right now they just launched a 56mm 1.2 lens this week! Any portrait photographers out there?
Firmware updates continue to improve each model. Even a yr later Fuji has been coming out with fixes, updates and even add-ons to make your existing camera enjoy a longer life. And that is impressive. You can rest assured that whichever camera you buy will only get better with time and not worse. Congrats Fuji!! To this day there are proud owners of the original x100 owners that would NEVER give it up, and that camera is about 2 yrs old!
Note: Having tried out a few of these cameras I have noticed one thing that was out of the norm for me coming from the DSLR world. Each series offers different button layout, control. So be aware of that if you are looking to get more than one Fuji camera. Especially if you need to use two in tandem it can be frustrating having to learn two different button layouts. For me, it made the most sense to use two of the same camera so I could easily switch back and forth and not be missing or having to find a button. Knowing that future firmware updates will be rolled out, as well as more lenses assure me that I made the right choice to switch to Fuji.
Please share your thoughts if you are a Fuji owner.
Or if you are considering Fuji and have any questions, please ask!
I think I learned my lesson of walking around for hours in the cold yesterday that I decided to stay in today. But, that turned out well as I was able to play around with my new 60mm macro from Fuji. I've had it for over a week now, but hadn't really had a chance to use it. So, I grabbed a couple things about the house and took a few photos.
I had a small asian style cup around and some jelly beans. Figured they'd make good subjects and food.
The first photo is a sort of closeup while this next one is a macro. The 60mm lens is not a "true" macro as it doesn't get to 1 to 1 ratio, but it does get close enough. Because it doesn't get that shallow I actually had no problem setting the camera (X-E2) to macro mode and using autofocus. With my Nikons I tended to stick with just manual focus as you could get much closer.
This is close to the closest you can get. Not bad at all!
Here's a different angle. Mouth watering yet?
Please note that all of these were shot under f8 as I wanted accentuate the depth of field.
I also had a nut blend laying around. These are a little larger, but figured they'd make good subjects as well.
Notice how the background just fades away. The cup is probably a good 12 inches behind the nuts.
Thoughts on the 60mm macro from Fuji:
- I like it a lot. Its sharp, contrasty, focuses quickly for macro work when you set the camera to macro mode. This tells the camera its looking to focus closely. When not in this mode it will travel the whole focusing range which can really slow it down.
- The build quality is fantastic. Its metal, has the aperture controls on it and a large focusing ring as well.
- Its a little larger than the 18-55mm, only slightly, but has a much larger lens hood.
- For a prime lens f2.4 is not the fastest, but it does produce some fantastic bokeh.
- If you're looking for a great portrait lens and macro lens this is the one to buy.
Thanks for visiting.
WELCOME TO THE BLOG
Please use the search bar below to find what you're looking for or click on the category that interests you.
Thanks for visiting!