The Mirrorless Difference
Its funny how a few years ago I was having the big debate of Canon or Nikon. I'll admit that I'm a techie kind of guy and reading spec sheets is actually fun for me. I saw the Canon was much superior in their megapixels and in video while Nikon seemed to have slightly better Autofocus and more lenses. At that time I had decided on Nikon for probably the simplest of reasons as I can't remember exactly why I chose them. I do know that I picked up my first DSLR because it was being sold in a bundle with a second lens, bag and memory card. So, I figured I'd have everything I'd need for a while.
Many cameras and lenses later I find that I was so very wrong... ha!
Funny enough, right around the same time I was getting into my first couple DSLRs the Mirrorless segment was being introduced as well. But, the hoopla was so minimal that I really didn't start paying attention to the chatter until 2013. Mostly, to be honest, is the continued message that if you don't have a Full Frame camera, you're not really a photographer.
It seemed like many of us were working hard to be able to one day purchase a Full Frame camera and maybe feel better about ourselves. This can happen if you hang out with a lot of photographers.
But, later I found that Full Frame wasn't everything I thought it'd be and although awesome in so many ways I was ready to explore my options.
In comes Fujifilm. Finally, they are on my radar and I really start to pay attention. Raving reviews all over the internet, youtube and people are really starting to pay attention. Me being a techie guy thought, hmm, something very different to what I'm used to, but still able to produce superb image quality. Tell me more!!
I'm the kind of guy that will buy a movie at Best Buy without ever watching it before, just to see if its good. I was at the point in photography where I knew the settings, how to find favorable light, and how to use my creativity. So, I knew I'd be capable of using these cameras. But, there is always the unknown.
So I made the leap to Fuji head first. I started with the X-E1, which I soon returned as I found it slow. I then picked up the X-E2 and it felt responsive and was a lot of fun. I picked up a few lenses and headed out to explore the world around me.
Biggest differences I saw:
No optical viewfinder - As these have no mirror what you see through the viewfinder is what the sensor sees. Sort of like looking at a mini tv screen. To some this is strange, but I took to it very quickly. Possibly because I've spent years playing video games or because I spend tons of time on my cell phone, who knows. Because this is like a tv screen Fuji has been able to make these screens super customizable. I love customizing!! So things like showing you the histogram on the screen are neat, or changing to a black and white display if you are shooting in that mode, to showing you your exposure and on and on.
Knobs galore - If you ever shot film or like the retro styling of using knobs instead of tiny buttons this could be the camera system for you. By using knobs you'll know most of your camera settings even before you pick up the camera and turn it on. Very handy! If you're a hands on person this is great, while others will prefer the buttons their used to on a DSLR. Your fingers WILL have to learn a different way of taking photos. If you're looking for a mini DSLR, this isn't it. But, once you get over that and start getting used to the Fuji it is so much fun!
Small form factor - A lot of people are starting to look at these cameras due to their smaller footprint. Pro DSLRs and lenses are very heavy. I would think that after yrs of carrying around 20 plus lbs would start doing a number on your neck and back. And now, there is an alternative. These cameras are also mostly metal in their construction but do weigh a lot less and are smaller than a full DSLR. Some like to use these for travel or as a backup to their existing gear.
Phenomenal lenses - A great camera doesn't reach its full potential without amazing lenses to pair with them. And, Fuji has really delivered. Their kit lens is faster, better built and produces better images than any other kit lens I've seen out there. They offer 1.4 and 1.2 lenses! All their lenses are metal and have metal mounts. I think there are a few of lower end ones that are part metal and part plastic. Compared to Nikon, most of their current lenses are plastic. The Fuji lenses are also smaller and lighter to the competition. And, Fuji releases a roadmap for up to a yr, so you always know what's coming down the pipeline. And that helps you have time to get your wallet ready.
They keep getting better and better! - When Fuji cameras first rolled out their biggest weakness was slow autofocus. But, Fuji rolled out many firmware updates specific to their cameras and lenses. So, over time, your camera would actually improve. How awesome is that? To give you and idea I've had my gear for almost 5 months now and I've already had one update for each of my lenses and cameras in that time. Not only has this improved performance, but it has added features as well. I'm seeing a trend of them releasing two high end cameras every year and about 4-5 lenses per yr as well.
NOW TO THE X-T1
The X-T1 was released shortly after I purchased my X-E2. I figured I'd probably like it as it had some new features like its massive and quick Viewfinder, weather sealing, better grip, ISO dial and tons of customizable function buttons, but the price difference made me think on it a while. I learned to really enjoy my X-E2 and at the time was wondering if I could afford the X-T1 as I already had 2 X-E2s. I told myself they were just too similar and kept debating back and forth. I even tried it out for a could weeks and my wallet kept telling me no. So I decided I wasn't quite ready for it yet.
Fortunately for me I do make money from this business and was able to book an additional wedding for the year. This helped me to justify the purchase and eagerly ordered my X-T1 (which was actually sold out until the week I booked the wedding!). More and more reports on how awesome the camera was and how it had improved in many areas over the X-E2 had me anticipating the camera's arrival. I thought to myself that maybe I hadn't played with it enough when I had tried it out.
I was right! Without the worries of my finances I was able to put the camera through its paces and I was thrilled. The autofocus was faster than the already great X-E2. The grip helped my larger lenses feel a lot more balanced. The Viewfinder was huge and a pleasure to use. I just felt the overall camera to be quicker. Even small things like the tilting LCD screen on the back stood out. There are times when its nice to be able to see what you're taking a photo of when the camera is way below or above your eye level. The camera feels a little more substantial to the X-E2 and although they share a lot of similarities its clear that its a class above. But, in all fairness, I could photograph anything with either one.
But, these cameras are very complex in their own ways. I'm sure that even 6 months from now I'll discover more neat things I can do with it. And, as more lenses are released there will be a lot more options for people making the move to Mirrorless.
Let's be honest here...
The camera is not perfect and there are still a few areas I hope and know will be improved in newer models, but my Nikon's weren't perfect either!
The key thing to note here is that heading out with the X-T1 is fun!! Looking through the awesome viewfinder and composing your photo, moving the knobs and "feeling" the camera do its job is awesome. Some famous photographers have said how the Fuji cameras have soul and I have to agree. They have their own personalities and will react to different lighting conditions differently to a DSLR. But you can adjust and be creative on the spot and SEE it happening in the viewfinder. It really is hard to explain. The best way to find out what I'm talking about is to go and rent an X-T1 for a few days. You'll probably be frustrated the first few hrs as all the menus, dials, knobs, controls are not where you think they should be, but once you start thinking like a Fuji camera it is nothing but fun!
I recommend you try a mirrorless camera. Fuji, Olympus and Sony are the main manufacturers and all are very different. Perhaps one of them is your next FAVORITE CAMERA!!
Today was a bit rainy, but I decided to not let that stop me. So my friend and I headed to the Ecotarium in Worcester. I've been there a few times so I knew there were some nice exhibits indoors as well. I headed there equipped with my X-T1 and 60mm macro. This is the slowest lens to focus in the Fuji line-up, but I was curious to see how the new X-T1 would handle it.
I must say I was very pleased. It did hunt from time to time, but it was not as hesitant as I was used to. Actually I even bumped into my cousin and daughter there. Its super family friendly place and I can't think of many other places in Worcester that fun to go to on a rainy day.
This is a Red Fronted Macaw. He was very friendly and kept walking around.
This little guy was just hanging out on a stick.
This guy looks awesome, but I'm glad there is glass between us.
I was lucky enough to be there when they did a presentation/introduction of this little guy.
Ha. He looks like he's ready to go for a stroll.
And of course I had to look around for some details. There really is a lot to see at the Ecotarium. So wandering around I saw some interesting things. There are lots of educational stations as well as interactive stations to learn hands on. Often you will find dozes of children walking around having a blast. So of course I didn't want to interfere with their fun. But I did find some details to capture. Here are a few.
This goes to show that you can hand me a camera and a macro lens and I'll be happy for hours. I'm really happy with these results and am very pleased with the Fuji system. Today was a shorter visit to the Ecotarium, but I will be back as there is so much more to see.
If you know me personally you'll probably agree that I love food. I enjoy all kinds of cuisines and I don't shy away from visiting new places. Also, you probably already know about my passion for photography. So in those occasions that I can blend the two I'm quite happy.
One of my goals for the future is to do more food photography for me as well as for clients. I've always been very big on details, but also making things look good.
Today I had the opportunity of visiting The Loving Hut in Worcester. This is a Vegan restaurant. I've lived here over a decade and have never been there. Fantastic food, very tasty and well priced as well. But, I could not control myself in taking a few photos.
Please note that I did move things around a little, but this was all taken with available light and just for fun to see how my camera would do.
I'm going to make it a point of photographing more food on my photo walks. I love food!
Earlier today I decided to head out with the new X-T1 and walk around a little. I'd only used it about the house previously and although it seemed nice I knew it wasn't the best way to break it in.
So I headed to West Boylston to the Old Stone Church. I've gone there several times before so I know what to expect. I really couldn't have asked for a better day. It was warm, but not too hot out and there were only a few clouds here and there. So I walked around the Church and tried to get a few different angles.
Things I noticed:
- The viewfinder is huge and very easy to see even in bright sunlight!
- I used the tilting screen a couple times to shoot from the waist. For this location I didn't really use it much, but for some street photography I can already see how well that will work.
- The exposure compensation dial is really nice to use. I am always checking and adjusting it so its important that its easy to grip. Its designed much better than on the X-E2.
- The directional pad on the back, as many have already commented online, is very fiddly. I prefer the X-E2 design.
- I really like the grip on the camera. Although its almost the same size to the X-E2 it feels larger because of the grip. This in turn gives it a more premium feel if that makes sense.
- I like how the information rotates in the viewfinder when you rotate the camera to portrait view.
Overall I really like this camera and it truly feels like the X-E2's bigger brother.
These two photos are taken from the Rt 110 overpass of the Wachusett Reservoir.
You then walk up a little further and then turn to the left to find the path entrance to get to the Church. This sign is at the entrance.
As you walk down the path you see the Church ahead of you.
I headed over to the bushes to the left to get this angle.
As you walk closer to the Church you see this nice tree to your right.
This informative guide is located near the entrance to the Church.
Once inside you see that it is basically all walls and ceiling with the middle area covered with sand.
I just really like the textures and lines found in the Church.
Next I went back outside to go around the building.
Behind me is the Reservoir. In this photo I'm about a ft from the water.
Behind the Church this is what you see when you look across the way.
On the other side of the Church you see this large flag. If you look back to the first two photos you'll see this flag which nearly covers the whole side of the building.
I took more photos of course, but these give you a good idea of this landmark. So after some more photos I started making my way back up the path. To the right of the path you see another set of pretty trees.
I was/am very pleased with the handling of the X-T1. Pretty much everything feels right, in the right places and the viewfinder is just a treat. I'm thinking of heading out to a new spot this Thursday so check back to see where I end up.
I give the X-T1 a big thumbs up!!
Yesterday I got in my Fujifilm X-T1. If you recall from a previous post I had tried it out, but ended up returning it as my budget would not allow it. I had and still have my X-E2 which I am really enjoying. Given the newest firmware update the X-E2 is coming closer and closer to the X-T1 in performance. So why did I pick up the X-T1?
Since having the X-T1 my business has improved and I can now afford the X-T1. With more work comes more use and that is where I found the X-T1 would be a great investment. It offers a few key benefits to the X-E2.
- Weather sealed body: I don't often find myself in inclement weather, but with weddings you never know what you'll be faced with so its good to be well prepared and not have to worry too much about your gear.
- Large EVF. I had seen it before and it was very nice to use, but wasn't sure at the time if it was worth it. Having shot events recently without this sized screen I can see just how beneficial this is.
- Tilting LCD screen. When I was trying it out last time this was not something I really cared about at all. Since then I've been doing photo walks everywhere and there have been times I wish I could put the camera over my head or to "shoot from the hip". I know that I'll be using this LCD more often.
- It uses the same batteries. I already knew this, but whenever you upgrade a camera its always good to check. Luckily I already have some spares.
- More controls on the camera exterior. It looks like Fuji has listened to its customers and placed more options and settings on the camera body itself to minimize the need to dive into the menus. Not that I went in there often, but over time I'm sure this will become extremely convenient.
I'm really excited to use this camera and make full use of it. Not worrying about whether I can or can't afford it is awesome, but purchasing a top of the line product is even more rewarding. With some use I'll decide if I'll get a second one as I use my cameras in tandem for weddings and events.
Please enjoy a few photos of the new X-T1!
This camera is the big brother to the X-E2. It has a larger grip and the traditional viewfinder hump as well. It looks a tad large until you see the large viewfinder housed within. I prefer the rangefinder styling of the X-E2, but to be honest these are both very different cameras.
One of the major additions to the X-T1 to the X-E2 is the dedicated ISO dial on the top left. On the X-E2 you could access it via a menu using one of the function buttons. Although I tend to stay on the auto ISO settings I can see that studio work and other situations how convenient it is to have the dial right on top.
This is a view from behind the camera. You can see the ISO dial and the different shooting modes underneath as well. One less thing to go menu diving for. Nice!
As you move to the right you have the large viewfinder and the tillable LCD screen below.
To the right you'll see the other dials. These are in similar positions to where they are in the X-E2. You have the large shutter dial, the on off switch and the exposure compensation dial. I really like that dial on the X-T1 as its raised and very easy to grip. For my style of shooting I am constantly adjusting that dial so making it easier to grip is phenomenal. You can also see one of the function buttons there that you can customize. And you have the video record button as well, which I believe you can customize as well.
This is a different angle so you can the backside of the camera.
I'm really excited to use this camera more. I put a few lenses on it already and that viewfinder is just awesome. Also, I felt like some of the lenses focused faster as well.
I'm sure to post more about the X-T1 as I get bonded to it.
If you are looking for the full package in a mirrorless body this one is high on the list. It has been winning awards and causing many photographers to dump their gear and start looking at Fuji.
Good job Fuji!