Fuji X-T2

Fuji X-T2

In April 2016 I was lucky enough to be chosen, along with another 199 photographers around the world, to try out the new Beta model of the Fuji X-T2 camera… an upgrade from the X-T1. Well, what an experience. No manual, just twiddle the knobs, hit the buttons, scroll, figure it all out and then start firing. When the camera arrived with its name and model type nicely taped over I set about having a play. In fact I had no idea what I was holding. It was very secretive. I didn't think to take a shot and check the file info, instead I peeled back the tape a little to discover its secret.

The camera had a few strange anomalies which I had to work around but then, over the next few weeks, an upgrade came and then another, and after that things settled down a bit. It now works like a real camera and one that likes being caressed.

My first impressions of the camera were good, and I did get the distinct impression that people who actually photograph had a huge input into some of the changes, both cosmetic and internal. I think for far too long, and in some cases even now, camera designers were recruited from the same company which makes TV remotes.

The new camera is slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor, but not so much that you would notice it, and the really nice thing is that it has a lot more pixels which is what I was mainly excited about. Up to 24 now which is great and more than enough for people who photograph for fun. This unfortunately does not make my photography any better, but when I do get it right, it will have a better quality image.

Just about everyone I know in the living universe has a camera in their phone. Don't we all pity the poor bugger who only has a phone? If you can be bothered, take a picture on your phone of a scene and then without moving take one on your 20, 30, 40, or 50 mega P camera, print them both out to say an A4, and the only thing that you will notice is the difference in the quality of the enlargement.

There are no ifs and buts about this, it just is so. So when I am offered a camera that goes from 16 mega Ps up to 24 I get a little bit excited as I figure that the quality of the image in a print will be much better. However if the images never leave the computer screen then stick to your phone.

I used a Canon G12 for ages, but once I started enlarging those images I was very disappointed. Nothing wrong with the camera but, as we all know, size is important and I want mega pixels that can handle a 20 x 16 inch print without me wishing that I had something bigger. I am always after good definition as long as it looks real.

If you have a habit of viewing your photographs from outer space then maybe 24 mega pixels is not enough for you. If you are just a mere mortal who hangs your images in your house, then anything bigger is just, well, bigger.

I love all the knobs on the camera rather than buttons that you have to push to get to where you are going, and the toggle switch on the back, a nice little addition. As I was playing around with the camera I of course went to the neat little Q menu (houses all those common useable things) and saw that an Acros film simulation has been added to the black and white conversion option. Now I have never really understood why digital can't stand alone or on its own two feet. Why do the camera companies need to make digital look as close to film as possible. I am sure they don't really know either. Monetary gain I hear you shouting. Oh how cynical.

Anyway what I did notice is that the black and white options are now more useable… more realistic than they were. I tried all the options, yellow filter, red filter, then I set it to just b&w and added my own filters to the lens. I downloaded the files, used curves, and had a look at the finished product with all the shots. My conclusion: better than it ever was in the past. More than likely I will use that option now rather than a colour capture, convert to b&w via Photoshop (which has its problems when you move those sliders too far) and then finish off with curves.

Anyway back to the camera, the Fuji X-T2. I don't want to say this, as some of you will think that I have defected to the "dark" side, but I do love this camera. I love the compactness, the retro style knobs, the ease of use, the image quality. I really don't understand why so many people buy those bigger bulkier models when there is this nice little gem, unless of course they want to lift weights at the same time. And just to keep the record straight I still do love my large format view camera, probably more so. As that winning jockey said, it's horses for courses!

If I may repeat myself once again, photography is all about what you are photographing. Not what you are photographing with. We all have preferences. I certainly have mine and you have yours, but if the differences in the next model update of the camera you have are only minor, and not like the X-T2, then buy a new lens instead. You'll get more value out of that.

The second camera, which will only interest a few of you, is one that I have had made by a chap in Canberra. There were three of us involved in playing around with some ideas from an original design that he had made, however the final product only varied slightly I think from the original.

I became interested in the idea of the camera when we had one of our large format meetings last March. As I have mentioned I am off to Mauritius in September and I had already decided to take my Fuji digital, but wanted also to have a film camera with me. So what has been made for me is a 5" X 4" 90mm fixed lens view camera. I thought adding a fresnel screen to the back of the camera was a must so that I can see what's going on. For me this made the camera more user friendly.

The beauty of this new camera is that the front lens can be removed and I can place a pin hole board in its place which turns it into a pin hole camera as well. (Yes, I know all interchangeable lens cameras can do that). Because I will use a recessed board the pin hole view will equate to about 80mm. Now 90mm and 80mm in 35mm terms are 30 and 27mm respectively.

The camera is compact, nice to look at, and as you have heard, versatile. However there will be thousands of you who will want to see the results of this camera via an image. When I have finished doing my testing - which I now have - and I have an image I like, I will release it to the world.

Both cameras will be heading overseas with me shortly and I just wonder who will inherit my cute little Fuji X-T1. Any offers?