The last few weeks have been busy: I attended a Fujifilm launch event for the new X-H1, helped lead a photowalk, spoke about my love of street photography to a group of photographers (many of whom shoot with the Fuji X Series) and taught a workshop that was attended entirely by people who use Fujifilm cameras. All of this reminded me of the palpable enthusiasm that people have for Fujifilm cameras, and I’d like to talk about that for a bit…
To this day, seven years after the launch of the Fuji X Series, I still get asked this question all the time:
“What is it that makes you so excited about Fujifilm cameras?”
First, it’s hard to believe that has been seven years already. Longer, actually, if you consider that Fujifilm announced the original X100 camera at Photokina during the fall of 2010. The growth of the X series since then has been remarkable: there are now 7 or 8 distinct cameras in the series, over two dozen lenses, numerous converters, adapters, accessories, etc. This of course does not include the groundbreaking Fujifilm GFX medium format camera and its 6 lenses. Add in the native and third party flash systems that are now available and you really do have a robust system that has matured rapidly in a short period of time… one that I use for all of my professional and personal work. I am all in, 100%.
When asked the question above, there are the obvious things that can be said about the Fujifilm X and GFX series of cameras. For example:
- The beautiful image quality, derived in large part from Fuji’s unique awareness of colour and from their history with film.
- The ergonomic handling of the cameras, with the aperture ring on the lens and the physical dials for shutter speed / ISO / exposure compensation / etc.
- The size and weight benefits that are gained from switching to mirrorless.
While all of the above is true, it has never seemed like an adequate response because it only focuses on the physical aspects of using these cameras. There is much more to the equation though to help explain the fervour that people have for the Fuji X Series.
On a daily basis I speak with people from all over the world. Students, both online and face to face, express their love for these cameras. I present at conferences and events, where people always ask questions about using the Fuji X Series. Hell, I get questions at virtually every wedding that I photograph (recently from the groom, much to the bride’s chagrin). There is something intangible about the Fuji X Series that draws people in.
While I was at the launch event for the new Fujifilm X-H1, the answer to this question came into focus a bit more clearly for me (no pun intended). The event was well attended, despite some recent snow. In addition to the audience, I was there with three of my Official Fuji X Photographer peers (Robert Falconer, Joe Ng, Daniel Fox), Take from Bigheadtaco, several reps from Fujifilm and staff from Beau Photo, one of my favourite camera stores. The event was led by Billy Luong, one of the original Fuji Guys and a manager with Fujifilm, whom I have worked with and presented with at events in the past. It is always a pleasure watching Billy speak about these cameras. He is knowledgeable, passionate about the subject matter and engaged with his audience. He listens, gives honest answers, and then provides feedback directly to the people who design and build these cameras.
This open and engaged attitude permeates itself throughout Fujifilm. You see it in the lens roadmap, where Fuji announces and timelines future product releases. You see it in the constant firmware updates they put out, adding new features for free to existing products. You see the engagement when you speak directly to Fuji representatives at shows and events. They clearly want to listen, are open and honest about where Fujifilm is today, and about where it can still go tomorrow. No product is perfect of course, but you get the sense that they are driven to constantly improve their products.
Once the presentations were done, I had engaging conversations with attendees about the new Fujifilm X-H1, but also about photography in general. We talked about photos, not just gear. We talked about the joy of using these cameras, not just about features and specifications. I honestly don’t recall conversations like this happening when I shot Nikon all those years ago. And, these conversations seem common to all the events I am at where Fujifilm is discussed.
That is when I realized that, for me, the true magic of Fujifilm lies not just in the cameras they make, but in the community of people who use them. From the engaged, dedicated staff at Fujifilm, to the talented group of Official Fuji X Photographers I am proud to call my peers, to the community of artists who take photos every day with these cameras. To that, add companies like my friends at FujiLove, who provide high quality content in the form of magazines, videos, workshops and online communities where Fuji users can discuss and collaborate on all things photography. All of these people, and many more not mentioned here at all, are a big part of the Fujifilm experience for me. The truth is that photography can be a lonely endeavour at times if you let it be, but when you are a Fujifilm user, you are never far away from a group of like minded people who share your passion. That’s pretty awesome.
If you are on the fence about whether or not to buy into the Fujifilm X Series (or the GFX Series), I recommend jumping in with both feet. I’m sure that there is a product that will meet your needs, regardless of the style you shoot. Throughout this article I have shown landscapes, street photography, travel images and a portrait or two… and below I will include another dozen or so images to help show the versatility of these cameras. They get the job done well, are an absolute pleasure to use, and you will find yourself part of a wonderful community of people.
Until next time,