I’d like to write for a bit about my move to the Fuji X-T1 system, the decisions I had to make along the way, and why I settled on the kit I now have (with lots of sample images of course that can be clicked to view large).
My gateway into the Fuji X series was through the Fuji X100s. Like many, I had initially started out looking for a small camera for those times where I didn’t want to carry the backpack full of DSLR gear. Not for “real shoots”, but for those times where I wanted to have a small camera with me that still delivered quality images.
The X100s sold me on the Fuji sensor and Fuji’s image processing. I loved it, and soon developed a passion for street photography. I travelled often with it as my only camera and developed a small “take anywhere” travel kit around it.
It wasn’t long after I purchased the Fuji X100s that I started looking at the possibility of replacing my Nikon gear completely with Fuji. As much as I loved the X100s, I knew I would need an interchangeable lens system for the portrait and landscape work I love to do. The timing ended up being perfect as Fuji released what is arguably their flagship model: The Fuji X-T1.
The X-T1 has a bit more of an SLR feel to it than the rangefinder style the rest of the lineup shares. The vast majority of its controls are available externally on the body via knobs and switches. Aperture (on the lens), shutter speed, ISO, drive mode, exposure compensation, etc are all immediately available from the top of the camera:
Most importantly, the Fuji X-T1 uses the same sensor and image processing as the X100s does, which meant that I would have consistent images from both cameras.
The specs on the Fuji X-T1 can be found on Fuji’s website here:
The bottom line is that the X-T1 is a tough, weather sealed, interchangeable lens camera that has excellent ergonomics and delivers the same high image quality I have come to expect from my X100s. I was sold.
It has long been said (rightfully so) that a camera is only as good as the glass you put in front of it.
I’ll be honest and say that I went through a lot of glass when I was shooting Nikon. I was still finding my way as a photographer and experimenting. I think that is an important phase we all go through (and often an expensive one).
When I looked at switching to a Fuji interchangeable lens system I knew I had the following needs:
- A brilliant portrait lens. Portraiture will always be my first love.
- A wide angle landscape lens.
- Something that would cover the day to day range for when I wanted to travel light, grab shots of the family, etc.
The first two lenses I purchased were found in a moment of serendipity, when I got great prices on the Fujinon 18-55mm and the 55-200mm lenses:
The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8 – f/4 lens:
This is Fuji’s “kit” lens. This description troubles many people though as it truly is a beautiful lens for the price.
Technical specs for this lens can be found here:
For me the value of this lens comes down to the following:
- It has excellent image quality for a compact zoom lens.
- It has optical image stabilization.
- It has a decent f/2.8 – 4 aperture range.
- It is small and has a fairly low profile when mounted on the Fuji X-T1.
Initially this was my go to lens for the X-T1, used for portraiture, landscapes, street photography when my X100s was not with me, etc. 18-55mm on a crop sensor is a very useable range, and the image quality from this lens is absolutely fine:
When I head out and want to bring a camera for general use it is either the Fuji X100s, or the Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55mm lens attached.
The Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5 – f/4.8:
Along with the 18-55mm, I also received the 55-200 lens. Here are the tech specs straight from Fuji:
Truth be told I don’t shoot in the telephoto range very often as I much prefer being in close with my subjects. Having said that, there are always those times where you need something a bit longer (trips to the zoo, shooting your kids playing sports, etc) and I hate not having something in the kit for those occasions.
The Fuji 55-200 fits that bill for me for several reasons:
- The range, obviously.
- Excellent image quality, also enhanced by the OIS (optical image stabilization).
- The cost. For the image quality it delivers the cost for this lens is VERY reasonable.
If this lens has any downside it is only that it is a large lens on a compact mirrorless system. I bring it out when I need it and leave it at home when I don’t.
I am always, however, pleased with its performance. The range is decent and its ability to isolate subjects is excellent:
The Fujinon 56mm f/1.2:
To borrow (steal) from the Lord of the Rings: This is truly the one ring (lens) to rule them all. I love everything about this lens. Here are the specs:
Portraiture is my first love when it comes to photography. I LOVE working with people and making portraits. When Fuji released the 56mm f/1.2 I knew this would be the perfect portrait lens for me for the following reasons:
- The 56mm focal length on a crop sensor means it is equivalent to an 85mm length on a full frame chip. This is my favourite focal length: Long enough to not distort my subject’s features, but not so long that I can’t be close to my subjects during a shoot which is important to the way I work.
- It is sharp as glass.
- f/1.2. Enough said. The ability to isolate a portrait subject from the background is crucial, and this lens delivers in spades:
The Fujinon 10-24mm f/4:
My last need was something wide for landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture.
I’ll be very honest and say I struggled with the decision to purchase this zoom or purchase the 14mm f/2.8 prime lens Fuji also offers. The following factors came into play:
- Image quality. Awesome in both, but there was something that little extra bit special about the Fuji 14mm lens. Winner: Fuji 14mm by a hair.
- Focal length: 10-24mm versus a fixed 14mm lens. I tried both for a long time, but finally decided I occasionally liked the look of images wider than 14mm. Winner: Fuji 10-24mm.
- Size: I love the smaller size of some of the Fuji primes, and even of the Fuji 18-55 zoom. The 10-24mm is not a small lens, it occupies about the same space in my bag as the 55-200mm telephoto does. Winner: Fuji 14mm.
- OIS: Only the 10-24mm has optical image stabilization. Winner: duh!
- Price: This one was very interesting to me. I bought my wide lens during rebate season, and at the time the 10-24mm was only $140 more than the 14mm was. For that $140 though you get a LOT more lens in my opinion. Winner: Fuji 10-24mm.
Here are the specs on the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens from Fuji’s website:
I love this lens:
There is just something about that wide focal length!
I am now all Fuji. My Fuji X100s has been replaced by the Fuji X100t, which is now my baby (there is just something about the X100 series), but I now have an interchangeable lens system that offers me:
- An AMAZING portrait lens, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2. As a people photographer this lens is my desert island lens if I could only keep one.
- A focal length range from 10-200mm, covered by three optically stabilized lenses that all have fantastic image quality. For general purposes I am always covered by these lenses.
The entire rig, plus accessories, fits into a Think Tank Retrospective 5 bag. Very, very cool.
I hope this helps some of you that may be trying to make some of the same decisions I made!