Olli Thomson
Photography

New Camera

I hadn’t planned to buy a new camera. Doesn’t stop me looking, obviously. Particularly around this time of year when Photokina, the world’s largest photography trade fair, takes place in Cologne. This is the time when the camera makers display their latest and greatest offerings.

I keep a particular eye on what Fujifilm is up to since I happen to have a Fujifilm camera, the X-E2, which has served me well for the last four years. (And will they ever change the brand name? The company is routinely referred to as just plain Fuji, and there’s every indication that Fuji’s commitment to film is less than wholehearted. So maybe it’s time to drop the ‘film’ bit. Perhaps they could go back to the old Fujica name.)

Anyhow, Fuji did indeed have a collection of new offerings on show: some very nice, and in one case very expensive, lenses and a new more ‘affordable’ medium format camera (which is really a cropped medium format camera if we’re being accurate).

What was of greater interest to me, though, was the announcement of the X-T3, the latest iteration of Fuji’s high end SLR style camera. My own camera is from the mid level X-E series, in the rangefinder style. Even though the X-Ts are very nice cameras I was never tempted because I preferred the rangefinder style of the X-Es and the X-Ts were a lot more expensive – typically $1500 compared to $900.

A while back Fuji introduced the X-E3, a nice upgrade in many ways but I was reluctant to go for it because Fuji, for reasons I still don’t grasp, decided to remove the ‘traditional’ four way controller and transfer those functions to a touch screen. Now touch screens on phones and tablets are a great idea – I’m writing this on a touch screen – but, for me, they have no place on a camera.

So I was content to stick with my X-E2 as long as it continued to work and worry about how to replace it when it stopped working. Then Fuji introduced this X-T3. While it was still too expensive for me, a year of photographing with film SLRs meant that I was once more comfortable with the SLR style. Having introduced the X-T3 Fuji then decided to shift X-T2 stocks by offering a very generous $500 discount. It was too good to pass up.

While the X-T3 is an improvement on its predecessor the major areas of improvement (video recording and specific aspects of the autofocus system) are not relevant to my style of photography. Given this it made much more sense for me to pick up an X-T2 at a bargain price than to spend the extra for features I don’t need.

Meanwhile, I’ll also be keeping my X-E2, an excellent camera in its own right. Even though it was first introduced five years ago Fuji’s policy of providing major firmware updates means that many features of newer cameras eventually find their way back onto older models.

One person sounded surprised when I mentioned that I had ordered an X-T2, presuming that my next move would be to ‘full frame’. There are many reasons why I’m not interested in going that route but one key reason is that no other camera handles the way Fuji cameras do.

Shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation – these key adjustments, the ones that actually matter for photography, are all on dials on the top plate, where they should be. Aperture is set by a proper aperture ring on the lens, where it should be. No amount of electronic gimmickry, or even a bigger sensor, could persuade me to give up on the Fuji’s classic controls.

Comments (8):

  1. Jim Grey

    7 November, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Oh, to not have to fiddle with menus for common settings on my digital cameras. As long as they keep working I will keep using them, but when they die I will look for one that works more like a classic film SLR.

    Reply
    • ollithomson

      7 November, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      That’s one of the joys of the Fujis – unless you are the kind of person who wants to fine tune the settings on every shot you hardly ever need to go near a menu. Even when you do you can use the ‘my menu’ or ‘Q menu’ options to limit it to things you would actually need. I use the menu when I first get the camera to set everything up and to assign key functions to the customisable buttons then essentially never look at it again.

      Reply
  2. Marcus Peddle

    7 November, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I bought the X-T3 because in Korea there is almost no price difference between it and the X-T2. I bought it for the size (my Nikon D810 is heavy), the controls, and the Classic Chrome film simulation. The Acros simulation is very nice as well. Classic Chrome seems like Ektar to me. Have you used it?
    I haven’t tried video yet because I’m still getting used to the controls for stills. I’m not much of a video person anyway.

    Reply
    • ollithomson

      7 November, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      I can see that if they were the same price it would make sense to go for the 3. Perhaps Fyji in Korea didn’t have a lot of old stock to shift. I haven’t really gotten into using the film simulations much though I did try CC alittle when they made it available in the X-E2 a couple of firmwares back. Interesting to compare with Ektar – I’ve shot a couple of rolls with it but not a huge amount. I also haven’t tried the video, in fact in four years I don’t think I’ve ever used the video on my X-E2. I just shoot pictures and if I need a quick video its easier to do it on the phone. Whereabouts in Korea are you? We visited Seoul a couple of times over the last few years and loved it.

      Reply
      • Marcus Peddle

        7 November, 2018 at 10:55 pm

        I’m in Gangneung, where the Olympics were earlier this year. Fujifilm cameras are not that popular in Korea, and batteries etc can be a bit hard to track down. Fujifilm did offer a free vertical grip with the X-T3 if you registered your purchase with them, but I don’t need that so I didn’t bother. Classic Chrome seems the most like film to me and that’s why I use it. I turn on the grain effect in camera. Negative Pro High is also a good simulation but has the ‘digital glow’ that I try to avoid. Do you use RAW? I use JPG and try to get it right in camera so I don’t have to mess around in Lightroom. Also, I don’t like sidecar files in my folders.

        Reply
        • ollithomson

          8 November, 2018 at 12:31 pm

          I still shoot RAW and JPG for reasons that I’m currently writing up in another blog post. These days though I try to keep editing to a minimum and having discovered that Capture One does a better – and quicker – job of getting what I want out of RAW files I’m in the process of switching from Lightroom. And no doubt there’ll be some more blog posts about that at some point.

          Reply
  3. Gil Erez

    26 November, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I picked up the X-T3 and blew me away. While on paper it doesn’t seem like a huge upgrade on the X-T20 it feels much better both to shoot with and the output. Also the video is amazing, and purely because this camera I’ve gotten into making cinematic videos, something I never though I’d get into. I’ll probably trade up to the X-H3 when its released in 2020.

    Reply
    • ollithomson

      26 November, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      I’m pleased it’s working out for you. The X-T3 looks like a great camera but for me the deal on the X-T2 was too good to pass up, particularly since I don’t shoot video. It’s good to see Fuji expanding the options for us with new models and regular updates.

      Reply

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