I didn’t start with Fuji cameras, through my time as a photographer I worked my way from Canon to Nikon, Mamiya, Contax, Sigma and Sony. I tried an expensive Fuji Medium Format camera for a while (GA645Zi) but never felt I took a good picture with it.
Early on in the nineties and early noughties I took my camera technology very seriously and then relaxed for a few years preferring smaller, quicker cameras mostly for street work. Fuji became my camera system about 5 years ago when I adopted a little X20 as my carry around and worked up from there to the Fuji X system cameras (X Pro1, X100T, X-T1, X-T2).
I realised I had found a system that triangulated all of my basic photography needs. There are other systems; I could as easily be a Sony photographer now, a Micro four thirds photographer with neat little Olympus cameras, or play with the big full frame SLR’s of Canon, Nikon, or Pentax. I could, I suppose, bet all my money on the horses in the hope of having enough money to become a Leica enthusiast with their simple bodies and manual focus lenses.
But I chose Fuji, and here’s why:
The image quality is good enough. Most cameras are. Some have shocking clarity (good lord my Sigmas could shock you with detail in post processing, but good lord they were near impossible to actually take a picture with!), others (like Micro four thirds) give you enough if you get the shot exactly right. The latest 24 megapixel Fuji cameras give you enough to play with, and enough to crop if you have to. The colour rendition is delightful if you are shooting jpeg, and there is plenty of dynamic range (the number of gradients of luminescence held in an image) in the Raw files to lift shadows several stops. The big full frame cameras have higher dynamic range but there comes a point you’ll only notice if you’ve become insane. The high ISO is also good enough. The sensor does a sound job and that’s enough for me for 99% of jobs.
The camera bodies are compact, neat, portable. I can move quickly with them and carry my X-t2 with me every day. The lenses (the primes at least) are tiny. When I carry a Fuji I feel like a fast dynamic photographer - I can squeeze into corners, get in and around my subjects, get low and get high. Not for nothing do I put the quote on my site from Ansel Adams that photography is 'knowing where to stand' and Fujis are as good a camera as has ever been invented for that kind of thoughtful positioning in relation to the subject.
I prefer mirrorless. I prefer EVF. I’ve had two cameras that use hybrid systems in the x100t and the X-Pro1 and in the end I always opt for the EVF. I just like to see what I am going to get before I take the image. If I adjust exposure compensation I like to see things darken or lighten as I do so.
They are virtually silent. With no big mirror to slap up and down I can be discreet. It makes them especially useful in weddings (in the old days of film I used to hear my shutter fire off like I’d brought an actual machine gun to the ceremony – it was agonising).
The lenses are sharp, fast and beautifully made. They feel like solid chunks of technology. There are genuine classics in the range, my favourite primes being the 35mm f1.4 and the 50mm F2.
(the sharp 50mm at work)
When sound professional coverage is required, then the 16-55mm f2.8, and the 50-140mm f2.8 are perfect for weddings, events, children sprinting around parks and anything else that might surprise you. Fuji make lenses as well as anyone out there and there are enough fast lenses for that lovely sense of separation even though the cameras are ‘mere’ APS-C sized.
The cameras are beautiful. I can’t deny that I perhaps first came to Fuji X cameras because they were pretty. The X-Pro1 made me feel like a movie star version of a reporter, the X100 cameras have at times been called the prettiest camera ever made (surely the Leica R8!). The X-t models have a formal, practical beauty that speaks to back to hands-on effectiveness. Does this matter? Hell yes! Wear your camera with pride, take it with you everywhere, feel special when you use it. Is it style over substance? Absolutely not…
Because I like physical dials. Fuji Cameras are sometimes referred to as ‘retro’ cameras because of their prominent dials. One can certainly make an argument that tactile exposure compensation, or ISO rating has a back-to-basics physicality that is pleasing but it’s far more than that, I actually think they solve a problem that no amount of screen-based menus can, they are lightning quick to use! Time it. On most occasions I can adjust exposure in milliseconds. Dials are a viable way to solve the problems of photographic decision making rather than just retro cool.
Soul. They have soul. The whole damn Fuji enterprise has a soulfulness and quality that sits alongside other decisions in life - your car, your music system, watches etc. Here are items which are not shockingly expensive that look and feel right, have outstanding photographic capacity, are small enough to move quickly with and can be objects in your life you can legitimately love. What’s not to love.
Working in low light.