This article was written for Fujilove Magazine, and originally published in December 2018. I had a regular column for the magazine for a year between 2018 and 2019, and am reproducing these articles here for posterity. All Fujilove archive posts
I started the year with the camera I’ve now been using for the past three: the X-Pro2. I’ve always thought of the X-Pro2 as a camera that was made for me. As someone who started her Fujifilm journey with an X-Pro1 in 2012 and learned about the world with it in hand (I started my nomad journey six months after I got the camera), it was a given I would have its next incarnation.
I love the Pro2. Though there are still plenty of things I’m still finding out about it, much to the amusement of Karl, Fujifilm Nordic’s product manager, who gets messages from time to time that say “I just found __ in the menu! Is that new?” The answer is usually “No, it’s a few years old!” or, to my latest discovery, “It’s been there since the Finepix days!”
I think my understanding of the X series menus is still stuck somewhere in the X-Pro1 days. When I get a new camera I only dive into the menu to do a few critical things: turn off the sound and AF illuminator, adjust the time and date, change the filename so files with similar numbers from different cameras don’t overwrite each other, and check my shooting menu. Then I’m done with settings, and work off the dials and Q menu happily ever after. You could say I’m not curious about menu options.
So to be ending the year with a new camera is quite the experience. I wrote very briefly about it in the last post. At that point, though, having spent five weeks without any camera at all, I was simply taking pictures to get a fix. You know that feeling when you hit that shutter button and feel it go “schnick” and you shudder with satisfaction because an image has been gloriously captured AND YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN?
That said camera, incidentally, was an X-T3.
Now that my deficit has been dealt with, I’m better appreciating the “sea change”. There are many things about the X-T3 that are delightful. A flip screen, for starters, is so handy when shooting at awkward angles. I’m loving that the shutter speed dial (locked at aperture priority) is a separate thing on the other side of the camera from the ISO dial, which I use a lot. I’m used to the ring around the shutter dial on the Pro2, that you have to lift and rotate to change ISO. The T3’s ISO dial is simpler to get to and change. I’m also loving how quick the autofocus is on the older lenses such as the XF35mmF1.4, XF23mmF1.4 and XF18mmF2.
There is no noticeable difference in my images. I still shoot the same old things in the same old way with the same old lenses, though I’ve now added the much-longed-for XF18mmF2 to my kit, but it feels different to use – because I can use it differently.
I am more deliberate with the X-T3. I pause for longer and check my frame with greater care. Maybe that’s because it’s new and I’m still getting a feel for it. Or maybe it’s simply that I can see what I’m trying to do better in that incredible viewfinder! Maybe it’s all of the above, plus no optical finder to be loosey-goosey with. I never used the optical viewfinder in early X-Pro days but over the years, as I’ve gotten more acquainted with how the camera meters and focuses, I’d been turning to it more when shooting for myself. For pure enjoyment and added serendipity, you could say. There’s nothing like seeing the world with your own eye. Despite the frame lines and overlaying data, having that organic view does train my focus better on what to look for in the scene vs what said scene looks like. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one, resulting in a different kind of picture.
The X-T3 encourages me to be more concerned with the technicalities. As I was looking through recent photos for this shot, I uncharacteristically found myself paying attention to the things that I rarely think about: whether I’d properly pinned my focus, if a picture was too grainy or whether – the gods help me – if my pictures were sharp enough. Anyone who has ever tried to engage me in conversations about lens sharpness and gotten my customary reply of “They’re all plenty sharp!” may die of shock at this. I’ve never really cared about sharpness – I pull down the sharpness on my pictures – but I guess there’s a first time for everything!
But to be fair, I don’t think it’s all the camera. I’m heading for a big change in my life, too. In 2019, six years on the road will come to a halt as I settle down to a ‘real job’. I’m heading back to Iraq next year to continue working for Preemptive Love, the organisation that I spent a month with, not too long ago. As part of that change, I’m switching gears from being completely lackadaisical about image technicality to paying it greater heed. I’ll be making a lot more video next year – my real reason for an X-T3 – so being technically on the ball is important.
This feels like the right time to be shooting seriously with a turbo-charged workhorse. I started this year with my X-Pro2, the camera that introduced photographic possibilities to my personal life. I’m ending it (and starting another year) with an X-T3, a camera built for the rigours of profession. Roll on 2019!