The Original X-Photographers Meeting
Folks, the following is a journal of my last couple of trips to Japan and some thoughts about the X-T1 and new lenses. Yes, I was paid for my time at CP+ this year, but that’s as far as my financial relationship with Fujifilm goes. I speak my mind about the gear I use & Fujifilm know that. If they dropped the ball, I’d change sytems. All thoughts, and opinions are totally my own and not influenced by Fujifilm in any way shape or form. I hope you understand and respect that.
In September last year, I was asked by Fujifilm to head over to Tokyo to take part in the first ever X-Photographers meeting. It was a wonderful trip, and along with the other X-Photographers Bert Stephani, Zack Arias and David Hobby we spent time giving presentations and interviews to the press, photographers and Fujifilm staff with regard to the way we have been using the X-Series of cameras.
However, the core reason of us being there was to have meetings with the Fujifilm X-Series developers, designers and marketeers. We all went armed with a raft of feedback from photographers in our chosen field.
Fujifilm absolutely have to be applauded for the cost and effort involved in such an exercise. They listened to our feedback (YOUR feedback!) and have moved forward with the X-Series subsequently. I’m not going to discuss the details of any of these meetings of course, but I’m really pleased (and a bit proud) to see that Fujifilm have definitely listened, and we are seeing some of the fruits of those conversations in the market place right now.
Zack discusses some of the X-Series Feedback with the designers of the cameras.
Bert makes he’s feelings known during a presentation to Fujifilm Engineers
So, fast forward to February 2014 and I find myself back in Japan. This time, Fujifilm have asked myself, Bert Stephani, Gianlucca Colla and Jim Marks to give presentations at the largest Asian photographic convention, CP+. This is held in Yokohama, about an hour from Tokyo itself.
When we arrived in Tokyo, the pilot explained that there was a minor snow storm affecting to local area. By the time we’d checked into our hotel, the minor snow storm had become the worst snow to hit the Tokyo region for 45 years.
X100S 1/125 @ F2.8 ISO 640
X100S 1/60 @ F4 ISO 640
This presented the CP+ organisers with a bit of a dilemma, and it was because of the snow that the exhibition and show was cancelled on the Saturday. Jim and Gianlucca had done their presentations on the Thursday and Friday. This meant that myself and Bert only had the Sunday to present.
I can only speak for myself of course, but I was a little nervous….not about speaking in public, I’m used to that, but more how the Japanese would take my brand of documentary wedding photography when I showed my images.
Armed with my presentation and a brilliant local translator I took to the stage and was greeted by many friendly faces, all of whom listened to my tale of the move to CSC and Fujifilm cameras in particular.
The ethos of the presentation ultimately was that the X-Series offers me a much lighter system, a much cheaper system and all without compromise on image quality for the style of wedding photography I shoot.
I talked about images that I simply wouldn’t have gotten with a DSLR and how, in some cases, entire moments may not even have occurred had I wandered up with a big DSLR. I get very close to my subjects, I like to work near and I can still remain as unobtrusive as possible by using the smaller camera systems.
Here are a couple of shots I took of Bert during his presentation (make sure you check out Bert’s work – it’s sublime!):
X100S 1/35 F2 ISO 200
X100S 1/80 F2 ISO 200
X100S 1/50 F2 ISO 200
X100S 1/40 F2 ISO 200
X-T1 XF56mm 1/125 F2.2 ISO 640
X-T1 XF56mm 1/125 F1.2 ISO 250
And here are few shots that Bert kindly took during my presentation:
Part of my presentation at CP+ included this slideshow. Please feel free to turn the sound up, press play and enjoy (hopefully):
Whilst in Japan I picked up an X-T1 and I will be doing a review from a wedding photographers point of view in due course (once my weddings start again next month). In the meantime you can see my initial thoughts on this X-T1 in my last post on the blog.
Needless to say it’s a great camera and of all the stands at CP+ I think Fuji’s was the busiest with queues of up to an hour for the “touch and try” booth:
X-T1 XF56mm 1/240 F1.2 ISO 200
I was humbled to see one of my prints used as a giant exhibition
X100S 1/105 F2 ISO 200
And even more humbled when asked to sign it
X-T1 XF-10-24 1/125 F4 ISO 1,600
X-T1 XF56mm 1/135 F1.2 ISO 200
X-T1 XF56mm 1/210 F1.2 ISO 200
X-T1 XF56mm 1/500 F1.2 ISO 200
A good advert for CSCs if ever there was one
X-T1 XF56mm 1/200 F1.2 ISO 200
X-T1 XF56mm 1/220 F1.2 ISO 200
XF56mm & XF10-24mm Lenses
I also had an opportunity to work with pre-production models of the new XF56mm F1.2 and the XF10-24mm F4 zoom lens.
I simply can’t want to get the 56mm to a wedding. It’s been the missing lens in the bag and here are a few more images from the trip shot on these lenses:
The Japanese word “Kaizen” means “Change good” and this is a philosophy that runs strongly throughout Fujifilm and the X-Series team.
What does it mean for us as photographers? And how does it manifest itself? Well, it means that Fujifilm are constantly looking at the way we use the cameras. Gathering feedback from people like myself and other X-Photographers and it manifests itself in the continuous Firmware updates and camera evolution that they are rolling out.
The latest firmware updates for example, add new functionality to the X-E2 and updates to the lenses and other cameras. Of course, there has been some issues and bugs resolved via firmware, but ultimately Fuji roll out new features this way which means that we, as photographers, have an fluid and dynamic camera system at our disposal.
As mentioned earlier, part of the trip in September and also my recent trip in February 2014 was to offer feedback from the community and hopefully we can have a direct influence on the way the X-Series develops.
Here are a few snaps from the product meeting last week:
X100S 1/80 F4 ISO 400
X-T1 XF56mm F1.2 ISO 400
X-T1 XF56mm F1.2 ISO 600
It’s really important for me that my camera investment has a good return. I want camera gear that is smaller, lighter, cheaper and yet doesn’t compromise on image quality. I believe I’ve found that with the X-Series of cameras.
Of course, not everything is perfect. There are minor niggles with the X-T1 that I’d like to see resolved, the lens roadmap is not yet complete and we are still awaiting an X-Pro1 replacement. There are people who have issues with AF speed and lack of dual card slots and there are people who find the AF speed perfectly fine, myself included and are happy without dual slots. It’s horses for courses but the point is, Fuji really, and genuinely are listening and building a system for now, and for the future.
There are people who will pin their flags to other manufacturer’s CSCs and people who will remain DSLR shooters (for some circumstances there still is no other option) but I’m personally hopeful that more and more photographers will look at CSCs and in particular the Fujifilm X-Series as an opportunity to expand their camera range and enjoy it, like I have.
Any questions of course please feel free to comment below and I will reply.