Lenses First, Camera Second

When someone is starting out in photography and asks us a question, it is almost always which camera to buy. Indeed, it’s an important question! However, we are rarely asked about lenses, as if they were just unimportant accessories.

It is well known that amateurs get excited about cameras while professionals care more about their lenses. It makes sense. Everyday we see high-resolution cameras on people’s necks with crappy, cheap lenses attached to them. What’s even worse, for many newcomers the first lens they buy with a camera is a do-it-all super zoom (we are preparing a post on how to start up in photography – the right way – so stay tuned).

That brings us to Fuji. Our adventure with Fuji started with the X100. It was a camera that we encountered by accident and since then it has been our camera of choice. Then we expanded our gear to the Fuji X-Pro1 and now the X-T1. But our decision to go to an interchangeable system with Fuji was not based merely on their cameras. It was the quality of the lenses that won us over.

Right from the start, Fuji concentrated on prime lenses. In a relatively short time, Fuji has built a large selection of glass for all sorts of needs. Most importantly, almost all the lenses are well-built, metal and super-quality glass. In fact, it is hard to find a bad lens in the X line-up. With the recent announcement of the upcoming XF 120mm F2.8, XF 16mm F1.4 and XF 100-400 super telephoto (get more info here), it appears that Fuji is nearing the completion of building the entire line-up.

For some it is difficult to choose which lens to get started with. We chose the Fuji X100 – therefore the 35mm field of view (in FF terms). However, for some of you it could be a classic 50mm (an excellent XF 35mm F1.4). Then we expanded into the XF 14mm F2.8 wide angle, which we always have in our bag. Finally, we completed our prime team with the XF 56mm F1.2. In fact 99% of our photography is done using the XF 14mm F2.8 lens (mostly landscape), Fuji X100S – therefore 35mm (everything, from landscape to street photography and people), and XF 56mm F1.2 (landscape and people).

To summarize, cameras come and go and sensor technology is changing quickly, so most likely in a year or two you will need to replace your camera. However, lenses will stay with you for years. When choosing a system, the first question you should ask is: “Is there a great selection of HIGH QUALITY primes?” If the answer is NO, forget about the camera. After all, your Ferrari is no use if you use cheap tires and keep your windshield dirty.

All right, it is time for images. In our previous posts we wrote how difficult it is to photograph the place if conditions are not right. Usually we scout locations in advance and wait for the right conditions to arise. Deep Cove, North Vancouver, BC is a beautiful place but we couldn’t get it right for a long time. We visited the place many times but never encountered the conditions that we had envisioned until…now.

All images were shot with the Fuji X100S, Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 56mm F1.2.














Next time… 



2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “Lenses First, Camera Second

  1. Hi Olaf, the images are beautiful, very peaceful just to look at and to contemplate. I have followed and learnt so much from your advice and so have the 14 mm lens and the 35 mm lens which I use with the X-E2. It would be nice to acquire the 23 mm, but it is very expensive and I have recently come across the 27 mm 2.8 lens which is considerably cheaper. Have you tried this lens and if so how would you rate it?
    All the best,

    Michael Killen

  2. As ever, wonderful and thoughtful images and thought provoking comment. However, whilst I share your passions for Fuji X products, let us not get too watery-eyed about Fuji’s X product range….. no matter how good a variable-zoom lens is, it will not ever be quite as good as the Primes it’s range covers. Primes therefore = more lenses sold. This is a sensible and obviously highly commercially astute policy from Fuji.

  3. Hello Olaf, about the primes, you’re right, but for me there is one exception the 10-24 f4. hat a great lens. My wife uses the 14, but I take the 10-24.
    regards, peter

    1. Hey thanks for this Peter – I’ve been pondering on the 10-24 for some time, I’ve been impressed with some images I have seen made with it on Flikr and on Olaf’s site here but its good to hear a recommendation from another user, especially from someone who has direct access to the 14. Incidentally folks, my name is Ian I’m a recovering Nikon DSLR user 🙂 – loving the attitude on this site Olaf. Thank you.

  4. Hi
    Useful reminders in your post – but the real meat is the photographs. These are some of your best yet. I’m so glad you waited for the conditions to be right. Beautiful compositions, but I really admire the superb way you have managed exposure under challenging conditions. Masterful.

  5. North Cove was worth waiting for, just wonderful photos. I need to thank you for your insightful lens advice. The 14mm F2.8 with the XT1 and the X100T made up most of my kit for a Cuba trip and I came back with some of the best photos of my life. It’s never just the gear of course. You and Kasia have taught me more that I know how to express about how to use that gear, by your examples and by your illuminating comments. You are gurus!

    1. Bob,

      Thank you for your very kind comment. You are right. Many people don’t realize that they just need two, three lenses to create great imagery. Sometimes, too much equipment could work against you.

      All the best,


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