Please make sure to read part 1 of our summary.
CAMERA OF THE YEAR
Every year we try to pick a camera of the year. This is a highly personal and biased choice based purely on our own experience. In the last few years we have always chosen the camera we owned and shot with extensively. This year is different. It is not the camera that we use the most. It is not even a camera we own (hopefully this will change next year). However, we still believe it should be the camera of the year.
The Fujifilm GFX 50S – a medium-format monster is our camera of the year.
We had the opportunity to shoot with this machine quite extensively this year thanks to Fujifilm Canada. It’s a game-changer!
After entering the camera market with the ground-breaking X100, Fujifilm built a remarkable X-series system based on the APS-C sensor and superb line of XF lenses. The fun factor, manual controls and size of these cameras not only gained a large following but won over many people who had previously shot with full-frame cameras only.
Then many people started to push Fujifilm to enter the full-frame market. I said many times that it would be a strategic mistake. The market was already crowded with multiple offerings and suffered price wars, which is something all great companies should stay away from. I have always believed that great products or services shouldn’t need to compete on price (if they do it means their product is not good enough).
In the meantime, one market in particular was begging to be disrupted. Many high-end, full-frame shooters have always dreamt about medium format – something which was out of the reach of most people and even many professionals. With only a few offerings, priced to the stratosphere, medium-format shooters had only one “affordable” choice – the Pentax system. However, with a limited lens selection and price too far from the top-of-the-line full-frame cameras (plus Otus-like quality lenses) to be even considered, there were not many buyers.
This is when the GFX 50S came in – the camera for professionals who demand top image quality. This is not only about pixel-peeping. I have written about the rendering of the medium-format GFX here. It’s hard to describe and show online. Those of you who have shot with the medium-format GFX (or another brand) will know what I mean.
Most importantly, Fujifilm priced the camera just right. Of course, this is not the system for everyone but those with top-of-the-line full-frame cameras, for the first time turned their heads toward medium format. Why? For three reasons: image quality, rendering and close-enough pricing.
Now, with the fun and highly capable X-series for daily shooting and the GFX medium-format line (more medium-format cameras are probably coming!) for specific projects and needs, Fujifilm has covered most of the demand without needing to enter the full-frame market.
To summarize, for its image quality, rendering, size and pricing I view the Fujifilm GFX50s as our CAMERA OF THE YEAR!
Here are a few images taken with the GFX50S.
Want to see more? Make sure to check out Spencer Wynn’s Canada 150 project
© Spencer Wynn
If I take into account what I was mostly shooting with in 2017, the crown would definitely go to the Fujifilm X100F. In fact, some of you may be surprised to find that it is the only camera I own at the moment. Let me explain.
I’ve written numerous articles about the X100 line of cameras illustrating why I think this is the best camera I have ever owned. If I had the choice to have just one camera – this would be it. Over the years, I have taken most of my imagery with the original X100, then the X100S, T and most recently the F.
A few months ago, I sold all my X-series gear to raise funds for a GFX system. The only camera I didn’t sell was my X100F. Due to personal circumstances, I haven’t purchased the GFX system just yet and for most of 2017 I’ve been shooting (almost) exclusively with the X100F. Initially I thought I would miss my X-Pro2, the X-T2 and the line of the XF lenses. I found out that I was wrong.
I travelled to Europe with the X100F and shot street photography in Vancouver, San Francisco and other cities just with the X100F. I led all my workshops with just the X100F and I felt no need for another camera or lens! This simplification of my photographic life was the best thing that happened to me in 2017!
Our trip to Europe, in particular, showed me the joy of travelling and shooting with the X100F. It’s light, tiny, no extra lenses are needed and not even a camera bag. It made my photography so enjoyable but also much more creative.
Now I would like to purchase the GFX 50S with one or two lenses for specific projects (a major one will be announced soon!) but the X100F will remain my main street and travel camera.
Here are some images taken with the X100F.
Enough of this gear mumbo-jumbo! After all, these are just tools. There is no question that the highlight of 2017 was all the work I did with my students. It was the year when I had the privilege of teaching and shooting with an incredible group of people from all round the world.
I will be honest, I don’t always like the word teaching. Too often it gives an impression of a one-way street, a sort of bland teacher-student relationship with a clear line of hierarchy and priorities. I prefer to view it as a mutual learning experience or even better, the meet-up of disruptors.
It is always a two-way street when even the craziest ideas are being tossed into the air and taken on without any intellectual repercussions. We are living in times when in order to belong you need to share the same views and ideas. You need to design your photographs a certain way. I want to experiment and take visual risks even at the cost of losing part of my audience. If there is a common denominator it would be to create great imagery. That’s all it is, really!
I was lucky to work with students who are not afraid to push new ideas and visuals. They are not afraid to skip “likable” imagery and go for something new, fresh, strange, unusual. I would like to thank those of you I worked with last year for being open and showing me new ways of seeing. What a privilege!
Today, I would like to share selected work from some of my students.
Robert Mañé Velilla
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2018
2018 will be very different from last year in terms of my priorities and plans. I would like to mention a few things and keep others secret. J
I couldn’t imagine a better start to the New Year than debuting my column in my favourite publication, FujiLove Magazine. Writing has always been as important for me as photography. After all, they share similar principles. In both cases, you take elements (pieces of you) and put them in an order such that they create a beautiful, harmonious, intriguing and mysterious whole. Being able to share my passion and exchange ideas with FujiLove Magazine readers is something I am really looking forward to in 2018.
In the New Year, I am hoping to meet many of you in person. My Simplicity-In-Seeing workshop experience is expanding to many new cities around the world. We will start with a unique R-A-I-N project workshop in Vancouver this February, then go to London and Berlin. In summer, I will be teaching in Toronto and New York only to head to Europe again (hello Paris!). Hey, we may even reach as far as Australia.
In 2017, we launched our educational platform and we have great plans for 2018. There will be more content, live conference calls and much, much more.
We have two major publications in the works which should hit the shelves early in 2018. It is going to have very special content, something I have been working on for years.
New Lifetime Project
Early 2018 I will be launching a new project – I would say the most important project of my lifetime. This is something I would like to work on for the rest of my life and I hope you will support me in this. Details soon!
Most importantly I would like to be brave enough to take my photography in a new direction, take more visual risks and change my perspective.
Thank you so much for your continual support and helpful comments. It is a privilege to share this voyage with you.
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