Confidence – a roller-coaster to seeing (Intro)

Confidence – a roller-coaster to seeing (Intro)

Josef Koudelka would say, “Look at something and think, this is right.” Unfortunately, it is a constant search and we often doubt if indeed “this is right.” In other words, photography and confidence (or rather lack of it) has much in common.

Wikipedia defines confidence as “a certainty about handling something.” When looking at my own experience and when working with students I’ve noticed that the subject of confidence in photography is crucially important. Not only can it determine success or failure but it can often shape the artistic direction of a photographer.

Of course, some people are naturally confident, others not so much. For me, it has never been an important determinant or characteristic, as today’s society has a tendency to put on a pedestal overconfident, disdainful or even rude individuals, then paint them as confident. I am not going to go there. Let’s stay on the subject of photographic confidence for lack of a better word.

Most people who start in photography lack confidence. This is normal or, I would argue, a highly desirable condition. Too often I come across horribly constructed images presented to the world by the author as “winners.” What’s even worse, those who have zero social breaks often attract a sizable crowd of cheerleaders, who like a magnet, are looking for another loud leader. Usually there is no hope here and no point discussing such cases any further.

When learning and practicing the craft of seeing, most people, including me, are going on an emotional roller-coaster ride. This is a normal and healthy condition. We often hear from photographers: “I don’t know if my work is good enough.”

Unfortunately, the answer they often receive is: “This is great, wonderful,” “Keep doing this.” After all, this industry is all about cheering and clapping. The logic here is to inspire and provide confidence, regardless of results – a noble idea! The problem is that many starting photographers gain what I call “fake confidence.” What many of us cheerleaders don’t even realize is that we are doing a great disservice to a generation of photographers.

Constantly assuring them that their work is great means that many continue along their path to not-seeing, which ultimately leads to huge disappointment and, in many cases, a painful divorce from photography.

There is another way. Yes, confidence in seeing comes after years of struggle, hard falls and successes but confidence should never be consistent! What do you mean, Olaf? It means that even the most successful photographers experience ups and down in their perception of their own work, especially those who have the guts to take visual risks! Josef Koudelka said, “I don’t want to reach the point from where I wouldn’t know how to go further. It’s good to set limits for oneself, but there comes a moment when we must destroy what we have constructed.” Such “destruction” comes with a hit to our confidence!

In other words, our confidence will vary as we go along our photographic journey and IT IS OK! There is no need to artificially buttress it or inject a stream of fake “you can do it” nonsense. The moments of low confidence allow us to pick up where we started and ride those high tides with new ideas. We need to trust in our own ability.

This ability grows from serious visual education. Learning about art, design and aesthetics has been put on the back seat in our productivity – and a low-price-obsessed society. Learning the craft of photography is a slow and tedious process, involving huge effort! Many people lack the time or willingness to learn a new visual language so instead, they fill the void with an “anything goes” scheme.

Interestingly, many aspiring photographers who do marvellous and innovative work lack confidence. In private settings, they often approach me and share their doubts and problems. I say to them, “I wish I could see like you.” I urge them to go out, show their work and own it! However, when you reach the point when you are becoming confident about your success, make sure to take on new visual risks. Make sure you start riding this confidence roller-coaster again.

The worst that can happen when you are riding a roller-coaster is that it could break down – when you are at the top! Then, you have a real problem on your hands. You will need many people to get you down.

 

I am preparing a series of articles about this subject. Looking forward to your own take on the subject.

Here is my latest work I did for my R-A-I-N project (the X-E3, X-T2 paired with the XF 35mm F1.4 and XF 80mm 2.8 lenses).

 

next time…

 

2018 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved

Summary of 2017 (Part 1)

Summary of 2017 (Part 1)


PIECES OF MY SEEING

In 2016, I decided “not to be afraid to be there” and “open my eyes not to what is in front of me but what is inside.”

This zest for seeing, the freedom to explore and the hunger for visual risk-taking has brought me to a new place of “unquiet presence.” As many of you have pointed out, my photography has changed, my writing has evolved and the olafphoto of 2017 is very different from olafphoto in 2016. Such turmoil has become the DNA of my photographic being.

THANK YOU

Photography is a strange calling. On the surface, it is a highly personal activity. However, even after the whole process of connecting, seeing and crafting the image, the final act doesn’t belong to the author – far from it. The image takes on a life of its own. This example of seeing enters someone else’s life, sometimes by accident, sometimes in a much more tacit way. The person decides to take a break from their day and connect with someone else’s seeing. Then, as the viewer applies their own feelings and visual sensibility, the image becomes a new experience, new visual in someone else’s eyes. It becomes an act on its own. 

Many of you did just that! What a privilege to have such an audience. Not only have you spent most of the year visiting, reading and viewing our imagery but you exchanged your views and feelings. I am so grateful for each interaction. Thanks to you, our photography comes alive; it becomes humanized and connected.

Your support means a lot to me!

THANK YOU TO OUR PRIVATE PATRONS

As much as some photographers would like to project the aura of never-ending success, supporting yourself exclusively from photography is not an easy feat. It is a constant struggle, which I have learnt to accept and enjoy. However, many projects would not be possible without financial support from generous individuals who see value in supporting art. This year we were privileged to receive a major donation from an amazing couple who started their photographic adventure in their 80s. By doing so they showed me that it is never too late to pursue your passion. Thank you so much for your friendship and generosity. Yes, against your wishes there will be an entire post about you upon the launch of our new project!  

THANK YOU, FUJIFILM

It has been another great year of cooperation with Fujifilm Canada, for which we are very grateful. Thank you for your hard work and support for the craft of seeing. Our big thanks to the entire team for putting up with us 🙂  

SIMPLICITY-IN-SEEING

Some of you stated a long time ago that you wanted more interaction, learning and exploring the world of seeing. That’s how Simplicity-In-Seeing was born in January 2017. From the beginning, my intention was to write and share more. I wanted a conversation with both beginning and accomplished photographers that centred on images. Your financial support allowed me and my small team to engage in the world of seeing on a much deeper level and by doing so, interact with you more often. The topics we talked about inspired us and sent our seeing in new directions. Yes, I say “us” because writing, as well as photography, is a form of conversation. As such, this conversation about light, seeing, composition and so on has been evolving through the year. We had a slow start but as the year progressed, Simplicity-In-Seeing grew rapidly. I know that many of you are looking for in-depth conversations about photography and quality materials to tackle the issues of seeing, rather than just technical know-how.

After this first year, I have a better idea where to go with Simplicity-In-Seeing; lots of new content will come your way in the New Year. We have already started live interactive conference calls so we can discuss our work as well as many photographic topics. Thank you again for your patronage. I’m looking forward to the New Year.

YouTube

Wow, I never thought I would go this route. I remember when we published our first video about the X100F – your response was phenomenal. Then we published another video and we had a similar, warm response. Then we paused, taking our time to figure out a direction for this new outlet. Your voice was clear and loud! “Olaf, just shut up, take your camera and shoot. We want to see you in action!” I couldn’t be happier. We decided to limit the talking, reviewing, gesticulating or adding fancy effects. Plenty of YouTube channels do this much better than we do.

Instead, we will do more live shooting. I will take my camera (most of the time X100F) and my videographer (Kasia) will follow me so you can see the process behind each image. No fancy talk, no bragging – just action on the streets of Vancouver, London, San Francisco, etc.

Plans for the New Year: there will be more videos, more often!

WORKSHOPS

When one of my students said, “I have learnt more in the first fifteen minutes of your workshop than on all other workshops I’ve taken, combined,” I knew that working on my Simplicity-In-Seeing program had paid off. Yes, some of my students are surprised on the first day but then as I watch how they grow, take visual risks and find the joy of seeing again – I am delighted. They start producing imagery which they never thought possible. This imagery is the greatest compliment I could receive (see our next post!).

Most importantly, we often become friends and stay in touch, exchanging ideas and learning from each other. Some of my students even decided to go further and booked private workshops with me to take their seeing to another level. More workshops are coming in 2018 in Vancouver, London, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, San Francisco and New York. We may even visit Sidney, Australia.

TOP 10 IMAGES OF THE YEAR

It is time for the top 10 images of the year. Reducing our work from the entire year to just ten images appeared to be an impossible task but…we did it. Making hard choices is one of the most difficult part of photography and we didn’t want to go easy route of sharing all our favourite images. Here they are!

 

RUNNERS-UP

   
In Part 2, we will share our choice of the camera of the year (you will be surprised!); explain why the Fujifilm X100F has become our only camera; mention some great people who work “behind the scenes;” provide you with some amazing links; show more of the best imagery of 2017 – this time from the road; and most importantly, show the best imagery of the year as taken by my students. We will also describe some amazing plans for 2018. You’ll want to see this post!

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project R-A-I-N: Vancouver Street Photography Workshop

Project R-A-I-N: Vancouver Street Photography Workshop

When the winter months arrive, many photographers put away their cameras. I used to do the same. A few years ago, I ventured out with my camera during a rainy day and tried to tune my visual senses to a new reality. What I discovered changed my seeing forever.

The beautiful winter light mixed with the gentle droplets of R-A-I-N and the atmospheric mood of the season provided me with special set of conditions to create and see the city I love anew. Since then, I have been working on my R-A-I-N project and I have to say that shooting in rain or snow has become my favourite photographic endeavour.

It is now hard to believe but during long and dry summer months I often long for those rainy days when I could venture out with my camera and discover truly amazing visuals. In fact, I love the experience so much that I decided to share it with you and lead the Project R-A-I-N: Vancouver Street Photography Workshop. 

This one-of-its-kind workshop is not only aimed at learning how to capture a unique atmosphere and visuals of rainy, cloudy days but will also provide you with a cornerstone of the Simplicity-In-Seeing program. We will learn how to See the Image, Craft the Image and Execute the Image using techniques Olaf has developed over the years to journey past the snapshot. Every day we will have a mix of presentations, discussions and street shooting in the most stunning Vancouver neighbourhoods. I will demonstrate my original “keep it simple” processing techniques tailored to the rainy imagery. You will receive notes and plenty of material to take home with you.

During the hands-on shooting on the streets of Vancouver each participant will spend extensive time with me individually. Such one-to-one interaction with my students is imperative in the learning process so our class sizes are limited to 8 participants only.

I hope you will join me on this unique shooting experience but I have to warn you, this may cause you to put away your camera in the summer months!

Reserve your spot early here! (only 6 left)

What kind of imagery we will be shooting?

In fact, I am so excited to shoot with you in the R-A-I-N (no we won’t get wet – OK maybe a little) that I reduced my usual workshop fee from US$695 to US$495 per participant.

 

 

 

2017 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved.

Is the X-Pro2 for the heart and the X-T2 for the head?

Is the X-Pro2 for the heart and the X-T2 for the head?

Since we have already taken a dive into the dangerous world of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), let’s beat ourselves up for one more post. I promise the next time we will return to the normal and important subjects (in fact later this month we will be leaving for a super road-trip across many states and provinces all the way to Winnipeg to complete a super important and personal project).

Along with the release of the brand new Fujiflm X-T2, as is usual in such a case, vigorous online discussions have been taking place about whether to upgrade or not and whether the X-T2 is preferable to the X-Pro2 or not, etc. As someone who has shot with both the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 I formed my own opinion on the subject.

However, I am well aware that providing a definitive answer to this question is impossible due to the fact that we all differ, not only in the way we see or interact with the camera, have different sensitivity to the aesthetics of our surroundings but also in our emotions and experiences.

Rational people could take a look at the specification list, what each camera can do, what it cannot do, prices, etc. and conclude that there is no contest: the X-T2 is newer, it has faster AF, a great, brand-new grip, shoots 4K and is cheaper than the X-Pro2 – therefore it is a better camera. Indeed, that could be the case but with one proviso: it is better for YOU.

In our highly opinionated review (or rather rant) of the X-T2 we said that the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 have become flagships of the X-series – but they are different cameras. After using both I know that for my way of seeing and working, I prefer the X-Pro2. Interestingly enough, Kasia, my partner in crime, prefers the X-T2. Our problem is to explain clearly and logically why.

I have been thinking about it for a while and yesterday I came across a fascinating piece by one of my favourite X-photographers, Patrick LaRogue, titled, “On Flagships: X-T2 and X-Pro2.” In his piece he quotes a friend from Tokyo who said, “The X-Pros are for the heart, the XTs are for the head.” Immediately a light bulb lit up over my head. Eureka! That is the answer I was looking for! Is it a bit far fetched? Yes! Is it irrational? Yes! Do I care? No!

Confused? You should be.

Here is the imagery shot with a pre-production Fujifilm X-T2, XF 35mm F2, ACROS (A) and Classic Chrome (CC) film simulations.

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0789

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0816

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0788

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0901

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0903

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0899

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0772

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0786

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0800

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0787

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0864

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0856

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF1065

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0828

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0908

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0936

…and truly yours at work

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0804

2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Photography Re-Framed – The Fujifilm X-T2 Review

Photography Re-Framed – The Fujifilm X-T2 Review

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0750

There is a commonly held idea that the camera doesn’t matter. Indeed, it is hard to find a brave person who would argue otherwise. Certainly, I am not one of them. Unfortunately, some people misunderstand this overworked adage.

Of course the primary tool you use every day matters! Have you ever met a musician who says that an instrument s/he is playing doesn’t matter? What the “camera doesn’t matter” maxim really means is that the camera is not the primary determinant of your photography skill – it is your creativity and seeing! You certainly agree, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article right now.

But there is a fly in the soup. It is the process of selecting a camera! Unfortunately, this important undertaking has been reduced to meticulous studies of technical details, columns and specifications. There are scores of websites offering you “help” with choosing a camera. It is common to show two cameras side by side comparing all possible technical particulars. Of course this technical carousel wouldn’t be complete without until-my-eyes-bleed 100% crop examination.

I disagree with this approach. As the tool with which I, the photographer, interact in the creative process, a well-designed camera should bolster me up to pursue my passion for seeing and make the mechanics of capturing visuals intuitive and fluid.

With this in mind, the process of choosing an instrument of seeing must include more than just studying charts and technical specifications. When I was given the opportunity to work with a pre-release version of the X-T2 camera I was thrilled. Unlike with previous cameras, I could shoot and bond (or not) with this new camera without all the Internet noise, without any prejudgments or expectations – I was just free to roam, create and see.

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0748

2016-06-28_0001

SEEING – AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW

Dorothea Lange famously said: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” She was right! In fact during our workshops we encourage people to explore and learn to “see” even before touching a camera. The next step involves repeating the same process of seeing, composing and re-framing – this time using your camera’s viewfinder.

The X-T2 elevates the concept of EVF to another level. Early EVFs were slow and noisy – a sort of technical novelty rather than a real window to seeing. The X-T2’s huge, bright, super-fast viewfinder sorted out most issues and put the EVF at the centre of the mirrorless revolution.

The X-T2 window is much brighter than its predecessor. Even when shooting in the dark, the usual grainy mess is gone. Most importantly, the refresh rate has reached 100fps – very close to the human ability to recognize motion (around 120fps). An EVF of this size and quality transforms the way you compose and create a photograph. Having such a large frame to operate in, you naturally engage with the scene and are better able to rearrange the elements even in distant corners, which all leads to a better-thought-out image.

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0262

The X-T2’s EVF puts you in a comfortable visual chair – as if you were watching your favourite movie on the big screen. Then it projects your vision, but you haven’t even pressed the shutter button yet! In addition, any changes to exposure, white balance and depth of field can be assessed and re-examined by eye. Not only does this arrangement allow the photographer to achieve the desired look but it also eliminates the need for the time-consuming habit of scrutinizing the image on the back of your LCD.

If there was one challenge left for the X-T2’s EVF, it would be difficulty adjusting the EVF brightness. When we took photos we often found the scene too bright so we adjusted the exposure only to find that it was unnecessary. The brightness of the EVF tricked us. Mind you, we were working with a pre-release version of the camera and it may well be that the final version will deal with this issue. In addition, there is always a menu option available to adjust the brightness of the EVF to your liking.

After composing through the X-T2 viewfinder, there is no question in my mind that the days of the optical viewfinder are numbered. In fact, given the sophistication and quality of EVFs offered today, it is beyond my understanding why major SLR producers still stick with small, cramped, uninformative optical viewfinders.

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0169

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0211

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0151

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0236

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0179

©osztaba_XT2_20160617__DSF0243

BUILD AND MECHANICS REVAMPED

One thing that surprised us was the extent to which Fujifilm engages photographers in their development process. When talking with fellow photographers who shoot with the X-line, I hear many great ideas tossed around about how to improve a specific camera. Many of these ideas somehow find their way into new models. There is no question that Fujifilm listens and acts on constructive feedback.

For those of us who photograph daily, mechanics, build and the inner workings of a camera are of paramount importance. In general, the external design theme of the X-T2 has been carried forward from the X-T1 but not without some changes. Among others:

  • The X-T2 is slightly larger than the X-T1 (although this is barely noticeable).
  • The D-pad buttons have been vastly improved – they are more prominent and much easier to feel/press.
  • The infamous “movie” button is gone! The FN button is in the same spot between exposure compensation and the ISO dials. Although getting rid of the movie button was a great idea, we are not sure about leaving the FN button in the same place. We often found it difficult to reach this button while shooting.
  • The Focus Assist button at the back of the camera has been replaced with the Q button.
  • The Exposure Compensation dial gained the “C” option, which allows you to adjust the exposure from -5 to +5. A welcome addition!
  • The larger and higher ISO dial gained a new 12,800 option. Yes, you can use it!
  • The shutter and ISO dials gained a new lock mechanism at the top that can be pressed to lock/unlock the dials, preventing accidental change. It works great.
  • In place of the Q button, Fujifilm put in the joystick, which allows you to control focus points, a solution first implemented in the X-Pro2. It’s one of the best design ideas for a very long time! We use the joystick all the time.
  • The buttons have been enlarged, raised and tightened to the point that some of you may find them too stiff; however, there is no perfect solution here. For us they feel just right.
  • The X-T2 gained a second slot for the memory card – backup, backup, backup!
  • The door’s locking mechanism has been changed. I know personally many photographers who have had issues with the X-T1 door opening accidentally in the bag.
  • The bottom of the camera has been rearranged. The tripod socket is placed further toward the centre. Unfortunately, the original grip for the previous model won’t work with the X-T2.

©osztaba_XT2_20160625__DSF4883

©osztaba_XT2_20160625__DSF4892

©osztaba_XT2_20160625__DSF4900

©osztaba_XT2_20160625__DSF4899

INNER WORKINGS REFINED

In observing the progress of the X-series line, it has become apparent that Fujifilm tries to unify button placement and menu items over all X-series cameras. Kasia and I often shoot with two or three X cameras at the same time, so continuity over the entire line is very important.

One area that we often hear complaints about, especially from the SLR-convert-to-mirrorless-crowd, is that the speed and accuracy of the X-series cameras’ autofocus system lags behind those of SLRs. It has never been a problem for us but our shooting style is slow and deliberate (we rarely photograph moving subjects).

The X-T2 has gained new options, which should improve the performance of its autofocus system. There is a new array of continuous autofocus settings allowing you to tune the system to certain situations. Here are the options (all self-explanatory):

  1. Multi-purpose
  2. For accelerating/decelerating subjects
  3. To ignore obstacles and continue to track the subject
  4. For a subject that suddenly appears
  5. For erratically moving and accelerating/decelerating subjects

Although we entertained ourselves with these settings it is hard to draw any conclusion. We are sure you will find plenty of tests on the Internet done by photographers who use the continuous autofocus system more often than we do. However, we do prefer simplified menus and adding such an array of options might be detrimental to solving problems and would confuse the end-user, as many of the listed situations could overlap. The multi-purpose option should be enough but hey, this is just our angle.

©osztaba_XT2_20160621__DSF0736-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1186-Edit

IMAGE QUALITY – STANDING ON ITS OWN

I am sometimes perplexed by conversations about the image quality of a particular camera. In most discussions, the image quality is reduced to a hermetic blend of sharpness and resolution. In the meantime, there is an array of other characteristics that contribute greatly to final, real-life “image quality.” These include the “look” of the files, the tonality, the quality of lenses, the quality of grain (ACROS film simulation with “weak” grain settings), colour accuracy, etc. As the industry becomes more and more concentrated, the real world differences in sensor quality are most likely to continue diminishing between brands. The design, mechanics of the camera, film simulations, software, lenses, customer service (especially for professional photographers) and the “fun” factor will become a real identifier.

And so is the 24.3MP X-Trans APS-C sensor, which found its way to the XT-2 from the recently released X-Pro2. One of the advantages of the X-Trans sensor is the ability to capture light even if there is very little of it. The ISO performance of the X-T2 paired with the XF fast primes challenges some full-frame cameras with its capabilities (every six months we take many new cameras on the market for a ride, mostly FF, to stay in the loop).

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1178

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1161

The real standout feature of all Fujifilm X cameras is the JPEG processing engine. There is a growing spectrum of photographers who are sick and tired of spending hours before the computer trying to process images to their liking. For many, this element of digital photography causes the most frustration.

The X-series cameras, including the X-T2, tackle this problem head on. Backed by their in-depth expertise in film, Fujifilm armed JPEG photographers with a rich array of life-like film simulations. Fuji’s JPEGs not only look stunning straight from the camera but their skin tones are unmatched. Many develop-in-house film simulations such as ACROS (A) or Classic Chrome (CC) are truly standouts and they quickly became must-haves for many photographers, including us. Do it in-camera? Hell YES!

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1176-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1222-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1194-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1245-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1171-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1172

MOVIE – PLAYED

I will be blunt. I have zero interest in gaining any camera movie-making prowess. As a pure photographer, I always view movie buttons/settings as an unnecessary distraction. However, I do understand that the market views it differently and there is a growing number of photographers and videographers who want to have this capability. Here you go – the 4K has arrived!

Talking about movies, I had a chance to interact with actors from a new series “The Man in the High Castle.” It was a great experience to meet so many talented people. Make sure to check out the series currently available on Amazon Prime (see a trailer here). All images – the X-T2 and XF 35mm F2 lens, Classic Chrome (CC) and ACROS (A) film simulations.

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0851

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0939

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0968

2016-06-28_0003

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF1065

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0843

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0986

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0865

PRICE – LESS IS MORE

When assessing the price of a camera the following logic prevails: “Camera Y has 4k/(put here any function you want) and Camera X doesn’t, therefore the X should be less expensive.” Many agree that the prime determinant of the price is the number of features a camera offers.

We beg to differ. Leaving out some options, avoiding clutter and resisting the do-it-all mantra is a very difficult time-and-money consuming process. I don’t mind paying a premium price for a product that is beautifully designed, does one thing well and saves me from a plethora of choices. I only hope that Fujifilm will avoid the temptation of entering the never-ending we-too-offer-this-option race. Photography is the art of creation, awareness and deep thought. Clutter and technical overload contradict this state of mind.

XF LENSES – THE WHOLE PACKAGE

The X-T2, even with all its advancements, would be just a box if not paired with great glass. Fortunately, photographers have access to first-rate lenses. Not only are they well built (metal!) but most importantly they are fast and sharp. The majority of XF lenses, especially the primes, feel perfectly balanced on the X-T2 camera. Sure, some zooms such as the excellent XF 50-140mm F2.8 could feel a bit heavy but with an optional battery grip this imbalance could be reduced.

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0880

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0814

©osztaba_XT2_20160622__DSF0948

X-T2 – MIRRORLESS – RE-FRAMED

Barring less expensive models such as the X-T10, Fujifilm now offers two flagship cameras, the X-Pro2 and the X-T2. Although the image quality is identical, there are major differences in approach and design.

  • I found the X-Pro2 design cleaner, less cluttered.
  • The X-Pro2 has both the EVF and Optical. The XT-2 has the EVF only.
  • The X-T2 EVF is much brighter, bigger and faster than the X-Pro2.
  • The X-T2 EVF is placed centrally while the X-Pro2 EVF is located on the left of the camera. I personally prefer the latter placement.
  • Both have a joystick to select the focus point.
  • The X-T2 can shoot 4K video; the X-Pro2 cannot.
  • The X-T2 has a dedicated ISO dial while the X-Pro2 uses a wheel solution. Unlike most X-shooters, I don’t mind the latter.
  • The X-T2 has a much firmer grip.
  • The X-T2 offers an additional brand new grip, which holds two extra batteries. There is no such option for the X-Pro2.

That’s great, Olaf, but which one should I get?

I personally prefer the X-Pro2. Interestingly enough, Kasia prefers the X-T2 – look for her perspective in one of our upcoming posts. It is not that one camera is better than the other; it is a matter of preference and a way of shooting.

We strongly recommend trying out both cameras. The preference is highly personal. You may well prefer the X-T2 to the X-Pro2. Those of you who come from the traditional SLR camp may find the X-T2 a more natural companion.

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1139-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1117-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1112-Edit

©osztaba_XT2_20160702__DSF1124-Edit

FINAL WORD

With the introduction of the X-Pro1, the X-T1 Fujiflm re-framed the conversation about digital cameras. With the fusion of the latest technology advancements such as EVF, traditional proven-by-time controls and particular film simulations, Fujifilm put forward a very different idea as to how a camera should look and how a photographer interacts with it while creating an image.

Once this new design philosophy was put in place, Fuji needed to polish their flagship X-series cameras. A few months ago Fujifilm did just that with the X-Pro2. Now the X-T2 has received a similar treatment. The latest high-tech improvements have been implemented (higher resolution sensor, vastly improved EVF, 4K), the majority of rough edges smoothed out (button design and placement, two memory cards, doors, etc.) and new ideas transplanted (the joystick!).

The X-T2 has taken on a much more grown-up persona. As a package, with an amazing line of prime lenses, gorgeous EVF, one-of-a-kind solutions (joystick), manual controls and exclusive film-like simulations, the I-am-still-shooting-SLR crowd should feel no remorse leaving the traditional SLR world behind.

We present you with an array of imagery from our weeks of working with the X-T2. Most of the images were shot with the XF 35mm F2 lens. We also worked with the XF 14mm F2.8 and the XF 50-140mm F2.8.

Please make sure to check out reviews/thoughts of fellow Canadian X-photographers (just to clarify – I am not an official Fujifilm X-photographer):

Don Craig
Dyaane Wilson
Ian MacDonald
Scott Grant
Patrick LaRoque

Watch this space for more coverage.

Disclaimer

We have never believed in so called “objective” reviews and we don’t even pretend to write one. A camera is such a unique and personal tool that pretending total detachment from it appears to us foolish and naive. Every year we handle many cameras from different brands and our only rationale for choosing a camera is how we bond with it and how it helps us to facilitate our way of seeing. We never choose cameras solely on image quality or resolution. It is much more personal than that.

At the same time we are 100% independent. We do not receive any compensation for stating certain opinions. We don’t accept any ads or kickbacks (look around on our blog!). Sometimes, we do receive cameras for review as in the case with the Fujifilm X-T2 but with no conditions attached. We can say and write whatever we want. Period.

 

2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.