Fujifilm

The Little Wonder Lens, the Fujifilm 55-200mm

As a committed Fuji X photographer, who is never shy about spreading the word about this gear, I hear a lot of nonsense how some people think it cannot deliver pro-level quality images. Hogwash! This system nails it. The lenses are sharp, contrasty and sturdy. The bodies, the same. The sensor provides excellent color and images with depth. Not depth of field, that's different, I'm talking about that special extra sauce once reserved for that particular German camera maker. Yeah, you know the one. Think red dot.  

Last night in Pittsburgh we had some crazy beautiful light just after sunset. The afterglow was an insane, super orange. I don't know the physics behind it, but dang, was it amazing. I only know this because about this time I had to go out on an emergency ink run for my Epson. So off to Staples I went, trying to get in just before their closing time. As I snaked around the back way, I saw two deer in a field less than 300 yards from my destination. I had a choice, take pictures, or get ink. Pictures won. Always. As I've said many times before if you always carry your camera you never have to go out looking for pictures. You react. That's what I did. 

I slowly pulled over to the side of the road and carefully opened my door to not disturb the pair from their evening dinner. I pulled my camera, an X-Pro2 and attached the 55-200 zoom. I call this my walkabout telephoto. It's small, sharp, crisp, incredibly lightweight for its range, and has image stabilization. What's not to love?

The light was fading fast. Remember, this was the afterglow of sunset. I quickly changed my auto-ISO setting to #3, which for me gives a range from 640 to 12,800. Not surprising, the camera set to 12,800 to give me a shutter speed of 1/125 wide open. 

A lot of people go a bit crazy and tell me you can't work at that high of an ISO with Fuji. Why not? Is it a bit noisy? Sure it is, of course. But trust me, it's a LOT less noisy than what we had with color film pushed from 800 to 3200, and back then nobody cared one bit. It was all about getting the image. Period. Oh sure, you'd have the occasional grain peeper, but they were nothing like the pixel peepers of today.  Now, this was a personal photograph. Would I ever shoot at 12,800 on a paid job? The answer is yes, I would, and I have. Did the client care? Not. One. Bit. I captured an important moment, one that otherwise would not live. 

I followed the two young bucks with 55-200 fully extended for as long as they allowed. Finally, I either made a noise, or they decided they no longer wanted to be watched. The pair took off gracefully up and over the hill. It didn't matter, I had my shots, and besides, it was getting dark. Even at 12,800, my shutter speed had dropped to 1/40th. I panned the camera as the deer bounced away. 

I must also mention, the X-Pro2 kept the animals in sharp focus with the 55-200 lens while I shot their portraits and their departure. Professional grade? Absolutely. 

Peek-a-boo Buck

Peek-a-boo Buck

Time to go!

Time to go!

X Marks the Spot

I need to give a big shout out to two outstanding people who recently helped save the day, and my bacon. Amy Maki and Stacey Moore work for Fuji and are my heroes. They didn't know me but came to the rescue when I needed to get two of my cameras repaired. They didn't have to reach out and help, but they did. Thank you so much.

I've been an evangelist for Fuji for some time. I'm not paid by them or anything like that; I use their gear. And when I find something that works, I tell people. Loudly. Let me explain why.

First, the files I get out of these cameras are outstanding. The image quality, color rendition, and file size work for all the professional applications I need. 

Next, Fuji cameras are a joy to use. The size, weight, and operation of the cameras are as close to that of a film camera as I've ever found in the digital realm. To me, that matters. There is more of a spiritual connection. It's a mind, body flow of creativity that is not interrupted by the awkward feel of my tools. It's is not the first time I've had such a connection. The Nikon F and Leica M cameras provided me the same experience. Not surprising, Nikon consulted a Zen master on the design of their first flagship SLR. 

The weight of the camera is perfect. I usually work with three bodies and lenses at a time. Fuji is not too big, not too small, just right to be carried all day without the typical fatigue associated with lugging multiple DSLRs around. I've worked this way for decades. It's incredible I can now do it without exhaustion or an aching back.

Fuji makes some of the best glass in the industry. Their large format lenses are legendary. They have taken that knowledge and transferred it to the digital side. As a result, the lenses are so sharp many have compared them to those created by a certain German company, especially in their f/2 line-up lovingly nicknamed "Fuji-crons."

A large number of naysayers point to what they believe is one of Fuji's major shortcoming – the APS sensor size. For those pixel peepers, all I can do is shrug my shoulders and ask, why? I've made prints up to 4x6 feet that are so vivid and tight you seem to walk into the image. I've shot billboards, annual reports, magazine covers, and dozens of other types of assignments. In each case the image quality, sharpness, and dynamic range exceeded expectations. For what I need, Fuji works.

While they are a relatively young entry into the digital market, they're growing, expanding their lens range, and best of all, they keep improving their cameras via firmware updates. Kaizen – continuous improvement, a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes to improve efficiency and quality. Fuji has embraced this philosophy with open arms to the benefit of consumers, amateur and professional alike. 

But, the bottom line is this; pick the camera that fits you and produces the images you demand. You can have all the gear in the world, but if you don't have a vision, you have nothing but a fancy camera. A pinprick in the bottom of an oatmeal box can produce a work of art in the hands of an artist.

 All I'm saying is Fuji fits my work, my style, and my heart. And maybe yours, too. And it doesn't hurt to have heroes out there watching your back, either. 

Fuji X-E2 | 18-55mm "kit" lens. How much sharper does this need to be?

Fuji X-E2 | 18-55mm "kit" lens. How much sharper does this need to be?

Fuji X-Pro2 | 18mm f/2 lens. Advertising photograph, color grading in post.

Fuji X-Pro2 | 18mm f/2 lens. Advertising photograph, color grading in post.