Why I sold my DSLR and switch to Fuji

Back when I was preparing for my trip to Nepal, I realised that I was not looking forward to lugging my DSLR around with me. Back then my workhorse was my Nikon D7000. This is a brilliant camera that I had owned for over a year but which I was using less and less. For any of you out there with DSLRs you have to admit that lugging them around with a decent lens on them is a bit of a pain. It is also not the best for street photography as people see you coming from a mile away.

I had my eye set on a Leica M9 back then but they were/are prohibitively expensive. A second hand Leica plus a decent 50mm lens would set you back at least 5000€. I was doing all sorts of mental justification to try to convince myself I could afford one when I stumbled across Zack Arias’s post on the Fuji X-Pro1 (see here). While I will admit that he is not the most unbiased of reviewers, he did manage to pique my curiosity. At that time a new X-Pro1 with a 35mm lens and a free 18mm lens were going for 1500€. This was more in my price range though still a lot of money to spend on  a camera!

I started reading up on the Fuji X cameras and the more I read the more I was convinced it was the camera for me. Not only was the image quality one of the best out there in low light (when I do a lot of my day to day shooting) but Fuji was continuously upgrading the firmware of the cameras and adding new features that the customers wanted. When I saw someone selling one on-line for 900€ I pounced and bought it.

One of my first pictures with my new camera
One of my first pictures with my new camera

 

What I love

The thing that first impressed me about the X-Pro1 is its size and shape. It fits perfectly in my hand and all the controls are within easy reach. I own the 35mm f1.4  and 18mm f2 lenses and the whole pack fits easily into a very small bag. For my entire trip to Nepal I could carry all my electronics gear in an over the shoulder carrier bag. This would have been impossible with my DSLR. 

I also love the control set-up. All the functionality I need is easily adjustable without having to delve into any menus. This makes me forget about settings and just focus on taking pictures. Add to that the highly innovative combination of optical and electronic viewfinder and I’m almost back to shooting film but with infinite (almost) film!

The combination of size and almost silent operation volume means it is great for street photography, theatre photography and anywhere else where you don’t wish to be seen taking pictures. As I can easily shoot with extremely high ISO with almost no loss of quality I do not need to use a flash and can capture great candid shots without ever being seen.

The thing I love the most and which still blows me away every day is the quality of the images I get from this camera. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft the people at Fuji did but this camera produces the best images I have seen. The colour and dynamic range in these files is hard to understand. Add to that the outstanding quality of the Fuji X lenses and it’s hard to get a bad picture!

Look at those colours!
Look at those colours!

 

What could be better

Don’t get me wrong, not everything is perfect with this camera! The focusing is sometimes hit and miss, you do need to pre-focus or be patient but it is getting better with every firmware upgrade. You will also sometimes end up focusing on the wrong thing, especially when focusing close and using the Optical Viewfinder. I would never recommend this camera for a sports photographer.

The battery life is also pretty bad, especially when used to a DSLR. I carry around 3 spare batteries and have to switch them out every 150 shots or so which is not great.

Most of these quirks are easy to work around and not much of an issue for street photography. They have also mostly been addressed in the X100S which I also now own (more on that in a future post).

While still a nice picture, I would have loved to have the focus on the eye where I pointed at!
Still a nice picture but I would have loved to have the focus on the eye where I wanted it!

 

Conclusion

As I gave away in my title, I have finally taken the step and sold my Nikon DSLR. It wasn’t an easy decision but I realised I had not used it a single day since I bought my Fuji. I am currently in the process of selling most of my old lenses as well as my big, cumbersome carry bags. I am keeping my sigma 105 macro lens as I have an adapter to use it on my Fuji and it works like a charm.

I am now a convinced user of the Fuji X system of cameras and am saving up to get my hands on the 56mm f1.2 lens sometime in the future. If you have any questions on this camera please feel free to let me know below.

Did I mention it's discreet and quiet?
Did I mention it’s discreet and quiet?

Mobile blogging using Android

When I was preparing for my trip to Nepal I decided not to take my laptop and opt instead for my trusty Asus Transformer Infinity tablet. I thought some of you may be interested in my experience in using only Android for blogging, photo editing and uploading pictures.

A year ago, I was looking to buy an Android tablet and wanted to get one that gave me more flexibility than the standard table does. I ended up picking up a second-hand Asus Transformer Infinity which met all my needs at the time. What makes the Transformer line of tablets different is the fact that they can be used either as a tablet or as a sort of ultrabook with the additional Keyboard attachment. The keyboard also contains and additional battery, a USB port and an SD card slot. All of these additions make it the ideal tablet for what I was planning on doing. As well as my tablet I took along an external hard drive which allowed me to back-up my pictures on the go.

TF700

Software

The Asus tablet works really well but the android version it came with was painfully slow. The first thing I did was unlock the tablet and install the excellent Cyanogenmod custom ROM. This removed a lot of unnecessary software from the tablet and made it much snappier. As I was only going to be using the tablet for blogging and didn’t want to have to experiment on the road I downloaded all the apps I would need before leaving. I used all free apps because I’m cheap. 🙂

For writing the blogs I used the free app from WordPress. It works well enough and allows you to store local copies of the posts which is useful for when you decide to write something up and have no wi-fi access. I did have some issues uploading pictures using the app but I will go into those in a bit.

To edit my photos I used the excellent Snapseed app. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It works great with Fuji JPEGs and allows you to work with 16 megapixel images with no downsizing. The only thing I wish they would add is the option to save to a different size as I ended up having to use a different app for that because the internet speeds in Nepal leave a lot to be desired.

To resize pictures I used an app called Photo Resizer. It worked well and allowed me to set a custom size for resizing my photos.

I used Antek Explorer to manage the transfer of files from my SD cards to my hard drive. I love this app as I can use a split screen and easily drag files from one folder to another.

Lastly, to preview and manage my images I used Quickpic. In my opinion this is the best image browser available today for Android, and it’s free! It also allows you to easily select multiple files and send them to another program. I could not have worked on my tablet without it.

Workflow

After a long day of exploring the first thing I would do is backup my images to my hard drive. This was really easy as all I had to do was plug in the hard drive to the USB port, insert my SD card and drag the files over using Antek file explorer. The transfer would take a while as I shoot in RAW – JPEG (around 30mb total per image)so I would normally do this before taking a shower or during dinner and leave it running. If I didn’t have time I could even leave this as the last step before going to bed.

Once this was done, I would get to writing my day’s post in WordPress. I don’t normally pic my images before I write up the post. I prefer to pic my images based on what would work best for the words I’m using. This was generally a pain-free process as the WordPress app is easy to work with.

Once I was done writing, I’d open up the photos I had taken that day in Quickpic and see which ones worked best with the blog post. Any pictures which were selected would be opened in Snapseed. This is really easy to do as in Quickpic, the steps are the same as if you were send them to Facebook or any other program. In Snapseed I would crop, correct white balance and other levels and save to a different folder. I would do the same steps for all the images and then resize them all in one go by using the Photo Resizer App.

Here I come to most painful part of the process which was adding the photos to the blog. Let me just say that for this the WordPress App sucks. I could never trust the app to upload the photos, would get constant errors and ended up with multiple copies of the image uploaded but none inserted into the post.This ended up driving me crazy and almost made me give up on the idea of mobile blogging.

What I ended up doing was to open the WordPress dashboard in Chrome and manually adding each image in one by one. This was painful with the slow speed internet we had and was a source of frustration most days. It was however the only way to be 100% sure that the files were added correctly. I think for my next trip I will create a secondary Flickr account and just add a link from there.

Conclusion

Using Android to blog on the go is perfectly doable with the right hardware. As new hardware comes out it will get easier and easier but right now there is no need to lug around a heavy and expensive laptop.

My good friends Claire and Maxence from WeShoesTheWorld (in French) are also using Android to blog their tour around the world so go check out what they are up to and see what’s possible. I hope this was interesting to you and please let me know below if you have any questions about my setup!

I’m baaaack!!

Hi Everyone,

I know the blog has been dead for months. I had the best intentions to keep it updated but as usual life got in the way.

I have been working on trying to get a an exhibition together with my pictures from the trip but so far there has been no luck. If you are interested in checking out some of the pics from the trip you can see them in my flickr page on the right hand menu. I have sold a few prints here and there so there’s still hope! 🙂

I have booked my next trip for the month of March to Rome, Shanghai, Thailand and London. I will keep you all  up to date on the preparations for that trip. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a couple of pics from these last few months here in Dublin.

Christmas shopping

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