My journey to the Fujifilm X system didn’t begin with Fuji.
My journey actually began with Sony.
At the start of 2017, I wanted to pick up a small mirrorless camera with a couple of key considerations. Firstly, size and portability and secondly the ability to shoot 4K video. The size was something that I wanted because of the amount of work related travel (in my day job) that I was doing. I can be on the road across the UK pretty much every week for work, so I wanted a smaller camera that I could pop in my travel bag and get good photos without having to carry my Canon DSLR kit and big lenses. Quite often, I’m flying or travelling just with hand luggage, so obviously the weight and bulk was quite limiting.
The 4K video requirement was a combination of a couple of things. Firstly, I was shooting lots of little videos (also for the day job) and I felt that if I was getting a new camera of any sort in 2017, it had to have some basic 4K capability. I didn’t see the point of getting a camera at that time without it.
So, the camera I settled on after much pondering was the Sony a6300. I had looked at Fujifilm, but at that time, the lack of 4K options was the deciding factor. So I took the plunge and picked up the a6300.
Initial thoughts were good, I did like the footage that came out of it, and I quite liked the images too – it didn’t seem a bad move. But over the course of the summer, I found myself frustrated. I’ve heard it’s a common complaint with Sony cameras, that the menu system was difficult to navigate and find what you were looking for. Now, I appreciate that there are legions of successful and fantastic Sony photographers out there with absolutely amazing cameras.
For me, while I got some great images and lovely video with the camera, using the a6300 felt like a fight. At least for me – I struggled to do what I wanted intuitively, and without having to stop, flick through menus back and forward and then eventually get it to do what I wanted. Sometimes. It actually came to the point I didn’t bother with the camera. It just stayed at home, and that’s totally the opposite of what I wanted. So I decided it had to go.
But what to replace it with?
That’s when the X-E3 was announced. Small, really cute, 4K video… and that lovely Fuji feel. But.. how ‘right’ would it feel? The whole problem with the Sony was it didn’t have the ‘feel’ I wanted, so I took a wander to the local camera store to try some of the other Fujifilm models to get a general idea.
Truth be told, I hadn’t really played with a Fuji in a long time. It’s really important for me personally to be able to trust the camera in my hand, to not have to constantly try to fathom out menus, and to just be able to raise it to my eye and know where things are without interrupting my flow – whether that’s on a shoot with an actor or model, or whether I’m just on one of my regular camera ‘wanders’.
I don’t even really remember the Fuji model I picked up – knowing me, I’ll have had a shot of a few. But what I did find, instantly and without trying to work anything out was where to adjust pretty much everything I thought of. There was a tangible feeling of ‘right’ – and there’s been more of that since I picked up the XH-1. The menus and the interface was intuitive. I’m not going to say I knew what everything meant – but the core functionality of the stills and video operation was easy to work out. That was that. Sold.
Well, more like pre-ordered from Wex as the bundle with the 23mm f/2 WR lens. And what about the a6300? It went to Wex too, as a part exchange.
What did I make of the X-E3?
I guess much of that is obvious from the title of this series of blog posts. The X-E3 felt right. It’s a superb little travel camera. It’s not perfect, don’t get me wrong – and for those uber-camera-geek-keyboard-warriors out there… I don’t believe any camera is perfect, nor any lens. They are all tools – and their main purpose in life is to take images, not to be argued about incessantly on the internet. But, I can pick the camera out my bag, and have a bunch of images without thinking – and that’s really, really important for me. This was happening for me after only an hour.
The images coming out the camera had a beautiful clarity, crispness and those fabulous Fuji film emulations really sang to me. With the X-E3 and a tiny little travel tripod, I could get great long exposures on the streets of London and feel like I was carrying nothing extra in my luggage.
I still stick the X-E3 in my bag when I’m travelling. It’s just too handy not to have.