photo & film

Out with the old…


Over the last few months I have come to a realisation.  Nikon doesn’t want to make cameras for photographers like me.

I’ve shot with Nikon cameras for the last 20 years — the F50, Coolpix 880, D70, D200 and D700 have all graced my camera bag at one time or another but, as I mentioned in my first X100 post, the thought of having to drag nearly 2kg of gear out with me every time I wanted to go and shoot something was beginning to take the joy out of photography.

I had tried to find a solution.  I bought a D5300 hoping that the lighter weight would make DSLR shooting fun again, but the experience was just frustrating.  As with many ‘amateur’ level SLRs, many of the settings are tucked away in menus and for someone who’s used to having dials and buttons dedicated to every setting you can imagine, the D5300 became annoying pretty quickly.  Just one example — one-button playback zoom.  I take an important shot and I want to see if I nailed the focus.  On a pro Nikon body, you press one button and it zooms in to 100% on the focus point you were using.  It’s quick, easy and pretty damn essential for my peace of mind.  Non-pro bodies don’t have this function and that, frankly, pisses me off.  There’s no reason for that function not to exist other than Nikon wanting to push people towards spending £1k more on a camera.

What I started to understand was that I’m a photographer.  A photographer who knows how to control a camera’s manual settings and doesn’t want to spend 20 minutes trawling through menus trying to set them.

I  just happen to be a photographer who wants a smaller, lighter body to shoot with.   And I’m not the only one.

I’d been thinking for a while about the idea of selling off all my Nikon gear so it didn’t have to spend the rest of its useful life languishing in a cupboard and this past weekend I got the mental kick up the backside I needed to make it happen.  On Saturday the Fuji X-T1′s price dropped by £150 down to £699 on Amazon.  That’s only £10 more than a grey import.  I jumped on it before they changed their minds and without really considering which lenses would make up my new kit.  Then on Sunday I got an email offer from eBay — 10 listings with no insertion fees and 75% off final value fees.  So I listed all my Nikon kit.  Did it kill me to have to start the D700′s auction price at £299?  Of course, but if it’s not getting used then it needs to find a new home.

Next came the lens decisions.  My favourite on the D700 was the 24-70mm f/2.8 for its versatility, but it’s a beast of a lens weighing in at 900g.  The nearest equivalent on the Fuji side is the 16-55mm f/2.8 (24-82mm equivalent) but that’s 655g and, although it’s definitely sharper, for me it doesn’t offer that much of an advantage over the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 ‘kit lens’ which is only 310g and has the added bonus of being optically stabilised.  Even better, my only local camera shop had a mint second hand 18-55mm in stock for around the same price as an average eBay one so I was able to run down and buy it as soon as my new camera was delivered.

If everything sells for the current eBay average I should be £500-£600 up, so enough for one or two more lenses.  At some point I’d like to add a really fast prime as I’m a huge sucker for shallow depth of field, and something with a bit more reach… and a macro… but for the moment I’ll stick with the 18-55mm and an old +4 close-up filter and just enjoy the novelty of a days photography without breaking my back.

X100′s First Outing

When I bought my X100, it was because I craved a small camera with total manual control that I could keep with me all the time.  A week after my X100 arrived, I encountered the most perfect example of a situation where having that small camera made all the difference.

I left my house on Wednesday morning fully intending to just go to work and return home again that night.  Instead, I finished work early and managed to jump on a train down to my parents’ house for a family reunion.  No time to run home to get my SLR, but the X100 was in my day bag as always.  The next day I was able to go and take photos of the poppy fields in full bloom and switch easily from landscapes to macros without changing lenses, flipping the built-in ND filter on to shoot at f/2.8 in bright sunlight (unusual in the UK!).   Later, I took some stock shots in coastal locations which flew through my stock library’s quality control appraisal with ease.

Without it, I might have just taken some snapshots on my phone, but I wouldn’t have had the same degree of control, nor the quality of image I got with the X100.  I’m officially converted.

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Fuji X100

For about 10 years now, I’ve been of the opinion that the best photography experience comes from using an SLR, preferably one of a professional level where you have access to all the controls at the flick of a finger.  I’ve definitely achieved that level of feeling ‘at one’ with my camera equipment, but recently I had an epiphany.  I realised that I hadn’t touched my thousands of pounds worth of pro gear since shooting a wedding four months earlier.  All my everyday photography had been done on my phone because it just hadn’t seemed ‘worth’ dragging my SLR gear out with me.

I was mulling this observation over in my mind when a colleague (an SLR-based photographer) casually mentioned that he had just taken delivery of a Fujifilm X100.  ”Are you enjoying it?” I asked.  ”It’s the most fun I’ve ever had taking photos,” he responded.  I’d heard a lot about this little camera but hadn’t really considered it as a viable option until now.  With a glowing report like his, I felt compelled to at least research it a bit and found thousands of others similarly impressed.

Some people would consider the fixed focal length lens to be a disadvantage, but to me it’s the exact opposite. No deliberations over which lenses to take on a day out, just work with what you’ve got. (There are lens adapters available but ‘shhhhh’ I’m pretending they don’t exist!) After a bit of eBay stalking, I found myself opening the rather plush box and beginning to get acquainted with this characterful camera.


As I had read many times while I was waiting for it to arrive, you’ll get the best out of the X100 when you spend time getting to know its quirks and customising the settings. In the process of doing this, there were a few nice surprises. For example, when you’re reviewing a photo, pressing the middle of the scroll wheel zooms in to 100% on the focus point you used — a feature that’s second nature to me on my D200 and D700, but which Nikon controversially reserves for its high-end DSLRs. Even better, on the X100 you can even use this to zoom while you’re taking the shot.

I’m not going to get into a full technical review because choosing this camera was never about specifications or pixel-peeping. It was about finding a camera which could always be with me and would simplify the process of taking photographs. It is, it does, and I love it.

Land & City Scapes


Through The Viewfinder

Through the Viewfinder is about letting go of perfection and allowing the soul of a 60-year-old camera to shine through.  By using twin lens reflex cameras as a filter, you capture the modern world through the dust and scratches accumulated since it was last used.  My TtV shots use a range of cameras, including a Voigtlander Brilliant, a Kodak Brownie Starflex and several Kodak Duaflex models.