#887. Photo buddies

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Aug 07

I’ve had a Macintosh on my desk since the mid-90s and promise not to bore you with the details of why and how here. Suffice to say that’s it has been and remains a willing assistant and cyber friend. Over the intervening years, lots of acquaintances have also moved to Macs and to a greater or lesser extent, feel much the same way.

Kleinmond Lagoon – X-Pro1

It’s happened with cameras too. Despite having been a Nikon user for decades and having also dipped my toes in Leica’s lifegiving waters, my move to Fuji in 2015 was as much a friend-making experience as it was an exploration of a new and different technology.

Building site, Singapore – X-Pro1
Scotland – X-Pro1
Locked, Hackney – X-Pro1
Untitled, Hackney – X-Pro1

My first purchase was an X-Pro1, which was joined almost immediately by the pocketable X100T. Within days, both went on a month long trip to India and between them, produced some exquisite photographs for me.

I’d initially planned to use the X-Pro1 with my 35mm Summicron and 50mm Summilux, together with the 25mm Zeiss Biogon that had got me started with DearSusan.* Fuji’s M to X mount adaptor works really well, but I still had an itch to try out some of Fuji’s own glass and suddenly, there was a 35mm f1.4 in my bag.

Walk in the light, Varanasi – X100T
Road crossing, Tokyo – X100T

Moody Thames – X100T

It’s a fantastic piece of kit and I use it a lot. It doesn’t quite have the 35 ‘Cron’s almost film-like rendering, but does have autofocus. Which do I choose when it’s time to hit the streets? Often both.

A 16mm f1.4 and the 90mm f2 soon followed.

Then the 23mm f1.4.

An X-Pro2? Of course.

Under the El, Chicago – X-Pro2
Kruger Park sunrise – X-Pro2
Motel, Route 66 – X-Pro2
Lioness, Madikwe – X-Pro2
Bottle art, Tokyo – X-Pro2
Kruger Park sunset – X-Pro2

I still wasn’t done and as the 56 f1.2 arrived, the X100T left for a buddy down the road, to be replaced by the X100F.

Enough?

For a while, yes.

Sunset over False Bay – X100F
City centre, Newcastle-on-Tyne – X100F
Retired, Scotland – X100F
They come out at night, Stratford – X100F
Sky oddity, Warsaw – X100F
Museum, München – X100F
Water beads, Glasgow – X100F
Dappled sunlight, King’s Cross – X100F
Photo buddy of the other kind – X100F

X-H1? Nah. I’ve got two X-Pros, what would I do with another X camera?

I fought that decision off for a year, but found out what I could achieve late last year when the X-H1 arrived along with the SBH (16-55 f2.8 zoom). And a 100-400 zoom for shooting game in our national parks.

Looking at this list, I ought to feel a little embarrassed, but don’t. Every item has a distinct personality and which one I choose to accompany me any- and everywhere is (surprisingly) often an emotional rather than need-based choice.

The X-Pro1 is quiet, competent and often surprises with its ability to deliver fantastic images, despite its same-day focussing and limited digital processing capabilities.

The X-Pro2 moved the marker, being just as capable as the -1, but much more and all round competent. Modern and faster.

The X-H1 – much denigrated by the pundits at first – is a technological wunderkind and does the difficult jobs. It can drive my flash system and its IBIS is fantastic in low light and difficult conditions. It used to wear the 16-55 zoom, but was a real (SB) handful and now, often heavier than I want to be hauling around. Increasingly, there’s a prime of some kind mounted, auto or manual focus, it’s equally at home with either.

Storm – X-H1
Lowveldt morning – X-H1
Sunset, Kruger Park – X-H1
Misty sunrise near Cragganmore – X-H1

Post processing Fuji files is subject to the usual de-mosaicing issues – now largely solved – and I find Lightroom well up to the task of massaging the look and feel I want. I’m currently having another go-round with Luminar and like what I’m seeing there, too.

In recent times, several other photographers I know have also joined the X-Pro ranks; our own Steve Mallett, DS progenitor Caroline and most visibly, occasional contributor, Kirk Tuckhere and here too.

There must be something in it.

* My purchase of a Sony NEX-7 soon led me to buy an M mount adaptor to use with the Leica lenses (50 ‘lux and 35 ‘cron) I already owned. The need for a wider field of view led me to a review of the Zeiss 25mm Biogon on DearSusan and the rest is history.

 

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I’ve often thought that a lot of the promo I see within other people’s articles, chasing after this new feature or that one, is just bumf.
    Bottom line is, these things are just tools – THEY don’t make the photo – as Ansel Adams told the world, all those years ago, it’s the person BEHIND the camera that takes or makes the photo.
    Paul, what you have done, and are capable of doing, with your chosen gear, is staggering. I could say Fuji needs no better testimonial – but Fuji didn’t take those shots you did. Take a bow, young man – several of those shots ought to be hanging in an art gallery or a museum, and the rest aren’t far behind.
    I think you’ve just proven something for me, that I’ve suspected for a long while. It’s far more important, if we want to have good photographs, to become more familiar with the gear we already have, than rushing off to buy the latest and greatest whatever, made by whichever.
    Pros – the REAL pros, anyway – just laugh at the gear heads. I think it was a photography teacher who – a year or two back – got so fed up with students asking “but what did you take it with” that he went off and came back with another photo, plonked it in front of them, and asked what they thought of it. And they all nearly died of shock, when he told them he’d gone off and bought a junky second hand Kodak Brownie, or something similar, to take the shot – just to prove the point.
    And I’ve noticed a number of articles by pros recently, in which they casually mentioned they’d taken a shot with a D810 – not a D850 or a Z7!
    It’s sad, really – so much money, and they could have put it all to far better use, if they’d been wiser, and stopped to practice their photography with the gear they already had, instead of chasing rainbows. If any of them are reading this stuff, they need look no further for proof that this is true – you’ve provided all the necessary proof with the photos that you included in this post! 🙂

  • Jeff Kott says:

    The way I see it, taking photos are purchasing camera gear can be seen as two separate but overlapping endeavors. Some people are more focused on one than the other, but I would never criticize gear heads for pursuing what interests them the most.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Jeff, I agree with you entirely.

      However, it’s important that the person be very clear in his/her mind whether he/she is a gearhead or a photographer. Both are very valid choices. You can collect gear beased on any feature set/criterion … And you can be interested in making photographs, wathever the gear. One usually clouds the other, however, and that’s the issue here.

      Believing gear will help is one of the greatest sources of frustration and stagnation. Just as artist photographers tend not to be very good at knowing or understanding gear features.

      You can be both, as Paul so brilliantly illustrates. What I like about Paul’s is how he talks about a camera being a photo buddy. It’s not so much about frame rates as about the feel, the bonding. Left brain vs right brain, I guess 😉

      So there’s no good attitude, or bad attitude. We just need to be very clear about where we stand in the matter. Would you agree with that?

      Cheers

      • John W says:

        Pascal – I agree in general terms. The fundamental problem seems to be that the “gear head” clan are generally not photocentric and confuse the quality and status of the gear with good photography. Time usually sorts them out into those who discover “photography” and those who don’t … it’s a bit like religeon. And yes, there are certainly those who are both … Paul and Kirk Tuck are perfect examples.

      • Jeff Kott says:

        Pascal, to your point, I would say that if the gear heads are not happy because they keep buying new gear, but still don’t like their photos, they need to understand that the new gear will probably not assist them in improving their photography. But, if the gear heads always in pursuit of the next little technical advancement are happy with their photos, I don’t think it matters.
        Jeff

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Great photos, Paul, just lovely!
    You do have eyes!
    I’m enjoying them all, and I’ll be coming back to them.
    ( Jean Pierre has already said the rest.)

  • John W says:

    Paul – I’m speachless!! What a stunning collection of images. As J-P said, many of these should be hanging an a gallery or museum.

    In the almost 60 years I’ve been in photography I’ve either owned or used everything from a Minox to a 4×5. Back before the beginning of time (the 60s) I managed camera stores – talk about a kid in a candy store … with a credit card … so I got to try everything. In all that time I only ever met two cameras that I truly loved at first touch – the Contax G/G2 and the X-Pro. Both just begged to be picked up and felt perfect in the hand. I lusted after an X-Pro but couldn’t quite convince myself to make the leap from all the Canon gear I’d accumulated over 27 years. The a friend and photo-buddy handed me his new X-T1 and the rest is history. In 2015 the Canon gear left home for good and Fuji moved in. I still have the X-T1 and a set of lenses (all zooms; I’m just not the prime lens type) and love them all to pieces; but strangely, that’s not my photo-buddy camera.

    I also bought a Nikon V3; much maligned for what it was not and never really supported by Nikon. But get past its foibles and it is a sweet little camera that’s light, fast and quiet and produces a respectable 13×19 print. In the last year its been joined by a V1 modified for infrared … and thereby hangs another tale.

  • You had me at Kleinmond Lagoon and kept my rapt attention through every last image, Paul. What a lovely body of work! I’m firmly in the “it’s the photographer, not the gear” group – how else can such well-composed and beautifully realized images be created any other way?

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    ROTFLMHAO – yesterday was my birthday, so I am happy to have celebrated it by drawing attention to the quality of your photography, Paul. And bugger being “humbled” – you’re outvoted – EVERYONE is telling you the same thing. 🙂
    Adrian is also preaching the same message about gear – after I read your post, I went back to check a few others again, for an update on comments, and I found Adrian had written the same stuff only a few posts ago. Pascal, too – openly admits his solution isn’t “high end” in terms of features, and costs a few bucks, but he’s happy with it, because it takes good photos.
    I’ll take it on the chin that I got bounced for criticising gear heads. OK, each to their own. But it won’t harm them, and anyway, they kind of started it – so as Lily Tomlin said, turnabout is fair play. Besides, it might save them some money?

  • NMc says:

    Paul
    Great article again, thanks for all your effort.
    “Looking at this list, I ought to feel a little embarrassed, but don’t.” Well you get more keepers from each of your cameras compared to the vast majority of camera owners so no need to apologise for anything.
    I regularly look at Jonas Rask’s work https://jonasraskphotography.com/ and also the work on Kage collective https://www.kagecollective.com/ . Fujifilm cameras seems to be over represented for creative and quality work compared to numbers of units sold.

    Regards Noel

    • pascaljappy says:

      Noel,

      “Fujifilm cameras

      seems to be over represented for creative and quality work compared to numbers of units sold”

      This may be one of the most importance sentences on this website 😉
      I (seriously) wish there was a way to quantify this (silly me) to end the pathetic tech wars once and for all.

      BTW, thanks for the link to the KAGE website. Very interesting.

      Cheers, Pascal

      • NMc says:

        Hmm– Pascal you might want to rethink that. Quantify things is exactly where the GAS fired manufacturing /reviewing complex are going wrong! 😉

        The nature of verifiable qualitative assessments is the generation of spectrums and distributions of all sorts of intangible and non-hierarchical results. Basic gearhead mode requires an objective measurement of better, and for a winner.

        Re reading my unqualified and non-objective observation I can see it is actually a bit irrelevant even if it is on topic by brand. Paul has produced great photos with other brands of camera, those units just did not get to buddy status.
        Regards Noel

  • Sean says:

    These images are well crafted, because to me, as a viewer, the author has a very good eye. Their photographic capacities and abilities are complimented by an understanding of their camera and lenses. These factors have become an advantage, and so, the author can confidently slough off any temptation to becoming a slave to that well known ‘GAS’ cliche. I sense the author, and their approach, just maybe, is a contemporary nod, for example, to someone like Edward Weston’s approach to their life in photography – enough said. In sum, the authors selected images have presence. The images project without either having to beg, or shout, for the a viewers attention – well done.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    In one sense, everyone is right – because they are enjoying what they do, and wouldn’t fit elsewhere.
    In another sense, the arguments that rage back and forth over gear are piffle – they miss the point. The point is not whether or not a particular camera or a particular lens is ‘better’. The point – as ‘real’ photographers, of the stature of Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz have gone to great lengths to tell us – is simply whether the photo is ‘better’ – and who(then) cares about the gear that was used to take the shot?
    I think Paul and Adrian and Pascal are spot on – because what they have is gear that they enjoy using. There’s a bond – an understanding – an empathy. That’s why they can take great shots with their gear. Woops – well it’s one of the reasons why, anyway. Hell – should I go back and delete that suggestion? – I’m quite sure there’s more to it than their gear! 🙂 🙂

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I can’t remember where I saw it – probably just as well, all things considered! Somewhere recently I came across a suggestion that Ming Thein is all about gear and not about photography. I froze – unusually for me, I chose to shut up. It certainly hasn’t been my experience of Ming’s blog.
    And I was delighted this morning to open a new post he’s made on his blog site, entitled “Back to basics: Rules of vision (or, things we can’t help seeing) – part I”.
    Because this was his opening paragraph!
    “Judging from the correspondence and comments flying around recently, it’s about time we did a refresher course here on the fundamentals of composition and image-making. As usual, there’s far too much obsession over hardware and not enough thought about what it’s actually being used for. This will be the first of several posts from the archives in this theme. That said, those people are unlikely to read these posts anyway…”
    ROTFLMHAO (as usual).

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