To Africa with the Fuji X-T1
My conversion to, and love affair with, smaller cameras is about as complete as it can be now. If the social media I’m reading is to be believed, it’s complete for many others as well. Photographers seem to be jettisoning their heavy DSLR gear in favour of smaller mirror-less cameras, and while I doubted I’d be doing so as quickly, when I get on the plane to Kenya for two weeks of assignment work tomorrow, I won’t be taking a DSLR.
My transition has been slow. I took my Fuji X-E1 to Italy 2 years ago, but I was teaching and not worried about the consequences of coming home without the images I expected and having fallen out of love with the Fuji. That, of course, didn’t happen, and there was so much I loved about it, not just the images it gave me but the way it lightened my load. Then I went to Ethiopia and Kenya, and took my Leica M(240) and the same X-E1, and that put the final nails in the coffin; so impressed was I with the performance of those two cameras I decided my days traveling with my DLSR gear for this kind of trip were over.
Of course I haven’t sold my Nikon gear. It just spends more time than it once did in its Pelican cases. I’ll use it for now when I need the long lenses for wildlife, or if I need the file size of the D800, but it won’t soon be doing travel, street, cultural, or landscape work, which is the bulk of what I do. And with the newer Fuji X-T1, which I was so impressed with, I bought two, and the new dive housing from Nauticam, I can use my mirror-less cameras underwater.
My bag going to Kenya has two X-T1 bodies, and 3 lenses: a 10-24mm, 56/1.2, and 55-200. Each body has a Really Right Stuff L-plate. And I’ve got 4 batteries for each (small batteries don’t last as long using these EVF cameras, so take a few), and eight 64gb cards. That kit, along with cleaning gear, my 11″ MacBook Air, and assorted bits and pieces, like the DeLorme inReach Explorer I’m hoping to use to map and share my journey, all fit into a very small Think Tank Photo Airport Essentials bag with room to spare.
Cameras by other brands have similar benefits, but I only know the Fuji, and here’s what I love about the X-T1, especially. It’s light and small, you know that. The focus is getting much faster and as I don’t photograph sports, it’s now as fast as I need it for this kind of work. The weather-sealed body is tough. The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is so useful I don’t know what I did without it, and the flip out screen is brilliant for waist-level, or over-the-head work. The wifi functionality is excellent and makes it easy to upload photographs to my iPhone or iPad mini, make some tweaks and be showing the client in the front seat of the Land Rover before we’re at our next location. The ergonomics are solid and the manual dials for ISO and shutter speed mean I can shoot even faster because even after all these years, the muscle memory for dials is more easily recalled than it is for the buttons that move here and there with every new camera. Aside from my Leica M, this camera gets out of the way faster than any camera I’ve owned since the Pentax Spotmatic 35mm I had when I was a teenager. And on top of all that the image quality is excellent, it blows me away every time. As good as the Leica I love so much, not quite, no, but for 1/4 of the price, it’s a hell of a deal.
I’ve got a couple more things to throw into the duffle bags and I’m on a flight tomorrow. I’ll check in as I can, but it could be a week or two, the locations for this assignment are some of the most remote I’m ever in. I’ll update Facebook and Twitter with some waypoints and text updates from the inReach Explorer.
Excited about traveling with smaller mirrorless cameras? You’ve got a few more days to get my latest eBook, SEE THE WORLD, 20 Lessons for Better Travel Photographs, for only $15 and at the same time be entered automatically to win a new Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm lens. We’ll be sending this great little camera to one randomly chosen reader as soon as I get back from Kenya on March 03 or so.