At the Printer Attic I recently published an article titled ‘How the cameras that I use change with how I approach photography’. When I started shooting on large format film, I obtained the possibility to manipulate every sheet entirely to my liking with the print I wanted to make in mind — completely independent from the other pictures I took that day. It made that I slowly moved away from medium format, and started to dislike shooting roll film and 35 mm altogether. When I go out to shoot, I go with making a print in mind. For more casual shooting or vacations, I take a digital camera. The sheer bulk and weight of my digital kit (Canon 6D, Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 and Canon 70-200 mm f/4 USM L) are disproportional to this purpose for me. The bag was left at home, or became a nuisance more than a joy when I went out. I ended up selling the kit in order to replace it with a smaller, and lighter set.
Briefly, I considered moving to film completely and buying a Voigtlander or Leica M-mount rangefinder camera with a few lenses, and maybe adding a point-and-shoot digital camera for those occassions that digital would really be more suited. Paired with the Voigtlander Color-Skopar lenses, this would make for a great lightweight and small camera kit. A Voigtländer R4M with a Color-Skopar 21 mm f/4, 35 mm f/2 and 50 mm f/2 would make for one sexy kit. There is something about such a system that I find very appealing. But do I like it enough to sink 1800 euros into it?
My fiancée cured me from this attack of gear acquisition syndrome (G.A.S.) by reminding me that I have been complaining about being stuck with a roll after the first few exposures, and that that was the reason I did not really use the Pentax MX as much as I should have. To me it always felt that the exposures and development inherently were compromises that had I would have to live with in the darkroom when printing. A 35 mm-centred kit would not be a wise decision. Large format spoiled me.
I realized that I could get the same small package from a digital mirrorless system. I played around with some of the models offered by Olympus and Sony, but those didn’t do it for me. Their menus were awkward to use and I did not get the feeling these cameras would inspire me to take them with me everywhere I go. When I picked up the Fuji X-series cameras, however, things fell in place. After going back and forth between the Fuji X100F and the Fuji X-Pro2 for a few weeks, I settled on the latter.
The X100F is a great camera and online you can find many reviews from happy customers that attest to that. It is small and at 469 g almost 2 kg lighter than the 6D kit, and then we haven’t even spoken about the enormous difference in size. The esthetics of this camera is certainly appealing, and in terms of ergonomics it also appears to be well thought out.
However, I was afraid that the single focal length would eventually be too limiting. Many people that own the X100F seem to use it as their secondary camera next to a digital SLR or mirrorless sytem. It is the camera they take with them when they need a break from their more serious (and probably paid for) photography, or which acts as the camera they always have on them.
For me, the new camera will be the only digital camera I will own. Even if I would only bring one lens most of the time, the capability of interchanging it for another is a big plus. Probably even more important than that, is the fact the the X100F is not weather sealed. I live in a country that sees its fair share of rain, and our vacation destinations are rarely the sunny ones. Not having to stow away the camera when the first drop hits the ground, is what tipped the scales in the favour of the X-Pro 2.
With the XF23 f/2 WR lens mounted, the X-Pro 2 weighs in at 675 g and is still significantly lighter and smaller than the Canon 6D kit that comes in at 2.4 kg. The camera seems to be the proper size and weight for the Domke F-2, which was definitly over packed with the 6D.
This week I took it out with me on a courtyard walk through Haarlem (which I can recommend if you want to see Haarlem at its finest). So far I like this camera a lot. It is quiet, focuses fast enough and is simple to operate. Many people end up using the electronic view finder 99% of the time, but so far I like the optical view finder very much. I will have to play around a bit with the settings for in camera sharpening and dynamic range, and get use to the metering. Other than that, I am pretty happy so far.
The future will tell if this affaire is meant to last..