Question:Why are so many professional photographers using mirrorless cameras, micro 4/3rds format cameras and experimenting with pretty much anything that isn’t a DSLR?
It’s a tough question and without conducting some sort of major survey I can only give an answer based on my own experiences and those of close friends and colleagues. DSLRs have been my main cameras for over sixteen years now and they have become an extension of me when I’m working. They do what I need them to do with no real fuss, the quality has moved from “acceptable” back in 1998 to “extremely good” and they allow me to do the day job without having to worry about my gear very much. But, and there’s always a ‘but’ – they have become a little bit boring and little bit ‘too good’.
This is just another of those “just because I like it” photographs that I have added to my personal work folio on my Pixelrights account. The family had been out to breakfast and we went to the park for the youngest members to have a run around. I had my Fujifilm X20 with me and shot a few frames including this one.
For the technically curious amongst you, the black and white conversion was done in Photoshop with a 5% red layer added to the desaturated sRGB file to give it more body and depth.
On my way to a meeting today walking along the south bank of the River Thames I was taken by the quality of the light as it formed shadows through the trees. A pair of office workers out for a stroll stopped and had a chat and we passed a very pleasant few minutes talking about light and London. The conversation was interrupted a few times as people strolled through my composition and I grabbed a frame or two. This was my favourite of maybe a dozen very similar frames.
Another picture shot on my Fujifilm X20 and added to the blog just because I liked it…
I don’t do this very often but, given that so many people are interested in the Fujifilm X20, I thought that I’d share a picture that I took yesterday ‘just for the fun of it’. No story, no real importance – just a bit of fun…
I have been shooting with the new camera as much as I can and in as many different situations as I can. I’ve even used it as a third camera on a live commission. Most of the time I have been using the Fuji RAW mode so that I can get the most out of the files and so that I can compare the different ways that you can choose to work with the images. Most people prefer not to have to read long and drawn out musings when they look at reviews – they just want to cut to the chase and so here are a few likes and dislikes in the form of bullet points:
The colours – straight out of the camera you have clean, realistic and accurate colours. This shouldn’t be a surprise from the company that brought you Fujichrome all of those years ago.
Smooth tonal range – at low ISOs the files have a wonderfully smooth tone
Handling – the X20 feels good in my hands and it is very easy to hand hold down to some pretty slow shutter speeds.
The manual zoom – it is a model of how other manufacturers should be building cameras – enough said.
Buttons and dials – related directly to handling but I felt that the way that Fuji have kept the number of buttons down whilst giving you a lot of freedom to customise deserves credit.
The optical viewfinder – it works really well and the addition of shooting information in the viewfinder is a big bonus.
Auto Focus – it is good for a compact and tracks moving subjects rather well.
The battery life is not good when shooting with the LCD screen on. It’s a good job that after market NP-50s are so cheap.
The Fuji RAW format (.RAF) takes a lot of computing power and a lot of getting used to.
Low light performance – I was expecting this camera to be a couple of stops behind a DSLR but I would estimate that it is at least fours stops worse than a Canon EOS5D MkII
Video – it is just not that good or easy to use… and don’t get me started on playback!
Battery clip – if the small clip that holds the battery in place lasts as long as I tend to keep my compacts I will be surprised.
Buil-in flash – it is as weak as consumer models and you have to remove the lens hood if you don’t want horrible shadows across your pictures when shooting flash.
Auto white balance – it isn’t that bad actually, except under mixed lighting when it is a bit unreliable.
I like this camera… a lot. That having been said, I am genuinely disappointed with the files at anything over 640 ISO and there is a build quality question mark on the battery clip – especially as you are going to be swapping the battery out for charging with great regularity. If I needed to, I could shoot some editorial assignments with the X20 and that isn’t something you could say about many compacts. More importantly, I would quite enjoy doing so and that isn’t something you could say about any other compact that I’ve used. Professional photographers talk about their “walk about” cameras and the X20 is certainly my choice for that task. It isn’t the “best” at anything but it does represent a good set of compromises and that, at the end of the day, is what you want from a small camera.
As I said in the opening paragraph, this will be a series of updates rather than a single “this is my opinion” review. At the recommended selling price the Fujifilm X20 is a little expensive but the price is coming down on a weekly basis and once it dips under £400 it will become a well-priced piece of kit.
If you get a few professional photographers together there are a few topics of conversation that you are almost guaranteed to experience. One of those is compact digital cameras – the cameras that they carry around ‘just in case’ and take out when they are off duty. I am certainly no exception and it is always an exciting day when a new camera appears on my desk either on test or (in this case) that I have spent my hard earned pennies on.
I am a very fortunate guy because I get to test, review and play with all sorts of new equipment but it takes something quite special for me to put my hand in my pocket and commit to buying anything. I loved the Fujifilm X10 and I have owned and used a vast array of Canon G series digital compacts but the new X20 seemed to tick all of the boxes. I was never that keen on the way that Adobe Camera RAW (or any other RAW converter for that matter) handled the X10 files and so I held off buying the X20 until Adobe released a version of their RAW converter for Photoshop CS6 that handled the Fujifilm RAW format properly.
I will write more and post lots of pictures when I have truly had time to get to grips with this new camera. So far I have been through the menus, tested a few RAW files with the new Adobe converter as well as the SilkyPix application that comes with the camera. It has only been a few hours but I am really loving the feel of my new toy. I guess that the big change from the X10 is the viewfinder information which has transformed a good idea into a really useable tool.
Another interesting feature is that even if you select the 3:2 aspect ratio in the camera menu, the whole area of the chip is still there when you import the RAW file and so you can easily recompose the frame if you made that tiny error!