I have sold a DSLR to buy a Fuji X. Have I lost my mind?
Recently, I have sold my DSLR and several lenses so I could buy a Fuji. Alright, I have sold my SLT. Yes, it's a thing. This is a post about my experience and development as a photographer.
MY PERSONAL HISTORY - FROM FILM TO DIGITAL
Yeah, for the past years I had been a Sony shooter. (If you're from a CaNikon country like I am, this is the time to raise a brow and say something like - "Oh, I didn't know Sony made cameras!")
How did that happen, really? Well, first things first. I've discovered photography nearing my mid-twenties and for a couple of years I was shooting only film. My first SLR was an old RussianZenit 12XP (produced around 1984). Beautiful camera! Actually, beautiful lens! The body is purely mechanical, and it weights a kilo because it's made of steel.
One evening, as I was preparing to go home from my job, I found out that my boss had a bag full of old photo gear he intended to throw away. He was shooting film back in the nineties, but lost the interest in the meantime. He planned to buy a DSLR at some point (which hasn't happened yet), so I took the black trash bag full of photographic equipment and carried it home.
That's how I ended up with a couple of Minolta AF lenses, but without a Minolta AF. Then I've bought a Minolta Dynax 500si Super. The camera served me well. My film photos of an art festival in Belgrade were featured in several magazines. I was thrilled with Kodak Ektar 100, but shot some no-name expired films as well.
At some point, however, I wanted to upgrade.
That was the time when I didn't have too much money, and I already had several Minolta lenses. Eventually I've realized that Sony, after buying Minolta, digitalized what was once known as Minolta AF and called it Sony Alpha. I was really, really happy.
So I bought a used (probably stolen) Sony A200 and tortured it in a variety of ways. I've shot a couple of concerts, got a photo selected for an exhibition, taken way too many photos of my cat and carried the camera with me all the time. I tried street, event and food photography, and was a go-to person if my friends wanted their party/art project/damn good coffee documented. Now it's boring. Back in the days, I used to love it.
TROUBLES IN PARADISE
But the grain was horrible, the images shot above ISO800 were almost unusable, the camera was too heavy and the RAW files sometimes needed too much tweaking. Eventually, I bought anA58. Still an entry level camera, but it was indeed better than the poor old A200.
By that time, I had piled up heaps of lenses. No kidding. When I decided to sell all my photographic equipment I had seven of them. Or was that nine? A 28mm, a 50mm, a 70-300, a 75-300 macro, two kit zooms, one push & pull zoom, a couple of mid-range zooms...
Why? Because they were cheap!
After trying to shoot an acquaintance's wedding in September, I realized that I was never going to be satisfied with my gear. Buying old lenses made for Minolta has trapped me - I would buy them only because they were dirt cheap and I was always lacking a couple of millimeters in focal length, or an f-stop or two. As photography was mostly just a hobby of mine (although I did have some paid gigs from time to time) I always tried to keep it as low-budget as possible. In the end I had a cupboard full of lenses that couldn't return any invested money, and I was compulsively buying more but I never sold the ones I did not use - because I could never sell them for a halfway decent sum of money!
Old lenses compatible with Sony's A-mount don't have AF-motors because they rely on the camera's, and you can rarely come across a used one that costs over 50 euros. At least in Serbia.
I have decided it has to stop, but I didn't have any idea what to do next.
And then came the travelling. I plan to move to Amsterdam in 2015, and right now I fly to the Netherlands every month or two. Needless to say, I tend to overpack when it comes to my photo equipment (and it was a big problem with all of the lenses I had). Basically, I kept ending up with a cabin bag (usually my only luggage) full of lenses and nothing else. The same lenses I would later hate for not being good enough, sharp enough, new enough, or being unsuitable for any of generic lens hoods and caps out there.
I also have a really bad problem with my back, which is not so easy to admit when you're only 27. At least I knew that meant I needed a smaller camera.
All these reasons actually made me stop doing any kind of photography. Everything was bulky and heavy, I always felt like I was lacking something, my backwards-compatible gear was showing the signs of aging, and even Sony started abandoning the legacy stuff (I had to buy a hot shoe adapter because my old Minolta flash couldn't fit on a new one).
MY FUJI EXPERIENCE
Luckily, I've been already thinking about an X100 as something I would buy someday, when I had some spare cash. But - could I do with a fixed lens? I mean, I certainly could, but I wanted to have more options, at least in theory.
I did a bit of research, and found great communities of Fuji X users, read about the superb out-of-camera jpegs, firmware upgrades, retro inspired design... and eventually realized that all this time I just needed an X-E1.
Shooting with a Fuji X-E1, or with (almost?) any other camera from the range, is a differentexperience. I had always wanted a DSLR with a top display, as it seemed to be the most convenient way to check your settings while keeping the camera off of the eye. Well, it's not.
Dials and knobs are such a simple and stylishly retro solution! You can have everything at a glance, and when you get to know your camera, you have everything under your fingertips. For example, on my Sony A58 I hardly ever used exposure compensation when I was out there shooting, because the way to get there was one button too long! Now I have a dial that does it and it's always reachable.
While trying to shoot tons of different types of photography, I have learned that I don't want to do party nor event photography EVER AGAIN. If I'm in the crowd, I want to party as well. Concert photography is something completely different, and I don't have anything against it. But, essentially, I'm a slow shooter and I like to contemplate a photo for some time. Above all that, I needed a camera that could fit in a pocket of my jacket. I'm an avid museum goer and city walker and I like taking visual notes, as well as written ones.
So, the Fuji has everything I need. 16mpx is not too much lower than 21 mpx - the resolution of my last Sony. Fuji nails WB and has even better ISO usability. Its RAW files are great, photos are sharp, and even the kit lens is surprisingly good. Film simulations, in-camera profile tweaks and trustworthy JPEGs are also a plus, because there are always times in life of every photographer when we don't want to post-process anything we don't have to.
I'm not saying you should buy a Fuji. I'm saying it turned out to be a perfect fit for me and my style (both in photography and life).
I don't know why hadn't I bought one way earlier. I guess I just needed to let photography become a burden instead of pleasure so I would realize there was something wrong. I needed a fresh start and Fuji gave me one.
Note: The image of the Fuji X-E1 is taken from Fuji UK's press site. All the other photos are mine and they correspond to cameras mentioned in every section.