A Travelling Camera

As a creative I have always enjoyed taking photographs. From buying a small 4 megapixel camera in my teens to now shooting much of what I do exclusively on my iPhone. I’ve also moved onto older technology, shooting instant Polaroids and using a 38 year old 35mm camera, simply because pointing and shooting digitally in today’s world lacks a certain something. Pressing a button on a screen doesn’t create the same precious artefact that holding a unique Polaroid or waiting until you’ve spent time framing a shot and then processing the film creates.

I’ve been dreaming for years now about the camera I will take with me when I finally go traveling, and I always thought I would have to buy the newest and best SLR and lenses to take amazing photographs. But as we all know, that’s not how it works. They tell you a few things when researching what to take travelling when you’ll be away for such a long time. Take less than you need and make sure it’s light. That means no bulky SLR cameras and lenses, that dream went out the window.

Shooting film I’ve become out of touch with the digital camera world. I own an older popular micro four thirds camera and now mirror less cameras have advanced in leaps and bounds over the last few years. I did my research for weeks, read numerous reviews, trawled professional photographer forums, even weighed up a few up in my own hands. After all that it came down to two cameras, the Sony A6300 and the Olympus OMD MKII. Which one did I choose? The answer was easy. I chose the Fujifilm X-T20.

I’ve now been using Fujifilms’ latest mirrorless offering for a month or so now and had a good chance to see where it fits into my life. I’m happy. I’m very happy. Before I read about the X-T20, I was convinced I was going to get the Sony – a camera that’s minimal, hasn’t many controls, shoots great videos, plus I have lenses for it already, but then I heard about the Olympus, it has controls! The professionals use it because it looks and feels like a film camera and shoots great photographs. But are either of them fun to use? Not really. The Fujifilm is though…

I love shooting film with my Olympus OM 10, a near 40-year-old camera, turning the dials, manually focusing the lens, setting the aperture and winding the film with my thumb after taking a photo with a satisfying thunk. The camera is mechanical. With the X-T20 and its sleek body, tactile dials and metal lenses, all those satisfying moments come back and it feels right at home. It may lack a physical mirror, but taking a photo with the camera feels great. Smaller and lighter than the average film and digital SLR I can easily pack it into my bag for short trips and especially long trips when you are recommended to carry as little as possible. Even the lenses fit into the same boat, Fujifilms small prime lenses are neat, solid and lightweight. I can’t fault them. Even the ‘kit’ lens is the best small zoom I’ve ever used. I’m completely sold on this camera.

Everything I need to control the photograph when I shoot is within a dial or button press, perfect. But those features don’t get in the way, they are discreet on the top of the camera or in a dedicated menu through a single button press. Thanks for keeping it simple Fujifilm! This helps to keep the camera something that I actually enjoy shooting with. I thought I used to love using my old Sony, but compared to this I’ve no idea how I put up with it. This switches on in no time and with or without some minor adjustment I have a perfect shot lined up and taken in a matter or seconds. Slowing down this process only improves the photo when the subject isn’t fleeting, I can fine tune settings to my liking and ensure the photograph I’m taking is great. I’ve begun to trust the camera too, not second guessing it or making sure I check everything again before a shot. Using the camera is fun, nothing gets in the way between my eye and the subject. That’s the way it should be. Flawless.

One of the tripping points with my older digital cameras were the additional steps that hindered me from easily taking a photo and posting it to social media when I can simply take it with my iPhone and it look decent enough. I can now shoot a handful of photos on the X-T20, pick one or many and wirelessly send them straight to my iPhone to continue my usual edit and upload process. But this time, with a much more refined, thought out and simply better photograph. Absolutely perfect for travelling, I can shoot I the day and quickly edit in the evenings or on a plane, bus or train journey. All without a laptop. But I’ll still be uploading and editing on a larger screen. The JPEG photos the X-T20 takes natively look great. I also can’t afford to shoot large RAW images as they will easily eat all my storage space whist travelling. So much easier to edit through VSCO Cam on the iPhone too. A great little app that is so powerful I with they had a desktop app too. But again natively the photos straight from the camera look great, so I doubt I will be doing much heavy editing anyway.

Another plus point to this camera is that Abigail now also owns the X-T10 version meaning we can easily swap lenses and use each others cameras without having to work out all the settings again. Which to be honest isn’t much of an issue as the camera does a lot of work for you anyway. I’ll be hopefully using this camera nearly every day for 7 months so over time I expect to discover and master all the features in-and out on the camera. That’s when I’ll report back and let you know how it’s doing.

So, in summary, I now have a camera that’s fun to shoot with, looks retro (hipster points) and shoots great quality photos with some amazing lenses. I don’t regret my decision in the slightest.

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