ROB ZEIGLER PHOTOGRAPHY

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The Switch: m43 to Fuji X

Alright, time to come clean: I’ve switched camera systems. I know, I know, I can hear it now: “But Rob, didn’t you read your last post about fighting GAS and how your m43 kit was just fine?” And the answer is an emphatic YES! I know that my m43 kit was just fine, but that’s it: it was only “just fine”. This actually all started when I purchased a second hand X100s. It was meant to be the camera that would be my “once in a while” camera and would be my insight into the “Fuji look.” Instead of becoming a silent addition to my kit, the X100s showed me some stellar details and colors in files that made me take notice when compared to what I was getting natively from the G6. Around the same time, I got into the 35mm film camera world and once I was used to an all manual camera, going back to the G6 and it’s myriad of controls and buttons felt awkward. This was the first sign of trouble for my m43 kit.

CAMERA CONTROLS: BACK TO BASICS

A 35mm film camera’s control layout is minimalist and easy to understand. Set the ISO of the film you’re using and then adjust aperture and shutter speed to match your lighting and what you’re trying to shoot. Use exposure compensation if necessary. Compose, then shoot. Proceed to next frame. What makes it all so interesting to me is that those controls are all laid out right there on the camera for you. There are no menus that you need to sift through and no extra buttons to push. It’s all right there. 

On the G6, those controls are all menu / dial driven. When I was only using the G6, spinning the little dial in front of my eye to adjust aperture and / or shutter speed had become second nature. As time went on and I started getting more into film, I started to miss aperture rings on the lenses and quick shutter speed checks by looking down at my camera. The film camera was much more interactive in that adjusting it was more tactile than electronic. On the flip side, when using film cameras I missed being able to adjust ISO. What a pain that must have been for professional photography in the film days to stick to one ISO based on the film you had loaded!

The Panasonic G6 is a great camera, but the hardware controls are sparse. Aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation are all set via scroll wheels and require that you look at the screen to verify your setting.

The Panasonic G6 is a great camera, but the hardware controls are sparse. Aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation are all set via scroll wheels and require that you look at the screen to verify your setting.

And so there I was, longing for the customizable physical dials on a 35mm camera body with the ISO shifting capabilities of a digital camera. And guess what showed up on Craigslist? I’m pretty sure I’ve already given it up in the title. Yes, a five month old Fuji X-T1 for sale. So when you combine my awe of the X100s output, with my so-so satisfaction of the G6’s files in direct comparison, and then multiply that by my newfound love of physical dials…well, let’s just say the Gear Acquisition Syndrome went into overdrive. From a few brief emails I found out that the local seller of the X-T1 was interested in a m43 kit for video (the X-T1 is not great with video, at least at this point in time) and eventually we settled upon a deal: my G6 and Panasonic 25mm lens (a great lens in the m43 line up) for his X-T1 body. We met and settled the deal and all ended well. Side note: there are great, honest people in the photography used market world. Also, before we go any further, yes, I know that the X-T1 also has a myriad of menus, but take a look at the top of it when compared to my Mamiya ZM:

Finally! Physical dials and an aperture ring on the lens! Yes, there are a few differences on the back, but to be perfectly honest I'm content with leaving the back screen turned off and only using the X-T1 EVF via eye sensor. It saves a lot of battery power!

BRING ON THE CAT PICTURES!

So I am now the very happy owner of an X-T1. My initial tests with rented lenses showed that the files were of exceptional detail and I’ve decided to outfit the Fuji kit with two of it’s impressive lenses: a 35mm f/1.4 (50mm equivalent) and the 18mm f/2.0 (28mm equivalent). As is customary when testing new photo / video cameras or lenses, I have taken a few random pics of my cat:

I had mentioned that I was not interested in the prospect of having to sell my m43 glass, but I have decided to only sell the two mid and tele zoom lenses and keep the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 for use with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. The BMPCC will be my go-to setup for video, and I’ll use the X-T1 primarily for photographs.

In future posts I’ll talk more about my experiences switching to the Fuji X system from m43, and I’ll also talk about using some native Fuji lenses as well as adapting some of my ZE mount Mamiya 35mm lenses for use on the Fuji X mount.

NEVER SAY NEVER...

I’ll close by saying this. We, as photographers, will always continue to evolve. Sometimes our technique will evolve, and other times our specific focus and interests in photography will change. Further than that, sometimes our needs in our equipment will change, and I don’t fault anyone (including myself) for realizing at some point what it is about our equipment that we truly like and making the plunge to switch if we deem it acceptable. Some people switch from Canon to Nikon, some from Nikon to Canon and some switch from m43 to Fuji. The point is: I stayed with Panasonic for a year and made some great photographs, but now I’ve grown into appreciating the products that Fuji offers, and I hope you’ll stay with me to discover some of the new photos that I’ll be capturing with this very exciting new system. I have a feeling it's going to be around for a very long time!