Ed and I have shot with big full frame DSLR cameras for many years as they are proven workhorses that help us to get great results. Recently, high performance cameras have been getting smaller, lighter and frankly better. Yes, I said it… better.
‘But full frame cameras produce less noise!’
I can hear the chant of DSLR camera fans everywhere and for many years they were right. I remember the day I swapped my trusty Nikon D80, a cropped sensor camera that taught me so much for a full frame D700. It was an extraordinary experience, one that enabled me to shoot a rehearsal the Albert Hall with no concerns about image noise.
This year, I picked up a second hand Fuji X100s because the internet told me too. I read every article and watched every video the web had to offer before putting my money down. I am a victim of persuasion from the likes of Zac Arias and David Hobby, a victim that is happy to have been persuaded that smaller is better.
Two things happened with the X100s. Firstly, I started to take pictures for my self again. I had been leaving the big cameras at home because they were… big. Secondly, I was very surprised to see the quality of the RAW files. They were beautiful. Not just good but ‘why am I not taking this to events and weddings’ good.
When the next event came about, I packed the little Fuji into the bag and surprise number three occurred during a networking session. When walking around the venue, trying to mingle with the crowd and get the essential shots, I felt less intimidating towards the guests without the large lens and camera. I am undecided if it was my confidence or the cameras size that made the difference but the net result is good.
Predictably, I have invested in the XT1 with two primes, the 56 and the 35. Two words really stand out for me. Image and Quality. This camera and these lenses are breathtaking. Tack sharp, even wide open where the crop frame format keeps the depth of field very controllable. So… let me run that past you again. Lots of light, controllable depth of field and tack sharp images.
Now for Fuji’s real party trick. In the past, I have really struggled to nail a good colour balance in auditoriums. For some reason, AV folk love to use strong colours with their lights, drenching people in horrible yellow and soaking the background in deep blues, greens and reds. It has always been a horrible balancing act getting those colours right. Until now. The little Fuji's let me scroll through their white balance options, previewing in real time and nailing the best white balance. Not only that but those RAF files cary the colour through nicely to Lightroom as was seen in Camera. Now, before the defendants of Nikon and Canon string me up and tell me i need to calibrate my monitor and provide a 15 step guide to getting colour right, I have one thing to say. Try an X series Fuji. Seriously, try it.
It is also worth noting that the low light performance is very good and I am very impressed. Once I have spent some more time with these cameras, I will be back with another article. My initial impressions are very good indeed.
So in conclusion, smaller is indeed better especially when the weight is much easier on my shoulders. I am sure Nikon and Canon are working on some exciting projects and I am curious to see what they come up with.
For the curious amongst you, this entire event was shot on an XT1 and an X100s.