It was with excitement I set out for a short hike on the High Peters Kill trail with my brand new Fujifilm X-T3. This writing is not meant as a technical review as there are so many excellent reviews on this camera, but rather my initial impression and feel, and why I chose this camera in the first place. I am glad it was a solo hike as I don’t think anyone would have been able to be patient enough to endure my many stops along the ridge.
It was a particularly beautiful spring day with a souring blue sky. The Mountain Laurel enveloped the trail all around me ready to burst into bloom on this meandering forest trail with distinct white cliffs offering ridge views. It is one of my favorite times of the year here when the forest has that particularly fresh sweet spring smell offering visions of new life. Surrounded by tall trees, the sounds of civilization recede. All is silent and peaceful among the trees as I walk with my new camera slung over my shoulder.
It was not a particularly difficult choice for me to decide on the Fujifilm X-T3. I weighed the option of investing in a new full-frame Canon, but I did not want another big camera to lumber around. As with any artist, a photographer also has to feel at ease with her tools, and for me, that used to be the Leica M6. The many buttons on the Canon and its sheer size make it feel like the machine it is, and to me, it lacks soul, if one can use that expression.
As I already have the Fujifilm x100f, it was also natural to invest further in this brand. The x100f is the camera I always tuck in my bag no matter where I am going. Sounds familiar? Most photographers who have this camera says the same. I recently used it for a family session as well. It is going to get some competition now that I have the X-T3. It is lovely in its size, precision, film mode options, and not to mention the electronic viewfinder. The choice of continuing to investing in Fujifilm boiled down to some very few basics. I wanted a camera that could give me some of that old Leica feel, a camera without all the gimmicks and heft, that would be perfect for street and people photography, and small for travel. Naturally, the camera is so much more than that.
Admittedly, I completely fell in love with the Fujifilm X-T3, and its straightforward features. It is in many ways, a self-explanatory camera. The menu is nicely laid out. I appreciate the dials that each has its purpose for shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, advanced mode, and a metering mode. One aspect of it that I enjoyed for shooting low to the ground is the LCD monitor that can be tilted outwards for more comfortable viewing allowing me to capture small flowers without having to sprawl out on the ground as in the past. Granted, in full sun, the screen is hard to see, but it is such a useful feature. It reminds me of the old Rolleiflex cameras. I can see many situations where this feature is going to come in handy, although I usually prefer the viewfinder.
I chose the Fujinon xf50mm f2 WR over the kit lens as I needed a portrait lens. Its field of view is narrower than what I have come to expect in a fixed lens, I am discovering, and it forces me to step much further away to be able to fill the frame with what I intend. It forces me out of my comfort zone and what I usually expect when I look through the viewfinder. I have mostly shot with 35mm and 50mm, and thus, I habitually get close to my subject. I have several zooms in my Canon gear, but fixed lenses force me to create a more conscientious composition actively. When I use a zoom, I feel that the lens is doing everything, leaving me feeling somewhat removed from what is in front of me.
At first, I was a bit unnerved by the narrow lens as it is not for the sweeping, majestic views that I on impulse automatically wanted to capture. Instead, I settled for the less apparent finds to photograph; the little things on the forest floor that I always seem drawn to in nature; tiny clusters of flowers, or the way light spill on leaves, and the budding Mountain Laurel, not quite in full blossom. When I wanted to fill my frame with more, I had to step back, which can be tricky on a narrow trail with cliffs.
The lens excelled at capturing close-ups. It is not a macro lens, but it can get reasonably close, making this a glass I can continue to bring on nature walks. I am happily surprised it will have a function outside of portraiture. Reviews describe this lens as versatile, and I think this is correct. Its focus is fast and is reliable. I am so far truly enjoying this camera and lens. I am looking forward to packing it in my bag this summer for our Norway visit. It feels solid in my hand with its mostly metal construction. It is water-resistant, which is admittedly a must for someone who likes to be out in all kinds of weather. The shutter is quiet and reminiscent of the satisfying “click” of the Leica M6. With this camera in hand, I feel that I have found my tool of the trade.