May 22, 2022

My 10 Years with the Fujifilm X Series, Part 2 – Diving Deeper

In Part 1, I talked about my fateful intro to the X Series, which began with the X10, and why that represented such a momentous shift in my entire photography paradigm. In this post, Ill speak about what I feel was a really crucial transition period in my photography.

Recently, I began a brand-new series on my blog site and YouTube channel, where I look back at my decade-long journey with the Fujifilm X Series. In this fun retrospective, I share some of my preferred images shot throughout those early years, discuss the particular designs I used, and go over the impact they had on my photography throughout the previous years.

The March to Mirrorless

Having actually purchased the X10 in the fall of 2011, I utilized it thoroughly for a year and a half, shooting whatever from experience to landscapes to portraits and practically any other thing that caught my eye. I invested a lot of time getting myself familiar with the features of this enjoyable little video camera, and ending up being enamored with the whole concept of this new mirrorless pattern, which was simply beginning to make waves in the market.

I saw this firsthand throughout among my journeys to NYC. I would invest all the time at the picture program looking at electronic cameras, and after that afterwards, I d wander around Times Square at night and see countless individuals taking photos with their phones. Except for the a couple of students with “retro” video cameras, there was not a real camera in sight anywhere.

It was a very fascinating time in the photography world, because mobile phones were quickly ending up being the preferred tool for taking images. Big electronic cameras were losing their appear with the casual shooter, and point and shoots had lost the war with pocked sized telephones, so the industry recognized they needed to adapt.

3 years earlier, in 2008, the first interchangeable mirrorless cam was established in a joint venture in between Olympus and Panasonic. By utilizing live view electronic displays and LCD screens, rather of a standard pentaprism, and a sensor-based contrast-detect autofocus system, these cameras were significantly lighter and smaller sized than DSLRs.

However, with the success of Micro Four Thirds, mirroless cameras were here to remain. Fujifilm released their first mirrorless cam, the X100, in the fall of 2010.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC and Olympus PEN were some of the first mirrorless electronic cameras, and they used the Micro Four Thirds format. They were indeed small and compact, however compared to DSLRs, they didnt have near the very same quality or performance.

Go into the X20 & & the X-Trans Sensor

In the beginning of 2013, Fujifilm announced the X20, and I bought one as quickly as they become offered. I had one in my hands on April fools day, and was immediately impressed by this brand-new updated design. It had everything I liked about the X10 and more, consisting of a really specific enhancements.

Instead of the EXR format CMOS sensor, which enabled higher dynamic range than common Bayer sensors, in addition to excellent sharpness, despite its little size, Fujifilm utilized their new X-Trans sensor in the X20. This was the very same sensor found their flagship design at the time, the X-Pro 1.

Fujis EXR pattern sensing unit

With its random pixel array, the X-Trans sensor design was more resistant to moiré effects, which got rid of the need for an optical low pass filter. This permits the sensing units to efficiently achieve a higher resolution with the exact same pixel count, a fact that X-Pro 1 shooters rapidly discovered when they saw that their Fuji images were as sharp, or sometimes sharper than images they shot with their complete frame DSLRs.

This increase in sharpness compared to the X10 was immediately noticeable to me, and I was blown away however how much information I could resolve with the small sensor on my X20.

Dwarf fireweed, Neacola Mountains, Alaska

Clouds at sunset, Anchorage, Alaska

They really utilized two of my images throughout this duration, and later on they d deliver me the prints. The image listed below of the biker was shot on PROVIA, while the orange mountain image was shot on Velvia; in truth the mounted 24 ″ x 36 ″ they sent me still hangs in my home.

In addition, the X-Trans sensing unit is less susceptible to digital sound, so the X20 had even better low light shooting capabilities. This had me captivated, and so I started to experiment with shooting at higher ISO settings, just to create a more film-like appearance in my images.

The X20 likewise had an upgraded autofocus system, which include better focus tracking on moving subjects. And it has a max frame rate of 12 fps at full res. (The X10 had 10 fps max, but only 7 fps at complete resolution.) As an action shooter, this was music to my ears, therefore I discovered the X20 to be an ever more capable buddy when I took it on my outside experiences.

Bumblebee on the borage plant.

Just like the X10, I was still shooting it alongside my Nikon throughout the majority of my getaways, however I was discovering that an even greater number of my preferred images from those experiences were made with my little Fuji. Not only was it holding its own along with my huge video camera imagination, its rugged metal body and weather sealed design held up against all the abuse I was throwing at it.

Combined with the rich, varied color schemes of the Fuji Film Simulations and Fujis internal EXR II image processor, the images that came out of my X20 looked remarkable.

I got an e-mail one time from someone who lost her X20 on the path for 3 months. At the end the season, she found the video camera and after drying it out and charging the battery, it still works fine!

Faster Autofocus

Fujifilm, or rather FUJI Photo Film, used to be a customer of mine in the early 2000s. Every now and then, they d put out a call for exhibition images, and I would get letters asking me to send my preferred slides shot on Fuji movie to be thought about for usage.

Making Contact

X20, ISO 800

X20, ISO 400

X20, with bear teeth marks.

Eric Parsons mountain cycling at 12,000, Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Sunrise on Longs Peak, Colorado

Even at that time, I hardly understood anybody at Fuji, but I a minimum of had a working history with the company. With this in mind, I decided to connect to them. After I d been shooting with the X10 for about 6 months, I sent out an email to one of their reps. I followed up later on with more images, and was eventually passed up the chain, until I finally landed on the desk of the Marketing Manager for Fujifilm Electronic Imaging Division.

As I keep in mind, they were even considering doing an entire Costco display with a head shot and testimonial right on the product packaging, however that fell through for some reason. In any case, we continued to communicate and I continued to share my X10 and X20 images with them.

Evening light on the Kichatna Spires, Alaska Range mountains.

They were truly excited by how psyched I was with the X10 with the images I was getting, and in the summertime 2012, they accredited two images from me to be used to help market the X10.

He contacted me to let me understand just how much they liked my X10 images, which began my present relationship with Fujifilm. This was early 2012, even before the X20.

Spring aerial picture of the Kenai Mountains at sundown, Southcentral, Alaska

The X Series Growing

Both of these designs were a substantial hit with professional wedding event and picture photographers, in addition to street shooter and photo reporters, who were all blown away by its exceptional color and image quality, and appealing, traditional type element, that included the optical viewfinder.

By early 2013, the X Series line was growing. They d just come out with the 2nd generation X100, and the X-Pro 1, which had currently been out for a year, was making big waves in the market.

In addition to the X-Pro 1, Fuji had introduced their first X Series lenses, which were the 18mm, 35mm f/1.4 and 60mm macro. By the fall of 2012, the d presented the 14mm f/2.8, and their first zoom, the 18-55, which had a quick 2.8 aperture built-in stabilization. This lens got excellent evaluations, being way better than many kit lenses that were out at the time.

North American T-6 Texan plane on the tarmac at the Valdez Fly-in, Alaska

Fujifilm went after the professional and lover market and targeted individuals who enjoy shooting, who like the craft and custom of photography, which is why they created the X Series cameras with the retro appearance and feel.

And, by reaching back into their long history with silver halide film, which is where the more random design of the X-Trans sensor comes from, they had the ability to make an APS-C sensing unit produce resolution and noise control that amounted to full frame sensors.

Its also the reason they decided to go with the bigger APS-C size sensing unit for their video cameras, instead of utilizing Micro Four Thirds. APS-C, which as a format that originated from Kodaks short lived APS-C movie cameras, is a bigger size than M43, but it still conserves significant size, weight and expense from a “full frame” electronic camera.

An intriguing note, while some manufactures were trying to regain the consumer market far from mobile phones, Fujifilm chose to appeal and pursue to professional photographers from the start. I keep in mind reading an interview with Kaycee Baker, who as Fujifilms product manager at the time, and she was saying that the X100 happened because pro shooters desired something smaller and lighter than their heavy DSLRs that they could cary with them by themselves time.

Including the X-E1

In the late spring of 2013, Fuji sent me an X-E1. They were really excited by what I was getting with their small sensing units cams, and were interested in seeing what I could do with the complete size APS-C sensor.

It was the 2nd interchangeable lens X Series cam, and like the X-Pro 1, it likewise featured the 16MP X-Trans sensing unit. Compared to the X20, the X-E1 was a fair bit larger, particularly with a lens, but still method lighter and smaller sized than my Nikon D700.

First introduced in the fall of 2012, the rangefinder-style X-E1 was basically a slimmed-down variation of the X-Pro 1. Rather of the hybrid optical viewfinder, it used a totally upgraded electronic viewfinder.

Off to Europe!

Amy Sebby riding towards a storm, crossing the Alps by bike along the Via Claudia Augusta Trail, Southern Germany

The X-E1 arrived right prior to I left for a two-week cycling trip in Europe. Throughout my journey planning, I had found a path called the Via Claudia Augusta, which is an old Roman armed force and trading roadway thats been developed into a bike path that crosses over the Alps from Germany, through Austria and down into Italy.

Neuschwanstein Castle in the clouds, near Fussen, Germany.

For this trip, I brought the X-E1, the X20 and a little Nikon Coolpix point and shoot that I barely utilized. I shot thousands of images with the two Fujis, riding with one, often both of them around my neck while pedaling this historical route through small Tryolian towns, along secluded farm roads, dirt courses and even some singletrack.

Brooks leather saddle on a bike

Scenics of The Alps, Fussen, Germany

X-E1 Alaska Style

After the Europe trip, I returned to Alaska and continued to shoot with the X-E1 throughout the summer season and fall, photographing landscapes, experiences scenes, mountain aerials and even shooting some action sports with it. I was absolutely putting the X-E1 through its speeds and being blown away by the image quality I was getting from the much bigger APS-C sensing unit. They were every bit as sharp and crisp as my D700 images, if not sharper, and those dazzling Fuji colors brought my back to my movie days with a renewed sense of excitement.

Given that the X-E1 was primarily used by picture wedding event and street shooters at the time, I was thrilled to show individuals at Fuji what I was getting with the electronic camera.

Mt. Redoubt and the Neacola Mountains, Alaska

Treking on the Knik Glacier, Chugach Mountains, Alaska

Adapting the X Series to my Style

Well … when I went to NYC in October for the 2013 Photo Plus Trade program, 2 years after my eventful introduction to the X Series, I met my Fuji contacts in person.

Arctic Cross Cyclcross Race, Goose Lake, Oct. 12, 2013

Start to the Next Phase …

While shooting one cyclocross race in the fall of 2013, I used only two Fujis, and to make things much more fascinating, I set the X20 to shoot Miniature Mode just, and the X-E1 to shoot black and whites, with both video cameras shooting in square format. It was the kind of challenge that actually tested my skills, however I ended up getting some excellent and extremely unforgettable pictures from that race.

During my discussions with the people at Fuji, I would tell them that if they ever made a rugged outside version with fast autofocus, I d change full-time to Fuji.

Even though the X-E1 produced extraordinary image quality, it was by no implies an action electronic camera. Because regard, it still could not compare my Nikon in terms of autofocus performance and being a highly capable outdoor body. However, I persevered, since I acknowledged that mirrorless was a brand-new technology that would likely improve in the future.

I welcomed the challenge of attempting to integrate the X-E1 and X20 into my quick moving, fast shooting design. It wasnt always simple, since in some locations, my abilities were far beyond what the electronic cameras could do, however this motivated me even more to try and find ways to adjust.

Arctic Cross Cyclcross Race, Goose Lake, Oct. 12, 2013

Arctic Cross Cyclcross Race, Goose Lake, Oct. 12, 2013

My technical experience as a professional photographer enabled me to discover workarounds in order to get the type of images I desired, and this continued to fuel my excitement. I likewise searched for methods to broaden this challenge by imposing even further creative difficulties.

Arctic Cross Cyclcross Race, Goose Lake, Oct. 12, 2013

I duplicated my line about wanting a fully capable, weather condition sealed, quick autofocus X Series video camera, and they responded by stating,

I would spend all day at the picture program looking at video cameras, and then later on, I d roam around Times Square at night and see thousands of people taking photos with their phones. Except for the one or two trainees with “retro” video cameras, there was not a real cam in sight anywhere.

Stay tuned for Part 3 …

” Well … we having something that we think you may be thinking about seeing …”.

At the end the season, she found the camera and after drying it out and charging the battery, it still works great!

After I d been shooting with the X10 for about 6 months, I sent out an email to one of their reps. I followed up later with more images, and was ultimately passed up the chain, up until I lastly landed on the desk of the Marketing Manager for Fujifilm Electronic Imaging Division.

Even though the X-E1 produced unbelievable image quality, it was by no implies an action electronic camera.