Is it good to upgrade?

June 2016

It’s just over six months since I highlighted the virtues and fun of using the Fujifilm X series camera and a whole year since I first took ownership of the flagship XT1 model. This month’s post is in the form of a user update with a strong photographic message buried within. You may remember, I originally purchased a Fujifilm camera as a back-up to my larger Canon system and was bowled over by the user experience. The Fujifilm X series mirrorless system is without doubt one of the most exciting systems on the market today. Whilst Canon and Nikon engage in a blinkered fight over who can produce the biggest pixel count, the mirrorless cameras have been taking a slice - NO! BIG CHUNKS - from their market. I have to confess to falling head-over-heels for this jewel of a camera and all that goes with it.

For the last 12 months
I have put the X series system through its paces and have been getting to grips with the camera’s foibles, constantly testing the characteristics of the lenses. Some obviously perform differently from others and have certain quirks that need understanding to produce quality images. I also use filters of various types - ND graduated, ND’s and polarisers - all of which have different uses and effects on the final image.

My Thunderbird One update post in Nov 2015 proudly boasted the user experience with just the XT-1 body, an 18-55mm kit lens, and a 70-210mm third party zoom. Since then, I have added five - yes five - new lenses to the kit bag, which has only encouraged this photographer further to shout the praises of this camera system, the whole arsenal now being the 18-55mm, 55 -200mm, 56mm, 35mm, plus two Samyangs, the 12mm and 8mm fisheye. Of course, this also meant buying a new kit bag to house them: the Think Tank Retrospective 7. It’s a cool bag!

At the time of writing, the forums are rife with rumours that Fujifilm are preparing to release Thunderbird Two … in the guise of the Fujifilm XT-2 camera. So the obvious question is: will I buy one? Mmm ... let’s read on and see whether I am reticent when it comes to upgrading.

Great kit
Most of the photographers I see on my courses either already own or want to own a top quality camera. It's not unusual to see a kit bag crammed full of lenses, filters and one of the latest "Nikanon" DSLRs. We all hope and aim to make great images and we can’t make those photographs without a camera, so… why not own a good one? Add a few lenses and we can't go wrong. Right?

A common thread of positivity I try to communicate to new photographers is not to keep updating their kit. My advice to virtually all photographers is to thoroughly get used to using their cameras and in particular, their lenses. It's good to stick with what you have and thoroughly acquaint yourself with the camera, its menus and functions. It’s all too easy to get sucked in by the manufacturers' claims that newer and bigger is better. The most proficient and experienced photographer will still need to learn how to optimise the performance of his or her lenses. How will we know where the sweet spot of a lens is to produce the sharpest results, or how efficient the auto-focus system is if we don't practise and absorb the results? Chopping and changing our equipment is more likely to hinder our improvement than help it. Learning and honing our camera skills will mean we will be more intuitive and, ultimately, be able to concentrate on the art of our photography.

Will I buy the XT-2?
After a year of owning and learning how my new camera, filters and lenses perform together, will buying an updated camera aid my photography? I suggest not. I could very easily splash out on another camera and then go through the process of learning how everything performs together all over again.

So will I get the XT-2? Oh YES! Without a doubt! But only because my positive experience of using the Fuji X-system means I am ready to commit to owning two X-series cameras in unison in the course of my work – not merely replacing the first, thinking the second is better!