All photographers have their favourite cameras, and to be fair, their allegiance will often change over time. Sometimes its a dissatisfaction or a bad experience with a particular model; sometimes its a case of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. But sometimes, a camera comes along which, for a particular use, is a real game changer. After years of shooting with Nikon cameras, I switched to Fuji – not because I was unhappy with the Nikons, far from it, but because my poor old back was no longer up to carrying a full size DSLR and its lenses. The Fuji X cameras work for me in pretty much every way, and are about half the size and weight. Maybe if I was shooting sport, I would have stuck with the Nikons for their AF capability, but for my uses, Fuji cameras work perfectly.
Encouraged by attending a couple of excellent workshops and photo walks with Matt Hart of Fujiholics, I have been doing much more ‘street’ photography. For me this means candid photos, mostly of people going about their daily business, and generally in mono. The key here is that whatever camera I use has to be discreet – no good toting a full-on DSLR with zoom lens – you are not going to melt into the scenery with one of those! It needs first and foremost to deliver exceptional image quality, but must have decent AF, be small, and certainly as quiet as possible so as not to draw attention to yourself.
Shooting at street markets in France is a case in point – French people, in my experience, are not at all keen on candid photos. Whether its a national sense of privacy, or because some of the traders at the markets are working ‘on the black’, I don’t know, but be prepared for some hostility if you are seen overtly photographing them!
So enter my current weapon of choice, and probably the best camera I have ever used for ‘street’, the mirrorless Fuji X-T10 paired with the new 35mm f2 lens. Image quality from the camera is excellent – on a par with the larger Fuji X-T1, but in a surprisingly small package – quite the smallest SLR style camera I have used. The focussing of the new 35mm lens is so much faster than the ‘old’ f1.4 lens, and its a fair bit smaller too as well as bitingly sharp. The whole camera/lens package weighs just 550gms and is so discreet its not true.
I took this rig out this weekend to shoot the lively Saturday market in Revel in the Haute-Garonne in France. Using the LCD screen tilted at 90deg I could shoot pretty much at waist level, and with the electronic shutter activated, the camera was virtually silent. Of the 50-60 photos I took, only this one guy realised I had taken a photo! AF was set to zone focussing, ISO was auto 3200 max, and the aperture either f5.6 or f8. I would say that focus was spot on for 90% + of the shots I took, exceptional given that I was mostly shooting from the waist and there was little opportunity to refocus or recompose each shot. Generally I use the RAW images from the camera and convert them using Silver Efex Pro, but with so may to process this time around, these are from the in-camera mono JPG images. A little bit of cropping in some cases, and the clarity and contrast pushed a little in Lightroom, but pretty much as the camera produced them. I’m very happy with these photos.
I have to say I am really enjoying this setup for street photos – all the required quality and performance is there, and its in such a neat unobtrusive package. The lens is newly introduced, so still around the £300 mark, but the X-T10 body can be had for about £450, and there is presently then a £50 cash back offer from Fuji which makes it extremely good value for money for a camera, which to my mind, beats anything else out there.
Here are my favourite photos from the day.
A tip: if you plan to go to Revel for the market, do get there quite early – it was in full flow at 1030-1100am, and by noon was thinning out.