The best ‘street’ combo yet?

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Fujifilm X-T10 and 35mm f2 lens

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.

Saturday Market, RevelEncouraged 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.

Saturday Market, RevelShooting 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.

Saturday Market, RevelI 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.

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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.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver…

OK, not purely a photo topic, just something that really winds me up… The thrust of it is, don’t promise or offer something online that you may not be able to deliver – your customers will think less of you than if you’d never offered it in the first place.

So, two stories.

91chsWW8M9L._SL1500_#1. Interested in getting the new 35mm f2 Fuji lens, I saw it advertised online at Digital Depot. As I was keen to get it asap, and passing relatively near their Hitchin store, I ordered it for collection next day. Come the day, and just before I swung off the M1, I thought I’d give them a quick call to check all was ok. “Ah”, said the man, “we don’t actually have them in stock, but I can call you when we get them in….” So I asked why they were showing them as in stock – “well, we don’t actually link our online stock with our shop stock, so I guess we must have sold out in store…” Tried to explain that it wasn’t really on to advertise  something as in stock, when it wasn’t, but it fell on deaf ears. Needless to say I bought the lens elsewhere, and probably won’t try Digital Depot again.

035#2. I received an email from Stafford Audi suggesting it was time to get my car serviced, and inviting me to book online. Duly did that, selecting a date a few days on, and got a response indicating they would shortly confirm my reservation. Surprised to receive a call next day to say that day wasn’t available, and indeed the first available date with pickup and collection was a month hence! Tried to point out how frustrating this was, but again, it fell on deaf ears….

Fair to say that in both cases I had at least a ‘neutral’ view of both businesses previously, but after being offered a service/supply online that they couldn’t then deliver on, I’m seriously turned off… There are so many businesses out there offering services online, but it’s not a great idea to offer what you can’t deliver…