The Beauty of Vintage, Or Why I Use Fuji X

Telling other photography enthusiasts that I use Fuji is sometimes a scary thing to do. You see, there are many other enthusiasts who believe that “Full Frame is the way to go” or that “Mirrorless cameras are for pussies”. Although I strongly disagree with these statements nowadays, I can see where they are coming from. Because being a FF-addict myself in the past, I can definitely remember my lust for ever-shallower DoP (BOKEHHHHHH!!!) and (on paper) amazing high ISO capabilities.

But everything got a bit bland for me once I dove into the the world of FF cameras. Nikon D810s of the world and Sony α series of cameras of the world just seemed too boring for me. Sure, DSLRs are great work horses, but I find them implausible to shoot streets with without intimidating one or two pedestrians; Sony FF cameras are IQ-beasts, but I found them ill-designed in the software department. Now, I realize that photography is not all about the looks, the style, and glitters and gold, but sometimes just a bit of ‘oomph’ to entice one’s photography zeal wouldn’t be so bad, right? That’s exactly why I started exploring Fuji-X and vintage lenses.

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The new generation of APS-C sized sensors are really, really, really good, to my pleasant surprise. Recently updated models like Nikon’s D7200, Pentax’s K-3II, and Fuji’s 16 megapixel sensor cameras are all capable of squeezing out outstanding IQ in low light. In some cases these APS-C sensors, I found, are even outperforming certain FF cameras. (i.e. Sony’s original A7 and A7R)

And today, Sony has just announced three G Master branded lenses to expand their growing FE mount lineup of lenses. They look incredibly amazing from the specs, and I truly believe Sony has just brought another wave of image quality revolution. I have never been disappointed by Sony cameras’ and high-end lenses’ image quality.

With that being said, I can vividly remember the exactly same type of hype when Sony had just announced their A7R II, an on-paper beast of a camera that many thought could have slaughtered most other cameras on the market. 42.2 megapixels BI sensor, 4K internal recording, 399 AF points, and now with 14-bit uncompressed RAW! Wow! However, it wasn’t until recently that most people could get their hands on the A7R II that many now have cooled down from that initial hype. The roller coaster-ride that was the A7R II had so much promise, and was indeed a revolution in an otherwise-bland year of 2015 for cameras; however, there were also a lot of swings and misses (overheating issues, ergonomics concerns, annoying menus etc.) from the A7R II that reminded photography enthusiasts and pros alike that “specs aren’t everything” when it comes to really shooting a camera in the field.

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I am not writing to bash Sony or anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sony, and a lot of my favorite shot in 2015 came from Sony cameras. I believe they are pioneers of modern day technology, and I admire their guts to be daring, to push the boundaries of digital photography to the max. But I think Sony is not for me. I want to commit myself to a mirrorless camera system that I trust enough to use its cameras everyday, and that expands my creative boundaries. Fuji X, to me, is the system.

The nostalgic and timeless look of my Fujis sparks my willingness to take it out everyday. I also have trust in how it works to make me invest in its ecosystem. I buy into it knowing that I don’t have to have major G.A.S. whenever Sony updates their lineup, buying new camera bodies knowing that Sony will probably ditch them in about a year.

I also buy vintage lenses because of their unique characteristics. The Leica Summar 5cm and 1st generation Summicron 50mm produce blown-out highlights that bleed into the picture with velvety softness due to the lack of lens coating. The Russian Industar and Helios lenses have optical imperfections that offer bokeh one simply cannot find in modern lens offerings. I love them for their merits, or should I say demerits, and I don’t have to be one of the many Sony owners I see on the internet that trash talks or debates with each other about specs or hardware superiority.

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I can see that it might be a different story for others out there shopping for their next mirrorless camera, but this is my take on using a Fuji.

不复古,毋宁死。

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