I started my journey to Fujifilm with the X100 series rangefinder style camera. I was drawn to the X100T by its retro design aesthetic, the way it handled and the amazing quality of the images that could be created with it. Although I came to the X100 relatively late in the day (January 2016) I was soon hooked and since then have gradually switched from my previous brand (Olympus) to a full Fujifilm X Series kit.
Having pondered long and hard over what the ideal setup should be for my style of photography, predominantly portrait and street with a smattering of fashion and landscape, I believe that with the introduction of the new X-E4 I have finally arrived at the ideal combination of cameras (my “Holy Trinity”) and lenses. As an engineer by profession, I like to think I take a system engineering approach in my decision making and have strived to build an optimal system that is functional, economically viable, well designed and, most important of all, suited to my style of photography.
I feel that each of these cameras complement each other beautifully. Each have their own strengths but, most importantly, can also be used in combinations that provide something which is greater than the sum of the parts. I see these cameras as sitting on a spectrum where each has its part to play in my photographic style but also overlap sufficiently to ‘stand-in’ for each other or act as back-ups.
The X100 series is most obviously the ideal tool for street photography. Its small size means it is easily pocketable and does not stand out in a crowd whilst the fixed focal length, 23mm F2 lens gives the ideal angle of view for capturing the street. You can get close, but don’t have to get too close. Although the X100F (my current X100 model) is not weather sealed I can’t say I’ve ever found that to be a problem. Whilst I would not use it during a downpour, I’ve never found a bit of light drizzle to be a problem when using this camera (i.e. in typical British weather).
The thing I like most about the X100F for street photography is that I can set the shutter speed and aperture at fixed values (usually 1/125s at f5.6) and allow the ISO to vary depending on the light. This combination of shutter speed and aperture means I can snatch shots if I need to, safe in the knowledge that the sensitivity will adjust accordingly (with grain being acceptable even up to ISO 12800).
As with all three of these cameras it’s also incredibly handy to have the three main exposure controls (aperture, shutter and ISO) controllable by dials (or at least a dedicated button for ISO on the X-E4). The X100F is definitely my go to street camera which I always have at the ready in my Billingham Airline Stowaway bag.
At the other end of the X series spectrum is the X-T. I started my journey with this model via the X-T3 but upgraded to the X-T4 to get the advantage of In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). The X-T4 is definitely my workhorse camera for my portrait work. It’s light but robust (and weather resistant), the IBIS works really well and coupled with dual SD card slots means I always have the assurance I won’t lose any images if one card becomes faulty or gets lost. The X-T4 also has impressively fast and accurate autofocus for both photography and cinematography.
For now, I twin the X-T4 with either the XF35mm F2 or XF50-140mm F2.8 lenses which cover all of my portrait needs. I am missing a fixed focal length, large aperture portrait lens such as the XF56mm F1.2 but am happy to bide my time before I purchase that lens (and my portrait work hopefully picks up post-lockdown).
For me the two most impressive things about the X-T4 are the 6.5 stop IBIS and film simulations. Being able to shoot hand-held in low light, both for portraits and landscapes, is a real boon if it means not having to always carry a tripod. I also love the range of film simulations which mean I can often achieve the effect I am after in-camera, without having to mess around too much in Photoshop to get what I’m looking for.
The only other lens I use with the X-T4 is the XF16mm F2.8. Another light and small lens which nonetheless produces amazingly sharp images and is perfect for landscape work, especially if you don’t want to carry too much heavy gear on a long hike!
And so, to the “minimalist” X-E4, the latest addition to my kitbag and final part of my “X-Series Holy Trinity”. For me, the X-E4 is definitely a hybrid camera, it is neither an X100 nor an X-T but can substitute for either when needed. When paired with the XF27mm F2.8 pancake lens it becomes a street shooter to compete with the X100F with the added advantage of having a tilt screen to enable waist level shooting (as well as the XF27mm lens being being weather resistant). Its small size (less than 33mm thick) means this camera can easily be slipped into a coat pocket, even with the pancake lens on.
Having the same 26.1 megapixel sensor and X-Processor 4 image processing engine as the X-T4, the diminutive X-E4 can also more than adequately step in as a backup camera for my portrait work. Although it lacks IBIS and a two-card slot, as a second camera it is more than adequate. With the XF35mm F2 lens it is ideal for portraits when you don’t want to overwhelm your subject too much with big lenses.
I’ve only had limited time with the X-E4 but early results with some street shots show it is going to be a great addition to my kit and more than worthy to be the third part of my “X Series Holy Trinity”. Its ergonomics, minimalist button and dial layout and tactile feel, make it a camera that just asks to be picked up and shot with and the perfect combo for my style and type of photography.
This article was first published in Fujilove Magazine.