X-H1 Deals

If by some fluke you are interested in the X-H1, and haven’t yet taken note of the deals available on the X-H1, be sure to take notice of the fantastic $999 body only deal.→

But, if you’ve had your eye on an XF 16-55mm F2.8 WR, you can buy it and get a gripped X-H1 for $500.→

Better still, if you’ve had your eye on an XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR, you can buy it and get a gripped X-H1 for $300.→

$300 for an X-H1. That’s nuts.

I Disabled the Q-Menu Button On My X-H1 (again)

In my X-H1 review I noted that the Q Menu button placement was a problem. I decided to leave it enabled in the hope that my muscle memory would eventually compensate. It hasn’t. During my last couple of trips I was constantly pressing that button when I didn’t mean to. When removing the camera from my bag, making composition adjustments with it mounted in a tripod, even when I just hold the camera, my thumb lands squarely on that button. It actually hindered my ability to take pictures. That might sound hyperbolic, but when you’re trying to frame an image with the LCD and the Quick Menu pops open, it’s a hinderance. Likewise, hastily pulling the camera from your bag to catch fleeting glimpses of sunlight through clouds, and pressing the viewfinder to your eye only to see the Quick Menu can result in missing a photograph entirely.

So I’ve once again turned the Q-Menu off altogether on my X-H1 and updated my review accordingly. It’s a shame that a marquee feature of Fuji’s UI gets in my way so much that I have to disable it.

Part of the reason I bring this up again is that outside of the X-T3, all of Fuji’s higher end X Series and GFX bodies have the Q Menu button—and sometimes even a second Function button—in a simlar location. This seems to have become a trend, and I really don’t like it. I hope Fuji either move back to an X-T button arrangement, or at the very least figure out a way to recess these buttons as they did on the X-Pro2, a camera with which I’ve never had issues with accidental button presses.

The good news is I (finally) have an X-T3. I quipped in my last post that it doesn’t have enough to warrant an immediate upgrade. The placement of that button is at least one thing that will make me reach for it over the X-H1 when IBIS isn’t an issue.

XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR Review Posted (also, how I’m packing for the Lake District, again)

It’s been a while. Work. Busy. Whatever, I’m back.1

My last post was about how I packed for my trip to the Lake District, which included the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR. Fuji’s standard zoom ended up being the lens I used most for my hiking/landscape shooting. In fact, I think I came away with just a single image from the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR.

As it happens, not only have I just posted my review of the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR, but my wife and I are also headed back to the Lake District once again. We tell ourselves this will be the last time for a while, but who knows.

Perhaps the biggest praise I can give the standard zoom is that it will be joining me once again. The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR most certainly will not. It might have been my headspace at the time, but I just didn’t have the desire to change lenses. So I’m stripping my gear selection way back to just the X-H1 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR and maybe a second smaller lens, primary for review material. No second body. One and done.

I always knew the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR would be my travel lens sometime, but I always figured it would be on an X-T body.

I always knew the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR would be my travel lens sometime, but I always figured it would be on an X-T body.

Carry

I’ve also been rethinking my carry strategy from my September trip in part because of the change in equipment. The reduced kit had me considering my Billingham Hadley Small (see my comparison to the ONA Bowery) as my “personal item”. Sadly, the X-H1 + XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR combination is so large it really doesn’t leave me with much room for anything else, so I’ll be sticking to my trusty LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW.

What about the X-T3? Where’s all that content?

Good question. The truth is the X-T3 is the only camera Fuji has released aside from the X-E3 (and the X-E2S, but let’s be real about camera releases) that didn’t compel me to buy it right away. For my shooting, the upgrades over an X-T2 or X-H1 simply aren’t a big enough draw. And then there’s the downgrade of lacking IBIS compared to the X-H1.

I had also grown tired, even a little frustrated by how quickly Fuji were releasing bodies. I could easily review nothing but bodies and fill my limited time. But while bodies come and go, lenses stick around a fair bit longer so I’ve been putting my time into using lenses more in order to write accurate reviews.

I do hope to get caught up in the next little while. In the meantime, don’t miss my XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR review.

  1. A week after my last trip, I started a new job, which included the launch of a new bank. Turns out that’s a lot of work. ↩︎

How I Packed For The Lake District

A Brief Personal Story

This summer has been an adventure. Back in May, we had booked a trip back to the Lake District for the beginning of September. Lakeland is probably our favourite place on earth. The density of glacially carved mountains and lakes, and village cafe and pub splendour is unmatched. After publishing my review of the X-H1, I got to work on my XH1 vs. X-T2 article. It was coming along great, and as a bit of a spoiler, I was excited to finally shoot in The Lakes with Fuji cameras,1 and eager to put the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR to work on a stabilized body.

But in early June, one of our 4 cats got sick. Real sick. My wife and I spent 11 weeks exhausting every possible resource and sparing no expense trying to nurse our beloved cat back to health. After multiple opinions, and even more trips to veterinarian services, we decided there was no choice but to cancel our trip, believing we would still be getting Charlie back on his feet.

Things didn’t pan out that way, and sadly, we had to let Charlie go on August 19, 2018.2

A few days later, my wife and I talked about what we would do with the vacation time we had already booked off work. No way we could go away, right? But then, what were we going to do otherwise, sit around at home? We decided to look into what was still available, and incredibly, everything we had previously booked still was, so we will be walking the fells of North West England in tribute to Charlie.

Back To Photography Stuff

Now, with all that time lost, I had to figure out what the hell to bring. It’s been a bit of a scramble the last couple of weeks, but given I leave today I’m settled on my photographic gear selection.

In the grip section of my X-H1 review, I noted that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to deal with the heft of a gripped X-H1 and an L-plate, or stick to a body-only L-plate. As it turns out, I ended up getting both. The convenience of 3 batteries was too much turn down any time I wanted to use proper support, but I knew a gripped and plated X-H1 would be too big to travel with. Not only is it big and heavy, the size also has an affect on potential carry options.

Carry

The last time I was in the Lake District, I packed my Nikon gear in a newly acquired LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW→ after quite a bit of agonizing. I still love this bag. It’s crazy light, super adjustable, and has superb straps, both for your shoulders, and your waist. It is an excellent bag for hiking. Note that this is the first version of the bag. I have not yet tried the LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW II,→ but it looks like they haven’t fixed unbroken things.

Camera(s)

Based on the main camera compartment of that bag and my memory, the X-H1 with L-plate is fairly similar in size to the Nikon D700 I had in it before. It fits perfectly, where a gripped body would not.

I always thought when I traveled back to The Lake District, I’d bring something along the lines of my Invincible Landscaper kit. I’ll be bringing the lenses, but I won’t have a body dedicated to each. Instead, my second body will be an X-Pro2 with a weather sealed prime mounted for casual documentary shots.

Lenses

The X-H1 will mostly have the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR mounted on it. The section below the main camera compartment in my bag is just large enough to hold an XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR without the tripod collar attached. It’s not ideal, but it seems about as sturdy to have the camera mounted on my tripod as it would be using the rather flex-prone tripod collar.

When I last took in these dramatic landscapes, I went wide with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. This time around, 16mm on APS-C—24mm in 35mm equivalence—is the widest focal length I’ll have with me, and instead of going wider, I’m going much longer. This should open up my shooting possibilities a fair bit, but I’m wondering if I’ll miss the wide end.

Now, if this trip were happening a few months from now, there’s a very good chance I would repeat my focal length choice from last time with the XF 8-16mm F/2.8 WR.

The XF 10-24mm F/4 OIS sadly wasn’t even on the consideration list because weather sealing. If that lens came with those two magical initials, “W” and “R,” there’s a good chance I’d be bringing that lens instead of the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR along with a set of 72mm filters, rather than 77mm plus a step-up ring.

On my X-Pro2, it should come as no surprise that I’ll have the XF 35mm F/2 WR mounted. I’m tossing around the idea of leaving the second body at home, but I really think I would regret it.

Support

I’m pretty shameless about going overboard on the support side of things. Luckily the tripod is one area that has gotten considerably smaller, and lighter. The TVC-23 and BH-40 I had for the full frame DSLR, protruded from my backpack a ridiculous amount. The TQC-14 I have now is much better suited for travel. I’ve thought about moving to the TFC-14 for travel for less weight, even more compactness, and to get closer to the ground, but the Quick Column is extremely convenient for quick (yes, quick) adjustments to height without having to reset 3 tripod legs and my composition. When it comes to getting low to the ground, I have one of Really Right Stuff’s Pocket Pods. And finally, when a tripod with won’t fit or isn’t allowed, I also have their Travel Clamp, which is proved to be remarkably versatile. Finally, I have a mobile phone clamp for capturing time lapses from fell tops and or while shooting long exposures.

Accessories

I’ve stepped the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR up to 77mm via a Breakthrough Photography 72-77mm step-up ring so I can use a single set of 77mm filters— also from Breakthrough—for both Red Badge zooms. 3-stop, 6-stop, and 10-stop NDs as well as a Circular Polarizer are all in a tiny Tiffen filter case. They say it’s only for 58mm filters and smaller, but I get 77mm filters in there no problem.

The step-up ring means I need to go hoodless with the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR, so I won’t be able to use it if the rain goes sideways. It’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

Hiking

One of the main reasons for our trip is to seriously get our hike on. For that, a good pair of boots, waterproof jacket, an accurate set of maps, and a compass are imperative. I’m new to Harvey “Superwalker” maps, but I already like them better than the OS maps I’ve used before. I find them so much clearer. For guided navigation, and to avoid the bother of a working smartphone, we use a Garmin Oregon 600, which has served us very well on trips to Europe in the past. We’ll see how it fairs on the minor roads in the Lakes.

The Whole Kit

Fujifilm

Really Right Stuff

Breakthrough Photography

Other

See you in a couple weeks.

  1. My last trip to The Lake District with DSLR bulk on my back was the impetus for wanting to downsize in the first place. ↩︎
  2. Charlie was our first pet together, and if I may, the best little cat you could imagine. He would come when called, speak when spoken to, and more often then not, if we were sitting, Charlie was sitting with us.

    90% if the content produced for this site was with Charlie on my lap for at least some of it. I’d say “Charlie, time for work.” and he would dutifully hop on and keep me company. He was an awesome cat, and we are still very sad to lose him at only 13 years of age. ↩︎

What the H?

I don’t follow rumour sites for any products. They fall squarely in the “spoiler” category for me, so I was as surprised as anyone to catch wind of an entirely new body type, with an entirely new initial, “H”. The promo videos featuring music that would lead you to believe the fate of the world hinges upon in-body stabilization have made their all-too-triumphant return.

The X-H1

It’s a curious camera. Sized and priced between the X-T2 and GFX 50s,1 it pushes the X Series quite a bit closer to DSLRs I was once familiar with from the “sub LCD monitor” to the enlarged grip.

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

I did not see this one coming from Fuji. It’s a huge shift in strategy, and it’s just great. This is one area the Olympus guys always had us beat. Now we just need to wait until the tech makes its way down the line to the X-T, X-Pro, and maybe even X-E and little X-T. The demonstration is seriously impressive. Very similar to how Fuji demo’d the OIS lenses at Photokina a few years back.

Autofocus

It just keeps getting faster. My shooting style very rarely calls for it, but if yours does, and you didn’t jump on the X-T2, this could very well be your camera, provided you’re ok with the size and weight compromises.

Body Material, Size, and Weight

With a magnesium body that’s 25% thicker than the X-T2 or X-Pro2, this thing is sure to be heavier. That will mean better balancing with Fuji’s heftier lenses, but I think we have left the “compact” camera realm far, far behind with this camera. Considering the size of my X-T2 with the grip and L-plate attached, DSLR owners are going to look at the X-H1 and see very little, if any size and weight disadvantage to their current kit. As a point of comparison, a Nikon D7500 weighs in at 640g for the body only, just 17g more than the X-H1. A Canon 80D is another 10 grams more.

Weight in grams, body only.

Where the advantage could still lie is in multi-camera ownership. As it stands now, my X-Pro2 is used for my everyday shooting, while the relatively hulking gripped and plated X-T2 is for planned photography outings. So with one set of lenses, I can still get pretty compact, and for dedicated shooting, I likely wouldn’t mind the size increase of moving to an X-H1 from the X-T2.

“sub” LCD monitor

I used to use this feature on my DSLR all the time. I’ve needed it much less with all the dials available on many of Fuji’s cameras, but it would still come in very handy for confirming my aperture on lenses with unmarked rings,2 as well as a bunch of other settings without having to look through the viewfinder after pressing the “Q” button while passersby wonder why I’m photographing the sidewalk. And it even works when the camera is off.

We do lose the Exposure Compensation Dial because of this little monitor in favour of a somewhat strangely-placed button, but at least the information aspect is not lost.

Feather-Touch Shutter Release

And we’re back to the threadless shutter release. Hopefully Fuji’s new “Feather-touch” technology will make it so that I don’t feel like I need to email Tim at Match Technical for a soft shutter release.

Shutter Shock Absorption Mechanism

Fuji’s cameras were already pretty quiet, but apparently the X-H1 will be even quieter.

New Film Simulation Mode, ETERNA

This one’s geared at video, but I could see JPEG shooters using it as a base for creative post processing. Of course many people will that’s what RAFs are for, but for the iOS photographer, it could be a good option.

Video

I don’t do a lot of video, but I’ve come dangerously close to diving into it. The X-H1 adds a ton, DCI 4K, F-log, separate video settings, but I think there’s one feature Fuji is still missing.

Touch-Enabled Rear Monitor

Fuji cites this display as being vlogger friendly, and the capacitive touchability will certainly help, but without a flip-out screen, little-known vloggers like this guy probably won’t switch to Fuji anytime soon.

1.6× Brighter EVF with 3.69-million dots

It’s a little smaller than the X-T2, but brighter, and I would happily trade 0.02× magnification for 1.33 million dots. Otherwise, the EVF specs out the same as the X-T2 except for one other thing.

If I had known the X-H1 was coming, I probably would have held off on my X-T2, which hasn’t been used in the last year nearly as much as I would like. Since I already have an X-T2, and I don’t need the expanded video capabilities, I will probably stick with what I have. If I wanted to go larger, I’d go all the way and buy a GFX if they ever get the price down to more reasonable levels.

That could very well change once I have one in my hands.

  1. Although decidedly closer to the X-T2 on the pricing spectrum. ↩︎
  2. Here’s glaring at you, XF 10-24mm F/4 OIS ಠ ↩︎