Adventures in Durban With the Fujifilm X-E3

· 15.September.2019

It is no secret that one of my preferences when it comes to choosing my photography gear is to keep it light and portable. But this preference becomes my top priority when I travel. The first time I had a little play with the X-E3 was when Fujifilm lent me one of their pre-production cameras to test it. I instantly fell in love with it as I could just carry it in my handbag and literally forget it was there. I was thrilled when I found out that I had been picked for its promo video. Since then, this camera has been my number one travel companion.

​​The X-E3, together with the XF23mmF1.4 (another favourite piece of kit of mine), proved to be the perfect combination for my trip to South Africa. It allowed me to be discreet, almost unnoticeable. Storytelling comes hand by hand with my travel photography. I am passionate about creating a narrative and sharing stories with my photography. Discretion is essential to avoid breaking the natural course of the everyday scenes unravelling in front of the lens.

When I was offered to travel to South Africa on a press trip, I knew the stories I would be capturing would be like nothing I had witnessed before. I had very little knowledge of the current situation of the country and had not built any expectations at all. This allowed me to explore, to listen and to create a fresh picture of the place untouched by any personal ideas.

​​When I shoot with the X-E3, the camera practically becomes an extension of my arm. It allows my creativity to flow instinctively. There are no restrictions on my mobility and comfort.

​​The XF23mmF1.4, meanwhile, has been my favourite lens since I first got my hands on it. Its versatility allows me to shoot architecture and landscapes, as well as being able to isolate details with a wide-open aperture at f/1.4.

For this trip, I also brought a couple of extra lenses with me: the XF56mmF1.2 for portraits (and in case I want a little extra depth) and the XF90mmF2, a longer focal length to capture wildlife. Bear in mind, this may not be the best lens for a full-day safari excursion. However, I was not after any wildlife photography award. I am not the type of photographer that wants to get a perfectly clear close-up shot of a lion, giraffe or elephant. My trip was a little more focused on the culture and the soul of the cities of South Africa. However, I didn’t want to be caught empty-handed if the opportunity to capture a cute animal arose. I thought my XF90mm would do the job. ​

​​In Durban, we were invited to a Segway ride along the promenade. For those who aren’t familiar with Segway, it is a two-wheeled vehicle controlled by the way the rider distributes their weight. I was so pleased to be carrying only my X-E3 across my body with the XF23mmF1.4 attached and the XF56mmF1.2 in my small handbag; I felt light like a feather! Anything any heavier would have made me struggle with the balance. We had a break right at the end of a pier to take some photos, and I had enough with me to take some beautiful shots of the cityscape. Durban is famous for its art-deco architecture, and the views from the pier were something to remember!​​

​​Security is something else I had to consider while in Durban, where carrying thousands of pounds worth of kit is a little bit risky. So if you are planning to do a little roam on your own around some of the safer neighbourhoods, it is best to not be flashing all your gear on the streets. Being able to take just a small casual messenger bag with my kit, rather than a full-on photography bag, gave me peace of mind. I was able to easily pull my small X-E3 out when I was presented with a moment worth photographing. Otherwise, while not in use, all my gear was in disguise.

​​The highlight of the trip was flying on an air-balloon. Can you think of a better place to do it than Africa? Ahead of the flight, we were told it was best to leave our belongings on land since it was a few of us on the balloon and bulky bags would be inconvenient.  I didn’t hesitate, I picked up my X-E3 with my XF23mmF1.4 attached and hang it across my body leaving the rest of the kit behind. Once on the air, I couldn’t have been happier with my choice. As I stood there mesmerised by the landscape, floating above wilderness and nature I swung my camera across and attempted (hopefully succeeding at it) to capture the raw beauty of the moment. ​​

During the trip, there were moments where I thought the bigger sensor and resolution of a GFX body would have given an extra punch to some of the beautiful African landscapes. But I would have never wanted to give up on the freedom and versatility of the compact body of the X-E3 during this trip. And after looking at the RAW files in Lightroom, I certainly don’t regret my decision. 

If you aren’t as precious as I am when it comes to travelling light and resolution is something that matters to you, try giving a go at travelling with both options. However, I guarantee you that once you travel with an X-E3, there is no going back!