Having owned the Fuji XT1 and 56mm 1.2 (none APD), for around 6 months, we thought it was about time to share our experience. A recent five day visit to Seoul, provided the perfect opportunity to compose a Blupace review.
This is a guest post by Blu and Pace, a young married couple, with a passion for photography, psychology, art, and free thinking. Thanks so much, guys!
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First some technical bits: Pictures are edited minimally in LR. Crop, contrast, Shadows, etc.. Captured as jpegs, with Monochrome+R filter, +2 shadows, +1 Highlights. We shoot full manual, back-focusing, with focus-ring and focus peaking. (Hovering over individual images, will provide camera setting).
This will not be a technical review as there are many great sites providing this information.
Take a look at: SteveHuffPhoto, or ThePhoblographer, to name just a couple. What we hope to provide, is more of an emotional review while exploring the city, navigating its metro, and meeting the people who live there.
Seoul is a stylish city, albeit an expensive one, that could be likened to the Paris of Asia. Obviously not in a physical sense, as the city has the second largest metropolitan area in the world, and is occupied with over 25.5 million people. There is however a certain feel, an Parisian essence to the city, its like a lingering fragrance of technology, high fashion, beauty and decadence.
Seoul offers a wide a variety of activities, from small street markets and alleyways, to large shopping districts, old villages, parks and river walks, all accessible via the city’s sprawling metro system. Photographers of all fields, will have no problem discovering memorable, unique moments, to capture.
Traveling with the XT1, attached VG-XT1 battery grip, and 56mm lens, its no pocket camera, yet it feels comfortable to carry. Owing to Fuji’s excellent jpeg’s, we traveled with an Ipad and single memory card. Killing the camera between shots, allowed us to shoot day and night without recharging.
Shooting street photography with the 56 1.2, is a love affair. The silky smooth focus ring feels just right, back button focusing, helping to establish range if needed. Full manual, with focus peaking, is however the quintessential fusion between photographer and equipment. Initially you may miss tack sharpness, on each and every shot while getting a feel for it, but oh boy, is it worth it.
The flip out screen is an interesting feature that’s limited to an angle of around 90 degrees. We tend to love this limitation, it’s simple, and provides the basic necessity of vertical screen viewing, thus awarding the user ever more opportunities, to practice the fascinating art of photo-yoga.
The big gripe is the ISO dial, OK, no so much the dial, rather the lock button that sits above it. This has been talked about many times by users. Its quirky to say the least, lets just say we’ve all learned to live with it, enough said!
Lets talk food! Eating out in Seoul can be expensive, especially at restaurants, street food is plentiful though. Koreans seem to enjoy buffet style eating, which tends to work out cheaper, our recommendation is Ashley Queens. Two hours of eating delicious food, with plenty of options for vegetarians. Unlimited wine on tap, makes for interesting shooting later in the evening.
Coffee shops are like shrines, and are omnipresent, Koreans definitely win first prize for sheer diversity of caffeine supply outlets. Advertising is a curious business, with K-Pop seemingly dominating the entire market place.
The biggest eye-opener though, was in the field of cosmetic surgery, it’s absolutely huge in Korea. This lead to us having many conversations regarding social pressures, related to self image. Maybe a topic for our next visit.
OK, so a little about the lens, it could be considered unusual to shoot street with the 56mm (85mm equivalent full frame), some may even consider it intrusive. We have never found this to be an issue, getting close produces a beautiful intimacy in final images, characteristics of a true portrait lens.
Technically the lens performs flawlessly, providing a beautiful creamy bokeh. Wide open, it provides amples of light, while still maintaining image sharpness. For available light shooters, it offers instant user gratification.
There are features on the camera we never use, we’re referring to those, ahem (clears throat) advanced filters. It would be nice if Fujifilm allowed its users to customize these to something a little more useful. The Q menu naming convention could also be improved thorough a software update.
There are cameras with greater pixel count than the XT1, there may also be cameras technically faster. Here’s the deal though, photography comes from the heart of the photographer. It is through the experience of our thoughts and emotions, that the journey of photography is born.
Any camera can take a beautiful picture, and no particular brand of camera will ever make you a better photographer. What Fujifilm have achieved with the XT1, is to use technology, to build a camera that doesn’t interfere with the journey of photography. Others may feel the same about other brands, and this is quite alright.
We personally feel, the XT1 and 56 1.2, has something special to offer, which can’t be explained technically. It allows us to connect to moments completely unhindered. In doing so we become fully immersed in the journey. It’s through the unadulterated journey of photography, we begin to acknowledge that which is captured, is simply a reflection of self.