In the fall of 2014, my wife and I broke the mould, decided to uproot our lives, and set a goal to visit 50 countries in a span of 50 months. We put our house up for sale and it took a year of planning before we headed off on our quest.
I was mainly a Canon shooter at the time, with a 5D Mark III with a lineup of mainly L lenses. I also had the X-Pro1 with an XF35mm f/1.4 and XF23mm f/1.4 but decided to sell this kit and use my Canon setup for travel. I really liked the 5D Mark III and the lenses provided great results, EF 16-35mm f/4L IS, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, EF 85mm f/1.2L II, EF 135mm f/2L. Prior to travels, I had also sold an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and EF 300mm f/2.8L IS.
So why is this Canon fan writing an article in Fujilove? The thing about travel is: always expect the unexpected. In an extremely thoughtless move, I decided it would a good idea to leave my 5D Mark III and 50mm lens behind on the floor of the ferry from Macau to Hong Kong. I will spare you the details as it still hurts my brain to think about it. Suffice to say I replaced the camera with a 5Ds R. It was a fine camera, but after a brief flirt I decided to switch my entire kit to Fuji. I had three main reasons:
3. Insurance while travelling.
In early 2016 I started out with the X-T1 with an XF 35mm f/2, XF 14mm f/2.8, and a second hand XF 23mm f/1.4. In Dubai, I picked up an XF 90mm f/2. My four focal length prime setup was complete and I was confident I could cover most travel scenarios with this combo. The X-T1 was a pretty good camera and it took me through the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Prague, and France. I was, however, very excited that by the time we reached Paris, the new X-Pro2 was available. I traded in the X-T1 and what a place to break in the X-Pro2! Three days in Paris. I only have one more kit adjustment to report. While I really do like the XF 35mm f/2 I missed some of the magic I remembered from when I initially had the XF 35mm f/1.4. I did eventually traded the f/2 for the f/1.4 version.
The X-Pro2 brought new features which brings it more in the line with the 5D Mark III. The new 24 mega-pixel sensor is better for landscape photography and allows for some cropping. The joystick to select AF focus points was a welcome addition. The faster operation, better AF, and new film simulations were also appreciated and frequently used. I especially use the Acros simulation for my black and white conversions and besides picking the standard, yellow, green, or red filter, I do very little to these images. In my mind, they are very pleasing. I shoot RAW and pick film simulations in post.
I am not against zoom lenses, I find they have their place for certain types of photography. Sometimes things move fast or the environment makes lens changes tricky due to weather or dust/sand. With that said I have chosen the primes as I find they give you an extra edge in sharpness, colour rendition, and faster f-stops. Let us take a look at my current four primes.
XF 14mm f/2.8 R. An ultra-wide without being too wide. A 21mm full-frame equivalent which is not too distorted. The lens is well corrected, sharp and for me, the 14mm is a sweet spot for focal length. I use the 14mm for landscapes, street, and architecture mainly. I had contemplated the XF 16mm f/1.4 but wanted something a bit wider and more compact.
XF 23mm f/1.4 R. The standard documentary style wide-angle. This is my most often used lens along with the XF 35mm f/1.4 R. Fuji has several options for shooting at 23mm. We have the f/1.4, f/2 version, and the 23mm on the X100 series. The XF 23mm f/1.4 tops the list for optical performance but the other options are also appealing with weather-sealing, faster silent AF, and the leaf shutter on the X100 cameras. I have enjoyed the f/1.4 version but at the same time, I am tempted to try out the X100V.
XF 35 mm f/1.4 R. My favorite Fuji lens and if I have to pick just one camera and one lens to do another 50 countries, this would be my pick. It is such a versatile lens that always seems to deliver the desired results.
XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR. I call this my jack of all trades telephoto option and it is just that. It is sharp, has silent fast autofocus, and although it is the largest lens in my bag it is far cry from the Canon EF lenses I used to lug around. Wide-open this lens produces stunning results, from portraits to sports and landscapes.
I welcome you to check out more travel photos captured with Fujifilm gear on our travel blog at 5050 Travelog. And happy travels, when we can do so safely again.