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Married to Fuji. Our Cotton Anniversary.

· 30.August.2018

It is almost two years back to the day that I switched to Fujifilm and I thought I would write a piece sharing my experiences to date. Spoiler alert: I am in love with the Fujifilm X system.

I became ill around two and half years ago and my main camera at the time was a Nikon D800E. After getting ill I found that I just couldn’t cope with the weight of this bulky system anymore. 

I started looking at my options. Should I keep the Nikon and one lens and sell the rest of the gear, or look at getting a smaller, more lightweight camera? This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I spent hours watching Youtube videos, reading reviews etc. and I don’t need to tell you: it’s a minefield out there, everyone has an opinion and they rarely agree. You had the purists who thought that mirrorless was a phase and couldn’t best DSLRs, then there were the converts who waxed lyrical about the benefits of this new technology. Who should I believe? Who knows? Hence many sleepless nights… After a few weeks I started going crazy, well, more crazy than normal.

Thank god for Paul (showroom manager) at Wex photography in Norwich. The help and advice he gave was priceless. I took my Nikon to them for trade-in and as a result of my extensive YouTube research, I purchased the Olympus OM-D E-M10, which was meant to have the world’s fastest autofocus system and great low light capabilities. I can confirm that the autofocus speed was impressive, however, the accuracy was so poor I couldn’t get the side of a barn door in focus. Two days later it was returned back to Wex and I was the proud owner of some blurry barn door photos. 

During those frustrating two days, I was talking with a friend, Tom Jeavons, about the issues I was having with Olympus. I was surprised to learn from him that he had switched from his trusty Canon 5D Mark III for his professional work to the Fujifilm X-Pro2. He said that he had made the switch initially due to the weight and ease of use of the camera, and he thought that he would be compromising on quality as a trade-off for these benefits. However, he reported that there was no such compromise, in fact, he found the quality to be much better and there were unexpected benefits such as increased speed to his workflow, much greater discretion enabling candid moments to be captured and a great film look straight out of camera, something that he had been trying to cultivate with his Canon system. 

Tom is a prime shooter and valued his Canon L primes, such as the 50 F1.2 and the 135 F2. He was concerned about the offerings of the Fuji ecosystem prior to making the switch. He explained that there are equivalent lenses that perform just as good if not better than his Canon glass. What Tom noticed was that the images from these lenses were in his words “stellar”. 

I asked Tom about the autofocus on the camera, as this would be a deal breaker for me, he couldn’t say enough good things about the system and just how easy the cameras functioned in all conditions. Armed with this new information I headed back to Wex, with the Olympus in hand ready to return and played with some Fujifilm X cameras. I met with Paul and to my surprise, he told me that he personally owned a Fujifilm X-T1 and was overflowing with praise for the system, confirming Tom’s own experience.  

Five hours later I had decided on the X-T10 and a 35mm F2 lens. Full of excitement and anticipation I was up bright and early ready to attack the market in my hometown for some early morning street photography with my new camera. Two hours later I came home to go through the photos and I wasn’t happy… nothing was in focus, I just had more photos to add to the blurry barn door series. 

In my head, Tom was now my customer service for Fuji and after talking me into buying the camera he deserved the 20-minute rant I gave him. I was livid! When I came up for air Tom told me to update the camera, something I had neglected to do the previous day. This made me even angrier as in my mind it was a useless suggestion akin to when you have a problem with your computer and you’re asked to turn it off and on again. However, I dutifully did as Tom suggested and… he was right! (something I still haven’t acknowledged to him to this day). 

The next day, as planned I was in London with Tom for some street photography. With lots of fast moving subjects, unpredictable scenes and changing light conditions, London street photography would prove to be the acid test for this camera.  Another spoiler alert: this bad boy performed epically. I was so impressed with the camera that I bought Tom’s spare X-T10. This gave me the opportunity of returning the recently purchased X-T10 to Wex in exchange for it’s bigger brother the X-T1 (well, why not!).

Since this time I have been through a range of X Series cameras, including the X-Pro2 and the X-T2, all of which I’ve enjoyed. I have settled on what I believe to be the best in the X Series range for my street photography, which is the X-E3.

The past year has been an exciting time for me, my blog has been received well and I’ve been fortunate enough that Fujifilm UK has trusted me with various cameras and lenses to experiment with, this gave me an opportunity to have some quality time with the X-E3 and the rest is history. 

I have settled on my dream camera, at least until something shinier comes along. I have found the X Series cameras to be very reliable and together with the consistent updates from Fujifilm and the fact that they are so full of character, I couldn’t bear to get rid of the first X-T10, so it has a treasured place as my wife and son’s joint camera. 

Unlike DSLRs, these cameras have a lot of soul, from the images they produce to the user experience. I’m so glad I made this change, whilst I made the switch out of necessity, my love of photography is all the better for it.


At this moment in time, I’m working on a personal project in my local Starbucks. Shooting with Fujifilm X-E3 and the XF56mm f/1.2 lens. I love to watch how people interact in this environment.

I decided to shoot the project using Acros R film simulation. Starbucks itself is mostly monochrome, so I thought the Acros would fit in well. This project is all about capturing emotions, which you can only express when you connect with other people. This project is less voyeuristic than most street photography, as the social set up of the coffee shop inevitably means I’m less of an outsider and increasingly part of the fabric of the coffee shop scene. This has led to new connections and new paths to explore. But that’s a story for another time…

 

John Hughes

John Hughes

I never liked being asked to write a quick bio, but then who does? I’m a visual person and writing means I’m not photographing! I am a full-time street photographer based in the UK. I enjoy photographing people. Cambridge and London act as my theatres, arenas and playgrounds and this provides a constantly updated array of different characters for me to capture forever changing positions, costumes, expressions and emotions. My eye, my reflexes, my instinct and my Fuji combine in unison to produce my distinctive signature photography style and capture moments that would otherwise go unseen.

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