Gear Inspiration

Three Cities, One Lens: XF16-80mm f/4

· 23.December.2019

For me as a photographer, travelling is an important part of my life. Last year I traveled to four different continents, I visited six different countries and more than twelve cities. I changed fourteen planes, six boards, dozens of buses and taxies and in the end I walked uncountable amounts of kilometers. As you can imagine, I had a need for light-weight and reliable equipment that could accompany me during this demanding journey. Some of you may have read in my earlier articles for Fujilove Magazine that I prefer my photographic equipment to be based on light transportation, best quality, and usability. With those basic standards, I started my trip in three different cities located in three different countries. First of all, I went to Belgrade (Serbia), next to Thessaloniki (Greece) and then to Istanbul (Turkey). In contrary to my previous travels, I chose to take with me only one lens, the new Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR. Below, I will analyze both the reasons and the advantages of this lens as also my experiences from the aforementioned cities.

Travelling lightly

Usually, my equipment would include a small shoulder bag with a camera (the Fujifilm X-T3), some zoom lenses: XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, XF10-24mm F4 R OIS and a prime lens: the XF23mm F1.4 R – most suitable for low-light conditions. I wanted my equipment to meet all my needs, to cover a variety of focal lengths from 10mm to 200mm.

For my last journey, I challenged myself and used only one lens (Fujinon 16-80mm F4) and one camera  – the Fujifilm Χ-Τ3, which I took with me this year around the world to places like Cuba, Morocco and Israel. I chose to take one lens because I moved continuously through many countries and cities and my goal was to be as light as I can in order to focus on the travel itself and the photographic process which resulted from it.

Istanbul, Turkey. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO160, F11, S 1/950.


The Point of Travelling

The quote that inspired came from a well known Greek poet K.Kavafis, who in his poem “Ithaki” wrote that “the journey is more important than the destination”. I started full of energy and with high expectations to discover some beautiful and different cities in a short period of time. I spent one week per city. Firstly, the results didn’t lead me to a new project but enriched my experience with new inspirations and captures, which was my final goal.

Belgrade, Serbia. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO200, F8, S 1/250


Belgrade: An Alternative Atmosphere

Belgrade, Serbia, thrilled me with the fascinating atmosphere and the combination of bohemian and alternative traits. This feeling was coming through many stimulations: people’s body language and the architecture of this city. My inspiration came from figures that I met around the streets. Often, I was making stories using my imagination while I was looking at people’s reaction before I hit the shutter button. The thing that impressed me the most was the 6-stops stabilization on the lens, something that you cannot find in any other Fujifilm lens until now. This helped me to easily capture shots in low-light conditions.

Belgrade, Serbia. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO3200, F6.4, S 1/75.


Thessaloniki: One City, One Vibe

Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece, which – located at the Thermaic Gulf – has nice Mediterranean weather. It is a city with intense vitality. Ι used to visit it in order to meet good friends, but this time it was the first time that I chose to do some street photography over there. I found people walking in every direction, absorbed by their hectic pace arousing my interest in this spontaneity and unique cityscape. The fast and exact autofocus on the Fujinon 16-80mm and the constant pounding offered by the X-T3, allowed me to capture a unique picture at parade in Greece’s National day, on October 28th.  The reflection of fighter planes in a shop window and the plastic mannequin combined resulted in a surrealistic moment. It wasn’t easy but the patience and the quick response of my camera ensured I ended up with a successful capture.

Thessaloniki, Greece. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO200, S 1/1200, F4.

Thessaloniki Greece. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO 500, S 1/250, F7.1.


Istanbul: Many expressions and contrasts

Istanbul is the most populous city among the cities which I visited. It is a crossroad between the East and the West, full of magical, oriental atmosphere. It is a real “photographic Mecca”. The city’s contradictions and people’s vibes intrigued me and made me want to get closer to them. It was important to have the lens autofocus and the shutter of my camera muted, because my goal was to become “invisible”. At the focal length of the 80mm of my lens, using my widest opening aperture F4, the bokeh was very pleasing, it separated the subject from background very well. This fact allowed me to create portraits as well as “standard” street photographs with the same lens.

Istanbul, Turkey. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO160, S 1/600, F5.6.

Istanbul, Turkey. Fujifilm X-T3. ISO1600, S 1/640, F4.


A Lens for Everything

In the last two years in Greece, I have given several speeches presenting my work when invited by photography groups, also as an official Fujifilm X-Photographer at Fujifilm Hellas events and exhibitions. The most common question I get asked at these events is “If you could have only one lens, which one would you choose?“ Today my answer is the Fujinon 16-80mm F4 because it fulfils all of my requirements. This lens, in combination with a camera body like the Fujifilm X-T3, offers me the maximum resistance from dust and water – I can stay calm and safe and not worry about damaging my equipment.

Another significant factor which contributes to perfecting my work is the focal length of 16mm, which I haven’t had before in any of my zoom travel lenses (such as 18-55, 18-135). The convenience to shoot portraits and architecture and the “classical” street photography, makes me to choose this lens for my travels or every other situation.