A couple of months ago I looked at my photography gear and saw three cameras with 9 lenses, all of them for Micro Four Thirds. I did a good job closing every possible gap regarding focal length and aperture to be prepared for every possible photography challenge on earth. But here is the thing: I had way to many options and thought more about the best gear for a photo while looking at a scene and making photos became more work than fun.
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And even though I had all these lenses I STILL missed something many people call the full frame look. For me this special look that some people see and some don’t is the possibility to seperate your subject from the background with wide angle lenses like a 35mm equivalent. I thought that when I want to isolate a subject I just take a longer focal length and everything is fine – but the look is different with telephoto lenses. There are some lenses with a very large aperture like 0.95 for MFT cameras but they are manual only. I didn’t want to lose autofocus. I never really liked the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 on my Olympus cameras because isolating your subject is hard and the distortion becomes very visible if you are getting to close.
Reducing gear for the next vacation
So I decided two things before taking the flight to the Ryukyu Islands: I didn’t want to bring 9 lenses and a bag full of confusing options to my next vacation so at least 4 lenses had to go. I wanted to have one camera with a 35mm equivalent lens and a large aperture and one camera with a 85mm lens in my small ONA Bowery bag. I would still have my Fisheye and Macro lenses but wouldn’t take those with me on a daily basis, only when I know I would “need” them. The 85mm focal length is now covered by the excellent 42.5 Nocticron lens, unfortunately that lens didn’t make it to my home before the vacation started. For the 35mm equivalent I decided to try the Fuji X-T10 and the XF23mm F1.4 lens. I read several reviews about the Xf23mm and looked at lots of photos and this lens seemed to qualify for what I was looking for. Other options in the full frame market were to big and heavy and in the APS-C world there was no competition (besides using an adapter). Using the lens on the X-T10 was a compact combination that fitted in my small bag and was not intimidating to people on the streets, at least not without the lenshood ;). The electronic shutter on the X-T10 was a big plus since I didn’t want to use an ND Filter. The possibility of using the mechanical shutter until 1/4000 shutter speed and letting the camera use the electronic shutter automatically for shorter shutter speeds wide open is perfect. On a sunny day the shutter speed at F1.4 was 1/20000 sometimes, nothing do worry about with this combination (besides the rolling shutter effect when making photos of moving subjects).
Using the XF23mm wide open
I had much fun using the lens wide open, the quality of the photos is great and there is no real need to stop down unless you want more depth of field. I ended up using the X-T10 with this lens all the time on the Ryukyu Islands were I was on vacation for two weeks. I didn’t miss a wider angle and for close portraits the 35mm was also very useful, like when I made a photo of this nice girl who was renting me a bike to explore Kohama Island:
Making photos on the streets with the 23mm was perfect. Even when I was right in the scene I was still able to gather enough of the surrounding, something that I missed with a 50mm equivalent lens that I used before. The autofocus was very fast and allowed me to use the lens wide open all the time.
It’s not only nice for people but also for goats 😉 – and for background blur in landscape photos as well. The lens was really versatile and I was happy that I didn’t have to think about the right lens for a certain scene all the time. I used what I had on the camera and that was more than sufficient. Here are some more examples shot wide open:
Stopping the lens down
Yes, it’s possible to stop the lens down – I had to force myself to do it since I had so much fun using the lens wide open. Sharpness is even better when using that lens at about f/8 of course and I was very happy with the quality of my landscape photos – like this one at the Northern point of Ishigaki:
There are many more photos taken with the X-T10 and the Xf23mm in the corresponding gallery of my homepage.
Did the plan of reducing the gear and using the Fuji X-T10 with XF23mm as the main combination work? Absolutely, I was more than pleased with the results I was getting from that combination. Is it perfect? No, sometimes I missed the IBIS of the Olympus bodys at night and being able to use the touchscreen to focus is also a nice feature. Two things I would like to see on the Fuji bodys in the future. Besides that there was nothing to complain about. Body and lens feel very solid and just right in my hands, the photo quality is brilliant. The XF23mm will stay – and so will the X-T10 :).
Pierre Aden is a photographer and owner of ultraweit-verwinkelt.de located in Frankfurt, Germany. He is a passionate traveller and he likes to experience and photograph new cultures and locations. He enjoys lightweight mirrorless cameras and suffers from Gear Acquiring Syndrome way to often – the most recent attack made him buy the X-T10 and the XF23mm lens :).