It was 2011 and my annual trip to France to photograph the Le Mans 24hr Sportscar race was rapidly approaching. I was always keen to spend time in Paris enroute to the race indulging my passion for urban / street photography. I had become tired of carrying around a bulky obtrusive DSLR kit and I was looking for an alternative camera to reignite my enthusiasm …enter the FUJIFILM X100.
Retro styled but crammed full of the latest technology. A thing of beauty with superb build quality to compliment its superior image quality combined with a fixed 23mm F2.0 lens (35mm equivalent) and film simulations that paid respect to FUJIFILM’s heritage of silver halide. I was sold!
I spent 3 days exploring Paris, walking in the footsteps of one of my photographic idols, Henri Cartier- Bresson, enjoying photography in its purest form. I was in awe of the low light capabilities and the challenge of shooting with a fixed focal length lens. The X100 was a game changer, became an instant classic and was the only camera I was ever going to need for my travels. Or so I thought! FUJIFILM had other ideas……….
FUJIFILM released the X-Pro1 in early 2012. I was able to get an X-Pro1 just in time for my trip to France in June. I complemented the X-Pro1 body with all three of the lens that were available at the time, the 18mm, 35mm and 60mm. The hybrid viewfinder was a revolution on the X100 and even more advanced on the X-Pro1.
I no longer used the optical viewfinder, as I was able to see the effect of my chosen film simulation in real time using the hybrid finder. The X-Pro1 was so empowering. There wasn’t an occasion where I wasn’t able to produce a high quality image regardless of the lighting and in some cases, lack there of.
A larger X Trans 16mp sensor and updated processor gave me even more performance and versatility and the ability to change lens meant the X-Pro1 became a more viable option to use in some of my pit lane action and driver portraits and well as my street photography.
Regular upgrades to the firmware constantly improved the camera / lens performance, especially the AF accuracy. FUJIFILM and X Series. Evolution for all to see.
My X-Pro1 became my constant travel companion during the 2012 and 2013 race seasons at home in Australia and around the world recording my adventures and delivering superb image quality and colour reproduction to my clients with reliability to match.
Reliability is something that I can count on with FUJIFILM. Every X Series body I have owned has been used as a work tool in all sorts of conditions, from blazing heat to pouring rain and snow and they have never let me down….never.
I had a couple of great years with the X-Pro1 and as the firmware upgrades improved the camera AF capabilities I was able to use the X-Pro1 for photography at the racetrack more and more. I still use it to this day.
As a sports photographer I was still reliant on my DSLR kit for that part of my photographic portfolio however 2014 saw the introduction the of X-T1 body with a range of superb zoom lenses, an amazing EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) and a weather resistant body. It was the final piece of the puzzle.
I quickly added a couple of X-T1’s to my ever-increasing stable of X-Series, which by now had grown to include the revised X100S.
The X-T1 was a revolution in itself moving away from the rangefinder style of the X-Pro1 to a more DSLR style. I enjoy using both styles of camera and it depends on my mood and subject matter as to which one I choose to put in the camera bag.
In another example reacting to input and feedback from the photographers using the equipment in the field, FUJIFILM were aware that the AF performance for sports photography on the X-T1 was lacking in some areas and moved quickly to address the issue.
In June 2015 a revised firmware version was released which totally transformed the X-T1, a new AF system with a heavily revised tracking system meant that the X-T1 was now a real option for all of my motorsport on track action photography. The introduction of a range of longer lenses further enhanced the X-T1’s sports photography potential.
FUJIFILM always seek feedback from X Series users on the direction of system, what we like about the system, areas that we think can be improved and new products we would like to see added to the line-up. Not only do FUJIFILM ask photographers for feedback but also they act upon this feedback, constantly improving the product.
I was privileged enough to attend one of the X series photographers meetings in Tokyo last October. The photographers invited were all from the field of motor sport photography and it was clear that improvements to the AF system on the X series were a priority to FUJIFILM. I tested some new lenses and firmware at a race in the days following that Tokyo meeting and after every practice session I was surrounded by FUJIFILM X Series engineers asking me questions relating to the performance of the new hardware. As a result of these engineering sessions modifications were made and when I tested the same hardware again at a race in Bahrain a few months later the improvements were obvious. I have never experienced such a direct relationship between a manufacturer and photographer and it is a core reason why I will be a FUJIFILM X series user for life!
The X-Series has become such an integral part of my photography, an extension of my eyes, a partner in creating images not possible a few years ago. They are cameras with soul, driving my enthusiasm to seek new photographic challenges even after a career spanning nearly 30 years. Each model with its own personality, quirks and strengths. Having been witness to the birth of the X-Series I have enjoyed watching the system grow into adolescence, becoming more efficient, more versatile, more confident and more complete.
2016 has started with a number of exciting and highly anticipated releases with the X-Pro2 and the X70 which shows that FUJIFILM remains committed to pushing the boundaries of technology with X series without diluting the value and spirit behind the X-Series
What do the next 5 years hold? The next 10 years? I don’t know but I’m looking forward to being part of the journey.
With over 25 years of experience as a professional photographer, Andrew has enjoyed an award winning career in a wide range of photographic genres from the high speed world of Motorsport to Landscapes and Specialist portraiture. Based in Sydney Australia Andrew is fortunate enough to travel the world pursuing his passion for photography and is always keen to utilize the latest technologies to capture images in situations previously out of reach.