Bert Stephani is a commercial and editorial photographer from Belgium who specializes in creative portraits and lifestyle photography.
Bert aims to capture what makes someone unique in every portrait. In his lifestyle pictures, it’s all about authentic experiences rather than the fake glamour that is often associated with the genre. Although technical mastery is high on Bert’s priority list, his style is often a bit rough around the edges, just like life itself.
Bert is also passionate about sharing information and knowledge with others. Workshops, lectures and speaking engagements have taken him all over the world to meet inspiring fellow creatives.
Back in 2013 during my first meeting with some of the Fujifilm engineers in Tokyo, we were presented with a mock-up of an SLR-like digital mirrorless camera. I remember clearly that the response to this design concept wasn’t exactly overwhelming. Just like the other photographers present, I was (and still am) a big fan of the rangefinder-style cameras but I could also see that a design similar to the old SLR cameras could have its advantages and be more of a flexible all-round workhorse. And that’s exactly what the X-T series became for me. So I’m glad the designers, engineers and product managers pushed through and created what would become the X-T1.
The X-T1 was a big step up from the X-Pro1 that I was using back then. All of a sudden, we had a responsive camera with decent autofocus, a 3-way tilt screen and so much more. The X-T2 added a boost in the resolution and speed. It was also the first Fujifilm camera that I started using for video work which made it an even more versatile tool for visual storytelling. But when the X-T3 came out, I must admit that I wasn’t impressed at first. It seemed like only a small upgrade: just 2 more megapixels and faster. But as often with Fujifilm it’s the culmination of hundreds of little upgrades that add up to a big leap. Since the release, I did hundreds of photo and video assignments with this camera.
I can’t say much about the X-T4 because I never had one. When it came out, I figured I’d buy one as soon as my well used (and abused) X-T3 died. But to this day my X-T3 is still going strong, despite falling off a a gimbal a couple of times.
And now there is the X-T5. Over the last couple of months, I was lucky enough to work with a preproduction model. I had already spent some time with the X-H2 so I was familiar with the sensational new 40 megapixel sensor and powerful new processor. It’s incredible that they managed to fit all that technology in the really small X-T5. Having all that extra resolution is great for big prints but it also allows for serious cropping. I’d love to say that I always compose my shots so carefully that I don’t need to crop but the reality is different. A lot of the work I do is fast moving and clients these days often need different crops of the same picture for different media. Having all those megapixels just makes life a bit easier so I definitely welcome the higher resolution sensor. Particularly because in real use it doesn’t come with any negative impacts on noise or dynamic range.
I never really cared much for in-body image stabilization for still photography. That’s until I started to understand the power of the new IBIS system. It simply opens up a range of options that I didn’t have before. And for video, IBIS is even more useful. Talking about video, the X-T5 may be a camera that is mostly geared towards still photography but it has a more than impressive video feature set as well.
The unsung hero of the X-T5 is without any doubt the new X-Processor 5. It drives the superfast and confident new AF-system. While face and eye detection worked reasonably well in the X-T3 and X-T4, I still hesitated to use it with moving subjects and a shallow depth-of-field. But now I often shoot wide open in continuous autofocus and let the face/eye detection do the work while I get to focus my attention on my subject instead of the technical part. That same processor also gives the camera a huge speed boast compared to its predecessors and that makes the all-round experience even more enjoyable.
But whatever technical features a camera has, means nothing if it’s not a piece of gear that you WANT to pick up and shoot with. The X-T5 stays true to the heritage of the X-T line, maybe even more than its predecessor, the X-T4. The classic dials, the sturdy but compact body and the elegant lines inspire me to shoot more and better.
As a professional photographer who’s been in the business for nearly two decades, I have the option to choose different cameras for different uses. But if I had to pick just one camera to do the variety of work that I encounter, the X-T5 would probably be the best choice. It has the build quality and speed for my reportage work. For commercial work it has all the resolution I really need. It’s a camera that doesn’t get in the way between me and a portrait subjects. And on top of that it’s small enough to take with me everywhere to document life.