I discovered Fujifilm hybrids in 2016. I had been a professional photographer for two years and I already traveled a lot. The compactness and lightness of their cameras won me over right away. The team offered me to test an X-T2 to work with a constant 16-55mm f2.8. I agreed because it was the equivalent of what I owned at the time – a 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm 2.8 – but with faster autofocus and much better low-light capabilities.
Later, I was able to test two new lenses in addition: the XF 10-24mm f:4 because I often do corporate architectural photography and an XF 50-140mm f2.8 with an x1.4 converter to reach out distant and difficult to access subjects during reports.
Since 2016, I have been using them in the field, often in extreme conditions. I am a photojournalist and recently I have documented many mines saturated with fine particles and toxic fumes. It’s very demanding for the electronics and it requires a good preliminary preparation to be sure that the equipment follows. You can’t change optics on site because dust would get everywhere, so you have to have two fully tropicalized boxes.
My photographs on Egyptian limestone quarries, sulfur in Indonesia and Indian coal mines are three series where the colorimetric dimension is very important. Again, Fujifilm scores points because I particularly like the film simulations offered, especially when it comes to the skin treatment. Humans and colors are omnipresent in all of my work. It is therefore a technical aspect that catches my attention.
At the beginning of September, I was having lunch with photographer friends at “Visa pour l’Image” photo festival when Fujifilm France contacted me to propose that I become a brand ambassador. They wanted me to make a travel series before the end of the month in the country of my choice and I had to take the new X-T5, not yet announced, with me to test it and produce images that would accompany its launch on the market. It was 3 p.m. and at 7 p.m. sharp, I had to know where to go and what to do. What a challenge!
Luckily, I like challenges and the few projects planned in September could be postponed. So, I accept and I suggest photographing Kazakhstan, a mysterious territory for many, despite the fact that it’s the ninth largest country in the world. It’s been visa-free for a few months now and that’s good because I don’t have time for paperwork! Less than a week later, I’m on a plane heading for Almaty, the former Kazakh capital in the south of the country. I want to follow the new Silk Road from Khorgos, located on the Chinese border to Aktobe, a few kilometers from the Russian border. A diagonal of 3000km over 3 weeks without any preparation.
Every day, I photograph with this new camera the desert steppes, the bustling markets in pastel colors, the herds of camels or wild horses roaming free. I also immortalize the people who take me hitchhiking, host me or exchange a few words with me on a street corner. And in the evening, I edit as I go.
On this new equipment, I quickly find my marks. The ergonomics of the device and the organization of the menus are very close to the older versions. As for the body, it is the same size as the X-T2 which is excellent news.
The major advantage of the X-T5 is the new stabilized sensor of 40 million pixels which allows me to crop when I need without losing quality. I often do exhibitions with large format prints of 100x150cm. So it matters! It’s also very practical for sports or wildlife photography because I can isolate actions after shooting if my focal length does not allow me to do so when releasing the shutter.
Second big advantage: the ever faster processor, especially in low light. I often take photos indoors, in poorly lit rooms, or at night, to capture light atmospheres in urban spaces. Before, in these types of conditions, the autofocus would slip or fail to focus, sometimes showing me “AF!” in red in my viewfinder. Today, it works every time. It’s stunning!
The last positive point, compared to the camera I usually use, is of course the battery life. It is not new, this battery already existed on the previous model (X-T4) but I didn’t had the opportunity to use it yet. It’s a real comfort not to have to change it during the day. And this is essential for video, which is even more demanding in terms of energy.
Finally, after spending a month in the Kazakh plains with this device on my shoulder, I had time to appreciate these latest developments. I adopted it and I would gladly keep it for my next reports!