Today, Sarah and I went exploring at the Crystal River Preserve and Archeological State Parks. We got eaten by mosquitoes, which was fun, but it was really nice to reconnect with the nature right outside our doors.
This past weekend, and every so often, Sarah and I like to play tourist in our own back yard and go to attractions that are fairly local, such as Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando. Granted, we do have annual passes to the theme parks, so we go about once a month, so this might not exactly belong in a travel blog, at least from my own personal experience, but the parks do bring people in from all over the world, almost as many as Disney World, I would imagine.
This time around, we started our day seeing the Terminator 2 show/experience. Which was pretty neat to see, granted it was the first time that I’ve ever seen it, but you can definitely tell that it’s not their newest show. After that, it started to pour, so we ran over to Transformers, since Sarah hadn’t been on that one just yet. The rain let up just long enough for us to get about halfway between the gift shop for the Transformers’ ride and the E.T. Ride. We were SOAKED!
By the time we got to Men In Black, we were a mixture of dry and cold. At least we were on my favorite ride, though. So, there was that. After that, the rain had let up, and we were free to roam about the park, and we pretty much spent it in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, doing one of my most favorite activities other than photography: eating ice cream. Sarah had vanilla with hundreds and thousands (sprinkles), chocolate chips, and crushed nuts, and I had a mix of the salted caramel blonde and sticky toffee pudding. It was SO GOOD!
After the ice cream, we hopped on the Hogwarts Express in an attempt to get on the new King Kong ride just in time before the parks closed. Unfortunately, there was a two hour wait in the line, and it was already almost 8:00pm, so, we decided to pass this time, and save it for the next time we made it out to the park. It was alright, though, because our day was concluded with a beautiful sunset, right behind Hogwarts castle. It couldn’t have been any better.
Since 2007, I’ve almost exclusively used Canon DSLRs, so when I’ve said that I’ve bought into a different camera ecosystem, it better be for good reason.
After buying my 5D Mark III, I basically carried it everywhere I went, and the more I traveled, the less I carried it with me, and the more I started looking into every-day sort of options. I then tried to use my older Rebel T2i as an every-day shooter. This was fine, but it then occurred to me that in the event of some terrible accident, I would be pretty S.O.L. since I was still using my best glass. So, I started looking at alternatives.
I knew, in the end, I would probably go with a mirrorless camera, and it seemed to make sense; they’re light in weight and fairly compact, so they travel easy. I first looked at the Olympus OM-D series of Micro Four Thirds cameras.
The OM-D E-M5 seemed to be a good fit, it looked nice, it had some dials on it for easy setting changes, the price was pretty nice, too. Upon further inspection, though, the sensor size raised some red flags. Because of Micro Four Thirds’ size, there was some detail issues that when I would look at the photos, they just didn’t sit well with me. The photos looked too sharp, but also there seemed to be details missing. This was most likely because of the pixel size and density on the sensor, so I moved on to my next option: Sony.
The optimal Sony camera, for me, was the Sony a6000 (this was just before the a6300 was released). It had a bigger sensor, and it looked like the a7 line of cameras was pretty much dominating the market, so how could the next step down be so bad? Well, the one big problem: lenses. The kit lens that comes with the a6000 suffers from two issues: it’s a powered zoom, and its focus by wire system. While I understand that I probably wouldn’t want to keep the kit lens for all time, I would still be using it for a while, in the beginning. I got to test the lens out, and the zoom on it is slow and clunky, and basically, just annoying. As far as the focus by wire system goes, it was massively delayed, and there’s no improvement in sight. This is being said having used an a6000 and an FS7. You’re better off using other glass on it if you rely on manual focus in any capacity.
At this point, I felt like I was at a loss. I started looking at the Nikon and Canon’s mirrorless options, both laughable. However, a ray of sunshine; a friend was in town and showed me their latest Craigslist find: the Fujifilm X-T10. After he handed it to me, I almost immediately felt as though it was familiar. The EVF was quick at responding, the focus by wire felt a lot more useable, the sensor was a good size. I was in love. I started up the research machine.
Fortunately, the camera had been out for a while already, so there were many test and reviews handy (this one being the most tardy to the party). One of the things that I learned in the rounds was that the X-T10 and the X-T1 are…basically… the same. the X-T1 has a bigger and brighter EVF, an optional vertical grip, is slightly larger (with a bigger hand grip), and is weather resistant.
I could go on about megapickels this, shutter speed that, minimum ISO whatever… but what’s important is what it’s actually like to carry it around and use. (This is the actual review part of this article)
The X-T10 is super light weight. I have mine on one of my favorite camera straps, the Photojojo Seat Belt strap, which (at the time of writing) is no longer available, but it goes well with the vintage look of the camera. With the camera slung over my shoulder, I almost feel as though it’s not there, especially in comparison to a 5D or even my old Canon AE-1. It feels like an unobtrusive extension of myself, as I believe a camera should be. The dials feel solid, as though you’re actually changing settings on a camera, it makes me feel a bit more involved in the process than spinning the thumb wheel. Granted, the X-T10 has the wheels as well, which are still useful for changing things like ISO or aperture (when the lens doesn’t have an aperture ring, itself), or even when you’re wanting to select a shutter speed that’s in between two of the options on the dial.
Probably one of my favorite features, especially for an on-the-go camera, is the WiFi connectivity. Not only can you transfer photos to a phone or tablet with ease, but you can also use your mobile device as a wireless remote and monitor. This came in handy at our last family gathering. We normally get a group photo of everyone, which means a lot of running back and forth for myself, between checking the shot and setting the timer. This time, I was able to get in the shot with everyone else, check the framing and exposure right from my iPhone. Super convenient. I know Fujifilm isn’t the first company to do this, but it’s handy, and I think most people would agree.
The kit that I purchased included the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Without question, the worst lens in the lineup. I will say, though, while it’s most likely their worst lens, it’s on par for the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for quality, and essentially only costs $100, so not a terrible deal, especially if you’re like me and plan on getting other lenses.
So far, I’ve taken it to Universal Studios twice, now, and both times, I was able to walk around and get a couple photos here and there, but at the end of the day I didn’t feel like I was lugging a pile of bricks around with just a 50mm lens. I was able to get a variety of wide shots, tight shots, outdoors and inside shots. In low-light scenarios, I find that the X-T10 still performs nicely even at high ISO. The other night, we were at a bar for a friend’s birthday, and I was able to crank up the ISO to 12800 and was still able to get some pretty nice shots of the band that was playing while we were there.
The real test began when I brought it into the studio, where my 5D Mark III normally shines. My friend Thomas was a (probably unwilling) guinea pig as I set up a monolight, a bounce, and connected a PocketWizard to the X-T10’s hot shoe. Overall, the studio shots came out almost identical in quality, alongside the 5D Mark III. I would say that they were a little softer, but that can be attributed to the lens, as I’ve yet to get myself the XF 16-55mm f/2.8, which is the big daddy to the kit’s junior lens. Herein lies a problem, however: with the exposure simulation on (which, by default, it is, and I do like it in normal situations) you will ONLY be able to see your framing while focusing. Otherwise, all you’ll see is black. Definitely isn’t the best, but you can set one of the custom function buttons to that setting for easy access, if you swap between studio and locations shoots regularly.
The only two other issues that I’ve run into I encountered during the same shoot. I was photographing a band in a park on a hot, hot, Florida afternoon, and I set the X-T10 down for a moment to get some closer shots during the performance. About 5 minutes later, and the X-T10 is just acting funny from the heat (I presume, at least). I powered it off, and let it sit in the shade with the rest of my gear for 10 minutes. Afterwards, one of the musicians was doing a great solo, so I figured I would test out the video of the camera. Turns out, it’s not so great. That’s fine, though. The video that I shoot regularly is nowhere near the quality, content-wise, that would warrant the 5D Mark III’s capabilities. It does, though, have the ability to shoot 1080p at 60fps, which is something the 5Dmk3 cannot do.
As for my suggestion, though: If you’re looking for a little, lightweight, relatively inexpensive, legitimately good quality camera, and you don’t see yourself filming any Hollywood productions, and want to focus mainly on photography; the Fujifilm X-T10 is an excellent camera. 10/10 would recommend (and have!).
All in all, I’m in love with this little camera, and I see us going very far together in the future. Now, to get that 27mm pancake lens! Mmm… pancakes.