Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Retro-style Fujifilm X20 camera

Meet George.

Please excuse the ropy photo; I had to take it on my iPhone - elsewhere on this page you can see what he's capable of, and it's much better quality! George is a Fujifilm X20, and has a name because when I was thinking of buying this model of camera, it was not cheap and so I vowed if I did buy it, I would love it and pet it and call it George. In the end I did buy it, because I’d had some extra work that would cover the cost and I didn’t want to lug a D-SLR all the way to Myanmar. Mr Robot (who has his own photo blog called Gettins Images) took his SLR, tripod, lots of lenses and masses of other kit, and I just couldn’t face carrying all that.



Golden Island Cottages II, Inle Lake, Myanmar - run by a
co-operative of Pa-O people, and highly recommended!
My day job is on a photography magazine (not taking pictures, I hasten to add!), so I had a quick look in the review cupboard and spoke to our Test Team about what I was looking for, and tried some things out overnight before making my decision. People suggested a CSC - Compact System Camera, a little one with interchangeable lenses, like the Nikon 1 series - but I was adamant that I didn’t want to faff with changing lenses, so stuck to compacts. I actually preferred the layout of dials on a different Fujifilm camera, the X100s, but that had a fixed 35mm lens and I knew I’d want a zoom on holiday.

It is true that you can do more with an SLR than with a compact, but most of the time I couldn’t face getting one out. This may not have quite the creative potential of an SLR, but I’m much more likely to use it. Less complexity used frequently is better than a do-anything camera I never take out of its box. Being quite small, my Fujifilm X20 is very easy to carry around, and when I get my camera out it doesn’t alarm people in the way a monster SLR does.

Carving in a monastery. George copes
pretty well with low light.
Retro-looking cameras seem to be becoming more popular. Nikon recently released the Df, an SLR with vintage appeal. There’s no shame in preferring a retro look as there’s much more to this sort of camera than a bit of fake black leather. They are usually more angular and feature more buttons and dials on the body. Some people don’t like all the dials, preferring to do everything in the modern way via menus on the LCD, and it’s true that in certain modes the dials can be misleading as your camera has control of those things, so altering the settings on the dials won’t make a bit of difference. However, I prefer them. I like seeing my settings. I like being able to feel the changes.

I also like the fact that Fujifilm have made their compacts able to replicate classic film stock, including the legendary Fuji Velvia film, so my retro camera can deliver old-school colours. We do have film cameras at home; the oldest is a 1930s Voigtlaender. However, things are a lot easier when you don’t have to develop film yourself! George speeds things up a lot, and hopefully he is improving the photography on my blog too.

Source of camera: Bought it myself. Ow.

10 comments :

  1. I am absolutely useless with cameras, they make my brain ache!
    So I'm always hugely in awe of anyone who can do it properly and knows what they are talking about and how to work them properly.
    I think it's to do with my numerical idiocy, I just see techie number thingies and have the vapours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it helps to start off with something simple and learn the basics. Now I've had this one for a bit, I'm a lot more confident with the SLRs. I'm quite stubborn, though - I won't learn until I've hashed up a photo and want to know why it looks rubbish, then I learn what I've done wrong!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the review, Mim!

    Lately I've been looking at replacing my ancient Nikon Coolpix and Fujifilm's X-series were on my radar. I love the looks as well and I'm pleased to see it's not just ├Žsthetic (I always worry about balancing form and function with stuff like this) - I like dials and buttons too!

    I'm not particularly au fait with the finer points of photography either so am just after something that's largely point-and-shoot but with some good features and not bland like most compacts. I've looked at some of the lower-end "bridge" cameras like the Fujifilm S4800 but my eye keeps getting turned by the likes of the X20. But yes, still a lot of saving up to do before I can think about getting one of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely recommend going into a friendly camera shop and having a play.

      I like the way the dials click round. You can *feel* the changes beneath your fingers. And on a purely shallow note, I like the old-school looks!

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That Golden Island Cottages II photo is just... wow. The background is *obviously* amazing but what makes it for me is that that bluey purple tarp in the boat.
    Any chance of larger version of the photo, please? ^_^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a truly gorgeous place. You could only get to it by boat, and you could feel the hotel move slightly with the water. As the boat arrived, the staff would come out and bang gongs to welcome you.

      The Pa O people are mountain people on the whole, not lake people, but they do run a couple of hotels, and they are very charming hosts. (As, indeed, were all the people we encountered in Myanmar.)

      Delete
    2. (Oh, I'll email you a higher-res photo!)

      Delete
  5. Ooh – I've just dug out this blog entry to read again, as I'm at my parents' and my Dad's just received the (second-hand) X100 he's bought himself for his birthday. Lots of discussion of old cameras and he's dug out his 1940s Voigtlaender, not quite as old as yours but still very nice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should have a go with it! Using old cameras can be intimidating as there's so much to learn, but they really teach you masses about taking pictures.

      Delete