My New Fujifilm Camera

I bought a new camera. By “new” I mean new-to-me, as it was in fact a used camera. It’s a few years old, but in decent shape, and functions well. I’m not going to disclose the model just yet, as I’m going to let it be a surprise a little further down this article. I will give you some clues: this is a 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera. Any guesses?

Let’s take a look at some straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from this camera, and then I will reveal what it is.

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Red Trike – South Weber, UT

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Leaves By The Shed – South Weber, UT

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Flower Jungle – South Weber, UT

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Green Summer Leaf – South Weber, UT

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Dead Rose – South Weber, UT

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Factory Authorized Service – Ogden, UT

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Mary Wants You To Buy Some Books – Ogden, UT

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Suburban Fence Monochrome – South Weber, UT

What camera do you think captured these pictures?

My new 16-megapixel fixed-lens Fujifilm camera is…

…an AX350. You’re likely saying to yourself right now, “An AX what?!” The Fujifilm AX350 is an eight-year-old low-budget pocket point-and-shoot zoom camera. It came out around the same time as the original X100. It has a tiny sensor, and really is a point-and-shoot with very few manual controls. It has three film simulations: Standard, which reminds me more of Astia than Provia, Chrome, which is a lot like Classic Chrome but predates it by a few years, and B&W. Changing the film simulation is pretty much all you can do on this camera, besides zooming in and out and activating macro mode.

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I was surprised by the image quality. When the ISO is low (ISO 200 and lower, roughly), and just as long as the highlights aren’t too bright, it produces very lovely pictures. The lens seems to perform worst when at the widest or most telephoto ends, but it does well when in-between. It has a narrow window, but when things line up correctly, this camera creates pictures that you’d never guess came from an eight-year-old low-budget point-and-shoot. On the flip side, when things don’t line up, the pictures are just as you’d expect them to be.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a box of assorted film and digital cameras for under $40. I had no idea if any of it worked, but I thought it was worth the risk. This Fujifilm AX350 was among the cameras in the box. I tried it out just to see if it worked, and I was shocked when I reviewed the pictures! I’m glad that I didn’t pay a whole lot of money for this camera, but I think I might keep it around for a little while, as it seems to have a purpose, and can potentially fulfill a tiny niche role in my bag. I wouldn’t go out looking for one of these cameras to buy, but if someone is trying to give you one, maybe accept the offer. It is a capable photographic tool, even if just barely, in the hands of a skilled photographer.

Vintage Lenses on Modern Cameras: Using M42 on Fujifilm X

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Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 on a Fujifilm X-T20

Lenses can be quite expensive. Most new lenses cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. Many people want to expand their glass collection but simply cannot afford it. A good solution is to use vintage lenses from the film era on your modern camera. An inexpensive adapter will allow you to attach lenses from another mount to your Fujifilm X camera. This is a cost-effective way to add more glass to your current camera kit.

One lens mount that’s common to find is M42 screw mount, which was originally designed by Carl Zeiss in the late-1930’s. Several different camera brands used M42 at one time or another, including Pentax, Contax, Praktica, Fujica, Yashica, Cosina, Ricoh, Zenit, Olympus and others. Most camera manufacturers who used M42 had moved on to other mounts by the late-1970s, but some M42 screw mount lenses are manufactured to this day. Thankfully, your options for this mount are plentiful!

What I love about many of these vintage lenses is that they have exceptional image quality, yet they also seem to have their own unique character. Many modern lenses are precision engineered, which is great, but they lack character. What sets one apart from another is just how precisely it was designed and tooled. Vintage lenses often have flaws, which might seem like a negative attribute, but these flaws sometimes produce unique effects that you’d never find on a brand-new lens. It might be a certain bokeh, soft corners, lens flare–whatever the flaw is, it makes your pictures less perfect, which is the character that is often missing in modern photography. Actor Willie Garson famously stated, “Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity.”

The challenge with using older lenses is that auto-focus and auto-aperture are out the window. You will need to manual focus, which is made easier thanks to focus peaking and focus confirmation, but it is still a skill to learn for those who aren’t used to it. You will have to set the aperture yourself, which isn’t a difficult skill, but if you always use auto-aperture this might take some practice. For some people there will be a learning curve, but I believe that the manual features are actually a help and not a hindrance, since it slows you down and forces you to consider things a little bit more deeply. You also must ensure that “Shoot Without Lens” is selected on your Fujifilm camera, or else it won’t work.

These old lenses are often easy to find for a reasonable price. Some can be expensive, but most are not. In fact, if you shop around, you can get two or three different lenses for less than $100! If money is tight, this is probably your best bet for purchasing additional glass for your camera. Look at thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, Facebook Marketplace and eBay for good bargains. Below are three different M42 screw mount lenses that I have used on Fujifilm X cameras.

Helios 44-2 58mm f/2

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The Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 is a Soviet Union lens renown for its swirly bokeh. It’s a knockoff of the Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2 that was made in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This lens was mass-produced in Russia for many, many years and can be found for very little money. In fact, mine came attached to a Zenit-E camera that was less than $50. If there is one lens that epitomizes character, this is it, as it has fantastic image quality, yet it can be quirky, often in the best ways possible.

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Tricycle In The Woods – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Helios 44-2

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Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 & Helios 44-2

Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2

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The Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 was made by Pentax in the late-1950’s and early 1960’s, and there was a nearly identical lens but with a slightly larger aperture (f/2) that was manufactured into the 1970’s. This is a great prime lens that produces beautiful pictures. It doesn’t have as much character as the Helios, but it makes up for it by how lovely it renders pictures. It’s definitely a favorite of mine! Oh, and I paid $35 dollars for it and the camera that it was attached to.

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Welcome To Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Asahi 55mm

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Super Moon Illumination – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Asahi 55mm

Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4

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The Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4 is Soviet Union lens that was manufactured from the early 1970’s through the late 1990’s, and a nearly identical earlier version of this lens was introduced in the late 1950’s. The image quality is nothing short of fantastic, but it’s super heavy and feels like a tank. It’s not something that you want to carry around all day. The Jupiter 21M can sometimes be found for less than $100, so it’s a really great bargain for what you get. It’s a solid long-telephoto option for those on a tight budget.

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Layers of Grey – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Endless Canyons – Dead Horse SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Current Fujifilm X Camera Deals

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There are a number of great Fujifilm camera deals currently on Amazon. I wanted to pass these along in case anyone is interested in these cameras. As always, if you use my links to purchase something it helps to support this website.

Fujifilm X-H1 with grip is only $1,300!

Fujifilm X-E3 is $700.

Fujifilm X-T3 is $1,400.

Fujifilm X-T2 is $1,100.

Fujifilm X-T20 with 18-55mm lens is $1,000.

All of these are good deals, but the X-H1 and X-T2 stand out as the two best bargains, and I think it’s because of how well the X-T3 has been selling. The X-T20 is my top recommended camera, and it’s a good price with the 18-55mm lens. The X-E3 is pretty inexpensive, and it’s a very tempting option.

Current Fujifilm X-T2 Deals

I wanted to pass along some great deals on the Fujifilm X-T2 that are currently going on at Amazon. While the X-T20 is my top recommended Fujifilm camera, right now the X-T2 is probably the best value because it’s a really high quality camera that has been steeply discounted (thanks to the X-T3). If you’ve thought about getting this camera, now is the time, as I understand that these prices will change on January 1st. Also, if you use my links to buy the camera, you’ll be supporting this website, which is something that I appreciate! Oh, and it’s not too late if you are Christmas shopping.

Here are the current deals on the Fujifilm X-T2:

The Fujifilm X-T2 (body only) is $1,099, which is $500 off!
The graphite Fujifilm X-T2 (body only) is $1,199, which is $600 off!
The Fujifilm X-T2 with an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens is $1,400, which is $500 off!

Fujifilm X-T20 Impressions

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Back in June I bought my wife, Amanda, a Fujifilm X-T20 for her birthday. She’s a little more into video than stills, and her interest in photography has been fairly recent. This is her first interchangeable-lens camera. I promised that I would not take over her X-T20, which I’ve stayed true to, but I have used it on several occasions, and I have formed a few opinions based on those experiences.

This is not a review of the Fujifilm X-T20, but more of a discussion of who this camera is for. I will share my impressions and talk about the things that I believe others might want to know. What differentiates this article from a review is that this won’t be nearly as in-depth, as I won’t talk about many of the technical aspects of the camera, but I will offer several opinions. This will be a fairly short article. I hope that it will be helpful to those who are trying to decide if they should buy this camera or not.

The Fujifilm X-T20 is an X-Trans III camera, which means it has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor. It has the same sensor and processor as the X-T2, X-Pro2 and X-E3 and is capable of the exact same image quality, which is nothing short of excellent. What differentiates the different camera models are the features that are and are not included. There’s also the X-T100, which is the closest camera in design to the X-T20, but it has a different sensor and processor, which means that it differs a little in image quality.

I’m actually quite impressed with the X-T20. It has a lot of great features! There are a few things that are missing, such as weather sealing, the focus joystick and a dedicated ISO dial on the body. The first one may or may not be a deal breaker, depending on the conditions you plan to use the camera in. The later two can be worked around fairly easily, and, while they’re nice to have, I doubt anyone would dislike this camera because they’re missing.

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What is included on this camera is a tilting touch screen. It’s not quite as adjustable and has more limited touch options than the one found on the X-T100, but it is definitely a nice addition. It makes the camera easier to use in certain situations. There’s a knob on top of the camera that allows quick access to some of the functions that you might not often use but would otherwise have to dig through menus to find. I don’t find it particularly handy for myself, but if you do panorama pictures or video or use the advanced filters this makes it a tad quicker to access.

If you are familiar with Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras, you will feel right at home using the X-T20. It’s a solid choice for a second camera body to backup an X-T2 or X-Pro2. The learning curve will be extraordinarily small and the images will look just like what your other camera produces. If I was in the market for a second camera body to go along with another Fujifilm camera, this is one I would look very closely at. Between the X-T20 and X-E3, you have two really great options that won’t break the bank.

The X-T20 is a great camera for the hobbyist photographer, or someone who thinks that they might become a hobbyist photographer. There are plenty of tools to help you improve your photography yet some great auto-features that will allow you to capture nice pictures even when you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s a good camera to learn on. If I was looking for my first interchangeable-lens camera, I think this is an excellent choice but I would also take a look at the X-T100, which might be a slightly better option because it is more designed for beginners. If this wasn’t my first interchangeable-lens camera, but I was upgrading from an older camera, I would definitely recommend it. The X-T20 is a great value as it really does delivers a lot for the price!

If you are looking for a camera that is great for both still photography and video, the X-T20 is an excellent option because it’s good at both, which is the reason I chose it for my wife. It creates beautiful exposures, and the different film simulations are great for those who prefer JPEG over RAW. The 4K video quality is quite good, and all of the different film simulations can be applied to video. If you are primarily a videographer you might want to consider the X-H1 or X-T3 instead, which are Fujifilm’s two best cameras for video, but if you are interested in a budget-friendly camera that is capable of high-quality video recording, the X-T20 is a fine choice.

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The Fujifilm X-T20 seems like an all-around good camera for everyday use. It’s small and lightweight enough to carry around all day without feeling cumbersome. It’s quick. It functions very well. It captures very nice still photographs and video. It does everything well! It’s the jack-of-all-trades camera. It’s a camera that you could recommend to anyone and feel good about it. It’s simple enough for inexperienced photographers and advanced enough for professional use. I think anyone could buy this camera and be happy with it.

The X-T20 does have some minor shortcomings, and that’s why it has an MSRP of only $900 for the body. It can be found for less on sale ($700 at Amazon as of this writing), which is a heck-of-a-deal for what you get! It doesn’t feel like it’s a camera that should be at that price point when you are using it. It’s a quality camera that is versatile yet affordable. There are better cameras, such as the X-T2, X-T3, X-H1 and X-Pro2, but they also cost more, and they’re not significantly better, just slightly better in a couple of ways.

My wife loves her X-T20! She uses it for still photography and video. She’s still learning (aren’t we all?), but I can see that her photography has improved quite noticeably in the five months that she has had the camera. It turned out to be a great decision to buy this particular camera for her. I think that she will use her X-T20 for several years to come.

Below you’ll find 10 photographs captured by my wife, Amanda, and I using her Fujifilm X-T20. I think that her four pictures included here are quite nice!

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Counters – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Amanda

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Lone Hiker – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Amanda

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Iced Iced Coffee – Waco, TX – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Amanda

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Jonathan’s Smile – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

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Fog On The Ridge – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

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November Rain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

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Mueller Hike – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Amanda

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Last Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

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Autumn Morning Sunlight – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

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Fallen – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – by Ritchie

RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

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Canyon Pinion – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I read something yesterday that bothered me. A really talented photographer, who has a blog that I like to read sometimes, posted an article stating that the number one thing you can do to improve your landscape photography is to shoot RAW. His argument was, essentially, that post-processing is a necessary aspect of photography, so you might as well fully embrace it and start with a RAW file. I get that if you plan to significantly manipulate your photographs you should probably use RAW because a JPEG is limited in how far you can take it before it begins to degrade. I disagree that post-processing is always or even usually needed, and I don’t think anyone should feel like they must fully embrace it. Edit if you want, or save yourself a bunch of time and strive to get the look that you are after using the options found in your camera. Most of the time it’s possible to get the look that you want straight out of camera, no editing necessary.

Fujifilm cameras are especially great at JPEG processing. Using the different film simulations, which can be significantly customized, and the dynamic range options, it’s possible to get polished images straight out of camera that resemble edited RAW photographs. In fact, while I do some light post-processing occasionally, most of the time I do not edit my photographs whatsoever. I don’t need to! Fujifilm cameras save me so much time because they can produce really nice pictures that don’t require editing, such as the two in this article.

In the early days of digital photography, cameras had a narrow dynamic range, were not particularly good at anything above base ISO, were spotty at white balance, and weren’t programmed to make JPEGs any better than mediocre (at best), so RAW was indeed necessary. Even just 10 years ago camera-made JPEGs weren’t especially great, although on most camera brands they had improved significantly. There was a time when the “you must shoot RAW” argument was valid. It’s not 1998 or 2008 anymore, and almost all cameras are capable of making nice JPEGs. Some cameras are better than others, and that’s why I shoot Fujifilm, but almost any camera make and model manufactured over the last five or so years can make a good JPEG if you take the time to program it to your liking.

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Storm Over San Luis Valley – Alamosa, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

I’d much rather spend an extra moment setting the camera to what I want before capturing the image than sitting at a computer later fiddling with a RAW file. I’d rather let the camera do the work for me in the field so that I don’t have to at home. My photography doesn’t suffer for it. You wouldn’t know that my photographs are camera-made JPEGs if I didn’t tell you. I don’t know about you, but I already spend too much time sitting at a computer, so the more I can reduce that the better off I am.

Shooting RAW doesn’t make anyone a better photographer. Use RAW if you want, but it’s just a tool to achieve the results that you’re after, just as the JPEG processor in your camera is a tool to achieve desired results. Use the tool that works best for you. Don’t think that you must shoot RAW because someone doesn’t understand how to get good results without it. If the person who wrote the article took the time to set up their camera in the field, I’m sure that they could create the images they want without the need for Lightroom or Photoshop. It’s fine that the person didn’t, but I think it’s unfair to suggest that RAW is necessary for “better” photography. It’s untrue that you must embrace post-processing to create great photographs, because which format you choose has no bearing on your talent.

Cameras I Crave – Or, Camera Envy

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There have been so many new cameras announced just in the last few days that it’s hard to keep up with it all. Widen the dates to include the last few weeks and the list grows much larger. Some of these cameras will definitely induce drool. It’s hard to listen to all the amazing features and raving reviews and not want to empty out the bank account to get one. It’s also hard not to join in on the discussion.

The camera that I really, really want to get so badly is the GFX-50R, which is the newly announced medium-format rangefinder-style camera by Fujifilm. It also happens to be the cheapest digital medium-format camera ever, coming in at “only” $4,500 for the body. If it was on sale for 50% off I might be able to afford it, but as it stands now it is well outside the reach of my budget. I’ve wanted to get into medium-format for nearly 20 years (I have dabbled in it some), and I feel like this camera almost puts it in reach, almost being the key word. It’s hard not to be envious of those who are putting in their pre-orders right now.

Fujifilm also announced that it is developing a 102-megapixel medium-format camera to be released next year that will cost somewhere near $10,000. It wasn’t all that long ago that $10,000 was the price of a budget medium-format digital camera, and the “serious” medium-format cameras had a price-tag that was much higher. This upcoming Fujifilm camera seems like the complete package, and for what it purports to be it will be a great bargain for those who can afford it.

There has been a lot of criticism directed towards Fujifilm for skipping the full-frame market. They have APS-C cameras and medium-format cameras, but nothing in the middle. To me, though, this is brilliant. First, beginning with the X-Trans III generation, Fujifilm APS-C cameras deliver image quality that is on par with current lower-tier full-frame, and on par with higher-tier full frame that’s one model-year old or perhaps two at most. In other words, outside of shallow depth-of-field, you are already getting full-frame quality out of your Fujifilm camera. I think that a full-frame Fujifilm camera wouldn’t feel like a huge upgrade over their APS-C offerings, especially compared to the X-T3. Second, they are putting themselves into a market that doesn’t have a lot of competition and has the potential to grow significantly if fostered correctly. By making medium-format cameras that are smaller, more affordable and more feature-rich, they are opening it up to those who would otherwise buy a higher-end full-frame camera. Besides, the ceiling for medium-format is much higher than the ceiling for full-frame, and I think the current full-frame cameras are approaching that ceiling.

Interestingly enough, Leica is delving into the medium-format market. There are certain people who will spend gobs of cash for something just because it has the Leica name on it. There is no doubt in my mind that the upcoming Fujifilm camera will be better in every way and will cost half as much, but those who will purchase the Leica would probably never buy a Fujifilm anyway. Good for Leica, though. Maybe there is a larger market for medium-format than many people realize.

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One of the spoils that the Russians received for helping to defeat Germany in World War II was the blueprints to Leica and Zeiss products. Unbeknownst to much of the world for many decades, Leica knockoffs were being produced in mass in the Soviet Union. One brand of Leica clones was Zenit, which also used the name Zorky. I have at home a Zenit-E 35mm SLR with a Helios 44-2 lens attached to it. Currently the Zenit camera brand is being revived, and (appropriately) it is using a Leica design. The camera will be a slightly modified Leica M Typ 240, which is a six-year-old full-frame camera that costs roughly $6,000 for the body. Supposedly the new Zenit camera will cost less, but my guess is that it will still be too expensive. I think it would have been more fun if the camera came with an M42 screw mount, but I suppose that one can always use adapters. I find this to be a fascinating story, and I wish Zenit luck, as they’ll most certainly need it.

Another interesting upcoming camera that was announced is a full-frame Sigma Foveon. I absolutely love and completely hate Foveon. With the right conditions and some post-processing work, Sigma cameras are able to produce breathtaking image quality that exceeds what most other cameras are capable of. But there are some serious challenges that make using Foveon cameras a frustrating experience. I would love to own one again for occasional use, and, in fact, I attempted to do just that not long ago but it didn’t work out. I’m sure I’ll never own this upcoming release, but it rekindles the desire to have a Sigma camera.

Zeiss is making their camera debut with a full-frame fixed-lens camera. I like this one a lot, but I’m sure it will be pricey. My Fujifilm X100F does a fine job, so I certainly don’t need it. What’s unique about the upcoming Zeiss camera is that it comes with Lightroom software built-in plus a ton of internal storage so you don’t need SD cards. I think it’s a great concept and I appreciate the minimalist design, but it will most certainly exceed my budget by a good margin. I wish, instead of Lightroom, that it had Alien Skin Exposure software included.

Panasonic is also soon entering the full-frame market. I think if they really focus on making an exceptional video camera, perhaps there might be enough of a shtick there for Panasonic to be successful. Otherwise people are going to buy Sony or Canon or Nikon instead because those names are more recognized and established in that highly saturated market. Personally, I think Panasonic should have made an APS-C camera with a Micro Four Thirds mount instead of going full-frame. I know that some M43 lenses would be compatible and some would not, so perhaps they would introduce a couple of new lenses that would be compatible. This way they are still promoting their system while also offering something with more capabilities. The move into full-frame will either prove to be brilliant for Panasonic or the beginning of the end.

Speaking of Canon and Nikon, the big news that everyone seems to be talking about are the new mirrorless cameras by these two companies. Honestly, it’s about time that they saw the writing on the wall for the traditional DSLR and got serious about mirrorless. Time will tell if it’s too little too late or if this will solve declining camera sales. I wonder how long before Pentax follows suit, or do they plan to ride the DSLR to the bitter end?

There’s one more camera that was announced: the Ricoh GR III. It sounds like it will be exactly the same as the GR II except with a 24-megapixel sensor. I’m sure it will be perceived as a more serious, higher-end camera than the Fujifilm XF10, but the XF10 shouldn’t be overlooked as it offers a lot for the price. I’m curious how these two cameras will compete head-to-head, and I’m sure we will hear all about it in the coming months.

With so many different drool inducing cameras coming out, it’s easy to get camera envy and want them all. It’s hard to be content with gear that’s a couple of years old. It’s difficult to not be jealous of what others have. Just remember that the cameras you currently own are more than capable of capturing great pictures. Don’t get caught up in the trap of always having the best or most recent of anything. It’s always more about the person using the camera than the camera itself. Use what you have to the best of your abilities, and you’ll surprise yourself with the images that you’ll create.

Review: Fujifilm XF10 – The Best Camera


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The Fujifilm XF10 is the best camera. I’ll explain why this is so in a few minutes. For now, just know I truly mean that bold statement.

A few weeks ago Fujifilm released an ultra-compact, fixed-lens, fixed-focal-length, wide-angle, low-budget, APS-C sensor camera. The XF10 is a brand-new camera, but it borrows much of its design and features from other Fujifilm cameras, as well as a non-Fujifilm camera. There are a lot of similarities between the XF10 and the X70, including the same exact 28mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens. The X70 was essentially a smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more wide-angle X100T. While the XF10 is noticeably influenced from the design heritage of Fujifilm’s rangefinder-style fixed-lens cameras, there’s a touch of the X-E3 and X-T100 in it, as well. Oh, and Fujifilm even took a little from the Ricoh GR series.

I don’t want to go all that deep into the stat sheet of this camera. You can readily find that information online. I’ll talk about what I feel is important and perhaps what I believe others want to know. I will do my best to keep this review from reading like all the rest, which, by the way, brings up a point that I want to clarify right from the start. I paid for this camera myself. Fujifilm did not give or loan me an XF10. You can rest assured that this review is strictly my own opinion and not influenced by a corporate gift. If someone did offer me a camera I would not turn it down because, well, I like free stuff as much as the next guy, but that has never happened and probably never will.

The elephant in the room is that the XF10 uses a 24-megapixel sensor with a Bayer color filter array and not an X-Trans array. It’s the same sensor that’s found in the Fujifilm X-A5 and X-T100. Also, the processor is not the same one found in X-Trans III cameras, but a generic one that seems related to the processor found in X-Trans II cameras. What this means is that the XF10 feels more like an X-Trans II camera, but with subtly inferior color rendition. It does have more resolution and slightly better high-ISO performance than X-Trans II, but overall it’s a lot closer to X-Trans II than X-Trans III and not exactly like either.

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One thing that’s missing on the XF10 is the Acros Film Simulation, which, in my opinion, is the very best in-camera JPEG option on any digital camera ever. It’s a shame that it’s not on this camera, but it’s omission is understandable. There are also no faux film grain options. Adjustments max out at plus or minus two instead of four like what’s found on X-Trans III cameras. For the JPEG shooter, the XF10 will not quite produce the wonderful analog-like photographs that one can achieve with an X-Trans III camera, but that doesn’t mean the images don’t look good because they do.

All of the common film simulations, such as Classic Chrome, Velvia, Astia, Provia, etc., are found on the XF10. The odd thing is that you can only save one custom setting. On any Fujifilm camera that I’ve owned before, there are nine custom presets that one can create and save for quick recall, but not so on the XF10. I was extremely disappointed by this at first, because I have tons of great film simulation recipes that I like to use (none of which are directly compatible with the XF10), but after awhile this setup grew on me. I found freedom in the limitation, and for the XF10 it’s actually great because it plays into the camera’s philosophy.

The XF10 has a minimalist design. There’s no hotshoe. There are no threads on the lens. The rear screen doesn’t tilt or swivel. There are fewer buttons, knobs and wheels than one would find on other Fujifilm cameras. It’s like Fujifilm took a look at their cameras, such as the X100F and X-T20, and asked, “What’s unnecessary?” What is left is a camera that has just what you need, nothing more, nothing less. There are exactly the right amount of controls for everything, thanks in part to the touch options on the rear screen. The gesture touch controls are a nice addition, although it’s very particular and one must do it just right for it to work well, which for me took some practice. If there is one complaint about the camera’s design, it’s the darn PASM dial, which I don’t care much for. I would appreciate dedicated controls for aperture, shutter and ISO like on my X100F and X-Pro2, but the XF10 is designed for a different group of photographers.

Fujifilm tends to have a certain group in mind when they design a camera. That’s why they have so many different models that are similar to each other. The differences between the X-T100, X-T20, X-T2, X-H1 and now the X-T3 aren’t huge, yet each is clearly intended for a different faction. The X-A5, X-E3 and X-Pro2 are quite similar not only to each other but also the previous list, yet they are meant for different groups. The X100F and XF10 could be grouped together, but the XF10 wasn’t designed for and is not marketed towards the same group that purchased the X100F. That doesn’t mean those who own the X100F shouldn’t buy it or won’t appreciate it. It simply helps us to understand why the designers made the choices that they did.

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What I have come to appreciate about the XF10 is the simplicity of it. I’m thinking less about camera settings and more about the image itself. The camera becomes less important. It fades away at the end of my hand. That’s not necessarily what Fujifilm intended. What they were attempting was simplicity for the inexperienced photographer. They wanted something that a novice could pick up and use without trouble, something that wouldn’t seem overwhelming to the beginner. They achieved that, but in the process made a camera that’s fantastic for the experienced user to just shoot with. That should be the camera’s slogan: Just shoot it. Perhaps Nike wouldn’t care for that, so I digress.

While I’m sure that the XF10 has a lot of plastic in it, the camera feels solid and sturdy, like it could take a beating and still function just fine (I have no plans to test this). It doesn’t look or feel cheap. It seems higher-end than the price would suggest. However, something I’ve noticed in the short time that I’ve owned the camera is the paint on a couple of the corners is already starting to wear. I’m sure that this is from shoving the camera into pockets, but it seems much too quick for the paint to be rubbing off. That’s really too bad.

Like the X100 series, the XF10 has a leaf shutter and fantastic built-in fill-flash. The camera seems to balance the exposure and flash perfectly every time, which is just fantastic! This is something that Fujifilm does better than anybody. A side effect of the leaf shutter is that it is nearly silent, making this camera particularly great for street photography. Just be sure to turn off all the artificial noises that the camera is programmed to make.

There’s a feature on the XF10 that should be on every single camera manufactured today. It’s called Snapshot, which is a zone focus system where the focus and aperture are at predetermined settings. There are two options: five meters, which utilizes f/5.6, and two meters, which uses f/8. Both of these settings will give you a large depth-of-field where much of the scene will be in focus. I wish that there was a one meter option using f/11, but there’s not. What’s great about Snapshot is it makes street photography or even pictures of the kids as they play extraordinarily easy and quick because focus and aperture are already taken care of by the camera ahead of time. As quick as auto-focus systems are becoming, there’s still nothing faster than focus that’s been preset. I love it! If Snapshot sounds familiar, it’s because the Ricoh GR series has a nearly identical feature.

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While Snapshot is quick, the XF10 as a whole is not particularly fast. Auto-focus, startup times and even frames-per-second aren’t bad, which is what one usually thinks of when it comes to camera quickness. It’s the general responsiveness to adjustments that’s noticeably slow. My fingers can fly through the menus and buttons faster than the camera can keep up. The camera can be painfully slow if it’s writing to the SD card, as it seems to have a hard time doing that and other functions simultaneously. I think that shoving this camera into such a small body required some compromises (maybe more than “some”), and the speed of the processor is certainly one of the trade-offs.

The camera is small and lightweight, noticeably smaller and lighter than the X100F. It fits into a pocket without trouble. The X100F also fits into a pocket, but more so in the winter when pockets are larger and less so in the summer when pockets are smaller. What makes the XF10 the best camera is that it fits into your pocket all of the time. It’s easy to carry around with you wherever you go. It’s never in the way. It’s just there in your pocket when you need it. As Chase Jarvis coined, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” This camera is great because it’s always with you.

Image quality on the XF10 is quite good. The lens has noticeably less distortion than the one on the X100F despite being more wide angle. There’s a little vignetting and corner softness when wide open, but stopping down fixes that. Bokeh is rather pleasant, which is not typically all that important on a 28mm lens, but with the close focus distance of about 4″ it’s possible to get some nice out-of-focus backgrounds and foregrounds. The camera controls lens flare only moderately well, but I kind of like the way it renders it, so this could be positive or negative to you, depending on if you like it or not. There’s not very much negative to mention about the images that this camera produces. If you’ve ever used an X-Trans II camera, that’s pretty darn close to what you can expect from this little camera.

I’m not a video guy, but 4K at 15 frames-per-second isn’t anything to get excited over, and that’s the best this camera can do. I suppose it’s fine if there’s not much movement in the scene and you are using a tripod. The camera can do 1080p at 60 frames-per-second, which is awesome for casual family movies. I think, as far as video goes, the best feature on the XF10 is 4K time lapse at 30 frames-per-second. That’s actually useful if you enjoy making time lapse videos.

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Is the XF10 an upgrade over the X70? In some ways it is, in some ways it’s essentially the same camera, and in some ways it’s a downgrade. If you already own an X70 then you are probably better off keeping what you already have. If you’ve been considering an X70, the XF10 is a good alternative, but you may want to consider the differences between the models before choosing one over the other. If you’ve been thinking about a Ricoh GR II, the XF10 is a similar camera with similar features, but there are pluses and minuses to both that should be considered. As with any camera, one must look at what’s important to himself or herself and judge if the camera will meet those needs or not.

The XF10 comes in two colors: black and champagne-gold with faux brown leather, which is hideous an interesting choice that you’ll either love or hate. I chose black for myself. You can’t go wrong with black. The XF10 has an MSRP of $500 (at Amazon here), which is a good value for what you get. In fact, it’s the cheapest compact camera with an APS-C sensor on the market right now. I had a coupon so I was able to snag my copy for only $425.

The conclusion to this review is that Fujifilm has a new camera that’s smartly designed, pocket-sized, produces quality pictures, and doesn’t cost very much at all. One could start a list of all the different features not included, and it would be easy to judge this camera based on that list, but the experience of the XF10 isn’t about what’s there, it’s about the simplicity of capturing an image. It’s about having an uncomplicated tool that’s always with you and is never in the way to capture quality pictures of the fleeting moments that often don’t get photographed. The best camera is the one that’s with you in the moment that you need one. The XF10 is the best camera because it will be there in that moment eagerly waiting to be used.

Example photographs, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs (with the exception of some minor cropping) captured using the Fujifilm XF10:

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Terminal Windows – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Up & Away – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Airport Road – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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I Spy Exxon – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Only One Way To Go – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Chevy Blue – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Flag On A Pole – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Artificial Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Green & Yellow – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Green Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Leaf In The Forest – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Fall Is In The Trees – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Sunlight Through The Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Rays Between The Trees – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Trail Kids – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Mother & I – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Pilot & Copilot – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Traveler Check In – SLC, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Shy Horse – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Forest Leaf Monochrome – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Light Patch On The Water – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Provo River Marsh – Utah Lake SP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Hat Abstract – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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Curved Stairwell – Layton, UT – Fujifilm XF10

See also: My Fujifilm XF10 Film Simulation Recipes

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Distressing A Camera – Or, Making The Fujifilm X-E1 Sexy Again – Or, Am I Nuts?!

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Distressed Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

A couple of months ago I ran across a message board post about a guy who distressed his Fujifilm X70 to make it look old. When I first saw it I thought that it looked cool, but you’d have to have a few screws loose to do that to your new camera. As the days went on I couldn’t get what this guy did to his X70 out of my mind. I was fascinated by the idea of distressing a modern camera to make it look old and worn.

One day, about a month after I had initially seen the distressed X70, I was photographing my wife as she was distressing some old dining chairs. My wife takes unwanted furniture and gives them new life, making them look “shabby-chic” or whatever the current term is for making something look old and worn but still really cool and interesting (she calls it “reloving”). She’s very good at it, and she gets a lot of compliments. I told her about the distressed X70 and showed her the pictures. She thought that it looked neat but it takes some guts to do that to a nice, new camera.

I began to contemplate how to do something like this myself, even as I contemplated my own sanity. They say that it’s a fine line between genius and crazy. Is this something that I should even try? After much back-and-forth in my mind I decided that this was indeed something that I was going to do it. I don’t distress furniture like my wife does (although I have helped her on occasion), but I have done some scale modelling and “weathered” things to make them appear old and well used. So I started to research. Is this a unique concept? Have others done it? How did they do it? What are some reasons why someone might do this?

I discovered that two other photographers did something similar to their X-Pro1 cameras. They took it a few steps further and I thought that the end result wasn’t as good as the X70. I also found out that Fujifilm distressed an X-Pro2 to simulate how it would look after years of heavy use, and they displayed it in Japan. Interestingly enough, the distressing treatment that was given to the X-Pro2 was similar to that given to the X70, so, not surprising, the results were strikingly similar.

Something else that I came across was a limited edition Leica M-P that was designed with the assistance of Lenny Kravitz. It’s a film camera that Leica introduced in 2003. The Lenny Kravitz model is made to look worn as if it had been heavily used for decades. Similarly, Pentax made a version of the MX-1 that was also designed to look old and worn, but it never went into production.

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“Vintage” Fujifilm X-E1

There are collectors who will pay top dollar for certain models of vintage Leica cameras that are worn but functional. I discovered that sometimes these cameras are worth more beat up than in near-mint condition, and the more worn-looking the better.

Some interior decorators will dig through flea markets, estate sales and antique stores for old film cameras that appear well-used and worn. These cameras look interesting displayed on shelves and such. I found a couple of people who claim, if they can’t find a camera that looks worn enough, that they will add some distressing to make the cameras more visually interesting.

Something else that I discovered is that people will hide the fact that they have a nice camera when they travel, so that they might be less targeted by thieves. Typically this involves taping up the camera body with black tape to hide the make and model and make the camera seem less nice. They don’t want to appear to be carrying something worth thousands of dollars because it could draw the attention of crooks looking to make a quick dollar.

With all my research done, I knew what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and how to accomplish it. My intentions were to buy a used Fujifilm X-E1, which has the right “vintage rangefinder” look, and can be found for cheap yet is capable of excellent image quality, attach my Meike 35mm lens to it, and distress it to make look old and worn.

One reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it looks neat. Displayed on a shelf, around my neck or as the subject of photographs, the camera looks very interesting. Someone told me, as I was doing some street photography, that they thought I had a 1960’s rangefinder. Another person said, “I bet that camera has some stories to tell!” The distressed X-E1 simply looks cool. It has much more character than any shiny new DSLR.

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Distressed Fujifilm 

Another reason is that the camera appears less valuable to potential thieves. I feel like I’m less of a target. There have been times when walking the streets with my X-Pro2 or X100F that I feel like I’m being watched and even followed. Maybe I’m paranoid, as I’m not going into rough neighborhoods. But I have had my gear stolen before, in a high-end district of Scottsdale, Arizona, so perhaps I’m a little more suspicious and cautious than the average Joe. With the distressed X-E1, I feel like my camera is less attractive to somebody looking for something valuable to steal. And even if someone does take it, I didn’t pay a whole lot for it, and so it’s not as big of a deal than if someone took off with something I paid over a grand for.

A final reason why I would distress an X-E1 is that it was fun to do. As I mentioned before, I’ve done some scale modelling in the past. I found the process of distressing the camera to be similarly enjoyable. It was easy enough to do. I used fine-grit sandpaper to rough it up, using a heavier hand on the corners, edges and anywhere that someone might handle the camera more, such as knobs and where fingers would sit when holding it. I purchased a vintage strap and used rust-colored paint with a dry-brush technique to make it appear rusty (more rusty, actually, as it already had some natural rust).

The results are pretty convincing, I believe. This X-E1 looks like an old camera that has seen heavy use, and not something that’s fairly new. I wouldn’t have done this to a camera in mint condition. The one that I purchased had some obvious wear already, I just added some extra “wear” to what was naturally there. The Meike 35mm lens, which also looks like it came out of the 1960’s, received some distressing, as well, so that it matches the camera. I really love the way the camera and lens look together, but, perhaps more importantly, I love the images that they create together.

Some people might not appreciate what I did to this camera. I truly understand that it’s not for everyone. Some people might even say that it is inherently dishonest, which it is, but so are most people’s photographs. I’d rather create honest pictures with a dishonest camera than create dishonest pictures with an honest camera. I’m sure that this whole article is a bit polarizing, but when it comes down to it, it’s my camera and I can do whatever I want to it, and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. Still, I hope that some of you think that it turned out alright. I still haven’t completely decided which side of the genius/insanity line it falls on.

Below are some photographs of my distressed Fujifilm X-E1:

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“Vintage” Modern Camera

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Distressed Camera

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Distressed Camera Knobs

Below are some photographs that I’ve captured with my X-E1 and Meike 35mm lens:

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Blue Bird – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Suburban Evening – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Urban Nature – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Open Door – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Elevated Walkway – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Chill – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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If It Fits – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Waiting At The Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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Bus Stop – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

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35mm Film – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

Click here to see more photographs.

Digital Is Disposable

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Fujifilm X-E1 & Meike 35mm

Digital cameras are disposable.

Camera manufacturers introduce the replacement models, the next generation, about every two years on average. This isn’t always true–the X100T came out just one year after the X100S while the X-Pro2 came out four years after the X-Pro1–but, generally speaking, it’s true. Your new camera will be “last year’s model” soon enough.

It’s no surprise that photographers, on average, upgrade roughly every two years, as well. When that new model comes out, it’s very tempting to buy it. The new model is better in this way and that way–faster, more resolution, etc.–you know the song and dance. You might still keep your current camera as a “backup body” once the new one arrives in the mail, and it will mostly collect dust.

There are plenty of photographers who don’t buy new. They’ll wait awhile until they can get a good deal on a gently used camera. But it’s still the same story of “upgrading” every other year or so. They’re just a model behind what’s current.

There are some who keep their cameras for many years. There are plenty of photographers who happily use their five-year-old camera. A much smaller number happily use their ten-year-old camera. Almost nobody happily uses their fifteen-year-old camera, because the cheapest interchangeable-lens cameras today are more advanced and capable of better image quality than the best “pro” cameras of 2003. Digital technology changes quickly, and advancements have come at breakneck speed.

We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Digital technology is still advancing quickly and the cameras released in 2017 are better in every way to their counterparts released in 2012. But how much better do they need to be? If a camera already has more resolution than what most need, what does even more resolution do? If a camera is already quick enough for most photographers, how does a faster camera help? If a camera already has amazing high-ISO performance, do you really need a stop more? Yes, there are people who need more, but that’s a small percentage. Most photographers already had everything that they needed in cameras from years past, and all the advancements since then have just been overkill. Cameras are becoming better all the time, but they were already more than good enough before.

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Barn By The Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

I’m not suggesting that camera manufacturers should stop pushing forward. What I am suggesting is that this habit of upgrading to the latest camera model every couple of years is unnecessary. If you want to buy a new camera, go ahead and do it, I’m not trying to stop you. But I do want to make aware to the photographic community that many very good and highly capable cameras are being disposed simply because they’re several years old. I’m telling myself this just as much as I’m telling others, because I’ve been caught up in this routine just as much as the next guy.

My first “real” camera, a Canon AE-1, was over 20-years-old when I bought it. I used it for several years, and even at 25 it was still going strong. I sold it, and that’s one of my photographic regrets, because, even though it is around 40-years-old now, I’m sure someone out there is still capturing wonderful pictures with it. I have several film cameras on my shelf that I occasionally dust off, a couple of which are over 50-years-old, that still function properly and are still capable of capturing excellent pictures.

The idea of someone using a 50-year-old digital camera for anything remotely serious is laughable, and not just because a 50-year-old digital camera doesn’t exist, but because of the poor image quality and usability of the early models. Someday, though, the cameras manufactured today will be 50-years-old, and I can see some of them, if they’re still working, being used by photographers who want that “retro digital” feel. I don’t think too many cameras made before 2010 will ever be used at age 50 or even when they’re 20-year-old. A few of the higher-end models, perhaps, but by-and-large the technology just wasn’t there yet. However, the ones being made today, and even five to eight years ago, have advanced enough that they could still be used to capture quality photographs well into the future.

The Fujifilm X-E1 is not as good as the X-E3, but it is more than good enough for creating wonderful photographs. It is five-years-old, almost six, but it is still an excellent camera. You can find them for under $300 pretty easily because people have moved on. The X-E2 replaced it, and then the X-E2S came out a couple years later, and now the X-E3 is approaching the one year mark and there’s already talk about an X-E4. In the realm of digital cameras it might as well be 50-years-old because it is three and soon-to-be four models old. It’s archaic. It’s a has-been. It’s disposable.

I recently picked up an old X-E1 because they’re so cheap. I liked the one that I used to own, and I wish that I had kept it. I sold it to help fund the purchase of my X100F, which is another camera that I love. The X-E1, or “Sexy One” as it was nicknamed back in 2012, is still an excellent little camera, and for the price that it currently goes for, why wouldn’t you want one? It’s great for travel because of its size and weight, and if it gets stolen or damaged it’s not a huge deal because it didn’t cost much. It’s not as good as the cameras made in 2018, but it’s more than good enough to capture great pictures for years to come.

Digital cameras are disposable, or, perhaps they used to be. We’re at the point now, and have been for several years, where we can hold onto our cameras longer because they’re more than capable photographic tools. The latest and greatest cameras are wonderful, but, really, the advancements are mostly overkill stacked on top of overkill. Maybe it’s time to be content with what we have, myself included. Maybe it’s time to rediscover these wonderful “vintage” digital cameras, such as the original X100, the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. There was a time not very long ago when people raved over these models and stores had a hard time keeping them in stock. Now they go for a few hundred bucks on eBay.

The Camera Comparison That Almost Happened – Or, I Bought A Broken Sigma DP2 Quattro

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Sigma DP2 Quattro

“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

A few weeks ago I found a used Sigma DP2 Quattro for sale from a large camera store for a ridiculously good price. It claimed that the camera functioned properly and was in good shape, with only some minor signs of wear. I quickly snatched it up!

I was excited to give the camera a try. Several years ago I owned a Sigma DP2 Merrill, and it was simultaneously the best and worst camera I’ve ever used. It was incredibly slow, frustrating and particular, but, in the right conditions, it delivered amazing image quality, better than any camera I’ve ever shot with. Some of the issues that I had with the DP2 Merrill had supposedly been improved with the DP2 Quattro, while also delivering even higher quality images, so I didn’t want to let the opportunity to purchase it pass me by.

Now the Sigma camera isn’t necessarily expensive. It has an MSRP of $1,000 but can pretty easily be found brand-new for $900, and it can be had used for about $700 if you shop around. That’s still a lot of money to drop on a camera considering that I could spend that money on other things, such as feeding my four kids. Like many people, I have a limited budget to spend on camera gear, and so I have to choose what I will purchase wisely. I saw the chance to buy what was supposedly a great condition DP2 Quattro for under $600, so I clicked “add to cart” and figured that if I didn’t like it I could turn around and sell it without much trouble.

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Sigma DP2 Quattro & Fujifilm X100F

I was particularly excited to do a side-by-side comparison with the Fujifilm X100F. I was already planning on how to write the article to post on Fuji X Weekly, even before the package arrived. I thought it would be fun to see how these two very-different-but-kind-of-similar cameras would perform when pitted against each other.

Sadly, when the package arrived, after charging the battery, I discovered that the Sigma DP2 Quattro that I had purchased was a dud. It was broken. The rear screen would flash alternating purple, green and white and nothing else. It would not capture a photograph or recognize the SD card. Besides that, it was not in the condition that had been advertised, and it looked like the previous owner didn’t take good care of it. It was not at all what was advertised on the website.

The camera store offered to fix it or give a refund. I chose refund. I didn’t want their junk. Thankfully it wasn’t a huge hassle, but it was a waste of my time. I’m disappointed that they would be deceitful about the condition of their used item, and it might not have been intentional, but it was deceitful no less. I won’t be buying from them any time soon, if ever. The whole situation is too bad.

The lesson, if there is one, is if something seems like it’s an unbelievable deal, there’s probably a reason for it, and it’s likely that you’ll find yourself disappointed. At least that’s my take on it.