Steven Brokaw Photography

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Traveling With My Fujifilm X20

Is a DSLR always the best option - hmmmmm?

When I go on vacation or any extended travel / business trip I bring a DSLR. Of course that means I bring a lens or two.  If I'm traveling by car I will also bring a tripod in case I want to do some after dark street work. 

Just got back from a short vacation. This was a short trip and I was driving so I brought my Nikon D600 DSLR with an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 & an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 in a sling bag.  AND I also brought my Fujifilm X20 digital advanced mirrorless camera.  I consider the X20 an advanced point & shoot and the little brother to the Fujifilm 100s. 

The nice thing about the X20 is that it has all the features I use in my DSLR, it's a small form factor (not pocket sized but very manageable), shoots in RAW, an optical viewfinder, and an f/1.2-2.8 28mm-112mm (equivalent). It's also very stealthy. 

I went out to a couple of touristy sites and out for a city street shoot before and after dark. Guess what I didn't break out my D600 once. I was able to do everything I wanted with the X20. I hadn't planned to do anything too serious so the bigger file size or advantages of the higher end lenses wasn't needed. I basically wanted to do some more serious point & shots and try some filter effects. Also I didn't want to lug around my camera bag so the X20 was perfecto. 

I took photos of people on the street, my family, countryside, neon signs, inside & in restaurants. I mainly shot in Auto or Aperture Priority mode. I would say 75% was in Auto mode - please don't hate on me. Auto actually worked well for most settings. I did find at night it didn't set the shutter speed correctly all the time. Also at night the auto-focus was sometimes slow. I never have this problem with the D600. 

So bottom-line, if you are a photographer like me there is an advantage to a smaller form factor, high end semi-pocketable camera.  There are MANY choices & manufacturers in this genre from micro 4/3 to APS-C sized sensors or smaller.  Hey, you can even use your iPhone or Android smart phone.  However, for my use the optical viewfinder & the moderate attached zoom lens sold me on the X20.  I’m really happy with the quality.  And maybe I’ll even try it out in studio for a model shoot?

Some thoughts:

  • A camera such as the Fujifilm X20 is NOT a DSLR.  They have different uses, form factors and functionalities.  You need to understand the use of both genres of camera.  Today, I still think my full-frame DSLR is the best camera for studio, and long exposure at night
  • Learn your camera.  Don’t buy a camera like a Fujifilm X20 (or equivalent) unless you understand or are willing to learn about its features.  There are other pure P&S cameras.  So if you don’t need the features don’t waste your money,
  • Understand that you won’t get the same quality of bokeh or shallow DOF,
  • An optical viewfinder is completely different than an electronic viewfinder.  With the Fujifilm X20 you will see the lens in the viewfinder when you zoom out.  It’s more like the old school film viewfinder.  Takes awhile to get used to,
  • If you real stealth switch on the silent mode, and there is NO sound.
  • The X20 has a hotshot and it can be used to fire an electronic trigger (like my Elinchrom EL Skyport)  

So bottom-line, for lots of uses especially if you already have a DSLR a camera such as the Fujifilm X20 is a sweet little camera.

Photos straight out of camera, no processing (note, these photos are simply snapshots at night):

Beale Street in Memphis at night

Beale Street in Memphis at night

Beale Street in Memphis at night

Beale Street in Memphis at night

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