The last two months I didn’t take many pictures but than I once occasion came up. A dog show.
When I was a boy I always wanted to have a dog. But I didn’t get one. I got an aquarium, a turtle, even a bird but no dog. I still have no dog yet but some day I will. Not now though because I travel too much to take care of a dog.
My timing wasn’t the best. My favourite dogs when it comes to photography, the english bulldogs, were not available at the time of my visit. So I focused on the hairy members of the species.
But this blog isn’t about dogs. It’s about traveling, photography and gear. So let’s talk about gear. The first time I visited the dog show I took a Canon 5D, the first affordable full frame DSLR. And because the light is poor in the exhibition halls I shot with the Canon EF 50/1.4 most of the time. Close to wide open at f2 which was a hit and miss experience. White balance was tricky and colours look nasty because of the artificial light. I ended up to transfer them to black and white.
The next time I went there I took my Fuji X Pro-1 with the Fuji XF 35/1.4 R. Regarding noise in low light the X Pro-1 was a better performer than my Canon full frame but AF of the Fuji combo was very slow and hunted occasionally. But when it managed to focus it was spot on.
Fast foward to last weekend. This time I took my Fuji X Pro-2 plus the XF 56/1.2 R. I also brought the 35/1.4 and the 23/2 but only shot with the portrait lens because of two reasons: working distance and background separation. The ability to shoot from some distance has one dramatic advantage. The dogs are still focused on their owners instead of the photographer. And to isolate the subject, the dog, is very important since you have very little control about the background. The only chance to get a less distracting background is to blur it. The first shot in this blog post only works because the only thing in focus is the face of the little dog looking at its owner.
It’s a proud five year old Pomeranian. A male btw the females are smaller. I forgot to take a picture of the 6 month old puppy from the same breeder but it was the softest thing I have ever touched in my live.
But back to gear. How did it feel to shoot this combo? In short: fantastic! The XF 56/1.2 R is not known for fast focusing but on the X Pro-2 it is quick and very reliable. There was no hunting at all. But the best part is the combination of hundreds of AF points spread all over the frame and the focus point joy stick to be able to quickly select them. It’s nothing like a revolution especially when you compare it to a DSLR.
I’m not only talking about the good old Canon 5D that had only one! cross AF point in the middle of the frame. This was the only AF point that worked reliable in less than perfect light. The only option was focus and recompose which is not a good idea if the depth of field is razor thin. Even with modern full frame DSLRs the focus points are mostly cramped in the centre of the frame. With the X Pro-2 there are AF points everywhere and to focus and recompose is a thing of the past. As a consequence every single image is in perfect focus! Again: Every single image! I have lost not one shot because of missed focus.
I’m not telling you the the Fuji X Pro-2 is the perfect action camera. It is not. There are much better option of course. If I would own money as a sport photographer I would have a Nikon D5. But I’m not a sport photographer. I’m just a guy who loves to take pictures. I also love to travel. Because of that I always liked the idea to have a small but capable camera for traveling. In the early days (Sony NEX 5) there were a lot of sacrifices. Not so much in the image quality department but in the handling. Same was true for the Fuji X Pro-1. A camera I loved but also sometimes hated because of its slow operation.
Today you can get a mirrorless camera that handles like a DSLR but still is much smaller and lighter. My Fuji combo is small, quiet and discrete and gives practicably the same results as a full frame DSLR with 70-200/2.8 and even better results when compared with the 24-70/2.8. Of course the f2.8 zooms offer more flexibility but regarding subject isolation the XF 56/1.2 R is even better at comparable focal lengths. Plus I don’t like a press photographer anymore which is something I truly enjoy. I wouldn’t go so far to tell you that I disappear just because I shoot with a smaller and quieter camera but there is a real world difference in between a DSLR with a big fat white 70-200/2.8 lens attached and my little Fuji.
It helps me to get a different kind of shots. Shots that show the relationship between the dogs and their owners. My Fuji doesn’t make me invisible but it’s close.