In January 2022 I bought a second hand Nikon D1. In March 2002 I’ve joined dpreview. The Nikon D1 is long gone and soon will be dpreview.
When dpreview broke the news that it will be terminated it was truly sad news for me as I truly enjoyed this photography gear forum for many years. I spent way too much time there especially in the early years when the forum provided very valuably information.
Depending on my current camera I spent most of the time in the camera specific forums. I started in the Nikon forum and because I changed cameras almost as often as my underwear I went through Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic (m43), Ricoh and of course Fuji. Sometimes I posted in a couple of forums at the same time.
So this blog post is dedicated to dpreview. For each year I with dpreview I took my favourite picture of the year. Here it is. A time travel from 20 years back when digital photography was in its infancy to today when most of us hardly can remember how it was to shoot film.
First was the Nikon D1 and in the beginning I was into nature photography which meant bird and close up – photography and also some zoo photography. That’s where I went in the winter time or to test new gear. Like the Nikon AF-S 2.8/300 ED that I also bought second hand about one year after the D1. What a lens! I later got the D2H but when the D200 came out I finally entered the world of high resolution photography which back then meant 10 MP.
I also used to have a bunch of lenses beside the 300mm like the 70-200/2.8VR, the 12-24DX and many more but decided to go on a one lens trip to Northern Spain for which I borrowed the Nikon 18-200VR. I didn’t miss anything at all during this vacation so I can understand if someone decides to take nothing but a superzoom on vacation.
In 2007 we were victim of a burglary. It happened during the day and the thieves took almost all my camera gear and my old road bike. Luckily my insurance covered the loss. At that time there was no full frame camera from Nikon (it came out a little later that year) so I tried out and finally bought a Canon 5D. Back than the advantage of a full frame camera was dramatic. Much better high ISO image quality and also better per pixel sharpness. There was no doubt for me that full frame would be the future.
Speaking of no doubt. In late 2010 I bought a Sony NEX5 kit (16mm pancake and 18-55mm) just before our first trip to the USA. That trip changed everything. I fell in love with the USA and I also fell in love with mirrorless. It was so liberating to have a small camera that offered amazing quality. Back then I still bought my Canon 5D/Canon 500D but I covered most of my vacation with the Sony NEX5. Fun fact: at that time the Sony offered higher resolution and better high ISO image quality than my Canon DSLRs. I had no doubt that despite the slow AF and other quirks of the camera: mirrorless will be the future of photography.
So naturally I wanted to buy more lenses from Sony for this amazing camera but when the Zeiss 2.8/24mm came out it was shockingly expensive. For practically the same money I could get a 2/23 leaf shutter lens from Fuji with an amazing camera attached to it: the Fuji X100. On my first day with the camera I visited a dear friend in the museum and took below portrait. From the moment I saw the picture it was clear to me that this little camera practically can do what my big Canon full frame DSLR with the 1.4/35L could do while being small and light, nearly invisible and inaudible or in short: super discreet. The Fuji X100 was a true game changer for me.
SONY NEX-5 (19mm, f/11, 1/200 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM FinePix X100 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/105 sec, ISO200)
SONY DSC-RX100 (10.4mm, f/1.8, 1/100 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro1 (14mm, f/8, 1/30 sec, ISO320)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/8, 1/340 sec, ISO200)
End of 2012 I got a second hand Fuji X-Pro1 and started to travel to Asia for business beginning of 2013. Just before my first trip I got the Fuji XF 14/2.8 R which quickly became my favourite lens and still is today. In 2014 I had an accident with my road bike. I broke a collar bone and right before my vacation to the USA I got a slip disc. Because of my hurt shoulder and back I left my full frame gear at home and took only my Fuji camera. I missed nothing.
But before I finally completely switched to Fuji in 2016 I had one more full frame – vacation with Canon 6D, Sony A7R plus Canon 16-35/4 IS L, Canon 24-70/2.8L and Canon 70-200/2.8 IS L. So a big and heavy DSLR and big and heavy f2.8 zooms. I liked the results but I didn’t enjoy the image taking process. I felt that all the gear was a burden.
After I bought the Fuji X-Pro2 I sold the Canon, the Sony and the lenses. There was no need to shoot full frame anymore. Now there was plenty of resolution and the dynamic range was almost as good as with the Sony A7R and definitely better than on my Canon 6D. For me the Fuji X system was and still is the perfect camera.
From now on I shot the same camera on my business trips to Asia, when on vacation or any time I wanted to take pictures. As a consequence I can operate my X-Pro2 or X-Pro3 in my sleep.
SONY ILCE-7R (24mm, f/8, 1/60 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/6000 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (21.3mm, f/8, 1/950 sec, ISO250)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (181.1mm, f/6.4, 1/160 sec, ISO320)
It took me a long time to find my perfect camera system but I enjoyed the ride. I think I had to go through all those cameras in order to truly appreciate what the Fuji X system offers. I just love how the X-Pro2 or the X-Pro3 handles. For me they are as good as it gets. I love the lens system. The XF 16-55/2.8 WR is simply an excellent no compromise design and my go to lens when on vacation. But the real beauty of Fuji for me lies in the small prime lenses. The XF 14/2.8 R is my favourite lens of all times. That lens plus the XF 23/2 WR and the XF 35/1.4 R are my standard setup when I want to travel light.
I found my perfect system and that’s why I didn’t hang out on dpreview that often anymore. Maybe I was not the only one. I think digital photography has come a long way. 20 years ago every new camera generation brought big improvements in resolution, noise performance, dynamic range or autofocus. Today the steps are much smaller. My X-Pro3 is hardly any different from my X-Pro2 but the X-Pro2 was a giant step from the X-Pro1.
I think that is the main reason why the traffic on dpreview decreased, the other one I think has to do with the progress of smartphones. Most people either switched to smartphones or hang on their cameras for much longer compared to the early days of digital photography. I think that is what ultimately killed dpreview.
I just realised that I haven’t said anything about the pictures yet. The EXIF data is underneath each image so you can see which camera I used to take the shot. Regarding location there is Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Canada, Malaysia, Japan, Austria and of course the USA. The last three images are a result of Covid-19. In 2020 we stayed in Austria and spent a week in the mountains. In 2021 we drove to Croatia so that in case of another Corona outbreak we could quickly return back home. It felt great to finally see the sea again.
The last image was taken in Japan in May 2022. My first trip there after more than 2 years of Corona. I needed an invitation from my Japanese distributor and a special visa for which I had to visit the embassy of Japan in Vienna. It felt so great to be back.
When dpreview announced that the website will shut down I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe that I have joined the website more than 20 years ago. I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed it most of the time. I will miss it and I guess many members feel the same. It is almost like the end of the Truman Show. What can we do? Perhaps to go outside and take some pictures.
Farewell dpreview! I hope that the team will find a way to continue their excellent work on a different platform.