I’ve used a lot of different cameras, so what’s in my camera bag (and why) might well change if you read this a year from now.
In my camera bag I currently have a Fuji X-T2 and a Fuji X100s. The X100s is a fixed-lens camera with a 35mm-equivalent lens. I bought it five years ago while I was deciding what to do for a main camera. I like shooting with it, so recently I bought the X-T2 with the 18-55mm kit lens.
I shot this photo of a shire horse, with the X-T2.
What does 35mm-equivalent mean?
When we all shot film, the film cameras that you and I would shoot used film with individual frames that were 36mm x 24mm.
There were other sizes, both bigger and smaller ones, but most of us shot that size film.
It is the film you could buy at the chemist or the supermarket.
On that size film, the focal length of the lens that most closely mimics what the eye sees, is a 50mm lens.
For that reason, a 50mm lens on a film camera is called a normal lens.
When digital cameras came along, they didn’t need to stick to any particular size for the sensor. However, a few sizes have dominated the market. My X100s camera has an APS-C sensor that measures 23.6 x 15.6 mm. My X-T2 also has that size sensor.
36mm, the size of a film frame, is one-and-a-half time that 23.6mm along the long side. So to get the 35-mm equivalent of the APS-C sensor, multiply by one and a half.
The X100s has a 23mm lens, which is 35mm lens on a film camera (one and a half times 23mm).
35mm is wider than a normal lens, and it wasn’t my natural choice. But I have come to appreciate it for travel because it gives a view that takes in the surroundings more than a 50mm normal lens.
You can see how wide the lens on the X100s is from this photo of a woman shopping in Bhaktapur in Nepal. The shot takes in the prop to the left of the shop. That’s there to prop up the building following the 2015 earthquake.
A Camera To Carry All Day
There is always a trade-off in photography. A camera that can shoot a beautiful landscape and show the detail on every leaf is not going to fit in your pocket. But modern cameras are so good that it’s not difficult to find a camera that is ‘sufficiently good’.
The Fuji X-T2 is an interchangeable lens camera with a good reputation. So after much debating with myself, I bought it.
So now I have two cameras – one to have with me wherever I go and one for more ‘serious’ work. Generally speaking, I keep the X-T2 in my camera bag and keep the X100s in a general use shoulder bag. Or I sling it over my shoulder and carry it by its strap.
I carry a phone, and the computational capability inside smartphones is so good that they can take good photos in good light. I used my iPhone for this photo of a window in the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.
That said, phone cameras are poor when the light is low because the sensor is so small. It just cannot gather enough light to make a good photograph.
So for me, while I carry phone, I still want and use a carry-around camera.
I am thinking about a different one to the X100s, though. Watch this space for updates on that.
Mirrorless versus SLR Cameras
The X-T2 is a mirrorless camera. From my limited experience, the only downside compared to an SLR is the shorter battery life.
If you want a bit of background on what a mirrorless camera is and what an SLR is, SLR means ‘single lens reflex’. The light from the subject comes in directly through the lens and is reflected up into the viewfinder via a series of little mirrors and prisms.
SLRs are called ‘reflex’ cameras because the mirror that directs the light into the viewfinder blocks any light getting to the sensor. When you press the shutter, the mirror flips out of the way. Then it flips back again. That’s the ‘reflex’ movement.
The view on an SLR is ‘optical’. When you look in the viewfinder, you are looking out through the lens.
My Fuji can’t do that because there is no mirror box and the sensor is in the way of light from the lens getting to the viewfinder. So the view in the viewfinder is a digital readout of what the sensor sees. It’s the same idea as looking at the LCD on a point-and-shoot camera or a phone.
It took me a while to get used to a digital viewfinder, but I had an easy introduction to the it. That’s because the X100s has a dual viewfinder. It has an optical viewfinder and a digital EVF (electronic viewfinder). I started by using the optical viewfinder and gradually started to use the EVF.
The downside of an optical viewfinder that is not connected by prisms to the view in the lens is that it causes parallax error.
The viewfinder window is half-an-inch to one side of the camera lens, so you see from a slightly different vantage point compared to the path of the light coming through the lens.
For subjects far away, having the viewpoint half-an-inch to the side of the lens doesn’t make any difference. But for subjects that are close to the camera, you get parallax error.
You can see that for yourself when you hold your finger in front of your eye and then just move your head half an inch to one side. You don’t see the subject from the same point of view. And sometimes it means that what you wanted to include in the frame is excluded, and vice versa.
The optical viewfinder on the X100s has frame lines in the viewfinder connected to the lens focusing mechanism. The frame lines slide across the viewing area to compensate for parallax error. But it’s not perfect.
You don’t get any of these problems with an EVF. You see exactly what will be in the photo. And even more than this, you also see how well exposed the shot will be. If the EVF is too dark or too bright, the photograph will be too.
What I Want From A Camera
What I want from a camera is a big viewfinder, the ability to focus quickly, and the ability to change ISO and exposure compensation quickly.
The X-T2 has a huge viewfinder, which means I can see what I am shooting and what the camera is focusing on.
That’s another big advantage of mirrorless cameras. For the equivalent viewfinder size in SLRs, you have to step up to high-end cameras.
The number of megapixels is secondary to those important features. I have made great photos from cameras with half the pixels that the X-T2 has.
Micro Lenses and Megapixels
The sensor on a digital cameras is covered in an array, a grid of micro-lenses that capture the light coming onto them.
The Fuji X-T2 has 24 megapixels. That means it has 24 million lenses cemented onto a little chip the size of your thumbnail, capturing light that comes into the camera.
What that means is that basically I can shoot more or less anything and if I get exposure and focusing right, the image is good enough to use for anything – for a print, for a magazine, whatever.
My Camera Bag
My camera bag is a Billingham Hadley Small. I chose the black one made of FibreNyte material rather than the canvas version because it wears so well. I have had a couple of Domke bags, and they wear quicker than I have been happy with.
I’ll leave it here for now, and I’ll write another time about ISO, because that’s a big consideration in getting a high-quality image.