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Let's talk gear: The Beginnings

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Tech is very much up there among my personal interests. This goes hand-in-hand with being a hobbyist travel and street photographer. Now I have had a number of cameras through the ages, from basic point and shoots to (going way back) disposable film cameras! Photography has seemingly always had a presence in my life and it has always been something I very much enjoyed. Once I began professional employment as a Lighting Designer, I had the means to take my photography to the next level.

My first step in this pursuit was obtaining a DSLR, my first DSLR. After much research and working around the (not so extravagant) budget, I settled on the Nikon D5300 with 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. It was an adequate bit of kit to sink my teeth into and really learn this craft.

From the get-go, I was really getting into it, practising my photography whenever I could. Taking photos in the house of the most mundane objects; and in the garden capturing images of the flowers and whatever nature came my way. It was a nice feeling practicing the fundamentals such as composition and understanding the basic effects of aperture and shutter speed settings. That was it, I was getting deeper into this passion of mine.

Eventually, I reached the point where I wanted a cheeky upgrade. What better way than expanding my lens collection. Through my research, there was some great feedback regarding the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art series lens. It was a prime lens that offered a great learning opportunity to adapt to a fixed focal length. After really digging into reviews and sample photographs, I was sold on it. I purchased the lens and was immensely excited when it arrived. I couldn't wait to mount it to the camera - and wow was it a honking piece of a beauty.

This purchase occurred around the same time where I would be travelling to the Philippines and Japan. The sense of excitement was getting to me. A great scenario to test the mettle of my gear and my progression as a photographer.

The gear certainly didn't disappoint, I was more than satisfied with the results and looking back, it made me hungry for more photographic adventures. The low light performance, auto-focus aquisition and colour rendition were all outstanding. Certainly, for what could be seen as an entry level camera. Albeit, paired with a high quality lens. Nevertheless, I was happy with those purchases and from what I had learnt.

It felt like such a liberating feeling. I had taken that leap of faith with the gear I had selected and was blessed with an opportunity to travel to Japan of all places. Which, to this day, is still my favourite destination that I have travelled to and definitely on my returns list. I was able to amass a collection of photographs and memories I still look back on fondly today.

Over time, I started to feel the method of adjusting the settings in order to capture the images and the DSLR form factor itself, to feel cumbersome. It was reaching the point where I didn't like the feeling of packing it with me to take out. Especially for the overseas travel side of it all, which was something I intended to do more of over time. That is when I began looking at the long term objectives and exploring alternatives regarding my gear.

I was still getting to grips with the terminology and the technology at the time, but I kept hearing more and more about mirrorless cameras. Of the brands that manufactured mirrorless cameras, Fujifilm is the one that stood out to me. From the feedback I was hearing, from ergonomics and ease of use of the camera system to Fujifilm's colour science and product support; then seeing samples of the output of the camera itself, something just clicked (pardon the pun) and it felt like the progressive path to take.

The way shutter speed, aperture and ISO could be adjusted via the dials and rings on the lens just seemed so much more organic for me. The controls were also customizable - I could remap some of the buttons and dials to control certain functions of the camera that suited the way I wanted to control the camera. Not the way the camera wanted me to. This was a game-changer for me in the sense that it seemed a more efficient method to adjust on the fly. The potential for capturing images quicker and the way I wanted that just felt right in the hand was very much apparent.

When I went to the store to get a hands-on experience, it all felt intuitive - it all felt right. Most of what I had read and watched in product reviews during my research was correct. I knew this was the camera for me. I settled on ordering the Fujifilm X-T2 body with the Fujinon 35mm f2 prime lens as this was the focal length I had grown to love.

Referring back to the cumbersome nature of the DSLR form factor, we can see in the photograph above comparing the size of the gear. There is a considerable difference there, albeit the Sigma 35mm lens is a f1.4 aperture but it was a compromise I was willing to make for a package the Fujifilm presented. Ideal for travel and street in my opinion and I have never looked back.

There you have it, the beginnings of the next stage of my camera gear stories and travel adventures were now in place. Tune in next time, where I will go over some projects with the Fujifilm X-T2 and 35mm f2 combination, as well as the continued progression of my camera gear - which I was starting to find could be an oddly addictive yet satisfying "indulgence".

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