Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is episode 225. In today’s episode I wanted to talk about my own photographic journey, what I’ve shot with and why I am making a change to a new system.
I started “playing” around with photography at a very young age, one of my uncle’s gave me a Kodak Instamatic 120 film camera when I was around 5 years old. He took the time to show me how to use it, how to load and change film, how to work what little it had in the way of controls and I started shooting. Now of course at 5 years old many of my images didn’t turn out all that great as I didn’t understand ISO, Shutter Speed or Aperture back then and the camera was more of a point and shoot model.
I played around with several models of the Kodaks and also some of the Polaroid Land camera series as well over the years to see what I liked and didn’t like.
Then of course I moved up to 35mm film cameras, which allowed me more control over the entire photographic process. I was around 12 or 13 years old at this time. I shot with mostly Fujifilm or Canon bodies, but I did also try out Nikon and Pentax as well as some of the older Minolta cameras, but I always gravitated back to either Fujifilm or Canon. I loved Fujifilm because they made fantastic 35mm film stock and their cameras were a lot of fun to shoot with and I loved Canon because their cameras were also fun to shoot with.
I didn’t always shoot for money some of my photography was just for family or myself, but when I started shooting children and family portraits at Kmart back in the 1990s the company I worked for provided the gear and it was a Yashica 35mm and I honestly don’t remember the model but it had a cartridge that loaded the film from the back and held 555 shots per roll. I loved doing portraits at the time and the Yashica we used was a fantastic camera, by this point of course I knew about my exposure triangle and how to make great photos.
After I left that company I went back to shooting with either Fujifilm or Canon and I shot some paid wedding gigs and events for families such as reunions and even some high school reunions. I was never into shooting weddings, too much stress and BS to deal with so I only shot those for family and close friends but they were still paid shoots. I also started moving away from shooting portraits as well. I loved shooting little kids back when I was at Kmart as I have always had the ability to make little kids laugh and smile with goofy faces, silly voices and even little puppet shows, but I didn’t have any interest in shooting older kids or adults.
Next came the world of digital photography and I still stuck with either Fujifilm or Canon but I did also play around a bit with the Sony Mavica cameras as well and I still have one of the old 3.5” floppy disk Sony cameras in my collection of old cameras. At this point I was mostly shooting for just me and what I wanted to shoot so I started out using high end point and shoot cameras and just enjoyed photography as mostly a hobby. I did still have my film camera so I shot paid work off and on with 35mm film cameras.
In 2012 I decided to go back to school for photography and I attended the Art Institute and they had a partnership with B&H Photo in NYC so the camera students got at the time was the Canon T3i, which was a great APS-C or crop body Canon camera with Interchangeable lenses. I started buying EF mount Canon lenses as the EF-S lenses were only for the crop body cameras and I knew I would eventually move onto Canon full frame digital. I made hundred of thousands of great images with my Canon APS-C bodies. I eventually moved on from the T3i to the higher end “Pro-sumer” bodies such as the 50D and later the 70D as well. I did get paid work even with APS-C, I shot for Zoo Atlanta and even got a National Geographic cover with my 50D and the EF 70-300mm IS USM gold band lens.
Once I decided to make the plunge to full frame I started out buying a pair of the 5D classic bodies that were 12 megapixels. These cameras were fantastic and used the same batteries as the 50 and 70D so I had plenty of spare batteries. I was also able to use dual cards although one was SD and the other was Compact Flash, which was of course slower when writing to both cards at once. I stuck with my 5D classic bodies for quite a few years and then eventually bought a 5D II and then a 6D when that first came out. The 5D II allowed us to shoot video for the first time in a single camera as well as stills and the 6D even though it had only one card slot had built in GPS for my abandoned buildings project.
I captured tons of abandoned buildings with the 6D, but I knew I wanted to get more details, more Dynamic Range, so I started thinking bout Medium Format systems.
I had used Mamiya 645 cameras off and on, but I was at the point where I didn’t want to keep dealing with film cameras and film development, so I started looking at digital medium format cameras. Hassleblad makes fantastic cameras, but they are extremely expensive, but they did eventually start releasing Medium Format mirrorless cameras.
Their first model was the X1D-50C and it was nice, I watched reviews on it, but it was $10,000, so it was out of my price range. I looked at the Phase One cameras as well, but they also ran around $10,000 for a used one, so they were out of my range as well.
Then came Fujifilm and their big announcement at Photokina 2016 that they were going to release a new Medium Format Mirrorless called the GFX50S, which featured a new GF mount for lenses. The GFX50S was then put into production in 2017 and went out to market, but it was still kind of expensive at $6,000. Next Fujifilm released the GFX100, but that was also expensive at $10,000, so it was out of my range at the time. All of this changed in 2019 when Fujifilm released the GFX50R, which had a price tag of $4,500. I was floored at that price and it was a beautiful rangefinder style camera as well.
I decided at this point to trade in my Canon DSLR gear and get the GFX50R and by 2018 Canon had announced the EOS R and then the RP, their first mirrorless format cameras and their new RF mount. I had already bought the EOS R and a few RF lenses so I sent my DSLR gear to Adorama for trade for the GFX 50R and the GF 50mm F/3.5 R LM WR. I wanted the GF 23mm as well but it was too much money at the time so I settled for the Laowa 17mm F/4 Zero-D to use for my abandoned buildings project. I reached out to Fujifilm North America and got set up as a media person because I was podcasting by now as well as doing Youtube videos. I got Fujifilm to send me a GF 23mm F/4 R LM WR lens on loan for 2 weeks so I could review it for my Channel and I fell in love with this wide angle lens. I eventually saved up enough money to buy the GF 23mm and I sold my Laowa 17mm.
So, now fast forward to this year and my chronic arm problems started giving me additional problems. I had a work related injury back in 1998 where I broke my right wrist for the tenth time and this time I developed CRPS, which is a nerve disorder where the broken bone heals, but the nerves keep telling your brain that the bone is still broken, so it’s not a fun thing to have. For the last couple of years I have had issues off and on with my elbows as well which from the symptoms seemed to be cubital tunnel. I went to an orthopedic surgeon who in turn sent me for nerve testing, which was not fun, but when I got the results, no cubital tunnel, which was a relief and he told me to start taking 100mg B6 every day. It did help with the symptoms but I was still having arm issues in general. I listen to the Peta Pixel Podcast and the host on that show, Sharky James was a photojournalist for 20+ years using Nikon flagship DSLRs and I had been shooting Canon flagship DSLRs for around the same amount of time and if you know anything about flagship DSLRs and large lenses they are extremely heavy, specially when you are lugging them around all day shooting. I was doing mostly sports photography like NASCAR and Super Bike racing as well. Sharky is the same age I am and listening to his podcast I found out he has the same arms issues I have, which is why he switched to the Fujifilm X Series of cameras.
I thought about all of this and as I said before, I love Fujifilm cameras, but I also knew I would take a beating trading in my Canon gear, but it would also be a pain to try and sell it myself. As everyone knows today there are too many scammers on FB Marketplace, Craig’s List and even eBay. I decided to bite the bullet and trade my gear in, which is what I did this past Saturday. I had found a local camera shop about 40 miles away and struck a deal with them. I managed to get two brand new Fujifilm X-T4’s with lens kits and I also got a brand new Fujifilm X-E4 to use for my paid real estate work. I was also able to get spare batteries for all the bodies as well as some brand new Godox Speedlites. I went on Amazon and ordered a nice Rokinon manual only 12mm F/2 lens for my real estate work. Fujifilm does offer a really nice 10-24mm lens that would be great but I didn’t have the extra money for that lens just yet. So, for the time being I have the XF16-80mm and the XF18-55mm as well. I am eyeballing the XF27mm F/2.8 as well because it’s equal to the 40mm F/2.8 pancake lens that I had in the EF mount which I loved and shot so much with.
Of course once I got my three new bodies home, I charged them up, which is sweet since Fujifilm, like Sony allows you to charge the battery in the camera using a USB-C cable. Once I got the batteries charged up I started setting up my new cameras, so I would be ready for paid real estate work again once the Rokinon gets here. I also need to eventually get battery grips for the X-T4s and even though they will add weight to the overall system I am certain it will still be considerably lighter than my Canon with battery grip and a heavy lens. I also need to eventually get a nice wildlife lens such as the XF100-400mm, or if the price is right I might opt for the newly announced 18-300mm from Tamron in X mount, if it ever actually hits stores.
Once the batteries were ready I started setting up my Back Button Focus and other minor settings here and there so I would have them ready like my GFX 50R. It is nice to have all of my gear from the same maker so everything is uniform. I also love that the Fujifilm cameras have the Fujifilm Film Simulations, which beautifully replicate their 35mm film stock. I also love how Fujifilm uses dials and buttons that make their digital cameras look, work and feel like their older 35mm SLRs. You might think I am silly or nostalgic, but Fujifilm cameras do make shooting a lot of fun and the colors are fantastic as well!
The X-E4 is going to be great for my real estate work as it’s so compact and light that I can shoot with it all day without any arm issues. The X-E4 also sports the same 26MP sensor and CPU as the X-T4 and both also have IBIS, which can be handy as well for keeping your shots steady. Now in addition to the 100-400mm lens I mentioned a bit ago, I also need to get the 10-24mm, the 27mm which would be the same as my old 40mm pancake lens in EF mount. Fujifilm’s 33mm F/1.4 is equal to 50mm in full frame and I am also thinking about the 56mm F/1.2, which is equal to the 85mm portrait lens.
Not all lenses I am looking at are the higher end XF models as I have seen a couple of XC lenses, which from what I read are Fujifilm’s cheaper quality lenses at a lower price point. I thought that Fujifilm was coming out with a Mark two version of the XF27mm F/2.8 but I have not found a newer model on any camera sites yet. I did reach out to Patrick from FujiRumors.com and he suggested I wait till later this year to get the 56mm F/1.2 as their is a Mark two of that model coming at some point.
So that is where my journey is right now, I had to go with a lighter system because of injuries so I switched to Fujifilm. I had considered going with Micro Four Thirds as my friend Levi Sim had suggested, but I played around with a used G9 at the local camera shop and although it seems like a nice system, I just felt that sticking with Fujifilm was the way for me. So, now I have four Fujifilm cameras with the GFX 50R, two X-T4’s and an X-E4 as well. Back to four bodies and I am at five lenses for now with two GF mount and three X mount. I will continue my photo journey for hopefully 2-3 more decades if I am lucky and as I spend more and more time with my new Fujifilm cameras, I will share my thoughts on the show and in the Podcast Facebook Group as well so stay tuned.
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You can find my work @ https://www.liamphotography.net on and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @liamphotoatl. If you like abandoned buildings and history, you can find my project @ http://www.forgottenpiecesofgeorgia.com. and http://www.forgottenpiecesofpennsylvania.com.
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