Have I found the perfect travel compact camera?

Art of Seeing Photographic workshop, Street of Graffitti in Kuching, Sarawak DSCF1174 copy

By Peter Sanders

I began as a professional photographer nearly fifty years ago, cutting my teeth during the 60s photographing the musicians of that era. Now I travel internationally, I carry around a large amount of professional equipment. Basically, two heavy bags of it. But for many years I have longed to have something that I could just hang around my neck, which would take professional pictures but was far lighter than my usual load.

I have bought and tried many smaller cameras, including Sony and Leica cameras, but what let these down was that the processing was nowhere near what I was used to with my professional cameras.

People had mentioned the X100T to me as a possible contender. I’ve been using one now for a few weeks and here’s what I think about it.

Colour

I really like the colour of the images. It really reminds me of what I loved about Fuji film which I used for forty years. Beautiful skin tones, strong reds, blues and greens. Fuji themselves told me the technicians who worked on the film cooperated with them on the software for the camera.

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Sharpness

The sharpness and resolution is very sophisticated for such a small camera.

Size and weight

I love the weight of it, it’s a camera you can wear around your neck and forget it is there. It means you never miss any opportunities presented to you throughout the day.

Image format

I love the fact you can switch easily from a 3×2 regular format to a 16×9 panoramic format and a 1×1 square format.

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Ease of use

It has a lot of really good functions on it, but for me not being very IT savvy, it look a little time to discover them as I didn’t have the full manual with me. Part of its charm is that it is outwardly simple, but very sophisticated.

Fun to use

It’s putting the fun back into taking pictures.

It can be a whole system

I miss taking street reportage which is how I started. But I have already heard of a photographer who did a whole wedding shoot using this small camera, probably by adding a tele and a wide lens conversions that is available – although I haven’t tried this … yet.

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It’s a true travel camera

I tried the camera out during a recent trip to Dubai, Malaysia (to give a presentation at an Arts Festival) and on to Sarawak, Bornea where I held a photographic workshop. This was attended by 20 students from around the world. Based in Kuching which means cat in Malay, we traveled to the Kuba National Park where I got to experience monsoon rain which went through four layers of clothing, literally soaked to the skin in minutes.

I was pretty impressed how the camera dealt with low light. Two hours drive from Kuching, we visited Mongkos Village which is very close to the Indonesian border which is where I did the shot of one of the local villagers.

I was pretty impressed how the camera dealt with low light.
I was pretty impressed how the camera dealt with low light.

Initially I did feel that it was quite expensive. But now having used it for a couple of weeks and discovering what it can do, I think it is modestly placed. One review I read compares it with the Leica Q model which is three times the price. It is equally placed between a point and shoot camera and a more top end DSLR. Its already being endorsed by a lot of professionals calling it their constant companion and I can certainly see why!

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See more of Peter’s work

Websites
http://www.petersanders.com
http://www.artofintegration.co.uk
http://www.inspiralbooks.com

Follow Peter on Facebook

The Kushti Wrestlers

By Danny Fernandez

At some point during 2013 it dawned on me that I hadn’t had an adventure for a number of years. Bored with my job and in the need of a change, I began looking at voluntary positions in India. A year later I boarded a flight to Delhi with high hopes of adventure, new experiences and great photo opportunities. Luckily, all of these wishes were granted.

6 weeks of my time were spent volunteering in a small village called Nagwa, just outside the intense city of Varanasi. My job was to teach young people from the local area how to use cameras. The students of the charity (named ‘Fairmail’) then take photos which are in turn made into greeting cards, and sold throughout the world. The students receive money from sales, which pays for their education/health/housing costs etc.

During my time teaching there, I became good friends with the students. One student had previously mentioned that his brother takes part in Kushti, an ancient tradition of Indian wrestling which still thrives in Varanasi.

He told me that we could go to the the temple where they train to meet and possibly photograph the wrestlers. I was super excited at this prospect as if it happened, it would allow me a glimpse into the mostly unseen world of Kushti wrestling.

We arrived to the temple a little before 7am and were met with some suspicious eyes from the wrestlers (foreigners are not normally allowed into the training grounds, especially those with cameras). My student spoke to the wrestlers while myself and a few other students (each with their cameras) held back. I was nervous and felt out of place, especially as I had brought a small lighting kit with me (which I imagined made the wrestlers think I was shooting for professional/commercial reasons).  After a few minutes one of the wrestlers came over and my student introduced us; he told us that it was ok for us to take photos and I was incredibly relieved. I felt like a National Geographic photographer on his first assignment, with feelings of intimidation and self doubt. Was I ready for this? What if I screwed it up?

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (2)

The training grounds were basic, but very serene. The ring reminded me of a temple, and there was a beautiful tree in the middle of the grounds. The various weights and equipment were made in traditional, and primitive, ways. Examples included solid wooden bats which are swung around your head, and a 50kg circular weight which you wear around your neck.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (9)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (16)

The training began with the wrestlers entering the ring to pray. I couldn’t understand the words, but the feeling transcended language barriers. As with many other moments in Varanasi, there was a momentary sense of peace. These moments always took me by surprise, as Varanasi is the most chaotic place I have ever experienced. It was refreshing to see religion and tradition still deeply rooted in a land that often idealises the West.

My work began slowly, taking a more documentary style approach, allowing the wrestlers to get used to me being there. I kept a distance and began documenting their training and their gym. After a while (and after I put down my camera and began training with the wrestlers), they welcomed me to come closer to photograph them.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (14)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (8)

Despite my initial intimidation, the wrestlers were very friendly, and after they had warmed up to the camera, I felt like they began to show off. At times I had different wrestlers asking me to take photos of them as them attempted heavier weights and more difficult exercises. You could tell that they were proud to be continuing the Kushti tradition, and wanted it to be recorded.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (11)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (6)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography (15)

There are two things that I think helped me in this situation – firstly, I was a volunteer, working with the local youth, so they knew my intentions were pure. Secondly, I had been growing an awesome Indian style moustache that they all found hilarious (this actually helped me out in many situations during my travel!).

The highlight for me was when the wrestling began. Usually witnessing a fight makes me feel uneasy, but when I watched Kushti, I could appreciate the skill and dedication of their art. Perhaps it was the beauty of the surroundings, or the inner peace that seemed to radiate from the wrestlers, but I sensed absolutely no aggression on a personal level between the wrestlers. They seemed like a band of brothers.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (4)

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (10)

Towards the end of the training when I was taking group shots, they insisted that I was included in the photos. The also insisted that I took my top off so that we were all the same. I felt like they had accepted me; somebody who has lead a completely different, and completely privileged life in comparison to theirs, but at that moment when we shirtless, bare footed and stripped of our normal identity, we were equal.

Kushti wrestlers Danny Fernandez Photography landscape (12)

In total I was lucky enough to spend 2 mornings with the wrestlers, and I felt extremely privileged to have seen this beautiful art form in action.

Upon leaving Varanasi, I regrettably didn’t have time to visit the wrestlers to say good bye, but I left my student with prints which they gave to the wrestlers. Apparently they loved them.

ALL IMAGES SHOT ON THE FUJIFILM X100S

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To see more of Danny’s work, please visit his website at www.dannyfernandez.co.uk or follow him on Instagram at @dannyfernandez1984

 

XQ1 – The Photographers compact?

Want a small, powerful camera that has features you actually want to use? The XQ1 might just be what you’re looking for.

Like many of you, I have my main camera (X-E2) that I use day in, day out. I know it like the back of my hand and could use it with my eyes closed – if you get my drift. The problem is, sometimes I just don’t want to carry a bag around – no matter how small it is. I want a pocket sized camera that I can forget about until the need takes me. Here’s the catch though, I don’t want a pocket sized camera that offers no control and is very noisy in low-light. This is where I think the XQ1 really shines, it just seems to tick all those boxes:

  • Pocket-sized
  • Manual control
  • High quality images, even at high ISO.

Being so used to my X-E2, I thought it would be a good challenge to use the little XQ1 for my day out to London. Not only that, but I could rid myself of the bag that I’m always carrying about, which was super!

So, like you do when you love photography & adventure, I starting taking pictures. I took the usual suspects at first; trains, train station & people randomly wandering about their business.

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One of the first reasons I would class this as a photographers compact camera is simply that you can change the focus point manually. This is something I do ALL the time on my X-E2 to aid with my composition. With other compact cameras I have used, you either cannot set it or it’s not easy to access.

For our day out we headed to the Natural History Museum, this was a great location to test the ISO performance. Looking back at the photos there is clearly some noise & grain, but it has a very film-like quality to it that I think adds to the atmosphere of the shots.

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Another point to make about this camera as I discovered on the day, was how quick it turned on. Now this may not seem life changing, but when you are with a bunch of friends that don’t do photography and want to move on to the next exhibit, speed is everything. It made many shots possible that may have otherwise been lost. This also translates well into styles like street photography – you see someone or something interesting and you need the camera to be ready immediately to capture it.

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QUICK TIP: For ease of access, I kept the camera inside my inner jacket pocket (blazer style). With that, I pretty much never missed an opportunity to shoot what I wanted – no fumbling in bags, jean pockets etc.

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Due to the size of this camera, it really is super discrete. I could get those moments that I may not have been brave enough to shoot with other cameras, with even my X-E2.

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And when all is said and done, it takes a great dinner party picture!

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I think for many photographers using DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras, you get very accustomed with a level of quality to expect and because of this, many wouldn’t dream of downsizing to a compact camera. But, as hopefully shown in this blog, the XQ1 makes an exception to this. It shows that you can still be creative, still get excellent quality images and at at a size that literally allows you to take it anywhere with ease.

Any questions? Drop us a comment below – and yes, I cannot wait to try out the latest model, the XQ2 🙂 [WATCH THIS SPACE…]

 

 

XQ1 – A camera you just can’t leave at home

Test by Roger Payne

As a Fujifilm X-series fan you’ll already know that good things come in small packages, but the XQ1 takes that concept at least a couple of steps further. Significantly smaller and lighter than the X20, the XQ1 puts top quality picture taking in the palm of your hand. Quite literally.

Available in black and silver finishes, it’s one of those cameras that you simply can’t justify leaving at home. It’s been a constant companion for the last three weeks I’ve had it to review, largely by virtue of the fact that regardless of where I’ve been going it’s been small and light enough to come along too. Out walking the dog? Easy, it fits in a coat pocket. In town for a night out? No problem, it fits in my wife’s handbag. It even found its way into a tiny backpack when I was out mountain biking last weekend. Despite its proportions and weight, it gives the feeling of reassuring solidity with a build quality that can take the knocks. Kid gloves not required.

Taken on XQ1
Taken on XQ1

In line with the X-series brand, the XQ1 mixes timeless styling with the latest technology, plus throws in a few neat design touches for good measure. The most obvious of these is the Control Wheel that sits around the 4x zoom lens. Pressing the E-Fn button on the back of the camera allows you to assign a function to the Control Wheel for fast access while shooting. I chose to use it for quick ISO sensitivity changes, but users can also change other functions including exposure compensation, white-balance and zoom control.

Taken on XQ1
Taken on XQ1

Once you’ve taken images, they can instantly be shared to a smartphone or tablet thanks to the XQ1’s built-in Wi-Fi functionality. All that’s required from the receiving device is the free Fujifilm Camera App. An additional Wi-Fi offering comes in the shape of PC AutoSave, which uses a Wi-Fi network to automatically connect camera to PC for wireless image back up.

Alongside the technological and design touches, the XQ1 is a powerhouse when it comes to image capture. It boasts a ⅔-inch 12-megapixel sensor that uses X-Trans technology to deliver impressively sharp results. The zoom lens (which offers a 25-100mm equivalent range) also has a maximum aperture setting of F1.8 at the wide- angle setting to offer added versatility in low-light conditions and helps create attractive out of focus effects.

Taken on XQ1
Taken on XQ1

If you’re capturing still images, I’d urge you to try out the many built-in filter effects, 360° Motion Panorama mode, Film Simulation modes and the extremely handy Pro Low Light, Multiple Exposure and Pro Focus functions. If video is more your thing, the XQ1 offers Full HD video capture as well as a frame rate of 150 frames-per-second for slow motion effects. The latter is both great fun and seriously addictive!

 

In use, the XQ1 delivers a very accomplished performance. Picture quality is impressive, autofocus fast, metering assured and battery life surprisingly long. I’ll be sorry to see the camera go back to Fujifilm, it has quickly become a close companion wherever I go.

Here are some sample images taken at varying ISO values. Click on them to see them larger