Creative: Second XT2 and 50-140 2.8

Bought a second XT2 and 50-140 2.8. A little background. The Fuji XT2 is the first digital camera I’ve had that I actually really like. I got my first digital camera in 1997 and was shooting assignments with it within days. And even before I got my own digital camera I was using other people’s, going back to 1993, which is the timeframe I shot my first digital photograph.(A professional basketball game.) I’m known as a film guy, which I was until very recently, but I’ve also used digital a lot longer than many others, something that gets lots in the race to draw lines in the sand and because I don’t love the lifestyle of digital and I’m a total dumbass when it comes to anything tech. And my body gives off a death ray.

Back in the early 1990’s Canon released two lenses that forever changed the photography world. The 20-35 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8, fixed aperture, L-series zooms. Until this moment zooms sucked. Soft, lots of flair, etc. Then Canon blew everyone’s mind. Now, the other half of this equation was the Canon EOS 1 which brought REAL autofocus, 5fps drive, UBER tough pro body that caught the rest of the photography world by what appeared to be total surprise. The shift from the industry being 80% Nikon to 80% Canon happened quickly and without mercy. Couple this with Nikon countering with a first gen F4 which was super buggy.(I had two of them so I know.)

So my new zoom isn’t anything new it’s just the latest version and from Fuji no less. I bought this lens for a specific kind of photograph I now find myself needing to make. Something outside the bounds of the 35mm, 50mm world I’ve been living in for so many years. And there is no way to get this kind of photograph without a longer lens. I know because I’ve tried and failed, most recently on a trip to Houston where I found myself holding the XT2 to my eye, with an 85mm, and thinking “Shit, I can’t make what I need.”

Now, this lens is 4x larger than any other lens I own, so it’s not going with me on backpacking trips, or even foreign travel trips where I’m simply exploring and shooting.(Planning one of these now actually.) On these trips I’ll be streamlined with XT2 x 2 and my 35mm and 50mm. Batteries, cards and fresh stack of 8×10 glossy, self portraits I’ll be handing out to unsuspecting cultures worldwide. “Dan Milnor, damn glad to meet ya, here take one of these for the wall at home.”

Okay, here is where the geeks will curse me and sign off. I don’t know anything about these cameras and lenses. They work. They are small, quiet, tough, light and when I press the button it goes off. The lens has that stabilizer thing and there is a button on the side that does something when I flick it back and forth, I just don’t really know what. What you will NOT see on this post is photographs of something like a deck chair or bush in the garden with enlargements showing resolving power and resolution. I’d rather eat a lightbulb. The lens is sharp. There, my tech review is complete.

The camera is set to Aperture priority, so in essence it’s a point-and-shoot with a real viewfinder and real response time. The camera isn’t full frame but 99% of the photographers I know don’t really need full frame they just think they do, and most are lazy and want full frame ONLY because they want to shoot EVERY SINGLE PICTURE THEY MAKE at 1.2, which not only looks ridiculous but also makes their work LOOK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. If you didn’t shoot this way with your Leica or Blad then why would you do it now? Why? I also hear feeble arguments about needing full frame for print sizes….PLEASE. If you are Ed Burtynsky, SURE, you actually need large files, but for everyone else you don’t and you are doing nothing more than burning hard drive space or better yet……you are deleting everything but the selects because your drives are filling up…….this just kills me and I hear about people doing it all the time.(If you are a pseudo photographer than yes, go ahead, but if you investing your life in become a REAL photographer and you are truly attempting for photography to be something you will continue to learn and expand upon then don’t you dare even think of deleting images. What would Magnum be without those contact sheets? You know what they would be? They would be GONE. Out of business.)

The vast majority of us don’t make work good enough to print at 40×60 or larger, and even if we did, with printing tech now you could probably still do it with the XT2. (And oh by the way, larger prints aren’t viewed from six inches away like photographers like to do. They are viewed from a distance. Think highway billboards, ever seen one of those up close?) Also, the Fuji gear is priced so awesomely. Yes, I said awesomely. I bought body, booster and two lenses for what I would have paid for a body only from other companies, and I get almost precisely what I had in my beloved Leica cameras. Two f/2, weather sealed lenses and two lightweight, metal bodies that fit in the palm of my hand. The image quality and color are superb.

Wait for it. I don’t miss film. Not at all. I will at some point, and my freezer of film isn’t going anywhere, but for now I’ll be lugging my new ZUPPERFLEX 10,000 lens around with me complaining about back pain and failing vision. I won’t miss the airport hassles, the extra weight, the lead bags, the expense and the time spend shipping and receiving to and from the lab.(Again, I’ll be back doing this at some point.)

2018 is going to see my return to photography in a big way. Not AS a photographer mind you, just as an enthusiast with a track record. I’m going to start a new series on this site, about specific images, where I’ll mark up images and show why I think they are goood or bad. Then I’m going to monetize it all, get rich, get crazy, hit my peak, quickly collapse and hit rock bottom, then write a book about it and get rich again.

Hope to see you out there.

17 Comments on “Creative: Second XT2 and 50-140 2.8”

  1. Dan, as usual, an interesting read. You have identified a camera system that works for you and the photos you want to make; the best approach. A year ago, I went through a similar experience. I realized that most of what I photograph I do in B&W and I love the rangefinder experience. I also accepted that some of my work is best in a panoramic format, and then, I want autofocus and the ability to have color. In all cases, digital now fits in with my life better than film — time and cost, travel, convenience. Outcome? Three systems, each for a specific need. I went a bit smaller than you when it came to the AF and color — M43, and I find it is just fine for the printing and bookmaking I want to do.

    1. David,
      I know plenty of folks using m43 who make good work. Heck, I’m happy when I get a chance to shoot something I actually wanna shoot, in a place I wanna be. Rare indeed these days.

  2. it’s always interesting to read what you write Dan and your SoundCloud channel is on my fav list! I also start to look for over 85mm focal length. Imagine coming to Venice with the same lens kit 24, 35, 85mm over and over. I feel like I can do more or capture things in a different way with 70-200 or 100-300. Wish you to have a great 2018!

    1. Sergey,
      For about a decade back in the 1990’s I had one camera with 70-200 and one with 20-35. Worked fine. Nice to have a longer lens from time to time. Venice sounds pretty good. Never been.

  3. “Then I’m going to monetize it all, get rich, get crazy, hit my peak, quickly collapse and hit rock bottom, then write a book about it and get rich again.”

    Honestly I long for the day when I become “over rated”.

    1. Jim,
      It’s gonna happen! Hitting rock bottom is great cause you get to look up at everyone else.

  4. Dan – I know nothing about lenses and camera bodies but I still loved reading this piece, and all your other writing. You make me think (and laugh) all the time. Looking forward to seeing your new work! Hope to see you in Toronto soon! A.

    1. AB,
      Tell me how cold it is!!!!!! It’s almost 80 in Costa Mesa…….. Listening to Billie Holiday and reading a book about wolves. Went to a cool gathering today. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love that my friends are here from time to time. Miss you, miss Canada. Would LOVE to get there in 2018.

  5. It’s a sweet combo, love the 50-140mm. It’s on my XT2 most of the time. Look forward to seeing your enthusiast work. It’s all about keeping the passion and for me, The Fujis just work. I do print my work and have a wonderful 20×30” print above the couch that is lovely. Small or large prints, Blurb books or trade mags, print it and pass it on.

  6. Traveled this last summer for five weeks through Europe with family with a Nikon 1 V3, Nikon 1 V1, and the 6.7-13 (18-35 equivalent) and 10-30 (27-80 equivalent) lenses. Each has a one-inch sensor (V3 = 18mp, V1 = 10mp). In the strange alternate universe of internet photography forums, the Sony RX100 Mark x is an incredible camera with its one-inch sensor and anything in the Nikon 1 series is the worst thing Nikon has ever produced. Guess what? Both the V3 and the V1 did fine, even in low light as today’s noise algorithms are so good that it makes shooting with these cameras at high ISOs easier.

  7. I still can’t get my mind and my photography – as trivial as it is – on the “fast lane”, aka a digital sensor and instant reproduction cycli connected to it. I love the mixed work, shifting some digital pics into my “slow lane”, aka my film pics, developed in a for this timeframe rediculus long delay of…a week time in a lab or in a month in my own tank. After a month or even after a year cooking and editing pics they get slowly in the blurb book of a year personal highlights. I just finished 2016, I hear the Blurb printers sliding the roll of paper through their machines just now! On to 2017 next.
    I would dearly miss this very slow pace if I would produce it all digitally.
    The XT2 is very tempting machine though, mainly for the looks of it! I reckon it plays in the Nikon F90X and Pentax 67 league I currently use as my main stays for producing images on pellicule.
    Looking forward to get a scoop of the 50-140 style here on the shifter site Dan. Tnx for sharing your views with us all.

    1. Reiner,
      I ran into a photographer who would be the LEAST likely to lament the loss of film and he looked at me and said he was putting his M10 and going back to his film Leica. Why? The reality he faced in having to share everything he does in real time. I think there are A LOT of people who feel the same way.

  8. I’m actually contemplating the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS because it’s much lighter, don’t need the speed and I’m obeying my first commandment. Never carry more than I can run like Hell with.

    1. Jim,
      Ya, whatever works. I needed the speed and the ability to use a 2x, but just for this one project.

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