I was lucky enough to spend some time in Iceland in the early spring – the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to take some photographs of the stunning landscape.
This was a photographic opportunity not to be missed, so I thought long and hard about what equipment to take with me. How many camera bodies, which lenses? A heavy tripod or a lightweight one? Or perhaps just a monopod? Which filters shall I pack, should I use a battery grip, and which bag will I put all of this in?
In the end I went against all this and decided to keep it really, really simple. My kit of choice was the trusty Fuji X100, with a wide angle converter attached to give an equivalent field of view of the classic 28mm. Nothing else, that’s it.
There’s something very refreshing about travelling this light with a single, fixed lens camera. Some people may find that they can’t get away without the flexibility of a zoom, but I’ve have always had a soft spot for primes. It’s just one less thing to worry about, one less distraction.
You look through the viewfinder and think more about composing your shot, and if you need to zoom in you move forwards, and move back to zoom out. Also, Iceland isn’t really the place to have to worry about taking a lens off a camera and fitting a new one mid shot. The weather can be particularly wild out there, and personally I’d look to keep the camera weather sealed at all times.
The Fuji wide angle adapter in particular is a stunning achievement by Fuji. Attaching this widens the view from 35mm to 28mm, but there’s no loss in quality and no loss in light – the maximum aperture is still a very useful f2. I attached the adapter before I caught my flight to Reykjavik, and it stayed on the camera permanently until I landed back in Edinburgh ten days later.
As a travel camera I can’t recommend the X100 highly enough. It’s well built and compact, but oozes quality, and produces results that match much larger and more expensive DSLR cameras. It also managed to capture all the features of the very different landscapes Iceland has to offer. It records all the detail in the highlights of the steam emitted from the volcanic fissures, and of the snow covering the mountains, whilst also not blocking out the shadows in the black volcanic beaches along the south coast. It handled everything that was asked of it with ease.
Here are some examples of the images I took, again all on the X100, and all with the wide angle adapter fitted.
My original ‘Travelling Companion’ blog post was written in May last year after a trip to Croatia, where I get all excited about the virtues of the superb Fuji X100.
It’s a six year old camera now, but this never worries me, as ultimately all I’m interested in is the image quality and the suitability for the job. It’s compact, sturdy, reliable and ultimately produces beautiful photographs, with vivid colours and that classic, film-esque feel to it, like the shot above. In my opinion it’s the perfect travel camera.
However, during this year’s trip back to the Balkans (Montenegro in fact) I’ve surprised myself. The Fuji performed with it’s usual aplomb and never let me down, but it was backed up by an unexpected assistant. My iPhone!
I’ve never been particularly taken to photography on smartphones, but I think that this is because up til now I’ve never really had one that’s been any good at taking photographs. I wasn’t bothered about it all, as I have a camera, and I’ll take photographs on that thank you very much!
I’ve got to admit though, sometimes just whipping a phone out and grabbing a quick shot is very, very easy and convenient. The image above is an iPhone one, and although I have a version taken on the X100 I have to admit that the one above is pretty close to it, at least at screen resolution like on this blog.
If you zoom in to 100% you of course see the quality difference, and the iPhone can’t compete with the larger sensor and beautifully clear lens that the Fuji has, but print this at a reasonable size or post it on your social media accounts and you probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
Having said that, I would never use just the iPhone, as although the conditions in which the image above was taken were perfect for it, in situations where the lighting is a little trickier it tends to falter a little. It will blow out highlights which the Fuji will capture effortlessly, and if you want to blur out the background in your flash balanced night time portraits you’ve got no chance. As a companion to the Fuji though it’s a great little addition, and I’m quite impressed with what it can produce.
It’s often said that the best camera is the one you have with you at the time, and this has never rung more true than with the new generation of smartphones. People usually always have a phone with them, and as a result we’re taking more photographs then ever before documenting our lives, and that’s got to be a good thing.
I’ve recently been on a trip to Croatia, which was naturally a great opportunity to take some photographs from a new place – somewhere different from my usual haunts.
I thought for ages about which camera / lens combination to take with me. At first I was fairly settled on taking my Nikon DSLR with a fixed wide angle lens. If I don’t attach the battery grip or use a bulky zoom lens this is actually a fairly compact setup, but you would still need a bag of some kind for it, and it still is quite heavy for a travel camera.
So instead, I bought one of these. It’s a second hand Fuji X100, and it cost me around £350 from MPB Photographic. I wasn’t sure at first whether to buy second hand, but the worry and guesswork is pretty much taken out of the equation if you buy from a reputable dealer.
I think that it was the best decision I ever made with my photography, and the little Fuji has quickly become my favourite camera. It’s solid, well built, easy to use and takes beautiful quality images (as good as a DSLR). That fixed 23mm lens is a real beauty, and I found the lack of a zoom wasn’t an issue at all.
You can also pop a leather cover / case on it and then pretty much chuck it anywhere – so in a bag, over your shoulder etc. This makes it so easy to carry around but available at a moments notice, which is an absolute necessity when travelling.
Here’s a quick gallery of a selection of some of the images from my trip, all of which were taken on the X100.