Fuji vs Nikon (vs iPhone) for travel

November 13, 2016 Nov 13, 2016   iPhone, D800e, Fuji X-Pro2

I like taking photos when I travel but what camera should I take? I know the key to a good photo is the person holding the camera but the tool matters. Some you want to use, some are a struggle. Every camera is a compromise. I started with a small Canon, then progressed through a series of ever-larger Nikons (plus lenses of course). Then I added an iPhone. And most recently I substituted a Fuji for the Nikon. So, have I achieved travel-camera nirvana? Or at least, am I happy with the Fuji?

Nirvana, no, but I like the Fuji for travel. It's a bit smaller than the Nikon and the pictures are good enough, though they lack the resolution and crop-ability of the D800e. So, I'm happy.

But there is another option, the iPhone (or equivalent). The Fuji is much bigger than a phone and it is much less automatic, and in daylight at f/8 well who can tell the difference? So I can see why most travelers just take a phone camera. But if you're thinking Fuji here are some of my observations:

Fuji plusses

  • The 16/1.4.
  • The body looks good and feels solid.
  • Control philosophy is mode free, intuitive. For ex, instead of a mode dial with, say, aperture priority on it, you just set the aperture to auto. Ditto with shutter. I don't care who they copied, it's brilliant.
  • Good quality yet inexpensive zooms.
  • Can transfer jpgs to phone, edit on phone, then post via an ftp client like Transmit. Awkward the first dozen times, then becomes robotic.
  • Smaller and lighter then Nikon.
  • Somewhat less conspicuous than Nikon.
  • In camera raw processing coupled with film sims is fun, generates post-able photos.
  • Quiet mechanical shutter. Silent e-shuttter.
  • E-shutter's speed, up to 1/32,000 sec, means you can shoot wide open in sunlight.
  • Setting aperture using an aperture ring.

Fuji minuses

  • Reliability. Damn it, early on I found a defective feature, a feature I didn't particularly care about except it behaved really badly so it sucked away some of my reliability expectations. And then, even though I didn't care about the broken feature, I sent the body into Fuji who looked at it but didn't care about that feature either so they returned it un-repaired. Update: Fuji fixed the problem with last week's 2.01 firmware. I'm even finding the now-working feature somewhat useful. Doesn't excuse the service though.
  • Fuji service.
  • Less resolution than Nikon so less crop-able shots.
  • Auto-iso doesn't offer Nikon's option to set iso relative to focal-length. This is really useful.
  • Nikon has better ergonomics: more comfortable to hold and shoot.
  • I have my Nikons set for back-button focus combined with AF-C+release priority. Fuji's AF-C is poor and the back button awkward so it just cannot do the same.
  • Not as small and light as an iPhone.
  • Not as inconspicuous as an iPhone.

I like the Fuji but it's not for everyone. It's less automatic, there are no scene modes, and its focus is on shooting raw then processing in camera. And video is not Fuji's forte at all. But I'm happy with the pictures.

I'm listening to David Gray's Please Forgive Me.

Sml    Med    Big