UPDATE 12/15/2014: I’ve caught some grief in online discussion groups for the images in this post and it made me realize I should have been more clear about my intentions. You can find articles everywhere online that show off the best a camera can do. The images here are not those. My goal was to illustrate challenges the X-T1 has and where Fuji needs to improve the X Series features if they want to better serve certain markets (sports, wildlife, etc.).
The other goal I had for this post was provide an answer to the question I’ve received more than once from my clients: should they bring their mirrorless camera on one of my safaris? Until now, I’ve had to say, “I don’t know.” With this experience, I can give them a more balanced answer.
In a recent post, I described the kit I took on the most recent photo tour I led to Africa. The kit included the Fuji X-T1 and in this post, I’m going to talk about my impressions of using that X-T1 in the field, how well it performed, and whether I would bring it again. At the end is a gallery of images I made with the X-T1.
As always, our camp was located in an incredible setting in the middle of the Moru Kopjes, south of the center of the Serengeti, our final park on this safari. We were there for 4 nights and were treated to excellent wildlife sightings, the calls of lions and hyena in the night, and vibrant sunsets as we ate dinner while watching the migration herds go by on the plains below.
This year, the migrations herds came south early so they were right around our camp for our entire stay. We had many opportunities to shoot them as they wound their way south:
The Ngorongoro Crater is a special place and although we only had one and a half days there this Fall, it treated us well. The weather was cool and crisp in the mornings and sunny and warm midday.
We were off to a great start by coming upon a male lion and his cub almost immediately after descending the access road. Very difficult to photograph well since they were staying in the long grass. We saw a black rhino mother and her calf in the distance but they tend to avoid coming too close to the roads. Photographing them at such long distances is tough because, even though you have them in focus, you tend to get atmospheric refraction which gives you something like a “mirage” look.
At our picnic spot by the water, a bull elephant gave us a rare show by partially submerging himself and then swimming past the resident pod of hippo as he made his way to the soft grasses on the bank:
Tarangire National Park in October never disappoints and we had some of the best sightings of our safari here. Our weather was very sunny but we had a small rain shower on two of the three days which led to dramatic skies for photography.
With the dry season in full effect, the animals congregated by the Tarangire river – the main source of water in the park. Tarangire is known for elephants and we saw large family groups bathing by the river. We even had a mother and child right outside our rooms at lunch time. One day we drove down past the Silale Swamp with beautiful views to the east. We caught this line of elephants heading towards a pool for a bath:
For my photo safari tours, planning what to pack for photography gear has almost been routine for the last couple of years: I like having two SLRs, one attached to a long lens and one to a medium. This also gives me a backup in case one stops working (the closest Canon service center is probably South Africa: about 2200 miles away). I go a little further than I usually recommend to my clients and I bring a third SLR body because it has been converted for infrared. A couple wide to normal zooms for that and I’m set:
This year I’m trying something a little different.
In my last post I talked about what photo gear I brought to Italy for one month and the reasons behind those plans. So how did reality compare to expectations? Which gear earned another trip and what won’t make the cut next time? The good news is that the planning paid off and most things worked very well. There were a couple exceptions though and an uncertainty that might seem familiar/tiresome to some Fuji fans. Let’s take a look.
This last May, I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in Italy. I couldn’t go on a trip of this scale without some serious photography (luckily my wife already knew this) so I put a lot of thought into what gear I wanted to bring. I’ve been enjoying my Fuji X-T1 lately and, although the last trip I did of this length was with my full-frame Canon gear, this time I wanted to bring a much lighter kit.
So what gear did I bring to Italy?
One of my favorite photo locations on Montmartre in Paris is here where many streets meet and there’s always great people watching. I find cafe life in Paris an endless source of photo subjects.
[ This post was originally posted to Hunt’s Photo and Video’s blog on June 13, 2014. They have kindly agreed to let me cross-post it here. – Dave ]
When I lead one of my photo safaris to Tanzania, I’m used to taking a lot of heavy gear. By the time I put more than one DSLR in my bag along with several big lenses, it’s common to take over 30 pounds of it. Because of this, I’m always on the lookout for ways to reduce baggage size and weight.
I’ve been following the development of Fujifilm’s X system because of its reputation for being small and light but with high image quality. When I had the chance to travel again to France a few weeks ago, I knew it would be a perfect opportunity to leave the big gear behind and try using the Fuji system for street photography.