Fujifilm – Just another camera company?
Fuji , they make the “best camera ever made” according to Zack Arias.
Is Fuji just another camera company? A camera with some well constructed PR and planning? Can a Fuji Camera REALLY make you a better photographer ? At the end of the day, as any photographer worth anything will tell you, the brand of camera you use is really not going to make you a better photographer. Or a worse one for that matter. Photography is a craft, the camera is a tool. A tool is only as useful as the person holding it. Forget all the techy articles, forget all the crap about how sharp is this and the blah blah blah.. You want the truth about photography ? You want the secret that unlocks it all ?
Well, you’re screwed. The truth is, there is no magic bullet, there is no magic camera and no magic lens. It should be wise at this point to point out that this blog and every other blog is only one point of view and should be read and considered as such. I wanted to use this article to unearth some of these rumours that Fuji make the BEST camera in the world. It’s impossible they do, just as point of logic. Anyway who defines best ?
[Check out our FUJIFILM home page for more Fuji info, tips and tricks]
So when it comes to the “new Leica” or the “best camera ever made” you have to understand that just because Zack Arias proudly said it, its does not make it true, nor does it mean that you should run out and buy one, even if he is right, and to be honest, he is right.. it IS one of the better camera systems ever made. Still, just because I utterly adore the cameras it DOES not mean that you should agree blindly without challenging. Just because we say that they are some of the best cameras ever made, it does not make it true. It is just a point of view.
There’s a distinguished looking ol’ fellow sitting at the bar. He has silver hair and laugh lines around his eyes. He’s well dressed. Well groomed. Well traveled. You can tell he’s seen a lot in his time. His classic Morgan is parked outside. There’s a pretty young girl on his arm listening to his stories of being a globe trotting documentary photographer. He sips his 50 year old Chivas Regal. His name is Leica. Yeah, he’s the world’s most interesting man.
*note, I happen to think that Roger Rabbit it the coolest guy EVER, hence his inclusion into Zacks’s diagram*
But in every sense of the word, this is just more than ‘just’ a new camera emanating from Fuji HQ. As our dear American friend Zack pointed out in his blog, which personified Fuji into a cool hipster-esque kid.
“Tattered 501?s. Grease stained tee. Three days of scruff…..The young girl that was sitting with Leica heads out the door but not before slipping her number into Fuji’s back pocket. Fuji sips his beer and quietly tucks it deeper into his pocket so he doesn’t lose it.”
Clever use of the stereotypes indeed, depicting the “other” camera manufacturers as needs and old men bickering amongst them themselves. Interestingly Leica was the first to offer friendship to Fuji in this imagery bar. I do wonder what Leica think of this new found praise being given to Fuji ? One does think they would like to have a friend at the top and really welcome the companies company. I wonder how long it really is before the next Chanel advert to feature an X-Pro appears. I think Lecia are still the very top of the pecking order on so many levels. (I am the only to of watched The new CHANEL N°5 film and saw nothing but the M8 ??) Do you think we will see an X-Pro in the next Chanel advert ? I don’t. There still is a difference in chic and style. The Leica brand just oozes style and class. While Fuji still make £79.00 cameras they will never be stylish to be cool like is Leica cool. I promise you Hermès are not about to make a Hermès X-Pro anytime soon. Anyway.. who says Fuji want that crown ?
Fuji are interesting. They are on the verge of creating something very amazing. So why has the geeky company somehow made photography interesting across the levels again? Let’s for a moment imagine a world where Photographers are paid for their services. This makes them a Professional Photographer. Some people have Photography as a hobby, and I would guess that this where most professional photographers start. From here photographers undergo a metamorphosis into the coffee swilling, self aware artists who sleep all day and work all night. During the curation of this process, the element that made the hobby fun are lost. The business takes over removing most of the random fun elements and rightly so. As things are scaled up, the costs are too. Things escalate to a point where a photographer is only shooting when paid and shooting things in a democratic way working with teams of people all giving input. On many occasions, the fun elements are dangerous and bad for business, they have to be forgotten. When you have clients paying big money, its not a laugh and a joke anymore. You have to deliver no excuses. In a blink of an eye, the reason you love photography is nothing to do with the business you now run and shapes your life. In the world of the pro photographer, clients can care very little about the fun element during the creation process and only really care about the delivery and end result.
Combining this weight of responsibility to your studio staff and agents and clients and your family together is no laughing matter. Then, when you start to also add on the fact that a photographer today can deal with more criticism and taunting in a day than most people take in a year (see my article about being a Social Photographer). Keeping in a joyful headspace is not easy. Many a great photographer loses their hobby to the business and also loses an outlet from the business. This ends up a something many photographers call, ‘stuck in a rut’. Keeping this great mental positivity is hard work. It seems all people want to do is moan about things. Never has a photographer had to deal with such blunt, crushing comments from such a un-educated group of people before. Being plugged into the social media as an image maker is somewhat of a double edged sword. Facebook,Twitter, Pintrest, Deviant Art, Flickr and so on and so on. One moment people love us and our work, 100 ‘likes’ a photo then.. bang.. people cutting in barbarians. As we all know.. the public are crushing at times and uplifting the next. Sharing work on all these social platforms is not a fun process unless you have the thickest of skins. Then came the iPhone…..
To sum up, if a photographer is only as good as their worst photo, taking photos for a bit of fun is quite a daunting for a pro photographer.. “what if a client sees it ” is a common thought of mine, “they will think I am crap!” “Are people going to think I have given up Fashion photography if I take a few photos on holiday and some photos of my Grandma? People are going to think my model selection is not up to much ?” Trust me, you may laugh.. but it happens and I am quite sick of people commenting on my personal life and personal photos that I take during the house of a day when I revert back to being a hobbyist. I really don’t want to have to worry about perfect light ALL the time. Sometimes I like taking photos…
Well, Apple gave us the way forward. They gave us the platform for the Hipstamatic App, which gave way to Instagram, which gave the rise to being socially connective though images. The key here though, that these forms of photography were in way connected with the professional world of image created. It gave a level platform and everyone had the same tools. The skill was in the creation and use of the tool. Pro Photographers could once again take photos in a world where they are not judged on skill or money or production. People understood the media and that it was only there for sharing moments thus, not to be taken seriously. It’s not a real photo, its just Instagram. A snapshot a moment, a bit of fun. But then, something interesting started to happen. People who understood light and the complexity of image making started to create some amazing stuff on this fun format and pushed the industry for better cameras while still only just being fun. As a progression of time happens, more fun products came out to fill the need for this new breed of converse wearing geek chic photographer. Vitally, the idea of using images to document day to day life and sharing them was kept as fun and chic. There was no pressure to have perfect images, and the viewer of these images were viewing them in the context to what they are. In a nutshell, we have ended up creating a culture that has some context of what they they a looking at when it comes to images and how to react to them. I can make two images and the style of the image with change the way people look at it due to the crop or style. People still don’t see social media images as real photography and thus…. photographers can use it to have fun again.
Enter the X100 and X-Pro. These cameras carry on that aspect of fun and deliver it into the hands of a photographer with all the power and quality of the tool they use at work with all the kudos and chic of the Instgramming world. When I first got the X-pro. I edited most of the images on my phone from the camera. Apps like Pixlr Express and Snapseed as well as Instagram are the intended direction of most of my X-Pro images. But.. then.. that client phones you and wants a 20×30 of the park you instagramed last night. Boom.. get the raw file , into Photoshop, to the printer and you have a fine art print good enough for any gallery or any wall in the world. For me, the X-Pro is my best friend that also is a kickboxer and lawyer rolled into one. Never leave home without it and feel totally prepared for any shoot with it.
During the move from Film to Digital we have had loss and gain in the need for Image Quality and the need for Social photography. After some time the we get the X-pro which both satisfy the need for image quality and the social need for photography. Or Work and Play.
Photographers are dull when working, but Photographers are crazy fun when playing, this is the duality that Fuji have caught so well.
Its like having Porsche 911 as a taxi cab, but being able to seat 6 plus all the luggage. I mean, even David Beckham has one….
So, what are we saying here. Fuji have got on the bandwagon. People are image aware more than ever, people expect things to look good and work better. Style and substance are needed and more importantly, people are willing to pay to have it. Apple have built a behemoth of a company based on the concept of premium. Create the demand and people will buy. The Fuji looks good, and makes me feel good. I feel good even when it is in the camera bag, I love that I feel good, I love that it’s retro and people think I know more than I do because it looks like film. “gosh he MUST be good if he is using film”. I love that it looks good AND is good. I love that there is a range of good cameras that look good. I love that there is a little cute red version and the black metal X-pro. I love that Fuji have made me ‘love’ a tool which has made me fall back in love with shooting for fun. I think the reason Zack says it is the best camera in the world (talking about the X100s) is mostly due to the how it makes him feel when he is using it. This is then in turn making him more confident and push his own creative ideas and its a fantastic thing. Would you want that ?
The funny thing here is that we have not even mentioned how the cameras actually work, and nor am I going to. I think you should find a store, and have a look yourself.