As downsizing means saying goodbye to more and more things, whether through sales, donations, or simply being thrown away. I wanted to address a hobby of mine that I’m unwilling to give up. My challenge has become how to reduce the size and weight of all the components that I need so they will fit in our new life. And, that is what I want to address today.
I have been a photographer since the tenth grade. I was on the yearbook staff and we had no one to take pictures of all the events that happen around the school, so I decided to give it a try. I had no idea how to operate a 35mm camera but I pulled out the old family Argus with its giant flash with replaceable bulbs the size of a fig and worked my way through my mom’s photography textbook. I was instantly hooked!
I eagerly blinded large groups of people with that flash while I shot pep rallies and other events. I became so obsessed my parents bought me a Canon AE-1 for Christmas and my brother gave me some of his older lenses. They also signed me up for a photography course at the local community college. From there, I went on to shoot for the yearbook, the school newspaper and occasionally the local paper for the rest of the time I was in high school. I would also save up my lunch money all week then go buy rolls of film just so I could go shoot. I was in love and I have held on to my AE-1 and all my lenses even though I haven’t shot on film for many years.
I switched to digital and got a DSLR. I’ve been a Canon shooter all these years, but the cameras and lenses have grown absurdly big and heavy. Carrying my camera on trips was literally a pain in the neck and sometimes it stayed behind in the hotel because I simply didn’t want to bother with it. Not to mention that I found myself having to dig through menus to set basic functions on the camera, leaving me feeling like I was fighting the camera to take a picture. I resigned myself to leaving some functions set to auto just to cut down on having to find the right menu and the number of pictures I took that I was happy with decreased sharply. For someone who had been taking pictures for thirty-plus years it was deeply frustrating. But, I continued on the same path because I had sunk so much money into the camera and lenses and I couldn’t find an attractive alternative.
Then, quite by accident, I became aware of Fujifilm in 2015 when I saw a photographer rave about his Fujifilm X-T1 in a YouTube video. Intrigued by what I saw, I visited my local camera store and spent some time playing with one. It was MUCH smaller and lighter than my Canon, though it felt incredibly solid in my hands. It felt almost exactly like my beloved Canon AE-1. In fact, it’s close to the same size. Looking at the specs I learned that the camera and kit lens together weighed less than my Canon 7D body alone and only slightly more than my Canon lens alone. And, being mirrorless, you see exactly what your picture will look like through the electronic viewfinder. But, the feature that made me fall in head over heels in love was that all the exposure settings, except for the aperture, were on dials on top of the camera body. The aperture setting was inside the viewfinder, but it could be set using the aperture ring on the lens. (Some of the Fuji lenses actually have an old style aperture ring) I instantly knew all my settings simply by glancing down at the top of the camera. I wouldn’t have to fight the camera!
It took some time, but I eventually bought the X-T2 and the 18-55mm “kit lens” and I am utterly and completely in love with my camera again! Since I’ve had it I’ve shot every picture using manual settings because the camera is so encouraging. And, I need to qualify the term “kit lens”. It usually refers to a lens that’s mostly plastic and not particularly good. However, Fujifilm apparently didn’t get that memo. The 18-55mm has a metal body and is a very, very good lens. I am constantly amazed at how sharp my images are and how little work I have to do to fix lens problems on my computer. I find myself shooting things I never tried in the past like shooting pictures of the Milky Way, and best of all, I look forward to carrying my camera with me.
Of course I purchased a second lens, a 14mm wide angle lens with a wide aperture an old style aperture ring AND depth of field markings above the focus ring. It looks like an update of my old Canon FD lens. And, speaking of my FD lens from the seventies. I was able to purchase a $20 adapter to attach my old Canon lenses to my Fuji camera. They are completely manual, but Fuji has a very good system for manually focus called “focus peaking”. It outlines your subject in white (or red, in my case) when it’s in focus. So I expanded my range of lens for $20! It’s not a permanent solution because digital tends to show the shortcomings of the old lenses, but it sure has come in handy when I needed a telephoto lens or risked losing a photo opportunity.
So, what does this do for me in terms of downsizing? Here are some numbers:
|Canon 7D||5.5”x4.4”x2.9”||32.2 oz|
|Canon EF-S 17-85mm lens||3.1” x 3.6”||16.75 oz|
|Tamron 17-300mm||3.02” x 4.6”||15.34 oz|
|Fujifilm X-T2||5.24” x 3.62” x 1.93”||17.88 oz|
|Fujinon 18-55mm||2.56” x 2.8”||10.6 oz|
|Fujinon 14mm||2.6” x 2.3”||8.3 oz|
The Fuji kit is over almost two pounds lighter, and that makes a big difference when you carry it around!
So, I sold my Canon gear and I also my heavy Manfrotto tripod which I replaced with a carbon fiber tripod that is two pounds lighter without sacrificing height. It also folds down much smaller, making it easier to bring along. And, that is really the key point of all the changes I’ve made. By making everything smaller and lighter I’ve made it less of a pain to bring along which increases my opportunity to shoot.