New Year and New Camera

Happy New Year!

Champagne I enjoyed at midnight in New Orleans (photo taken by Fuji X100T camera I rented)

Champagne I enjoyed at midnight in New Orleans (photo taken by Fuji X100T camera I rented – click on any photo to see full size version on Flickr)

After many days off from work and some fun travels, I'm now back in New York City and ready to resume my normal routines again — well, somewhat. The new year is all about resolutions but I didn't make any specific ones. Instead, I'm striving to have a majority of happy and healthy days in 2017. In keeping with that, there are a lot of things I will continue to do, or simply do more often, but I'm not aiming for some sort of dramatic change.

I think, despite what we say every January 1st, we are all creatures of habit. I'm going to focus on all my good habits like investing in my body with exercise and eating well and hobbies like reading (now with my new kindle paperwhite – thanks, Santa!), writing and taking photos.

And, speaking of photos, I took a bunch over the past week or so. I've been meaning to try out a mirrorless camera for a WHILE and I just haven't gotten around to it. I think this also ties into my being a creature of habit; I love my old Canon SLR and it, in return, has been very good to me over many many years. I'm typically pretty good with my electronics so they last a while – this camera is no different. That said, it's a little big for traveling and doesn't have any of the bells and whistles that newer cameras have.

So when Adorama (one of my favorite places for camera equipment in the city) was having a Christmas rental deal, I decided to go all out and rent a Leica Q. But that was taken because I didn't act fast enough, so I ended up with the Fuji X100T instead. In truth, I'm glad I ended up with the Fuji because it is way less expensive and therefore something I could consider buying in the future. Though, honestly, I still think I need to do a little more digging before I settle on a mirrorless camera. While the X100T is a really nice camera, there are some things about it that quickly became deal breakers for me.

Overall, the camera performed really well for me. I was heading down to Miami to visit my little niece and nephew and then from there jumping over to New Orleans for some New Year's Eve festivities with friends. To say this camera was easy to pack is an understatement. The camera itself fit inside my normal purse alongside my big-ass wallet, over-stuffed makeup bag and 12 oz water bottle. However, I was a little disappointed that the battery charger unit was not more compact. I'm used to the Canon style which has no cables — it's just a rectangular piece of plastic with retractable prongs.

Really enjoyed what the Fuji X100T was able to do in low light, like in this photo from New Orleans, when it decided it wanted to focus...

Really enjoyed what the Fuji X100T was able to do in low light, like in this photo from New Orleans, when it decided it wanted to focus…

The Fuji was way lighter and easier to shoot around with and produced incredibly high quality photos compared to what my iPhone 6 can produce, specifically in low light. I only shot in JPG files (no RAW to keep things simpler while on the go) and I was seriously impressed with how much detail I was able to achieve. The sharpness of the onboard lens (no interchangeable lenses) was definitely appreciated. Unfortunately, focusing was a major chore. I found that the camera has a really difficult time locking focus and so it seeks focus a lot. I found this happened in any light (though more marked in low light) and is probably why the battery life is pretty poor.

Had to immediately share this photo of maple bacon donuts with friends who were also in Miami and, thanks to the magic of WiFi, I was able to do so!

Had to immediately share this photo of maple bacon donuts with friends who were also in Miami and, thanks to the magic of WiFi, I was able to do so!

The feature that really impressed me, however, was the ability for the camera to connect to my phone via WiFi. All I had to do was decipher hidden messages in the menus (more on that in a sec) and download the app and then I was able to receive images from the camera onto my phone for sharing on social media. This was super handy as I wanted to update my Instagram feed but I definitely did not want to have to run to a computer to grab the images. In fact, I left my laptop at home since I was flying Spirit Airlines and had a feeling they might ruin my day if I brought a larger purse for a laptop. Turns out my first ever Spirit experience was actually awesome — I volunteered for exit row duty so I got a ridiculous amount of leg room and the flight attendants were super sweet and zany (one led us through some seated, of course, "plane yoga" exercises as we were approaching our destination).

After being wowed by the quality of the images coming off the camera, I decided to do some digging into the focus issues. I think most camera menus are confusing but I think Fuji might take the cake here. There are about 10 or so pages of menus and some are more straight forward while others are confusing. I saw a lot of options pertaining to focus but no idea how to force true manual focusing, or figure out what I was tweaking with some of the other options. Also, when I googled the problem I was having, it sounded like it's something that others have also experienced so that wasn't exactly encouraging. And did I mention the battery life? Not so hot.

But ultimately, the portability was great. And, honestly, not having to mess too much with the camera (change lenses, for instance) to get a good shot was kind of liberating. I didn't use the optical viewfinder because without the mirror it didn't seem like it was really worth it so I used the screen on the back. That screen also made it easier to hand off the camera to strangers to take pictures of us — something that I often struggle with when I attempt to hand off my Canon Rebel to a civilian. And, for the most part, I was satisfied with the photos I made after some minor tweaks.

Not true love yet, though, so I will continue my quest for a portable camera that completes me.

UPDATE: BorrowLenses.com is having a sale ($25 off of a $25 minimum order) in case you are interested in renting the Fuji X100T or some other camera. I might be looking to them for my next camera trial!

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