Recommendations

Here are some general recommendations on gear and photography resources. These are coming from the point-of-view of a hobbyist photographer with occasional paid gigs—your needs may vary.

Fujifilm X-T20 with Voigtlander Nokton 58mm lens

What’s in my bag

As of April 2018

Body:

  • Fujifilm X-T20 – Has the same excellent sensor as the X-T2. If weather sealing and a few other features are not important, you can get most of what the X-T2 offers at about half the price (and put more money into glass, naturally!)

Lenses:

  • Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS – I’m usually not a big fan of zoom lenses. I tend to become a lazy photographer and think less about composition when I have a zoom lens attached. But for vacation and travel, and when you’re going to be in a fixed position where you can’t zoom with your feet, zooms are still useful. Anyway, the 18-55mm bundled with the X-T20 is an amazing value and a high-quality kit zoom. I agree with Michael Damböck’s assessment that there is little difference in sharpness between the 18-55mm and primes. Primes still excel when you need a wider aperture and shallower depth of field, or less weight.
  • Samyang or Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 – The same lens, rebadged as Samyang or Rokinon. I opted for the Samyang because it was about $50 cheaper at the time of purchase, but check the latest prices as they fluctuate due to promotions.  An inexpensive yet sharp lens that’s great for wide landscapes, real estate interiors, and astrophotography.
  • Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR – Equivalent to the classic “nifty fifty” 50mm focal length in full-frame and 35mm film.  Great image quality, and it just feels perfect on the X-T20. I keep this lens on my camera more than any other.
  • Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II S for Nikon AI-s – This lens is manual focus, somewhat heavy on the X-T20, and requires a Nikon-to-Fujifilm adapter, but there’s something special about the rendering that makes me keep it around. It makes a great medium-length portrait lens (87mm equivalent) if you have a stationary subject.

Accessories:

  • Meike XT20G Grip – Just what the X-T20 needs for someone with medium-to-large hands. The grip protrudes enough to provide more stability with larger lenses, and the extra bit of vertical extension is just enough to keep my pinky finger from dangling off the camera. It doesn’t block the battery/SD card door like other grips, but the recess does make it awkward to access.
  • Tether Strap – Overall, a very nice strap for the price. The leather was softer, rougher, and stretchier than I expected—think moccasin leather, not belt leather—but I have grown to like it, as it feels very comfortable and seems unlikely to slip off the shoulder, for example while wearing a winter coat.
  • JJC Camera Soft Shutter Release Button – A cheap and cheerful two-pack that improves the feel of the shutter button, in my opinion. I prefer the convex one.
  • Lowepro Pro Tactic SH 180 AW Camera Bag – A well-made, rugged shoulder bag. This will hold any Fujifilm X-Series body plus 3-4 lenses and a small tablet. It has MOLLE webbing and tries to look tacticool if you’re into that sort of thing.

Recommended software

I have extensively used Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop in the past, but I’ve recently taken another look at open source alternatives, especially in light of Adobe’s move to a subscription-only business model.

I suggest you try out Darktable and GIMP—both have matured into very capable programs that finally give their closed-source competitors some real competition. I plan to write more about F/OSS photography software in the future, but for now, do yourself a favor and visit Patrick David’s excellent site at PIXLS.US.