Project Pocket Camera Is Finished!

I’m sure most of you know I’m a camera hoarder. I prefer to think of myself as a rescuer of vintage cameras. I have some wonderful old film cameras that get used and appreciated instead of ending up in a landfill. Film is a bit of work, it is getting expensive to buy and process, and it sucks to travel with. My digital lineup used to include a Pentax DSLR but late last year I sold it and committed to the Fujifilm X series. My first “real” camera was the Fujifilm X-A1, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It was the camera that sparked my interest in photography. It had its limitations, the biggest being the lack of a viewfinder. After I picked up my Pentax DSLR the X-A1 didn’t see a lot of action. When I sold the Pentax I bought a Fujifilm X-T10, the little X-A1 was always around though. It was a gift and I couldn’t bring myself to sell it.

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A few weeks ago Fujifilm announced some new hardware. The XPro 2, the X-E2s (I also owned an X-E1 briefly which I loved), the X70, and the XF 100-400mm zoom lens. The X70 got me thinking about my X-A1, I could essentially make a pocketable fixed focus camera with similar specs for a lot less money. Project Pocket Camera was born. I purchased the Fujinon XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens from London Drugs and stuck it to my X-A1. It fits in a coat pocket and takes fantastic photos. The X70 is $899 new, my X-A1 setup is around $200 less. $250 for a used body, $399 for the lens, and $50-$60 for the optical viewfinder I found in the Ukraine. Do you need the viewfinder? No, but it sure is cool.

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The image quality this package delivers is outstanding. The 27mm focal length works out to 40.5mm in full frame terms given the crop factor of the APSC sensor. I’ve seen a few people complain that this lens doesn’t have an aperture ring. It would be nice but the rear control dial does the trick in aperture priority mode.

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Granville Street at night
The f2.8 aperture is fast enough for most low light situations. The X series is decent up to ISO 6400 with minimal noise, even when shooting jpegs.

Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
I have a few X series lenses, the 16-55mm kit zoom, the XF 35mm f1.4 (which is dreamy), and the 55-230mm zoom. The 27mm is impressive and versatile, it is well suited to travel and street photography, and the autofocus is fast and accurate. The X-A1 is a prefect companion for this lens, the rest of my lenses do the heavy lifting on my X-T10.

Winter in Vancouver.
Winter in Vancouver.
To be honest if money was no object I’d have bought an X70 instead. This setup is a compromise but the results have exceeded my expectations and my X-A1 has found a new purpose.

raw test 1

Stay tuned for more photography related pieces in the future. When the weather clears up I have some projects I want to tackle. I have a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix coming up and I’m hoping to get into the heart of the BC back country this summer.

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @wflbc.

Scott.

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