So having made the brave decision to leave the normally welded to me Fuji X-100 at home and leave the Fujinon 18-55 at home hoping that this would push and bend my photographic skills in directions I have not taken much before, I packed only the Fuji X-E1 and the 35mm f/1.4. We jumped in a fully laden VW camper and headed down to the Euro tunnel late Sunday evening bedding down overnight ready to catch the 09:50 to Calais the next morning. (we are not early risers).
It’s my first time on the Euro tunnel and I have to say what a trouble free and simple way to travel to Europe. Fast from arriving in the car park to driving on the A16 in France took just over the hour. The actual time on the train being 35 mins. It’s an excellent way to hop under the water. They should build a tunnel to the US wow wouldn’t that be a cool ride.
I had some time on the meandering journey down to come to terms with having such a narrow field of view to work with, 50mm seemed way to narrow and I began to regret my bold move to push my skills. But
We stopped off in a number of towns on the journey down. I stayed we’ll clear of the dull motorways and stuck to the B roads. This was a blessing I had planned this journey to avoid the motorway route to find a few interesting places to stop off, however at first I found the 50mm focal length very limiting when I started shooting for personal holiday type photography and was starting to wish I had either with 18-55 or the X100 with me. However as luck would have it having nearly 2 days before needing to be at the campsite booking in Paris this gave me the chance to get used to having only the 35mm to play with. I spent the first night along the banks of the river in Amiens. Taking a walk into the town Center and on to the very impressive cathedral on a warm evening allowed me to learn.
It took a while to get used to the fact that I really needed to think ahead, there was no point particularly with large buildings waiting to take your shots when you reach the building, you can’t shoot it unless your way way back in the streets so you need to think !. Using the 35mm at f/16 is very impressive. The detail and depth and tones really come through. Stepping up closer to the Cathedral and changing aperture to the gorgeous f/1.4 took advantage of the detailed stone carvings.
I took loads of shots like this, switching to manual focus and spending some time taking close and the details was very involving experience , far more connected that I would have been with the 18-55 or even the trusty X100. I was starting to enjoy this, and become a little more relaxed and no longer concerned I might have made a mistake.
I was getting into the 50mm focal length this is going to be good. I’m still blown away by the depth of detail this Fuji can produce. I’m a huge fan of shallow depth of field shots but recently in my street work I have also been playing with the “sunny 16” rule. Shooting at f16 or if its a little darker f/11 the detail of my wider street shots is wonderful. I was feeling ready for Paris, I’m practiced and can’t wait. We arrived at the campsite on the outskirts of Paris. 4km from the city centre. We set up camp and start to plan the next two days travel. While enjoying the warm evening sun, good home (camper) cooked food and of course a bottle if wine. I made sure the two batteries were changed. I found a 12v twin charger so able to charge two at a time. Cleared down my SD cards. Travel was going to be simple. A shuttle bus leaves the site daily to the nearest metro station every 30mins from 8:30am till midday and then again from 5:30pm till 11:30am perfect. Grabbing a 2 day pass that included the shuttle and metro roaming ticket for an amazing 23 euros was great value.
Day one up early grabbed the shuttle onto the metro station. Feel fit and the weather being mild we decided to walk virtually everywhere for the day.
The city of Paris is stunning. It really is a visual feast particularly in the tourist areas. It’s my first time and …wow ….standing on the top of the Arcade triumph looking at the view over this great city seeing all the main streets branching out for this central point is fantastic. Look in one direction you can see all the way to the Louvre and the other all the way to the ultra modern La Defence business area and the new Grand Arch. Incredible.
These shots are just a tiny selection for the day. End of day one we headed briefly out to find the famous Moulin Rouge I have to say the most disappointing and non photogenic part of the trip. Could have left this area out completely. Back on the superb Metro system to the campsite, long day two batteries drained and in need of food and wine.
Having read the Dan Brown books this particular part of the Louvre entrance had to be photographed.
On to the part I was personally most excited about. Being an engineer all my life I can get excited about the Eiffel Tower structure and have been looking forward to seeing and viewing this city from this world famous structure for many years. The street hike allowed me to take in more of what this architecturally beautiful city has to offer.
By now I am not noticing the 50mm focal length. Being prepared simply to take images early as you see the composition from a distance. Taking the time with the manual focus and keeping contact and not forgetting the detailed shots too. I virtually never need to chimp, the optical view finder is sublime, providing me with all the information I need to make the shot and even play with the exposure when needed all using the EVF. Having the instant image playback while the camera is still to my eye is brilliant not a chimp in sight. The only thing that I have noticed and that was and did become a massive irritation was the camera deciding to choose shutter speeds that cannot be hand held resulting in blurred images. I must have lost 10-20 shots per day through this error. This really needs to be corrected please Fuji. My X100 NEVER does this. But overall the Fuji X-E1 is a really fabulous street machine either in my back pack or round my next for 10hrs is not a problem and the image quality is just wonderful for my taste. Finally I rounded the corner to meet the Eiffel Tower. At last!!
I could not wait to get up this amazing structure. It truly is wonderful to see up close and personal. Wonderful engineering from the past and stunning on the landscape. Standing in the queue 40mins and we were on the way up. Breath taking both looking down and up.
Within the hour we were at the other side of the city and coming up the escalators to meet the stunning la defence area. Wow contrast. I felt like I have been on a historical journey through the life and growth of the city. From the 12th century to present day.
I have so many more images I’m still editing and finding more I really like, the decision to take the X-E1 turned out to be the right one. I love the 50mm focal length I feel looking at the images closer to the real thing. I felt this also when taking them. It seems a more comfortable and natural view point. The image quality you can see for yourself. I have no complaints to me they a stunning. They are all jpeg. RAW why? I got this all on one 8GB SD card. The editing is quicker. Little post processing was required to get these images to how I like them and to my preferred style for this genre of street images. Battery life sucks, but so does my iPhones. Other than the odd image lost due to the massively painful min shutter speed omission this camera is going to spend lots lots of time in my hands. I think the only thing I will have in them in the future other than this would be a new X100s maybe. Next time I’m going to take the X100 and give it to my wife to snap everything I don’t. I plan to re visit Paris one day fairly soon because its a city crying out for my to shoot it at night. Due to the long days and extended daylight need for food, and wine I was not able to fit in a night visit and do it justice so a visit with all my Fuji kit will definitely leave me wanting.