A Fuji goes to Japan

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Barbara Seiberl-Stark

"I am a 43 years old nature photographer, loving to be outdoors, always in seach of the best light. The mountains are my home and traveling around the world is my passion. I also love to share my experiences with other photo-enthusiasts all over the world. Never stop learning, never stop exploring! "

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My name is Barbara and I am a passionate nature-photographer from Austria. The last two weeks of October I had the possibility to make a trip to Tokyo as a private companion of the Vienna State Opera. Not a typical location for a “nature-child” like me, but I took the chance and started the adventure.

It was also the first “acid-test” for my recently bought Fuji equipment, a X-T2 with the lenses 10-24mm, 55-200mm and 35mm/1.4. Since I started my photography-passion in 2011, I am using DSLR cameras from Nikon and I am very satisfied with this brand, especially my D810 is worth every cent. But every time when I am hiking in the austrian mountains, carrying a lot of stuff with me, I wished a few kilos away from my back. A lightweight camera gear without making compromise in image quality… that’s was I was looking for. Nothing I ever tried, was fulfilling all my needs, so I decided to give Fuji a Chance.

Being the first time in a city of a million people like Tokyo, one of the first challenges was to find my way between skyscrapers, train stations, zen-gardens, shrines and… PEOPLE! For an optimal access to my camera gear, I used a Mindshiftgear Horizon backpack with a rotatable waistbelt. Perfect for the Fuji X-T2 with all my three lenses. And one thing I can say from the very start… for the first time I could take really cool streetshots, because I had my gear close at hand. The folding display allowed me to act unnoticed and I could react fast on changing situations. Taking photos from a lower perspective or even from the ground… no problem.

But not only the weight, also the handling of the camera was a big advantage. For changing the aperture, you just have to twist the aperture ring of the lens and you see in “real time” how that affects the exposure of your picture. You can also see the histogram in the very big and clear viewfinder if you want. The rotary knobs for ISO and exposure time are on the upper side of the body, so you have always full control of your settings and they are very easy and quick to change.

As you of course can imagine, Tokyo is a very crowded city. When you walk through the “Ginza” or near “Shibuja” (especially in the evening), you hardly find a place for yourself, not to mention for a tripod for longer exposures when the light gets low. But no problem for the Fuji: You can push up the ISO like you do it using a DSLR and the Stabilizer allows very low shutter speeds.

On one of the first days, I visited the top of the World Trade Center building. There’s a “round the house” platform, where you have a superb view on Tokyo Tower, the bay area and the city in general. Of course it is not “open”, that means you have to shoot through glass. Not the best conditions for taking quality-pictures. But I was surprised. Even the pictures with 200mm were very usable, little details from the other side of the bay shown sharp and with good texture.

A visit to Japan is not complete without having seen Mount Fuji. And I was very happy to “bring my Fuji back to homeland” ☺. I took the train to Fujikawaguchiko, hired a bicycle and again… was very happy to have only a backpack with camera gear, tripod and everything I needed for a one night overstay. In the evening I explored the lake and selected a good place for next day’s sunrise. I was very lucky, that neither in the evening, nor at sunrise clouds covered Mt. Fuji, so that I could capture all it’s beauty.

Back in Tokyo, I visited some of the exceptional beautiful gardens in search of animals, wondering, if the 55-200mm would put up a good show. To my big surprise, I really found a lot of „nature in town“. Herons, cormorants, different species of ducks, squirrels… and even a kingfisher! Although 200mm (even on crop) are not really a suitable focal length for wildlife photography, I was very happy with the results. Ok… I have to admit, that the squirrels helped a lot, because they were not really shy at all ☺. But the birds I had to capture from the distance as always and the 55-200mm did an amazing job.

At the Natural Garden of Botanical Studies, I found very beautiful butterflies and damn!… no Macro with me. But the 55-200mm could also cope with this difficult task. Even a flying in german called “Taubenschwänzchen” found its way on my sensor. The AF reacts quickly and finds accurate its aim. And that without the “Booster”-battery grip, which I have not purchased yet. Also the focus peaking works excellent, when you use the manual mode. I prefer the white edge contrast which allows me to change the focus immediately and accurate, very good for fast moving objects.

My last day trip from Tokyo brought me to Nikko. Because very little time was left, I decided to focus on the waterfalls of Ryuzu and Kegon, hoping to find a little bit of “Koyo” (that’s the japanese word for the changing colours in autumn). I was very surprised, that the color change was even beyond peak, but nevertheless I loved the strong red and orange tones and enjoyed a beautiful day in nature.

Time flies and so the two weeks in a completely “different” world ended much too early. It was the absolute right decision, to take my Fuji equipment with me – I missed nothing and never had the feeling of making a compromise. The features I love most are the very high dynamic range of the sensor, the superb handling and the very good AF. Very well done, Fuji!


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Fuji X-T2 Fuji XF10-24mm Fuji XF55-200mm Fuji XF35mmF1.4

 

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  • Adam Woodhouse

    Great images. I’m envious of your trip to Japan. 🙂

  • Jan

    Been just in Japan myself last month, same gear as you, very impressed with your results. Japan has so much to offer.