Photographing London with the Fuji XF35mm F2

Up until about a year ago, I suffered from a condition I can only describe as “Lens FOMO”. The notable symptom is the fear of missing out (FOMO) on the perfect photo because I don’t have the right lens with me. To combat this, I would always carry a full bag of gear so I was ready and prepared to capture any subject in nearly all conditions. This strategy is all well and good, but a full bag is a heavy bag and that weight can get tiresome and the long term effects on my back surely can’t be good, right? Something had to change.

Fast forward to today and things are quite different. I realized some time ago that I needed to relax more. Worrying about missing the shot was taking the fun out of the shoot and being frustrated if I wasn’t heading home with some kind of successful photo was missing the point in a really big way. What many photographers, including myself, realize at some point along their journey is that the hunt can be as satisfying as the catch. When I first took up photography, I was in it just for the photo. In my rather ignorant opinion, that was the be-all and end-all. It goes without saying that catching the killer photo is still the target but these days, the exploration, escapism and creativity are all just as important which is why, when I head out on a shoot, I no longer feel the need to take all of my gear with me and will often just head out with a single camera and one or two small prime lens. With this minimalistic setup, I feel liberated and agile to explore different angles and compositions and best of all, have great fun doing so.

You can read more about the gear I use and how I pack my bag depending on the shoot over in this post: What’s in my camera bag (2020 Edition).

Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/20″ . ISO 800
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/45″ . ISO 160

Photographing London with The Fujifilm X-T30 and XF35mm F2

Recently, armed with only my Fujifilm X-T30 and the super light XF35mm F2 lens, I headed out before sunrise for a walk along the river in London to take a few photos. The compact X-T30 combined with any of Fuji’s small prime lenses is such an awesome combination. You get all the latest and greatest tech inside the X-T30 such as Fuji’s latest X-Trans sensor and super-quick autofocusing with a small, fast, high-quality prime lens. With the tactile knobs and dials to play with, for me at least, it is a joy to shoot with.

I also posted a similar article while out in London with another of Fujifilm’s compact prime lenses which you can read all about here: Photographing London With The Fuji XF16mm F2.8

I had no plan to shoot anything in particular nor any idea as to what the weather had in store. I just wanted to be out with the camera and see what I could capture. Starting off near London Bridge, I ventured over to More London and captured a few of the classic compositions before heading along the river towards Bankside and the Millennium Bridge. With such a small set-up, I started to look for new, creative compositions and had a lot of fun opening up the aperture and playing with a shallow depth of field.

Below are a few of the photos I captured during the shoot.

Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/13″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/20″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/4.5 . 1/280″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/750″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2 . 1/450″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/5 . 1/70″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/5.6 . 1/1100″ . ISO 160
Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/5.6 . 1/3200″ . ISO 160

Although the single camera, single lens strategy is not just limited to prime lenses, I wanted to just touch upon why I have a couple of them in my bag. Unlike a zoom lens which allows you to get closer or further away from the subject while keeping your feet rooted to the spot, prime lenses have a fixed focal length which means you have to zoom with your feet (as in walk closer or further away from your subject). Zooming with your feet doesn’t work in all situations and may sound restrictive to some, but it’s that limitation coupled with typically wider apertures and increased image quality that attracts so many to them. Primes tend to simplify the process, stripping away the compositional decisions around the focal length. What you see is what you get. This for some is far more liberating than having a zoom lens.

Overall, it was a great morning to be out photographing the city. I had some nice light and had some fun with the wide aperture and shallow depth of field. I still occasionally head out with a full bag of gear, particularly if I have a shot in mind such as a long-exposure, cityscape image for which I need extra equipment but I do so much less frequently these days. With only a single camera and lens, I feel free to wander the streets and find angles and unique compositions that I just wouldn’t think to look for when weighed down by a big heavy bag on my back.

Speak to you soon.

Fujifilm X-T30 . XF35mmF2 . f/2.8 . 1/125″ . ISO 160

Trevor is a photography enthusiast living and working in London, UK. He has been enjoying the craft of photography for the last 10 years with a real passion for the London cityscapes and more recently long exposure photography. Formerly a Nikon user, Trevor moved to the Fuji X system in 2016 and has never looked back.

4 Comments

  1. You could say that I had (have) FOMO about the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4, as I read testimonials to its greatness. As it is, I opted for the f/2 version when starting to build up a set of new lenses for a Fujifilm system after decades with Nikon.

    After using this lens for almost two years now. I keep wondering, how much better could the f/1.4 lens be? The f/2 lens is tiny, fast to focus and optically terrific. It is often my one and only lens on an outing and never disappoints.

    Thanks for reinforcing my love of this lens with your fine images.

    P.S. I just clicked on your London with 16mm f/2.8 link… if I didn’t already have this lens, your images (most shot wide open) would have me ordering one. Again, very nice!

    1. Thank you, Albert. I think we all look at other kit and wonder “should I get that lens?” but I have to say, I have always been happy with the small compact F/2 family of lenses. If I took portraits I might think different but for my own work the WR and weight of this range of lenses wins out every time. If from what I hear the XT4 has IBIS, then that will add a few stops to the F/2 range and make it even less of a reason for me to look at the 1.4 etc. Thanks for your message. 🙂

  2. Hello Trevor, I enjoyed the article and the shots of London. Several years ago, I too have changed from the “all the gear all the time” philosophy and FOMO to the “less gear and more intentional” philosophy. I dint regret it.

    1. Hi Khürt, thanks very much. It’s great to mix it up and it travel light whenever possible. It feels rather liberating 🙂

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