My initial dream
Since I got my first full manual analogue camera, I wished for a digital one with the same look and feel but *capable of* producing film-like results on JPEG. Something like a Canon AT-1 with an SD card full of photos that look like “FUJIFILM industrial 100” or “Kodak Portra 160”. Although my wish came true, it actually took me a while to notice.
My name is Moe Moschokarfis, a Greek photographer and visual artist based in Reutlingen, Germany. I have a thing for vintage analogue and mechanical stuff like modern classic cars, tube amps and film cameras. If only I could afford to choose, I would probably shoot film every single day and time.
It is quite difficult to pinpoint the actual “starting point” in my photography journey, as I’ve always had a camera with me for documenting my life which even became a lot easier when I got my first cell phone with a camera.
Things got serious when I bought my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a true bargain I picked up from a professional photographer nearby in Stuttgart. Back in the day, during my design studies, I learned how to use a camera on a Mark III, and I remember scrolling through all offers on eBay and thinking “I’ll never be able to afford that”.
With the 5D Mark II in my hands, I started shooting paid sets and earned my first money with photography – I felt extremely confident with my gear. My main genres at the time were “automotive” and “people” – and they still are, in addition to my other non-commercial passion which is travel photography.
I spent about three weeks in Greece with a heavy backpack on my back, carrying around my 5D Mark II, an EOS 50, and four different lenses. During this time, it really felt as if something was missing, those beautiful dials, knobs and the simplicity of my good old Canon AT-1.
This tactile kind of shooting without digging into the menus is something very special to me. I also disliked how many pictures were not in focus, and I had the feeling that my gear was slowing me down. While I was still in Greece, my best friend Benny posted a monochrome photo he took on his vacation in Sylt on *Instagram*, and I was very surprised when he told me that it’s not on film, but a straight-out-of-camera JPEG from his FUJIFILM X-Pro2.
Well, I spent the whole night on the internet reading every single article and watching every video I could find on YouTube about FUJIFILM gear, after which it dawned on me that I needed to lay my hands on a FUJIFILM.
Although I was extremely intrigued by the FUJI X mount ecosystem, I knew what my current Canon setup was capable of, so I decided to give Fuji a try with a cheaper model, the first generation X100. This little camera was frustrating but also extremely liberating at the same time.
I’m one of those guys that never leaves the house without a camera, and the X100 seemed perfect for that. I moved on and traded the X100 along with a few old Canon lenses and got an X-T1 with two cheap “speed-boosters”, one for Canon FD and one for EF lenses, so I could use the glass I already had.
At this point, my initial dream came true, but I didn’t *notice that the* X-T1 had all I wanted, including the outstandingly beautiful FUJIFILM colour science, film simulations, knobs and dials. Another feature that blew me away was the viewfinder and the eye-AF. I was able to act faster when working with people and pay more attention to other things.
My biggest mistake was yet to be done. Instead of gradually investing into the FUJI X system, I decided to stay on the Canon side, sold all my Fuji gears, saved up some money and then got myself a brand-new Canon R. The main reason for the Canon R was the lens mount and the ability to use the same EF lenses on the R, the 5D, the 5D Mark II and my analogue EOS.
It would be a lie to say the Canon R isn’t a great camera, but it slowly started to kill my passion for photography. The shooting experience was way too “digital” for me, and the strange weight distribution due to the EF-adapter made it uncomfortable to use in shooting situations. The JPEG output was unusable, and the colour science in the raw files had something I didn’t like.
I wished Canon had kept the same colour science from the first 5D model. The worst thing was the touch panel and the button combinations to change settings on the fly: I remember smiling at my client trying to hide my frustration.
Around that time, I bought a very cheap used X-E1 with the FUJINON XF35mm F2 R WR lens, and I found myself shooting more than 90% of my photos with this handy combination. The little FUJI was so simple and fun to use! This time, I made the right decision and sold all my Canon lenses except my 50mm and 85mm primes, bought an X-T2 with the XF35mm F1.4 and took this setup with me on a three-week holiday to Greece, where I had two professional paid shootings already planned.
The X-T2 changed my whole photographic philosophy. It’s so customizable, I was able to use the JPEGs only! I enjoyed walking around and blending in the scene when taking candid street photography shots. The 5D models made me look like a professional everywhere, the X-T2 more like a tourist or a creative photographer.
Returning from my holidays with the X-T2 after two awesomely paid shootings in Greece, I looked at the JPEG on my computer and was stunned. I couldn’t see any major difference between the FUJIFILM JPEGs and my 35mm analogue film scans in terms of colour reproduction. The quality was outstanding and far superior to all my Canon photos to my eyes. I sold all my Canon gear on the same day without even thinking about it – the only one I kept is my Canon 5D “classic” with the 50mm f/1.8 STM prime.
Today I’m still using my X-T2 with the XF33mm F1.4 R LM WR lens and an X-H1 with the XF50mm F1.0 R WR portrait beast on for most of my work. There’s also the XF23mm F2 R WR and the XF16mm F2.8 R WR for wider shots in my case, but I rarely use them.
Attached to a sling camera strap, like the “Hold Fast money-maker”, this is the perfect combination for my style, independent of whether I’m shooting a fashion set or a cinematic automotive scene. The most unconventional gear in my case is the Zhongyi “FD-FX lens turbo II”, together with my favourite vintage lenses: The Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 S.S.C. and 28mm f/2.8 S.C. – a magical setup for cinematic photography in low light.
My transition to FUJIFILM did not only change my photography and how my photos look, but also me as a photographer. I can rely on my gear to perform and the photos to turn out great, work fully manual at the same time without being slowed down and last but not least: I started to enjoy photography! Clients get confused from time to time because they’re not sure if I’m shooting digital or analogue, but that’s part of my style.
The most unexpected thing is that my FUJIFILM gear got me off shooting film. When not on a professional paid set, I always have my beloved X-Pro1 with a manual 7artisans 35mm f/1.2 lens attached with me. The camera looks like an analogue camera, feels like one and the X-Trans I sensor is known for its film-like character. I still shoot film for clients, but my personal experience is digital in the meantime.
My initial dream of an analogue digital camera came true, and I couldn’t be happier!
Professional photographer & visual artist located in Reutlingen, Germany with a soft spot for modern classic cars & analogue stuff.