Last year when I travelled to Japan my kit was far too heavy. Even for Fujifilm. I took with me my X-T1, 23mmF1.4, 16mmF1.4, 18-135mm, 27mmF2.8 – that 18-135mm is heavy. And to make matters worse – one slightly drunken afternoon in Kyoto – I walked into Yodobashi Camera Store and purchased the 50-140mm! Thankfully, Dale Rogers – a master at landscape and enviroment photography – is now putting that to better use than I ever could! But my kit was far from a travel kit. I took it all as I was scared that I would not have the lens I needed. Silly really. So carrying almost 3kg plus all the bits and pieces kind of sucked. It was far better than lugging my old Canon gear. Throw in a tripod, jacket, water bottle, travel docs and all the bits that go with travelling…and my backpack was a serious pain in the ass! By the end of the trip I kind of hated my backpack. Oh and my shoes!
As many of you will know from my past blogs, I am heading back in August. All of a sudden it is June! I have made a firm decision to just travel with my Fujifilm X70! For me that is a brave step. I have an X-T2 and a bunch of lenses including the trinity of F2 lenses – XF23mmF2, XF 35mmF2 and the XF50mmF2. So why not take the best camera I have? That is a good question and one that I have debated with myself. Make no mistake. This trip is a street photography trip. The X-T2 and the F2 lenses are weather resistant. They are relatively light. And the processor and sensor are a step up from the X70 which has the same processor and sensor as the X-T1. Don’t get me wrong I love my X-T2 and would possibly consider rescuing it first in an emergency…my children second. I kid. Probably. But maybe that is the point. I took the X-T1 on both my past trips to Japan and was thrilled with the images it produced. The X70 has the same opportunity. And also, I really like the way it handles in a street photography scenario.
So it is the Fujifilm X70 that will accompany me as I wade my way through the masses in Tokyo. I am only taking minimal accessories with me. I have two spare batteries – these are the NP-95 from Fujifilm. I don’t do third party batteries. I will also have the USB charge cable and my power bank to top the X70 and my phone up on the go. Such a handy feature of this camera being able to be charged via USB. Then a bunch of SD cards – took over 7,000 images last time I was in Japan. And finally, the Fujifilm Wide Conversion Lens (WCL-X70) to drop the X70 from an 18.5mm to a 14mm wide lens. That is a recent purchase and one that I am still playing with. I won’t use it often but sometimes a street scene, like the crazy Shibuya Scramble Crossing, needs a little more drama. That’s it! It takes up next to no room and hardly registers as far as weight is concerned.
So where has my faith in this camera as a travel companion come from? I have used this camera solely as my street kit for the past few weeks and absolutely adore the image quality it produces. I love the contrasty feel to the images. I shoot always in RAW. But on the go can very easily use the RAW to JPEG converter in the camera to manage images and then wirelessly send them to my phone for social media posting. Handy to be able to blog on the go also if I feel the need to. But there is more to my faith. I have been very inspired by the recent works of Bill Gekas in only taking this camera on his recent trip. And or course Anirban Chatterjee and Yiannis Yiasaris whose work with the X70 I admire so much! These guys – all Melbourne photographers – inspired me to give this little rig a shot. Glad I did.
My goal this trip is pure street photography in the streets and back streets and dingy little laneways of Tokyo. I have connected with some amazing photographers in Tokyo and will be organising a street meet with them. I think that will be the highlight of my time to be honest. Some also use the X70. Many use Leica. Cannot wait to show them what a little pocket size Fujifilm can do compared to their second-mortgage-camera. I am only visiting Tokyo this time so have already done the sites as a tourist back in 2015. I will see the sites but only if I happen upon them through my street photography journeys. And even then they will only be a backdrop to street scenes. This time, I am intending to be bound to the vibrant and eclectic streets of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Harajuku, Asakusa and of course Tokyo central. And anywhere else that I happen to land. I have some very specific projects in mind – something that I didn’t focus on in my past travels.
The only thing that I have booked apart from my flights and hotel is a ticket to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli animated films and went there in 2015. They don’t let you photograph inside the grounds of the museum so there are really no images of my time there. But it was an amazing place. So, today actually, I organised my all day pass to the museum. My credit card took an absolute beating in the gift store and book store last I was there. I picked up many a gift for my kids and a few for myself also. I don’t see why this time around should be any different! So that is the only planed event. The rest of the time will be taking to the streets, day and night, to capture the stories of the streets of Tokyo.
So obviously I am very eager to get going. Camera talk aside, this is an important event for me. Being a single parent and widower is tough and comes will all sorts of complicated crap. My now annual trip to Japan allows me to step out of all the necessary roles I must play and for a handful of days, reset and restore myself. Get some perspective on the enormity of the world. It is something to look forward to. Something to cast back and remember fondly. It is energising. It is extreme. And it is just for me. Not selfish. Necessary. Happy shooting.