What's In My Bag | 2017 Update

February 19, 2017  •  1 Comment

I'm still a two lens photographer....in 35mm equivalent focal lengths

  • 24-70mm F2.8 & 70-200mm F2.8


  • 16-35mm F4
  • 85mm F1.2
  • 50mm F2
  • 28mm F2.8 (VIA Fujifilm X70)

The cameras themselves haven't changed much...

  • Fujifilm X-T1
  • Fujifilm Xpro2
  • Fujifilm X70
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 MKI


  • Neewer Speedlite Flashes X 4
  • Neewer LED Lights X 4
  • Yongnuo RF-602 Transmitter/Receivers

Here are my "updated" thoughts on the gear above and the state of the photography industry...

I spent many years shooting DSLR/Medium Format cameras and a bunch of compacts too, first for play then of course for work once I traded my Suit & Ties for something more important. My weapon of choice was Canon then a brief time with PhaseOne. I switched at one point to Nikon...eventually going back to Canon until around early 2013.

2012 was huge for me. I decided to put camera gear in the back seat and focus on growing as a photographer, which meant getting out of the studio and away from the computer to spend more time out in the world. I had completely lost what's commonly referred to as "balance" in my daily life. That's what drove the change in my gear bag and I wanted cameras and lenses that were smaller/lighter, faster at a lower cost compared to a standard professional DSLR.

First I found Fuji...

The Xpro1 camera paired with a XF35mm F1.4 lens. It was a love hate affair and we parted ways soon afterwards. There were a host of reasons including the lack of RAW support in Adobe Lightroom at the time due to it's unique X-Trans sensor. I picked them up again when the company released a major Firmware update that basically changed then entire performance of the camera. When combined with the cool retro look and film simulations it's a hard camera to leave at home. The X-TRANS sensor provides some challenges even now with Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro but I've found good work-arounds while these two applications go through the improvement motions. Fuji's lens catalogue has absolutely exploded in the last two years and now offer something for just about everyone...with additional focal lengths to follow. Everything they make..even the consumer line is of the highest quality and the steady Firmware updates keeps them humming along nicely.

Then there was Olympus...

I tried out a friend's EM-5 and kept my eyes on the company until the EM-1 was introduced and I've owned one ever since. The EM-1 had a few things going for it right out of the gate, starting with RAW support in most mainstream software applications (Bayer sensor). Second was the incredible lens catalogue filled by both new and legacy glass. Third and most important was their 5-AXIS image stabilisation system. I have yet to find any proprietary system in the market that exceeds let alone matches Olympus in this regard. Many derided the Micro Four Thirds sensor as a gimmick that was sure to fail but I saw beyond that and stuck it out. My faith was well rewarded in the proof that the format could more than hold it's own. In many instances it's hard to tell images apart from the Fuji or Olympus unless you have a trained eye, and without the Film Simulations applied.

Today I use both systems interchangeably...like two sets of shoes, one black and the other brown. I use the Fuji's a bit more for work, especially if I'll be in challenging light. The Olympus get's packed if there will be excessive moister or dust. I can literally submerge that camera in water without damage. There are some key things that each does better and it's a quick decision which to pack before heading out the door.


It's all about balance...Image Quality , Build Quality, Size/Weight, System Completeness or as I like to say..The Shooting Envelope. This chart is a bit out of date as Fuji, Sony and Olympus have all updated their mirrorless products significantly since I created it. Fujifilm and Olympus are in a serious dead heat for everything except workflow. The X-TRANS sensor still confuses Adobe Lightroom and a host of lessor software packages.

Keep in mind that this chart is a culmination of what's important to me. I swim, sail, row, hike, etc..in addition to studio and location work. I need tough equipment that can withstand all kinds of B.S. and still be in good working condition when I need to shoot and the image quality has to be better than "Good Enough" without breaking the bank.

Now...about the photography industry

Mirrorless cameras are here to stay despite all the nonsense (Pros) being said in the immediate past. Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and now Sony have built complete systems around the format. Other manufacturers held out to their detriment...but have started to come onboard slowly. In my opinion it wasn't completely their fault, we "photographers" were contributing quite a bit. We told manufacturers that we were not interested in anything but full-frame sensors, or touch/swivel LCD screens and video. We told them that we needed big, heavy impressive cameras or our clients would become skeptical of our services. We now see of course that every single one of those were absolutely wrong and manufactures figured it out...hopefully it's not too late.


The people driving innovation..or change in design direction depending on your perspective is the "non-photographer", photographers. These people probably earn little to no income from a camera but photography is every bit as important to them. However, they don't want to carry around those huge anchors everywhere they go. They also want to be able to edit and share images and video instantly without having to learn post-processing or retouching. Unless manufacturers give them what they want, Apple's iPhone will continue to outsell traditional cameras until everyone is out of business.

Fujifilm and Olympus are already there...I can shoot JPEG and video all day with complete ability to share them within a few minutes without external post processing. I can see on my LCD or EVF "exactly" what my capture will look like....just like a SmartPhone but with superior image quality and control.

That's why those two camera systems are "In My Bag".

If I haven't convinced you to make a switch to a mirrorless camera system...consider this: "ANY" late model camera you buy now will give you good enough image quality regardless of the megapixel count or sensor. Make your choice strictly on the features you want with exception of video if that's your thing. In that case the Panasonic GH4/GH5 or Sony A7s/A7r are your best choices (mirrorless).


Alex D(non-registered)
Hi Leigh - I just found your site, so I'm still browsing through the articles. I really like that you're focusing on the artistic side, but also justify/explain your technical choices.

I would like to get a 24-70 f2.8 zoom (12-40 or 16-55 respectively) - but I am not sure if I should go Oly or Fuji (I have an E-M5.1 + a few primes; and an X-T10 with 18-55 and 35f2).

My question is.. the Fuji's are also weather sealed and you have the 2.8 zooms for both, from what I saw. The Fuji should have better IQ, and the long lens are also stabilized. Why do you still keep the Olympus? What is a scenario where you would pick it in advance, versus the Fuji?

(I saw your mention of "excessive moister or dust" - but I guess the Fuji can handle that too? :)

( My plan was to get the zooms for oly, and get the f2 primes for Fuji. I bought a cheap E-M1.1+12-40 a few days ago - and now I remembered all the hassle with handling raw's at ISO's above 800.. and.. I'm not sure I am still OK with the IQ, after using the Fuji for a year. And.. I am not sure I can justify pushing two systems, as an amateur.. Now I'm thinking of returning the E-M1 and 12-40 :( )

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