Cuba: The Tale of Two Cameras, Part 1

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On my recent trip to Cuba I brought along two cameras. Not a main body and a backup as I usually do, but two different camera systems. A Nikon D800 and a Fuji X-Pro1. If you follow me on social media you may have seen my post that I shot 6000 photos with the Fuji and zero with the Nikon. That's right, the D800 made it all the way to Cuba and didn't even get turned on. Now I kind of feel sorry I didn't give it at least one click. This peaked some people's interest so thought I'd share the details about how and why this came to be.

A couple weeks before my trip I was reading about the X-Pro1 and suddenly the potential of the camera hit me. It's not as though I hadn't heard of the camera, and certainly the entire Fuji X-system has been getting a lot of praise. My thought wasn't that I must have this camera and ditch my current system. It was about being a great travel photography camera for my upcoming trip to Cuba. The X-Pro1 (a mirrorless camera system) is lightweight, compact, unobtrusive and has great image quality. Part of what brought this on was having already done two international trips this year (Czech Republic and China) that involved a lot of handheld shooting and street photography. I shot both those trips with the Nikon D800. While the D800 has great image quality and tons of pixels, all those pixels require excellent technique for maximum sharpness. I found myself needing to shoot numerous images for one composition while also checking for critical sharpness. Not ideal, nor convenient in those shooting situations.

Perhaps what I'd heard about the X-Pro1 had been percolating in my mind, but it struck me that Cuba would be an excellent testing ground for the camera. Though I wasn't smitten enough to buy the gear. I opted to rent the camera and two lenses (18-55, 55-200). The prime lenses looked great, but I'm mostly a zoom lens user. Since the camera would have its own learning curve I decided to stick with the type of lenses I'm used to. The next week I was in New York for the PhotoPlus Expo. I stopped by the Fuji booth to try out the X-Pro1. Good thing I liked it because the rental was already on its way and I would be in Cuba in less than a week.

Once the camera arrived, two days before my trip, I got a handle on where to find the key functions and took some test shots. The images were looking good even at ISO 3200. The camera was wonderfully compact and lightweight. I was excited about the possibilities. The night before my flight to Cuba I was in the hotel restaurant still reading the camera manual. Are you supposed to know how to use your gear before you go on a trip?

In my next post I'll tell you about my experience shooting with the X-Pro1 in Cuba...