Fuji X Buyer’s Guide :: Part 3 :: Accessories · DEDPXL

Fuji_X_Series_Accessories

In wrapping up this series on FujiFilm X cameras, I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite accessories from batteries to straps to bags to odd ball stuff. Be sure to check out the first two posts in this series. The Fuji Cameras Buyers Guide and the Fuji Lenses Buyers Guide.

Batteries :: The great thing about Fuji X cameras is how small they are. The bad thing about Fuji X cameras is their batteries are small as well. Smaller batteries = less juice. This used to be quite an issue with the original x100. If I was going to be out shooting with that camera all day I always had four to five batteries with me. The X100S brought better power management and I was comfortable with three batteries for a day. With the X100T I can head out with two fully charged batteries and make it through the day. That said, I’ll take three just in case. Same goes for the X-Pro1 or X-T1 for me. 

Since OEM batteries tend to cost a bit more, and I always want to have more than I actually need, I buy aftermarket batteries. I’ve used three different brands of aftermarket batteries. STK, MaximalPower, and Wasabi. In this day and age you never know if all of these batteries are coming off the same production line and are just getting rebadged under different brand names. I’ve had the best luck with Wasabi aftermarket batteries. I’ve had a few STK batteries go bad and I’ve had one Maximal go bad. The Wasabi’s haven’t given me any problems. I suggest picking up this two battery + charger set for the X100 / X30 series from Amazon. They also have a two battery + charger set for the X-E1, X-E2, X-Pro1, X-T1, Etc.

A note about mixing OEM batteries and chargers with aftermarket ones. I have had mixed results charging Fuji batteries in aftermarket chargers and vice versa with aftermarket batteries in the Fuji charger. Sometimes everything swaps back and forth just fine. Other times one will not want to charge the other. When I can I just charge Fuji batteries in Fuji chargers and vice versa. If I travel then I’ll take one or two of each. I like this Digipower travel charger for the X100 batteries as it has a USB port built in. Good for phones, tablets, etc. One charger doing two things sort of thing. I will say that the Wasabi charger seems to play nicely with OEM batteries more than other off brands that I’ve tried.

To organize my batteries I use Think Tank Photo DSLR battery holders. The black/grey version can hold two X-E/Pro/T batteries or four X100 batteries. Their AA battery holder fits two X100 batteries nicely. If I’m traveling light with an X100T then I have a fully charged battery in the camera and the Think Tank AA holder with two charged batteries in my pocket. That will last me all day and then some. For my SD cards I use the Think Tank Photo SD Pixel Pocket Rocket to hold them.

As for SD cards? Whatever is fast and on sale. I have zero brand loyalty to cards these days and have few issues with write times and all that. Fast and cheap is my favorite. For video that’s another story. I put a little more thought into cards for video but any ol’ 8 to 16 gig SD card that has good reviews is good for me. I don’t use any cards over 16 gigs as I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.

Fuji_SpiderHolster_X100T

Straps / Bags :: My favorite strap/sling is the BlackRapid SnapR 20. I find that DSLR slings are overkill for these small Fuji cameras. The SnapR line is great unless you are working with a fully kitted out X-T1 with a grip and a large lens. Anything less than that the SnapR is the way to go. The SnapR 20 comes with a little bag that I immediately ditch / repurpose and just use the sling. I have no use for that little bag on the sling.

Lately I have moved from the sling and have been using a shoulder bag and wrist strap combo or using the SpiderHolster Black Widow camera holster. I first saw the SpiderHolster in use by fellow Fuji shooter Kevin Mullins. You loop your belt through the holster thing and then you screw a post into your tripod socket on your camera and it hangs there Clint Eastwood style. I have to admit I sometimes feel a bit nerdy with a Fuji hanging on me like that but damn it all… it’s fast, convenient, and you don’t have a strap around your neck. I like it.

I have yet to have the camera fall out of the holster or the screw post come loose. The worst part is you need to keep a little wrench handy in case you want to ditch the post from your camera on the fly. What SpiderHolster needs to do is cut a hole in the holster that can be the wrench. Please send my great idea royalties to the address listed on my web site along with your newly designed holster. kthanksbai.

If I head out without a sling or holster then I’m going with this ungodly expensive ONA bag.

Ona_bag_The_Prince_Street_01

That’s the The Prince Street messenger bag by ONA.  It costs $389 and that’s a lot of cash to drop on a camera bag. I have this bag for one reason and one reason only. I bought an ONA bag because I absolutely love and adore my wife.

Meg and I were recently on a trip together and I was using one of my MANY Think Tank Photo shoulder bags. I love Think Tank bags. I have somewhere between way too many and not enough Think Tank bags. On this trip we dressed up for a night on the town and you know what sucked on a date night? My utilitarian Think Tank bag. It didn’t match my shoes sort of thing.

The Prince Street bag is now my go to bag for day to day stuff as well as my small personal item when I fly. I didn’t want a full on laptop bag nor did I want a tiny camera purse. This Prince Street model is perfect for me. Small enough not to be a pain in the ass yet large enough to hold all my essential stuff when I travel.

Ona_bag_The_Prince_Street_02

Mock my reasoning all you want. Tell me what a hipster I am. I don’t care. I bought this ONA bag and got a boat load of brownie points from Meg. Now as I sip artisanal coffee by window light I can rest it on the reclaimed wood table, jot a note in my Moleskine, and Instagram the f*ck out of that precious moment and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

I seriously love this bag. Check out their other bags here. I can honestly say that they are worth every penny. This might be my favorite camera bag I’ve ever owned. I have zero affiliation with ONA.

Fuji_Instax_SP1_Printer

After I take a photo of my latte, my natural wood pencil lying on my Moleskine, along with my understated pocket knife next to a few rolls of film, (with my Frys boots in the background) I’ll print that out on the Instax SP1 and Instagram THAT too! I’m going full hipster GUYS!!!!

If you don’t understand the allure of Instax then I’ll never be able to explain it to you. I didn’t understand it until I started using it. Print an Instax and hand it to a stranger on the street or a client on the set and you’ll immediately get it. If you don’t get it after that then you’re doing it wrong. The problem with the Instax SP1 is it uses two fairly expensive and not always easy to find CR2 lithium batteries. Buy them in bulk like these Tenergy CR2 10 packs. Fuji says you can get about ten packs of Instax printed on a set but I’ve found in real world use that translates to six to maybe seven packs of film from a set of batteries. I was going to go with rechargeable CR2 batteries for this but I read a few posts saying it was best to avoid those with this printer due to something technical about electricity and voltage and stuff. Plus that would mean one more charger I’d have to keep up with. 

I found a great solution to this whole issue. Pick up this USB SP1 power cord and run it off any 5 volt battery or wall charger like the kind you have for your phone or other such device. I have the Jackery Bar Premium that will charge my phone, iPad, X100T via the USB port, or power the SP1 printer. I still keep some CR2’s in the printer and in my bag in case I find myself in need of those but the USB cord has substantially decreased my CR2 usage.

Note – Instax film is getting hard to find these days and prices are running at a premium. Whenever you find a five pack for less than $50 you should stockpile that stuff. Fuji is currently increasing production of the film to meet the demand. I’m pissed I didn’t buy more when you could get a five pack for around $35 on Amazon.

Fuji_XT1_battery_grip

If you are shooting with the X-T1 and going with some of the larger lenses then I think the Fuji vertical battery grip is a must have item. It really helps balance the small camera with the larger lenses like the 56mm or the two large zooms. This brings me to an editorial note about these X series cameras.

A few people commented on my Fuji lens buying guide post that they aren’t happy seeing these larger lenses coming out for the Fuji X series because the whole damn point of the mirror-less system is to have small and lightweight rigs. I completely understand what you are saying but I whole heartedly disagree that Fuji shouldn’t be making these lenses. Take a look at my “work bag” filled with Fuji gear.

Fuji_ThinkTankPhoto_Airport_Essentials_backpack

This is a small Think Tank Photo Airport Essentials back pack. Currently my bag is holding two X-T1 bodies, seven X lenses (10-24mm, 14mm, 23mm, 27mm, 35mm, 56mm, 50-140mm), two X100T’s, accessories, and my laptop. That’s all in a bag that fits under the seat in coach. That’s my everything but the kitchen sink camera bag I take on jobs and I still have room in it.

The beauty of the X system (or similar compact systems) is it can be built UP to a full fledged working camera with all the glass you need for a job or it can be stripped DOWN to a very small and capable travel system. You can build up a DSLR kit as well but you can only strip it down so far. Something like the X system is the best of both worlds. Small and lightweight or fully capable with a full rig of gear that is similar to a DSLR system yet still smaller and lighter.

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Odds & Ends & Flashes :: There are two essential X100 accessories that I’m never without. One is a lens hood and the other is a thumb grip. You can get a hood like this Fotasy hood and ring for $8 on Amazon.  An original Fuji hood is going to set you back about $70. I love Fuji and all but damn. Buy an $8 hood and put a little gaff tape on it so it doesn’t fall off. That’s all I have for lens protection. I don’t use UV filters or lens caps on my X100’s. UV filters have given me ghosting issues in the past (yes, I used quality UV filters) and I lose lens caps like it’s my job. Knock on / touch wood I have yet to scratch a lens on my X100’s. I find the hood is adequate protection. I also do not use screen protectors on the back of my cameras. I have a few scratches here and there but nothing major and I never see them when I’m looking at an image on the screen. I only see them when the screen is off.

I LOVE using a thumb grip on the X100 cameras and my X-Pro1. This is one little accessory I suggest bending over for and spending a bit more on. I tend to go with ones made by Lensmate. I do not like the ones that have the allen key on them to tighten them down on the hotshoe. A lot of people like using soft releases on the shutter button but I’ve never gotten into them. I’ve tried a number of them and they just aren’t for me. Don’t buy an expensive one at first if you haven’t used one before. Test a cheap one to see if you like them and you can keep up with it. If you get the kind that screws into the shutter release button try putting a bit of hairspray on the threads to help it stay in place. That’s not a sure fire way to keep it in place though as I’ve lost every one I’ve owned. 

Flashes :: Ugh. So yeah. Fuji is seriously lacking in the dedicated flash department. If OMG I MUST HAVE TTL is a thing for you then hold off for a bit while Fuji or some third party figures that out. It is of my professional opinion that Fuji shouldn’t even bother developing a TTL system themselves. They should partner with someone like Phottix and let them build some kick ass flash systems for the Fuji. I’ve read rumors of Fuji working with Metz but… meh. Mehtz. Metz kicked a lot of ass back in the day. They were the Metzades of flashes (see what I did there?). Lately though Metz seems to be lagging and then there’s that whole filing for insolvency thing. Ya know. Maybe not the best time to get in bed with them right now. But I don’t know. Zero info on that.

Dear Fuji — call Phottix. I bet they could build a kick ass system for you complete with triggers and all that. I think that’s who I’d pick. I’ve been using some Phottix stuff lately and I’m currently testing the new Indra 500. That’s what I’ve used for the photos in this blog post BTW. Initial impression — I might be selling some Alienbees… Maybe. Also need to see if they knock my Quadras off their pedestal. We’ll see. 

I have the little EF-X20 flash for those OMG I NEED SOMETHING RIGHT NOW sort of a thing. Runs on two AAA batteries. Doesn’t put out much light. Fun at parties as it spreads light above and over the lens hood on an X100. Not ever going in a softbox. I have used it off camera at a few wedding receptions. I put it on a Canon TTL cord and hold the camera in my right hand and the little flash in my left hand. This gives me a small directional light where I need it when working in close quarters. Lighting up a whole dance floor though? Nope. Bouncing? Nope. FongSphereing it? No. Never.

This is the one area where I personally don’t want a full sized TLL flash on the hotshoe. I have put full sized flashes on the hotshoes of Fuji cameras (using manual mode) but nothing balances out that kind of weight on top of a Fuji. Especially an X100. A Pocket Wizard looks silly on top of an X100 let alone a full sized hotshoe flash.

Fuji — Let a third party put the R&D into this and license your TTL tech to them and wash your hands of it and get to work on the video capabilities of these cameras. Just my two cents. I know Nissin has released a smaller flash for the Fuji system called the i40 but I haven’t heard too much about the day to day use of that yet. Collin Nicholls has posted a review of it. I like the size of it but I’m otherwise not interested in it. Also, last request, make the flashes look as good as the cameras. Right?

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I’ve got one more post in the works for this series to answer some questions and talk about moving to a small system from DSLRs.

As with all things in life there are tons of other options and accessories out there for your kit of gear. These are items that I have found useful, practical, and at times, invaluable. I’d love to hear from you what things you find useful for your Fuji X system or other comparable mirror-less rig.

Cheers,
Zack

PS – I’m still off social media for awhile. Can you do me a favor and share this if you found it useful? Here’s a short link  ( http://dedpxl.com/?p=6909 )

Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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