I would like to recommend a very good combination in the Fuji-X system for street photography. Triggered by the announcement of the new X-E4. I took a look back on my first experiences with street photography, which I gained in 2018 with it’s predecessor, the Fujifilm X-E3.
I also own a very nice and compact manual lens, namely the TTArtisans 35mm f1.4. The X-E3 currently costs around 450 Euros brand new, but you can get it used and in very good condition for 350 Euros. The lens costs only € 99 brandnew. Thats why you can put together a really good starter kit for Street Photography for around 500€. And that is a bargain compared to the 1.400 Euros for the X100V for example. I will show you what the combo can do in a small gallery at the end of this article. But now I will briefly explain the advantages and disadvantages.
TTArtisans 35mm ƒ1.4
Let’s start with the lens. The housing of the TTArtisans 35mm f1.4 is completely made of metal, as is the mount. First of all, it looks really nice on the small body of the X-E3 but it might look a little silly on the bigger camera bodies. It has a scale right above the mount which is very handy for zone focusing. Take a look at my videos about it on my YT Channel.
On this lens we find the the focus ring close to the mount, the aperture ring is at the very front of this lens. And that is the only real negative point I have in terms of handling: From the Fuji original lenses I’m used to it just the other way around: The aperture ring sits close to the camera and the front ring is for focussing. That’s completely stupid, because I find myself adjusting the aperture on the TTArtisans even though I want to focus. But at least: the aperture ring has clicks! I think that’s pretty nice.
The lens is very fast for its size and price: maximum aperture ƒ1.4. Not bad, is it? Unfortunately at 1.4 you have to accept a lot of vignetting, but with stopping down it gets much better. My tip for working with the lens for street is aperture 4 to 8 on a nice bright day, set the camera to focus mode M and adjust the zone focus with the help of focus peaking. Then you are ready to go and don’t have to worry about anything.
The lens is sufficiently sharp for this price and has its own character that really fits the Fuji FilmSimulations really nicely. Of course a little practicing is needed to achieve the results that you want with a manual lens, but if you get along with it you can really do very interesting shots with it.
Let’s talk about the X-E3. I once owned it but then sold it because of the missing tilting screen. That still is my main problem again, I’m just used to being able to look at the LCD from above. But if that doesn’t bother you, you can work well with the fixed display.
The X-E3 is camera of really compact size, as you can see when you compare it to the X100V. If you imagine it together with the 27mm 2.8, old or new version, you will realize that it is even smaller than the fixed lens camera.
The camera does not have the latest processor and sensor on board, but you don’t necessarily notice that, especially not with a manual lens. The IQ was absolute flagship quality in 2017, on par with the X-T2. We just have 24 instead of 26 megapixels, but that’s still absolutely sufficient.
Of course you have to cut back on the film simulations: “Eterna”, “Eterna Bleach Bypass” and “Classic Neg” are missing. If you only want to work in black and white, which I can absolutely recommend to beginners, you won’t mind. Acros is there with all the filters you need.
In terms of operation, everything on the X-E3 is as usual. Shutter Speed Dial, Exposure Compensation dial, Focus Mode switch front and back the old key layout, but without a D-Pad and with a joystick.
LCD and EVF are of course of a four years old quality, so the resolution is of course no longer up to date. When I tried it out, I could already feel the leap we’ve made since then. But you can still work fine with it.
Just take a look at old reviews from the camera, then you can see in the Detail what you expect.
As an entry to street photography, I think this combination is great for around € 500, because you first practice with a manual lens and learn a lot about the apertures and what it does with the camera. And maybe you can afford some of the Fuji-lenses a little later, or you go and buy a third party lens with autofocus, maybe from Viltrox. But then you will be ready and already know a lot about the camera and streetphotography.