“My” Perfect System!

10 years, 1 month ago 33


If this is “My” perfect system how does that help you???!!!  Well, building a system is all about knowing who you are, what you like to shoot, and what suits you!  I’ve been working on my system for the last 45 years, and it has changed many, many, many times, call me fickle, but every change was because I learned something!  Since this is a teaching moment, let me walk you through the process:


1.  List the kinds of subjects you shoot.  If you shoot sports, or NASCAR, or dangerous reptiles, you’re going to need very specialized gear.  If you are a travel photographer you will want to have a smaller, lighter system, or if  you shoot nature you will want a system with a wide range of lens focal lengths and close-up gear!  Get the point, first step is;  know thyself!


2.  Decide what brand you prefer. Let’s face it there is a lot of great stuff out there, and it is all different in some ways, my advice is pick the size camera you like (small – medium – large) and then pick the one that feels the best in your hands!  Read up on the lens system and see what other, more experienced shooters, are saying about the quality of the glass.  Read the test reports and see what people think of the brand.  Read a lot and average out what you’re hearing!!!!  Run your own tests too, it’s easy now that you can rent gear!


3.  Determine how much you want to carry and how you are going to work with your system?  If you’re young and strong you may love carrying a 70 lb. back pack full of gear.  Then again if you’re almost seventy and seen better days,  maybe not so much!  If you are going to carry a lot of stuff, or if you can’t, you need a plan!!!  I’ve got a plan, more on that later!


4.  Make a reasonable estimate of your budget.  Let’s face it, “almost” no one can buy it all, and even if you could, re-read point three.  Once you know what you can afford you can make better choices.  Keep in mind that the more you spend does not always mean the more you will get!  There are some gear with high value out there.


So my “current” perfect system is listed below, and then some images on how I pack  it!


“My” Ultimate System


Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket

Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket  (to be added soon)

Fuji X-E2 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket/grip

Fuji X100s camera with 23mm f 2  RRS “L” bracket and grip


Rokinon 8mm Fisheye f 2.8 lens   (12mm Fisheye)

Fuji 10-24 f 4 OIS                (15-36)       72mm polarizer

Fuji 14 f 2.8                           (21mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 23 f 1.4                           (35mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 35 f 1.4                           (52mm)      52mm polarizer

Fuji 56 f 1.2                           (85mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 60 f 2.4                           (90mm)      39mm polarizer

Fuji 18-55 f 2.8-4 OIS         (27-83)        58mm polarizer

Fuji 55-200 f 3.5-4.8 OIS   (82-300)     62mm polarizer


  • Possible Future Additions:


  • 16mm f 1.4                          (24)
  • 16-55 f 2.8 OIS WR        (24-84)
  • 50-135 f 2.8 OIS WR     (75-210)
  • 120-400 f ? OIS WR       (180-600)


Fuji EF-X80 flash


Nikon Manual Lenses:

200mm Micro Nikkor f 4 IF AF     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 200mm f 4 AI-S                     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED AI-S     (600mm f 3.5)

Nikon TC-14B Tele-converter


Close-Up Lenses:

Nikon 3T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 4T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 5T Diopter  (62mm)

Nikon 6T Diopter  (62mm)

Raynox DCR-150    (Variable)

Raynox DCR-250    (Variable)

Canon 250D Diopter   (58mm)

Canon 500D Diopter   (77mm)


Singh Ray  Neutral Density  5 Stop  –  10 Stop  –  15 Stop   (77mm)

Singh Ray  Color Intensifier  –  Tony Sweet Soft Ray  –  I-Ray  (77mm)

Singh Ray  Split Neutral Density Soft 2 & 3 stops




In a Guru Gear Kiboko 22L back pack,  (now discontinued but replaced with newer better version of the same basic bag), I carry my extra bodies, shown above, Fuji X-Pro 1 (soon to be replaced with a second X-T1) and my wonderful Fuji X100s.  a Micro Nikkor 200mm lens and hood, and a 200mm f 4 moderate telephoto manual focus lens (happens to be wonderful for close-up work with diopters.)





In the other lift side of the bag is my long lens, a mint condition Nikon 400mm f 3.5 (one of Nikon’s best long lenses ever).  Now it’s manual focus, so for action it is a bear, but anything that sits still, which defines most of what I shoot, it is superlative! It is smaller and lighter than almost any current lens in it range and on the Fuji, because it is a APS-C sensor this lens, is are you ready for this, a 600mm f 3.5 equivalent!



This is the MindShift Gear Filter Hive filled with ND filters and other various specialty filters.  I got it at Outdoor Photo Gear, great place to pickup all those things you can never find!


Shot at the top of the page is my entire main Fuji system in a Think Tank Airport Essentials back pack, love that pack, and it holds all the “essentials” perfectly!


So I know what I shoot, what I can carry,  (yes I don’t carry all this at once, I put it in the back of my FJ and then fill up a tiny Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag, (for walking around)  If I need something else, I know where it is!  Affordability?  I have recycled a ton of gear purchased in the past that people still want, thus, money for the newest stuff!




the pilgrim

33 Responses

  1. Brad Mikel says:

    I’m midway through my first International trip with the Fuji system. I brought an XE-2 body with 18-55mm; 55-200mm; 14mm, and 8mm Rokinon. I do enjoy the lighter weight. I’m carrying the XE-2 on a Rapid strap and the other lenses, raingear, water and ‘provisions’ kit in a LowePro canvas shoulder bag. We’re in Bruges, Belgium, after a week in the Netherlands, and heading to Luxembourg and France in a few days.
    I’m still getting used to the system, and as you advised; the lenses are tack sharp and I’ve no problem getting large print images from the system. I wish I had waited a month unti the new XT-1 came out, as I do have some focus and viewing issues with my 64 year old eyes. I also really wish they would come out with a moderate tele to moderate wide lens. I carried my D7000 Nikon with 18-200m lens and only changed lenses when I needed my ultra wide lens. I feel that I’m constantly changing lenses with the Fuji, and feel fortunate I haven’t dropped one yet! I know that new glass is on the way, and I can’t wait.
    I’ll send you some files on return. We’re already planning for Italy in 2015!
    God bless you my friend.

    • admin says:

      Glad it is working so great, You’ll get an X-T1 when you get back. By-the-way Fuji has a 18-135 coming (28-200) that is weather resistant, it might be worth looking at for travel!

    • Jérôme says:

      The same for me. Since I bought a 28-300 mm for my D600, I notice that I use most of the time this lens during my recent travels. Now I use my XE-2, I regret not finding an equivalent lens in the Fuji system. And I ask myself if the 18 -135 mm will be a bit too short.

      • admin says:

        I am hoping that a 28-300 equivalent will come some day too, but honestly, I’m loving what we have now! The 18-55 and 55-200 cover pretty much the same range, and those two lens weigh less than the 28-300!

  2. Johnny Boyd says:


    What brand polarizer are you using?

    Curious as i use Singh Rays on my Nikons right now but that will all change in two weeks when I either go Olympus or Fuji.


  3. Anna says:

    I’ve been looking at a filter hive. Still debating. Do you think it’s worth the cost? Also, by the pictures I see, it looks huge. Thank you.

  4. Bill, tell me about the Fuji X100S – what makes that camera “stand out in a crowd”? I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Loved this post – great post and very helpful!

    • the pilgrim says:

      It is is very well made, has a super sharp 23mm f 2 lens (35mm) equiv. lens, the X Trans sensor yields fantastic color and monochromes and super low noise. The optical viewfinder is a joy to use! I could probably use it as my only camera if I had to. I would miss other focal lengths, but nothing else. It is a Leica on a severe budget!!!! It had been, called the single best camera ever made!

      • the pilgrim says:

        It’s nearly silent, stealthy, (especially in black), the perfect, non threatening street or travel camera. It’s my going out to dinner, just in case I see a fantastic shot camera! Can’t imagine ever not having one, until they make the something better camera!

        • the pilgrim says:

          O.K., that was a little over the top, but honestly, I can’t think of any single camera I’ve ever owned that I’ve liked more. It turns you back into a “real” photographer again. It’s back to the basics; see a great subject in great light, frame it, and pull the trigger! DONE……..

        • the pilgrim says:

          I can’t think of any single camera I’ve ever owned that I’ve liked more. It turns you back into a “real” photographer again. It’s back to the basics; see a great subject in great light, frame it, and pull the trigger! DONE……..

      • Great words here Bill about the X100S. I have had my eye on that camera for some time now. I want something light that I can carry everywhere but that is high quality to capture awesome images no matter where I am. It needs to be small enough to carry in my purse so that it’s always with me. That is not going to happen with my Nikon D800E unless of course I have a ThinkTank bag for my purse 🙂 Another photographer who also uses Fuji exclusively has all the different models and he said if he could only have one camera it would be the X100S – his photos are mostly black and white and are nothing short of amazing and artistic with that camera. Thanks so much for your review here – I’m excited about that camera – I’m hoping the price will come down a bit 🙂 Blessings to you today!!

  5. Jeff Levine says:

    Though I only own Nikon gear right now, having read what you have writing about the Fuji system as well as others, I am really itching to try it out. I do have a technical question: When you give the full frame equivalents for the lenses, you keep the F-stop the same. By my understanding of how an F-stop is calculated it seems to me that it should also be increased by the same crop factor. Could you give me your understanding of this. Thanks very much, Jeff

  6. Bob Jensen says:

    What is the Fuji EF-X80 flash that you mentioned?

    • the pilgrim says:

      The Fuji X-T1 does not have a built-in pop up flash, so Fuji included a very small flash with the camera, and it is surprisingly good, and runs off your camera bodies battery!

      • Bob Jensen says:

        Thanks. I should have known that … you posted EF-X80 … the extra zero through me off. Do you recommend any of the more powerful flashes that they make?

  7. Charlie Packard says:

    Which X-mount adapter are you using for the NON Fujinon lenses?

  8. Thomas Hall says:

    Am still concerned that shooting RAW files will not yield the results in detail when using ACR/LR that I currently get out of my Canon 5d mkii. Any advice on a RAW converter/workflow.

  9. Mike Schneider says:

    I’ve rented the X-T1 and it’s a fun little camera. Perfect for hiking. One think holding me back is the lack of a longer lens for wildlife. Is a 120-400 really in the pipe line? That just might sell me

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and love through your blog!

  10. Just ordered by XT-1 from Jody G. Thanks for all of your posts!

  11. David says:

    Hi Bill, I currently shoot with a D610 (mainly for landscapes) and was originally considering buying the 28-300mm for travelling abroad, but now I’m thinking about going for a Fuji XT1 with the 18-135mm. What would your recommendation be?

    Thanks, David

  12. Hi Bill

    Interesting post! What is your main impressions when comparing the 14mm and 10-24mm lenses? I am looking for a wideangle, but this choice is difficult.

    I love fast lenses (and Fuji’s IS)
    10mm is really wide but the 14mm is really compact.

    What to pick? 🙂

    Happy Christmas from Denmark.