A short walk with my “new” Fujifilm XQ2 – first impressions and musings about a *slow* return to normal

Introduction

I bought myself a new toy. A Fujifilm XQ2 premium compact camera (at least this is what marketers call it). So much for being a minimalist. My wife might call it a toy but seeing as I want to be a professional kind of photographic artist I call it a business expense. When I had my M43 gear I also owned a Sony RX100. Sometimes it is just impractical to carry a full camera setup. When I shot exclusively with the Fujifilm X100T and X100F I had no use for another small camera so I sold it. Now as much as I love my Fujfilm XT3 and my vintage lenses I actually needed something small that fits into a shirt pocket. Not that I would ever wear anything with a shirt pocket. I could have kept the Sony but truth be told I never really liked it. It was fast and had lots of technical features but the images straight out of camera seemed lackluster except for the black and white mode. It’s menus were terrible. Well Sony right?

After seeing this video by Ritchie from Fujixweekly I had my eye on one of these small Fujis. He used the XQ1 but I was very set on the successor which came with classic chrome. The film simulation I use most often. I was looking for a few months but they rarely popped up on Ebay for a reasonable price and I did not want to order from Japan. I guess they did not sell many and those who own them now treasure them. But last week I got lucky on a classified ads site and the seller was willing to ship it.

The Fujifilm XQ2 – First impressions

Fujifilm XQ2Fujfilm XQ2
Fujifilm XT3 + Mamyia Sekor 50mm F2. This lens has such a nice orange glow.

Compared to my old Sony camera this one seems to be a clear downgrade. It has a smaller 2/3″ sensor with “only” 12 megapixels compared to the Sony’s 1″ 20MP sensor. The display is inferior as are some other technical details. But those do not concern me. The reason I bought this camera is the X-Trans II sensor and the Fuji film simulations. This allows me to use some of the wonderful film recipes people create and share. The lens goes to 25mm on the wide end with a minimum focus of just 5cm which opens up quite a few opportunities. It is fast and reliable. In fact when switching on the camera is ready before I can even start framing despite having to extend the lens.

Of course being this small using the camera is fiddly and annoying. The control ring is too small, too sensitive and the lens ring of course clickless. But I use these small cameras mostly on automatic mode anyways. It is also beyond me why Fuji did not put their Q.Menu or a touch screen in this camera. But those tiny things are an ergonomic nightmare no matter what so I will stop complaining. The important thing is that it takes beautiful images and is easy to bring along anywhere.

This brings me to the reasons for buying this small camera. I often take images before or after work and I do not want to bring my big setup with me every day. I also want something discreet for taking shots inside train stations, tunnels, shopping centers and the like. And third when I go for a walk with my little kid I can’t really use a viewfinder and manually focus without loosing track of my wild daughter. The XQ2 allows me keep situational awareness while shooting. Enough rambling let’s look at some images and have some thoughts about current affairs.

A walk with the Fujifilm XQ2

The local city government has partially lifted the mask mandate which means I can now visit most parts of the historic city center like a normal human being. This includes the street with my favorite coffee shop. As I am writing this the state will soon “allow” us to dine outdoors and restaurants were very busy preparing their tables. Even though the signs prompting us to wear masks outside were still on every other lamp post no one paid any attention to them. The people knew the mandate was lifted for these streets. Ironically in March when the mask mandate was extended they put up the signs two days in advance and most people did obey. I was even “accosted” by a concerned citizen that I have to wear one even though the mandate was clearly not yet legally in effect.

But people today were happy, they bought coffee and ice cream and settled on the benches to enjoy their snacks and beverages and the hustle and bustle around them. Me and my daughter did the same thing. Except for some neurotic individuals still clinging to their masks and helplessly trying to avoid others fearing infection. After more than a year of panic and fear mongering from our leaders and the media I fear that for some people the return to normal life will be difficult. Some may need professional help and counseling. We should not laugh at these people but have compassion. They have been manipulated by a selfish elite and unfortunately critical thinking and media literacy is not something that is being taught in schools or even universities. Many people lack the capacity to critically evaluate what the media and government are saying.

Go Bike

green traffic light for bicycle
Go Bike (2021) Fuji XQ2 Astia film recipe

The ubiquitous bike lane. Modern urban elites like their bikes and city governments try to oblige even in car obsessed Germany. Still this city is not very bike friendly. I try to avoid riding my bike here. The wide lens and extremely short minimum focus makes these kind of images possible. I actually have no lens for my XT3 that would be capable of this shot.

Hostile Seating

Seats at a bus station
Hostile seating (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Astia film recipe

These extendable seats are practical and devious at the same time. They use up less space on narrow sidewalks but are also quite uncomfortable. Compared to the usual benches homeless people can’t use them for sleeping. I am generally against anti-homeless urban furniture but not only because of the inhuman design but also because it makes the city less pleasant for everyone else. Uncomfortable benches are uncomfortable for affluent tax payers as well. Or can you see two teenagers having an ice cream date and fooling around on those horrible seats?

For 3Gs only

tables, chairs and barrier tape
3G only (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

No I am not talking about an old cell phone standard. The 3Gs refer to the people who are “Geimpft, Genesen, Getestet” which means vaccinated, recovered or tested. The state allows outdoor dining only for those able to provide a document saying that they have been fully vaccinated, that they had recovered from COVID19 in the last six months or that they can show a negative test not older than 24 hours. Some people call themselves “the fourth G” for “gesund” which means healthy. Well healthy people can’t go out for dinner unless they prove their health. Of course you need to provide your name, address and phone number and you can only have two households at a table. These rules are subject to regular changes as well. Guess how I can afford a new Fujifilm XQ2? I have been saving money by eating at home for the last six months or so. There is always an upside to things.

A heart for assholes

red car detail
a heart for assholes (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

In a literal context I do like assholes. I am not sure I like them metaphorically. This car owner surely does. He (and I very much assume this is a man’s car) also had what looked like an inflatable penis hanging from the rear view mirror. Real classy. I wish I could have caught a glimpse of the owner.

Sleek

a sleek grey car
Sleek (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

The owner of this motor vehicle in contrast shows more class with this grey paint job. Sleek, simple but elegant. If you own an expensive penis sports car using a flashy color just makes you look pretentious.

Angry Face

Angry face
Angry Face (2021) Fujifilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

One the many architectural details one can find here. I do not know who this man is or represents but he sure looks displeased. Imagine living in this house and entering this door every day looking at the man’s stern face.

“A”narchy

the anarchy sign
“A” (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

The anarchy symbol. Weirdly appropriated by the political left. One strange thing happened during this pandemic or rather political crisis. Especially the left which is usually quite skeptical of the state and espouses high personal liberalism was the most keen on stringent lockdowns, mask mandates and social distancing. Somehow their altruism got warped into a tyranny that wants to control people because “it saves lives”. The so-called right wing party is now the one argueing for constitutional rights and against lockdowns. This seems like opposite land to me. But on further analysis it is clear that the left always had a tendency for tyranny. As F.A. Hayek wrote already in 1944 the Road to Serfdom is usually paved with good intentions. Also Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia is quite the read for today’s world. The people painting these signs are usually anything else but anarchists. To be blunt they are still children refusing to take on responsibility.

Simple things

flowers
Simple things (2021) Fujfilm XQ2 Kodak Portra160 film recipe

Let us close with something pleasant. Stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy some simple beauty. I certainly enjoyed the little walk with my kid and the Fujifilm XQ2. Despite bad things in the world I try to remember that there is so much good. Happiness is in most cases not contingent on political circumstances. There is a fine line between being rightfully angry about it, advocating for change and making oneself a slave to politics never to be happy unless everyone agrees to one’s own convictions. It is important to take a step back from the public sphere and reenter it with fresh eyes. If not one ends up like the neurotics on Twitter demanding or fighting against whatever it is that is in political fashion right now.

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