Elia Locardi is Back

A Month of Travel Photography in Myanmar With Fuji X

A Month of Travel Photography in Myanmar With Fuji X

I love Fujifilm's X Series cameras. They're small, light, quick, and have wonderful image quality. The lens collection is at the top of the game, especially the primes. I went back and forth for quite some time in the lead-up to my recent personal work trip to Myanmar. I would be creating a book and needed to choose carefully. Which gear should I take? Should I take my DSLR system, or should it be the Fuji X system? In the end, I went for the Fuji X, as it allowed me to carry a couple of extra lenses and fit all of my flash system in the same pouch as well. But how would they perform?

My main concern with the Fuji system was reliability. In the past, I've had a few issues with water getting into the X-T1, battery doors jamming, and flash triggers not working on the hotshoe. In the end, though, the kit of two bodies, eight batteries, and sevens lenses weighed in at a little over a kilogram less than my Nikon kit and took up a lot less space. I didn't think I'd need the speed of the Nikon body, so I settled on the Fuji system. The experience on the ground was varied, and I'd like to run through a few of the pros and cons of the system as I felt them during the trip.


Most of the time when I use the Fujifilm system for travel, it's for personal work, so absolute performance hasn't really been an issue. As this trip was personal, but with the goal of creating a book, I started to feel that the Fuji system was a little sluggish and unresponsive when compared to my Nikon system. Menus take a little longer to load, and quickly switching the camera on to grab a fleeting shot really doesn't happen with the Fujifilm cameras. Simple things like changing focus modes take quite a bit longer on the Fujis. However, by adjusting my shooting style, I was able to overcome most of these and still get everything I needed.

The Dust

Ah, the dust. Working in villages means lots of it. By the end of each day, we were caked in the stuff, and the cameras didn't fare much better. We kept them as clean as possible throughout the day, but it took toothbrushes and rags at the end of the day to clean out all the nooks and crannies of the Fuji bodies.

The biggest issue with dust of course was on the sensors. Keeping those clean was a constant battle. Most of my work is shot at reasonably wide apertures, and the dust didn't really show up in images, but it's not something you want attaching itself to your sensor. A few blasts with a rocket blower a few times a day helped. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, so that was a plus.

Photo courtesy of Wesley Chang

The Heat

This was one area I didn't expect to see a problem. I've done Myanmar before with my D800 and walked it around all day in the blistering sun. As with all electronics, using them in direct sunlight on hot days is not always advisable, but I had expected the Fujis to hold up as well as the D800 had.

Most days, everything was fine, but there were two separate occasions when the X-T1 stopped writing to memory cards or the buttons stopped responding. Putting the memory card into the X-T10 showed that it was working just fine, and an hour in the my bag in the shade brought the X-T1 back to life. At this time, I was extremely glad to have a backup camera so I could keep shooting. You can pick up two X-T10s for the price of a prosumer DSLR and carry a backup with you.


This was one area that I found the Fuji bodies to really shine. Focus is a touch slower, and it is more difficult to switch modes than a Nikon body, but I have found it to be far more accurate. I have a much higher hit rate with wide apertures when using the Fuji bodies. One other thing is the speed of the PDAF system. I used the tilting screens on the X-T1 and X-T10 quite a bit to get low and high angles, and the AF system is so much faster than live view on a DSLR.

Battery Life

Here was the biggest surprise for me. The NP-W126 batteries are rated for approximately 350 shots and less if you use the big screen on the back. Knowing this, I took eight batteries and USB chargers that I could plug right into my solar panels to ensure I could keep the cameras powered at all times, even if we couldn't charge some days. On the busiest day of shooting, I cam back with almost 1400 frames, and it was only towards the end of the day that I had to swap the battery in the X-T1; the X-T10 was still going strong until the end of the day. I had been prepared for much shorter battery life, but found the Fujis to be more than adequate for a full day of shooting.

Rubber Grips

Both my X-T1 and X-T10 needed to have their rubber grips replaced at the end of this one month trip. The glue on both bodies had simply let go, and much of the rubber peeled off. This has been a recurring problem with my X-T1 that Fujifilm Korea has not been able to correct. It is a little disappointing on a product of this caliber, where care has been taken in every other aspect to make it a high quality tool.

Pros of Traveling With Fuji

  • Lightweight
  • Small
  • Autofocus speed in live view

Cons of Traveling With Fuji

  • Durability and dependability
  • Speed of operation


All in all, the Fuji cameras are great travel companions. Even in these tough conditions, they performed admirably except for the two small hiccups mentioned earlier. I really enjoyed working with the Fujifilm X Series on this trip and can't wait to get them back in the field again.

Lead image used with permission of Wesley Chang Photography.

Dylan Goldby's picture

Dylan Goldby is an Aussie photographer living and working in South Korea. He shoots a mix of families, especially the adoptive community, and pre-weddings. His passions include travel, good food and drink, and time away from all things electronic.

Log in or register to post comments

Very cool write up. Just started a transition from Sony and an a7II with mixed e and a mount glass, some original Minoltas from 1985. Writeups like this are very encouraging. I may miss full frame benefits, but Fuji's focus on full frame equivalent lenses sold me. Sony just got too expensive. But a long weekend with an x100t convinced me that a xpro2 would be a fun experience. My only regret is not paying for faster shipping. Such a competent system.

Also, what are you using for flashes? There just isn't a great resource with Fuji's flash options like I had with Dyxum for Sony/Minolta.

There are quite a few technical benefits to the Sony system, I found. Faster focus, higher resolution, etc. But, I just couldn't make myself like them. It felt a lot like using a clunky DSLR to me. Was it mainly the price that made you step away from Sony?

In terms of flashes, I don't really shoot anything on camera, so I use a combination of my existing flashes. Sometimes, I'll be using my Nikon SB-800s, sometimes my Einstein 640, somtimes my SMDV PS-360.

I do have a Nissin i40 in Fuji mount that I reviewed on FStoppers: https://fstoppers.com/originals/fstoppers-reviews-nissin-i40-flash-fujif.... Also a very competant flash.

Cost was pretty much the only thing. I came from A mount, so it was a natural adjustment. I liked it alot. I shot with e mount 24-70/4, 55, 28, and 21mm converter. Then I had my Minolta 100/2 (what a lens!), 28-135, 80-200/2.8, and 100-300 APO D. But when Sony released the 85, 24-70/2.8, and 70-200/2.8, the handwriting was on the wall. I mostly shot with a 2-4 flash setup. Did a fair amount of optical triggering, too. But I am using continual light sources, and just need a good, strong fill flash to fight off the Colorado sun. May have to wait for the Fuji 500 to come out.

Thanks for this article...I don't agree with the cons though. I've travelled to the hot places with the X-E1, X-E2, X-T1, Xpro 1/2 in the last three years and never had a problem because of heat or moisture. The X-E1 wasn't great with regards to dust though...Morocco, Spain, all over the islands and not a single issue with durability or dependability. I beat these things up and they carry on very well. I've only had them cleaned maybe once in a few years.

Speed of operation is subjective though and it really depends on what you are used to/expect. Battery life...dismal and I wish that would improve to a min of 800 shots per battery charge.

I've had pretty bad luck with my X-T1 generally, I think. I've had the screen fail in light, misty rain. I've had the hotshoe stop functioning on hot days, and now the camera not writing to memory cards on hot days. Fujifilm confirmed all of these things with me as the causes, but could not offer any permanent fix.

As for speed of operation, switching between single AF and continuos 3D tracking on my Nikon requires a single button hold and one nudge to the left of the control dial. On the XT-1, I need to flip the AF switch, go into the quick menu, and then roll the command dial until I can see the coverage I want the AF system to have. It does not save these settings differently for single AF and continuous AF, which means I need to go through this process each and every time. That coupled with the slower menu operation will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. This is not a subjective difference, the camera has a slower method of accessing certain controls.

Very accurate findings in this article, although I don't know how do you get this amount of photos on a single battery! Maybe you're turning the high performance off! When it's on it improves the usability speed but you will then use all those spare batteries you have. :)
I live and use my X-T1 in Egypt where there is no shortage of dust or heat. I was surprised that my X-T1 collects less dust particles on the sensor than my Nikon D800, I thought the mirror in the DSLR would act as a barrier but no, my D800 collects alot of dust. Maybe the auto sensor cleaning in the X-T1 is working well or it's something else!
I also once had a problem on my X-T1 with heat, I'm talking about extreme heat (over 48 C) the camera was still working but it's wifi didn't, I freaked out as I couldn't find it's wifi signal on any device and thought it got broken, but it worked fine after few hours when the camera cooled down.
Overall, I love my fuji system (all prime lenses) and I'll probably upgrade to the X-T2 when it gets announced soon.

High performance was certainly on! I couldn't believe it, either at first. However, day after day we shot without changing batteries. I was really impressed.

Great write up and would love to see more of the pics.
I recently spent two weeks in Myanmar with an A7ii and couple of adapted EF lenses.
The A7ii nearly completely failed from water damage which killed the monitor, and couldn't access the menu setting to reset back to viewfinder. Pure luck with menu prodding finally got the camera back to being usable.
The A7 series is great but some fundamental flaws such as having the reset settings buried in a sub-menu.

The same problem I had with my Fuji! However, the viewfinder still worked, and of course we have the viewfinder and display buttons on the body, which made it easy to get the EVF back in action while I waited to take it in for repair.

I have plenty more pics coming from this, and the book will be out soon!

Which transmitter is on your camera in the cover photo?

Hi Kalvin,

It's a Korean made SMDV Flashwave III. They sell rebranded as "Impact" in the US. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Impact+Powersync16