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Whisper it: Fujifilm’s X-T5 is streets ahead

Posted on Jun 20, 2023

Unobtrusively compact yet high spec, the Fujifilm X-T5 is just what street photographer Mr Whisper ordered

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Street photography needs split-second timing, the ability to blend in with one’s surroundings and – of course – a camera that can keep pace while consistently delivering the goods. Fujifilm X-Photographer Balwinder Bhatla, aka Mr Whisper (@mrwhisper), made the jump from advertising agency creative director to full-time street photographer a decade ago – and thinks he’s found these essentials in the Fujifilm X-T5.

Describing it as ‘perfectly suited to street photography’, he explains: “Although I do shoot in the daytime, I especially like working at night, which puts any camera through its paces. For low-light photography, the X-T5 is an incredible leap on from the previous generation. It’s now picking up things I almost couldn’t see with my own eyes – so I’ve started using the face tracking a lot more.”

The camera’s 40.2-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 5 HR sensor and X-Processor 5 provide the power and quality a photographer demands.

“With that sensor, you can crop in as much as you need and not lose image quality,” he marvels. “I shoot a combination of Raw and JPEG. I like to know I’ve got the Raw if a client asks for it, or I need to make a print. Whereas the JPEG is more than sufficient for social media. In fact, I can safely crop JPEGs up to 50% without a noticeable drop in quality.”

In terms of most favoured settings, Bhatla leaves the camera on Aperture Priority and will not go higher than ISO 1600 – or select a shutter speed slower than 1/125sec: “so I’m always going to get some suggestion of movement,” he states.

Bristling with raised, rangefinder-type dials and control wheels made for those who want to get hands-on, a further appeal of the Fujifilm X-T5 is its distinctly retro, analogue-type operational feel.

“I love the fact that the Fujifilm X-T5 has such a traditional design. I can glance down and adjust the dials without having to look at the screen. Plus, it often acts as an ice-breaker; people want to know what I’m shooting on, so I’ll show them how it works, and that allows me to make shots that others haven’t. So the aesthetics are also incredibly important for me. And, in graduating from the X-T4 over to the X-T5, I’m finding there are little nuances that ergonomically make the camera so much more comfortable.”

As he doesn’t use a tripod, the X-T5’s IBIS system – providing the equivalent of seven stops – is also crucial in helping Mr Whisper get consistently sharp results.

“The IBIS has been a fundamental feature since its introduction on the X-T4, so I’m happy to see it continue on the X-T5. I would like to see it stay forever – it’s such a powerful tool and increases your hit rate.”

Although he’s primarily a stills photographer, a recent trip to New York found Bhatla trying out the X-T5’s video capability in order to challenge himself. “It’s quite underrated as a hybrid camera. Thanks to the built-in stabilisation, I was managing to get really good-quality video. Ultimately, I want to make the quality of my videos as good as my photography, and the X-T5 will allow me to do that.”

Also particularly useful here is the camera’s three-inch tilting touchscreen. “I didn’t think I’d use the LCD as much as I do. And with video, I have also started to use the touchscreen aspect more, in order to adjust the focus point.”

The image maker also loves the way the LCD fits within the form of the camera body rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. “As I’m trying to get an authentic moment, rather than a posed one, its discrete body style helps. Plus, when I want a really low angle, I’ll articulate the LCD screen. That’s allowed me to get shots that wouldn’t have been possible without that feature. It’s also a real workhorse. I’ve been using the Fujifilm X-T5 daily since last August and it’s not let me down.”

Originally featured in Issue 108 of Photography News.

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