I was asked by Fujifilm UK and Millican bags to head to the beautiful Lake District in England to shoot with the X-M1 and test drive a new range of bags that Millican have designed specifically for the X-Series camera system. A weekend of photography in the stunning landscape of the Lake District with the chance to try out a bag designed for Fujifilm cameras that wasn't even on the maket at that point (breath). It took me about 2 seconds to make up my mind. But the icing on the cake was that photographers David Cleland (FlixelPix) and Andrew James were also on board.
The film crew grab a bit of footage of my bag and X-M1. I grabbed a shot for the photo at the top of this post.
Each of us were to be filmed over the weekend by the crew above (Giles, Andrew & James). We were each given an assignment. David, being so lucky, had to get up at 4am and shoot landscapes. Have a look HERE for some of his shots. Andrew followed a sheep farmer for a day and in my opinion was a bit too eager to get there. If you want to know what a sheep dog on drugs looks like, click HERE to see some of Andrews shots. I was given three assignments for my sins, but the third one was called off on the Sunday due to a change in weather. My first subject was Des, an elderly gentleman who's had an amazing life from World War II to fell running, rock climbing to Lake District Mountain Rescue. His stories were amazing and I could have stayed with him all day.
My second subject was Al, a rock climber with a passion for bouldering. He was an absolute star and kept going longer than the Duracell Bunny. His show of strength and skill was amazing to watch and he gave blood sweat and skin to this project. All that capped of with the fact he was a really nice guy.
Freedom Through Photography
For me, the concept of Freedom Through Photography is about throwing a small X-Series camera and a couple of lenses in a rugged bag (Millican of course), getting out there and loose yourself in the craft. Photography gives you freedom by escaping day to day life and losing yourself in whatever is in front of your lens. At least that's how it is for me. With a camera in my hands, I'm in the zone, lost in whatever I'm shooting. It doesn't matter what you shoot, street photography to landscapes and everything in between...photography is therapy, or at least it should be!
Millican is all about getting out into the landscape and enjoying the freedom of the countryside. Founders Jorrit and Nicky built their company around the spirit of real life cave dweller Millican Dalton, a mountain guide in the Lake District who originally escaped corporate life in the south of England in favor of an outdoor life in one of the UK's most beautiful landscapes. It was really refreshing to see the founders of a company who are as interested in the lifestyle as much as the products.
Fujifilm X-M1 & X20
The first two shots in this post were taken on the X-Pro1, but all of the others are from the X-M1. It took a bit of getting used to not having a viewfinder on this body, and the controls are a little different. But the quality of the images are just as good on this camera as they are on the X-Pro1 or X-E1. The tilt screen turned out to be very handy and I did get to use the built in wifi, a feature that will become standard on all cameras fairly soon IMO. But judge for yourself how capable this little camera is from the images on this post. The colour shots were processed in Lightroom and the black and white shots in Silver Efex Pro.
I didn't take a huge amount of photos with the X20, but I was impressed with the solid feel and build quality of it. I carry my X-Pro1, X-E1 or X100 with me all day every day, sometimes all three together. But if I was in the market for a quality point and shoot, this would be the one.
Millican Bags for the X Series
There are two bags and two inserts available. The one I tested, and still using, is called Christopher and the smaller one is called Robert (Millican name all their products after their friends). The bags are some of the highest quality I have seen (and like most photographers, I've used lots). The materials used and the craftsmanship is world class and will last for many years. They have a good amount of pockets for storing mobile phones, cables, portable hard drives etc, and also include a handy rain cover in a zipped pocket at the rear. Christopher can even hold an 11" Macbook Air and an iPad at the same time in a separate compartment from your camera gear. The main compartment can be used as one large open space or with the felt insert. The larger insert (included with Christopher) can hold an X-Pro1 (or smaller) facing down with a lens attached and two lenses in front compartments, all separated by the felt. They way I tend to use the insert is to flip it on it's side in the bag after I have removed the camera. I can then swap lenses easily and the insert keeps them in place and scratch free. It's amazing how much gear can be packed into Christopher! I have 2 bodies, 5 lenses, an 11" Macbook Air and an iPad in mine right now, and there's still plenty of room for accessories.
I met lot's of great people over the weekend. From fellow photographers David and Andrew, to Fujifilm's Katie and David. Jorrit, Nicky, Sophie and Emily from Millican, Angela from Digital Camera Magazine and film guys Giles, Andrew and James. A fantastic bunch that I hope to work with again some day.
Look out for short films on David, Andrew and myself rolling out over the next month or two and maybe a spot on Digital Camera Magazine.
It's A Wrap
So get out there and experience your own Freedom Through Photography and share your photos with #freedomthroughphotography. The new range of bags for the X-Series are available direct from www.homeofmillican.com or from the following.
- John Lewis, Oxford Street, London
- Peter Jones, Sloane Square
- John Lewis, Stratford city
- John Lewis, Cheadle
- John Lewis, Southampton.
- And at www.johnlewis.com