Best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography? It’s a question I get asked almost weekly – mainly by travellers coming to do our travel and food writing and photography retreats and culinary tours. Here’s advice from the perspective of a pro travel and food photographer and a Nikon user at that.
Once people find out I’m a pro photographer, one of the first questions I get asked, if I haven’t met them on a shoot, is what camera gear I use. And after that, it’s what camera and lens combination I recommend for travel and food photography for them.
As Christmas is rapidly approaching I’m also increasingly fielding questions on what camera kit to buy a loved one who is getting serious about travel and food photography, but is not a pro.
Since Lara and I are started hosting travel and food writing and photography retreats and Cambodia culinary tours a few years ago, I have been getting questions from people coming on our retreats and tours who are looking to buy new camera equipment before they arrive in Southeast Asia.
Our tour participants might not know what camera gear they want, but they typically know what they don’t want – bulky and heavy gear. Some have asked me my opinion about Sony cameras, but for me the best investment in lighter photography gear is definitely Fujifilm.
Having used our participant’s Fujifilm cameras on recent retreats and tours, this is my take on the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography. But why Fujifilm over Sony? In short, a better lens roadmap and by all accounts, better reliability overall.
We’ve had Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm camera wielding clients come to Cambodia and the only brand that required a trip to the local camera store has been Sony. While earlier Fujifilm mirrorless cameras were slow to focus and had horrid battery life, the latest generation of Fujifilm cameras are much improved in both aspects and I highly recommend them.
Here are the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography.
Best Fujifilm Cameras and Lenses for Travel and Food Photography
For travel and food photography, professional photographers carry at least three lenses: a wide angle lens, a mid-range lens and a telephoto lens. For Nikon that means the 14-24mm lens, the 24-70mm lens and the 70-200mm lens, plus a couple of extra lenses for specific requirements, such as an 85mm F1.4 for portraits and a macro lens for food photography. Fuji now has equivalent professional quality lenses that cover this as well.
On the last Cambodian Culinary Tour we ran, we had a guest with a Fujifilm system who was frustrated that she could not achieve the same results that I was getting as we wandered around the temples. The difference was the fantastic quality of the lenses that I was using, while she was struggling with the kit lens that came with her Fujifilm X-T20. She knew the kinds of shots she wanted, but her equipment was already limiting her photography.
This is why with the Fujifilm lenses I’m recommending are the best ones that Fujifilm currently make and they’re easily the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography.
If there is a less expensive Fujifilm camera and lens alternative, I mention it at the end of each review. However, I always tell photography students and our trip participants that your money is best spent on lenses, not camera bodies. Personally, I would buy the less expensive camera body and the best lens rather than vice versa.
NOTE: a click on the images of the cameras and lenses below will take you to Amazon, and depending upon your location automatically direct you to the closest store. If you make a purchase we earn a small commission.
Fujifilm X-T2 APS-C Camera
While the flagship APS-C sensor Fujifilm camera is the Fujifilm X-Pro2, the SLR form factor of the Fujifilm X-T2 will be more familiar than the X-Pro2’s design. Fujifilm call this an ‘enthusiast’s’ camera, but the specs would indicate otherwise: a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (for me 24 megapixels is the sweet spot these days), a fully sealed body made from magnesium alloy, an articulating LCD screen (handy for overhead food photos), and a much faster autofocus than its predecessor, the X-T1. It’s the best all-round Fujifilm camera they have produced so far.
If this is out of your budget, its smaller sibling, the Fujifilm X-T20, is also a great camera.
Fujinon XF10-24mm F4 R OIS
This wide-angle zoom is the equivalent of a 15-36mm lens on a full-frame DSLR seeing it more than covers the same focal lengths on a full-frame camera. The constant F4 aperture, combined with optical image stabilisation (OIS) built in to the lens makes it useful even in low-light conditions. This would be your go-to lens for landscapes or wide shots of landmarks, but beware that it’s not fully weather sealed.
While Fujifilm does not have an inexpensive lens covering the same focal lengths (a rare weak spot in their lens lineup), the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens gets pretty good reviews if you want a fixed focal length wide angle lens. Note that it’s manual focus.
Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
If you’re going to only buy one professional quality lens for your Fujifilm camera, this is it. With the focal length covered by this lens the equivalent of 24-84mm on a full-frame DSLR, it will be on your camera 70-80% of the time if you’re focusing on travel and food photography. Shooting at F2.8 produces beautiful, creamy bokeh (the out of focus areas in your photo) that you won’t get with the less expensive Fujifilm kit lenses. However, it’s way heavier than the Fujifilm kit lenses that they offer and it oddly does not have OIS like the wider XF10-24mm lens.
You could save money buying the Fujinon XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, but if you enjoy making portraits, covering street scenes and photographing food, the XF16-55mm F2.8 is the lens to pony up the extra cash for.
Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR
The equivalent of 76-214mm on a full-frame DSLR, this is your telephoto zoom to cover sports or wildlife photography. With a constant F2.8 aperture, it also makes a great portrait lens, so you can get real separation between your subject and the background. With OIS built in, it really helps with capturing fast-moving objects. Putting the Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter on the lens increases the focal length by a factor of 1.4, a great help with birding and wildlife photography.
The lens is expensive and heavy, so if you’re looking for a less expensive and less heavy option, try the Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS which is nearly half the weight, but does not have that constant F2.8 aperture.
Those are the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography as far as I’m concerned. But there are also a couple more that you may wish to consider…
Other Special Lenses for Fujifilm Cameras for Travel and Food Photography
Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R
Most professional food and travel photographers will carry a lens like this in their kit. The equivalent of an 85mm lens on a full-frame DSLR, it’s perfect for portraits. With a maximum aperture of F1.2, you can really throw the background out of focus with a beautiful creamy and buttery bokeh. Often clients ask me why do you need F1.2 or a F1.4 lens that is generally twice the price of an F2 or F2.8 maximum aperture lens? The answer is that shooting at F2 with one of these lenses, it’s amazingly sharp, while a lens with a maximum aperture of F2 or F2.8 won’t be tack sharp until F4. I love my shallow focus portraits and I’m willing to spend the extra money to get that extra F-stop. It’s also particularly good for photographing food and cocktails.
Fujinon XF 35mm F2 R WR
This fast prime lens has a 50mm equivalent focal length, the focal length that you start with at photography school because it’s the closest to the field of view of the human eye. It’s also the best choice for street photography and it’s my lens choice for hitting the streets in Southeast Asia. Mounted on an X-T2 or an X-T20, the camera and lens combination is compact enough to make you appear to be your average tourist, but the results from using this combination is comparable to the big Nikon and Canon kit, but with arguably better color rendition. While I always carry one of these lenses, I still tend to go for the slightly wider Fujinon XF23mm F2 R WR for street photography.
This is the secret weapon of the Fujifilm APS-C system – professional results from a smaller, lighter combination than the traditional DSLR systems.
So they’re the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography but what about accessories?
Must-Have Accessories to Accompany Your Fujifilm Cameras and Lenses for Travel and Food Photography
Fujifilm NP-W126S Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery
You can have a camera bag full of the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography and be taking beautiful images, but perhaps not for as long as you’d like. The most glaring shortfall of the Fujifilm APS-C system is battery life. Fuji rates battery capacity for the X-T2 at 340 frames and the X-T20 at 350 frames – if you’re on an African safari that wouldn’t even last you until lunch! I’d be carrying two spare batteries everywhere as they’re very light.
ONA – The Bowery – Camera Messenger Bag
Given that you have some beautiful new Fujifilm cameras and lenses that you don’t want to lose, albeit a camera and lens kit that is low-key by design, a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag is a good way to go, especially if you’re travelling in Southeast Asia. This ONA camera bag is one disguised as a messenger bag and has enough room for your camera, an extra lens and your spare batteries. For a more traditional bag, this Manfrotto small messenger bag has the traditional adjustable dividers and a tablet compartment.
They’re the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography in my opinion, and that’s coming from a Nikon user. If you’re a Fuji user, we’d love to hear about your experience using the gear and especailly what you think are the best Fujifilm cameras and lenses for travel and food photography. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.
If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for loved one who loves photography, also check out my post on Christmas Gifts for Travel Photographers and Travellers Who Love Photography.