Travel Diary: Lake Como with the X-T2
In early July 2017, my wife and I broke out our suitcases once again and made our way to the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. Our final destination was a cosy apartment on the banks of Lake Como, overlooking the impressive lake and the surrounding mountain towns. Ordinarily I’d pack my FUJIFILM X-T20 to visually document the trip, but on this occasion I was lucky enough to get my hands on the FUJIFILM X-T2! So I charged up my batteries, wiped my memory card and dug out my sunglasses. Let me take you on a mini photography themed trip around this iconic Italian lake, sharing with you my thoughts of this thoroughly impressive camera.
By the Waterfront
After a smooth flight from Edinburgh, our adventure began in the city of Milan. We picked up our hire car at the airport and immediately headed north towards the mountains and lakes. The industrial backdrop of outer Milan slowly faded away as we ascended up into the hills; it wasn’t long before we arrived in the bustling city of Como at the southwestern tip of the lake.
We simply passed through the city of Como and joined the winding mountain roads that flanked the calm and tranquil lake. I’ve driven a number of times in Italy but the lakeside roads of Lake Como were something else. Quite often the roads would squeeze into single lanes to pass through the compact villages and towns. It made for an interesting journey.
When we finally arrived at our final destination on the first evening, the light was fading fast so I unpacked the X-T2, grabbed a couple of lenses and took a stroll down to the lake to watch the sun fade away. This was my first real hands on experience with the X-T2 but because there is a comforting consistency with the Fujifilm X Series, I immediately felt at home as the controls, menus and buttons were all so familiar.
As daylight was in short supply and I forgot to pack my tripod, I was forced to shoot at a slightly higher ISO to capture the scenes around me. For those familiar with the X Series, the X-trans sensor still produces beautiful noise free images at higher ISOs so this simply isn’t a problem.
Changing ISO on the X-T2 is very straight forward too, with the addition of a dedicated ISO dial on the top of the camera. Something my X-T20 does not have. I won’t lie; this addition is very convenient as it helps get the camera ready to capture a scene that little bit faster.
Despite the fading light, the X-T2 handled the conditions perfectly and I came away with some lovely low light images from the lake side. I particularly loved it when the sun illuminated some of the hillside towns just before it dropped behind the mountains. The iconic clock towers look extra special when the light strikes them on one side.
Morning Light, Steep Slopes & Isolated Chapels
The following morning, the forecast revealed that we were in for a lovely day full of sunshine. I opted to get up a little bit earlier than planned to grab some images as the sun was rising. The early morning light is always perfect for photography and I seized this opportunity. Our apartment overlooked the lake and a beautifully ornate clock tower surrounded by trees and flowers. Interestingly the clock tower was clearly in need of repair as it chimed at some very unusual intervals throughout the day – despite this, it still looked good as the sun crept over the mountains to the east.
Whilst researching the area on places to visit and explore, I found some images of a picturesque hillside chapel located near one of the villages not far from our accommodation. So after a spot of lunch we hopped in the car and went in search of Chiesa del Soldo. The church was accessible from the hilltop village of Palanzo, so we navigated the very steep and winding roads up to the top. From there we set off on foot up a rugged and very overgrown footpath. It was a very hot afternoon so I packed light only taking a couple of lenses and the X-T2. In a previous blog post, I praised the Fujifilm X Series for its portability. It’s one of the many key reasons I love using the system. Carrying the X-T2 and some lenses up a hill in 30+ degree heat is no problem at all thanks to the lightweight nature of the system.
After a 20 minute climb we reached a clearing and got sight of the beautiful and isolated church. Luckily we had the whole area to ourselves with some very pleasing views down the lake overlooking bell towers below.
Colourful Lakeside Towns – Nesso
A few days into our trip, we decided to leave our car behind and take one of the public ferries towards some of the northern lakeside villages. It’s a fantastic way to get a different perspective of the lake and the steep mountains that surround it on all sides. One village that proved to be a highlight of our trip was Nesso. Often when I think of Italy, I immediately think of brightly coloured buildings and streets. For me the vibrant colours are very characteristic of the country. I was delighted to find that Nesso was jammed packed with bright vivid colours that kept me distracted taking photographs for some time that afternoon!
As our trip drew to a close, we took a day trip to the lakeside towns of Varenna. To get there, we drove to the town of Bellagio and hopped on a ferry. It was a perfect afternoon, strolling along the water front with an ice-cream in hand and wandering through the colourful streets and squares. I deliberately packed my ultra wide lens, the FUJINON XF10-24mmF4, knowing that I was likely to encounter some narrow streets. The field of view with the 10-24mm is perfect for the back streets of Italy. I particularly liked being able to capture the iconic floral archway with this lens, the converging lines were very pleasing on the eye.
Having shared some of my images from the trip, this leaves me with one more thing left to do….share my impressions of the X-T2.
Well, looking back, our trip to Italy was a perfect test for the X-T2. I was able to put it through its paces by photographing a wide range of subjects, ranging from street photography to landscapes, from brightly lit subjects to dark shadowy streets. With every scene and condition, the X-T2 was flawless. As an owner of the amazing X-T20, the little brother to the X-T2, I was 100% confident in the camera’s ability to capture superb quality images. And the field test confirmed my expectations. I guess the aspects of the X-T2 that impressed me most lie with the construction of the camera itself. The build quality is superb and extra weight certainly makes this feel like a professional level camera. If I were to pin down a few favourite features about it, I think it would be diverse control dials, especially the ISO wheel.
The designers of the X-T2 have placed a focus on ergonomics and have added the necessary dials and buttons to help the user prepare the camera that little bit faster. This can make a huge difference when time is of the essence and every second counts.
All in all, I had a pleasure using the camera whilst in Italy but I sure will miss that ISO dial when I switch back to my X-T20.
Thanks for tagging along on my adventure to Italy with the X-T2, feel free to follow more of my adventures over at www.instagram.com/poetic_mouse.