Fujifilm X100s or: How I learned to stop GASing and love the camera

Gordy strap

After weeks of glorious photo dumps, I think it’s time to give this bad boy camera a glowing review it deserves. Not only does it amazes me in image quality, it has also rekindled my passion for photography…

I’ve recently acquired a Canon 24-70mm F2.8 II lens. That monster is heavy and cost a fortune, the lens is a lifesaver during gigs with the perfect range to suit most mid sized venues I shoot in. It helps me slim down a lot of gear I carry (I usually rock a 17-40mm F4, a 50mm f1.4, a 85mm f1.8 and a 70-200mm if the venue is big enough) and the overall quality of the photos are amazing.

However, with a lens like this I am still reluctant to ever lug my camera bag around. The weight of everything has become too much of an issue for me to warrant taking it out anywhere besides gigs, and this includes proper outings where I’ll be guaranteed good shots (heck, everyday at work I get to see a union jack donned Elton John impersonator dancing outside a London souvenir shop, that guy dances until he is hospitalised and then dances some more when he’s back from the hospital, I will take a photo of him at some point). My shoulders grow weak.

Decline in photos

I look at my lightroom catalogue and this shows:

Photos taken each year

2009 was also the time I did a 365 and acquired a Canon 5d mk ii. Man that was a good year, the number of gigs I went to on that year alone was ridiculous (152). So anyway, as years go by, the number of bands I haven’t seen / shot obviously became limited which resulted in me shooting less shows. This decline continued to 2013.

Fujifilm X100S

Next step

So the logical step forwards is to rock a smaller camera for day to day. Something I can take with me most of the time without much compromise in image quality. I originally looked at the Canon EOS M, but the auto focus really bummed me out, the feature that I thought sounded useful (using existing lenses) contradicted the reason why I wanted a small camera in the first place. I decided to put the decision on hold until Canon released another EOS M, unfortunately the wait was unbearable, I was missing out on events that would rock with a mirrorless camera.

In comes the X100S, reading a slew of blog posts from famous photographers who have essentially abandoned their DSLRs for this nifty camera made me plunge in head first into the world of fixed lens digital rangefinders, and boy was it amazing.

Fujifilm X100S

Specs

So what’s the specs? I honest have no idea! I had a few people ask me about this and I seriously can’t tell you, I could tell you the specs for the 5d mk ii, how much each file size was, what kind of shutter speeds it did but with the X100s my mind wasn’t focused on the technology, it was actually focused on how much I wanted to use it. It’s difficult explaining and justifying the purpose of the camera when my friends will focus on weighing the specs on snapsort, but while they can justify how theirs can do XY and Z, they have a hard time showing me some ACTUAL photos to prove anything.

This reminds me a lot of how Apple markets their devices less on technical specs and more on how you can use it, the ultimate end game is to make technical transparent, you’re no longer looking at the tools you’re using so you can focus on the task at hand, again stuff you can’t really put down on paper and compare.

Photos

With the X100s I’ve taken candid portraits

Pre monster hunt

Tasty foods I dine in

More dim sum

Streets (and street dancers)

Unhip dancers

Landscape

Serpentine

And strange (I’m getting better at ninja’ing shots)

Diner

The camera feels more like a limb than a tool. I bought myself a lovely Knomo Jackson bag to match this and it does wonders (will do a bag shot at some point).

Accessories

I have invested in a few accessories that help make this camera accessible:

X100s Setup

  • An adaptor mount type thing to mount filters
  • A hoya filter to do away with lens caps
  • A big red soft button to make it easier to snap shots (and it looks neat)
  • A Gordy wrist strap so it’s attached to my hand and not my neck
  • A lens hood (don’t use it much)
  • An EyeFi card if I feel like transferring shots immediately to my iPad
  • A camera connection kit

and it fits nicely in my bag

What's in my bag

So some of the main cons on this camera, low light is STILL hard, it’s no 5d mk ii with a f1.8 lens but it’s ok most of the time. I have rocked 6400 and it does degrade quality a tad but not to a point that you’re throwing away the shot, here’s an example of one:

Lighter Lauren

You can shoot in slower shutter speeds to counterbalance this as well thanks to the size and weight of the camera. I can rock 1/30s nicely and probably push it even further (dare not try). Could always invest in a tiny EF20 flash (the thing has built in flash but if you wanted to bounce light and stuff then EF20 is the way to go).

The autofocus isn’t as fast as a DSLR either, it’s still better than most compacts but nonetheless a feature you’ll miss on the DSLR.

Squirrel

Finally, the fixed focal length. Now this can be considered a limitation or a blessing. Lets dive into the obvious limitation, you’ll miss out on shots that required a tele or super wide lens, there’s no flexibility in that department and at times you’ll need to give up a shot that’s simply out of reach. The photo of the squirrel is a good example, I wasn’t actually that close to the damn thing, I had to crop this shot a bit to make it look like it, about 70% of the actual photo was cropped out. Despite the limited focal length, this is what’ll drive your creativity by looking for alternative ways to shoot the subject, and to be honest we can live with a 23mm focal length!

The final benefit is the lack of upgrade options from the camera, no additional lenses to purchase meaning you can stop worrying about whether you need another lens and just focus your energy on taking photos.

Conclusion

So to summarise, X100s good. Pick up a bag today if you don’t like heavy DSLRs. I had a hard time picking up a 5d now due to the weight relatively, it doesn’t render my 5d completely useless as I’ll still be using the 5d for it’s choice of lenses and auto focus speeds, but it does fit nicely into times I’m without a good quality camera.

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