Back when Kirstin introduced me as a new muse, she mentioned my recent trip to Paris and Morocco, where I had carried with me four cameras – a DSLR, two Polaroids and an iPhone. That was a wonderful trip and I am very proud of some of the photos I took. I also remember the sheer and abject pain I was in after lugging all that gear around. On my recent trip to London I decided to be more sensible with my camera packing. No heavy zoom lens for me this time. I brought just my 5DMkII with the 50mm f1.4 lens and one Polaroid (to be fair, this decision was helped by the fact that the other Polaroid is broken). I learned two things on this trip: 1) That the 50mm focal length (on a full-frame camera) is the one that I most want to shoot at. I rarely felt that I couldn’t get the shot I was looking for with the gear I had. 2) That even this amount of kit was just too darn heavy for the days of walking.
Enter the Fuji X100s. I was first introduced to the X100 more than a year ago when a friend brought it to a photographers’ dinner. I was smitten by its styling, its low-light performance (f2.o) and its ability to fit in a small-ish purse. I was not smitten with its price tag. At the time I had full-frame on the mind. As well, I’d read the reviews, which pointed out some performance issues that were too significant to get me to veer off the path I was on to upgrade my DSLR body.
Fast forward to last month as I am nursing my aching back and reading Zach Arias’ review of the updated model – the X100s. If you haven’t read that review and are at all considering the X100s, I recommend it. Heck, I recommend reading the review even if you’re not interested in the camera, it’s pretty amusing. I’ll give you the upshot though. He calls it “the greatest camera (he) has ever owned”. Holy cats. He also said that “Fuji is the new Leica” and that “the DSLR is dead to (him)”. By this point my back and I were convinced.
I’ve had the X100s for a few weeks now and I thought I’d share a bit about my experience. Cutting to the chase here; I love this camera. It’s taken me a little while to get used to it and to be able to figure out which of its many features are most useful to me but now that I have, I truly am in love. Others have done thorough and technical reviews of this camera and if you’re looking for that I’d point you to Arias or to to the Strobist blog.
As of me, I feel like this camera is everything I wanted to love about a 35mm film camera but with the amazing benefits of high-end digital assistance. Here are a few of my favourite things:
I love the rangefinder nature of this camera. It just feels like it would be totally at home shooting street or documentary photography.
I love that it’s easy to use in manual focus mode. The manual focus ring on the lens works just like my old film camera, but with the bonus digital feedback that you get in the viewfinder. I may never use autofocus again.
I love how quiet this camera is. With no mirror, if you turn off the electronic sounds this camera is absolutely silent. In fact, I ended up turning the shutter sound back on (though very quietly) because I found I needed to feedback to reassure myself that the image had been captured.
I love the focal length. I know that fixed focal length isn’t for everyone and this camera doesn’t offer the options that some others do to change out the lens. For me that doesn’t matter.
I absolutely love that I can shoot in black and white.
Given Fuji’s strong film background they have added here in-camera film simulation modes. Not only can you choose the film style, you can further customize it to suit your style. You can even save 3 custom settings into the easy-access “Q” (for quick) menu. In addition to black and white, I’ve customized a “vivid” (highly saturated) and a “soft” film setting. Here’s the same scene shot with each of the three. All are SOOC.
While I quite like the 3rd one, with its desaturated look, I think I prefer to add the film look via VSCO Film in post-production. However, I always struggle to find a black and white filter that I really like so I expect I’ll be using this feature pretty regularly. Here again, the bonus of shooting “black and white film” on this digital camera is that the scene appears in black and white through the viewfinder so you can tell how the light and contrast will work before you press the shutter. Love!
Finally, this camera lets you choose the aspect ratio you shoot in. That means that this Polaroid and Instagram lover can shoot squares full-time if I like. Choosing a 1:1 ration will bring a square grid into the viewfinder to assist you in square composition.
In short, this camera is making me very happy!
My biggest sticking point in this decision was the investment I’d made in my perfectly good (perfectly great, really) MkII and lenses. I was afraid that if I got the X100s I would never use them. That may or may not turn out to be the case. In the end I decided that my DSLR and gear serve their purpose and will be the kit I use at home or that I bring when I have planned a photoshoot. At heart though, I’m a traveller. And the X100s just made sense as a travelling camera. I’m heading to New York this weekend and I cannot wait to walk around the city with my new friend slung across my shoulder. Of course I’ll be bringing at least one Polaroid with me as well. Old habits do die hard.
Debra ~ Manifeisty