I sat in a new restaurant by myself on a trip, excited by my discovery of a new vegan eating spot and awaiting my food with anticipation. The hipster waiting staff was pouring my water and glanced at my table where I had stacked my wallet, iPhone and the Fuji X100s. "So you're going to go out and shoot some film today eh?" I glanced over at the camera. I had brought it in thinking I may take a photo of my food (I didn't) but since the camera wasn't mine I also didn't want to leave it in my car in case it was stolen.
"Not sure I said, but it's not film." The server looked puzzled. Glanced again at the camera. Mumbled that they were a photographer and asked if I was one. They shot film exclusively (I shoot film sometimes, it's not that unusual) and assumed based by the look of the camera it was a film machine. And you can forgive their mistake. The camera at a glance looks a lot like my film SLR's. It looks manual with big dials and mostly metal parts. It looks well built, not plastic and lets be honest, it's downright sexy.
Thing was, I used the camera once that day. For one frame. This shouldn't be a reflection on the Fuji. I've been in a creative funk lately and the Fuji just happened to fail to be the catalyst to break through it. If you've been following my Facebook page you might have read that all my photos lately have been for work. I'm just not picking up cameras for fun anymore. I was hopeful the X100s would change that. I've been curious about this camera for a long time. But alas it wasn't to be.
|My one frame of the day. At a local farmers market. Jpg, straight out of camera.|
I never really broke through the surface, but I made a strong first impression.
And so what is it about the Fuji that didn't capture me? Was it just this funk I'm in that was the barrier? Patrick thought maybe it was the focal length. On reflection, I own the 35mm Canon prime and really don't use it outside of wedding work. I bought it to replace my 24-70 which I wanted to break free from. Patrick may have a point, I tend to live from about 80 to 200mm in my work. Not that I don't love wider angles, but I do have a preference.
And if you're going to buy a fixed focal length camera you'd better love the focal length. Ultimately the few times I did walk with the camera and use it, I found I always had the wrong focal length.
I'm a big fan of the one lens approach. I often throw a prime on my camera and go for a walk. I love the challenge of being stuck with something. But it occurs to me that each time I go I can choose which lens to throw on depending on my mood and the location of where I'm going or what I'm intending on capturing. With the Fuji you're stuck. It's 35mm equiv. or nothing. And for this reason, it's not a one camera solution for many photographers. You're going to need a different camera. At least some of the time.
And so looking at other cameras in the mirrorless segment that have big sensors but interchangeable lenses, I'm left wondering if a fixed solution would ever be right for me. It would be right for some people. Especially those in love with the focal length. Street photographers, I'm thinking of you. This camera should be your big wet dream. It's size, manual features, focal length and retro urban look cache will be right in your wheelhouse.
|Beside my old Olympus EPL1 with optional external viewfinder.|
The Fuji feels good in your hands too. Better than my Olympus OM-D without the first part of its battery grip (though the feel advantage goes over the Olympus with the grip) and it has a nice balance and weight to it.
The viewfinder is as advertised too. Simply amazing. I had pre-concieved that I would prefer the optical option, but I find I liked both it and the digital display.
The lack of a tilting LCD screen on the back was a bit of a pain. It wrecks any desire to use the camera as a point and shoot which is easy with the micro four thirds cameras. Focus is much slower than the OMD as well and more fiddly. To change focus points isn't as intuitive or fast. My take on the Fuji is you may just want to pre-focus and walk around at f11 for street work, but maybe that's just me.
While the Fuji doesn't have the Art options of the Olympus cameras, the film emulators for jpg files are really wonderful. Fuji has some amazing colour film looks. I shot raw plus jpg but hadn't updated Lightroom so haven't been able to open the RAW files yet.
And the built in ND filter and ability to sync (with limitations) at any speed is just fantastic. That intrigues me a great deal even though I never used it.
Basically, in my non-review of the camera here are my initial thoughts. If you are dedicated to the 35mm focal length and the looks of the camera really get you charged up then buy it. It's a quality piece of kit. For me, I've satisfied my wanderlust and I'm happy to stick with a system that easily allows me to select lenses based on my mood. What is absolutely evident to me though is that Fuji is building quality cameras. I wonder if I'd like the X-Pro 1?
|Fuji X100s raw file (I updated Lightroom) and processed to a Fuji b/w film in Silver Effex pro 2|
|Fuji X100s raw file converted to jpg in Lightroom, no adjustments. Strong sidelight, shot wide open.|