As much as I’ve loved the Canon cameras I’ve had over the last 15+ years, I find myself less inclined to lug them around these days. Maybe it’s because the cameras seem to be getting bigger and heavier with each upgrade, or possibly it’s that carrying a big camera and keeping up with a toddler is just more work than it’s worth to me. Instead, I tend to reach for my trusty iPhone (and for the record, I truly love what I can do with an iPhone camera). But sometimes I wish it could be a bit more like a DSLR.
Many months ago, my friend Chris, a recovering pro photographer turned nurse, started talking up the Fuji X100, and then the X100S. And then he sent me some reviews of the camera by Zack Arias and Chase Jarvis. Then he talked about it some more. And then several months later, I decided to actually read the reviews.
A few weeks after I read the reviews, I sold my Canon 70-200 2.8 II lens (a lens that we may have used a few dozen times ever) to buy the Fuji x100s. I’ve had it for nearly a month now. A few friends have asked me about it, so I thought I’d write a not-at-all-technical review of it. If you’re looking for technical reviews, I strongly suggest you read the reviews I linked to above and this one by Ken Rockwell. Here is my initial impression:
I think with a camera like this, it’s important to love it for what it is – a beautifully designed, compact camera that rivals a big DSLR in image quality and in functionality, generally speaking. What it is not is a camera for sports photography, wildlife photography, or even for photographing toddlers during sugar-induced sprinting. I really believe, though, that it makes up for what it isn’t with what it is.
First of all, I love that it’s so easy to carry around. In fact, I’ve forgotten that it’s around my neck a time or two already. I don’t feel weighed down when I wear it, and I can still play with Augustus while carrying it. For me, that’s pretty much the entire point of owning this camera. The gorgeous, retro design of it makes me want to carry it around, too.
It’s a smart camera. I’m really happy with the sooc images…and I’ve even shot some photos in jpeg instead of raw (though I think I’m still a raw kind of girl at heart). I don’t feel the need to do a lot of editing to the images, and I’m super impressed with how it handles contrast and highlights. I’m a fan of the built-in neutral density filter and film modes, and I’m usually not into that kind of stuff.
The low light functioning is good, but maybe not as good as I anticipated based on some of the reviews I’ve read; I’d say it’s comparable to my Canon 5dmkII (so you may or may not be impressed by it, depending on your current setup). I’d prefer not to push the ISO too much.
I love the focal length – what you see through the lens is similar to what you’d see with just your eyes (and about the same as an iPhone). I’m not a fan of zoom lenses and have professed my love of prime lenses on more than one occasion, so zooming with my feet doesn’t bother me at all.
There are two wheels/knobs used for changing and fine-tuning aperture and shutter speed, so I’m fumbling a bit with changing settings quickly on such a tiny camera body. I feel sure that a few more weeks of use will improve my speed with that. I have to remember that, at some point, I felt the same way with my Canons, and, as is typically the case, consistent practice solved that.
It does seem a bit slower to focus and take the photo than I expected based on reviews, but I think there may be a few things I can do to improve that. At the same time, though, it’s making me think a bit more about the image I want to capture (kind of like film). I think all of us who have been shooting digital exclusively for several years could probably stand to take a step back and think a bit more about the images we’re composing.
I haven’t picked up my Canon 5dmII since I got this thing (except to second shoot a wedding last weekend), and I find myself reaching for my iPhone a lot less, which was the point. Right now, I’m not sure that I could give up my Canon DSLRs and go completely Fuji, but ask me again in a few months. It’s possible that my Canon might not even make it out of the bag by then.
As far as accessories go, I wanted to keep it simple. I took Ken Rockwell’s suggestion and bought two cheap filters to rig a filter for this camera rather than paying lots more money for the Fuji version. I did purchase the leather Fuji case, but I haven’t used it yet.
Now, onto the images (minimal editing, just minor exposure and contrast adjustment, and sharpened for web):
Jazz in the Park at Fort Christianvaern
Braving his first tropical storm, alligator in hand and wind in his hair.
Macro mode is great…if you can get close enough to your subject.
Augustus was trying to “eat” the moon, and wanted Matthew to hold him up so he could reach it. I went in to grab my camera to get a photo of it, but of course he was over it by then. Here’s what I got instead:
A campfire on the farm (is it still a campfire if you aren’t camping?)