Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

You might want to stop reading now. What follows is an account of some of the thoughts running through my head with regards to camera selection. For some reason I’ve decided to share it here. I pity the fool who ventures forth beyond this point.

When it comes to camera equipment I’ve had my upgrade path clear to me for a long time. The only decision that’s been somewhat up in the air has been that of my next camera. I’ve been using my Nikon D3000 for a few years now and, while still in perfect condition, I’ve outgrown it. I’m at a stage where I feel that a more capable camera would allow me to create better photos.

For a long time the D7000 was my intended upgrade, that or its replacement (the D7100, which was just announced). Then Nikon announced the D600, a full frame camera that cost more than I should spend but that, at the same time, was within reach, a full frame camera that was attainable for someone with rather limited disposable income. I’m not the guy who upgrades his tech every time a new generation comes out, I’m the guy who gets the best tool I can get and then watch several generations go by as I use that tool to its best ability. Still, the dream of a full frame camera was alive and I set that as my new goal. Then Fuji comes along and announces the X100S.

I find myself becoming infatuated with this little camera and it has made me think long and hard about what I want to get out of my photography. The funny thing is that two years ago, when I first got into photography in a more serious way, I wouldn’t have looked twice at this camera (except maybe to admire its retro look). Fixed lens for that price? No thank you Fuji, I’ll stick to my Nikon DSLR. Now, however, I feel quite differently. I know how I shoot, what I shoot and I know what I want my camera to be able to do.

For me, the most interesting part of photography is my personal work, the photos I spend time setting up and creating step by step. For that a DSLR is perfect, both in terms of image quality and flexibility. However, I find myself reluctant to use it for anything else, it just feels like too much work to bring if we go out somewhere. If we travel someplace far I’ll probably bring it but it stays in the bag for the most part, especially during the travel itself. Once we reach our destination I’ll take it out to shoot a portrait or two (I usually bring as much lighting equipment as possible) but that’s it, after my personal work is done it goes back in the bag. Even though the D3000 with a 35mm f1.8 is rather small, it still doesn’t feel like a camera I can be bothered to get out unless I’m doing serious work.

So, I find myself having two choices.

1. Save up for a D600, sell the D3000 and DX lenses, replace DX lenses with FX ones, keep shooting almost only personal work and maybe in the far future get a X100S as a second camera.

2. Save up for a X100S, sell the D3000 and DX lenses, keep the FX lenses, bring the camera everywhere and in the far future get a D600 for more exclusive personal work.

Right now I’m definitely leaning towards option number two.

The first thing I ask myself is: what would I miss from my current setup if I got the X100S? Turns out it’s not much. For some portrait work I would miss the 85mm f1.8 a bit but that’s about it. Everything else that my D3000 does, the X100S does better. Besides, the kind of portraits I’m really interested in (and that I keep saying I have to shoot more of) is environmental ones, for which the 23mm f2 lens on the Fuji is pretty perfect. Granted, I won’t be shooting any bug macros of the caliber I’ve done with my 85mm f3.5, so I guess that another thing I would miss a bit, though only during our short summers.

Apart from the lenses, everything I have now would still work with the X100S, my flashes doesn’t care what camera they’re working with, all they need is a signal. In fact, thanks to the sync speeds of the X100S, my flashes will suddenly become a lot more powerful, how awesome is that? I would also gain better controls, better build quality, better image quality and…well, pretty much everything would be better.

Second question: what do I give up by not getting the D600? Again, lenses and, as an extension of that, shallow DOF. That’s the only real loss for me but it’s a fairly big one. If I look only at my personal work, my portraits and macro, the D600 is without a doubt the better camera for the job. That leads us to question number three.

What do I gain from getting the X100S? You mean apart from a camera that looks so awesome that you just want to cuddle it? Well, I guess I would get a camera that would actually get used all the time. It’s a camera I would bring whenever we go out somewhere. If we travel it would be out on the bus, train, plane, horseback, hang glider, surf board, whatever. That’s the biggets gain. Even though my main interest is in my portrait work, I can’t deny that I sometimes wish I could be bothered to use the camera a bit more. It will still perform admirably for my personal work as well, especially the environmental portraits that I hope to shoot more of. In terms of image quality I would say that both the X100S and D600 are so good that it really doesn’t matter which one you use.

Conclusion? I’ll probably go with option number two. I can see myself having a lot of fun with the X100S, both for personal work and family outings. Not yet though, I’ll wait for the price to drop a bit (usually does after the first few months after release), both to save money and to give myself time to change my mind. If the mind remains unchanged, chances are I’ll be a Fuji shooter sometime in the future.

If you’ve read everything up until this point…get a hobby, seriously, there must be better ways to spend your time…


11 Responses to “Decisions decisions”

  1. Rob

    I have a hobby. It’s photography, which makes this post at least slightly relevant to my interests. That said, I’m a Canon guy, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  2. Matthew Kunce

    Tough call. I went the D7000 route last year and love it. But you make some very real arguments for the D600 and the Fuji. The hard part for me would be the lens. (I am jealous of your lens by the way 🙂 ) I really like that flexibility. But the size issue is a factor as well. When I travel for work I try to take my DSLR but there are times I haven’t because I just didn’t have room. Can’t wait to see what you decided.

    • Rifqi

      Lenses is definitely an issue. If I had the money I would get both cameras in a heartbeat. Alas, such is not the case. When I’ve made my decision I’m hoping to be able to make the switch to a new camera after summer, though if the vote falls on the D600 it will take longer to finance. Either way I’m getting a new camera…don’t even try to stop me :p

  3. [Gm]

    I was in your position last year. X100 was one of the options, but in the end, I go with GRD3. X100 has too much quirks for me. Hope they get rid of it with X100s. So far, based on reviews, seems to be promising.

    Having said that, I agree with option 2 with additional suggestion.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to sell D3000. I’m not sure how the market in your area is, but D3000 is already too old to have a good, non-heartbreaking, re-sale price. So, it won’t help much to fund the new X100S. It’s better to give more time to save money than sell this camera. On the other hand, DX lenses will still have good re-sale price.

    Conclusion, if I’m in your position, I will sell the DX lenses, but will still keep the D3000 and FX lenses. I will only sell D3000 once D600 (or whatever replacement) is within reach.

    But that’s me :-)… I’m not you :D…

    • Rifqi

      They definitely seem to have addressed pretty much every major complaint that people had with the X100. It seems like a very fun camera to use, a photographer’s camera in every sense.

      You have a point about the D3000, I certainly don’t expect to get much for it if I do sell it. My plan was to try to sell it together with the 35mm f1.8. As part of a kit like that I might be able to squeeze a bit more out of it. I don’t think anyone would want to buy it body only.

      In the end it’s the wallet who has the final say…though I wish I didn’t have to listen to it all the time.

      • [Gm]

        Assuming that people will buy D3000 as upgrade from compact, don’t think a prime lens kit would be interesting… But, yeah, it’s better than just body.

        Good luck, Rifqi. Looking forward to see the works from your (upcoming) new camera 😀

  4. dcphotoartist

    Get the Fuji. You WILL use it more often, and the “lack” of flexibility will make YOU become more flexible in your shooting. For inspiration, go take a look at what so many photographers in the past did with a Rolleiflex (which had a fixed 80mm “normal” lens – normal for 2 1/4″ roll film). Vivian Maier, Richard Avedon (although he’s better known for his 8×10 inch camera work, but that was almost exclusively shot with a “normal” lens for the format as well), Diane Arbus, and Helmut Newton just to name a few.

    I keep a Contax G2 rangefinder outfit around for travel because it is such an easy camera to use on the road, and I’ve been falling in love with a Rolleiflex as well, which is amazing as a portrait camera. So if you’re thinking of the Fuji, I’d say it falls into the same category and would be a great option.

    • Rifqi

      Thanks for the comment. I’m definitely leaning more and more towards the X100S, just looking at it makes me want to handle it. Even though I have no aspirations for street photography, I believe that a camera that I will use more could also help me become a better and more versatile shooter.


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