I don’t really know if this will be of any interest to anyone but, seeing how this is my blog and all, I figured I could write a bit about it regardless.
Today it’s been a year since I received my X100S and sold my Nikon DSLR. I won’t talk much about why I made the switch because that’s been covered in previous posts; instead I would like to talk about what it has meant for my photography and what I feel about it a year later. Warning, long post ahead, though you could just look at the pictures if you want.
You might think that it would be difficult to go from a DSLR with a bunch of different lenses to a much smaller camera with a fixed lens, but it really wasn’t hard to adjust for me. The main difference that has come about since the switch is that I take a lot more photos. I’m not talking about my more serious work, the stuff I spend a lot of time on – that has stayed the same, which is to say not as much as I would like – no, I’m talking about the everyday snapshots, the holiday pictures, those shots that just capture a moment without bothering too much about the merits of the photo itself.
With my DSLR I would mostly leave it at home or, if I did take it with me, I wouldn’t bother taking it out of the bag very often. Now it doesn’t feel like a chore to bring the camera and it can hang at my side for hours without getting in the way or making my shoulders tired. It’s nice to be able to take some of those photos that I often felt like I missed before. Below is a collection of some of my favourite snapshots that never would have been taken with my old camera.
When it comes to my serious work I’ve produced a lot of my best work with the X100S. Part of that is because of the camera, part of it is that I’ve hopefully gotten better and part of it is the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to shoot in some really nice locations during the previous year. In order to keep things from going too far off track, I’ll only discuss the first of those points here. First you can have a look at my favourite portraits that I’ve shot so far with the camera, though if you follow my blog you’ve seen them all already.
You’ll notice that a lot of these are taken on location and that has always been the kind of portraits I’ve been most interested in. It’s also where the X100S shines the brightest. One of my absolute favourite features of this camera is the leaf shutter that allows me to sync my flashes at a lot faster speeds than with my old DSLR. It’s a feature that has allowed me to shoot things that wouldn’t have been possible for me before, at least not without getting a lot more expensive and powerful lights. The built-in ND filter in the camera also helps to make my work easier in bright situations where I want to use flash without stopping down the aperture. Sure, you could just as well screw one on yourself but to be able to do it with the click of a button certainly is faster.
You may also notice that there’s some flare going on in a few of these shots and the lens on the X100S is known to flare rather easily. However, I’ve found myself working a lot with that, as opposed to against it. This is purely a matter of taste but for my style it works really well and adds character to the photos.
In terms of image quality I’m also very happy. The files are a huge step up from my three year old entry level DSLR and they print gorgeously. They obviously look good on a monitor as well but, as I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve started printing recently and that’s how I’m going to measure image quality from now on. It really is when you print that your photographs comes to life and I couldn’t ask for better results from these files.
All this aside, the one thing that confirms for me that I made the right choice when I switched to this camera is just how much I love using it. There’s definitely a love story going on here and it’s difficult to explain what makes this camera so enjoyable to use. I would say that it’s a combination of the small form factor with retro looks, the tactile feel of old-fashioned control dials and the magical viewfinder. The latter really deserves special mention. For those completely unfamiliar with it: it’s a hybrid viewfinder, meaning you can switch from optical to electronic with the flip of a lever. I didn’t think I would like the electronic viewfinder very much but it’s actually pretty good and I use it for all my serious work when I want as much precision as possible.The optical viewfinder is what I use when I’m just walking around and taking snaps. It doesn’t offer as much precision but it’s a joy to look through and gives you a feeling of freedom.
This is getting a bit wordy so here are some landscape photos, just because I can.
There’s been a lot of gushing over this camera so far but is there nothing bad to say about it, nothing I miss from my DSLR? Sure there is, the main thing being a longer portrait lens. At some point in the future I’ll probably want to get a complete system again but it will have to wait. I don’t upgrade my tech every year and I don’t have enough disposable income to justify spending money on a second camera, especially since I’m not making any money from it. Right now the perfect kit for me would be the Fujix X-T1 with the 14, 35 and 56mm lenses. However, I’m not about to give up my X100S anytime soon, I’ll keep shooting with it exclusively for at least another couple of years…probably, you know how it is.
The camera also has its fair share of quirks but most of them just add to its character (way to be rational). My biggest problem has been the exposure preview in the EFV when I’m shooting in a studio setting. What it means in practice is that the EVF goes black when you half-press the shutter if you’re exposing for flash and killing all the ambient. Luckily I got to experience Fuji’s commitment to improving their cameras firsthand and this feature can now be disabled with a setting that was introduced via a firmware update.
I can’t really think of any other complaints or things that I miss, though of course the lust for something better will always be there when it appears.
In conclusion: my old camera was a tool that got the job done, the X100S is more of a photographic experience. I simply love it more every time I pick it up. In other words there are no regrets about getting this camera and it’s going to stay with me for quite some time to come.
Ok, I’m probably done now, you should just leave quietly before I get started again.