Important Note: Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my beautiful readers who celebrate! Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Have a blessed, epic and memorable celebration guys.
I have a confession to make. I have always been in love with one particular camera, the Fujifilm X100.
Four long painful years after the initial release of the camera, now finally the used market price of the camera has dropped drastically, I can afford getting one. Obviously that is the case, or else I would have bought the X100T, or at least the X100S instead. I have owned the Fujifilm X100 for a few days now, and you know what? I am in love with it, despite its age.
No, I will not do a review for Fuji X100, I see no point or value in doing that, since it is quite an old camera now, and there are many excellent and well-written reviews, articles, and endless discussions on the camera everywhere on the internet. Whatever I have to add here, honestly will be just redundant, and have been discussed before somewhere else. What I will do in this blog entry instead, is to discuss the relevance of this Fujifilm X100, why I made the purchase, and how it can help improve my own photography. I have a purpose for this camera, I did not just buy it because it looks so sexy.
Or did I?
Ok forgive my lousy attempt at product photography. Those two images were done in like 5 minutes and I did not have the patience to sit through a proper lighting setup. If you do not like the above product images (I almost did not want to show them) you can always google up some sexier images of Fujifilm X100. I am not Ming Thein. I do not know how to make cameras look sexy.
So let us get the obvious stuff out of the way first. Why, oh why did I get a Fuji? Am I not an Olympus fanboy?
35mm Focal Length, a continuous fight and conscious effort to master this mysterious focal length
I have stated numerous times how I do not find the 35mm classical focal length to suit my photography. I think it is an excuse, and the lazy part of me to just dismiss it so quickly. It is much easier to blame the focal length when it did not work, shoving it down my priority list and not deal with the truth: I did not really give myself enough chance to improve, or learn how to use a 35mm lens. I did own the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 for about half a year, and when the 25mm F1.8 lens came along I just sold off the poor underutilized unloved 17mm f1.8, and bought the 25mm F1.8. I was happy using the 25mm F1.8, and my favourite 45mm F1.8, but the more I use these lenses the more I ignore my own weakness: that 35mm.
My issue is very obvious: when I used the 35mm equivalent focal length lens, I treated it like it was some other focal lengths: either a wider lens (28mm) or a longer lens (50mm), hence my complain went something like this: it was not wide enough for what I did, and it was not long enough for the tight shots, resulting to a neither here nor there lens. Excuses, I know. So now, for the first time, I am putting an end to this running back and forth and I shall committ myself to this focal length. On the days I carry out the Fujifilm X100, my perspective will be fixed at 35mm. I shall figure out ways to make this work. I know I can, and I know I will. Just give me time.
In contradiction to Ming Thein's argument of Street Photography recently, I do believe wider angle lenses such as 28mm and 35mm play important roles, and work well for street photography. On the other hand, I am at the same time also contradicting myself a little here as I often work with longer lenses, but I have seen what 35mm can do, and there are many composition that can only work well with this strange focal length.
Next Step in improving my photography: including more subjects into my frame
Beautiful colors, from Fuji
Skin tone is good
Shallow depth of field, thanks to F2 wide open aperture
Waiting for Customers
Company of Friends
As mentioned earlier, I will not be reviewing this camera, I do NOT have the time for it, and I do not see a point in repeating what has been done countless times by many great photographers out there.
If you do not know, I have actually done a mini-review of the newer Fujifilm X100S a while ago. Please do check it out.
I do however, want to share some quick thoughts about the camera, based on my limited experience so far.
I have not used such a straightforward and simple camera, as a Fuji X100. There really is nothing much to think about when handling this camera, and everything is where they are supposed to be. The aperture is adjusted via the ring control around the lens, shutter speed on the huge dial at the top of the camera, ISO was set as shortcut to the customizable function button, white balance was Auto, and that was it, I was out shooting. I used Aperture Priority and there was nothing much to think about, thus I focused more on shooting than thinking what I could have done wrong in my settings. You really could not screw up much, because there is not much for you to screw up with. So few settings to take care of, all the important settings are quickly accessible, and the best part: the camera just works. It is so easy to work with, so simple, and it effortlessly makes beautiful photographs.
This is completely different to ALL the other cameras I have frequently dealt with (Olympus, Sony, Panasonic), with the ever confusing and horrendously designed menu system, and too many settings and controls that you may not even need 90% of them most of the time.
2) BEAUTIFUL JPEG
I have been shooting exclusively JPEG for now, and so far I am impressed with what the camera can do straight out of camera. I have set my Film Silulation to Astia (after reading countless reviews and recommendations) and pretty much everything else was set to default. The Noise Reduction was set to LOW, as I would have done with any other camera I use. The image come out detailed, with very pleasing colours, beautiful skin tone and well balanced in terms of contrast and exposure. I may explore the capabilities of the JPEG, but honestly, if I want better resolution, if I want high ISO capable camera, if I want to push the envelope of image quality, I have much better options to work with than the X100. The lens (fixed on the camera, 35mm F2 equivalent) is not exactly the sharpest lens I have encountered, the 12MP sensor is indeed outdated, and I am not expecting it to perform miracles. All that considered, I am VERY happy with the output I am seeing so far. There is nothing I can figure out to complain about the image quality. Inspecting and scrutinizing the images close up, I can really understand why this Fujifilm X100 was highly regarded during the time of its release, it was considered the best APS-C camera at that time.
All the images presented in this blog entry were almost straight out of camera with very minor tweak. I did fine-tune the white balance a little in some scenes, but they would have looked just nice without my interruptions. I edited the photographs for the sake of consistency, and to my own preference.
3) THE CAMERA IS JUST PURE SEXINESS
No matter how you look at the camera, no matter from which angle you see it, the camera just screams beauty. I have many, many friends who bought the camera just purely based on the looks. Thankfully X100 is not just all looks, there is plenty of substance going about it too. Some have coarsely described the Fuji X100 as the poor man's Leica.
Whatever. It is Sexy. Period.
ISO3200, low light condition, the camera performed admirably
Under tricky lighting, the skin tone came out beautiful. ISO1600, and the image is still clean.
ISO1600 crop from the previous image
Yes, yes there is highlight blowouts, but who cares honestly. If you are so anal about these things then shoot RAW.
Good tonal range here, with plenty of contrast
Smooth, creamy bokeh
Moving subject, perfectly sharp in focus. We will discuss AF soon.
Another fast moving subject, AF works well
4) AUTOFOCUS, NOT BAD
I have read endless complains about X100's AF. I have the latest firmware on the X100. I can understand why this sparked so much unhappy users and their angry shouting over the internet. The AF is not fast, it is quite slow in comparison to even a compact camera at the same time. The most important thing to me now, when it comes to AF, is not just speed, but ACCURACY. Yes, speed will always be important, but I MUST be absolutely sure that I can TRUST the camera's AF accuracy. I can wait for the camera, I can slow myself down, I can pace myself to time my shots, plan it carefully, but all that equals to nothing, if the end result is out of focus, due to the camera's inconsistency in focusing. This is the case I have experienced with my previous two Sony cameras (Sony A57 and Sony A350), which annoyed the hell out of me. The consequence, I have picked up a bad habit of shooting the same subject many, many times just to make sure I do not miss the focus. With the Olympus I get near 100% accuracy, yet this habit stays with me.
The Fujifilm X100 was accurate. Yes it was slow, I slowed myself down, and I managed to get many shots, even in difficult shooting situations.
My complain is not so much on the AF mechanism itself, but on the inability to quickly access and change the focusing points. You need to press the AF button which is awkwardly placed at the right side of the camera button layout, before moving them with the targeting arrow pads. They should have assigned one of the arrow pads' shortcut to the AF, hence you do not need TWO HANDS to operate, just to change the focusing points.
I will be entirely honest here. I do like what the lens can do. It produces excellent images. However, at F2 wide open, it is very, very soft. Even at F2.8, the lens is not exactly what I would call sharp. To achieve sharp images, you will need to go F4, or better F5.6.
Did the softness bother me? No, not at all. I knew what I was getting into, and if I wanted pure sharpness and high resolution to work with, this is not the camera I would go to. Getting a good photograph is a lot more than just getting it to be as sharp as possible. But here is the thing, though the lens is far from what is the best out there, you have to cut it some slack: it is after all designed to be really, really compact, so small, and so slim, like a pancake sized lens, fixed onto the camera. The pancake design made the whole camera package so small, light and easy to carry around. I do not mind if the lens was larger and we get better image quality, or faster lens (eg F1.7 or better, F1.4) but then again I really am pushing it too far here. I think the lens is perfectly capable in delivering good enough results.
6) HYBRID, WHAT VIEWFINDER?
I could care less about the optical viewfinder. First of all, the optical version did not allow 100% view, making composition difficult for me, since I am so used to 100% view all this time. Secondly, the electronic viewfinder has 100% and also accurate framing, free of parallax error which the optical viewfinder is experiencing. And I get to preview my real exposure settings as I change them. The Electronic viewfinder has low resolution and poor refresh rate, but it gets its job done fairly well. To some people the Hybrid viewfinder is a good compromise to have between an optical option to work with, but I can do without it. Just give me a well implemented, high resolution, 100%, large electronic viewfinder, I will be much happier.
Huge Cookies. Macro was ok. Nothing to shout about. But you do get to do some decent close up shots
100% crop from previous image
At the market
Portrait of a Stranger
7) HANDLING WAS GOOD
Now this is a strange discovery. Remember I was complaining about difficulty hand-holding the Panasonic GM1 and how I was being so used to 5-Axis Image Stabilization that without IS I was hopeless. I could even see camera shake at 1/60sec shutter speed, using wide angle lens. This problem did not exist while I was using the Fujifilm X100. I could slow down the shutter speed below the safe limits and still pull out decent shots. The camera not being too small, helped a lot in handling, and it was comfortable to use all day long. I only wished it had slightly beefier grip.
I must admit this Fujifilm X100 (and all its subsequent iterations, X100S and X100T) is not for everyone. You must be a photographer, experienced enough to handle a camera, understand the manual controls of shutter speed, aperture and ISO to get the best out of it.
Most importantly, knowing how to utilize the 35mm perspective is crucial in getting good composition. I have seen MANY people randomly firing away with 35mm perspective, resulting in ugly distorted human faces, or unnatural perspective of the scenes they captured. The 35mm is NOT the snap and run kind of focal length, you do need to look around the frame and consider what you are including or intend to exclude from the frame. Composition is often neglected when shooting something this wide, and messy composition is something I always try to avoid. On the other hand, a carefully considered/planned background, combining multiple layers of composition and playing with the interactions of many subjects within a frame will lead to an amazing photograph. I have yet to achieve this complexity in my composition. It is something I struggle with, and I hope to achieve with using the Fujifilm X100 more often.
KLCC shopping mall is a nightmare during Hari raya holidays
100% crop from the previous image
100% crop from previous image
100% crop from the previous image
Today's shutter therapy session was quite special. I was joined by three friends, originating from three different parts of the world. Shaun from Brisbane, Nick from UK and Bjorn from Canada.
We also have a few more friends who joined, and in the combination of gear out on the street shooting earlier this morning, we had Leica Q (latest release from Leica), Sony RX1 and the R version, Fujifilm X-T1, Olympus OM-D, Panasonic GM1, and Ricoh GR and GXR.
I think, the most important thing I must learn while shooting on the street, is to slow down. I do need to give more thoughts on what I am shooting, and how I am composing my scene, now that I am using a focal length which is not something I am good at. The Fujifilm X100 is not a fast camera, hence I do need to slow down.
Bjorn Utpott - www.bmupix.com
Shaun Nykvist - www.footlessfish.com.
Nick Wade - Hey what happened to your blog Nick?
Amir Shariff invited us over to the most epic Raya Open House ever! Thanks so much for having us over, and looking forward to shooting with you on the streets again.
Oh another cup of Flat White for the weekend.
I am super sure MANY of you own, or used to own the Fujifilm X100. Share your experience. I want to hear your love stories. Or hate stories. If you still shoot with it today, kindly leave a comment below!