Fuji X100S vs. Full Frame DSLR

This is the first post in what will be at least two. A while back I decided on a D600 with a couple of primes and a Fuji X100S as my two digital cameras. That decision was in comparison to Just a full frame DSLR or just an X-Pro-1 and a couple of primes. I won't go through the reasons again but a huge factor that I will discuss in depth is the lens attached to the X100S. Since I made that decision I have not treated the X100S as seriously as I should. In many cases I will take both the Fuji and the D600. Case in point - the DC trip. I would have loved to take just the X100S but just couldn't do it.

I know the primary reason that I decide to take along the D600 far far far more than I should - or even need to. It's because I am a 50mm guy vs a 35mm guy. I am extremely comfortable doing anything with just a 50mm - mentally I don't have hangups or reservations about just a 50mm. I have confidence I can make the pictures I want to make without hauling around a bunch of glass. The fact is that in more cases than not when I bring both my D600 and the X100S I end up using just the D600 and a 50mm.

Given that lead in you may have guessed this post is far more about 35mm vs 50mm field of view than it is about sensor size or any of that. It's the main reason I didn't go light to DC with just the X100S - my bias that I may not be able to make the images I want to make with just the 35mm FOV. This has been on my mind more and more and more. While I was there I was determined NOT to just shoot the 50mm which would have happened since I had it unless I very specifically determined NOT to do it. What I did instead was not any sort of contrived comparison to prove that I couldn't. I also didn't shoot the same POV and then crop the 35mm to a 50mm FOV.

Here's what I did instead. I shot the D600 with my 50mm 1.4G first in every single scenario and I made the images I wanted to make. When I was done I picked up the Fuji and made the images I wanted to make again - if I could or as close as I could. I did not alternate back and forth for the same setup. I shot everything I wanted to shoot and then did it again. The subject was not standing still while I made exacting comparisons. In fact I didn't stand in the same spot, I never looked at the back of the camera not once. I pretended I didn't even shoot it before.

As you can probably guess my findings were mixed - sure there are things I could do with the full frame 50mm 1.4 combo that I could not do with the APS-C 23mm 2.0 combo. What surprised me was that for 80%+ of the shots I wanted to make there really wasn't as much of a visual difference based on approaching it for the image I wanted vs. the lens I wanted. I was shocked - really most of what I perceived was going to happen was in my head. Did I have to shoot it a bit differently? Sure. Was I able to? Absolutely.

Want to see for yourself? Okay but hold on one second. You have to take yourself away for a moment from the image you like the best vs no real difference based on what camera and focal length I was using. As I write I am vacillating between just showing you images and labeling what is what. Instead of playing games I will just call them out - I shot on AWB for everything and did a quick and dirty color correction on only one image to better match the other - no crops, no painstaking exact WB, nothing like that so please try to evaluate these based solely on field of view and sensor size. The vast majority of this little sample was shot wide open on both cameras/lenses. I did play one little mental trick for my own sake. I only used images which were not my favorites out of the bunch for each setup. In terms of my actual favorites for each setup - that varies but is definitely not camera dependent.

Here goes…

Full Frame 50mm f/1.4

Fuji X100S

Full Frame 50mm f/1.4

Fuji X100S

Full Frame 50mm f/1.4

Fuji X100S

Full Frame 50mm f/1.4

Fuji X100S

Full Frame 50mm f/1.4

Fuji X100S

Yea the images are not exactly the same - If I set out to do them exactly the same then that is how I would have shot them. Instead wanted to just do what I would do with the 50mm then see if I could do it with the 35mm after I was completely done with a particular set. Forgive the slight differences in subject pose, expression, framing, etc. That's not the point. I went through and choose images that were pretty close from a subject and framing point of view out of my non-favorites after just shooting what images I wanted to make.

This goes a very very long way to removing some of my 50mm hang-ups. Would I buy an X200 with a fixed 50mm equiv lens? For absolutely sure. I would love to have both the X100S and my theoretically X200. I would rather that than an XPro1 and lenses.

Stay tuned for part II, this was very much about the 80% where I could make the images I wanted to make. You can probably guess what part II is - the 20% but that story may not exactly turn out the way you might think it would. More than just part II, this might be the start of an ongoing series that goes something along the lines of how to shoot the X100S for 50mm guys/gals. Hopefully this was a hair more interesting than the usual DSLR vs X100S technobabble. Who knows maybe I am the only focal length bigot still alive at this point.

RB

Ps. Please share your thoughts - 50mm guy, 35mm guy, do you have focal length hangups? I sure do and was absolutely shocked to find out a lot of it was in my head when it comes to these two lenses. I shouldn't have been since I positively absolutely know that lenses can look a lot different depending on how you use them (within reason of course).

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