X100S - Expert Mode

I have been trying to interact a bit over on the very few G+ forums/groups that I follow in hopes of making them a bit more discussion oriented instead of yet another social media transmit only experience. Interact meaning responding to other people's stuff or creating a topic based on things other people are talking about. Transmit only being what seems to be mor and more the default usage mode for all these allegedly "social" options. More on that another day. Today I was discussing the usage specifics for a set of circumstances of the little Fuji X100S with someone that quite literally just acquired it partially due to a previous conversation I had with him.

For anyone interested it was the OTP (On Taking Pictures Podcast) G+ group. I happened to explain an approach to focusing that I gravitate towards in certain picture taking situations like the shot at the top. Two things occurred to me afterwards. First is that some of you X100 shooters might find this useful if you haven't tried it already and second I am actually becoming quite the expert at shooting the little guy. At least from a couple of specific perspectives.

One of the things that I have found for myself is that you just cannot approach this camera or the XPro-1 from a mindset that starts with how the other camera you have been using works and how you use it. Epic Fail - you will not be happy if you are coming from a Canon/Nikon upper end DSLR. It's a different beast. My findings are that if you try to make it work or search for a combination of settings that reproduce how you shoot your DSLR it's just not going to do justice to the little Fuji's. Instead I took it from a blank sheet of paper mentality and approached it from what the camera actually does and how that could be used to my advantage in shooting conditions I encounter a lot. It took me a considerable amount of time, and trial, and error, to get fluid with a set of working/shooting methods that work for me. I'm at a point where I am very comfortable with it now. What's it been, almost a year? Changing my mindset was really the key though.

With that let me briefly share how I use it in situations where I typically would have used "back button focus" on my DSLR where the focus is divorced from the shutter release.

  1. I switch to manual focus. This sets up the back AE/AF lock button to activate focus only when you press it. Very similar to back button focus on your DSLR if so programmed. The difference is that the focus "point" get's huge and covers a lot of the frame it can be a bit dicey when using the OVF especially which I use for just about everything. That's where step 2 and 3 come in.
  2. In case you haven't figured this out yet, you can push the little flippy lever on the back that adjusts aperture by 1/3 stops in, not just side to side. Pushing it in automatically switches to EVF magnified view. Pushing it and holding it toggles various focus assist modes standard, split image, and focus peaking. I have it set for focus peaking. If shooting close and wide open after hitting the back button to get general focus I tap the flippy lever to take a quick peak at what precise focus is. This works friggin great as you can clearly see not just the focus point but it gives you a very good idea of the plane of exact focus as well.
  3. I fine tune with the focus ring if needed - very quick and easy. Press the flippy lever again to get back to OVF. Actually for me I just half press the shutter which puts you back in OVF as well.

I find that this is extremely fast and fluid for my shooting style. Even in very dynamic shooting circumstances. If I am shooting really close I hit the little flippy switch here and there to confirm/adjust. The little Fuji fires very fast in this mode. Brilliant. In some ways I actually like this better than the way my DSLR's do back button focus. There are many variations on this you could use as well. I don't only use the X100S this way. You may find a better way for how and what you shoot. The main point is that if you approach the Fuji for how it's little set of unique things work you will probably find there is a better way to use it rather than force fitting your old working method into it's set of features.

Maybe I should write my little eBook guide to shooting the X100S. Actually two of them. One operational in nature that's a crash corse for what I have found coming from a DSLR and one that is more of a X100S for 50mm guys kind of thing.


Ps. The entire series of shots I did on my road trip was actually only due to last winter's LaRoque Challenge. In fact the only motivation to shoot was actually what I will consider the very first installment for winter 2013/2014. Shot at the top is one of a series for my kicking this off. More soon - just need to get through all the crap I uploaded.

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