Fuji X100 Rethink 2015

Lots of stuff happens when I take time in early January each year to review the mish-mash of things I’ve flagged for future consideration. Distance and perspective go a long way. Last post I ranted a and raved about Fuji quite a bit and technical sufficiency etc. As I reviewed a lot of those flagged items since then some seat of the pants shots made with both my original X100 as well as my replacement X100S came up again and again.

First and foremost subjects react differently to the X100 series of cameras. I’ve found the same thing, strike that, a similar thing when using my Nikon Df with tiny manual focus lenses. There is one difference that can be substantial. With the X100 cameras subjects have no idea when I take an image, that’s untrue in many environments with the Df. Sure that’s good in the usual way of candid-ness etc when making pictures on the Q.T. but it’s also a big deal even when the subject is fully aware. I’ve postulated on the why of this factor before.

The other big deal which might be secondary but might as well be a bigger factor is how I feel and how I shoot when using one particular camera or another. The ego combined with rationality in all of us suggests that you can and will shoot the same way no matter what camera. All you have to do is do whatever that “way” is with intent. Easy to say — harder to practice, maybe impossible.

Sure in some contrived test setup where you put a series of cameras on a tripod and shoot a subject with the intent of getting the same exact picture that’s going to produce almost if not identical shots. I can do that even with people by eliminating variables. That’s far far different than the kinds of circumstances I actually care about when taking pictures where I actually want lots of variables influencing the outcome. Big difference.

I shoot looser with the X100 cameras than I do with other cameras. I won’t go into what that means but it encompasses a lot of stuff. Maybe some other day I’ll try to inventory that in retrospect. I can see it which makes it real. That brings us to the meat of the matter. I have had “get a 35mm lens” on my list of things to do for years. Meaning for my ILC system camera that happens to be a Nikon. Never happened. None of them float my boat. Never — never ever, liked any of the 35 manual focus Nikkors for various reasons. The AF-D is okay I guess, not pleasant to use in any way. The 1.4G and the 1.8G are great — just huge. Same with the Sigma ART 1.4 — huge like a zoom. That leaves maybe a Zeiss ZF for crazy money that I’ve never used so have no idea if I’ll like it.

Hey, why not reacquire an X100 as my 35? Hmmmm, sure but now there are three options and everyone knows the X100T version is the one to get — everyone says so. Hell all of the Fuji shills out there love it to pieces so much more than the old one… Hey, not so fast, maybe none of the new stuff matters to me and how I use cameras. Let’s take a look…

  • A little piece of extra shutter that pops up in the lower right corner to see a laggy magnified view for manual focus. Ummm don’t care, neato to talk about will never see use with me.
  • Oh, +/-3 exposure comp wow a whole stop on either end. Sorry, don’t bother using exposure comp. Never have except for the 13 times I’ve actually used TTL flash. Nope.
  • Here’s a feature that I actually love love love love and about the only thing I give a shit about. The frigging frame lines in the OVF act the way they should when you manually focus. This is worth the extra money vs an old one. Really it is, to me at least. Let’s check and see if Fuji fixed that yet. I shoot MF 90% of the time and that is a HUGE distraction having the frame lines dance around with ever tap/release on the shutter. Oh, The X100S has a version of that with a firmware update now. Not the full thing as in tracking with the focus ring but good enough since I do the back button thing anyway.
  • Bigger better screen on the back. Don’t really care that much.
  • Ohhh look ma a new JPEG setting. Nope.
  • Q-menu customization. Cool since most of it is JPEG’y and useless to me. Meh, I’m fine with setting the custom function button to the only thing I care about anyway.
  • Finally the flippy lever is gone. Hmmmm, that will cost me like 500 bucks. Nope.
  • Third stop clicks on the aperture ring. Nope, don’t care. Well I kinda care but I don’t 500 dollars care.

Wow. I don’t care about any of these things. Cool I can require an X100 or X100s and be happy. Sure glad I got rid of it for the 9 months I wouldn’t have used it. Saved myself some serious cash. In fact I think I lost like $100 using it for a year. Not bad.

Now which one? The cheap X100S or the cheaper X100? Hmmmm, I want a black one but the for some idiotic reason a black X100 is more money than a black X100S. Stupid. Wait a second, why the hell doesn’t the OVF frame stay put in AF-lock like the X100S does now? You’re telling me somehow that projection is not fixable in the X100 firmware. WTF? Bullshit.

I’ll put my proposal of just getting the old one to the test and do that myself. I can at least cross the “get a 35mm” off my list and be done with it…. I swear I’d get an X100 if the black ones were at all similar in cost to the silver ones. I may even get an X100 if Fuji gave me some sort of fix for locking the damn OVF frame lines. Maybe they did and it’s not clear in the firmware notes? Anyone know? If they didn’t I call bullshit on that. Yea, yea, we all know Fuji does more stuff to upgrade older cams than anyone else but the OVF frame line thing not being lockable on the X100 seems to indicate they just might leave things on the table that COULD be fixed to promote upgrades.

Paranoid much you ask? Well, let’s say the Jury of Fuji firmware altruism is still out. Let’s just see if the new, new, manual focus frame line thing makes it into the X100S? I’m 99.99999999% sure that’s firmware do-able and nothing to do with mechanical bits. Here’s another — the currently most popular thing out there — the vaunted oh so wonderful classic-chromey JPEG. Let’s see how far down the foodchain that makes it’s way.

In any case, minor niggles. Unless someone credible tells me I’m off-base on the X100 OVF frame line situation I’m getting the cheapest X100S I can find. The OVF frame line workaround along with the TCL-100 are two giant things for me that were missing when I temporarily ditched my X100S. Hell, I’ll grab the TCL with the savings. I like the way the X100/X100S looks better anyway.

RB

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