The Fuji X100S And Other Topics

Still alive. Yep, it’s been a while since the last post. Seems like I’m suffering from a case of spring fever. Anything that involves such indoor, mundane, sit-at-desk kinds of effort is just not something I can tolerate. I’ve been making a whole lot of pictures in the last month or so. Some not bad others… hmmm, not so good but that doesn’t matter. I’m out of the house, winter’s over and I’m having fun with my camera. That’s the important part isn’t it?

I guess that brings us to today’s brief topic; The Fuji X100S as well as the other two X100 cameras. I consider them pretty much all the same cameras with extremely minor operational and performance differences. I’m sure that various people will argue to the ends of the earth that the difference between an X100, X100S, and an X100T are night and day but from my perspective or say the perspective of comparing any of them to a camera such as a Nikon D4 or something they all fall into about the same level of performance and operational characteristics.

Over the course of the last month I’ve really put my cameras through their paces on a sustained basis. The X100S as you might remember is not exactly new to me but I had almost a year without one. It was interesting being away from it for so long and then adding it back into the mix. On a few occasions the little fixed lens Fuji was my sole camera, the only one I took on various photographic excursions. In other cases it served alongside my Nikon Df as my 35mm lens since I’ve still not purchased a 35mm prime for my Nikons.

In both cases I have a renewed perspective on the X100 series cameras. Some of my findings and observations regarding that camera and the entire Fuji line of cameras are reinforced as well as some non-scientific irrational observations. Let’s take two random images I shot back to back or close to back to back. Let’s say within a few minutes of each other in a real situation as opposed to some sort of back to back testing. In other words I cared more about making pictures than comparing cameras.

The image at the top and the one above are SOOC imported into Lightroom CC with VSCO film 01 Fuji 400H preset applied on import. That’s it. No precise matching, nothing. Huge difference in color? Nope. There goes the magic Fuji color bullshit out the window. Same story as I’ve always found. If you’re really nit-picky and not quite so lazy any color difference is again a minor auto-WB difference.

How about exposure? Well both cameras are set at ISO 400. Both cameras are on manual with each having an aperture of f/4. The Nikon is 1/250 and the Fuji X100S is 1/125. So the Fuji is about a stop slower in real ISO as typical the case in side by side. Almost forgot — which is which? Should be easy to tell based on the focal length for those good at detecting that sort of thing. the wider shot should be obviously the X100S. Can’t tell? That would be the one at the top. Myself operating in the 28-85 range for 99.99% of all the pictures I take the difference between a 50mm and a 35mm POV is night and day.

So what’s new? Technically, not much. Here are a few things that really came to the forefront of my head shooting so much with the X100S both alone and along with the Nikon over the last month:

  • The X100S is maddeningly slow. Not in some sort of measurement but in overall fluidity of operation. Buttons are horrible and fiddly. Checking the exposure histogram is a noticeable pause vs. the non-event of the Nikon.
  • There are many circumstances where the Fuji just cannot lock focus… as in cannot no matter what you try.
  • The broken by design on/off switch actually does turn itself on while in the back just being jostled about. Really it does. Turned it off, put it in my Domke, took a train ride, got to my location, took it out — it was on.
  • When shooting side by side with my Nikons I take far fewer shots with the Fuji. This probably holds true when I go solo with the X100S as well. Hard to say definitively when it’s my solo camera but when in combo with the Nikon it’s like 4 to 1. Maybe a good thing, maybe a bad thing. Maybe both. This is directly attributable to it’s lack of fluidity. It’s actually kind of clunky to use in comparison. A steam tractor vs a Porche.
  • There’s a certain disconnected feeling that the X100S shares with every single mirrorless camera I’ve ever used. Something that’s hard to quantify but definitely throws me off. Let’s take the above Nikon shot as an example. A typical example of how I shoot naturally. I’m good at this as long as the camera doesn’t feel like it’s in my way — when the camera disappears. It’s a timing and rhythm thing that has almost nothing to do with the ultimate speed of any camera as measured. I can make shots of an in motion or partially in motion subject with timing I gravitate towards all day with the Nikon. Don’t even have to think about it. I know looking through any EVF at the moment is a deal killer for that kind of thing for me. That knocks me off my game in all sorts of ways. I can do this with the X100S looking through the OVF but for some reason that somewhat disconnected feeling throws me off. I have to try a lot harder. Not for any particular single shot but for the rhythm of any sequence. Don’t know why but this kind of thing is certainly something one needs to evaluate on your own terms and make decisions on your gear appropriately. You cannot read spec sheets or reviews and figure out things like this that apply to your own personal needs. Can’t be done. Am I saying I cannot make pictures in that way with my X100S? No, I’m just saying it’s not as comfortable natural and fluid doing it.

Here’s the interesting part. All of that sounds very negative on the Fuji balance sheet right? Does this mean I’m getting rid of the Fuji? No. The strange thing is I still love it. I like to use it. I tend to shoot a little looser with it. With all of it’s faults and somewhat cumbersome operation I still like it for some sort of irrational reason that can’t be nailed down in my own head. I have however determined my own reason to have the X100S. While it is a stand-in for a 35mm prime next to my Df that’s really not a great idea. More laziness and indecision on my part.

The reason for the X100S is when I take it solo on it’s own. No camera bag, no accessories or choices to make, no lens adaptors just the X100S hanging on a strap. The reason for the X100S in my case is lack of choices in terms of gear, the lack of the mental or physical burden of any camera bag at all. On a closely related note using the X100S solo with no other camera or gear change-outs is a very different photographer/subject dynamic. It’s not the same if you are switching up cameras and lenses and attachments. In fact doing so negates any of that different dynamic. Let’s call this hard to pin down dynamic more of a narrative snapshot feel. So far the X100 series of cameras with it’s used bare and on it’s own is about the best camera out there for achieving this kind of photographer/subject feel. More on that to come as my spring fever continues to fuel my prolific season that disappears all to soon.

blog comments powered by Disqus