During my last trip I brought with me the Fuji GSW690iii camera to shoot landscapes. I also wanted to carry a digital camera to be able to take a few more photos (kinda of a digital backup or add-on to my film gear).
I chose the Fuji X100 for it’s great image quality and small size. My Sony NEX was the camera of choice during the past two months since I can change lenses and it’s a faster camera. Although the X100 has real knobs that in theory would allow me to work faster (the way I work with the Leica M), I have found myself working much faster with the NEX. The X100 is a slow camera to operate with slow speed, and a strange menu which frustrates me a lot. Nevertheless, the image quality of the Fujinon is indisputable and is the wonderful color and white balance. Also, the 35mm focal length is my favorite, the NEX on the other hand does not have a good lens on this size (the new Zeiss e-mount is a very expensive lens to buy and also it’s a big size lens).
Operating a fixed focal length camera is kinda of liberating (at least for me). You don’t have to worry about the lens choice and you just have to adopt to it in order to get the images you want.
I don’t like zoom lenses, despite their flexibility I prefer to work with primes and I almost always return with better images when shooting a fixed focal length. Also the image quality of prime is always better. There were only a few subjects that the 35mm was not capable of capturing, mainly landscapes (for those I had the GSW690). In cases where it was absolutely necessary to capture a scenery I just shot two images and stitched them on my computer (not a favorite technique but it gets the job done, although the real focal length of the Funinon which is 23mm sometimes created a distorted final stitch). It’s easy to fix the distortion in Lightroom when shooting RAW but I almost never shoot RAW with the X100, the JPEG quality is excellent and the white balance is most times correct).
The optical viewfinder of the X100 is what really makes the difference. I am used to large and bright viewfinders (Nikon D700, Leica M8, and of course the wonderful viewfinders of the film medium format cameras), so framing with the X100 is a joy. This is where the fantastic Sony NEX 5 really disappoints me, no viewfinder and not a chance of buying the great new Sony OLED viewfinder since it’s not compatible with the NEX 5 (I really cannot dig the fact that I should buy the 5N to use the external viewfinder or upgrade to the NEX 7).
The X100 macro mode is also great since it allows me shoot some close ups and also the fill flash is really amazing, the best auto flash system I have ever seen in camera.
I almost always use the Provia film mode since the Velvia can really clip the shadows, and the monochrome modes are not so good (I shoot lots of black and white film so I am kinda of demanding when it comes to black and white photos, when shooting digital for b&w conversion I shoot a RAW image and then use the wonderful Silver Efex software. The only exception is Sony NEX’s high contest monochrome picture effect which provides superb b&w images, although not suitable for every subject since it’s contrast is way too high).
ISO perfomance of the X100 is also great, and it gets the job done when needed. I am mostly a film shooter, mostly shooting in the 50-400 ISO range, so I don’t lust for 12800 or 25600 ISO performance, and when shooting black and white I prefer the look of the Delta 3200 film with a medium format camera (great grain look with superb sharpness, there is no JPEG noise reduction on film !!!). This is of course my personal opinion and taste, but after all, every one has personal tastes and chooses his/her medium accordingly (otherwise we would all use the same gear !)
So, these are my thoughts on the Fuji X100. Overall a great piece of equipment for making great images (with pros and cons as every single camera has). In many situations it has replaced my Leica M8 camera for all day use, since the M8 really suffers from ISO performance (as I stated earlier I am not craving for high ISO but when you have to carry one camera all day it’s nice to be able to catch a few color scenes in 1600 or 3200 ISO, or use the built in flash for those snapshots with friends). And of course the video mode can also be useful in some situations. Shooting video with a small camera is getting more and more interesting and I will soon post some video clips I have shot during the past months.
That’s all about the Fuji X100 experience, here are some more images.
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