Fuji X100 revisited (Part II)

This is my second part of my personal reevaluation of my Fuji X100. I had the chance to shoot more images during my photo trip and come to some conclusions.

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First of all, I am keeping the camera. Despite its quirks and flaws which I can live with (although not happily) one thing is certain, this camera produces exceptional quality images. It’s size is also very convenient, both body and lens. Actually, one great advantage is the size of the lens which makes the X100 fit easily in a small camera bag (or my jacket pocket). I am using Fuji’s leather case without the top half, so I am basically using it as a half case and its very helpful in both grip and protecting the camera.

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(One of the few times that auto focus worked flawlessly. I still much prefer the Leica M for street photography, the DoF scale of the lenses make it very easy for me to instantly set zone focus and get the shot).

One strange thing about how I use this camera is that I rarely use the optical viewfinder (which is one of the unique characteristics of the X100). For some reason I am using the EVF in order to frame with precision and see now the scene is exposed. The EVF in is nowhere near the NEX EVF (and the same ones for the LCD screen), so sometimes I have trouble with contrasty scenes. The optical viewfinder is supposed to match the experience of a rangefinder camera, but it cannot reproduce the feeling you get when you use Leica M’s viewfinder. Of course the X100 is not a rangefinder (although its shapes clearly resembles one).

About the images, the color is truly great, so is the detail. I mostly use it at f/4 or f/5.6 in order to get the maximum IQ. When shot wide open at f/2 it looks to me kindly soft but at his aperture with ISO 3200 (which is very useable) I can shoot in available light. Also the fill flash is fantastic even when set to Auto, Fuji has done a real good job here.

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Macro shots look very good although I auto focus can be a pain sometimes. With the use of an external flash like my Nikon SB-900 I can shoot at very high sync speeds due to the leaf shutter and opens new ways for experimentation (I can also use my Nikon SC-28 cord to shoot flash off camera).

One thing I consider absolutely necessary is to get the hood with the filter adapter (I have Fuji’s but there are also other alternatives. This way I can use a polarizer, a ND filter (the X100 has an internal ND filter but I like to use the B+W 110ND 10 stops filter for long exposures during daylight) and even an infrared filter (although the results are not on par with the Leica M8 or a converted IR camera, still you can get an IR look with long exposures on an tripod).

The JPEG’s of the Fuji are excellent, but I prefer to shoot RAW in order to get the full potential of this camera. With Lightroom 4 I can fix distortion automatically since it has a preset for the X100. A very fast SD card is also necessary since it really adds essential speed to the operation of the camera. When using the motor drive I find it quote slow in comparison to other cameras so I try to shoot single shots and fire consecutive shots only when needed.

Finally as I mentioned yesterday, I wouldn’t use the X100 for video since the AF is hunting all over (and that shows on the video) and its quite shaky. Manual focus is simply a pain with the X100 and without a good manual focus I can’t shoot any decent video. For this job, the NEX is fantastic.

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So, that was my experience with the X100. You can clearly see that I keep mentioning its flaws repeatedly, but I am still keeping it due to the great images it can produce. Now, if I was to buy this camera today, I would take also a look at the Sigma Merill DP2 camera. I read splendid reviews about its image quality due to Foveon sensor but its also a camera with many issues (probably even more than the X100 which I consider it to be a more versatile camera).

The point here is how many things you have to put up with in order to get great image quality. If you manage get this answered, then camera choice gets much easier. For example my favorite camera is the Leica M which is considered by many a difficult and tricky camera to use but I happen to love it !!

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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