On Trying to Fall in Love with the Fuji X100 Again


I recently traveled to Portland bringing only my aging Fuji X100 to shoot with. I'd kind of fallen out of love with this camera awhile ago, even though I never lost respect for the quality of images it's capable of. It wasn't that the pictures were bad. The problem is that a significant amount of the time (I'd peg it at 20-30%), getting the image you want is really kind of a crapshoot. The focusing on the X100 is still really lacking and the menu system is a pain to navigate.

Since I now own a Canon 5D Mark III with its easy-to-access dials and controls and monstrously good autofocus system, it just didn't make sense to rely on the X100 when I could achieve a much higher consistency in my images. Combine that with the fact that Fuji recently released the X100's successor, the X100S, which has been insanely well-reviewed, and I was thinking I should retire my X100 and save up for its more attractive, expensive younger sister.

But an impromptu trip to Portland was coming up and it was only going to be a few days, so I didn't really need a heavy-duty camera. Plus, Fuji recently released a significant firmware update to the X100, improving startup time and autofocus. So I thought, why not? Let's bring this camera to Portland and see if I can fall in love with this thing again. And while I still don't think I'm going to be using this camera in my regular rotation, here are a few things I did really appreciate about it.

Caveat: Due to the recent firmware update, I discovered after the fact that all my settings had been reset and that the following images were all taken in JPEG mode. D'oh! 

Portland 15

Traveling is one use-case scenario where I do think the Fuji X100 still shines. I think that this will definitely still be my go-to travel camera in the future. The Fuji X100 is super light, nearly silent, and very inconspicuous compared to a DSLR. Plus, the retro design looks beautiful - many strangers comment on it when I take it around. I have a compact camera bag that I put this into and I can easily throw it in my backpack on the way out the door. Oftentimes I will literally leave this thing hanging around my neck all day and it feels totally fine, even though it definitely marks me as a tourist.

There's a certain comfort to knowing that I can still achieve professional-quality images with the camera I'm carrying, even in low-light scenarios. This camera provides that comfort for me.

Portland 5

Here's a reason why this camera is awesome for portrait photography: people behave differently around you when you're holding a Fuji X100 than when you have a DSLR. I often ask people to let me take their picture, and if I have a DSLR, they'll tense up or even refuse. Not so with the Fuji X100. The Fuji X100 is not intimidating. It looks like a rangefinder film camera. And it's so silent, people often won't even know that you've taken their picture (you have to tell them and thank them). This allows for a quality of candid shots that you just can't achieve with DSLRs.

Portland 22

This thing is perfect for food photography, if you're into/not incredibly annoyed by that kind of thing. With its F/2.0 max aperture, its spectacular low light performance, and its adequate "macro mode," you can get some pretty appetizing results.

Portland 3

One last random thing: I used VSCO filters for a lot of these images and I find they work really well with Fuji X100 images for some reason. Not sure what it is but I think it's the quality of the image combined with the focal length (35mm equivalent) that just creates a feeling that's really vintage-looking and attractive. Here's the full set of images I took:

So overall, this camera is still great. True, there were several shots I missed, and several that I had to try multiple times to capture. But I'm really happy with the ones I did get. The firmware update did improve things but I didn't find that difference to be night and day- it was more of a subtle, evolutionary improvement.

Given the improvements and given that I only use the X100 occasionally, I'm probably not going to upgrade to the X100S quite yet. But once the latter drops in price, I'm all over that thing.

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