Three weeks ago I started a photo project unlike any I’ve done before (Read about it here). Instead of photographing a hundred shots of rusty mailboxes or 50 shots of whiskers drinking milk from a saucer, I decided to challenge my photography style and get outside of my comfort zone. I decided to set aside my DSLRs and use a fixed focal length camera as my sole shooter, the Fujifilm X100s.
I was never a huge fan of prime lenses, I enjoy the versatility of being able to zoom past distracting elements in a frame. I don’t dispute that a prime lens has better image quality than a zoom, that’s a fact. I do have zoom lenses that get me pretty dang close to the quality of a prime though, at no small cost of course. To get a zoom lens with the same quality as my $150 Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens would cost me over $1000. All that considered, switching to a camera (the X100S) with a fixed lens was a big decision and something I spent months considering.
The first week was spent the same as it would be with any other new camera, exploring the settings and layout of the camera. The buttons were mostly in their normal places with the exception of the aperture adjustment. I never had a lot of experience with the older range finder cameras so having an aperture ring, where you adjust your aperture, around the lens of the camera was an adjustment. Now that I’ve used an aperture ring I think it makes all the sense in the world and actually prefer that to the having a separate knob on top of the camera.
I find myself shooting in aperture priority mode more and more with this camera. I generally prefer full manual mode but the camera has an exposure adjustment knob where I believe the aperture adjustment knob would be on most other cameras (back and to the right of the shutter control knob) that makes it quick and easy to dial in the exposure I’m looking for. Also, with the small size and casual look of the camera I find I can use it in public without people getting shy or jumping out of the way of where I’m pointing it.
I spent some time pushing the camera to do things that I would normally do with my DSLR, like long exposure photography at night. Once I reset the camera to factory settings it didn’t miss a beat (before resetting the camera it had trouble grabbing focus in low light on auto focus). In low light the camera is still able to grab and focus on things I could hardly see. The focus peaking mode (in manual focus mode) made focusing a breeze if you’d rather dial in more exact focus.
After the second week of using this camera I had forgotten all about zoom lenses and my DSLR, I was thoroughly enjoying the old school nature of the rangefinder like camera that is the X100S. There is something liberating about not having to tote around zoom lenses or a big DSLR. I started to feel like what I imagined photographers from the early days felt like… not the giant box and curtain camera days but the 60’s and 70’s rangefinder days.
The X100S is the only camera I have used in the last three weeks. I put over a thousand photographs through this camera in three weeks (photography is only my hobby) and I don’t feel like I’ve met the cameras potential yet. I am continually amazed at the quality of images I’ve been able to capture with this little camera. I used to think I traveled light with the OMD but now I realize I didn’t know what light was.
I will never be a die-hard Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Leica, or Fujifilm camera fan. Moving to the Fuji X100S has reinforced my desire to move to whichever camera or manufacturer that puts some thought into their product and comes out with something truly innovative. Switching your camera may be exactly what you need to get you out of a photographic rut, it worked for me.
If you don’t do wildlife photography or sports photography where you need super zoom lenses than I’d recommend you take a serious look at the X100S as your next camera. The money you’ll save on lenses would be enough to justify buying two or three or using it to travel to far off places with your new camera.
Have an idea for a photo challenge? Give it a try and post your results using the “Submit an Article” link under the Articles link at the top of the site. Good Luck!