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Sebastian Benkö blogs about photography in general, travel experiences and photography gear reviews.

One And Done

How the Fujifilm X100S changed my style of photography forever

 

The good old days of lugging my DSLR around

Back in January of 2013, when I started fresh off with photography, I had never heard of the name "Fujifilm", nor did I know they actually made cameras.

Heck I knew nothing about cameras - all everyone was talking about were DSLRs and the obvious big players in the business: Canon and Nikon.
So when I went out to buy a new camera it was just a decision between an entry level DSLR from the guys in red or the yellow ones :D

Fast forward half a year or so, I have spent hours and hours, days and nights studying photography, learning online, from books and by just trying things. I now know everything about aperture, ISO and the golden hour and I still own my DSLR with it's crappy kit zoom lens and an additional prime lens, and a couple flashes to experiment with lighting.
That's when things started to get really ugly and a massive amount of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrom) set in. It was right before a vacation - of course ;) - that I get really nervous thinking about our upcoming trip to Portugal and all the potential great landscape shots I'm going to miss with just my current setup.

So I rush into my local camera store and acquire an ultra-wide angle zoom lens and off we go to our vacation.

Lugging around a DSLR with 3 lenses on a hot day in August through the streets of Lissabon is suicide!


As you can probably imagine, things didn't turn out as exciting. First off, lugging around a DSLR with 3 lenses on a hot day in August through the streets of Lissabon is suicide, 2nd the trip was just a pure mess in terms of a photographic point of few. It was just a constant stop and go, changing from my wide-angle lens back to my fast prime and on to my kit zoom lens hoping to get "every damn shot". Especially with the newly acquired wide-angle lens which I didn't even know how to handle properly to begin with, but also in terms of framing a 10mm (talking Crop here) focal length.


So, back home looking at my shots from that trip - and although some very memorale pictures were taken - I knew something had to change.

Bring in the Magic - Aquisition of the X100s

During one of my countless surfing sessions on the web, I stumbled over a blog post by Zack Arias where he talked about his new Fujifilm X100 camera. I was instantly hooked when I heard him speak about this lovely little toy, and looking at the retro-design of that camera I couldn't help but think: "This is it".

Fast forward another few months and I'm back at my local camera store, trading back in my wide-angle zoom lens and acquiring my new X100s.

Man, was I excited when I turned this thing on for the first time and took a look through the optical viewfinder with the digital overlay. Coming from a technical background I knew I had found my new "home" for photography.


 

FUJIFILM X100S PROs

  • Perfect Travel Companion
  • Manual Controls and Dial all the way :)
  • Single focal length sparks your creativity
  • Silent Shutter, built-in ND Filter
  • Hybrid Viewfinder
  • Manual Focusing is a real joy
 

FUJIFILM X100S CONs

  • That Autofocus though :(
  • EVF a bit outdated
  • Bad UX and Interface for Beginners
  • A bit soft wide open for Macro Shots at least

Although I have to admit that it took me quite a while to figure out the handling of this camera and don't get me started about the autofocus which, coming from a DSLR, was just horrendous :D
But still, I couldn't help but fall in love with this camera and it became my daily driver for my business trips and vacations - as you can see i the following gallery:

After quite some time, my DSLR was left in the dust - literally. It had a very sad live inside my closet for most of the time, as I would favorably bring my Fuji everywhere.

One and Done - One Camera, One Focal Length to Work With

THE turning point in my personal life when it comes to photography was when my girlfriend and I were about to head for a 3 week vacation to Bali and Indonesia and all I would bring was this one little camera with its fixed focal length.

I’d ask myself how I could possibly survive such a trip with just a single focal length to work with.

Was I nervous about it? You bet so. Of course I'd ask myself how I could possibly survive such a trip with just a single focal length to work with. What if I'd miss out some great opportunities to capture great pictures. Yada Yada Yada.

In the end it was the best decision I could ever make. By just bringing the Fuji, the trip instantaneously turned into a real vacation which was about exploring and relaxing rather than rushing from one photo hotspot to the other. You can imagine my girlfriend appreciated it even more.

What's more, by bringing just a single focal length I instantly changed my photographic behavior and had to make my left side of the brain work more than ever before to find creative ideas for capturing special places rather than just zooming back and forth until I had everything in the shot.
Another plus was and is the near silence of the camera along with its retro rangefinder look. People these days instantly change their behavior when they see someone pointing with a camera at them - it's just in our nature that we obviously feel observed. Not so much with the Fuji as they can still see half of my face and when I hit the shutter they don't even realize I just took a picture as they cannot hear any sound whatsoever.

In addition, I could take pictures I wouldn't have taken otherwise because I would simply bring my camera everywhere. Another huge plus for the Fuji - but just see for yourself:

The Past, Present and Future

So back home it didn't take much longer unless I sold all my DSLR gear and went with the X100s exclusively - and I never looked back.

For sure there were things I wish the Fuji did better and there came times when I think I could need a longer focal length now, but in the end I stuck to my principles for quite awhile and I think I only profited from my decision.

The groom told me that out of the pictures their wedding guests took, mine were the only one that blended it nicely with the wedding photographer’s work :)

One of the most memorable things that happened to me during the time was a conversation I had with a married couple after their wedding when the groom told me that out of the pictures their guests took, mine were the only one that blended it nicely with the wedding photographer's work. Plus one for the little Fuji :)

And they lived happily ever after or maybe not?

So just me and my little X100s. That's of course until another form of G.A.S. set in and I acquired the X-T10 with the 35mm 1.4 because I craved for some new toys and a bit of a different focal length to play around with.

While the 35mm is still with me to date, the X-T10 has gone back to my trusted camera store in exchange for the lovely rangefinder style X-PRO2.

But that's a whole different story I'll present some time else.

Hope you enjoyed this rather personal review of the Fujifilm X100s. Although this camera is now a bit outdated even in the Fuji world I still enjoy bringing it with me as my travel/point and shoot camera.

 

So Long - I'm out

Sebastian