In a time when every photography related news site, blog, podcats, YouTube channel is talking about the Fuji X100f why am I so happy with the old X100s?
The background story
I have been drooling over the Fuji X100 cameras since I got interested in photography. At that time (2013) the Fuji X100 was being replaced by the X100s. Everywhere I looked in the internet everyone was talking about the X100s and how great it was, plus it looked amazing with its retro feel.
I, who knew nothing about photography and had just purchased a Nikon D3100, fell in love with the X100s mainly for its good looks. I read all I could about it and watched the video reviews on Youtube. Many people mentioned it wasn’t a good camera for beginners because it was limited to a 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens, which meant you couldn’t experiment with other focal lengths, and it was mainly good for street photography. Well, at that time, I didn’t find any interest in street photography (I know better now!), I didn’t know much about focal length and the X100s’ price was way out of my league, so I resigned myself to my D3100 and the 18-55mm lens.
As time went on and I started learning a little bit more about photography I purchased a 35mm lens to go with my Nikon and it quickly became my favourite lens. Many times I left home with just my Nikon and this lens. The fact that it was a fixed focal length wasn’t a downside, but a challenge; I had to think before composing my shots. Plus, shooting with a wide aperture (f1.8, f2.8…) was a whole new experience, as I could blur the background (every beginner in photography – that I know – wants to blur the background). By this time, I also realized I didn’t enjoy much the process of changing lenses; it was a bit taxing to have to choose which lens to take with me. I’m not a great photographer, I don’t need a specific lens for this or that, all I want is to document my life and my surroundings. With this in mind the X100s felt more and more the ideal camera: smaller and lighter than my D3100, with the same sensor size, a lens with a wide aperture and a wider field of view than my current 35mm. But still I couldn’t afford it.
In the meanwhile I was offered an Olympus EPL6, a lovely little camera with nice image quality. I started taking this camera with me everywhere because it was lighter and a lot smaller than my D3100. But there are some things in it that I don’t particularly like. I’ll talk more about it in a future post.
In the beginning of this year I watched a video from Matt Day about him buying the camera that he had “always” wanted and this was just the kick I needed to also buy the camera that I always wanted.
The decision process
I started searching online (where I live there isn’t much variety in the cameras for sale) and I found MPB. They sell and/or trade new and used photography gear and accessories. The reviews and critics about them seemed to be very positive. At first I was looking for an X100, since it was the first it should probably be the cheapest. However, the X100 series cameras aren’t very cheap, even when used. This is when I started considering selling my D3100. Since I got the EPL6 I had barely used the Nikon, it was in a photo bag in my house collecting dust for almost a year. I filled in a form for part exchange in MPB’s website and they offered me a quote. This was great news! I could finally afford an X100! It wasn’t the latest and greatest but it was the camera that I had been wishing for. When the time came to confirm the transaction, the X100 wasn’t available anymore, so I started looking into the “s” and the “t”. I would have to pay an extra but these were more recent versions of the camera. The improvements on the “t” were quite appealing, especially the Wi-Fi, since I like posting on instagram and it would allow me to transfer the photos quickly for my 365 project; but I would have to pay at least 300€ more for it. So I settled on the “s”. I put my fears aside and confirmed the trade with MPB: I would send them my Nikon D3100 and its lenses and in return they would send me a Fuji X100s. I was very afraid at this time, I was scared that my gear would get lost in the way, or that MPB wouldn’t fulfil their part of the deal… many things crossed my head while the Nikon was travelling from Madeira to the UK. But it ended up being a nice surprise. The staff was very professional throughout the whole process; they contacted me as many times as necessary (even through phone) and everything went great. On February 15th I finally received my beloved Fuji X100s.
The first impressions
It arrived in the original box, with the original strap, lens cap, charger and usb cord. The box and its contents, camera included, were in pristine condition, not a scratch, not one flaw.
There it was finally in person. It was bigger that I thought but it looked as gorgeous as in the videos and pictures. I started using it right away. It wasn’t as simple as I thought and it got me wondering if I had made the right choice. Now that I’ve used it for a few times I actually thing it’s very simple and intuitive to use. Shooting with it is a whole new experience, it’s like film an digital had a baby. You can only customize the “Fn” button but the other buttons and the “Q” menu have almost everything I use on a daily basis. Two things that I loved right away were the fact that you can set your aperture in the lens and the viewfinder. In fact, I haven’t decided which one I prefer, the electronic or the optical viewfinder, I’ve been experimenting and enjoying both. When shooting with the EPL6 a miss a viewfinder a lot. The viewing area is bigger on a screen than a viewfinder, but shooting through a viewfinder is a much more private and personal experience.
Another thing that impressed me immediately was the build quality; it feels very high quality in hand, particularly when compared to the plasticky feel of the D3100 and the EPL6.
After the camera it was time to get some “must have” accessories. I know a lot of people say you must treat your camera as a tool and not a collection item but I’m very picky about my things and I like having them in the best condition possible. Here’s what I got:
- Lens hood: the original Fuji one is super expensive, so I got this one from JJC. I like having a hood on my lenses because it helps protect them; you may be very careful with your gear but other people aren’t and sometimes they or their bags may bump into to you.
- UV filter: I had never used an UV filter before, I always thought that they weren’t really necessary, but with a camera that has a fixed lens I can’t risk getting the lens scratched, so I bought a Hoya 49mm UV filter.
- Screen protector: clothes, bags, etc… may scratch the screen so it doesn’t hurt to add some protection to it as well, plus it’s cheap.
- Soft shutter release: a lot of reviewers said they got one because it’s easier to feel the shutter button so I added this to my cart; it’s very small and light and you can purchase it in different colours according to your taste.
- Extra battery: I read in many reviews that the battery doesn’t last very long; just in case I bought one extra battery from Patona.
- A small bag: the original case from Fuji is expensive and it doesn’t close with the lens hood; I looked into other half cases like Gariz or Ciesta, which I love the look, but I think they are very expensive. So I went to my local store and got a Case Logic DCB305. It doesn’t match the vintage look of the camera and it isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it has been growing on me: it’s small enough to fit in my backpack along with other items and it holds the extra battery, the extra memory card, a cleaning cloth and the lens pen, which are things that I need when I’m out shooting.
In terms of accessories I’m now looking to buy a Wi-Fi card. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.
Well, this was a long post and a true test to my English skills, but I hope you enjoyed reading it and that it had inspired you to buy the camera you love. I always say that photography isn’t about the gear or technical skills, it’s about your ability to see. But what’s the point of capturing an image if you don’t have fun in the process?!
I will still post some images from the Nikon D3100 that I have in my archives and I will still use the Olympus EPL6 in certain occasions, mainly because I love shooting with the Olympus 9mm f8 fisheye lens, so you can expected to also see some shots from this camera as well.
As for the Fuji X100s I can’t wait to capture lots of photos with it in the coming Carnival season. In the meanwhile these were the first photos I took. Not my best work, but I’m still getting used to the new camera.