Sometimes a product comes along that has the power to change your life. The Apple iPhone comes immediately to mind. Sure, others were years ahead of Apple with the whole ‘touchscreen phone with full internet browser’ idea. But how did Apple succeed where so many others had failed? It’s simple really. They just did so many things right, that’s how. So much so, that we can forgive some of the iPhone’s shortcomings, such as the terrible battery life. My old Nokia lasts 30 days on standby, remember those days?
So when it comes to the Fujifilm X-100 series of cameras it has the same feeling for me. They just got so much right with the X-100s/t.
I was out of the stills game when the original X-100 came along, but nevertheless, I had felt the waves it created shortly after its release, even on the distance shores of the video world where I now resided. I had heard whispered voices talking about it being more than just a pretty face and sure, it had it’s problems, but was a revolution nevertheless and was worthy of forgiving. This was no folly, it was a serious professional tool.
At the time I hadn’t read any reviews or even watched any youtube videos about it. I had no use for, interest in, or indeed time to dedicate to taking still images. I was now a full time television videographer/director and had been for over a decade. My stills days were long gone.
It was by chance then that I found myself back in 2014 with a day off whilst on assignment in Oregon USA, in between shoots, I was due to fly to Wisconsin and film for a week the following day having just wrapped on my latest video. I had been doing ok , working hard and had some money to spend. So thought it was time I spent some of that hard earned cash on me and treat myself to some objet d’ar. Some desirable thing, that might be fun to own.
Before long I was browsing for local camera stores on my iPad whilst kicking back at the hotel. I checked if they had a Fujifilm X-100 (at the time I didn’t realise that it was now the updated x-100s). So on nothing more than a whim I walked downtown and soon found myself buying a stills camera, the first stills camera I had bought for around 8 years since getting a Canon EOS. That old canon was only used as a B-Cam for video and I had never taken any stills with it. This was different, this was a camera only for stills. Something I had not done since pre digital.
All too soon I found myself meeting up with the rest of the crew at a coffee shop with my new purchase, a Fujifilm X-100s, leather half case and spare battery. What I didn’t know at the time was that this little camera was about to change my life. Chuffed with my little treat I felt a warm feeling inside, but that could have just been the coffee.
Before too long we were off, rushing to the next shoot with me trying to attach the strap that came with the camera whilst in a moving car on the twisting roads of Oregon, not an easy task believe me. We then flew to Wisconsin to begin the week long shoot for the next project. During that week the little Fujifilm X-100s did not leave my side and in between shooting the video stuff I was able to play a little and take some of my first images.
The marvel of the viewfinder was the first thing that struck me. Thats how little research I had done, I had no idea it had the optical/electronic hybrid finder, a real eye opener figuratively and literally. Its nothing short of amazing. Plus, it was fun having this old fashioned but handsome little camera round my neck. People would start up conversations about it, it was weird the amount of interest it caused. The next thing to strike me was how well it could handle mixed lighting conditions, the images were great. There was so much to like, but a lot to get used to. Chief among which, was the fact I only had one focal length, we are spoiled in video with zooms. This was one camera, one lens and you had to use your feet to zoom. I was also missing shots I might have taken with other cameras due to the lens restrictions. But weirdly I was loving the challenge and quickly pre visualising shots with the “35mm” lens of the X-100s. What I started to find was having only one focal length wasn’t quite as restrictive as it might appear on paper. In fact it didn’t feel restrictive at all, It was liberating.
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As I shot more and more that week the strangest thing occurred to me, I was seeing potential stills shots all over the place and wanting to capture them. I was wanting to make images again. I was loving stills photography once more. This was entirely down to this little FujiFilm camera! It had reignited a fire in me that had long been snuffed out (or so I thought). I wanted more.
I was able to sneak in a few days in the Arizona dessert for a few more test shots and a little road trip before heading home. On returning to the UK after the USA trip I found I needed more, so I retrospectively read as many reviews and write ups about this little electronic wonder as I could get my hands on. It seemed I wasn’t alone, a number of other “old fart film photographers” like myself, seemed to enjoy using this simple little camera.
The feature set suits my shooting so well. Just the fact that Fuji have gone to the trouble of fitting it with a leaf shutter is reason to buy one just on its own if like me, you want to use fill flash in broad daylight situations. But added to the fact they then included a built in 3 stop Neutral density filter to help as well was just perfect.
Before long I had discovered the Fujifilm Instax SP1 Printer so was wanting a way to connect my camera to this printer whilst in the field. So as soon as the replacement for the X-100s was released with an integrated wi-fi solution I had to buy one. Yet again Fujifilm had made a camera that I actually wanted to buy.
So here we are today, i’m still loving the X-100 series camera from Fujifilm, its pretty much as near perfect as its gets for me. Sure as with anything, it could be improved. However, the feature set is amazing, the lens is sharp, the sensor is good and the viewfinder is about the best money can buy. It has actually changed my life by restoring the passion for photography I had 20 years ago. Coupled with the fact it looks wonderful and is a total joy to use, its hard not to love this camera.
But is the Fujifilm system right for your needs? Click HERE to listen to the podcast.