Not many cameras have created the immense hype, buzz and excitement like the Fuji X100. I had my first taste using my friend Christian Fletcher’s Fuji camera a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with it. Finally a camera that feels like shooting with a rangefinder, for years and years I have been waiting for someone to produce an affordable digital rangefinder with optical viewfinder. I am now home in Copenhagen and the lucky owner of my own Fuji X100 and wish to present some of my first images and notes on using the camera. I attempted to capture a less seen side of Copenhagen.
Fuji X100 notes
This is by no means a review. There are plenty of good reviews to choose from on the net, probably none more exhaustive than the dpreview.com Fuji x100 review. This is simply a few of my images and notes on using the camera.
- The optical viewfinder is in my opinion darn near miraculous and a revolution. I simply cannot shoot any other way, I must have an optical viewfinder and I really enjoy rangefinder style shooting. The Fuji’s incredible viewfinder can be used in purely optical mode, in hybrid optical mode with digital overlay and in pure digital mode. A truly stunning piece of work by Fuji. I always use the hybrid mode, I really enjoy the large super bright view that means I really connect with what I am shooting, there’s no “staring through a dark tunnel” dslr feel at all, I feel right in the middle of the action. It just feels so right to shoot this way.
- The APS-C sized sensor is of extremely high quality and offers DSLR quality in a small camera. Images are sharp, detailed, colourful and with a high dynamic range. The images are incredibly crisp due to the lack of AA filter in front of the sensor. Christian Fletcher is selling prints in his gallery from the Fuji and they look stunning, on par with prints from DSLRs like Canon 5D Mk II and 7D. The file size is of course smaller but apart from that I do not see major differences from the Fuji to my Canon 5D Mk II.
- The fixed 35mm lens is another brilliant piece of engineering. I have managed to create a few images with slight CA but it is very rare and the lens is simply of quite stunning quality.
- It is not really a rangefinder as one does not focus rangefinder style. In fact I normally use autofocus or trigger the autofocus in manual focus mode as the manual focus mode is very poor, very unfortunate. Actually the manual focus is almost unusable.
- It looks stunning Very cool old-skool rangefinder look! Even more important, the build quality is very solid. I accidentally dropped mine from a height of 1.5 meters and the Fuji survived without a scratch (I had it in a bag, but that bag had a hole in the bottom!)
- The firmware really is so quirky it boggles the mind. DPreview dedicated a whole page to the bugs in this software. You have some work to do Fuji! Most of it I find is not that annoying during actual shooting, at least if you’re me and basically use it as a manual rangefinder that happens to record on digital media. Still, plenty of room for improvement.
- I have long fingers and large hands and the camera feels a tad tiny in my hands. I need somewhere to rest my right thumb, and am considering getting this thumb grip.
- Did I mention I simply love it? It is such a great tool for documentary work and it is simply so much fun to shoot with it, and I bring it everywhere. My Canon 5D Mk II + lenses are large and heavy, the Fuji is stealthy, small, silent and goes everywhere to document what I see. Love it.
Enough notes, let’s look at some photos. I keep my Fuji in my hand at all times and just wander the streets looking for something that catches my eye, people, light, shadows, colours. I set the Fuji to auto turn off at 5 minutes meaning it is basically always switched on (needed as it takes it 2-3 seconds to come to life). I have turned off the preview in the viewfinder so nothing interrupts my shooting. I use the camera sometimes manual, sometimes in aperture mode. In short, I use it almost like a manual rangefinder with the awesome Fuji X100 hybrid viewfinder. The camera is small, not many people actually notice it and best of all it is almost completely silent! No loud DSLR ka-klunk mirror slap, totally silent stealthy street photography. It is simply a great tool for documentary reportage style shooting.
Street photography is extremely difficult to do well and I struggle with it always. Here’s a small selection of images from the streets of Copenhagen. Yes I have toyed with a lot of processing styles, again this is no review feat. un-touched raw files, this is simply me creating images with the Fuji.
Street photography in colour can get very messy with too many colours often, but sometimes just one colour dominates:
Shot from the hip, whipped the camera around quickly to capture this:
I half stumbled into this demonstration and event ‘BZ søminen’ meaning basically ‘Let us occupy the abandoned building called Søminen’. It was a very peaceful, colourful and fun event and great fun to cover. I will present just a few, I really did shoot the sh*t out of this event in order to try and really document it and I will do a longer blog post on this soon. There were many photojournos documenting this event and the Fuji got quite a few stares and comments.
Waiting for the demo to start:
Almost ready to start walking towards the building
On top of the building.
Creating windows, gaining access.
It was such a lovely sunny day, the police was there but chose wisely to remain passive and not escalate the situation into violence, instead allowing the hundreds of people to have a party all night. It felt more like a huge picnic. The police easily cleared the building Monday morning at 5am where only 11 people remained.
Much more to come from “BZ Søminen” in another blog post and of course many more new Fuji X100 (and Canon 5D Mk II) visual stories are planned. Stay tuned. I would love to hear your opinion on my first Fuji snapshots, and I will also be happy to answer questions of course.
PS. Oh yes, I was unable to resist shooting a classic rangefinder style self-portrait. I used a mirror in my Sister’s flat and voilá, I made a cliché: