Travelling with Fujifilm X100

LukeLee-120606-001<First winter with X100>

It's been more than half a year since I've sold my x100. I gotta say, while it had it's ups and downs, I quite miss that little camera. It had a unique image processing compared to other cameras I've used before. Different from Canon or Nikon, even from fuji's old DSLRs like S5 Pro, or their new flagship line X-Pro1.

It's got a 12mp APS-C sensor that 'everybody seems to have' nowadays. It seems quite outdated with it's inferior pixel count, but all photographers know (or should know) that, megapixel is not so important. I remember I had a blown up A2 size print out of old 4mp camera. That was fine. I have big faith that x100 would handle huge prints if needed.

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Fuji x100 has a sharp image. From right out of the camera, it's sharpness is quite amazing. I used to love Nikon because I loved how sharp images they produced. And this x100 kicks such a sharp image out of its tiny body, it's hard to believe sometimes. But it doesn't stop there. Unlike images from Nikon, I get this warming feel when I see the images x100 produced. I don't do much of pixel peeping or any scientific algorithm diagnosis.... or whatever. So I can't tell exactly how it's different. It's just different. I'm only guessing, it's got something to do with Fuji's processing.

While I enjoyed every day using X100, I would like to focus how I enjoyed while travelling with x100.

So, this is how I used my Fujifilm X100 while travelling around Europe.

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Fujifilm X100 is not a low light monster. It doesn't mean X100 sucks in low light. It's just, there are now too many cameras that does so much better in low light. But I gotta say, I haven't seen many cameras that does this good in low light with the same sized sensor. Only camera I know that does better in low light is Fujifilm X-Pro1. But, that's another story. With x100, I always tried to keep iso under 1600. Of course that doesn't mean I didn't shoot anything over.

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Yes, I do postprocessing on most of my photos. I am a RAW shooter. But I did enjoy shooting in JPG when using X100. I just didn't like the fact that, my camera is doing the JPG processing. Not saying x100 does a bad job, I just don't like the idea. I believe my computer will have more horsepower than my camera will ever be.

While I was travelling, X100 was my backup camera. I had my Nikon D700 coupled with Tamron's 24-70mm f2.8 VC. Image quality wise, my main Nikon D700 produced such a great results. Quality wise, there is no competition. One has a full frame and another one with cropped sensor. But after walking all day, I was indeed too tired to pick up my main camera. X100 was shining everyday. I had this camera on me pretty much all the time. Whenever I wanted to be discrete, whenever I was tired, I pulled out x100 and just shot away. I was so happy I brought x100 with me.

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It wasn't easy to pick x100 as my only camera at first place. It had fixed lens. I had to give up quite a lot of shots where I wanted to take wider. In the end, I learnt a very valuable lesson that, the image doesn't have to have "all the story". Having limited angle of view helps imagining. What's outside of that frame? What's going on behind the shot? While it would be great to have that tourst photos for future reference, as a photographer, I am not just looking for a family album opportunities.

X100 is very limited with it's lens creativity since it has a fix lens. And yes, there are ways to put adapters, maybe different lenses in front of its glass. But in that way, we won't see the best possible quality out of it's potential. It is built this way. And if I wanted something of more creativity, I would have gone for X-Pro1 or X-E1. (Actually I did go for X-Pro1 after the trip for this exact reason)

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Another good thing about x100 is that it's small and quiet. I mean, QUIET. I used to be a noisy shutter guy. When I press shutter button, it had to have this huge clicking noise with big mirror shock, so I can feel that I am actually shooting! But as I got more and more into photography and started doing some work, I realised, having a noisy shutter doesn't mean anything and do no good. It brings too much attention from the subject and you end up with awkward smiles on people or back of animals head.

At a narrow walkways of Matera, Italy, we met these cute dogs and cats all around just wondering about doing there thing. None of them took notice as I was taking photos. They took no notice of what I was doing. I could have gone closer probably, but I didn't want to risk it. I'm just so used to have animals running away before I get into position.

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Before using X-Pro1, I did not understand how the images are from fuji's cameras. I now know how sharp they are. For x100, I don't really see the images that sharp. Don't get me wrong. They are sharp. They're just not as sharp. Now, X-Pro1 is really sharp. It's pretty incredible how X-Pro1 kicks out such sharpness and details that's comparable to current full frame DSLRs.

For x100, the images are sharp but I think it has rather warm feeling than sharpness. Details are there, but it has rather soft feeling to its images.

I imagine, the brand new X100s will have the same characteristic as X-Pro1 since they are using the same 16mp sensor. I personally prefer X-Pro1's image processing better with it's sharpness, but it's all personal preferences.

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Low light capabilities

X100 delivers quite impressive low light capability. Low light noise is quite controllable and considering the sensor size, it's noise level in high iso is quite impressive. But of course, it's not as good as other full frame cameras in the market. It's not as good as X-Pro1 either. I know they have big difference in price points, but what's different is different.

It would have been much better if it's low light AF capability was just as good. But it's where it lacks in performance. Even in daylight, it's takes time to focus. Sometimes if the subject is not big enough, it will hunt. Let's say I was focusing on a person's face with this beautiful church at the background. And I have full body shot of this person and full view of the church in the frame. I would want to focus on the person's face. But the focus point of this camera is so big, face of a person would be well inside the focus point. It would hunt and sometimes focus on the person's face but sometimes it will miss and focus the background. I randomly picks what to focus. Especially if I'm using hybrid OVF. Later on, it felt like EVF had better focusing but only because I could see where I was pointing the focus point at.

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Another thing I loved while using X100 is, how great it looked in black and white. Now, I'm not really a black and white guy, but every time I decided to go with black and white, I was astonished how much detail and contrast it gave me. In my lightroom library, I have quite a few copies of black and white conversion. I only have more photos I prefer in colour only because it has such a great colour reproduction too. But I never hesitated converting them to black and white. And that's a good sign. Like I said, I'm not really a black and white guy.

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It was fun using Fujifilm's X100. It's no perfect camera for sure. But it was quite close to it. I loved how quiet it was and how warm I felt with the photos it took, and how sharp it was in every detail. It wasn't comparable to my full-frame DSLRs, but it was a joy to use with an assurance that I'm not compromising the quality even I'm going light with gears.

I loved the camera during the trip. I loved it so much, I SOLD IT AFTER I CAME BACK FROM THE TRIP. Don't be confused. I loved it so much, I wanted to have the quality that X100 had, with a selection of lenses for more creativity. I thought it would be awesome to have the choice along with X100's hybrid viewfinder (which wasn't great but fun) and image quality. I sold my X100 to get X-Pro1. But, that's another story...