Blog post

10
Feb 2012

The Professional Photographer’s Compact Camera

The Fuji X100

I have been taking lots of images with this Fuji X100 compact camera and have been rediscovering taking photographs for fun. This small fixed lens compact has been the subject of lots of hype, and was one of the most anticipated cameras released in 2011. There is no point in repeating all the technical details and specification which can easily be found on-line.Visit the Fuji X100 website for details.

Some of the comments and reviews have been amazing

"Let me get this out of the way… The Fuji x100 is the greatest digital camera ever made and may just be the greatest camera I have ever owned……"

"Couple always-fantastic images with the world’s smallest real camera, and you can see why I love it so much….."

"The images I get from my Fuji X100 are nothing short of amazing. Photographing my fast-moving kids and family under every lighting condition from desert sun to dim restaurants to moonlight, my Fuji X100 makes skin tones look better than from any other camera. The X100’s ability to tame difficult light under unscripted real-world conditions automatically, which is what’s most often encountered everywhere except inside a studio, is amazing…."

"I would go so far as to say that the X100 is the most enjoyable and satisfying camera I have ever used…"

So what makes it so special

  • beautiful retro styling reminiscent of a Leica
  • Great build quality
  • Traditional dials
  • Superb 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens
  • Amazing colour straight from the camera
  • An APS-C size sensor – nothing is more important in a digital camera than sensor size

It has been called the "Professionals compact" and this is because it has a great blend of size, quality, and traditional dials. It is certainly not perfect and some of the menu controls are badly thought out, the manual focus is useless, the start up time is slow, and after a DSLR, the focussing is slow. To master this camera takes some time. I bought from Amazon, the Photographer’s Guide to the Fujifilm FinePix X100 [Kindle Edition] and after reading it, I am completely comfortable with it now. There is great pleasure in using it that is hard to define. It feels great in your hand, the main controls – shutter, aperture, and exposure compensation are traditional dials that take me back almost 40 years when I first developed an interest in photography. I am enjoying the fixed lens as it forces me to think more about my shots and composition compared to having a bag of zoom lenses covering all focal lengths.

An evening shot taken hand held on the X100 and although I have been asked if HDR was used, this is a jpeg created from the raw with no localised adjustments.

An evening shot taken hand held on the X100 and although I have been asked if HDR was used, this is a jpeg created from the raw with no localised adjustments.

However despite the retro styling, it has all the features and more that you would expect from a modern digital camera – Raw files, 5 frames per second shooting, auto ISO, auto bracketing, auto dynamic range, amazing fill-flash, and the killer feature – the hybrid viewfinder. The Hybrid Viewfinder combines the window-type “bright frame” optical viewfinder found in high-end film cameras, such as 35mm or medium-format cameras, and the electronic viewfinder system incorporated in fixed single lens or mirrorless digital cameras. While traditionalists prefer the clear, sharp view of an ‘optical’ viewfinder, modern electronic displays, giving data like shutter speed, aperture, white balance, exposure correction and ISO can aid photographers tremendously. The new Hybrid Viewfinder on the FinePix X100 aims to give the ‘best of both worlds.’

Taken at Cove, this file is direct from the camera and highlights the great dynamic range and colour from the X100

Taken at Cove, this file is direct from the camera and highlights the great dynamic range and colour from the X100

One feature that I fully expected to ignore was "Motion Panorama" – a mode that lets you move the camera horizontally following a yellow line in the viewfinder while the camera takes several images and stitches them together to create 120 or 180 degree panorama jpegs. The example below was taken at Cove using this mode and apart from some level adjustments, this image is direct from the camera.

Taken at Cove, this 180 degree panorama was created in the camera.

Taken at Cove, this 180 degree panorama was created in the camera.

I am currently involved in giving training to beginners on how to get the best from their DSLR or mirrorless system cameras and it has been useful for me to go back to basics taking photographs with a new camera, learning it’s features, reading the manual, all things I am "preaching" to the course delegates. In the process I have had a lot of fun with the Fuji X100 and although much larger than my Canon S95 point and shoot (now replaced with the S100), I am taking it everywhere with me instead of the Canon. It is not for everyone and I would not recommend it over a DSLR or if you only have one camera but if you already have a DSLR and are an enthusiast, then I am sure you will love it as much as I do. Of course if you have £10 000 or more to spend, a Leica M9 and M lenses is still the ultimate and this week, I am getting to borrow an M9 and I am very excited about this and I will have a blog post on this next week.

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