First Day with X100 - San Francisco
This post summarizes my unexpected reactions to actually having the X100 in my hand and my first day of shooting with it.
I pre-ordered the X100 from Amazon early Feb 8th, with overnight shipping, and it arrived today May 2nd.
After reading the forums obsessively for over three months and seeing all the raves & rants I was expecting to have one of two reactions to this camera:
1) It's a nice object to hold & own -- like a Mont Blanc Pen or a nice watch. How good it is as a camera is almost immaterial because it's so nice to fondle.
2) It's a pretty thing, but with such an awful user interface & such severe defects (sluggish response, slow startup times, titled viewfinders, AF problems) that it would be so frustrating to use that I would end up returning it.
My actual reaction turned out to be completely different:
After it arrived today I spent a couple of hours familiarizing myself with the camera & customizing it, and then went out to shoot in San Francisco's Chinatown & North Beach areas.
Expectation one was immediately shattered -- In my opinion it's not an AMAZING object to hold -- a nice camera no doubt but not in a different league than an Olympus EP-2. The electronic data overlaid on the OVF viewfinder is pretty great, though.
Expectation two was also immediately dispelled -- I found the camera to start up snappily, to operate very responsively, to AF quickly and accurately, to have an extremely straight viewfinder, and to be a joy to use.
What I actually experienced was an incredibly fun and effective photographic tool that gives you tremendous flexibility. The OVF is the default mode to use just because it's so beautiful to look through; but here are some other scenarios that came up today:
- Taking a picture through a chain link fence and need to see through the lens to make sure none of the fence is blocking the image? Use the EVF
- Taking a picture through a window and want to make sure you hand is blocking reflections not just for the VF but for the lens itself? Use the EVF
- Taking a picture high above your head to minimize glare or distortions? Use the back screen
- Taking a picture of people from a low angle but don't want to attract their attention by crouching? Use the back screen and shoot from waist height
I found myself taking pictures at a rate 4 to 5 times my normal rate with a DSLR because I didn't have to critically focus for very shallow depth of field; because I didn't change any lenses; and because the camera doesn't encourage chimping.
Some other surprises:
1) People were incredibly nice to me compared to when I'm out with a DSLR. It was all smiles and friendly chats about what I was photographing. I attribute this not only to the camera looking retro and having a small lens, but also to not carrying around a camera bag.
2) The incredibly silent shutter helped a lot to put people at ease, and to give me courage to get closer to people and to take more pictures than I usually would.
3) When I got home and looked at the pictures the AF was spot-on 95% of the time, colors were extremely accurate, the images were very very detailed, there was tons of dynamic range, and the soft mirrorless shutter got me sharp pictures at 1/60sec over and over. I was very pleased.
The only negative for me was that the exposure system seemed a little flaky -- often over or underexposing by a stop or so. But the pictures still worked out in post. My theory is that the camera tries very hard not to crush ANY blacks or blow out ANY whites -- so if you have even a small black object in your image it may overexpose the whole image; and conversly a single small highlight anywhere in the image may lead to the whole picture being underexposed.
Bottom line -- I love this camera. I usually shoot top notch lenses on the Canon 5D2 and Nikon D3 and also use micro four thirds with lots of great legacy glass. The Fuji X100 delivers the goods when you get home and look at the images; and it's perhaps the most fun camera I've ever used for city shooting.
Here are some samples from today -- all shot RAW and processed in LR 3.4
Re: First Day with X100 - San Francisco
Yesterday's shooting and working with the resulting images gave me a better sense of the camera's capabilities; and a better idea of how I intend to use it.
With that in mind, I made one change -- upped the minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO to 1/125sec -- and set out for a bit of shooting in my own town of San Rafael, California.
Again, I found myself working very fast with this camera -- all the pictures below come from about 75 minutes of walking around. And again I found myself having a blast even in my own town's main street which I'm usually really tired of shooting.
You want color? Here's color. Saturation not bumped up at all.
You want detail? Here's a 100% crop from the image above.
I put a homebrew hood on the camera which enabled me to press it up against glass shop windows with minimal reflections. (The hood is 52->49mm step down ring + 49->52mm step up ring + 52mm inner-facing hood from Voigtlander 40mm f2).
Again, a 100% crop from the image above.
Again, the camera's unintimidating appearance and quiet shutter gave me confidence to approach people I ordinarily would not. This girl told me she only knows one chord on the guitar, so I asked her to play it for me. I offered to email her the picture but she said she had no email address or real address either. Then -- amazingly -- she said "nice camera -- really cool camera". Even homeless hippy chicks dig the X100!
This woman was living in her car and reading a book. Again, I asked if I could take her picture with this litte camera. I took several and she stayed very natural because she couldn't hear the shutter going off repeatedly.
Just walking around town I saw things I've seen before, but was inspired to photograph them differently.
I know people on the forums love pictures of brick walls This one has a lot of character.
This plaque is self-explanatory. It's usually not decorated but because of the killing of Osama Bin Laden a couple of days ago, it was decorated as shown and also with flags and bouquets (not shown).
This place has a very complicated menu.
A lot going on in this f14 image. It's f14 because at faster than 1/15 of a second you don't get the whole flickering sign lit up.
My town has one of the great old-fashioned electronics parts stores that have mostly disappeared. I never wanted to go in there and take pictures with a big noisy DSLR but with this camera I did and they were very nice about it. Here's part of their display of switches.
and a 100% crop of this 1600 ISO image.
Finally, a self-portrait. It's cool having macro capability available whenever you need it.
Re: First Day with X100 - San Francisco
Impressive real world testing . Received my X100 from Amazon yesterday as well.
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