Recently I managed to purchase a camera I have had my eye one for almost two years, a Fujifilm x100s. It takes a lot for me to want something for that long and not buy it, and in this case those reasons are:
- It is not a very cheap camera. When it first came out it cost $1299.
- I had already purchased two ultimately unsatisfactory cameras, a Sony Rx100 and a Pentax Kx.
There has been so much written about the technical quality of the camera that I really want to talk solely about why I love this camera without talking about Megapixels. I want to talk about how this camera makes me feel and how it works with my photography goals like no other camera.
As a technical junkie when it comes to just about anything, the details and process of learning about technology or gear is something I really enjoy. When I get into a hobby I can easily go down a rabbit hole learning about and creating dream lists of gear, whether it’s computer parts, bicycles, and especially cameras. My obsession with photography gear probably comes from my Grandfather, who was known for hoarding camera gear and photos.
The process in which I settled on the Fujifilm x100s came from what I learned about the photography I wanted to do and how my previous two cameras were not the best at letting me achieve my goals.
First, I want to take my camera everywhere. My Pentax Kx was not good for that. The Kx was a slightly smaller but fairly traditional DSLR camera (big cameras with interchangeable lens, often black). I bought the Pentax because my very first meaningful camera was a Pentax k1000 that my Dad and Grandfather bought me used in a camera shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pentax has always been a family brand of camera for as long as I can remember. The Pentax took great photos, but its lack of portability was its ultimate downfall and it wound up on Ebay.
My next camera was all about portability, a Sony RX100. The philosophy of how Sony made the RX100 was “Put as much power in as small as camera as possible.” And the RX100 is definitely a small, powerful camera that can go anywhere and take amazing photos. Unfortunately, I later came to learn that I didn’t actually like taking photos with the camera. The RX100 is what is called a point and shoot camera, and it relies on a LCD screen on the back of the camera as a viewfinder. The viewfinder requires the operator to hold the camera out and away from their face, putting the camera as a kind of barrier between the subject and the photographer. I ultimately found this to be not very intimate or satisfying. I’m not a photographer who enjoys gunslinging their camera around (though I admire those who can, especially the master Daido Moriyama). The RX100 is also fairly slow to get ready to take a picture. Far too often an exciting shot would pass me by as the camera was trying to boot up from sleep mode.
There was one more flaw shared by both the Sony RX100 and the Pentax Kx, which was that to get the most out of them you have to shoot in RAW image format. Basically RAW is a special type of image that retains the most visional information possible in an image, but requires you to post process the files in sophisticated software. I hate having to process images because of how long it takes to tease the best image possible out of a photo. I hated post processing so much that I ended up taking hundreds of photos and just leaving them on my camera. I ended up passing the RX100 along to my Dad.
From everything I had learned I now I had a check list for a dream camera:
- Has an optical viewfinder (no more looking at screens)
- Takes great photos without the need for post processing
Only the Fujifilm x100s achieves all of these things.
It’s small, fast, has an amazing hybrid optical viewfinder, and takes great photos that I can use right out of the camera. Taking photos with the camera is fantastic and brings me back to when cameras were magical rather than specs and technology. Part of this is how old school the camera is. It is basically a small brick of metal and dials. It looks right at home sitting next to my Grandfather’s Apla Relex 9d (as seen in the top photo). It really is a fantastic camera that makes me want to take photos every day.
I managed to snag a used one on Prime Day for $540.
Below are some of the photos I’ve taken since the camera came in on Friday.