Two years ago, I came across a blog post very similar to this one that introduced me to the world of mirrorless cameras. Back then, I was using a Nikon D3100 (which I really liked). But the Nikon was bulky, big, and difficult to carry around, so more often than not I caught myself not taking my camera with me (“the best camera is the one you have with you“).
A week after reading the blog post and doing a bit of research (and drooling looking at all the cameras…) myself, a voice started saying in my head that maybe, it was time for me to abandon my D3100 and give mirrorless a shot. Then one morning, on my way to work, I got stuck on the side of the E40 highway with a flat tire – with nowhere to go for the next hour and the traffic (and my frustration) building up, I made an impulsive call from my car to the local photography shop and said “I want to order a Fuji x100s“. Two weeks later I picked up the camera at the shop and I sold my D3100.
Tons of articles have been written on mirrorless vs. DSLR cameras, and I’m fully aware that you should “use the right tool for the right job“. I mostly shoot candid images in the streets, so the fixed 23 mm (35 mm FF equivalent) feels natural in that setting. I’m not into sports or nature photography, so I don’t really miss high fps (although the x100s can handle 6 fps with a fast SD card), and with two extra batteries (the x100s is quite brutal on power consumption if you use the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)) I’m good to go for a day of shooting.
What I love about the x100s
- It produces beautiful sharp images, with a sweet spot around f5.6.
- It’s light and compact and easy to carry around on a strap around your wrist (I don’t like putting a camera around my neck). For me, this is probably one of the biggest “selling points” of the x100s.
- It’s extremely silent. In fact, it’s so silent (apparently due to the leaf shutter) that there is an option for an artificial *click* sound (silent or louder, and you can pick from three different flavours!) whenever you press the shutter. I have used this in OVF mode to confirm that I have actually taken a shot when pressing the shutter. A silent camera is very comfortable when shooting candid street portraits.
- It limits my options (and consequently things to worry about when taking pictures): no need to worry about focal length (it’s a fixed 23mm), no need to worry about complicated settings (all essential controls are physical robust knobs including exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture). ISO is linked to the only programmable button on the camera (Fn).
- The presence of both an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) as well as an Optical Viewfinder (OVF), both a pleasure to use (but not perfect, see below…)
What I don’t like about the x100s
- There is no way to review focus or exposure settings when using the OVF (as opposed to using the EVF). The OVF is my “go to” mode, but when I absolutely want to be sure about “getting the shot right”, I briefly check focus and exposure in the EVF, which doesn’t feel natural to me. I love using the TTL EVF on my analog cameras which still feels more robust than the one on the x100s.
- Auto-focus is pretty slow, and often impossible to get right in low light situations. ISO can be “pushed” up to 25.000 (only JPEG for higher ISO) but that’s more a gimmick than a useful feature – image quality is “only” acceptable up to 1600. Beyond that, it’s downhill.
As most photographers, I often fall prey to GAS (“Gear Acquisition Syndrome”) where I drool on the latest and greatest cameras (lately, the SONY A7 series) but so far I have been able to “resist” my temper to invest in a new camera – and this is mainly due to the fact that the x100s is still my favourite camera.
Only last week, I stumbled upon the Fuji xpro2 which seemed to solve both of the issues I listed above (and looks just as beautiful as the x100s, albeit being a bit bigger) – I was so excited about the camera that I quickly spotted a second hand xpro2 online, and put my x100s up for sale. Within an hour I regretted my decision and quickly pulled the listing offline again. I recalled one of my favourite photography quotes, saying that “all of the iconic images, all of the World Press Photos you know and cherish, have been taken with old and outdated gear”.
I guess I will stick with my x100s for a while to come…
The images featured on in this article as well as the images on my portfolio were taken using the FujiFilm x100s.