Thoughts about the FujiFilm x100s (after 2 years of use)

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.

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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…)

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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.

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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.

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Got error: 2013: Lost connection to MySQL server at ‘reading initial communication packet’ / channel 2: open failed: connect failed: Connection refused

Trying to ssh tunnel to a remote service that is running on a localhost rather than a local IP is resulting in this error:

Got error: 2013: Lost connection to MySQL server at 'reading initial communication packet' / channel 2: open failed: connect failed: Connection refused

The reason this fails is because an SSH tunnel will normally try to talk to the remote host using its local IP (e.g. 192.168.0.1) instead of its localhost interface (127.0.0.1).

To resolve this, a double SSH tunnel can be setup (in this example, tunneling MySQL over port 3306 listening on 127.0.0.1 on the remote host):


PORT=`jot -r 1 2000 65000`
PORT2=`jot -r 1 2000 65000`
echo "Opening tunnel on random local port - $PORT"
ssh -f -L $PORT:192.168.2.10:22 admin@rd_fw -N
PID=$!
ssh -f -L $PORT2:127.0.0.1:3306 draman@127.0.0.1 -p $PORT -N
PID2=$!


mysql -P $PORT2 -h 127.0.0.1 -u apkscan_backup -p apkscan_website

kill $PID
kill $PID2

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Unknown error 3000 when updating to iOS 7 GM

I ran into the same issue that apparently thousands of others have faced when trying to one-up iOS, and managed to fix it by ensuring that: I had iTunes 11 Beta 2 installed (log into the iOS Dev Center and get it here), had all my OSX updates installed, disconnected my external sound card and other USB devices and restarted OSX.

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Use regular expressions in TextMate to match text between a prefix and a suffix

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Unzip a list of zip files into separate directories using the command line

Today I needed to unzip a huge list of compressed files into separate folders. I needed to do this because each zip file contained the same subdirectory names, so simply doing “unzip \*.zip” did not do the job as it would overwrite the deflated files for each separate zip file.

To solve this, I wrote five lines of bash:

for file in *.zip
do
  echo $file
  unzip $file -d $file.dir
done

The script will simply read in all the zip files from the current directory, print out the name of the file (e.g. file_name.zip) and deflate the file to a new directory called “file_name.zip.dir“.In other words, for each zip file, a new directory will be created in which the content of the zip file is extracted.

Automatically reload Chrome when editing files on OSX

When developing web applications, we often have to switch between a text editor (TextMate in my case) and a web browser (Chrome in my case) for testing purposes. Manually saving your files, switching to the browser and reloading the page can become a pain, as we perform these actions constantly during development.

To automate this process, we can use fswatch to monitor file changes and AppleScript to reload the browser whenever such a file change has been detected. Breaking it down into easy steps, this is what you should do:

1. Download and install fswatch. fswatch is awesome and it will monitor any changes that happen to any file in a specific directory (or any of its sub-directories).

2. Create the following file (I called it reloadActiveChromeTab.applescript) that reloads the active tab of Chrome whenever it is executed as AppleScript:

tell application "Google Chrome"
  reload active tab of window 1
end tell

3. Assuming that the root folder of your web project is located at “/Users/you/Sites/project”, you can now automatically reload Chrome each time you save a file in that project folder by using the following command:

fswatch /Users/you/Sites/project "osascript reloadActiveChromeTab.applescript"

That’s it! Feel free to post a comment if you run into any problems.

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Spotify crashes on iOS 7 beta 4

If you don’t modify the volume using the physical + and – buttons on the side of your iPhone, everything seems to be working fine.

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SIM card always locked on iOS 7 beta 3

Today after installing iOS 7 beta 3, I noticed that my iPhone card was always showing “locked SIM” in the upper left corner of the screen. Restarting my phone, going to Settings > Phone > SIM, trying to call someone, … did not trigger the “enter SIM PIN code” dialog. It turned out that taking the SIM card out and putting it back in again solved the problem. After doing this, my SIM card got detected immediately! I suspect this will be solved in beta 4.

Nothing happens after reboot when upgrading to Snow Leopard

Today I was finally forced to upgrade my Lion installation to Snow Leopard. After backing up using Carbon Copy Cloner and temporarily disabling full-disk encryption (which took about 10 hours in total – an encrypted disk had caused serious issues during a previous OSX update), I was ready to install Snow Leopard from the App Store.

Disable full-disk encryption on OSX
Removing full-disk encryption on OSX Lion. Problem?

The Snow Leopard installation application restarts after a few minutes, after which I was expecting to be presented with a process dialog telling me to wait until the OS has been updated. However, my system rebooted and … nothing happened. I booted right back into my Lion desktop. What had happened?

After some troubleshooting (I never got an error message after the reboot, no error messages in the logs and my system was working as before) it turned out that a connected USB device was preventing the installer from proceeding with the install. Disconnecting all USB devices (including my optical Dell mouse and my Numark Mixtrack Pro) resolved the problem: after disconnecting all devices I launched the Snow Leopard installer again from the App Store, and this time I got presented with the Snow Leopard installation screen.

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