How the Fuji X100F has liberated me as a photographer
Okay, I’m going to write a semi-geeky blog post about my camera, why I love it so much and how it's encouraged me to be a better photographer. Prepare yourselves.
I’ve been taking photographs for nearly ten years now. Naturally over that time I’ve owned a lot of cameras. Some I really enjoyed using and others I hated. In order of ownership:
Canon EOS Kiss x2 - Tamron 17-50 F2.8 (450D / Rebel XTi. Mine was a Japanese import so had the coolest name) - Hated it. Big, ugly, heavy, stupid to look at. I’ve got no time for DSLR’s.
Panasonic Lumix GF1 - Lumix 20mm - Loved it. It was tiny, red and introduced me to the joy of prime lenses via the 20mm pancake.
Ricoh GR - fixed 28mm - Discrete camera that helped me refine my street style. Didn’t enjoy the ergonomics of it. It was a great street camera, but I wasn’t in any way attached to it.
Canon 5D mk i - Sigma 50mm F1.4 - Another big, stupid DSLR. To make matters worse I fitted it with a Sigma 50mm F1.4. I was attracted to the shallow depth of field trend but this was WAY too mach camera for the streets. I had sold it within only a couple of months of buying it. I still hate DSLR’s.
Olympus OMD E-M10 - 17mm, 25mm, 45mm Zuiko primes - I won this camera and a pile of primes in a (disastrous) Olympus competition. I really, really love this camera and would highly recommend everyone to consider one for street or travel. It’s tiny, the primes are outstanding, it’s loaded with technology and punching way above its weight. Negatives: My shutter button and accompanying dial simply fell off.
iPhone 6s - fixed 28mm - I shot exclusively on this camera for about 2 years. During this time I learned a lot about being restricted to shooting with what you have. One camera, limited features and a fixed focal length. I enjoy using iPhone cameras. They’re incredibly convenient and offer superb quality images. I now own an iPhone 8 and the camera is great.
About 8 months ago I decided I wanted a dedicated camera back in my life so I bought…
Sony A7S - Zeiss 35mm F2.8 - Full frame sensor! Wow! Low light king!! Wow!! This could be my perfect camera. But, it wasn’t. I didn’t like the feel of it. I felt like I was holding a small computer that took photos.
4 months later I held a new camera in store and everything changed. This was the first time I’d ever actually fallen in love with a camera. Everything suddenly fitted in place and I’m now the incredibly proud owner of…
FujiFilm X100F - Fixed 23mm F2 (35mm equivalent) - insert heavenly music, like a choir of angels.
Okay, here we are and I’m about to preach about the FujiFilm X100F. You’ve probably heard it all before, about the film simulations, the autofocus, how it has a fancy little optical and electronic viewfinder or some other really cool feature all about technology.
This camera is more than all that same shit you read in all those other reviews. This camera is special to me. It’s no longer a piece of dedicated hardware that sits in a drawer, or some picture taking technology that encourages me to intentionally go out and take photographs. No, this camera has become an extension of me as an image capturer. (I just googled it. Capturer is a real word.) Look, this Fuji X100F is always with me. It’s next to my wallet and keys, the two things I never leave home without. Everyday when I go to work this thing is over my shoulder. If I go to the shops I’m wearing it like I wear my shoes. Well, it’s not on my feet but it is always there somewhere on my person. This camera is now a part of my everyday life… and that’s special.
I no longer go out with the intention of having to take photos.
"Hey, it’s Saturday so I’m going to get my camera and shoot some street."
No. Now everywhere I go and everything I do offers an opportunity for me to take photographs. This is changing who I am as a photographer. For years being a street photographer, for me, was wandering to certain locations so that I could find something interesting happening and take photographs of it. Whereas now all of those incidental occurrences around me that can happen anytime and in any place become my inspiration. Thanks to this my photography is becoming free from limitations. Things that I wouldn’t have bothered taking a photograph of before because a camera was too much effort are now being captured. All of those “hey, that looks kinda cool” moments are becoming photographs because of my Fuji. It’s always there with me, encouraging me to capture the world around me.
This camera is liberating me.
I feel more free to document my life now, not just take photographs for other people but instead appreciate all the strange little details of my own life. My camera is such a joy to use that I’m freezing and collecting tiny little moments that I would previously have lost. What this FujiFilm camera has taught me is that taking photographs is a link between my mind and my eye. The camera is just there to capture my thoughts and fleeting moments of interest. It's not overwhelming technology, it's not encouraging me to shoot a particular way, it's never a fight to get it to perform exactly how I need it to. It's just there and ready. This small black buddy with it's cute as hell little lens hood is ready to aim and fire as quickly as I am.
And even though I said I wouldn't, I am going to quickly mention both film simulations and JPEGS. Everybody is praising Fuji's film simulations and rightfully so. They render the photographs in beautiful colours and tones. One of my reasons for buying this camera was to help me maintain a consistency in my work and to allow me to spend less time having to stare at a laptop screen editing. I just want to take great photographs. To be honest I wasn't completely satisfied with the simulations straight out of the camera. But after a few months of shooting and tweaking the settings I'm now feeling completely confident to take photographs, get the settings right in camera and export them straight out as JPEG files. I'm still keeping my RAW files incase I ever get something special that I'd love to edit. But I'm using these less and less.
So here I am. I must have put hundreds and hundreds of hours into being a photographer over the years and it's only now, roughly ten years after buying my first camera that I'm really finding my flow and feeling great about what, and how I shoot. I genuinely believe that I owe a lot of this feeling to my X100F, the camera I hope to spend many years shooting with.