Gear

Photography gear: reviews, lenses, cameras, film, etc.

My Two Weeks With A Fuji X100

Harbor Barber: Tools

Renting a camera is the perfect way to try before you buy. It’s also the perfect way just to try – and that’s why I rented a Fuji X100 for two weeks. Just to try.

I see other photographers that I admire doing fantastic work with the Fuji system, and speaking its praise as the Next Big Thing. Being a Canon guy, it was tempting to see what all the fuss is about.

Fuji X100: Bay Harbor Yacht Club

I also rented it because I was covering a wedding for two co-workers, and thought it would be fun to take it to their destination ceremony in Petoskey, Mich.

There, it performed very well. I had to make sure to keep it on a setting that worked for whatever situation I was in, but from there I just pointed, framed, and shot.

Harbor Barber: Edges

The things this camera can do with mixed light situations, dynamic lighting, and low light is spectacular. And sharpness? Just perfect.

There were times when I felt lost. That feeling probably comes from knowing my Canons so well. I also like having things like ISO and white balance ready at a button push. Too often, with the X100, I had to dive into the menu system to switch up the settings.

Fuji X100: Crossroad

I’ve read that people use the X100 as a slower device. Take your time, adjust your settings, frame your shot, click. So maybe throwing it into a fast-paced wedding situation wasn’t entirely fair.

For those instances where I could take my time, it was perfect. The size, too, made it a handy carry-around camera. It’s a throw-it-in-the-front-seat-of-my-car camera – a walk-around-the-neighborhood camera. And it was light enough to feel like a regular accessory to the day.

Fuji X100: Sparks Park Pond

The film modes are fun (like the Velvia setting above), but were an extra step in the process. I found taking the RAW files and adjusting them was more my style.

At first, I blanched at the idea of using the Electronic Viewfinder. But the rangefinder-style Optical Viewfinder missed focus points just enough to get pretty annoying, so I switched as time went on fairly easily.

Fuji X100: Bee on Echinacea

Switching to Macro Mode, however, to get those close shots was not easy. I never quite got the hang of it, and would often forget which mode I was in and shoot in the wrong mode.

Fuji X100: Clouds Moving In

The picture files? Glorious to work with. Plenty of flexibility to lift shadows or pull back highlights – again, especially in those mixed lighting situations. Skies, especially, were lovely. For a lot of my shots, using the VSCO Film Fuji profiles worked well.

All in all, using the Fuji X100 really was like shooting with a film camera. The photo files had personality, and flexibility, and were a lot of fun to play around with.

Fuji X100: Red Barn

The camera itself was an adjustment. I feel like, with more time, I’d get used to its particular quirks. Maybe not.

But sometimes it was nice to set the setting and not touch them, and just worry about making nice photos.

Fuji X100: See-Through


Things I Like: 50mm Lens

Things I Like: 50mm Lens

All of my “Things I Like” photos were taken with a Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 lens, pictured here – except this one, obviously, which was taken with an 85mm.

But the 50mm is my favorite. I, like a lot of beginning photographers, cut my teeth on the 50mm prime lens. Originally, I had the f/1.8 model that served me well for two years. In fact, I took a lot of my favorite photos – hell, maybe a majority of my photos – using that “Nifty Fifty.”

Over the holidays, I found Canon dropping the price on the f/1.4 model by $100 or more. I thought about it, and thought about it, and finally pulled the trigger in January. Canon has been updating – and raising the price on – their other primes, like the 28mm. I figured with the recent 50mm price drop, Canon would refresh it next. So I pulled the trigger and took advantage of the deal.

I use a 50mm f/1.4 almost exclusively at work, with a Canon 7D. It’s my go-to portrait and classroom lens. I love the quality, the color, and the contrast the lens produces. And I’m super glad to have one of my own now.

There are tradeoffs to having a 50mm lens on a cropped-factor camera like my T1i: you need space to work in, and you can’t capture a whole lot in the field of view. But I find it often takes intimate photos that can’t be beat.

The dream is to someday hook it up to a full-frame Canon. Some day.

For now, though, it’s still my go-to and favorite lens.


I Bought A Fancy Camera

People that know me know I’m a bit of a shutterbug. Always have been – ever since those cheap-o disposable cameras hit the scene. As bad as those cameras were, they were inexpensive and put a camera in my hands.

They also sparked something. It’s evident in the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the years – mostly hobbyist portraits and travelogue photo diaries. Taking photos has been a way for me to document life. I’m the guy with the camera at social functions and family gatherings and work events. I’ve taken this distinction with pride, and a grain of salt (because mostly people don’t like to have their picture taken, especially if they’re not looking directly at the camera, posing, and smiling).

Over the past few years, as I’ve learned more about photography, and especially since my last trip out West, I’ve wanted more. Or better. I’ve craved the top-notch (but still affordable) tools to take pictures, and develop it into something beyond a casual hobby. I’ve wanted to get beyond the advanced beginners stage and into the realm of know-how and expertise.

That takes time and practice, but even with a great point and shoot I feel like you can only get so far. The drawbacks of consumer cameras, issues like slow shutter speed and poor low-light shooting, provide a brick wall. To climb that, I need to use what the pros use. And learn what the pros know.

So I bought a nice camera – a Canon Rebel T1i. It’s not a high-end professional setup, but it’s a step just below the best hobbyists DSLR camera. In terms of price, features, and approachability, it was just what I needed.

And get this: thanks to Canon’s holiday season rebates and discounts, I ended up with $200 off a $210 telephoto zoom lense, a free memory card, and a free UV lense filter. It all came with the Rebel T1i, which was on sale too, and not with the T2i. With all that, I pulled the trigger on the T1i last Wednesday. It was too good of a deal not to.

Over the next month I’ll invest in some sort of fancy camera bag – because man, this stuff is delicate. It’s not like a simple point and shoot that I throw into my jacket pocket on the way out the door. This stuff takes preparation.

Also, a prime lense. Just a simple, affordable version, something to take great potrait-type shots with. The idea of the prime lense excites me because there’s no zoom. If you want a closer shot, you have to move closer. The thinking is it trains you to be a better photographer – to think in terms of composing the shot and developing an eye for a good photo.

There’s a lot to learn. But that’s always the exciting part, right?