When I bought my X100, it was because I craved a small camera with total manual control that I could keep with me all the time. A week after my X100 arrived, I encountered the most perfect example of a situation where having that small camera made all the difference.
I left my house on Wednesday morning fully intending to just go to work and return home again that night. Instead, I finished work early and managed to jump on a train down to my parents’ house for a family reunion. No time to run home to get my SLR, but the X100 was in my day bag as always. The next day I was able to go and take photos of the poppy fields in full bloom and switch easily from landscapes to macros without changing lenses, flipping the built-in ND filter on to shoot at f/2.8 in bright sunlight (unusual in the UK!). Later, I took some stock shots in coastal locations which flew through my stock library’s quality control appraisal with ease.
Without it, I might have just taken some snapshots on my phone, but I wouldn’t have had the same degree of control, nor the quality of image I got with the X100. I’m officially converted.
For about 10 years now, I’ve been of the opinion that the best photography experience comes from using an SLR, preferably one of a professional level where you have access to all the controls at the flick of a finger. I’ve definitely achieved that level of feeling ‘at one’ with my camera equipment, but recently I had an epiphany. I realised that I hadn’t touched my thousands of pounds worth of pro gear since shooting a wedding four months earlier. All my everyday photography had been done on my phone because it just hadn’t seemed ‘worth’ dragging my SLR gear out with me.
I was mulling this observation over in my mind when a colleague (an SLR-based photographer) casually mentioned that he had just taken delivery of a Fujifilm X100. ”Are you enjoying it?” I asked. ”It’s the most fun I’ve ever had taking photos,” he responded. I’d heard a lot about this little camera but hadn’t really considered it as a viable option until now. With a glowing report like his, I felt compelled to at least research it a bit and found thousands of others similarly impressed.
Some people would consider the fixed focal length lens to be a disadvantage, but to me it’s the exact opposite. No deliberations over which lenses to take on a day out, just work with what you’ve got. (There are lens adapters available but ‘shhhhh’ I’m pretending they don’t exist!) After a bit of eBay stalking, I found myself opening the rather plush box and beginning to get acquainted with this characterful camera.
As I had read many times while I was waiting for it to arrive, you’ll get the best out of the X100 when you spend time getting to know its quirks and customising the settings. In the process of doing this, there were a few nice surprises. For example, when you’re reviewing a photo, pressing the middle of the scroll wheel zooms in to 100% on the focus point you used — a feature that’s second nature to me on my D200 and D700, but which Nikon controversially reserves for its high-end DSLRs. Even better, on the X100 you can even use this to zoom while you’re taking the shot.
I’m not going to get into a full technical review because choosing this camera was never about specifications or pixel-peeping. It was about finding a camera which could always be with me and would simplify the process of taking photographs. It is, it does, and I love it.
Through the Viewfinder is about letting go of perfection and allowing the soul of a 60-year-old camera to shine through. By using twin lens reflex cameras as a filter, you capture the modern world through the dust and scratches accumulated since it was last used. My TtV shots use a range of cameras, including a Voigtlander Brilliant, a Kodak Brownie Starflex and several Kodak Duaflex models.