First Day with X100 - San Francisco

Started May 3, 2011 | Discussions thread
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ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
First Day with X100 - San Francisco

This post summarizes my unexpected reactions to actually having the X100 in my hand and my first day of shooting with it.

I pre-ordered the X100 from Amazon early Feb 8th, with overnight shipping, and it arrived today May 2nd.

After reading the forums obsessively for over three months and seeing all the raves & rants I was expecting to have one of two reactions to this camera:

1) It's a nice object to hold & own -- like a Mont Blanc Pen or a nice watch. How good it is as a camera is almost immaterial because it's so nice to fondle.

2) It's a pretty thing, but with such an awful user interface & such severe defects (sluggish response, slow startup times, titled viewfinders, AF problems) that it would be so frustrating to use that I would end up returning it.

My actual reaction turned out to be completely different:

After it arrived today I spent a couple of hours familiarizing myself with the camera & customizing it, and then went out to shoot in San Francisco's Chinatown & North Beach areas.

Expectation one was immediately shattered -- In my opinion it's not an AMAZING object to hold -- a nice camera no doubt but not in a different league than an Olympus EP-2. The electronic data overlaid on the OVF viewfinder is pretty great, though.

Expectation two was also immediately dispelled -- I found the camera to start up snappily, to operate very responsively, to AF quickly and accurately, to have an extremely straight viewfinder, and to be a joy to use.

What I actually experienced was an incredibly fun and effective photographic tool that gives you tremendous flexibility. The OVF is the default mode to use just because it's so beautiful to look through; but here are some other scenarios that came up today:

  • Taking a picture through a chain link fence and need to see through the lens to make sure none of the fence is blocking the image? Use the EVF

  • Taking a picture through a window and want to make sure you hand is blocking reflections not just for the VF but for the lens itself? Use the EVF

  • Taking a picture high above your head to minimize glare or distortions? Use the back screen

  • Taking a picture of people from a low angle but don't want to attract their attention by crouching? Use the back screen and shoot from waist height

I found myself taking pictures at a rate 4 to 5 times my normal rate with a DSLR because I didn't have to critically focus for very shallow depth of field; because I didn't change any lenses; and because the camera doesn't encourage chimping.

Some other surprises:

1) People were incredibly nice to me compared to when I'm out with a DSLR. It was all smiles and friendly chats about what I was photographing. I attribute this not only to the camera looking retro and having a small lens, but also to not carrying around a camera bag.

2) The incredibly silent shutter helped a lot to put people at ease, and to give me courage to get closer to people and to take more pictures than I usually would.

3) When I got home and looked at the pictures the AF was spot-on 95% of the time, colors were extremely accurate, the images were very very detailed, there was tons of dynamic range, and the soft mirrorless shutter got me sharp pictures at 1/60sec over and over. I was very pleased.

The only negative for me was that the exposure system seemed a little flaky -- often over or underexposing by a stop or so. But the pictures still worked out in post. My theory is that the camera tries very hard not to crush ANY blacks or blow out ANY whites -- so if you have even a small black object in your image it may overexpose the whole image; and conversly a single small highlight anywhere in the image may lead to the whole picture being underexposed.

Bottom line -- I love this camera. I usually shoot top notch lenses on the Canon 5D2 and Nikon D3 and also use micro four thirds with lots of great legacy glass. The Fuji X100 delivers the goods when you get home and look at the images; and it's perhaps the most fun camera I've ever used for city shooting.

Here are some samples from today -- all shot RAW and processed in LR 3.4

 ebrandon's gear list:ebrandon's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Ricoh GR Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Nikon D600 Canon EOS 6D +2 more
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