Setting up the Fujifilm X100F for Street Photography

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I’ve had a lot of requests over the last few weeks to describe the camera settings I use when I am out shooting on the street, so I thought I would take a few minutes to walk through how I set up the new Fuji X100F.  When you work with pre-production cameras there are usually several firmware updates leading up to the camera’s official launch, and since November I have updated the Fuji X100F firmware 4 or 5 times.  This has given me the opportunity to really think about what works the best for me when I am out shooting street photography with this camera.

(Note:  This is a gear post, through and through.  In part two of this series, however, we will look at some new Fuji X100F street photography I’ve shot recently in Seattle and Vancouver using the set up described in this post).

As we get started I think it is important to discuss my approach to shooting on the streets, which differs from other work that I do.   When I am shooting cityscapes and landscapes, I always shoot in manual mode, as I do when I am shooting portraiture.  In these settings I am not in a rush.  My sunrise / sunset / blue hour shots are taken locked down on a tripod, and I usually use off camera lighting when shooting portraits (which means my camera settings rarely change once they are dialled in).

The street is different though:  for me it is about the experience of immersing myself in an environment, constantly observing and then reacting quickly when a moment happens.  Barring a quick adjustment here and there, I don’t want to think about my camera at all when I am shooting on the street… I want to be focused on capturing the moment and trust my camera to do its thing.

With this in mind, here are some basic needs that guide how I set up my Fuji X100F for street photography:

  1. On the street, I shoot in Aperture Priority Mode and use Auto ISO (I trust the camera to determine proper exposure).  I tend to keep my aperture between f/5.6 to f/11, depending on how much light is available in the environment I am shooting in.
  2. If I do need to make adjustments to compensate for the light, there is a 99% chance that the adjustment will be made with the Exposure Compensation dial.  It is very quick and easy for me to observe a scene, decide what I want to do with the light and adjust the compensation with my right thumb as I am bringing the camera up to my eye.  Once you understand how your camera sees a scene, this is very simple to do.
  3. I use Auto-Focus about 80% of the time.   The remaining 20% of the time I will drop into manual focus to either pre-focus on a spot that a subject will be walking through, or, pre-focus to a given distance if I am working in tight in crowds.
  4. I shoot in RAW plus Fine jpeg.  I also love to visualize my images before and while I am taking them, so I switch back and forth a lot between Acros and Classic Chrome while I am shooting.
  5. I back button focus a lot.
  6. I usually shoot in single shot mode, but I’m not afraid to use burst mode and select the best frame if the situation calls for it.
  7. I want to keep the camera set up to be able to quickly access the Digital Tele-Converter.  I will not use this feature if I can shoot without it (as I do notice a very small amount of image degradation), but it is a nice option to have in a pinch.  In order to do this I need to be able to quickly switch my drive mode to single and also to switch to shooting Fine jpeg only (because the Digital Tele-Converter won’t work in RAW or burst mode).
  8. I occasionally use the two conversion lenses (WCL and TCL – the original versions), so I need to be able to tell the camera that they are on (or off) without diving into the menus.
  9. I usually wifi photos to my phone at some point through the day, either to mail to someone or to review and edit while I’m sitting down for lunch.

So, those are my basic needs when I am out shooting on the street.  Here is how I set up the X100F to be able to easily and quickly accomplish those tasks:

On the front

front

There are two main things here:

  1. There is now a function button embedded in the OVF/EVF Lever, which I have set to Wifi.  This is my least used function when shooting on the street, but it keeps it easily accessible at the same time.
  2. There is now the new front Command Dial.  This can be set up to control the ISO, the Exposure Compensation, or both.  On the street, however, I use Auto-ISO and prefer controlling the Exposure Compensation with the physical dial, so I actually don’t use the front Command Dial for anything.

On the top

top

This, right here, is why I love these cameras so much.  You have the entire exposure triangle, plus Exposure Compensation, completely at your fingertips with tactile knobs.  After all these years I honestly don’t know if I could go back to using a camera that doesn’t operate this way.

Let’s take a look at the top:

  1. As previously mentioned I set the Aperture to f/5.6 to f/11, depending on the amount of light I have.
  2. I have my Shutter Speed dial set to A.
  3. I have my ISO dial set to A also.  This configuration lets me choose my Aperture, then the camera maintains the exposure by adjusting the shutter speed and the ISO as needed.
  4. I ride the Exposure Compensation dial a lot when shooting, often to underexpose a scene when the light is harsh or when I want to create more shadow in an image.  This means I always need to check in between scenes to ensure I reset it to zero… something I have forgotten to do many times.  🙂
  5. I have the conversion lens selection assigned to this function button, so I can quickly tell the camera when the WCL or TCL lenses are being used.  This won’t be an issue for those of you who use the new versions of these lenses as they now auto-detect on the X100F, but with the older ones this is still a necessity.
  6. Finally, there is the Control Ring, which I have assigned to control the Digital Tele-Converter when I am in auto-focus mode.  When I want to use this feature, I drop into jpeg only and single shot mode (if needed… this is usually my default), then I can turn the Control Ring to select between 35mm, 50mm, and 70mm fields of view.  This is probably my least used function (tied with Wifi), but it is nice to have it quickly accessible.

On the back

back

There’s also a fair bit going on here:

  1. I have AF-L assigned to the Read Command Dial, so I can use it to back button focus.  For my hands this is a better position than using the actual AEL/AFL button.
  2. The X100F has the drive mode locked to the up button;  I use this to choose between single shot and burst mode depending on my needs (usually single shot).
  3. I have this function button set to cycle through the various film simulations.  I tend to “see” images in black and white or colour, so I will often quickly jump back and forth between Acros and Classic Chrome when I am out shooting.
  4. This function button is set to allow me to quickly choose RAW plus jpeg, or just Fine jpeg.  I normally wouldn’t assign this feature to a function button, but you have to be in jpeg only mode to use the Digital Teleconverter.
  5. I have this button set to cycle between the three Auto ISO modes, which I do often during the day.  More on this below.

How I use Auto ISO

img_9072-2(High tech cell phone photo)

My goal on the street is to have the camera maintain a shutter speed fast enough to freeze movement within a given scene, by letting Auto-ISO raise the ISO as much as needed to obtain a proper exposure.

This is situational, however.  A stationary subject may only require a shutter speed of 1/60th, whereas a fast moving subject might need 1/500th.

The way I achieve this is by assigning the ability to switch between the 3 saved ISO settings to a function button.  My 3 Auto-ISO settings are saved as follows:

  1. Minimum Shutter Speed of 1/60th, Maximum ISO of 3200.
  2. Minimum Shutter Speed of 1/125th, Maximum ISO of 3200.
  3. Minimum Shutter Speed of anywhere between 1/250th and 1/500th, Maximum ISO of 3200.

If I am shooting a static scene I may choose the first setting.  This maintains a minimum shutter speed of 1/60th, which helps keep the ISO down while still exposing the scene properly.

If I need faster shutter speeds to capture movement I select the 2nd or 3rd option based on how fast the subject is moving.  Depending on the amount of light the camera will select a higher ISO setting, but I will get an in focus image.

This is a quick and easy way of contextualizing Auto ISO to the scene I am in.

Performance and Battery Power

img_9075-2(High tech cell phone photo)

I’d rather let my camera perform to it’s highest level than worry about battery life, so I always keep my camera in High Performance mode.  I also almost always use the EVF or LCD when I am shooting.  These two things are guaranteed battery drains.

The thing is though, batteries are cheap.  And, on the X100F, I routinely average 500+ frames per battery.   With one or two extra batteries in the bag, or in a pocket, I am good to go.

POST PRODUCTION

Every scene is different:  in one I may want a lot of contrast, in another not so much, so I tend to keep my in camera settings flat (i.e. shadows 0, highlights 0, sharpening 0, etc) and use Lightroom to apply any simple changes I want.  My post production is minimal on street images though;  for example, here is a frame out of the camera, a jpeg shot in Classic Chrome:

dscf2300

And, here it is after less than 1 minute of processing which amounted to lifting the shadows, boosting the highlights a little, and some minor sharpening.

dscf2300

When you have the right light you really don’t need to do a lot of post.

Summary

There are so many ways to customize a camera like the Fuji X100F.  This is just my way, configured to quickly access the things I need when I am shooting on the street.  With the camera set up like this I don’t go into the menus at all.  I don’t even use the Q menu, as everything I need is assigned to a button or dial, ready to go.  It seems like a lot when it is all written out, but in the field it comes down to the occasional adjustment to Aperture, Exposure Compensation, or the Auto-ISO setting as needed for exposure control, occasionally switching back and forth between Classic Chrome and Acros depending on how I see a scene, and much more rarely using another feature like wifi or the Digital Tele-Converter.   This configuration works well for me and lets me keep my focus on everything happening around me on the street.

Next week, in part two of this series, we’ll look at a selection of street images captured recently with the Fuji X100F, using the above configuration.

Until then!

Ian

p.s.  Every time I post a photo, like the one at the top of this article, I get asked where I got the camera strap from.  It is a strap from my friends at Hyperion Camera Straps, you can find them on Facebook.  In a world of expensive camera accessories, they make a nice product at very cost effective pricing.  I am not paid or endorsed by them, but I think it’s nice to give a shout out to people who are supporting the photography community with good products and reasonable prices.

50 thoughts on “Setting up the Fujifilm X100F for Street Photography

  1. Ibarionex says:

    Thanks for this post. It reaffirms for me that the camera will fit right in to my way of shooting, especially we seem to follow pretty similar methodology. I have a chance to handle’s Rinzi x100F this weekend and a I like the slight increase in heft.

    • Ian says:

      My pleasure Ibarionex, I know you have been have been waiting for a X100 successor for a while and I think you’ll enjoy this one from our previous conversations.

      Oh, hey, I have my LA trip dates now. Would still love to connect if time allows.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  2. Sean says:

    As a person new to the Xseries world, this has been a wealth of information. Thank you Ian. I look forward to trying these settings, initially when I receive my X100F (F- “Finally” for me!) People speak very highly of the filters such as Classic Chrome and especially Acros. However, I’m always reluctant to apply filters initially as it may not be the look I eventually want. In post, I sometimes see something different I’d like to manipulate. Surely in Lightroom or in my case MacPhun, software, I could create a template to mimic the above filters? Would this not see a safer route (with the exception of course that you can “see” the final image already….I’m not quite there yet!)

    • Ian says:

      Hello Sean!

      If you shoot RAW you can also apply the film simulations in Lightroom after the fact… so no need for any other templates. It’s pretty awesome.

      Cheers,

      Ian

      • Sean says:

        Of course. Thanks. Does it have the option shoot raw/JPEG simultaneously? Also, is there anywhere selling the cam less then $1699 in Canada.? Even $100 off would be nice!

      • Ian says:

        It does, which is what many of us do. Set up the jpeg the way you like it, but also grab the RAW (I shoot compressed RAW) in case you want to make changes later.

        In regard to pricing, I honestly have no idea. My X100F is a pre-productional model directly from Fujifilm, so I haven’t looked at pricing or availability anywhere yet.

        Best wishes,

        Ian

  3. Scott says:

    I love these types of posts which get people into someone else’s process. Thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your “secrets” with us all..

    Great example shot as well.

  4. Adrian says:

    Many thanks for a very interesting article. I’m not familiar with the X100 range as I use an Xt-2 and an XT-10 but wanted to ask about your auto focus approach. Do you use continuous auto-focus and a zone area?

    • Ian says:

      I rarely use AF-C, only because my specific needs don’t call for it very often. I do zone focus occasionally, depending on the situation.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  5. Juan says:

    Thanks for the post Ian
    I also use Auto-ISO but choose shutter speed, normally 1/500 to 1/2000 but even with that I get motion blur (the whole frame, so its not subject movement), any tips on how to avoid this, I know I’m doing something wrong but not sure how to fix that. thanks again

    • Ian says:

      It would be hard to say without seeing the images and knowing the context of how you were shooting, but it seems very strange to get motion blur at 1/2000th. Are you sure it is motion blur, and not a focusing issue?

      • Juan says:

        I’m guessing that because if I shoot in burst…. some of them are sharp some of them not sharp at all… but sometimes I get sharp pictures at 1/30…. so I have no clue, maybe I press the shutter to strong and tilt the camera?

  6. Matt says:

    Hi Ian.

    Thanks for your great article.

    You mentioned a slight degradation of image quality when using the digital TC. Since you also own the “real” TCL, did you compare the results from both solutions? The TCL is too bulky for my liking, but image degradation plus being limited to JPEG only seems to be a high price for using the digital TC.

    Best regards
    Matt

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Matt,

      I use the Digital Tele-Converter when I am out and about, with no concerns. I would rather use real glass, however, if I was taking a shot for a client and I wanted ultimate image quality. The TCL is a little front heavy, but for me it only comes out when I am using it for a portrait.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  7. RogerB says:

    I shouldn’t of, but I did and now I’m in trouble. I read this excellent review. I’m off to a small road-trip holiday, my Domke F6 has the XP2, 14, 23, 35, 18-55 and I’m ready to go. I decided that for just the social outings on this trip the X100 should be along. Now that I have the XP2, I can’t “run” the X100. Wow what a not-so-subtle feature-creep between these generations of X100. I guess the answer is a X100F, but I’m going to have to clean the camera closet and jettison maybe another hobby/interest before that happens.

    Wonderful review.

    I’ve taken several extended holidays where the X100 was the only camera for bringing back the memories. When I scaled back my DSLR gear, I still needed some interchangeable lens flexibility, thus the XP2 and it’s slowly expanding kit. I’m waiting for the 55-200 to complete the kit. However, everytime I pick up the XP2 bag I’m reminded of how the X100 slips unobtrusively in my “man-bag” and I’m off. After two hard travel weeks in Italy another two in Turkey and many, many more on the street, with family and events I have no regrets on my X100 only events.

    As you so aptly demonstrate, what a great camera. It a natural mechanical extension to a documenter’s photographic vision.

  8. Immanuel says:

    Hi Ian. Thanks for your posts (I’ve been reading quite a few of them). I think this is a good time to give a little back, so here is a tip from me 🙂

    There is a slightly faster way to choose between film simulations. Use ‘custom settings’. CS1 uses CC and CS2 uses Acros or the other way around. If you assign it to the down button, one press will always give you CS1 (assuming it behaves like the X-100T, X-E2 and X-T1), and pressing twice gives you CS2. If you use the up button, you just set up CS1 and CS7, and you keep the 1 or 2 click efficiency. I really love that Fuji has chosen to always let the cycle start at CS1. It makes the procedure more automatic and less mental.

    Best regards
    Immanuel Kuhrt
    (Soul-Shot)

  9. John Nicholson says:

    I found this article very helpful for thinking through my shooting parameters – and I don’t even have a Fuji ! So I’m saving it for continued learning. Thank you.

  10. Ish says:

    Hi Ian, great write up, very much looking forward to the release. I don’t normally pre order but I sold my X100T late last summer before any price drop, thinking the next generation wasn’t too far off then, of course, it was put off until now! I have an XP2 to keep me very happy but there’s something very special about this line.

  11. Russell Petcoff says:

    Great information on these posts about the X100F. I’m seriously considering getting one. I like to shoot street and spur-of-the-moment photos. What type of strap do you have on this camera in the top photo?

  12. Peter308 says:

    Great article Ian, thanks. My F arrives tomorrow – been without my T since I traded it in a couple of weeks ago. I will start with your set up as it seems ideal – maybe the only thing I will change is to assign flash / FEC on to the front viewfinder section button as I like to pop fill flash on sometimes while out shooting – it’s so good with the leaf shutter.

  13. Sean Rogers says:

    Ian are you sure one can “set up the front dial for adjusting the ISO.” I can’t seem find this option in the button/dial settings. If you could help me out that would be great, because the ISO dial is a bit challenging with my eyesight, shall we say!

  14. Sean Rogers says:

    It was a bit tricky, as there’s no place that allows one to assign something to the “front” command dial. It wasn’t working until I switched from auto to command. Thanks for the tip!

  15. David Rudd says:

    Ian, thanks for a very informative and enlightening article on setting up the X100F for street photography.
    In step #5: Basic needs that guide how You set up your Fuji X100F for street photography you mention using ‘back button focusing’ a lot.
    My question is how do you back button focus with the X100F.

    Thanks, in advance for your help!

  16. Dario D'Acierno says:

    Hi there! Amazing piece of writing. One simple questions:

    1. When i set AUTO ISO (6400max) with Aperture priority in 2.8 and i’m shooting in the night, the camera overwrites the minimum shutter speed and still choose long shutter exposure (like 1/4 etc.) Is there a way to fix it?

    • Ian says:

      Hello Dario!

      The way Auto ISO works is that the camera will raise your ISO to maintain your desired shutter speed, UNTIL it hits the ISO ceiling you requested. From that point the only way the camera can get a proper exposure is to start lowering your shutter speed.

      In other words: Auto ISO works as desired until it hits your ISO ceiling, and then your shutter speed is lowered to expose the image correctly.

      Cheers,

      Ian

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