The beginning of 2019 marks eight years since the launch of the Fujifilm FinePix X100, the camera that changed everything for so many of us. I still remember seeing the X100 in early magazine ads, featuring a photograph of this new retro looking camera beneath a tagline that read:
The Camera : Redefined
I wanted this camera as soon as I saw the ads. I know that sounds insane, but I was experiencing a lot of frustration with my photography, especially with my DSLRs, and I remember thinking that the X100 was exactly what I needed at the time: one small camera, one fixed focal length lens, pure simplicity. I was hooked, despite the fact that I had never touched it. Things only got worse when the groundswell started, with people I respected like Zack Arias writing about it, until finally I gave in and placed my order.
I remember opening the box with a mix of excitement and reverence, all the while accompanied by an unshakeable feeling that my photography was about to change (which is strange to say… it’s just a camera, right?). I have long struggled to put into words how it felt to shoot with the X100 in those early days, but thankfully my friend Patrick Laroque worded it perfectly when he wrote his Fujifilm X100S review:
“I longed for Istanbul. Or Madrid, Cairo, Rio. I longed for the circus, for freight trains, for a rush of uncertainty in long and aimless circumambulations; for an assault on the senses and a total loss of balance, making my way through the unknown, sinking in strange quicksand crowds with my eye to a small window. I wanted more and everything, the pulse of an insane city or the slow crashing of a wave on a deserted beach of the pacific rim. I wanted new topographics and new lights to twist reality, like opiates in the bloodstream, igniting the muse – her name would be Discovery. Testament. Witness.”
That is so completely spot on. Nothing has motivated me to push my photographic boundaries more than this camera; I found myself on planes to foreign countries, shooting genres that I had never previously considered and becoming part of a wonderful online community of like minded artists.
The early days of the X100 weren’t perfect of course, sometimes feeling like we fought the camera as often as we nailed great photos with it. Then the free firmware updates started coming, an early indication of how committed Fujifilm was to the success of the X100, and my camera got better and better. The X100 was literally changing as I redefined myself as an artist, something that I hadn’t ever seen before from a manufacturer.
Since those early beginnings I have had the pleasure of becoming an Official Fujifilm X Photographer, of using and reviewing new products as they were added to the lineup, and of representing the brand on stage many times. It has been a wonderful, exciting journey. Fujifilm now has something for everyone, from excellent but affordable entry level cameras and lenses to a full medium format system for those who value image quality above all else. My current work bag is centred around two X-T3s. They are amazing cameras, but there is still something intangible about the X100F that makes me reach for it first. It is, for me, the perfect camera.
I went through my library last night, looking for images from the various iterations of the X100 for this article. The photo essay below features street images, cityscapes, family photos, portraits, landscapes, detail shots and travel photos. I loved making these images with the X100 / X100S / X100T / X100F, and I look forward to another eight years shooting with this wonderful system.
What was your entrance into the Fujifilm X system? Let me know in the comments section below.