The Fujifilm X100 series | Photography Redefined

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.

Cheers,

Ian

 

Shooting portraits on a sunny winter day!

DSCF3963(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/1.6 – Click to view larger)

There are photoshoots that are carefully planned:   Discussions.  Pre-shoot planning sessions.  Studio bookings.  Wardrobe.  Hair and make up.

Then there are those days where you call up a friend and say “it looks gorgeous tomorrow, want to  shoot?”  That pretty much describes every shoot I have done with my friend Saige, a brilliant and beautiful local actress in the Vancouver area.

When the day of the shoot arrived it was bright and sunny, literally t-shirt weather in Vancouver in January.  Fabulous!    For a quick and impromptu location we chose Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, specifically an area of the park that has several old heritage buildings (barns, an old schoolhouse, etc).

I travelled exceptionally light in terms of gear, bringing only my Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens (an amazing lens for portraiture work) and my Fuji X100s with it’s 23mm lens if I wanted something a little bit wider.  I planned on shooting mostly natural light, but threw in a small flash and some modifiers just in case I wanted to add a little fill.  All of this fit into a small Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag.  No big gear.  No backpacks.  No packing around large lights.

I love my Fuji kit.

With both of us being creative types it was almost inevitable that we would start the shoot a little later than we planned, which meant the sun was high overhead when we started.  The quick and easy solution was to find the shady side of the barns and work from there, adding in a little fill flash as needed:

DSCF3952(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/2 – Click to view larger)

DSCF3920(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/2.2 – Click to view larger)

From there we moved to another barn to get a different look.  This barn was red, with white trim around the windows, so Saige chose a white top to compliment the colours.  Due to space I switched out to the wider lens on the Fuji X100s, but used the 35mm teleconverter to get a little bit more of a pleasing perspective for portraiture:

DSCF5134(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

DSCF5122(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

In another part of this park there is this amazing bench, under the shade of this amazing tree, in this amazing field (I’m starting to channel Bob Ross apparently).  We tried several looks there but by now it was noon, the sun was high, and the light was not working in our favour.

You win some, you lose some.  😦

I did, however, get one of my favourite shots:

DSCF3963(Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens @ f/1.6 – Click to view larger)

A few things came together in this photo:  Saige  is beautiful.  Shade from the tree provided  diffused light on her face, and the incredibly shallow depth of field of the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens shot at f/1.6 gave a beautiful out of focus background which really made her pop.  Love it!

Finally, we spotted this great field full of tall grass on our way back to the parking lot.  We wandered into the field and a series of events occurred  that soon had us laughing (stepping in hidden puddles of water, getting poked in inappropriate places by the grass, etc).  This made it very easy to capture some more great portraits of Saige:

DSCF5166(Fuji X100s with the TCL-X100 telephoto converter @ f/2.8 – Click to view larger)

This was a great way to spend a sunny winter day.  The sky was beautiful, it was warm, and I got to spend time creating images with a friend.

The recent trimming down of gear in my camera bag (and my shift to working with small Fuji cameras) has shifted my focus away from the technical aspect of my photography and put it more on capturing who my subject really is.   Each shoot takes me one step closer to who I want to be as a photographer, which is a great thing.