F*ck the past

As has been said so many times by so many people, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. I doubt this young lady had that quote in mind when she purchased this jacket.

Apparently wearing clothes, particularly jackets and T-shirts, with English expressions on them is considered high fashion in Japan. Other countries too it seems. But often times, if not always, the wearers have no idea of what’s written on their clothing.

I recently saw a photo of a young girl of maybe 14 or 15 wearing a T-shirt that said “I’m a whore!” I’m sure neither she nor her parents had the slightest idea what she was proclaiming so proudly across her chest. Life is funny sometimes.

This photo was taken with a Fujifilm X100F, and is the B&W jpeg file out of the camera, cropped and tweaked slightly in Lightroom CC.

Fujifilm X100F

The Fuji X100F has finally arrived. This is the camera that many folks, myself included, have been waiting for. I started with the X100 back in 2011, have used most of the X-series cameras that were introduced since, and was really hoping to see a camera with the power of the X-Pro2 in an X100 body. And now here it is.

When it comes to the X100F, the only real decision to be made is which color to get, silver or black. Black is decidedly the cool, sexy option, and my own favorite, but the silver one has a very classic, film-camera look to it, and is probably the one that will attract the least amount of attention on the street. For whatever reason, people seem to be less intimidated by someone carrying a film camera than someone with a digital camera. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that the digital camera, with its almost direct connection to the Internet, gives people the feeling that they’re being spied on or something. Whereas a film camera implies more of a snapshot image to be placed in a photo album or hung on the wall. I do know that in my years of wandering the streets with a camera, the cameras that either were or looked like film cameras were the ones that would prompt people to ask me about them.

I haven’t had a chance to get out and shoot with my new toy yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll be talking about it more here. I won’t write a review, because that’s already been done more and better than I could ever do it. I’ll just write about my experience using the camera, and how I think it affects my shooting. I’ll be back later with my comments on using the new Fuji X100F.

X100T vs X-Pro2 + 23mm f1.4


I started my involvement with Fujifilm digital cameras with the X100 back in 2011, and it was love at first sight. That first version had lots of warts and idiosyncrasies, but it still made hardcore Fuji fanboys out of a lot of people, myself included. I still have an original X100, the black limited edition model, and I still take it out and shoot with it from time to time. I also have the X100T, the latest and greatest version of the X100 series, and a worthy successor to the name. It’s currently my favorite street photography camera (at least until the X200 comes along).

But, things do change, and in the world of technology, they change quickly. In theory, the newest model of anything should be an improvement over what came before. But in the case of the Fuji X series cameras, even though new models come along, the older ones still remain as viable as ever. Take the X-Pro1, recently “replaced” by the quite amazing X-Pro2, oddly enough, the X-Pro1 still has a loyal fan base, and even more odd, it is gathering new fans all the time with many people taking advantage of the drop in price of the “old” X-Pro1 after the X-Pro2 was announced. And I have to admit that in spite of the new X-Pro2 joining my little Fuji family, the X-Pro1 will be staying right here too.

Which brings me neatly to the X-Pro2, and the reason for comparing it with the X100T. If you’re familiar with the original X100 cameras, you will know that it comes with a fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivalent in full frame lingo). Even though my formative years were spent with a 50mm lens on a Nikkormat 35mm film camera, I took pretty quickly to the 35mm  equivalent lens on the X100, and later the X100T. It turns out it’s pretty much ideal. Between wide and normal, it makes an almost perfect street photography lens (although of course some people will disagree – that’s ok, we can’t all be right). Factor in the relatively small size, light weight and virtually silent shutter, and you have a camera that is clearly made for shooting in the streets.

When the X-Pro2 came out with its bigger sensor, faster processor, quicker autofocus, and the Acros B&W film emulation, it became an overnight sensation and the darling of the Fuji X series lineup. Well, for me anyway. So of course it needs to be taken out into the street, into its native habitat where it can capture life as it goes by. And that’s where I took it. But initially I only had the option of 18mm and 35mm lenses. The 18mm works well for street shooting, but it’s wider than I’m used to, and the 35mm is great as a 50mm equivalent lens, but it’s a big long for shooting in the streets. So it occurred to me (and probably a bunch of other people too), that a 23mm lens on the X-Pro2 should be the ideal camera for street photography! So I got the 23mm lens, and it’s great, except for one thing, on the X-Pro2 it makes for a camera that is considerably larger and heavier than the X100T. Now I’m not implying that it’s too large or too heavy to carry around, but what I have noticed is that more people are noticing me with the camera than they do when I’m carrying the X100T. I almost feel like I have a sign around my neck that says I’m taking peoples’ pictures. And that’s really not what I want.

So, I find myself back to carrying the X100T out in the streets, but at the same time missing the sensor and high speed performance of the X-Pro2. It’s a bit of a quandary and something I’m just beginning to think about, so the solution is not obvious to me yet. Unless, of course, the rumored X200 comes to pass and we end up with a new version of the X100 with the sensor and processor from the X-Pro2 and, hopefully, the Acros film simulation. I’m getting excited already!

For the curious, here are a few snaps of the X100T and the X-Pro2 with the 23mm f1.4 lens mounted to give you an idea of the size difference. The larger and heavier X-Pro2 is still manageable, but as you can see, in a fight the X100T probably wouldn’t fare too well. You can click on the images for a larger view.




The Road to the X-Pro2

The Fujifilm X-Pro2. A “new classic.”


In 2011, almost ancient history in the world of digital cameras, I was in the process of searching for “my” camera. I had started a few years earlier with a Canon Kiss, moving quickly from Canon to Nikon when the D40 came out, and progressing up the Nikon line until I got to the D200. Around that time I decided that big cameras with big lenses were not for me.

In 2009, when Panasonic introduced the first micro four thirds camera, the GH1, I experimented with M4/3 for a while. But I wasn’t entirely happy with that either, so I decided that good pictures could be taken with any camera (and crappy pictures can be taken with the best camera in the world) and I started shooting with pocket cameras.

I began shooting with the Panasonic LX3, and later the LX5, and one of the early Ricoh GR digital cameras. I found it quite liberating to be shooting with such compact cameras without having to lug around a bag full of lenses and other related paraphernalia. But it wasn’t long before the quality of the images from the tiny little sensors in those cameras began to bother me. So I started looking around again.

It was around that time that Leica introduced the M8, and as someone who enjoys being on the bleeding edge, I bought one. Despite the extremely high price, it didn’t take long to figure out that the camera was just the beginning. The real investment comes in the lenses. Leica lenses often cost several times as much as the camera you use them on. Which meant in my case that I had Voigtlander lenses instead of Leica. But my journey through Leica Land didn’t last long, as I found that focusing a rangefinder camera was not my forte. Try as I might I couldn’t seem to come to terms with that camera, and eventually it went the way of all the others.

It was at this point in 2011 that I started reading about the Fujifilm X100. Having used some of the Fuji pocket cameras in the past and not liking them at all, I wasn’t immediately interested in the X100, especially considering all the negative comments I was reading about the camera’s many quirks and problems, and complaints about how finicky it was to use. But then people started posting pictures they had taken with the X100, and saying how much they loved the camera in spite of its idiosyncrasies. And the tide started to turn.

Intrigued by what I was reading and seeing online, I headed to the local camera store to see the X100 for myself. Despite going in with some skepticism, it was love at first sight, and that camera came home with me that day. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But my journey from that first X100 to the X-Pro2 wasn’t entirely straight forward. I was totally in love with the X100, and as Fuji came out with firmware upgrades for it, it only got better. But as with all things technological, newer models were on the way. And having become a true Fuji Fanboy, I was first in line when the X100S came along. But it wasn’t quite that simple.

In 2012, Fuji introduced a pro version of the X series camera, the X-Pro1. As much as I loved the X100, it seemed only obvious that I would also love the new professional version of the camera, with interchangeable lenses, and the new X-Trans sensor. So I bought one, along with two of the initially introduced lenses, the 35mm f1.4 and 18mm f2. I was ready to fall in love with the X-Pro1, but unfortunately, it had more quirks than the original X100, and combined with its relatively large size and extra weight, it ended up in the dry cab almost unused, until it was traded in later for another X-series camera.

And that is where I returned to the X100 camera and its new replacement, the X100S, introduced in early 2013. The X100S was a fantastic camera, and it pretty much sorted out all the issues that people had complained about in the X100 (although to be fair to Fuji, various firmware updates had improved the original X100 so much that it was essentially equal to the X100S, which meant a lot of people just stayed with the original camera and didn’t bother to upgrade). But being the bleeding-edge type, I bought the first X100S, which happened to be the silver/black version, and my original X100 went to a new home with a friend of mine. All was well, until shortly thereafter when Fuji introduced an all-black body version of the X100S. So back to the store I went, toting my almost new X100S and the grossly underused X-Pro1, and traded for the black X100S.

Now at this point you’d think that I would be happy with the latest and greatest version of the wonderful Fuji camera, but for some reason, I started missing my original X100, and since they had come out with a limited edition all-black body version of that camera too, I decided to buy a used one, just to have it. And then along came the X100T!

It was September 2014, and having come this far in my Fuji journey, I certainly wasn’t going to stop now. So back I went to the store, this time with the X100S and only recently acquired limited edition all-black body X100, and became the owner of the latest and greatest X100T. I still have that camera and, at this time anyway, have no intention of getting rid of it. I know, famous last words. And here’s where things get a little complicated.

Now that I was down to just the X100T, I began to regret having gotten rid of the X100. It was after all the camera that brought me into the Fuji fold, and it was a camera that I still loved, warts and all. So once again I headed back to the camera store and bought another (now my 3rd one) X100, and again I went with the limited edition all-black body version. And now I was a happy camper with my original version X100 and the wonderful new X100T. Or so I thought.

In the world of technology, things don’t stay in one place for very long, and sure enough, rumors were going around about a new version of the old X-Pro1, presumably to be called the X-Pro2, and the forums lit up like a Christmas tree. Being a good little Fuji Fanboy, I started frequenting the Fuji-related forums and following the speculation about the upcoming X-Pro2. And if the rumors were to be believed, it was going to be an amazing camera. But then I started to notice something odd.

People started coming out of the woodwork in support of the original X-Pro1. The camera that I had dismissed as being too big, too heavy, and not good enough at almost everything. Apparently since it was introduced in 2012, the X-Pro1 had received 14 firmware upgrades, and had matured into a very respectable camera, with outstanding image quality. It still wasn’t a point and shoot, but I wasn’t concerned about that because by that time I was more interested in slowing down and spending more time shooting. And this is exactly what the X-Pro1 fans were saying that it was good for. That, and the wonderful image quality. One intrepid owner who had 3 X-Pro1’s went out and bought 3 more, just to be sure he’d always have a backup.

Once again I found myself intrigued by what I was reading (and seeing, as there were suddenly lots of people posting snaps from their X-Pro1’s), and as the price of the X-Pro1 was as low as 1/3 its original selling price, it seemed like getting one was the only choice I could make. So once again off I went to the camera store and came home with a shiny new X-Pro1. And to my surprise, I fell completely in love with it. The things that I had not liked when it first came out seemed to have been fixed, or maybe I had matured enough as a shooter to be able to work with them. Either way, I found myself in love with a camera again. Which could only mean one thing: I’d be standing in line when the X-Pro2 came out.

It’s probably not necessary to say that I’m now an X-Pro2 shooter. But what may be surprising is that I’m still in love with the X-Pro1! All the fancy bells and whistles of the X-Pro2 certainly make it a better camera in many ways, but the things that I loved about the X-Pro1, the way it handles and makes you work with it to get the images you want, and the amazing images it produces, are all still there and still make me want to take that camera out and shoot with it. It’s probably safe to say that it’s a true desert-island camera. So at the end of the day, it’s the X100, X100T, X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 that make up my little Fuji family. They’re all such great cameras, a joy to shoot with, and the images they produce are exactly what I want to see from my cameras. So now I really am that happy camper.

PS: I should probably point out that other Fuji cameras have come and gone during the above journey from X100 to X-Pro2. For one reason or another, the following cameras have also passed my way: X-E1, X-E2, X-A2, X-M1, XQ1, XQ2, X10, X20 and X-T1. I enjoyed them all, but they all moved on to other homes.

These are the cameras that started it all, the X100 LE and the X-Pro1.