Part II: Point/Counterpoint: X100

Warning.. another long read..

So yeah, how about that rant about the X100, huh… πŸ™‚

(if you’re not familiar with the blog post, click on this link and it will take you to it)

Over the past few days I’ve gotten a chance to play with the Fuji X100 camera, and the experience has been – interesting to say the least. The funnier part for me is how frequent this experience has been for people. As I look at comments, read emails and DM’s the opinion appears to be the same. “Yeah, it can be quirky to understand, and there are some things that it does that area little odd – but once you get over X and take Y into consideration.. it can really produce some really great images… ”

I think I can totally stand behind that concept, 100%. The difference with me is that I dont believe that I need to go through this exploration with this tool to get to a goal. I don’t want to develop a relationship with my camera by psychoanalyzing the machine, I want this tool to work – to take pictures when I need it to. If I have any time and resources right now – i’d much rather spend them learning how to make my photography better.

Now, there are those that work with this camera, and love it.. and to that I can totally see why. When she works, she works amazingly – and can sure give a lot of pro cameras a run for their money in terms of build and optics. When she’s behaving, she’s razor sharp, and worth a look into.

Point / Counterpoint

Man, oh man, there was some back and forth on it. Figured it be a cool idea to make a point/counterpoint blog post on some key ones out there.

The X100 can focus well – the problem is that you don’t understand the technique that’s involved with getting the camera to focus. Once you can – you’ll see it’s great.
Try as we want it to be – the X100 is not a Leica M9. It is -not- a Rangefinder (If you’re not familiar with what a Rangefinder is, and how its soo different from a point and shoot click on this link. ) The camera has a very interesting Electronic Viewfinder that overlays over your eyepiece, and gives an overlay of information such as dots, ISO, exposure, and what not. It also gives you a square that is used for a focus point. This focus point can also be moved around so you can choose the area that you want to focus on. When you you half-press the shutter, the camera attempts to focus on that point, and if it locks.. you’ll hear a beep or see a green square. This tells you it’s in focus.

This to me – has all signs of the camera being like a point and shoot – and in that.. I should reasonably expect the shot to be in focus. Take a look at the shot on the right. Click on it and it will open up in a lightbox. If you right click on that bigger picture, you can save the full size version of it.

Now, imagine being a person who bought this camera to be able to take high quality pictures everywhere. You take it, point it at your daughter. Get the square right at the eyes, half press to lock it. Then click the shutter. You get home, download the file and this is what you get – a perfectly good shot of the cars behind her. I dont know about you guys.. but i’d WANT to know that this happens from time to time before plunking money down. This is in bright sunlight! What am I failing to take into consideration when composing such a frame? Matter fact – that’s precisely the point. If I have to take more into consideration than what I just did – it’s not worth the investment.

To take this issue and say “Its not the camera, it’s the operator” makes the X100 seem like it’s more complex than it actually is. This sounds more like wanting a justification for spending the money on something with that kind of shortcoming.

Point: The EVF Can be quirky at times. Switch over to the (electronic view, macro view, basic view…or any combination thereof of things other than the evf) to get better results.

Counterpoint: If I bought a convertible for 30K, and after I bought it, the dealer told me “Well.. you can put the top down, but there’s a 20% chance that the top may not go back on right. You may need to put the top on and off several times to get it to work” I’d flip. I bought a convertible – for it to be a convertible. I wouldn’t appreciate being told “Oh yeah, one feature doesn’t work quite as good as you’d like it.. just use the other one. ”


The camera has amazing DSLR sized sensor in a small size. This is better for me because I can carry this a lot better than the big honking beast of a DSLR. Super small FTW!


Meet the D5000 and D5100. I think the D5100 is actually smaller than the D5000, and both of these are armed with the 35mm lens. If we were talking about any lens outside of the 35mm (or 50mm for that matter), I could probably agree that there is some really awkward heft that’s involved. But you’re not shooting with a 600.. or a 200-400. You’re shooting with a 35mm. Only. I went to B&H and priced the D5100 and a 35mm F2 for 1108.00. Is it as small as X100. No. But it’s not that much bigger. You’ll get 16 megapixel instead of 12. A lens that you can swap out, a swingout screen, and 91 dollars in your pocket – still.

(Special thanks to >@m_w_jones and >David S Hodgins for the picture comparisons)


I Want A Small Camera So I can Shoot Sealthy. Those portraits of people outside when they least expect it require me to move like a Ninja. This will help.


I’d venture to say, if you got this close to make a portrait.. they’ve seen you coming. I’d venture to say that absent an alcohol induced slumber, theyre going to see you with a giant silver square against your eye. This will leave with the further back approach. Please do not misunderstand.. that’s not to say you cant make the focal length work. I believe that Zack Arias is doing some awesome work that he’s posting at 500px. That said, I believe that the element of surprise doesnt work well here.

If you want to work in stealth? Use a 70-300mm at 300mm. Then you can pick people off from across the street and they wont even notice. If they wind up looking at you – look right past them (as if from behind) pick up the camera again, and shoot past them. They’ll feel embarassed for thinking that it was -them- that you were after and move on.. think “you’re so vain” by Carly Simon and you’re good. Not to mention that the X100’s focus can be slow-ish. Imagine trying to find the fleeting moment in stealth then.

Special note: This also applies to audio. Believe me.. your shutter click is much louder to you because your head is right on the camera. This is except for Nikon. Man is the D3S shutter click LOUD.. grrr..

I Want to Blend Into The Environment when i’m shooting.

The next time you go out to a function where people are more apt to take pictures (Parades, Concerts, Kid Soccer Games, Softball Games) look around you and actually check out just how many DSLRs there are out there. From t2is by Canon, to Nikon 3000 and 5000 series – the consumer market has got a TON of choices in DSLR shooting. Believe you me, people have taken notice and have adopted. Go to a wedding and check out how many people have DSLR. Even better.. check out how many of them have gear that OUTGUNS the photographer shooting it.

If you think shooting a camera that looks like a retro film-y type camera makes you blend in you’re looking at it from the opposite end. You could not stand out more. You will be the “wow.. look at that guy with the metal film looking camera taking a picture.. he must be an artist” guy.

Point: You need to learn the difference between Contrast Detected AF vs. Phase Detected AF.
Counterpoint: This sounds like overcomplicating of something that’s rather simple – see focus section above.


By using a 35mm Fixed camera like the X100, I am freed from all of the bulk and problems of a DSLR. This allows me to declutter my workflow, getting me to the core of my art, and with little noise between me and the image (I swear I wish I were making this up)


I like the camera that best allows me to do what I want it to do – as reasonable as possible. Here’s a great example. I went out to shoot the X100 with my buddy Pete last night. I got some AWESOME shots with the X100 after some messing around with it (I’m going to post those in a new post.. they totally deserve some equal time) but then I came onto the helicopter. This was behind a barricade, and try as I could, the X100 just couldnt eek in enough to get the shot. (I had it on a Gorillapod)

You know what -did- get the shot? A Canon 7D with a 24-70. Apparently all I needed was a little bit more zoom to get what I needed. Could I have jumped the fence to make the shot with the X100? Sure. However, while the X100 may make you feel like a ninja, that is very different from BEING a ninja. And non-ninja’s get arrested all the time – what with the lack of smoke bombs and such..

Point: In my studio I used the X100 to make some portraits and the detail was AMAZING!

Counterpoint: It SHOULD be. You have all the time in the world to make the image in your studio. You know what else you can do in your studio? Use a DSLR with whatever lens you want to make the portrait.

Point: I want to use a point and shoot camera to get some depth of field blurring in the background.

Counterpoint: While you wont get the smoothness of something like an F2.. which I love.. You can get a little bit. Shoot your subject at the longest zoom that your point and shoot will let you. This was done with a P7000. I just cropped it 3×2. Is it a X100? No way. Do I still have 1300 bones in my pocket? Yup.

Can the Camera Peform? Oh heck yeah..

Beacon I by RC Concepcion (aboutrc)) on
Beacon I by RC Concepcion

Did the X100 perform better than I thought? Sure (The detail in the wood on that plank is sick!) and I will talk about that in the next post.

OK.. i’m going to apologize ahead of time for sounding kitschy but here goes:

One of the things that I look for in Photography is to get the image that’s in front of my eyes and in my head, onto the computer screen or a sheet of paper. To do that, I want to find the tools that best realize that scenario. For me, its about the -execution- of those images in my head. I don’t look as photography as a means where the limitations of the camera force me to uncork this vision that has yet to come to fruition. I have plenty of ideas – I want the tools to make them a reality, and anything that gets in the way of that is just noise. It’s like wanting to play piano in a party where someone at the party holds your left hand behind your back. I don’t care for the party rule – I just want to make music. And if that means leaving the party then so be it. Again.. just my opinion…

Make sure you tune in on Tuesday for Part III of the series: “It’s OK to Buy Style”


  1. Sorry, I guess I just don’t get the whole x100 phenom cause I don’t see the point of it. I shell out that much $$$ for a camera, point-n-shoot or dSLR, and that thing better work as expected out the box with no “quirkiness”.

    Well done write up RC.

  2. When I saw your point/counterpoint about being street photography shooting distance and being stealthy, I had to laugh. That point alone just stopped me from from spending hundreds of dollars on a rangerfinder type/sized camera.

  3. Yup, it takes great pictures.
    For $1,100, there shouldn’t be “quirks”.
    I don’t object to the camera. I object to an $1,100 fee to get less than what the P7000 gives you for $500. Sure, the x100 has a bigger sensor, but if that’s the reason your shopping, you shouls be looking at FX bodies.

  4. I get the M9 thing (

    So I have money to burn and want to flaunt it, I buy a Leica. The x100 seems like I should get a P7000 that is what the P7000 is not. But instead I get a quirky camera that still needs firmware updates. I guess do the Pros see this as the ultimate street stealth camera and thus it is worth it? Others who have money to burn are going to be disappointed they did not buy some other P/S. It will go in the drawer with the other gadgets taht were too hard to figure out.

  5. Oh, and btw RC, if that D3s shutter noise is getting to you, my D7000 has a quiet mode. You’d gain a crop factor, 4 megapixels and a MUCH quieter shutter.
    I’ll trade you in Vegas.

  6. This post was both informative and very funny. I annoyed my wife while reading this with all the giggling. Thanks RC!

  7. I get your points about the camera. But only the technical parts of it. I get that it’s supposed to focus correctly. No doubt. 1300$ camera that you have to re-learn how to focus with? Not good enough. I get that the quirks annoy the hell out of you, sure. But never lay off the idea of a simple rangefinder (or in this case a P&S) with a 35mm lens.

    I primarily do reportage stuff as of lately, and I got my 5d strapped with a 35mm ALL of the time. Everytime I take my camera, just for the sake of taking it, I only bring my 35mm lens. If I had an assignment that said: “Go shoot this famous artist and make a bunch of shots including a lot of portraits”, of course I’d bring my 85mm and probably a 50mm too (though only using one of them – don’t waste your time changing lenses). But when I go out without the intention of shooting, I bring my 5d with a 35mm f/2.0. I’m not a lazy guy. I don’t expect miracles if I’d buy a X100 (I haven’t, and I’m not going to ’till there is a new version out), but I expect it to be a hell of a lot easier to carry than my 5d. And I know for a fact that people are still (despite all your “everyone’s got DSLR’s nowaday”-talk) frightened of big cameras. I photograph a lot of old people, and they feel like I’m pointing a gun at their face. We’re talking a 5d without grip, and the TINY 35mm f/2.0.. And they still wet themselves.

    The X100 is a great idea. A bad execution. An acceptable product. Anyway, I don’t think it’s targeted at photographers like you anyways!

  8. Mistake in the post: It’s 12 megapixels, not 10. So the difference between a D5100 and X100 is not 10 to 16 but 12 to 16. I guess pixel peepers would go for 16mp any day though πŸ™‚

    I’m curious to know regarding the shot of your daughter, if you used the optical viewfinder (OVF) and what the distance was to your daughter? Out of the 1100 shots I’ve made so far with my X100, I can’t remember having missed focus like what we’re seeing here, which is why I’m curious.

    When you go out on the streets to shoot, there’s not always a “Parades, Concerts, Kid Soccer Games, Softball Games” going on, where you can blend in with other DSLR shooters… X100 has greatly improved my experience shooting on the street compared to lugging around my DSLR. What I’m missing out on with X100 is the ability to become a “sniper”, to stand across the street with 200mm and shoot somebody, but that’s exactly what I’d like to avoid and X100 forces me to “grow a pair” and get closer, and it’s less obtrusive and noisy than DSLR.

    Finally I’d just like to say – it’s *not* a camera for everybody (like lots of other products), so it’s a bit funny to read comments on the interwebs bashing it for not being the greatest thing ever made. It seems like “whoa, at $1200 this camera better be able to do everything without me having to bother to learn a damn thing about it” – in that case, buy a point & shoot and you’ll get exactly that – more or less πŸ™‚

  9. Thank you! I was going to buy one, I’m pleased to say that I will stick to my Nikon cameras. For stealth, the Nikon P7000 is definitely worth a look and I can recommend it for ‘going light’…

  10. I love my X100 but it’s not for everyone and it’s not great for everything. I love having a small, light camera with great image quality, high ISO performance and good dynamic range. I also shoot with a Canon 5DMKII and love that too but don’t want to always carry around 2-4 lbs of camera and lens. No camera is perfect, the Nikon D3X and Leica M9 are great but at 8K$ (without a lens) the Nikon is huge and heavy and the Leica has limited high ISO performance and mega expensive lens options.

    I’ll keep mine until the X200 arrives.

  11. Hey RC,

    Just wondering if you’ve adjusted the size of the AF area on your camera. I’ve noticed that by “default” it’s quite large and almost crosses over the neighboring areas. The AF area size can be adjusted by flicking the rear screen on (View Mode button) and then by holding down AF button and “flicking” the rocker switch on the back to the left a couple of times (you notice the yellow square focusing square shrinks on the LCD.

    Just wondering……

  12. I figured out the AF Issue – you need to turn corrected AF Frame on the setup menu and it will display the parallax/focus point shift in the OVF.

  13. For pixel peeping is there a Nikon 24mm f2?
    As this is about the same as the X100 has!

    Must say i like the idea of the X100, but after using my D700 i don’t want to use crop cameras and have to think what lens will be in crop the same as….

    At the moment i’m using my 35mm on my D700 and really like the f.o.v. of this lens, but i shoot it in manual focus mode as i keep more keepers then with focussing and reframe the shot.

    For snapshots i use my iPhone and some kind of film camera i have a bunch of at my disposal.
    The iPhone and Hipstamatic is my main snap camera and i have one photo taken with it that is on display in a museum in Rotterdam the Netherlands called de Kunsthal πŸ™‚

  14. Counterpoint: blah, blah, blah, blah.

    All cameras have quirks. DSLRs have focusing issues. Say, Canon 7D or Nikon D7000. Or indoor white balance that most DSLRs miss and the X100 nails. And you talk M9. Well, the M8 had quite a big issue, and the M9 has more than quirks for the 10K price of entry.

    Sure, there’s a slight learning curve to the X100. So what? You want to start snapping out of the box? Get a point & shoot.

    Steath? What utter garbage! Who expects in-your-face stealth? We’re talking a silent, carry-anywhere camera you can easily use one-handed and against your face instead of arms length like a bozo tourist. Or even down at your hip. That’s as stealthy as you can get with any normal camera.

    You “played with” the camera. That pretty well testifies to the worth of all your verbiage. The X100 is about brilliant image quality from a small box. And that’s what you get, if you’re a good photographer.

  15. my Keeper rate is 95%, This camera is a tool and I learned its quirks and how it operates, so far so good?!
    -I use EVF at close distances, parallex errors are eliminated this way
    -AFS mode only, centre point Focus and recompose, works ALL the time.
    -AFC mode works the opposite way as Nikon, its always focusing, hitting the trigger freezes it, not sure you understand this?!!!

    its not a camera that i would hand to grandma as a P&S, its a pro camera in the right hands and Zack is not a God, anyone who appreciate this camera will learn the best ways to drive it, like most tools….

  16. You mentioned cropping with another camera. The X100 images are so good even at high ISO that I don’t hesitate to crop. So I feel that I have about an 80mm view also.

    I have shot Leica M for decades and the fixed focal length is just fine for me. I use a 28 on my M8 about 95% of the time. Have you any experience with an M camera. That makes a comparison with the X100 mean more to me.

    I had serious focusing problems until I learned the trick. A rangefinder focus’ best on a vertical line. The same is true for the AF contrast on the X100. Since I realized this I rarely have a focusing problem, no more than with the M8. The picture of the girl with sunglasses would have perfect focus by using a vertical part of the glasses.

    My criteria are different than yours. The existence of a very good optical VF (and the ability to use it as an EVF),
    outstanding High ISO, and a depth of field scale are critical to me.

  17. This was one of the best and most sound reads of the X100 to date. Humorous and thought provoking, you aced it.

  18. It seems a bit counterproductive to focus on what you can’t do with the camera. You’re always going to have cheaper, faster, better focusing, better value options. The question is – can this camera do the things you really care about better than the alternatives? The answer for me is yes. Because I can sync the flash at 1/4000 of a second, I can do close up flash work on the street with a fraction of the power otherwise required, which means I can use a tiny flash and do it for longer. I’m not going for invisible (no camera will make my 6-3 frame disappear), or quiet or super speedy or shoot in the dark, or whatever other music you want to play for this bear to dance. This camera epitomizes the definition of niche – particularly well suited for a few, but without a broad appeal. I have no idea why it’s so popular – people have too much expendable income nowadays.

  19. Hey A, I thought the stealthy toon was funny too. However, if you ever do street photography and think that a single giggle sums up all the options and the ways we achieve it, you are selling yourself a bill of goods. My guess is that you simply never needed this camera in the first place. I used the same size camera in film with a fixed lens when it was an eye-catcher, and I still got my work done just fine. None of these toys are absolutes that preclude success. Just get what you need.

  20. Just watched your video on and it’s amazing – ALL comments that are even remotely critical are not posted at all or removed after they were posted… how pathetic!! what, you guys can’t stand some criticism? So sad.

    Check it out, the comments section is hilarious, not ONE critical comment left. Way to go with the censorship.

  21. lbjack: Im glad its working for you… Be stealthy!


  22. Where is the third part review on Fuji X100?

  23. RC, I don’t own the X100, but I think the size comparison you’re making is flawed. It’s the depth where the X100 and other mirrorless cameras become much smaller than their DSLR counterparts, which makes them much more packable. Also, you’d need an 24mm f2 lens on those Nikon to make a fair comparison.

  24. Hi RC,

    When comes the III part?

    Greetings, Paul

  25. I’ll be the first to agree that the X100 isn’t for everyone (certainly not someone expecting a P&S), and the focusing/responsiveness could be better, but I think a lot of the complaints about misfocusing w/ the OVF due to parallax is… er, missing the point.

    Using your convertible metaphor, would you complain to the dealer that when it rains you get wet with the top down? Parallax is the nature of a non-TTL optical viewfinder, just like driving through the rain with the top down on your convertible will get you wet.

    If you’re shooting up close the X100 gives you two tools: switching to the EVF or using w/ FW 1.10, using the parallax correction focus markers. (ie, putting the top up).

    “But I shoot close all the time!” Well, heck, listen, no one told you getting a convertible in Seattle was a great idea, but you paid 2-3x as much for it over a much easier to drive compact car, or instead of the more flexible (but way bigger) SUV. Maybe you can trade it in.

    I think at this point, 4-5 months in, for anyone that’s paying attention, it’s pretty obvious that the X100 is great for certain things (huge sensor, amazing low light perf, fast fixed lens with a near silent shutter in a small form factor) and not so great for others (middle of the road CDAF and less than DSLR responsiveness/power management).

  26. I’m eagerly awaiting that 3rd installment but it seems you have been too busy with other things. Hope you get around to publishing it soon.

    I won’t bother re-iterating the points already made about your post but I will make one point and that is I, like many others, are hobby photogs. There’s no demand for me to ‘get the money shot’, I shoot as I please and my gear is part of my enjoyment of the hobby. I actually like forming a personal relationship with my camera, getting to know it, trying to get the most out of it and all. The ‘quirks’ with the X100 are fairly consistent so once you’re aware of them it’s easy to compensate as the situation arises. It ain’t perfect but it’s kinda beautiful and the photos it produces certainly are too. Although I obviously love it, I never recommend it to anyone unless they’ve already thought a lot about it. Honestly, who would buy a 35mm fixed lens camera expecting anything other than a 35mm field of view?

  27. Why do some people try to bring down the x100 in ridiculous ways? Sure, contrast focusing takes a while to get used to and you need to learn to point the focus box on a contrasty area with hopefully a bit of vertical in there – not a big deal. Most of my shots are in perfect focus – your shots above seem deliberately and disingenuously out of focus. I rarely have an problem except in low light where I zoom in and tweak using the manual focus on the lens. Sure it could all be improved and maybe a firmware update might come, but I am taking 95% razor sharp shots every day. You just have to understand your tool a liitle more.

    As for the stealth argument – it’s obviously true that a smaller camera that makes no noise attracts less attention. Yes you can have another dimension of stealth with a big telephoto lens, and good for you. The fact that the x100 doesn’t have a telephoto lens and misses out on that particular dimension of stealth does not invalidate the benefits of stealth that it does have. Try shooting a wedding in a church with your mirror slapping dslr.

  28. Yes, Tcab. You are absolutely right – this was a complete and total ploy for me to spend the majority of my time deliberately making out of focus pictures to substantiate my experiences on a camera that i find to be very niche. You have finally figured that out.

    Now, reread your comment. pay particular attention to the fact that “Sure, contrast focusing takes a while to get used to and you need to learn to point the focus box on a contrasty area with hopefully a bit of vertical in there..”

    You mean to tell me that in 2011 – these are the things that I need to get used to in a 1200 piece of equipment?

    If you’re using it – great. if it works great for you, great. But be honest about the concessions you’re making in order to use it.

    Im sure wedding photographers will be slapping mirrors for quite some time still

  29. Tcab, if RC was unique in his experience with focus problems then I would say that you have an argument and reason to suspect the article but the web is littered with seasoned users with a similar experience. the x100 is a beautiful idea but the final execution requires too many compromises at this price point.

  30. I had a great time reading the pest, but I had much much more pleasure reading the comments! Especially the ones that try to defend this camera. I’m shooting street, I use my Nikon DSLRs and mostly use 24mm lens. I’ve tried to use X100, but it didn’t work for me. It is slow, it locks after each shot, it is VERY VERY slow recording the image to the card even if the card is Class 10! It is unresponsive, and guys, if this thing has an outstanding hybrid viewfinder, if this thing has an outstanding, sexy retro design or it has “wide angle” fixed lens that doesn’t mean that this camera is NOT point and shoot! You are talking about being stealth? Go to my website and see how it is possible to be steals with D7000 DSLR and 24 mm lens! Stop trying to protect the camera that you HAVE to use because you spent so much money for it! I know this comment is kinda late response to the topic but I couldn’t stand the temptation to write. For those who want to be stealth, please visit my 500px/fb72 page.

  31. Quite intriguing write-up. Lots of details to get a really newbi like me.

  32. I can save your useful write-up as composed

  33. I am glad reading the write-up.

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