Warning.. another long read..
So yeah, how about that rant about the X100, huh…
(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.
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..
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.
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..
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”