Photographer Colin Nicholls often surprises his clients with the dinky, retro-looking camera he pulls out of his bag, but this beautiful piece of kit has just as much substance as it has style…
The Fuji x100, what is it?
The Fuji X100 is a mirror-less APS-C camera with a revolutionary hybrid viewfinder fitted with retro styling and incredible power for its size.
What does that all mean? Well in short, it has a sensor the same size as most standard DSLRs, but it is much sharper than anything you can get for equivalent money, the hybrid view-finder means you can toggle between a rangefinder style optical view of your subject or an electronic actual view of the image along with exposure information and a live preview of that the image will look like.
Finally the most noticeable part, and the part I fell in love with, is the beautiful retro styling. People think this is a film camera and are pleasantly surprised when you reveal its digital heart which lies under its dials and switches. The camera is a beauty to use and produces images better than a DSLR. It is my go-to, grab in a fire, the one I can't live without, all purpose camera.
Using the Fuji X100 for wedding photography:
The X100 is a camera that goes most places with me – it's light, small and inconspicuous, and was my very first X series camera and made me photograph in a more thought out way for weddings. I now don't leave the house without it – it is an invaluable pice of kit for a documentary wedding photographer.
For weddings the X100 comes out for one key situation in particular and that's when I have to be quiet. The x100 is silent, so it is fantastic during the service and for readings and any time where you want to be much more subtle than with a DSLR. During the bridal prep for instance, if there is an intimate moment between a bride and her mother the quick silent action of the X100 captures the moment without anyone realising. Couple this with outstanding image quality, sharpness and low light ability and you have a great combination.
Now that version 2.00 of the firmware is out, I'll be using this more and more at weddings. My main problems previously were with less than ideal autofocus and a very long minimal focus distance before switching to macro, these have now both been greatly improved and my love of the camera along with it. In short, a great camera for weddings.
Using the Fuji X100 for street photography:
This camera was made for street photography. It simply is incredible, harking back to the bit about weddings, the whole silent thing is prevalent here again. if you want to photograph people without them realising, then a camera that makes no noise is a no-brainer. Again image quality makes this camera a great choice, but one of the best things is its unsuspecting nature. It looks like a film camera, it's small and no one thinks it can knock out the kind of images it does. People just don't think you are going to take a photo of them with this camera.
Now the silent shutter – that's the leaf shutter you may have heard about – It's dead quiet but it also makes almost no movement, no mirror, no curtains. This means you can hand hold this camera at 1/15th without a problem. Yes you have to steady yourself but try this with a DSLR and you have no chance.
For street photography I usually focus on having the shutter speed I need. To that end the settings I use most are, Auto ISO, Auto Aperture, and Veliva Film Preset on JPEG. I do edit them all afterwards anyway, then to get my exposure I'll set the shutter I want [125th for most things] then tweak the exposure compensation dial to get it to look how I desire. It works pretty well and helps you to focus on making the picture and not too much about camera settings.
Using the Fuji X100 for travel photography:
If I'm going anywhere, particularly a place with people who aren't photographers, I'll reach for the X100. It makes things simple – one lens that's fixed and that's it. It makes you work for the photograph and by taking choice out of the equation helps you focus on making pictures. iIt also doesn't weigh anything so no getting tired or killing your back with 5 kilos of gear.
Again image quality is great so no worries there – you even have a panoramic mode that isn't too bad to get a wider shot in, it's 35mm equivalent ,which really is wide enough for most things. Yeah sure, sometimes you will wish for a super wide lens or a nice telephoto, but the trade off of weight and size means you will, in reality, take more photos.
Also that super light shutter means you can get real nice night time shots without a tripod. If you do use a tripod you can take a light travel one as you won't need to support the weight of a DSLR. Just make sure you take extra batteries – you will go through batteries like mad, especially if you start doing long exposures or are out all day.
This camera is capable of incredible images, but like all good tools you need to master it. It won't help you take better pictures but due to its size, form and specs it may just make you.
You can't fire away with this and capture something, it's not great for fast moving action, you must stop, take your time and compose yourself before you take a shot, this camera will slow you down and make you work for an image.
To anyone on the fence about this camera then go ahead and rent one for a weekend and see what you think, it you will either fall in love or become frustrated and whip out your phone to take shots, either way this is the beginning of a new era in camera design, form and function.