In Focus: Fujifilm X100F

In an effort to produce more photography content (and also, perhaps, to trick myself into thinking more critically about tools and their uses), I’m going to try out a series of blogs exploring the various cameras I own or have owned: what I bought them for, my experience shooting with them, why I got rid of the ones I ultimately sold. The intent isn’t to review—there’s plenty of that elsewhere on the Internet—but to focus more on the camera’s real life use, the intangible elements that make it something I want to pick up and create with.

I figure the most natural place to start is with my everyday companion over the past year: the Fujifilm X100F. While there may be no such thing as a “perfect” camera, for my purposes, Fujifilm’s X100 series is as close to perfect as any manufacturer is likely to get.

The X100F is the fourth iteration of Fujifilm’s X100 series of cameras, a line that wraps decades of camera design and technology into one should-be-impossible package. It packs the same sensor as Fujifilm’s professional bodies, yet it’s small enough to fit inside your jacket pocket. Fuji’s analog legacy is apparent here in both form and function; the X100F relies on manual knobs and dials to change its settings, and the gorgeous rangefinder design is often mistaken for a film camera when out in public. As someone who also shoots film and appreciates the feeling of being connected to the process of making a photo, picking up the X100F feels right at home.

Honestly, if live music weren’t such a big part of what I shoot, I don’t think I would own another digital camera at all. Not because the X100F isn’t capable of capturing shows (I shot most of Lady Lamb on it and all of Mitski), and certainly not for lack of love of my main shooter, the Fujifilm X-T3 (an incredible camera in its own right… a feature for another day).

But I’m a person who values simplicity, and simplicity is the X100F’s bread and butter. More than any other camera I own, it’s entirely unobtrusive, weighing next to nothing, more an extension of my eye than a tool I have to consciously think to use. It takes away the unnecessary bells and whistles and turns the focus to simply creating—and isn’t that what photography is ultimately about?

And yet… as I sit here typing this, I’m preparing to sell off my X100F to fund the purchase of its successor, the Fujifilm X100V, which was announced at yesterday’s Fujifilm X Summit event in London. For as much as I adore the X100F, there are a few niggling things that sometimes detract from the experience: the softness of the lens when shooting wide open, the lack of an articulating screen, and particularly its susceptibility to dust and weather damage. Based on early reviews, the X100V improves upon all of these things. If we’re talking “desert island” cameras here, the X100V could very well be the one for me.

Still: as the first camera I owned in the X100 series, the X100F will always have a special place in my heart. It might not be the camera I reach for when I’m being paid to shoot, but it’s the camera I reach for in almost all other circumstances. For travel, for run-and-gun shooting, for capturing moments, there’s nothing else like it on the market, and no tool I’d rather have on hand at all times.

It’s the camera I use to capture my everyday life, and that makes it the most important camera I’ve ever owned.

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