Hello Again…

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Neil Diamond’s song ‘Hello Again’ from the Jazz Singer film is an expression of enduring love – a need to keep restating loving emotions.  My relationship with the Fujifilm X100 series is more of an on/off love affair – an itch I can’t stop scratching, and here we are again…

I bought my first X100 camera, an X100S (’S’ for 2nd generation) back in 2014, largely as a result of seeing Todd Gipstein’s wonderful 1 Mile, 1 Year, 1 Lens video presentation. His 15 minute monochrome picture show was, as the title suggests, a series of photos all taken within the space of a year, and within a mile of his home. I suppose I thought that with a camera like that, I should be able to shoot great photos, unencumbered by lenses and filters and stuff – what I may just have missed is that Todd is a brilliant photographer, and the location for his photo set is the very varied and photogenic New England coastline…

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X100S – Poppies, London

Nevertheless, even with my much lesser talent, I did take some photos I was pleased with, and it was a very portable option when I wanted to travel light.  I kept the camera for about a year, then let it go when I wanted to get a wider range of lenses for my then Fuji X-T1. After about 6 months, I really missed that little camera’s portability and relative simplicity, so picked up what was then the latest 3rd generation X100T. Looking back, I see I only kept it for a couple of months – I had in mind that having a second body that I could fit my lenses to was going to be more useful than a fixed lens camera, so it got traded in.

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Colwyn Bay – X100F launch day

Fast forward a year or so, and all the Fuji gear had gone, and been replaced with Olympus – a mistaken belief that I could get similar image quality from a smaller camera and lens collection. I got talked into going to the launch event for the new 4th generation X100F in early 2017, and although I rather liked it, wasn’t really tempted to spend the £1200 or so it was priced at. Then in 2018, having dumped most of the Olympus kit in favour of Sony, I borrowed an X100F for a family holiday in France – I was still looking for the best possible quality in a camera smaller than my Sony A7iii with it’s rather large lenses. The X100F was marginally better than the Olympus Pen-F I still had, but rather than get the X100F, I went with the nearest Sony equivalent, an A6300 with a couple of lenses – logic being that these Sony lenses and bodies were all interchangeable up to a point.

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X100F – Ibiza

And that’s more or less where I was until a few weeks back when I realised that this search for a ‘perfect’ setup of larger camera for landscapes and ‘serious’ photography, and a smaller more portable system for travel was taking away all the enjoyment I was getting from photography – I was acquiring more and more gear, and then stressing about what to take with me (my previous blog post highlights this…) I was definitely heading for a complete photographic meltdown and it really was time to get a grip…

So decision made, and hopefully one I will stick with – I’ve slimmed down the Sony A7iii kit to the minimum, and will be keeping that just for landscapes etc, and particularly for locations where I am close to the car – it all still weighs a fair bit!  The A6300 and lenses has gone now, and in its place is (you’ve guessed it) an X100F!  Nearly new, it came at a good price, and is complete with filter adapter and a rather nice leather case. With a couple of spare batteries and a polarising filter, it’s a great everyday/travel option.

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X100F – Shrewsbury

I took it to Ibiza last week (and left the A7iii at home) and was more than happy with it. It’s definitely portable, and the results are very good indeed. I’m getting back into shooting mono and street photography, and really enjoying it – who knows I may yet sell the Sony full frame system and indeed revert to being a ‘one camera, one lens’ guy – not so much a ‘photographer’, more a ‘man with a camera’.

That’s quite an appealing thought!

 

 

Handy bag for an X100S?

Is there ever such a thing as a perfect camera bag?  I don’t think so, and I’ve got a cupboard full of ‘nearly perfect’ bags at home to prove my point. My little Fuji X100S camera has been interesting from that perspective – its small enough to be handy for street and candid photos, but too big to go in a coat pocket. The Kata and Billingham bags I have tried for it are fair enough – adequate protection, and room for extras like batteries and filters, but somehow they are ‘awkward’ to use.  The Billingham Hadley Digital looks like a camera bag, and its not the easiest to slip the camera in and out of, and the Kata doesn’t hold the camera securely unless it’s all zipped up, so a compromise between accessibility and security.

Along came the Lowepro Streamline 150, and this is proving to be interesting – it looks like a Messenger or ‘man-bag’ but has plenty of room for the X100S, WCL converter and spare batteries etc. Crucially there is also room for a phone, keys, a notebook, and other odds and ends, so it’s a take anywhere bag that just happens to double up as a great camera bag. Brilliantly the camera just slips into its place  – secure enough anyway in its foam padding, but with the option to close the zip fastener on the front of the bag for extra safety.

Time will tell how it works out, but for now I’m happy to carry a lightweight shoulder/messenger bag with my camera safely ensconced, but available at a moment’s notice for that elusive shot.

EDIT: The bag is still going strong!  Its become my ‘carry-everywhere’ bag, and the X100S is always in it ‘ready to go’, with a fully charged battery, a spare battery and memory card, and everything set to Auto and ISO auto 3200. I’ve sold the WCL converter as I was never bothered to use it – if I want different lenses I just take my other camera. For ‘occasional’ use the camera just has a wrist strap fitted, or for longer sessions I put a neck strap on. My iPad mini fits in the bag for days out too.

EDIT:EDIT Almost a year on, and the bag is still in use! The X100S has given way to a Fuji X-E2, which with a 27mm lens is my ‘carry-everywhere’ camera. It will just about go with an 18mm lens, but too tight with a 35mm or with a grip fitted. For that I use a larger bag…