My 30 Day Adventure With The Fuji x100s - Digital Photography School

My 30 Day Adventure With The Fuji x100s

Please note that this is not a technical review of the Fuji x100s. There are many great reviews already written by photographers who are technically more savvy than I am. This is simply an account of my experience as I make my first steps away from a DSLR system.

I finally did it! I left the DSLR and lenses behind and boarded a plane to France, via Iceland, with one camera and a fixed focal length lens. I can hear some of you think out loud: “Iceland without all your gear? Are you crazy?” Well… Maybe I am, but I was ready for the challenge and I never looked back! If you’re not familiar with the Fuji x100s, it’s a retro looking mirrorless 16MP camera, fitted with a 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) and an APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor. Google it, everyone is talking about it!

I wrote quite a bit about the power of limitations in photography before. This is not a new thing for me. Even with my Canon 5DMarkII, you were more likely to see me with a 40mm lens recently than a zoom lens. Limitations help you grow as a photographer. Traveling with the Fuji x100s for a month, from Iceland to my home country in France, was very liberating. Not only the comfortable size and weight of the camera was a great advantage, the fact that the camera became a simple tool and did not get in the way between me and my vision was the best part. It was almost like shooting with a camera phone without ever sacrificing control or quality.

I’m not a landscape photographer, I’m an urban shooter. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a beautiful landscape when I’m in front of one. Iceland is like no other place on earth. The thought of my Canon gear, thousands of miles away, did cross my mind a couple of times while taking in the amazing Icelandic minimalist landscape. But, as they say: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” And I had a heck of a great piece of equipment with me on this journey.

Although my true love is street photography, I shoot whatever moves me wherever I happen to be. I can honestly say that I discovered a renewed joy for the craft. I felt like a child at play again. I loved the fact that no one took me seriously by the look of my camera. Being so inconspicuous when you shoot street photography has several advantages. You’ll dare some shots that you may not feel so comfortable capturing with a larger camera. Also, if you enjoy doing street portraiture as well as candids, you will find that people are much more receptive to having a portrait taken in the street with something that looks like a point-and-shoot than a professional looking camera. With a smaller camera, you become a lot less intimidating.

Many photographers have asked me if I would replace the x100s for a model with interchangeable lenses. NO, I wanted something different!  I already own a system with the best glass in the world (although I would love to try a mirroless system with interchangeable lenses eventually…) Truth is, the fact that you cannot change lenses IS the reason why I chose the Fuji x100s. If you don’t believe that a fixed lens will help you grow as a photographer, try it for a week. Put any fixed focal length lens on your camera body, get out there and shoot the world around you. It will slow you down, you will take more care in your composition, you will be more creative. With a fixed lens, your feet become your zoom. You will pay closer attention to what you include in your frame, and more importantly, what you decide to leave out in order to make a stronger image. Try it! My workshop students get a little nervous at first when I suggest they shoot with a 50mm all day in Paris and leave the rest of the gear at the hotel. They soon realize that it is on those days that they yield their best work.

What’s going to happen to my Canon bodies and L glass? They are definitely not going to accrue much frequent flyers miles anymore but I’m still using them for commercial shoots when I’m not traveling or teaching workshops. For the time being there is still a place for DSLRs, especially in some specific genres of photography such as wildlife, fast action sports, etc. For most other types of photography, you won’t compromise on quality with a smaller system. The perception from the client’s point of view may be a barrier for a little while longer, but that too will change. As far as I am concerned, I think I already own my last DSLR…

I made a selection of images that I shot with the Fuji x100s over the past few weeks, they include a variety of genres to demonstrate that you can pretty much do anything with one fixed lens. It’s all about taking letting your creative juices flow.

I would love to read about your experience traveling with minimal gear or your fear to give it a try.

I am not a landscape photographer by any stretch of the imagination. That doesn't mean that I am insensitive to such a view. It was time to apply the saying: "The best camera is the one you have with you."

I am not a landscape photographer, I’m more an urban shooter, but that doesn’t mean that I was insensitive to the minimalist landscapes of Iceland. It was time to apply the saying: “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Valerie Jardin Photography - Paris-1

Valerie Jardin Photography - Paris-2

Valerie Jardin Photography - Paris-4

Valerie Jardin Photography - Paris-3

Valerie Jardin Photography - France-1

Valerie Jardin Photography - France-3

Valerie Jardin Photography - France-4

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Valerie Jardin Photography - France-5

valerie jardin photography - Blue hour-1

 

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. I am pleased to be a new master of street photography at The Arcanum. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Google+.

  • Richard

    I also felt the urge to go retro… back to when I had a Contaflex SLR with a fixed f:2.8 lens. No flash. So on our recent trip to the UK I took my Canon Xsi with just my Sigma 30mm f:1.4 and nothing else. If I needed a wide angle view, I took multiple shots and stitched them into a panorama. You were right about it being liberating. Using my feet instead of a zoom made me more connected to the image I wanted. Thanks for your great article.

  • http://www.lkjournal2.com Curtis

    Valerie. I more than understand. When a person starts photographic life with a Canon AT-1 film camera and two prime lens, 50mm and 135mm, it is not hard to identify with the satisfaction you experienced. The dark room, negative carriers and bulky enlargers weren’t bad experiences either. Granted, Photoshop is a tad faster and not nearly as messy. Thank you for your article. Enjoy your new world.

  • Hoppysport

    Absolutely incredible images! I have a 5D Mark ll, which is a terrific camera. However I use it 5% of the time. I love the Fujifilm X100s.

    I have had a Canon S95 for a few years, and that is one of my two carry/street cameras. The other is the Fujifilm X10…which is incredible. Of course it doesn’t have the glass and sensor size of the X100s, butbit does have a larger than normal compact sensor, which for some reason produces images that rival DSLR’s.

    I carry the X10 everywhere…and living in Manhattan, just love it for street and architectural shots. I also take it on most trips, allowing me to travel lightly.

    If I decide to buy another camera, the X100s will be my choice. But for now, the X10 is a true champion. Plus it looks great!

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula

    This is the second post I am reading in favor of a simpler camera. The girl scribbling on the wall is my favorite of the lot.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Stefano

    Very nice photos. I also own a X100s and find it a fantastic camera. I’ve recently travelled around Ethiopia, for work, and took some photos with my Fuji. If you would like to give them a look, please go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefanogambini

    Thanks
    Stefano

  • Trevor

    Each time I read a post on one of these, I am driven closer and closer… For now I’ll just settle for me 40mm 2.8…

  • http://Www.goldhatphotography.com Gold Hat Photography

    Nice write up and pics! I share your thoughts too. Here are some recent pics I took with my own x100s: http://goldhatphotography.com/the-hundred/

  • Martin Harvey

    Great article thanks. I still keep my old Ricoh GR Digital I and love it. I even added an (expensive) optical viewfinder. Also have a Fuji X10 and DSLR.

  • David

    You have driven me closer to the x100s. I typically shoot a pair of 1D MKllN’s, but the one camera that I never leave home without is my Olympus OM-1n, w/28mm 2.8 lens. I have had it since new so we have a great working relationship. Occasionally, it’s little brother (Olympus MJU ll) will tag along. ;-) So, I can completely relate to the sense of liberation that you speak of.

    Thanks for the great read.

    Best,David

  • http://zain.zenfolio.com Zain Abdullah

    I always love your street shots no matter what camera is used :)

  • http://www.flixelpix.com david

    I have been using the X100s since the end of December last year and it has quickly become my camera of choice since. I am using it for everything from everyday shooting to long exposure photography with the Lee Filter system. It is liberating to travel light. http://www.flixelpix.com/blog/30-photos-of-ireland-with-the-x100s/

  • Martin Harvey

    Thanks David ands a nice bunch of shots – we’ll be in Ireland next year. I have an X10 BTW. Is the Lee filter system as important (to most) with digital post-processing?

    Cheers.

    Martin

  • Mark

    So you basically went on a vacation and used fuji cam instead of DSLR, made up a fancy title to make yourself look different than 1000s of photogrpahers out there…oh and whats so adventerous about rasberries?

  • Carol Banach

    Pleased to read your article about Fuji X100s. I’m impatiently waiting for mine to arrive!

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene Hildebrandt

    Great shots Valerie! You know we’re of the same mind on the limitations subject. I’m keen to do a trip with a camera such as this soon. Perhaps I will do so for my upcoming Cuba tour!

  • http://Www.valeriejardinphotography.com Valerie Jardin

    Thanks everyone! @mark your comment made me smile, so thanks for that!

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene

    Valerie – GREAT reply to Mark’s comment! Perfectly said.

  • ArturoMM

    Those photos, the fisher’s net and the one with the cat are very beautiful, those landscapes…

  • Albob

    I’m an 80 years young photo person…..and looking back from my Argus C 3 to my Fugie 10 , and all those SLR Nikons….Loved your story and I agree

    Thanks. Albob

  • Keith

    Valerie, I’m with you 100%! I recently upgraded from my ‘super-zoom’ bridge camera to a used Sony SLT-A77 body. I too felt the call of the past when I set out with a Konica SLR and a 55mm prime all those years ago, so I purchased Sony’s stunning little 50mm F1.8 prime as well as the almost obligatory telephoto. The 50mm is never off the camera. Its been so much fun! Also it brought home to me how lazy I have become over the years, a slave to electronic features and auto modes. The results are almost always satisfactory. However composing with a prime brings even greater rewards and satisfaction.

  • Elissa

    I recently took my new X10 to California with me, and loved it. Nothing can beat a good dslr for depth and subtlety (especially with portraits), but I noticed that the simpler camera made me focus more on composition. I was also a bit more relaxed, and had a lot of fun with some of the presets and the panoramic feature. I plan on using a mix of the two cameras – sometimes I’ll want the big system, and sometimes I’ll just want a light, fun camera with me. It really comes down to the creative eye of the photographer, as evidenced by the author’s photos.

  • http://www.jairocrena.com/ Jairo Crena

    I also I have the Fuji x100s and use it a lot when I travel.
    The use with a fixed focal length lens and get very good pictures too.

    Congratulations for the post!

  • Christopher

    Hi Valerie

    First off, great article! Amazing photos!

    I’ve read a lot online about the Fujifilm x100s, and I’m considering making it my next purchase. The thing is, I’m a beginner and whilst I have a little knowledge about aperture, shutter speed etc. it’s very limited. I want to shoot DSLR quality photos but don’t want the added bulk nor need the interchangeable lens. I understand it’s a steep learning curve, however I’m willing to learn.

    Despite the range of settings and manual controls, would it still be okay for a beginner?

    Thanks

    Chris

  • Valerie Jardin

    It’s a great camera, just don’t use it as a point and shoot, take control and start with aperture priority. Good luck!

  • In Between Pictures

    This is the exact review I was looking for to make me pull the trigger and get this camera. Everybody rave about it but is it good enough to leave your DSLR at home and just adventure out with just this little guy? When I travel, I usually take one lens and is a fixed lens. I’m petite and carrying the camera alone become an odyssey that’s why I have been looking for something more portable without compromising quality much.

    How much retouch did you do to the pictures? They look amazing.

  • Valerie Jardin

    Thank you! I shoot RAW mostly (out of habit) and I spend less than a minute in LR5 on any of my pictures. It’s an awesome camera if you can handle the limitations of only working with one focal length.

  • Etienne

    Bonjour Valérie, those are really awesome shots!
    I too have an X100s as a sort-of “one-and-only” camera, I said sort-of because my other gear is a 6×6 Rolleiflex which is used to shoot almost exclusively color slides.
    Both cameras share the same philosophy, though.
    Since I have the X100s it has been with me virtually everywhere. Its size and high ISO capabilities make it a perfect shooter under most conditions, even at night or during dull, grey winter days where shooting color slides with the ‘Flex is obviously much more challenging (although not impossible), and probably a waste.
    I’ve taken many trips with the X100s only and have never missed any other gear.
    If I could expand it, it would be with a ~90mm equivalent lens, although as of today I am not keen on buying an extra body and lens just for that. Interchangeable lenses cameras, even the great Fuji ones, would defeat the purpose I bought the X100s for in the first place. I might expand with a Nikon Df in 6-12 months, as I do own many older Nikon lenses. Let’s see. For the time being I enjoy the liberating feeling of travelling light and being free of “GAS”.
    Thanks! and happy shooting.
    – Etienne
    (PS I, too, am a Frenchman, expat for 15 years)

  • Mike Vincent

    Thank you Valerie, I am seriously considering this particular product.

  • Antonio

    Great shots. I’m going to buy an X100S, only worried about battery… How many shots are you able to take with a charge? Any further advice? Thank you!

  • Valerie Jardin

    It’s hard to tell exactly how many shots per battery but if you shoot a fair amount, you’ll need 3 batteries for a day.

Some older comments

  • Jairo Crena

    September 14, 2013 03:22 am

    I also I have the Fuji x100s and use it a lot when I travel.
    The use with a fixed focal length lens and get very good pictures too.

    Congratulations for the post!

  • Elissa

    September 2, 2013 11:29 am

    I recently took my new X10 to California with me, and loved it. Nothing can beat a good dslr for depth and subtlety (especially with portraits), but I noticed that the simpler camera made me focus more on composition. I was also a bit more relaxed, and had a lot of fun with some of the presets and the panoramic feature. I plan on using a mix of the two cameras - sometimes I'll want the big system, and sometimes I'll just want a light, fun camera with me. It really comes down to the creative eye of the photographer, as evidenced by the author's photos.

  • Keith

    August 30, 2013 11:59 pm

    Valerie, I'm with you 100%! I recently upgraded from my 'super-zoom' bridge camera to a used Sony SLT-A77 body. I too felt the call of the past when I set out with a Konica SLR and a 55mm prime all those years ago, so I purchased Sony's stunning little 50mm F1.8 prime as well as the almost obligatory telephoto. The 50mm is never off the camera. Its been so much fun! Also it brought home to me how lazy I have become over the years, a slave to electronic features and auto modes. The results are almost always satisfactory. However composing with a prime brings even greater rewards and satisfaction.

  • Albob

    August 30, 2013 03:13 am

    I'm an 80 years young photo person.....and looking back from my Argus C 3 to my Fugie 10 , and all those SLR Nikons....Loved your story and I agree

    Thanks. Albob

  • ArturoMM

    August 30, 2013 02:32 am

    Those photos, the fisher's net and the one with the cat are very beautiful, those landscapes...

  • Darlene

    August 29, 2013 03:25 pm

    Valerie - GREAT reply to Mark's comment! Perfectly said.

  • Valerie Jardin

    August 29, 2013 11:14 am

    Thanks everyone! @mark your comment made me smile, so thanks for that!

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    August 29, 2013 07:05 am

    Great shots Valerie! You know we're of the same mind on the limitations subject. I'm keen to do a trip with a camera such as this soon. Perhaps I will do so for my upcoming Cuba tour!

  • Carol Banach

    August 29, 2013 01:22 am

    Pleased to read your article about Fuji X100s. I'm impatiently waiting for mine to arrive!

  • Mark

    August 28, 2013 05:50 am

    So you basically went on a vacation and used fuji cam instead of DSLR, made up a fancy title to make yourself look different than 1000s of photogrpahers out there...oh and whats so adventerous about rasberries?

  • Martin Harvey

    August 27, 2013 12:47 am

    Thanks David ands a nice bunch of shots - we'll be in Ireland next year. I have an X10 BTW. Is the Lee filter system as important (to most) with digital post-processing?

    Cheers.

    Martin

  • david

    August 27, 2013 12:37 am

    I have been using the X100s since the end of December last year and it has quickly become my camera of choice since. I am using it for everything from everyday shooting to long exposure photography with the Lee Filter system. It is liberating to travel light. http://www.flixelpix.com/blog/30-photos-of-ireland-with-the-x100s/

  • Zain Abdullah

    August 26, 2013 11:43 am

    I always love your street shots no matter what camera is used :)

  • David

    August 26, 2013 08:41 am

    You have driven me closer to the x100s. I typically shoot a pair of 1D MKllN's, but the one camera that I never leave home without is my Olympus OM-1n, w/28mm 2.8 lens. I have had it since new so we have a great working relationship. Occasionally, it's little brother (Olympus MJU ll) will tag along. ;-) So, I can completely relate to the sense of liberation that you speak of.

    Thanks for the great read.

    Best,David

  • Martin Harvey

    August 26, 2013 01:18 am

    Great article thanks. I still keep my old Ricoh GR Digital I and love it. I even added an (expensive) optical viewfinder. Also have a Fuji X10 and DSLR.

  • Gold Hat Photography

    August 25, 2013 06:13 pm

    Nice write up and pics! I share your thoughts too. Here are some recent pics I took with my own x100s: http://goldhatphotography.com/the-hundred/

  • Trevor

    August 25, 2013 06:01 pm

    Each time I read a post on one of these, I am driven closer and closer... For now I'll just settle for me 40mm 2.8...

  • Stefano

    August 25, 2013 04:49 pm

    Very nice photos. I also own a X100s and find it a fantastic camera. I've recently travelled around Ethiopia, for work, and took some photos with my Fuji. If you would like to give them a look, please go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefanogambini

    Thanks
    Stefano

  • Mridula

    August 25, 2013 04:48 pm

    This is the second post I am reading in favor of a simpler camera. The girl scribbling on the wall is my favorite of the lot.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Hoppysport

    August 25, 2013 01:18 pm

    Absolutely incredible images! I have a 5D Mark ll, which is a terrific camera. However I use it 5% of the time. I love the Fujifilm X100s.

    I have had a Canon S95 for a few years, and that is one of my two carry/street cameras. The other is the Fujifilm X10...which is incredible. Of course it doesn't have the glass and sensor size of the X100s, butbit does have a larger than normal compact sensor, which for some reason produces images that rival DSLR's.

    I carry the X10 everywhere...and living in Manhattan, just love it for street and architectural shots. I also take it on most trips, allowing me to travel lightly.

    If I decide to buy another camera, the X100s will be my choice. But for now, the X10 is a true champion. Plus it looks great!

  • Curtis

    August 25, 2013 09:09 am

    Valerie. I more than understand. When a person starts photographic life with a Canon AT-1 film camera and two prime lens, 50mm and 135mm, it is not hard to identify with the satisfaction you experienced. The dark room, negative carriers and bulky enlargers weren't bad experiences either. Granted, Photoshop is a tad faster and not nearly as messy. Thank you for your article. Enjoy your new world.

  • Richard

    August 25, 2013 06:36 am

    I also felt the urge to go retro... back to when I had a Contaflex SLR with a fixed f:2.8 lens. No flash. So on our recent trip to the UK I took my Canon Xsi with just my Sigma 30mm f:1.4 and nothing else. If I needed a wide angle view, I took multiple shots and stitched them into a panorama. You were right about it being liberating. Using my feet instead of a zoom made me more connected to the image I wanted. Thanks for your great article.

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