Those who read these pages know that the Fujifilm X100/S/T/F camera is my constant companion. I don’t want to repeat the arguments about why this camera fits my seeing so well. However, based on the many questions we receive and those being asked on social media there seems to be some confusion about a camera with a fixed lens.
In my conversations with photographers, I sense the fear of working with one prime lens. What is it with prime lenses that bothers some photographers so much? “With only one lens I will miss so many photo opportunities” is the most common narrative. But will you?
When shooting with the X100T/F, I have nothing to choose from in terms of gear. My camera is set up beforehand and I am fluent with the camera operations. In addition, shooting with one focal length for a long time allows me to train my eye to previsualize and compose without even raising the camera to my eye.
Instead of asking “Which lens should I use?” and confusing my brain with multiple focal views, I focus instead on connecting with my subject or environment, exploring visuals and challenging my seeing. All of the above require an enormous intellectual and creative effort. Adding another layer of difficulty to this demanding exploit not only takes attention away from key processes but also breaks the chain of thought.
With creative and visual effort funnelled into seeing (with one focal length) my connection, observation and visual risk-taking work in tandem to produce an image. Instead of asking “Which lens should I use?” or thinking “If only I had this focal length” my brain is pre-wired to explore and take risks.
I am always amazed by aspiring photographers running around with a full backpack of lenses. After being immersed in photography most of my life, I feel fluent in only three focal lengths, that is, 14mm, 35mm and 85mm. Sure, I sometimes shoot with other lenses but my visual muscles protest at working with different perspectives. If you really care about seeing, mastering one focal length for a long time is a must! I understand that gear and gear choices are constantly being hyped on the Internet (we share the blame) and sometimes you feel empowered by buying a new gear (I have a new lens or camera, therefore I will be able to shoot more) – most of the time such decisions may actually work against you. Keep it simple! Keep focused!
While shooting Miran, www.bcblacksmith.com, at work at his studio with the X100F, I ran the gamut of choices in regard to positioning in relation to my subject, assessing available light, composition, etc. One lens and one camera meant this process was natural and fluid. All the imagery below was shot with the pre-production Fujifilm X100F, Classic Chrome film simulation, all JPEGs.
For those of you who are interested in learning in detail about photographic processes that actually matter, please check out our new Simplicity-In-Seeing educational and mentoring platform.
Also, consider signing up for our “Streets of Vancouver Photography Workshop” – you can find more info here. (Only 2 spots left!)
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