Getting sentimental about the X100 and V

The cover image courtesy of Jonas Rask

It was a beautiful but very windy morning. We were on the ferry to the island and I took out my X100 to take an image of the wind—unseen but apparent. After all, what else can you do on the ferry other than eating junk in the crowded cafeteria? When I was taking photos, a guy with a huge Nikon SLR with a massive telephoto approached but stayed at a safe distance. Every time I raised the camera to my eye, he peeped in my direction but tried to hold still. At one point he burst with excitement and curiosity and called out, “How do you like the small new Fuji?” That’s strange, I thought. The guy with a ton of amazing gear is suddenly so excited about this little camera from a manufacturer who was basically absent from the camera market at that time. 

This is just one example. It was in the early days of the X100-line, the X-series and Fujifilm as we know it today. Some of you may not remember but in the first year it was almost impossible to buy the X100. Yes, it was that popular, especially among pros, but for the rest of the market it was “just a ridiculous toy.” As one of the first photographers and writers using this camera, I was bombarded with comments such as “Why would anybody buy such a tiny camera with no option to change lenses?!”   

I have spent almost eight years of my photographic life shooting exclusively with the X100-series. That’s how I learnt and refined my seeing. One camera, once focal length! I travelled around the world working with students of photography, advanced amateurs, professionals and even a few teachers of photography who wanted to tap into their creative side. I did most of it with the X100, X100S, X100T and X100F (testing other gear from time to time).

Over the years, through my recommendations, hundreds of people, first reluctantly, then enthusiastically, entered the X-series world with this camera. Many of them learnt photography with the X100 series. It was a portal into photography, the X-series, and most recently, the medium format GFX-series.  

Yesterday, Fujifilm announced a new iteration of this camera, the X100V. It is a great development, no question about it. When I ponder this release, I think Patrick La Roque put it best, describing the X100V changes as REFINEMENT! That is exactly what this camera needed. No, we don’t need more features or faster AF or better video or…. (fill in the blank). We need a beautiful, simple and refined photographic tool. This is the right direction. I am not going to write about the look of the camera (it is beautiful) or its specifications because you can easily find that online, but I want to make one point. 

The X100-line, including the latest V, is the best camera in the world for learning photography. As most of you know, I mostly shoot medium format for a variety of reasons. One of them is that I got serious about large format printing. The other reason is that my visual interests are evolving and my need for gear has changed (I’ve described my journey in several articles).

But if you want to learn photography the proper way, if you want to learn SEEING, the X100-series should be your choice. No, not the XT or X-Pro but X100 (original, S, T, F or the latest V). There are certain features on this camera (one of them is that you cannot change the lens, which is a great thing) that will help you to learn photography the right way and elevate your seeing to another level. Most importantly, this is the camera that will help you to find your own SEEING. After all, it is hard to find the true photographic “you” in the clutter of gear, technical mimicry and confusing lens choices. When you master seeing and you find your own, feel free to move to any other camera system in the world but when you learn photography or search for your own seeing start with the X100-series first. 

Below please find a few images shot with the original X100 and its younger siblings.  

The original X100

X100S, X100T, X100F

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8 thoughts on “Getting sentimental about the X100 and V

  1. Hey Olaf,

    Your stuff is looking great! You are right about the x100 series – a super camera for learning to see. I’ve been working on a project on backcountry skiing – will tag you on some photos when I post them on instagram…

    All the best 🙂

    Peter

  2. Very well written, Olaf. I agree with every single word. I shot the X100 series exclusivley for over 3 years. This camera, regardless of iteration, still feels special and important to me. It helps every photographer to grow and find his own voice in photography.

    All the best,
    Kevin

    1. Kevin,

      It is so great to hear from you. I absolutely agree with you. It is a very special camera!

      I hope you are doing well.

      Cheers,

      Olaf

  3. As they say, “Seeing Is believing”, and in this case I see an X100V in my future 🙂

    To be serious you are correct about the “seeing” part. For me it is a rather subliminal act as I look into the viewfinder. I don’t direct the scene, the scene directs me. Sometimes I only discover and surprise myself with what I’ve captured after I’ve downloaded the photos. I love that!

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