Learning Photography All Over Again

The Fujifilm X100S

The Fujifilm X100S

I got my first SLR, a Minolta SR-T-303, in 1974, and though it had a built-in light meter, nothing was automatic. Shutter speed, aperture, focus... everything had to be set manually. Over time, I became quite proficient at doing all this very quickly. Then came several other film-based SLRs with more and more automation. In 1998, I got my first digital camera, a Fujifilm MX-700. There followed an Olympus C-3040 Zoom, and finally two digital SLRs, a Nikon D70 and later the superb Nikon D300 that is still my main workhorse to this day.

For a long time now, I've been tempted to go back to a type of photography that doesn't rely on more and more sophisticated automation, but that forces the photographer to work a bit more. Though I never owned a rangefinder camera, I did shoot a few rolls of film with a borrowed one years ago and loved the feel of it. That camera had only one 35mm lens, and even that presented challenges I quite enjoyed. In fact, I took a series of photos during the 2010 Cannes film festival with only one fixed focal lens attached to my D300, and that, too, was a refreshing change from framing using a zoom ring.

When Fujifilm announced the X100 in September of 2010, I was tempted. Here was a camera that could be operated in full manual mode (I know that today's digital SLRs can, too, but you have to have used an old film-based manual SLR to understand just how cumbersome manufacturers have made the manual mode on modern cameras) and in all other respects seemed to be an excellent fit for what I was looking for. The many quirks mentioned in the reviews I read did dissuade me, though. In March of 2013, the successor of the X100, the X100S came out, and since it apparently fixed all the shortcomings of its predecessor, I went for it.

Many reviewers have stated that this camera has a steep learning curve. In my case, I think it's more accurate to speak of an "unlearning curve" because I have to get rid of countless habits acquired over a great many years. Is it fun? You bet! The camera is lightweight, very unobtrusive, and totally silent. No, not merely quiet: if one disables the shutter sound, it is absolutely silent. Generally, people don't seem to notice the X100S whereas a big SLR with a large lens is definitely an attention getter. The fact remains that I have to get used to this new camera; it will not replace my other equipment, but it should supplement it very nicely. Here, then, are a few (very much perfectible) first shots taken with the Fujifilm X100S.

Click on any image to see a larger (1500 x 1000 pixel) version!


The blue gate No parking: paint peeling

The blue gate

No parking: paint peeling


Reading the morning paper On the Place Commandant Maria

Reading the morning paper

On the Place Commandant Maria


Rue du Châteauneuf Grocery store

Rue du Châteauneuf

Grocery store


March 31: the beach cafés are opening On the Croisette

March 31: the beach cafés are opening

On the Croisette


Taking a break to enjoy a Cappuccino Enjoying the sun

Taking a break to enjoy a Cappuccino

Enjoying the sun


Sunglasses salesman: summer is coming! On the Croisette

Sunglasses salesman: summer is coming!

On the Croisette


Nice weather for a stroll! The water is still too cold, but the beach is OK

Nice weather for a stroll!

The water is still too cold, but the beach is OK


The waves are lovely Behind the film festival building

The waves are lovely

Behind the film festival building


Looking towards the Carlton hotel The Esterel under a layer of clouds

Looking towards the Carlton hotel

The Esterel under a layer of clouds


If Pepto-Bismol came in trucks... Looking across the harbor to the Suquet

If Pepto-Bismol came in trucks...

Looking across the harbor to the Suquet


April 10, 8:50 PM: The Quai Saint-Pierre The Ramona

April 10, 8:50 PM: The Quai Saint-Pierre

The Ramona


On the east end of the harbor The little park outside Town Hall

On the east end of the harbor

The little park outside Town Hall


In the Forville flower, vegetable and fruit market Twice as good as the supermarket at half the price

In the Forville flower, vegetable and fruit market

Twice as good as the supermarket at half the price


Strawberry season is now all year round On the Rue du Marché Forville

Strawberry season is now all year round

On the Rue du Marché Forville


The station is getting a much needed facelift Scarf

The station is getting a much needed facelift

Scarf


On the Rue Hoche Uncle Sam is closed!

On the Rue Hoche

Uncle Sam is closed!


Lunch crowd at the Café des Arcades in Valbonne Valbonne meadow

Lunch crowd at the Café des Arcades in Valbonne

Valbonne meadow

These photos were all taken between the very end of March and mid-April, 2013. The last two were shot in Valbonne, all the others in Cannes. No great shakes, but as stated above, this camera takes a bit of getting used to. In the meantime, I'm having a great deal of fun with it.





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