A few years back, I knew I wanted to learn more about photography, and really dedicate some time to it. However, that quickly brought the dilemma of what should I buy? I knew at the time that I did not have enough knowledge to warrant purchasing something super expensive ($1,000+), so I did some research, and settled on buying a Canon Rebel T3i DSLR camera with the 18-55mm and 55-250mm variable aperture kit lenses.
The first thing I did after purchasing this camera, was turn the knob to A (automatic), and start firing away. For what I was shooting at the time, this was really all I needed. However, having the thirst for knowledge that I have, I wanted to learn how to use my camera better. This led to learning the exposure triangle, about light, how light works, how sensors and lenses work, and various other things. I would say that the biggest mistake I made, due partially to my lack in knowledge, and partially to the camera and kit lenses that came with it, was thinking that zoom lenses were superior to other fixed focal length lenses. Once I learned about aperture, shutter speed, and iso, I wanted to test those things out. This led to limitations in the kit lenses. I couldn’t open up my aperture, to say, F/2.8 and get that blurred out background that we all love to much.
Fast forward a few years, a much better camera, probably hundreds of hours in late night tutorials, and lots of practice, and I had learned a lot. I also learned that I wanted to add a camera that I could travel with that was light, and still captured high quality images. This led me to research the Fuji X100S.
The X100S is a little, inconspicuous looking mirrorless camera. The first incarnation of the X100 took the world by storm a few years back. While there is a X100T that was recently released, I chose to purchase the X100S because it was on sale for several hundred dollars cheaper than its original price. It has a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent field of view on a full frame camera) F/2.0 lens, a manual aperture ring, and a hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder. Without getting into all the technical aspects of this camera, let me tell you why I would recommend this camera for a beginner in photography over a beginner DSLR.
It’s Prime Lens Forces You To Focus On the Subject
I’m not talking about literally focusing with the camera manually, I’m talking about mentally focusing on what you are making an image of. The reason for this, in my opinion, is the fixed focal length lens, also called a “prime” lens (a lens that cannot zoom in and out). With a zoom lens, you get lazy. Standing in one spot, zooming in and out, usually leads to boring photographs. With a prime lens, it forces you to “zoom with your feet”, and in the process, leads to better constructed images.
It Forces You To Learn the Aperture Triangle
While you can put this camera in Auto Mode, it’s harder to shoot in Auto with this camera than say the Canon T3i. The X100S has physical dials. This forces you to change them manually, thus learning your camera better.
The Size Allows For More Portability
Most people think that when they buy their camera, they will take it with them everywhere. The truth is that if you’re camera is a large DSLR, you probably won’t. You may take it most places, but sometimes it is simply too large, and takes up too much space. The little gem of a Fuji can travel anywhere. While, in my opinion, it is a little too large to fit in your pocket, it is light enough to wear around your neck all day, and not weigh you down, or give you a sore back after a long day.
It’s Image Quality Will Not Disappoint
Once again, without getting into the technical jargon, the Fuji X100S’ image quality is superb. Don’t be fooled by the 16MP file size. That’s more than enough for most people. In the world of 34MP cameras, it looks like an image of less quality, but it simply is not. Let me just say that just because another camera has more megapixels does not mean that they are getting those megapixels out of their camera. The lens that you put in front of your DSLR has a lot to do with the quality of the final image. The lens and sensor on the Fuji X100S are superb, and give you every bit of detail that you could ask for.
It Sees In The Dark
The low light performance on the Fuji X100S is pretty nice. Compared to other entry level cameras out there, it is extremely nice. It also has a nice little flash on it. Not too powerful, but it does the job.
I could go on all day about how I like this camera. However, there are some things that you should know before making the purchase. Here are a few.
- If you’re looking for a camera to shoot your kids sports games, this is not it. For that use, you’ll need faster tracking autofocus, and a longer lens.
- Battery life is pretty bad. You’ll get a few hundred shots on a battery. The plus is the extra, non Fuji batteries are really cheap. You can grab a few with a charger for about $20 from companies like Wasabi on Amazon.
- It’s more expensive (about $300) than a camera like the Canon T3i.
With that said, evaluate what you’d like to shoot, and if the Fuji X100S fits in with your needs, I would say go for it. If you need big zoom lenses, it’s not for you. But if you like to create, love landscapes, environmental portraits, and portability, it’s for you. The Fuji X100S runs about $850 at this link on B&H Photo.