The first time I took the X100s out, I learned that a minor downpour won’t cause any harm (your mileage may vary, be careful and do it at your own risk). Naturally, I wasn’t too bothered when it started to dump wet snow during my night walk – no umbrella and the X100s around my neck.
more after the break
I don’t know about you but I am getting a little bored with high ISO tests, pixel peeping and Bible arguments between fan boys from different camps.
Don’t get me wrong, high ISO tests are important and I use the comparometer on Dpreview and check DXO ratings and fellow photographers and bloggers like everybody else. However, I often find that in the following arguments on message boards we are getting carried away and sucked into discussions that have very little relevance for taking pictures.
One amazing ingredient won’t make an amazing meal. A great looking dish doesn’t necessarily taste good.
Today I will try a different approach. I will describe the situation leading up to the pictures on this walk. Everything was shot hand held in raw mode, shutter priority and the camera was set to auto ISO between 200 -6400.
The opening image was my first reaction to the snow, I had no idea if it would last 10 min, 1 hour or all night. I didn’t expect snow and I hadn’t checked the weather report. In general, I prefer to shoot without filters unless I shoot a shallow depth of field video requiring a Vari filter. I used the X100s without the metal ring on the lens to save time in case I went with the Wide angle adapter (I didn’t, shot everything with the 23mm wide open). A protective filter might degrade image quality, especially at night when street lights bounce around between glass surfaces and cause ghosting. To protect the front element, occasionally, I use a short metal hood but not this time.
A few snow flakes hit the front element and I wiped them off with a lens cloth. The rest of the camera with my sweater.
Autofocus and Manual Focus set up: No problems with afs here to hit the E 20th st sign, despite the challenging lighting and snow!
Shutter priority and I picked 1/30 to capture the snow fall in streaks.
WB, contrast and saturation tweaked before the final output.
This is my favorite shot of this series, it was the most challenging to capture. The dog and its owner had a great time playing as I watched and approached them. I knew the camera well enough to check settings, including the +- by feel without having to take my eyes off the subjects. Set to -1 stop on exposure compensation to maintain the feel of night. To get there, I scrolled by feel to -2 and counted 3 clicks up, I remembered the shutter speed setting and did the same with the shutter speed dial, just to be sure, counted up without looking at it then back to 1/30. Aperture ring was set to A (This technique also works perfectly with the aperture ring). The ability to change all key settings this way is what gives the X series a real practical advantage over menu based cameras.
The scene was dark and quiet and I tried to capture that feeling by keeping the ISO down, I did not want the trees to look grainy or noisy and kept the 1/30 shutter speed. Switched focus to AFC and focused. Failed. No problem, my subjects weren’t going anywhere, just running around in circles, re-framed, focused and captured. AF FAIL again. Now this was a pretty challenging scenery, low light, nothing reliable to focus on. After a few more failed attempts I switched to manual focus, my previous mf setting was in split mode and I realized split mode wont get the job done here, the subjects are moving too fast, the snow on the ground didn’t offer anything vertical and the trees were too far away. I pressed the toggle switch on the back for a second and this activated focus peaking, which was the perfect aid for this scenery and thanks to the short throw of the mf ring, I had them focused properly and followed their movements with ease. I never took my eyes off them until I had the shot (after about 30 clicks).
1/30, f2 ISO800
still on a high from having nailed the previous shot I stopped to take a picture of the empty bench row, switched back to AFS – I did that without looking, just in case you were wondering- and realized my camera was pretty much soaked and the front element was wet, the scene looked good though through the EVF, took a few snaps and wiped it dry
I like the the mood in the shot, it represents the moment pretty accurately, probably wouldn’t have included it except for the wet lens effect, kinda nice, eh?
1/30, f2, ISO 1000
Back in the East Village, I spotted this lady waiting for the light to change and just caught her, still in AFS mode I switched to AFC mode, left the shutter speed at 1/30th and was pleasantly surprised, the X100s nailed focus the first time, I took a few shots to get the step right and autofocus was spot on every time. Impressive. Of course I was relaxed about it since I knew switching to mf would take me only 1/4 second and it was already in focus peaking mode which is an absolute dream for these type of shots.
And since I was on a roll and the snow was still coming down in buckets, just for the heck of it, I saw this guy getting ready to cross and NOBODY else around, a rare occurrence in NYC, I jogged to the middle of the road, switched to mf (while jogging, never letting my subject out of sight), positioned myself, weni, widi, vici.
A little later, I spotted this upside down bike, switched to AFS and bokeh-licou’d it . No problems with autofocus here.
1/30 f2 ISO800
A cup of coffee sure sounded good but I was soaked and a little worried about my by now very wet camera, the lens cleaning cloth was soaked also and I had to use a napkin instead, worked like a charm, shot in AFS mode, again, no problems with autofocus.
This abandoned bar caught my eye and I pressed the lens against the glass, focused on the back wall in AFS mode and went home. Click through to flickr to see the full size image, minor tweaks and WB correction only, I would say this is a very accurate representation for SOOC.
This was a successful photo walk (not all of them are) and I certainly learned a lot about the camera’s behavior, a lot more useful to me (and hopefully to you too) then bracketing ISO/aperture settings on a brick wall.
So here are my impressions from this shoot:
With the leafshutter and the traditional rangefinder like design, the X100s is a street photographers dream. AF issues have been fixed and the improved EVF was a joy to use, MF options are in a league of their own. I love the split focus for critical accurate focusing and focus peaking for quick focus. Thanks to the short focus throw mf can be very fast and no matter which method we choose, we have the option to stay in 100% viewing mode (no magnification) or in 3x magnification mode. Another thing worth mentioning is that the amount of focus ring rotation exponentially increases the closer we get to the 0.1m mark, most noticeable between 0.5m and 0.1m. Very helpful to achieve accurate focus for critical close up shots. No contenders for now, and I almost forgot, in good light, we have the fantastic OHVF.
I love the X trans sensors and I am aware of my bias here, I think it comes down to your taste, if you like what you have seen from the X-E1 and X-Pro1, then you will like the newest sensor in the X100s. I can’t put my finger on it, there is something different about how this one renders the whole image, I really like it, appears to be a little more film like. Time will tell.
Buffer is good in raw, not fantastic, the best part, it does not lock up, only slows down considerably. I am using a Sandisk SDHC 95mb/s card.
Battery life isn’t great and if you are shooting mainly in AFC mode, notoriously the fastest and most consistent AF mode, then battery life isn’t great at all, however, I am so pleased with all the other, essential improvements Fuji made, I can live with carrying two or three extra batteries.
Do I like this camera? Will I get one? Hell YES!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions if there is something specific you would like to know, post them in the comment section.
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