How to set up your Fujifilm X100s for street photography

How to set up your Fujifilm X100s for street photography


Some of you have asked what settings I use for street photography. First, let’s make sure you have everything you will need, camera, and the two most important accessories: extra batteries and extra memory cards.
more after the break

In the opening shot I noticed this guy from far away and moved towards him, against pedestrian traffic, as close as I could get, shooting and talking to another Dean&Deluca employee as he was cracking jokes about his co-worker. A fast memory card is essential, especially when shooting raw.

I really like the shot below, because, as I spotted the lady she spotted me, nailed it, this is a good example of “sometimes you only get one shot”, and then the lady turned away.


This shadow shot above was easier to get, I waited for a couple pedestrians to walk by until I had this one.

Nothing is more frustrating when suddenly, in the middle of a photogenic street scenario, the red empty battery symbol starts blinking and you didn’t bring spares. The same goes for memory cards. Because, when you are “in the zone” you start seeing images left and right and all you do is shoot, shoot, shoot. Capturing, or subtracting moments from the flow of life is the essence and beauty of street photography. Un-manipulated, raw, and authentic. Things you couldn’t come up with when staging a shot and if you would, it wouldn’t look authentic :).

Hungry iron bird checks out Flatiron Building, just playing around with the fill flash.

Since I received my X100s I haven’t touched anything else. I know the camera pretty well by now, shooting everything except jobs with it.
Here are my settings for street shooting:
Auto ISO: 200-6400
Min. Shutter speed limit: 1/125
AF-C mode

S or C drive mode: most of the time I am in s mode, c-mode (3fps) if the situation calls for it.
While in AF-C mode (on FW1.00, always awake/never sleep doesn’t work, keep half pressing the shutter from time to time, especially when you spot a potential shot, make sure the camera is not asleep)
Shutter priority at 1/250 or higher in regular light
Optical Hybrid finder vs EVF:
depending on the scene, if it is a context or overview shot, OHVF works, however, I found the EVF preferable for precise positioning of the af point since there is no time to reframe/refocus.
Develop a solid grip on your camera, experiment, strap around the neck or wrist strap. Learn to change +- dial with out looking at your camera, the same goes for shutter speed, keep your eyes on the street. Shoot a lot, that’s it!

This beautiful lady was very concerned about her look, manual pre-focused and just waited :)

and above the shot when I first saw him, wth was he doing up there….

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13 thoughts on “How to set up your Fujifilm X100s for street photography

  1. MichaelB

    I think the appeal for me having only one lens (yea, kinda old-school). I’m seeing that I can get the same quality image from my d700 when I shoot RAW and “work it” in Photoshop. I’m going to Vegas soon – and I’ll take the d700 and a 50mm f.1.4 and see how I feel about it after I return. Thanks for your input.

  2. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi MichaelB, the Sigma produces fantastic images, don’t know, you say you like to work slow but that doesn’t necessary imply you won’t pull your hair out using the Sigma, it feels like shooting with a first generation camera from 10 years ago, give it a try you can always return it

  3. MichaelB

    I’m thinking of a cameta for black & white only. I shoot slow and deliberately (retired photojournalist) and I’m going back and fourth between the X100s and the Sigma DP1. I like the 35mm focal length of the Fuji, but the Sigma has wonderful values too. I’ll use the selected camera for travel and fine art only. Any comments on the Sigma?

  4. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks Paul, the image quality is very good at high ISO, depending on what you shoot, I found S AF point – large rectangle works best

  5. Paul

    Some great tips there. How have you found the camera for night shots? Any tips in that regard?

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    I usually post a link to Bh or Adorama when they have them in stock. But you guys have to act fast, they are gone within 30min or faster

  7. Ken

    All of the reviews and comments have been fun and encouraging, but the big question is WHEN WILL THESE CAMERAS BE HITTING THE STORES? Fuji isn’t very helpful, and I’m checking all of the camera shops, and Amazon once or twice a day ( I know I’m a bit obsessed). Anybody got a clue? Thanks

  8. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Randolph, I have 4 spare batteries (5 total). I feel comfortable getting about 90 minutes of intense shooting out of one full charge, autofocus set on AFC – the camera is constantly working, I don’t let it go to sleep, to preserve battery I switch to the hybrid view from time to time, don’t really like it that much for street because I ended up missing too many shots because of the parallax problem. I have tried Zone focusing, the problem is the focus by wire ring, move it a millimeter and your focus is totally off and unlike on the 14mm with the dof scale, there is no way really to check it right before you take a shot. I am sure it is possible you could put a wide rubber band over the focus ring to prevent accidental change. Spoiled using the 14mm I guess :)

  9. Randolph Knackstedt

    Hello Mike

    How long does an X100S battery hold a charge compared to the battery in an X-PRO1? I own an X-PRO1 and I’m trying to gauge how many batteries I should buy for the X100S. Right now I have 4 additional X100S batteries on order. As for the X-PRO1, I have 6 of those batteries.

    Regarding your blog post. Are you not using the X100S in manual mode at all on the streets? No zone or hyperfocal shooting for you? I was wondering if the X100S has any quirks or annoyances that can get in the way of shooting on the streets and what possible workarounds you suggest.


  10. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Jeroen, 90% of everything I have shot so far was wide open, short shutter speeds and fast af are far more important for my type of shooting. I haven’t done a brick wall test yet, personally, I find the lens performs very well wide open, produces nice bokeh and I haven’t come across a shot I had to drop because of MTF performance. There is probably a valid point to those statements and tests, especially for close ups and subjects when one needs excellent sharpness across the frame, looking for it at 2.0 though is a bit unreasonable.

  11. Jeroen

    Hi Mike, what is your opnion of shooting wide open (f2) with the X100s? I have read some comments that it’s sharp and that you need to stop it down to at least f2.8.

    Cheers, Jeroen

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