Ten years is a long time...
Ten years is a long time, especially when it comes to technology nowadays, and being a photographer it seems like you have new cameras, flashes, and lenses being thrown at you every day. "Canon announced a new R series camera, Nikon a new flash, Did you hear about the new Sony lens to end all other lenses?" It gets maddening! So what happens when you decide to slow all that down, and spend two weeks using a fixed lens, point and shoot camera... from 2013. Yep. In 2023. Brave, dumb, absolutely delusional? Maybe all of the above, but, I think the results could surprise you... they sure did me.
The Fujifilm X100S... is it still viable?
The day I got the X100S in my hands I immediately wanted to test it out. Being one of the older cameras in the X100 series I had to see what exactly what the hype has been all about for years now. The Fujifilm X100S, released in 2013, with a 23mm fixed lens and a max aperture of F/2. Shooting 16.3 Megapixels on the Fuji APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor, with full tactile dials to control Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Exposure Compensation. This camera carries that old film feeling common in Fuji cameras while having that solid sensor producing clean digital images, more on those next.
Around the neighborhood
My first day with the X100S I got home from work and immediately took a walk around my neighborhood. Luckily with the warmer weather creeping in there was lots of nice color blooming all around and the golden hour was upon us, a photographers dream to test a camera. The photos in the gallery set above were from this first night with this little cam and boy did it wow me from the start. While the LCD screen and the viewfinder obviously show their age you can still get a pretty decent idea of what you're shooting and what to expect once loading your files into Lightroom or what have you. I got the chance to test this camera and run through its different film simulations, my favorite being the NPH, or Negative - High, film simulation. The camera handles colors beautifully with a pretty even saturation and not too far from true to life hues. And as it started to get past golden hour and headed into blue hour and nighttime I got to push the ISO on this bad boy to really see its limits. The photo of the bush of pink flowers was taken near the end of blue hour, with an ISO of 5000, and yeah if you start pixel peeping and really zooming in it might not be the cleanest image, but overall is still a really solid image. I believe a photo like that from this camera could be printed at some pretty decent sizes and still look fantastic.
Smith's Olde Bar... and an old camera... is this the start of a joke?
My second (of three don't worry this blog won't be too long promise) good test of this camera was a night out at Smith's Olde Bar here in Atlanta to see a friend's band play a gig! A ten year old camera, a dark bar music venue, really questionable all blue lighting? let's do it! I'm sure you can expect what I am going to say about the camera for this set of photos... well, if you said that I was impressed, yeah you're right. You win nothing though, sorry. BUT, this camera definitely won for sure. I wanted to shoot kind of casually this night and usually that would mean I just use my phone and am ultimately unhappy with the photos because yes I am a quality snob, but the X100S fulfilled all of my wants and needs this night! Since the aforementioned lighting was all blue... literally, all. blue. I decided to test out the black and white film simulations on the camera and ended up settling on the B-G Simulation, or Black and White + Green Filter simulation for the night. I enjoyed the way the camera handled highlights and shadows, I kept the Dynamic Range setting on Auto and overall I was able to recover good detail in my highlights and shadows in the images I chose for the night. I didn't test the flash out this night because obviously that's a live music no-no, but honestly with how this little camera handles a higher ISO I had no need for a flash.
And lastly... the Mouse... Mickolas Mouse...
Where else do you test a camera in honestly every condition possible in the span of a week? that's right. Walt Disney World. 4 days, 4 theme parks, many a photo taken, and one birthday celebration all captured on this little camera and wow. For context, my last Disney trip I had taken my Canon R5 with my adapted Canon EF 24-70 F/2.8 USM II L lens... all that to say it was not fun to carry around for a week in theme parks. But this X100S was the total opposite, it was a breeze. It was light and easy to carry in my hand for extended periods of time so I was ready to snap a shot at a moments notice, and when I was inevitably stuffing my face with a dole whip, or churro, or mickey bar, or enjoying one of my many many drinks, this camera was easy enough to slip into the small bag I was carrying, or even into my pocket. It made documenting this trip and capturing all of these memories for me and my friends so simple, and while the photo quality wasn't *quite* the same as my top of the line 45megapixel Mirrorless camera body, this quality snob had no qualms with the photos I created.
So should you look into a ten year old camera for yourself?
I guess ultimately that's for you to decide. As for myself, I have seriously debated picking up one of these older Fuji point and shoots. You could always shell out the cash to get their newest model the X100V, if you can even find one, but maybe save a buck or two and look into the older models. You just might be surprised with how much you like it!
These sites are who I used to make sure I had my specs right for the Fuji x100S