david hobby


I purchased my Fujifilm X10, above at right, in November 2012, and wrote about it in what has become my most viewed blog post, INTRODUCING MY X10. Since then I've carried this camera almost daily and six months later I have no regrets. It has been a wonderful little camera and I still like how it looks and feels and continue to be impressed with the quality of the images.

So why have I been thinking about upgrading to the Fujifilm X100S camera? While I am not looking to replace my DSLR and lenses for work assignments, upgrading to this camera could render a second DSLR on assignment useless.

Fuji X100S.  Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Fuji X100S. Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Announced in January, the X100S began shipping in March and so far the hands-on reviews have been very positive. If you just read the blog reviews by Zack Arias and David Hobby, you'll want the camera immediately, however, at the time of this post, there is a one or two-month wait list.

Having such fun and success with my X10, which Fuji recently replaced with the Fujifilm X20, I immediately thought about upgrading. In my original blog post about the X10, I laid out the reasons why I purchased that camera instead of the X100 and cost and focus issues were two of them. Well, it seems focus is no longer a concern, but there is still the question of cost. At around $1,300, that clearly puts the X100S in the realm of a pro camera and not a simple point and shoot. Even though many of today's point and shoots, or sub $600 cameras, are capable of taking incredible images, just look at the X20 or what I paid for my X10, as examples.

So should I upgrade or not? To help answer that question, or maybe just convince myself one way or another, I decided to take my X10 and visit the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Chantilly, Va., in order to take some photos and see if I would be happier if I were carrying the X100S instead.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

The lighting in parts of the museum is very dim requiring higher ISOs. Advantage X100S. By all accounts, the X100S does remarkably well at high ISOs, even 3200. I rarely push the X10 past 800. The built-in flash on the X10 is not really usable so being able to get usable photos at ISO 3200 is a real bonus. I shot mostly at ISO 400 at the museum which meant I was shooting at very slow shutter speeds, but since I was photographing static objects it was not an issue.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

While most of the photos I take with the X10 are at 7.1mm or 28mm equivalent on a 35mm lens, I do sometimes find myself using the zoom, as I did often during this shoot. Advantage X10. Would I have been able to get away with just a 35mm point of view? I suppose I should not have used the zoom in order to really test that theory. Zoom with your feet, isn't that what's said.

Did you notice what I did in the previous paragraphs? I both stated one of the big reasons I am considering the X100S and one of the reasons why I am questioning if it really is the camera for me. But honestly, there is more than just ISO and zoom.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Ever since I purchased my first digital P&S camera I've always insisted on some sort of a viewfinder. The X10 does have a viewfinder, but the X100S with both an electronic or optical viewfinder takes it to the next level making the viewfinder incredibly usable. Advantage X100S.

Many of the other features are very similar or the same, although the X100S is a 16MP camera versus 12MP and has a nine blade aperture shutter instead of seven, the X10 does shoot 10 fps continuous versus 6 fps. Advantage on these features favors neither X10 nor the X100S. That is to say, they are not part of my decision process.

Finally, after shooting the X10 for seven months, I really don't need to be sold on the look, feel and form of this camera. While I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, I did use a Leica M3 as a second camera for several years in my early Navy career and this does have that same feel. Some of the photos I shot at the museum were taken with the camera set to black and white which made me think I really was transported back 25 years holding that M3 loaded with Tri-X film. Holding these Fuji X cameras does elicit certain emotions. Is it because I'm a little older? Maybe, but I  believe part of making good images is attitude and how you feel about your gear does play a role in that.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

I could go on and on about the advantages and disadvantages, but I'm clearly not going to answer my question during this blog post and even now as I look forward to a vacation in Toronto and an upcoming assignment, a video shoot in Hawaii, I'm thinking long and hard if I want to take the DSLR with various lenses or just the X10. Or possibly even theX100S?

One question I will answer is that I do think this would make a perfect second body on any assignment.

The rest of the details and more links below:

Specifications X100S:

Number of effective pixels: 16.3 million

Image sensor: 23.6mm x 15.mm (APS-C)

Lens: 35mm equivalent at f2.0

Dimensions: 5.0 (W) x 2.9 (H) x 2.1 (D) in.

Weight:  Approx. 15.7 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from the Fuji website.

Specifications X10:

Number of effective pixels: 12 million

Image sensor: 2 / 3 inch EXR CMOS

Lens: 28mm to 112mm equivalent at f2.0 and f2.8 respectfully

Dimensions: 4.6(W) x 2.7(H) x 2.2(D) in.

Weight: 12.3 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from my Flickr X10 set.

David Hobby provides a thorough overview of all the X100S features in a YouTube video. And I even learned something new about my X10 as well by watching this.

And just in case, the leap from X10 to X100S is too much, then check out Dan Bailey's full review on the X20.

Get the full X100S specifications available on Fuji's website.


HDR photograph of Owl's Head lighthouse in Maine.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photograph taken during a family vacation to Maine during the winter. This was the first vacation that I remember where I specifically wanted to take photographs as part of the experience.
For many years taking pictures has been my job. That's not to say I didn't like being a photographer, in fact I loved it, and still do, however over time I came to realize that the only work I had to show was related to the job. And while I am proud of that work and still get excited to see my photos in print, I had stopped taking images for the fun of it. Very little personal photography.

When someone would discover I was a photographer they would invariably ask what I liked to take pictures of, or where they could see my work and until recently the best I could offer was a website that hadn't been updated in nine years or maybe tell them to do a Google search on my name plus Navy and they would see some examples.

So what changed? What has me excited about personal photography again? Why am I blogging and tweeting again, posting photos on Flickr, 500px, and Google+? The answer isn't simple, but I do know it has something to do with the web and more specifically the incredible photographers, some young and some recognizable, out there who are sharing their work and techniques everywhere, mostly on the sites I mentioned above, but also through their blogs and videos on YouTube.

HDR photograph from the rafters of the Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Experimenting with HDR at the Museum of the U.S. Navy located at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
This didn't happen overnight and it's been kind of a slow return. I really started getting excited about the time that High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography was coming on the scene and I stumbled across Trey Ratcliff's stuckincustoms.com site. Trey's incredible images and willingness to share how he made them had me trying HDR techniques myself and I was hooked. It was fun to try something new. But more than that, blogs and web TV from Scott Kelby and the Photoshop guys, podcasts from Leo Laporte and the TWIT network, all had me itching to get back out there.

Joe Macnally of National Geographic and small strobe fame along with David Hobby from Strobist.com had me actually looking forward to taking environmental portraits at work again.

All this isn't really new I guess, I've been following photographers like Rob Galbraith, Dave Black and others on the web for a long time. I suppose it all just hit the tipping point and I'm glad.

So thanks to all those photographers who are so willing to share and make it easy to feel as if I'm surrounded by friends with the ability to share work, discuss work and for the inspiration to dust off my website and blog.

After 28 years in the business it really is nice to feel so inspired again.