I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina and went out for a walk around town with my new camera, the Fuji X100. It has slowly replaced my other camera, a Nikon D700 with a fixed Nikkor f 2.0 35mm lens, as my walk around camera (my shoulder and back are thankful for this move). The X100 has a 23mm 2.0 fixed lens which translates with the cropping factor to roughly a fixed 35mm lens. If I need to zoom I move my feet, as Jay Maisel taught me.
The Fuji X100 is a small, powerful compact digital camera that certainly beats carrying around my D700. I carry it with a wrist strap and is absolutely a pleasure to walk around with it knowing that I can capture great street scenes almost unnoticed. I might go unnoticed but the camera doesn’t. People have asked me many times about it because it has this retro look that resembles a classical camera from the 60’s. I even had someone asked me if it was a Leica. It is perfect for street photography.
When I first got the X100 I thought I made a mistake buying it because of its limitations but the more I got to know how to use it the more I started to love it. It has a fast shutter, decent ISO performance and crisps wonderful colors but the main problem I found was the relatively slow focusing. It drove me crazy at the beginning because I was trying to use it the same way I was used to shoot with my D700. That was my mistake.So what I did was I took the focusing out of the equation and started pre-focusing for my shots. What I do is I set it on Manual focus and use the AEL/AFL button to focus, not the shutter.
I try to set it at the smallest aperture I can, usually around 11 and I set the ISO to Auto starting at 1600. Then I pre-focus depending on the situation or the environment either at 6-10 feet for sidewalk shooting or 15-30 feet or infinite for farther shots.
Then I just walk around until I find something that interests me and all I have to do is compose and press the shutter. If I need to change the focus range then the AEL/AFL does a decent job of acquiring the desired focus.
By the way, there are many great restaurants in Charleston. I recommend Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar, excellent fish and seafood. It is located on a busy corner with lots of opportunities for street photography. Somehow lately I became a fan of shrimp and grits. Don’t ask.
“You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.” – Elliott Erwitt,
It has definitely changed the way I shoot on the streets. I have to admit that doing it this way makes it easier to shoot from the hip, which I normally don’t do but I have fun doing it. I actually prefer to look through the viewfinder and declare to everyone , yes, I’m making a photograph.
I welcome your comments and suggestions, specially if you’ve experienced the X100. I am still learning how to get the best of this wonderful camera.