I mentioned a few weeks back that I had an epiphany of sorts while doing some live music photography. No, I wasn't trying to be coy in not divulging the details until now. It has simply taken me some time to process the decision I made and put together my thoughts. I'll cut to the chase for those who would rather not read the entirety my ramblings. The photo above represents the sum of my digital photography gear - well, except for my iPhone that I used to take the photos in this post. Everything else is gone. Things are much more simple now.
Really, I had already gotten down to a fairly small amount of gear before I made my decision to minimize my gear down to the Fujifilm X100F and a couple of conversion lenses. I had my Fujifilm X-T2 with the 35mm f/1.4 and 50-140mm f/2.8 lenses. The X-T2 was more of a working camera for me. I used it for sports and some portrait work. Since I decided to not do my sports gig any longer, I had gotten to where I only grabbed my X100F when leaving my house. The X-T2 rig was collecting dust for the better part of a year, since the last time I shot a hockey game. After taking it to a show recently and using it along side my X100F, my mind was made up. The X-T2 and its lenses were sold a couple weeks back.
I've photographed a lot of different stuff over the years. Sports was never really my thing. Fun to a point, but a lot of work and the pay isn't so great these days. I do kind of like portraiture but it is something my introverted self has never been truly comfortable in doing. When I do choose to make portraits, I prefer more environmental sorts of images so I really don't need a long portrait lens for tight headshots. When I consider the things I really like photographing - live music, cars & bikes, and urban environments - I find that the X100F is really all I need and it's the camera I enjoy using more than any other that I've owned.
Some of you may be be surprised to hear that I would give up the X-T2 in favor of the X100F for live music of all things. Wouldn't the X-T2 be better capable of autofocusing quickly in that environment? Maybe a bit. My experience is that the focus speed is only marginally better and good live music shots IMO are more about anticipation and timing than a reaction that relies on fast autofocus anyway. My overall experience with the X100F supersedes any minimal benefit in autofocus with the X-T2. Additionally, even though the controls are fairly similar between the two cameras, the X100F just fits me like a glove and I found myself fumbling with the X-T2 when I tried to work with both cameras at once.
I have discovered that the X100F is sufficient for me. Actually, I'm not sure that's the best word to describe it. "Sufficient" sounds like I'm settling for something. That's not it at all. The X100F exceeds my expectations. It's truly a wonderful tool for photography.
What's so great about the X100F? Here's my list.
- It's a great size for discreetly carrying anywhere. Smallish yet big enough that it feels comfortable in my hands.
- The viewfinder. In the left corner it works perfectly for us right eye dominant folks. Center viewfinders involve nose mashing against the back of the camera and they are not easy to use with my progressive eyeglass prescription. In addition to optimal placement, the viewfinder is very versatile. I switch between optical and EVF modes depending on the situation.
- Silent. Nobody knows when I snap a shot.
- Builtin ND filter. I use that all the time outside during the afternoon. I can get a more shallow DoF on bright days without having to carry a screw-on filter around.
- Leaf shutter. I don't do a lot of flash photography but when I do, the incredible sync speed of the leaf shutter, in combination with the ND filter, can turn day into night.
- Versatile focal length. The 35mm equivalent lens can be used for everything from landscapes to snapshots to portraits. It's truly a Goldilox lens.
I could be content with the X100F as-is and I'm confident I could make the 35mm equivalent lens work for anything. Fujifilm provides a couple of options for the X100 series though and I own both the telephoto and wide angle conversion lenses for my X100F. In truth, I love the 50mm equivalent focal length of the telephoto conversion lens. 50mm is really my favorite focal length, although it isn't as versatile as 35mm. The telephoto conversion lens sees a lot of use at concerts and for portraits. Then there are also times when I need a little wider focal length. This is usually at concerts where my movement is restricted and I'm right at the edge of a low stage. So, I have a few options with this X100F rig. Not too many - just right. Simple.
No doubt that many people will view my choice as too limiting. I find it liberating. I've relieved my self of most of the burden of choice and the "analysis paralysis" that my obsessive analytical mind sometimes gets trapped in. Now I have one very small camera bag that I can grab and head out the door knowing that I've got a bit of kit that I know well, love to use, and will prove to be perfectly fine for the type of photography that I enjoy. The X100F isn't for everyone. For me, it's just right.