The Fuji X100S for Travel Photography
Last updated August 22, 2014.
The Fuji X100S ($1,299 new, only $899 used) is a marvel of a travel camera. It's small, light, fast, relatively inexpensive, and it takes great pictures of people — nailing the color every time. It was the camera I decided to use for my trip before buying a Leica in Japan.
Today I shoot with a Leica M9, but even if you bought that camera used it would cost you almost $4,500. I think the $1,299 X100S is a steal in comparison — especially if photography is more of a hobby than a lifestyle for you.
I often miss features of the X100S in my Leica. For example: my Leica can't shoot jpegs well, and it doesn't have a flash or autofocus. So if I just want to take a great picture quickly I'd choose an X100S over a Leica. The Leica is far more work to use.
The X100S has the same 35mm equivalent focal length that I use on my Leica most of the time. If you like the X100S but really want to use interchangeable lenses consider the Fuji X-Pro1 (about $899, body only) or Fuji XT1 ($1,288, body only) instead. However, those two cameras present some stiff compromises: the X-Pro1 has an optical viewfinder, which I think is much better than the XT1's electronic-only viewfinder. But the XT1 is much faster and is weather sealed.
I've said this before, but the main difference between a Fuji X100S and a Leica M9 is that the Leica lets me focus by feel without looking through the camera. I've found this to be a critical feature for making the camera disappear and let me focus on photography.
The X100S eats batteries. In a heavy day of shooting I can easily go through one and a half batteries. So I'd recommend getting two or three extras. The official battery is $31, but these $10 generics worked fine for me.
You'll also want to protect the lens from scratches and dust. This is especially important since the lens is attached to the camera and can't be replaced. Unfortunately the X100S has a strange design where the lens will bang against any filter placed on it when focusing on something in macro, so I used this $15 adapater to allow me to mount a B&W 49mm filter. The adapter has zero effect on the aesthetics of photos taken — so there's no reason not to buy a cheap knockoff. The filter does have an effect on images, and if you're spending almost $1,000 on a camera you should probably use high quality B&W filters.
Some sample pictures from my time on the road with the X100S before I replaced it with a Leica. These pictures aren't my best, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I was just getting started than it does with the switch in cameras.
You can see more of these in my posts Tokyo In Motion and The Kind People of Los Angeles. (As you can see from those Los Angeles pictures, I was already thinking about getting a Leica during my visit.)
Before I had an X100S I used an X100. It was a marvel of a camera — almost exactly the same as the X100S but just a bit slower. Here are some sample shots from that wonderful little camera.