VII Months with the X100V

Back in June, I began a new photographic journey with the X100V as my only camera, replacing my X-T2, 35mm f1.4, 23mm f/2m and 15-45mm lenses. I wanted to see if the one camera one lens philosophy of creative constraints held anything for me.

Almost every day now the X100V and I go for a walk. Either we explore a new part of town for a couple of hours or visit an old one looking for a new perspective. I’m always expecting a boring walk yet I always manage to find a few images I think are pretty neat. I think that comes from doing so much traveling in the past. 

I still have this deeply ingrained idea that I need to be somewhere interesting or have better gear to get the most out of a scene. When what the V is teaching me is that vision is far more important. While this is incredibly obvious it isn’t something we always follow through on as photographers. 

Especially gear-review lovers like myself. Whenever I get a really bad impulse for gear though, I just look through the images I’ve already taken with my V and I find it soothes the insecurity substantially. While I certainly could use more megapixels or a different rendering, I also now know that I have more to learn in how I process via Capture One. 

In just one night recently, I looked up a couple of tutorials and significantly improved my sharpening and color grading game. I’m now mostly unsatisfied with the much-praised out-of-camera JPEG output from my Fuji camera! I still shoot JPEG when I know I don’t plan on doing anything with the image. But I also shoot a lot of my casual images in RAW so I can learn how to better control every aspect of the image. It’s taught me how to maximize the dual gain ISO values, the ISO invariant nature of X-trans sensors, several of the sharpening algorithms Capture One provides…RAW, RAW, RAW!

I did break my One Camera One Lens streak by month 6, I’m afraid. The TCL-X100 and WCL-X100 were just too tempting to pass up. I got incredibly good deals on both and with the EF-X20 flash, they occupy just enough space that I’ll probably need a larger camera bag if they become long-term residents.

I simply can’t seem to completely escape gear acquisition but I’m also pleased to have some new field of view choices again. Especially since these two lenses are still mostly in the normal field of view range so their use doesn’t detract too much from having a consistent feel to my work. 

The WCL-X100 sees the least light as I bought it for crowds, where the 23mm lens can get tight. But I haven’t had much of a chance to try that since COVID, and all…At most distances, the standard 23mm lens is plenty wide so the WCL is eagerly awaiting 2021.

The TCL-X100, on the other hand, gets a fair amount of attention now. Not as much as I expected since swapping converter lenses is a bit fussy. I keep a clear B+W filter attached to my main lens permanently to keep from having to clean the main element. So it takes more time to swap but I like the extra insurance against the inevitable fine scratch that won’t impact image quality in the slightest but will still bother my perfectionist side immensely.

It’s quite sharp, though I’ve noticed it seems to magnify the slight haze of the main lens at f/2 at close focus distances. Only in certain lighting situations though. While the digital teleconverter is attractive, the TCL gives you true f/2 bokeh and the full 26.1 MP resolution. This makes it great for portraits and fine art images.

Strangely enough…I’m of two minds on the fussiness of using the converter lenses. On the one hand, they sometimes make me pine for a true interchangeable lens system again. But on the other, I appreciate that they make me really think about what I stand to gain from switching views and whether it’s worth doing so when I could try capturing the subject in a different fashion with the base lens. 

It’s slow photography, which I believe brings more awareness of the creative process and what, precisely, speaks to me as an artist. By pinning down what goes through me on a creative impulse, I can play to my strengths that much more. Slow photography is how I discovered that I don’t really care for telephoto or wide-angle fields of view, for instance. I get rare impulses for both but 95% of the time, I prefer images in the full-frame 28-50mm range, akin to what we naturally take in. 24mm on a good day (mmm, XF 16mm f1.4) but that’s about as wide as I like.

That said, I also sometimes consider selling them and going back to just the base lens. The WCL, I could do without but the TCL, ehhhh…It’s big, but 50mm was my favorite focal length. In fact, if they made an X100 with that lens, I’d probably have to switch. 

Also by selling them, I could keep my current Peak Design 3L and add an Instax Mini Printer. Once the travel scene is back to normal I’d love to print out street portraits for people that I meet and start some kind of scrapbook.

7 Months in with the X100V and I’m constantly thrilled by the output! If you’re not already an X100 user, you really need to join the fun!

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