My Journey With the Fujifilm X100V
9 min read | January 22 2022
Well I suppose it’s been a little over 6 months now since I got my Fuji X100V — time sure does fly! I’m happy to say that I’ve taken several thousand shots since then and even caught a few good ones 😛. But in all seriousness, I wanted to take a little time and space to reflect on this journey back to photography, the logistics behind it, why I take pictures in the first place, and how it’s impacted me. I’m enjoying this camera and the art of taking pictures so much. I’m really glad to be on this journey 🙂
So I actually did a lot of photography when I was pretty young (before high school / football took over) while my family was still showing horses (AQHA represent!) all over the south-west. I never shot film but being circa 2003-2008 digital was… new. Aside from a few Kodaks and a Fuji S2, my proudest moments were always shooting the Nikon D1. I mean just look at this thing:
Sporting a whopping TWO megapixels (yes, 2) it was.. something! The body and system were actually great — the D1 (and the whole D series) was built solid. No doubt it was a ‘professional’ camera. A professional camera that happened to be in the hands of a pre-teen soaking in all kinds of photography knowledge and taking all the pictures! Good times, good times. With a small, early-days sensor and a propensity for incredible amounts of digital noise / grain, it didn’t create the best pictures in the world, but I earned my stripes on that old thing.
Looking back I wasn’t actually very good — in knowledge or skill — but I loved it. I read every book I could find, tried to learn every setting of the camera, and photoshopped terrible pictures straight into oblivion. Those were the days.
Then high school came along, football took over my life (and took me to college!), the iPhone came out, and growing up took over. My hobbies turned to sports, programming, and all the other things most teenagers and young adults get into. As we progressed through the version of iPhones, their cameras became more and more ‘good enough’. They even added features like AE/AF Lock and exposure controls so that when I wanted to, I could drop in a touch of photography knowledge and get a neat shot. That was just fine and I’ve got tens of thousands of pictures from those years! iPhones are a great choice in almost every situation (albeit with the stigma that’s grown alongside them). Buuuuut there was always that part of me that took a second glance or thought twice when I saw someone with a proper camera. Part of me always missed it. It wasn’t until this last year of leaving social media (losing a place to put pictures) and leaving my phone behind (losing a mechanism for taking pictures) that forced me to reflect on what it is to take pictures and how I still want to do that.
Let me tell you. It feels so great to have a stand-alone, physical camera again.
And, beyond just that, it’s incredible how far the camera technology has come since the mid-2000’s! There are so many new options, designs, and beautiful cameras + lenses to choose from. There are cameras with fifty times the number of megapixels as my old D1 now! That’s crazy! Plus I’m an adult and have a job now so I can actually afford these amazing new picture-takers! 😅
All that to say, it’s good to be back. It’s amazing to look through a real viewfinder again — to block out everything outside of the frame and just focus on composing a single moment again. To not be distracted and instead just focus on taking one picture at a time again. To work on the skills of composition and finding neat subjects with intention again, not just snapping away on my phone. I love having a real lens again, I love playing with shutter speeds and apertures again, and (especially for Fuji cameras) I love having specific manual dials and knobs to control the functional foundations of how a picture is taken again. It’s really, really great. I take my camera everywhere and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Kalika could tell you.. in six months I’ve been through a lot of accessories. I want to take my camera everywhere! That means I need to have a plan for how to carry it, how to protect it, how to clean it, how to etc. etc. all the time and in all situations! It’s been its own little journey 😅. I tried a few different bags (around the belt, over the shoulder, fanny-pack, etc.), a few different straps (sling carry, classic neck carry, strap-as-a-belt-carry), carrying it only on a wrist strap, hooking it to a belt loop with a carabiner, various different UV filter systems and/or lens hoods, keeping the lens cap on, keeping the lens cap off… there’ve been a lot of revisions. It’s tough trying to strike a balance between “always on you and ready” and “well-protected and travel-able”! I think I’m at a fairly stable revision — or at least one that hasn’t changed for a couple weeks. I got a square lens hood both for sun-blocking and to protect the UV filter (you really have to intentionally reach in to the hood to touch glass), leave the lens cap off all the time, and carry it sling-style all the time (unless driving). The square hood really adds to that classic, old-school camera look (in my opinion):
While the sling-carry allows me to keep it at my front, side, or stowed away on my back when I’m not actively shooting. It’s a super convenient setup but it wasn’t until I got the square lens hood that I felt confident about it. Without the hood I’d either need to use a lens cap or constantly live in fear of brushing the glass against something 😆. Altogether I’m really happy with this setup. Perfect for walking around, hiking anywhere, and being light.
Well, for now anyway. We’ll see where the next revision goes 😉. The goal is always to make it easier to carry in all situations while still being safe and durable. Let me know if you have any ideas! Still working on the best way to take it with me on bike rides…
Honestly this is is/was sort of a hard question for me to answer at face value. I think I’ve done that implicitly in a couple of other posts but for me, I take pictures to capture memories. Maybe in other words, my primary reason for taking pictures is so that I can look back at them in the future and remember. Clarifying that goal in myself has helped me realize some truths about why I take pictures though: my goals don’t revolve around taking “just the right picture for social media”. My pictures shouldn’t revolve around any kind of ‘like button’ system. And I don’t want money to be involved (I want to keep this a passion, not a business). I don’t want to make money off them, I want to make memories and nostalgia off them! Maybe that’s a little too black-and-white and I could do both, but for now I really want to hold on to the innocent passion of taking pictures. I want to protect my desire to take pictures in an organic, personal way. I take pictures to capture the moments I find beautiful, fun, or intriguing. I don’t ever want to make it a job or an obligation — just a passion 🙂.
Strongly related to this goal and in line with the “look back at them and remember” concept is printing them! I really believe that pictures are meant to be printed. As much as a beautiful shot or memory can look great on a screen, nothing can do an image justice quite like bringing it into the real world and letting real light shine through the scene. If you’ve ever been to one of those dim-lighted massive-print galleries in bougie downtown areas of most big cities, you’ll know what I mean. Something about a life-size colorful print is just incredible.
That too is why I carry around a small polaroid-style printer. Being able to take a picture of a moment or a person then quickly and quietly print off a small polaroid of that moment (directly from the camera) for them is a special thing. When Kalika and I were in Denver we were able to surprise a couple that had just gotten engaged with that kind of picture. It was so sweet. These little prints can do so much:
So overall, I’m loving this thing. I’m excited to be able to take pictures with a dedicated device, I’m excited to be able to share them, and I’m excited to keep this whole process personal and passion-driven. So here’s to just ‘taking pictures’ 🙂