I’ve had my little Fuji X100 for a few years now. It’s been superseded by the X100S and X100T versions and there are rumours (as always in the camera industry) of another version being launched shortly. As a wedding photographer I have to use equipment that delivers results, every time. My main cameras are full-frame Nikons and they’re brilliant. But there are times when bigger isn’t better. When a small, discreet camera would be more appropriate to the situation. So, the question I hope to answer is – can the original Fuji X100 work as a wedding camera?
My “pimped” Limited Edition Fuji X100 complete with the TCL-x100 and an after-market grip © ianH photography – Bournemouth wedding photographer
I’m not a “Fuji fan-boy”
Let me get one thing straight from the outset. This isn’t going to be technical review. I’m not going to be pixel-peeping and comparing images from the Fuji against the full-frame Nikons.
I’m going to talk about how I use the Fuji and how it might fit into a wedding photographer’s arsenal. Unlike some photographers I’m not fanatical and evangelical about the kit that I use. I’m not going to say that this will work for every photographer, it won’t.
Over the past 30 years I’ve been a part of the development of wedding photography as equipment has changed as a result of technical innovation. From the formal (almost formulaic) style of weddings due to the working style imposed by the use of medium format such as Hasselblads, Mamiyas and Bronicas to the start of documentary photography as an accepted style with the use of 35mm Nikons and Canons.
Through to the revolution created when digital made an appearance and gave wedding photographers the freedom to be creative without the restrictions of 36 shots on a roll at a specific ISO. To really tell the story of the day, in all conditions, even low-light. It’s been a roller-coaster ride and I’m sure there’s a lot more in store for us yet! 🙂
The X100 development
The Fuji X-series was announced at Photokina on September 20th, 2010. The X100 was launched globally in March 2011. Fuji rocked the camera world when they unveiled the Fuji X100.
Highlights of camera: small, lightweight, unobtrusive. A 12mp APS-C sensor (like the Nikon D300) and best of all – a cracking 23mm lens (equiv to 35mm in full-frame terms) and silent operation! Fantastic.
Shortfalls : focusing speed in the original X100 wasn’t exactly speedy. Fuji fixed this when they launched the 100S but then they did something unheard of in the photographic world. They provided a firmware update for the original model, which brought it “almost” to the standard of the 100S, which featured a 16mp sensor of a different type. Since then they’ve launched the 100T which has an optional electronic shutter plus wi-fi, to send images to your phone. Who knows what’ll be next (the latest rumours suggest a 23mp sensor and a brand new lens)! So, looking at the T and comparing it to the original you’d think that it’s a no-brainer. Get the new one with all of the bells and whistles. But, what if you don’t want to let go of the original (like me)? Or don’t want to spend that amount of money for an upgrade? Is it destined to be relegated to the cupboard along with kit you bought a few years ago and never used?
So, can the Fuji X100 work as a wedding camera?
Or can it still deliver results on what’s probably the most important day in a couple’s life, their wedding day? Well, the answer may be …. keep it, and use it. Let me explain ….
In my opinion, used within its limitations, the original X100 still stands as a great camera for weddings.
Focussing. It’s not as fast as the S and T versions – one point that a lot of people don’t realise is that you can forget about the “press shutter half-way to lock focus, recompose and shoot” of a DSLR when you’re using the X100. If the focus point is on your subject just press the shutter fully – trust me, in 95% of cases it nails the shot. Obviously the shutter button’s not as responsive as a DSLR, but if you’ve got a situation that’s not fast-moving it’ll do the job. Another option is to go manual. What? Turn off autofocus – are you mad? No, I’m not. Think about it. If you have a situation where the couple aren’t moving around then switch to manual. Use the back button to set focus, select an aperture that’ll give you a reasonable depth of field and you’re all set (in the days of shooting film on Leicas we called it zone focusing).
Let’s look at this in practice. I regularly use the X100 when I’m taking photos of the Bride and Groom taking their vows. No officiant, be it in a religious or civil ceremony, wants to hear the “clack, clack” of a DSLR going off close to them. It interrupts the moment. Switch the X100 to silent mode and all you’ll get is a discreet “snip” that no-one more than a couple of feet away would hear. There is an offset to the advantage of working this way. As I mentioned, the shutter response isn’t as fast as a DSLR. So when you’re trying to ensure that you’ve got the couple with their eyes open you’d get a better success rate with a DSLR than with the X100. Now I don’t know whether shooting with the T would result in a better hit rate, but I’m sure someone will let me know. But hey, if you can obtain images in a situation where a Vicar says “absolutely no photographs because of the noise” you’re on a winner anyway!
The X100 delivers beautiful results. The auto white balance is better than any DSLR I know of. The Fuji has an amazing ability to even out mixed light sources in a way that none of the DSLRs can – it’s Fuji magic! Looking through the EVF of any Fuji X series is a revalation to any DSLR user. Being able to see the effect of the exposure you’ve set before you take the shot. No need to constantly chimp the LCD on the back of the camera.
To me, it just feels “right”. It puts a smile on my face when I pick it up. Hey, my Nikons are the work-horses for my wedding photography and they’re great, but I love my little Fuji. If I had to take one camera and one lens on a world trip it would be an X100. So, if you’ve got an X100 sat in the cupboard take it out on your next wedding and show it a little love – it may surprise you! 🙂
Feel free to leave you comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions.
Ian is one of Dorset’s leading wedding photographers. Based in Bournemouth and with over 20 years of experience photographing weddings across Dorset and Hampshire, Ian’s the perfect choice for couples who want unobtrusive, discreet wedding photography that captures the emotions of their special day. Read more about his own personal style of documentary wedding photography on this website.
Proud to be a recommended photographer for a number of leading Dorset wedding venues.
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