X100 to GFX Journey: The Evolution of the X Series

By Kevin Mullins

I’ve been using the Fujifilm system since its inception back in 2011. My very first Fujifilm camera was the Fujifilm FinePix X100 (remember when it was still called the FinePix?).

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the X-Photographer community since those early days and even after nine years or so find the X Series range of cameras the tools that I still use for all my work.

As the system has grown from the embryonic MLC that was the X100 to the high-resolution machine that is the GFX 50S, I’ve witnessed a system that has taken its first baby steps to winning platitudes and awards every year.

Going right back to the FinePix X100, this was one of the first images I took with the camera:

FinePix X100, 1/60 F2, ISO 25

I was smitten with the camera, but I think it’s fair to say that the original X100 definitely had some teething problems.

When I was shooting with the FinePix X100 I felt a deep assimilation with the JPEGs that the camera was producing.  However, trying to achieve focus, especially in low light situations, proved challenging.

And then something quite unheard of happened… a firmware update.  Not only did the firmware update fix small bugs, it made the whole camera more responsive and even added a feature or two.

This was the sign of things to come, of course, and I think one of the things that define Fujifilm’s success is their unwavering support for the photographic community via firmware updates.

Ironically, according to my Lightroom Catalog, the last personal photography I took with my FinePix X100 – which I still have (I never sell a classic camera!) is this shot of it’s successor, the X100S (note, FinePix no longer in the name):

FinePix X100, 1/480, F2, ISO 3200

This was the camera that I wrote my first book about, such was my love for it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trawling through my archives of personal family snaps that I’ve taken with the X100, the X100S, X100T & X100F.

I had over 10,000 images that I considered good enough to keep.

Of course, these are family snaps, nothing particularly arty about them and absolutely the most important thing is the memories for me and my family.

Anyhow, here are the 100 family snaps, taken with my various Fujifilm X100 Cameras and in chronological order. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the original X100. It’s the camera that made me realise photography is fun rather than just for work.  Here is my little homage to the X100 and all its incarnations.

This was really when things started changing with the little X100 format cameras, but before the X100S came out, we were bamboozled by the X-Pro1.

Now, my introduction to this camera was somewhat forced.  I was writing a monthly business column for Professional Photography magazine when the editor asked me to review the camera;

Him:  “Would you like to review the new Fujifilm X-Pro1?”

Me:  “Well, not really, the reason I love the X100 is because it’s fixed lens and I don’t want to invest in another interchangeable lens system as I still have my Canon cameras”.

Him: “We’ll pay you £200 for the review”.

Me:  “Oh, go on then….”

Fast forward five weeks and I have to take the review copy back to Archant House in Cheltenham.  As I hand over the review packages to them, the editor asks me what I thought.  I showed him a copy of my order email from WEX where I’d just pre-ordered the X-Pro1 and the three launch lenses.

Not too long after I took delivery of my X-Pro1, XF35mm, XF60mm and XF18mm lenses I sold off all my Canon gear.

At this point, we were then beginning to see new sensors and later, new Film Simulations too but really, what everybody in the photographic world was realising was that these new breeds of mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm were: smaller, lighter, cheaper and crucially, performed very well compared to what we had been used to using.

Of course, there are still some rare situations where a DSLR might be a better option for a particular shooting style, but with the emergence of the X-H1 I think even that is becoming mitigated and the Fujifilm system is catering more and more for all types of photographers.  It’s not true that Fujifilm cameras are “only for Street Photographers”.

At some point in 2013, I was in Tokyo and I was using another new Fujifilm camera, the X-M1.  The X-M1 used the same X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1 and X-E1 but didn’t have a viewfinder.  It had a tilt screen and was actually the first camera to have Wi-Fi too.

To be totally honest, I never really got on with this camera.  It was too fiddley, and I really missed the viewfinder.  I’ve never been a huge lover of tilt screens, and I’m pleased Fujifilm continue to pacify people in both camps with cameras that have tilt screens and cameras that don’t.

The camera did yield me an image on that trip to Tokyo which went on to win SWPP Landscape photographer of the Year award though.

X-M1, 23mm F1.4 lens @ F8, 1/200 ISO 200

When the X-T1 arrived, the game changed for many people.  The X-Pro1, X100S where good cameras, but they were perhaps not quite sharp enough for many to consider for professional work.

However, when the X-T1 came along with its continuous focus and high-speed shooting, this was when I first started seeing a big influx of shooters coming to the Fujifilm stable.

Some of my favourite images to date have come from the X-T1:

X-T1, 56mm F1.2 lens @ f1.2, 1/1,800 ISO 200
X-T1, 23mm F1.4 Lens @ f1.4, 1/2,700 ISO 400

And of course, later came the X-T2 and the X-Pro2 and little curve balls such as the X70.

The X70 remains one of my favourite cameras; despite what I said about the X-M1, the X70 is also an LCD only camera and it has ergonomic issues too, but that camera has so much character and is so small that it is still one of my most use cameras when shooting.  I shoot with my X70 at weddings as well as personally and I really hope there is a future for that line of camera.

X70, F2.8, 1/125, ISO400
X70, F2.8, 1/900, ISO 400

And, as we come to the end of this whistle stop tour of my time with the Fujifilm X Series of cameras, I can’t possibly leave out two of the new guys in the stable; the GFX 50S and the X-E3.

For me, the GFX is all about prints.  I use in mainly in my family photography business which is prints only and I find it incredible that I can shoot with a medium format camera, handheld, in a candid way.

It’s a big camera of course, and that’s why it’s not really suited, for me at least, for fast paced shooting, but anything where the pace is slower, and the images may end up in print, then the GFX is the way forward.  I can’t wait to see how this branch of the series matures.

Here is a little snapshot of my own summer, all shot hand held with the GFX 50S:


More from Kevin Mullins

Website: www.kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk

Blog: https://f16.click/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevin_mullins

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GloucestershireWeddingPhotography/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kevinmullinsphotography/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/documentaryeye

Bright nights and city lights with the FUJIFILM X-T20

By Oliver Wheeldon

Being a London local, Oliver Wheeldon was extremely excited when the Lumiere Light Festival, a show of over fifty artistic light installations, came to town. Not only was Oliver able to capture some stunning shots of the lights transforming the city at night, he was also able to push the X-T20’s high ISO capabilities to the limit to capture the city streets after dark.

Continue reading Bright nights and city lights with the FUJIFILM X-T20

Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

By Chris Weston

Wildlife photography throws up many challenges. For starters, weather and environmental conditions are rarely ideal. Dusty African savannahs, humid jungles, persistent precipitation in rainforests, sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic – they all demand the very best of the equipment I use, in terms of both performance and reliability. In reality, it’s about confidence – I need to know that when the going gets tough the camera I’m using will perform consistently and uninterrupted. Having worked with X-T series cameras in camera-hostile environments around the world, I already have surety in the Fujifilm system.

I have recently spent time working with the FUJIFILM X-H1, including a trip to the stunning Camargue region in the South France to photograph the wild horses there. It’s obvious the designers and engineers have taken weather resistance to even higher levels with this new camera, with more robust seals to prevent electronics’ two main enemies, dust and water, leaving you high and dry. Continue reading Never Miss The Moment: A first look at the FUJIFILM X-H1

Up The Dempster – North of the Arctic Circle with the GFX 50S

When I was asked to write a camera review of the new GFX 50S, my mind quickly went to all the gushing camera reviews all over magazines and the Internet. These are not so much reviews as they are statements of brand fandom and long lists of technical features. I immediately knew I didn’t want to write a traditional camera review but instead wanted to tell a story and to show you, the reader, how I used the Fujifilm GFX 50S. I was to take the camera on a trip was from Toronto Ontario to Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories through the Yukon. And so it began…

Arriving from Toronto, we flew into Whitehorse, my travelling companion and I, before setting off on the long drive north up the infamous Dempster Highway. The term highway is a generous one. It can be more accurately described as a crude and very dusty (or muddy) gravel and shale cut, across an otherwise seemingly unblemished northern Canadian landscape, spanning the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and crossing the Arctic Circle. It has earned its nickname as the “Tire Eater”.

It’s July, and I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the Great Northern Arts Festival (GNAF) in Inuvik, as a visiting artist. The goal is to arrive in Inuvik just in time for the opening ceremonies. From there we will fly to Tuktoyaktuk for the weekend, before returning to Inuvik and beginning the long drive back to Whitehorse. Travelling in a brawny pickup truck, two spare tires, our gear, and a bear rifle in tow, we set off.

IMAGE_01.jpg

In spite of all the advances in Fuji’s colour processing, I still love to “shoot” in black and white. There is a timeless quality to the resultant images, and the wide dynamic range and impressive bit-depth of this camera bring me into black and white film territory, and beyond.

First stop is the Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon Territory. It had been a long day, but the sun sets late, even here, and I was able to capture this epic sunset. Not a bad start to the journey. In the valley below, that’s not water, but ice from the previous winter…just a reminder of where we are heading. These sights are becoming increasingly rare in the North, as the permafrost melts and the air warms, year over year.

 

IMAGE_02.jpg

Next morning, we had a chance for some day-hiking. At an elevation of 3000 feet (900 meters), the view is good — very good. Alpine trees and even some wildflowers can be hundreds of years old at this elevation, so we tread lightly at leave no trace.

 

IMAGE_03

IMAGE_04

IMAGE_05

After summiting and our decent, it is time to move on. But before too long, we come across this curious fellow and his large family. Apparently these small mountain sheep are very timid of people, but it seems like someone forgot to tell this summer lamb.

IMAGE_06.jpg

There is a lot to love about the Northern landscape, but what always amazes me is how quickly you can come upon an entirely different and majestic vista. Just around a bend, and with no warning, scenes like this open in front of you. I have been experimenting with hand-held multi-shot stitched panoramic images using the GSX 50S. Because of the already extreme resolution and its lightweight design, this camera is great for hand-held panoramic photography. This 113 megapixel stitched image can be beautifully printed larger than most walls can accommodate!

IMAGE_07.jpg

A ribbon of gravel, sand and earth lies in front of me. Time to move on. Many, many, more days of road are still ahead. We briefly stop to offer assistance to an RV, already with a flat tire. I’m glad I insisted on two spares. You see, by the laws of nature, had I only had one spare, I would likely get two flat tires, but by paying for two spares, I feel I’m nearly guaranteed to have no flat tires at all.

IMAGE_08.jpg

IMAGE_09.jpg

Firmly above the treeline, north of the Arctic Circle now…and it’s snowing…in July. No kidding. In spite of it being the hottest time of year, with 24-hour daylight, it is not unusual to have sudden snow storms here, at 2300 feet (900 m) of elevation. Weatherproof camera? Check! I would hate to be worrying about my camera in a place such as this.

IMAGE_10.jpg

Early in the morning, crossing the Continental Divide, and it is time to do some more hiking. It is this rise of land that determines whether the river waters reach the Arctic, Atlantic or Pacific oceans, and it was begging to be climbed. The Arctic wind across the open plain was brutal and the sun (when it was out) was harsh and bright, but still cold. As we approached the summit, there were times it felt like I would be blown clear down the mountain, head-over-heels. However, as you’ve probably gathered, since this essay doesn’t end here abruptly, I did not. Maybe having learned a thing or two from my sure-footed lamb friend earlier in the journey, I managed to stay upright, with my head and feet in their most usual positions.

IMAGE_11.jpg

Several hours, and one large meal later, it was time to get back on the road. And once again, the landscape changes. Jagged mountains give way to rolling hills and ancient worn peaks.

IMAGE_12.jpg

Travelling in the Arctic is as close to traveling back in time as I will ever experience. The cold nearly freezes time. You can imagine that this landscape has changed very little over the past several thousand years. These lands are millions of year in the making. It is enough to humble any man or woman, no matter their station in life. There are many a bombastic political leader who could benefit from a journey here.

IMAGE_13.jpg

After a brief stop in Inuvik for the wonderful GNAF opening ceremonies, it was time to catch a flight to Tuktoyaktuk, or Tuk, as everyone here calls it. The Great Northern Arts Festival is a destination for many Northern artists and worldwide art lovers alike, and should not be missed if you ever have the opportunity to visit Inuvik in July.

What does one expect, coming to a remote northern Inuit town? Cut off from the world, until just the other day, November 2017, when the first all-year highway opened up to the south, what do you think awaits? Check your expectations and biases at the door. Check your frame of mind.

IMAGE_14.jpg

IMAGE_15.jpg

The town of Tuk is certainly beautiful, in a very special way. A quintessential northern Canadian town, rich with Inuit/Inuvialuit culture at every turn. The buildings in Tuk remind me of the quilts you see at antique shops in the city or at farmer’s markets on the weekend. Small irregular pieces carefully come together to make the whole. Look deeper, beyond the surface, and we’re reminded of how wasteful most of us have become.

This may be a story of the haves and have-nots, but not in the conventional sense of the phrase. It is us, the busy nine-to-five city-dweller, who are truly the have-nots. We are poor in the knowledge of the very land on which we live. We are poor in family and in community. We are poor in the sense of belonging as an integral part of, and not separate from, our environments.

Being a Fujifilm X-Photographer, and working in the North, I have had the privilege of catching a glimpse of these riches we rarely see in the south, while using a camera that not only captures the true detail of the scene but also allows me to feel more connected to my subjects.

IMAGE_16.jpg

A room with a view! Staying in a room at “Hunter’s”, right on the Arctic Ocean. I don’t think it gets much better than this.

IMAGE_17.jpg

The Ibyuk pingo, a 1200-year-old earth-covered ice mound, is the tallest pingo in Canada. It is still growing, for now, until global climate change alters that. A big thank you to the Gruben family of Tuktoyaktuk for the trip out. I would not have been able to experience this without their support.

IMAGE_18.jpg

The view north to the Arctic Ocean from atop the Ibyuk pingo!

IMAGE_19.jpg

Young Hunter with a small .22 for target practice. Hunting is a way of life and a necessity in the North, so your shot needs to be good if you want to eat.

IMAGE_20.jpg

When it gets so cold that even the land cracks!

IMAGE_21.jpg

Leaving Tuk and flying south to Inuvik to pick up the truck again, we get one last glimpse of this magnificent view. Can’t wait to come back another time! The highway will be open then, and there will inevitably be change. As a photographer using the GFX system, I have the unique opportunity to document these changes with staggering detail and acuity, and these images will serve as a record of days, and generations, gone by.

IMAGE_22.jpg

Well after midnight, on a cold summer’s night in the land of the midnight sun.

IMAGE_23.jpg

A lot of forest fires as we head back south along the Dempster. It will take decades before this forest has regrown. While you might think a sight like this is sad, it is the fire itself that helps the forest grow! Not only does the fire break down organic matter into the new forest floor, but these trees are designed to burn. Their lower limbs burn, and in the process, the upper pinecones (you can see them at the very tops of the trees), after being heated from the fire, release their seed onto the nutrient-rich ground below. With nearly no competing vegetation left and direct sun on the forest floor, the seeds are free to grow into healthy saplings and on to mature trees. The trees may die, but the seeds and their genes live on. Without the fires, this process would never happen. However, as always, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. With more forest fires than usual, another result of climate change, the trees don’t have time to produce their seeds and the forests will struggle to survive.

IMAGE_24.jpg

IMAGE_25.jpg

Try to see the beauty in everything. Nearby forest fires make the air thick with smoke.

IMAGE_26.jpg

Just outside of Dawson City…and there’s gold in them there hills!

IMAGE_27.jpg

Last stop before heading home. A smoky Yukon River just beyond Dawson City.

I have been to the Arctic and sub-Arctic zones in spring, summer, and fall, and while it can certainly be a challenging climate, it is also most definitely a rewarding one. It is a vast area that, once seen, beckons for your return. Unquestionably, the lack of trees makes for a landscape photographer’s dream. With nothing to block your view and seemingly limitless unspoiled land, there seems to be a sweeping vista in every direction at any point along the journey.

As for the camera itself, what can be said that has not been covered in the numerous technical reviews? I think what’s missing from these reviews is a first-hand account of how the GFX 50S feels in use. I’m not just talking about the ergonomics, but rather the ethos underpinning the experience of creating images with this particular camera. Ultimately, I felt that the camera became an extension of myself, which is the highest praise I can afford a mechanical object. Sure, having a big medium format 51-megapixel sensor, lenses that perform flawlessly, and files with huge dynamic range and beautiful colour, all help with the experience. But the technical features alone do not account for the experience of creating images with this camera. It is often said that a great camera should not get in the way of the photographer creating images. Not only does the GFX 50S not get in the way of the photographer, but I found I was not thinking about the camera at all, let alone worrying about technical issues. And that is probably the highest compliment I can think of for a camera – that I simply did not notice it.

Thank you again to Fujifilm for your continued support and to the Great Northern Arts Festival for inviting me to join you in Inuvik, and of course, for everyone who has followed along! Where should I go next??


About the Author

Canadian photographer and adventurer, J R Bernstein is a long-time Fujifilm X-Photographer. He is an award-winning and well-published photographer known for his narrative images and perfectionist approach to lighting and storytelling. His art leaves the viewer with a sense of time and place as if every photograph is a single frame of a much larger story. Each image, and each of the elements within it is deliberate and plays a role in the story-telling process. Photographs are not to be left to chance or whim.

For more information on his fine-art and commercial work, J R can be reached via his website, jrbernstein.com

Why The X100F Is My Camera of Choice

by Mark Condon

As the founder of Shotkit, I’m in the fortunate position to have access to virtually any photography related product. Being a huge fan of the Fujifilm X Series cameras and lenses, I’ve handled every camera and lens in the line up.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/160 second – F4 – ISO 640

 

Herein lies the one thing that I actually dislike about the Fujifilm –series – there are just too many great cameras and lenses to choose from! With functionality which overlaps between camera models and excellent image quality across the board, choosing a Fujifilm X Series camera is a somewhat challenging process…

 

After almost a year of umming and ahing and reading countless online reviews (like this one on my own site!), I finally settled on one camera – the Fujifilm X100F.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/220 second – F4 – ISO 200

 

In this guest post, I’d like to go into the 3 main reasons why I decided upon this understated fixed lens camera as my camera of choice, and ultimately decided it was the best travel camera of 2017.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/2000 second – F2.5 – ISO 320

 

  1. Size

 

It’s no surprise that the number one reason for dSLR shooters to move to the mirrorless camera format is due to the smaller size of the camera and/or lenses.

 

All the camera bodies in the Fujifilm X Series line-up are smaller and lighter than dSLRs with equivalent APS-C sensors. This makes them very attractive to anyone who carries their gear for long periods of time, particularly professionals.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/160 second – F2 – ISO 640

 

In the Fujifilm X Series lineup, the Fujifilm X100F isn’t the smallest and lightest camera, but to me, its size and weight are perfect.

 

I have rather large hands, so anything smaller than this camera feels far too fiddly to use. In addition, I believe that a camera body needs to have a certain weight to it to be used effectively. The proportions of the X100F provide great balance in the hand, and its weight is reassuring – not too light to feel like a toy, but not too heavy to be cumbersome.

 

Another important factor that contributes to the compact size of the Fujifilm X100F is its fixed lens, which leads me on to point number 2.

 

  1. Lens

 

Having written extensively about the best Fujifilm lenses, I feel somewhat hypocritical choosing a camera which uses a fixed lens! With all that stellar Fujifilm glass on offer, why would I choose a camera with a fixed lens?!

 

Tying in with the point above, whilst I do love the Fujifilm (interchangeable) lenses, they do add size and weight to any Fujifilm camera body. Even the smallest, lightest Fujifilm prime lens will add bulk on to the front of the camera. Whether or not this is relevant to you is questionable, but for me, I love the fact that the Fujifilm X100F is (and will always be)… compact!

Fujifilm X100F – 1/1900 second – F5.6 – ISO 200

 

Aside from the size benefit of using a compact camera with one fixed lens, there are 2 other less obvious advantages of the XF23mmF2 lens of the Fujifilm X100F.

 

The first is somewhat subjective, but I absolutely love the images that are produced by the combination of this lens and the camera. I’m sure the boffins at Fujifilm HQ can elaborate, but there’s something about this combination that seems to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/160 second – F4 – ISO 320

 

I’ve shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 with a Fujinon XF23mmF2 WR lens attached, and whilst it’s an excellent combo, the Fujifilm X100F still beats it for me.

 

The other advantage is also slightly subjective, but having a fixed lens helps you improve as a photographer faster than any other accessory. Anyone who shoots with prime lenses (as opposed to zooms) will tell you something similar, but having a fixed focal length really allows you to visualise your scene and composition much easier, even before lifting the viewfinder to your eye.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/500 second – F4 – ISO 200

 

By having a prime lens that’s literally fixed to your camera body forever, you’ll get really good at this, and start seeing the world in 35mm. Also, by limiting your options with only one lens, you’ll push yourself harder to innovate and experiment with your photography – after all, restrictions encourage creativity.

 

  1. The Design

 

In my opinion, the Fujifilm X100F is the best looking camera available today. I have to say that all the X Series cameras look good, but for me, the Fujifilm X100F stands head and shoulders above the rest.

 

I used to own a black and silver Fujifilm X100S and received compliments on it wherever I went. When I upgraded to the Fujifilm X100F, I chose the all black version, and absolutely love how it looks.

 

I don’t receive many compliments on it anymore, but perhaps this is due to the fact that it’s more inconspicuous in jet black, which makes it perfect for photographing unnoticed, helping to achieve candid and natural-looking shots.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/250 second – F3.5 – ISO 200

 

The way a camera looks may seem insignificant, but I believe it’s actually very important. Whilst it bears no correlation to the image produced, having a camera that gives you pleasure to see and hold will make you more likely to pick it up and use.

 

Out of all the cameras I own, the Fujifilm X100F is the only one I display proudly in the open, as opposed to keeping it stuffed away in a camera bag. I actually have it hanging on a hook in my living room (much to my wife’s dismay!) It’s always the first camera I reach for when I need to capture a moment, and I never grow tired of looking at it.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/160 second – F2 – ISO 250

 

The other reasons I love my Fujifilm X100F are the features shared with most of the other cameras in the X Series line-up, including the excellent JPEG and RAW image quality; impressive high ISO performance; fun film simulations; fast auto-focus; fast start-up time, and much more.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/280 second – F4 – ISO 200

Fujifilm X100F – 1/420 second – F7.1 – ISO 200

It’s been a long process to find the one camera to document all my precious moments, but I’m confident I’ve chosen wisely with the Fujifilm X100F.

Fujifilm X100F – 1/1700 second – F6.4 – ISO 200

 

Guest review by Mark Condon, wedding photographer , author and founder of Shotkit.

Food Photography – A recipe for success

When it comes to cooking up successful food photography, selecting the right ingredients is an important part of the process. Thankfully, there are loads of ways to photograph food! Continue reading Food Photography – A recipe for success

Love At First Sight – Fine Art in Venice with the GFX 50S

By Giuseppe Foti

Giuseppe Foti is a Fine Art and Landscape photographer based in York UK, who constantly travels the world in search of his next photo opportunity. His aesthetic is based on his love for simplicity, minimalism and beauty. Find out whether it was love at first sight for Giuseppe in Venice, Italy with the FUJIFILM GFX 50S. Continue reading Love At First Sight – Fine Art in Venice with the GFX 50S

Sports Photography as a Spectator – Horse Racing

By Jeff Carter

In a series of articles X Photographer Jeff Carter will be shooting at sports events in the UK and showing how to capture great images with the Fujifilm X Series without the need for a media pass. Continue reading Sports Photography as a Spectator – Horse Racing

FUJIFILM GFX 50S: A Professional’s View

By Steven Hanna

Professional photographer and current PPANI Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, Steven Hanna is from Northern Ireland and specialises in wedding and landscape photography. The FUJIFILM X-T2 and FUJIFILM X-Pro2 are his usual weapons of choice, however eager to try out the FUJIFILM GFX 50S, Steven recently put the medium format system through its paces. In this interview, we find out how he got on.


Continue reading FUJIFILM GFX 50S: A Professional’s View