Kind of. By “impulse buy,” I mean I only spent about a week researching it, as opposed to the several months it usually takes me to pull the trigger on gear purchases.
I didn’t have a great walkaround camera. Which is an odd thing to say, because I have EVER SO MANY cameras. I’ve actually used my iPhone the most (since I picked it up) for travel shots and just day to day photos. It’s small, and light, and I don’t have to angst over what lenses I should pack along with it and what I should leave home. But I have no real control over the settings, and the shutter lag is just murder. By the time I’ve gotten it out, powered it up, unlocked it, just a sec, opened the camera app, waited for it to load, just seriously wait right there, hit the shutter button, and it actually takes the photo… Lets just say I’m not shooting sports with it.
So if I want to take photos of any kind of action, or to have any serious control over the exposure or DOF or anything else, I’d have to take my Big Girl Camera. This is what my mom calls my Nikon, because she’s adorable. The obvious upshot to this is great photos, but the tradeoff is lugging around a giant heavy camera. All day. At, say, Busch Gardens on our family vacation in Florida. Or all over Italy, because I can’t NOT take the good camera to Italy. Maybe it’s just generalized oldness, but my back is very displeased with this situation. A fair amount of our vacations involve flights, sometimes international ones, so I have to figure a safe way that I can pack it (and yes, I have an amazing Thinktank bag for work purposes, but I’m not bringing a suitcase worth of kit for personal trips. In fact, I usually don’t even bring a real suitcase.) And after getting packed, and pondering my many lens choices, I end up leaving it in the hotel and shooting with the iPhone, because I just don’t want to haul it around. The thing is, I found myself not shooting so many personal photos, because it was a bit of a hassle. And I found myself missing things I’d really like to make photographs of, because I didn’t have my camera on me.
For some time, I’ve wanted to pick up a Leica to fill this camera need. It’s small, it’s light, it takes great photos. But I don’t have a trust fund. So when I started seeing reviews pop up about the x100s, I started looking for more reviews, and users photos, and I just up and bought one. If you’re saying to yourself, “you spent HOW MUCH on a camera with one focal length?!” then this one’s obviously not for you. Certain sacrifices have to be made to get a quality lens on a compact camera, at a price point that doesn’t make my wallet asplode, and they went with a fixed lens to do it. I’m used to zooming with my feet, and have said more than once that if I could only have one lens to shoot with, it’d be a 35mm.
So how has this thing held up to my expectations? Pretty damn good.
I’ve taken it along on a few short trips, I took it to WMC Fest in Cleveland, to the Ohio Cup in Columbus, and on vacation to Myrtle Beach. I’ve been keeping a set on Flickr of the shots I’ve been taking with it, if you want to see some images.
It makes an excellent walk-around camera. I’m able to get lovely photos out of it, and in some cases the dynamic range has been better than what I get from my SLR (I had photos that would normally be hopelessly backlit, but with a bit of fill in Lightroom are properly exposed. The photo at the beginning of this post for instance – he was COMPLETELY backlit.) The built-in ND feature lets me shoot at wider apertures in bright sunlight, and y’all know how much I love wide apertures.
It’s light enough and small enough that it’s not a bear to carry around. It’s not generally intimidating to people, like a large DSLR can be. While I’m still learning where everything is, so far I’m finding all of the buttons and dials to be right where I want them, and it’s easy enough to make changes without taking the camera away from my eye.
Another thing I love about it, there’s a sensor that can determine whether it uses the LCD screen or the optical viewfinder, based on how you’re holding it. Usually, when I switch from my Nikon back to a point and shoot, I hold the point and shoot up to my eye like a jackass. The x100s keeps me from looking like a jackass (at least, in that particular instance).
There are downsides to it, as with anything. The lens can feel a bit on the wide side, and there are definitely situations where you can’t simply get closer to your subject. Also, I wouldn’t describe the focus and shutter firing as slow in general, but if you’re looking to shoot sports or other serious action, it is too slow for that (I had previously complained about the iPhone’s slowness in shooting, it’s definitely faster than that. But slower than my SLR). It’s a bit of trial and error getting shots of the dogs with this one. Sometimes when I bobble the on/off switch, it takes it a few seconds to catch up.
Overall, though, it fills the need that I was hoping it would. A few months in, I’m pretty in love with it. I’d also be completely fine with taking this camera, and only this camera, on vacation for travel photos.
Prior to buying the x100s, I read a LOT of user reviews and people’s blogs, which is why I bothered to post this at all. If you’re thinking of picking one up, and have questions about it, leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter.
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