Learn about the Fuji X100 For Street Photography and How to Set it Up
Fujifilm’s fifth-generation, the Fuji X100V, was recently released after two years of development, and I believe that it is the best camera available for street photography.
While the camera works fantastically well as a travel camera, and even for cityscapes, street photography is in its blood.
The Fuji X100 line has been in my hands since the initial 2011 version. I use it as my walk-around, everyday street photography camera and it has had a profound effect on my approach and the quality of my work.
How the X100 Line Revolutionized the Street Photography Camera
While it had its quirks, the X100 shook up the camera industry in 2011.
It had the form factor and ergonomics of Leica-style rangefinders, mixed with top-end technology such as a hybrid viewfinder. It had wonderful image quality, due to its lens and ground-up design, and it was a relatively affordable camera for the quality.
This began a huge influx of photographers trading in their SLRs for smaller mirrorless cameras.
Certainly not then, but even to this date, I believe no camera company has yet to bridge the gap in creating a camera that covers the range of features needed for a street photography camera, and for the price.
While its competitors have come closer, each seems to have one or two major flaws that hold them back, while the X100 line and X100V have the complete package.
Most importantly, the X100 makes you excited to walk out the door and shoot. Its form factor just makes holding the camera a pleasure. It has a small 35mm equivalent lens that makes it fun to carry around and allows you to blend in for street photography and to shoot in a fast and spontaneous way.
The dials mimic the dials on old rangefinder cameras and are a pleasure to use. It allows you to not have to use the menus very often, and the viewfinder gives you a seamless way of moving between an electronic view and an optical view.
This camera will breathe joy into your street photography.
The brilliance of the X100 line is the restraint that it shows in its design. With an APS-C sensor and fixed lens, they limited the camera in a way to maximize the image quality they could get out of it.
These are not drawbacks but advantages, and they allow the camera to hit the right mix between image quality and camera size.
The photos have a special quality to them, particularly in the colors, and they look fantastic even when blown up to very large sizes (and at very high ISOs).
The colors and black and white tones that come out of this camera are spectacular, and Fuji has created a range of wonderful black and white and color profiles that do a fantastic job of mimicking old film looks. You can either set this in-camera on JPEGs or add the profile to your RAW file while editing. I use them frequently.
Autofocus and High ISO
The autofocus was originally one of the main issues with the original 2011 X100 camera, but it has come such a far way.
While still not quite up to SLR standards, the autofocus works remarkably well for a mirrorless camera, both during the day and at night.
And one of the shining achievements of this camera is its high ISO capabilities. Frankly, it is a monster for night photography.
Fuji X100 Night Settings: I use this camera up to ISO 6400 for night street photography (typically at F2), and while the noise / digital grain is very present at these extreme ISOs, the photos look great. Because the ISO has a pleasing look to it, you can print the photos and blow them up without a problem.
Basically, this camera allows you to photograph fast-moving street photography scenes at night, handheld, with minimal issues.
The small size, autofocus capabilities, and incredible image quality allow you to shoot street photography at night in a way that was incredibly difficult before this camera was around.
Fuji X100 Lens
The Fujifilm X100V comes with a built-in 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens of unbelievable quality.
You then have the option to purchase a telephoto 35mm (50mm equivalent) and 28mm equivalent wide-angle lens. The built-in 35mm and the 50mm attachment lenses are my go-to everyday lenses and I switch between them frequently. They are wide enough to get close to your subjects and be a part of the scene while still being able to show context and background.
While I use them both in a variety of situations, I tend to use the 35mm lens in busier areas and the 50mm lens in quieter areas. The 28mm lens is a little too wide for my tastes.
Using prime lenses in this way on a small camera like the X100 has created the ability for me to capture so many more spontaneous and split-second moments than I would have with other cameras.
Once one of the biggest disadvantages of this camera, the new batteries are significantly improved, particularly for a small camera.
It’s now no longer an issue, although I still carry three batteries with me for a full day of shooting.
Fuji X100 Settings and Tips for Street Photography
I suggest the black version of the camera. The silver version is obviously the most beautiful, but it is very noticeable and you will get stopped frequently. The black version still looks great, but it blends in much better.
With its leaf-shutter, the X100 is a very quiet camera, but you can take this further by disabling all of the sounds. The camera has an electronic shutter which will allow for fully silent shooting, a huge advantage for street photography, and particularly when indoors.
The camera will put itself to sleep after a period of inactivity and, in the menus, you can lengthen the time it takes for this to happen. It’s a necessary change to stop you from missing those quick street moments when you haven’t taken a shot for a while.
There is a Boost Mode which allows for faster autofocus speed and viewfinder display performance, and there is even a Quick Start Mode, which allows the camera to start up quicker.
I use all these features to speed up the camera for street photography, but keep in mind that these will drain the camera battery much quicker.
Fuji X100 Street Photography Accessories
Lensmate has a fantastic thumb-grip for the new design of the X100V. For me, a thumb grip is necessary for this camera to make it easier to hold, and particularly with one hand.
A soft release button will make the camera’s trigger much more sensitive and for me, is necessary for street shooting. I love the Abrahamsson Mini Soft Release, although make sure to get a couple because they can come off in your bag and get lost.
Finally, I love to pair this camera with a Gordy’s camera strap. They allow you to customize the length of the strap and I make mine shorter than normal so the camera is higher up on my chest, which allows me to shoot from the eye quicker and works great for street. A shorter strap is not bothersome since the camera is so light – I find it much more comfortable, to be honest.
While the X100 has been around for nearly 10 years, each update has allowed Fuji to give it steady and subtle ways to improve the camera. However, from the beginning, they never wavered from the initial design and spirit of the camera.
The camera has opened up a way of spontaneous, everyday shooting that is a joy and was not as easy to do before the camera was released. I am quicker, able to manipulate the camera quicker, and the fixed focal lengths allow me to shoot more intuitively.
When I’m in the zone with the camera, it feels like it almost isn’t there – it’s just me and the scene.
Mixing all these features and factors has allowed me to come back with so many photographs that I would have missed or not even taken beforehand. My work overall would be completely different without this revolutionary camera.