X Marks The Spot

In my last post before my hiatus, I alluded to a “gear shift” in multiple senses. Late August 2012 was set aside for a trip to visit family in Philadelphia. We were driving rather than flying, there was limited room in our vehicle, and the weight of my SLR rig was becoming onerous when I wanted to be on the move. I was already downsizing my laptop to an iPad + keyboard; could I also downsize the camera to a quality compact?

I had long been salivating over the Fujiflim X100, but the price, the fixed lens, and quirks I’d heard about autofocus performance kept me from taking the plunge. The fixed lens wasn’t such a big issue, as I have one lens I use 99% of the time on my SLR, but the other two problems were deal-killers for me. Just before we went to Philly, I discovered three important things:

  1. Fuji had improved the firmware to make the AF better.
  2. The X100 was on sale for $200 off the list price.
  3. That $200 put it within range of our available cash.

My wife authorized the purchase, and the X100 duly arrived in time for me to test-drive it before our vacation. I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with the autofocus, even in its improved state, and the long start-up time was irritating, but there was no denying that the lens and sensor are marvels of engineering individually and a match made in heaven together. Moreover, the hybrid electronic viewfinder was every bit the advantage touted in the marketing. I was confident that I could come back from vacation with pictures I wouldn’t be ashamed of. A few of them may be found below the cut:


This was taken at Sister Cities Park, which is near the section of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway decorated with flags of all the countries where Philly’s sister cities are located. The dome belongs to the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul; to its left is a hotel. On the right are the Comcast Center and a bank building.


Here’s the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as seen from a ferry crossing the Delaware River.


A nice dynamic range test: the organ gallery and west windows of the cathedral. The X100 held up quite well.


Finally, a bit of nostalgia: my late grandmother’s house. The tree on the left was not there when she was alive.

There were occasions on this trip where I wanted a longer lens, and I certainly stumbled from time to time because I did not have enough familiarity with the camera, but overall I was satisfied with what I got, and I would gladly take the X100 alone when traveling again.

Will I be upgrading to the X100S? Not immediately. The finances are not there right now, but I’m also concerned about the demosaic algorithms for the X-Trans color filter pattern. I’ve seen enough problems with inconsistent rendering of details to make me stick with a Bayer pattern sensor for now.

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