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Fujifilm X100S : Streets of NYC

Now that we have had a few weeks of one-on-one time with our new Fujifilm X100S, we thought we would take it to NYC for some street photography. We did a similar shoot last October with the Lensbaby and wanted to see how the X100S would handle under similar circumstances. The only difference between the two shoots was that, unlike when shooting with the Lensbaby, we were able to leave the Fujifilm X100S in Full Auto mode during the entire shoot. We just had to look, compose, and press the shutter.

Like our stroll last Fall, we started at Bryant Park on 5th and made our way uptown. Unlike last Fall, this outing was on a perfect Spring day. Bryant Park was teaming with people soaking up the sun and enjoying the 60º weather. It was exactly the conditions we were hoping for to test out the street-shooting abilities of the Fujifilm X100S.

Point-n-shoot cameras we have had in the past did not handle high contrast situations very well. A lot the problem had to do with their CCD sensors getting overwhelmed when confronted with a wide dynamic range. Either the brighter areas were completely washed out or the darker areas were muddy. The X100S, though, was able to handle those challenging scenes with a lot more grace than we had anticipated. We took a few shots of the well-lit crowd and were amazed at the kind of detail we were able to capture with the camera. To see what we mean, take a look at the full resolution version (6.8MB) of this shot.

Whether it was of the exterior of the New York Public Library or the interior hall and stairwell, the ability of the X100S to capture the scene as we saw it was truly amazing.

  • Tulips (from dark to light) – note the brightly lit leaves at the end on the right
  • Entrance – Bright sky, yet there’s still detail in the dark area under the arch
  • Lion (resized) – half in the sun
  • Lion (cropped / full resolution) – note the transition of the light
  • Hallway – high contrast scene
  • Stairwell – high contrast scene
  • Arches – high contrast scene

We normally don’t use the special effects built into digital cameras as we find the results gimmicky, but we did turn on the Neutral Density (ND) filter for a few of the shots (fountainfish). Under the day’s very bright conditions, the slower shutter speed allowed the water to blur without us having to rework any of the other settings. It was actually very convenient and worked extremely well. We like the effect and will have to experiment with this feature some more.

Interesting subjects pop up unexpectedly and disappear just as quickly. While walking around NYC is a great way to train the eye, it can be frustrating if you see a shot but your equipment is not able to respond fast enough for you to capture it. We found the Fujifilm X100S to be a excellent companion in our little adventure. People combing through a pile of stuff on the sidewalk? Got it. Flowers on a passerby? Snapped. A guy hand-dipping giant strawberries in Godiva chocolate? Captured. This camera was small enough to be unobtrusive, but the images were large enough that we could crop tightly and still have lots of details (church front: allcropped, sushi: allcropped).

We learned a few things on this outing:

  • An electronic viewfinder was key as the LCD was useless on a bright day.
  • Fast focusing and no shutter lag meant we captured what we saw.
  • Having a digital ND filter was surprisingly handy.

The Fujifilm X100S’ size and features made this NYC shoot a most enjoyable outing. We look forward to repeating it again after dark.

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