Tinkering with an X100V

I look at photos from everybody else and often think, my snapshots never look that good. Mine are always blurry, the color temperature is wrong, the lighting flat, the subject matter boring.

So every once in a while I get the itch and buy a new camera… This one will be the perfect size to inspire carrying around and finally bring everything into focus!

And I’ll research, hem and haw, and every once in a while pull the trigger and buy something. Things might seem better at first blush — pictures feel sharper or better exposed — but then my old tropes re-emerge quickly and I realize it’s not the camera.

This itch to buy a different camera happens every few years. And I will note, I have gotten better at carefully un-packaging and reading return policies. (I just returned a Panasonic Lumix ZS100 thinking it’d be great for concerts with an ultra long zoom. It was not.)

Sometime early-pandemic I picked up this Fujifilm X100V. It checked off a ton of boxes — manual controls, solid fixes lens, good form factor, a new-to-me system of film emulation…

Once it arrived, I couldn’t figure it out. It was constantly hunting for focus or changing focus points. It felt laggy. Pictures were washed out. There were too many buttons and menus — so many menus.

I missed the return window and so it sat on the shelf.

A recent thread by Jeff Sheldon reminded me to dust it off and give it another go.

I started with a string of YouTube videos to customize the shooting experience and turn off features (like continuous autofocus). Then I entered the very deep rabbit hole of “recipes” to emulate film stock, a unique characteristic of many Fujifilm digital cameras that make JPGs look like classic film cameras (to an extent).

I found a new appreciation for the X100V.

It’s incredibly customizable (almost to a fault), feels good and light, and has really lovely depth of field — something I often pine for but seldom achieve.

It’s not perfect. Like every camera in the entire world, connection with your phone to take or transfer photos is a crapshoot. (Getting photos to your phone is possible with patience.) The viewfinder is super weird. The screen doesn’t articulate enough. But those faults are minor.

I’ve given up on the film emulation recipes, they’re too fiddly. I love the notion and might revisit, but for now I like the process of downloading big photos and sorting through them one by one and messing with things at whim.

So I’ve upgraded this rig with my favorite camera strap and will tote it around hoping to see things in a new way.

(Exciting things, like cans of Pepsi.)