What feels like forever ago in January 2014, I picked up a brand-new silver Fujifilm X100S to complement my aging Canon EOS 60D. I’d heard so much about the X100S from blogs, podcasts and all those other photographic resources I’d been trolling I knew I couldn’t resist it anymore and plunked down my hard-earned cash and joined the club.
It was love at first snap.
Its heft. Its ergonomics. The way it felt. The image quality. The fixed lens and zooming with my feet. Everything felt right about this camera.
Having the X100S rekindled my relationship with photography anew, and if anything, turned up the heat. It was a constant companion and never left my side.
I’ve brought it on just about every business trip I’ve taken, brought it to the office, on bike rides, around town and around the continent.
Case in point: During the summer of 2014, I was preparing to leave for a 3-week family trip to Europe. The night before departure, I had my camera bag laid out in front of me: Canon 60D, 3 lenses, the X100S, battery chargers for both, extra batteries, cables, SD cards, and assorted accoutrements like phones and tablets and all that stuff that any photographer knows all too well.
Damn, that bag was heavy.
There had to be a better way.
I recalled Valérie Jardin’s podcast where she was waxing poetic about the X100S and how she found it to be the perfect travel camera and even toured Iceland (of all places!) with this simple little 35mm “point and shoot,” and hadn’t any regrets about not having all the lenses to go wide or zoom in or whatever.
“Fuck it,” I thought. I’m travelling light.
So I dumped out the bag I had set up, grabbed my tiny Timbuk2 messenger bag (barely big enough for the 8″ tablet I was bringing), loaded it up with the X100S, extra batteries, a travel charger, SD cards, my tablet and its charger and had tons of room to spare. That, plus the whole kit barely weighed 5lb.
I regretted nothing about my decision to bring only the X100S. Sure, there were times where it would have been nice to be super-wide, and times when a tele would have allowed me to get some cool detail or the DOF would have permitted me to isolate my subjects better. Whatever. The results speak for themselves.
Since that trip, the X100S has stayed by my side. Although it did get a sibling – the Fujifilm X-T1 – which drew my attention away from it. The X-T1, being an interchangeable lens camera, is in some ways much more versatile, but it will never be as good a travel companion as the X100S. It’s just too much of a pain to change lenses and carry all that shit around.
Despite that, the X100S has still served me well and stuck around with me. People, architecture, abstracts, events, you name it – there’s nothing that it couldn’t seem to handle.
Until last Friday night.
I went skating on the Rideau Canal with my better half. It was a glorious evening – no wind, barely below freezing, perfect ice conditions, not too many people. We skated almost the entire length of the canal, from downtown to Dow’s Lake and back (about 11km, if you’re keeping score). On the way back towards downtown, my right skate got caught in a crack in the ice.
My skate (and my foot!) stopped, the rest of me kept going, and I faceplanted in short order. The impact was absorbed by my right knee, my right elbow and my X100S, which was in my front jacket pocket.
Suffice it to say, my knee and elbow will heal. Not so sure about the X100S.
It wouldn’t turn on. Then it wouldn’t turn off. Now it displays “static” on the electronic viewfinder and back screen when composing an image. Exposure is spotty. It’s not healthy. Not one bit.
Not only am I upset by the financial impact of losing my X100S — it was an expensive camera with plenty of life left in it and had a decent resale value — I’m saddened by the loss of my photographic companion. This was the first camera I had that I can say I truly knew, inside-out. Its quirks, its foibles, its strengths, not having to look at the buttons because I knew them all by touch.
Time marches on. Cameras evolve. Things break. Broken things get replaced.
With any luck, in the next few weeks I’ll take delivery of the X100S’ grandchild – the X100F, which by all accounts is better in every possible way than the venerable X100S. Faster, more pixels, yadda yadda.
But will it have the soul the my X100S did?