I stopped by the edge of the pedestrian bridge to watch dogs
and their people in this dog park. It's a popular spot for canines and their
charges at the end of the day. As I was standing with my camera this particular
dog seemed to notice that I was unsupervised and took it upon herself
to come over and keep me company. She sniffed me and then sat down
on the wall next to me and waiting until I finished looking at the action.
I said "Goodbye" and she nodded and trotted right back to her
pet human. It was... comforting.
I think I finally figured out why I fought so hard against adapting the Fuji X-100V in one of its prior incarnations. They all seemed a bit tinny and thin when I handled them and the human/camera interface always seemed a kind of clunky and counter-intuitive. But I've decided all of that changed with the current model of the camera. It feels solid and well built. It's nicer to hold and shoot with. And at 26 megapixels, instead of 12 or 16, I actually feel comfortable enough cropping the frame to get a bit closer to a 40 mm angle of view.
The thing is, my first "real" camera, bought with my hard-earned money, was the Canon Canonet G-III QL (the QL stood for "quick load") and it was a camera that quickly became about as transparent as a camera could be. I bought mine in 1976 and I still have it right here. It's about as solid as I imagine a camera could be, and the 40mm f1.7 lens on the front of it was sharp and at the same time voluptuous. I shot prodigious amounts of black and white film through that little camera and focusing with a bright line rangefinder was as natural as walking. I learned everything I ever needed to know about photography with that camera in my hands, or nearby.
It's still here in the studio long after a raft of M series Leica cameras and lenses have come and gone. It's my "reference standard" for what a good, all around, affordable street shooting camera should be. I took it to Europe in 1978 for a multi-month backpacking trip and the only bother was replacing the PX 625 battery that powered the meter and made auto exposure (shutter priority) available. But the camera was and is fully functional without its battery; you just have to know how to estimate exposures in your head. And, as to "build quality" it is still fully functional today, forty four years after I bought it brand new from Capitol Camera, here in Austin. Sad though. The camera is still here but one of my favorite cameras stores is long gone.
Subconsciously, I guess I just kept making a comparison between the older Canon rangefinder, film camera and all the previous generations of X100 cameras from Fuji and the Fujis always came out on the losing end of the comparison. I never thought about my affinity for the Canonet until yesterday when I was looking for an old Nikon F camera body in the "film" drawer and stumbled back across it. In an instant I realized why I have always been uninterested in the Fujis. They had a lens that was just a bit too wide for me at the time and a sensor that was just too low res to consider cropping tight portraits at 50mm, 60mm and 70mm. It's different now. The crop is no big deal with the right sensor. I frame tight and a bit of crop adds up to "just right."
I've also found, when looking through the photos I've been taking in the last few weeks that I'm finally learning to come to grips with the 35mm focal length as it is. While I think Fuji "should" have made this line of cameras with a 40mm lens instead I get that I'm a bit of an outlier where focal length choices are concerned. But the camera is wearing my focal length prejudice down; bit by bit. Frame by frame.
One of the things I'm enjoying with the X-100V is that the lens, when used as I like to use it, is wonderfully sharp and holds up well with a bit of cropping. The images that are cropped to a 40 or 50mm frame don't seem degraded or less technically sound to me.
On another note, I thought after having used EVFs for such a long time now that I would be most comfortable framing and shooting with the EVF engaged but that's not how things have shaken out. I've been using the OVF with the bright frame lines almost exclusively and I love it. There is an emotional connection to the rangefinder aesthetic that I find comfortable and, for me, saturated with a nostalgic and lovely remembering of my first embrace of photography. Can't explain it better than that but every peek through the bright line finder takes me right back to my time first photographing the people who have been most important in my life.
I haven't begun to dive into the depths of the X-100V's capabilities; I like using the camera in much the same way I used my old Canonet, but I am lowering myself into its clutches the way one sinks slowly and carefully into a really hot bath. I love the Astia profile for color shooting and I've tweaked the Acros profile to get black and white images I like. I have the important controls set up to the buttons that make sense. I can quickly click the ND filter in and out. The aperture ring around the lens is exactly where it should be.
I bought a small, canvas Domke camera bag last week. I was looking for a small bag and I found this one lightly used at Precision Camera (with which I have no affiliate relationship, all cash goes in only one direction...). It's just the right size to hold one black and one chrome X-100V camera, with their metal lens hoods attached, along with a couple of extra batteries and a little box that contains the original lens rings and lens caps. I can hardly wait to do at a trip somewhere to make photographs with just the "twins" and nothing else. Seems like the perfect cameras for exploring the world.
All of a sudden I'm not concentrating on small details but I'm actually
enjoying taking in wider landscapes. Even if they are desolate and cluttered.
I'm not sure why but I'm currently fixated with any sort of back light.
I was just a little disappointed not to get enough lens flare on this one.
I guess that's the trade off. A better lens cheats you out of
tasty abberations. I guess a couple fingerprints on the front
element would fix that right up....