Some Notes on Street Photography with the Fujifilm X100T

Fujifilm X100T

[Update: See my new post On the Streets of San Francisco with the Fujifilm X100T Rangefinder with many examples!]

My favorite genre of photography is currently street photography – and the Fujifilm X100T with its fixed 35mm f/2 lens is ideal for my kind of street work. I bought my X100T from Amazon about six months ago – and have mostly been shooting with it ever since – it’s just a great camera for this kind of street work. Here are two Amazon Affiliate links if you happen to be in a buying mood: Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Silver) and Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Black). I bought the silver model – preferring its more classic styling over that of the black one – but they’re both beautiful little cameras!  If you already own an X100T, please share your comments here about your own experiences with this great camera!  

Here are some of my notes on how I use the X100T for street shooting:

  1. The JPEGs out of the Fujifilm X100T are awesome. While I almost always shoot in RAW+Fine, I typically only need the JPEG version.
  2. I like to shoot street work with the film simulation set to B+W plus Yellow filter – this works well where there isn’t much blue sky in the composition. For a more contrasty sky, I’ll use B+W plus Red filter when sky is an important part of the composition. When choosing one of the B+W film simulation modes, the electronic view finder will switch to B+W as well – I often use the EVF when shooting in this mode.
  3. My other favorite film simulation for street work is Classic Chrome – with is beautiful emulation of the old Kodachrome style colors. When I’m working in color, I will typically use the beautiful optical viewfinder in the X100T along with the little focus insert in the lower right corner. I love this combination of wide rangefinder view with precise center focus (typically manually focusing). The OVF in this mode is deal for watching/waiting for subjects to enter the frame.
  4. For street photography, I frequently turn Face Detection on. I’m typically switching between S and M focus modes while shooting on the street – knowing that when I flip to S that Face Detection will be enabled – while it plays no role when manual focusing.
  5. When in manual focus, the AF-L button provides a wonderfully quick zoom to proper focus – and from there I can make fine adjustments. I rarely move the focus point itself – choosing to leave the focus point in the center and recompose if required.
  6. When I’m in Automatic mode, I’m mostly choosing spot metering for my street work. I attended a street photography workshop a while back with Ming Thein and learned from him how spot metering helped me nail the exposure in my images. Sometimes I’ll need to hold the shutter down halfway and recompose after metering – that’s become almost a second nature instinct for me.
  7. I change the top function button (Fn1) from its default setting to ND Filter. I often want to shoot wide open and there’s usually too much light – I can hit the button and enable the ND filter quickly. The Fn1 button is right up top adjacent to the shutter button – where it’s easy to enable/disable the ND filter (and see the on/off feedback message on the display or in the viewfinder).
  8. In menu 5 of the Shooting Menu, I select MS + ES (Mechanical Shutter plus Electronic Shutter). This works mostly as a backup for me if I’m in bright light shooting almost wide open and have forgotten to enable the ND filter. With the new electronic shutter of the X100T, the camera will automatically switch to using it when it needs to for very bright scenes. I try to be careful enough to work with the ND filter on in such scenes – but if I forget or have to shoot in haste, this can often help save the image.
  9. I set Auto ISO to a range of 400 to 6400 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (which the minimum shutter speed go even faster like my X-T1 can – seems like a simple firmware change?). A typical street shot might be taken at f/2 or f/2.8, shutter at 1/500th in manual focus with the ND filter on. I let the camera automatically adjust the ISO to complete the settings. Alternatively, I can set the low ISO to 1600, leave the shutter on A and let the camera pick both the ISO and a shutter speed – since the ISO is already relatively high, the camera will typically pick a faster shutter speed – which is appropriate for freezing gestures in street photography.
  10. I have added the thumb rest from Lensmate to my X100T. I find that it simply makes holding the camera for composition to be steadier for me. Here’s an Amazon Affiliate link to the silver model: Fujifilm X100T Thumb Grip by Lensmate Silver. Along with the thumbrest, I’ve tried to master the technique of holding the camera in a way which is suitable for manual focusing. I put the lower left of the camera in my left hand cradling the camera in such a way that my index finger can easily reach the bottom of the manual focusing ring on the lense – allowing me to hold and focus easily. With the thumbrest used in my right hand helping steady for composition. Took me a while to figure this out – but it’s been working great!
  11. I also have the Fujifilm TCL100 Conversion Lens for the X100T. This converts the camera from a 35mm equivalent lens to a 50mm equivalent – which can be handy in street shooting situations where a bit of extra reach is required. Here’s an Amazon Affiliate link to the silver model: Fujifilm TCL-X100 Tele Conversion Lens (Silver). Installing the TCL100 is a bit of a chore – I haven’t mastered being able to do so “on the run”. I need to find a place to sit down, remove the front hood, filter, etc. and then screw on the TCL100. On minor annoyance is that you need to use a menu item to tell the X100T that you’ve added – or removed – the TELE conversion lens. On multiple occasions I’ve forgotten to set it correctly – not the end of the world in that the images are still good enough – but, as I said, it’s annoying there’s no way for the camera itself to automatically sense the presence of the conversion lens.
  12. I’ve been using a third party wrist strap – rather than the strap that comes with the camera. Sometimes I think I should go back to the strap over my neck – at those times when I’d like both hands free to do something else – but I find the wrist strap makes shooting fast and easy.

Hope you find these notes helpful. I wanted to gather all my thoughts about street photography with the X100T in one place – it was helpful to me just taking the time to jot them all down! You can seem some of my street photography shot with the X100T in this Flickr album.

3 Replies to “Some Notes on Street Photography with the Fujifilm X100T”

  1. Enjoyed the post. I have an X100T and find myself switching between it and a Ricoh GR. Since I’m very tall, I find it easier to 1 hand the GR to get it lower when I get in close for street shots. I’ve recently got an XT-1 as well and would like to try the 27 mm panbale on it as compared to the X100T. Have you tried that with your XT-1

    1. If you are just getting the XT1 to put the 27mm pancake lens on it, personally I would save your money as I have the XT1 and the x100t and from a none pro user I honestly find that the x100 focuses at least as quick with better IQ from the x100t than my xt1 with the 27mm pancake. This is just my personal opinion.

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