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Fujifilm X100s review : from Roma with love

I finally had the chance to lay my hulking hands on the beautiful Fujifilm X100s, the camera over which I have been drooling night and day for the last year or so. The camera that I always wanted but couldn’t absolutely afford (25 years old freelance photographer here, remember?). The camera that one of my favorite photographers of all times, Zack Arias, described as the “DSLR killer”.

The camera that would surprise the hell out of me, but of course I didn’t know it yet. 

On January 9th, Fujifilm Italia agreed to be the main sponsor for my next big project, unCOMMON:Wheels ,  and I’ll be using only Fujifilm cameras while biking from the southernmost to the northernmost point of Japan starting from March 5th. 

They also agreed to send me a Fuji X100s a couple of months in advance for me to get acquainted with their system and cameras. Needless to say, I felt like a kid on christmas morning: the freaking happiest I could ever be! 

And with this new toy in my hands, I did the only thing someone can do when they are in such a hype : take selfies in public toilets with it! 

Kidding aside, I’ve been using the Fujifilm X100s for almost a month now, and these are my thoughts about it.

  1. This camera is BEAUTIFUL. I mean, I’ve always had a thing for cameras, but this one brings it to a completely new level: it’s the kind of camera that makes you turn when she passes next to you, the kind of camera you go home and tell everyone about, the kind of camera you would invite out to dinner, fall in love with, marry and have wonderful camera babies with. Seriously!                                        
  2. They say dogs are men’s best friends and most loyal companion. Well, they lie. Truth is, the fujifilm X100s is a man’s best friend and most loyal companion! In the last month, not only have I never left home without it, but I have hardly left the ROOM without it! It’s so light, compact, practical and ready to shoot away at all times, that it becomes a natural extension of yourself. You wouldn’t leave the room without, let’s say, your arms, would you?                                                                                                        
  3. It’s so damn versatile: it doesn’t care weather you are in bright sun, in a candle-lit pub at night, or in a club shooting a concert. For as long as the camera is by your side, it will make you shoot wonderful photos.                                         
  4. Last and most importantly, it’s FUN. It MAKES you wanna capture the things around you, the people you are with and the life that surrounds you in every moment. It was a feeling that, I have to admit, it was long lost for me. 

But, as weird as it sounds to me now (where I got completely used to shooting with this camera only, when it’s not commissioned work), it wasn’t love at first sight. In the first week especially, I had a hard time getting used to its fixed 23mm ƒ2 lens (35mm equivalent) as it is the ONLY lens range I NEVER USE. With my Nikon, i bounce pretty easily between my fixed 20mm and my fixed 50mm and having to get used to such a range proved itself to be though work. So in the beginning, I was unhappy with the photos I was taking not because of the camera, but because I couldn’t get my eye to “think” and compose for that focal lenght. 

The second reason I was VERY UNHAPPY with the first days worth of photos, is that the raw files of this camera are different from what I normally work with. Don’t get me wrong, the X-Trans sensor produces very good files, and handles the colors, highlights and shadows in a great way! The problem was that I found myself processing the raw files in the same way I usually do with my Nikon files, and the results were noticeably different. It took me some time, but in the end I started to realize that it was my workflow that wasn’t correct for the camera, not the opposite. 

Since then, and a few more dozen hours spent shooting with this camera after, I can now say that I fell in love with it and that I completely understand why Zack Arias said "this is the first camera with a SOUL". 

Being a portrait photographer, I obviously tried shooting portraits with it and the results are extremely pleasing, granted that 35mm is (in my opinion) NOT a good lens for tight portraits, and it’s suited for a more environmental portraiture. 

I’ve never been much of a black and white guy, in fact, most of my portraits, concert photos and street photos are densely colorful, but this camera makes me wanna shoot in black and white: it renders shadows, midtones and highlights in such a great, detailed way! 

Final Verdict:

The Fuji X100s really has something inside of it that makes you wanna take more pictures, that pokes your creativity. It takes away the burden of carrying a heavy camera and leaves you with all the freedom in the world to shoot anything you want, at any time! I really, REALLY like this camera! 

And here’s some other photos for you to check. Obviously, all shot with none other than the Fujifilm X100s


unCOMMON:Stories, a recap

Of course you’ve heard of unCOMMON:Stories. I’m sure you didn’t let slip through your fingers the fact that it was advertised by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and by Steve Jobs himself as "the biggest thing to happen to books since the invention of the book"  (attention: parts of the previous sentence might be made up).

I’m sure you have your copy there, resting gently on your coffee table, ready to be showed with pride to all of your guests. I’m sure you read a couple pages everynight, just to make sure you have the best possible dreams ever. 

I’m sure they use it to teach your kids in school, i’m sure it’s in every waiting room in the planet, to make waiting not only less of a pain, but an actual pleasure. I’m sure it’s your favorite book and you can never have enough of it. 

I’m sure of all of this things because otherwise I would be sad. And let’s say it, no one likes to be sad, right? 

Kidding aside, if you don’t know of it, well you should. Full stop. You have no excuse for not knowing it, or about it. And don’t pull that crap “I have no time for it” : you’re reading THIS blog post, should I say more? 

But let’s pretend for a second that you really know nothing about it. 

It’s a book with comics from Sio and photos from myself.

unCOMMON:Stories is a celebration of people. It’s just another way of breaking the ice: “Hi, we’re writing a book about you. What’s your name?” It’s a collection of photos of (un)common smiles, grins, and faces. It’s a comic book, one comic per person, hundreds of panels about them. It’s a way for us to express ourselves in the most natural way we know. It’s a black and white book.

It’s people.

But most of all, it’s Stories with a face. A real one. 

Here’s a link to our website where you can buy it (YEE!), download it for free (OK!) or even make a donation (YOU’RE AWESOME). 

Over 2 months, while living together in Sapporo, Japan, from February to March 2012, we met with 46 strangers on the streets, convinced them to tell us their story in front of a nice pint of beer, took portraits of them and translated those real life stories in freely inspired comics.  Here’s a quick look to the faces of the stories that are in the book. 

It was the most awesome thing ever, and the most rewarding experience that I ever had. Working side by side with your best friend, meeting lots of people with surprising stories, and seeing your work appreciated to the point where the crowdfunding campaign (on Ulule) we started to publish the book not only reached 100% of the funds in 3 (THREE!!) days, but it went further all the way to 387% over a month. 

Ok, and what after the book? Do you really think me and Sio would stop there? NO SIR! Over a year later, we’re organizing our second unCOMMON project. And it’s going to be LEGENDARY! All I can say right now is : 

  1. It’s the biggest, longest, awesomest project we’ve ever planned
  2. It involves a foreign country
  3. It will start on March 5th
  4. Did I already say it’s going to be off-the-hook LEGENDARY?!

I won’t give out details (just yet) but I will tell you this: be ready for something that is going to BLOW YOUR MIND, day after day, from March 5th. So, be prepared: go to our Facebook Page, drop a like, share the page with all your friends. 


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