Me and my Fuji X100 (original) by Jonas Luis

Me and my Fuji X100 (original)

by Jonas Luis

Hi, Steve!

I have followed your website for several years, now. I always look forward to new entries especially new reviews and daily inspirations submitted by photographers all over the world.

I started photography 8 years ago and was primarily a Nikon user. Then, came the Fujifilm X100. I just fell in love with the design of that camera. It reminded me of my Dad’s Kodak Retinette. So, I pre-ordered it and read all the online previews and rumors. I kept on waiting, even after production halted in the Fujifilm factory in Sendai, Japan due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami. After almost a year of waiting, I finally received my order. I wanted to use the X100 as my travel camera, not just as my primary travel camera, but my only travel camera. Of course, I had to contend with the built-in lens. I thought having a single lens would be liberating (if you have a DSLR with multiple lenses, you know the mental anguish of choosing which lenses to bring, packing, etc.) I sold all my other Nikon DSLRs but one, and traveled with my little X100. I also put-up a group pool in Flickr called X100rumors for users of the X100 camera and its future variants. Yes, coming from DSLRs, the X100 was frustrating initially: back-focusing issues, useless manual focus, camera freezing up, etc. (all of which were vastly improved and solved by firmware updates). Still, instead of traveling with an entire system, I now travel with “a camera”. In the beginning, the limitation of having a single lens bothered me. Soon after, it became a personal challenge to obtain the best image I can with that single focal length.

Before I took photography as a hobby, I usually buy souvenirs from my travels. Now, traveling with a camera, I am more inspired to bring home photographs of a place – photographs that I could truly call my own. Before traveling to a particular place for the first time, I would Google images of that specific place – trying to see note-worthy attractions, what tourists usually photograph. Then, I would choose which attractions to photograph, and imagine how I would shoot it in a way that probably nobody has ever done before (or at least not shown in Google images, Flickr or 500px). I usually take note of the predicted sunrise, sunset and weather on each day during my travel. As you all know, aside from the Golden Hour, a lot of exquisite images can also be taken in the rain. The following images were taken by my little X100 throughout the years. They were all re-sized for this website in Lightroom.

This first image was taken when I first saw the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I noticed that the other tourists had their cameras with zoom lenses and camera phones aimed only at the bridge. I soon spotted these array of coin-operated binoculars just in a corner, seemingly neglected – seating there while time and technology just whizzed by. They were probably fascinating and a novelty during their time, but now, just a relic. Yes, I was more enchanted by these shiny binoculars than the enormous man-made achievement that everybody flocked here for. I took a photograph of the binoculars, edited the image with Fujifilm’s free SilkyPix software and a free open-source software, Gimp. I ended up calling this piece, “The Old Robot”.


Image number two: my girlfriend and I traveled to Chicago. I wanted to have a souvenir photograph of the “Cloud Gate” like everyone else who has been there. If you Google it, you would know that this piece of art has been photographed a million times. So, I decided to have our souvenirs by putting my X100 in a Tamrac Zip-shot tripod, attached an infrared filter and with a couple of Cokin neutral-density filters to the lens. I then set the camera on long-exposure. My girlfriend and I took turns photographing each other. The shots were very long exposures, so we would take a comfortable pose while the one photographing would continually wave his or her hand like a conductor in an orchestra – letting the other know that the shutter is still open and for not to move. The image was converted to black and white and edited in Lightroom.


The third image is a photograph of the Smithsonian garden in Washington, DC using the same tripod and infrared filter. I was carefully composing my shot one afternoon, when a gentleman just sat down on the bench at middle of my frame and unmindfuly read the day’s newspaper. Irritation turned to inspiration when I started seeing the results on my X100’s LCD screen. To me, the resulting image just exuded leisure and relaxation. My office and I ended up gifting a framed print of it to a co-worker who recently retired.


This photograph of the beach, was taken in Cancun, Mexico. I was initially drawn by the red color of the floaters. Up close, I was amused to see a beer bottle under the lifeguards’ tall chair. Looks like they had a little “refreshment” while at work. To me, the image says, “Chill out! You’re on vacation! You are not in the USA!”. This was edited in Lightroom.


The fourth image was taken in Richmond, Virginia. While gazing up the monuments and buildings, it reminded me of the architecture in the Eastern Bloc during the cold-war era. So, I edited this image to have a utopian look in Lightroom.


My foray into street photography is pretty limited. Unlike other photographers, it is hard for me to find something to photograph on the street, that to me, seems worth-while. Maybe, I don’t have an eye for real street photography, or maybe, because of my little experience with a film camera as a child, that I try not to waste a photograph unless I see a potential story in the picture. In my mind, I keep on judging a potential photograph as just a regular snapshot, or a potential story that is worth telling. In this case, my girlfriend and I were crossing the street in Chicago, after a late dinner. I saw this cyclist coming towards us. It was close to midnight, it was cold, it was raining and I thought, “Why is this guy out here on such a miserable night? Is he going home? Going to see his lady, perhaps?” Granted, he could just be a regular commuter but I can’t sometimes help making up crazy stories like these. So, without thinking, I just stopped in the middle of the street and took a photograph while the cyclist and all the cars are rushing towards me. All the while, my girlfriend is shouting at me to cross the street. Until this day, whenever I look at this image, I still wonder where this night cyclist was heading to. This image was edited in Gimp.


Image seven is a photograph of the outdoor public market in my hometown in the Philippines. During some days of the week, there is a public outdoor market, and vendors are there as early as two in morning, preparing their wares and produce. I took this photograph around sunrise. Now, I don’t know any of these people. I was only walking around taking photographs. I like this particular photograph because when I took it, I was in the middle of the crowd. But as you can see, I was nothing but invisible to everybody. Everyone had their own stance, their own gaze – as if actors on a stage and only I, could notice the play unfolding. Almost like a Renaissance painting. Edited in Lightroom.


This colorful image of lights was taken at Disney World. I took this hand-held with the X100. I was surprised when I opened this image on my computer because it already looked perfect, straight out of the camera. The X100 has a great low-light capability. I converted it in-camera from RAW to Velvia. I only increased contrast a very tiny bit in Gimp. But you are hard-pressed to tell the difference between the edited from the original.


This next image of a crashing wave is when my X100 nearly got nearly got killed. I was in Pebble Beach in California. I was trying to take photographs of incoming waves with a small tripod. Because the X100 doesn’t have a zoom lens, you really have to keep the camera a little close to the water, the tripod was set low and and I was almost seating on the rocks. Anyway, while composing my shot, I noticed a rather large wave coming in. I was quickly debating if I should go back and save my camera, or hold my ground and maybe, will have a helluva of a shot. I decided to hold my ground. So, as soon as the wave came crashing in, I took a single frame then immediately, raised my camera with the tripod over my head. My shorts got wet, but that little gamble paid off. Image edited in SilkyPix.


The last image was taken in Baltimore, Maryland during one summer. There were a bunch of kids playing and running around the fountain. Like in a playground, all these kids were all chasing each other and playing despite being practically strangers to each other, all but these two boys. I saw that they were in their own little world, brothers – probably twins. Somehow, it reminded me of my brother and I, during my own childhood. So, I edited this image in Lightroom in a way that invokes a sense of nostalgia.


All these images were taken by my beloved Fujifilm X100. It was only more than a year ago, that I upgraded my computer that I was able to embrace Lightroom and Photoshop. For more than five years, I was using a free program called Gimp and also the SilkyPix software that came with my X100. To me, having the X100, limitation became inspiration. Could I have made these shots with a DSLR, given the chance? Most definitely. But I selected a particular tool and made full use of it. Even my choice of editing software is of no importance. Coming home from a travel, I usually personally judge my photographs if they are worth the ink and paper they will be printed on, if not, I usually not bother sharing them. Years ago, I would spend more on gadgets and lenses. Now, I’d rather spend on printing and framing and decorating the house.

Finally, I continually strive for the elusive “6-second photograph”. If a stranger is able to look at a photograph for six seconds or more the first time, then I would consider that as a very successful photograph. Have I tested that silly theory? No. But it’s a lifelong goal that keeps me on clicking.

I hope I can inspire all of you, especially to those who are just starting photography, that regardless of the camera that you have, regardless of the latest editing software, the most important thing is your own vision and the stories you can tell. Only after extensive use of your camera that you will develop your own style and personal inspiration in photography. Even in music, the student plays somebody else’s music in the beginning. Only when they feel comfortable and proficient with their own instrument, when they usually feel inspired making their own tunes. Gadgets, extra lenses and accessories are fun, but most of the time, they just distract you from your own imagination.

Now, with my X100, would I be upgrading? Maybe not anytime, soon. Now unless… Fuji comes up with a X100T in graphite silver? 🙂
Keep on clicking!

Jonas Luis


  1. Thanks for all the interesting stories!
    Having to come from DSLR to X100 (then later X100s), I couldn’t agree more on your points. Limitation is inspiration and X100 is a real joy to use.
    Keep it up!

  2. Hello Jonas: What I love about your photos is the intimacy that is conveyed in each one. Anyone can take a picture, but great photos tell a story. After 33 years on Nikon and an array of lenses, I switched to Fuji last August and bought an XE2, and have four lenses. I love it too death, but the camera I’m most excited about is a brand new (on a clearance shelf) X100 that I haven’t really started to use yet. Your work has inspired me to really mine my hobby and passion for all it’s worth…and no, I won’t be letting my X100 go just yet, either.

    Cheers from British Columbia!

  3. I wasn’t going to leave a comment, because there are so many comments already and I didn’t want to get lost in the mix. These images are really really nice you did a very good job finding unique perspectives.

  4. I have better ideas without all that overthinking. Average photography, and don’t say this camera is limiting, is limitation for “gearheads”, and people who just want new stuff every year.

  5. Your images certainly pass your “6 Second Test”! Your thoughts and narrative on each of the images is wonderful! So refreshing! An encouragement to shoot with what you have and make the most of it by improving your skills in composition.

  6. I like the variety of your shots, specially the variety of the colors. Like picture 6. Picture 7 in the marketplace has a great subject matter, people seems to not mind you, but color was saturated where the people was shaded. Need to look at a normal color picture that you like and put it side by side with what you are processing, so just not to go over board. There’s nothing wrong with copying. Just an opinion. Keep shooting.

  7. Great images! You have reinforced my belief that the X100 is the best compact camera Fuji has ever made.

  8. Thanks so much for the feedback. Actually, you are correct. These are tourist photos because I was literally a tourist, first time traveling to all these places. My intention was to at least get one or two images that I could frame. And each image has a special meaning for me. That is all. I enjoy processing my images, and I love violent color, in contrast to some X100 owners who enjoy mostly shooting BW. It’s funny you mentioned the beach photo. When we saw the beer bottle, we burst out laughing. Coming from medical field in the states, we know that this scenario would never fly in the U.S. Somebody would get fired so fast their head would spin. Taking the shot, I was telling my girlfriend, “Chill out! We are not in Kansas, anymore!” 🙂

  9. Congratulations! You’ve mastered the concept of getting the most from a single lens, something all the great photographers strive to do. From close ups, to blurred backgrounds, to near-far compositions, a fast 35mm lens with close focusing abilities is often times all a skilled photographer needs.

    Despite the quirks of Fuji’s X100 line of cameras, they excel in the right hands.

  10. A while ago I stopped judging what other photographers are doing or not doing with their cameras. It is hard to tell. Just because they use DSLRs and zoom lenses doesn’t make them less talented photographers. You don’t know if they really just take a photo of the bridge or if they have something else in mind. Many of them have done the binocular/bridge shots before. Just google ‘binocular golden gate’ and you will get hundreds of similar images. Integrating them into sightseeing shot is a very standard theme that people like to pick up. I like your photos and your descriptions. I just like to point out that it is difficult to judge the intent of other photographers by just looking at them. We all look like touristy snap shooters most of the time. 😉

    • I humbly apologize but I think I was misquoted. All the other tourists have their DSLRs with zoom lenses and cameras thus nobody use these binoculars, anymore. These things just became relics, just waiting to be torn down. The corner where these binoculars were completely empty that whole afternoon. I was wondering if they even have any quarters in them. Of course, it didn’t help they had a rather sad look.

  11. I just picked up the X-T1 a couple of weeks ago and am in love with Fuji right now, especially with their primes, 23/1.4, 35/1.4 and my all time favorite the 56/1.2

  12. Wow!! You’ve really learned how to use that X100. I have always loved that camera but have never purchased one for some reason. Maybe it’s just me but the x100 has so much more personality than the newer S, and T. The colors and personality in your images are truly amazing, thanks for sharing.

  13. Very nice, you have a fantastic eye! Keep shooting..I’m so inspired to go and shoot to.orrow I don’t think I can sleep.

  14. Jonas, I like what you said about the ‘6 second photograph’. I think it’s a good rule of thumb. 🙂 And I love your approach, best shown in your ‘Robot’ image. Those old coin-operated binoculars are kind of like juke boxes: perhaps redundant, but reminders of a different and very beautiful era.

    Some of these photographs are very good, indeed. Some would have been better had they not been heavily processed. I really don’t like any of the processing, partly because it seems to be applied for the sake of it.

    And some of these images weaken your portfolio, IMHO. The shot of the beer bottle at the beach is completely without meaning or aesthetic quality. The following shot in Richmond shows me impressive things but the photograph is not much more than a tourist snapshot.

    • Again, thanks so much everybody. I really hope that other photographers with also keep sharing their little back stories with the photos they take. I know, they always say that your work should speak for itself. But really, the other joy of looking at a photograph is learning why the photographer stopped and took it in the first place.

  15. I rarely leave comments, but this is definitely one of the better photo sets on here in quite some time. Well done with thought, vision and purpose.

  16. Wow, amazing pictures. I think when people complain about the cameras, e.g. the Fuji X100 and the slow autofocus and back focusing, it is the inability of the user to adapt to the camera. You’re images shows what soil and talent is able to achieve.

    I also have the Fuji X100 and I sold my can gear and purchase the XT1 with a few prime lenses and travelled for 2 months and enjoyed the lighter camera bag 🙂


  17. Excellent pictures and commentary. I like your work a lot.
    I have a quick question though as I am planning to buy a used X100…were all the initial quirks mostly solved as of the latest firmware updates (specifically focus speed, back focus and manual focus)?

    • Yes, almost all of them were solved by the firmware update. The X100 felt like a new camera after the last update. Manual focusing is now a joy to use, especially with the focusing highlights around your subject. Manual focusing is pretty fast. The only thing you have to remember is to set it to macro mode if you are photographing anything about 4 feet or less infront of you to minimize the chance of back focusing, or just shift to manual. For the the price of an X100 nowadays, I think it’s a steal.

      • Oh man, thanks for your response. To be quite honest I actually dont need this camera, but after playing with an X100T at a store, I dont know…I just felt in love with it. The feel, the way it handled (physically), the dial placements, the look…it felt fun!

        Since I dont really need it (I am more than happy with my EM5) I am planning to steal one of these classics 🙂

  18. Excellent post and storytelling. Very timely too! I am literally sat at my computer with a borrowed X100T wondering whether I should upgrade the old X100. I look at your images and wonder whether it’s worth upgrading. The original X100 is a classic camera. I too sold all my DSLR gear and now mainly use this little wonder. So liberating and your photographs really show what a good photographer can create. Your images certainly passed the 6 second rule in my eyes!

  19. Fine images there. I’ve lusted for the X100 and it’s younger siblings, but I like the flexibility of my Oly.

    I turned to GIMP when an OSX killed Photoshop 7. I do RAW processing and cropping in iPhoto, then fine tune in GIMP. It works for me.

    • I had Gimp for so many years (nothing beats free). When I needed to upgrade my computer because I can’t even play high-def videos from youtube, anymore, I decided to get Lightroom and Photoshop (with student discount, thanks to the girlfriend). But still, they are just the “canvas and paintbrush”. I would even be happy with Snapseed on my ipad only if it didn’t downscale the file resolution.

  20. You use often what can be called “lateral sight”; the binoculars, the floaters, the rubber wheel.
    It works many times, though can result a bit confusing.
    For your assert about your skill in street photography; well, the golden street works (the color makes the story). The last photograph is beautiful too.

    • So, that’s what is called. I figured looking at my photos throughout the years, they seem to have the same perspective. I guess my eyes and brain seem to be wired to see the world that way. I guess, I have a photographic style, after all. Thanks so much! 🙂

  21. Thanks for sharing Jonas. You’ll be happy to know that the “Chill Out” beach photo caught my attention for more than six seconds. It’s the only photo of the set that, to my eyes, begins to tell a story. It provokes the viewer to stop and consider what is going on. Well done!

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