This is the first in a series of articles on the Fujifilm X100F’s different apertures. While I will write words for each article, it is more of a photoessay. I hope that you enjoy the photographs!
When I purchased my Fujifilm X100F last July, I immediately put it through the rigors to figure out how to best use the camera. I wanted to discover its strengths and weaknesses. I took some test shots at all of the different apertures, and looked at things like center sharpness, corner sharpness, vignetting and chromatic aberrations. One conclusion I made was that aperture f/2 was the weakest. The corners were soft. The center wasn’t nearly as crisp. There was some minor vignetting and even a tiny amount of chromatic aberrations. Things improved noticeably by f/2.8.
Interestingly enough, Fujifilm lists the softness of f/2 as a feature on the X100F. I figured that this was nothing more than marketing drivel, claiming a weak point about a product as a reason to purchase it. I dismissed this aperture, deciding to use it only when absolutely necessary. Of all the apertures, f/2 seemed the most ordinary, the one to be the least excited about. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It wasn’t until recently, after many months of using the X100F, that I discovered there is actually something very special about f/2. There were a lot of pictures that I could have used this aperture with, and they might have turned out even better. Instead, I opted for f/2.8 or f/4, which are fine apertures, but they don’t contain the magic that is found at f/2.
I liken f/2 on the X100F to Antelope Island State Park in Utah. Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. As you drive in you are greeted with a rotten egg smell. The landscape is often bleak, like it drew the short end of the stick, almost-but-not-quite desert. Then you discover the bugs: biting and non-biting flies, swarms of mosquitoes, brine flies that literally cover the shore like a cloud, wolf spiders, black widow spiders, and orb weaver spiders that seem like they’re everywhere. The beach looks inviting, but it’s a long walk out there and when you finally arrive to the water you realize that it’s kind of gross. But put all of that aside, and the place is amazing with a unique beauty. There’s something about the reflections in the still water and how the mountains and rocks rise from the grass that can be breathtaking! Wildlife abounds, including bison and deer and so many different birds. It’s hard to put into words, but the place has the “it” factor for me that keeps me returning over and over with my camera. Even though Antelope Island shouldn’t be a great place to visit with all of its shortcomings, it really is wonderful.
Aperture f/2 on the X100F has plenty of shortcomings, but it also has the “it” factor. The way it renders photographs, which is sometimes almost dream-like, can be stunning. The shallow depth-of-field, which, when used correctly, separates the subject from the background wonderfully. One has to set aside the test charts and other such nonsense and just use this aperture in the real world to appreciate it. Now that I know this, I want to use it all of the time. It is indeed extraordinary!