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The Fujifilm X100V was an overnight sensation two-and-a-half years after it was released. Yes, it sold well for Fujifilm during those 30 months prior to the explosion in demand, but, beginning last fall, the X100V was suddenly the one camera model that everyone wanted, yet few could get.
Fujifilm couldn’t make enough copies of the camera to keep up with the newfound demand. The X100V was out-of-stock everywhere. The backorder list quickly grew long. A large camera store told me months ago that if there were no new orders, and at the current rate that Fujifilm was manufacturing the X100V, it would take them six months just to fulfill all of those backorders; however, the backorder list was growing faster than Fujifilm was delivering new cameras.
Some of those who did have an X100V—even a used one—were selling them at significantly inflated prices. I saw one listed at $1,000 above MSRP in one instance. And people were actually buying them! The price for older versions, such as the X100F, but going back all the way to the 12-year-old original X100, also increased and became more difficult to find. Even other Fujifilm series, such as the X-E line (and even Ricoh GR), saw a bump in demand as people looked for alternatives to the X100V.
It’s been about nine months since the craze began and it hasn’t slowed. The X100V has been an in-demand model during that time, but Fujifilm just can’t keep up with it, due to things like parts shortages and balancing manufacturing demands with the also-hot-selling X-T5. Ideally Fujifilm would have been able to truly capitalize on their fortuitous situation, but they really haven’t. Perhaps the only thing that Fujifilm has been able to do is continue to limp the manufacturing of this model a little longer than they originally anticipated, delaying the discontinuation date by as much as a year.
When you look at the history of the X100-series, a release pattern emerges. The X100S came out about two years after the original X100, the X100T came out about two years after the X100S, and the X100F was released about two years after the X100T; however, the X100V was released three years after the X100F, and we’re already beyond the three-year-mark since the X100V came out. I believe that Fujifilm would have liked to have announced the next X100-series camera, which I’ll call the X100Z, back in February, but that obviously didn’t happen. I anticipate that it will be February 2024.
Why didn’t it happen in 2023? The X100V is selling faster than they can be made. What’s the hurry in releasing a successor? I do believe the issues that plagued not only Fujifilm but also most of the tech industry are still problematic to an extent, and this gives Fujifilm more time to get their parts supply and manufacturing operations back on track. I bet Fujifilm is hoping to make just enough copies of the X100V to give a glimmer of hope that one can be obtained with enough patience—and that the buzz continues for a bit longer—but not so many that the demand is deflated when the X100Z (or whatever Fujifilm will call it) is announced in eight months or so. Honestly, Fujifilm should release one or two limited-run special-edition X100V versions between now and then.
The X100-series doesn’t change much with a new release. The improvements are just enough to make you desire the new model, but are never groundbreaking. There’s not going to be a redesign. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What can we expect in an X100Z? What do I wish for?
I do believe the biggest “upgrade” will be the 40-megapixel X-Trans V sensor and processor. While I actually prefer the 26-megapixel sensor in general (as 40mp is overkill for most people), as I’ve thought about it, this sensor makes a lot of sense in an X100 because of the Digital Teleconverter, something I used far more frequently on my recent trip to California’s Central Coast than I had at any point in the two years prior. The X100V has 35mm full-frame-equivalent lens, and the Digital Teleconverter, which is a digital zoom with some smart upscaling, produces a 50mm-equivalent or 70mm-equivalent picture, adding versatility to the fixed-lens camera. There is a noticeable loss in quality when set to 70mm, but it’s still surprisingly good; however, the 40mp sensor would make this feature better and more practical for routine use. In fact, Fujifilm could even add 80mm if they wanted. The one thing I’d like Fujifilm to fix with regards to the Digital Teleconverter is scale the faux Grain, because Strong/Large Grain looks massive when using the 70mm option, but it should appear to be the same size as if the Digital Teleconverter wasn’t used.
The new sensor and processor will bring several improvements to the spec sheet for both stills and video. Autofocus will see a boost. In an age of diminishing returns, I don’t think any of that makes a big difference, but the marketing department will still use it to promote the camera and reviewers will still use it to get clicks and likes.
Will the X100Z have IBIS? Fujifilm has made some significant strides with their In-Body-Image-Stabilization, but I’d be mildly surprised if the new model has it. The argument is that the Ricoh GR III has IBIS, and it’s a much older and smaller camera, so why can’t the X100-series? First, IBIS isn’t really needed in the GR III and it’s pretty mediocre anyway, so it’s often overstated as a feature in that model. I do think it makes more sense in the X100-series than in the Ricoh, but if it makes the body larger or more expensive, Fujifilm will have to carefully consider the potential consequences of that. I think, with the higher-resolution sensor, a digital stabilizer for video would be sufficient.
What I would love to see in the Fujifilm X100Z are more film simulations and JPEG options. Of course that’s what I’d love to see, since I make Film Simulation Recipes. What I don’t think Fujifilm or the photography community in-general realizes is that the ability to get analog-like results straight-out-of-camera is what’s largely driving the interest in the X100V. While many long-time Fujifilm photographers purchased the X100V, for a lot of people the camera is (or would be if they could find one in stock) their first Fujifilm—whether they mainly shoot Canon, Sony, Nikon, etc., or it’s their first “real” camera—and it makes a lot of sense because it doesn’t require investing in a whole system. They can get their feet wet with something fun, and maybe later they’ll jump into the deep end. In the meantime, they’ve got a cool camera that doesn’t require sitting in front of a computer to get great results. Not only does this drive camera sales, but it is also a big reason why many end up sticking around and not moving onto something else.
So what would I like Fujifilm to add to the X100Z? Obviously Eterna Bleach Bypass and Nostalgic Neg. will be included, but I think Fujifilm should strongly consider introducing a new film sim with this camera. Some ideas are Fujicolor Pro 400H (that with overexposure behaves similarly to the film), Fujicolor Pro 800Z (would make a lot of sense if they name the camera X100Z), Fujichrome Sensia, Fujichrome Fortia, cross-process, infrared, Instax, Neopan 400CN, etc.—there are still a ton that Fujifilm could and should do. Some JPEG options that I’d like to see are mid-tone adjustments (additional to Highlight and Shadow), black-point (a.k.a. fade, to lift blacks), split-toning (for both B&W and color pictures), more Grain options (Weak, Medium, Strong; Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large; plus maybe various patters?), and maybe even a tint slider for the major colors to tweak their rendering? I think Fujifilm has to be careful balancing new features with simplicity, so that the many options don’t become overwhelming—in other words, pick a couple of things to add and not everything, as much as I’d love to have everything.
The X100Z will be a very successful camera for Fujifilm, and for a lot of people standing in the long line for an X100V, this new model can’t get here fast enough. There won’t likely be a huge difference between the two versions—just the new sensor and some new features, but it will nonetheless be a nice refresh. While it might seem to be a long ways off, Fujifilm will announce this camera in the not-too-distant future, and it will be here before you know it. In the meantime, I’ve included below a video published today by Leigh & Raymond Photography that discusses this very topic.
Day 5, Part 1 — June 9, 2023 — Morro Bay, Cayucos, Harmony & Cambria
I’ve been asked by several of you, “What’s Ken Rockwell like?”
He’s been quite popular for a very long time, as Ken Rockwell’s website is one of the longest running in all of photography. He’s a controversial character, and people seem to either love or hate him. On this day, because we were assigned to the same car, I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with him, and we talked about a lot of things. To a limited extent, I got to know the real Ken Rockwell.
Ken was born and raised in New York City. Like a stereotypical New Yorker, he has an opinion that he’s not afraid to share. He tells it like it is; don’t expect anything to be sugarcoated. He’s honest. He’s very knowledgeable—when he’s interested in something, he dives deeply into it and becomes an expert. He asks a lot of questions, and you can tell he’s a logical person. Ken’s also very funny, with a dry humor that often utilizes sarcasm.
Those who hate Ken Rockwell (yes, hate is a strong word, but it’s often used in this context) seem to either be put off by his strong opinions, dislike something controversial he said, don’t believe he’s a good photographer, or are jealous of his success. To the first, I’ll say this: Ken is upfront about where he stands. Sometimes two people can look at the same thing and come to opposite conclusions; it’s always ok to agree to disagree. To the second, I’ll say this: without nonverbal cues, deciphering when someone on a website is stating opinion vs. making a sarcastic joke can be difficult, so if something sounds offensive, perhaps it wasn’t said in seriousness, and the benefit of the doubt should be given. I would caution against running with assumptions. If you want to know for sure, just ask! Ken is a nice guy who I’m sure would answer your questions. To the third, I’ll say this: every artist has strengths and weaknesses. I actually had a conversation with Dave Wyman about this. Ken’s photographic strengths are capturing striking colors, making the ordinary appear interesting, and in-studio product pictures. To the fourth, I’ll say this: haters are going to hate, I suppose. Just because someone else is successful and you are not doesn’t mean that you’ll never be, or that they don’t deserve to be.
I enjoyed interacting with Ken on this trip, and learned several things from him about the photography industry. The conversations were very insightful, and Ken was kind to share his knowledge and experiences with me. Anyone who thinks he is a bad person has not met him in-person.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the first part of Day 5 of the Central Coast of California tour!
We met up once again at a hotel in San Luis Obispo. Because it was forecasted to be overcast, we began a little later than the day before. We loaded up into a few cars, and caravanned up the Pacific Coast Highway. The first stop was at a beach on the north end of Morro Bay, followed by Cayucos, which is a cool little coastal community. Then we visited Harmony, a tiny tourist town that would be easy to overlook, but is actually quite interesting, photogenic, and tasty (if, like me, you enjoy ice cream). Afterwards, we turned down an unassuming road near Cambria and drove way back into the hills, where we found some abandoned antique cars.
What’s crazy about the cars is that after winding down this barely used backroad for miles, we parked and walked up a side road (if you can even call it a road), then up a barely visible steep trail to the top of a hill. Once your eyes crest the top, you see the cars; otherwise, they’re hidden. I asked Dave, “How did you even find this place?” He answered, “As I was exploring the road, I saw a glint of light. It was just for a moment. So I came up here to find out what it was.” The cars are on private property, but Dave befriended the owner, a legit fifth generation rancher who’s great-great-grandfather settled the land before California was even a state.
The camera gear that I used on the first part of Day 5 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11. Mostly, I chose the X100V.
For this part of Day 5, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Fujicolor Superia 1600, Pacific Blues, Urban Dreams, Expired Velvia, and 1981 Kodak. For the iPhone, I used my Standard Film filter on RitchieCam.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, Abandoned Classics, fits in-between Classic Oak and Dodge, Didn’t Dodge. The second image, Ice Flower & Chain Link, fits in-between Ken & Dave and Classic Rear Fender. The third image, Old Window Blinds, was the first photograph of the day.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
I shot with four AI Film Simulation Recipes made by ChatGPT while at California’s central coast a few weeks ago. Two of these Recipes—Urban Dreams and Kodak Ektachrome E100Vs v1—are official Fuji X Weekly Recipes and can be found on this website and the Fuji X Weekly App. The other two—Soft Blue Classic and Vivid Summer Glow—are not official Recipes, but you can find them here if you want to try them yourself.
My personal favorite of these four is Urban Dreams, which has a Kodachrome 200 vibe. Especially during overcast conditions and blue-hour, this is a Recipe that I really enjoy using—I shot a lot with it on my coastal trip. Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1 is my second favorite, which is good for sunny days when you want colors to pop. My third favorite is Vivid Summer Glow, which has some similarities to the Kodachrome II Recipe, but I like Kodachrome II better. Last and least, Soft Blue Classic does alright when the sun is high and the light is warm, but overall I didn’t like it very much.
The next SOOC Live broadcast will be this coming Thursday, June 29th, at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, 1:00 PM Eastern. We’ll finish our discussion of these four AI-made Film Simulation Recipes, and much more. I hope that you can join us, because it’s an interactive program, and your participation makes it better!
During the last SOOC Live show, we challenged you to shoot with these four ChatGPT Film Simulation Recipes. I hope that you’ve had fun trying them! As a reminder, you have until tomorrow (June 27th) to upload your pictures captured with these Recipes (click here) for the next show, so you’ll want to do so quickly if you haven’t already. Be sure to include the name of the Recipe used in the file name, so that we can keep track of which is which.
I hope to see you on Thursday!
My wife, Amanda, recently ran across some old family pictures in her mom’s photo box. These prints were made in July of 1981—a date stamped on the back—and printed on Kodak paper. The other technical details are unknown, but most likely they were captured with a cheap point-and-shoot of some sort (possibly even a 110 camera) with Kodacolor II color negative film, which was the most popular amateur emulsion of that era. Due to age and improper storage, the prints are fading, with a pronounced orange (sometimes yellow, sometimes red) cast, and colors overall less vibrant than they once were. The set was mostly personal family pictures, and many of them were scratched and damaged, but I did scan two of the prints, which you’ll find below.
I thought that the aesthetic was interesting, so I began to develop a Film Simulation Recipe inspired by these photographs. It took a couple of days, and a few compromises, but I was able to create a look that mimics the general feel of those old pictures made in 1981 and printed on Kodak paper—the reason why I call this Recipe 1981 Kodak.
This 1981 Kodak Film Simulation Recipe is compatible with “newer” Fujifilm X-Trans IV cameras: Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II. For X-Trans V, because some film sims render blue more deeply, it will look slightly different. For the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30, ignore Grain size and Color Chrome FX Blue, and use a diffusion filter (such as a 10% or 20% CineBloom) in lieu of Clarity.
The Fuji X Weekly App is free, yet becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron unlocks the best App experience! One benefit of being a Patron is you get early access to some new Film Simulation Recipes. These Early-Access Recipes will eventually become available free to everyone in time, including this new one. In fact, many Early-Access Recipes have already been publicly published on this Blog and the App, so now everyone can use them. Patrons help support Fuji X Weekly and, really, without them there would be no App. So I want to give a special “thank you” to all of the Patrons!
Find 1981 Kodak in the Fuji X Weekly App! If you are a Fuji X Weekly App Patron, it’s available to you right now.
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this 1981 Kodak Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:
Film has an expiration date. Typically two years after it was manufactured, unused film starts to degrade, and the results will be different. Freezing film prolongs the degenerative process, making it possible to get good results years after expiring. Film should be developed within a day or two of use, but you’re ok to wait a few weeks or even months if stored in a refrigerator. Most photographers take care to use their film before the expiration date, and to thoughtfully store their film in a dark, cool place, but some don’t. There are even some photographers who purposefully seek out film that is well-expired and/or stored incorrectly, just for the unpredictable and unusual results that one might get—there is a bit of serendipity to the style, which can be desirable.
This Film Simulation Recipe, called Expired Velvia, came about after a Fuji X Weekly reader shared with me some photographs that he had captured on long-expired Velvia 50 color reversal film. He didn’t have the lab adjust the development time for the expired film, so they were all underexposed (at least a little); however, they turned out really interesting, with an aesthetic that leaned more towards Superia than Velvia. This Recipe does a great job of mimicking that look!
If you are searching for a Film Simulation Recipe that’s a little different, this is one to try! It’s definitely not for everyone, but some of you will love it. It’s compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. For X-Trans V models, you can use this Recipe, but because blue is rendered more deeply on some film simulations, the results will be slightly different. This Recipe was an App Patron Early-Access Recipe, but it has been replaced by a new one, so if you are a Fuji X Weekly App Patron, be sure to look for that new Early-Access Recipe in the App!
Film Simulation: Classic Negative
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome FX Blue: Off
White Balance: 6400K, -1 Red & +8 Blue
Dynamic Range: DR400
High ISO NR: -4
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: -1 to -1/3 (typically)
Day 4, Part 2 — June 8, 2023 — Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Montaña de Oro & Pismo Beach
Buckle up! Part 2 of Day 4 was very busy, and I captured a whole bunch of pictures. I don’t like to include any more than 50 photographs in an article because it can cause the page to load slowly (even 50 can be problematic), but I exceeded that pretty significantly here. If the images are not loading quickly, I apologize up front. On the positive side, if you like viewing photos, there are a ton to enjoy!
After Prefumo Canyon, Dave Wyman led the tour to Avila Beach where we walked down the historic Harford Pier, built in 1919. There used to be a townsite at the pier called Port Hatford, which was founded in 1871, but the pier is pretty much all that remains today. Although it’s still a working pier, it is open to the public, and you can even drive down it.
The midday sun was high, which isn’t the best time for photography, but I kept my eye out for picture opportunities anyway. Something I have learned is that there are photographic opportunities anytime of the day or night if you look hard enough, and it is up to the photographer to find them. Some times of the day, such as golden hour, tend to offer more obvious options, but even during midday sunlight there are chances to use your camera.
After the pier we hiked a short distance down the Bob Jones City-to-the-Sea Trail, then we headed back to San Luis Obispo to visit the historic Octagon Barn. This unusual structure is one of those places you’d not likely stop at unless your tour guide drove you there, which is exactly what Dave did. The site is surprisingly well kept and photogenic.
The next stop was Montaña de Oro State Park near Los Osos, which is just an incredible place! This landscape is quite diverse, with steep cliffs, miles of shoreline (both sandy and rocky), sand dunes, coastal plains, trees, streams, canyons, and hills—a photographer’s playground! The sun was beginning to move a little lower in the sky (especially towards the end of the visit), but it was still harsh light that wasn’t ideal for photography; however, some of my favorite pictures from the trip were captured at Montaña de Oro State Park.
We did a fair amount of walking and hiking on this day, and by the time we got back to the cars I was pretty exhausted. It probably didn’t help that I had a short night of rest. I think most people on the tour felt similarly, and Dave made the decision to go back to the hotel and take an intermission. I called it a day and returned to my accommodations, and spent the remainder of the evening with my wife and kids. We did walk to the Pismo Beach Pier, but I purposefully left my cameras behind and only used my iPhone. I believe everyone else walked around San Luis Obispo that evening.
The camera gear that I used on the second part of Day 4 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 18mm f/2, Fujinon 27mm f/2.8, Fujinon 90mm f/2, and Meike 35mm f/1.7, a Ricoh GR III, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11.
For this part of Day 4, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Pacific Blues, The Rockwell and Vintage Color. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model. For the iPhone, I used my Standard Film, Instant Color 1, and Dramatic B&W filters on RitchieCam.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, Pacific Poppies, fits in-between Seaside Poppies and Native Plants & Bird. Sometimes it takes a few tries to capture the strongest picture. The second image, No Cigarettes, fits in-between Boat in the Cove and Pro Boat. The third image, Window View, fits in-between Spooner Cove and Window Rock. Otherwise, the order is correct. I hope that you enjoy these pictures!
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm X100V — Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-E4 — Amazon B&H Moment
Ricoh GR III — Amazon B&H Moment
Fujinon 18mm f/2 — Amazon B&H Moment
Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 — Amazon B&H Moment
Fujinon 90mm f/2 — Amazon B&H Moment
Meike 35mm f/1.7 — Amazon B&H
The next SOOC Live show will be this coming Thursday, June 29th, at 10 AM Pacific Time, 1 PM Eastern! Mark you calendars!
I really hope that you can join us, as Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and I finish our chat with you about using ChatGPT to make AI Film Simulation Recipes. We’ve been shooting with four—Urban Dreams, Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1, and two others made for the show (called Soft Blue Classic and Vivid Summer Glow). We also challenged you to shoot with one or more of those four Recipes.
We invite you to share with us your photographs (click here) captured with those AI Recipes to be potentially featured in the next broadcast, to be included in the Viewer’s Images Slideshow, and to enter a chance to win a one-year Patron subscription to the Fuji X Weekly App. Please upload your pictures no later than Tuesday, June 27th! That’s coming up very soon, but there’s still time if you haven’t yet begun the challenge. Don’t forget to include the name of the Recipe that you used in the file name.
If you missed the last broadcast, I’ve included it below. You’ll want to check it out if you missed it when it was live. You can find all the past episodes on the SOOC Live YouTube channel.
I hope to see you on Thursday!
I had never heard of Gear Patrol before, so I had to look them up. Even though DPReview’s traffic has been shrinking (well before the announcement from Amazon, but especially after), they still have more visitors—and those visitors view more pages and stay longer—than Gear Patrol. Obviously they hope that this acquisition expands both audiences with crossover between the two websites.
When I was on the Central Coast of California tour two weeks ago, DPReview was brought up several times. There were a few interesting points made and insights that were discussed. I don’t have any inside information into the business dealings of any of these companies, but I do know a little about the industry in general, so I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about it here on Fuji X Weekly. It’s a hot topic, so perhaps you’re interested in my opinions—if not, that’s ok, just ignore this article.
Amazon conducted a financial audit of their company, as they routinely do, and some alarming statistics were discovered. In response, Amazon looked closely at their divisions that were not profitable (or were perhaps trending towards and forecasted to be not profitable), and made determinations on layoffs, selling “assets” that were no longer so, and shuttering departments. DPReview, which was owned by Amazon, was chosen to close.
Two points that I believe are important, but I think were overlooked in the emotion of the closing news, are: 1) DPReview was either not profitable or was trending in that direction and forecasted to be that soon, and 2) Amazon did make some effort to sell it before deciding to close it. I don’t have any personal information on either of those two points, but it only makes sense, and thinking otherwise doesn’t make any sense. No matter how “evil” or “heartless” you think Amazon is, they wouldn’t close a profitable division—they are much more business savvy than you or I, and profits are profits, and an “asset” that’s losing money isn’t one. I doubt Amazon put much effort into selling DPReview, but they probably sent out a handful of inquiries to some companies within their circle to see if any would take the bait, and apparently none bit, so they decided instead to turn out the lights. They must have thought that there wouldn’t be much interest in it.
But then there was a huge outcry from the photo community. I believe that some offers to buy DPReview began to come in, including from Gear Patrol, so Amazon decided to keep it running for a couple months longer as they worked out the details. For Amazon, it makes a lot more sense to sell than to close, so they were quite happy to have a buyer, and probably sold DPReview at a discount.
So why would DPReview, which has a very large and devoted audience, have trouble turning a profit? The answer is simple: cost. The biggest expense for every company is almost always employees. I don’t know how many work for DPReview, but Google says that it’s at least 11 (I have no idea if that’s accurate). Ken Rockwell, for example, only employs himself, so even though he has a significantly smaller audience than DPReview, he’s able to turn a profit. Another big expense for DPReview is data storage and hosting. Now obviously they use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for this, which means they’ve either received this service for free or at a significant discount as a perk of being owned by Amazon. I use AWS for a couple of really small things, and I pay monthly for it. I can only imagine how expensive it would be for something as huge as DPReview! Not to mention that it’s constantly expanding daily (particularly thanks to the forums). Finally, DPReview is headquartered in an high-cost city, which in prosperous times is no big deal, but in lean times might make a significant difference.
I imagine that Gear Patrol negotiated (as a part of the sale) the inclusion of AWS for DPReview, and probably for a specific time. It could be three months, it could be six, but more likely it’s at least 12, if not up to 36. That gives Gear Patrol time to figure out how to run DPReview leaner before having to absorb that big expense.
What’s in it for Amazon? Well, first, there’s however much money Gear Patrol is paying them to buy DPReview. All of those affiliate links are still there, too, bringing customers to Amazon. And if DPReview can stay afloat, there will be the AWS money, too. Even if Amazon practically gave away DPReview (which they might have), it’s still better for them than to just close it down.
What’s in it for Gear Patrol? Suddenly their audience has more than doubled. If they can incorporate some crossover, there’s a real opportunity. However, they have to be careful, and it’s possible they’ve bit off more than they can chew. The challenge will be running DPReview leaner while not degrading the experience, and not making the crossover off-putting to visitors.
What’s in it for DPReview? The people who work there don’t get a pink slip—at least not everyone, and not right away. People who have worked hard for years to build the website and brand will be able to keep doing so. For those at DPReview (and their families), this must feel like a huge relief, although I’m sure there will still be a lot of stress with the transition.
What’s in it for the photography community? DPReview has been around for a really long time, and there are so many resources on their website, which almost completely disappeared. Now—and at least for now—those resources will still be available to the photography community for some time to come.
So it seems like a win-win-win-win-win situation. Amazon won. Gear Patrol won. DPReview won. PetaPixel won. The photography community won. Amazing!
I doubt that Gear Patrol reads this website, but just in case, the advice that I’d offer them is this: in 2023, people are a little less interested in the fine details of the specs of camera gear than they used to be, and are more interested in how to use their gear to achieve what they want to achieve. We’ve reached a point (really, surpassed it) of diminishing returns, and the small differences between makes and models matter much less than they used to. Nowadays, anyone can achieve what they want to achieve with whatever gear they have, if only they knew how. There are people who either don’t know this, or who ignore it because it’s easier and more convenient to blame their gear than themselves, so they still get worked up over the insignificant differences, but most people are beginning to realize that the gear they own (or are about to own) is actually much more capable than they are. What they want to know is how to use their gear. They want to know how to achieve what they desire either the simplest way or the best way. If you focus more on that, you’ll find tons of success moving forward in this changing environment.
Day 4, Part 1 — June 8, 2023 — Prefumo Canyon
I’m not a morning person. When my alarm sounded and it was still very dark outside, I didn’t want to jump out of the warm bed that I was comfortably resting in. I knew this was going to be a fun, memorable, and photographically productive day, so I wiped the sleep from my eyes and began to get ready. I was finally going to meet Ken Rockwell and Dave Wyman, and all the others who also signed up for the Central Coast of California tour, and I did not want to be late.
Everyone knows who Ken Rockwell is. His longstanding website has been one of the most popular in photography for decades. Dave Wyman is perhaps less well-known, but he has been teaching photography, leading tours, and publishing books for a long, long time—an incredible talent who deserves to be a household name in photography circles. I was very excited for the opportunity to meet them both in-person.
The tour began at a hotel in San Luis Obispo, where we all met up and decided who would be driving and who would be riding in which car. There were twelve of us total, including Ken and Dave, which means there were 10 attendees, including myself. Interestingly, I found out that seven were repeat customers, and had participated in at least one of Ken and Dave’s tours before.
After everyone had their gear loaded up, and as the sun was rising, we carpooled and caravanned to Prefumo Canyon, which is a mountainous area in-between San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach. It’s not a place anyone would likely stumble upon, unless they were purposefully exploring back roads that few ever take. But Dave knows these hidden gems very well thanks to the research he did for his first two books: Backroads of Northern California and Backroads of Southern California. While Dave does take his tours to the iconic locations that everyone photographs, he also goes to places almost nobody else does because virtually no one else knows where they are. Prefumo Canyon is one such spot.
Dave Wyman is the tour organizer and leader, while Ken Rockwell is brought along as a subject matter expert. They are both available during the trip for any questions or advice that anyone might have. There’s no classroom portion of the tour—it’s all “en plein air”—so any and all education is done in-the-field. One can learn as much or as little as one wants to, and it is up to the attendees to ask any questions that they might have. Both Dave and Ken make themselves available throughout the tour; however, the information and advice that they provide is limited until questions are asked. If anyone is considering joining one of their tours in the future, my advice is to think about what you want to learn, and have a list of questions written down in advance. Also, don’t be afraid to approach Dave and Ken, as they’re both eager to help.
We spent much of the morning in Prefumo Canyon, photographing in a few different locations before moving on to Avila Beach. Thankfully the sun was shining—this would be the only non-dreary day of the entire trip! I did so much photography at this spot that I decided to separate Day 4 into two parts.
The camera gear that I used on the first part of Day 4 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 18mm f/2, Fujinon 90mm f/2, Pentax-110 24mm f/2.8, and Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11.
For this part of Day 4, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Pacific Blues, The Rockwell and Vintage Color. For the iPhone, I used my Vintage Kodak, Classic Color, and B&W Fade filters on RitchieCam.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, Bench with a View, fits in-between Retro Yellow and Dave with Rolleiflex. The second image, Light in the Woods, fits in-between Light in the Dark Forest and Ken & Distant Moon. Otherwise, the order is correct. I hope that you enjoy these pictures!
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Ever since the first trailer for Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City debuted back in March, the movie’s generated a lot of buzz. There’s also been a ton of interest in recreating Wes Anderson’s aesthetic and style. Now that Asteroid City is about to hit theaters across America (and presumably the world), there’s been a renewed interest in the Wes Anderson look.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to faithfully mimic an Asteroid City aesthetic straight-out-of-camera on Fujifilm models; however, you can get somewhat close, if you ok with compromises. My Vibrant Arizona Film Simulation Recipe is the closest you’re likely to get to an Asteroid City look without editing (in the article, I give some tips for getting even closer with a couple of quick edits). While it’s just not possible to achieve an orange/teal/pastel palette in-camera on Fujifilm models, the Vibrant Arizona Recipe does produce an unmistakable Wes Anderson vibe, which is definitely in-style right now.
Last month I visited Sedona, Arizona—the perfect location to use Vibrant Arizona! If there’s any place that just cries for this Film Simulation Recipe, it’s Red Rock Country. I loaded the Recipe into my Fujifilm X-T5, attached a TTArtisan 35mm f/0.95 lens, and walked around the iconic tourist town. My wife, Amanda, came along with her Fujifilm X-T4 (with a Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens), and recorded some clips.
You can use Film Simulation Recipes for video in Fujifilm cameras to an extent, and avoid color grading. Some settings aren’t available, such as Grain, Color Chrome Effects, D-Range Priority, and Clarity, which means that Vibrant Arizona can’t really be used for video. Instead, in order to get the video clips to be similar to the photographs, we used these settings in Amanda’s X-T4:
White Balance: 4350K, +6 Red & -8 Blue
Dynamic Range: DR400
High ISO NR: -4
Of course, being influenced by Wes Anderson, Amanda shot and edited the video in a style inspired by his movies. I hope that you find it entertaining, and that it will inspire you to give the Vibrant Arizona Film Simulation Recipe a try on your Fujifilm camera. Also, be sure to follow my YouTube channel if you don’t already, and give the video a thumbs-up if you liked it.
You can find the Vibrant Arizona Recipe (and nearly 300 more!) in the Fuji X Weekly App. Download for free today (Android here, Apple here); consider becoming a Patron subscriber to unlock the best App experience and to support this website.
I love to be creative, and to challenge myself to occasionally use curious techniques. While on the Central Coast of California tour earlier this month, one method I infrequently employed was a slow shutter speed handheld to purposefully achieve blurred images. When doing this, it’s possible to get an impressionist or abstract image that might be more interesting—or, at least, more unique—than if a quicker shutter or tripod had been used. I wouldn’t want to do this with every photograph, but when used sporadically (or maybe for a particular project), the results can be intriguing.
Keep reading to learn more!
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Day 3 — June 7, 2023 — Pismo Beach & Avila Beach
En plein air is a French expression that means outside or outdoors. Specific to art, it was made popular by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes in 1800, who encouraged artists to immerse themselves into the landscapes that they were creating by painting the scene while at the scene, and not in a studio (the most common practice at the time). The en plein air philosophy was embraced by impressionist painters, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and others.
Dave Wyman calls the Central Coast of California tour “En Plein Air” because there’s no classroom or lecture portion—everything happens while out in the landscape actively capturing photographs. It’s about learning to see and interpret the scene around you by being immersed in it. Additionally, this part of California has some similarities to some French and Italian regions, so applying the en plein air expression seems appropriate.
While this was Day 3 for me, for everyone else on the tour it was Day 1. This was their travel day. Once settled into their hotel, they spent the evening photographing San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach; however, I did not join them yet. The prior day was busy, and I knew the next several days would be, too, so I kept this one low-key with my family. We did make it to the ocean a few different times at various locations around Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, but I purposefully did less with my cameras and tried to just be in the moment more often.
The camera gear that I used on Day 3 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens, a Ricoh GR III, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11. I did not use a tripod at any point on this trip, including the night shots below.
For Day 3, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Superia Premium 400, The Rockwell, Urban Dreams, Xpro ’62, and Serr’s 500T. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model. For the iPhone, I used my Night Negative filter on RitchieCam. As always, these pictures are camera-made JPEG’s that are unedited, aside from cropping and straightening sometimes—my workflow is so quick and easy!
Regarding the order, the top picture, House on the Seaside Cliffs, was the very first photo of the day, while Shell fits in-between Hanging Ice Plant and Camera Fight with Jon. Although I used my cameras less on this day, and despite the drab overcast weather, I still was able to capture a few good shots. I hope that you enjoy these pictures!
Day 2 — June 6, 2023 — Morro Bay, San Simeon & Cambria
This was our first full day at the ocean. My wife and I decided to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to explore Morro Bay, followed by the elephant seals north of San Simeon, and finally Moonstone Beach in Cambria on the way back down. This area is just incredible, and is one of my favorite sections of coastline in California!
Did you know that there are wild zebras near San Simeon? There are! Actually, they were once part of William Hearst’s private zoo, but they escaped (were released?), and now live wild in the coastal hills below Hearst Castle. Sometimes you can spot them from the highway. We were fortunate to find a few; while they weren’t very close, I was able to photograph a couple of them with my 90mm lens. I would have loved to visit the castle on this trip, but it just didn’t work out this time.
The weather was cool and overcast. It was fairly poor light for photography. A couple of times the sun did briefly try to peek through, but it mostly remained drab all day. Still, this area is stunning, so there were many photographic opportunities—in fact, the potential for great photography always exists no matter the time and location, and it is up to the photographer to find it.
The camera gear that I used on Day 2 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens, a Ricoh GR III, and a Samsung ST76 digicam. The X100V was utilized the most and the X-E4 + 90mm was second most. The GR III and Samsung digicam were barely used, while everything else remained in the camera bag on this day.
For Day 2, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodachrome 64, Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v2, The Rockwell, Urban Dreams, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Pacific Blues, Expired Velvia, and Xpro ’62. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model. On the Samsung ST76 I used the Retro filter.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, Splash, fits in-between Wave Crash on Rock and Picture-in-Picture. The second image, Playing with Waves, fits in-between Beach Play and Self Portrait. Despite the drab weather, I was able to get a few good shots (interspersed between some so-so images)—with four more days still to go (including with Ken and Dave), there would be many, many more photographic opportunities to come.
Day 1 — June 5, 2023 — Travel Day
I recently returned from photographing California’s amazing central coast with Ken Rockwell and Dave Wyman. It was such an incredible adventure! I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though, so let me give you a little backstory first.
After more than a decade of shooting film, I purchased my first digital camera in 2009. I was one of those “holdouts” who stubbornly refused to go digital, and who would proudly proclaim why analog was preferable. Eventually I gave in; however, the transition wasn’t easy. In many ways it was like learning photography all over again. So in 2010 I began searching the internet for help and advice, and unsurprisingly I stumbled upon Ken Rockwell, who’s website has been one of the most popular photography pages for decades.
Ken is well-known and controversial. People seem to either love or loathe him. I found his website to be helpful; while I didn’t agree with everything he said, I did read a lot of useful information, and Ken’s advice was occasionally critical. In fact, it was an off-hand remark by Ken that convinced me to start blogging in the first place.
Nearly three years ago I published a Film Simulation Recipe called The Rockwell, which was inspired by Ken. I stated that it’s “a Recipe that Ken might use on his X100V if he ever read this article.” Well, to my surprise, a year later Ken did use The Rockwell Recipe and talked a little about it in his Fujifilm X-S10 review! It turned out that Leigh and Raymond Photography (formally known as The SnapChick) tipped Ken off to the Recipe, and then Ken actually emailed me, and we had a brief back-and-forth conversation.
Ken has been conducting photo tours—mostly in California—with Dave Wyman for years. Dave is a super-talented photographer who has published four books: Backroads of Northern California, Backroads of Southern California, Yosemite in Photographs, and Fearless Photographer: Nature. He’s been leading tours—not just photography tours, but various nature tours—since the mid-1970’s. Even though he’s 75, he has more energy than I do. Anyway, I’ve wanted to join in on one of these photo tours for years and years, but the opportunity never came until this year. The timing of Central Coast of California En Plein Air was perfect, so I signed up!
The tour began on the June 7th in the late-afternoon, but I arrived two days early on June 5th. My wife, Amanda, and our four kids came along, too, although they did not take part in the tour (maybe next time). It was a long drive to the Pacific Coast from my home near Phoenix, Arizona; a stop in Bakersfield allowed us to stretch our legs. Once we settled into our accommodations at Pismo Beach, we took a stroll to the ocean. It was overcast, and as daylight began to fade into blue-hour, the weather turned into rain and thunder.
The complete list of photography gear that I brought on this trip can be found in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article, where I go into much more detail. Specific to Day 1, I used a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, a Ricoh GR III, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11. If I had known it was going to rain, I wouldn’t have taken the X-E4 and GR III out, but thankfully I was able to keep them mostly dry.
For the first day, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) are Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Pacific Blues, and Xpro ’62. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model (something Ricoh should definitely consider releasing). For the iPhone, I used my Color Negative Low filter on RitchieCam.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, No Lifeguard on Duty, fits in-between By-the-Wind Sailor and Josh on a Stump. The second image, Rusty Rail, fits in-between Yellow Ice Flower and Clean Up Your Dog. Otherwise, the order is correct. Although these are mostly snapshots, I hope that you still enjoy them—my photography got a little more serious as the week progressed.
Open AI’s ChatGPT can make Film Simulation Recipes for Fujifilm cameras. But are they any good? Should you use them? Should you ask ChatGPT to make you a custom Recipe for your camera? What can you expect from these Recipes?
Back on June 2nd, Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and myself chatted about using ChatGPT to make Film Simulation Recipes for Fujifilm cameras. We even asked the AI to create one for us live during our SOOC Live broadcast. If you’ve ever been even remotely curious about this topic, it’s worth watching—I’ve included it below.
There’s so much that could and should be said, and we covered much of that in the broadcast. If you haven’t yet watched the video, be sure to do so!
One issue about using AI to create Film Simulation Recipes is that ChatGPT only examines descriptions. For example, how does it “know” what Kodachrome film looks like? It has been trained on people’s descriptions of the emulsion. Whether or not those descriptions are accurate (or if Open AI received permission to use those descriptions) is anyone’s guess. How does it “know” what the Astia film simulation looks like? It has been trained on someone’s description of the setting. When you ask it to make a Film Simulation Recipe, it simply searches its database for descriptions that seem to match, and then spits out some settings that may or may not make sense.
How does ChatGPT even know what a Film Simulation Recipe is? It’s been trained on Fuji X Weekly and other websites (without permission or citation). There are some significant ethical considerations, and probably some legal ones, too, that will hopefully get hashed out in time.
Another issue is that it rarely ever gives a complete Recipe. You have to know which parameters are required, spot the missing ones, and ask ChatGPT to provide them to you. Occasionally it will give you some setting that doesn’t actually exist. You have to be well versed in Fujifilm camera settings to know if you’ve actually got a complete Recipe; otherwise, you’re likely to have a few that are missing.
Aside from that, if you ask ChatGPT to make a particular Film Simulation Recipe more than once, each time you’ll get a different answer. Even with identical prompts, the answer will be different, sometimes wildly so. It all seems very random. If a particular ChatGPT Recipe is any good is more by chance than anything else. You’re just as likely to get a good Recipe from rolling dice.
This is the case because Open AI’s ChatGPT is a bit of a card trick. It’s very impressive until you spot the slight-of-hand. It will always give you a response; if you are a novice on the topic, the answer will likely be better than you could have come up with on your own, but if you are an expert, it will always be worse, perhaps much worse. Despite “learning” from human input, there’s no humanity in the answer—if you want authenticity and creativity, you need a person’s experience to be at the core. The software can do its best to take from others and spit out a Recipe, but it will always be untested, based on descriptions, without any personal experience behind it.
That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to try. I’ve used ChatGPT a bunch of times just to see what it comes up with and to understand what exactly it’s doing. The Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1 and Urban Dreams Recipes are from ChatGPT. For every AI Recipe that’s good there’s probably five or more that aren’t any good. Actually, the majority are mediocre—neither terrible nor great—because ChatGPT doesn’t stray very far from the default settings, rarely ever going beyond +/- 2 on anything.
I made a video about the Kodak Ektachrome E100VS Recipe, which you’ll find below. I asked AI to make a Film Simulation Recipe that mimics Kodachrome X. What it came up with by chance looked pretty good, but didn’t much resemble the second era of Kodachrome. Take a look, if you haven’t yet seen it.
What about the Vivid Summer Glow and Soft Blue Classic Film Simulation Recipes I referenced in two of the pictures above? Those were also made by ChatGPT. Vivid Summer Glow was created live during the last SOOC Live broadcast. Soft Blue Classic was created for Nathalie during preparations for the show. In the broadcast we challenged you to shoot with Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1, Urban Dreams, Soft Blue Classic, and/or Vivid Summer Glow, and upload your results (click here) by June 27th to be potentially featured in the next episode, and to be included in the Viewer’s Images slideshow.
Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1 and Urban Dreams can both be found in the Fuji X Weekly App. Soft Blue Classic and Vivid Summer Glow are not “official” Recipes, so I’ve included them at the bottom of this article should you want to try them yourself.
Also on June 2nd, Nathalie and I finally finished the much-delayed conclusion to our Storytelling theme. If you missed it when it was live, I’ve included it below. Also, right below that, is the most recent Viewer’s Images slideshow video. If you don’t yet subscribe to the new SOOC Live YouTube channel, be sure to do so now!
Now, to the two new AI-made Film Simulation Recipes: Soft Blue Classic and Vivid Summer Glow!
Soft Blue Classic
Dynamic Range: DR200
Noise Reduction: -2
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Off
Color Chrome FX Blue: Off
White Balance: Auto, -1 Red & -1 Blue
This AI Recipe is compatible with “newer” Fujifilm X-Trans IV cameras: X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II. For X-Trans V, just know that blue will render more deeply. For the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30, ignore Grain size, Color Chrome FX Blue, and Clarity (the results should be the same); for X-Trans III models, additionally ignore Color Chrome Effect.
Vivid Summer Glow
Dynamic Range: DR400
Noise Reduction: -1
Grain Effect: Strong, Large
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome FX Blue: Strong
White Balance: Auto, +2 Red & -1 Blue
This AI Recipe is compatible with “newer” Fujifilm X-Trans IV cameras: X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II. For X-Trans V models, set Color Chrome FX Blue to Weak (instead of Strong).
As you can see, I used all four of these ChatGPT Film Simulation Recipes while on a roadtrip to California’s Central Coast. I liked Urban Dreams—which has some similarities to Kodachrome 200 film—the most, but Kodak Ektachrome E100VS v1 did pretty well for a few shots, too. Vivid Summer Glow (which isn’t a good name for the Recipe in my opinion) is not bad at all, and isn’t all that much divergent from my Kodachrome II Recipe (did AI copy it, just making a few changes?). Soft Blue Classic was my least favorite, but it can produce good results in harsh overly-warm light.
I finally figured it out! I now have a compact travel kit that I’m very happy with. This is something I’ve been working on for over two years, and I think I’ve got it—or at least I’m really close. Perhaps it will get a tweak or two, but I’m quite satisfied with it as-is. I used this kit while on a week-long roadtrip to California’s central coast, and it worked out really, really well.
In 2020 I traveled to Montana, and I brought the entirety of my camera and lens collection with me. I wasn’t sure what I might need, so I wanted to be prepared for anything. I think I had five camera bodies and about a dozen lenses (I don’t remember the exact number). After returning, I realized that lugging around everything was absurd, as I only used three cameras—but mostly just one—and the majority of the lenses stayed in the camera bag the entire trip, completely ignored. I didn’t need to bring so much, but since I did, all that unused gear just got in the way.
Previously, I had taken a couple of trips with just one camera and lens, and that was overall a better experience, but there were also times that I wished I had more options. I would have liked to have had more versatility, but didn’t. Oftentimes less is more, but sometimes less is just less.
What I needed was balance. A small kit that was Goldilocks: not too big and heavy with excessive gear that would go unused, and not too simple with limited versatility. Robust, yet small and lightweight. I set out to create a travel kit that didn’t contain too much or too little camera gear. It took some time to work it all out, but I finally did!
Let’s take a look at this ultimate travel compact camera kit piece by piece.
I’m listing the camera bag first because it’s key to this kit. The one I chose is the National Geographic NG2344 Earth Explorer Shoulder Bag. The dimensions are roughly only 8″ x 7″ x 6″, yet I can fit everything that I need into it. It’s no big deal to carry around—I went on several short hikes with it last week, in fact, and it wasn’t terribly uncomfortable by the time I returned. The bag doesn’t get in the way or take up much space; interestingly, it fits perfectly into the middle console compartment of my car, allowing easy access to my gear while staying completely concealed.
I take the two velcro inserts and form a “+” in the middle, subdividing the large main compartment into four small compartments: two on the top level and two basement level. I’ll get to where exactly everything fits in a moment, but you can see in the photo above that both my Fujifilm X100V and Fujifilm X-E4 with a pancake lens fits quite comfortably in the upper two compartments.
The National Geographic NG2344 Earth Explorer Shoulder Bag has just enough space for all the gear I need when I travel. Because it is small, it never gets in the way. I’ve had this bag for more than two years and it’s been great—best camera bag I’ve ever owned. And it’s not very expensive. Currently they’re selling for $50, but I paid only $40 for mine.
The Fujifilm X100V is the ultimate travel camera, in my opinion. It’s compact (pocketable if you have large pockets). It has amazing image quality. It’s weather-sealed to an extent. It’s fun. It’s surprisingly versatile for a camera with a fixed 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) lens. What more could you want?!
If I could only take one camera with me when I travel, this is the one I’d pick. In fact, last week I used the X100V for about 50% of all the pictures I captured (more on the other cameras in a moment). Occasionally it’s not wide-angle or telephoto enough, so it’s good to have options, but most of the time the X100V is all I want or need. It sits in the upper-left compartment of the camera bag.
If you are lucky to already own a Fujifilm X100V, you’re well on your way to completing your travel kit. If you don’t own one, they can be difficult to find, and often at an inflated price. My copy was a birthday gift from my wife a couple of years ago when they were newly released.
The X100 series is great, but I’ve felt for a long time now that you really need an interchangeable-lens option to go with it. Most models are larger than the X100 series, but the X-E line is a similar size. In particular, I really like the Fujifilm X-E4, which was my most-used camera in 2022.
When paired with the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens, the X-E4 fits comfortably in the upper-right compartment of the camera bag. There are some other lenses (I’ll get to them soon) that can also be attached to the camera and it will still fit in the bag, but it is a little more snug than with the 27mm, so I prefer to pair the X-E4 with the 27mm.
The Fujifilm X-E4 isn’t weather-sealed. It doesn’t have all the features that the X100V has. It’s a minimalistic design, and sometimes a little too much so, but I feel that approach works well for travel where less is often more. The X-E4 is my second favorite Fujifilm camera. I used it for about 40% of my photographs on the coastal trip.
Like the Fujifilm X100V, the Fujifilm X-E4 can be difficult to find and it might be at an inflated price. I preordered my copy on the the day it was announced, and I’m glad that I did. Unfortunately, Fujifilm recently (and inexplicably) discontinued the X-E4, which might make it even more challenging to get your hands on one. The Fujifilm X-E3 is a good alternative if you don’t mind buying used.
Ricoh GR III
The Ricoh GR III was included in the kit simply because it fit—in fact, the GR models are the smallest APS-C cameras you can buy. The GR III is a one-trick-pony, but it does that one trick very well. When I needed a wide-angle option, the GR III was in my pocket eager to go.
I laid the X100V and X-E4 camera straps across the top of those two models in the camera bag, and placed the Ricoh GR III on the straps to protect from scratches. The camera is so small that the bag still zippered, no problem. Whenever I stopped somewhere to capture photographs, I simply shoved the tiny camera into my pants pocket, where it easily fit. The GR III is one that you can carry everywhere and it’s never in the way or uncomfortable.
I would have preferred my Fujifilm X70 over the GR; although it is quite small, it was just a hair too big for the bag. I probably could have forced it to work, but the Ricoh GR III did so quite comfortably, so I went with it instead. Even though I had the GR III with me more than any of the other cameras, I only used it for about 5% of my pictures; however, I was happy to have it when I needed it.
The Samsung ST76 is a tiny point-and-shoot digicam from 2012. I paid $18 for mine about six months ago. Despite being old and cheap, I actually like the ’60’s and ’70’s color film vibe from this camera when using the Retro filter, which reminds me of old prints I’ve seen in my grandparent’s photo albums. It was a last-minute decision to add it to the camera bag.
The Samsung ST76 is so tiny that it fits into the bag without any problems. I could have placed it most anywhere, but I put it into the lower-right compartment. I only used it for about 1% of my photography on this trip. If I had left it at home I wouldn’t have missed it, but I did capture a couple of images that I was happy with, so I’m glad to have included it.
That’s it for cameras, now let’s talk glass!
Fujinon 27mm f/2.8
My favorite and most-used lens is the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake. Because it is so small and lightweight, it’s especially perfect for travel photography. This is the lens that I typically keep on my Fujifilm X-E4 as my everyday-use glass, and I only replace it with something else when I need to. When I do take it off the camera, I simply place it in the bag where I took the other lens from, which will either be bottom-left or bottom-right, and then place it back on the camera when I’m done.
The 27mm f/2.8 is slightly wide-angle, but, with a 40mm full-frame-equivalent focal-length, it’s pretty close to a “standard” lens. While the maximum aperture is not impressive, I only occasionally find it to be a hinderance. I like the way this lens renders images, and that’s what matters most.
Fujinon 90mm f/2
My second favorite Fujinon lens is the 90mm f/2. It just renders pictures so beautifully! It also gives me a solid telephoto option for when I need a longer reach.
Because it has a 135mm full-frame-equivalent focal-length, it can be challenging to use sometimes; however, the bigger challenge is fitting it into the travel camera bag, since it is a larger lens. The trick is to take the lens hood off and place it backwards over the lens body, which allows it to fit into the bag. I kept it in the lower-left compartment underneath the X100V. I used the Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens frequently on this trip. Did I mention that I love this lens?
Fujinon 18mm f/2
The Fujinon 18mm f/2 is Fujifilm’s “other” pancake lens, although it is larger than the 27mm. It’s not my favorite option (although I do like it), and the Ricoh GR III made it less necessary, but including it in this kit seemed like an obvious choice since it is small.
I didn’t use the 18mm f/2 nearly as much as I did the 27mm and 90mm, but I did use it on several occasions. I placed it in the bottom-right compartment underneath the X-E4 with another lens and the tiny Samsung camera.
Meike 35mm f/1.7
The Meike 35mm f/1.7 is a cheap all-manual lens with some good character similar to some vintage lenses. This one is especially small (similar in size to the Fujinon 18mm f/2), which makes it ideal for travel photography. The 52.5mm full-frame-equivalent focal-length is slightly telephoto, but still pretty much a “standard” lens, which means that I have two lenses (this and the 27mm) to serve that purpose. The advantages to this one are a slightly longer reach and a significantly larger maximum aperture, which does occasionally come in handy.
The Meike 35mm fits in the same bottom-right compartment with the Fujinon 18mm f/2. The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 does fit in lieu of the 18mm and 35mm, and could be an alternative, but I personally prefer primes over zooms.
Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye
I included the Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye because it fits so easily into the bag, it would be a shame not to bring it. I don’t use it often, but every once in a blue moon it comes in handy. Plus, it’s sometimes just a fun lens. I barely used it on this trip, but I did use it. I kept the lens in the front zipper compartment of the bag.
Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye — Amazon
Xuan Focus Free 30mm F/10 Body Cap
The Xuan Focus Free 30mm f/10 Body Cap lens is actually a Kodak Funsaver disposable camera lens that’s been attached to a Fujifilm body cap. It produces soft dream-like pictures that you might either love or hate. For a retro lofi rendering, this is the lens to use! I brought it, keeping it in the front zipper pocket next to the Pergear 10mm, but I barely used it.
Xuan Focus Free 30mm F/10 — Amazon
Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8 & 24mm f/2.8
Just because they fit, I included in the bag my vintage Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/2.8 lenses, which are actually the smallest interchangeable lenses ever mass produced. They were made for Pentax Auto 110 cameras in the late-1970’s through the mid-1980’s, but, with an adapter, will surprisingly work on Fujifilm X cameras. They’re oozing with great character, but are challenging to use because the aperture is fixed at f/2.8.
While the 24mm is redundant, the 50mm lens does provide an option that’s in-between the 35mm and 90mm lenses, and so it does have a practical purpose, even if just barely. These lenses are fun and I love to use them, and that’s why I included them in the kit. They also fit into the front zipper compartment.
The Other Stuff
Of course, cameras and lenses aren’t the only things in the bag. Attached to my Fujifilm X100V was a 5% CineBloom diffusion filter. I had two spare Fujifilm NP-126S batteries, which conveniently fit into the upper-right velcro pocket. My favorite battery charger, a Nitecore FX1 USB charger, nicely fits into the upper-left velcro pocket. In the front zipper pocket, along with the four lenses mentioned above, I fit two spare SD Cards, a short USB-C cable, a Lightning SD Card Reader, and some lens wipes. Yes, all of that fit!
The one camera that I didn’t mention is my iPhone. I never put it in the camera bag, but I always had it with me. I used my RitchieCam iPhone camera app. Approximately 4% of my pictures on this trip were captured with my iPhone (just a few less than the Ricoh GR III). Although it was not a part of my camera bag, it was a part of my travel photography, so it’s worth mentioning.
Into such a small package I was able to include so much!
A few of the lenses were perhaps excessive, but they’re so small and lightweight that it didn’t make any real difference. I think excluding the Ricoh GR III and the lenses in the front zipper pocket would simplify the kit and it would still be equally as functional, but it would probably be a little less fun (and fun is important). I could have also replaced two of the smaller lenses—perhaps the two Fujinon pancakes—with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom, but I’ve always preferred primes over zooms. Ideally I’d replace the Meike 35mm with a 50mm, but I haven’t found one small enough that I like—if I find one, I might just do that. Otherwise, I’m very happy with this compact camera kit for travel photography, and I don’t think that it could be improved upon by a whole lot; however, I’m sure I’ll continue to refine it and make it even better—even if just a little—as I take more roadtrips.
To simplify the kit, if you want an even smaller setup, you could travel with just a Fujifilm X100V, Ricoh GR III (or Fujifilm X70), and your cellphone. The X100V would hang around your neck, and the other two would fit in your pockets. No camera bag needed! Keep your few accessories—spare batteries, cords, etc.—in the glove box of your car. That would cover most of your needs, and for the rest, you could simply use the limitation to take a creative approach to the scene.
But if you would like to have at least some gear options when you travel, the “ultimate” kit that I used last week, which I described above, worked very well for me. Perhaps something similar will work for you, too.
I packed my bags and disappeared for a week. It might have seemed as though I dropped off the face of the planet, but I assure you I was on Earth the entire time. I returned home late last night. I’m sure it will take some time to catch up on everything, such as comments, emails, etc., but I promise that I will. Thanks for being patient!
Where did I go? I took a roadtrip to the central California coast, which is one of my absolute favorite places. I had a great time and captured tons of pictures—expect a lot of articles about the journey in the coming weeks! I had planned to do a little work while out of town, but each day was so busy that it just didn’t happen.
The pictures in this article are a little teaser of what I did and what you can expect to see more of soon. I have some great content ideas that I plan to publish in the coming days and weeks. You won’t want to miss any of it, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy these photographs that I captured last week while at the California coast!