I’ve really fallen in love with black and white photography over the last year. I’ve gone from defaulting to shooting in color to shooting in black and white instead. Only when the something about the color in the scene is deliberately adding to the story of the image (even if the “story” is just: “this scene looks cool!”) do I switch off of the Acros film simulation. Day 27’s shot is a perfect example of that: the fraying purple paint and the vibrant orange video sign adds a lot of intrigue and pop to the shot.
While scenes like this one I took on a quick hike would work just fine in color, at the moment I’m content to strip away the layer of color and simplify. I think this mindset works pretty well with the X-Pro3. As I talked about early in the series, this is a camera for people who love the process of shooting. Adjusting the dials, using the optical viewfinder, staying in the moment in between shots, etc. It’s certainly a better companion to this minimalist mindset I’m working on than most digital cameras these days.
I have to admit that my mind still tends to go into overdrive when shooting with the X-Pro3. I’m always wondering if I should switch to a different film simulation or adjust my shadows/highlights settings or something. The more I think about my relationship with the tools of photography, the more I struggle to find something that feels just right. So many cameras these days fall in a no man’s land between quick point-and-shoots and deliberate, powerful machines.
It took me a long time after I started shooting film to realize what felt so different about it. When you shoot digital, there’s no obvious downside to taking an image. You don’t have to pay for the press of the shutter or the development or the scan of the shot. And in fact, the more pictures you take with a camera the more you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of the up front cost of the camera. With burst mode you can even shoot at 11+fps and really get your money’s worth! 😛 Everything about digital encourages you to take more and more images. That’s not necessarily bad, but it inevitably comes with a tradeoff of devaluing the images you take. It’s not that the images themselves are inherently worse, it’s that the value you assign to them is less.
The fact that you can immediately check your digital images extends the problem. I’ve found that when I take a digital image that I’m really excited about I tend to press play and zoom in immediately to double-check that I nailed focus…and then I scan the edges of the frame to make sure I didn’t include any distracting elements…and then maybe I’ll check to see if I’m clipping any highlights… And somewhere in there I’ve fallen out of that state of appreciation for the moment and the fact that I was there to capture it.
With film, I’m more deliberate about each frame and there’s nothing to do after I press the shutter but revel in the moment and that wonderful click. Then it’s on to the next moment.
Fuji cameras do pretty darn good job of simulating the film experience from a tactile/form factor perspective. And with the X-Pro3 they took a step towards addressing the chimping issue with the screen design. But at the end of the day, I still tend to treat my X-Pro3 and my X100F (and to a lesser extent my GFX 50R) as normal digital cameras. Thanks to their design they’re much more fun to use than most digital cameras these days (I’ll name no names, but you know who I’m talking about…), but I’m still checking focus, thinking about film simulation settings, etc.
I’m not sure how to wrap up this post other than to say that while I really like the X-Pro3 (it might be my favorite digital camera since the X100S!), it still doesn’t feel just right.