For the past 5 years, I have been using the Fujifilm x100s as my preferred camera of choice. After borrowing a friend's camera for my first trip to Europe, I purchased my own and it's been hanging on my shoulder almost every day.
Fujifilm replaced the camera with the x100T and later the x100F each of which offered performance enhancements and new features which improved on an already fine camera. Yet despite these advancements, I delayed upgrading. And though those later versions addressed some of the issues that I and others had with my camera, I didn't make a beeline for my camera store with my credit card burning in my hand.
That's because I got used to the camera. Because I used it every day, it became a natural extension of my eye and hand. I didn't have to think much about the camera at all when I made photographs. It had become so familiar to me that its performance, even with its flaws, freed me to focus completely on seeing and making photographs.
The response time of the autofocus, the delay between depressing the shutter release button and the actuation of the shutter were things I had become in tune with and factored into my picture taking. Yes, they were weaknesses, but I had found my workarounds. I rarely had to think of them. I knew that when I finally did upgrade the camera, that intuitiveness would be lost.
And when I played with an x100T and eventually purchased the x100F, that's exactly what I faced. I not only had to relearn a familiar camera, but I also had to relearn my timing with it.
For my street photography, timing is critical. The moment that I release the shutter is based on the anticipation of a moment that passes in milliseconds. I have to know when I am going to release the shutter button even before I've fully depressed it. Those critical seconds can mean the difference between a successful and failed photograph.
Yet, as I began using my new camera, I kept missing the shot. Yes, the autofocus was faster. The delay between depressing the button and the camera taking the picture was shorter. But that completely threw me off. I found myself repeatedly depressing the shutter release button at the wrong time, based on my long-developed muscle memory with the previous version.
It was incredibly frustrating. As similar as this camera was from what I had used for the past five years, it was sufficiently different that I had to learn to adapt.
I'm not complaining that performance has improved, but it reminded me why I am often reluctant to upgrade to a new camera even when it offers the latest and greatest technology.
For as long as I have been a photographer and magazine editor, I have frequently used equipment that's been cutting edge. It was there that I learned a valuable lesson. Every time I switched to another camera, much less a different system, there was a period when I paid more attention to the camera rather than to the moment playing out in front of me. I had to learn the nuances of every feature and control. This resulted in the mechanics taking priority over seeing and actually making images.
When I see people constantly upgrading their camera with each new product announcement, I completely understand the temptation. The allure of the shiny and new has been ingrained in us since we were children. But when it comes to being creative, you interrupt a fluid process of seeing with a lack of familiarity. That may not be a bad thing, but it's something that I always take into consideration whenever I make the choice to replace what I've been using with something new. I have to accept that a lot of good images will be lost in that transition.
I have now had the x100F for about a week and I'm slowly getting acclimated to the way it performs and how it fits into my picture taking. In a short time, it will be as fluid to me as my previous camera was. And then I will be able to fully enjoy, appreciate and understand what this tool really has to offer me.