Born in Ryotsu City (currently Sado City), Niigata Prefecture. Began free-lance work after working as a civil servant. Built a reputation for monochrome snaps while shooting celebrities on the side. Shown at solo exhibitions at Nikon Salon, Fuji Photo Salon and other well-known galleries. Contributes articles to camera magazines and newspapers, and shares his experience as a teacher. Styles himself “the last liberal arts photographer”.
Books he has authored include: “Leica to Monokuro no Hibi” (Black-and-white days with Leica) and “Itsumo Camera Ga” (The camera always…).
Getting to know a new camera is like buying a new pair of shoes. You can’t tell how good they are just by trying them on in the store. After spending a day walking the streets of the city in brand-new shoes, you may learn that your feet hurt because of a poor heel fit or maybe discover the soles don’t slip when walking on slick surface. It is the same for cameras. You have to take it along on a trip, and only after using it in a variety of circumstances can you understand the how well it captures moments and the feel of operation – in other words, its true merits.
With a brand-new X100 in hand, I set out on my journey of discovery. My destination; Taiwan.
After about a half-day of taking photos with the X100, I became aware that my hands were experiencing a sensation unlike anything I have known. The X100 seemed to be molded to my hands. Not just the palms of my hands, but also the roots of my fingers, knuckle joints and other places where I am usually not aware of any sensation were experiencing an overwhelming sense of comfort.
The reason can be found in the X100 design. The beautiful curves of the grip. I understand that forming magnesium in this shape is quite difficult, but it is worth it – my fingers immediately were at home with these curves. My fingers naturally found their place on the dials, and my hands soon became attached to the feel of the leather-like finish of the body. Though I was walking alone through the city, I felt like somebody was with me, and then I noticed that my hand unconsciously caressing the X100.
Now let’s talk about taking photos. You can’t talk about the X100 without starting with its viewfinder. In OVF mode, the view through the viewfinder reveals a scene identical to what I see with the naked eye. As a result, the photos are powerful with a natural quality. Take for example, this scene. I spot a child with a priceless look on her face and then another points a finger. That’s a photo op. While controlling everything from the timing to operation, I can capture the moment. (Top image)
And there is surprising sense of joy when I bring the viewfinder to my eye and find a view virtually the same as direct line of sight. Also the bright frame allows me to see what’s happening outside the frame that the photo will capture – a big advantage when shooting moving subject material. For instance, in order to take advantage of the space on the right side of the scene, I can release the shutter just when the woman walks into the frame. Only an OVF lets you enjoy photography with corner-to-corner consciousness of the scene. (Bottom image)
As I was considering this, an interesting thought came to mind. Mankind has always found looking through windows and holes an irresistible pleasure. Photos were invented only a short 200 years ago, but the pinhole camera existed centuries before that. People have been peering at a variety of things through holes over the ages. Perhaps the thrill I get looking through a viewfinder and taking photos is a similar experience.
Since I am talking about the viewfinder, I have to touch on the Hybrid Viewfinder. I am a bit embarrassed but the first time I looked through the viewfinder of the X100, my first unconscious reaction was to say, “This is the future!” It was a shock that I have not felt since I was a child and first saw a microwave range or a Sony Walkman. The Hybrid Viewfinder lets you switch between OVF and EVF modes. You can shoot in the OVF mode and, without taking your eye from the viewfinder, check the post-shot results. Both modes are amazing. It’s wonderful how cutting-edge precision technology fuses the worlds of analog and digital and takes the user back to the fundamental enjoyment of photography through the viewfinder. And the fact that it is not merely a step back into the past is impressive.
These days many digital cameras dismiss or eliminate the viewfinder, but the X100 purposefully runs counter to this trend. It is as if Fujifilm has thrown down the gauntlet.