I really love Zack Arias’ street photography. He is a fantastic photographer and I have so much to learn from him. When I go around the city, free form, I want to learn how to see compositions like he does.
Recently, Fujifilm released a video of Zack using the X100S in Istanbul. It’s another one of those immensely interesting and tempting videos — a follow on to the first Fuji – Arias collaboration in India. As I watched, mesmerized by the rich tapestry of an ancient city, it got me thinking….
Fujifilm was brilliant to sponsor Zack. Who wouldn’t be unduly influenced by a notable and fine photographer shooting in exotic locals using a beautiful tool that harkens back to the simple life. It does what a good commercial should do. It make you feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable that you are inadequate or perhaps that your gear is inadequate. It makes you feel that if you can just get that shiny new tool, you can magically fix all of your deficiencies.
Except, you know it doesn’t work. You can buy a X100S and go to Istanbul but that doesn’t make you Zack Arias. The truth, of course, is that the X100S has nothing to do with what makes Zack — Zack. He could shoot with almost any camera and make his great shots. Sure, the small and un-intimidating camera helps in these urban settings. It also makes life more enjoyable since you’re not stuck carrying heavy gear. But any mirrorless Sony or Olympus will do that.
What does the Fujifilm X100S have that other mirrorless cameras don’t? It has a fast syncing leaf shutter that’s great for flash photography. That is about the only tangible thing I can think of. Maybe the analog controls allows quick and simple access, an old style interface that beats the modern equivalent. When you look at test results on DPReview, the vaulted X-Trans sensor really doesn’t deliver. Yes, I know lab tests are different from the real world but analytically speaking I really don’t see the sensor giving Fuji a definitive advantage.
It is easy to give technical and analytical arguments for why something is good or bad but it is the emotional appeal that is hard to resist. These Fujifilm videos appeal to the heart. And perhaps the lure of the Fuji is ultimately not about the technical mumbo jumbo but more about the feel of the cameras. Maybe that is what Zack is trying to tell us.
I need to resist. I am more than happy with my stable of cameras. I must continue to improve as a photographer and not succumb to the fantasy that equipment will elevate me. I must continue to shoot and hone my skill and develop my eye. But once in a while it’s fun to dream. Perhaps someday, someone will sponsor me to travel and shoot in these places. Then I can be that guy that puts unfair, emotional pressure to acquire the next wonder-camera.