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I decided to start exploring the fascinating world of photography. At first I wanted to buy an old film camera (like the pentax k1000) but finally, after talking with friends and also thanks to this forum, I've understood that probably the better and easiest way to learn is to start with a digital camera. I would like to buy a good camera that can last long. I mean, I would like a camera with which I can learn the basics of photography (so I would like something with also fully manual controls) at that can give me satisfaction for a long time. I would avoid reflex, because I feel more attraction for street photography. So I need something easy to bring around. I admit that I'm also very fascinated by the design of old cameras (that's why I wanted the pentax k1000).

I read about the X series of Fujifilm and I love the x100 model. The x100s and x100t are too expensive for me, unfortunately.

What do you think about it? Could it be a good way to start? I found a used x100 for 300€.

  • This question is pretty much the same as the related ones on the right-hand side. e.g., photo.stackexchange.com/questions/5641/… (Not to mention this is veering into "product recommendation" territory.) – user31502 May 6 '16 at 16:18
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    @jdv I think it's a lot more specific than the general "what camera should I buy", and it's not really a product recommendation. I think it fits more under What about “review this item please” questions?, with a specific scope (getting into street photography) given. – mattdm May 6 '16 at 17:51
  • Oh, the street photography wasn't obvious to me. My bad. I suspect there is already a "what rig is good for street photography" question somewhere, but since this is about a specific application for a specific set of equipment, I accept. – user31502 May 6 '16 at 18:11
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Yes, it's fine. Any camera can be a fine starting place, but I think it's nice to start one with relatively advanced controls (see Are there disadvantages to a prosumer camera for a beginner, aside from cost?). The X100 isn't terribly complicated, but it hits the important thing right on the head: direct access to individual dials for aperture and shutter speed.

One point to consider is whether the wide angle fixed focal length lens is flexible enough. There's plenty of controversy over whether beginners are better served by sticking to prime lenses like this or should start with the flexibility of zoom. Me, I'm on the "prime" side, but this really varies from person to person.

Of particular concern here, though: you'll be basically limited to a single angle of view — a "wide-normal". That's not necessarily bad, but it's kind of like learning to bicycle on a fixie. You're basically committing to a one lens, one camera, one year project. Limiting your choice intentionally can help you learn to really, really understand other aspects. And you'll learn to naturally understand the field of view of your lens without having the camera to your eye, which can be a really powerful way to find and make photographs.

That can be a powerful approach, but you also might find it limiting. Particularly, wider angles require you to be close to your subject to fill the frame, which is generally considered not ideal for portraiture (see Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why?) — and definitely forget getting details from a distance. But, you say you're primarily interested in street photography, and for that, this field of view is traditionally the thing (see What is a good focal length for street photography?).

You may consider Fujifilm's teleconversion lens or wide-conversion lens to help compensate, but honestly, I wouldn't really advise that — instead, if you feel you're not ready to commit to one focal length, I'd suggest getting one of Fujifilm interchangeable lens cameras — you should be able to find a used X-E1 for less than the X100 — or you could spring for the newer X-E2 or X-E2S, or even the X-T10, if you can push your budget (this is particularly important for improvements in autofocus, which are nice to have but not essential). But I'd suggest going cheaper, and springing for the beautiful 23mm f/1.4 if you can. That might be out of your pricepoint (looks to be around $650 used; $900 new), so the 35mm f/2 could be a good fallback ($400 new; not really worth the minimal savings from buying used currently). For either lens, remember that the lens can last many, many years and through many camera bodies, so you can mentally amortize it over many more years than you might the X100. (There's a rumor of cheaper, smaller 23mm f/2 in the works, but I definitely wouldn't suggest waiting when you could be out shooting now.)

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It's a good choice, but an eccentric one. I'd highly recommend getting your hands on the camera by either borrowing or renting one before purchasing, because the reality of the camera in your hands for a week should decide you either way. I knew an X100S was a really bad fit for me, and a week's rental had me saving up for the X100T. :)

However. I am also someone who shot with a film SLR (Olympus OM-10 + 50/1.8) for 20+ years, before going digital, and who has full Canon and micro four-thirds bags o' gear, and that knowledge base to judge what is and isn't appropriate for me, as a shooter.

The X100 has all three of the digital camera features I think are essential for learning photography deeply: ability to explicitly set aperture and shutter speed (and better than most in this regard with the explicit dials, rather than a mode dial), RAW capability, and a flash hotshoe.

But, the drawbacks to the X100 are that you're going to be buying one used, so condition and operability matters as you won't have a warranty. It's also the v1.0 of its kind, with the attendant drawbacks (hence the X100S and X100T). And the lens is a fixed prime. With the optical viewfinder, you'll have parallax issues with framing.

This is a great camera if 35e is your go-to and you don't need lightning fast tracking autofocus. Not so great if it isn't your go-to and you end up shooting fast action. And as a beginner, you will be shutting yourself off from learning other focal lengths. If street shooting, old style with wide angles, is going to be 100% of what you shoot, then this is quite possibly the perfect camera. But if you're going to be intent on exploring and don't yet know what you want to shoot (wildlife, sports, macro, studio portraits, product photography), there are a lot of things this camera is less well-suited for that could make its future longevity in your bag less assured vs. an interchangeable lens body (like the X-Pro1 which has all the same v1.0 drawbacks as the X100, doesn't have a leaf shutter, but does have an interchangeable lens mount).

OTOH, these are digital electronics. Most camera bodies won't last you any longer than a cellphone or a computer would in your household. Judge accordingly.

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