In a way our trip finally ends today, with this last post. Over the past month I’ve revisited every stop, scrutinized every picture, reflected and written on cities and sites with both distance and time as my ally.
In french we call it recul - a step back.
It’s been an amazing journey.
I entitled the series Travels in France with the X100 because this was my first true test of the camera without anything else to fall back on. My entire gear stayed home, an ocean away. I didn’t have a choice of lens, I didn’t have a choice of bodies… for better or worse the X100 was IT, no turning back. A big gamble considering this trip was an opportunity that won’t present itself every year. Three kids and a mortgage will do that to you ;)
How did it fare? It’s made me even more enthusiastic, which says a lot.
There were some low points mind you: on our first full day in Paris (after a night’s sleep to shake off jet-lag and regain my hearing) the battery went dead… just after lunch! It went from “Hey! I’m a little low” to “Oops! Sorry!” in about five minutes. Did I have a spare? Nope. Was I pissed at myself? Yup. We spent that entire afternoon walking through Paris and I didn’t have a camera to shoot with. Good god, the insanity. I was framing stuff left and right in my mind and couldn’t do anything about it. My girlfriend kept telling me to just enjoy the day… And we did but man, what a nightmare. It never happened again. Charging this battery became my religion for the rest of the trip.
There were also some odd slowdowns, usually when the card was getting full. Startup times would suddenly jump to almost 10 seconds — an eternity. But while it was a bother during our stay, this issue has completely disappeared with the latest firmware update. In fact startup as a whole is now much faster.
But niggles aside, what the X100 added to the experience was much more important than a few technical glitches: freedom.
For me, it was liberating to carry this small silent camera, to make the best possible use of that 35mm focal length without second guessing or reaching into my bag for something else. Knowing I could trust Auto ISO at up to 3200 was icing on the cake. I shot Aperture Priority pretty much all the way, mostly using AF-S but sometimes pre-focusing in MF using the distance scale. Let me stress this point here again: I had zero focusing problems. Nothing out of the ordinary. Period.
The stealth aspect of this camera has been mentioned tons of times all over the web but it bears repeating:
It. Makes. You. Invisible.
And when you’re invisible you can get away with a lot more. Shooting from the hip is literally worthy of the best spy flicks, but even when people notice you taking a picture it’s a non-threatening event: here’s a weird guy with his great-uncle’s old film camera… Whatever. On the street and especially while travelling in a foreign country where laws are stringent, it’s a serious asset. As far as I’m concerned the X100 passed all tests with flying colours. Call me crazy but I’d leave for China tomorrow with nothing but this little thing around my neck.
So now I’m leaving you with these last shots, the remnants. Some didn’t make it in time for the first run of a city, others didn’t fit in the narrative or were simply from places that didn’t warrant a whole post.
It’s a little sad ending this.
But then there’s so much left to do.