Hiking

Mountain Laurel on Guilder Pond

Mountain Laurel on Guilder Pond

Mt. Everett, Massachusetts. I took my wife Anne on a walk around Guilder Pond on the shoulder of Mt. Everett before the mountain laurel went by. I took my Canon 5D and a few lenses because the walk was short. Glad I did, the flowers were in perfect bloom and the light was great.

The tension between ease of use, low weight, and speed on a hike and wanting to get better images is meaningful. I usually hike with a Canon S90 and it suits me.

I don’t like to take much time to shoot when on a serious hike and when on a serious shoot I like to take all the time I want to get a single image. So, maybe best to keep the two kinds of tools separate. I’m not looking for a single camera that will do it all, but I’d consider something like the Fuji X100 if I thought it wouldn’t get in the way of fast hiking.

It remains an interesting conundrum and one that I’m enjoying considering as I continue to hike with my S90 and occasionally bring the 5D on short photo walks when no one will mind me taking my time in shooting.

Fuji FinePix X100 camera

A few years ago I had a revelation: carrying a big DSLR kit on a hike doesn’t work for me. It’s a lot of extra weight, dealing with setting up shots is rude to other hikers with me who just want to hike and not stop every few minutes, and the kinds of images I take on hikes are more snapshot documentation of the experience than fine art photography.

Once I made this distinction I was free to do two things:

1. Not worry so much about weight and bulk in my DSLR because it’s not a camera rig I’m going to be walking long distances with.

2. Buy and carry a point and shoot camera on hikes and be happy with it. I’ve since been using a Canon PowerShot S90 and have been very happy with it. My hiking partner Dave uses a Canon PowerShot G11 and he too is happy with it. The images we get aren’t spectacular but they’re quite good for cameras like these.

My friend Dale has been looking for a camera to take on hikes that’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR but has a bigger sensor than than the G11/G12 or S90/S95. For a while he was interested in the Panasonic GF2, a micro four thirds camera that has interchangeable lenses and a bigger sensor than a typical point and shoot but no viewfinder. For the last few months he’s been interested in a relatively new camera that’s become quite popular: the Fuji FinePix X100.

X100 camera

This camera is a bit larger than a Canon G11, has a fixed single focal length lens (very sharp and fast at f/2) and is built to mimic a Leica rangefinder camera. It has an excellent viewfinder but the most important thing about it for Dale and many others is that it has an outstanding image sensor which allows it to shoot at higher ISO than point and shoot cameras and the sensor’s pixels are larger than a point and shoot camera’s so image quality is superior.

This camera isn’t for everyone and even those who bought early and love it have lists of things they wish Fuji would improve on it but the images it takes are outstanding and for many, the way the camera’s exposure controls work is a huge hit. Read the reviews at Amazon and B&H (below) for a few of the issues people are finding with it (even though they love it).

This camera isn’t inexpensive at about $1200 and because its popular it’s tough to buy even if you want to spend the money. For those curious about it I’ve put together some resources below that might help.

If Dale bites on it he’ll no doubt post about it as well as post images. Stay tuned on that. I’m in no rush for a camera like this although it does make me think about what I might take on a sightseeing trip to Europe where I don’t want the bulk of a DSLR but do want better images than my S90 can produce. This just might be the ideal travel camera and taking the X100 and the S90 as a backup is still less bulk than even a small DSLR. Interesting…

Fujifilm FinePix X100 at Fuji
FinePix X100 at Fuji
Fuji FinePix X100 manual (PDF)
Fuji FinePix X100 Brochure (PDF)

Buy or Rent an X100
Fujifilm Finepix X100 Digital Camera at B&H Photo (read reviews)
Fujifilm X100 at Amazon (read reviews)
Fuji X100 at Lensrentals

X100 Reviews
Fujifilm FinePix X100 In-Depth Review at DPReview
Camera Test: Fujifilm FinePix X100 at Popular Photography
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review at Photography Blog
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review at Luminous Landscape
Mike Mander’s review of the Fujifilm FinePix X100

X100 on flickr and 500px
I take discussions of gear on flickr with a grain of salt so be aware going in that all kinds of people are using this camera on flickr. If you dig you can find some interesting images made with this camera taken by outstanding photographers.
Finepix X100 flickr group
Fuji X100 flickr group
Fuji X100 Enthusiasts flickr group
flickr photographer Nokton, X100 set
flickr photographer Ryo, X100 tags
flickr photographer Staca, X100 tags
All flickr images taged “fujifilmfinepixx100″
Search for “X100″ on 500px (some outstanding images in there)

Beaver pond reflection

Beaver pond reflection

We hiked up on Schaghticoke ridge south of Kent, Connecticut and just on the New York/Connecticut border we found the lower end of a long beaver pond/swamp. We hiked along the eastern edge of it and there were “chews” everywhere where beaver had brought trees down or taken saplings down. We never saw the lodge nor did we get to the other end of the pond which may have been miles long so no sight of a dam. But, plenty of evidence that the beaver(s) have been busy.

This reflection was too good to pass up.

Bear Mountain in sunlight

Bear Mountain in Sunlight

Salisbury, Connecticut. Driving north toward the town of Salisbury I noticed that the storm clouds over Bear Mountain lifted and the sun lit it up. Dave in the car ahead of me noticed it too and we both stopped to try to get a shot of it.

We used two cars because we hiked from Salisbury to Bear Mountain on the Appalachian trail (the ridge to the left of Bear Mountain), one way, car to car. Very nice hike but the trail was flooded with water in places from the heavy rain we had on Saturday. You can see the stream in this field swollen as well.

More from Pine Swamp Beaver Pond

Beavers!

This small maple was felled directly toward the beaver lodge. No doubt they brought it down for food and a bit of house construction material.

Tree and reeds

The upper part of the small maple with grass and reeds reflected in the pond.

Reflected reeds

Reeds reflected in the beaver pond. The upper right hand corner is a beaver dam that spans the Pine Swamp forming the main pond that the lodge is in. There are four other dams that are part of this system.

All of these images were taken with the iPhone and the Instagram app using various filters.