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Long exposure photography is my favourite. I love the effect it creates with water and clouds, and it might be the last kind of photography that can’t natively be done with your smartphone, yet. I recently (finally) had a chance to put the X100S through its paces for long exposure photography and I came away very impressed.
- Built-in Neutral Density filter. This is the big one. David Hobby over at Strobist gushed about the ND filter, and for good reason, but being able to cut out 3 stops of light from an exposure for free is just as gush-worthy for long exposure photography. Add a 10-stop neutral density filter (I picked up a B+W 3.0 ND MRC 110) and you’ve cut 13 stops of light with just one additional piece of glass in front of the lens. This combination lets me do 90+ second exposures on overcast days at ƒ/11. And at 49 mm, even a B+W filter isn’t crazy expensive.
- No second noise-reduction exposure under 60 seconds. One thing that frustrated me about doing long exposure photography with my D700 was having to wait for the second noise-reduction exposure to finish. The D700 takes this second exposure at anything past 1 second if I remember correctly. At anything up to 4 seconds, it isn’t so bad, but even at 8 seconds, waiting for the shutter to close a second time gets old fast.
- Intelligent use of the LCD. Past 30 seconds, the X100S switches to Bulb mode. When you press the shutter, the rear LCD displays a handy timer for you. No more timing shots with your iPhone.
- Framing your shot. Using the LCD or EVF, you can happily frame your shot with that 10-stop ND filter attached. Autofocus works just fine, as does focus peaking and focus check. This is one occasion when manual focus is right up my alley. It’s fantastic. Note that the ND filter will confuse the optical viewfinder. The X100S will think it’s extremely dark and dim the OVF accordingly. If you’ve ever brought the camera to your eye with the lens cap still on and thought the OVF was busted, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
- Size & weight. Yeah, this doesn’t have anything to do with long exposure photography, but I can’t explain how much I appreciate the size and weight of this camera. Especially over the D700 + 24-70 combo I used before. And to think, I was actually considering a filter attachment for my 14-24. *shudder* Sure, I’m missing the flexibility of a zoom, but I’ve found sticking with a single focal length for a while helps me preemptively “see” my shots before I set up my camera.
If you really like the
35 mm focal length, the X100S might be the best camera on the market for long exposure photography.