Small Camera, Big Vistas – My Fujifilm X100s Landscape Photography Kit

When I got the Fujifilm X100s around 8 months ago, I knew I was getting a great tool for street shooting, travel and general-purpose photography with my family. However, I also wanted to be able to do landscapes. So I built up a little kit that has enabled me to do landscape photography using long exposures and various filters, all within a lightweight and compact package that I can literally carry with me wherever I go. I will share that kit with you today, as well as some photos taken with it.

Let’s start with an overview shot of the whole kit:

Fuji X100s Landscape Kit-1

1. WCL-X100 – The first thing I found is that the 35mm (equivalent) field of view of the X100s sometimes isn’t wide enough. That’s why I picked up the Fuji WCL-X100 wide angle converter. It gives the X100s (and original X100) a wider field of view, converting it from 35mm to 28mm equivalent focal length. While that doesn’t sound like much, it actually makes a noticeable difference. It is an excellent converter that doesn’t decrease image quality. You can also set the camera to automatically correct distortion etc, when the converter is attached. This gives you a pretty cool 2-lens mini system to work with.

2. Mechanical cable release – I love this for its classic feel and simple functionality. It’s the same cable release that has been used in manual film cameras for decades. It screws right into the X100’s shutter button and allows you to press the shutter without shaking the camera and keep the shutter open for as long as you want on B (bulb) mode. The best thing about using this on the X100s is that the elapsed time of the long exposure shows right on the camera’s LCD.

3. Cokin P-Series filter kit – I’ve had this kit since I started doing photography. I always found the P-series to be a bit small for use with DSLRs, but it’s the perfect size for mirrorless lenses. The square filters go in the holder, which is attached to the front of the lens by an adapter ring. The rings come in different sizes depending on your lens. The optional modular hood helps shield from unwanted light. Tip: you can get really cheap adapter rings, holders and hoods from eBay or Amazon. The build quality is quite comparable to the original at a fraction of the price. Get original filters, though. Speaking of filters…

4. Cokin P154 Neutral Density (ND) filter – cuts down light by 3 stops to enable longer exposures. Long exposures, of course, allow you to capture silky water, light trails, cloud movement, etc.

5. Cokin P153 Neutral Density (ND) filter – cuts down light by 2 stops. Little brother of the P154.

6. Cokin P121S Soft Graduated ND filter – shaded part cuts down 3 stops of light. It basically does the same thing as the P154 except only on half of the frame. It’s commonly used to cut down the exposure in the sky, making for bluer skies and avoiding blown out areas. You can slide the filter up and down to match your horizon.

7. Cokin P160 Polarizer – this cool little filter removes reflections on surfaces and makes colors richer. It works especially well to make skies bluer, foliage colors richer and remove reflections on water. It can be rotated independently of the holder for greater control. This filter also cuts down light by 2 stops.

8. Cokin P007 infrared (IR) filter– this specialty filter only lets infrared light through, making images with wild false colors or interesting black and white photos. Because it is a very dense filter, it is very prone to reflections bouncing between the lens and filter. This can be remedied by tying a cloth around the filter holder to block out light (see photo below).

9. Horus Bennu M-2531T tripod and LX-28T ballhead – Horus Bennu is a Korean camera gear manufacturer that may not be as well-known as others. I have found that their products are quite good at reasonable prices. This aluminum travel tripod by them only weighs 1.02 kg (2.2 lbs) and folds down to 31cm (12.2 in). This is a real tripod that can fit inside your bag. It’s maximum load capacity is 12kg (26 lbs), according to the manufacturer. Although with a mirrorless camera like the Fuji, I doubt you’ll ever get anywhere near that. The tripod is quite sturdy, especially when you hang your bag from the hook on the center column. It’s not the tallest tripod, but that’s not really the reason you’d get one of these. I got this one for less than $100. There is also a carbon fiber version that will save you about 140 grams, but it’s almost twice the price.  The Horus Bennu probably isn’t widely available outside of Korea, but the popular and highly regarded Me Foto Backpacker seems to serve a similar purpose.

Miscellaneous: I used to use a Joby Gorillapod as my main travel tripod, but I found that it was inconvenient for many situations. Also, since the 3-stop Cokin filter has the most stopping power in their line, I once tried a cheap 3rd party Cokin-compatible “ND16” from eBay. It worked, but there was a very noticeable color cast from the filter, so I stopped using it.

 

Putting it together:

Fuji X100s Landscape Kit-2

The above image is a typical setup for when you want to capture long exposures in bright situations. In this example, I’ve stacked the polarizer and 2 ND filters. Add the X100s’ built-in 3-stop ND and that equals 10 stops (3 + 2 + 2 + 3).

When using very dense filters, particularly the IR, you will sometimes (usually) get reflections between filters and the front of the lens caused by stray light. In order to avoid this, I wrap a cloth around the filter holder, like this:

Fuji X100s Landscape Kit-3

Packing it up:

A big part of the job in landscape photography is getting there. That’s why the way you pack your gear is crucial. Instead of using a dedicated camera bag, I use an insert that can be placed in any regular backpack or shoulder bag. This particular one is a Horus Bennu HD321022. In this photo, I packed the camera, wide lens, cable release, filter holder assembly, filters, charger and two spare batteries. The filters go in a Cokin plastic case or filter wallet, both available from eBay. As you can see there is plenty of room to spare (and I’d love to fill it with an interchangeable Fuji X system soon 😉 ). Using an insert keeps your photography kit discreet and flexible. When it’s all packed and folded, it looks like this (note the soda can for size reference).

 

And finally the images…

 

Graduated ND filter, handheld:

 

ND filter, Graduated ND, cable release, tripod:

Philippine Landscape Photographer Lake Caliraya-1

 

Neutral Density (ND) filter, Polarizer, cable release, tripod:

 

 

Infrared (IR) filter, cable release, tripod:

 

And my favorite, #nofilter 😀 , cable release, tripod:

 

I hope you found this post helpful. I have really enjoyed shooting and traveling with this kit over the past few months, so I thought I’d share it with everyone, especially those looking to downsize their gear. On the last trip I took to the Philippines, I didn’t even have any check in baggage. 🙂

Overall, this has proven to be a very easy-to-carry and versatile kit for many kinds of photography. I do admit the X100s’ two focal lengths may feel limiting. I have found myself wanting wider or longer coverage at times. But most of the time, I am very happy with it. The limitations actually make me think a bit harder about composition and making the most out of the gear I have.

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Roy Cruz

Roy Cruz

Photographer at Roy Cruz Photo
Roy Cruz is a freelance photographer based in Tongyeong, South Korea specializing in travel and documentary photography. He started shooting professionally in 2007 and has worked all over the Philippines and South Korea. He is also a dedicated husband, bass player, and father.

29 Comments

  1. David Whittley · January 25, 2014 Reply

    Great write up Roy add some beautiful images.
    Do you have any tips on how to calculate exposure times that are longer than the maximum allowed with the x100s.
    I have seen some amazing architectural and landscape photographs were the sky is dramatic streaks of clouds.

    • Roy Cruz
      Roy Cruz · January 26, 2014 Reply

      Thanks David! You mean how to calculate exposures past 30 seconds? I usually do it by trial and error and use the histogram. You do kind of get a feel for it after lots of practice. Here’s a more calculated method. Attach the desired filters and mount the camera on the tripod. Turn on live view, frame the scene, choose your aperture, and turn the shutter speed dial to A. Now set your ISO to Auto (I always use max 6400) and take note of the shutter speed the camera calculates. Now set the shutter speed to B and bring down the ISO as desired. Every stop of ISO decrease will double the exposure time you noted down. For example, if your camera calculated 10 seconds at ISO 6400 and you want to expose at ISO 200, you multiply 10 x 5 because 6400 > 3200 > 1600 > 800 > 400 > 200 is 5 stops. Your proper exposure is 50 seconds. You then set the mechanical cable release to lock and expose based on the built in timer on live view. Again, extremely dark scenes are usually trial and error, but the Auto ISO method should cover most situations. I hope this helps.

  2. Small Camera, Big Vistas - My Fujifilm X100s La... · January 25, 2014 Reply

    […] When I got the Fujifilm X100s around 8 months ago, I knew I was getting a great tool for street shooting, travel and general-purpose photography with my family. However, I also wanted to be able to…  […]

  3. Mark · January 25, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic information, Roy!

  4. Scott · January 25, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the interesting write-up. I have a P series filter set here that I never had much luck with and your comments about the light reflection and the size in relation to the DSLR makes a lot of sense. Same problem with the IR but never thought to put a cloth over it – good tip 🙂 Think I’ll pick up a step ring and give this a try on my x100s. Take care!

    • Roy Cruz
      Roy Cruz · January 26, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Scott! I’m glad you like it. Yes, the cloth really helps keep IR images clean and reflection-free. Good luck! I hope you enjoy the P series on the X100s. Have a great weekend! 🙂

  5. Small Camera, Big Vistas - My Fujifilm X100s La... · January 26, 2014 Reply

    […] …. a big part of the job in landscape photography is getting there. That’s why the way you pack your gear is crucial. Instead of using a dedicated camera bag, I use an insert that can be placed in any regular backpack or shoulder bag. This particular one is a Horus Bennu HD321022. In this photo, I packed the camera, wide lens, cable release, filter holder assembly, filters, charger and two spare batteries. The filters go in a Cokin plastic case or filter wallet, both available from eBay. As you can see there is plenty of room to spare (and I’d love to fill it with an interchangeable Fuji X system soon ). Using an insert keeps your photography kit discreet and flexible. When it’s all packed and folded, it looks like this (note the soda can for size reference)……  […]

  6. patrick · January 26, 2014 Reply

    Excellent blog great images thank you

  7. cyril estoya · January 26, 2014 Reply

    great info…

  8. David Deluria · January 26, 2014 Reply

    Great write-up. I’m glad to know I can get great landscapes without too much experimentation to get the right images from my Fuji.

  9. Nathan Brayshaw · January 26, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your kit Roy. This is really helpful. I think yours may be my new favourite blog!

  10. ezekiel · January 26, 2014 Reply

    Hey bro! Lovely to see your blog post on a small camera. Im also carrying out my xe1 now more than my Canon or nikon cameras. They are like dead weights at home ha. Id love to find out more about your IR setup and the inserts cool idea. Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful pictures! God bless!

    • Roy Cruz
      Roy Cruz · January 27, 2014 Reply

      Hey Ezekiel! Yes, the Fuji is my first choice when I go out. I’ll definitely be making more IR photos in the near future, so stay tuned. Thanks and have a great day!

  11. Andy Staab · January 27, 2014 Reply

    Roy, these images are outstanding and inspiring. You’re quite talented.

  12. Luis · February 21, 2014 Reply

    I have the X100 and the recent update worked wonders for it. I am in love with this piece of gear again. Beautiful work, Roy –thanks for sharing the images and how they were made.

    • Roy Cruz
      Roy Cruz · February 21, 2014 Reply

      Fuji has been so awesome with the firmware updates. You’ve got to love a company that doesn’t let its cameras become obsolete so easily. Thanks for checking out the article and leaving a comment, Luis! Have a great day!

  13. Angie · February 28, 2014 Reply

    Roy, thanks for this very helpful blog. I had bought my olympus mirrorless camera last year. Had been looking for ways to get more nice shots. Thanks for your expeet tips. Will also be in south korea end of next month for spring so I should have my filters before then. 🙂 thanks!!

    • Roy Cruz
      Roy Cruz · February 28, 2014 Reply

      Hi Angie! Thanks for reading the article. I’m glad you found it useful. Spring is a great time to be in Korea. Hope you have a great trip! 🙂

  14. Small Camera, Big Vistas - My Fujifilm X100s La... · May 15, 2014 Reply

    […] “ When I got the Fujifilm X100s around 8 months ago, I knew I was getting a great tool for street shooting, travel and general-purpose photography with my family. However, I also wanted to be able to…”  […]

  15. Jessjam · January 13, 2016 Reply

    wonderful work! Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

  16. Alla · March 13, 2016 Reply

    Very inspiring! Especially the size of your operation. Your posts and photographs just might be enough to convert me to a Fuji girl 🙂

    • admin
      admin · March 16, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Alla! The small size of the Fuji’s was definitely one of the reasons I got into the system. Pair that with great image quality and you’ve got a great travel setup.

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