The Fujifilm X100VI is my first ever camera – here are five things it's taught me about photography that my smartphone can't

A man in a green jumper taking photos with the Fujifilm X100VI
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve always loved the look of old photos from the 70s and 80s, there’s something eerie and yet incredibly soothing about them. However, I’ve never been able to quite replicate that old film style on my phone. The iPhone 15 Pro Max might well be the best cameraphone I have ever owned, but it has never quite scratched my photography itch.

Enter the Fujifilm X100VI, the most hyped camera in the world at the moment. With a trip to New York City on the horizon, I decided it was time to finally take a leap and purchase my very first camera — and what better way to give photography a go than with the camera that so many people are dreaming of getting their hands on?

Now after owning Fujifilm's popular camera for a few months and with a belly full of the best pizza NYC has to offer, I’m ready to talk about why the X100VI might be my favorite tech purchase in a long time and five ways it has taught me far more about photography than my iPhone ever could.

1. I'm a more thoughtful photographer now

A man in a green jumper taking photos with the Fujifilm X100VI

(Image credit: Future)

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a terrible photographer, or at least I’ve spent the last 29 years of my life believing I was. For as long as I’ve owned a smartphone, my photography workflow has involved pulling my iPhone out of my pocket, lining up a quick shot, and tapping the shutter button. No real thought into the process, no further editing, essentially pure point-and-shoot.

But the X100VI has completely changed my whole thought process when it comes to photography, I’ve done a total 180 and now look for the right shot rather than quickly snapping a pic for the sake of saying “I was there”. There’s something so mindful about owning a dedicated device for capturing memories, it made my time in New York feel like I was exploring the world in a whole new light, despite the fact I’ve been there many times before. 

In the same way my iPhone will never replace the dedicated gaming experience of my Steam Deck because there’s purpose in the decision to play a game, the X100VI opened my eyes to intentionality in photography, which is something I had never experienced before when using my smartphone as my camera.

2. I can get the film look, without the cost of actual film

Side by side shots of New York landscape. On Left in monochrome and on right in sombre colours

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve always wanted to take photos that look retro but the thought of wasting film because I’m not skilled enough always put me off trying. Last year, I went to Berlin with a disposable film camera and while I loved the experience, I missed the ability to view my shots and take multiple photos to find the perfect one. The Fujifilm X100VI is everything I wanted in a first camera, and Fujifilm’s film simulations are the main reason for it.

Fujifilm has decades of experience making film and purpose-built hardware for it which means the company knows everything there is to know about creating color filters for a digital camera.

three photos side by side of New York City

(Image credit: Future)

On my X100VI, I quickly found different film simulations (essentially filters you can use directly on the camera) that helped replicate the old film look, and the best bit is you can take photos and save them directly to JPEG with no editing required — the point-and-shoot of my iPhone, but better.

I then stumbled into the world of film recipes, online communities with talented photographers who create filters you can use directly on your Fujifilm camera to capture different looks that aren’t on your camera by default. The best one I’ve found yet is called 1970s Summer by Fuji X Weekly, and it has helped me capture photos I could only ever dream of just a few months ago, like this 70s-style shot of a bodega in Brooklyn or a moody shot of the subway (see above).

3. I'm learning to take manual control of exposure

Before purchasing the X100VI, my photography knowledge was fairly limited. I knew about the exposure triangle but I had seldom put it to good use as my iPhone’s camera did all the work for me.

Fujifilm X100VI on a ledge

(Image credit: Future)

At first, all of the dials on the X100VI felt very overwhelming but learning about the exposure triangle: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, has not only made me feel more in control of my photography but also enjoy the art of taking a photo. 

The tactile feedback of the dials on the X100VI adds to the fun learning process, and while I’m still trying to find my feet, every so often I get a eureka moment that makes using an actual camera feel far more rewarding than my smartphone ever could be.

4. Screw on lens filters are cool

Three photos side by side of the Aimé Leon Dore store in New York City

(Image credit: Future)

I know, I know, you can use lens filters with an iPhone. But, no adaptor kit that protrudes from the side of your smartphone can compete with the magical feeling of screwing on a lens filter for the first time. 

I purchased the Tiffen Glimmer Glass, and have barely taken it off since first putting it on. The lens filter adds bloom to lighting in my photos, which helped massively in NYC to create a sort of melancholic vibe that I never thought I’d be able to achieve.

While I only own one filter at the moment, I can see myself getting hooked on purchasing lens filters, something I would never have thought about if I stuck to taking photos on my iPhone.

5. Uploading photos isn’t that complicated

Neon sign that reads "Coffee Cappuccino Espresso"

(Image credit: Future)

I can only speak for the X100VI, but my fear of photography has always focused on the complexity of exporting from the device and editing photos. 

My Mac has a pretty small SSD, so I wanted to make sure I could use the camera with my 2TB M2 iPad Pro, and the whole process has been an absolute breeze. I can simply plug the X100VI directly into the USB-C port on my iPad and import my shots.

I can then edit photos directly on iPadOS 17 using Adobe Lightroom Mobile with the Apple Pencil, although, because of film simulations and the ability to save to JPEG or HEIF, the editing process is often complete as soon as I press the shutter button. 

If you’ve wanted to give photography a proper shot, but are scared of editing, Fujifilm’s X100 series may be the perfect entry point.

Am I a photographer now?

Who am I kidding? Most of the photos I take with the X100VI are mediocre at best. But there’s something so incredibly rewarding about snapping a good one that I’ve never quite experienced on a smartphone camera. Yes, it’s not ideal to carry a camera around with you when you can just pull your iPhone from your pocket, but the X100VI is small enough to swing over your shoulder and never look back.

This is only the beginning of my photography journey but the Fujifilm X100VI is an absolute pleasure to use and the perfect companion to take with me on my adventures. 

Using a camera has given me new creative opportunities, allowing me to create without overthinking, and opening my eyes to a hobby that I’m learning to love. At $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$2,899 the X100VI may be expensive, but purchasing one has given me a new lease of life that makes every time I leave the house exciting again.

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John-Anthony Disotto

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor at iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving right. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and is an award-winning journalist with years of experience in editorial.