low frequency, high amplitude

slowing down with a new camera

Greg Needham


These photos are not great. Some aren’t even that good.

But they are some of the first photos to be posted from my new camera.

Earlier this year I “misplaced” a beautiful Leica camera. The pain of loss was compounded by the fact that the camera was a gift from one of my oldest and best friends. It was a great camera, took amazing photos and will forever be missed, but it had a few drawbacks.

First, it was really a Panasonic Lumix rebranded by Leica. No biggie. But it wasn’t a classic Leica with decades of historic DNA behind it. It had a smaller sensor. It was slow. Nothing that couldn’t be overcome but you had to think about it with each shot.

But a substantial issue and ultimately what drew me to my new camera, a Fuji x100s, was the lack of a proper viewfinder on the Leica. Everytime you wanted to take a photo, you had to do that awkward thing where you hold the camera up at arms length and look at the LCD screen on the rear panel.

I hate that.

1/60, f 2.0, iso 3200
1/60, f 2.0, iso 3200
1/60, f 2.0, iso 2000
1/60, f 2.0, iso 2000

The x100s is a classic rangefinder design. A real viewfinder, fully manual operation and one of the best lenses on the market today. There’s all sorts of other technical reasons why the Fujifilm is an amazing camera and why it’s being heralded as the “new” Leica.

But all that really matters is how a camera feels in your hands, how it shapes what you shoot and how it inspires you to look at the world.

And the Fuji inspires. Just holding it starts the process, the desire, the change you can’t predict.

The Fuji X100S
1/125, f 5.6, iso 320
1/60, f 2.0, iso 2500
1/120, f 3.2, iso 500

The x100s doesn’t hold your hand the way so many cameras do today. It doesn’t have “scene” settings, or anything automatic about it. It has one lens, fixed at 35mm. If you want to zoom, you walk.

It requires you to know something about photography, exposure, light and how they interact. It slows you down. It makes you think. And that’s a good thing in photography. Thats where low frequency, high amplitude comes in. Not so many photos, but hopefully better ones.

More signal, less noise.

1/60, f 5.0, iso 500
1/1200, f 4.5, iso 500

Like I said earlier, there’s nothing special about any of these photos. They were all shot without a lot of experience with the camera. They were all shot one evening and the next morning. They were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 with some really cool VSCO filters.

But other than that, they aren’t anything.

But they are the first steps in that long relationship you have with a camera.


(hat tip to David Hobby of Strobist for the “low frequency, high amplitude” title. And for countless other ways he’s inspired me.)



Greg Needham

VP of Creative @watsoncreative in Portland, Oregon