This is a great example of a picture I’d never be able to get with my usual setup of a DSLR and 50mm lens. On a rather warm date in late February I took my kids to the playground at a local elementary school while my wife stayed back to get some work done, and at this particular location one of the boys’ favorite toys is a spinner device kind of like the old sit-and-spin toys from the late 80’s. (Full disclosure: it’s also one of my favorite toys at this playground!) It’s really just made for one person but I asked my four-year-old if he would mind attempting to help me get a picture, and the result is what you see here. It’s not perfect and there’s some things I wish I could have composed differently, but it’s hard to juggle a camera, a playground spinner, and a little kid all at the same time so I guess I can’t complain :)

I took this with my Fuji X100F which had a couple things going for it that would have made the shot nearly impossible with a DSLR. The X100F is designed to be used with the rear LCD screen for composing and focusing, whereas on most DSLR cameras the rear screen focusing is much slower and less reliable than the viewfinder due to the common implementation of contrast-detect autofocus as opposed to phase-detect through the viewfinder. The size of the camera made it much easier to work with as well, and I was able to shoot one-handed while I held my boy with my other arm. Finally, the wider 23mm (35mm equivalent) field of view on the X100F made a picture like this possible whereas shooting with a 50mm lens would have resulted in basically only getting a single foot in the shot.

I knew I wanted a slow shutter speed to get motion trails, but any slower than 1/30 would have been nearly impossible to get a sharp picture and any longer would have given me motion trails that were too short. 1/30 worked just fine, but even then it took several tries to get this shot because my son was kind of fussy (wouldn’t you be?) and the constant shifting between light and shadow as we spun around did tend to confuse the focusing system on the camera. I like how it turned out though and it gave me some ideas for other shots I might try in the future.


  1. Nice lesson of creativity. In addition to the small size of the camera, great JPEG, Velvia film simulation, Fuji has perhaps the best Image Stabilization allowing you to shoot at 1/30 hand held.
    I recently traded my Nikon D7100 for Fuji XT20 and i am very pleased with the results.

    • Unfortunately my Fuji X100F doesn’t have any image stabilization, but if I’m careful I find that I can get good shots at 1/30 second. Though that’s only if my kids are standing still, which is often not the case!

      • Simon you have one steady pair of hands :-) I have noticed that you have posted many photos w/ close up lens taken in field w/o a tripod and they are superb. Congrats.

  2. Jacqueline says

    I’ve taken lots of playground pictures, but this is a neat perspective I’ve never done before. Kudos to your son for helping you get the shot!
    (I’m pretty sure I would have been too dizzy to get this picture! :-P)

    • Thanks Jacqueline! I must admit I was so dizzy I could barely walk after all our attempts to get this shot :)

  3. I agree! Motion sickness just glancing at this one! Love the green shoes, though!

    • If you got motion sickness from looking at the picture, then I don’t recommend trying one of these spinning playground toys in person! :)

  4. Janet Richardson says

    I tried to get a similar shot at the county fair on one of their spinny thingies. Much to my chagrin I got off and immediately threw up. SO not cool. Congrats on your accomplishment!

    • Oh no! I hope you didn’t feel sick for too long! I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up, but it did take me a while to walk normally again after this :)

  5. David Beresford says

    Smaller cameras with good optics are great. I have two Nikon DSLRs and like you I use them for ‘serious’ photography outings. Most of my shots now are taken using a Sony RX100iii which is a brilliant camera and will go everywhere with me and is particularly good for Street when I don’t want to be noticed. I usually have my Nikon D7100 with me and the Sony is mistaken by people for a light meter. Sneaky.

    • For years I thought the best cameras were always bigger, but I’m learning that there really is something to be said for smaller cameras too. Especially ones like your Sony RX100iii that still have really big image sensors, and a nice lens too! It’s so nice to have a tiny little camera that still packs a punch, especially since most people don’t even notice it’s there :)

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