Fuji X100S – my review and opinion

X100S – Fuji’s retro compact

Firstly, this is all just my opinion. Others will likely disagree with some of my points, but this is how I see it.

X100S, Fujifilm

I purchased the Fujifilm X100S in Early April. Ever since the “S” was announced I had payed attention to this camera.  My existing quiver of camera’s included a Nikon D700 and a swath of Nikkor pro glass and a good handful of film cameras too. Why would I want or need the Fuji X100S ?

The X100S is a small compact camera. Sporting a fixed F/2 aperture 23mm ( 35mm equivalent) lens, coupled with the Fuji X-Trans APS-C sized sensor. The body is very retro looking, stealing it’s looks from the Leica rangefinders with a little Fuji flavor of it’s own. The big selling feature for me was the Optical viewfinder. It cleverly overlays the digital frame and a gamut of other select-able camera settings and shooting information. The Optical view finder is always in focus and show a wider view than the frame lines, providing a glimpse outside of your soon to be captured frame. This simulates the rangefinder style and for me provided a pleasantly refreshing change from the TTL (Through The Len) physics I had become accustom too. It took some adjusting but it has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

The Fuji X100S is not supposed to replace my DSLR, and I never expected it too.. Although it’s light weight and “fit in your pocket” size are serious points of convenience. Often enough to have it come along with me far more than my relatively cumbersome DSLR. I find myself taking the camera to the super market, on errands, to work, where ever a photo opportunity might present itself. As the infamous saying goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you” which fits perfectly for this camera.

The Good:

  • Compact, lightweight and portable.
  • Sharp and usable at F/2
  • Versatile “all around” focal length at 35mm and the limitation can force more creativity, forcing you to work with what you have.
  • High ISO performance is very acceptable, right up to 6400. (Fuji X-Trans sensor really got this right)
  • JPG processing in camera is really nice. Great colours and tones.
  • No flash sync limitation, thanks to the leaf shutter, opens up lots of wide open daylight fill flash options.

The Bad:

  • Batter life is very short. A morning’s fully charged battery has run out before dinner, without heavy shooting (maybe 100 shots max) . (lucky spare batteries are cheap and small, but a must have)
  • Startup and writing speeds are somewhat sluggish and unpredictable. (not really a problem as I am not shooting fast sports and Birds in flight, well not with this camera)
  • The lens cap is cosmetically cool, but it’s inevitable I will drop it soon. (best I get a replacement)
  • My fingers are always getting the optical viewfinder smudged. (hardly a bad point)
  • The control wheel is a bit fiddly for me, and not very positive. Seems to often register clicks in the wrong area, might just be my fingers.

Conclusion

The Fuji X100S is a bit of a niche camera. It’s not trying to steal a market away from the DSLR’s it is it’s own camera. The early film shooters will likely adopt this camera, given it’s retro style and optical viewfinder. If your a sports or wildlife shooter, then clearly this is not the camera for you. If you enjoy street photography and shooting people, friends and family, then this might be the camera for you. For those who have already started “lusting” over one, be warned, hopefully you know the limitations it has and what the camera is capable of.

It’s cool Retro film feel of this camera has a very discrete feel about it, and it doesn’t seem to intimidate people, although that may be strictly a perception I am making. Either way I feel comfortable out shooting with it, which is exactly what I was looking for. This is an important part. That’s what “I” was looking for.. Other shooters will be attracted to other features.

Samples

Here is a collection of shot with exif data. Keep in mind I have only had this camera just over a month. (some images are from previous posts)

abstract, pattern from above, aerial

F/4, 1/60, ISO2500

building, lines

F/4, 1/40, ISO1600

x100s auditorium

F/4, 1/50, ISO1600

Must look like I only shoot F/4 huh ?  🙂

Where's wally

F/4, 1/480, ISO800

Oh, boy.. I do shoot @ F/4 too much.. ! (next one I promise)

Ella F2, fill flash

F/2, 1/750, ISO800 (with onboard fill flash)

F/8, 1/400. ISO800

F/8, 1/400. ISO800

sunrise bokeh bubbles

Bokeh bubbles ! F/5.6, 1/340, ISO800

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, if you have got this far, you might be wondering why all my images are at ISO800 or higher.. Well there is a feature called DRXX%. Dynamic range. If you set it at 100%, that is classed as “Standard”. If you crank it to 200% it will do some jpg magic processing. Basically my understanding is it will underexpose slightly and boost the shadows in the JPG processing. If you shoot in RAW and JPG, then they will look quite different, as the JPG gets the processing in camera. If the DR is cranked to 400%, then the effect is even greater. Caveat  DR400% is only available at ISO800 minimum, and DR200% at ISO400 respectively. I am quite often happy with the JPG from the camera and often settle with that as my final, with dynamic boost included. In camera processing also accounts for a lot of the noise reduction, which can be cranked up too, or wait till you have the RAW file in your post processing software of choice. Of coarse there is plenty of time still for experimenting. 🙂

OK, sorry.. A few more images !

F/4, 1/20, ISO2000 Click to see full size, note focus is on the closest corner of the table.

F/4, 1/20, ISO2000
Click to see full size, note focus is on the closest corner of the table.

F/5.6, 1/1500, ISO1600

F/5.6, 1/1500, ISO1600

OK, that about all. I have plenty more images, but you will have to stay tuned in to see them follow. I’d love to hear your comments about the X100S.

Enjoy.

One thought on “Fuji X100S – my review and opinion

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