First of all this is no scientific laboratory review.
These are my personal impressions after using the camera.
Lets get started:
Wow, this year started off as the last one ended. With a big bang and the introduction of Fuji´s all brand new X100S.
A lot has already been said about the X100S. Much faster than the X100. Yes the AF speed seemed to be the achilles heal of the X100. Well sometimes it was.
But lets just get this right, I was never unhappy with the X100.
This was the camera that taught me photography most of all. It gave me quick response of what I had done wright or wrong.
Instead of wrong I´d rather say it tough me what I had done not quit so wright. Sometimes a quit not so wright can become a wonderful picture.
Anyway, I was never unhappy with the AF performance either. Especially after the many firmware updates which the original X100 had received. And with the latest 1.3 the camera was more than just usable.
The AF performance was quite good. It did struggle sometimes in low light conditions but in good light it was fast enough to even capture moving subjects
But it was slow with write speed and it did lock up after taking a shot.
What I did not like was the missing Q menu which on my X-E1 is a blessing. Personally this is one of the main features I enjoy most on the X100S.
Now what was my reason to switch to the X100S?
· AF Speed is even better and more than enough for what I use the camera for
· Write speed to the card and the ability to use the camera whilst writing
· Change of focus mode switch is welcome
· MF is now near enough perfect. Split screen image is good but Focus peaking is a blessing.
· Q Menu
· Change in AF Select point to the scroll wheel is much better
· New color filter array from the conventional Bayer patern to the X-Trans
· Focus speed in low light conditions could be better but I am sure Fuji will provide us a Firmware update in the futur which will correct this.
· Burst in resolution from 12MP to 16MP. I couldn´t care less. Even 10 would be enough for me
Let´s talk AF Speed then.
As I stated before I was happy with the AF speed on my X100 in good light. But I must admit that the X100S is much, much better. Instant coffee fast!
When the AF uses the PDAF pixels it is blazing fast.
Yes you can notice when the camera uses them. The focus does not hunt into two different directions. It focuses in the correct direction straight away and if you pay attention you can actually see this.
In low light the story is unfortunately a different one. Using the X100S with the latest firmware 1.01 the AF performance in low light is a little better than on my X100 but it could be better. Again, I am sure Fuji will work on that.
There is one major difference though. It does not miss focus any more. It is just not as responsive as it could be.
On the X100 manual focus was a nuisance. Near enough unusable. Not even worth talking about it and yet everybody did. My personal view was this. I´ve got a great AF camera and people are talking about manual focus. Guys we´re living in 2012! If I want a great manual focus camera I´ll save up the bucks and buy a Leica. Or will I?
No, No, No. Why should I spend all that hard earned money on a camera that can´t even focus automatically. I´ve never use a Leica so please forgive me. I don’t know what It is like.
I am just taking a short brake in my brain thinking………..
Yeah right. 6000€ for a body and another 3000€ for ONE lens. WHY SHOULD I SPEND ALL THAT MONEY?????
Sorry I got a little carried away there.
Anyway what´s the manual focus like on the X100S then. It is great. Fast, responsive and accurate.
You don´t need to turn the focus ring until your arm falls off. Twist it from infinite position to close up in less than a second.
All you have to do is give it a fast twist and it will move all the way.
Want to focus accurately? Twist it slower.
Want some assistance? Turn on one of the focus aids.
Fuji introduced two types of focusing aids on the X100S. First we have the Split screen which works well when there are horizontal lines in the image. It works but I haven´t found great use of it up until know.
The second one is awesome! Focus peaking. Damn it these Sony users where right. I hate to say it but they where.
Always going on about there new great function for manual focus. Nobody needs such a thing as focus peaking I thought.
But I was wrong.
With the new fast manual focus and focus peaking turned on you can focus so fast in MF mode, full stop.
As soon as there are highlights in the area you want to focus it´s not quite as good any more. This is due to the fact that the peaked areas are shown in white. As you can imagine white on white is not so easy to see.
In all other cases one can use MF and the peaking with no problem at all.
The question is. Will I use it?
The answer is. Sometimes!
Most of the time I will rely on the very fast AF.
The menu system is now like on the other Fuji X cameras like the X-Pro1 or the X-E1. I own the X-E1 next to the X100S and they are a joy to use.
After using all big camera makers such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Olympus I do think I am able to judge on the menu. In my opinion Fuji has now got the best menu. And come on who keeps delving into the menu system before taking a picture every time.
Think about it. I don´t and I am sure you don´t.
After all there is this Q menu which is a breeze to use.
It is easy, intuitive and the most important changes for every day shooting can be changed with just a few clicks.
I hardly ever need to delve into the main menu to make changes. Once set up all I use is the Q menu.
There is just one flaw regarding the Auto ISO. Sometimes I would like to vary between Auto ISO 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400.
I can do this on the X-E1 but for some reason Fuji have not implemented this into the X100S´s menu. Please Fuji change this!!!
The Fuji X100S like the X100 is equipped with a unique type of viewfinder. It inhabits the best of both worlds.
I love the optical viewfinder displaying some useful information. It is though very important to switch on parallax correction in the menu. In my opinion this should be switched on automatically.
The electronic viewfinder now is a much better one. It has a higher resolution and less lag than in the original X100. This is a welcome benefit when shooting in low light conditions. It is possible to choose the displayed information shown both types of viewfinder separately. I honestly couldn´t say which one I use more often. Sometimes the OVF is better and sometimes the EVF is my first choice. But that is the great thing about this little camera. I have got both options on hand. Well I have a third one on top of that as well. I can use the rear display on top of the viewfinder.
Just remember that when shooting in macro mode being very close to the object to use the EVF. This is due to the parallax between the viewfinder and the lens. I will not go into detail about this as it is easier to find good information on the internet.
In one word:
Stunning, Awesome, Absolutely amazing
Sorry, one word isn´t enough.
With every camera I have used I used to shoot RAW+Jpeg in best quality. Well I still do with the Fuji cameras. But these jpegs ooc are great. You can see my article on Fuji´s jpegs here
Color rendition, sharpness and noise performance right up to ISO 6400 are purely amazing.
All these shots are Jpegs OOC with no processing what so ever. I just resized them to Blog size.
In 95% of the case I can easily use the jpegs ooc. I can even use them with Apple Aperture and the VSCO toolkit.
It is purely amazing what can be done with the jpegs out of this Fuji using the VSCO Toolkit. Not this typical VSCO look but a beautiful richness and color depth aded to the shots.
With Nik Software I tend to use the RAF file which finally can be used with Apple Aperture as well.
Best is to take a look at pictures on flickr to get a good impression of what this camera is capable of.
What about a final Word
Of course every type of review needs a final word.
I am no big reviewer myself but this X100S is so great I just had to write down my thoughts.
After several different cameras in my life, well more than several , I finally have found my system which fits what I want best. You notice I did not write needs as we all don´t NEED a best camera system but we WANT it.
I have had Nikon DSLR cameras with more lenses than I could carry, went to Canon´s Powershot G10. From Canon I went to micro four thirds. Panasonic GF1, Olympus E-PL2, Panasonic GH2 and all sorts of lenses including the great 20mm from Panasonic. I had the 7-14 wide angle lens, the 14-45 and so on. I have tried many systems to finally end up with Fuji. This is quite strange in a way as my very first digital camera was a Fuji Finepix 2600Z. I can remember having to sell all my Minolta analog gear to be able to afford my first digital camera. Yes I was an early adopter to the digital age.
As the X100 hit the market I knew straight away that this was my type of camera. It is Simple to use, with just a dial for aperture and a dial for shutter speed. Great high ISO performance. It had an optical viewfinder with information displayed. And on top of that it had an electronic one just with a flip of a leaver.
But what really got me hooked is how simple this camera works. No sunflower mode, nor a mode to shoot fireworks. I don´t have a 5 different portrait modes. No.
This camera offers everything I need to take great pictures. Aperture control on the lens where it belongs, a shutter speed dial and a separate dial for exposure compensation. The lens is super sharp from f/4 onwards.
I must admit that f/2 is a little soft when photographing close up. Take the lens to f/4 and above and you are just fine.
High ISO is controlled in a way I have not seen from an APS-C sensor yet. Sorry X-E1 not even you are quite on par with the X100S. It is just a tad better.
Noise is controlled so well even at ISO 6400 that I would not hesitate to use this for large prints. And I mean prints like 90x120cm. EASILY!!!
No one takes a look at a print this large when standing about 5cm away from it. Well maybe the people that sit at the desk in front of their Super Eizo 3000€ screen looking at a picture at 400% and complaining about how the single pixels look.
What I really enjoy is the color rendition when using the jpegs on this camera. I have found my favorite settings when shooting them and am very happy with the results. The amount of detail captured in these files is just awesome.
What else is to say?
I am so in love with the Fuji X100S that when traveling to Paris and then after that to Dubai I will be just taking the X100S, some spare batteries and plenty of SD cards with me. And I know I will be absolutely happy with it and I will not miss anything.
Two years ago my wife and I visited Stockholm and all I had with me was the X100.
Stockholm view with the X100 on Flickr
It was such a relief not to have to decide which lens put on the camera. No I had the 23mm f/2 prime lens stuck on the camera and could not have been happier.
This I am sure, will be the same case in Paris and Dubai. Will I miss shots? Yes. No telephoto lens with me. I don´t care.
Mmmmhh, the Walimex fisheye and the X-E1? No. I don´t think so.
I might take the WLC-X100 wide conversion lens with me. And that is it.
One word to Fuji. Please give us users one small update which incorporates a burst in AF Speed. Especially in low light. I know you can do it!!!
You have proven us more than once that you are listening to us users and that you take our critice seriously.
So be sure to come back for my posts on Paris and Dubai sometime in July.
Until then take care and take pictures.
I am by all means no employee of Fujifilm. This is my personal view. I have not been paid to wright this review.