Fuji X100S Review
Imagine a camera that is liberating, light, powerful, and most importantly has fantastic image quality. Do you want to take that camera to the parks and shoot with it? I know I did, and that is why I rented the Fujifilm X100S recently. If you guys are familiar with my reviews, you’ll know that I won’t go into charts or anything done in a lab to support my claims. I use nothing by my own real world experiences, and my real world photos that I take with the gear I’m reviewing. That said, let’s get into this. Also, I was so excited to get out and shoot this camera that I forgot to take any photos of the camera itself. So, Google is your friend if you want to see the way the camera looks!
Let’s start with the build and ergonomics of the camera itself. The camera is a very simple design that looks like a camera from 30 years ago. It has rangefinder style dials for shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation. You’ll notice that there are no settings for Program Auto mode, and there aren’t any scene modes. This is an enthusiasts camera, through and through. It feels solid, and all the dials and buttons feel solid. It feels very comfortable to hold and shoot with for a long day.
When it comes to using the camera, there are some things that are really interesting here. The first comes from within the viewfinder. It has two of them. Yes, you read that right. There is both an optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder, and all you have to do is flip a switch to alternate between the two. The optical finder is great, with the exception that it isn’t directly above the lens, so you have some parallax (a word all you Apple enthusiasts should know by now) correction to deal with. The electronic finder reads right off the sensor, so you’re seeing what the sensor is seeing. The only thing with that is that there is a little lag to deal with. I find that the EVF in my Olympus OM-D E-M5 is more responsive than the one in this Fuji.
The lens that is permanently attached to this camera is a Fujinon 23mm f/2, which comes in at a 35mm full frame equivalent. So, this is great for close up shots, street photos, as well as some landscape work. It is a pretty versatile little setup, but if you are looking for super wide or telephoto work, this is NOT the camera for you. By having one lens attached with only one focal length though, the camera is able to have a macro mode built in, which is pretty great. And it also allows for my favorite feature, which is the fact that there is a drop-in ND filter built right in, so shooting in the daylight at f/2 becomes not a problem.
Now that we’re past the lens, let’s talk about the sensor. It uses the Fuji X-Trans sensor, which is pretty cool because of the fact that it eliminates the anti-aliasing filter, which is a filter put in front of the sensor on most cameras that reduces sharpness in favor of reducing moire. Fuji figured out a new color array pattern that allows them to remove that filter, which leads to some of the sharpest images I’ve dealt with. I found that in Lightroom, I rarely had to sharpen photos, even at a wide open f/2 aperture. ISO performance is also very good all the way up to ISO6400.
So, where does the camera falter? Well, the electronic viewfinder is pretty slow. So is the review system. The LCD on the back isn’t quite up to snuff with a lot of the competition. The battery doesn’t last terribly long, so it is necessary to bring multiples on a long day of shooting. The camera is also a little bit quirky. It isn’t your traditional setup, and it took me until about halfway through my rental of it to start ‘getting it’. The last big problem I have with it is the price. Sure, you are getting great quality in a light weight system, but it comes in at $1300. That is a lot to swallow for one focal length.
What are my final thoughts on the camera? Well, I don’t think I had quite enough time to make final decisions on it. But, it has amazing image quality and some really slick features on its side. But, it is very expensive for what it is, and some of its quirks might be too tough for some folks who are used to DSLRs or other mirrorless systems to get used to. I think I prefer the IQ on the Fuji to my Olympus OM-D E-M5, but the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 model gets rid of the AA filter like the Fuji and also comes with 1/8000 shutter speeds for around the same price, and you can change lenses. So who knows.
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