I recently took delivery of my first Fujifilm camera, the X100s. There have been some supply issues with UK stockists, I initially ordered this camera in early February so I was very excited to finally get my hands on it.
The primary focus of this post is to see how easy it is to use the X100s and to look at the images it can produce rather than a technically focused review. This is the official page If you want to review the Fuji's tech specs – edited highlights include a fixed f/2.0 23mm lens (35mm full frame equivalent), Trans-X sensor, macro mode & full HD video.
Looks & Handling
First things first – the X100s is a seriously nice looking bit of kit, an attractive blend of retro styling and modern features with clear inspiration from the classic vintage Fujica, Olympus etc type cameras.
It feels fantastically well made, from the cushioned lens cap to the reassuring clicks from the top mounted dials.
The X100s weight is just about right – it is heavy enough to feel like a quality product but not that heavy that wouldn't want to put it in a jacket pocket. This was the primary reason I purchased one – I wanted a walk around camera with that packed enough punch to produce quality images but without the weight of an DSLR.
Photographers who are used to shooting with a DSLR with a lens, grip etc will initially find the X100s feels small in comparision but after a few hours shooting it feels like second nature, with features like the exposure compensation dial and Q menu giving you quick access to configuration changes.
One small niggle is that the battery and memory card compartment are right next to the tripod screw. Photographers who like to leave a tripod plate mounted on their camera have to to take it off when accessing this compartment. A really minor point though.
Shooting & Images
The fixed focal lenghth of 23mm will be both a pro & con for photographers, depending on your style of shooting. The vast majority of my photography is taken between the focal length range of 10mm to 50mm (cropped sensor) so the 23mm is just about right for me.
Dig out any article about improving your photography and chances are somewhere along the line the writer will mention trying out prime lenses (there's a great article from Light Stalking's own Rob Wood here that discusses the pros and cons of prime lenses). For me, the main advantage of prime lenses is that they teach you to slow down and think about your shots – I found my photography leapt forward leaps and bounds when I experimented with primes and the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is probably my favourite lens for my DSLR at the moment. Their lack of versatility means that they aren't suitable for everyone though.
That considered, Fuji are asking for a lot of a money for a fixed lens system so is the X100s capable of delivering images that match the price tag? Having spent a week experimenting with it, I'd go with yes.
The X100s produce fantastic images – punchy colours and huge dynamic range matched with sharp results from the fixed lens.
The image below is one I couldn't reproduce from my Nikon without involving HDR or pushing a RAW shot to it's extremes in post processing. The X100s has a built in auto dynamic range feature that was used to capture this scene.
I'm especially impressed by the ability of the X100s to retain shadow detail in bright scenes – the shoppers on the right hand side are still visible despite the brightness of the left hand side of the frame.
f/2.0 allows you to create images with a great depth of field and a pleasing background bokeh.
The macro mode adds an extra element to the X100s as well – macro is not something that normally floats my boat but I'll be more inclined to dabble given how easy it is to capture macro images with this lens/body combination.
The original X100 was famed for it's low light ability and I'm impressed by how the S version handles shooting at night – you'd expect a fast prime to be good at this sort of shot but it really excels after the sun has gone down.
To summarise – the X100s is not going to be perfect for every photographer but as an everyday, walk around camera I don't think there's anything out there that matches it in terms of it's size and what it is capable of producing. Beg, borrow or steal one to have a play with and see if it's for you!
If you've got your hands on an X100s and would like to share any thoughts about it, please leave a comment below. There are some more example X100s images on my blog here.
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