Recently I finished a photo project using the X100S. It was a simple project, use the X100S as my exclusive camera for three months. I’m not really sure if it’s been exactly three months, to be fair, but it doesn’t matter because I’m not ready to set this camera down or pick up another. Here is my review.
The Fujifilm X100S has already been reviewed all over the internet (including right here on PhotolisticLife), so I’m not going to dive into all the technical specs. I’m going to focus on actual use and your ability to use this as your sole camera for the foreseeable future.
Sexy. That sums this camera up in one word. If I could use only two words I would use, Sexy and Advanced. At first glance everyone always assumes I’m shooting with an old film rangefinder and are astounded when I show them the LCD on the back and assure them it’s more advanced than 99% of the cameras on the market today. It’s a head turner for sure.
Speaking of image quality, I’ve put it against my Olympus OM-D E-M5 , the Nikon D600 , and finally the Nikon D800 and the X100S has exceeded my expectations. As far as the OMD is concerned the image quality of the X100S far exceeds it in my humble opinion. The D600 and D800 are kind of an unfair comparison since they both have full frame sensors but the X100S didn’t disappoint. If the largest you’ll ever blow an image up is 20×30 then you’ll hardly notice a difference between the X100S and the Nikon bricks. As for using images on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) you’d be hard pressed to see a difference.
Low light is this camera’s B%T$H. It’s low light performance is on par with that of the D800 with slightly less dynamic range. The X100S leaves the OMD in it’s dust, the OMD showing multiple burnt out pixels (shown as red, white, and blue dots) at longer exposures as well as more grain. I have shot hundreds of low light photos with exposure times in excess of three minutes and have yet to see a burnt out pixel or unruly grain.
The X100S’s inability to take a long exposure shot over 30 seconds without using a manual shutter trigger is a bit of a bummer. One of the few shortcoming of the camera I found. I think I’m most disappointed because the X100S takes amazing long exposure photographs. You’ll literally have to screw a manual cable release into your shutter button in order to have an exposure any longer than 30 seconds though (I picked up this one for $8 from Amazon). Don’t let that deter you, the long exposure images are truly great.
The camera has a built in 3 stop ND filter that helps to reduce shutter speeds when shooting with a wide aperture (f/2ish) in bright light as well as increasing the shutter speed in lower light to create that glassy look that water gets at 10+ second exposures.
Wow. I have never traveled as comfortably as I did on the 19hr trip to Sicily I took just recently with the X100S. Normally I feel like I ought to get a second seat for my Nikon. I didn’t even carry a camera bag on the airplane. I dropped the camera into my laptop bag (left my laptop at home) and put the essential gear in my carry on luggage. I forgot I even had the camera with me but quickly remembered when I accidentally stepped on my laptop bag on my way back from the toilet (don’t worry, the camera was fine).
The camera is so small and unobtrusive that I was able to practice street photography to my hearts content without irritating the locals by pointing a giant camera in their face. I blended into the background and was able to get some really neat photographs that I probably wouldn’t have taken before (at the risk of upsetting people).
The X100S has the vintage style aperture adjustment where you rotate the ring around the lens to dial in your adjustment and right next to that is the manual focus. The shutter speed dial is on the top of the camera as well as the exposure compensation dial, which makes for quick adjustments without fiddling around. There is a programmable Fn button on top of the camera that I have set to ISO selection because I don’t enjoy auto ISO as much as most. Any of the other main settings can be quickly accessed by hitting a tiny Q button on the back of the camera (like setting the timer). Your white balance can quickly be adjusted by hitting the bottom of the selection dial on the back of the camera.
The menu’s on the X100S are easy to navigate and don’t use some foreign language that you’d need a manual to figure out, they are all pretty self explanatory. There is no automatic mode so if you want something similar you’ll have to learn to use aperture or shutter priority mode. (Otherwise read this article on how to use your camera in manual mode)