Fujifilm X100S Review
The Fuji X100S is a premium compact camera with a large APS-C CMOS sensor and a specially designed Fujinon 23mm F/2 prime lens, equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame camera. This moderately compact camera offers a 16 megapixels X-Trans II CMOS sensor which is claimed to offer image-quality which compares to full-frame DSLRs.
The X-Trans II sensor offers a unique arrangement of color-filters which avoids moire even in the absence of an anti-alias filter. New to the X100S, compared to its precessor
Fujifilm Finepix X100 and Fuji mirrorless cameras, is built-in phase-detect autofocus right on the sensor. This unique hybrid viewfinder which quickly switches between EVF and OVF modes now features a unique digital split-focus manual-focus aid.
The design follows analog range-finders with direct dials to control exposure and a boxy metal construction. Automatic, semi-automatic and manual operations are all possible with this digital camera.
A leaf shutter is part of the lens which lets it sync with the flash at high-speed. Even more flexibility is provided by a built-in ND filter.
This camera review takes a close look at the Fuji Finepix X100S in terms of features, its ergonomics, usability, performance and image quality.
Fuji Finepix X100S Features
- 16 Megapixels APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor
- No Anti-Alias-Filter, 6x6 Color-Filter Array
- Built-in Phase-Detect autofocus
- ISO 200-6400 range, 1/3 EV steps
- Expanded ISO 100-25600 range
- Customizable Auto ISO
- JPEG, RAW or JPEG+RAW Output
- 1920x1080 @ 30 FPS 16:9 HD Video
- Fujinon 23mm, equivalent to 35mm
- Bright F/2 maximum 9-blade aperture
- F/2 - F/16 Aperture range, 1/3 EV steps
- 10cm-2m Macro focus range
- 80cm Normal minimum focus distance
- Depth-Of-Field preview
- Optional 3-Stop ND-Filter
- PASM Exposure modes
- 1/4000s-30s Shutter-speed1/4000s only available at F/8 or smaller.
- Bulb exposures up to 1 hour
- Exposure-Compensation, ±2 EV, 1/3 EV steps
- Flash-Compensation, ±2/3, 1/3 EV steps
- Multi-Segment, Spot & Average metering
- AEB, 3 Frames, ±1 EV, 1/3 steps
- ISO Bracketing, ±1 EV, 1/3 steps
- Multiple Exposure, 2 frames
- Fixed 1/3 EV exposure steps
Focus & Drive
- Hybrid Phase-Detect & Contrast-Detect AF
- 49 Selectable AF areas
- Auto or single focus-point selection
- Single-shot, continuous or manual focus
- 2s & 10s Self-Timers
- 6 or 3 FPS Drive, Max 29 JPEG or 8 RAW
- Motion Panorama, 180° & 120° angle-of-view
- Digital Split-Image or Focus Peaking MF-Assist
- Optional AF-Assist lamp
- Automatic, Preset, Kelvin and Custom WB
- WB fine-tuning, 19-steps along 2-axis
- Film Simulation: Provia, Velvia, Astia, B&W, B&W+Red Filter, B&W+Green Filter, B&W+Blue Filter, Sepia
- 100-400% Automatic or Manual Dynamic-Range
- Adjustable color-saturation, 5 steps
- Adjustable sharpness, 5 steps
- Adjustable highlight-tone, 5 steps
- Adjustable shadow-tone, 5 steps
- Adjustable noise-reduction, 5 steps
- Film Simulation Bracketing, 3 frames
- Optional Long-Exposure Noise-Reduction
Viewfinder & Displays
- Unique Hybrid Viewfinder
- EVF: 100% Coverage, 0.5X magnification, 2.4 MP
- OVF: Over 100% coverage with 90% guide, 0.5X magnification
- Eye-Start sensor automatically switches between Hybrid-Viewfinder and LCD
- 2.8" LCD, 460K Pixels, 100% coverage
- Digital-Level, 1 axis, tilt only
- Manual-Focus and Depth-Of-Field guide
- Optional Status-Display on rear LCD
- Optional HUD overlay on OVF
- Direct full-stop dials for Aperture & Shutter-Speed
- Extra dial for 1/3 stop shutter-speed control
- Extra rocker for 1/3 stop aperture control
- Direct exposure-compensation dial
- Implicit Exposure-Mode based on dials
- Combined configurable AE-L/AF-L button
- Customizable Function button
- Fly-By-Wire manual focus ring
Body & Construction
- Solid magnesium body
- Metal tripod mount
- Built-in flash, 9m reach
- Hot-Shoe for external lighting
- Wired remote terminal
- 1080i HDMI output
- USB 2.0 connectivity
- SDXC memory card slot
- Proprietary Lithium-Ion battery
The Fuji X100S is extremely similar externally to the Finepix X100 which precedes it. Differences are highlighted in this page and the next one. For image-quality and performance, which is very different, skip to the last page.
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Fuji X100S has almost the same feature set as the Finepix X100. It adds one full stop of expanded ISO and multiple exposure which produces an image from two separate exposures.
The Fuji X100S is a interestingly capable digital camera. With its full manual-controls, including bulb exposure, manual-focus and custom white-balance, the Fuji X100S lets photographers be highly creative except for one crucial limitation: a fixed 23mm prime lens. This means that every photo from this digital camera shows exactly the same perspective.
The 23mm focal-length is equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera, which is most often described as a slightly-wide normal lens. For years, an equivalent was bundled with film SLRs. This focal-length provides a versatile field-of-view which lets photographers shoot in moderately tight spaces without the look of a truly wide-angle lens.
While everyone is free to point the Fuji X100S at any subject, the perspective offered by its Fujinon lens is better suited for environmental portraits, social events, reportage and general snapshots. The common theme is that this focal-length practically forces the photographer to interact with his subjects. This can lead to better images by increasing the photographer's awareness and forcing him to search differently for compositions.
Beware that the 35mm-equivalent focal-length is certainly not ideal for wildlife, sports and architecture. Success of landscape photography is greatly dependent on location, more intimate vistas may work well but the breath-taking ones require more effort to compensate for the lack of a wide-angle. Multiple images though can easily be stitched into a wide-angle panorama to increase the field-of-view. Actually, this camera can produce a low-resolution 180° panorama directly in-camera using its Motion Panorama mode.
Capability - What can it do?
The Fuji X100S offers all PASM exposure-modes including Program-Shift and Bulb. Exposure parameters other than ISO and EC can be changed in 1 or 1/3 EV steps. EC is can be set ±2 EV in 1/3 steps only. ISO can be set in the normal 200-6400 range in 1/3 steps with ISO 100, 12800 and 25600 as expansion options. These added sensitivities are not available when shooting RAW, so those are probably simulated. There is a customizable Auto ISO functionality with selectable maximum up to ISO 6400 and minimum shutter-speed between 1/4 and 1/125s.
This relatively compact camera uses a leaf-shutter rather than the usual vertical-plane shutter found on most digital cameras. Leaf-shutters are found between lens elements and need to travel a shorter distance to work. This lets the X100S synchronize with flash at high-speed. The catch is that the maximum shutter-speed goes down at wide apertures which require more movement of the leaf-shutter. Specifically, F/2 allows a maximum shutter-speed of 1/1000s and F/4 allows 1/2000s while F/8 allows the full-range of shutter-speeds.
Dynamic-Range can be automatically or manually selected between 100% and 400%. This is achieved by using a lower than indicated ISO to capture more highlight details. The implication is that ISO 200 can only shoot at 100% DR, while ISO 400 can use both 100% and 200% DR. From ISO 800 to 6400, any DR may be used. Expanded ISO sensitivities are not compatible with expanded dynamic-range ones though.
The Fuji X100S is their first digital camera to feature hybrid Phase-Detect and Contrast-Detect autofocus on a CMOS sensor. It has 49 selectable AF-areas which use a combination of systems to focus very quickly. A focus area can be automatically or manually selected. The universal 3 focus-drive modes are selectable: AF-S, AF-C and MF. Single-shot autofocus works exactly as expected. Continuous autofocus constantly focuses, even with the shutter-release is not pressed at all. Manual Focus works with a fly-by-wire ring. During MF, a distance scale shows the set focus-distance and nicely indicates DOF at the selected aperture.
Three MF-Assist functions are available in EVF mode and on the rear LCD: Standard, Digital Split-Screen and Focus Peeking: Standard magnifies the view which makes it extremely easy to see what is in focus, since the EVF has a whopping 2.4 megapixels. Digital Split-Screen used Phase-Detect information to show split out-of-focus areas into bands. This unique trick is not so easy to see. Focus Peeking highlights high contrast-edges to show what is most likely in focus. For objects with defined edges, it is very clear to see. For textures, not so much. Given this, we recommend sticking to the Standard option.
There is a combined AE-L/AF-L button that is configurable for AE-L only, AF-L only or both. Oddly, this button is overridden in MF mode to perform autofocus (AF-On). One of three metering patterns can be chosen using the AE button: Multi-Segment, Spot and Average.
This digital camera offers an extensive selection of drive modes: Single, Continuous, AEB, ISO Bracketing, Film-Simulation Bracketing, Dynamic-Range Bracketing, Multiple-Exposure, Motion-Panorama and Movie. The latter two override most camera controls. In Movie mode, only Aperture and EC can be set while in Motion Panorama mode, only ISO and EC can be set. 6 or 3 FPS are continuous shooting is available. At 6 FPS, the X100S can shoot up to 29 JPEG or 8 RAW or 8 RAW+JPEG images in a single burst. Separate from the drive-modes is a 2s or 10s self-timer which thankfully remains active after each use.
There are plenty of white-balance options on the X100S: Automatic, Custom, Kelvin and 7 PresetsFine (Sunny), Shade (Cloudy), 3 Fluorescent, Incandescent, Underwater.. All settings are fine-tunable along 2 axis in 19-steps. Fine-tuning is not interactively previewed, so is unfortunately tedious to set. Kelvin white-balance is selectable between 2500K and 10000K.
A built-in 3-stop ND-filter can be activated to reduce incoming light by a factor of 8X. This lets the photographer to use wider apertures and longer shutter-speeds than otherwise possible for the same scene.
There is a small built-in flash above the lens with a reach of 9m. Flash-Compensation of ±2/3 in 1/3 EV steps is available. There are 4 flash modes which are not always all available: Auto, On, Off, Slow-Sync. The X100S has a hot-shoe for external lighting. The external flash can be set as commander for a multi-flash configuration.
Display settings are extremely customizable and set independently for the OVF and EVF. In either case, any of the following can be toggled: Framing Lines, Electronic Level, AF Distance, MF Distance, Histogram, Exposure-Parameters, EC, Metering, Flash, WB, Film-Simulation, Dynamic-Range, Frames Remaining, Size/Quality and Battery-Level.
There is a tiny customizable Function button which can be set to any one of: Advanced Filter, Multiple-Exposure, DOF-Preview, ISO, Self-Timer, Image Size, Image Quality, Dynamic-Range, Film Simulation, ND Filter, AF-Mode, Custom Setting Selection, Movie, RAW or Wide-Conversion Lens. The logical choice is to use it for ISO but ND-Filter is probably a reasonable choice for some.
There is a Q button, replacing the RAW one of the X100, that brings up a control-panel of 16 options: Custom Setting, ISO, Dynamic-Range, WB, Noise-Reduction, Image Size, Image Quality, Film Simulation, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color Saturation, Sharpness, Self-Timer, Focus Selection, Flash Mode and Brightness.
Fujifilm X100S Highlights
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|16 Megapixels Fixed Lens||ISO 200-25600|
|Fixed 35mm lens||Shutter 1/4000-30s|
|0.48" Hybrid EVF 2.4 Megapixels (0.50X)||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|6 FPS Drive, 29 Images||Hot-Shoe|
|1920x1080 @ 60 FPS Video Recording||Stereo audio input|
|2.8" LCD 460K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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