fuji x100s review

The gist of the X100s

It’s pretty.

It’s small. It’ll maybe fit in your jacket pocket.

Or it can fit into a tiny messenger, along with a jacket, eReader, spare batteries, tool kit, gaffer tape, twine, leatherman, a bag of almonds……

It’ll make you invisible–people don’t notice you, dead silent when shooting, easy to conceal.

It does a good job of staying out of the way. Quick to power on, shoot, and power off again.

It’s worth saying again: the camera is dead silent. No one will hear your camera while shooting. You won’t hear your camera while shooting. It’s wonderfully stealthy and inconspicuous.

Metering, latitude/dynamic range, and resolution are all spot on and high quality. Not great with texture/foliage, but solid enough. A bit of sharpness goes a long way.

Lightroom, 200%, zero’d/as shot, f4-5.6, ISO 200, 1/250-1/640

The lens is gorgeous.The bokeh is gorgeous.

Manual focusing is smart, intuitive, and seamless. Peaking works, and split view works, though I think split view is more novel than useful (and not truly like a traditional split finder as others have said).

AF is not faster than a proper DSLR, but it works great in good light. AF can work in dim light, but the assist light is practically mandatory.

Auto ISO works. ISO 3200 is great for dive bars.

There’s a flash. There’s a hot shoe. It has a leaf shutter and a commander mode. There’s a built in ND filter too. Lots of potential for lighting work.

Video. It’s there. Motion panorama. It’s there. I do appreciate 1080p/60 is available.

You can Instagram with Eye-Fi. Built-in Wi-Fi would be better though.

Weight is actually well distributed and balanced. It will stay upright on a table.

I got asked about Film Simulation a few times. I wouldn’t say they look like their respective stocks, it’s mainly contrast and saturation. Out of camera JPGs are nice in any case, but for RAW it won’t be applicable.

In order, Provia (default), Astia, Velvia, Pro Neg H, Pro Neg S

RAW files are big. About 475 images on a 16GB card.

With moderate use, I went 3 days before killing a battery. Haven’t done a proper analysis/done a full shoot day so can’t say how many shots. When it did die, there was no early warning and I didn’t have my spare on hand. Always have a spare.

Some other quips:

  • There is a learning curve compared with other cameras. Easy enough to overcome though.
  • Still room for improvement to the interface. “Q” menu not customizable. Additional buttons could help with more direct settings access.
  • The On/Off switch is a bit too easy to flick by accident. At least when in a pocket.
  • Doesn’t come standard with a filter thread on the lens.
  • Fuji accessories/batteries are expensive. Buy off-brand/3rd party. Just as good for 40-80% less.

This camera is for you if:

  • You want DSLR-like performance without the DSLR
  • You don’t want to compromise
  • You are tired of missed shots because you didn’t want to bring out a bulky camera and are relying on subpar cellphone/consumer cameras
  • You don’t shoot with a telephoto (you can purchase a wide angle adapter if you want)
  • You want something that fits with a grab-and-go lifestyle
  • You miss/enjoy the experience of an all manual film camera
  • You want to be invisible while shooting

It’s not going to replace a professional kit or overtake it in function and image quality. I’m still going to use my D700 for jobs. But it’s 90% of the way there in a package you can have on you 100% of the time. Of the few quibbles I have with the camera, none make it a dealbreaker or degrade usability.

I highly recommend this camera. It is well worth every dollar and cent. Compromise is a key term because I feel like many of the recent high end mirrorless and compact cameras make some form of compromise that’s a dealbreaker. Either the sensor is too small (Olympus, Nikon), the lens too large and poorly spec’d (Sony), the interface cumbersome (the older Fuji X cameras), the camera too dumbed down (Canon, Nikon), the operation too slow (Sigma, older Fuji X cameras), or the entire system priced too high (Leica, Sony RX1).

The X100s has a great sensor at a good size, a lens that is fast, well made, and small, an interface that is easy to navigate with direct access to settings and functions, fast operation, silent shooting, a leaf shutter, ND filter, good flash support, 1080p/60, and all of it well priced compared to the field. It’s a no compromise camera that will let you create images and stay out of your way while doing it.

In short, I like it.