Fujifilm X100s

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Ok, so I had this plan to go through all cameras I’ve ever used since the beginning of my photography journey. But then I realised as time goes and technology advances, there isn’t much point of sharing older digital cameras in depth. Because things just got so much better, and mostly, cheaper.

So here’s a different approach. I will be going through my current gears and share my thoughts about them one by one. The ones that are leaving gets the priority. That leads me to talk about this beauty, Fujifilm x100s.

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Camera
It’s a classic design. I’ve met so many people coming up to me and asking what kind of camera it was. When I showed them it’s back with LCD screen, they all got shocked. And I don’t blame them.
Control is just as good as it was from the past. A lot is from old design. Some buttons could have been in better places, but nothing to complain about.
Fujinon fixed lens is an amazing one. It’s not the sharpest one out there. But being an amazing lens doesn’t mean it’s super sharp. I meant that it’s got a character. Sharp wide open but soft in close ups. Even a step up from wide open in close up will sharpen the image significantly.
A tested and proven 16mp sensor that many photographers love. Not the best sensor out there, but just like the lens, characteristic. No need for AA filter and no moire. Popping green with natural gradation of colours.
Handles like a classic, also bit annoying like a classic. Outputs like Fuji, loved and hated by many.

20140918-6919Obviously not a camera for everyone, but a great choice for so many. For me? It was an honour to use one.

Focusing
Had a racing of auto focusing with x-pro1 and x-t1. First place, taken by x-t1 but coming very close second was x100s.
Phase detection on sensor(PDAF) helps out noticeably, but many don’t realise, it still doesn’t work like all DSLRs do.
Once you figure out how they focus, you won’t miss a beat. Not the best, but absolutely nothing to complain about.
Many complain about focusing on a subject standing against bright light source. Like shooting a silhouette. Yeah I had hard time also. But it’s just a character of PDAF cameras. I had the same issue with other cameras using similar technology. You only have to find other way of focusing. No doubt it will get better. But it is what it is now. I’ve had SLR type phase detection AF also. I had different hard times, accuracy for one.

There is always another way of doing things

Continuous AF. X-Pro1 sucked in this area. What about X100s? It still sucks. Sometimes I wonder why it’s there. I wished number of times if there were only AF and MF mode selection at the side. Maybe I can change AF modes in the menu, but then it may not be as intuitive. But I never bothered using continuous mode. After all, this is not a sports camera.

Manual Focusing. Now considering Fujifilm cameras don’t have perfect AF system, MF is another essential. And aiming towards classic look, I guess digital split screen was another neat feature that would bring back the retro feeling. Truthfully, I never used it. I haven’t found it any useful. Colour peaking works so much better. Although, colour is limited to white, again. I can’t see it! I can’t see it!

Image Quality
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It’s almost on par with X-Pro1 and X-T1. Enough said. I could not say they’re the same though. And then, you’d ask why? I’d say, because of the lens.
I should make it so clear that, the lens, fujinon 23mm f2.0 attached to this camera is not a toy. It’s one of the brilliant lenses I have seen and I love it for it’s characteristic.
Question should be rephrased. Will I buy this lens if it came out as an independent option for X-T1? And I would answer, no I’d rather buy 23mm f1.4. It’s more than just extra stop of speed. Yeah, of course size will be different (forget leaf shutter because if it came out as a lens, it will surely be using X-T1’s focal plane shutter). 23mm f2 will be one of the best pencake lens out there if it were ever to be released (I’m sure it won’t).
So basically what I’m saying is, this lens is great, but not the most superior in its game.

There is still very strong character for black and white. Also it’s inconspicuous size and silent shutter makes it great as a street/documentary photography candidate. Most people don’t even take notice even when right in front of them. Not only it’s quiet, it’s small and rather classy, people see it either as a tiny film camera or just some toy camera. But then, everybody knows that =)

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Using for wedding photography
Started as a fun. But I knew the quality won’t be so far away from my main set up. I started taking this camera to the wedding jobs. Gives me extra 35mm equivalent focal length. With my 2 main cameras taking 10-24mm and 56mm, I have absolutely no need for changing lenses.
One major downside of having Fujifilm gears for wedding photography is the flash sync. All Fujifilm lens interchangeable cameras have 1/180s flash sync speed with no high speed sync feature. In mid day, I cannot overpower the sun unless I take an ND filter. But I hate screwing a filter on while shooting wedding. I don’t mind taking extra time with the couple to get the shot right, but screwing and unscrewing filters is just bit too much.
This is where X100s kicks in. Leaf shutter and all its blessing. Shooting at whatever shutter speed not worrying about sync speed. Opens up whole lot of creativity.

I hope Fujifilm gets about the importance of flash photography and address some of the important features missing in their cameras.

X100s still suffers from the problems I’ve found before. Flash doesn’t work with continuous drive mode. Minus that, I haven’t had much trouble using it as a third camera in weddings. I couldn’t use it as a main because I just need more focal length.

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Why sell it?
Well, not because I had any short comings. Just like Zack Arias and David Hobby said, it’s close to a perfect camera. But, I’ve got other great cameras that do as good as X100s does and most of all, I have XF 23mm F1.4 coming.
Not much reason for keeping both X100s and 23mm f1.4 to convince the boss in the house.

Will I buy again?
Definite, yes! Not X100 but X100s or X100t maybe in the future, if I see the need with some fund to spare. It’s just that good.

20140720-6473 20140720-6476My baby boy never even noticed me taking photos with X100s when even X-T1’s close to silent shutter noise was making him nervous. On the street, it was such a great experience when I was ignored by the people and shoot away freely.
I took X100s to numerous short trips and everyday I didn’t have to put it away because it was just so light and tiny. And like other great photographers said, it’s very close to being a perfect camera.

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It was a great companion and I enjoyed every single bit of time I spent with it.

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Future possible improvements
This is my very personal opinion, but I think some minor improvements could benefit this camera even further.

  • USB charging – if it was only as good as Sony A7 series, I would be fine. I know there are USB chargers for X100s series batteries so I know it’s possible. If it’s there, on a trip or emergency, we could use portable smartphone chargers to get extra juice. Changing battery is good, too. But if there’s another way of charging it, why not?
  • Filter thread – It was pain in the ass getting extra things just to get a filter on. In the end, I just gave up. Sure filter thread is not necessary and I could have it with an adapter if I need, but why not just include that in the design?

Funny, I had more points I wanted to make, but they were all addressed in the firmware update that will be happening on December 2014. Above two are more of hardware stuff so I guess these won’t be updated by firmware but hopefully in the next model I could see these things. But everyone has different needs. Not a big deal.

It’s still so great to see Fujifilm listens to the people’s needs.

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