Viewfinder and Displays

Hybrid Viewfinder

Below is the view through the X100S's viewfinder, with the information display in its more detailed view - roll your mouse over the buttons to switch between optical and electronic modes. The X100S can display highly detailed shooting information in both modes, along with a live histogram to help judge exposure, plus configurable gridlines and a virtual horizon to aid composition. Note that the image below shows the OVF/EVF of the X100 - the X100S's displays are virtually identical aside from a slightly different exposure compensation scale on the left (see images further down this page).

Optical ViewFinder Display
Electronic ViewFinder Display

In the standard display mode, a distracting exposure scale is displayed in the EVF/OVF at all times, and in the case of the LCD, this is overlaid on the left of the image. Ironically, the fact that it is always displayed makes it much easier to have exposure compensation set by accident, since you end up just ignoring the scale. You can take control over what appears in the 100S's finder though, by setting a Custom Display (via the 'disp. custom setting' option in the shooting menu) and you can switch to this Custom Display by pressing the DISP/BACK button on the rear of the camera.

Optical viewfinder display

In optical mode a frameline is shown which covers about 90% of the final image. This shifts depending on the subject distance to account for parallax error and any change in the lens's angle of view on focusing (but the compositional gridlines don't). The overall view through the finder is distinctly wider than the captured area, though, as can be seen by comparing to the EVF view. The lens barrel protrudes slightly, but not obtrusively, into the lower right corner of the view. On a bright sunny day, the viewfinder overlay can be a little faint, but it's still quite visible.

This view (above) shows the maximum amount of information that it is possible to display in the optical viewfinder. There's a whole array of information across the top of the frameline covering secondary settings - focus mode, flash, metering, white balance, film simulation, dynamic range expansion and ND filter setting to the left, plus shots remaining, file quality/size and battery status to the right. You can customize which of this information you want to see in the Set-up Menu (and you can do so for the OVF and EVF independently).

OVF focus point parallax error / correction

While the framelines in the OVF are parallax-corrected, by default the X100S's autofocus point isn't. At subject distances close to the minimum allowed with the OVF, this can mean that the AF point indicated in the viewfinder has only a tenuous overlap with that actually being used by the sensor.

Enabling 'Corrected AF Frame' in the Shooting menu changes the way the AF point is displayed, with a solid white rectangle indicating its position at infinity focus, and diagonally-offset brackets for minimum focus. On a half-press of the shutter, a parallax-corrected AF point is shown in green - this can appear at any position between the near/far indicators, depending on subject distance.

With 'Corrected AF Point' enabled, the display changes to indicate the position of the AF point at closest focus. Half-pressing the shutter adds a green AF-confirmation frame that's parallax-corrected for the measured focus distance.

We think it makes sense to enable the corrected AF frame all the time, because it can substantially reduce the risk of misfocusing at close distances. To be honest though, for critical work it still makes sense to switch to the EVF to get a truly through-the-lens view for short-range shooting.

LCD/EVF displays

The rear LCD and electronic viewfinder share essentially the same display modes and settings, which on the whole are admirably consistent with the hybrid viewfinder display. The image below shows the electronic finder with all possible information displayed. The diagonal line represents the horizon (imagine the camera is tilted) and the blue horizontal line shows where the horizon should be if the camera were held perpendicular with the ground.

In the P, A and S exposure modes the X100S's live view display initially attempts to preview your exposure settings, giving an idea of how light or dark the image will turn out; in M mode the preview image is always displayed at a standardized brightness. When you half-press the shutter button, the lens stops down to the taking aperture to preview both depth-of-field and exposure.

A histogram can be displayed on-screen (as shown above) which shows the tonal distribution of the live view feed. As such, in PAS exposure modes, where exposure is simulated on the screen, it is useful as a guide, but it is entirely useless in manual mode. In this mode, on a half-press of the shutter button, where the live view brightness simulates final exposure, the histogram disappears.

Autofocus point selection and size

In EVF or LCD viewing modes, the focus point selection expands to a 7 x 7 grid covering most of the frame, and the AF point can be moved using the rear 4-way controller. You can also change the size of the active AF area using the thumb rocker switch, though the distance between AF points remains the same.

Manual focus

The X100S's manual focus system has been radically overhauled and greatly improved compared to the X100. Perhaps a little ironically, it was Fujifilm's introduction of a an on-sensor hybrid autofocus system which allows the X100S to support its most useful manual focus aid - a 'digital split image', which uses the sensor's phase-detection pixels to approximate the old-fashioned split prism focusing which many photo enthusiasts will be familiar with from manual focus SLRs.

As well as digital split image the X100S also offers focus peaking (with two sensitivity settings - 'high' and 'low') and conventional live view with a focus scale. A magnified view is available when using any of the manual focus 'assist' modes.

The X100S manual focus is vastly superior to that of its predecessor, and on a par with the best systems we've seen from other manufacturers. In general use, we've found that focus peaking gives a decent (and crucially very quick) guide to focus, but generally speaking, it works best in decent lighting conditions, where AF often does just as well. It's still useful in low light, but only if there's some contrast in your subject (obviously).

Digital Split Image is great for static subjects, and works well even in poor lighting conditions, but isn't much use if your subject is mobile (just like an true optical rangefinder, in fact). Its use is limited to the center of the frame.

For still life, or critical macro work, any of the three modes - conventional MF, peaking or digital split image - are useful, although peaking and conventional magnified view are more versatile since the area of focus can be moved around the scene as desired.

Image playback displays

The X100S can display your photos with a range of information overlaid, or none, depending on your preference. You can zoom in to check sharpness by pressing the rear dial inwards, or in degrees, using the + button to the left of the LCD. If you zoom out, the X100S will show the last four images as thumbnails, then the last nine, and then the last hundred. This last view isn't very useful, as you can probably imagine.

Here's an image in playback mode with key shooting data overlaid, including a luminance histogram, exposure parameters, film simulation and DR mode. You can opt for a cleaner view if you wish.