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Fujifilm X100S Review

July 2013 | By Barney Britton, Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShopFrom $1,299.00


Review based on a production X100S with firmware 1.03

When Fujifilm announced its FinePix X100 retro-styled compact at Photokina 2010, it instantly captured the imagination of serious photographers. With its fixed 23mm F2 lens and SLR-sized APS-C sensor, it offered outstanding image quality, while its 'traditional' dial-based handling and innovative optical/electronic 'hybrid' viewfinder gave a shooting experience reminiscent of rangefinder cameras. On launch its firmware was riddled with frustrating bugs and quirks, but a series of updates transformed it into a serious photographic tool. Certain flaws remained, apparently too deeply embedded into the hardware to be fixable, but despite this, it counts as something of a cult classic.

The X100S sees Fujifilm revisiting the concept, but while the external design is essentially unchanged, it's a very different camera inside. It uses a 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor similar to that seen in the interchangeable lens X-Pro1 and X-E1 models, but now with on-chip phase detection promising much-improved autofocus speed. This is supported by a new processor, the 'EXR Processor II', which includes a new 'Lens Modulation Optimizer' function. According to Fujifilm this 'overcomes' lens aberrations such as diffraction and peripheral aberrations, and should give improved image quality at the largest and smallest apertures. The electronic viewfinder has been upgraded to a higher-resolution 2.35M dot display (from 1.44M dot); however this isn't the OLED unit used in the X-E1, but an LCD instead.

Two additional manual focus aids are available when using the EVF or LCD - a focus 'peaking' display that outlines in-focus elements, and an all-new 'Digital Split Image focusing' display that uses phase detection data from the sensor, and is designed to offer a similar experience to manual focus film cameras. In addition, the movement sensor on the manual focus ring has been upgraded to detect movement with greater precision - which Fujifilm says will make it more responsive.

The user interface gains all the improvements Fujifilm has made in its X-series cameras over the past few years, including an onscreen 'Q' menu to access major settings, and a much-improved tabbed menu system.

Fujifilm X100S key features

  • Fujifilm-designed 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • On-sensor phase detection autofocus
  • Novel color filter array designed to avoid color moiré, no optical low-pass filter
  • EXR Processor II image processor
  • Hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder with 2.35M dot LCD
  • Dedicated dials for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation
  • Fixed 23mm F2 lens (same as X100)
  • Improved manual focus system (more responsive focus ring, focus peaking and split-image displays)
  • 2.8" 460k dot rear LCD
  • On-screen 'Q' control panel and tabbed menu system
  • Full HD 1080 60p/30p movie recording, (H.264 MOV - 36Mbps bitrate)
  • Socket for electronic remote release/stereo microphone

Aside from these headline features, Fujifilm is promising a whole host of smaller tweaks and improvements covering every aspect of the camera's design and operation - no fewer than 70 in total. Many of these address bugs and quirks highlighted by users and reviewers, demonstrating once again Fujifilm's laudable desire to listen to feedback and learn from it. Some controls have been subtly tweaked, movie mode is much improved, and small but important operability issues have been addressed.

Side-by-side with the Fujifilm X20

Here's the X100S side-by-side with the X20 that Fujifilm announced at the same time (we reviewed it earlier this year). The two cameras are very different beasts, of course, but share a lot of common features, and the family resemblance is obvious.

Here's the X100S alongside the co-announced X20 zoom compact. Both cameras feature X-Trans CMOS sensors with on-chip phase detection AF, optical viewfinders with detailed information overlays, and lots of external controls. Their on-screen user interfaces and menu systems are very similar too. The big difference is that the X20's fast (F2-2.8) 28-112mm equivalent zoom is coupled to a much smaller, 2/3"-type sensor.

Compared to Sony Cyber-shot RX1R

The X100S's most natural peer (forgetting the massive price difference) is Sony's RX1R, which offers a full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor and a similar 35mm (equivalent) F2 lens as the X100S.

The X100S is slightly taller and wider, but on the plus side, it has a better-defined grip, and of course that unique Fujifilm built-in hybrid viewfinder. Given that the RX1R is packing a full-frame sensor inside it though, the Cyber-shot is impressively compact.
From behind, its the X100S's viewfinder that represents the main difference between the two cameras. The rear control cluster on both models is pretty standard, but the RX1R does have a larger display (which partly makes up for the lack of a finder).
From the top, it is very obvious just how big the RX1R's lens is compared to the almost pancake design of the Fujifilm's 23mm F2. Both cameras have manual aperture rings, and external exposure compensation dials, but the X100S also offers a manual shutter speed dial. The RX1R features an exposure mode dial, in the same position.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Fujifilm X100S

Comments

Total comments: 470
1234
Zoltan Csuka
By Zoltan Csuka (9 months ago)

Actually Video IS important today in 2013 and a camera for $1299 should not get Gold award with a completely neglected video feature. Other than that it is a good review.

4 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

People don't buy this kind of camera to shoot video. Why must every camera be good at everything? If Fuji had marketed it as a stills/video hybrid, then you would be right, but they don't.

9 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (9 months ago)

It's a valid criticism, and one that is called out in the review (and reflected in the score). But yes - Revenant's point is a good one, and that's basically the reason why it didn't cost the X100S its gold award. Awards are subjective, and there's no inherent connection between score/award (it's explained in a link next to the scoring widget on the conclusion page).

6 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (9 months ago)

Re: video, the problem is that Fujifilm was the one who heavily promoted the new video features, namely 1080p60 at 36 mbps for both the X100s and X20. And when I got my X20, I was surprised by the moire, and that 1080p60 was nothing like the Sony or Panasonic AVCHD 60p video that we are used to. But no, the X100s is a still camera down at it's core so it's not a big deal at all.

1 upvote
rocklobster
By rocklobster (9 months ago)

Don't apologize - you are just pandering to the brat mentality of the few.

Great review and great camera. Those ISO 6400 sots are the best I have seen on any APS-C sensor.

Cheers

19 upvotes
jacketpotato
By jacketpotato (9 months ago)

ISO 6400 is actually ISO 3200 on Fuji X100s

3 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (9 months ago)

"ISO 6400 is actually ISO 3200 on Fuji X100s"

Who cares - as long as the rest of exposure parameters are the same.

0 upvotes
ryrychung
By ryrychung (9 months ago)

"ISO 6400 is actually ISO 3200 on Fuji X100s"

"By our tests, the X100S's measured sensitivities are within 1/6EV of indicated, which is within the tolerance allowed by the ISO specification."

Well look at that.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (9 months ago)

jacketpotato...no, it's not...as ryrychung pointed out. Do you think Canon, Nikon, Sony & Pentax are standardized and 100% accurate in their ISO ratings? Certainly not. Fuji has done a superlative job with the X trans & iso performance.

0 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (9 months ago)

Wow with so many cons list, it still getting Gold award.

Lets wait what is Canon answer for Fuji compact ?
I hope Canon S200 is really good with APS-C sensor, and fast lens

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (9 months ago)

The original X100 got a silver award so unless the lens fell off (or it produced the white orbs that were going to put Fuji out of business) the outcome of this test was obvious. And it is an excellent camera. In fact, they both are.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
PandaSA
By PandaSA (9 months ago)

The Canon S200 has a 2mp sensor, 2x optical zoom, selectable ISO from 50-400, and can be bought on Amazon for $39. I had one. It was pretty good. :)

0 upvotes
Steven Micallef
By Steven Micallef (9 months ago)

Oh no! I think I'm about to relapse with G.A.S.!

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (9 months ago)

Awesome camera. I miss my X100 everyday. It's always a bad idea to sell something with such excellent IQ that is so pretty.

But it's a detailed, well-done review. I might have been nice to have the IQ comparison widget default to the other two fixed lens cameras without AA filters, the Ricoh GR and Coolpix A. But I suppose you had a reason for picking the EM5. But fortunately the widget allows us to compare all cameras in the database.

Anyway, terrific camera that should get top honors for the hybrid VF alone. Throw in the outstanding high ISO ability, and Phase Detect AF, and Fujifilm has a winner indeed.

7 upvotes
Shangri La
By Shangri La (9 months ago)

Add VR to the lens and an articulated 3' screen, this will be a perfect pocket camera.

4 upvotes
Matt Random
By Matt Random (9 months ago)

You've got some big pockets!

2 upvotes
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (9 months ago)

Cool sign and highly functional as well.

Barney's sign can be reused for the Canon EOS M, Nikon D4, Canon 1D X, ....

.

6 upvotes
gerard boulanger
By gerard boulanger (9 months ago)

A winner, indeed

0 upvotes
tripodfan
By tripodfan (9 months ago)

typo: "Sony's RX1R, which offers a full-frame 245MP CMOS sensor ".

would be a bargain of a camera on a per pixel basis if that were true :)

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (9 months ago)

Fixed now, sorry.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (9 months ago)

This camera is a clear winner.

.

3 upvotes
Johnsonj
By Johnsonj (9 months ago)

Jpeg rules. RAW is for posers.

Only thing missing is face recognition.

3 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

The whole JPEG vs. raw debate is a pseudo-debate. It's not like they are two conflicting image formats.

You do realize that the JPEGs you get from the camera started out as raw sensor data? And that the end result for those who shoot raw is also a JPEG image (or another RGB image format, such as TIFF)? The only difference is that raw shooters prefer to have full control over noise reduction and other parameters, rather than using the limited in-camera controls. Why does that make them posers?

12 upvotes
Johnsonj
By Johnsonj (9 months ago)

LMAO, Revenant! Yeah, buddy! Preach to me!

3 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

Well, not my intention to preach, really. I'm just a little fed up with the whole JPEG vs. raw thing. Nothing personal, buddy! ;-)

2 upvotes
Pythagoras
By Pythagoras (9 months ago)

this was a weird exchange. can someone help me out?

1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

Weird exchanges are pretty common around here, I think. I guess we're just trying to blend in. :-)

1 upvote
MrMojo
By MrMojo (9 months ago)

Johnsonj's post is meaningless. It only illustrates his ignorance about the advantages of shooting RAW vs. JPEG.

A knowledgeable photographer will be aware of the advantages/disadvantages of both RAW and JPEG and will select the image file format based on the situation and his/her particular requirements.

Good easily-understandable explanations of the advantages of RAW vs. JPEG can be found at http://luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/u-raw-files.shtml and http://bythom.com/qadraw.htm.

1 upvote
Kali108
By Kali108 (9 months ago)

lol ... Revenant !!!

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (9 months ago)

There is a reason why this camera is a best seller.

The downside is people's patience are tested due to the large back order.

The upside is there is as yet no clear contender in sight, so Fuji is just chugging along with normal production... Lad dee dah...

.

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (9 months ago)

Not too late considering few are in the hands of the public. Now the wait lists will be longer.

2 upvotes
Total comments: 470
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