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Fujifilm X100S Review

July 2013 | By Barney Britton, Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShop$1,297.00


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.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

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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Comments

Total comments: 485
1234
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Jul 30, 2013)

Skin tones with no wrinkles. Fuji has detail without texture, as someone else said.

5 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (Jul 30, 2013)

You have to view the JPEGs at 100% to see this minor smoothing. So unless you want to print huge, don't worry about it. If you do need to print huge, then it's RAW and Lightroom 4.4 to the rescue.

1 upvote
Asylum Photo
By Asylum Photo (Jul 30, 2013)

Also, the smoothing is minimized when NR is set to -2, I've found (XP1/XE1 user).

9 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (Jul 31, 2013)

JackM..."print huge" then it's RAW and Iridient Developer. ID kills ACR/LR..seriously.

0 upvotes
ARB1
By ARB1 (Jul 30, 2013)

Dang I sure want to buy this camera but for street photography I sure would miss the flip up screen that's on my OMD.

3 upvotes
RedSkiesAtNight
By RedSkiesAtNight (Jul 30, 2013)

While I am sure the camera is great and the image quality is superb this camera has very limited use. I would think that would know several points off the score.
Telephoto
Standard portraits (70-135mm)
Ultra wide angle
This camera can't do a lot of very common things people do with their cameras.

1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (Jul 30, 2013)

Yeah, you know what else is limited is the iPhone, but that is the most widely used camera ever. Funny how it also has a 35mm field of view.

Somehow I used nothing but my X100S for three days and three nights at Disney World and brought home about 120 keepers. I was so happy to have DSLR quality in my pocket.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 30, 2013)

You can't subtract points just because the camera isn't what it's not supposed to be. A fixed focal length camera is not meant for general use, but for use cases where that particular focal length is appropriate (and that might be more cases than you'd think). If you want to shoot telephoto or ultra wide angle, you should use a camera that is designed to do just that.

4 upvotes
Ken YC Ng
By Ken YC Ng (Jul 30, 2013)

True, The X100(s) isn't everything a DSLR can be, but I've to say that after getting my X100, I've stopped using the D300. For TWO full years. It's actually amazing (and somewhat ridiculous) how much I enjoy using the X100. Sure I miss getting telephoto ranges at times, but the sheer enjoyment of being able to bring my X100 anywhere, anytime sure makes for it.

I'm even considering trading in both my X100 and D300 for a new X100s... tempting.

5 upvotes
P@l
By P@l (Jul 30, 2013)

Since it seems that someone from Fuji might even read the comments ... I really wish that original X-100 had added functionality to add new Quick menu from X-100S. That should not be too complicated as it basically uses the same button (RAW on X-100) and I would happily give up RAW for improved user interface.

Also with all words of prise for new X-100S .. one thing the older sensor from X-100 excels easily with ... is Dynamic Range ...surprisingly... I would not imagine the difference would be so substantial ...

So I am keeping my X-100 for now and hope Fuji will make it even better camera via next firmware update .... Pretty Please!

0 upvotes
P@l
By P@l (Jul 30, 2013)

DPREVIEW: "Our tests show that the X100S clips to black more suddenly than previous X-Trans cameras though, giving about ... two stops less dynamic range in the shadows".

2 upvotes
calking
By calking (Jul 30, 2013)

Read the next part after that.

0 upvotes
JDThomas
By JDThomas (Jul 30, 2013)

I'm not sure why Continuous Autofocus (AF-C) is referred to as the "least useful option" a number of times.

Least useful for who? The reviewer? That's pretty subjective.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2013)

It's a fixed 35mm - there really aren't that many applications where we found that AF tracking is really useful. That's a feature we use more at longer focal lengths (you may of course disagree, but that's just what we concluded).

4 upvotes
JDThomas
By JDThomas (Jul 31, 2013)

Like I say, it's subjective. My camera is almost always in AF-C. I find it very useful when shooting concerts or in "street photography" (not a fan of this term, but it's the accepted terminology) where the subjects are constantly moving. As you're probably aware this camera is very popular with the burgeoning street photography contingent and no doubt they'd find AF-C the most useful option.

Shooting sports up-close like skateboarding and BMX benefits from AF-C. Even shooting candid-style portraits with a model that is moving quickly from pose to pose can benefit from AF-C.

In any case I just don't think making blanket statements like the "least useful option" makes sense without a qualifier. The least useful option for you isn't the least useful option for everyone, so it comes off as misleading without any clarification. That's just my 2¢...

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Jul 30, 2013)

DPR you are giving away gold awards to the majority of cameras now (not counting your "rugged camera" reviews). I'm not saying that the X100s doesn't deserve it but I think you're really diluted the value of a gold award and it's almost like a silver award means its a camera to avoid. You really need to rethink and clearly define your criteria for rating cameras because right now you are sending a lot of mixed messages.

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
andywhoa
By andywhoa (Jul 30, 2013)

I think this has less to do with dpreview tossing out gold awards like candy and more to do with rapid camera advancement and the creation of several new camera spaces with no standard to compare the camera being reviewed to.

4 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (Jul 30, 2013)

I don't think so. When it is good, it is good. When it is less good or even bad, they say so too. Digital is getting better and better, many cameras are at least "silver" or "gold" these days.

Which says more about progress and development than about DPR.

1 upvote
calking
By calking (Jul 30, 2013)

@ Alpcns2: HALLELUJAH Brother. In case most of the populace doesn't get it, we've been in the "Golden Age" of camera development for some time now. You can't go wrong with the X100s or the OMD or the RX100 or the Nikon A or a D800 or or or or or or....

What doesn't exist now, nor will it EVER exist despite the whining and moaning forum heads dish out is a "perfect" camera for everyone in all circumstances.

If you don't like the X100s, go shoot with something else you like better.

0 upvotes
Kali108
By Kali108 (Jul 31, 2013)

calking....YOU deserve the HALLELUJAH Brother !!

0 upvotes
Zoltan Csuka
By Zoltan Csuka (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

ISO 6400 is actually ISO 3200 on Fuji X100s

3 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jul 30, 2013)

"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 (Jul 31, 2013)

"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 (Jul 31, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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

4 upvotes
Matt Random
By Matt Random (Jul 30, 2013)

You've got some big pockets!

2 upvotes
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

A winner, indeed

0 upvotes
tripodfan
By tripodfan (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

Fixed now, sorry.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jul 30, 2013)

This camera is a clear winner.

.

3 upvotes
Johnsonj
By Johnsonj (Jul 30, 2013)

Jpeg rules. RAW is for posers.

Only thing missing is face recognition.

3 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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

3 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 30, 2013)

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

1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 30, 2013)

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

1 upvote
f8BeThereToo
By f8BeThereToo (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 31, 2013)

lol ... Revenant !!!

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jul 30, 2013)

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 (Jul 29, 2013)

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

2 upvotes
Total comments: 485
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