Fujifilm X100S Review
Dynamic Range Expansion
The X100S offers the same dynamic range expansion feature as the X-Pro 1 and X-E1, which uses a different tone curve to include more dynamic range in the final image. To capture an extra stop of highlight information, the camera has to the reduce the exposure, which requires increasing the ISO to compensate. This means that DR200% is only available from ISO 400 and upwards, and DR400% is only available from ISO 800 and above.
Thanks to the excellent performance of the X-Trans sensor, there's little penalty in terms of noise to shooting in the DR400% and 800% modes at higher ISO settings, although with ISO 400 or 800 effectively as your 'base', you may run into problems in bright light with overexposure. In this situation, activating the X100S's 3-stop ND filter is usually enough to fix things.
Note that the two examples below were shot in Raw mode with DR at 400%, and then converted in-camera to JPEGs at DR100%, 200% and 400%. As such, all three images in both examples were shot at ISO 800. You'll also find some samples shot with DR expansion on the previous page (real-world image quality) and in the samples gallery at the end of this review.
DR Expansion example 1
I shot this landscape at about 45-degrees to the sun, and the X100S has delivered a relatively bright exposure that sacrifices color and detail in bright areas for the sake of a generally balanced image with good midtone detail. Shooting at DR200% and DR400% allows me to get back some of the color in the sky, and recover some of the fine details which are absent in the DR100% (straight) shot.
DR Expansion example 2
I set +2EV exposure compensation for this shot, of an aeroplane suspended from the roof of a very well-lit museum space because I didn't want it to become silhouetted against the light. You can see that shooting at DR200% preserves some of the color and structural details in the bright background, and at DR400% the image is impressively well-balanced, given the extreme tonal range of the scene.
Most of the time, we've found that DR200% does the job. DR400% definitely allows you to retain a wider tonal range (see the image of the aeroplane above), but it forces you to use a minimum ISO sensitivity of ISO 800 (not always desirable or even possible in bright light) and it can lead to JPEGs looking rather 'flat'. DR200% is a good balance, giving meaningfully better dynamic range, but still pleasantly punchy, print-ready pictures at an ISO that isn't too high for bright sunny shooting conditions.
Film simulation modes & Advanced Filters
The X100S has a range of what Fujifilm calls 'film simulation modes.' These consist of five color modes that are named after the company's professional films - Standard / Provia, Vivid / Velvia, Soft / Astia, Pro Neg Hi and Pro Neg Std - and a number of monochrome modes that aim to simulate the effects of using color filters with black-and-white film (yellow, red, green or no filter), plus a 'retro' Sepia-toned mode.
Pro Neg High
Pro Neg Standard
Mono (Yellow Filter)
Mono (Red Filter)
Mono (Green Filter)
The Standard/Provia mode has been tweaked compared to earlier X-TRANS models (and the original X100), and now offers slightly punchier shadows. The Pro Neg Standard mode uses a very open shadow tone curve that reduces perceived saturation and punch. Of the two, the latter is the less-saturated, and therefore the X100S's most neutral color mode; we think it's an excellent choice for natural-looking portraits. Meanwhile, Pro Neg High is a little contrastier, but the color is less-saturated.
The Vivid / Velvia mode certainly lives up to its name - we're not convinced that it provides exactly the same look as the iconic film it's named after, but it's certainly very vivid and saturated, and ideal for sunset pictures, like the one in the table above. Highlights tend to blow more easily, though, and we'd probably be tempted to dial the Highlight Tone down a notch. Of the mono modes, we'd be most inclined to use the red filter mode for landscapes, and green filter for portraits.
Like all of Fujifilm's X-series cameras, the X100S offers a great deal of control over its JPEG processing; you can adjust the color saturation, sharpening and noise reduction, and even set the shadow and highlight tone (contrast) independently. However, the Film Simulation modes can't be tweaked individually to suit your tastes; instead any changes you make to the various processing settings are applied universally across all of them.
A workaround to this is to save any preferred tweaks to one of the custom settings sets, which can then be recalled through the Q menu. It's also worth bearing in mind that if you shoot Raw, you have free control over all of these processing parameters when using the in-camera Raw developer in playback.
New in the X100S (and we suspect not terribly interesting to its target audience) is a small range of what Fujifilm is calling 'Advanced Filters' which are pretty much the same as similar 'Effects' and 'Art FIlter' color modes in many, many many competitive cameras.
We can't imagine X100S users wanting to apply a faux tilt/shift effect all that often, but should you be struck by the urge, you'll find it under 'Advanced Fillters' in the main shooting menu. There are a couple which are quite fun though - 'Toy Camera' emulates the effect of using chronically out of date film in a cheap camera pretty well, and 'Pop Color' makes everything look - well... poppy.
|This is 'Toy Camera' - one of the X100S's small selection of JPEG-only Advanced Filters.||
There's a certain appeal in making a dull day in Seattle look like Cuba - courtesy of the 'Pop Color' filter.
Advanced Filters are JPEG-only and unlike Film Simulation mode cannot be applied to Raw files using in-camera conversion. Speaking of which...
In-camera Raw conversion
One of the X100S's most interesting, and useful features is its in-camera Raw conversion capability. This is far from unique, of course (lots of SLRs can do it too), but Fujifilm offers an unusually wide control over the development parameters, including independent control over highlight and shadow tone, plus noise reduction and dynamic range. The interface is simple and very approachable, too.
Strangely though, as was the case with the X100, you can't choose the either the aspect ratio (which is always the full 3:2 of the recorded raw file, even if the original JPEG was recorded in 16:9) or the output size and compression of the generated JPEG (which is always Large Fine).
|Press the Q button in playback mode and up pops this screen. You can choose to simply reflect the shooting conditions, or alter the processing parameters to taste.
Dynamic Range can be decreased from that originally used, but not increased (you can't magically turn a DR100 raw file to a DR400 JPEG, for example - the data's simply not there).
|Scroll down and you reach a second set of options. Note that the thumbnail image on the left doesn't update to reflect your new settings (and is too small for this to be very useful anyway).|
|Press Q again after selecting your settings and the camera will display a preview for you to approve and save, or cancel. Only at this point you can see the affect of your changes, for example conversion to monochrome. If you're happy, press 'OK' and after a second or so processing the camera will save a new JPEG as the final image on your memory card.|
Less useful is the X100's Motion Panorama mode, which can be found in the drive modes menu. The principle is appealing (and at this point very familiar) - you simple keep your finger held down and sweep the camera through 180 or 120 degrees, and the it creates an automatically stitched image. The reality though is that it does a pretty poor job on the whole, with stitching errors 'a plenty (click through the images below for a close-up look). You also have to rotate the camera through the full 120 or 180-degree sweep or it gets upset and cannot save the panorama. You can't just stop when you're done.
|Bear by matteroner|
from -Super Furry- (dogs in Full Colours Only)
|Cold Ride by DaveN01|
|IN4A3812 by Rahto|
from A big year - birds 2019
|Boy On Golden Beach by Buzz Lightyear|
from gold challenge
|Vulcan Duxford-4804 by Mike Engles|
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