Before I begin talking about the camera I’d like to quickly talk about this review.
This review isn’t a readout of stats or charts, you can find these in a hundred places across the web. You’re not about to read a documentation of features or specifications.
This is a purely personal account of my experience.
Fuji X100s ‘in real life’
Just over two weeks ago I was sent the X100s and since then it’s barely left my side.I’ve shot several genres with it so far, celebrity magazine editorial, fashion, street, commercial, boudoir, product, landscape and also a few family snaps on our travels.
In every instance this camera has shrugged off everything I’ve thrown at it, from dim low light conditions to catching subjects within busy high contrast scenes filled with movement. Don’t let it’s humble size fool you, this machine is fully mission capable!
From the moment I picked this camera out of the box it felt ‘right’. The discreet grip fits perfectly into even my fairly large hands. Though the camera is small in size all the controls glide effortlessly into place and there’s never been a moment of fumbling through minute controls for a button. In fact, you need never remove your eye from the viewfinder at all!
It has to be said that the design of this camera and it’s layout could be described in three words:
elegant, concise, and intuitive. The camera will definitely strike a chord with anyone familiar with the old
film rangefinders. From anywhere but the back it would be easy for a passer by to confuse the two.
Far from a dated rehash, this camera is classic, sleek and refined.
If there is one thing that had provoked debate with the X100s it’s the fixed lens. A 35mm f/2 is hardly unusual for a rangefinder camera and there would be no denying that the quality is fantastic. The fujinon glass and x-trans CMOS II sensor are a match made in heaven and are clearly designed to work in perfect harmony. One look at the beautiful tonal rendition they capture will say more than I could put here. As someone who only shoots wider then 100mm equiv on the rarest of occasions, I expected to find the 35mm more of a hindrance than anything else. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Had I been the designer, 35mm equiv would not have been my first choice. That said, it was without doubt the right choice. Also, not having to worry about dust spots is rather pleasant.
The “S” in this instance certainly stands for speed, not only is the focusing blink-fast but everything about this camera seems to happen as fast as you think of it. There is a customisable “Fn” Button capable of being assigned to any of 10 different uses (I set mine as ISO) which sitting beside the shutter release makes quick alterations almost subconscious. Changing a setting just happens, it’s all right under your fingertips. My three main settings in constant touch and all other main settings accessible with one push of the Q menu button. Short of mind reading it couldn’t be more responsive!
On my recent shoot with faceon magazine and fashion tv we had a high pressure celebrity fashion editorial to shoot with a bustling team and quick changes to locations and constantly changing lighting conditions. The camera handled it effortlessly, didn’t even break a sweat. AWB was spot on in every shot, focusing didn’t miss a beat and the lack of physical bulk made it easy to capture the shot even when hanging from a stairwell.
The discreet size didn’t just make things easier here, when shooting street and location based fashion I was able to easily pull the camera out, get the shot and move on not only at speed but also without drawing too much attention to myself. Not something easily achievable with my usual dslr with grip and big lenses. To many this feature alone will be worth it’s weight in gold.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this camera has reignited my passion with photography and inspired me with a multitude of new ideas. The ease of use combined with the impeccable image quality is liberating to say the least. It’s true what they say, the less equipment you carry, the more fun you’ll have.
One final thing that really sets the X100s apart from similar cameras is its low light capability. Sharp f/2 lens and barely any visible noise even up to ISO3200 is an invaluable combination.
Understandably this isn’t the camera for everyone, the fixed lens will not suit wildlife fanatics and the small, retro-esque styling will not be to everyones tastes. For me however, it’s a dream. I’ve taken to carrying it everywhere and I’ve so much I’d like to shoot with that I never would consider with a dslr.