Last April, I posted a quick review of sorts on my new Fuji X100s. Since then, I've been using it religiously for everything from paid work, to documenting my daily life. I take it on hikes or bike rides or quick trips to the backyard so that my bulldog can empty his bladder. When I'm not using it, it sits on my desk because it's a great looking camera and I love looking at it. It's a great travel camera, too. I barely pulled out my DSLR while in Europe this past summer. And on flights, it looks old enough to not be considered "a portable electronic device", rendering it usable for photographing takeoffs and landings out the window. In Africa, it performed just as my X100 had performed the year before, but without the quirks of the menu or aperture settings freezing up. And wherever I go with it, I always get the same reaction; "Oh sweet, you're shooting film!" Of course when they find out it's digital, they just assume that it's a good looking camera, a novelty design with an ordinary inside. Boy are they wrong. After many months of travel and use, I'm finally sitting down to give a bit of a summary as to why I fancy this little camera so much. Ive split my review into two categories, one for photographers and one for consumers interested in a good camera. I've also posted a number of images that I've captured over the course of my time with X100s. If you have any questions or comments, they are always welcome.
Here we go.
The Fuji X100s is designed to be a photographer's camera. Modeled after the classic design of the rangefinder camera, the X100s provides photographers the best of both worlds; full manual controls including focus, combined with the advanced technology of an APS-C 16mp CMOS sensor, multiple shooting modes, HD video and a responsive, yet unobtrusive on-camera flash. And while it shoots great photos on Auto mode, the real fun begins when you start to take advantage of the full manual controls which I might add, are easily accessible.
For me, the camera is a pure joy to use. The stripped-down simplicity of having a permanently attached/fixed 35mm lens forces you to focus, to think and to rethink what you see and how you capture it. Yet, the focal length is great for just shooting whatever you see without much thought at all. The small size of the camera means you can hang it around your neck and walk the streets and shoot inconspicuously and without lugging equipment around. And the sturdy construction means it can hang around your neck, rain or shine. Mine has been scuffed, dropped and tossed about and it still chirps and shoots, no questions asked. And yes, the chirping sound is very endearing.
Unique to this camera as well as a few other Fuji models, is an electronic viewfinder. While it is entirely possible to compose and shoot using the large LCD screen on the back, the real fun begins when you throw that feature to the wind and look through the viewfinder, where you'll find focus points, ISO, shutter speed and aperture information, as well as an exposure meter. In manual focus mode, the focus information appears in the viewfinder as well.
As I said before, I have used this camera in my professional life, as well as my personal. Would I use it as a standalone camera on a paid shoot? Truth be told, I have. But it depends very much on the situation. For my needs, it works best in conjunction with my DSLR. At weddings, it's a great second camera body to carry around. The low light capability is stunning. For a commercial shoot last year, I used it exclusively and it was great. In one sense, the minimal aspect of this camera frees up my body and mind to focus on simply creating beautiful images with what I have on me. And for that very reason, I absolutely love the Fuji X100s. And that, along with the more-than-capable insides and sturdy, well-designed outsides are why I think it is ideal for other professional photographers as well.
FOR EVERYONE ELSE
The Fuji X100s is an ideal camera for professional photographers but what about everyone else? Here are a few things to consider.
1. The lens on the Fuji X100s doesn't zoom. If you want that capability, you should check out the Fuji X20 or probably step into the DSLR realm.
2. The price. At $1299, the Fuji X100s is just as or possibly more expensive than entry level DSLRs that zoom and have interchangeable lenses.
3. Auto Modes. There is one Auto Mode for the X100s. There's no "night scene" or "fast action" mode. There is the ability to shoot 3 or 6 fps (frames per second). That covers action shots very well. And yes, you can shoot it at night and it's great. But you have to know what you're doing to set it up for that. But if you're willing to learn, you'll be rewarded. There IS a macro function on the camera and it rocks.
Other than those three things, the Fuji X100s would be a strong contender for your next camera purchase, regardless of your professional or personal career. The best advice I could give you is to rent one and try it out before you invest. And to be honest, I would say that about any camera or lens you purchase. You can fantasize about photography gear and how you would use it all day long but until you actually get yourself into a rhythm of using it, you'll never truly know. After 9 months of enjoyable use, I can safely and honestly say that the X100s is very much a part of my rhythm as a photographer.