Fujifilm X100s Thoughts and Review (Sort Of)

fuji-x100s

So recently, I’ve been able to get my hands this beautiful little camera. It’s been out on the market since about March 2013. But it’s such a HOT camera that none of the camera stores in the United States can hang on it. Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Samy’s, all the stores are back-ordered for several months and no one really knows when they will be in stock. Fuji is not really giving them a date, either. So, how did I get my hands on one? I frequent an online Buy/Sell forum for photographers and I just got really really lucky!

If you’re reading this, you probably already know a lot about the camera and why it’s so great. There are countless reviews out there with really great in depth information. So I will try to not get too technical. But I did want to offer up some of my experience.

WHY GET THE X100s?
Anyone who carries a dSLR knows how heavy it can get, especially while traveling. And many of us always want to have a camera on us at all times without getting weighed down. No one really wants to carry around a 5Dmk2 with 24-70 or if you’re a prime lens kind of person, you’ll be carrying a 24mm and 50mm just to tour a city. It’s just too heavy. Plus dSLRs are not exactly discrete. You can see them coming from a mile away and almost become targets for theft.

Our cell phones don’t really cut it except to post fun photos to Instagram and/or Facebook. And Point and Shoots don’t really offer the control that most seasoned photographers really want. So your only real option is the in between market of the mirrorless cameras. And there are some great mirrorless cameras out there. From the Fuji X-Pro1 to the Olympus OM-D to the Sony RX1. All great cameras. All very portable. But I liked the simplicity of the X100s and not having to think about changing lenses or carrying more gear, besides batteries. Yes, there will be times when I really wish I had a telephoto or super wide lens, but that’s alright. I’ve been shooting primes for a while and it’s a good experience forcing me to compose my images in more interesting ways.  From now on, I’ll probably have this camera on me at all times.

HANDLING
For the past 14 years, I’ve only really used medium/bigger cameras, (SLRs, dSLRs, and Medium Format), so it was a little weird holding such a small camera, relatively speaking. First, there is no big beefy grip to hold onto. With dSLRs, I pretty much hold all the weight of the camera and lens with my right hand. Sometimes, if you’re just hanging out, you can “hold” your dSLR with just a few fingers b/c the grip is that good. But with the X100s, there is not such thing. So instead, I tend to hold the entire camera weight (it’s very light in comparison to dSLRs) with my left hand and I use my left pointer finger to adjust the aperture. (Note: the aperture adjustment is at the base of the lens, different from most, if not, all dSLRs, but the same as my old-school Hasselblad. I also hold my Hasselblad pretty much ) Yes, when I’m shooting my dSLR, my left hand is holding some of the weight, but not the majority of it. It’s really tough hold all of the weight of the X100s in my right hand and adjust the dials at the same time. I’m just afraid to drop the camera. Does that make sense, at all? I guess you’ll have to use it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s not difficult or anything. It’s just different and will take a little use to get used to this change.

MANUAL FOCUSING & SPLIT IMAGE
Manual focus on any point and shoot is pretty much non-existent.  And manual focus on a dSLR is still pretty tough, at least for me.  But when using the Hasselblad, it has a split screen.  Check out this Wikipedia link to see what I’m talking about.  With the X100s, it’s pretty much the same thing.  But with the Electronic View Finder (EVF) or the LCD on back, the camera zooms in for you, making it super easy to manual focus.  With the split screen you continue focusing until the edges of you subjects align, giving further indication that it’s in focus.  Here’s a photo of the LCD using the split screen.  Don’t pay any attention to the settings on the screen, these shots are only to demonstrate the split screen.  This view is also available in the EVF.

X100s - Split Screen

VIEW FINDER / PARALLAX
Since this is my first compact/range finder camera, I’ve never really had to worry or thing about parallax. dSLR users don’t have to worry about this, b/c you’re looking straight through the lens. The only thing you have to dSLRs users may need to worry about is if the viewfinder provides 100% of what you see in the image file or not.  With the X100s, because the viewfinder if offset from the lens, you have to think about parallax.  But Fuji did something great here.  They have input a custom function, where you can have the camera tell what will actually be captured in the image.  So if you’re looking through the optical view finder, you’ll see a white box.  When you have press you’ll see the box shift a little and turn green to show you what the sensor will actually take a picture of.  The closer the subject, the greater the distance that the box will shift.    Others cameras may have this feature, I don’t know.  But I think it’s brilliant.  And I leave this function on all the time.

BATTERY LIFE
So I’ve only had the camera for a few days now and I will definitely say that this camera is very power hungry. And understandably so; the camera is doing a lot of work between the hybrid viewfinder, electronic viewfinder and all the other misc stuff. Plus the battery meter is not very reliable. It can go from 2 bars to blinking red in just a few shots. So I definitely recommend buying a few extra batteries handy.  The 3rd party brands are probably $10 while the Fuji brand ones are around $35.

And I know this review is not really comprehensive, but these are just a couple of things that I noticed/liked/noted in the first couple days of owning it.  I’ll try to post some sample images in about a week or so.

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