I love DSLR technology, don’t get me wrong. But there is something about the FujiFilm X100s that opens one’s eyes to a different kind of reality. It’s beyond the sensor and retro styling. It’s beyond all the amazing technology smooshed into a neat little X-Package. The whole photographic experience changes when you’ve got one camera with one lens. It forces you to see the world differently but gives you all the tools you need. I love walking around with a camera that is so compact but also ready for nearly any situation. I went for a little walk with the dog the other day to nab some more fall color. I didn’t feel like lugging the D800 and a lens bag around so I chucked the X100s in my pocket and away I went. I really wanted to make use of the Fuji’s in camera processing film styles. This is truly a versatile camera. Being able to tweak the shadow and highlight zones is super for enhancing a mood. In the case of fall quickly coming to a close, dark deep shadows and gloomy skies really bring out the over all death theme of the season. But at the same time, the rich velvia colours can really pop and make us think “no, all is not lost yet!” Some life still remains.
Every time I goto Grenfell, Saskatchewan I see incredible displays of Northern Lights. This last trip was no exception. I stayed up late to nab a few snaps with my Fuji X100s at the farm. The colour is incredible! So glad I had my tripod along!
We just got back from a mini vacation to the Southern State of South Dakota. It was an amazing journey! We were able to do lots of fun stuff as a family, taking in some great attractions but also soaking up the beautiful South Dakota country side. I’m not going to write about all the gory details of our family trip, but rather I’m going to focus on the only camera I took on the journey, the FujiFilm X100s. (Small caveat: we also had our Nikon 1 V1 in tow but only for family video). As a dad of 3 kids 5 and under, I don’t get to actually “do photography” whilst on holidays. It’s more of a taking photos as you go and do things as a family. There’s a huge difference. If I was going to Yellowstone to take photos vs. going to Yellowstone for a family vacation, it’s a completely different mindset. For dedicated photography, I’d want my D800 with full array of lenses. For family stuff, I want as minimal a kit as possible but still be ready for mostly anything. The X100s fits that bill perfectly. As a travel camera, this thing is a boss. It’s size alone makes it super convenient for travel and taking shots on the fly with the kids in tow. But the image quality means I don’t have to sacrifice images like I would with a crappy point and shoot. The f/2 lens and sweet high ISO performance mean that even in the low light of Rushmore Cave, 1 mile underground, I still got shots I was totally happy with.
The camera totally gets out of the way. Its truly a photographic experience unlike any other. And the best part is of course the color. Fuji has the best color reproduction of any camera I’ve used. I shot the majority of the landscape shots from the trip in Velvia film simulation. I love that super saturated look that really brings out all the subtleties of tone.
With only 1 focal length, you are forced to be creative with your shots. The camera pushes you at the same time as it makes taking photos a breeze. It’s an odd juxtaposition that I love! The macro capabilities mean you can get great up close shots without having to switch to a different lens like you would on a DSLR system. As a travel camera, it’s ideal. It’s truly ready for anything you can throw at it, even some off camera flash photography at the spur of the moment!
Another thing that is tremendous as a travel camera is having that built in 3-stop ND filter to kill ambient light. It makes shots like this possible to capture smooth water. Stopping down to f/16 with the filter engaged means I could get shutter speeds of over a second to really get dreamy water and maximum detail.
I never once missed a DSLR. Ever. The fact that the camera is a compact powerhouse of image quality and ability more than makes up for the fact that I did miss a few shots due to limitations. But I just don’t care! I used to think travel photography had to be a big gear gong show. And carting around all that stuff on hikes with the kids was a total pain. Now, I sling the X100s over my shoulder and I actually enjoy travel photography! It’s fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. I have a whole set of images up on flickr if you want to check ‘em out. There’s a wee smidge posted here.
Not many people can say that they still get winter storms on the 30th of April. It’s because many more (sane) people don’t live in Saskatchewan. This winter just . . . won’t . . . die! But before the snow came, we had these amazing clouds and lots of rain. I grabbed my X100s, my sister in law, a black umbrella, my SB-900 and brand new Pocket Wizard Plus X triggers and headed out for some dramatic environmental portraits! When we found a cool spot with lots of great cloud structure, I got setup. It was then I realized that I forgot the PC cable for the Plus X. DOH!!! :roll: I have a lot to learn about radio triggers! So, rather than go back and risk missing the sky, I put the SB-900 into SU-4 mode and triggered it optically from the Fuji’s built in flash. It worked in a pinch, even though I wanted to try the Pocket Wizards out. Heheheh… I heightened the structure of the clouds in post, but I love the drama of the B&W.
I was super fortunate to be able to take my new Fuji X100s for an extended tour of duty as a travel & event photographer. It was precisely for these two applications that I bought this camera, but after using it, it is quickly becoming my “go to” camera. I’ve never owned or shot any traditional film rangefinder cameras and I’m coming to the X100s from a D800 and other Nikon DLSRs. So it was a new experience and a nifty learning curve but this camera fits like a glove. All the reviews of the internet celebrity bloggers like Arias, Hobby, and others have lauded this camera and all I can say is that everything is true. It is THAT good. Even if your friends accuse you of down grading from a DSLR, just smile and nod.
You can look up the tech specs on Fuji’s website. This review is about the user experience and the pure can of whoop @$$ this camera packs into such a sweet little package. Firstly, it is a dream to use. It’s an extremely tactile camera, everything clicks. Nicely. The buttons have a great feel to them and are easy to use. The only gripe I have is that the on/off switch can easily be flicked unawares when putting the camera into a pocket. But that is an extremely minor gripe. The new “Q” button is really, really handy for making changes on the fly. Also the 3 custom user modes are perfect for events as you can switch back and forth to customized presets without having to burn through tonnes of menus. LOVE that feature. During my trip we attended a friend’s wedding and I shot the X100s in Black and White mode mostly because I love the look of the files (and being able to tweak the tonality of shadows and highlights is the bees knees). But, I could switch back to Provia colour in a button flick. It’s a really great experience all round in using the camera. The one fixed 23mm f/2 lens is super sharp and you don’t have to worry about changing lenses. Ever.
I found that the camera truly was ready for nearly anything. Not even once did I wish I had my D800. The low profile of the rangefinder style is really unique. I found that people were less nervous getting their photos taken by it. The camera changes the photographic relationship if that makes sense. It certainly makes you push in closer to get the shot, which was a bit uncomfortable at first for me. I’m naturally “telephoto eyed”. I love my 85mm 1.8 and I take mostly everything with that. So the 35mm equivalent made me get closer and in so doing created a photo and look that I really enjoyed. While at the wedding service, the paid pro was walking around with a loud Canon 5D Mwhatver and the shutter sounded like a Clydesdale horse plodding through the mud “Clug-clock, clug-clock, clug-clock!” Meanwhile my X100s set to silent mode was like a ninja’s shadow! Truly, it’s totally silent and unobtrusive. Thank you leaf shutter!
The image quality is outstanding. I shot the camera at 3200 ISO nearly the whole time I was at the different events on my trip and when I got home to look the files over, they blew me away. The files aren’t D3s clean but there’s no noise. It’s a silky grain that adds to the character and personality of the camera. The color. The color is unbelievable. I can’t get over how amazing and beautiful and rich and vibrant and . . . you get the idea . . . the color is. I love color and the Fuji files pop off the screen with scrumptious tonality. The photo of the roses was shot in a Costco under those heinous “sodium-vapourizer-punch-your-auto-WB-in-the-face” lights. Auto white balance and like all the photos on this review, SOOC JPG.
This window light portrait was shot at ISO 400, f/2.8. I really love the over all look of the files. The skin tones are amazing, the colors pop. What more can I say?! The files are gorgeous straight out of camera, as is my smokin’ hot wife.
I feel about the X100s the same way I felt when I got my first DSLR (Nikon D40) – Romeo & Juliet. I’m in love! But the best part is, we’re not star-crossed in any way. The camera is a finely revised version of an already great model. It brings the thunder in every way. It’s no nonsense. The user experience is great. The autofocus speed is slick. The files are pure awesome. It’s literally anything anyone would want in a compact travel/event camera in nearly any situation. If you are a rangefinder retro-style junkie, buy this camera. If you have an X100, buy this camera. If you want a camera that you can pick up and feel that it is an extension of your photographic creativity and skill, buy this camera. It’s a 5 out of 5 star camera only because I can’t give it 6 out of 5. It’s cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Pria BDay, a set on Flickr.
Tried out the X100s in a real world 1st Birthday Party for my daughter tonight. This camera rocks the set! The majority of the shots here are SOC (aside from watermark) or slightly color corrected. All the BW shots are from the Fuji! It’s pure awesome!