Fujifilm X100s is among the best digital compact cameras for street and candid photography. The useful focal length of 35mm (full-frame equivalent) provides ample versatility in all kinds of environments, aided by the relatively fast aperture of f/2. Despite such commendable specifications, the lens is also very small and makes the whole package appear non-threatening and easy to carry around for long periods. Couple that lens to a large (for a compact camera) APS-C X-Trans sensor and you will soon find that Fujifilm X100s is definitely capable of some very high-quality results, as seen in our review of the camera. What’s at least as important as the camera’s portability is its quietness. Using the camera is basically a silent endeavor courtesy of that whisper-quiet leaf shutter – almost like an electronic shutter, but without the disadvantages. On top of that, what was previously a slow autofocus system (of the original X100) has now been significantly improved for the latest X100s.
As we have mentioned before, Fuji planned to release a major firmware update to most of its X series cameras on December 19, 2013. Well, today is the 19th, which means that you can download the latest firmware and apply it to your Fuji camera! I am very excited about this release, because it brings very important and key features to the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 cameras that have been rolled to the X-E2 and X100S cameras. The first key feature is Auto Gain control. As I have mentioned in my Fuji X-E2 review, auto gain is something that controls the brightness of the LCD and forces it to always show average brightness, no matter what settings are set on the camera. In short, it is an inaccurate representation of the actual exposure. While the feature can be very useful in low-light situations or when working in a studio, it is not something that I personally like to use 90% of the time. With the new firmware, you can now turn Auto Gain off, which will show the correct exposure on the LCD!
This is an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X100S mirrorless camera, which was released on January 7, 2013 together with the X20 compact camera. After the success of the original X100, Fuji upgraded the sensor and the hybrid viewfinder, added some new features, addressed a few important firmware issues and added the “S” to the label of the camera. The long-awaited Fuji X100S debuted with a lot of fanfare, thanks to its big supporters like Zack Arias and David Hobby that provided plenty of coverage of the camera. Being tied up with reviewing newly released Nikon lenses and cameras, I did not have a chance to test the X100S out until the summer of 2013. Another reason was poor availability – the X100S was in such a high demand, that it was nowhere to be found for a long time. And it is still hard to find even today in the US market, with very few retailers like B&H Photo occasionally having limited stock.
Today, Pentax-Ricoh announced a new high-end compact camera. Not someone you’d call a conventional camera manufacturer (neither Ricoh nor Pentax, for that matter), the new camera seems extremely tempting, especially considering its price. Ricoh GR features a 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 28mm on a full-frame camera), and will set you back around $800. At least on paper, it seems to be targeting potential Fujifilm X100s buyers, only with a couple of features missing and at a considerably lower price. Another (even more) direct competitor is the Nikon Coolpix A, which is also much more expensive.
Specifications and Commentary
As I have already mentioned, a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor is at the heart of this new compact camera, which is in line with its closest competition, the Fujifilm X100s and Nikon Coolpix A. Following the same decision made by several other manufacturers so far, the camera does not have an AA filter. While I strongly believe 35mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length to be the most flexible when it comes to prime lenses, 28mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length in the case of Ricoh GR is likely to be appreciated by street photographers just as much. You may find f/2.8 to be somewhat slow for a fixed lens, but the Ricoh GR compensates by being very small and potentially capable in low light thanks to the ISO range of 100-25600. Even though you should take “paper” specs with a grain of salt, modern sensors, even smaller ones, seem to do rather well up to very high sensitivities in noise department. There’s no reason to think Ricoh GR will be sub-par in this regard or, at least, one can’t be blamed for hoping.
Some manufacturers seem to fail to understand what photographers of this day seek in a compact, digital package (I’m talking to you, Nikon), some choose a safe and dependable bet. Add a couple of manufacturers who don’t really know what they are doing, and you have a whole bunch of cameras which are often good, but a little… predictable? Yes, that seems to be the word. Happily, there are those who strike a certain balance between innovative technology and character to stand out from the crowd. On the expensive side, we have Leica. On the less expensive side, we have Fujifilm, which has been steeling thunder for the last whole year at the very least. Now, if there are two cameras in 2013 our team is most intrigued by, it’s the recently announced Fujifilm X100S and X20. So for those of you who feel one of these is the right tool for you, read on for the pre-order links.
As always, the links will lead you to B&H, our most trusted reseller we use more than any other to buy our own gear. We haven’t mentioned this very often, but once you buy from B&H using one of our affiliate links, we receive a small funding which we use solely to support and expand this website.
- Click here to pre-order Fujifilm X100S for $1299.95. This camera has a 35mm f/2 equivalent lens, 16 megapixel X-Trans APS-C CMOS sensor and Fujifilm’s innovative hybrid viewfinder. We are certain it will prove to be extremely popular.
- Click here to pre-order the black high-end compact Fujifilm X20 camera for $599.95, which replaces the popular X10 sporting a better viewfinder, a new 2/3″ X-Trans sensor, a fast 28-112mm f/2-2.8 equivalent lens with hybrid AF system and great build quality
- Click here to pre-order the silver-and-black version of X20 for the same $599.95 if you prefer handsome retro looks over black discretion
Fujifilm’s storming 2013 with two refreshed models. Today, the Fujifilm X100S and X20 were announced (along with some other compact cameras). Both X100 and X10 were, and still are, immensely popular and well received by photographers of all levels. Strangely enough, their popularity is not due to outright perfection, but a very subtle balance between quality and… character? By all means, these cameras are not exactly easy to live with due to an enormous amount, for a finished product, of quirks. Luckily, Fujifilm is big on customer opinions – they seem to have heard the more known complaints and reacted accordingly. As a result, the two updated compact cameras carry certain welcome improvements. Lets see what those are in more detail, starting with the X100S and the X20 covered in a separate article.
Having mentioned quirks, Fujifilm X100 (click here for our review) was received very enthusiastically by most photographers. Carrying a sharp fixed lens with the equivalent focal length of 35mm, large sensor and unique at the time hybrid viewfinder, its biggest complaint was overall sluggishness. Start-up time wasn’t exactly brilliant, nor card write speed. Most unfortunately, AF was also average at best with manual focus hardly usable at all due to very long focus throw. Despite these and other shortcomings, some of which have since been fixed via firmware updates, X100 still remains a very desirable camera. The X100S builds upon the strengths of its predecessor and promises to fix some of the shortcomings while carrying virtually the same attractive design, save for a small S at the front of the camera. Being Fujifilm, we are yet to see how much of promises turn out to be true, but already I’ve forgotten all about Sony’s RX1. X100S sounds fantastic!