The past few months I have fallen victim to a creative slump, a rut, a lack of enthusiasm around my photography. Call it what you want, I felt uninspired. Although I love nature and bird photography, I found myself struggling to make time to get out and shoot. We live on the gulf coast of southern Mississippi. There is an abundance of wonderful birdlife, beautiful sunsets and unique cypress swamps full of wildlife begging to be photographed. When I did get out, I found I was not very motivated to download my images, let alone take the time to process them. I needed a change. What I really needed was a challenge. I decided to try something I had heard of, but have never tried before, in the hopes that it would relight my photographic passion.
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 by Fuji 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 who 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.
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.