Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
fuji_x100s_450.JPG
  • 16-Megapixel X-Trans CMOS II Imaging Sensor
  • 2.8-Inch, 460,000 dot LCD Screen
  • 35mm, f/2.0 Fujinon lens
  • EXR II image processor
  • Hybrid EVF/OVF
  • Hybrid AF system - contrast and phase detection
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Built-in Neutral Density filter
  • Panorama shooting mode
  • Hot Shoe
  • High Capacity Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Program mode allows basic point-n-shoot operation
  • Shutter Speed and Aperture dials on the camera body
  • Fixed 35mm Fujinon f/2.0 lens
  • Unparalleled image quality in its class  
  • Hybrid EVF offers a fantastic way for you to shoot no matter what your preferences are
  • Excellent shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • Hybrid AF and Performance mode make this camera lighting fast
  • Great low-light performance
  • Wide conversion lens available
  • HDMI output
  • Microphone volume control
  • External Microphone available via USB
Cons
  • Limited versatility with the fixed lens
  • No active face detection software while shooting
  • 2.8-inch screen looks rather small on the back of camera and does not provide the clarity you will find in the EVF
  • Very steep price tag
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.3 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 6/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.82 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.20 seconds
  • Low Speed Burst = 3.45fps
  • High Speed Burst = 5.56fps
  • All tests were taken using an SanDisk Extreme Pro, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off, High Performance mode on and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise. RAW shooting will greatly slow down the burst shooting results.
Bottom Line
While not made for everyone, the Fujifilm X100S is an amazing rangefinder-type model. With unparalleled image quality and performance, this is a must have for the right group of photographers. 
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a rangefinder-type camera with image quality that rivals many dSLRs with an APS-C sized sensor. 
Fujifilm's X100S is an updated and much more powerful version of the X100,  which was released in 2011. While there haven't been any changes to the body of the camera, the insides have been overhauled; including a new 16-Megapixel X-Trans CMOS image sensor with hybrid AF, a new EXR II processor and a new hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder with amazing quality and clarity. Along with the new components, we see an increase in image quality and overall performance. The new X-Trans CMOS image sensor has been created with a random pixel pattern which has allowed them to eliminate the optical low pass filter. In the end, this gives a boost to the resolution and overall clarity of your images. The image sensor also includes the phase detection sensor built in, for faster and more accurate AF. This new sensor works in conjunction with the new processor to further increase resolution and image quality while reducing the amount of noise. 

With the same body as the X100, featuring true rangefinder design and handling, the X100S is not for everyone. It has no fully automatic or scene modes, so you will need to know a little about photography to get the most out of this camera. There is also no zoom capabilities, so this is truly a camera or enthusiasts, or anyone wanting a digital version of their old rangefinder camera. Its controls are well placed, easily accessed and easy to use, with aperture and shutter speed controlled by dials on the camera body. These dials are all stiff and are hard to change accidentally, but the placement of the exposure compensation dial does allow it to get moved while taking it in and out of a small camera bag. You will also find two command dials on the back of the camera that allow you to change the other camera settings as well as navigating the menus. Fuji's addition of the quick menu on the LCD screen makes it faster and easier than before to get to most of the shooting settings. 

The X100S provides more than one fantastic option for framing and composing your images. First the new hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder allows you to shoot the old fashioned way. When performance is the top priority, the optical viewfinder is the way to go. Incredibly clear and featuring the basic shooting information in the viewfinder, the Reverse Galilean viewfinder shows approx. 90% of the captured image area. If you are looking for more accuracy, information and focus clarification, then the EVF will show you everything that the LCD shows through the viewfinder. While it shows 100% of the captured image, it also provides an incredible 2.36-Million dots of resolution. Switching between the OVF and EVF is as easy as flipping the switch on the front of the camera. Finally for those who prefer to shoot using the LCD screen, the X100S features the same 2.8-inch, 460,000 dot LCD as the previous camera. With the LCD, features like the electronic level will help you while shooting. This is also the easiest way to view your stored images and navigate the camera's menu system. It will however, use up your battery much faster. An eye sensor allows you to switch between the hybrid viewfinder and LCD by simply placing the camera up to your eye to shoot.

Performance from the X100S is excellent, capturing its first image after being turned on in just 1.3 seconds. Shutter lag was almost non-existent, taking less than 1/10 of a second when the camera is pre-focused. Allowing the hybrid AF to work, it took the camera between 2/10 and 6/10 of a second, depending on the conditions. Its shot-to-shot delay also performed very well, as the camera was able to capture an image every 8/10 of a second. When turning on the flash, the delay increased to 1.2 seconds. Continuous shooting gives us a 5.56fps capture rate on high, just shy of the 6.0fps that Fuji claims. Low actually outperformed the 3.0fps claim with 3.45fps during our tests. All of our tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 (95MB/s) 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, Flash off and High Performance mode on. 

Looking at our outdoor sample images, we can see the incredible image quality almost instantly. With fantastic exposure and incredibly sharp images, you may see more in the images than you did when you were capturing them. Without the ability to zoom, image composition can be a little harder to accomplish, but with these incredibly clear 16-Megapixel images, there is plenty of room to crop. While the LCD was not a bad choice for shooting outside, as it was easy to see most of the time, the EVF was the easiest. With all of the information of the LCD and no glare to contend with, it was the easiest and most accurate when shooting outside. 

Our indoor samples better show the outstanding image quality through the entire ISO range, including the LOW and HI settings as well. Looking closely, the first thing we noticed was the shallow depth of field, a little more than we expected while shooting at f/8, which has left some parts of the image out of focus. Noise within the image does not become noticeable until the higher ISO settings, 3200 starts to show some noticeable noise but the levels are way below normal. Even the HI settings of 12,800 and 25,600 are acceptable, which is a first for any camera that tested that was not a full-frame dSLR. Assisting with your low-light and indoor images is the small, compact and not very powerful built-in flash unit. With a range of up to approx. 30ft. at ISO 1600, this unit is effective due to the fantastic noise levels at the higher ISO settings. 

While shooting portraits with the X100S, it's just like shooting with a dSLR, you will not notice any face detection software showing up and following your faces around the screen. You will have the option, however, to view any faces that the camera has detected when viewing them in playback mode. With our sample portraits, the camera did an excellent job of detecting the faces afterward, even if they were not directly facing the camera. The only drawback here is that the camera is not using the faces as priority for adjusting the exposure settings and focus. Our samples, taken in program mode, flash on, and the ISO set to Auto 800; the exposures look amazing, making it difficult to tell the difference between the ISO 200 and the ISO 800 portrait images.

Although there are no automatic shooting modes or scene modes, Fuji did include an panorama shooting mode that allows you to capture images at 120° or 180° in the direction that you choose. This mode does take a little time to get used to, as the camera is a little picky about how fast you pan. In the end, the results are clear and seamless. A double exposure mode allows you to capture 2 images which will be combined by the camera. There are no adjustments to this, which would be nice to have the ability choose which is the more dominant image, but it is still a fun feature. Finally, while it is not a special shooting mode, the X100S features a built-in 3stop neutral density filter, which can be turned on and off in the camera menu. This filter evenly blocks light from the sensor, allowing you use much longer exposures in different situations, such as softening the water from a waterfall. 
 
The X100S's full HD video recording capabilities are excellent for its basic recording mode. There are not many creative features and adjustments, mainly just the film mode and mic volume, but its video quality is excellent. Whether viewing movies on camera, an HDTV via the HDMI port, or on a computer, the videos play back smoothly and are very clear. The microphone recording level adjustment works well for noisy situations as you can turn down or off the audio so it is not overwhelming. As far as editing your movies go, the camera does not have any editing capabilities. While it does not need any advanced features, a simple video trimming mode would be nice. 

Powering the X100S is a 3.6V, 1800mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery supplies plenty of power to run the camera's impressive but taxing features. Based on CIPA standards, the camera is capable of capturing up to 330 images on a single charge, although this number can be increased by using the OVF. During our testing, using the EVF and LCD 50/50, we were able to capture over 150 images and videos on a single charge without worrying about running out of power. Also included with the camera is a portable quick charging unit that allows you to keep your battery, and a spare or two, charged and on hand all the time.

Bottom Line - The Fujifilm X100S is a great update of the X100 they released in 2011. With increased performance and image quality, a fantastic camera has been greatly improved. This is one of the leading cameras when it comes to Fuji's innovation and quality.  It's still a rangefinder style camera with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens, designed specifically for enthusiasts who want a rangefinder-type model. With a MSRP of US $1,299.99, the limited versatility and huge price tag take this camera out the running for most people, but if a rangefinder model with excellent image quality is what you are after, this is a must see.



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