Reflections: FujiFilm X100s

The promotion of the new X100s FujiFilm camera enticed me to buy for a number of reasons but one wonders why this advertising campaign worked where so many other cleverly designed attempts to empty my pockets left me cold? I have a few reflections about this and briefly review my newest camera in this post.

Why did I buy?

I do covet a Leica M camera. This is not possible due to the price of Leica bodies and my current investment in Nikon full frame lenses. The idea of a beautiful, precision crafted German camera, that will slip easily into my pocket, small man-bag or carryon luggage, is definitely alluring. The images it captures, especially by street photographers, just look svelte. The X100s, although a compact, looks like the classic Leica. This was not the reason I bought one but, it’d be foolish to think that retro styling was not attractive. It just looks cool.

Bloggers and tweeps drew my attention to the X100s when I was casting around for a lighter, less conspicuous street photography camera than my Nikon D700. Some had the X100 and were dead keen to try out the (reportedly) vastly improved upgrade by FujiFilm. Many wrote about the X100 having improved their photography generally as they were more carefully selecting and framing shots rather than blazing away, as they did with an expensive DSLR. I quickly became sold on this camera’s many features.

The 35mm (23mm) equivalent fixed lens has an illustrious tradition and is a well-known, classic approach to street photography. One needs to get close to the subject, very close. The silent shooting mode is a big drawcard. The noisy shutter operation of my full-frame camera does not really permit stealth mode when one wants that second shot. The X100s looks innocuous compared to wielding some professional, cannon-like lens.

In short, I purchased the camera for the following reasons:

  • It was an inexpensive option for someone who had a complete lens collection for his full-frame camera but wanted a lighter, travelling option at a DSLR quality
  • It would assist my street photography
  • The features, although digital, harken back to the days of film camera and would assist me to be a better photographer
  • It looks cool

The reality.

Yes, I am happy with the X100s and would buy it again. It is a great camera. There are a number of features that did not feature in my decision to purchase that I truly love and others that have not, as yet, worked out in the way I envisaged.

My largest challenge is the temptation to just add the X100s to my existing kit rather than travel light. I miss the ability to add a lens with more reach, when I do not have my Nikon. It does force me to think carefully about the day and what I am likely to need.

This amusing post by Zack Arias will set the scene for why many are considering ditching their heavy DSLRs. I do like the challenge set by this Flickr group but three months is long time to not use my DSLR.

The good.

The advanced filters include options to shoot in monochrome, with one colour featured. It is just beautiful to see a classic black and white photograph with either red, orange, blue, green, purple or yellow featured in the shot. It makes one think differently when considering a subject. Of course, this can be done when editing but part of the point of my new gear was to capture more in camera.This is my favourite so far (below).


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

When shooting in the blazing sun the inbuilt neutral density filter is a godsend. It adds a really nice hue to the shots and gives one options in the middle of the day. I do catch myself out though by forgetting to disable the feature later on. The quality of portraits, quickly taken outdoors, is pleasing. Here’s on with the aforementioned filter, quickly snapped at the beach near my home:


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

This was one of the first portraits I took, of John Larkin, when we were on a bush walk.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

My Joby Gorillapod is perfect for stabilising the X100s and in conjunction with the timer feature, allows one to capture very sharp shots. I find this approach truly addictive such is the quality of the photographs it produced. I had never envisaged this camera would sit on a tripod.

I am currently investigating the new Lee Filters for the X100s, that I noticed Flixelpix using for some of his photos this week, to assist with adding some more options for lanscape photography with the compact. The next shot was captured using the monochrome advanced orange filter and the one underneath makes me wonder what could be done with the Lee filter system.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

I did not think about a wifi SD card before purchasing the FujiFilm camera but love how my Eye-Fi card allows me to upload to my iPhone, quickly edit, add a filter or just publish online without any fiddling at all. This was the kind of workflow that suits my basic idea of travelling light. It is just perfect. For example, I quite like the idea of editing on my phone and uploading to EyeEm, like I did with this shot outside the conference venue yesterday.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

The unexpected.

Low light shooting indoors is a problem. I find the camera very difficult to use effectively at a restaurant for a snap that is acceptable. Yes, the ISO can truly assist one to capture pictures in near-dark condition but it just too difficult to use quickly and comfortably at this stage.

My opportunities to wander the streets snapping arresting images have been few and far between since purchasing the camera but I find it more difficult to use than expected. I suspect that I miss the setup on my Nikon D700 that allows me to get sharp images quickly. I find manual focusing on the X100s awkward and the autofocusing, when I change apertures, clunky. My fingers are too big and lacking in dexterity or perhaps I just need more practise.

The camera has occasionally misbehaved and has to be rebooted. This happens rarely but when I purchased a filter and lens hood, the camera seemed to take a while to accept the new additions to it’s nose. It kept crashing and I feared the worst. After 24 hours or so this just stopped and everything was back to normal.

The quality of JPEGs is higher than expected and makes me tempted to shoot less RAW .RAF files, especially if travelling light. Revel does not accept RAW, so there is an added temptation. However, I really worry that an image of unusual interest will not have the ability to be edited as well if only a JPEG has been captured so I tend to shoot RAW anyway.

There are so many funky options on the X100s that one can forget to return to a standard setup. Sometimes there are little quirks that need to fixed too. Oddly, when in advanced filter mode, one cannot seem to autofocus. I really need to look into this with someone who knows a solution or can explain a workaround.

Finally, I love macro mode but occasionally forget to switch back for a few shots. Below, this snap of ‘the black dog’, is case in point but luckily, it was serendipitous as I like the effect. Nick Drake, one of my favourite artists, could have used this on the inside of one of his albums for this song imnsho ;)


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Here’s a few pics from my X100s

What have been your experiences with the new FujiFilm X100s?

Featured image credit: cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by Aurimas: http://flickr.com/photos/needoptic/8645650907/

UPDATE: LEE Filters on my X100s 

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DISCLAIMER

The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

9 Comments

  1. Great post Darcy. Thanks for the links and publishing easily the best portrait I have ever sat for. Cheers, John.

  2. ‘Pink Moon’ …… now there’s an album. I’ve been listening to Nick Drake since the late ’70’s. I have to count him as a significant influence, along with Michael Hedges in my prolific use of alternative tunings in my songwriting. Apart from that I just love his music. If you fancy a listen just drop over to http://www.myspace.com/gazpoulton
    I’ve got some odds and ends there that have held their own for some years now.
    As always Darcy; a succinct, informative and enjoyable read and the mobile layout is really nice. I’m rolling a Canon G1X as my ingognito camera. It’s been pretty good to me so far. Like yours, I love the inbuilt ND filter. However I’d love to push it further with a filter on the lens as well. Could bring it to 6 stops easily.

  3. And of course like an idiot I forgot that ‘ Black eyed Dog’ is from ‘Time of no reply’. Just revisiting it. Well at 59 I’m allowed to forget a thing or two. :)

  4. You don’t have to enable macro mode. Just tap the AFL/AEL button and it will macro focus. Also, I’ve assign my Fn button to bring up the ISO menu. I can change ISO pretty quickly this way.

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thanks Mike. I have set my X100s to focus using the AFL/AEL button but find this does not work in Advanced mode.

  5. Nice write-up.

    Regarding your comment about the quality of JPG leading you to shoot less RAW, but the concern that brings…

    I was in the same boat, until I discovered the ability to process in-camera. So now I shoot RAW, and if I have something I want to upload straight from the card/camera, I just process it in-camera using the menus (you have full control over film mode, push/pull, sharpening, noise, effects etc). It will then save the JPG to the card and you can go from there. Best of both worlds, since it leaves the original RAW file intact and just adds the JPG. Plus you can do several different processes to see which looks best.

    • Barry McKay:

      That is a great tip, thank you for that. @OP, thanks for the write up on experience using the X100s. I too purchased this camera and love it. One

    • Barry McKay:

      That is a great tip, thank you for that. @OP, thanks for the write up on experience using the X100s. I too purchased this camera and love it. One thing I would like to see is a crop mode in-camera. A 50mm equiv would be useful.

  6. harpatrio:

    Great post!

    I love mine as well. I think an Eye-Fi SD card is a must-have for this little gem as the OOC jpeg files are simply amazing. Just a little bit of chop and crop by using the photo editing apps on my phone or tablet, the pictures are ready to be shared on the web. It makes my life much easier, especially comparing to shooting raw files with my canon gears before.

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