Eric L. Woods

Vintage Digital: FUJIFILM X100S… A 2013 camera in 2021 ‘that’ll do’ addendum.

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…aka I’ll buy near any camera if the price is right.

I have danced around this camera for years. Have always wanted one. But I could never get past the asking price. I should have included some variant of X100 for a compact camera comparison years ago.

At over $1,200 it was a bit rich for this grouping. For that comparison, I quickly eliminated the a6000 and not because of the camera, but the lens. In theory, the Sony 20m f/2.8 would be the perfect compact setup… But that lens is awful. It is the lone Sony lens that I like less than the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8. Sony really needs to release upgraded replacements for both of these lenses… But I digress. That comparison came down to a shoot-out between the RICOH GR and the RX100 IV. Both are great choices, but I ended up leaning towards the RX100 IV. All could be had for far less than the going rate for the 2017 current X100F and less than the earlier X100s at that time.

I even tried to put together my own X100 using an X-E2 and the FUJIFILM 27mm f/2.8 pancake a while back.

X-E2

Close…

Fujifilm X-E2
Fujifilm X-E2
Fujifilm X-E2
Fujifilm X-E2

…but no. When it came down to it there were a few too many sacrifices for it to be a true replacement.

  • No aperture ring.
  • f.2.8 when the X100 offers f/2.0.
  • No macro mode.
  • Not crucial in operation but lacked the X100 series’ optical viewfinder.
    • A gimmick? Perhaps. But I had it with an X-Pro1 years ago and really liked it.
  • Interchangeable lens.
    • Thought this was a plus, but just turned into a full on Fuji La lens bender before it was all over. Predictable really. But I fell for my own line of bull. “Just one lens. We will be fine.” Right.

More recently I mentioned X100 cameras when talking about the SIGMA dp2 Quattro. Even dared to call it boring when compared to the oddball dp2 Quattro. Should have qualified that statement. Boring for the spend required would have been more accurate. Or the spend I thought was still required. So what changed?

For most desirable cameras on the used market, I have a, “If less than this price buy.” number. Not only do I like the folks at my local camera shop but above the pleasant conversation, it is great to constantly take stock of what trades have come in the door. And then I saw it on my last visit.

FUJIFILM X100S

When I spotted it in the middle of a conversation a number came to mind. If the camera is less than this number I am going to buy it.

And it was. By a good margin. So I bought it.

Film camera prices seem to be rising at absurd rates lately. Film cameras I once owned and those I still own are now going for prices that I would never pay for them. But I have also noticed that good digital deals can still be had. And I am here for it all day. Had a great time on a wonderfully distracting “That’ll do” MFT bender last year. The takeaway from that was basically any camera made in the last few years would do just fine for stills regardless of brand or sensor size. Video may be another matter but when it comes to stills latest and greatest does not mean much to me. For the X100 series, I had researched them enough in the past to know that anything beyond the first generation would do.

Could have spent more for a third gen T or fourth gen F, but the second generation S was just fine for me. The fifth gen V… (Seriously this naming sequence is for the birds FUJIFILM. If the F were a U it would have lined up alphabetically at least, but why? Is U bad luck or something? Is everything ok? Anyhoo…) …is back up there in nosebleed pricing territory for me. Why is the second gen S important? Welp (Big thanks Wikipedia for summing this up.):

  • 16.3 MP Fujifilm X-Trans CMOS II sensor instead of 12.3 MP CMOS sensor with primary colour filter (Bayer filter)
  • Redesign of menus
  • Quick Menu (Q) button
FUJIFILM X100S
  • Uses X-Trans color filter pattern (taken from the X-E1 and X-Pro1), instead of Bayer pattern
  • No optical low pass filter (OLPF), to give sharper images
  • Phase detection within the X-Trans CMOS II sensor increasing autofocus speed to 0.08 s in good light
  • The faster the focus ring is rotated, the quicker the focus is adjusted
  • Focus mode switch options have been reorganised such that the most commonly used functions (Autofocus Single and Manual Focus) surround the least used function (Autofocus Continuous) for more efficient operation
FUJIFILM X100S
  • Hybrid viewfinder switch has been altered in shape to allow for easier one-handed operation
  • Autofocus point selection has been altered to all one button access

Later generations do bring further real improvements like:

  • Better video capabilities, including 4K for starters.
  • Further improved AF including face detect and many more focus points.
  • Front control dial.
  • Higher MP.
  • Sharper lens wide open.
  • And even an articulating screen and weather sealing with the latest generation.

But I do not need all of that. I am not trying to obtain one camera for everything. Once had pursued such but have since realized that is a pointless endeavor. There is no one camera that will meet all of my needs. So what did I want out of an X100? Welp:

FUJIFILM X100S

  • Works out to a 35mm-ish focal length which is preferred over the wider fixed focal length on the Leica Q for instance.
  • An f/2.0 aperture in such a tiny package with a reasonably large sesnor.
  • An X-Trans sensor.
    • Not capable of the same stellar results of Foveon sensors but is far, far more flexible and forgiving.
    • Good for up to 3200 ISO for me.
  • An optical viewfinder a la my old X-Pro1.
    • That I keep fighting the urge to buy because unlike the X100 I know I will regret that purchase. It costs more than I am willing to spend, would still reuire a lens, and with any lens I would attach to it would be lager than what I am looking for.
  • A proper EVF.
FUJIFILM X100S
  • Proper old timey aperture ring and shutter dial controls.
FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S
  • Does not hurt that it is easy on the eyes.
  • The JPEG files are not hype.
    • Good enough that shooting RAW is an option, rather than required.
    • Film emulations and B&W profiles are actually usable rather than gimmicks.
  • Very accurate and dependable AWB and auto exposure.
  • Inexpensive enough to be used as intended. A walkabout camera.
    • This is the main problem I have with most small, capable cameras. Most have asking prices that tread into full frame interchangeable lens territory and well beyond.
  • Fixed lens means no lens rabbit hole to fall down.
    • Should any way. We’ll see.
  • Built in flash that is very good at fill flash,
  • Better battery life than I would expect from such a small camera.
    • Nothing stellar, but one spare battery should do for me out and about.
  • Handy macro mode.
  • Has a metal slip on lens cap. What? I like metal lens caps.
FUJIFILM X100S- MACRO MODE
  • Bottom line, great capabilities in a tiny package.

Sidebar: Now that I think about the many have compared the XT100 series to Leica, likely based on aesthetics.

Leica M3

But in use it is more akin to a digital Contax T2. Think about it for a moment. AF, AE, built-in flash that is great at fill, fixed lens, and is rangefinder-ish (That purists scoff at.) for different reasons. And we are back in 3, 2, 1…

I really like it.

This comes as no surprise. I have owned many film and digital FUJIFILM cameras. Here are family shots a few years ago from two Fuji La benders before I let them all go.

Fuji La
Fuji La Bender 1
Fuji La Part 2
Fuji La Bender 2
Day 1 with New to Me Fujifilm X-Pro1
Fuji La
20200101 Durham Photo Walk
Fuji La
FujiFilm X-T100
FujiFilm X-T100
20200101 Durham Photo Walk
Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 for FUJIFILM X
KoreaFest Raleigh 2017
KoreaFest Raleigh 2017

So if I like FUJIFILM so much why did I leave Fuji La?

  • All other things being equal full frame is my preferred sensor size.
  • Sony’s strong third party lens support compared to all other brands currently.
  • Not that much smaller than full frame options on the market.
  • No less expensive than full frame options on the market.
  • FUJIFILM may have closed the gap since, but back then Sony cleaned the clocks of most AF wise.
  • Medium format stepup is cost prohobitive.

-But I still really like FUJIFILM and hold most of their cameras in high regard. With one notable exception. The X-T100 did the brand no favors. Had terrible AF overall.Thought they would fix it in firmware like the X-Pro1 but they released the X-T200 instead and left the X-T100 for dead. That was a wrap for me and I exited Fuji La stage left. But I still wanted a bit of that Fuji La action if it could be obtained at a reasonable price. And here we are.

FUJIFILM X100S

I close here with some first samples below. WIll add more here and to this gallery shortly.

Happy shooting.

-ELW

FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S

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