Eric L. Woods

Vintage Digital: FUJIFILM X100S. Week 1 update and a trip to Duke Gardens.

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This has been what I call an Epson printer moment. But first, let me back up.

Last week I put up a post about a second-generation FUJIFILM X100S. It was an early take, but I was fairly confident I had a winner on my hands. As much as I appreciate the advances included in later models the less precious, lower priced older versions make more sense as a daily shooter for me. Have been looking for this for quite some time. Here are past attempts with a brief explanation of why they did not work out for me. Nothing wrong with the cameras. Just did not work for me. Afterward, I will explain the Epson printer moment thing before moving on.

O.G. Dead mount walking Samsung NX300/30mm f/2

NX300
  • Dead mount walking and no EVF just won’t cut it.

Sony a6000/Sony 20mm f/2.8

Sony a6000
  • Simple. Great little camera. I did not like this lens. All I need to do is look at the Flickr album photo count. 39. I am already well past that with the X100S and I have not owned it nearly as long.

Leica Q

Leica Q (Type 116)
  • Fantastic camera. Focal length is a bit wide and it is far too precious to be an every day camera for me. Personal preference.

Canon EOS RP/RF 35mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EOS RP
  • Nothing wrong per se. Very good actually. Just not good enough to entertain yet another mirrorless mount… And while not large by any stretch, too big for a walk about fit in your pocket solution.

FUJIFILM X-E2/27mm f/2.8 Pancake

X-E2
  • Very nice. But it backfired. Instead of being the stand in for an X100 camera as intended all it did was make we want to get an X100 camera even more in the end. It took a while, but that is exactly what I did. Not much bigger, but enough difference to matter. No one thing did it, but many small differences.

Ok, so back to the Epson printer thing. Years ago I wanted an Epson photo printer as I perceived them to be the best options on the market at that time. But every time I marched myself into a store I would end up with a less expensive option in pursuit of a “bargain”. Just hype, right? But invariably these other photo printers would start out ok, but all eventually were more trouble than they were worth. Finally, I broke down and purchased an Epson and it performed flawlessly. Left me with the conclusion that I would have been better off buying the Epson to start out with. Not just the money spent on other options, but the aggravation I experienced as well. What has that got to do with the X100S?

Have long wanted one of these cameras. Wrote it off as aesthetic, faux rangefinder hype and looked for less expensive options. Basically how I coped with a price north of my comfort zone. But now that the used market has gone my way here we are.

FUJIFILM X100S

And it was not hype.

Here are my follow-up observations after using the camera daily for a week.

Positives

  • AF is very good.
    • Even without face detect AF is just fine as is. At this focal length focus and recompose works just fine in the place of Face Detect. Phase detect is acceptably fast. Hit a minor hitch here and there, but overall better than I expected from a 2013 FUJIFILM camera.
    • AF-C works better than expected if not how I expected. Very literal. Instead of constantly focusing on half press it constantly focuses as long as the camera is on. Also only uses the center focus point. This would kill a battery fairly quickly I imagine and not practical for regular use. Perhaps there is a way to change this in the menus? Will take a look. If not, no big deal. But as mentioned it snaps on to subjects more quickly than I expected.
  • Macro mode is actually useful.
    • Truth be told I did not even know this camera had a macro mode. Not a gimmick and very effective.
  • Bult in ND Filter.
    • Works as billed and came in quite handy at Duke Gardens when I was looking to retain f/2.0 in bright conditions. Especially since 1/4000s shutter speed is not available at f/2.0 if I gather correctly from the manual.
  • Great Switchgear.
    • This has been the single biggest surprise. Three main reasons that really stood out over the same brand X-E2/27mm f/2.8 combo.
      • Switching to macro (not a thing on the X-E2) is a quick affair. D-pad left, left again (or right if that is what floats your boat since it is on/off), ok.
      • Mapped ND filter (also not a thing on the X-E2) to the Fn button for a quick one press on/off.
      • Honest to goodnesss aperture ring not available on the 27mm f/2.8 pancake.
  • Great Ergonomics.
    • Camera came with the previous owner’s thumbs up dealie and I highly recommend it. Along with the small grip it makes for a sure grip on the camera one handed. Very comfortable.
  • Very compact.
    • Deceptively so. Easily palmed and easily slips in and out of pocket.
  • Non rangefinder OVF.
    • While I do use the EVF most often I do also appreciate the OVF with overlay.
    • Rangefinder purists may scoff, but it offers a unique shooting experience.
  • This lens goes to f/2.0.
    • Had lied to myself that the 27mm f/2.8 was good enough, but after a week with the X100S I can verify that it make a difference. I expected it to be better of course, but the ga between the two was larger than I expected. Also likely helps that this is a dedicated lens made especially for this body.
    • Great bokeh and performs well in dark conditions if there is enough light to AF properly.
  • Great IQ from the X-Trans sensor.
    • This camera and lens really squeezes the most out of the modest 16MP available. I have no complaints about the images at at all.

Negatives

  • Could moan about the items below,…
    • No face detect AF, but as stated above it is easy to work around, especially at this focal length.
    • No tilt screen, which would be handy for above head and low shots, but I found that the viewing angles allowed me to frame shots low and high.
    • No 4K, but video is not what I bought this camera for and I usually shoot 1080p for my purposes anyway in casual settings where I would use a camera like this.
  • …but at this price point I really have no complaints at all.

Next up photo samples. First I will share sample photos from my regular Duke Gardens gear test loop.

FUJIFILM X100S
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Here are some samples taken using this camera as intended. A walkabout daily shooter camera.

FUJIFILM X100S
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Sample Shots - FUJIFILM X100S
Sample Shots - FUJIFILM X100S
Sample Shots - FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S

A proper tool for a proper task. And technically capable of more with full control available and even flash sync up to 1/4000s courtesy of the leaf shutter. There are even wide and tell adapters available if one were so inclined. But I am not. I’d rather continue using it as an overachieving compact point and shoot with near no compromises feature or IQ wise. Even better at a reasonable price used for a still capable 2013 camera model.

Well done FUFIFILM.

FUJIFILM X100S
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