First Impression: Fujifilm X100S


In early 2013 Fujifilm released the X100S, which has gone on to be one of the most widely praised cameras since Canon debuted the 5D MkII in the 4th quarter of 2008. It’s got a great retro design, operates silently, and packs quiet a punch for something that can fit in your jacket pocket. I’ve yet to put the X100S through enough to warrant a full review, but I did want to share my first impression of the camera.

If you’ve been following the buzz centered around the Fujifilm X100S you probably wonder if it really lives up to the hype drummed up by photographers like Zack Arias and David Hobby. In short: yes, yes it does. However, I’ve only had the camera for a month and some change and haven’t put it through the demand of my average workflow. Turns out that January isn’t the best month for live music photography. Who knew?

However, I’ve been pretty impressed with the results I’ve gotten when using the X100S at the small shows that have peppered the last 30 odd days. The menu system is a little archaic at first but once you understand the quirks of it you’ll find it to be seamless enough to not hinder your process of documentation. Fuji promises an auto-focus speed of up to 0.08 sec and while that seems about right in good lighting conditions, I found it to hunt and peck a little too much in low light scenarios. That was until I was going through the menu and found something called “high performance” under the power management selection. Turning this on not only increases the general performance of the camera but also solved any issues I had with sluggish AF. The only drawback it that will drain the camera’s battery as a faster rate which may not be noticeable depending on the shooting situation.

And yes, you will need spare batteries. The X100S will let you know that a battery is near exhaustion with little warning or mercy but thankfully you can find reliable 3rd party batteries for a reasonable price or Amazon or B&H.

The 35mm equivalent F2 fixed lens is great and it’s compact size affords the X100S to be sleek and unassuming. Attaching a glass filter to protect the front optic adds minimal bulk but the lens hood, Fuji or 3rd party, takes away the X100S’ pocket appeal. Even then, a Black Rapid strap under the top layer of clothing can conceal the camera just the same as a jacket pocket. Switch the camera to silent mode and you’ve everything you need for street photography or any situation where you don’t want to make it completely obvious you’re carrying a camera. In a relaxed or social environment I’ve found it to be a conversation starter and a much better tool for getting the sort of candid work that is often elusive when you’re at an event with a DSLR and bag.

There are a few more points that I could make but I’ll save them for my full review. Next weekend I’ll be joining a band for 22 days on tour through the American South. No doubt I’ll know the Fujifilm X100S inside and out by the time I set my feet back in St. Louis.
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