THERE’S A BETTER WAY – Fuji X100s review

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Remember when you bought your first digital SLR camera? You thought, “What a piece of engineering!” You opened the box and took the first glance as excitement and joy ran through your veins. No more film, no more limitations and the ability to take as many photos as you want. The world was your oyster.

You went through the manual and the number of options, menus and settings left you gasping. While the battery was still charging you were already planning your first photo endeavour.

Then you ran outside with your shiny new camera and started shooting like mad. After all, with digital there are no limits.

In the evenings you hit the Internet. You were sure you had the best camera on the market. You read all the reviews that were proving your point. But wait, you thought, “Maybe I should get a better lens, a better-rated lens.”

You scratched together all the money you could and bought a huge, beautiful pro-rated lens. “Now I can take really stunning photos!” you cried.

You drove to the nearest park and photographed everything around you: benches, trees, leaves, people, even hydrants. You uploaded your photos, looked at them at 100%, and admired sharpness and dynamic range.

Again, you went on the Internet, hit the blogs, forums and ratings and thought, “If only I had a telephoto lens, I could take even more amazing photos.” The next day you visited your local dealer and came back with a massive telephoto 2.8 pro-rated. WOW!

But wait! Another question hit you. “How I am going to carry all this equipment?” You ran back to the store and picked the largest and best camera backpack you could afford.

Daily you carried the backpack with your expensive SLR and superb lenses and took hundreds of photos. Sure the bag was heavy and the camera overwhelming but you told yourself, “This is the price I have to pay for top quality.” You justified an inconvenience. You kept uploading your photos to the computer, then processing and uploading them on the Internet. Next, you repeated your mantra about your camera’s superiority.   

You followed this sequence religiously every day. But despite your best efforts, photography had become an almost robot-like endeavour. Then it hit you. Something was not right!

You noticed that others were taking much more interesting photos that were more engaging, more powerful. You went through them, you counted every pixel and you compared. Sure their photos were not as sharp as yours, the resolution was lower, the dynamic range was nowhere near yours but somehow their images were so much better and more interesting. You grumbled to yourself, “It is not possible! After all, I spent thousands on my equipment and I feel I am going nowhere!”

You nervously studied the 300-page manual and asked yourself, “Maybe I am missing some settings? If only I knew how to set up…” You fell asleep with the manual as your pillow.

Next day in the field you set up a tripod, put your brand new, huge, super-fast lens on your camera, went through your settings, played with all the buttons and you came back home… with even more mediocre photos.

Your frustration was growing. Where is the joy? Where is the passion? Should I buy a better lens? Should I change my in-camera settings?

Weeks and months passed and you left your heavy backpack at home more often. You became unengaged and uninspired. You started avoiding photography. What a chore it had become! You think, “Maybe that’s just how it is. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe this is the new normal.” 

The following day you bumped into a kid next door and he showed you a few photos he had taken with his iPhone. You immediately dismissed the quality and told him to buy a real camera but deep down you admired his images, creativity and passion. You went home depressed and discouraged.

Then, one day you came across your old friend who was holding a small and interesting camera. Out of respect and curiosity, you took it, looked through the viewfinder and played with the controls. At first, you felt hostile towards this tiny camera. After all, at home you had whole backpack of expensive gear.

But deep inside you had a strange feeling. Something drew you closer. It was the strange but familiar feeling you had when you shot Leica or Contax film cameras. You could not stop thinking about the little camera you held in your hands today.

After a few days of internal struggle you decided to go for it. You realized what had been missing.

How many of you have had a similar experience? I did.

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As the owner of an SLR with expensive, professional lenses, it wasn’t an easy decision to buy the Fuji X100. In fact, I cannot explain what drew me closer to this purchase. I thought, “People say it is such a slow camera with so many quirks. Maybe they are right.” Despite those concerns one day I went to my local store and bought a Fuji X100.

The first thing I noticed was that it felt so right in my hands. It was solid but not too heavy. The build quality and materials were first rate, unlike many other glitzy “plastic” cameras nowadays. The next things that drew my attention were the key control dials: the aperture on the lens, the exposure compensation and shutter speed – on the top – at hand and exposed. They were simple and engaging. I thought, “WOW! This is really great.”

And the viewfinder – two in one! Wow, what a concept. I had never seen anything so essential yet simple at the same time. How come nobody had come up with this before?

Then every day, I shouldered my heavy backpack with my expensive gear along with my Fuji X100. I tried to shoot with both, sometimes in the same locations with the same subjects and in the same lighting. When I came home and downloaded my photos I was really surprised. The majority of images taken with this small camera were more interesting, engaging, more creative and even sharper and with better colours than the photos taken with my professional bag of gear.

Indeed, with this little camera I forgot about using a tripod. Quite the opposite! I crawled, climbed, looked for new perspectives and walked back and forth. I adjusted my major settings on the fly without thinking about it. This little camera became a part of me. I stopped thinking about menus and submenus. My attention turned to the light, subject and composition. I was bursting with creativity. Most importantly, I always carried it with me.

The joy has returned! It was like shooting photos with a film camera… digitally.

After a while I noticed I was no longer taking my backpack with me. My X100 was the only companion I needed: one lens, one camera. Many people would think it was limiting but I found it liberating.

After a while, I sold all my SLR gear and replaced it with the Fuji X-Pro1. Although I have been enjoying the interchangeable X-Pro1, I missed my X100. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. Last week I received the X100s, a new iteration of my beloved X100.

Outside, it is the same camera. Fuji made it smart by not fooling around with a great physical design. It feels good and solid in my hands unlike many other cameras. The only downside I see is that the strap is made of poor quality material, which after extensive use starts to fray.

The controls remain the same but with a few key improvements. The aperture compensation dial is now stiffer, which is a welcome change. In the first iteration of the camera it was too easy to turn the dial by mistake. Fuji removed the RAW button and replaced it with the Q (Quick) menu, which gives access to all major settings at once, without hassle. Finally, the button that lets you choose the focus point was moved to the right so now it can be moved with just one hand! Thank you, Fuji, for listening.  

The greatest improvement is the operations and, in particular, the speed. Once you turn on the camera it is instantly ready for action. The greatest complaint about the X100 (slow autofocus) has been improved dramatically. I took the camera to the annual Vancouver Sun Run and didn’t have any problems locking focus even on moving subjects. Of course, it doesn’t have the D4 speed but this camera was never intended to be a sport shooter camera.

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Straight from a camera, minor contrast adjustment in LR4.

The fact that all the major problems with the original X100 have been addressed in such a short time speaks volumes about Fuji’s commitment to the platform. It is so refreshing to see a company that actually listens to photographers and reacts to their concerns. Despite that, I would be delighted if Fuji would simplify the camera even more. I am waiting for a camera without a video mode, without in-camera processing options (I don’t know anybody who processes images in the camera) that clutter the menu. Wouldn’t it be great if all jpeg settings disappeared when you chose the RAW-only option? Finally, a little bit of weather sealing and double card slots would be the icing on the cake.   

I found the image quality slightly better than the X-Pro1 and XE-1 cameras, which use a similar X-Trans sensor. Part of it could be the perfect pairing of an excellent, fast lens and part of it the improvement in sensor technology.

The in-camera jpegs are the best in the industry, period. I have used Nikon, Canon, Olympus and many other brands and I have never liked jpegs straight from the camera. Fuji is the only company that does it right. The colour is accurate, skin tones are beautiful and sharpness is right on. The only film simulation that may still need some tweaking on Fuji’s part is Velvia. Many of us remember the brilliance of Velvia film and in my view Fuji still hasn’t figured it out in its digital incarnation.

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Fuji Velvia, minor contrast adjustments in LR4, saturation could get pretty crazy but it has its appeal for some people

Then there are RAW files. What a saga it has been since the introduction of the X-Trans sensor! Adobe Lightroom was the first usable software that supported the platform (Silkypix was first but an extremely slow) and it was far from perfect. Many observers and photographers quickly jumped on the X-Trans RAW “doom and gloom” demosaic bandwagon. Then, Capture One 7 announced its support with a much-improved algorithm, which prioritized details over moiré and in my view, did a fantastic job. Most recently Aperture joined the party (I haven’t had an opportunity to test it yet).     

From my own observations, Capture One 7 remains the best RAW converter for the X-Trans sensor files today. I hope Adobe will improve its conversion soup even more than it did in the most recent incarnation. My personal choice would be details over other concerns such as smearing, moiré, etc. One thing is for sure, the demosaic algorithm for the X-Trans files is already very good and it is going to get even better, as further improvements are expected.     

I know that many of you would like to see 100%, 200%, 300% crops to indulge in a pixel orgy; after all, this is an equipment review. I figured if you are looking for that, there are plenty of places on the Internet that will offer you just that. I view this and any other camera as an artistic tool, not a pixelmator. Therefore, my choice of images was guided mostly by an artistic/visual principle. I chose a variety of photographs: jpegs straight from the camera and some processed in Lightroom 4, some B&Ws and others with strong saturation just to show the versatility of this camera and its files. You choose, and please let me know which ones you liked the most.

Of course, there’s lots more technical data about this camera and its menus. I am not going to write about it all. You will find plenty of technical data on the Internet.

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Playing with a new in-camera filter “miniature”, it is fun to play with but it must be used with the right subjects

Who is this camera for? First of all, this is a great camera for newcomers to the field of photography and for those who want to learn photography the right way. The Fuji X100s with major controls at hand along with the fixed focal length lens is something every student should start with. Unfortunately, today the majority of people begin with a big zoom and a complicated camera with the main knob turned to green (automatic). It’s a recipe for mediocre photography.

Secondly, this is the camera for people hungry for great imagery. It’s for those who never stop creating and challenging the status quo, and for those who speak with their images, not their words. Finally, it’s perfect for those who seek emotions and the pivotal moment, light and creativity in a photograph, rather than pixels and ratings.

While you may have plenty of gear at home, the strength of the X100s is its simplicity, mobility and silence. This camera will be always with you! You will grab it without concern about weight, security or complications. With your constant companion, you will take photos you wouldn’t otherwise take.

With the X100s you will find perspective unlike any other. It will force you to think before you press the button. Most importantly, you will regain the joy of photography and rediscover the art of creating an image.

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Great websites and reviews:

My favourite review of the X100s is by Zack Arias (but is there anybody out there who hasn’t read it yet?). This is a review I wish I had written. Yes, Fuji is the new Leica.

Make sure to check out Montreal photographer Patrick LaRogue whose work is unique and brilliant.

Fujirumors is a must for everyone shooting or considering Fuji X-cameras. Patrick is doing a great job keeping us updated and motivated.

Finally, “Scoop It” by Thomas Menk should be bookmarked and followed; it has great photographs and insights.

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Kasia and I recently returned from a photographic trip to some of the forgotten places of British Columbia. We have many more images and stories to share. Stay tuned. 

 

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© Olaf Sztaba. All rights reserved.

117 thoughts on “THERE’S A BETTER WAY – Fuji X100s review

  1. Have to agree with many of the sentiments that you wrote about, and I have to add that I have also just discovered the Fuji X series. Wonderful selection of quality photos to back up what you wrote as well, so it was a great read.

    jeritilley.wordpress.com

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  5. OMG. What a beautiful review. Your images are just brilliant. I am a Mexican with a 1 month old X100s. No I did not start with a film Leica. It was in 2011 that I got my first DSLR. A Nikon D3100. And what you just said about the first camera is all true. I did not invest in new equipement. But with the insecurity here in my beloved country…. I decided to go stealthier. And this was my option. And boy I love it ! And it even encouraged me to start my photo blog. Not better than yours for sure. Nevermind I wil stay tune so I can get to know more about your beautiful British Columbia, without spending a heck of $$$$ going there. Thanks for sharing your photos… Sorry, yours are not photos… it is all ART! .
    Cheers from Mexico.

  6. Any word on an improvement to the x100s? I would live Fuji to read your suggestions for making this an even better camera and release it as soon as possible!
    I’ve a second question I’d love an answer to – most of my photos are travel photos, so the x100s sounds ideal due to its weight, quality and versatility – can you recommend a good tripod to use, for travel – light, yet sturdy etc.?
    Thank you! Great blog!

    • You should definitely look at the Velbon Ultrek series. I have the UT-53Q and it’s the best travel tripod I’ve ever used.
      I wrote a quick review with a video on my blog if you want to see more : http://www.an-chan.net

      It’s perfect for the X100s but works fine with any dslr as long as you avoid long and heavy tele lenses.

  7. Great post, i loved it. I too have shared the same experience when it came to my gear :D I’ve been reading up on this Fuji for some time now and i think i might finally hit the buy button. I too miss the fun of photography and hope to find it again with this camera

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  9. Dear Olaf,

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful photos and such genuine feelings about the act of shooting photos. This is much more than a camera review. You just described the way that a photographer can rescue his former passion for this art.

    I never liked to do something just because everyone does. That’s why, some year ago, I entered in the DSLR world with Sony Alhpa system. Even now, I think Sony still playing aside of Canon and Nikon’s rules. But maybe they lost the way with multiples models launched in such a small time. Before that, I had a Fujifilm S9000 when I learned the basic principles.

    Last year I returned to Fujifilm (I still have my Alpha) with a X20. I’m very happy with it in every aspect, except battery life wich I solved with a spare one. I hope to soon have an opportunity to buy a mirrorless Fujifilm and some lenses (prices are very high in Brazil, so I’ll need to do it when travelling).

    Well, I just liked to say thanks for sharing yor opinion.

    Best regards,

    Anderson Ivo.

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  12. Hi Olaf,
    Fantastic review. I read it before I bought an x100s. Multiple times. You convinced me! I read it again after I bought it. I’m still 100% in agreement with your views :)
    Thanks! JF

  13. Olaf

    like your review, especially the opening part, u spelled me out :)

    Do feel free to visit my photos taken in Japan using x100s, pls share your view and comment. Enjoy!

    flickr/kennyt phtoz

  14. Great post and you know what? I bought a new lens for our Canon DSLR two months ago. Great improvement, as I got OIS and faster aperture… ok… now I have more photos sharp, but I am not sure I have more good photos…
    I completely recognize myself in this post’s introduction and I still have to fight with my geek’s mind telling me to go for the X-E2 with many lenses etc……… aaaaaarrrgghhhh… where all I need for now is simplicity and a camera to bring everywhere just to shoot what I like, without being intimidated/intimidating.

    My wife might get upset, but I think I’ll buy that X100s this week!

    • Great idea, but don’t throw away the dSLR…yet. The X-series simply cannot replace it- despite all the (over)hyped reviews to the contrary. The X100s is a brilliant camera- for things that stay still in good light. Look at Olaf’s (very beautiful) images- how many of them are street action? Nada- just a guy in front of a wall playing a banjo- he aint goin nowhere. All the other things are still.

      The single-point AF is crap. The CF function is total crap. I have tried every combination of settings recommended here and elsewhere to improve it, but I suspect people are too caught up with the ability of the sensor, and not looking at the thing that actually makes the lens elements move- The lens ‘motor’ is TOO SLOW. You can hear it moving back and forth trying to lock, but it’s in no great hurry. It’s the elephant in the room, I think. Put a Nikon 24-70mm/2.8 zoom on even a D300 in low light and check how fast it locks. we are talking 6-year-old technology here in both cases- but the focus motor moves to the right spot almost instantaneously.

      It is such a great pity, because the image quality out of the X-trans sensor at high ISOs is sooo damn good- it leaves EVERY Canikon dSLR in the dust for noise control, but you will throw away at least 50% of your shots due to mis-focusing. And, as a street photographer, I’ve lost the moment countless times (unless I shoot manually and zone focus at higher f-stops- obviously no good for night shooters).

      In good light it’s still hit and miss- even if you get focus confirmation on your selected AF point, when you open the damn file, it’s focused on the background. It’s a lemon.

      None of which would be a big problem, except that the cam is still outrageously overpriced. I’m not a pro, but my experience has been truly love-hate with the X100s. If I’d known that the AF was still crap, i would never have blown a lot of money to upgrade from the X100- AND I am a big Fuji fanboy!.

      All I’m saying is this- IF you have lots of $$$ to throw around- then go for it! But if this decision is gonna cost you big brownie points with the missus, DON’T do it- get the X20 instead as your pocket wonder- there’s really not much difference, and it’s more versatile. Just my 2c. hope it helps.

      • Gunzzel,

        Thank you for taking your time and sharing your views on the Fuji X100s. However, based on our two-year shooting experience with the Fuji X100 and then Fuji X100s, we have to disagree with most of your points.

        But first, let’s agree on something. If you shoot sports and really fast action, you are right, the Fuji X100s may not be for you. It was never intended to be a sport camera.

        Here is where we disagree:

        Regarding (over-) hyped reviews: the fact that a new camera from a relatively small company (small marketing budget) achieves such a following among professional photographers cannot be an accident. This is the camera that many of us wanted to have. We have been SLR-free and shooting with the X-series cameras for the last two years and we haven’t had a day when we missed SLRs.

        Regarding your “AF crap” point: as mentioned above, if you shoot sports, this is not the camera for you. However, Kasia and I have been photographing children at play, family reunions, weddings and street action and we haven’t had the problems you did. All the advantages of this little camera such as quietness, portability, etc. makes the slightly slower autofocus a minor issue. You just use this camera differently from an SLR. You anticipate action and once you learn how to use its AF, it just brings you joy and great imagery. If you need to throw away at least 50% of the images you shot, you must be doing something wrong.

        Outrageously overpriced? This is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. Yes, compared to Nikon/Canon, plasticky, sink-like menus, APS-C small SLRs with poorly made and horribly slow zoom lenses, which are on sale at huge discounts almost daily – it may look expensive. However, if you look at the form, build, portability, innovative viewfinder and high-quality lens and sensor, this is not an expensive camera by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the opposite! The way my photography improved with this little camera, which I carry everywhere with me, is priceless. Furthermore, I see new photography students who start shooting with SLRs with zoom lenses having a really hard time understanding what photography is all about. One lens, one camera, which is always with you, is a solution made-in-heaven for students of photography. For too long we have learnt to shoot with Frankenstein cameras like the D300 and yes, we got so used to them that we no longer expected better.

        Finally, I understand that the Fuji X100s is not for everyone. It works for me and many prominent and much more talented photographers than I am, such as Patrick La Roque or David Hobby. If it doesn’t work for you, I respect that. However, please let others try it and decide for themselves before throwing around poorly chosen words like “crap.”

        Olaf

      • Olaf,
        firstly i apologize for the tone (if not all of the substance) of what I said in the previous post. Maybe ‘crap’ was too harsh- the word was certainly overused in the post. But if you look at my earlier post (5th May), you can see the initial enthusiasm and hope that I held out for the X100s. And the last post clearly shows my frustration at it having not met my expectations.

        My reference to (over)hyped reviews goes to the issue of camera reviews generally- even the ones using objective measures of resolution, noise, etc. The reason is that they fail to capture the full experience of shooting with the cameras. My use of ‘crap’ to describe the AF was specifically a response to my expectations derived from reading too many such reviews and believing that the AF system was actually as quick and as accurate as they had led me to believe. It is adequate in most well-lit situations, but I stand by my comment that it still often fails to lock on the chosen AF point- even in good light. If you have any suggestions for ways to improve this I’d really appreciate it !

        I generally find the best source of information about real-world shooting experience is to be found in the discussion forms at DP Preview or Flickr- but of course these don’t start to fill up until a product has been out in the market for some time. I have tried everything that I have read there about AF- still no fix.

        I’m still mightily impressed with what this camera can do. The colours, the IQ, the form-factor are all brilliant- no question. I also agree with you that the fixed lens makes one think about composition and light more, and therefore ultimately improves one’s technique – it is actually one of the reasons I bought an X100 and not the X-pro1.

        Regarding your comment that ‘outrageously overpriced’ was the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, obviously you have never listened to an Australian politician talking (-; Again, maybe ‘outrageously’ was over-the-top, but it is at least ‘somewhat’ overpriced for an enthusiast mirrorless with a fixed lens and no weather sealing. A D7100 and 35mm/1.8 can be purchased for the same amount, and it is no more or less plasticy than the X100s.

        Finally, I want to say I wasn’t trying to discourage anyone from buying an X100s camera- When I open a file that has nailed the moment, i couldn’t be happier. I would however discourage anyone with a limited budget from selling their dSLR gear to buy an X100s (like I did). Because there’s some things it just doesn’t do well. Add it to the kit when you can afford to instead. Keep in mind that Zach Arias still uses a PhaseOne for his day job.

        On a happy note:
        There’s some things that the X100s can do that you may not have thought it could- check out this guy’s flickr site: He’s a pro who uses the X100s for edgy environmental glamour/portrait shots. He’s a brilliant user of natural light and his work is a great advertisement for what the X100s can do in the right situation!

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/thesardoniciconic/

      • Different cameras, different use. I am buying the X100s in a few hours today and my approach after reading all the blogs and camera reviews is that my current DSLR is good enough for anything that requires a zoom of speedy focus. I am also very cautious not to fall in the equipment upgrade trap that Olaf described so well in the review…
        So I’ll get that X100s, work on my photography skills and if the results objectively improve after a year or two, I may indulge in upgrading my DSLR to anything I see fit at the time :-)

        But thanks for the warning anyway, it’s always good to cool things down a bit when all the reviews are so positive.

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  16. Hi Olaf!
    I really love your review. Since I started blogging my love for photography only grew. When I started I bought the ‘beginner’ camera Canon Eos 1100D which was good for the first year, but now I want more. Now I’m planning to invest in a new camera. The thing with blogging is that I have to make outfitpictures, product pictures and event pictures. It’s hard to find a camera that is both good and compact (to take with me for the event pics). Next to the blogging thing I just love photography (I would just take pictures of everything). First I thought about a big camera with a big lens and lots of features. But that makes me have the same problem as you’ve described above: that camera won’t be in my handbag wherever I go. I’m sure when I’ll buy the Fujifilm X100S, I’ll take it everywhere. I still have to learn a lot about photopgraphy.

    I think your review was very inspiring and I hope I can make lots of these pretty pics as you did! :)

  17. Olaf,
    I , too, enjoyed your comments and your photos. Just bought the camera and am excited to get the settings right.
    I read your color settings outlined in ‘Family at Play’. Could you tell me what settings you used in the picture above of the old man with an antique truck in the background?
    Much appreciated.
    MLMD

    • MLMD,

      The photo with the man was shot in the RAW format and then processed in NIK Silver. You can achieve a very similar result setting your camera for B&W.

      All the best,

      Olaf

  18. Ok, I have it, I love it. But my main problem is with color, I don’t get beautiful crisps like you do. And I’m really annoyed by it. I think my color settings are wrong or my configuration or something. I’ve googleing “perfect color x100s” for a while now, and, well, no luck. Your pics are AMAZING!

    • Alex,

      Thank you for your kind comments. The majority of our images were taken early in the morning with great light. We have also done some post-processing in Iridient Developer and Lightroom.

      Check out our recent post “Family at play” – all images are JPEGs straight from the camera. You will find there our settings.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Olaf

  19. I recently bought a X100s that’s how I came to read your article! Very well written! I found my self in your story like many of us did! Thank you Olaf!

  20. Fantastic review and gorgeous images. It strikes such a chord. I found myself chuckling away thinking yep that was me :). Spending all that money on Pro DSLR gear only to prefer my £800 Fuji X100. And by a long way. I now also have the X-Pro1 and X100s. Absolutely adore them :)

  21. Olaf: Thanks for the great review. I loved Arias and Hobby’s reviews–and they influenced me to buy the X100s–but I enjoyed your review more. Your view of photography and this camera strongly mirror my own. And you take great pictures. Thank you!

  22. As someone who is about to take the plunge onto the 5DMkIII, I’m glad I did some research first and found this post. I was about to upgrade to FF but then I realize that my current DSLR is put at home 98% of the time and next year will be my traveling year so yes I’ll skip the FF and will go for the X100S.

    Your image and review is much more compelling than Zack Arias and Hobby. Thanks for that. At the moment I’m traveling with my Lumix LX-5 as the main camera but the image that comes from it is very low in quality especially on the high ISO range. No more thinking and wondering, I’ll get the X100S in next week!

  23. Olaf,

    Your photos are inspiring. Your words are appreciated and thoughtful. I love Zack’s and Hobby’s review. But your images and how you were able to say what I was searching for in your own experiences, helped me bite the bullet and sell my gear and get the x100s. Should arrive in a week. BTW, for those who are having a hard time finding x100s’, go to http://www.digitalrev.com. They have them in stock. I ordered mine Monday (7/8) should me about a week with free shipping. Plus pretty good package deals.

    Again, I love your work Olaf. I hope to capture images like those some day.

    Stu

  24. This post is a little off the track, but recently there have been some new developments in X-trans RAW file development. For those interested in maximising the potential of the X100s RAW files I urge you to look at Iridient Developer 2.1.1. I have the free trial (watermarked saves). It is superb, especially regarding NR and detail preservation. I finally have my X100s upgrade from the X100, and with this cam and that software, I’m sorted. Huzzah!

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  26. amazing, love the feeling for colour but then you show great understanding for black and white do you crop at the taking or wait for processing Regards Richard Strong ps ever think of a trip too Tasmania, amazing place

  27. Scary how well you know me … although we’ve never met. Very well written review.

    Bought an X-E1 with 18-55 for travel and hiking 2 months ago after ruling out Olympus m4/3 and Sony NEX. Observation: the Canon 5D2 plus Zeiss lenses stay at home ALL the time. Now I’m ready to pull the trigger to sell all that big and heavy stuff. (maybe my best camera before the Fuji was the lovely Pentax ME-Super with a 50mm pancake lens like another person mentioned here). Thought about getting me a wide angle for the Fuji, preferably the zoom. I might not do that in order to keep things simple.

    On the other hand I might add an X100S to replace my “everywhere, always” Canon S95, or maybe instead the announced 27/2.8 pancake lens for the X-E1. Any thoughts on having both an X100S and an X-E1?

    Love your photos!

  28. I found your article somewhat true for me. However, I was half way there, as I primarily shoot with a Pentax K5, the 35mm ltd lens and the FA77mm LTD. That said, I used a Fuji GS60 (645 medium format range finder with a 60mm (37mm equivalent) lens for many years, I see the X100s as the digital equivalent of the GS60 that I had. I am envious that you got the X100s. I live in Vancouver as well, and seems that all the stores here are sold out of the camera. Guess I will have to wait until my birthday in September to buy one!

  29. There’s no doubt how fun the fuji x-cams are. I just forget my XE-1 / 18-55 kit more and more all the time and get better photos as a result. These cameras really get out of the way. Two things though:

    1) if there were one accessory I would buy it would be a transmitter for the hotshoe to send jpgs to iPad wirelessly. The LCD screens aren’t all that large for in-field review once the eyes start going and having the option to send to a larger screen for review would be nice occasionally — like back at the car or hotel.

    2) I think there’s a place for full-size DSLRs still, but what’s happened is that society has changed in a way that’s sped life up a lot. Life was slower in the 60’s and 70’s, and then seemed to start to accelerate in the 80’s and 90’s. it seems to me that the digital revolution and the ever persistent push for more / better has made us all impatient for the next “it”, and for some of us that’s been cameras like the x-series. Having said that, I went to a festival last weekend and about lost it when I realized I’d left my XE-1 at home. As it turned out I had a nikon d50 in my backpack with a 24mm f2.8 D lens that I’d left in the trunk for a month. I had a great time shooting with that 6mp camera and didn’t miss the fuji. Sure, the OOC jpgs were a bit lackluster compared to the XE-1, but I did some post and all was good. The point is its great to own a fuji, but I’d rather have a full frame nikon with a 24-70 2.8 than NO camera at all.

    Ps: my cell phone is a blackberry — useless for mobile photos.
    Ps2: I am coming to Vancouver for the first time ever in June….can’t wait to take the place in.

  30. Hi Olaf
    Thanks for your very interesting observations. I think your journey is one many of us find ourselves on just now. Reading what you’ve said, and other people’s comments here, helps make me feel a little less guilty about having a bunch of expensive equipment that just doesn’t interest me as much as mirrorless cameras.

    I liked my GF1 and somewhat my GX1 (it’s has tiny lenses and the touch screen actually works really well for focusing), but really enjoy my wonderful X-E1 with its accessible controls that seems to change and calm my whole approach to photography.

    Your photos are quite wonderful, some very involving, capturing attention and causing you to linger and explore them rather than give them a quick glance. I agree the Velvia is quite intense, but a lot of people seem to like that… They appear almost as HDR. Pretty amazing if they’ve come from the camera lie that. Sme of the Fuji colours are beautifully subtle and people are creating wonderfully charming photos.

    I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

    • Richard,

      Thank you for taking your time and sharing your thoughts with us. I really appreciate your kind words. People like you give me a motivation to keep writing and sharing our work with others.

      All the best,

      Olaf

  31. This is my first digital SLR. Long time ago I had a reauglr SLR and a strong photography hobby. For the past 10 years I have used various digital point and shoot cameras. Loved digital photography, computer editing, no wasted film, etc, but was not really inspired. I sure am NOW! My camera came (as of this writing) two days ago. I love everything about it. I have small hands and it is easy to hold this camera. Heavier by far than what I have been used to, but I ADORE it. A VIEW FINDER! Goodbye little screens I can’t see in daylight. Hello nose smudges on the screen (lol.)

  32. Pingback: Walking around Vancouver with the Fuji X100s |

  33. “So be cool brothers, nothing is perfect in this life.
    It’s not the camera the point but your imagination, your dreams and your life view.
    My last month best photos I took with my IPhone.”

    100% agree. It is the time to sell Canon :)

    Olaf

    • Sell Canon and for night photos I ll buy a new camera?
      Olaf maybe you don’t open the link with the fail photos of X100s.
      Open the link please.

      http://s1333.photobucket.com/user/AVITHOS/library/Fujifilm%20X100s/FUJIFILM%20X100s%20RAINBOW%20SEMICIRCLES%20AT%20NIGHT%20SHOTS?sort=3&page=1

      I just mean that all the cameras has limitations.
      And X100s has more limitations from my Canon.
      So I can’t sell Canon.
      It’s not a war here which is better camera.
      For professional use Canon are better.
      My Canon are full format and i have no limits on the lens (35mm only).
      That’s enough for me.
      For non professional use X100s is great.
      Akis.

    • Akis,

      Of course, all cameras have limitations – and sometimes this could be good!. Regarding your link – I don’t have such problem with my X100s so I cannot relate to your issue. Although I will be honest with you: I would prefer that you send me a link to your photography rather than another set of “technicals”.

      “My Canon are full format” – i prefer discussing photographs rather than having pointless ‘full format vs, APS-C’ discussions. This is no longer relevant.

      “I have no limits on the lens” – one camera, one lens is exactly what I love about Fuji X100s.

      The purpose of my article was NOT to convince anybody to switch. I shared my thoughts and experiences and I truly believe that many people (and their photography) would benefit if they go with a simple setup.

      However, if Canon works great for you – I am all for it.

      Thank you for visiting,

      Olaf

  34. You speak from my heart – especially the first part. The photos shown are impressive. Not only because of the image quality, but because of their inspiration.

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  36. I had been in in a life long relationship Canon but those smooth shiny contours of the X100 were hard to resist however my fling with the X100 never became a permanent relationship. When that flirty little X-E1 showed up it caught my eye and really got me in trouble but there was still something missing. I finally found it in the X-Pro. Divorce is never easy and we still have some difficult moments but my photographic life is so much more interesting. Thanks for a great blog which said everything!

    • Jeff,

      You are right that “divorce is never easy” – especially with cameras we have been using for many years.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Olaf

  37. All we need now is a X110S with interchangeable lenses and to get their Velia setting a little better, then I’ll switch to digits. Till then velvia film is fine, While I read with amusement the upgraders. Best review of the X100S I found was Ken Rockwell ‘cos he designed the color chips, worked in Holywood to move the Industry from film to digits etc. and is a pro. photog. see his velvia 4x5s!!

    • Tommy,

      I know Ken Rockwell’s work and his writings. His strength is his focus on important aspects of photography such as composition and light.

      I don’t think we need “a X110s with interchangeable lenses” – such camera already exists – it is the Fuji X-Pro1.

      Thanks for visiting and taking your time to share your thoughts.

      Regards,

      Olaf

  38. Hi Olaf,

    Great read, this story is very much like me.
    Backpack worth of gear that doesnt come out as much as it really should. Sometimes photography feels like a chore – but it really shouldnt be like that.

    I want to get this camera and relive when i first picked up my 350D all those years ago (body upgrades in the interim of course) – maybe after my wedding when the finances ease up slightly hahah.

    • Congratulations!

      You are wise with your approach – relationships first, cameras second! Many of us forget about it.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Olaf

  39. Such a great read, I found myself nodding and smiling regarding your description of the evolution of a photographer. I think it’s soemthing we all can say “been there, done that”

    Great review!

  40. Pingback: Une semaine avec le Fujifilm X100s | K-pture blog.

  41. Hello Olaf and Kasia – great article and really reinforces what so many of us experience. I’ve got a Nikon D600 and a kit of a couple of lenses that I really love using, no regrets upgrading to that from a D80. What I’ve been finding is that the big DSLR really restricts what you do and how you connect with your family when you’re out for the day. It’s a hassle to pack the gear, and even it you limit yourself to a walk around zoom it’s still a pain to get it out of the bag. Try getting a 5 year old and 3 year old to stop and wait while you fiddle around changing lenses!

    With that in mind, I just ordered a X100s that I can use as an everyday camera – I thought briefly about using the money to buy a long Nikon lens to add to my kit, but I really feel that the X100s was the much better way to go. There is something to be said for simplicity, less is more.

  42. Pingback: THERE’S A BETTER WAY – Fuji X100s review | peckham photography

  43. Olaf,
    I am considering the FujiFilm X100S as my next camera.
    I have an old EOS 10D with 35 mm (=50 mm Focal length due to 1.6X sensor). Your approach and your attitude to photography totally suits me.
    I was considering the x100, but the images and the reviews I have read to date convinced me that I should take the extra plunge and get the 100s. You images only proves my decision right, your insight confirm my assumptions and your pictures in general are inspiring.
    Thanks for a wonderful post.

  44. Olaf, in the opening paragraphs you have described me with uncanny precision- quite scary, actually! It is very easy to lose sight of the subject, object and the verb in the picture, and instead focus on the pixels in PP. I had been a camera/lens-porn addict for a long time, but last year I’d had enough and sold my D800 and four primes in favour of the X100. I still have that expensive backpack you talked about. I will be trading up to the X100s as soon as the first price drop occurs. And I just bought a Billingham bag to replace the huge back-wart, too.

    Thanks for so eloquently describing both the anxiety and the joy of flipping the big guns for the X100(s) and thanks for sharing your fabulous images with us. I too have your blog bookmarked now and look forward to future posts, especially about the X100s.

    • Thanks for sharing your story with us. I know so many photographers struggling with their “big guns” addiction (as I did), which takes away so much from the art of creating great photographs. I never intended to criticize big SLRs per say, as they have their use in many types of photography. However, some cameras have become so big and complicated that they disrupt a necessary connection between a subject and photographer. I applaud Fuji for taking a different route and I hope the industry will follow. I wish new crop of cameras would focus on a photographer (simplicity and purpose) rather than a customer and marketing (more options the better).

      Thank you for staying with us. Please keep us updated with your experiences and photography.

      Olaf & Kasia

  45. Wow. I just got my X100s and have barely used it yet. It took me months to take the plunge but I realized that over the last 12 months, my iPhone was actually my primary camera, not my 5D and four “L” lenses. All that gear stayed at home 98% of the time because it was just too much to lug around. It’s all either sold or FS and I look forward to always having this great camera at my side, just like when I started out photographing with a simple Canon AE-1 and a single 50mm lens.

  46. I’ve been following your blog a little while now and really enjoy it. It also reminds me that I need to get back to BC and explore more of it.

    I got an X100 just before Christmas last year, and really like it. It wasn’t long before I got an X-E1 too. The EVF and focus by wire is taking a bit of getting used to (coming from SLRs) but I’m getting there. I’ll still keep the DSLR and film cameras for when I want long lenses and fast operation, but these Fuji’s are great travel cameras and remind me a lot of my Contax G2, but with the instant gratification of digital that I’ve now gotten used to.

    Nice review, I like that you’ve kept it non-technical without all the emphasis on pixel-peeping and “IQ” comparisons. I made the choice years ago to only shoot JPG, and it’s been working for me. The little Fuji’s are great for that.

    • Frank,

      Thank you for visiting. Your comments are right on. It is wise on your part to shoot JPGs as I find that too many photographers become addicted to processing/computer. They no longer enjoy photography as it is intended.

      Kasia and I have been shooting RAW for a long time and over the years we have tried to simplify our processing methods. Recently we started to use JPGs more often (especially with Fuji) to avoid spending time in front of computers. We much prefer technically-imperfect but visually strong photographs rather than superbly-processed but dull ones.

      Again, thank you for stopping by.

      Olaf

  47. Olaf, your review reflects only some positives of the X100S. My experience shows images of foliage smearing, even with NR -2. The sensor QE is actually inferior to that of the X-Pro 1, due to focus peaking implementation. Even Fujifilm writes about how some light is actually blocked due to this new technology.

    By the way, while your images are interesting, but also appear to suffer from “foliage-smearing.”

    Best regards,

    Luego

    • I am sorry Luego, I look close at the full size images.. and cannot see what you see. I am sure when you look at ____% crop you will find something. The system and the sensor is not perfect (as all other systems) but it works great for me. I view myself as an artist/photographer, not a technician.

      This camera is so much more than just pixels.

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your concerns.

      Olaf

  48. Just to clarify: C1 does NOT support the RAF files from the X100s. I asked Phase One and they replied that they don’t know when they will get around to it. Processing RAFs to their best potential from the X100s is still an issue. For those who don’t care, then it’s not an issue. The camera itself is nice.

    • Groot,

      I didn’t say that C1 supports the RAF files from the X100s. I was talking about the X-Trans sensor in general (Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 are already supported). Since it is the same concept we should have C1 support shortly. I agree with you that there is so much more potential in the RAF files. I am confident that Adobe, Phase One and others will get there.

      I have done prints 20 x 30 from the Fuji X-Pro1 files and they are really gorgeous. I am planning to write about this topic in one of our future posts.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Olaf

  49. Thanks for a great life and camera review. Ditto on selling my DSLR (Nikon) gear. I also dabbled with a Leica M8.2 and 3 lens but they have all been sold also (Fuji is the new Leica….). Had the X100 for 2 years and love it. X100s coming soon. Thanks once again.

  50. Great thoughts and photography – I enjoyed both. I own an X Pro 1 and recently (4-5 months ago) bought an x100 as the prices started to decline in anticipation of the x100S’s release. I am blown away by this little camera.

    • @Scott, I have a 5D3, several L lenses, two speedlights, and I use them for professional and family purposes. I recently bought an X100S for my young family’s first trip to Disney World. Boy was I glad to have DSLR quality in my pocket, without having to lug my DSLR around the park. As far as I can tell, my 5D3 will never be used for family candids again. Unless of course I need WA or Tele or sports AF. Now I am eying a Ricoh GR for 28mm duty.

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  52. WOW !!!!

    Seriousely it’s the BEST review of the X100s that I have read so far !!!

    Thanks a lot Olaf.

    Patrick (From Montreal, Canada)

    • Patrick,

      Thank you for visiting and your kind words. We are huge fans of your work. You have an amazing and very selective eye, your composition is superb – I haven’t seen anything like that for years.

      Cheers,

      Olaf & Kasia

  53. Are you sure you’re not me? I’ve done the same thing, all my Canon gear has gone, have the X100 and X-E1 18-55. Smartest move I ever did. You article is spot on with picture that make me think, yeah that’s what it’s about,

  54. What a great article, and wonderful images. This is the first blog where I’ve said WOW! This guy has hit the nail on the head. I am now shooting with the X-E1, 18-55, and 35. I LOVE IT! It has re-inspired me. My D800, D700 and all my gear stay in the safe at home. As a matter of fact, this summer I’m planning a 10 day trip to Nova Scotia and I’m thinking of only bringing the Fuji gear. That to me would have been blasphemous just last year before the X-E1 came along!
    Thank you. I thought I was the only one feeling like you did. No more! I’m back enjoying picture taking, and seeing images everywhere — and my X-E1 travels me to EVERYWHERE – office, errands, gas station, I don’t care.
    Thanks

  55. I thought at the beginning that you were telling us my story… :-)

    Full Big Bag with Big Canon FF DSLR + 5 Types of different Lenses + Flash + Tripod…amazing…

    Well what was amazing was that all those gears were in the BIG Bag staying at home every time I go out…

    I just loose the love of taking pictures until…………I get the X100 and now the X100s…..

    The question is what is the most important….The gear that you use or the pleasure that you take when you take pictures….

    For me Fuji answer to my question :-)

    Btw, Very nice review !

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  57. A great well written article with some good photography as a bonus. Fuji are at the top of their game at the moment with the cameras they are producing. I sold all of my cameras to get the xpro 1 and don’t regret it for one moment.

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