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Fuji X100s Mirrorless Camera Review: A Street Photographer’s Best Friend

The Most Suitable Mirrorless Camera for Street Photography

Presenting the Fujifilm X100s, an incredibly captivating addition to the mirrorless camera market today. It’s truly remarkable how such exceptional quality can be packed into a compact, inconspicuous body, and the well-conceived vintage design adds an extra layer of appeal. With each passing day, my enjoyment of shooting with this camera grows.

However, it’s important for potential buyers to recognize that this camera isn’t universally suited for everyone. Its design and concept distinctly position it as a street photography tool. The fixed 23-millimeter prime lens (equivalent to 35 millimeters on a 35-millimeter format) might be constraining for some, and a few weaknesses might be slightly bothersome. Yet, it remains an enthralling camera and unquestionably one of the most eagerly awaited releases this year. Is it the right choice for you? Let’s delve into it together!

Ergonomics, Design & Usability A Closer Look at Holding the x100s

Retro-style cameras are becoming increasingly prevalent, and the Fuji X100s arguably sets the standard. Its vintage appearance evokes memories of classic film cameras and the iconic Leica M series. Despite having larger hands, I find the camera comfortable to hold—a feat given my usual struggles with compact camera ergonomics. The standout features for me are the aperture ring on the lens and the shutter speed dial. Adjusting these settings feels akin to handling a film camera.

The other buttons are equally intriguing and thoughtfully positioned. The Q button stands out as particularly practical; a simple press displays crucial camera settings like ISO, White Balance, Size, and Recording Format. The DRIVE button also shines, allowing swift transitions between various recording options like single shot, continuous shooting, video, and panorama. My only minor qualm is the absence of a second Function button; there’s just one near the shutter release.

Nevertheless, the camera is lightweight and discreet, making it inconspicuous while capturing street scenes. Interestingly, many might even mistake you for shooting a film! Additionally, the camera boasts a silent mode, activated by pressing and holding the DISP/BACK button, ensuring a noiseless shooting experience.

Image Quality – How well does the x100s perform in terms of imaging?

The camera’s imaging prowess is undoubtedly a point that’s hard to dispute. The X100s produces some of the most exquisite images I’ve encountered. Equipped with an advanced X-Trans II CMOS sensor offering an impressive 16.1-megapixel resolution, it delivers an expansive dynamic range. I’m particularly impressed with the level of detail I can recover from both shadows and highlights during RAW file post-processing in Lightroom.

Optimal image quality is achievable by shooting in RAW, although the JPGs stand out as well, thanks to the Film Simulation Mode. These simulate various films Fujifilm produced for traditional cameras, granting a distinctive look. My favorites include Astia and Monochrome R. Astia imparts lower contrast, soft skin tones, and captivating colors, perfect for portraits. Monochrome R excels in high-contrast black-and-white photography.

ISO performance is noteworthy too, with usable files even at 6400 ISO, exhibiting a filmic grain that’s pleasingly unobtrusive. For JPG shooters, the ISO sensitivity can be extended to 25600, yielding impressive results. Touching upon the lens, its fast f/2 aperture suits low-light conditions, though it’s slightly soft wide open, becoming remarkably sharp from f/4. Some distortion is present, but post-processing software can easily rectify it.

Auto Focus & Manual Focus – Improvements in the focusing capabilities of the x100.

Addressing one of the significant weaknesses of the preceding X100 model, autofocus has undergone substantial enhancements in the X100s. While significantly improved, it doesn’t claim the crown for the fastest autofocus I’ve encountered. A note of caution: relying on it completely could yield out-of-focus shots, so waiting for AF confirmation is prudent.

Manual focusing introduces noteworthy features, including the standard option to magnify the image for focus assessment. Additionally, peak highlight outlines the in-focus subject—an approach I personally favor. A digital split image, a new Fuji innovation, presents a gray rectangle that shifts horizontally when out of focus, returning the image to focus when the lens’s focus ring is turned. This feature, although clever, might be less practical in well-lit conditions. Further refinement could enhance its utility, potentially through a future release or firmware update.

The Hybrid Viewfinder – A Noteworthy Addition for Enthusiasts

Among the most intriguing features Fuji has introduced to the X100 series, the Hybrid Viewfinder stands out. Seamlessly switching between an optical and electronic viewfinder, it offers unique benefits and drawbacks for each. The optical viewfinder (OVF) is my preferred choice, providing a brighter, clearer view that encompasses a wider area than the actual frame.

This peripheral vision aids composition adjustment if additional elements are desired. However, parallax remains an issue; what’s seen in the OVF might not exactly align with the final photo due to its slight offset from the lens. Personally, I find this qu

irk intriguing and even engaging, especially with moving subjects. Predicting their position adds a dynamic element. The OVF falters when focusing on nearby subjects, necessitating a switch to the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF, while precise for composition and low-light autofocus, exclusively supports the manual focus features mentioned earlier (magnification, peaking, digital split image).

Video Mode and Additional Features – Exploring the Extras Offered by the x100s

While the X100s boasts several appealing features, video capabilities aren’t its strongest suit. Manual adjustments for crucial settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity are notably absent. Furthermore, the camera records only in FULL HD under NTSC standards (60 fps or 30 fps), lacking a PAL recording option. Perhaps a future update might address this limitation.

Despite these constraints, video quality remains respectable, though the video codec and limitations mentioned earlier prevent harnessing the full potential of the X-Trans Sensor. The Panorama mode proves handy for capturing wide shots, guided by prompts on the EVF or LCD. Other offerings include a double exposure mode and bracketing. Notably, the camera excels in continuous shooting, supporting a maximum of 6 fps.

Conclusion

The Fuji X100s has generated considerable excitement on the web for valid reasons. The numerous improvements over the X100, impressive image quality, and extensive customization options make it a compelling investment. However, it’s essential to recognize that this camera isn’t universally suited for all photography styles or users. Those seeking a versatile range of photography might find the fixed lens limiting. Nevertheless, for enthusiasts of street photography, the X100s emerges as an ideal companion.

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