X100S – As Your Primary Camera

Editors Choice

8 Usability
8 Image Quality
9 Build Quality
7 Versatilty
10 Asthetics
8.4

Weakness

So far there are only two weaknesses that I notice, inability to take exposures longer than 30 seconds without wire release and the fixed focal length lens.  If you don’t do a lot of night photography or long exposure you may never notice that the shutter speed doesn’t go past 30 seconds but the fixed focal length is noticeable from time to time.  I would say that over the last three months I’ve caught myself saying “Sure would be nice to zoom in” about 3 times.  On any other camera I would normally leave my 24-70 lens firmly affixed to the camera for about 90% of the time.  So, although this can be seen as a weakness, I’d say it’s a pretty dang good camera if I’ve only griped about it three times.  Furthermore, I plan on shooting exclusively with the X100S for the foreseeable future.

Note:  There is a wider angle lens attachment you can purchase for the X100S but I did not test it and do not feel comfortable giving any input on it until I do.  (Fujifilm WCL-X100 Wide Conversion Lens )

Strengths

I’ll preface this with my opinion that, yes, you could use the X100S as your sole camera so long as you understand it’s limitations and make them work to your advantage.  If you are a wildlife photographer or a sports photographer then this is not the camera for you.  It was built with the street photographers, fine art photographers, and landscape photographers in mind.  You’ll have to judge for yourself if it makes a good camera for portraiture photographers but I’d venture to say yes from what I’ve seen.

If you are comfortable with getting back to the basics (or getting to the basics if you’ve never been there before) and shooting with a 35mm (equivalent) camera then I highly recommend this camera.  The image quality is the best I’ve seen at this price point, you’d have to spend an additional $1,000 to get a camera with a noticeable difference (but not enough to justify it in my opinion).

The camera is light, focuses quickly, is excellent in low light, and is small enough to drop in a pocket.  The image quality is excellent and produces great JPEG’s right out of the box.  The RAW files are the closest to actual negatives that I’ve seen and are easy to work with using simple programs like Lightroom.

Overall this has been the best camera I’ve used with an “all purpose” mindset.

A few images taken with the X100S over the last few months:

 


Have you used the X100S?  Feel free to leave a comment below if you’d like to add your two cents.  If you found this review helpful please share it by hitting one of the links (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc…). Thanks!

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11 Comments

  • Thanks for your insights! I do a bit of family portraiture, so I’m curious about how it might handle active kids?

    • The EM1 has what they are calling “dual FAST auto focus”, the fast stands for Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology and the dual means it uses both contrast or phase detection af depending on the lenses you choose to use. With that being said, it has def seen an upgrade over the EM5 in my own use while playing around with panning. If you get a fast enough lens (lower f/number) and mind your shutter speed (higher shutter speeds for those buggers because they are always on the move) you should not have a problem. I never ran into a issue with the EM5 while photographing plethora of nieces and nephews who are on a sugar high because… well I’m their uncle and I get to spoil them and then give them back. The new EVF (electronic view finder) also helps significantly because the frame rate is quick enough that you won’t see the scene stutter as if the evf is trying to catch up with your movement (this was a big problem with older EVFs). I hope that answers your question, let me know if you have others.

  • Thanks for the great review, John. I’m a wildlife photographer looking for a supplemental camera for landscape, street, architecture, etc. I rented the X100S (loved it for the same reasons as you), Ricoh GR (not bad…and small), Nikon Coolpix A (didn’t like it), and Sigma DP2 Merrill (amazing images, though quirky in use). Definitely leaning toward picking up an X100S, especially after seeing your images…amazing!

    As a side note, I think we share the same bio. I’m the Director of Wealth Management for an independent RIA in the Pacific northwest. And I’ve been doing it for seven years, no less. Photography has become a passion and creative outlet for me as well. Where are you based out of?

    • Hi Adam, I am in Pittsburgh. Thanks for the compliments, the X100S is an amazing camera and creates some really impressive images. I’m putting the OMD EM1 through the paces right now and I think you’d like that one as well. You can check out my review here. I think the X100S would make a great supplemental camera for any kit. What is your primary camera?

      • My primary camera is the Canon 7D w/ 24-105, 70-200, and 400mm lenses. So often I find myself shooting in dim light which is a challenge for the 7D. Originally I was thinking of getting a full frame second body, but I really like the idea of something small and portable that I might actually use more often.

        I’ve contemplated the OMD as I’m an outdoors guy and the splash, dust, shock, and freeze-proof features are appealing. What doesn’t appeal is buying all new glass, especially when I could buy the new Sony A7 or A7R with Metabones adaptor for the same price and use my Canon L glass. Having used the X100S extensively now, I’m curious if you’ll give it up for the OMD EM1? I did read your review by the way. Maybe when it’s available for rent I’ll try one out.

      • I don’t think I’ll ever give up my x100s, it’s such a convenient camera to own and the image quality is really great. I do really like the em1 and am considering using it as my primary and the x100s as my secondary.

        The Nikon Df was just announced and will be available at the end of November, it’s a full frame retro looking camera with a 50mm f/1.8 lens that looks intriguing as well (it’s settings are set up much the same as the x100s) however it uses an optical viewfinder which I think is also retro as the evf’s are getting to the point where you can hardly tell its electronic. Next year or the following you’ll probably see its successor with an evf or hybrid with the ability to switch back and forth like the x100s does.

        You can check it out on the home page, I’m writing this via my cell phone so I can’t embed a link for you.

        Good luck with your selection, let me know what you end up with.

        (Check out amazons used selection too, I’ve sold many of my test cameras that were in perfect shape through there)

      • I had a chance to checkout the EM1 while the Olympus rep was in town and really liked the quality of the camera. Unfortunately, the ergonomics just didn’t work for me. I don’t have big hands, but it felt too small to grip comfortably.

        I ended up scoring a Sigma DP2 Merrill on the Fred Miranda forum for a really good price, so I decided to start there. I rented one in the past so I knew what I was getting into with all its quirks. I just love the resolution of these cameras. Of course it’s not too good for low-light situations so I’d still like something along the lines of a X100S or Ricoh GR eventually.

      • I just learned that an Olympus rep is going to be at my local store on Fri/Sat with the EM1, so I’m probably going to check it out in person. The lens I’d probably want is the new 12-40. That’s a big nut to swallow. How are the OOC jpegs of the EM1 compared to the X100S? I always shoot RAW, but I like that the jpegs from the X100S always look great. The less work I have to do to get a photograph, the more likely I am to do it.

  • Hi John, how do you process your X100s Raw files ? With lightroom I experience when increasing shadows and lowering highlights – it tends to a grey touch on the image – as it would have less dynamic range – likewise my Nikons are great there …

    I love that camt too

    /Karl

    • Karl,

      I use Lightroom, I’ve not had any issues with reduced dynamic range (relative to the fact that RAW files will usually be less vibrant than say a jpeg because they don’t have any of the contrast, saturation, sharpening that a jpeg would. If you’d like to shoot me a RAW file I can load it into Lightroom and see if I have the same result you are describing. My email is PhotolisticLife@gmail.com. Take care!

      • Wow – that woudl be great! I leave tomorrow for vacation – should I face the problem with an image I send it to you – you are defenitely right – a raw file is not processed at all maybe I try to get the same pic with my Df too to have some comparison – cheers!!
        /Karl

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