Fujifilm X100 X100s Comparison Essay

Summary of Fujifilm X100S

The FUJIFILM X100S is the successor to the FUJIFILM X100, inheriting its elegant design and high-performance lens, whilst evolving further with the introduction of a higher-definition Hybrid Viewfinder and a new sensor and processor. The X100S' newly-developed X-Trans CMOS II sensor has built-in Phase Detection pixels which provide the X100S with the world’s fastest AF in as little as 0.08 seconds. Take your passion for photography to the next level with unprecedented control and uncompromising image quality in a beautifully designed compact body. Featuring FUJIFILM’s newly-developed 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor with a unique, highly randomised, colour filter arrangement. Optimisation of the sensor for the 23mm f/2 lens fully exploits the advantage of a single focal length lens for superior edge-to-edge image quality. The X100S offers the world’s fastest AF speed of just 0.08 seconds plus a variety of manual focus assist modes. The new Hybrid Viewfinder offers expanded freedom in the composition and enjoyment of photography enabling you to shoot in a wide range of challenging shooting conditions. FUJIFILM’s top quality Japanese engineering is evident from the high precision components used and the perfectly placed controls. The X100S has a diverse range of functions that include film simulation, RAW shooting, multiple exposure, motion panorama and advanced filters. The X100S shoots stunning 1920x1080 HD video and can record crisp, clear audio at the same time using an optional external stereo microphone.

Software

I had been putting this entire section off in anticipation of Fuji announcing some “Kaizen” action for the X100S. It would seem that just about everyone believed as I did that once the initial sales of X100T’s to early adopters died down, we’d see an X-E2 Firmware Version 3 style upgrade for the X100S. It just made sense, and surely the Firmware Version 2.0 that the original X100 received was a far more significant.

Sadly, Fujifilm Japan has confirmed the X100S will not be receiving any further upgrades to its firmware. This is a serious bummer, really disappointed a lot of Fuji fans, and spawned many articles and forum posts questioning how dedicated Fuji is to their own mantra.

I really hope this isn’t the case as “Kaizen” has been one of the Fujifilm brand’s most lauded characteristics. X100S owners who aren’t prepared to upgrade are the first Fuji owners who are justified in feeling snubbed, however I’ll curb my concern about a shift in ethos until at least one more camera that should get features from an update, but doesn’t.

Classic Chrome

If you want to make sure your Fuji pics look like as many other people’s as possible, the best thing you can do is shoot Classic Chrome these days. The gushing over this Film Simulation reached near intolerable levels for me, and actually made it less desirable to use. I don't dislike it, but it has a decidedly more recognizable, and vaguely Instagrammy/American Eagle look to it that almost seems late to the party. Fortunately the gushing seems to have waned a little more recently. I personally still lean towards PRO Neg. Hi when Classic Chrome would be a consideration. Perhaps this is a somewhat controversial stance on a Film Sim that’s so adored by many, but I don’t think it’s a feature worth choosing a camera for.

As a side note, the notion that this feature will not be seen on the X100S is a particularly tough pill to swallow after Zack Arias revealed that he had a “hacked” X100S with Classic Chrome on it. X100S owners lamented that the firmware all but exists, but would not be available to them. I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it hear, a factory-modified firmware that includes and additional Film Simulation mode ≠ a shippable firmware update.

UI

Now that I’ve had a good amount of time with the new UI of the X100T, going back to “old” is tough. The combination of the smaller screen and chunkier icons make the whole thing feel dated; a little like going back to a monitor that’s 1024 × 768.

It’s also great to be able to change things like ISO and Film Simulation mode while still being able to see the screen, and in general the interface gets out of your way more to let you focus on shooting.

With that written new user interface is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really prefer the overall refresh in the “look and feel,” but find myself hunting the screen for things that used to be more quickly recognizable than they are now. Add to that the amount of new features, some of which are buried a little too deep for my liking and you end up with a UI that is less “discoverable” than it could be.

Here’s a list of grievances:

  1. The histogram is smaller. If I have the histogram visible, I want to see it. I’d also like some indication of where clipping will occur by way of a different-coloured Y-axis line at either end of the spectrum.
  2. The additional accent/warning colour is gone. Having something like the teleconverter icon in yellow was beneficial as it’s a feature that is far too easy to neglect to set properly. It’s a shame the X100 converters don’t have any contacts so user input isn’t required, but hiding it correct state doesn’t help.
  3. The distance indicator is too small. Set your aperture to ƒ/2 and you might have a hard time finding it. The contrast of the red line against light blue was far easier to pick out.
  4. No “Preview Effect” indicator. The only way to know if you are previewing a more subtle effect is to toggle it on and off. This makes having it set to a Fn button almost a requirement if you want to be able to switch between real life and Fuji colours quickly as the setting is a few layers deep in the menus, and strangely, can’t be set as an option in the Q Menu.
  5. The LCD interface still doesn’t rotate. I can’t figure this one out. On both the X-T1 and X100T, the entire UI rotates whilst peering through the EVF, but not on the LCD or OVF in the case of the X100T.
  6. The lonely Flash indicator icon. Unless I’ve missed a setting, it seems the Flash icon is the only on the left side of the screen, and it’s just sort of awkwardly there. Granted the converter icon was the only indicator on the right side of the screen on the X100S, but it’s of enough important that it warrants it’s own space,1 and at least it was centred.

There may be a few others, but otherwise the user interface is an improvement. I really ought to write about some of the individual improvements as well.

USB Charging

I’ve had this as a header in my review intending to be rather effusive about how nice this feature is to have, but to be honest, I haven’t even remembered to pack the cable in order to try this feature out. I’ve grown so accustom to having extra batteries with my Fuji cameras that I’m rarely left without a charge, and I’m perfectly happy to slap my dead battery in the smaller third-party charger with an integrated flip-out plug I keep permanently stuck in an outlet when I get home.

I could definitely see how for the commuter, being able to charge my camera the same way I do my phone via my laptop’s USB port would be nice, but in those cases I’m not using my camera so much that batteries die with regularity, and when I’m in a situation when I know I’ll be chewing through batteries, I typically have the foresight to bring a couple extras along. Another place I could see this being of use is in a USB-equipped car.

I still intend to see if I can make USB charging part of my photographic routine, but so far, it’s barely entered my mind.

Face Detection

I hadn’t made much use of this feature in previous bodies, but Fuji seem to have made improvements to the face detection algorithms built into the firmware, making it easier to capture a candid street portrait from the hip, as an example. I love it.

Multiple Auto ISO Banks

This is a big feature for me. Having to manually adjust the ISO settings when in auto was a bit of a pain. Now I can quickly go from a slower minimum shutter speed and lower ISO range when I’m able to steady myself to faster shutter speeds with a larger ISO range when I’m walking down the street grabbing shots or shooting from the hip. Love this feature.

Conclusion

While I can understand the motivations behind Fuji not updating the XI00S any further, the flies in the face of the reputation Fuji had created for itself as being the camera company that doesn't leave its users behind. Surely the release of firmware version 2.0 for the X100 was a much more significant update than adding things like an extra Film Simulation mode and interval shooting.

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