Fujifilm X100S review: A great camera improved, but still a bit quirky

I really like the viewfinder; it's even better than the X100's, with peaking and a simulated split-screen for manual focusing that make it much more usable, though neither works when shooting video. And given how washed out and difficult to see the LCD gets in bright sunlight, the viewfinder's pretty essential.

Design and features
The X100S uses the same body as the X100; it's no lightweight and can only be considered compact compared to a dSLR, but the extra heft of the well-built body imparts a solid, grippable feel. And of course it's got the cool retro design that makes you feel like an old-school street shooter. The only outward difference from the older model is the replacement of the raw override button with a quick-menu button, so the X100S now has the same interface as the rest of the company's cameras. But that small change plus the aforementioned tweaks to the manual focus have significantly improved the shooting experience.

It still has the great manual aperture dial on the lens as well as shutter-speed and exposure compensation dials on top; in its default configuration, the Fn button brings up the ISO sensitivity options. Despite the retro look of the front and top, the back has the typical layout of a digital camera. On the left side is a switch for selecting among manual, single-shot autofocus and continuous AF. The AE button brings up metering choices, while AF lets you choose the AF point (when in the default area AF mode). The jog dial Command Control in the upper right cycles through the zoom view, split viewfinder and peaking view in manual focus.

While I still dislike the command dial/navigation control, which is nearly impossible to operate without fumbling, shooting doesn't require nearly as much menu hopping as it did for the X100. The self-timer doesn't sit with the drive modes, but it does appear in the Quick Menu, which is as good if not a better location. Movie recording resides under the drive modes, though, and there still isn't a dedicated record button.

You can lock most of the back controls by holding down the menu button for a few seconds, which is a nice touch, but the "sorry, I'm locked" screen should really indicate how to unlock it. I locked the controls by accident and lost an evening of shooting trying to figure out how to unlock them to turn off the flash. I had to look it up in the manual.

One minor irritation I had with the X100 but didn't mention before persists: the battery compartment isn't keyed to a particular direction. Though the battery itself is asymmetrical, the compartment is rectangular, and it's not clear which way the battery goes in; you have to memorize that it's label-side out. It's too easy to put it in backward.

  Fujifilm X100 Fujifilm X100S Leica X2 Nikon Coolpix A Sony Cyber-shot
DSC-RX1
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.3MP CMOS 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II 16.2MP CCD 16.2MP CMOS 24.3MP Exmor CMOS 20.2MP Exmor CMOS
23.6 x 15.8mm 23.6 x 15.8mm 23.6 x 15.8mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm 35.8 x 23.9mm 1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 12500 ISO 100 - ISO 3200/ 25600 (exp) ISO 50 (exp) / ISO 100 - ISO 51200 / ISO 102400 (exp, via multishot NR) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Lens
(35mm-equivalent focal-length multiplier)
35mm
f2
35mm
f2
1.5x
24mm
f2.8
1x
28mm
f2.8
35mm
f2
1x
28 - 100mm
f1.8-4.9
3.6x
Closest focus (inches) 3.9 3.9 11.8 4 7.9 1.9
Continuous shooting 5fps
10 JPEG/8 raw
(burst only available with focus and exposure fixed at first frame)
6fps
31 JPEG/ n/a raw
(burst only available with focus and exposure fixed at first frame)
5fps
8 frames
(raw + JPEG)
4fps
n/a
2.5fps
(5 fps with fixed exposure)
n/a
2.5fps
(10fps with fixed exposure)
n/a
Viewfinder Optical/EVF switchable Hybrid
Reverse Galilean
90 percent coverage
EVF
0.48-inch/ 2,360,000 dots
100 percent coverage
Optional
EVF
Tilting LCD
n/a
($449.00 est)
Optional
Reverse Galilean
($449.96)
Optional
Reverse Galilean
Zeiss
n/a
($599.99)
EVF
Tilting OLED
0.5-inch/ 2,359,000 dots
100 percent coverage
($404.99)
None
Autofocus 49-area
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
11-area
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
25-area Contrast AF 25-area Contrast AF
Metering 256 zones 256 zones n/a n/a n/a n/a
Shutter 30 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 min 20 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 minutes 30 - 1/2,000 sec 30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb 30-1/2,000 sec; bulb 30-1/2,000 sec; bulb
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
LCD 2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
2.7-inch
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
Image stabilization None None None None Electronic (movie only) Optical
Video
(best quality)
720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 1080/60p/ 30p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
None 1080/30p/ 25p/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
AVCHD: 1080/60p/ 50p @ 28Mbps; 1080/60i/50i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1080/24p/ 25p @ 24, 17Mbps
stereo
AVCHD:
1080/60p/ 50p
stereo
Manual iris and shutter in video Iris only Iris only n/a n/a Yes Yes
Optical zoom while recording n/a n/a n/a No n/a Yes
External mic support No No n/a Optional
(with WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter)
Yes No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 300 shots 330 shots 450 shots 230 shots 270 shots 330 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1 5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1 4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.6 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.8 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.4
Weight (ounces) 15.8 15.5 12.2 (est) 10.6 (est) 17.6 8.5 (est)
Mfr. Price $1,195.95 $1,299.95 $1,995 (est) $1,099.95 $2,799 $649.99
Availability March 2011 March 2013 August 2012 March 2013 November 2012 July 2012

There aren't a lot of glitzy features aside from the viewfinder, just basics (for its price) like a built-in neutral-density filter and the ability to adjust color, sharpness, highlight tone, shadow tone, and noise reduction. Other features carried over from the X100 include Motion Panorama, which operates like Sony's Sweep Panorama: as you pan it records a 120- or 180-degree scene either horizontally or vertically. You can 3-shot bracket the dynamic range and film simulation presets, as well as ISO sensitivity and exposure, but as with the X100 I couldn't help but think it should have more exposure bracketing latitude than 3 shots up to 1 stop for HDR work, and how nice it would be to have an intervalometer.

Conclusion
There's enough improved in the X100S over the X100 that I think it's worth the extra money over the now-reduced-price model: it delivers better performance, photo quality and usability. While the photo quality and lens can't match that of the Sony RX1, it's still a great camera at $1,000 less. And though I haven't yet tested the Nikon Coolpix A, that camera lacks a viewfinder, which for some folks may merit the X100S' extra cost.

Shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Fujifilm X100S
1.5 
1 
1 
0.7 
0.6 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
2.3 
0.3 
0.3 
0.7 
0.7 

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Point-and-shoot
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 16.3 Megapixel
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.8 x 23.6mm