A camera walks into a bar…. Oh wait that review has been done. Check out Zack Arias' review of this camera, he does a much better job. I decided that I would give my review of the FujiFilm X100s. Lots of people have reviewed this camera and have done a better job than I will but I wanted to do a review from a pet photographers point of view. I bought this camera back in October just as Fuji was starting to keep up with the supply.
First off I must say I love this camera and if it could be my only camera I would be happy. I received this camera back in September after seeing so many other photographers rave about it and was hoping to get out and do some street shooting with it. I haven’t gone out and done any street shooting yet but that is still in the plans but I wanted to share my current experiences.
This first photo of Miles is one of is one of my first photos with the X100s and one of my favorite so far. The focus is spot on and the colors are amazing straight out of the camera. The X100s has 10 film simulation modes that all work in RAW, I won’t go through all of them as some of them I don’t use regularly. The photo of Miles was shot in Provia/Standard and this is the most standard color reproduction option in the camera. Provia/Standard is a good mode to always be in but sometimes I like to use Velvia/Vivid and this mode pumps up the contrast and saturation which I like in my photos. The other mode I use is “monochrome” but I don’t use it often as I like to have the option of color or b&w in my post processing but sometimes it’s nice to see a scene in b&w before you shoot because it may change your opinion of the shot.
One of my favorite features on this camera is the Leaf shutter lens. With this lens it is possible to sync a flash at 1/4000th of a second! Good bye harsh daylight and hello beautifully balanced light. I haven’t done a lot with outdoor flash with this camera but using it indoors I can kill all ambient light and only use my flash. This helps me accomplish dramatically lit photos like this one of Alfie. The settings for this shot were 1/1000th of a second at f4.0 and ISO 200. As you can see there is no other light source lighting this scene except for my Lumapro 160 and I have a relatively shallow depth of field. I personally love shooting low key shots of dogs and this camera makes that easier to accomplish and I think my clients will be happy having these types of shots mixed into their sessions.
Another cool feature is the 3 stop ND filter built into the camera. This sunrise photo was shot at 1000th of a second at f2.0 with the ND filter applied. This really isn’t the best photo to show off this feature but I haven’t used the filter that much although I know I will once the weather gets nicer and I’m out shooting more.
Lets talk focus because we all know that sharpness rules the world. Ok that’s not true but we all want sharp images if possible. This photo of Miles carrying the stick is not sharp on his eye I can see the sharpness on the tree to his left. That’s not what I was shooting for but Miles was moving and I have had trouble getting good sharp focus on moving dogs. I don’t want to say that the camera can’t do it because it is very possible that my techniques for focusing are not ideal for the camera. Miles is also black so that will mess with any focusing system plus I didn’t get this camera for action shots that’s what the D600 is for. When the X100s is sharp it is tack sharp I would compare it to my Nikon 85 1.4 which in my opinion is one of the sharpest lens Nikon makes and I know it’s the sharpest in my bag. Even at f2.0 I get great sharpness right around the eye and I think wide open it has a better hit record than my Nikon, unless the subject is moving but we covered that already.
The optical view finder is ok I mean you can see how a photo will look before you shoot it and make adjustments from what you see. The optical viewfinder in my opinion is slow there’s a little lag in it when the subject moves or you recompose and when working with dogs that won’t work but with humans it could be ok. I don’t use the optical viewfinder that often but maybe I will find more of a use for it later.
It does have some other shooting modes but keep in mind these modes are more like filters and only produce a Jpeg. There’s the “toy camera” mode and that give it a cheep look with vignetting all around the images and the colors are real saturated and goofy but if that look works for what your shooting then it’s a great option. Another mode is “miniature” and that makes it look like your shooting with a tilt shift lens (kinda) and give it a unique look. It might be fun to use this mode with shooting above something like a street scene. Also it has a “partial color” mode or as its better known as “selective color”. Although I don’t do a lot of selective color it is kind of fun to play with and see if a scene will look better that way, most of the time it won’t but that’s my opinion and sometimes that technique does work. The colors you can select are red, purple, blue, yellow, green and orange. There are some other filter options but I haven’t used them so I won’t go over them.
Battery life on this camera is ok but when your use to using a DSLR with a larger battery pack it seems to be lacking. But if you look at the physical size of the battery you can understand why the battery life seems short. You might get about 400 shots out of a single charge depending on your power settings. I bought 2 extra aftermarket batteries and so far that has worked well for me.
The biggest thing I love about this camera is the size. It’s a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor that produces some amazing high quality photos. FujiFilm is currently using this same X-Trans sensor in multiple camera lines on their X series cameras. I really like the fact that it has a fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) and that I am limited to that so I don’t have to decide which lens to grab. It’s also nice that when I’m using it I don’t look like a photographer so if I pull it out to take a shot of something most people don’t notice. The camera does however get a lot of attention when somebody is close up and sees what it looks like; Fuji really killed it in the design area. The retro look and feel in my opinion is a real winner.
So the question remains is this a pet photographers camera? Well maybe. It is this pet photographers camera but only for certain situations. If I want to catch a dog in action catching a Frisbee then no this isn’t what I’m going to grab but if I’m going for a more candid shot or portrait then yes I love using it. The wider focal length allows me to be closer to my subject and in some cases that will help me have better control of the situation. The Leaf shutter lens that allows me to sync at 1/4000th of a second also makes this a go to camera for me. It all boils down to the proper tool for the job and the X100s has a lot to offer. I’m very excited to see what FujiFilm comes up with in the future especialy in their X-Pro line, if I could dump my Dslr for a mirrorless camera and make no sacrifices I would make the switch.