Customer Review

520 of 526 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality is good enough for commercial use, May 31, 2013
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I'm a full time commercial performance photographer who specializes in theatrical, symphonic and dance photography, both for production as well as publicity. I have waited to review the X100S I purchased from Amazon and received on March 28 2013 simply because I wanted to take some time to use the camera before writing a review.

I had purchased an X100 just before the S model was announced and found the image quality to be remarkable. Because I was late to the game in purchasing the X100 many of the 'quirks' others complained about I did not experience due to the numerous firmware updates Fuji had released since the camera's inception. Because the X100S had features that could not be fixed through a firmware update such as the Q button and moving the focus point selector from the left to the right I opted to sell my X100 and preordered the S model. I will say that I sorely missed having an X100 or S model during my two month wait.

I have experimented with the X100S over the past two months using it in both personal and commercial work. Yes I said commercial work. There are several features I find quite remarkable on this camera regardless of a camera in any price range:

1. The sharpness of the images due in part to the elimination of the optical low pass filter
2. The noise performance of the camera
3. Having an (almost) unlimited flash sync speed due to its leaf shutter
4. Built in 3 stop ND filter
5. An almost completely silent shutter (again due to its leaf shutter)

What I would like to see improved:
1. A bit more resistance to the on/off switch
2. Allowing the user to customize the Q menu to allow for ALL camera operating choices
3. Allow shooting in RAW mode to include 100 ISO (200 is currently the lowest ISO in RAW)
4. Allow shooting at any shutter speed at any aperture. (this may not be physically possible...)
5. The camera has a tendency to overexpose by about 2/3 of a stop. Easily corrected with the EV control
6. Even though the X100S has a dedicated EyeFi card menu selection, the transfer speed of small JPGS to an iPad is very slow. Much slower than a 5DIII and in some cases makes using it as a wirelessly tethered camera almost useless.

The OVF and EVF viewfinders are absolutely brilliant. I find that I have used both equally depending on the shooting situation. In very low light I have found the EVF invaluable. In situations where I need to keep an eye on the environment, the OVF is just killer. While I'm on the subject I personally would never consider a camera that does NOT have a dedicated viewfinder. Since I grew up using SLRs and DSLRs I just cannot effectively use a camera where my only option is to use an LCD screen. I'm also not a fan of having to purchase an 'optional' EVF viewfinder for any camera. Just a personal preference.

Did I consider other non DSLR cameras before purchasing the X100S (originally the X100)? Yes, I considered the Canon line for a couple of reasons; their G series has a viewfinder and my primary gear is Canon. Others? Only those that had a viewfinder and I found that those which only have an EVF were a bit too 'jerky' to me. I also tend to put more stock into reviews from people whose body of work I respect. There are plenty of sites on the Web that give tech details and masturbatory reviews of tech specs, but in the end what I produce from any camera is what's more important. I respect Zack's (Arias) work and put stock into how he feels about a camera simply because of his body of work. Although we shoot different types of imagery I trust his and other photographers I respect more than technical sites. A personal view which has served me well.

I have always wanted a camera that is lightweight and compact (relative to my work gear) that I can carry with me everywhere. No the X100S is NOT something I can slip into my pocket, but that's OK by me. I simply wear it across my chest using a Luma Labs Cinch strap and I barely notice it's there. My plan was to use it primarily for street shooting, which is something I have a voracious appetite for and have done quite a lot over the years. At least when I have time! Yes I miss a zoom which I found I depended upon quite a bit for my street shooting. But something that a fixed lens camera forces me to do is to immerse myself into the environment for street shooting. It also allows me to grow as a photographer, to get more context into my shots. I have personally found that using the Fuji at night rather than the day makes it easier for me to street shoot. The ISO performance of the X100S is on par with my 1DX up to 6400 ISO and a tad better than my 5DIII. The f2.0 lens allows me to bokeh scenes in a wonderful way. Of course that all depends on how close I am to the primary subject, aperture, etc but I've found it quite lovely.

One of the most remarkable features for me is the ability to use small hand held flash units off camera as fill flash with the X100S due to its leaf shutter. I was literally blown away that using a single Canon 580II through a modifier could produce results that in the past required me to use a studio strobe and an ND filter to achieve. I love the fact that I can carry a small flash unit in my bag and take almost commercial level portraits. I'll try to upload some examples with this review. I had mentioned that one of my wishes was for Fuji to enable the X100S select any shutter speed with any aperture. Currently they recommend 1/1000th at a minimum aperture of f2.0. If you want to use 1/2000th, then you must use f4.0 or smaller.

I have found that if I'm using a radio trigger to activate the off camera flash 1/1000th and f2.0 works. Anything faster in speed results in funky exposure results. However if I use a cable rather than a radio trigger I can squeeze 1/2000th with f2.0. In terms of flash, milliseconds count so a wired connection is better in some circumstances. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve.

In terms of the 'silent shutter' I had firsthand experience with that feature this past week. I was hired to photograph both a live and rehearsal performance of a major US symphony. Since I use two cameras whenever I shoot production had I not had the X100S I would have only shot with my 5DIII in silent mode during louder passages. I never even considered my 1DX because even on 'silent' mode it is way too loud. And when I was told the last commercial shooter was kicked out by the world renowned conductor due to his camera noise (understandable) and attitude (bad) I didn't intend to make the same mistake. So during passages where the musicians were playing very softly I was able to make images with the X100S. Again, a remarkably useful feature for my work.

I won't go into the things I 'love' about this camera since that is all relative to each user. I also won't ever be able to completely replace my commercial gear with only mirrorless cameras. Because I shoot dance and live theatre the X100S along with other cameras of this type are just not fast enough from a focusing/shutter release standpoint. But for portraits and publicity work I have and plan to continue to use it for client work; it's that good.

Who should buy this camera? Who am I to say!? I can only say (in no particular order) that with its remarkable shutter sync speed, image quality, hi ISO performance and build quality I'm very happy to have purchased this little camera. It's THAT good. And like any tool (rather than looking at gear as a 'jewel') it's perfect for the right job. Will it make you a better photographer; nope. Only improving your skills and executing your imagination will do that.

UPDATE June 18 2013
I have had my first image taken with the X100S published commercially. When reviewing imagery my client is not made aware of the camera I've used and bases their selection strictly on image quality, feel, impact among other factors.

UPDATE June 30 2013
I recently utilized a wired solution to obtain faster sync speeds than 1/1000th of a second using an off camera flash. I purchased the following system through Amazon: [...]
I have been successful at using shutter speeds up through 1/4000th at f2.0 using a WIRED off camera flash. The reason I chose this particular tethered option was twofold. First by having the ability to use regular CAT 5 Ethernet cable I can select what length to carry with me rather than being confined to lengths offered by other off camera flash cords.

I also prefer straight cords over coiled because coiled cords tend to tip over my light stands if I stretch them. One of the most remarkable features of this system is the ability to attach up to three cables to the very same controller on top of the camera. I find I'm often using two flash units whenever I take a shot and having this option in one unit is just brilliant. Also since the sockets are on both left, right and front of the controller I can use the two side sockets and not worry about having to hold the cable away from the lens like other single cord off camera cables.

I never use TTL so only having one TTL feature available with multiple flashes attached does not affect me.

UPDATE 7-21-13
I have posted my commercially published image for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's 2013-14 season which was printed 11x17 and mailed to all current subscribers.

UPDATE 1-14-14
One of my publicity images was printed at 18x80 feet for Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The image was shot with my X100S.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 1, 2013 6:16:43 AM PDT
Thanks for the great review. I am really considering picking one up to pair with my 5D2 for gigs and as a primary walk-around camera when out with my family. As far as the shutter/aperture combo, there is a physical limitation on the leaf shutter at wider apertures due to the closing of the shutter. Can't get around those mechanics unfortunately. You could use the ND filter though to shoot wide open and that would reduce your shutter speed to below 1/1000 perhaps. Good luck and glad you like the purchase!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 11:08:02 AM PDT
Mark Kitaoka says:
Hi Chris,
Thanks for the comment. I use the built in ND filter quite often and find it remarkable combined with 1/1000th f2.0 with a small fill flash unit to really knock down ambient. Nice to have a built in one!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 1:52:20 PM PDT
I've read that little fill flash is nice. I shot with a buddy's RX1 and that flash was brutal. Have you tried any work with a flash off camera?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 2:03:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 1, 2013 2:05:16 PM PDT
Mark Kitaoka says:
I have never utilized the on camera flash. I was referring to using an off camera flash. You can view some of my five images of the young ladies in the X100S image gallery. The one of the young lady dancing was done with available light off the tungsten modeling light of my studio strobe. My watermark is on all of my images in the gallery. I'm not sure if Amazon will allow the link, but this is one of the images to which I'm referring.
Take care,

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 2:52:56 PM PDT
Yeah, really nice work. What triggers/strobe are you using? Also, have you gotten extra batteries for the X100s? Any advice on OEM vs 3rd party batteries?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 8:10:07 PM PDT
Mark Kitaoka says:
Do you have images to share?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 8:13:56 PM PDT
Mark Kitaoka says:
Einstein 640. Canon 580exII and cowboy studio triggers for the 580exII. PCB triggers for the Einstein.
Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger for Fujifilm NP-95 and Fuji FinePix REAL 3D W1, X100, X100S, X-S1

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 8:17:15 PM PDT
Cool, I have the CBS triggers right and 580EXII as well. I haven't taken the plunge to purchase the X100s, but I don't think it will be too much longer! Too bad it's backordered 3-4wks...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2013 1:22:57 PM PDT
Mark Kitaoka says:
The best way to get one if you're serious is to purchase it through Amazon. They don't charge you until it ships. Best of luck and take care.

Posted on Jun 6, 2013 10:36:20 AM PDT
D. Brodsky says:
I respect your opinion but find your comment "The ISO performance of the X100S is on par with my 1DX up to 6400 ISO and a tad better than my 5DIII" suspect. I own 5DM3 and Nikon D600, and I just sold Fuji X-E1 which for all purposes shares the sensor of X100s, and found that X-E1 High ISO noise slightly better than Olympus OM-D, and approximately on the same level with lets say Nikon D7000 (which I also owned til recent). I am talking about both jpegs and RAW files. I find that X-E1high ISO not close to Canon 5DM3/Nikon D600. Now I processed RAW files of X-E1 with Lightroom 4. Perhaps you process in some other program, but I saw nothing remarkable about X-E1 low light high iso. It was just on the level of other latest APS sensors, which is really good, but not in full frame territory.
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