X100s – Six Months Review

After six months of using the X100s intensively, I though I would write a review.


Summary: Beautiful camera, beautiful images, a bit fiddly. The images will not fail to impress.


  • Classic, cool design
  • High built quality (except the back buttons)
  • Amazing out-of-camera images both JPEG and RAW
  • Very compact


  • Almost too small, especially the lens is too shallow to comfortably fit both focus and aperture rings
  • Back buttons extremely fiddly, overly sensitive and cheap feeling
  • Slow to focus, slow to start, slow to write to cards.  Slow!
  • Overstated ISO leaves one wondering where the shutter speed went

It is very compact, light and practical, but the images – oh my god, the images. Sure, not as sharp as my D800 with Sigma 35mm f1.4 what is? The colors, stunning!

Build quality is a mixed bag.  The metal exterior is very nice and has withstood my abuse well.  It has mostly a premium feel, but some plastic parts, especially the back buttons are embarrassingly fiddly.

Focusing is alright, but you’re not going to shoot sports with it. I haven’t missed any feature yet, except for maybe HDR which I never use anyway.
I love having the optical viewfinder, it’s excellent. The clever hybrid information overlay inside the optical viewfinder is fantastic.

The electronic viewfinder has its purposes but it’s slow. Contrast is so-so, sometimes too bright, sometimes too dark and flares badly when the camera is first turned on. Focus peaking is one reason to use it – great feature, but I found myself using it less and less as the months went by.

Speaking of slow, I imagined that I would be shooting run-and-gun on the street.  Not so fast there!  The X100s is slow enough that you’re going to be planning your shots carefully.

I did find myself bumping up against the shutter speed limitation with large apertures (f2 = 1/1000) so thank goodness for the built-in ND filter, which I programmed to the Fn button.

The ISO does seem almost a stop overstated. On the good side, ISO 800 (say 640ish in SLR-land) is great and uses their automatic dynamic range thing which works well. I haven’t had the need to go higher yet, really, but I’ll report back when I have.

So, some further commentary with images attached below. Only one is heavily edited. Most are almost directly out of camera with just minor exposure and color tweaks. Images are usable right out-of-camera.

The built-in ND filter is a treat:


I shoot JPEG + RAW and keep the best.  The JPEG  colors are amazing. Much better out-of-the-box than Nikon colors. Yes, really!


Fuji’s RAW format (RAF) can be pushed almost as hard as Nikon RAW, but doesn’t need as much tweaking to make it look good.


It’s tiny but not cheap feeling. The size is stable even on a tiny little travel tripod. The optional hood is great, but expensive and allows it to use 49mm filter.   I leave the hood on all the time.

Still it’s very discreet for street photography.


The film simulation modes are excellent.   This image is straight out of camera on Velvia setting.


There are some rumors and it does seem that the ISO overstated. This photo has plenty of blur in it even though experience with my Nikons in this light would have me a faster shutter speed. Shot in aperture priority:


If you’re looking for the very best in compact image quality with a retro feel, this is your camera.  For me, despite the speed increases over the original X100, Fuji needs to increase the speed another order of magnitude before it can replace my SLR.

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