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At first I am going to tell you that this review will not be a "technical" one at all.
The web is full of specs and some other numbers, ones more "exact" than others…



Also I think that we always need to convince ourselves of stuff we read on the internet.
I've had so many bad or good "surprises" in this area.



One such a "surprise" was then when Fuji launched the X100 camera.
As you might remember, it was a long teasing period of time until the camera had been available and all this time generated lots of gossips online.
Everybody liked the retro design of it and also the amazing quality of the Fujinon lens, 35mm equivalent in FF mode.
Later on, there were many negative comments about the speed and accuracy of the focusing system.



Personally, I was not impressed by those negative comments and I bought a X100 in the first day the camera was available.
It was "love at first click". The retro stylish design and the look of a classic rangefinder were some nice and impressive features. I am also a Leica M9 owner and I was able to compare them side by side. At that time the X100 was called "poor man's Leica". There are indeed so many things they have in common but I don't agree of a real competition between them. And yes, those rumours about the focusing system were true. It was not the fastest or the most accurate camera at all. The fixed lens, those focusing issues, addition of a optical viewfinder and most important the quality of the images made me reconsider my photography approach. And here the resemble with a rangefinder was obvious. I liked the X100 so much that I struggled to overcome those issues and by doing this it become my favourite camera in its class.
I could even tell that the X100 generated a class of his own. Some beautiful concept was born then and I knew that they will come up with a X200 version for sure in the future. Based on the huge success with the enthusiasts and also the pro photographers, Fuji decided to make just an upgrade of the lovely X100 and this is how the X100 S was born.



When I first found out about it, I just wanted that the good stuff of X100 remain untouched. Some new features were there for sure. And so it was ! The Fuji x100S retained 99% of the X100 design and handling and some improvements were made also.



First of all we're talking about the focusing system that received a phase detection feature for the central point. I am not going to deep in the technical details but you have to believe me that the auto-focus speed was dramatically improved ! In good lightning conditions the focus is almost instant without any "hunting". I would have no doubt to relay on its focus system 99% of the time. I am not going to use this camera for sport or wild life photography anyway.



We also have an improved sensor and I think that this 116.3MO APS-C with X-Trans CMOS II processor has the best IQ of its class.
I know that the body-lens combo is essential and in this case it is simply spectacular ! It's much easier to correct and optimise a fixed lens rather that a zoom one and so the colours, contrast and sharpness of the images are just amazing.



Starting at f/2 the images taken with the X100S are really sharp in the centre. I say this for those pixel peepers searching for the ultimate perfection. I do prefer the "character" of a body-lens combination and we still have that specific X100 "signature" on the newer model.



The next days after I received the X100S, I tested it under different scenarios. That includes street-photography, landscape, reportage, macro and of course beauty and fashion being my preferred genres in photography.



Just to make a good statement of it, I've organised a fashion shooting in my studio especially for this review.



I followed a normal workflow with this as I would have done with my regular studio camera (Nikon D800E).



The whole team of make-up, hair, clothes, accessories, styling and models were really intrigued when instead of the "black big and heavy" camera they knew, they saw the little Fuji X100S with me. They asked permission to "hold it in their hands for a while" too and after convinced them that everything was going to be "OK", we got the shooting started !



In my studio I also had the company of my good friends Mugur Varzariu to make a photo documentary and Sorin Badea for a making of video.



I must admit that it was really awkward when putting the wireless trigger on the camera hot-shoe for the first time as they were really not a good match in size.



Most of the time I've used the OVF to mimic as much as possible the behaviour of a DSLR camera. The parallax correction helped me a lot to focus/frame according to the distance from the model. Again technical details that I hate to write about… Regarding the perspective of the lens, it was easy with the 35mm because i use it a lot when shooting fashion with DSLRs. You can use it for "full body", three quarter or even head-shots if the subject is in the middle of the frame.



The most interesting photographs with this focal length are the "environment" ones. In our case, running away from the boring white studio background, we brought an old classic table and also a vintage iMac as props. We wanted something minimalist, geek, stylish and sexy. I also left a studio flash in the frame for some specific shots to add that "movie flavour".



I've tested in this session different lightning setups including "contre-jour" and I was really pleased by the quality of the lens and his resistance to flare and chromatic aberrations.



Unfortunately, Adobe was not ready at that time with RAW support for the X100S and that is why I used JPG format only. Today, Adobe Lightroom 4.4 and Camera Raw 7.4 are available with full support for X100S. Even if "out of camera" jpgs are really good and beautiful , in order to have a great latitude for post-production, you need to shoot RAW.



I really like the way Fuji X100S handles the skin tones. The ASTIA film emulation is remarkable in this aspect.



There are also some things I DON'T like about the X100S:
The battery dies relatively fast and I needed three spares to shoot the whole day. The VIDEO mode is not yet as good as it might be and there's a lack of image stabilisation system. Also focusing in low light still have some improvements to be made about. We are all about that camera that sees in the dark. The accessories are rather expensive and there is only a brown version for the leather case. I wish they offered a black one also.



Back to the fashion shooting, as it is expected for such a job, the images need retouching. The "fat" files gave me the freedom to edit as much as I wanted.
After some tone, contrast and texture and with some extra sharpening added, the images looked just great !



As a conclusion, I could at any time substitute a full frame DSLR with this APS-C sensor camera. Of course I do not encourage that but is nice to know that whenever I need a solid backup for the 35mm length, the FUJI X100S would do an amazing job with that.



I've also tested this camera for street and reportage photography. It is a perfect companion in this field also. It's small, silent, fast and stealth. And of course again the 35mm lens is great for this genre.



I am not a big fan of MACRO photography but I've noticed that the minimum focusing distance was reduced and now you can shoot closer without engaging the macro mode on. When engaged, you can shoot as close as 10cm (3.9 in.)



The high ISO performance is outstanding ! Comparing to bigger "Pro" cameras when shooting at ISO 6400, the Fuji X100S stands out !
Much different that other cameras in his class, X100S' noise at high ISOs looks rather like "film grain" than "digital noise". And I love that.



Overall, I do like this small camera A LOT ! According to all those reasons above and also to the good images it will motivate to take. I said "motivate", not "help". I'd love that those of you reading such reviews understand that NO camera, no matter how good it is and appreciated by other photographers would help you taking great images. The photographers themselves are responsible for this matter. And that means studying, experimenting and most important the LOVE for this beautiful form of art called PHOTOGRAPHY !



Here you have some beautiful making of images taken by the greatest romanian documentary photographer MUGUR VARZARIU:



https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.441351949277976.1073741832.212122622200911&type=1



And here is a vintage looking making of video shot by SORIN BADEA:



https://vimeo.com/63437465



Thank you,



Vali BARBULESCU / X-PHOTOGRAPHER
(www.vbvisuals.com)





5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

fashion, studio lights. beauty shot.

  • April 1st, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/5.6 / 1/400 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

fashion, studio lights. beauty shot.

  • April 1st, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/5.6 / 1/400 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

fashion, studio lights. beauty shot.

  • April 1st, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/5.6 / 1/400 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

street. vscofilm.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2 / 1/1000 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

street. vscofilm.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2 / 1/1000 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

street. vscofilm.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2 / 1/1000 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

street. vscofilm.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2 / 1/1000 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

street. vscofilm.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2 / 1/1000 sec
4

FUJI X100S REVIEW

great dynamic range

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/4 / 1/60 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

documentary. homeless man. Bucharest, Romania.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/2.8 / 1/100 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

landscape. wood. great details all over the frame.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/5.6 / 1/80 sec
5

FUJI X100S REVIEW

macro.

  • April 2nd, 2013
  • X100S
  • 23mm / f/5.6 / 1/60 sec

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brats
Bharath Yelavatti  4 months ago
0
Thanks for your wonderful reply..All your comments make more sense. Will surely send you my portfolio work, will defn take your suggestions.
Can I send you my work to your email..?
brats
Bharath Yelavatti  4 months ago
0
Love your review and great images...
I do have this camera from past 3 months.. I am in love with this form factor and quality of images.
But Please do suggest me what is the most important addition to my arsenal to support get into fashion and beauty photography ?
Along with this camera.. Do I need to invest on few flashes and soft boxes..? I currently have one flash unit.. haven't yet invested on radio triggers..
Your support and suggestions would give me a great encouragement..
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Vali BARBULESCU  4 months ago
0
Thank you Bharath. They say that the best camera is the one that you have with you... It feels really good to have the Fuji X100S with you almost all the time. I carry it in my car/bike/backpack etc. Fashion and beauty photography on the other side is anything else... Those images you see in glossy mags are the result of a team work. And they spend lots of time/money with it. I think the very first thing to do is to develop your "fashion eye". Try to see if you are really into it. If you "feel" it. A good idea is to do some "street-style photography". Then you could start developing in fashion photography. I don't find necessary to invest in flashes and softboxes at this time. Try to understand natural light. Most cases is way better than using flashes in a bad manner. If you would like to send me some of your fashion/beauty images I could give you a pro evaluation on them. Good luck and don't forget that photography is more about passion/vision than gear/production. Best, V.
Loving
Len Loving  12 months ago
0
It's great to read your own review of the X100S. I'm about to get one and wanted more input from a professional, but without the technical mumbo-jumbo. Your thoughts are real, and your photographs are real. This helped me to feel 100% secure in the idea of simplifying my life with the Fuji. Thank you! Great work!
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Vali BARBULESCU  4 months ago
0
Hi Len, I saw that you already purchased the little Fuji X100S. I am glad about it and happy that my review helped you in this decision. I am sure you are already in love with this camera. Happy shooting, V.
funkografik
funkografik .  about 1 year ago
0
This is brilliant! All I can say is these images are beautiful not just because of the camera but by your passion for this field. The pictures scream awesomeness and I'm highly convinced by the IQ of Fuji X100S. Keep up the awesome work and Can't wait for see more stories from you about this little beast. God Bless!
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Vali BARBULESCU  about 1 year ago
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Thank you my friend ! Best, V.
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Vali BARBULESCU  4 months ago
0
Thank you ! Best, V.
meowzero
JWC  over 1 year ago
0
You wrote that you used the OVF. How did you focus? Did you just use the AF, or did you use the MF to make sure you got the correct focus?
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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
I only used the AF. It was very fast and accurate. Cheers, V.
Photos_by_Munya
Munya Chawora  over 1 year ago
0
Hi Vali.

Thanks so much for the great insight into the x100s! Your video and photos are AMAZING!! I'm a big user of Fujifilm, as I own the x-pro 1 and recently the x100. I shoot weddings and concert work, mainly with a canon 1d mark iv but ever since I got the fuji system, I have slowly been gravitating away from the dslr. These cameras are brilliant and though I am not a 10 year veteran of photography, they have made me understand photography at a whole new level! I have been eyeing the x100s and you have truly convinced me on this!

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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
Hi Munya, Thank you for your appreciation and kind words. Fuji X100S is indeed a fantastic little camera. I'm still thrilled by its amazing IQ. Here you have a recent "behind the scenes" shooting done 100% with the X100S: http://valibarbulescu.viewbook.com/album/btsangedechumadalinadorobantu Cheers, V.
bhupinder2002
Bhupinder Kumar  over 1 year ago
0
Hi Vali..
Fantastic video and fabulous photos. I have black limited edition X100 and I dont wanna sell it. I am quite happy and I agree that people often talk non-sense about AF issues . AF on X100 is quite good after firmware updates.
Cheers
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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
Hi there ! Thank you for your comment. The black limited edition of X100 is really beautiful and I am sure that after learning to handle its issues (no camera is perfect) you can produce really nice images with it. All the best, V.
cristianteichner
Cristian Teichner  over 1 year ago
0
Great stuff Vali — thanks for the amazing review!
For some reason I managed to completely ignore all the hype about the original X100 when it got launched, but the X100s pretty much captured my attention.

Do you see the 's' as an essential upgrade to the original X100?

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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
Thank you my friend ! X100S is for sure a pretty nice camera. And yes, that "S" is for Speed and that makes it an essential upgrade from the previous version. Bafta, V.
lautal
Alexander Lautsyus  over 1 year ago
0
Stunning pictures. Difficult to believe it is done with the small Fuji camera. Love it.
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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
Thank you Alexander ! All of these images above are taken with the X100S. It's IQ is amazing indeed. Cheers, V.
vecchioprovvisorio1
Mauro Tandoi  over 1 year ago
0
wonderful story !! i like vimeo backstage video too
Synaps31
Son Nguyen  over 1 year ago
0
Good... the fujinon lens ;-)
Like your work...Congrats.
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Vali BARBULESCU  over 1 year ago
0
thank you my friend ! yes, that lens is a nice piece of glass indeed ! ;)