I picked up my first Fuji x100 (pictured above) off of Craig’s List years after it was introduced. I picked it up for three reasons…
- Although I love mobile photography, I’m always looking for something to fill the gap that my Nikon system currently fills.
- I wanted to evolve as a photographer.
- I needed a cool camera to carry in my daily driver (the bag pictured above).
Sure enough, the x100 was cool but it had some quirks. It was so cool, I thought I would be moving towards the X system of interchangeable lens bodies. Then (drum roll) the x100s came out. It seemed to solve all the quirks of the original x100 and so my adventure with the x100s began.
Review Notes You can click on any image to see a larger version and get the EXIF data. Also, this is a living document and I update it as needed. Feel free to socialize with me for updates.
Talk about meta, here’s a photo of me with my x100s from my good friend and fellow photographer shooting his x100s.
Gear & Tools
Here’s a listing of all the gear and darkroom tools that I use with my Fuji x100s.
- Fuji x100s (click here)
- Trey’s Lightroom Presets (click here)
- David’s Lightroom Presets (click here)
- VSCO Film Packs (click here)
- Domke 1.5″ Gripper Camera Strap (click here)
- 20″ Cable Release (Click Here)
- Lee Filter Foundation Kit (click here)
- Lee GND Filters (click here)
- B+W 10 ND Filter (click here)
- B+W 49mm Filter (click here)
- 49mm-77mm Step Up Ring (click here)
- Really Right Stuff BX100 tripod mount and grip (click here)
- Wassabi Batteries & Car Charger (click here)
- Nikon SC-29 Sync Cable(click here)
Build Quality and Form Factor
When I pick it up, I’m instantly hyper-aware of shape, shadows and light. When I put it down, I just want to pick it back up. The size and weight are perfect for my hands. I’m confident in its build quality and the control layout is perfect. The controls are where they need to be, but the menu system takes a bit of getting used to.
What It Can’t Do
The Fuji x100s is a very capable camera. However, it can’t do everything so let’s get the limitations of the camera out-of-the-way first.
It Can’t Photograph Wildlife From A Distance – No way was this guy going to let me get any closer to him. Even if he did, no way was I going to scurry up the side of a cliff to do so. I shot this image with my trusty Nikon 18-200. If I need this type of image, I use my Fuji 55-200 on my XE-1.
It Can’t Compress You will hear people saying they don’t need a zoom lens because they ‘zoom with their feet’. Well, that’s fine and dandy but telephoto lenses aren’t just about framing. They are about creating optical illusions, one of which is compression. No, the Fuji x100s will not be able to create this image. That being said, the Fuji 55-200 (click here for my review) is able to. I happened to shoot this one with my Nikon 28-300.
It’s Not A Finish Line Camera You can’t expect it to perform like a Nikon 300mm 2.8 VR II. I probably didn’t need to tell you that, but just incase you had dreams of photographing the Tour de France with it. You might want to bring a second camera.
What It Can Do!
If you’re still reading, you don’t care about its limitations. All you care about is making kick ass images with it! Here’s a few things it can do, and do very well.
It Can Photograph Cats As you know, the standard by which I measure all my gear is its ability to photograph cats. The Fuji x100s is my new gold standard in cat photography. Not only is the image quality incredible, the shutter is so quiet that your feline friend will never know you snapped their photo.
It Can Photograph Bike Racing Sure, it’s not going to make that finish line shot, but it can make very compelling images if you’re willing to work within its limitations.
It Syncs Flash At High Shutter Speeds – Because of the leaf shutter and built-in ND filter, it can make photographs at f/2.0 and 1/1000 of a second in full sun. Now that’s pretty cool!
It Can Make Movies – I’m a filmmaker and love to make short little movies about the places I visit. I also like to make them quickly without much fuss. On a recent trip through New Mexico I decided to set my x100s to B&W + Red Filter film emulation, hand-hold it and make a spaghetti western. In iMovie I added some additional effects.
High ISO – The Cave Test
If you really want to test a camera’s low light capabilities, everyone knows you test it in a cave. Here is a handheld shot about 500ft below the Earth’s surface. I was shooting manual, wide open, with nothing but a few headlamps.
As a photographer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my creative efficiency. Whether it is lighter more compact systems (like the x100s) or techniques that need less time in the darkroom. Here are sample images from the x100s as they increase in darkroom complexity. They range from .JPGs out of the camera to Lightroom processing.
Out Of Camera (OOC) – The Fuji x100s puts out some incredible .JPG files. I normally configure my custom settings for +1 Color Boost and +1 Sharpness.
Fun ‘life moment’ portraits are made easy with the Fuji x100s built in fill flash. No fuss, it just works!
OOC Using The x100s Creative Filters Another option for in camera creativity is the Fuji x100s’s Creative Filters. There are quite a few filters to choose from. Everything from sepia to soft focus (pictured here). When you take a photo with the x100s, the filters apply creative effects to your image resulting in a processed .JPG. You can choose to save the original image if you like. I was actually impressed by these filters. I didn’t think I was going to dig them. However, if you are looking to limit your time in front of a computer, but still expand your creative vision, these filters work like a charm.
The classic soft focus filter makes everything dreamy and interesting….
The Miniature Filter makes everything, including the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater…well…miniature.
Processed With An iPad & Snapseed – The Fuji x100s paired with a Snapseed equipped iPad is something I affectionately refer to as a ‘Lean & Mean Creative Machine‘. There’s nothing better than jumping on a return flight with a card full of images and processing away on your iPad. If it’s a WIFI enabled flight, you will be making all your Facebook friends jealous with amazing images from your trip.
Learn Snapseed – For only $19, learn how I use Snapseed to process images in my online workshop, ‘The Magic of Snapseed’ (click here).
Processed With Lightroom – When you get back home and want to remember what an amazing trip you had, import your photos from the Fuji x100s into Lightroom and have some fun. I kept the theme of creative efficiency alive and well in Lightroom by using some of my favorite Lightroom preset packs. You can get them here: VSCO (click here), Trey’s Presets (click here), David’s Presets (click here).
Custom Settings & Tips
Here’s a quick look at how I configure my Fuji x100s Custom Settings.
Function Button – You can assign a variety of functions to the function button (FN) for quick access. Things like ISO, ND Filter, Film Simulation etc. During the day, I set mine to turn off/on the ND filter. At night, or if I’m in a situation where I need ISO control, I’ll set it to ISO. The cool thing is that by holding down the FN button, you can quickly change when the button controls. Pretty slick!
Custom Settings – I set my custom settings for three styles…a standard B&W, punchy landscape and an airy color film. The cool thing about the Q menu is that it remembers what parameter you were adjusting last. That means, if you are the type that adjusts film simulation a lot, the Q menu is kind of another FN button. Whenever you hit the Q button, it will automatically be on film simulation (or whatever parameter you control often)…well, as long as you leave it there when you quit the menu.
My Camera For Documentary, Events & Stories
This is my GO-TO camera for storytelling and documentary work. Because of its size and stature, my subjects rarely notice it. And because of its cool look, if they do notice it, they are excited to have their photo taken with it. I can turn on the flash, engage the ND filter and put it real close to their face. People just love this camera! Here are a few postcards I shared from a story I was working on at the 2013 USA Pro Challenge.
Things I Love
- Form Factor – It feels great!
- Weight – One of the reasons I got this camera is weight. I can carry this little guy all day and never notice it. Even with the RRS bracket.
- Responsiveness – It wakes up fast and is ready to go.
- Vibe – There’s something magical and romantic about it.
- Image Quality – Wow!
- 3 Stop ND Filter – The built in ND filter is awesome! I have my FN button assigned to turn it on and off. Super slick and more practical than you might think. Especially when shooting at f2.0. Nice work Fuji!
- Ninja Quiet – This camera might be taking photos right now, and I would never know it!
Things To Note
- Batteries – We don’t need no stinkin’ batteries….ahhh, yes you do! The Fuji x100s eats them up and spits them out. I roll with the original NP-95 and some Wassabis plus a car charger.
- Weather Sealing – It’s not weather sealed, so you will need to be careful in harsh environments (dust & rain).