Fuji X100s User Report By Nicola Bernardi

x100s

Fuji X100s User Report

By Nicola Bernardi

I finally had the chance to lay my hulking hands on the beautiful Fujifilm X100s, the camera over which I have been drooling night and day for the last year or so. The camera that I always wanted but couldn’t absolutely afford (25 years old freelance photographer here, remember?). The camera that one of my favorite photographers of all times, Zack Arias, described as the “DSLR killer”.

The camera that would surprise the hell out of me, but of course I didn’t know it yet.

On January 9th, Fujifilm Italia agreed to be the main sponsor for my next big project, unCOMMON:Wheels , and I’ll be using only Fujifilm cameras while biking from the southernmost to the northernmost point of Japan starting from March 5th. They also agreed to send me a Fuji X100s a couple of months in advance for me to get acquainted with their system and cameras. Needless to say, I felt like a kid on christmas morning: the freaking happiest I could ever be! And with this new toy in my hands, I did the only thing someone can do when they are in such a hype : take selfies in public toilets with it!

Kidding aside, I’ve been using the Fujifilm X100s for almost a month now, and these are my thoughts about it.

  • This camera is BEAUTIFUL. I mean, I’ve always had a thing for cameras, but this one brings it to a completely new level: it’s the kind of camera that makes you turn when she passes next to you, the kind of camera you go home and tell everyone about, the kind of camera you would invite out to dinner, fall in love with, marry and have wonderful camera babies with. Seriously!

 

  • They say dogs are men’s best friends and most loyal companion. Well, they lie. Truth is, the fujifilm X100s is a man’s best friend and most loyal companion! In the last month, not only have I never left home without it, but I have hardly left the ROOM without it! It’s so light, compact, practical and ready to shoot away at all times, that it becomes a natural extension of yourself. You wouldn’t leave the room without, let’s say, your arms, would you?

 

  • It’s so damn versatile: it doesn’t care whether you are in bright sun, in a candle-lit pub at night, or in a club shooting a concert. For as long as the camera is by your side, it will make you shoot wonderful photos.

 

  • Last and most importantly, it’s FUN. It MAKES you wanna capture the things around you, the people you are with and the life that surrounds you in every moment. It was a feeling that, I have to admit, it was long lost for me.

 

  • But, as weird as it sounds to me now (where I got completely used to shooting with this camera only, when it’s not commissioned work), it wasn’t love at first sight. In the first week especially, I had a hard time getting used to its fixed 23mm ƒ2 lens (35mm equivalent) as it is the ONLY lens range I NEVER USE. With my Nikon, i bounce pretty easily between my fixed 20mm and my fixed 50mm and having to get used to such a range proved itself to be though work. So in the beginning, I was unhappy with the photos I was taking not because of the camera, but because I couldn’t get my eye to “think” and compose for that focal length.

The second reason I was VERY UNHAPPY with the first days worth of photos, is that the raw files of this camera are different from what I normally work with. Don’t get me wrong, the X-Trans sensor produces very good files, and handles the colors, highlights and shadows in a great way! The problem was that I found myself processing the raw files in the same way I usually do with my Nikon files, and the results were noticeably different. It took me some time, but in the end I started to realize that it was my workflow that wasn’t correct for the camera, not the opposite.

Since then, and a few more dozen hours spent shooting with this camera after, I can now say that I fell in love with it and that I completely understand why Zack Arias said “this is the first camera with a SOUL”. Being a portrait photographer, I obviously tried shooting portraits with it and the results are extremely pleasing, granted that 35mm is (in my opinion) NOT a good lens for tight portraits, and it’s suited for a more environmental portraiture. I’ve never been much of a black and white guy, in fact, most of my portraits, concert photos and street photos are densely colorful, but this camera makes me wanna shoot in black and white: it renders shadows, midtones and highlights in such a great, detailed way!

Final Verdict:

The Fuji X100s really has something inside of it that makes you wanna take more pictures, that pokes your creativity. It takes away the burden of carrying a heavy camera and leaves you with all the freedom in the world to shoot anything you want, at any time! I really, REALLY like this camera! And here’s some other photos for you to check. Obviously, all shot with none other than the Fujifilm X100s

www.nicolabernardi.com

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lol

 

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57 Comments

  1. I have a x100s and love it for travel and general portraiture with one exception and think that is shown in Nicola’s lovely photos. I am very much an amateur but was always brought up that too wide focal length is bad for straight on close up portraiture, enlarging and making the nose unnaturally and unflatteringly large. I think this is exemplified in the three photos above the really wonderful one of the old man’s shoulders and the earlier black and white one of the guy. However the black and white of the girl slightly side on is great. Experts please tell me if I’ve got this wrong! I loved the photos though.

    • I had exactly the same thought about the portraits: there are two really good ones – nr.2 and nr.8 but the full-face, middle-of-frame shots shots are really to be avoided with this focal length I think. Just on the brink of getting going with my own X100S, so it was really fun to read Nicola’s report (belatedly) and see the – mostly – marvellous images it can produce.

  2. Is the lady in the hat by chance from Canada? It looks like someone i used to know.

  3. Nicola, Fine job sir ! You are capturing what the camera was MEANT to do. I really like the BLUE ROOM rendering, and the Lady with the HAT in B & W stopped me Dead in My Tracks… The reality is ~ I had forgotten why ANSEL is the MASTER. Black & White, in todays’ SEA of COLOR ~ will STOP YOU in your TRACKS ! And YOU did it R I G H T ! That ZEISS / FUJI Mating hangs with Both LEICA & SONY RX1 ! And the most recent price of the X100S is Wonderful ! C L I C K !!!

  4. Amazing your fourth picture, in my eyes, is one of the best compositions I’ve seen for awhile on this site, congratulation on such a great job being well done.

  5. Absolutely brilliant photos! The old man awaiting crossing the road is among the best photos I’ve seen for a while. I’m also thinking about getting the Fuji X100s & conversion lenses as a replacement for my GF1 (14mm F2.5 & 20mm F1.7), do you think it’s worthwhile?

  6. Great images! The X100S is a street photographer’s dream and you are one seriously good street photographer.

    Lol, I have to laugh though that no one appears to want to divulge their “trade secret” of X100 post-processing workflow once they’ve sorted it out… “Can’t let on, they’ll be producing images with IQ as good as mine”.

  7. Bravo Nicola. Tus fotos me gustaron mucho. Son tan naturales y placenteras. Algunos fotógrafos deberían ver tus fotos 😉 en especial cuando hacen reviews y ponen fotos sin sentido sin alma. Algunas de tus fotos son lo mejor que he visto en meses en este blog. Fuji is the Future 😉

  8. Thanks very much for your report : I’m sure I’ll return to your comments when my X100S arrives shortly. Your portraits are specially fascinating in view of what you say about the 35mm length (that nearly gave me cold feet….!) I particularly like the off-center portrait of the woman with the wine-glass. The model in the broad hat is also a superb use of the frame and b&w. Am I right in thinking that the nose is a bit too close in the b&w man with a hat? Had to look quite a lot at your three street centred colour portraits. I normally don’t go for symmetrical and yet these breathe life. Many thanks!

  9. … And yes ! Image no 18 (old man waiting to cross the street) is outstanding. Like a synonyme for the world turning faster and faster. So fast that many (older people but younger ones, too) feel almost helpless.

  10. Some great images that show the IQ the fuji. I also experienced trouble when i tried to process my first images taken with the x-e1. Lightroom was (and is) not the best tool for the job also but it was what i had back then. Things change when you do the basic RAW convertion with a more suitable developer and import to LR later. I understand that some people love the way (s) fuji renders color and others that dont like it that much. In BW the images are unarguable beautiful.

    Wish you all the best for your upcoming trip.

  11. Hmmm … this is the kind of post that can sell cameras … “if I buy the X100s, I’ll be able to take pictures like that, too !” I know better. I can’t take pictures like that. I still want the X100s, though.

    • I know better too but bought the X100s anyway two weeks ago. And like you said it didn’t make me a better photographer but with the X100s in my hands it’s big fun trying!

    • I bet you can 😉
      If a camera inspires you to go out and take pictures (any camera) chances are high you will capture a really great and meaningful picture. I believe that even the masters dont have a recipe for a masterful shot. Yet they have the knowledge that gives them a far better chance. It is the same with music. You cant guarantee the hit but you may realise that you created something special when you hear (see) the final product. Happy shooting.

  12. Enjoyed them all, but was entranced with the B&W of the lady in the hat… absolutely magical and inspirational! Masterful sense of light, thank you for sharing Nicola 🙂

  13. Dear Nicola,

    Thanks for posting beautiful work… What I see here does not compel me to go and purchase myself an X100s, but it does reminds me that at the end is how you work with your camera. I had an XE 1, so I think, being an X sensor camera, the X100s file is not that much different. And from what I usually see from my XE 1, I can tell that you did an astounding job with your X100s file. I guess your “love” to the camera really push you. You turn an excellent file into a lovely picture with beautiful color. And your composition and momentum….it’s just there. You said 35 is a tricky angle to use as a portrait, yet you posted excellent look there.

    Your work really remind me that I should think more about how to create picture with the camera I have, instead of thinking when can I buy a new one :-). Thanks for this Nicola.

  14. I stopped reading after after You imagined having Babies with Your camera, but I enjoyed Your photos.

  15. There is a pretty good pro/con review here http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots-view/fuji_x100s_review.shtml that states why way Fuji files aren’t very amenable to post processing. After returning my RX10 after ten days for similar reasons I’m not surprised. The JPEG’s would look great, but as soon as some minor tweaking is needed the image starts to look posterised and blotchy. Why are Fuji making this thing a feature throughout the range?

  16. Great work, I’m really amazed at the portraits – you’d think the lens would be a tad too wide but it seems to do a damn fine job.

  17. Excellent work Nicola, I really love your pictures.
    I understand you shoot exclusively in Raw but have you tried the (numerous) jpeg settings that the Fuji X100s offers and if yes, what are your impressions, I.E., Do you have a favorite setting. Thank you for your time and All the best!

  18. Yes, the old man in front of the street ist plain great. And i enjoy very much the pics which are telling a story, like the one with the old man and the books, the lonely table and the boys on the bank. That´s what the X100 is made for and you have a great eye for telling storys in just one picture. Nice.

  19. Hi Nicola,
    great pictures both on your site and in this review. Could you tell us more about your X100s workflow? I have had a chance to shoot with X100s for about two weeks and find my self little disappointed. I really like design and handling and IQ but a lot of time X100s was kind of unpredictable -both in white balance and in exposure. I’m used to Nikon D5100 so its not like I’m comparing it to Leica…but I have to say my Nikon was faster and more reliable in all light conditions (35mm/1.8 DX lens)…but again, maybe this camera need more time… I wish D5100 was so beautiful and portable 🙂

  20. I had the same experience as you with the X100s. It took me a couple of sessions to figure out the best way to shoot and process the images, but now my other gear stays in its bag. It’s just a fantastic camera. And your photos are wonderful.

  21. I love the black X100. I’ve used it alongside an M3, IIIF, Sony RX1 and Lumix LX5. All have their strengths as tools to craft what I’m looking for, but the X100 and RX1 were rock solid.

    Then I ordered the new black X100S. In short, some of the images were as good as the RX1; great tones, blacks, etc. (I shoot a lot of BW). Then the camera started to freeze randomly, especially when trying to use it in a quick fashion with on-the-fly adjustments. Okay. So I had to turn it off and re-boot so to speak to get it work. I knew the focus wouldn’t be a great problem as I ponder much of the time when shooting in order to get what I want. Not being a professional, it’s important the tool work consistently, even if used in a less-than-street style manner. But quick, this camera was not. Ever. In any form in which I tried to use it.

    So I was troubled. Then I used the tried-and-true method of testing on a tree I’d used before to gauge performance. Sunny day, hot California winter day, no haze. The X100S would NOT focus on any part of the tree. I tried different angles, stepped over edges to make sure it had enough information to easily get the shot. Nothing. So I took a time out and looked at what I had been able to get. Each time I would exit out of the review mode, you guessed it, freeze.

    Yesterday, I returned the camera. I won’t say to whom since it isn’t their fault. But I will say that with a camera of this age in an ever-changing and improving environment of quality in every sense, it just isn’t consistent enough to use. Sure, I may have gotten a rotten one. But again, the maturity of this camera means it shouldn’t have these sorts of multiple failures. Fuji may have lost me. We’ll see what they come up with on software to see how quickly these problems are addressed. I’m sure they read these forums.

    So, while the other cameras named were rock-solid examples, this particular piece was a disaster. I look forward to seeing what Leica comes out with in April, (not that their reputation for innovation or quality is any more acceptable in the modern age), and I also will give the X-Vario a real hard look. It may be slow, but I need quality and usability, not a crap shoot every time I venture out to use it.

  22. I have had the Fuji X100s for about three weeks. I didn’t like it in the shop but something inside kept urging me to buy it. Again, for the first few days I thought I’d made a mistake………..and then I fell in love with it. I have an expensive Hoya HD2 UV filter on it and dispensed with a lens cap so it’s always ready to fire. Now I used it a bit I love it! So I can understand where you are coming from when you say you didn’t like it at first.

  23. I love your photos Nicola…and I also love Milano (Milan) where some of your pictures were taken I believe.

    I am going to come at you from another angle than Paul’s question:
    Shooting Raw is always better of course but have you experimented with jpeg settings?
    If yes, do you mind telling us which ones are your favorite?
    I understand from various reviews that the Fuji X100 s gives excellent jpeg results, can you confirm?
    Thank you for your time and keep up the excellent work.
    Forza Italia!!!

    • RE: jpeg IQ – I can confirm; I’ve been using an X100S exclusively for two months now, and have been shooting jpeg only at the “fine” setting (lower compression). OOC jpegs are fantastic; there’s little or no reason to shoot Raw with this camera.

  24. If you don’t mind sharing, how exactly did you change up your workflow to accommodate the X100s files? I normally shoot Nikon as well, and edit in Lightroom. I had a similar problem with the files from the Fuji and wound up returning it. Perhaps I should have given it more time. Thanks!

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