Hands On With The Fujifilm X100s

3 mins read
3 mins read

In July 2011 I purchased the Fujifilm X100 camera. I was struck by the liberty offered by such a small yet powerful camera. Coming from a full frame DSLR setup I have to confess the initial months were a love hate relationship. I loved the stunning image quality while hating the focus accuracy of the initial release.

Fujifilm quickly addressed the frustrations with a series of firmware updates that catapulted the X100 camera to the fore of my photography habit. Like many I found the X100 offer a photographic experience that developed my skills as a photographer, rather than rattling off a series a shot I learned to be more thoughtful and controlled making each shot matter.

I headed out to a local jetty and took four quick images from four different angles. I used the same technique as documented in The Long Exposure eBook  The first long exposure at f/11 / ISO 200 was for 20 seconds.

The X100 taught me that you can be creative in the camera without having to rely on post production processing. In short the X100 became my every day camera.

2012 brought the mighty X-Trans sensor in the X-Pro1 and more recently X-E1. Both cameras have the same sensor and are capable of producing breathtaking images, ultra-sharp with simply beautiful colour rendition.

Fujifilm are certainly leading the way in the mirrorless camera market and we all knew it was only a matter of time before we saw an upgrade to the X100. Despite expecting to see the Fuji X200 the announcement of the X100s came with a very large wave of excitement.

I was lucky enough to have the X100s for a week in December and I used it to capture some images around Northern Ireland. Like the X20 I decided to visit Belfast, County Down and my favourite location ‘The Dark Hedges’.

Physically the camera is almost identical to the X100, there is the addition of the ‘S’ to the logo and the all important Q button but also the focus options are now M-C-S rather than M-S-C as they were on the X100. The big changes come on the inside, a 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II a a Lens Modulation Optimiser and the new EXR processor are just a few of the highlights.

Please note all images were captured with a very early pre-production version of the X100s with basic firmware. Please note these images are copyright and should not be used without permission. Click on an image to view it large on Flickr. 

Anyway, I was already a massive fan of the X100 and was the X-Trans sensor going to make that much of a difference? In short, in complete certainty and after just a few hours I was able to conclude the answer is a definitely YES. The image output is breathtaking and I can’t wait to use the X100s to capture long exposure photos.

If I was asked to describe the X100s in two words they would have be “Super Sharp”. I was restricted to shooting JPG but I was blown away at just how sharp the photographs are and how quick the camera is to focus and capture.

Look closely at the thumbnail image on the left of this screenshot to see just how far I had zoomed in. The man at the end of the road is easily missed zoomed out yet you can see just how sharp the detail is zoomed in. Also if you can think this is the two people you can see in the above image it isn’t he is further on ahead. Click on the image to view it large on flickr.

X100s sharpness

Even with fast moving objects I was able to focus and capture the action quickly. Jumping from sand dunes is easy to miss but the X100s captured each jump with accuracy beyond my expectations.

Like the fujifilm X20 had a very early pre-production version of the camera (number 84 ever made) and a very, very early firmware.

The camera has the performance of a professional camera. Focus is quick and accurate, I could only shoot JPG with the pre-production camera but I couldn’t be more excited at the output.

The improvement on the already great X100 is certainly significant enough to see current users upgrading. I also think the X100s will welcome a whole new wave of photographers turning their back on large, heavier dSLR cameras.

Day 1

I spent the day around Belfast getting to know the pre-production camera.

See A Mini adventure for more information on the little mini car.

Day 2

I really wanted to try the X100s in a range of different locations and found myself on the North Coast. I called in on the famous White Rocks beach and captured the Dunluce Castle coastline and the Christmas surfers. Being in this part of the country a visit to the ‘Dark Hedges’ was essential. The famous hedges (see more here) featured in the recent ‘Game of Thrones’ series.

Day 3

The X100s also came along on our annual New Year’s Day visit to the County Down coast and Dundrum. By Day 3 I was familiar with the early firmware and how the camera handled. It was remarkable to grab fast action shots while retaining the pin sharpness of the shot.

This is just a few samples from my experiences with the camera. I will add more to flickr in the next few weeks. Again current X100 owners should remember all their current accessories are compatible with the X100s.

Genuinely I think both the X20 and X100s are cameras to get excited about. I suspect they are names that will appear on the “Camera of Year” lists of 2013.

Check out the Official Fujifilm X website for detailed specifications and more information.


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.


  1. Looking very sharp indeed! Wow, I think this has finally convinced me that the APS-C format is good enough for the future. I don’t think I’ll move to full frame, although there are other adavantages there like some added depth of field control. But this is just so good, both regarding sharpness and noise, that it’s “good enough”. By a margin.

    The grain on the B&W ISO 3200 image is quite appealing as well.

    Finally, I really like the New year’s day kite photo. 🙂

  2. Hi, great review! (can’t wait to upgrade from x100 🙂 )

    how’s the battery life compared to x100? and is the indicator any better?

    (On x100 it was full all the time, and then once one bar dropped, you had about 5 shots before it turned red, and then about 2 more before battery dead).

    Not essential, but would be good to fix the behaviour.


  3. One of the critical issues for me is sharpness wide open. Do you see this improved on the X100s as some write-ups either indicate improved lens elements or coatings? I avoided shooting at f2 on the X100 and favored higher f stops. I hope that I have the option of shooting f2 on the X100s.

    Thanks for your preview.

  4. do you know if there will be a black version of this camera? Did you process your images on your computer or is it in camera jpeg? i like your photos very much

  5. Hi David:

    Thanks for this early report!

    Can you comment on the evf? It appears to now be the same as on the X-E1 (&, presumably, NEX7). Have Fuji improved the image smearing/slow refresh when panning – compared to the X-E1?

    (Thanks for “The Long Exposure”, too.)

    Warm regards, David

  6. crazydoctor: Fuji says there will be no black X100s but they did say they will probably make a limited edition black only version somewhere down the road like they did with the black edition of the original X100

  7. Thanks a lot for posting images from the X100s, and in high-res too.

    But if we’re really checking the ability of the camera rather than your (granted, very good) post-processing skills, we need out-of-camera JPGs or unprocessed RAWs. I can tease this kind of information out of Fuji X100 files with enough sharpening and structure adjustments.

    Publishing the OOC JPGS or unprocessed RAWs would show us all the common starting point we would have by purchasing this camera.

    Not having a go, and I’m really thankful you published these. It’s just hard to tell how good the camera is from looking at them.

  8. Great review David, thanks I think i’ll get this one over the Xe1
    Would you say the X100s images look similar to the Xpro1 with the new sensor? or more like x100?
    Do you get to try the video at all?

  9. Mr. Clealand

    Wonderful photos that clearly show the quality of the images that these cameras can capture. I’m glad you included many that show how well fine detail resolves-I think its the best I’ve seen so far!! (even the one with the red dot)
    Ireland has been on my bucket list for years.
    Thanks again for sharing

    G Hall

  10. That’s what I would like to know. I have other ILC so not concerned about fixed lens, but want best IQ. I’m thinking it would be “freeing” to not worry about changing lenses. Also love the look of the x100.


  11. To comment beyond my post isn’t fair, the camera was an early post production version with a very, very early firmware. I would say the camera amazed me. Really quick focus, accurate and beyond sharp output. The IQ is great. I didn’t have it long enough to comment on battery life. I understand some want the full size JPEGs for analysis but it would be best to wait for a final version. I’ve posted quite large versions on flickr.

    As an X100 shooter I’d say the X100s is a massive leap.

  12. Thanks for the review and the images. I think it`s a fantastic camera, I will wait for the x100s 🙂


  13. Really beautiful shots. My only concern is if RAW files will be supported in Lightroom4.. I’m a happy OMD-Em5 owner with some nice lenses, still this x100s is tempting me. Congrats again!

  14. Marco, remember the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are already support with their X-Trans sensors. I’ve only shot RAW on both cameras and do not have a problem with Lightroom support.

  15. I am really excited about the X100s.

    I have been using the X100 for about 18 months now and it has been my go-to “every day” camera that has captured about 90% of my family and personal photos, including the birth of our fist child. The 35mm equiv and especially the 28mm equiv (with WCL-X100 adapter) focal lengths are definitely my favorite focal lengths for family and street photography. Although the “quirks” and AF speed of the X100 (including my X-E1) makes it frustrating to use at times, it has never stopped me from getting incredible photos. I absolutely love my X100.

    However, seeing early examples of the new hybrid AF system on the X100s, along with an updated X-Trans sensor and processor really gets me excited. I can just imagine how great it would be shooting an X-Trans camera with up to 1/4000s x-sync!!

    Besides waiting for better RAW support, if Fuji decided to make a pro “DSLR-style” body with hybrid AF, X-Trans (APS-C) sensor, and 2.8 zooms, I would definitely look at switching from my dual Full Frame Nikon kit and lenses.

  16. David Great Review! I was wondering if you had any experience with the video functionality of the camera? All the talk has been about the photo taking capabilities, but it seems like they upped the quality of the video. Do you know if there is manual shutter and aperture controls in video mode? Thanks!

  17. Bonjour,
    Très belles images avec ce 100s !
    Utilisateur d’un X-Pro 1 (mais aussi d’un X100), je ne regrette qu’une chose :
    La prise en charge des raw du X-Pro 1, donc du X100, est vraiment mauvaise dans Lightroom.
    C’est bien dommage d’avoir une telle qualitĂ© de capteur (X-trans) sans pouvoir disposer d’un logiciel de dĂ©matricage correct capable de bien dĂ©coder la matrice Fuji…

    EspĂ©rons qu’Adobe saura nous entendre…

  18. Thank you for your efforts in reviewing the X100S and posting your results – the photographs look fabulous! I am an X100 user, as well as XE1 and a Nikon DSLR FX outfit. The Nikon has been redundant since I bought my X100 last January, and frankly my XE1 is redundant as well. Both will be sold, and the X100S will become my sole camera as a replacement for the X100 later this year. I just love (as you clearly do too) the fact that the X100 forces you to concentrate on technique and composition rather than worrying about gear and menus – and for me that it the biggest single advantage of fixed lens photography. My technique has improved no end since purchasing the X100, and I’m sure the X100S will continue to allow that to happen without distractions!

    Your mini shot and the Kite are superb!

  19. Thanks for the early preview/review David.

    Love the photos btw. Very very nice. Certainly brings out the best in pre-production Fuji X100s.

    I’d been mulling about selling my X100 for Sony RX1, Oly OMD, or Fuji XE1. However, the X100 holds great sentimental value for me and despite its many quirks, the right photos never cease to amaze me to this day.

    So I kept it despite the urge.

    When I read early previews on the new X100s, I got very excited. I realized that I might finally be able to let go of my X100 and not feel overly guilty because it’s all in the same family.

    I noticed a lot of questions regarding the X100s new sensor and how it might compare to XE1.

    Even though we have to wait for the production sample/review, based on their tech/spec, I would venture a guess to say that it should be better than the XE1 for 2 reasons:

    1. Phase detect built-into the sensor. It’s labeled X-Trans CMOS II as opposed to CMOS I on the Xpro1 and XE1.

    2. New EXR II processor.

    The combination of faster/more accurate AF and faster/more advanced processor should translate into even better IQ than XE1.

    I can’t wait for the review based on production sample.

  20. Were you able to tell if the new xtrans sensor was significantly different/better than that on the xpro1?

  21. These photos are just beautiful! What I wonder is what JPEG settings you used? Also, what post-processing did you do? Lightroom? As sharp and as beautiful as these photos are they do not look like out of camera JPEGs. Vignetting was added and perhaps there were different B&W settings that you used as well.

  22. They are shot in JPEG and processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 to add a bit of drama. Vignette is generally used to bring focus or mask unattactive aspects of the scene.

  23. Hey David does the x100s still need a filter adapter ring to take say a nd filter or hood ? I just purchased ur long exposure ebook. Great Read !!!

  24. David – upon further reflection, I am left with a sense of frustration on the announcement of the X100s. I would very much like to have this obviously improved camera, but also would like to have a body for XF lenses. On the one hand, given the pace of Fuji’s sensor development, does it make sense (& cents) to have a beautiful body and lens made somewhat obsolete every 2 years? On the other, the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are suddenly so last year.
    A real revolution would be replaceable sensors for their fine atelier hardware. (As we all know, Leica film bodies lasted generations.)
    Also, I hope they are considering a smaller cheaper interchangeable lens X-trans body with optional EVF – against the ethos, I know, but another way toward gaining critical mass for the RAW debacle.

  25. OK David – guilty as charged: hyperbole for the sake of argument. However, great IQ notwithstanding, the X bodies are, as of now, a generation behind. I still want an X-E1, but mostly for the lenses – and knowing that I will want to upgrade to the new body when released – and on and on.

    My point is: perhaps we all accept that a big hunk of gee whiz plastic in the form of the 1Ds Mark II (which my daughter bought for many thousands and shot an American Photo cover with) has lost over 75% of its value in only 6 years, but it just seems like the wrong approach that the same thing should happen to the more intrinsically photographically perfect X bodies and X100 – merely because sensor development has progressed, as sensor development will.
    (BTW – seriously hooked on Long Exposure!)

  26. Also, the most exciting innovation of the X100s (to my mind) is the brilliant re-thinking of manual focus which, when brought to the nexgen of X bodies will allow the X-trans sensor to more fully embrace the immense world of legacy glass.

  27. The rapid devaluation is depressing, no doubt. A wise man (or women) would buy a camera and never read a photography website or magazine again until that camera breaks. That said, I fear upgrade research is sadly, half the fun.

  28. So am i right in saying the body of the x100 is the same as the x100s. I.e. the speaker, battery cover, tripod hole are all in the same place ? And all accessories for x100 will fit the x100s.


  29. Very helpful review. It’s clear this is a very impressive camera, for example the shot of the Mournes and the reflections off the beach. Like stepping into the bay. Just have to wait until the premium price drops a little!

  30. This camera is great at the moment and yes it could be become the camera of the year. I do think Nikon D7000 is still better however this X100s much more practical for street and travel photography. Am hoping that FUJI will release the same type of camera with full frame sensor within soon distance.

  31. “The rapid devaluation is depressing, no doubt. A wise man (or women) would buy a camera and never read a photography website or magazine again until that camera breaks. That said, I fear upgrade research is sadly, half the fun.”

    100% agree. I scream at myself for the amount of time I allow to read about fear or watch YouTube reviews, tests, chats, etc. But like a true junkie I cannot seem to stop!

    Luckily I stopped buying (3 cameras bought and 2 sold in 2 years) last year when I sold my second dslr for the X100. Loved the dslr’s when shooting live music but was never fully comfortable taking them anywhere else because of the alarm they caused when taking photos while out an about.

    The x100 gets out a lot more than the dslr did. Sometimes I wonder if the photos with my d5100 + 35mm 1.8 were sharper (still think they are slightly), but realise I just need to learn more about taking better photos.

    Good composition and interesting subjects are what I need more of.

    Sorry for the mini rant but felt your comment was spot on. Thanks for the really helpful website and the beautiful photos.


  32. I know this discussion is about the x100 and x100s, but I’m curious are you looking forward to the Olympus Pen EP 5 at all?

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