Here it is finally ! The long awaited successor of the famous Fujifilm X100 comes to reality. While one might have expected a Fuji X200, Fujifilm is actually unveiling the new X100S which is taking over the premium compact digital camera that made Fuji glorious again ! With a 23mm fast prime lens and an APS-C sensor, the X100S uses the X100 successful recipie. Yet, evolutions are important and well-chosen, for sure, the Fujifilm X100S will resume the iconic position of its predecessor. Moreover, if the Fujifilm X100S brings a great new stuff sensor wise, autofocus wise and processor wise, it uses the recipe of its predecessor with the adoption of a Fujinon 23mm f/2 and its famous hybrid viewfinderwhich offers the best of both worlds : optical and electronic viewfinder.
Fuji X100S: the X-Pro1 X-Trans sensor
As one might have anticipated (or dreamt of for the biggest fans of the Fuji-X series) and as rumor tend to suggest, the X100S inherits of the APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor. The camera bénéfits from the technological breakthrough in sensor technology earlier discovered on the high-end X-Pro1 and the X-E1 cameras. The X-Trans sensor is a CMOS sensor (APS-C size), derived from the 16.3-megapixel sensor that is known to equip a large part of digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras, but which the Fujifilm engineers team has removed the optical low-pass filter. This results in optimal sharpness. The, to fight against the possible appearance of moiré, Fujifilm has cleverly replaced the Bayer matrix which consists of only 4 color patterns by a more complex matrix, with low repetition pattern frequency, made of 36 blocks. We know and appreciate the image quality of the X-Trans sensor on the X-Pro1, and we can only rejoice to see Fujifilm bringing this technology to the X100 body with the X100S. The Fujifilm press kit I received states that it is the second generation of X-Trans CMOS sensor. It seems to me, but I’ll check with my contacts at Fujifilms, that the sensor itself remains the same as on the X-Pro1, but its signal is now controlled by a new Processor, the EXR II. It helps fighting more effectively against the appearance of noise with a gain of 30% compared to its predecessor. We can therefore expect a very high image quality with the Fujifilm X100S under natural light, even in low-light conditions with an excellent compromise between low noise and a sharpness / resolution that will remain pretty high. This, I will make sure to check in my X100S review.
Intelligent hybrid AF
This is a new autofocus system which equips the X100S to offer, according to Fuji, a record high focusing speed since it would be carried out in just 0.08 seconds. The Fujifilm X100S gets a fast phase detection system for that. But the autofocus is actually X100S hybrid. In phase detection, it will focus in the blink of an eye, and, depending on the type of subjects, lighting conditions and contrast a contrast detection autofocus, more accurate, is in charge of focusing. The new EXR Processor II boosts the camera ensuring sufficient computing power to lower the start-up time to a mere 0.5s, and to reduce the interval between two pictures to 0.5s. It also allows the X100S to reach a continuous burst rate of 6 fps for 29 consecutive images at full resolution. According to Fujifilm, the shutter lag is only 0.01s long.
Hybrid viewfinder and rangefinder-like manual focusing assistance
No surprise there : the famous hybrid viewfinder that we discovered and enjoyed in the X100 is pursued in the X100S but enriched with a new type of display called “Digital Split Image”. This new system reminds me of what you see when you focus with a rangefinder camera like the Leica M (btw, see my Leica M9 review gallery page). To make sure your wide aperture or macro photos subject is in focus, the Fujifilm X100S (in manual focus) displays two overlaid images and joins them up to do pnly one single image when reaching proper focus. This new Manual focus Assistance display will come in handy when the depth of field is very shallow, something quite easy to get with the X100S fast lens and large sensor. The definition of the viewfinder when opting for the electronic version is 2.36 million dots. The hybrid display combines the advantages of an image represented by the optical viewfinder, a bright and comfortable one, and the electronically overlaid information, starting with the camera settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitibility or exposure compensation. But it can also superimpose the exposure histogram which is great sometimes. We can therefore control the Fujifilm X100S without leaving the eye from the viewfinder.
Fujifilm has revised its energy management with a new security mode that cuts the electronic display off to ensure a 300 shots per charge of battery life to the X100S.
Fujinon 23mm f 2
Found on the X100S is one of the major component that made the success of the X100: the Fujinon 23mm fast prime lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2. This lens has been praised for its optical quality and brilliantly served the previous 12-megapixelsensor of the X100. I am absolutely not concerned by the ability of this high-end lens to render the finest details that can be captured by the new 16 megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor II on the X100S. This 23mm, feeding a APS-C sensor, actualy corresponds to a focal length of 35mm, ultra traditional for most photographers, perfect for street photography… I am sure that the Fuji X100S will quickly be compared to the Sony RX1, two compact cameras equipped with 35mm f/2 prime lenses, one beiong a full frame camera and the other one an APS-C camera, but improved with the X-Trans technology. The optical formula of the lens of the Fuji X100S receives 8 elements in 6 groups and has double-sided elements with high index of refraction. To limit the flair and ghosting, Fujinon opticians applied a EBC HT coating on lenses. For a nice smooth bokeh, the diaphragm of the Fujifilm X100S is made of 9 circular blades. The minimum focusing distance of the lens in macro mode is only 10 cm from the subject and Fujifilm X100S is equipped with a ND filter integrated which reduces the brightness that enters the sensor chamber of 3 EV.
Fujifilm X100S and creative photo options
As usual with Fujifilm cameras, the film simulation modes are featured on the X100S. We can find the analog film names that you probably loved at your analog age, or that you will discover if you are a photographer belonging the “digital native” specie, like Velvia, Provia or Astia. As the X-Pro1, new PRO Neg Hi and Standard are entering the catalog of film available with the ability to apply color filters on photos taken in black and white. But also, the Fuji X100S offers a multiexposure mode and a number of creative digital filters such as:
- Pop Color
- Toy Camera
- High Dynamic
- Partial Color
- High-key and Low-key
- Soft focus
Thanks to its new 16MP CMOS sensor, the Fujifilm X100S offers video recording in Full HD and at 60p. The quality index bitrate is 36 Mbps. When recording video, the camera works on the image to optimize the exposure and the videographer still has access to the modes till then available when shooting stills. Thus, in video mode, you can also apply a film simulation, adjust the white balance, and use the X100s at the aperture that you wish for creative purposes. The new intelligent hybrid autofocus is also available on video and you may have noticed on the photos of the X100S that you can mount an external mic for a decent sound capture.
Fujifilm X100S main features
- Sensor : X-Trans CMOS II / APS-C size/ 16.3 megapixels
- Lens : Fujinon 23mm f 2
- Autofocus : hybrid 1- phase detection 2- contrast / focuses in 0.08 s
- Viewfinder : hybrid (EVF 2.36 million dots + optical viewfinder)
- Video recording : Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels / 60p / Microphone-in
- Screen : 2.8 “/ 460,000 dots
- Film Simulation modes and creative filters
- Battery life: 300 photos