The Fuji X100s – The New York test. (If it can make it here, yadda yadda yadda).

After a seeming eternity of waiting for the X100s to come out, and checking Zack Arias’ blog for reviews obsessively every 6 hours, my new toy finally came on Friday.

This weekend, I gave it the full New York test. I took it to the HighLine, Midtown, Prospect Park and the completely amazing New York Easter Bonnet Parade. Here are the photos. A brief (and very unscientific) review and comparison to the X100, X-E1 and Olympus OMD is below.

I shot all of the photos in JPG. I edited them in Lightroom and sometimes Nik/Google Color Efex and Silver Efex pro. Not necessarily because the images needed it – the straight out of camera JPGs were beautiful and many of them really didn’t need any work at all. Not even a levels adjustment. I just enjoy playing in the digital darkroom, and I tend to like my images to be a bit more saturated than what I get out of the camera.

Without further adieu, here are the pictures:

The Highline.

(Or High Line. I’m never sure what’s right)

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Tourists. (Rolls eyes)

Midtown

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Disco Street
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Party in the payphone!

The New York Easter Bonnet Parade on 5th Avenue
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Happy Easter, 1980s robot guy!
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Fact: if you put a yorkie in a tiny box, people totally lose their shit.

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This couple was celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.

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The Subway

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Shhhh. Don’t wake him!

Prospect Park (Warning: this section is nothing but gratuitous photos of my dog)

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A very brief and very unscientific mirrorless camera comparison:

Before settling on the X100s, I test-drove the Fujifilm X-E1, the Olympus OMD EM-5 EIEIO and the Fuji X100 from LensRentals.com. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on the three.

Fujifilm X-E1 – I had a love/hate relationship with the X-E1. I dug the look and feel of the camera. But hated the electronic viewfinder. (That’s not to say the X-E1′s was particularly bad. I just can’t seem to get used to the electronic viewfinder look in any camera.) The image quality was great. The autofocus was sluggish. I actually thought I was going to buy this camera until I went to B&H photo, picked up the Olympus and saw how much faster the autofocus worked. So I rented the…

Olympus OMD EM5 – I had the opposite experience with the Olympus. The autofocus was so freaking fast, it practically locked in before I even thought about taking a picture. But I didn’t like the ergonomics of the camera. It felt clumsy in my hands. I didn’t like the weird thumb nipple thingy on the back. The playback button is tiny and couldn’t be more awkwardly placed. And unlike the AV and exposure compensation dials on the fuji, the ones on the OMD aren’t labeled, so you’ve got mystery settings until you look through the lens. I like to glance down at the camera and know exactly what I’m going to get at a glance so when I see the shot happening, I can know right away if I need to adjust for it. If I have to look through the viewfinder, read the settings, then change, I’ve already missed the moment. The image quality just wasn’t up to par with the Fuji either. Especially at ISOs at 800 or higher – the noise on the Olympus just looked kind of smeary. Like oil paint. Whereas the noise on the X-E1 (and the two X100s) looked more like film grain. At least to my eye.

Sony Whatever It’s Called – I picked it up at B&H Photo. I hated it. I put it back down and walked away.

Fujifilm X100 – I’m used to shooting with a zoom lens, so it took a good 2 weeks to get used to not being able to zoom in and shoot stuff across the street. Once I got used to the 23mm length, I fell in love with this camera. After trying to use the EVF on the Fuji X-E1 and Olympus OMD, the X100′s optical viewfinder was a revelation. Especially for street photography – I love that you can see people outside of the frame, anticipate, then wait for them to walk through. It’s nice to have the option to switch back and forth between EVF and OVF, but to be honest, I rarely use it. I’m in OVF about 90% of the time and only switch to EVF for close-up shots to make sure I’m not cutting off someone’s forehead. Yes, the AF was slower than I’d like, as seemed to be the interweb’s biggest gripe about the camera. But the real smack-myself-on-the-forehead-and-shout-out-obscenities frustration was the lack of accuracy. Especially when shooting people less than 5 feet away. The X100 just seemed to have a sense of humor about it. It thought it was HILARIOUS to pretend to lock focus right on some guy’s nose only to actually focus on the garbage cans 5 feet behind him. (To it’s credit, the garbage cans were tack-sharp and the dynamic range was a thing of beauty.)

Fujifilm X100s – I was giddy for the X100s to show up. Especially after reading all of the reviews claiming that all the “quirks” (namely, the friggin autofocus doesn’t work) were fixed. After 3 days of use, I can say for sure that the AF issues are definitely taken care of. I’m still not sure the AF is quite as fast as the Olympus, but we’re talking milliseconds difference. This camera (the X100s) just makes you want to go out and make pictures. I’m antsy to go out again tomorrow. It’s a joy to use.

As an aside, as soon as the X-Pro 2 or whatever it’s going to be called comes out with the X100s’ autofocus capabilities, I’m seriously considering putting my Canon 7D kit on ebay and going all-mirrorless.

I hope you enjoy the post. There will be lots more photos to come. For all the updates, follow me on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianeden/

Happy snapping,

Brian

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23 thoughts on “The Fuji X100s – The New York test. (If it can make it here, yadda yadda yadda).

  1. David says:

    Hi Brian, I’ve been trying out the new x100s over the past week and have posted many pictures – http://www.dwwphotography.blogspot.com.au – so you can check them out. I have to agree with you, the upgrades are significant and worthwhile for regular shooters. Your website, composition & blogs are wonderful – thanks, cheers, David

  2. Hey Dude – loved your pictures – really marvelous. You have an eye and a style that I like a lot. If is not always easy taking photos in your own backyard (I mean in your own culture with your own people – I am not very good at it), you have mastered it by the look.

    That’s all I wanted to say.

    Cheers

    Sutto

    • Brian Eden says:

      Thanks so much! Keep working at it and study what the masters do. There’s tons of great info online from Jay Maisel, Zack Arias, Eric Kim, Thomas Leuthard on how to shoot street photos. I’ve been teaching myself from them. Best of luck!

      Brian

  3. I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at the Sony comment. We felt the same way when we handled it at the Milan Photoshow. So far, we’re loving the x100s. It was our companion in Venice last week, and did a spectacular job of capturing the street (canal?) life there.

  4. Rich Owen says:

    Ran across the link to your site from fujirumors.com. Love the comparison between the four cameras and, if the X100S is as good as most reviews say, I am also looking forward to an upgraded X-Pro.

    My X100S is due to arrive today and I am hoping I have the same reaction as you. This is my first venture into mirrorless after three decades plus with SLR/DSLR for work and play.

  5. rcapilli says:

    Where are you ordering your X100s? I have an order placed with Amazon, but arrival date will be from April 30 – June 10th…

    • brianeden says:

      Hi rcapilli, I had preordered mine from B&H Photo back in early February. Haven’t heard anything about current supplies or delivery dates, but I’ve seen a few people who preordered from multiple places and just plan to cancel the other orders as soon as the first one comes in. I’d check B&H and Adorama – they’re both my go-to camera equipment sources. Good luck!

  6. bill says:

    i’m checking out the x-e1 and om-d. when you say the af was sluggish on the x-e1, can you be more specific about that? what were you shooting, lighting conditions, using af-s or af-c, etc?

    in reviews that i’ve read, there seems to be mixed opinions about that. some say it’s fine as long as you’re not shooting sports/action and low light, pretty much like any mirrorless. some like yourself say it’s sluggish and complained about missed shots, etc.

    can you give a bit more details?

    • brianeden says:

      Hey Bill,

      Normal sunlight lighting conditions. It’s just a little slower than you’d hope sometimes to lock in. Not a big deal if you’re shooting landscapes and still lifes. Mildly irritating to me as I was trying to capture people walking around in New York. Definitely a deal breaker if you’re planning to shoot sports. I shot in AF-S almost exclusively. It’s not terrible, but it can be frustrating and make you miss shots here and there. That said, I found the image quality and ergonomics (that part’s more subjective) to be a lot nicer than the OMD, so ifI was picking between the two, I would’ve gone with the X-E1. I’d rather miss a shot here and there because of the slow AF but have amazing ones when they’re spot on than nail all of the shots, but not be all that pleased with the image quality of any of them. Especially at higher ISOs, the quality was no contest for me. Again, it’s all subjective. The OMD is a great camera too and I’ve seen people doing some amazing work withiton Flickr. I just preferred the Fuji line for my own style.

  7. Ertan says:

    Over ISO 800 the grain in OM-D pictures is smeary, but only if you crank up the noise reduction. OM-D’s noise pattern is extremely good if you turn the NR off and dynamic range is equal or better than Fuji if you take RAW (surprising but true). You just need to be careful with JPEGs because though OOC JPEGs are beautiful, they are usually more processed than other cameras would do so I’d not recommend to post-process the Oly JPEGs too much.
    User interface and controls are not easy until you get used to them, but once you are familiar it becomes second nature to compensate exposure or change aperture. Though I agree some controls are small (but not difficult to press due to raised buttons).
    So spend some time with the camera before reaching conclusions :)

    • brianeden says:

      Thanks for the info Ertan. I think I shot with Noise Reduction at zero, but I’m not positive. As for the UI of the camera, I agree – I got more used to the controls as time went on (I rented the camera for a week). That said, after spending some time getting comfortable with it the Fujis just felt more natural and less cluttered to me. That said, all of this is completely subjective and a matter of personal taste. I enjoyed the OMD too (enough to give me a lot of pause in my decision) and have seen some great images from it from photographers that I really admire (Adde Adekosan most notably http://www.flickr.com/photos/theblackstar/). But for my hands, and my style of shooting and post processing, the Fuji line was just a better fit for about 70% of the things I was looking for than the OMD.

      Cheers,
      Brian

  8. Darrell says:

    Wow, loved your review and now going out to buy an X100s this week, can I ask you what settings you used for your pics? Shutter speed, aperture, Astia mode?

    • Brian Eden says:

      Thanks Darrell. Hope you enjoy the camera! You can click on any of the photos above to see it on Flickr and it’ll tell you the specific camera settings and metadata for each shot. In general, I shoot in aperture priority mode, and use Auto ISO 6400 with 1/125 minimum shutter speed. The film setting is whatever the default is. I can’t remember if that’s Sensia or Astia – don’t have the camera in front of me at the moment. But it’s whichever one is least filteredl.

  9. pixbyeric says:

    Thank you for awesome review! I’m trying to get one but everywhere is sold out.
    B&H website used to say May 15th but not anymore…

  10. […] ya es un clásico el New York test para probar una cámara de fotos, como comentamos en Reviews, aquí está mi Toronto test de la […]

  11. Eivind Rohne says:

    Thanks for some very nice and inspirational reading about a gem of a camera! Cool that you included the comparisons with the other cams as well. I actually write up a fairly long review of the X100S myself recently, and if you’re interested and have the time, you can find it on my blog (http://fotografeivindrohne.blogspot.no) with quite a few X100S pictures as well.

    Cheers,
    Eivind

  12. Alejandro Erhardt says:

    Congratulations! Wonderful pictures and a very useful review. I am pondering buying this camera. I am currently using a high IQ DSLR with a 24-120mm zoom for landscape and street. For the latter, it is too bulky and “aggresive”. The questions for me are: Will I be able to forgo the zoom for a 35mm lens? and, Will I get used to a lower image quality? By looking at your outstanding photos, IQ should not be a problem as long as I know what I am doing.

  13. Bri Ho says:

    Hi brian, i love your photos! I used to own a 7d with a range of lenses until i bought the x100s. Last week i put my whole canon setup on ebay and sold the lot. I started regretting it until i saw your flickr page. Excellent! Can you tell me how are u getting your shots so sharp? What image settings are you using on the x100s and what do you use for post production? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Brian Eden says:

      Hey Bri Ho,

      Thanks for the comment! In terms of settings, I usually use the auto ISO function to set a default ISO of 1600, max 6400 and min shutter speed of 1/125. I know that’s a bit high for ISO but it pretty much guarantees that I’ll get moving subjects frozen whether I’m in sun or shade and I don’t mind the look of the noise at 1600. I vary between fully auto or aperture mode and usually dial up and down the exposure compensation dial as my primary way of changing the exposure. All of my Flickr shots have the exif data on them so you can see the settings on all individual shots.

      I process just about everything through Lightroom and Nik Software. Sharpening/noise reduction is mostly done in Lightroom.

      Good luck!
      Brian

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