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Hands-on review: Updated: Fuji X100S
3:07 am | March 15, 2013

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Hands-on review: Updated: Fuji X100S

Introduction

Our full Fuji X100S review is now underway and will be coming soon, but for now we’ve updated our hands on review with our testing results from our image labs.

After two years, Fuji has introduced the replacement to its popular FinePix X100 compact camera, and it has trawled through users’ feedback to make 70 improvements to the new Fuji X100S.

Like the Fuji FinePix X100, the Fuji FinePix X100S has an APS-C format sensor, but its resolution has been boosted from 12.3MP to 16.3 million pixels – the same as the Fuji X-Pro1.

The really big news, however, is that the APS-C format X-Trans CMOS II sensor has the same colour filter arrangement as the Fuji X-Pro1.

Unlike most cameras that use a Bayer pattern of red, green, green and blue receptors (usually referred to as RGGB) arranged in a 2 x 2 grid, the X-Trans CMOS II device uses a 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, with a random arrangement of colour filters within each block of 36 photo receptors.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

This means that the sensor is less prone to suffer from moiré patterning, and as a result Fuji is able to omit the anti-aliasing filter that overlays most digital camera sensors. The benefit of this is that the camera is able to produce sharper, more detailed images.

Fuji has coupled this sensor with a new EXR Processor II, which the company claims helps the Fuji X100S produce images with around 30% higher signal to noise ratio than those from the Fuji X100.

This processing engine has also enabled the Fuji X100S to have a maximum continuous shooting rate of 6fps for up to 29 images at full resolution, and a shutter lag of just 0.01sec.

In addition, raw files are recorded as 14-bit instead of 12-bit, Full HD video (1920 x 1080) footage can be recorded at up to 60fps rather than 720p footage at 24fps, and the maximum sensitivity setting has been pushed up 1EV to ISO 6400.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

There’s also a Lens Modulation Optimiser that Fuji claims reduces the impact of diffraction and corner softness to produce sharper images, even at smaller apertures such as f/16.

We weren’t able to take any images with the pre-production sample Fuji X100S camera that we saw a few weeks before its global announcement, but the specification bodes very well for image quality.

Like the Fuji X100, the Fuji X100S has a fixed 23mm f/2 lens consisting of eight elements in six groups and including a double-sided aspherical element and highly refractive converging glass elements, which increase detail resolution and reduce aberration.

Fujinon’s HT-EBC coating has also been applied, to reduce flare and ghosting.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

One of the biggest criticisms of the Fuji X100 was its autofocus (AF) speed, which was improved by a firmware update, but still failed to set the world alight.

Naturally, then, this has been a key improvement area for Fuji’s engineers. The Fuji X100S has a hybrid AF system that uses either contrast or phase detection depending on the situation (the camera makes the selection automatically). And Fuji claims that it has the fastest AF speed of any APS-C format fixed lens compact camera (not a huge pool), taking just 0.08 sec to get the subject sharp.

Unfortunately, the AF system wasn’t operational in the model we handled, but the claims indicate a significant improvement on the Fuji X100. We’re looking forward to getting an operational sample in for our full Fuji X100S review soon.

Fuji has also changed the manual focus system, and the Fuji X100S, along with the Fuji X20 announced at the same time, debuts the world’s first Digital Split Image display.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

This makes use of the cameras’ phase detection pixels (which double as green pixels) to create a double image that is than merged into the image from the other pixels. It’s essentially a form of digital rangefinder focusing.

Keen videographers will also appreciate the addition of Focus Peaking Highlight, which highlights the areas of highest contrast (and therefore best focus).

The Fuji X100 debuted a hybrid viewfinder, and this continues in a modified form in the Fuji X100S. Helpfully, the optical finder now has an overlay that enables you to see the exposure settings and focus point. It also now functions with subjects as close as 50cm away, rather than 80cm away.

The resolution of the electronic viewfinder (EVF) has also been boosted, and it’s a 2,360,000-dot device.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

A new coating on the viewfinder glass has been added to resist fingerprints.

Like the Fuji X-Pro 1, the Fuji X100S has Fuji’s Film Simulation Modes. This has now been pushed to include 10 modes (Velvia, Provia, Astia, Pro Neg Std, Pro Neg Hi, Sepia, Monochrome and Monochrome with a yellow, red or green filter effect).

We were unable to verify it, but our understanding is that these, like the new Advanced Filter modes, are a JPEG-only option. We would like to be able to use them to shoot raw and JPEG files, so that there is the option to have a ‘clean’ and a processed image.

Build, handling and performance

Build and handling

Fuji has stuck with the same design for the Fuji X100S as it used for the Fuji X100. Consequently, the Fuji X100S is constructed from magnesium alloy and has a very high quality feel with retro styling.

Exposure is set using a shutter speed dial and aperture ring, with semi- and fully-automated control being possible by setting one or both to A.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

The button and control layout of the Fuji X100S is the same as the Fuji X100, but the raw button will be labelled Q in the final production sample, and this gives access to the same type of Quick Menu as is found on the Fuji X-Pro1.

This is one of the best function or quick menu arrangements that we have come across, since features may be adjusted merely by navigating to them using the navigation controls and then using the dials to alter the settings.

Fuji has also changed the shape of the lever that switches between the two viewfinder modes, but we didn’t find it made a significant difference. Neither did we notice an appreciable difference to the viewfinder, which we are told has changed shape a little to avoid dust build-up.

Performance

As yet we haven’t been able to use a fully-functional Fuji X100S, but its specification seems very promising.

As with the X-Pro1, Fuji is claiming that its sensor design enables the compact camera to compete with full-frame cameras for image quality.

Fuji FinePix X100S review

We found that the Fuji X-Pro1 produces high quality images that have a wonderful film-like quality to them. Because the Fuji X100S has the same size and resolution sensor, but with an updated design, we anticipate something similar for its image quality.

When we get a full-production sample we will, of course put it through our full gamut of tests. We will pay particular attention to the autofocus speed and compare it carefully with that of the Fuji X100.

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Fuji X100S, we’ve shot our resolution chart.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart’s central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Fuji X100S is capable of resolving up to around 26 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

JPEG

Fuji X100S review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Fuji X100S review

ISO 100, score: 26 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 200, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 400, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 800, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 1600, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 3200, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 6400, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 12800, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Fuji X100S review

ISO 200, score: 26 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 400, score: 26 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 800, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 1600, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji X100S review

ISO 3200, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Sensitivity and noise images

JPEG

Fuji X100S review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 100

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 200

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 400

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 800

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 1600

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 3200

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 6400

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 25600

Raw

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 200

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 400

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 800

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 1600

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 3200

Fuji X100S review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 6400

Early verdict

We liked the retro design and control arrangement of the Fuji X100. Its image quality is also good, but it is surpassed by that of the Fuji X-Pro1, which is capable of producing pictures that aren’t far off those from some full-frame cameras.

The fact that the Fuji X100S has an evolution of the X-Pro1’s sensor is very exciting, and we are really looking forward to putting it through its paces.

We’ll be updating this hands-on review as soon as we can, so watch this space.

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