Gear

Fujifilm X100S vs X100 – What Does the S Stand for?

Fuji has announced the successor to their hugely popular X100, the imaginatively named X100S, but what does the “S” stand for? Superior? Sexier? Successor? Or, just a rip off of Apple’s unimaginative upgrade path? Well, the new X100 S may have a poorly thought out name change, but is the new camera better than Fuji’s naming strategy?

The original X100 was a hugely successful camera for Fuji. The retro styling and fixed lens combination took off in a way that few saw coming. The camera offered great styling and imaging quality to match. It was reminiscent of rangefinder cameras of the past and offered a camera that made people fascinated by it when they saw it. Beyond being camera bling it was effective as a serious photographic tool that could be used to great effect in several different situations.

The original X100 was a hugely successful camera for Fuji. The retro styling and fixed lens combination took off in a way that few saw coming.

The X100 was, simply put, a “cool” camera. Let us not forget that it had more than its fair share of bugs that could be more than a little frustrating. The well documented issues with the camera were not enough to deter people. Many of the initial problems with the X100 were fixed by firmware updates, but issues still remained. Fuji has strived to address this with the new X100S.

So what are the improvements being touted by the X100S and what do they offer you?

X100SX100
TypeCMOS II SensorCMOS Sensor
Sensor SizeAPS-C (23.6 x 15.8mm)APS-C (23.6 x 15.8mm)
Sensor Resolution16.3 megapixels12.3 megapixels
Live View
Movie clips1920 x 1080 Pixels (HD) with stereo sound1280 x 720 pixels (HD) with stereo sound
Interchangeable LensXX
Max. Aperturef/2f/2
Min. Aperturef/16f/16
Lens Focal Length23mm (35mm in 135 format)23mm (35mm in 135 format)
Minimum Focusing Distance10cm10cm
ND FilterBuilt-in 3 stop ND filterBuilt-in 3 stop ND filter
Focus SystemOn sensor phase detection & Contrast Detection AFContrast Detection AF
ISO sensitivity rangeISO 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 & 6400 (Expandable settings: 100, 12800 & 25600)ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 & 6400 (Expandable settings: 100 & 12800)
Shutter speed30s to 1/4000s30s to 1/4000s
Max. Continuous Burst Rate6 fps5 fps
Optical Viewfinder0.5X magnification with approx. 90% frame coverage0.5X magnification with approx. 90% frame coverage
Electronic ViewfinderUltrafine 2,350,000 dots LCDUltrafine 1,440,000 dots LCD
LCD Size2.8-inch2.8-inch
LCD Resolutionapprox. 460,0000 dotsapprox. 460,0000 dots
StorageSD / SDHC / SDXC memory cardSD / SDHC / SDXC memory card
WeightApprox. 445g (Incl. Battery & Memory Card)Approx. 445g (Incl. Battery & Memory Card)
Dimensions (WxHxD)126.5 x 74.4 x 53.9mm126.5 x 74.4 x 53.9mm
PRICE
X100s and X100 – separated at birth

Body Design

The design of the X100S is pretty much identical to its predecessor. That is definitely not a bad thing. There are subtle improvements to several areas. The first being the dials on the camera have had their resistance increased to reduce accidental changing of exposure when shooting. The viewfinder selection button also has a small change to allow for ease of selection.

The two features here that do offer a major improvement though are the focus select switch and the manual focus ring. With the AF-C button being moved to the centre it allows much easier selection between AF-S and manual focus. Small touch but a very nice one nonetheless. The increased response of the manual focus ring is a much bigger deal on the X100S but I’ll save the detail on this for a little later.

Viewfinder

The hybrid viewfinder was a big part of the appeal of the X100. With the X100S Fuji has improved the quality, it now boasts 2.35M dot display which is a substantial improvement from the original X100 which was 1.44M dot. It is not OLED as per the X-E1 though, instead sticking to LCD technology. It is a step up in quality but this is not in any way a definitive reason to upgrade.

Video

There is an upgrade to the video side of the X100S. It now boasts 1080p 60fps and the new X-Trans sensor reduces moiré and false colour. There is the addition of a stereo mic, but there is no image stabilisation on offer, so without a decent support much of the footage will still be jittery. The X100S is more of a stills camera in reality, but the upgraded video functionality is a nice little touch. They could have just ignored it all together (to be honest I doubt many would mind).

Same, same but different

Sensor

This is where it starts to get juicer. The X100S shares the Trans CMOS II system as the X-Pro 1. By using this sensor it allows the removal of the anti-aliasing filter delivering a sharper final image.

The X100S now shoots 14 bit RAW files, the megapixel count has been bumped up to 16.3MP and this has been combined with a new XER Processor II engine. This has reduced shutter lag, increased the maximum burst rate to 29 and perhaps most importantly left the camera with less noise than its predecessor. The X100S has improved the high ISO quality by about 1 stop than the original X100. Simply put it is big upgrade over the X100, but then again that is what you want and would expect.

Auto Focus

One of the biggest criticisms of the X100 was the autofocus system. Even after firmware updates partially rectified the situations it still left many users wanting. Fuji has addressed this with the X100S. The new Fuji benefits from on chip phase detection along with contrast detection. The X100S automatically chooses which system will perform better and uses it accordingly. Fuji claims the camera to be the fastest auto focus system on any APS-C format fixed lens camera which is great but can you name 5 other APS-C format fixed lens camera rivals to the Fuji? Thought not. Bottom line, it is a good improvement over the previous model.

Alongside the more accurate autofocus than the original X100 another major improvement comes in the quality of manual focus. The manual focus on the original X100 was poor at best. This has been addressed in the new X100S. It features two focus aids, focus peaking and digital split image focussing, with the latter offering an experience similar to those found on manual focus film cameras of years gone by.

Everything Else.

Fuji has made 70 updates in all to the X100S. Now this is an impressive statistic and some of these are very welcome. Welcome additions include the improved battery chamber, support for eye-fi cards and the ability for the camera to retain settings after a firmware update. Some however are less likely to be noticed, such as the new in camera effects.

The ‘S’ is tweaked and improved on the X100

So, is it worth buying?

The X100 became an instant classic and rightly so. It was a beast of a camera at times, had major issues which Fuji tried to address through firmware, but some were so deep rooted that this was impossible. Despite this (or perhaps in a small way because of this) it was a loveable camera. You needed to wrestle with it to get the best out of the camera. Many enjoyed this, it felt like a throw back to the (not so) good old days.

The new X100S is the camera you always wanted the X100 to be. It takes the good looks of the original and makes key improvements to the auto focus system and adds an all new sensor for good measure. The X100S shows that Fuji has taken on all comments from users about the issues with the original X100 and made an effort to address them. It shows that the company value what the end user has to say about their product and strive to please you as a customer.

The new X100S is the camera you always wanted the X100 to be.

Simply put, the X100S is a great camera. If you already own the original X100 the “S” adds enough to make it a worthwhile upgrade. If you have been considering investing in an X100 then the new version should allay any concerns you might have had.

The X100S is a camera capable of delivering beautiful images in a sexy retro package. The “S” version gets rid of many of the annoyances people had and makes a camera that is going to fly off the shelves and leave several happy customers. I want one. Still a rubbish name though.