Fujifilm X100s Camera Review

Back in May, we posted a review on the Fujifilm X100s camera. This was our most viewed post in Englewood Camera’s blogging history, but since we’ve changed our blog URL, we decided to share the review on our new site.

At this point, Englewood Camera has sold more than 45 of these popular cameras; this has been our best selling camera in such a short amount of time. The X100s first hit the shelves at the end of March 2013. Englewood Camera currently has the X100s in stock, but hurry! These cameras don’t stay on the shelves for long. Cheers!

A weekend with the Fuji X100s

By Erin Brinkley-Burgardt

I was lucky and able to borrow a Fujifilm X100s, the newest and highly coveted camera in Fuji’s X-Series lineup for a recent trip to San Diego, California. For the past 5 years, I have been shooting a Canon 5D and 5D Mark II full-frame DSLR, which we all know is a cumbersome setup. I’ve lugged my camera gear across the world, shooting with heavy L-series lenses. For the last year, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Fuji X-Series system, contemplating a smaller, lighterweight digital system, but I haven’t taken the plunge because of the APS-C sensor size. Never one to compromise quality, I’ve packed around (what feels like but probably isn’t) 50lbs of camera equipment to ensure the best images I can make. For this trip, I was offered a loaner X100s camera, and could not say no!

A blurb about the Fuji X100s: this camera is a compact, with an SLR type APS-C sensor, 23mm f/2 lens, and a optical/digital viewfinder reminiscent of classic rangefinder cameras.  This is the replacement for Fuji’s first camera of this type, the X100, and Fuji made some serious upgrades with this new model. The camera has a 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS Sensor, similar to the X-Pro 1 and XE-1 models in the line-up, but added a new feature on the sensor called on-chip phase detection, which allows faster auto focus (a big improvement from the X100). In addition, Fujifilm added a new processor, the EXR Processor II, for overcoming lens diffraction and peripheral aberrations. Fujifilm also added two tools for more accurate manual focus–focus peaking and digital split image focusing. The first, focus peaking, is a display that outlines the in-focus elements. Digital Split Image Focusing, on the other hand, shows a black and white area within the viewfinder, much like old viewfinders, that line up when in focus.  You can find a full review, with the technical specs, on dpreview.com.

So, back to my review.

Once again, I loaded my Domke inserts into my Chrome bag to travel. I packed my 5D Mark II with two lenses and flash, and my Leica M6 with some film, and slipped the Fuji X100s into my pack. I was fortunate to have a rental car and not have to trek around on foot with all of this gear! My first day of shooting was along the southern California coast; I stopped at Laguna Beach to check out the tide pools, and slowly unpacked my bag, pulling out the 5D Mark II first. After shooting some frames with the Canon, I packed it away and settled on the X100s–and didn’t put it away the rest of my trip!

I started using the X100s in manual mode, controlling the shutter speeds and aperture myself, but it didn’t take long for me to switch to aperture priority. Though both the optical and electronic viewfinder on the X100s are clear and easy to view, I had a difficult time reading the light meter. It’s located on the left side of the viewfinder, and is a white overlay–a bad combination for those of us used to a green meter over solid black.

The response time of the auto focus, plus the response of the shutter was very quick. There is a slight delay with the shutter, but it definitely didn’t slow me down or bother me at all. The X100s is fantastic for street, travel or landscape photography–the lens is sharp, rivaling my L-series glass on the Canon. The color straight out of the camera is spot on; where my Canon leans towards the warm color spectrum, the Fuji remains neutral. In post, I didn’t have to adjust the color, or sharpness, at all. This is a welcome relief, as I prefer to shoot as best as possible in camera to cut back on post production time.

I never had time to test out the original X100, but from the reviews I’ve read and complaints I’ve heard, the X100s is a definite upgrade. I played around with the manual focus, using the Digital Split Image Focusing setting, and found it easy to use and quick to focus. I struggle with manual focus on most digital cameras because I can’t see what I’m focusing on very well. The split image lines up much like a rangefinder, and I’m used to that type of manual focus from my Leica. I mainly experimented with manual focus in lower light situations, as the auto focus preformed very well in daylight.

Let’s look at some example shots I made with the X100s. This first image was shot in macro mode, which works very well and retains detail across the frame.  I was very impressed. The new X-Trans sensor eliminates color moire as far as I can tell, and the dynamic range is solid (good detail in the highlight and shadow areas across the image). Click on the images to see full size.

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Another look from my examples was from an afternoon spent in Encinitas, CA, just north of San Diego. This is one of my favorite beaches–it’s home to surfers and not often crowded. There were kids taking surfing lessons after school, so I hung around to make some images of the surfers and the landscape. For this shooting situation, I was grateful for the X100s. My Canon would have been very obtrusive in making candid photos of people. The Fuji is quiet, small, and doesn’t look like much, so I went undetected in my picture making. In the picture below, the subjects were walking about 5 feet in front of me.

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I also tested the X100s’ performance in low-light conditions. I visited the Bernardo Winery, one of the oldest wineries in California, and made some photos in their tasting room. The only lighting in this room came from a few old wine bottles that had been made into lights, and  from natural light coming in through a few windows. I upped the ISO between 800 and 1250, and shot a few images hand held. Below is one example, shot at ISO 800, at 1/60s, f/2.8. The image is sharp, and retains detail throughout the whole image.

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Here’s another example of glass grapes with lights, shot at ISO 1250, 1/60s at f/2.0. Pretty impressive for a wide-open aperture and faster ISO.

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I also tried out a long-exposure with the X100s. While I was in California, I drove towards Palm Springs and stopped off of I-10 and Twenty Nine Palms Road in Desert Hot Springs to photograph the windmills by night. Silly me forgot a cable release, but I set the camera on the roof of my car to shoot a 30 second exposure of the windmills (with I-10 in the foreground). I was very impressed with the results. The reflection is from the car roof, but has an effect similar to water.

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Now for a landscape shot that I wasn’t totally impressed with. I love to photograph palm trees; I spent my childhood in California, and palm trees are one thing I miss living in Colorado. The first shot below was taken with the X100s. It looks good at first glance, but look at the zoomed in version. There is definitely a loss of detail at infinity when comparing the shot with a similar version shot with my 5D Mark II.

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This is the full image from the X100s. When cropped in (below), you can see a loss of detail in the palm leaves, as well as a halo effect around the trunks of the trees.

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This is a similar shot from my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with an EF 85mm f/1.2L.

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You’ll notice that the crop from a full-frame camera is much more usable. There’s detail in the palm leaves, and no halo effect.

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Overall, I’m very impressed with the quality straight of camera on the X100s. This is definitely a professional grade camera, and a good companion for street photographers and landscape/travel photographers (aside from the limitations seen above). 35mm is my go-to focal length, and is perfect for street and travel photography. I’d love to test this out at a wedding–I think the compact size and quiet shutter would allow for great candid shots. Again, I did not alter the color or sharpness of these images in post production; everything was shot in RAW and converted to JPG in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.

Englewood Camera sells the X100s for $1299.99 and is the Premiere Elite dealer of Fuji products in the Denver metro area. The cameras have been coming in and going out the door very quickly, so call for availability and to possibly have your name added to a wait list.

If you want to check out the archive on Englewood Camera’s previous blog, click here.

Fujifilm Announces New X-A1

This morning, Fujifilm announced the newest member to its X-Series system: the X-A1. Details from Fuji’s press release are as follows:

Valhalla, N.Y., September 17, 2013 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced the new FUJIFILM X-A1 compact system camera (CSC), the fourth interchangeable lens system camera introduced within the award-winning FUJIFILM X-Series. The ultra-light X-A1 gives consumers an affordable entry point into the X-Series line of digital cameras and delivers outstanding image quality using its large 16.3 Megapixel APS-C  CMOS sensor, easy operation and wireless image transfer for quick photo sharing.

The FUJIFILM X-A1 kit will ship with the FUJINON XC 16-50mm (24-76mm)*1 F3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens. The XC 16-50mm is a versatile lens that is ideal for a wide range of photographic subjects, including clear low-light scenes, beautiful portraits and vivid landscapes. The lens consists of 12 all glass elements in 10 groups including 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element. The lens features seven round-edged aperture blades, which offer 17 stops in 1/3 EV increments for precise aperture control.

“The lightweight X-A1 and versatile XC16-50mm lens combination gives consumers extraordinary value and the opportunity to experience the outstanding image quality that the X-Series is known for,” said Manny Almeida, senior vice president and general manager, FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “Together with a high definition tilting screen and wireless image transfer, consumers of all skill levels can capture truly memorable images that can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter quickly and easily.”

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Large 16.3 Megapixel APS-C sensor and EXR Processor II

The FUJIFILM X-A1 uses an APS-C sensor and powerful EXR Processor II that captures rich tones, breath-taking dynamic range and stunning low-light images using its extended ISO range of up to 25600. With the X-A1, users can set the sensor sensitivity from ISO200 to as high as ISO6400 in 1/3 step increments, to obtain remarkably clear images even when shooting indoors and at night.

Together with the EXR Processor II, the X-A1 also gives customers fantastic speed with a start-up time of 0.5 seconds*2, a shutter time lag of 0.05 seconds and a maximum burst speed of 5.6 frames per second (max. 30 frames*3).

Compact performance and advanced features

The X-A1 CSC combines advanced features in a go-anywhere design. The X-A1 weighs just 11.6oz*4 and is about a third of the size of a traditional DSLR body. With a slim profile of 1.3” at its trimmest point, the X-A1 is easily carried anywhere.

The X-A1 also features a 3” tilting high resolution LCD screen with 920,000 dots for easy image viewing and framing at various angles. The 3” LCD monitor tilts at variable vertical angles, facilitating both low-angle and high-angle shots whether on or off a tripod. The X-A1 uses a built-in high precision flash, with the guide number 7*5, and Super Intelligent Flash technology that uses scene recognition and automatically controls flash strength to reduce highlight clipping.

Easy Image Transfer with WiFi® button

The X-A1 includes a WiFi button that lets users transfer high quality photos and movies*6  to social media sites for easy sharing from the camera to smartphones, tablets and computers.

To connect the X-A1 to a smartphone or tablet, users can download the free dedicated “FUJIFILM Camera Application” to their iPhone™ / iPad™ or Android™ smartphone or tablet device to transfer up to 30 pictures at a time from the X-A1. The app also lets users download movies, expanding the range of options available for enjoying pictures taken with the camera.

Intuitive design and easy operation

The X-A1 has its key operation buttons and dials positioned on the right side of the camera’s rear panel for easy use and quick picture taking. The Mode Dial for selecting the optimum setting for each scene gives access to the Advanced SR Auto function, which automatically recognizes each scene and selects the best settings for sharp and clear images.

The Advanced Filter function and Film Simulation modes give users a range of creative filters and film effects to apply and achieve unique and artistic looks.

FUJIFILM X-A1 key features list:

  • 16.3 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • EXR Processor II
    • Start-up time of 0.5
    • Shutter lag time of 0.05
    • Shooting interval time of 0.7
  • 3” (920K dot) tilting high resolution LCD screen
  • Full range of ISO100 – ISO25600
  • Wireless image transfer
  • Q Menu shortcut button
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • Film Simulation modes (Velvia, ASTIA, PROVIA, Sepia, and Black & White)
  • 8 Advanced Filters (Toy Camera, Miniature, Dynamic Tone, Pop Color, Soft Focus, High Key, Low Key and Partial Color)
  • Multiple Exposure mode to superimpose a second exposure on the first exposure
  • Full HD movie 1080P\30fps and built-in stereo microphone
  • Available accessories include: Leather Case, Hand Grip, and Clip-on Flash

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Englewood Camera expects to have this camera later this month! Retail is $599.99 for the X-A1 and 16-50mm kit, which is available in Black or Indigo Blue.

 

 

Exciting new products from Sony!

Sony will continue its legacy of digital innovation by announcing two new cameras and three new lenses into the competitive interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market; announced late last night are two new cameras, the α3000 and the NEX5T, as well as three new lenses.

The new Sony α3000 is the latest addition in the E-Mount system. A brand new style of E-mount camera from Sony, the α3000 offers point and shoot simplicity with the image quality, comfortable body style, and creative freedom one would expect from an interchangeable lens camera or traditional DSLR.  Packed with a 20.1 megapixel Exmor®APS-C sensor, Full HD video shooting capability, a bright LCD eye-level viewfinder, and a Multi-Interface Accessory Shoe for system accessories, it’s loaded with features all in a lightweight body.  And with quick AF in Live View and up to 3.5 photos per second shooting, it’s designed to captures life’s action!

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Replacing the NEX-5R in Sony’s successful line of compact interchangeable lens cameras, the NEX-5T takes on the feature set of its predecessor and adds two new options.  The first is NFC (near field communication) for one-touch shooting and sharing of images on Android-based smartphones and tablets, and the second option is an E 16-50mm power zoom lens (SELP1650) as the basic kit option.  Like the NEX-5R, the new NEX-5T has a 16.1 megapixel Exmor®APS-C sensor, Fast Hybrid AF for DSLR-like focusing, Full HD video capture, Wi-Fi® and PlayMemories™ Camera Apps for connectivity and expanded functionality among a host of other features.  The new NEX-5T is everything that has made the 5 series great year over year, but now even better.

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In addition to these exciting new cameras, Sony is also offering three new E-Mount lenses!

  • Vario‐Tessar T* E 16‐70mm F4 ZA OSS  Carl Zeiss performance in a compact mid‐range zoom lens with Optical SteadyShot and F/4 available at all focal lengths

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  • E PZ 18‐105mm F4 G OSS A smooth, quiet, high‐quality mid‐range power zoom model that’s ideal not only for still images but also for movies—Sony’s first G Lens for E‐mount cameras.

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  • E 50mm F1.8 OSS Black Utilizing the same optical formula as the current E 50mm F1.8 lens, this new model offers customers a new color option of black.

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Englewood Camera should see these cameras in stock by the middle of September, and the lenses by the middle of October. Call us or stop by the store to be wait-listed for these new products!

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Canon Announces 4 New Powershot Cameras

This morning, Canon USA announced four new PowerShot models to the compact digital camera lineup; the PowerShot G16, PowerShot S120, PowerShot SX510 HS, and PowerShot SX170 IS.

 

Canon’s new PowerShot G16 boasts 12.1 megapixel, High Sensitivity CMOS Sensor, as well as a 28-140mm zoom range with an f/1.8-2.8 aperture range for strong low-light performance. The PowerShot G16 is the first camera in the G series to offer built-in WiFi technology. This feature allows users to seamlessly transfer their photos and videos to a smart phone, tablet or computer via Canon’s CameraWindow app.

In addition, the G16 features new shooting modes to capture breathtaking images day or night. The new Star mode gives users the ability to capture the brilliance and wonder of the night sky through the use of three scene modes. “Star Nightscape” lets users shoot the radiance of stars in a landscape image, while the “Star Trails” mode captures trails of stars to turn them into a luminous still image. “Star Time Lapse Movie” captures continuous still images of the stars and then combines each to create a stunning video replicating the motion of the stars in the night sky.

Estimated Retail: $549.99. Shipping October 2013

 

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Succeeding the PowerShot S110, the pocket-sized PowerShot S120 digital camera continues the tradition of built-in Wi-Fi® technology that allows for images and video to be shared to social networking sites or via email through the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY. Users can also download the free Canon CameraWindow app to their compatible iOS® or Android device and upload images from virtually anywhere.

The PowerShot S120 features a sharp 24-120mm extra-wide angle lens with an aperture range of f/1.8-f/5.7. It is equipped with Canon’s HS System, which combines a DIGIC 6 image processor and a 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor allowing for enhanced low-light image quality. The advancements to Canon’s AF system allow users to achieve significantly faster autofocusing speeds. The S120 allows for continuous capture of up to 12.1 frames per secondii at 12.1-megapixels. The camera also records 1080p/60p Full HD video and includes a built-in stereo microphone and convenient playback via HDMI output.

Multiple creative shot modes such as the new Star mode, Background Defocus mode, and handheld HDR Scene mode give users the ability to create images they will be proud to share. Smart AUTO technology selects 58 different pre-defined scenes without the need to switch modes, making it possible to take beautiful images in a variety of situations.

Estimated Retail: $449.99. Shipping in October 2013

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The compact PowerShot SX510 HS digital camera incorporates a 30x optical zoom 24mm wide-angle lens, Intelligent IS technology for sharp, vivid images, a 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon DIGIC 4 Image Processor that allows users to capture high-quality images. The camera also records 1080p Full HD video. The SX510 HS is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi® technology so that images and videos can be shared with friends and family wirelessly on social networking sites or via email through the use of CANON iMAGE GATEWAY. Users can also upload images from almost anywhere via their compatible iOS® or Android device with the download of the free Canon CameraWindow app.

The camera’s Zoom Framing Assist feature automatically maintains the correct distance from the subject using a face recognition sensor to track and capture subjects for sharp still and video images. Upgraded from previous PowerShot models, the AF speed helps dramatically reduce lag time so that perfect shot will be captured with ease.

Estimated Retail: $249.99. Shipping in September 2013

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The PowerShot SX170 IS digital camera offers a long zoom in a compact camera body at an affordable price. The camera’s 16x optical zoom with 28mm wide-angle lens and Optical Image Stabilization captures clear, vivid images whether a subject is up close or far away. Featuring High-Speed AF and Intelligent IS system that provides smooth video and sharp images via six stabilization modes, the SX170 IS operates with a DIGIC 4 Image Processor and a 16.0-megapixel sensor to create high-quality images. With 720p HD video capability, users can shoot still and video images and view both via an HDTV using an HDMI connector.

Complete with Smart AUTO technology, the PowerShot SX170 IS automatically selects the optimal settings from 32 predefined shooting situations, which helps the user to capture the best image possible. Powered by a new lithium-ion battery that provides efficient battery life, the SX170 IS has a 3.0-inch LCD screen and an ergonomic body allowing users to comfortably hold the camera.

Estimated Retail: $179.99. Shipping in September 2013

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Find out more information on Canon USA’s website.

Photography Classes: Fall Schedule Announced!

Englewood Camera is not only passionate about photography, we are dedicated to helping our customers gain the most from their digital cameras too! Check out our programming for classes and workshops–anywhere from technical classes focused on your camera and the basics, to creative classes focused on specific styles. Englewood Camera provides the best instructors with years of photographic experience and professional portfolios; all of our instructors are full-time photographers. Our fall class lineup is now ready, and we’re accepting registrations; check out the list and call the store or visit our website to sign up. Please note that class dates may not be listed online yet–we are working on it! If you click to register, the dates will appear.

Photo classes in September:

Digital Photography I with Ellen Yeiser is a three week, comprehensive course in the foundations of photography. Learn how to take control of your camera and make better pictures! Class starts on Thursday, September 5th at 6:00pm. We also have dates available in October.

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Junkyard Abstract with Ellen Yeiser is one of the more creative classes you’ll find in the Denver area! Join us for a fun-filled morning exploring the unlimited possibilities of making abstract images at the best salvage yard in town. Learn how to train your eye for creative shots–great for stock photography and fine art! Class is scheduled for Saturday, September 14th.

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Digital Workflow in Adobe Lightroom with Rayna Tedford is a software class designed specifically for organizing and editing digital photographs. Learn about importing photos, using keywords and catalogs, and editing in this photographer friendly program! Class meets on September 21st for four hours.

Intro to Studio Lighting and Portraiture with Grant Leighton is a top-notch workshop designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to work in the studio with models. Learn to use studio strobes with power packs, umbrellas and softboxes, and wireless transmitters in a great studio location. This class runs on a weekend, September 28-29th.

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October Photo Classes:

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11: Part I with Rayna Tedford is a great class for learning the basics of organizing your photos and editing them. Learn basic tools, such as cropping, color correction, red-eye removal, sharpening, and working with layers (among others!). Class runs on Saturday, October 5th.

Location Lighting and Portraiture with Matthew Jonas is the best class in town designed for in the field portraiture! This weekend workshop teaches you how to use Speedlites to light a scene and work with models, with the intent of working without an assistant and understanding light. Class meets over the weekend, October 12-13th.

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 11: Part II with Rayna Tedford is a follow-up course teaching advanced tools in Adobe Photoshop  Elements. Learn how to work with Adobe Camera RAW, use layer masks, retouch skin, hand color black & white images, remove unwanted objects and more!

Can’t make a class but you want to? Englewood Camera offers private photography classes! Take advantage of individual learning with great instructors. Call us or email classes@englewoodcamera.com for more information.