The Fujifilm X100S ($1,299.95 list) is the follow-up to Fuji's groundbreaking X100 digital camera. Like its predecessor it features a retro design that makes it look more like a 1960s-era Leica than a modern digital camera, a hybrid viewfinder system that can toggle between a big, bright optical view and an EVF, and a fast f/2 lens with a 35mm (full-frame equivalent) field of view. The sensor has been upgraded to a 16-megapixel X-Trans CMOS design that is capable of producing some incredible results at extremely high ISO settings, and a notoriously sluggish autofocus system is now a reasonably quick one.
The X100S's field of view is a little narrower than?our current Editors' Choice prime-lens compact camera, the 28mm-equivalent Ricoh GR. The Ricoh has some things working in its favor that the X100S can't match?it's small enough to slide into the pocket of your jeans, and its asking price is $500 less. The X100S is a low-light king, and even though its lens isn't as sharp edge-to-edge as the Ricoh's, you'll be anything but disappointed with the images that it captures. It too deserves to be called Editors' Choice.
Design and Features
Olympus was the first company to wow us with a chic retro design camera with its original digital PEN Micro Four Thirds body. But Fujifilm took the torch and ran with it when it announced the X100 in 2010. From a distance it looks a bit like a chrome Leica M camera, albeit with a few extra dials and a smaller footprint. A silver finish adorns the top plate, bottom plate, and lens, and black leatherette surrounds the body of the camera. It measures just 2.9 by 5 by 2.1 inches (HWD) and weighs just a smidge under a pound. That's a bit heavy for its size, but there's no skimping on the build quality?the X100S feels like a solidly built product. The Leica X2 is almost the same size (2.7 by 4.9 by 2 inches), but a bit lighter at 11.2 ounces. That camera features a 35mm f/2.8 equivalent lens and an image sensor of equal size, but doesn't include any sort of built-in viewfinder.
The lens is a 23mm f/2 design, which delivers the field of view of a 35mm lens in terms of full-frame photography. It's a classic prime design that delivers a moderately wide-angle field of view. There are a few other premium compacts that match that perspective, including the full-frame Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1. There is a wide-angle adapter available ($349) that broadens the perspective of the X100S to match the 28mm field of view delivered by the Ricoh GR, but it adds a good amount of size and cost to the camera.
Rather than using a mode dial, the X100S takes a more classic approach to setting a shooting mode. The lens has a physical aperture ring with 1-stop clicks from f/2 through f/16, as well as an A setting. The shutter speed dial, located on the top plate, allows you to set the shutter in one-stop increments from 1/4-second to 1/4,000-second, and also has an A setting. Setting the shutter to A and controlling the aperture ring manually puts you in aperture priority mode; setting the aperture to A and adjusting the shutter speed is the equivalent of shutter priority mode. And if you leave both settings to A, you'll experience the equivalent of program shooting. Full manual shooting is also available?just set your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture and go to town. There's an EV indicator bar on the left of the rear LCD and visible in the optical finder as well; it lets you know if you are under or overexposed at current settings. A half-press of the shutter will also show you what the scene will look like when captured, assuming you are using the EVF or rear LCD at that time.
Any shift in exposure can be dialed in using the top-mounted exposure compensation dial. It ranges from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3-stop increments. There's also a programmable Fn button on the top plate, to the right of the shutter release; by default it adjusts the current ISO setting. It can be set manually, or to auto; it's also from here that you'll be able to set the desired minimum shutter speed for auto ISO shooting. The default is 1/60, but you can set it to values ranging from 1/4 to 1/125-second.
There's one way to take control of your shooting, which is essentially an ISO priority mode. If you set the camera to auto ISO but manually select the shutter speed and aperture, the camera will do its best to capture the correct exposure. It's still possible to select a combination that will result in an over or underexposed image. The camera will tell you that you've done this in a couple ways: The shutter speed will turn to red on the information display, and the EV bar will let you know how far over or underexposed that the shot will be. Pentax SLRs have had this feature for years, and it carried on to the Ricoh GR as TAv mode. Recent Nikon SLRs, including the D800 and D7100 have it as well.
There are some additional controls on the rear of the camera. There's a jog switch at the top?pressing it left or right will shift the aperture or shutter speed when shooting in program mode, but only if the ISO is set to a specific value. Pressing it in magnifies the live view frame, helpful for confirming focus. There's also an AEL/AFL button, a button to select the active autofocus point, one to enable macro shooting, another to control the flash output, and a button for white balance control. These last four are at each point of a four-way controller/control wheel that is used to navigate through menus and to move the active autofocus point.
To the left of the LCD you'll find controls to enter playback mode, change the metering pattern, select from continuous drive shooting options, and change between the rear LCD, eye-level finder, or activate an eye-sensor to make that changeover automatic; there's also a control button to the right of the rear LCD that changes how much information is overlaid over the optical finder and live view frame. Finally there's the Q button, in the rear right corner. It brings up a menu that allows you to change most of the settings that we've just listed off, as well as some that relate to the JPG output. These include the color balance (there are some film emulation modes that emulate classic Fuji emulsions like Velvia and Provia) as well as image sharpening and noise reduction, and the LCD brightness. This is also the quickest way to enable or disable the self-timer?you'll have to dive into the camera's main menu to do so if you don't utilize the Q function.