Fuji X100S

My fuji broke earlier this year, and since getting it repaired have I realised how much I missed it. I thought it would be fun to do a blog post about exactly what it is I love about this niche, pretty old camera (by digital standards at least)

First released in 2013, I bought mine secondhand in 2016 with a shutter count of 800 – digital camera prices tend to drop pretty heavily once a newer model is released – but this is still selling for same price on the secondhand market.

I definitely don’t think this is a camera for everyone, but people like me who love it, seem to really love it. 

What Makes It So Great? 

4 second long exposure

Size

It is really compact, it has an APS-C sized sensor, and a f/2 aperture, and can still fit in a jacket pocket. It is so small and unobtrusive, I never have to think twice about bringing it anywhere. 

The lens is fixed, which means the rear can be built in to the camera body, which means it absolutely tiny. You can see the full size in this teardown here

Simplicity

You are stuck with a the fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivilent on full frame) . For people like me,  who like to overthink, this is great. No deliberating over which focal length to use, as you only have one, so you have to just get on with it. 

Plus most of the controls are physical dials on the camera, the lens features an aperture ring, and shutter speed and EV can be toggled directly with dials on top of the camera. 

Plus I love the look of it, heavily inspired by old film rangefinders, I think it looks great. 

jpeg using the in camera b&w profile, which has only needed minor editing

Image quality & colours

The lens is fantastic as long as you stick between f/2.8 – f/8, wide open at f/2 is fine, but you will notice softness. 

The 16MP sensor is small by todays standards, so can be a little limiting if you want to crop heavily, or want to make massive prints. I’ve printed as large as A3, and have been happy with the results, but you might start to see diminishing returns printing larger than that. 

MP arent’ everything, and the the images from the 2nd generation X-Trans camera look great to me. The colours from the RAW files are really pleasing, and the files are really malleable. You can be aggressive with your edits, and the files seem to hold together just fine. 

Shot in bright sunny conditions, the RAW file holds up well, even if you want to be quite heavy handed in your post processing.

Plus if you are not really interested in shooting RAW, Fuji’s in camera film simulations have to be some of the best. You can even bracket them, and have 3 different options per shot. 

I like shooting RAW + JPEG, which I think gives the best of both worlds. Great colours without any need to tweak too much, but then I also have the RAW file as a back up, if it needs something a little more drastic. 

This comparison shows how much detail I was able to pull from the shadows, as well as a little detail from the highlights. Shot as base ISO 200.

Conversion Lenses

If you are worried about being limited by the fixed focal legnth, there are 2 conversion lenses available. A Wide angle 18mm equivilent, and a telephoto 50mm. These are optically great, but to tell you the truth I don’t use them that often. 

There are 2 x Fuji conversion lenses available a wide angle 18mm equivilent, and a telephoto 50mm equivilent. With both of these you have the basic focal lengths sorted. They simply screw on to the filter thread of the lens, which can be a bit fiddly, but handily it means you are never exposing the sensor, so I never worry about switching lenses even if the conditions aren’t great. 

The optical quality of these lenses is great, but the telephoto is absolutely massive – so good if you need it – but otherwise I don’t bother, as it turns a small compact camera in to a beast. 

Unique Features

The fuji has a few unexpected features, which really make it interesting. It has a leaf shutter – which is pretty unusual for a camera of this size – and something usually found in medium format cameras. The big benefit of this, is that the camera can flash sync at really fast shutter speeds. Admittedly I have only really just started playing about with using flash, but blog posts such as this one from Strobist, show what is possible. 

To compensate for slower max shutter speed of the leaf shutter, the camera also has a built in 3 stop ND filter. Which is such a useful thing to have, without having to carry an extra filters.

The leaf shutter also means you can the image sharp, even handheld at low shutter speeds. Holding still, I have got sharp images at 1/30s, which isn’t bad for a camera with no in built image stabilisation.

Shot handheld, 1/40s at 1600 ISO

Drawbacks

This camera is definitely not for everyone, there are drawbacks – which for me I can live with – but for others could definitely be a deal breaker.

Auto focus, I pretty much shoot exclusively in  manual focus, so this doesn’t bother me at all, but if you are expecting DSLR levels of super fast auto focus then you are going to be disappointed. 

Weather sealing, it isn’t officially weather sealed, I’ve taken it out in drizzly conditions, and I haven’t had any problems, but I definitely don’t think it would survive being taken out in a storm, or dropped in a river.

This is about as wet as I would let it get before worrying. Also pictured the chonky tele conversion lens.

Battery warning, battery life is surprisingly good, but the low battery warning is next to useless, you get about 30 seconds between the low battery warning, and the camera completely shutting down.

Durability, as much as I love this camera, I need to point out that it did break. It was way way way out of warranty, and Fuji fixed it directly for a reasonable upfront fee. I use the camera a lot, and often chuck it in a rucksack, so it might have been from wear and tear, or I might have just got unlucky.  

There are a few other drawbacks I could mention, but to be honest, most of them come down to the fact this is an 8 year old camera, and technology has come on leaps and bounds since then.

Im currently at 21,000+ shutter count, and hopefully the camera will last for many more to come.

Roll of Film

I haven’t shot any film for a long time, but I recently got the urge to give it another go. I dusted off my old Olympus OM10, and realised it still had half a roll of Portra 400 in the camera. I finished it off, and dropped it off to be developed at Photographique

It’s a strange roll, as the gap between the first and second half must be at least a couple years. The first shots were pre-covid, and one of the buildings has doesn’t even exist anymore – the old fire station – has been knocked down. 

I’m no expert, but it’s probably not great for the film to sit around in the camera that long, before it is developed. Being exposed to all sorts of differences in temperature, I even moved house at one point. The roll of film is from 2017, so that has definitely expired in the meantime as well. 

I only had one issue with light leaks, not sure what caused that, but it was definitely user error. The two above are from early on in the roll, and there is definitely an extra grittiness to them. Though it’s hard to say how much this is from age or from underexposing the shots?

There is definitely a distinct look to the images, which I think suits some of them more than others. I wouldn’t say the colours are typical Portra, but I’m sure the time the rolls at around in the camera didn’t help with this. I quite like some of the golden hour images, but to be honest I would have to try really hard to completely mess up the golden hour/portra combo (though I did my best)

It is also worth bearing in mind these are just the jpeg proofs. I had no idea how these would come out, so I didn’t want to pay for nice high quality scans, only to find all of the images were unusable. I preferred the look of the physical prints, and I’m sure with a high quality scan, and some gentle adjustments I could get the digital files to a place where I was happy with them. There are some many variables when it comes to scanning, which is a dark art in itself

To give an idea of the difference, here is a quick comparison of the film shot, the print and the digital shot.

Now this is just to show the differences, though it is an arbitrary comparison, as the middle shot is phone photo, of a printed film shot, the digital photo has been processed by me to tweak the colours.

Two of my favourites from the roll, they look a little more how I expected: smoother warmer tones, with that gentle rolloff of the highlights.

It was good fun finishing this roll, and seeing what kind of results I would get. I’m looking forward to the next roll of (fresh) film already.

Severn Beach

Some photos from an evening walk along the path at Severn Beach, crossing under the bridge.

Obligatory shot of the bridge

There was a thin layer of clouds, which perfectly diffused the light from the setting sun.

Info

I street parked near the station, and followed the path from there, towards the bridge. There are works being carried out to the flood defences, so some parts of the path towards Avonmouth are currently shut.

It is a good route, perfect for an evening dog walk. You can make it as long or as short as you want, just turn around once you have had enough.

You can even walk it as part of a 200 mile route if you really wanted. For more detailed information on the routes (and history) this blog has a couple of great posts, here & here.

Brean Beach

A few photos from a visit to Brean beach earlier in June. It is really relaxed they open up the beach for parking, and you can park all day right there on the beach.

All of these images are shot with my Fuji camera, using the in built black & white simulation. I’ve tried to do as little as possible to them, as I really enjoy the look of the jpegs straight out of the camera.

I’ve added a little bit of brightness here, and a tiny bit of clarity there, as well as cropping them to 4×3 (as I just prefer that slightly squarer format) but apart from that I’ve tried to keep any editing to an absolute minimum.

You can tweak the hightlight/shadow settings in camera, which customises the jpeg even more. I have been playing around with these settings, but I’m not sure I’ve figured out with combination I prefer.

I found I could also affect the final jpeg by overexposing, which gave a softer image, without overly cranked in built contrast. The weather was overcast, which meant I could get away with this, as most scenes didn’t have massive ranges of dynamic range. However on a sunny day, this would be a little risky, as once those highlights have been blown out, they are lost forever.