review

DID I FINALLY FIND THE PERFECT FUJI X LENS?

This was the first scene I came across as I found a position near 6th St. on the Mall. The Naked Cowboy is cliché, but that's in Times Square, not D.C. Plus who could pass up the word Trump emblazoned across his Fruit of the Loom underwear.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/90 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

This was the first scene I came across as I found a position near 6th St. on the Mall. The Naked Cowboy is cliché, but that's in Times Square, not D.C. Plus who could pass up the word Trump emblazoned across his Fruit of the Loom underwear. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/90 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

It has been a little more than a year since I've been shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro2. It has also been a year since I've been searching for the just the right lens to pair with this exceptional camera.

I originally purchased the Fujinon XF35mm F2 R WR lens and soon realized that I wanted something a little wider. Welcome to my next lens, the Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR. The 16mm is a great lens, very sharp and I've used it many times, mostly while photographing landscapes. But, as I noted when I wrote about this lens, it is just too large and heavy to be my everyday lens.

When I went to the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama I was about a block farther away, so I knew that I would never get a photograph of the actual swearing in. So I positioned myself close to a screen in order to capture the moment.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/320 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

When I went to the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama I was about a block farther away, so I knew that I would never get a photograph of the actual swearing in. So I positioned myself close to a screen in order to capture the moment. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/320 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Same thing for the Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens. Again a great lens, but also large and heavy. While I only borrowed this lens, I noted the good and bad when I wrote about it following a visit to Grand Central Terminal. The search continued for that perfect everyday carry-around lens.

Maybe you have guessed by now which lens I've finally chosen. In fact, it was a lens that I shot with for almost two years and loved, I just didn't realize it, or maybe I was in denial. Or maybe I'm just slow to catch on.

The 23mm allowed me to capture this moment between two first time inauguration attendees while moving in the crowds.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/300 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

The 23mm allowed me to capture this moment between two first time inauguration attendees while moving in the crowds. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/300 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Whatever the case, the lens, of course, is the Fujinon XF23 F2 R WR. For two years, I used that focal length on my Fujifilm X100S. Street photography, landscapes and everything in between, that was my go to lens. Of course, it was the only lens, since it is fixed on the X100S.

The point is that not given a choice, I found that the 23mm (35 equivalent) was the perfect lens. So for the past three weeks, starting with the inauguration, I've only used that lens and I've fallen in love all over again. It's small, light and seems to be the perfect focal length to capture both wide overall establishing shots and the up close and intimate shots.

The only negative, and it's the same negative that I had with the 16mm lens. Why can't Fuji just provide the right lens hood when I make the purchase? In both cases, I've purchased the upgraded lens hoods; the LH FX16 and the LH FX35-2.

The final photograph I made that day was of Barack and Michelle Obama leaving D.C. aboard Marine One. Once again I was looking for crowd reaction to the scene happening on the big screen. Although there is some disagreement, my opinion is the crowds weren't as big as in 2009, but this is the kind of situation, crowds, fast-moving and with plenty of action, that I like, and the 23mm was the perfect one lens for me that day.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/200 @ f6.4, ISO 200.

The final photograph I made that day was of Barack and Michelle Obama leaving D.C. aboard Marine One. Once again I was looking for crowd reaction to the scene happening on the big screen. Although there is some disagreement, my opinion is the crowds weren't as big as in 2009, but this is the kind of situation, crowds, fast-moving and with plenty of action, that I like, and the 23mm was the perfect one lens for me that day. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/200 @ f6.4, ISO 200.

These are pricey upgrades and cheaper options are available but don't be fooled. In the past, I've recommended some of the less expensive lens hoods, but for the 23mm, like the 16mm, these hoods are very different and while overpriced, are worth it. As a bonus, the LH FX35-2 will fit both the 35mm and 23mm lens. 

Lens hood issue aside, the 23mm is very sharp and in my opinion the best all around lens to pair with my X-Pro2 for a wide range of photography. The 16mm and 35mm are by no means obsolete but are no longer carried with me every day.

TOO BOLDLY GO... NOT A REVIEW OF THE FUJI 16MM LENS

Best Western Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, Arizona. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/70 @ f2.0, ISO 200.

Best Western Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, Arizona. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/70 @ f2.0, ISO 200.

Two photos, two locations, one theme, and one lens. I had originally thought this post was going to be a review of the Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 lens, but I'm not quite ready to write that yet.

It's not that I'm disappointed with this lens. In fact, it is tack-sharp, solidly built and deserves its place in the Fuji premiere lens lineup, but I just haven't used it enough to really write a proper review. Perhaps I will never use it enough to write that review. And that's the issue.

Typically, before making a lens or camera purchase, I borrow the piece of equipment and try it out. If I had done that before aquiring this lens, I would have realized that the Fujinon XF 23mm 1.4 would have been a better choice for me. 

Too big. That was my first impression when attaching the 16mm lens to my X-Pro2. I'm so used to carrying this camera around all the time while not drawing attention to myself, that this lens with its 67mm front element and even larger lens hood made the camera front heavy and made me feel very conspicuous.

Too wide. Is that really possible? I had become so accustomed to shooting with the Fuji X100S and its fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) and the Fujinon XF 35mm F2 (53mm equivalent) on my X-Pro2 that I found myself lost in the frame.

Restored USS Enterprise model on display at the Smithsonian Sea Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/60 @ f2.0, ISO 1000.

Restored USS Enterprise model on display at the Smithsonian Sea Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/60 @ f2.0, ISO 1000.

Too much. Not cost, in fact, I was able to purchase the lens for $699 during a promotion. Perhaps the real issue I need to work through is how many lenses do I really need? The joy of shooting with Fuji for me has been the simplicity, one camera, one lens, in a form factor that does not draw attention and allowed me to be very creative.

For me, the reality is that the 16mm (24mm equivalent) borders on a specialty lens, whereas the Fuji 23mm (35mm equivalent) or the 35mm (53mm equivalent), can be a one-lens solution. Or, maybe having to change lenses just feels like I'm at work shooting with DLSRs.

Perhaps this has turned out to be somewhat of a mini review after all.

SEVEN DAYS WITH THE FUJI X-PRO1

The Fuji XF35mm (53mm equivalent), F1.4 lens did a great job. 1/1000, f2.8 at ISO 200.

The Fuji XF35mm (53mm equivalent), F1.4 lens did a great job. 1/1000, f2.8 at ISO 200.

I was headed to New York City on a seven-day assignment to cover Fleet Week for the Navy and thought it would be the perfect time and location to test a Fujifilm X-Pro1 outfitted with an XF 35mm f1.4 lens I rented from  BorrowedLenses.com.

I have been a fan of the Fuji X cameras since I purchased an X-10 in 2012. Then after spending in 2013, I immediately ordered one for myself and I still carry and shoot with it almost daily. Would I love the X-Pro1 as much as these previous cameras?

The X-Pro1 is not a new camera, in fact, it has been around since March 2012 and there is no shortage of reviews and testimonials from photographers who really like this camera. So why am I just writing about it now? Well maybe it's because I was so wrapped up in my X100S that I never really considered another APS-C camera, or maybe it's because I started seeing rumors about an X-Pro2. Whatever the reason, I figured it was time – probably long overdue, that I gave this camera a try.

A little bit of rain didn't bother the X-Pro1, but did offer some nice scenes to photograph. When shooting on the streets in large cities, I find crosswalks and street corners offer plenty of opportunities. 1/125, f5.6 at ISO 640.

A little bit of rain didn't bother the X-Pro1, but did offer some nice scenes to photograph. When shooting on the streets in large cities, I find crosswalks and street corners offer plenty of opportunities. 1/125, f5.6 at ISO 640.

Since there has already been so much written about the X-Pro1, and it really is similar in functionality to the X100S, I decided to skip most of the technical details about this camera and concentrate more on how I set up and used this camera during a week of street photography in New York City. But don't worry, I will still point out the differences to the X100S as they come up.

Of course, there is one major difference between the X-Pro1 and the X100S, interchangeable X mount lenses. In 2012, Fuji originally offered three lenses; a 60mm (91mm) f2.4 macro, 18mm (27mm) f2 and the aforementioned 35mm. As of this posting, there are now at least nine additional lenses, including zooms and offerings from other manufacturers, including Carl Zeiss. It never bothered me that the X100S was a fixed 35mm equivalent, since you work with what you have, but perhaps on a few occasions it would have been nice to have options. That said, I only had the 53mm lens available to me during the trial period, so I made that work and admit I enjoyed the change.

In street photography, you have to always be ready to shoot. In this case I noticed the Fleet Week sign and the man loading kegs as I walked by. I quickly turned and got off about a dozen frames before I moved on. 1/125, f5.6 at ISO 500.

In street photography, you have to always be ready to shoot. In this case I noticed the Fleet Week sign and the man loading kegs as I walked by. I quickly turned and got off about a dozen frames before I moved on. 1/125, f5.6 at ISO 500.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The X-Pro1 has a great feel, classic look and you get the sense that it is just made for the streets. Physically, it is slightly larger and a bit heavier than the X100S, but continues to feel comfortable and natural in your hands. The XF35mm lens did protrude from the camera body more than I expected and took me a while to get used to. I've noticed many of the new lens offerings look huge and somewhat awkward on these APS-C cameras.

The Hybrid Viewfinder is similar the X100S, except it will update views based on lens choice. I still prefer the Optical viewfinder (OVF) over the Electronic viewfinder (EVF). I find the EVF darker than I would like and just a bit artificial. The OVF feels open and I like how I can see what is happening just outside the frame which is helpful, especially in street photography.

I was still able to get that wide angle feel I'm used to with the X100S even though the XF 35mm is a 53mm equivalent lens. 1/1200, f5.6 at ISO 200.

I was still able to get that wide angle feel I'm used to with the X100S even though the XF 35mm is a 53mm equivalent lens. 1/1200, f5.6 at ISO 200.

Again, the button layout and functionality is also similar to the X100S. I think the placement of the AE/AF-lock button is in a better location and therefore, I found myself using it more often. You can also choose a focus area quickly by pressing the AF Button and then using the selector to move your focus point within the frame. Pressing the MENU/OK Button will return the focus point to the center. It takes some practice, but getting used to the focus features on the X-Pro1, like the X100S, is key to getting the most out of your camera.

MY SETTINGS FOR SHOOTING ON THE STREETS

Set the AF Illuminator to OFF. The purpose of this light is to assist with autofocus in low light situations, but using the camera in lowlight situations is also the time you probably don't want to draw attention to yourself, or telegraph that you are about to take a photo. I didn't notice any focus issues, even in some fairly low light, with the AF Illuminator off.

Place gaffer's tape over the Indicator Lamp. For the same reason I set the AF Illuminator to OFF, I prefer to cover over the Indicator Lamp on the back of the camera. I'm not so worried I'll be discovered or afraid of the interaction, however, if I can get a few frames off without being noticed, I prefer that.

Set Operational Volume off. Are you seeing a trend here. Plus no shutter noise is a real advantage of mirrorless over DSLR. Even my Nikon's quiet mode can't compete with silence.

Using Auto ISO meant that I could shoot all day in and out of the shadows and then well into the night without thinking about it. 1/125, f1.4 at ISO 2500

Using Auto ISO meant that I could shoot all day in and out of the shadows and then well into the night without thinking about it. 1/125, f1.4 at ISO 2500

Use Auto ISO. I like the thought of moving in and out of various lighting situations and not having to change ISO each time. You can assign ISO to the Fn (function) Button which speeds up the process, but if you don't have to worry about it, why do so. Within auto ISO, there are a few considerations you need to take into account, though. For instance, I set the max ISO to 3200, but the lowest shutter speed to 1/125. Prior to making that choice, the camera would favor ISO and I found my shutter speed kept dropping too low which in some cases resulted in blurred photos.

New York City and Times Square is a busy and crowed place. The small form factor of the X-Pro1 is perfect in these situations and most people hardly notice you taking photos. A real advantage in street photography. 1/125, f2.0 at ISO 320.

New York City and Times Square is a busy and crowed place. The small form factor of the X-Pro1 is perfect in these situations and most people hardly notice you taking photos. A real advantage in street photography. 1/125, f2.0 at ISO 320.

Set Film Type to Monochrome.  Just like with the X100S, I set up the camera to shoot both raw and jpeg allowing me to shoot and preview my photos in black and white, but still have the color originals available during post production. I further set the film simulation mode to monochrome plus yellow filter which offers slightly increased contrast while toning down the brightness of the sky. I've always associated street photography with black and white which why I favor this setup.

I used continuous shooting (burst mode) set to six frames per second (max for this camera) to capture this photo in Coney Island. 1/300, f11 at ISO 200.

I used continuous shooting (burst mode) set to six frames per second (max for this camera) to capture this photo in Coney Island. 1/300, f11 at ISO 200.

Remaining settings. Aperture-priority AE (A) mode, turn off display back (Viewfinder Only), focus mode set to Single Focus. 

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

The X-Pro1 did seem to focus quicker than the X100S, but there was still a bit of lag when coming out of standby mode. I missed a few shots because of this which was a reminder to always make sure the camera is awake and ready.

UPDATE:

Under Power Management turning the Quick Start Mode to ON is supposed to reduce camera start up time except I failed to test this and only noticed it in the instruction manual recently. And sure enough there is a similar feature available on the X100S, so I may have found a solution. More to come.

In street photography, scenes like this happen quickly and having the camera awake and ready to shoot is key. 1/125, f1.4 at ISO 2500.

In street photography, scenes like this happen quickly and having the camera awake and ready to shoot is key. 1/125, f1.4 at ISO 2500.

What appealed to me about the X100S was its simplicity. And I wondered if adding interchangeable lenses would detract from that? Hard to answer since as I mentioned previously I only had the XF 35mm available to me during the trial period, but even if I had other options available, I tend to pick a lens and stick with it. Although picking a Fujifilm XF 60mm f2.4 macro lens  one day and then a Zeiss 12mm f2.8 Touit series the next would be a fun option to have.

I know there are other new X offerings from Fuji like the XE-2 and the XT-1, but I really love the rangefinder styling of the X100S and X-Pro1. The XT-1 has been getting a lot of favorable reviews and I'm looking forward to testing it in the future.

However for now, I've gone back to shooting with my X100S and really am not looking to change anytime soon. That is unless the X-Pro2 rumors pan out.

TEN DAYS WITH THE FUJI X100S

A CF-104 Starfighter on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, shot at 1/1200, f8 at ISO 200 with 3-stop ND filter.

A CF-104 Starfighter on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, shot at 1/1200, f8 at ISO 200 with 3-stop ND filter.

My first impression of the Fujifilm X100S was similar to when I first put my hands on the Fujifilm X10, it just felt right. While slightly larger and a tad heavier than the X10, the X100S has a very solid, almost bullet proof feel to it. The old school look and feel that first grabbed my attention when I saw the X10, is present here as well, only more so. In fact twice during the time I spent with this camera I was asked why I was still shooting film.

This blog post is about my impressions after spending 10 days with an X100S I rented from Borrow Lenses, and while ten days is barely enough time to learn all the ins and outs of any camera, already owning the X10 meant that many of the controls and settings were familiar to me. I did my best to shoot  a variety of photographs in different lighting conditions and try as many of the camera's features as possible. The photographs here did pass through Lightroom 4, but very little correction or cropping was done. If a photograph is black and white, it was shot that way.

Toronto, Ontario, skyline shot at 1/220, f16 at ISO 200.

Toronto, Ontario, skyline shot at 1/220, f16 at ISO 200.

Right up front the feature that really set this camera apart for me was the viewfinder. One thing that I always insisted on when purchasing compact or point and shoot style cameras was a viewfinder, or at least what passed as a viewfinder. It was comforting to know that I could hold the camera to my eye when shooting, but truth be told, most of the time I just ended up using the LCD screen to frame the shot. I also believe using the LCD and holding the camera at arms length doesn't give you the same perspective or provide you the same intimacy with the subject.

The "Bill Burton Fishing Pier" at Fort Smallwood Park in Maryland shot at 1/600, f8 at ISO 400.

The "Bill Burton Fishing Pier" at Fort Smallwood Park in Maryland shot at 1/600, f8 at ISO 400.

All this has changed with the hybrid viewfinder on the X100S. In fact, this is one reason I think many photographers are calling this camera a DSLR replacement. You have two choices, an optical viewfinder or an electronic viewfinder. The optical viewfinder displays all the camera information along with a framing guide that is slightly smaller than your field of view allowing to see what is going on just outside the frame. The electronic viewfinder provides you with a through-the-lens view, that's right, I said a through-the-lens view, including white balance, depth of field and focus. There can be a slight lag in this mode and it will tax your battery, but to see what you are about to capture is an incredible feature.

Storm approaching small marina in Toronto shot at 1/1250, f2.8 at ISO 200.

Storm approaching small marina in Toronto shot at 1/1250, f2.8 at ISO 200.

What is really cool however is after clicking the shutter in either mode you will see the result right in the viewfinder without ever having to remove your eye. No more "chimping" using the LCD screen.

TIP: When using the optical viewfinder set the Corrected AF Frame feature to ON. This setting places a second focus frame in green within the display allowing you to correct for parallax inherent in rangefinders especially when shooting objects near to you.  

Entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum shot at 1/10, f5.6 at ISO 800.

Entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum shot at 1/10, f5.6 at ISO 800.

All the dials and switches are minimal and have a solid feel. Aperture is controlled using a ring on the lens and shutter speed is controlled using a dial on top of the camera. Not a whole lot to it, you can set f-stop and shutter speed manually or by selecting "A" on either dial will place you in aperture or shutter priority mode quickly. Set them both to "A" and you are in program mode. Simple.

Gerrard Street East in Toronto, Ontario, shot at 1/40, f4 at ISO 1600.

Gerrard Street East in Toronto, Ontario, shot at 1/40, f4 at ISO 1600.

Three focus options or modes are available using a slider located on the side of the camera. This placement makes it hard to inadvertently change settings, something that has happened to me several times on the X10. AF-S and AF-C are available, nothing new here, but the real upgrade is the manual focus and the fact that it is usable in a way that is very familiar. Imagine using a focus ring on the lens and imagine several ways to assist with focusing while never taking you eye away from the viewfinder. You have it with this camera. I didn't spend a lot of time in manual focus during the 10 days, but I did give a try and found it to be incredible fast and very intuitive. I used the digital split image mode which was familiar, but a new mode called focus peak highlight really allowed me to quickly lock in on focus.

TIP: If Focus Check is set to ON within the setup menu, rotating the focus ring on the lens causes the image in the viewfinder to magnify allowing for precise focus. 

Annapolis wedding party on the Maryland State Capitol steps shot at 1/2500, f5.6 at ISO 400, -1.33 EV.

Annapolis wedding party on the Maryland State Capitol steps shot at 1/2500, f5.6 at ISO 400, -1.33 EV.

This camera wants to shoot black and white photographs and the results are absolutely outstanding. I imagine this is what it is like shooting the Leica M Monochrome camera only at $6,500 (minus lens) less. There are actually 10 film simulation modes for both color and monochrome. For color, I stuck with the standard setting which mimics Fuji's Provia film, but for my black and white setting, I chose monochrome plus a yellow filter which I found to give me great results right out of the camera. Very little post production or color correction was needed regardless.

TIP: You have the option to set three custom configurations on this camera, so take one and set it to monochrome, then you can switch from color to B&W in seconds.

1/1250, f2.8 at ISO 800, -1.67 EV.

1/1250, f2.8 at ISO 800, -1.67 EV.

It's been said in other reviews, but this camera just screams for a lens hood as an included accessory. I found myself frustrated several times unable to take a photograph only to discover the lens cap was still on. I don't know why this seemed to be a problem more so with this camera, but adding a filter and lens hood would eliminate the need for a lens cap altogether and still provide protection.

TIP: Forget about purchasing the expensive lens hood from Fuji and go with the EzFoto 49mm black filter adapter ring and metal lens hood from Amazon for the best deal.

Quick portrait taken in a stairwell of the Marriott shot at 1/70, f5.6 at ISO 200.

Quick portrait taken in a stairwell of the Marriott shot at 1/70, f5.6 at ISO 200.

I was able to get a full day of moderate shooting on one battery, but you will definitely need a second battery with this camera if you are doing some heavy shooting. After forgetting to charge overnight, my battery died early the next morning and like with my X10, there was little warning provided. I was spending lots of time in the menus and reviewing images which I'm sure contributed to battery drain, plus you can pick up a second NP-95 replacement battery for $10.00.

TIP: The battery will go in both the right way and wrong way with no noticeable resistance, so check that the camera turns on after inserting so that you are ready to shoot. BONUS TIP: Using the electronic viewfinder will cause the battery to drain faster.

My late Grandfather's Snap-on socket set shot at 1/25, f4.5 at ISO 200, macro setting.

My late Grandfather's Snap-on socket set shot at 1/25, f4.5 at ISO 200, macro setting.

You could set this camera up once and almost never need to dig into the menus again. But if you do, then Fuji provides an easy way to do that via a Q button which allows quick access to the most-used menu features. This is something that has been available on the X10 via a firmware update and it remains a great feature to reach the most used features. Plus you can also see this feature in the viewfinder. I'll say it again, you really don't have to remove your eye from the cameras viewfinder.

Charles W. Roesch, better known as Charlie the Butcher, at his restaurant in Williamsville, N.Y., shot at 1/50, f2.8 at ISO 800.

Charles W. Roesch, better known as Charlie the Butcher, at his restaurant in Williamsville, N.Y., shot at 1/50, f2.8 at ISO 800.

Don't make the mistake and think of this camera as a "point and shoot" or just a camera to throw in your bag in order to get slightly better photos than your phone. This is a serious camera fully capable of taking on most professional jobs. Zack Arias makes this point wonderfully in his Fuji X100S follow up review: life without DSLRs post.

It may take a little getting used to if you want to use the X100S as a street camera in order to quickly grab shots as you go and a couple of times it did take a few seconds too long to lock focus and exposure before I could shoot. Most of this was due to me not being ready along with some operator error. Otherwise, I don't really have any complaints. Spending more time shooting with this camera and less time fiddling with all the features, I'm confident that this would be the only camera I would need to carry 75% of the time. It would definitely be my second camera 100% of the time.

TIP: I think the best way to work with this camera would be to choose an ISO, film type and lock in a few of your other favorite settings, then forget about the camera and just shoot. If that sounds like the film days, you would be right.

It was hard to send this camera back. To say that I enjoyed shooting it would be an understatement so If you are still with me and wondering if the X100S will indeed replace my X10... More to come.

Link to my Flickr set of X100S photographs.

Link to the Fuji X100S manual.

UPDATE: 6/11/2013 - I ordered the Fujifilm X100SEzFoto metal lens hoodB+W 49mm Clear UV Haze filter and a NP-95 replacement battery from Amazon.

UPDATE: 10/13/2013 - I've been shooting with this camera for two months and still loving it. Check out most recent posts to see how I've been using and incorporating the X100S into my photography.

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE? FUJI X10 OR X100S

I purchased my Fujifilm X10, above at right, in November 2012, and wrote about it in what has become my most viewed blog post, INTRODUCING MY X10. Since then I've carried this camera almost daily and six months later I have no regrets. It has been a wonderful little camera and I still like how it looks and feels and continue to be impressed with the quality of the images.

So why have I been thinking about upgrading to the Fujifilm X100S camera? While I am not looking to replace my DSLR and lenses for work assignments, upgrading to this camera could render a second DSLR on assignment useless.

Fuji X100S.  Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Fuji X100S. Photo provided by Fujifilm.com

Announced in January, the X100S began shipping in March and so far the hands-on reviews have been very positive. If you just read the blog reviews by Zack Arias and David Hobby, you'll want the camera immediately, however, at the time of this post, there is a one or two-month wait list.

Having such fun and success with my X10, which Fuji recently replaced with the Fujifilm X20, I immediately thought about upgrading. In my original blog post about the X10, I laid out the reasons why I purchased that camera instead of the X100 and cost and focus issues were two of them. Well, it seems focus is no longer a concern, but there is still the question of cost. At around $1,300, that clearly puts the X100S in the realm of a pro camera and not a simple point and shoot. Even though many of today's point and shoots, or sub $600 cameras, are capable of taking incredible images, just look at the X20 or what I paid for my X10, as examples.

So should I upgrade or not? To help answer that question, or maybe just convince myself one way or another, I decided to take my X10 and visit the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Chantilly, Va., in order to take some photos and see if I would be happier if I were carrying the X100S instead.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

Fuji X10 at 1/80, f3.6, ISO 400, 40mm equivalent, film simulation set to Velvia.

The lighting in parts of the museum is very dim requiring higher ISOs. Advantage X100S. By all accounts, the X100S does remarkably well at high ISOs, even 3200. I rarely push the X10 past 800. The built-in flash on the X10 is not really usable so being able to get usable photos at ISO 3200 is a real bonus. I shot mostly at ISO 400 at the museum which meant I was shooting at very slow shutter speeds, but since I was photographing static objects it was not an issue.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/13, f2.8, ISO 400, 112mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

While most of the photos I take with the X10 are at 7.1mm or 28mm equivalent on a 35mm lens, I do sometimes find myself using the zoom, as I did often during this shoot. Advantage X10. Would I have been able to get away with just a 35mm point of view? I suppose I should not have used the zoom in order to really test that theory. Zoom with your feet, isn't that what's said.

Did you notice what I did in the previous paragraphs? I both stated one of the big reasons I am considering the X100S and one of the reasons why I am questioning if it really is the camera for me. But honestly, there is more than just ISO and zoom.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Fuji X10 at 1/25, f2.8, ISO 400, 60mm equivalent, film simulation set to standard.

Ever since I purchased my first digital P&S camera I've always insisted on some sort of a viewfinder. The X10 does have a viewfinder, but the X100S with both an electronic or optical viewfinder takes it to the next level making the viewfinder incredibly usable. Advantage X100S.

Many of the other features are very similar or the same, although the X100S is a 16MP camera versus 12MP and has a nine blade aperture shutter instead of seven, the X10 does shoot 10 fps continuous versus 6 fps. Advantage on these features favors neither X10 nor the X100S. That is to say, they are not part of my decision process.

Finally, after shooting the X10 for seven months, I really don't need to be sold on the look, feel and form of this camera. While I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, I did use a Leica M3 as a second camera for several years in my early Navy career and this does have that same feel. Some of the photos I shot at the museum were taken with the camera set to black and white which made me think I really was transported back 25 years holding that M3 loaded with Tri-X film. Holding these Fuji X cameras does elicit certain emotions. Is it because I'm a little older? Maybe, but I  believe part of making good images is attitude and how you feel about your gear does play a role in that.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

Fuji X10 at 1/10, f2.8, ISO 400, 100mm equivalent, film simulation set to black and white.

I could go on and on about the advantages and disadvantages, but I'm clearly not going to answer my question during this blog post and even now as I look forward to a vacation in Toronto and an upcoming assignment, a video shoot in Hawaii, I'm thinking long and hard if I want to take the DSLR with various lenses or just the X10. Or possibly even theX100S?

One question I will answer is that I do think this would make a perfect second body on any assignment.

The rest of the details and more links below:

Specifications X100S:

Number of effective pixels: 16.3 million

Image sensor: 23.6mm x 15.mm (APS-C)

Lens: 35mm equivalent at f2.0

Dimensions: 5.0 (W) x 2.9 (H) x 2.1 (D) in.

Weight:  Approx. 15.7 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from the Fuji website.

Specifications X10:

Number of effective pixels: 12 million

Image sensor: 2 / 3 inch EXR CMOS

Lens: 28mm to 112mm equivalent at f2.0 and f2.8 respectfully

Dimensions: 4.6(W) x 2.7(H) x 2.2(D) in.

Weight: 12.3 oz. (including battery and memory card)

Sample images from my Flickr X10 set.

David Hobby provides a thorough overview of all the X100S features in a YouTube video. And I even learned something new about my X10 as well by watching this.

And just in case, the leap from X10 to X100S is too much, then check out Dan Bailey's full review on the X20.

Get the full X100S specifications available on Fuji's website.