Finally: AmazonUS is shipping preorders and X100S is climbing the rankings!

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FR-reader Andrew received the message that his X100S preorder has been shipped by Amazon, while FR-reader Mark received it yesterday. It is not in Stock right now (Click here) but you can see that the camera is shipping also by the fact that is is rapidly climbing the Amazon sales rankings (Click here to see). You can find it in Stock via the official Fuji reseller Cameraland (more than 10 in Stock right now).

The time has come for those who preordered the X100S to check if it keeps what it promises. The first reviews are very positive.

FR-reader Mark has it since two weeks. He linked me his review. Here are his first impression:

“In a nutshell – in good daylight, the AF rocks. In both speed and accuracy. That’s coming from a D700 user. Indoors in incandescent light – not so crash hot. Probably just on one second in dim incandescent light to lock onto a subject 3 metres away. If the light gets even lower – it can and did fail to lock focus. This is not a deal breaker for me – as thats just not the way I’ll need to use this camera. This is where the new improved manual focus feature comes in handy. […] The Fuji JEPG engine is also a big strong point of this camera. I am primarily a RAW shooter – but since getting this camera I have done a little experiment by only shooting in JPEG. There is something quite liberating and very pleasing when you can shoot and upload images so quickly without having to even fire up the computer. RAW will always have its place – but at the moment I don’t feel I need it am I am very much enjoying the “Fuji colours” I get from the JPEG files.””

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Using the X100S

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by Rico Pfirstinger

Talk to Rico (questions & feedback)X100S sample images set X100S/X100 comparison images set

The X100S has hit the shelves, and it appears to be quite popular. It’s an evolutionary camera, improving the very successful “classic” X100 in many fields and aspects. Following the lead of last week’s “Using the X20” article, here’s a compilation of tips and tricks to get you started with the new “S”. This article is partly building on my earlier “X100S vs. X100” text, so it assumes that you have read it. Let’s once again begin with…

Auto-ISO

The X100S features an improved Auto-ISO function that is based on the classic X100. In Auto-ISO, you can set the ISO base (minimum ISO / default sensitivity), the ISO limit (maximum ISO sensitivity) and the minimum shutter speed. Different Auto-ISO settings can be saved in each of the camera’s three custom shooting profiles (C1 – C3). For more information on shooting profiles and how to use them, access them and configure them, please have a look at my very first X-Pert Corner article. Like with the X-E1 and X-Pro1, you can change settings and select shooting profiles in the Quick Menu by pressing the Q button. Remember that BASIC is just a funny acronym for the camera’s currently selected/active settings. BASIC is neither a preset nor some default profile. Sadly and contrary to statements in the owner’s manual, the X100S features not seven, but only three custom shooting profiles.

If you plan to use the DR (dynamic range) function (DR Auto, DR200% or DR400%) you should set the camera to Auto-ISO. You may also want to consider reading this X-Pert Corner article to learn more about how to expand dynamic range. In order to work with DR200%, the X100S needs an ISO setting of at least 400. For DR400%, it needs an ISO setting of at least 800.

Auto-ISO is now also a part of the ISO menu when you use the Fn button to change ISO settings. This is quite useful and an improvement over the X100, where you had to dive into the shooting menu to (re-)configure Auto-ISO settings.

Autofocus

The X100S offers the same AF modes as the X100: AF-C and AF-S, with two AF-S submodes:Area and Multi. AF-C is basically behaving like AF-S and known to be very effective in low light situations with bad contrast. This also means that AF-C is no real object tracking mode (unlike the Hybrid-AF systems in the Nikon 1 or Sony NEX 6). So when you are shooting objects that quickly move towards the camera, better use the famous “Autofocus Trick”, also known as “shutter mash technique”: Set the camera to AF-S or AF-C (use AF-S if you want to assign a particular AF field, use AF-C if you are okay with the center spot or area) and press the shutter all the way through in one quick, swift motion (no half-pressing!) while keeping the AF field trained over  the area of your subject that you want to be in focus. Since the X100S operates with Autofocus Priority, it won’t take the shot until it has actually locked focus (or until it gave up, in which case the shot will probably be wasted). This cropped example of a horse trotting directly towards the camera was shot at open aperture (f/2) using the Autofocus Trick, with the AF frame trained on the pony’s head:

DSCF0037 - X100S "AF trick"

Please remember that the X100S features a new hybrid autofocus system: a mix of CDAF (contrast detection autofocus) and on-sensor PDAF (phase detection autofocus). PDAF is quicker, but only works in good light, such as 5 EV or better. More importantly, PDAF is only available in about 40% of the sensor area, covering the center 9 (3 x 3) AF fields. So for best (fastest) AF results, shoot in good light and use the center 9 AF fields. You don’t have to worry about which of the two AF methods to use. The camera will take care of that for you.

Shutter Lag

While the Autofocus Trick will obviously introduce some shutter lag (defined as the time between you pressing the shutter and the camera taking the shot) due to the camera’s AF Priority operation, you can significantly reduce this time period by priming the camera during normal shooting (= shooting without tricks). All you need to do is half-press the shutter while anticipating the actual shot.

Mirrorless cameras like the X series have a distinct way of operation: During Live View, they are constantly adapting the lens aperture to the brightness of the ambient light that’s entering the lens. However, for exposure measurement and focusing purposes, the camera has to fully open up the aperture. Then, right before actually taking the shot, the aperture has to be closed again to reflect the chosen “working aperture” settings. Half-pressing the shutter button performs this sequence and primes the camera to minimize any shutter lag. If you don’t half-press the shutter button before actually taking the shot, shutter lag will increase even if you are using manual focus and manual exposure. When the camera isn’t primed before taking the shot, smaller apertures will also induce a longer shutter lag than wide-open settings, as the aperture blades have to travel a longer way from their wide open measuring position to their final working aperture position.

Shortcuts

The X100S features an impressive list of shortcuts that can make your life much easier:

  • Press and hold the Q button for a few seconds to clearly increase the brightness of the LCD. This can be quite helpful when operating the camera in bright light, like on a sunny day.
  • Press and hold the MENU/OK button down to lock or unlock the arrow keys and the Q button.
  • A long press of the Fn button will bring up the Fn button’s configuration menu, where you can assign one of several functions. I typically assign ISO to this button, because I like to be able to quickly change my Auto-ISO configuration (minimum shutter speed). Another popular option for this button is enabling the camera’s built-in ND filter.
  • Press and hold DISP/BACK button to activate (or deactivate) the camera’s Silent Mode. When this mode is turned on, the X100S functions quietly and inconspicuously. It won’t make any artificial noises and it abstains from using both the flash and the AF-assist lamp.
  • Pressing the DISP/BACK button while selecting an AF field in AF-S Area mode will immediately select the central AF field.
  • Press DISP/BACK in shooting or playback mode to change the view of the currently active display. This means that in order to change the view of either the OVF, the EVF or the LCD, either the OVF, EVF or LCD must be active when you press the button. You can select the display you want to change with the VIEW MODE button. Alternatively, use the eye-sensor to activate a display by looking through it, then change its view with the DISP/BACK button. The X100S can’t read your mind, you need to tell it which display’s view you want to change. ;)
  • Finally, to check (or upgrade) the firmware version of the camera, press and hold the DISP/BACK button while switching on the camera.
  • In manual focus mode, press the AE-L/AF-L button to initiate an autofocus run.
  • Also in manual focus mode, press and hold the command dial to cycle through the camera’s different MF aids: standard, digital split image and focus peaking.
  • Press (but do not hold) the command dial to enlarge the current image to inspect its sharpness. This works in both MF and AF modes.
  • Rather than selecting a function in the shooting menu by pressing the OK button, you can press the shutter button halfway down. Pressing the shutter button halfway down while in playback mode switches the camera directly into shooting mode. You can wake the camera by pressing the shutter button halfway down as well.
  • Double-tap the macro button to switch between normal and macro modes.
Hybrid Viewfinder

Like every non-TTL (mirrorless) optical viewfinder camera, the X100S is prone to parallax error. This means that the image you see in the optical viewfinder doesn’t always reflect the image that is actually recorded by the camera. Even worse, the focus field you have selected may not point to the area of the frame that the camera is actually focusing on. This is unavoidable, as the lens/sensor and the OVF are located on different optical axes and see things from slightly different angles. Parallax error is negligible for objects that are far away, but it can be quite strong when shooting (and focusing on) things that sit close to the camera.

Luckily, the X100S is trying to compensate parallax error in the OVF by illuminating parallax-corrected AF frames once focus has been locked and the X100S “knows” the camera-object distance. In order activate this function, make sure that CORRECTED AF FRAME is set to ON in the shooting menu.

How does it work? The X100S displays two AF boxes in the OVF, a solid one, and a second box with dotted lines. The solid box represents AF at infinity, the dotted box represents the AF target at the camera’s OVF minimum focus distance (MFD). Once the X100S locks focus, a third (green) box)will appear in the OVF, showing you the actual parallax-corrected AF field position based on the calculated distance between the camera and the in-focus subject. If this green box covers the part of the image you intended to be in focus, all is good. If not, you should reframe and try again. Alternatively, you can quickly switch from the OVF to the EVF using the viewfinder selector at the front of the camera. This convenient lever is there for a reason, please use it to quickly switch between the OVF and EVF to get the best of both worlds. In the EVF, there is no parallax or framing error, so even hardcore OVF shooter can temporarily use the EVF to perfectly frame and focus a shot. Before switching back to the OVF, you may want to lock focus with an appropriately configured AF-L button.

Try to avoid the “focus and reframe” method known from DSLR cameras. In order to minimize focus plane shift, it’s better to select one of the camera’s 49 AF fields. While adjusting/selecting AF fields, you can reset their size by pressing the command dial and jump to the center frame by pressing the DISP/BACK button (see shortcuts).

Happy Easter, everybody!

X100S: BHphoto / AdoramaAmazonUS / AmazonDEAmazonUK / AmazonITA / DigitalRev / your ebay / your Amazon
X20:  BHphoto (blacksilver) / Adorama (blacksilver) / AmazonUS (blacksilver) / AmazonUK (blacksilver) / AmazonDE / AmazonITA / DigitalRev / your ebay / your Amazon

For your convenience, here’s a TOC with links to my previous X-PERT CORNER articles:

Rico Pfirstinger studied communications and has been working as journalist, publicist, and photographer since the mid-80s. He has written a number of books on topics as diverse as Adobe PageMaker and sled dogs, and produced a beautiful book of photographs titled Huskies in Action (German version). He has spent time working as the head of a department with the German Burda-Publishing Company and served as chief editor for a winter sports website. After eight years as a freelance film critic and entertainment writer in Los Angeles, Rico now lives in Germany and devotes his time to digital photography and compact camera systems. His book “Mastering the FUJIFILM X-Pro1” (Kindle Edition) (Apple iBook Store) (German version) is available on Amazon and offers a plethora of tips, secrets and background information on successfully using Fuji’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 system cameras, lenses and key accessories.

© 2013 Rico Pfirstinger, all rights reserved.

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In stock status check: X100S and X20

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 photo stock_zpseb82ef24.png

Time to make a stock-status summary of the X100S and X20.

USA

X20: Amazon (blacksilver both thirdy party reseller, $600) / ebay: check here ($600), here ($600), here ($569) and here ($598).

Germany

X100S: Amazon: here
X20: Amazon: in black here / ebay: here (€545) here (€549) here (€549) / computeruniverse: here (€549)

UK

X20: Amazon: in black here (£500) / ebay: a used X20 (1 week old) auction  here and a new one here (£499)

Italy

X100S: Amazon here / ebay: here (€1139) here (€ 1100) here (€1110)
X20: Amazon here (€528) / ebay: here (€528)  here (black €503) here ( silver €495) and more (see them here on slidoo)

Other countries

X100S: For any other country, just click here to check your Amazon, or click here to check your ebay.
X20: For any other country, just click here to check your Amazon, or click here to check your ebay.

X100S: BHphoto / AdoramaAmazonUS / AmazonDEAmazonUK / AmazonITA / DigitalRev / your ebay / your Amazon
X20:  BHphoto (blacksilver) / Adorama (blacksilver) / AmazonUS (blacksilver) / AmazonUK (blacksilver) / AmazonDE / AmazonITA / DigitalRev / your ebay / your Amazon

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miXed zone: street photography with the X100S, DPreview studio shots, VSCO Film 01 and more

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VSCO Film 01

Vsco Film 01 now with custom camera profiles for Fuji! check it out here.

X100S
Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

PROS: Excellent resolution and detail in photos – Low noise up to ISO3200 and above – Excellent colour reproduction – Unique – optical hybrid electronic viewfinder – Aperture / Shutter controls – Excellent build quality – Silent shutter sound – Bright f/2.0 lens. CONS: Quite high price – Fixed focal length – RAW not available with “Advanced Filters”. Read the whole ephotozine review here. They “highly recommend” this camera.

“Using the Fujifilm X100S for Street Photography” at thephoblographer here. The full review has still to come.  “The cold can really destroy battery life, but the X100s has held up extremely well and I have been able to have it on for a remarkable 14 hours or so until it finally died. No, I’m not joking. I dimmed the screen though, so keep that in mind. Plus the camera was turned off at certain points. This battery life rivals Canon’s.

DPreview added 3 pages of studio shots with the X100S. Click here to get lost in comparison. Page 5: ISO JPEG’s, page 6: HIGH-ISO JPEG’s, page 7: RAW. Compare, but be careful, don’t get addicted ;). About the X100S RAW’s DPreview says:

“Processed through Adobe Camera Raw 7.4, raw files from the X100S look great at low-to-medium ISO settings, with the exception (as with the JPEGs) of some obvious artifacts in areas of extremely fine horizontal and vertical detail, and a slight lack of definition in the very low-contrast feathers at lower-right compared to more conventional sensors. In general though, organic textures are rendered nicely, and overall detail reproduction is very good. Compared to the best of its competitors, the X100S does well, but moiré is a factor in areas of very fine detail, and it is possible that Adobe Camera Raw is not yet quite making the most out of its sensor (we will update our conversions if and when Adobe tweaks its plugin).”

X20
Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

Techradar posted his X20 review (click here). From the conclusions:

“With the X20, Fuji continues its dominance in the corner of the market reserved for high-end compact cameras with superb image quality that exude retro cool. The fact is, no other manufacturer manages to mix those two qualities together quite so well as Fuji, and for that, the company should be applauded. As a premium compact, the Fuji X20 is a delight to use and will be surely appreciated by those looking for a great backup model for their DSLR or CSC. If you already own a Fuji X10, there’s not quite enough here to warrant an upgrade just yet, though there are obvious advantages to this over the previous version of the camera.”

image courtesy: techradar

 photo DSCF9401-580-90_zps60cf8559.jpg

FR-reader Hinrich send me this video (vimeo), made with the X20. He wrote: “Short late afternoon walk with my friends new Fujifilm X20 around my barrio. Old man hand-held, no stab. no editing. The camera looks beautiful and fits ergonomic perfect into my hand. But I think the quality of my Sony RX100 photo and video files are better. Thank you

X-E1
Amazon, Adorama, B&H, eBay

Cameralabs highly recommends the X-E1. Read why in their comprehenisve review here. An extract: “The X-E1 is a great follow up model to Fujifilm’s X-Pro 1 providing most of what the more expensive flagship model offers at a significantly lower price point. For purists, an optical viewfinder on a rangefinder style camera will be a must-have feature and the X-Pro 1’s hybrid viewfinder is a technological wonder. But if you can live without an optical viewfinder, the X-E1’s EVF is one of the best around and is arguably better suited to an interchangeable lens camera.

image courtesy: cameralabs

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PS. In the meantime FR-reader Frank is anxiously awaiting his X100S. Everything is ready, as you can see in the next image…

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X-TRANS versus Lightroom, Silkypix, Capture One and AccuRaw

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 photo chroma_zpsd78705e4.png

image courtesy: chromasoft

Fuji X-photographers finally have more software options to process their X-Trans RAW files. That’s great. Now the question is, which one is the best option for your needs?

Sandy (chromasoft) compared ACR7.4/LR 4.4 RC, Silkypix, C1 and AccuRaw (you may know that AccuRaw is Sandy’s product). As other reviews already pointed out, he says that Adobe considerably improved its products. On his site you can see comparison images with the old version of Adobe Camera Raw. Here just a some PROS and CONS of ACR7.4/LR 4.4 RC:

“Compared to the previous generation, the new Adobe algorithm has much less obvious chroma smearing, so it certainly is much improved. Taking a closer look, where previously the smearing was really bright and intrusive, in the new version the smearing is a lot less bright. However, there’s actually more smeared pixels – in effect, the smearing now has a wider radius. In addition, the image is noticeably softer than the previous version.”

And what about Capture One, Silkypix and AccuRaw? Read the whole comparison here!

From the conclusions:

“Firstly, Adobe’s products, even in the new LR 4.4RC/ACR7.4 form, still don’t stack up. Although much improved over the previous generation, they still have excessive chroma smearing relative to image resolution.  If you were to select a raw processor purely on the basis of getting the maximum out of your X-Trans based camera, Lightroom wouldn’t be it. […] with the new raw developers, the difference between a conventional sensor and a X-Trans sensor is small enough to get lost in differences in lens performance, etc. There are now enough good raw developers that most users will be able to find one that works for them.

At the end of the post you can read also his thoughts about the X-Trans technology. While many praise the new Fuji-sensor (technology of the year according to imaging resource), here is Sandy’s point of view:

“It’s ten months since I first blogged about the X-Trans processor, and so far it’s delivered nothing to justify the “greater resolution than conventional sensors” hype. Finally, the really big losers are the many camera “reviewers” out there that uncritically repeated Fuji’s claims about the X-Trans sensor’s greater resolution. To their credit, some reviewers did raise warning flags – Sean Reid and Thom Hogan to mention two, but they were the exceptions. So next time you read a camera review, here’s a suggestion – take look at what they wrote about the X-Pro when it was introduced, and judge accordingly.”

In response to chromasofts article, read the one at soundimageplus here.

“Well there may be be some reviews out there like that and I’ll take the writer at his word, but I certainly haven’t seen any. I’ve talked about how good I think the X-Trans image quality is, seen as a whole package including ISO performance, clean results etc., but I’m not sure resolution is part of this.”

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