In 2011, the Fujifilm X100 took the world by storm, offering the style of a Leica M but at a more affordable price. We test its successor, the X100S, with upgraded 16.3-million-pixel sensor. Read the Fujifilm X100S review..
Image: Detail when shooting at f/16 is sharp. However, there is still a noticeable difference in the same scene when shot at f/4, where detail is crisper
With much the same body and lens as the earlier X100, one could be forgiven for wondering just what the X100S has to offer. Fuji tells us that there are more than 70 improvements to the X100S over the X100, in several important areas. It appears we have already seen many of these in the company’s X-E1, which was released at the end of last year, but some are unique to the X100S.
As mentioned, the new camera’s imaging sensor is the same 16.3-million-pixel, X-Trans unit as that found in Fuji’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 compact system cameras. The sensor’s colour filter array has a random pattern (unlike the common uniform pattern of the Bayer array), which reduces the risk of moiré and means an anti-aliasing filter over the sensor is no longer required. This, in turn, should mean that images are sharper.
During the launch of the X100S, Fuji showed a graph with data claiming that the camera resolves as much detail as a 24-million-pixel, full-frame camera. Certainly, the X-Pro1 and X-E1 resolved more detail in our tests than we would have expected from a 16-million-pixel camera – the images were very sharp. We can therefore expect a clear improvement in the images of the X100S over those from the 12.3-million-pixel X100. Furthermore, raw-format images are now recorded in 14-bit, rather than 12-bit in the X100, which provides approximately 4x the range of tones.
Another improvement to the X100S’s sensor is the introduction of on-sensor phase-detection autofocus. In the central 40% of the frame, 142,000 pixels (which are interpolated by surrounding pixels) are used both for the final image and for phase-detection AF. Also known as hybrid AF, the camera automatically switches between phase and contrast detection. Phase-detection AF requires just a single motor movement to locate the focus area, while contrast-detection AF can be slower as it may need to hunt back and forth for the focus point. The use of hybrid AF has quickened the AF speed to a claimed 0.08secs, compared to 0.22secs in the X100. There have also been key improvements to the way in which manual-focusing operates (see the Build and handling section for more on this).
Like the X-E1, the X100S uses Fuji’s latest EXR Processor II, and the overall response of the camera is quicker than before (again, see Build and handling for more details). Given that data is processed at a faster rate, the shooting modes benefit directly. For example, the continuous high-speed burst of 6fps lasts for more than 30 frames, depending on the memory card in use. Other shooting modes include motion panorama, a two-frame multiple exposure, eight different advanced filters and a number of bracketing modes for ISO, exposure, dynamic range and ‘film simulation’ (colour mode).
New to the X100S is Fuji’s Lens Modulation Optimiser (LMO). This is hardware built into the processor that, through digital processing, calculates diffraction and aberration of the lens to minimise both of these distortions in JPEG images. Being less prone to diffraction should allow the use of slower apertures – f/16, for example – with minimal impact on image sharpness (see Noise, resolution and sensitivity). This is good news for those who want the greatest depth of field possible without compromising on image sharpness. Fuji informs AP that this hardware could be introduced to a processor of an interchangeable lens camera, too. The new processor further benefits the camera by giving a cleaner signal, elevating the signal-to-noise ratio by 1EV and resulting in a 30% improvement in noise reduction.
Image: The 35mm focal length is ideal for portraits that include the surroundings