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..
Not only does the Fuji X100S feature an improved focus ring for manual focusing, but it also offers three manual-focus assist modes, two of which are new. Standard mode simply activates focus magnification in live view, which can be viewed on the LCD screen or via the EVF. Focus peaking is new, although we have seen it before in cameras such as the Sony Alpha 77. Again, it works via live view, adding a high-contrast black line around subject edges that are in focus. There is a low and a high setting, designed for differing degrees of precision focusing. I would like to see different colour outlines other than black for focus peaking, such as red, because the black outline can be difficult to view clearly.
Most intriguing is the new digital split-image focus-assist function. I have been hoping for many years to see split-image focusing, inspired by a conventional rangefinder camera, to make its way into a digital model. It is possible in the X100S due to the inclusion of phase-detection pixels on the sensor. The central 40% of the frame that is covered by the phase-detection pixels is displayed in live view (on screen or via the EVF) in black & white, and then split into left and right images. Turn the manual-focus ring and the central portion of the live-view image is magnified, from which it is easier to view and line up the two images to achieve accurate focus.
This does not have quite the same feel as when using the ‘traditional’ method via the optical display, but nevertheless this assist function is useful. The manual-focus assist that works best depends on the scene being captured, but the X100S offers virtually the most comprehensive handling for manual focusing we’ve seen in a digital compact camera.