This year I escaped most of german's winter while being in New Zealand. When I got back, snow was bascially completely gone. In March I met up with Florian Wenzel, an amazing photographer living close by and we explored some areas in the Black Forest. While driving up higher and higher into the mountains, we were quite surprised about how much snow we still found. Walking through the forest was pretty exhausting sometimes because we didn't wanna stick to the paths but it was worth it. We ended our trip on a place called "Hornisgrinde". I've been there a few times and it's a nice plateau on the top of a mountain with a beautiful view. This time it's been a proper ice-desert.

All those photos are taken on the Fuji X100s

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This is what the Fuji X100s is made for and what i bought it for! I left my big DSLR at home when i left the house to wander around with my girlfriend. The light was cool and the location was unexpected and also cool (and of course, there was this beautiful lady with me 😉 ). Good thing there was this small, lightweight, really powerful and useful tool in my pocket. ALWAYS! So i took out the camera and started playing around and snapping photos and stuff. It would have been a shame if didn’t have any camera with me at this moment. After testing it for a few weeks, i really got curious about the other, “big” Fuji cameras and lenses. I hope that I can maybe find a way to get my hands on them for testing purposes.

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I stayed one night in Hamburg with my girlfriend last weekend and left the Mark 2 at home to only take a few snaps with the Fujifilm X100s. So all these shots are exclusively taken with this small camera. I'm still pretty impressed about what you can get out of it. Especially the night shots! I don't think, the ISO-performance of the 5D Mark 2 is that good. I was on a pretty short timeframe so i didn't see much and snapped a lot in the hotel - which was amazing by the way! It's called "Hotel Volksschule" and apparently built into an old school building. It really has a very nice style with modern furniture inside of red brick walls.

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Why?

Four years ago I bought my first big DSLR camera, and of course I was absolutely stoked with it; how professionally the camera works and what can be created with it.  When you’re out and about with such a big camera, shooting street or lifestyle snaps, you receive one or the other look from people, and often wind up having a discussion about it. It’s simply a cool thing, and everyone, no matter how uninformed, associates a certain professionality with it.

At some point however, such a large, expert camera for everyday use becomes tiresome. More importantly: you eventually come to the realisation that it’s not the camera that makes the photo, but the photographer. Proof of a true photographer’s merit can be that despite those times when you don’t have a “professional” camera at hand, you can still create great photos.

Besides, such a DSLR is simply heavy, clunky, and often too bulky and conspicuous. Therefore, what I wanted was a smaller camera. It should, however, be able to shoot photos in RAW, have good ISO capabilities, allow uncomplicated manual adjustments, and ideally have a prime lens with wide aperture and manual focus. May I introduce: the Fujifilm X100s. 

What i like

The Operating Concept

The Camera abandons the mode dial for various automatic modes on the surface. Instead, there’s a dial for exposure time and one for over/under exposure. The aperture can be set directly on the lens, and the "fn" button can be used to change the ISO. On top of that, all of these control dials have a very nice feel. For me personally, they work more than perfectly, and I like them a lot better than the operating concept of my Canon 5D Mark II.

The Lens

Fujinion 23mm / f 2.0 with a possibility of manual focus. Through the APSC sensor, the whole thing becomes a “real” 35mm lens. It captures really very sharply, and provides excellent picture quality and in combination with the sensor, a nice bokeh.

The Picture quality

Definitely way higher than my expectations! Beautiful details that are actually not so far away from the 5D Mark II. But what’s even better is the ISO capability. I have shot photos at ISO 2000 and couldn’t believe what I saw: NOTHING. I checked my EXIFs but it was actually ISO 2000. I didn’t expect such quality from this camera. Absolute WOW effect. My 5D Mark II produces more noise! 

The assistance for manual focus

Various focussing helpers can be set for the Liveview and digital viewfinder. Among other things, a sectional view and – my personal favourite: "Focus Peak Highlight" an oversharp representation of the area in focus which results in white lines on the display. I only knew of this from professional videocameras, and it works for me wonderfully.

HDR and Panorama Function

The camera offers the ability to create HDR-photos over multiple exposures. On top of that, there’s a panorama function, similar to that of modern Smartphones in the way that it works by moving the camera horizontally.

The Digital Viewfinder

Basically the display is presented  1:1 in the viewfinder. Personally, I find this very comfortable, even though it’s something to get used to. Cool: the image area is able to be zoomed in on like in the liveview, and therefore easier to focus.

What i don't like

The size

Of course! I wanted a smaller camera, but it feels somewhat strange in my hands and I feel a bit cramped, even though I don’t have particularly big hands. Maybe it’s simply a matter of getting used to.

The Autofocus

In bad lighting conditions, it functions a bit unreliably, and isn’t the fastest. For me personally that’s not a big minus point, because I focus 98% manually.

The Manual Focus

Works great, except the translation of the mechanical focus ring is unreliably slow, so that I’m sometimes not sure if it’s doing anything or not.

The rotary dial

In principal a really good thing: similar to the big Canons, the camera has a rotary dial on the right of the display, that can also be pressed. Although here it’s so flimsily and sensitively built, that I worry that it won’t last long in my hands.

No WiFi & Folding Display

This is too bad. The camera has an extra menu with settings for Eye-Fi-cards but no WiFi of its own. Cheaper cameras have had this function for ages, and it would have been a really useful and comfortable addition here. It's the same with the folding display. Almost state of the art technology, and it would make things a lot easier for me. 

Conclusion

Short and easy: Yes, it does what a professional photographer would expect of it. Yes, it's worth the money. Hell yes, it looks sexy!

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Shot with the Fuji X100s

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ISO 4000 out of cam, full resolution

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fuji_full-1More photos to follow in the next Blogposts!

Ⓒ 2022, Christopher Kreymborg
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