Very quickly, the X100s has become my favourite digital camera. It is small, and for the most part, elegantly designed. Attach a Thumbs Up style grip and it is nearly as hand-holdable as a film rangefinder.
Of course, its 23mm f/2 lens is both wide and fast enough to do just about everything I need it to do in events and audio product reviews.
The elements that show the X100s well in event photography: its silent shutter, and clear OVF, show it equally well on the street. Of course, I'm no street photographer. When I head into Tokyo on business, I carry the X100s. It's the perfect size to slip into a small bag, or hang from an errant thumb.
I'm no street artist. From time to time, I fire off a few images. That's about it. The most talented street photographer I know personally is my wife; and after her, Martin Irwin. (My X100's first outing was with Martin.)
And none of us practice that sort of thing often enough.
I'm the guy that nudges reflectors all day whilst chugging whisky, wine, and cheap vodka and blåbär saft. I rarely get out of the office/studio. But recently, I met up with a few cool headfiers at e-earphone's awesome porta fes 2014. You have to check out the ortofon TA-Q7. Awesome use of space.
I took a few minutes out to shoot whatever caught my eye around Akihabara prior to drinking myself under the table at The Hub. These are some of the images I took:
So, is the X100s the new Leica CL?
I no longer have my CL. It was a shame to have sold such a beauty. I can say with certainty that the X100s isn't an M. It is light, tiny, and silent. The new M, while nearly silent, would dent a thick glass table if dropped. The X100s would bounce off that table and probably misalign its wobbly lens assembly.
What has made the M and derivative cameras such successes of design and simplicity for decades is that they are honed, refined machines. The X100s does a lot well. But it is a hodgepodge of design.
It lacks half-stop exposure steps. Its maximum manually non-menu exposure time is 1/4 of a second. It bunches the T command onto the exposure wheel. It says it does continuous focus. It lacks both half or third-stop aperture detents. There is no way to use the OVF to manually focus its lens. And that lens lacks distance markers and hard stops, necessitating you to look through the viewfinder to tell where the lens is focused. Fly by wire is a chintzy, cheap technology.
But I still dig the X100s.
It's just no Leica. Fujifilm just aren't as thorough designers as are Leica. In city terms, the X100s is like a reformed Tokyo. The good about Tokyo is that the trains come on time. Yay. But they are run by a feudal train system in a disorganised city that, while interesting to photograph, is ugly.
The X100s is the crowning jewel of the X series. I hope that Fujifilm continue to cultivate it by addressing some of the above issues, as well as expanding its lens options.