Fujifilm X100S Review

 
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Fuji X100S Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Bright colors with excellent hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare ISOs.
Saturation. The Fuji X100S produces images with bright, pleasing color using standard, default settings (Provia film simulation). At base ISO (200), the camera pushes most colors by a small amount, dark reds, dark blues and dark greens by a moderate amount, while undersaturating aquas and cyans by just a bit. Default saturation is 112.3% (12.3% oversaturated) at base ISO which is a little higher than average but still quite pleasing, but drops gradually as ISO increases. You can of course tweak saturation and/or select a different film simulation mode. (For example, Velvia is more saturated.) Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Fuji X100S rendered natural looking Caucasian skin tones that were a touch on the pinkish side, because of the push in reds. Still, results were quite pleasing, with a healthy look. (Here, too, the X100S's saturation and/or film mode adjustments may come into play for some users, letting them tweak the color on skin tones, if they find the default rendering a bit too saturated for their personal tastes.) Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Fuji X100S showed only a few small color shifts relative to the mathematically precise translation of colors in its subjects, and had excellent hue accuracy overall. Most noticeable were shifts in orange toward yellow, cyan toward blue, as well as some smaller shifts in yellow and green. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Average "delta-C" color error corrected for saturation was only 4.06 at base ISO, which is excellent, much better than average. Hue accuracy remained very good to excellent throughout the ISO range as well. Hue is "what color" the color is.

Saturation Adjustment
The Fuji X100S has a total of five saturation settings available ("Low", "Medium Low", "Mid", "Medium High" and "High"), which the manual calls "Color Density". That's not as many steps as most cameras, and as you can see the steps are pretty fine, making the effect fairly subtle. It did however have some effect on contrast and/or exposure.

Saturation Adjustment Examples
Click to see X100SOUTBSAT1.JPG Click to see X100SOUTBSAT3D.JPG Click to see X100SOUTBSAT5.JPG
Low Mid High

The table above shows results with several saturation settings including the default and both limits. Click on any thumbnail above to see the full-sized image.

Click to see X100SFAR2I00200.JPG Click to see X100SOUTBAP0.JPG Click to see X100ShSL00200NR3DD.JPG
See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance were quite warm while 2,600K was very cool, but very good results with the Manual setting. An average amount of positive exposure compensation required.

Click to see X100SINBAP1.JPG Click to see X100SINBTP1.JPG
Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Click to see X100SINBMP1.JPG Click to see X100SINBK26P1.JPG
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV
~2,600 Kelvin
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under typical incandescent lighting, color balance was quite warm using the Auto setting, with a fairly strong reddish cast. Results with the Incandescent white balance setting were also quite warm, with a strong yellow/orange cast, but Incandescent kept more of the mood of the lighting than the Auto setting. The Manual white balance setting was fairly accurate and neutral with perhaps a slight yellow bias, while the ~2,600 Kelvin temperature setting produced a cool image with a bluish tint. The Fuji X100S required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +0.3 EV. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Good but slightly cool colors outdoors. Excellent exposure accuracy, though high default contrast.

Click to see X100SOUTBMP0.JPG Click to see X100SFAR2I00200.JPG
Manual White Balance,
0 EV
Auto White Balance,
0 EV

Outdoors, the Fuji X100S produced bright but slightly cool color at default settings, though skin tones looked natural. The Fuji X100S required no exposure compensation adjustment to produce bright facial tones on the mannequin, though quite a few highlights we clipped in the shirt and flowers. Most cameras require about +0.7 EV to produce a bright face in this shot, so the X100S did much better than average in terms of exposure here. Skin tones appeared natural, with a healthy-looking pinkish cast. Our Far-field shot was well-exposed at default exposure, with very few lost highlights and very good shadow detail, though very deep shadows are posterized, as they often are. Color was just a touch cool, though. See the Extremes: Sunlit section below to see how the X100S's Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings help deal with harsh lighting like this.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, ~2,300 to 2,400 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about the same from RAW.

Strong detail to
~2,400 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,400 lines horizontal
Adobe Camera Raw
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
Adobe Camera Raw

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,400 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,300 line per picture height n the vertical direction. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the end of our target (4,000) lines in both directions. Adobe Camera Raw wasn't able to extract much more detail from this high-contrast target. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good detail and sharpness overall, with only minor edge-enhancement artifacts appearing around some high-contrast subjects. Mild noise suppression is visible in the shadows at base ISO.

Very good definition of
high-contrast elements,
with only minor evidence of
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
though detail remains strong in
the darker parts of the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Fuji X100S captures sharp, detailed images, though some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the thicker branches and pine cones in the above left crop. Fine detail such as the smaller branches and pine needles however show very little edge enhancement, however low contrast detail in the pine needles is a little soft and flat. Still, very good results here. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows low levels of luminance noise suppression, as the darker areas of the model's hair still show a pretty good amount of detail, though again, very fine detail is a bit soft. Some individual strands do merge together when local contrast is low and as shadows deepen, but performance here is pretty good. The Fuji X100S does a great job at keeping chrominance noise low as well. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

Demosaicing. As mentioned elsewhere in this review, the Fuji X100S doesn't use the standard Bayer 2x2 color filter pattern. The X-Trans sensor's 6x6 pattern is designed to reduce the occurrence of color moiré, which means a resolution-robbing low-pass (anti-alias) filter is not required. As you can see from the crops at right (magnified 2X) comparing the X100S to the Nikon Coolpix A (which also doesn't have a low-pass filter), the Fuji does a better job a avoiding color moiré (while its higher sharpness is due to differences in processing and optics). You can however see that the X100S struggles a bit with rendering the fine italic text accurately, leaving what look to be small gaps and extra strokes in the letters, and some rough edges as well. Still, you have to look very closely to spot these errors and overall, the increased per-pixel sharpness and reduced color moiré really are worth the tradeoffs in our opinion.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Fuji X100S produces sharp JPEG images with very good detail at default settings. Let's see if we can extract more fine detail from RAW files without introducing additional sharpening artifacts:

In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking on the link will load the full resolution image. Examples include (from left to right): an in-camera Fine JPEG, RAW file processed through Fuji's RAW File Converter EX software (which is based on SilkyPix) at default settings, another processed with RFC with output sharpening applied using unsharp mask of 200% with radius 0.3 pixels, and finally, one processed in Adobe Camera Raw 8.1, and sharpened in Photoshop also using unsharp mask of 200% with radius 0.3 pixels.

As you can see, the Fuji RFC conversion at default settings is somewhat softer than the in-camera JPEG. (Color rendering is also slightly different which is not usually the case for bundled software but not a surprise since it's based on third-party software based on SilkyPix.) Increasing the sharpness helped a bit, but the resulting image doesn't really show much any additional detail. Adobe Camera Raw actually produced results closer to the in-camera JPEG, but wasn't able to extract much more detail either. We also noticed ACR seems to apply some noise reduction, even when its NR sliders are turned all the way down (however default NR settings were used above). Bottom line, though, the Fuji X100S's JPEG engine is doing a great job of holding onto most of the detail offered by its sensor.

ISO & Noise Performance
Excellent high ISO performance.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

Noise performance is virtually identical at ISOs 100 through 400, showing very little noise and very good detail. Fine detail remains strong at ISO 800, with only minor loss in detail due to noise reduction smudging. Luminance noise "grain" is quite fine and tight, and there is very little sign of chrominance noise. This is true at ISO 1,600 as well, where noise reduction efforts are little stronger as you'd expect, but fine detail is still very good. At ISO 3,200, there's a slightly larger reduction in image quality compared to previous ISO steps, however noise "grain" remains tight and fine detail is still good. ISO 6,400 is noticeably noisier with more visible grain, blurring, noise reduction artifacts, though chroma noise is still quite low in the shadows. 12,800 is the first ISO to show some blotchy chroma noise in shadows and midtones, though despite higher luminance noise, some fine detail remains. As you'd expect, ISO 25,600 is noisier with more obvious chroma blotching, but still not bad for such an extreme sensitivity. Overall, high ISO performance is excellent, especially for such a compact camera. We're pixel-peeping to the extreme here though, which isn't always representative of what you see in prints. As always, see the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Very high resolution with very good overall detail. High default contrast with some highlight clipping, but very good shadow detail. Excellent low-light performance.

Click to see X100SOUTBMP0.JPG Click to see X100SOUTBAP1.JPG Click to see X100SOUTBMP2.JPG
0 EV +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight.
The Fuji X100S performed well with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test; much better than average in terms of exposure. We preferred the default exposure overall, because exposures at higher exposure compensations were too bright with too many clipped highlights. While some highlights were blown in the model's shirt and flowers at 0 EV (default exposure) because of the high contrast, clipping was gradual in nature, making it less conspicuous than many cameras we have tested. Shadow detail is very good, with low levels of noise except in the very deepest shadows where some posterization occurred.

Face Detection
The Fuji X100S does seem to detect faces (as reported in EXIF), though we don't know of a way to disable it to see how it impacts exposure.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Contrast Adjustment
The Fuji X100S does not offer any traditional contrast adjustment. Instead, it offers Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, which let you adjust contrast in highlights and shadows independently. There are five settings each: "Soft", "Medium Soft", "Standard" (default), "Medium Hard", and "Hard".

"Sunlit" Portrait Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison
Highlight
and
Shadow
Tone
Settings:



Highlight: Soft

Highlight: Standard

Highlight: Hard


Shadow: Soft

Shadow: Standard

Shadow: Hard

Shadow and Highlight Tone. Above you can see the effects of three of the five settings for Highlight and Shadow Tone control on our high contrast "Sunlit" Portrait shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail and histogram, and click on the links to visit the full resolution image. Note how the Highlight settings affect only the brighter portions of the image, while the Shadow settings impact the darker areas. Both settings can be used simultaneously

Above, you can see the effect of the same Highlight and Shadow Tone settings on our Far-field shot.

Far-field D-Range Comparison

D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range designed to preserve hot highlights, by exposing for highlights and then boosting mid-tones and shadows. There are three levels: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200%, DR400 400%, as well as an automatic mode. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image, histogram, highlight and shadow crop. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images.

As you can see the images above, the Fuji X100S's D-Range feature was very effective at retaining clipped highlights in our Far-field shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch: if you look closely at the full resolution images, you'll see that highlight retention comes at a cost of some increased noise in the shadows.  This is because the camera raises minimum ISO to 400 and 800 for DR 200% and 400% respectively. Still, even with the DR 400% setting (ISO 800), noise from the Fuji X100S's sensor is low enough that it shouldn't be an issue for most applications. (Note that the shadow crops above have had levels adjusted in Photoshop significantly to reveal the increase in shadow noise.)

Dynamic Range
A key parameter in a digital camera is its Dynamic Range, the range of brightness that can be faithfully recorded. At the upper end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is dictated by the point at which the RGB data "saturates" at values of 255, 255, 255. At the lower end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is determined by the point at which there ceases to be any useful difference between adjacent tonal steps. Note the use of the qualifier "useful" in there: While it's tempting to evaluate dynamic range as the maximum number of tonal steps that can be discerned at all, that measure of dynamic range has very little relevance to real-world photography. What we care about as photographers is how much detail we can pull out of the shadows before image noise becomes too objectionable. This, of course, is a very subjective matter, and will vary with the application and even the subject matter in question. (Noise will be much more visible in subjects with large areas of flat tints and subtle shading than it would in subjects with strong, highly contrasting surface texture.)

What makes most sense then, is to specify useful dynamic range in terms of the point at which image noise reaches some agreed-upon threshold. To this end, Imatest computes a number of different dynamic range measurements, based on a variety of image noise thresholds. The noise thresholds are specified in terms of f-stops of equivalent luminance variation in the final image file, and dynamic range is computed for noise thresholds of 1.0 (low image quality), 0.5 (medium image quality), 0.25 (medium-high image quality) and 0.1 (high image quality). For most photographers and most applications, the noise thresholds of 0.5 and 0.25 f-stops are probably the most relevant to the production of acceptable-quality finished images, but many noise-sensitive shooters will insist on the 0.1 f-stop limit for their most critical work.

JPEG. The graph at right (click for a larger version) was generated using Imatest's dynamic range analysis for a Fuji X100S in-camera JPEG file with a nominally-exposed density step target (Stouffer 4110). At default settings and normal base ISO (200), the graph shows only 8.32 f-stops of total dynamic range, with all of it at the High Quality level. The tone curve at highlight end rolls-off gradually, however the shadow end is disjointed and quite steep, which can lead to some posterization in very deep shadows (as we noted in our outdoor shot analysis). Total dynamic range score below average compared to most APS-C models we've tested, however the High Quality score is fair. The lower score is in part due to the X100S's base ISO of 200 and its light touch when it comes luminance noise reduction at default settings, as higher noise levels tends to reduce scores at higher quality levels.

RAW. The graph at right is from the same Stouffer 4110 stepchart image captured as a RAW (.RAF) file, processed with Adobe Camera Raw using the Auto setting, then tweaking from there. The Fuji X100S RAW file scored almost 4.5 f-stops more in total dynamic range (12.8 vs 8.32 f-stops) and the score at the highest quality level increased by about 1.9 f-stops from 8.32 to 10.2 f-stops. Excellent results here; better than most compact system camera and in line with the best APS-C models. It's worth noting here is that ACR's default noise reduction settings reduced overall noise quite a bit (see the plot in the lower left-hand corner) relative to the levels in the in-camera JPEG, more so than we're used to seeing. This tends to boost the dynamic range numbers for the High Quality threshold. Also, the extreme highlight recovery being performed by ACR here would likely produce color errors in strong highlights of natural subjects.


  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
100
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1.3 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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20 s
f2.0
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f2.0
ISO
200
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1 s
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2 s
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8 s
f2.0
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15 s
f2.0
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15 s
f2.0
ISO
400
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0.5 s
f2.0
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f2.0
ISO
800
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1/4 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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1 s
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2 s
f2.0
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4 s
f2.0
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4 s
f2.0
ISO
1600
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f2.0
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1 s
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2 s
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2 s
f2.0
ISO
3200
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1/15 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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f2.0
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1 s
f2.0
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1 s
f2.0
ISO
6400
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f2.0
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f2.0
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0.5 s
f2.0
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0.5 s
f2.0
ISO
12800
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1/60 s
f2.0
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1/30 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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f2.0
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1/4 s
f2.0
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1/4 s
f2.0
ISO
25600
Click to see X100SLL256003.JPG
1/125 s
f2.0
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1/60 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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f2.0
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1/8 s
f2.0
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1/8 s
f2.0

Low Light. The Fuji X100S performed well on the low-light test, capturing usable images at the lowest light level (1/16 foot-candle) even at the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100).

Noise is well-controlled up to ISO 6,400, and at higher ISOs noise grain is pretty fine so detail remains good, with very little chroma noise. Some minor horizontal banding is visible at higher ISOs and darker light levels, but we did not notice any issues with uncorrected hot pixels. (Note: a few images in our low-light table above show some motion blur -- that's our fault. We have since replaced a failing camera stand with new, beefier one.)

The Fuji X100S's Auto white balance performed well, producing good color that was just a touch on the cool side, though with a shift toward magenta at lower light levels.

The camera's hybrid autofocus system was able to focus on our static subject down to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted in the lab, and in complete darkness with its AF assist lamp enabled. Excellent performance here, but that didn't reflect our real-world experience, where the camera often had difficulty focusing accurately in low light, especially with moving subjects. Also, keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) The Fuji X100S uses a hybrid combination of phase- and contrast-detect autofocus, so its low-light focusing ability is better than most point & shoots.

Output Quality

Print Quality

Very nice 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100-400; makes a good 20 x 30 inch print at ISO 800 and a usable 4 x 6 at ISO 25,600.

ISO 100/200/400 images are excellent with very fine details and bright, accurate colors up to 24 x 36 inches. It was impressive to see this size print remain good all the way up to ISO 400. At all three ISO levels, a 30 x 40 print would be acceptable for wall display.

ISO 800 images look good at 20 x 30 inches, with just a hint of softness compared to ISO 400. There is hardly any noise at 800 and colors looked great. 24 x 36 inch prints are definitely suitable for wall display.

ISO 1600 makes a good 16 x 20 inch print with plenty of fine detail, although you can start to see slight shadow noise at this ISO level. Colors and overall sharpness still look excellent. At 20 x 30, the noise is more noticeable compared to the same size at ISO 800, but you could easily wall-mount a 20 x 30 inch print at ISO 1600.

ISO 3200 prints start to show more noise, but it's still very well-controlled and produces a nice 13 x 19 inch print. As expected, shadow noise is more apparent, but otherwise the image looks great and fine details are still present.

ISO 6400 makes a good 11 x 14. We were surprised at how nice noise looked here -- very minimal. There is a bit more shadow noise, but the level of detail and accurate colors are very acceptable at this level. The X100S handles the red fabric quite well, with the leaf pattern still coming through to some degree.

ISO 12,800 images produce a nice 8 x 10 inch print, which was quite surprising for this ISO level. There was still a lot of detail; even the fine detail patterns of the mosaic tile and red fabric were noticeable, although just barely. The noise level at this ISO was quite low, which is very impressive.

ISO 25,600 images looked decent at 4 x 6 inches, more so than at 5 x 7. Compared to ISO 12,800, colors here seemed a little drab and faded, which was more apparent at 5 x 7. We'd recommend sticking with ISO 12,800 if you can, but 25,600 can still produce acceptable prints, albeit at a small size.

The Fujifilm's X-Trans sensor shines again with the X100S, producing outstanding results both on screen and in print. From ISO 100 to 400, printed images look practically identical and produced great prints all the way up to 24 x 36 inches and wall-mountable at 30 x 40! Even when hitting higher ISO values, the noise level was outstandingly low, enabling this little camera to produce larger print sizes at higher ISO levels than some other APS-C cameras we've tested. Colors looked accurate all the way up the scale, and it wasn't until we hit ISO 25,600 that we noticed colors beginning to degrade a bit. Fine details were also very good, particularly at ISO 800 and below, although even at ISO 12,800 very fine details like the mosaic and red fabric patterns were still visible -- something we've seen other cameras struggle with at this ISO. Overall, Fujifilm has another winner on its hands, and if you are looking to make great photos, both for display on the computer or with prints, the X100S is an excellent choice.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm X100S Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm X100S with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

Fujifilm X100S

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate