Fuji X100s - a match made in heaven?

The lovely little Fuji X100s is without doubt a great camera.  I bought it originally on the back of reviews by people such as David Hobby and Zack Arias for whom it had rapidly became a firm favorite.  I'd kind of hoped it would be the same for me - I wanted something small and light for overseas assignments that would get rid of the need to carry my 5D mk lll plus 3 or 4 F2.8 L series lenses and all the associated paraphanalia that goes along with it - my long suffering back would thank me and all in all life would be simpler.

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Having had the camera for over 18 months now lets say I've grown to love it..  It was not an out and out love after a first date but it's a simmering relationship that has grown stronger with time.  I now know the quirks and foibles but I think we might well be happy together in the long run.

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So first lets talk about what's wrong with the camera.

This is actually the second one I've had - the first ended up being returned only months after receiving it with a variety of problems including a dodgy LCD and a tendency to shut down not start up again without removing the battery. Not a good start.  Having got all that sorted and repaired the camera was stolen from a vehicle in Indonesia - a black version was provided by the insurance company and the camera has been fine since.

Fixed lens - with a fixed 35mm equivalent F2 lens you are obviously stuck with what you have.  There's no convenient zoom or long lenses here - it's 35mm and that's it....  If you can't get you head round this and pull yourself away from your bag of zooms then this is not the camera for you.

Batteries - The batteries are woefully poor.  No other way to say it.  If you have an X100s the first thing you will want to do is buy a pocket full of spare batteries.  The battery indicator has a habit of going from full to 2 bars without warning and then from 2 bars to shut down in the space of a couple of frames.  It's got so bad that I switch the camera off if not about to take a shot - something I'd never have to do with my Canons - I could leave my 5d mklll switched on for weeks without worrying the battery would ever be flat.  With the Fuji you might get a couple of hundred frames at best before the battery dies almost without warning.  BUY MORE BATTERIES.

Focusing - Apparently a big improvement from the previous model the X100 - but nonetheless still a bit of a laggard compared to most modern DSLR cameras.  While the green focus indicator in the optical view finder (OVF) does show you that focus lock has been achieved it takes a lot of use to develop a trust in this however it does seem to work - ok it needs light to focus reliably but then so do many cameras.  The continuous focus option works kind of ok but with this you are limited to a central focus point only - useless for off centre subjects.

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Both the cameras I've had have occasionally locked themselves up to the point that the camera does not wake up when pressing the shutter button - you want the camera to be alive as soon as soon as you go to shoot but this is not the case.

Menus - Far from the simplest of menu structures - I've assigned the function button beside the shutter release to be ISO selection which saves a bit of time when required.

Image quality from the camera is stellar.  It's only a 16mp sensor but delivers extremely sharp high quality raw images that have a very particular look to them.

So the camera is not perfect - but then which one is.  Despite it's quirks and foibles, where this camera shines is being inconspicuous, silent and delivering quality images.  OK it's a fixed lens but that teaches you to move your feet rather than zoom your lens in order to get the shot - many of the great documentary images of our time were shot on fixed 35mm lenses.  It's a lovely camera to use - the focal plane shutter is a real asset when working with flash and for slow fly on the wall street photography and reportage.  Now if Fuji were to do a version of this with a fixed 85mm lens we'd have a perfect combo - for the time being though the best option I see is to add the more recent Fuji X-Ti with the 56mm F1.2 lens (85mm equivalent) - now that would be a match made in heaven.

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