This week I bought a new camera. We didn’t need a new camera, our Rebel T2i works great and is only 3 years old. But it is a DSLR and with the amount of camping and cycle trips that we have been doing, we started to think about getting a smaller mirrorless camera.
Mirrorless cameras are the next evolution I the DSLR. Camera technology as matured a lot in the past decade and cameras are starting to shrink. The mirrorless camera create DSLR quality shots in the size of a large point and shoot body. Just like DSLRs, you can buy into a system of lenses and change them.
The Fuji X100s
The camera I bought is a Fuji X100s, which isn’t technically a mirrorless camera but has many of the same characteristics and internals of a mirrorless camera. The lens is fixed, which means that I can’t change it. At first, I saw this as a disadvantage, a fixed lens would limit my options for the photo that I can take.
I thought I would regret not being able to change my lens to a different focal length. Then I thought about it for a while
- I never change the lens on my Cannon DSLR, it always has the kit lens on it even though I have a more interesting and better quality fixed lens
- Lenses are expensive, I can’t afford too many other lenses unless I am will to give change my lifestyle, like give up drinking beer (and that isn’t going to happen any time soon)
- Most of the reviews I read about this camera said they loved that the lens was fixed
- The lens that Fuji paired with the X100s is a great a lens and is perfectly tuned to this camera
The other issue I originally had with this camera is the lack of zoom feature. It is nice to have the flexibility to zoom for a shot. I started to think of how much I enjoyed using my Pentax istDL with a 50mm fixed lens. Sure zoom is nice, but it isn’t required. Plus fixed focal lenses (aka prime lenses) take better shots.
There is a growing trend in cameras to go towards a retro look. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it. The retro look puts a whole new spin on the camera and affects the experience of taking photos. The old-school viewfinder is fun, the controls are all in a logical location and the build quality is what you would expect from a camera from the 70s (good and solid with lots of mechanical switches). This camera is far from retro though. With a large screen on the back and all the things you would expect from a modern digital camera.
I’ve owned the camera for a couple of days now and I love it. I don’t miss the zoom, I don’t want to change the lens and I love shooting photos with this camera. I find that this camera works great in low light situations, like when the sun is setting or inside a dim restaurant. There is something with the way it processes the images that it just rocks.
It is hard to take amazing photos in the middle of a sunny day with any camera, and the X100s is no different, the harsh light makes it hard to take photos and I have found the DSLR slightly more enjoyable taking mid-day photos but the quality of photos is similar.
Autofocus is another area that the DSLR is a bit better. DSLRs use a different technology for autofocus, which is currently better and faster at focusing the lens, but not by that much. The real questions is the impact of the reduced autofocus capability. Anecdotally I would say I loose 3–7% more photos due to out of focus shots with the X100s than my T2i. However, if I shoot the T2i with live view (though the big lcd screen on the back), the X100s is way faster at focusing. There are a couple of neat manual focus features that give you options when autofocus becomes an issue.
This camera rocks in low light. This is where you can see the quality of the lens and sensor. Low light shots taken at ISO 800, 1600 or 3200 look amazing.
The lens also looks great, in all conditions. I love the bokeh you get with it.
The X100s is a great camera and I love using it. The smaller size of the camera means that I will bring it along when I wouldn’t otherwise bring my DSLR. I am looking forward to using this camera in the future.