Fujifilm X100s… and what it means for the X-E1’s future!

Fuji just announced yesterday, at the CES show in Las Vegas, the launch of the new X100s, designed as an upgrade from the 2-year old X100. A lot of the improvements that Fuji incorporated into the X100s were a direct response to legit criticisms by the X100 users, so it is good to see that Fuji is paying attention to the feedbacks from the community.

I am not going to go here into the details of the specs of this new X100s, as some specialized websites will do that in a much better way than me. Also, I am not planning on buying one myself: i am already using the Nikon D800 and Fujifilm X-E1 (check my review here) as my favorite cameras tag team, so the last thing I need is to spend more money on a new camera. In fact, what I am more interested in is to know which of the improvements of the X100s might be brought to the X-E1 (and X-Pro1), maybe via a firmware update. Unfortunately, Fujifilm has so far remained tight-lipped about sharing any of the refinements of the X100s with the other X-series cameras, which might be a bad sign.

Faster AF with newl methods for manual focus?

Right off the bat, there is an important hardware difference between the X100s and the other X-series cameras: it sports an hybrid AF system, with both contrast and on-sensor phase detection. Thanks to this hybrid system, the X100s should have a greatly improved auto-focus, a domain where its predecessor proved weak. The other X-series camera don’t have those pixels on the sensor dedicated to phase detection, and therefore will not be able to benefit from the supposed faster autofocus performance of the X100s. That also means that it will not be possible to use the “digital split image” manual focusing method on the X-E1 and X-Pro1, as it relies on phase detection. So this will be something for the X-E2 and X-Pro2 (in 2014?)…

On the other hand, I would expect the focus peaking method to be something that Fuji could bring to the X-E1. I would be quite happy if Fuji did it, but in the same time it would not be a game changer for me either.

Better implementation of the Auto-ISO feature

On the X100s, with the Auto-ISO feature you can set your maximum ISO (no suprise there), but, unlike on the X-E1 you can also set the slowest shutter speed that you are ready to use. Setting both these values is the whole point of having Auto-ISO, but for an unknown reason Fuji forgot about the shutter speed part on the X-E1, making the feature totally useless (in my opinion). So please Fuji, bring this correction to the X-E1 ASAP!!! I can see myself using the function most of the time if it can get fixed this way.

More video capabilities

The X100s offers 1080p video at 60/30fps, while the X-E1’s Full HD capability is limited to a single video mode (1080p at 24fps). The bit-rate of the video on the X100s is also said to be higher for better image quality, but to be honest as a still shooter primarily I will not miss those upgraded features on my X-E1.

On the other hand, the big problem with the video mode of the X-E1 is that you lose access to most of the camera controls once you have selected it in the DRIVE menu. For example, you have to go back to still mode if you want to change your ISO, and then back to video mode… Also, once you have started to film, you can’t change your aperture value anymore. Those quircks have been fixed with the X100s, and I expect that Fuji will bring those improvements to the X-E1 in a future firmware update.

For those more interested in the X100s than in the future of the X-E1

I should be able to put my hands on a real X100s at the upcoming CP+ photo show that will be held in Yokohama in less than a month. That being said, I don’t expect Fuji to provide any official comment regarding a future firmware update with some of the features mentioned above at this occasion… Meanwhile, here are few links for those more interested in the X100s itself.

Here is a link to the X100s dedicated website.

Here is the presentation video by Fujifilm:

And here is a hands-on video by “the Fuji Guys”, including a live demonstration of “digital image split” focusing, as well as focus peak highlight:

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