Athena Carey Photowalk and... a Brief Encounter with Fujifilm X100S

Athena Carey, an IPA (International Photography Awards) Winner 2012 came all the way from Switzerland and joined us at a Photowalk happening near a dam in Ulu Yam, Selangor (about 40 minutes drive away from Kuala Lumpur). Sanjitpaal Singh a friend and amazing photographer, who himself was also an IPA winner last year, was one of the organizers of this event. Fujifilm Malaysia has come in as a co-sponsor, and I was very fortunate to be provided a loaned Fuji X100S to be used to shoot the entire event. All I needed was to bring my own SD card, slotted it inside the beautifully sexy X100S and started snapping away. As I go along this blog entry covering the Athena Carey photowalk, I shall also describe my quick thoughts and initial impressions based on a very brief encounter with the Fujifilm X100S camera. 

Photo Credits, Above: Jason Lioh, Bottom: Ronnie Oh

All images in this entry were taken with Fujifilm X100S, unless otherwise stated. 

1/100sec, F2, ISO400
The lady herself, Athena Carey, IPA 2012 winner. 

1/70sec, F2, ISO400
Sanjitpaal Singh and Athena Carey, with really nice greenery in the background.

1/350sec, F2, ISO400
The banner !!

The participants of the event gathered at Ulu Yam by 2.30pm, and upon registration, everyone received a free T-Shirt sponsored by Smugmug, USA. The attendees were then required to change their shirt to the sponsored Smugmug T-Shirt. Thank goodness the largest size provided can fit me (I do not exactly have a small body). There were close to 40 people who came for this event, and I considered this a rather large photography group outing. Location of shoot being at Ulu Yam, that meant the main shooting interest/subject would be the sceneries and landscape surrounding the area. Weather was not on our side in the afternoon, as it rained prior to the event, and the sky remained ugly white (overcast) throughout the whole event. Nonetheless, that did not dampen our spirit to take out our cameras and work them out, while making new friends and getting to know one another better. In fact, we are all fellow photographers who share the same interests and passion. What better place and time to do so, than in an event having both IPA winners, Athena Carey as well as our very own Sanjitpaal Singh to head the photowalk !! If you were short of motivation to shoot, just chat up with either the charismatic Athena, or the friendly, enthusiastic Sanjit, they both oozed photography inspiration as they spoke and shared their photography knowledge and experience with the crowd. 

I was loaned the Fujifilm X100S with a few purposes that I must fulfill: 1) to cover the event with official photographs to be used in official media prints and 2) to have a blog entry to report this event, with photos taken with that said X100S. This  consequently posed a few challenges for me, as neither have I never used this particular camera before, nor any Fuji cameras at all. Usually I would spend time getting to know the camera better, to familiarize myself with the shortcuts and menu controls, and know at least how to control some of the most basic and important functions on camera. Not being able to do this, it was rather challenging getting the camera on the spot and having to shoot immediately. Therefore, I shot everything in JPEG for convenience sake as I did not know whether Lightroom or Photoshop has already provided support for the X100S, as it is still considered a very new camera. 

Since I was only given 2-3 hours to use the camera, and no additional time thereafter, I will not be doing a full review for this Fujifilm X100S camera. After all, you may find many great review sites out there, such as Steve Huff who is also currently still posting his write-up on the Fuji X100S, and I strongly believe he will be doing a better job, considering he owns the camera, and has plenty of time to shoot with it and get to know the camera better. There is only so much I can do in one location, in a limited time, it is not feasible to do a full review. Hence, I shall share my brief hands-on experience with the Fuji X100S. 

1/160sec, F2, ISO200
Athena Carey brought the T-Shirts sponsored by Smugmug, from USA !

1/240sec, F2, ISO250
Catchy taglines at the back of the Smugmug T-Shirt. Thanks Andy for modelling for me. 

1/180sec, F2, ISO400
Everyone was required to change into that Smugmug T-Shirt.

1/640sec, F2, ISO250
Thankfully the shirt fits well !! It was very comfortable too. 

Fujifilm Malaysia provided their highly popular Instax cameras to be used on the spot to create instant photographs, which were then personally autogtaphed by Athena herself on the spot, and handed out to the participants. 

1/42sec, F4, ISO400
Ronnie and Carol having their autographed Instax photo. 

1/400sec, F2.8, ISO250
In case you are wondering, everyone in the photo (except Athena and her son of course) used Olympus as their main gear. 

Besides me, Fujifilm Malaysia also loaned their latest cameras to Sanjit and Athena. Sanjit got the X-Pro 1 and Athena got the X-E1. Also, their staff were present to shoot around with the Instax cameras, creating instant prints, which were then hand autographed by Athena herself. Kudos to Fujifilm for the effort spent to make things really interesting. 

Basically, everyone was free to shoot anything there. As soon as the briefing conducted by both Sanjit and Athena was done, everyone started to snap away to satisfy their itchy fingers. What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than shooting in the outdoor with a group of photo-crazy buddies?

Since one of my main tasks of the day was to have photographs to cover the event, I spent a great deal of my camera clicks shooting the participants in action, and getting shots that are needed to report this event. However, I did take some time off to shoot stuff for myself, which was not much. I have to admit, having a new camera to play with did get my hands extra itchy, and I was too, curious to test it out as much as I can within the time frame I was given. I started to shoot along the waterfront, some landscape and scenery. Then I decided the landscape shots would lack drama due to the gray, overcast, ugly sky. The view was also clouded with haze, and it appeared somewhat, unappealing. That did not stop me from shooting more, as I looked around me and found some victims to shoot. There were people visiting the place to have picnics, or simply to try their luck fishing from the lake. Those make very vibrant and lively subjects. Yes I did manage to squeeze in one or two close-up tight head-shots, as I always did when I test out cameras or lenses. 

So what are my initial impressions/thoughts on the Fujifilm X100S?

Sexy Looks
I do think the camera looks really, really sexy. The rangefinder-styled camera is beautiful in every single part, and Fuji has won many hearts just by the retro appeal of their latest camera range alone. Some may argue that they tried too hard to replicate the "Leica" feel, but I would differ in opinion. I think Fuji knows strongly that there is a strong market for a smaller sized camera with that professional rangefinder look that screams attention, making a statement that the camera means serious business. 

Back to Basics: Mechanical Controls
I really like the mechanical feeling of the camera, in so many ways. I know this may not all originate from Fujifilm, but having them implemented in this camera is definitely something unusual, yet I find usable and practical at the same time. I like the exposure compensation and shutter speed dials to be fully mechanical, with physical clicks as you turned them to control the desired settings. That mechanical aperture ring around the lens in front of the camera, with marking of aperture value change for each click positively made shooting experience a rather different one. Although this Fujifilm X100S is a fully digital camera, having those manual physical controls on camera for the most basic functions (Aperture ring and shutter speed dial) just made shooting a whole lot more fun. You actually "feel" the settings change with real "clicks", rather than just everything changed from the menu or button pressing. The X100S has got user experience closer to basics, and I think after all the leaps and bounds in technological advancement in digital photography world, going back to square basics has become a strong necessity. 

Balanced Size/Weight, and Good Handling
I love how the camera was sized. There are smaller cameras on the market that are more pocketable, but  expectedly this will have some compromises in shooting comfort, especially not having enough grip for proper handling as well as insufficient weight for steady shooting. There are of course the larger cameras, which are much heftier, and more difficult to lug around. The Fujifilm X100S feels just right, as it hits the right balance of size and weight. I really like how the camera feels on my hands. It felt rather solid, and good. It was also light enough that I do not feel any strain on my wrist, or on my neck as I left it dangling there. 

1/58sec, F2, ISO200
Lonny Chin, who just acquired her new Olympus PEN E-PL5 !!

1/125sec, F2, ISO400
Marcus, and his amazing Fujifilm XS-1

1/56sec, F2, ISO800
Fujifilm fans showing off their gear

Sony, Canon, Nikon, you name it, any camera brand, they were all present in this photowalk. 

1/150sec, F2, ISO400
Camera and action

1/170sec, F4, ISO1250
Sanjit on high ground, doing the briefing before the photowalk commenced

1/340sec, F2, ISO400
Athena in a happy mood!!

1/140sec, F4, ISO1250
The huge crowd who attended this event!

The Autofocus

Now Fujifilm suddenly, out of nowhere made a bold claim that their Fujifilm X100S has the world's fastest AF. That is a very dangerous claim to make, especially in times when all camera manufacturers have pushed their autofocus speed limits in an exponential rate in comparison to what was previously available one to two years ago. While the AF speed of the X100S is fast, definitely much, much faster and improved in comparison to the predecessor X100 (man that machine is SLOOOOW, sorry if I offend anyone, but seriously, the original X100 AF is a turn-off for me), the AF capabilities of the X100S still does not compare to anything from the Panasonic, Olympus or even Sony newer camera offerings. I am not sure how the technical guys in Fuji came up with the speed claims, but usually in practical shooting conditions when not everything is perfect (dark areas, places with less contrast, strong backlit situation, etc), AF may not performed optimally. 
While the Fujifilm X100S may not be the fastest autofocusing camera out there, it evidently is very, very fast indeed, and I would say, sufficiently fast for most shooting needs. 

However, instead of speed, I did encounter some issues of the out of focus images occasionally. I was sure to set the focusing point to the right location, and in rare occurrences, the camera did fail to focus. A quick re-focusing or shifting the focusing point elsewhere instantaneously solved this problem. Out of all the shots I came home with, there was a handful (about 10%) that were not fully accurately focused. I shall not immediately conclude this to be the camera's fault, because me not getting used to the camera's operation was also a factor not to be overlooked. The focusing was fast and reliable enough for demanding shooting conditions,, I also believe it can be improved even further. It is not as snappy and nearly fail-proof as its competitions. 

The 23mm F2 lens (about equivalent 35mm focal length in full frame 35mm format)

I have mentioned a few times before in this blog that 35mm focal length (in 35mm format) is not my favourite focal length, or choice of lens when it comes to general shooting. I often find it being neither here nor there, being not wide enough for wide angle shots, or being too wide for any decent close up shots. At 35mm, perspective distortion can still be a problem, especially when shooting people subjects, and the problem exaggerates as you go closer for tighter framing. I wish Fuji includes a zoomable lens, but that would take away the important characteristic that many people who originally loved the X100 for. After all, it was just me (a very rare few) who disliked the 35mm focal length, where most other photographers, especially the old school folks would live and die by their 35mm lenses. 

I find the lens to be a good match to the camera, with very well control against technical imperfections. The chromatic abberation was almost non-existent, and can only be seen if you zoomed in the image at 100%, with very minimal traces. I saw no corner softness (not to my eyes at least) or vignetting problems, even if they did exist, they should not pose any real issues, unless you are really that kind of picky photographer. I find the lens to be generally very sharp, but shooting wide open at F2, it was evident that the lens was rather soft to begin with (I have a few examples in this blog with 100% crops to show the softness). Stopping down to F4 or F5.6, you achieve the optimum sharpness. I somehow did wish Fuji included an F1.4 lens, or at least an F1.7 lens, instead of a modest F2 lens. Having an F1.4 lens will open two important possibilities: ability to shoot better in low light conditions, as well as generating better background blur (shallower depth of field). 

1/500sec, F2, ISO200
Athena's loaned Fuji X-E1 with Xume Adapter attached. If you want to know more about Xume adapters, do visit their website here (click). The winner of the photo contest held for this photowalk will receive a Xume Adapter !

Athena doing some demonstration on how the Xume adapters work, as well as sharing some landscape shooting tips and tricks with participants. 

1/150sec, F2.8, ISO250
Ok here comes my ermm... headshot portrait. 35mm focal length is not the ideal coverage for this tight shots, but hey, lets complain less and just shoot more. 
Image Sample 1

100% Crop from Image Sample 1
Shooting nearly wide open, at F2.8, it was not as sharp as I have hoped for. 

1/150sec, F2, ISO250
Image Sample 2
Instax camera love

100% Crop from Image Sample 2
I can see myself in the reflection !!

1/250sec, F2.8, ISO200
Backlit leaf

1/45sec, F4, ISO200
They can climb
Image Sample 3

100% crop from Image Sample 3

Image Output

I did not have enough opportunity to torture the camera, especially shooting in less favorable conditions, eg low light with high ISO settings. Nonetheless, in my brief hands on encounter with the X100S, I can see how this camera has gained such high acclaim when it comes to great color output, and good JPEG engine. I shot everything in JPEG, with Fine setting, and NR set to the lowest setting (if I remember correctly, it was -2). The dynamic range control of the sensor was quite remarkable too, retaining good amount of detail from both highlight and shadow regions. There were further in camera settings to optimize the highlight retention as well as shadow details, but I did not explore further into that (would have made things too complicated). Ultimately, shooting RAW would give you the best flexibility and ample headroom to squeeze out even more details. Generally, I like the overall color balance, very natural and pleasing skin tones (very close to Olympus' rendition, if you ask me) and I must say in an overcast weather condition, the Fujifilm X100S still managed to make the images look lively, which is a great thing. 

Battery Life

The battery died too quickly !! I only managed to shoot about 250 shots and the battery just, suddenly, flat-lined on me. At 200 shots, it still showed 3 bars (full) so I was confident the camera can at least last me through the event. I was not provided a spare battery. But as I was shooting on and on suddenly I saw the red battery indicator blinking, and just a few more shots after that, it died, just like that, with not sufficient warning. Thankfully Marcus' Fujifilm XS-1 shares the same battery as this X100S, and he was kind enough to offer me his battery for me to cover the rest of the event. To ALL camera manufacturers (not just Fuji and Olympus, yes you Olympus too) battery life is IMPORTANT. I cannot just have 200-300 shots and a flat battery. I know it may have to make the camera slightly bulkier, but it is ok, if you can double up the battery life in a single charge to at least 500-600 shots !! A single DSLR battery even for an entry level can last easily up to 1000 shots, I see no reason why these newer mirrorless cameras which you intend to push out hard, cannot match in terms of battery endurance. It is frustrating having to use 4-5 batteries for a full day event, and even more troublesome having to have multiple chargers to charge up all the batteries for the coming day. No, 200-300 shots are NOT enough. We take THOUSANDS of shots per day. And that is the minimum. 

Final Thoughts on the Camera

Fujifilm X100S checks the right boxes for many photography enthusiasts, as well as professional photographers who look into smaller camera solutions. What is there not to like? That gorgeous, sexy appeal  by itself is enough for most people to whip out their credit card. The improved autofocusing capabilities over the predecessor was a much welcomed upgrade. Also, the operation of the camera in general, including menu navigation, shot to shot delay and responsiveness of the camera have been greatly enhanced. My friend, Nick Wade made a very logical commentary which I did agree with strongly, while this X100S may not be anything revolutionary in comparison to the older X100, but the X100S is the camera that the old X100 should have been. All the flaws and issues from the X100 have been addressed, and fixed in the X100S. 

I apologize for not being able to perform a full review for the X100S. I don't think any sane photographers would dare to make a review based on just 2-3 hours usage of the camera. I need to test the camera in different shooting conditions (street shooting, low light shooting, close up shooting, different locations, etc). Therefore, I won't be able to answer many questions, as I have not tried half of the features (the dynamic range optimizing setting, improved manual focusing control, the experience of using the electronic hybrid viewfinder, the high ISO performance, built in ND filter, and many, many more useful and important features in the camera I might not even know of).

1/600sec, F5.6, ISO500

1/450sec, F5.6, ISO200
Hazy horizon

1/420sec, F2, ISO200
Ice Cream

1/180sec, F2, ISO250

1/350sec, F2, ISO200
Sanjit !!

1/340sec, F2, ISO200
At the end of the event, everyone gets a free goodie bag from Fujifilm Malaysia. Yippie !!

1/220sec, F2, ISO200
What better person to give it away, than Athena, the celebrity herself!!

I have enjoyed myself tremendously throughout this event. It was an honor meeting Athena Carey, and being just next to her, I felt even more inspired to shoot and shoot better photographs. Her down to earth personality was something I admire, and she was generous in sharing her tips and tricks. I remembered her saying "we always start off with Rule of Thirds for composition, but as we move along we always break it, and that is when things get even better". How true, and how applicable that can be for my own shooting, because I still see myself always being restricted to Rule of Thirds when it comes to my usual composition. There is much to learn, and much more to improve on. I think that is the fun part about photography, the journey never ends. 

It was also fun meeting so many new people, and getting to know such a vibrant and lively group of Malaysian photographers. There is a whole wide world out there, and I have told myself not to restrict myself in just a small group of people. I need to get out more and explore the world, and that means meeting more beautiful people. 

1/60sec, F5.6, ISO800
Final Group Photo

It was a success, and everyone had a great time (especially me!!). Lets hope there will be even better future photography photo-walk or events!!

Special thanks to the following sponsors who contributed and supported this event:
XUME Quick Release Adapters -
Fujifilm Malaysia -


  1. Finally meeting the femes Robin Wong in person :D

    Darn, I missed out the goodie bag.
    Everyone was gone after I ventured off to the stream... lolz


    1. Hey Photogmao,
      Me not famous la aiyoyo...
      I also missed the goodie bag, so that is two of us !!

  2. Robin, good job on the review, you almost said it all.

    1. Its not a review Kelvin, just an initial impression. Can't do much with very limited time.

  3. "No, 200-300 shots are NOT enough. We take THOUSANDS of shots per day."

    Just take more batteries. I bought two extra batteries for my OM-D as a single battery doesn't run a whole day for me and I need a third one for the other one to charge the next day (or night) while I'm out again.

    Mirrorless cameras (fixed lens or not) eat more battery than DSLRs. My E-5 lasts days without replacing the battery.

    On the other hand, why does anyone shoot thousands of shots a day?! When I take a film camera out, I struggle to fill more than three or four rolls and I usually end up with more and stronger keepers than when clicking at everything in burst mode with the digital camera.

    1. Tobias,
      On an event coverage, the sample list of things to photograph:
      1) guest arrivals
      2) details - flowers, logos, forms, t-shirts, official banners, people interacting with those subjects, etc
      3) VIPs, interacting with people, and their own portraits
      4) Important activities of the day: before, during and after each activity must be all well documents
      5) Expressions: laughters, hugs, smiles, reactions
      6) Location: wide coverage of the sense of place, front back center top bottom anywhere
      7) plenty of "insurance" shots. You do not take just a single shot of a flower. You take it from multiple angles: low, top, direct, close up, step out further: key word here: VARIETY and CHOICES

      When you need to burst, you burst. For example in a wedding, when the bride tosses her flower, are you sure you can just have one single click?

      I have elaborated further on this subject in my previous blog entry here:

    2. On another note, that blog entry was my polite attempt in describing "why I do not shoot film". I did a follow up entry on that which I took down, because some people just could not understand why film will never work for ALL my practical shooting.

  4. Great photos Robin. The light was beautiful that day.

    1. Thanks Ian !! The light was too flat for good landscape shoot, but perfect for portraits !!

  5. its a nice event..good review on d gear..nice pic as usual..good job robin..never bored when read ur blog..
    *hadi nik*

  6. Once again a very fine and honest review (given the short notice to use this gear) and wonderful event coverage! However, may I make one comment? To describe camera gear (or mutual funds or whatever) as "sexy" or "very, very sexy" or any variant thereof is quite frankly rather trite. Modern journalism has gone this route and in a sense debased and trivialized the intimacy of sexuality. I'm no prude and I honestly feel that such metaphorical miscomparisons not only smear a basic human (and all species') evolutionary function but also make one's journalism rather copy-catish and thus lacking in polish.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Nonetheless, this is not exactly a "journalism" site, or anywhere close to it. The tone of my writing is very casual, and bordering to "personal conversations", hence describing an object sexy is an exaggeration fitting for such a blog format. It is after all, an honest choice of word, which did represent how I felt when I saw the camera. It may not be the best appropriate way to write about a camera, but then again, there is really nothing that "official" about this blog in the first place.

    2. To each his/her own. Regardless of your writing style, I honestly find your photos top-notch. As is your fair and realistic critiques of gear. Keep up the good work! It is appreciated.

  7. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for bringing us your initial impression on the x100s... It was sure very entertaining to read and to look at the pictures. There is much hype surrounding the x100s right now but you have answered some of my questions through this blog. The only thing that will make me not buy this camera is that it is not interchangeable lens camera... and for this price I'd rather get an omd + a 45mm f1.8 lens or other convenient prime... Nevertheless, I really like the colour of the x100s and its general rendering through this blog.

    1. Hey Johan,
      Thanks for the compliments. I too agree with you on the interchangeable lens part. I somehow feel that it is a necessity, as I dabbled with different genres of photography where specific lenses are required to make or break the shot.

  8. You did well in the limited time you had. Of all the cameras out there, the X series are the most challenging to learn quickly and to get the best out of. I loved the few months I had with the X100, but the AF and all the quirks eventually wore me down.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Wataru. It was not easy getting to know the camera in a short time. Nonetheless, I do like that the X100S forced me to go back to basics (all the important functions are analogue dials or rings).
      They have improved the AF significantly!

    2. Robin would you say the AF is as fast as the OMD?

    3. Nope, OM-D is miles ahead.

    4. Nice write up and photos. Some sites make it sound as if the X100s is "the" one camera. So looks like in terms of focus speed and flexibility, a m4/3 is still a better choice

  9. Looks like you had a great time. Got my hands on the 100s yesterday. I think there's now finally a camera that would allow me to shoot jpegs. The lens local length is also good for what I like to do. I've put off my plans to buy another m4/3 body because of the new improved Fuji. I had used the original. Painful even for me, and I don't mind camera deficiencies that much. I'm an original Kodak SLR/n user, so I know SLOW!

    1. Aahhh that Kodak SLR/n, so many good things people say about it, yet it has its own issues!!

  10. nice write up Robin... you are true blogger bro...keep it up....

    1. Thanks Jai, and it was great seeing you again!!!

  11. Hi Robin,

    Wonderful write up. Love the Fuji skin tones almost as good as Olympus if not better. Did you shoot JPEG or RAW? Images are very sharp and clean. It does not matter what kind of camera you use y ou truly are an excellent photographer indeed!!! Congrats mate!

    Eric V
    Edmonton Alberta Canada

    1. Hey Eric
      Thanks for the kind words. I shot everything in jpeg only, for convenience sake. If I was given more time I don't mind shooting RAW

  12. Wow, you all had lots of fun! Wish I could have joined! Maybe next time

  13. Hello Robin,

    it really looks like you had some good time there... I really wouldnt mind to get an X100s loaned myself ;)
    By the way, I like the fact, that you have added exif data to the pictures, I always find the imteresting to see. Maybe you can ad them also on your future posts.

    Greetings from Germany

    1. Hello Stefan,
      Yes I had a lot of fun with the camera !!
      I only provide exif data for review or camera-gear oriented blog entries. It gets very tiring having to key in the data one by one for each photograph, you have no idea how much time I have spent doing this.
      Alternatively, you may download an "exif viewer" plug-in or extension for your Internet Browser, as I have left all exif data intact for my photos.

    2. Hi Robin,

      thank you for this hint, I will try to find such a plug-in ;)

      Have a nice day.

    3. No worries Stefan, I am sure you can find it !!

  14. Is... Is... Is that... that my photo on Robin Wong's blog? *gasp*

    1. I have used dozens and dozens of your photos here lah !

  15. Nice write up Robin. I am not even sure I met you yesterday (bad memory), and even if I did it wouldn't have crossed my mind you are *the* Robin Wong! I have read your blogs on Olympus gears before and think you take really excellent street photography. perhaps another photo walk, i will make sure i have a chat with you. :)

    1. Hello Joshua,
      Thanks for the kind words !! No worries, I am sure we will meet again, and yes, please do say hi!! Hope to catch up and shoot together some time.

  16. Thank you very much with the review Robin!!From the picture of X100s, I do feels that Olympus color are more towards my liking. That's tells me why do you said so on your previous post! Now I don't have to compare side by side with Fuji color anymore. Thumbs up!!

    1. Hey Ashraf, my pleasure to share my thoughts and thanks for the kind words.
      I personally prefer Olympus colors too, but lets keep that to ourselves, or there will be bloodshed with Fuji hardcore fans!!

  17. Fuji seems to have a winner on their hands, here. I'm dying to give one a try :). One feature I really like compared to my OM-D is the built in ND. I find lots of outdoor situations when I can't shoot wide open due to the 1/4000s shutter, ISO 200 combo. The ND would be great for both wide aperture but video too. One can carry filters, of course, but with different thread sizes it takes away from a compact kit.

    Looks like a fun day was had by all!

    1. Hey Brad,
      Agreed, I would love to see built in ND for Olympus as well, and they have it in their XZ-2, the flagship compact camera, why not on the micro 4/3? Surely it is not difficult, just some programming tweaks.

    2. Funny - I was sort of 'jealous' of the ND as today I was trying to get shots of my kids playing in full sun and found I couldn't shoot wider than f/3.2 without blowing highlights on the histogram. I decided to push it and shot some wide open at 1/4000s, and while they looked high key on the LCD they were great in Lightroom with the exposure slider pulled down almost two stops. So it seems the OMD has a lot of headroom, or the meter tends to underexposure. I already have my OMD set to push exposure up by a third stop in the custom settings, too! So maybe an ND isn't so critical for me after all, at least for photos...

    3. Hey Brad,
      Indeed, the Olympus OM-D E-M5's RAW files have plenty of flexibility, and surely you will have enough headroom to recover sufficient details in the otherwise blown out highlight region. It is of course, not a necessity (if we really need we would get physical real filters to put in front of the lens) but having the digital ND as an option is definitely a welcome.

  18. Hi robin !! just like youre work ... :)

    i just wanna ask something coz u had shot 3 cameras that really tag my intentions,
    the sony, fuji, and olympus ...
    the question is, which one do u prefer the color rendition about the 3 camera?
    for the jpeg file, specially the skin tone, not to be accurate, but produce really nice skin tone,
    thank so much for the answer ... :D cheers ...

    1. Hey Denie,
      Olympus wins. No contest here. However that is my opinion, and others may think differently. Fuji comes second. I am not too sure about Sony's latest cameras, I am using a 5 years old DSLR, so a comparison is not fair to be made here.

    2. thx robin, i cant agree more ... :)
      i had try my friend nex 5n, great high iso, nice dynamic range, but still u have shot RAW for best result and that not suit me, i dont really like sit hours just for tweaking foto that i take, i just love shot more ... :)(and i shot jpeg
      ) and i find something really bother me, the sony color, specially skin tone, it like the skin are burn ... i just wondering, it's the camera setting goes wrong, or other sony nex default just like this ... ?

      but now i had e-pl5 (thx for the review robin :) ) plus the gorgeous 20mm f1.7 ... damn i love this settings ...

    3. Hey Denie,
      that is a very handsome combination indeed !! Glad you liked it, and the colors from Olympus are amazing !

  19. photos above were shot in what film simulation? astia or provia?

  20. Nice overview of your experiences with this camera, Robin. Quite interesting, too. That lens is not the sharpest wide-open, but I still like the rendering. Stopped a bit down I think it's tack-sharp. And man, at ISO 1250 that machine is less noisy than my Jurassic D80. Amazing sensor. And its design is downright gorgeous. I also loved the shots you made. Very good writeup, thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Hey Andre,
      Thanks for the kind words !!Yes the lens is very sharp when you stop down to F4-5.6. While I agree that the high ISO shot looks amazing, DXOmark site also reported that Fuji has exaggerated their ISO sensitivity by a large margin. The ISO1250 may probably be only ISO640 to ISO800 in actual comparison to most other cameras, hence the pseudo-appearance of "less noise" for high ISO shots. In a way it can be viewed as cheating! Seems like there is no magic APS-C sensor to closely match full frame capabilities just yet.

  21. Viewing from my phone, the photos do have a Fuji film look from my days of Fuji transparency film. Did you set any profile?

    Wish I was there. The 35mm lens isn't your style I know. It's not for single person head shots at all unless you want to exaggerate the head. But it's classic Leica street shoot for 3 people with room for context from the environment. Why didn't they lend you the X20?

    Looks like you had fun and that's what counts.

    1. Hello Ananda,
      I did not set to any profile, it was left to default (I can't even remember what that was, but I did check all settings).
      Yes, I did have a lot of fun. Although the 35mm lens is not my favourite, but I can see why people love it and regard it as an important focal length. Having a 28mm would render everything forced to be wide angle, while anything longer than 35mm would have been too tight. It is a logical choice, for a single focal length fixed on a camera like the X100S.

    2. My late lamented Olympus 35 SPn that I bought with pocket money circa Form 5 or Taylors College had a 42mm lens. The Panasonic 20mm (I call it "The Luke") on my mft is 40. I think the 35mm is a landmark and very useful for travel photos as a single fixed lens but it's not easy to sell as the only focal length - so in some cases, manufacturers split the difference between 35 and 50 and arrived at 40-45. How's that for trying to please everyone. :)

    3. I think things are different these days. Why stay with one focal length when we can have more than one lenses? Oh wait... that X100S has non-interchangeable lens...... aaahhh

  22. Hi Robin,
    Thank you for the short review/opinion. Great story.
    I like the sound of this camera, however I think I would use this camera (and a 35mm lens) solely for landscapes. For landscapes though I prefer the 12mm (24mm equiv) much more. In matter of fact, that's my favorite FOV (although I admit, I haven't tried anything wider i.e a 7mm or a 9mm).
    I have been looking for a lens to sit between my 12mm and the 45mm (m4/3 format), and I think 25mm would fit me much more (than 17.5).
    SO the question for next Christmas is, PanaLeica 25mm f1.4 or Voigtlander 25mm f0.95. I am leaning towards the PanaLeica :)
    I know you said, and I completely agree with you - there is not enough time for reviews. It takes huge amount of time actually to do and write a proper review.
    However, if ever you have the chance, could you review the PanaLeica for us? Would be very curious to see the pictures you produce with it :)

    Many thanks, looking forward to see some Aussie pictures from you :)

    1. hello JE,
      Thanks for the kind words. Yes focal length is a very personal thing, everyone has different preferences. If I were to choose between the Pana Leica or Voightander, I would go for the Pana Leica manly because it has autofocus !! To me AF is very important and there is only so much you can do with manual focus.

      Yes I am looking forward to the trip to Australia !! Can't wait !!

  23. Hello Robin, as it's my first comment here, first I'd like to say that I enjoy your blog immensely!

    I've got one question considering shots from above post: did you in any way post processed Fuji X100S?? Especially in terms of colour/balance/exposure.
    If not, then I'm in love. Was looking for second camera to accompany my good, old E-30. I was considering X100S and now it seems very good option even more.

    Great post!

    Best regards,

    1. The images were almost straight out of camera, with minimal post processing, mainly exposure balancing (some images were under-exposed).

      E-30's image quality is still better in my opinion.

  24. Thank you very much for you answer.
    Of course I love my E-30, however I'm thinking about second smaller and simplier camera with good image quality.
    Have something to think about then.

    Thanks again for answering my question! :)

    Best regards,

    1. For the price range, I am sure the Olympus OM-D or the E-PL5 would do a much better job. You can interchange lens!

    2. That's the point!
      Surely you're 100% right about OM-D and E-PL5, but if you'd like to have some nice prime lenses with them, then the pricing is not that nice anymore. and for that I'll stick with my E-30 for now.
      I adore the simplicity of having fixed lens camera with nice image quality. Something to always carry with you around and just taking pictures instead of thinking about lenses, numbers and such.
      Anyway it's not decission to take right now or anytime soon, so I have plenty of time to change my mind ;)

      Thanks for sharing your opinion on that topic.
      Best regards

  25. Great overview that is pretty accurate. I’ve had my x100s now for about 4 weeks, and as a previous x100 user, this is a real step up in image quality, iso range, AF, manual AF and ease of use. I have a Canon dslr that gives great images with right lenses, and in some circumstances it is better than the x100s. That’s the 60d with primes. But, for an all day multiple use camera with outstanding image quality, the x100s is very hard to beat. I havent tried the RX1 yet but plan too soon, although the price is right up there. I’ve been blogging about it recently at my blog click here to see… if anyone is interested. I’ve posted many different pictures and even a high speed sync flash setup that works up to 1/4000th of a second. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Good job Robin. I love the fact that you shoot lots of portraits at f/2 to show off the bokeh and the lens' sharpness. Many review web sites mainly shows picture samples taken from boring studio charts, unflattering subjects, etc. at small aperture like f/4-8 which IMO are useless as they don't prove anything. Anyway, how do you compare this lens with other Micro 4/3 you have experienced with? For me, mainly shooting with Canon 5D2, this lens' IQ is very close to Canon prime lens 35mm f/1.4 just from the photos.

    I know you didn't have time to play with flash. Do you shoot with on/off camera flash at high speed w/ wide open aperture? Will you intend to do that when you're going to have another chance? If you do, please compare your experience with x100s v/s OM-D?


  27. Good write up Robin. I'm trying to decide between this camera and the Olympus Pen E-P5 that is coming out in June. I'm curious how you heard much about that camera and if so, how would you compare it to the x100s?


  28. Brilliant write-up :-)

    Love the photos too - I want a X100s!!!