The Fujifilm X100S from an Olympus micro 4/3 user perspective

Fujifilm X100S

Fujifilm X100S

I just got back from a business trip to California where I shot the Fujifilm X100S for several days. I realized that borrowlenses.com was close to SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and I was able to pop into their facility to borrow the X100S before they closed. A nice option which saved the shipping and handling costs. So here is a report on the camera after using it in San Francisco for 4 days, from a perspective of a Olympus micro 4/3 user.

There is a lot of interest and even hype about the X100S and the interchangeable lens Fuji X cameras lately. I’ve observed this from a distance, researching and playing with them at Precision Camera here in Austin. I’ve got some great results with the small Fuji XF1 that I bought recently so my curiosity for the larger Fuji’s was piqued. As you may also recall, the X100S is the only remaining camera on my watch list.

Here is my disclaimer. 4 days is not a lot of time to get to know a camera, especially one as feature rich as the X100S. I’ll need more time to truly become familiar with the camera. For example, I don’t know if high-performance mode was turned on — I didn’t even know about this mode while using the camera. Would this have affected focusing speed? The online boards seems to give conflicting answers. Despite my novice status with the camera, I was able take loads of great images which really satisfied me. As always, I will sprinkle these photos throughout the post.

Cable Car in front of the St Francis - San Francisco, California

Most of the photos were taking around Market Street, SOMA, Union Square and Chinatown in San Francisco. You will see similar scenes from my review of the Olympus EP-5. You can compare those E-P5 images (with the 17mm lens) to ones from the Fuji X100S — both cameras have a 35mm equivalent focal length.

Performance

Let’s start with focusing speed. Is the Fuji X100S a fast camera? Well, despite the addition of a phase detect focusing system, it’s not. At least compared to the current generation Olympus micro 4/3 cameras. My entry-level Olympus E-PM2 is noticeably faster focusing in all lighting conditions. The newer Olympus E-P5 and OM-D E-M1 are even quicker. I would categorize the X100S focusing speed as mostly adequate. It reminds me a lot of my first Olympus, the E-PL1. In good light the X100S may be faster than the old E-PL1 but certainly not at night.

W Hotel Elevators - San Francisco, California
Fireplace, W Hotel - San Francisco, California

In darker conditions, the X100S switches from phase detect to contrast detect focusing. Several reviews said that this camera was still marginal in the dark. This was what concerned me the most and why I wanted to test the camera. I often shoot indoors or at night so low light focusing was essential. I’m happy to report that for my urban landscape photos, the low light focusing was good, reliable and accurate, though not particularly fast. It’s going to be tough to do high-speed street photography at night, however, for stationary scenes it did a fine job. As reported, the X100S greatly improves focusing speed over its predecessor. I used my friend’s X100 and in low light. I found it completely frustrating. Not so with the X100S.

WOW, Behind the W Hotel - San Francisco, California
Closing Time - San Francisco, California

Operational speed was fine but not snappy. There are slight delays when hitting the preview button and scrolling through photos. In general, there is certain roughness to the operation. Small delays and behaviors to the interface that doesn’t seem refined like the latest generation Olympus. Overall, the camera speed and interface encourages a slower paced, deliberate approach. This is not necessarily a bad thing and it feels in sync with the type of camera this is. The Olympus micro 4/3 cameras are now challenging DSLRs for speed. This Fuji is meant for a different kind of photography.

Porsche in the spot light - San Francisco, California
Checking in at the Four Seasons - San Francisco, California

I enjoy shooting the Olympus more because of its blazing speed and its compact size however the Fuji X100S was fast enough for me. I had to be more careful and think about the shot. And this deliberate approach could be a positive which might improve my photography. There is more of a meditative quality to using this camera.

Just before closing, Apple Store - San Francisco, California
Light Banter in front of the Apple Store - San Francisco, California

Image Quality

The Fuji has a larger APS-C sensor and it certainly shows. ISO 6400 looks great while on the Olympus I shoot at a max of ISO 3200 — so there is a least a 1 stop advantage for the X100S. This however is offset somewhat with the Fuji’s lack of image stabilization. I shot at 1/30 second using the EVF to yield consistently sharp images. If I tried, sometimes 1/15s was possible, but less likely. With the Olympus in-body image stabilization 1/15s, 1/10s or even slower is possible. For non-action shots, this gives the low light advantage to Olympus, despite its smaller sensor.

Backlit Trees - Cupertino, California
Yerba Buena Falls - San Francisco, California

Dynamic range is becoming more important for me. I shoot in HDR to increase dynamic range, but this is a pain to do. Certainly, I would prefer to capture the bright areas and dark shadows without resorting to HDR. Many of the Fuji cameras have a special dynamic range (DR) function that I find intriguing. It seems to work well on my XF1 and this is something I wanted to test with the X100S. I shot these photos with DR400. While not a huge difference, I find Fuji are better than the Olympus. And the Olympus is no slouch. Believe it or not, I find that my Olympus E-PM2 has more dynamic range than my full frame Canon 6D. So that extra Fuji dynamic range boost is a big deal.

Burgers and Pizza - San Francisco, California
The bus ride home - San Francisco, California

Fujifilm along with Olympus are known for their great color. I prefer them over Canon, Nikon and especially Sony. I haven’t decided which I like better. It’s also fun to play with Fuji’s film simulation modes. I never shot film seriously so I can’t tell you how good these simulations are but they do render a different look. I shot most of these photos in Velvia, which is the most saturated simulation. I wouldn’t use it for portraits but I wanted to amp up the colors of the city at night. I still, however, end up tweaking the images in post anyway, even when I shoot in JPEG. I also think Fuji’s auto white balance is superior to Olympus’, especially in complex mixed light.

Holiday Window Decorations - San Francisco, California
Skating in Union Square - San Francisco, California
Holiday Cable Car - San Francisco, California

The Fuji’s seem to shoot brightly, which I like. I found this similar characteristic with both the XF1 and the X100S. Images are not overexposed but they do generally have less contrast and sort of a slightly washed out appearance. In post, I add a bit of contrast which makes them pop nicely. I prefer this to the Sonys, for example, which are too underexposed. I find the Olympus to be in the middle but I still brighten these images in post. The Fujis might be the first system where I more often darken the photos rather than lighten.

Well Lit Garage - San Francisco, California
Enjoying the PS4, Westfield Mall - San Francisco, California

The most amazing thing about Fujifilm is their JPEG engine. I shot these photos in RAW + JPEG. Surprisingly, when I compare the Fuji RAWs vs the Olympus RAWs they look very similar, at least in Aperture 3. The colors are similar and the exposures are similar. Much of the Fuji color, dynamic range expansion and exposure seems to happen in their RAW conversion. And I am hard pressed to duplicate what Fuji does to create their JPEGs, especially how they recover highlights from overexposed areas. With very few exceptions, I prefer the JPEGS over the RAWs. With Olympus as well as Canon and Sony, I prefer to tweak the RAWs.

Bazaar, Chinatown - San Francisco, California
Surrounded by Souvenirs - San Francisco, California

Many people online as well as my friend Mike have said how they love the Fuji JPEGs and that they didn’t need the RAWs. I admit I was skeptical about this but I’m a believer now. Perhaps you can go through a bunch of rigmarole or use special presets to get better results from RAW. But for me, through Aperture, I’m happy with the JPEGs. About the only weakness I’ve seen so far is in the reds. I found that the Fuji JPEG reds tend to be more orange. The underlying RAW generally captures deeper reds but the JPEG conversion seems to mess this up sometimes.

The photo on the left was the JPEG created by the Fuji. Notice that the Hunan sign is a dull orange. The one on the right is the RAW file. The deep red is what the sign originally looked like. The reds are not always affected this badly as you can see from other JPEG examples. I didn’t get to test this but I’m wondering if the in-camera DR400 setting caused this color shift. I often notice that in post processing, reds particularly seem to be susceptible to color changes.

Is it worth using RAWs for certain cases? Perhaps. I don’t do product photography so accurate color is usually not critical. Color for me is a way to express mood and I manipulate color to what I think looks good, whether or not it’s accurate. However, this example above is particularly egregious.

Apartment Entrance, Chinatown - San Francisco, California
Tsingtao, Henry's Hunan - San Francisco, California

Fill Flash

Believe it or not, the ability to do subtle fill flash is important for me. I would use this most often for my family snapshots where I want to capture background details while still maintaining good exposure on my subjects. Typical flash systems produce that over exposed flash look and the background is rendered dark or almost black. There are ways to counteract this by reducing flash output and doing a slow sync. But these are time-consuming and fiddly. Fuji’s Super Intelligent Flash system does this automatically.

Here you can see that that the fill flash has lit the trumpeter on the photo on the right. Without fill, the person looks dark. Notice that even with the flash, the X100S has maintained detail in the background.

The Olympus has a conventional flash system. Intelligent flash is one of the main reasons I am looking at a Fuji camera. However, I really wish the X100S has face detection, this makes the flash system and exposure setting work even better. The Fuji X-E2 has this so hopefully a future firmware update will add this feature. Face Detection is also important when I hand the camera to a novice. Explaining half-press focus and recompose is a pain.

Cable Car Operator - San Francisco, California

The photo of the cable card operator above also used fill flash. However, the flash blended with the ambient light so well that you can barely tell. The flash added some light in the foreground to brighten the operator.

Interface

Using the X100S is entirely different from Olympus, and it’s not just because of the manual, aperture, shutter and exposure compensation dials. However, because I use Fuji XF1 point and shoot, it’s helped me to more quickly understand the X100S interface.

Entering BART - San Francisco, California

Apparently, the previous X100 menu system was a mess but I find the X100S’ menu to be decent. Certainly it’s not as bad as Sony’s NEX interface. There are a lot of thoughtful shortcuts with the X100S that make it a usable camera. I prefer more function buttons and ironically the inexpensive XF1 point and shoot’s interface beats the X100S in a couple of places. But with practice, the X100S interface should be easier than my E-PM2, though not as good as the very configurable OM-D E-M1 flagship.

Build Quality and Appearance

There is a chunkiness and heft to the camera, but in a good way. It’s a well made metal camera and most everything has a quality feel except for perhaps the rear jog dial. It has a wonderful retro, old world appearance that I find very attractive. The Olympus E-P5 has a superior build, but I prefer the look of the X100S. The EVF is not an afterthought or an appendage like with the E-P5.

Conclusion

I’ve always like the way the X100 looked. It had enough quirks and slow focus, however, that I knew it would drive me crazy. The X100S fixes many of these quirks. It makes it an acceptable camera for speed, especially if you want something of a deliberate, contemplative camera. Perhaps for me, it’s a poor man’s Leica. A Leica M is wonderfully constructed but I can never fathom spending $10,000 for it. At $1,300 the Fujifilm X100S is more palatable, even for someone like me that already owns too many cameras.

Hallway, St. Francis - San Francisco, California
Holiday Cable Car - San Francisco, California

I’m really happy with the image quality I’ve gotten. I think it’s a notch above the Olympus. The X100S is not as versatile as an Olympus E-P5 and certainly something like an OM-D E-M1 would run rings around the faux-range finder X100S. However, it’s fun to play with different kinds of cameras and certainly the X100S is very different. It gives me the illusion of a return to a simpler time, in the past, where things were less busy and you bought well made machines that lasted a long time. I know this is only an illusion and the electronics in the Fuji can break or become obsolete as fast as any modern camera.

I’m going to hit the half century mark next year and I’m already shopping for my special birthday gift. The Fujifilm X100S is still on my watch list. Perhaps it’s a sign that my photography is maturing. DSLRs and speed are no longer the most important. Small, elegant and beautiful are beginning to hold more attraction these days.

Warm Glow, Chinatown Restaurant - San Francisco, California
Uniqlo Silhouettes - San Francisco, California
Dahl-Beck Electric Co - San Francisco, California

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37 thoughts on “The Fujifilm X100S from an Olympus micro 4/3 user perspective

  1. I’m really happy with the combo of the PM2 and the P3. I wouldn’t mind another PM2, but until there’s a quantum leap in technology, with the addition of the panny 20, all is well. I work with jpegs too. I know in theory RAW could give me better quality, but if I’m only going to display online and not print, it’s a moot point. And RAW files are so huge I end up deleting them after processing anyway. All it winds up doing is adding more steps to the processing without giving me any advantage I can see. I know a lot of photographers … and our dirty secret is we don’t shoot RAW, but feel slightly guilty about it 🙂

    1. I understand. I shot JPEG only for a while and was hesitant to change but now I shoot RAW most of the times. I shoot JPEG with Fuji XF1 point and shoot. If I got the X100S, I would probably shoot it in JPEG too.

      1. Great write up Andy… I have and enjoy using my Fuji X20 which has the same size sensor as the XF1 but has many of features of the X100s while having a fixed zoom lens 28-112 equivalent. It has same kind of soul as its bigger brother. Great Macro too. I too enjoyed playing with friend’s X100s !

  2. The original X100 was the camera that brought the “mirrorless” concept to my attention. After many researches, I opted for the m4/3 system primarily for the possibility of using my old vintage lenses. What I most value nowadays, is that if I want to take a slow approach to photography I put on a manual focus lens and minimalize the automatism use of the camera (I shot for a year a b/w project exclusively that way), but if I want a more snappy and dynamic shooting I also have the choice of great modern acostaprimes between Oly and Panny. For me, versatility and camera “transparency” are the names of the game.

  3. Nice writeup. I’m more than a little surprised that you enjoyed using the X100S. I’m even more surprised that you preferred the JPGs, especially at night. I’m still using JPGs a good bit but I do use raw more lately since acquiring the VSCO presets. They really make the raw files come to life.

    1. I went back and forth between the X-E2 and the X100S. I like the X100S better for it’s compactness. I like the X-E2 more for its speed. Haven’t made my final decision.

      I’ll have to see how big of an issue the reds are but the JPEGs seem really good. I would have to change my post processing flow to create better images from RAW, I think. But this is something that I will need to play with, if I get the camera.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, especially as a micro 4/3 user. I’m the opposite – using a Fujifilm X100 (along with a nowadays rarely used Nikon D90) and thinking of moving to either micro 4/3 or to the Fujifilm X-E2 or similar. These thoughts kind of confirm what I’ve been worrying – that using micro 4/3 as a full replacement could make me miss my X100, which is also so much faster now with Firmware 2.0. I also know what you’re saying with the more “zen like” photo experience, and after a full year with that, it’s addictive. This camera has grown on to me.

    So, since I still want to move from D90 + X100 to a one-camera solution, the X-E2 may fit the bill best for me. I only wish it would have a swivel LCD for that extra boost of flexibility. There’s the X-M1 for this, but I don’t want to lose the intimacy of an EVF as a cost. I think…

    1. Sonaten,

      Thanks for your visit and comment.

      The OM-D line of Olympus gives you DSLR like speed but with the flexibility of a smaller and lighter mirrorless system. It is going to be a lot faster than the X100, X100S or even the X-E2. There are more lenses so it is more of a complete camera system, at least for now.

      Fuji is going to give you better high ISO performance and possibly better image quality, overall. For travel, documentary type photography, I think the Fuji’s will be excellent. So I guess it will depend on what you want to shoot.

      I still own a full frame Canon 6D. Nice camera but I don’t find it as fun to shoot compared to the Olympus or Fuji.

  5. Great post Andy, in depth and very informative. I Own the X100s and I am still learning the in’s and outs. It is such a cool retro looking beast, easy to carry camera that makes you think and zoom with your feet to compose.I sold my 7D for this camera, for taking it with me when I do not want to carry the Big Rig, and not have a lens selection, and love it. But, as a guy that rarely reads a manual you have given me insight on a few things, so thanks, guess I will have to read the damn manual now…cheers Andy, thanks

    1. Wow, Michael, I didn’t know (or forgot) you owned an X100S. Glad I can help in some way. Yes these mirrorless cameras and the X100S are such as pleasant departure from DSLRs.

  6. Excellent report on the X100S. I bought one last August, mainly because I wanted to try a camera that had been so hyped. At the time I had a 2 body, 6 lens m4/3 kit that I’d built over a couple of years. The X100S has both pleased and frustrated me. It can do a lot, but it really needs the operator to master it. On the other hand it is a wonderful device to handle and, when you get it right, a tremendous image maker. I’ve just completed the sale of all the m4/3 gear. I considered buying an XE-2, and still may, but am holding out for the rumored Fujica-style coming out in January. I love the OVF rangefinder style operation for the 35mm but, being an old film SLR shooter, I prefer the pentaprism style camera for longer lenses. But the X100S is a keeper, it’s really rewarding and pleasing to use.

    1. Alan, thanks for your comment and feedback. Looks like your experience is echoing what I found after several days of use.

      I’ve also considered an X-E2, it seems to be faster than the X100S. However, I seem to like the size, design and feel of the X100S more. Plus I really like the 35mm equivalent f2 lens. The 35mm equivalent f1.4 lens for the X-E2 sounds like it is terrific however, it make the camera a lot bigger than the compact X100S.

  7. Thank you for a balanced and informative review. I have been contemplating to buy the x100s for a while. But the observation that it is as slow to focus as the E-PL1 might change my mind. Because my current camera is the E-PL1 with the original kit zoom. I find this lens + body combo much to slow to focus and the results are erratic when it comes to sharpness at difference focal lengths. I bought the 45 mm. zuiko and really enjoy this lens with my E-PL1 – it does show what the camera can do. So that is my portrait camera needs sorted 🙂 For my next camera I wish for better, faster focusing and a viewfinder. On paper the X100s fit the bill, since it would still be a cheaper alternative to the OMD-5 with a good prime. So I would like to ask you this: comparing focus speed EPL1/X100S – would that be the EPL1 with the original kit lens? If so, what would be your recommendation for a wide prime lens to go with the OMD-5?

    1. mortendurr1, thanks for your visit and comment.

      I have to make it clear that I did no official benchmarks of the focusing speed of the E-PL1 vs. the Fujifilm X100S. I had the Fuji out in California during my business trip and my E-PL1 was at home in Austin, Texas. I mentioned the E-PL1 because it has that kind of focusing speed, in general. The X100S is certainly not as snappy as the newest generation Olympus cameras. BTW, for whatever reason, I find that the Olympus X-E2 is faster than the X100S, though I still think the Olympus is faster than the X-E2.

      If you like the 35mm equivalent focal length, you might consider the Olympus OM-D E-M5, body only, with the Olympus 17mm 1.8 lens. That would be a great combo and you get a built in EVF with 5 axis image stabilization. You will also be able to use your current Olympus lenses. The pricing of the E-M5 + the 17mm in the US. is the same price as the Fuji X100S. I really like that 17mm lens too.

      Keep in mind that high ISO wise, the Fuji has at least a 1 stop advantage. But compared to the E-PL1, either camera will do a lot better. I considered ISO 800 as the limit for the E-PL1 and for the E-M5 I will go up to ISO 3200. For the Fuji 6400.

      The Olympus will be more versatile with a better movie mode, faster focus, flip up LCD screen and many more lenses. The Fuji wins for higher ISO, more dynamic range (with DR400), better auto white balance, maybe better color (depending on your preferences) and the ambient flash blending.

      I hope this information helps.

  8. I have 3 Leica M cameras (M 240, M7 and M3) and also my third Fuji, the X100s (previously owned X-Pro1 and XE-1).

    People need to stop spreading this rumor that the Fuji is the new Leica 😦
    They are completely different in look, weight, ergonomics and most importantly, how you shoot them.

    The Fuji’s are AF cameras closer to the Contax G2 (first mentioned by Ken Rockwell).
    In manual focus mode, they behave differently too.
    Leica’s excel at Zone/Hyperfocal focusing whereas the Fuji’s DO NOT.

    The only similarity is the cosmetic styling of the X00s which is superficially like an M3, but that’s about it…

    1. evilted, Thanks for your feedback and clarifications.

      I understand your point and certainly they are correct. My comparison to the Leica is in the general feel and the high quality compact body. My point is that compared to a DSLR or even a Olympus mirrorless, the deliberate way I shoot is more Leica like. Yes, the Fuji has auto focus and numerous other differences.

      I’m actually familiar enough with the Leica, I have an old M3 and actually on old Contax Rangefinder (not a G2), that I know it is a very different camera than the Fuji X100S.

  9. Good write up on a camera that looks fun to use. I’ve only held it one time and it felt real nice in the hand which to me is the most important factor. I find that these days, it’s the only way I have of differentiating between cameras since all of them do a good job at producing nice files.
    You mention that you find Sony files too underexposed. Sony cameras have a setting called DRO (Dynamic Range Optimiser) which is defaulted to off. They’ve had this in cameras since they bought the rights from Minolta. I find that if this setting is set on, I never need to shoot HDR and the photos look much brighter so I was wondering if your experience was with DRO on or off.

  10. Hi Andy,
    I’ve own the X100s a while now and only recently purchased an Olympus E-PM2 once I became aware of how good that camera is through DxO comparisons with Panasonic GM1.

    I came across an E-PM2 “display set” available for a very reduced price so jumped in and bought it to replace my Samsung EX1 as a travel cam. I typically paired a Oly’ TG-2 with the EX1 for vacation photography when I wanted to travel light. I once took the TG-2 only on a trip to Vietnam last year but found that while useful as a beach/underwater cam I found it lacking for general photography.
    However after running into some issues recently with the EX1 I was looking to upgrade that part of the team. I had also previously used a old girlfriend’s Panasonic GF1 and on a trip to Thailand and was highly impressed with photo quality especially when paired with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.

    Previously I took my Nikon D800 on a trip to New York in 2012. Although I really enjoyed shooting with it and loved the results, when pounding the pavements, carrying that heavy gear, I often felt like I could safely cancel my gym membership! I was packing the camera, plus a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4. Great equipment that never let me down but man was it donkey work hauling them around all day.

    Last year I took my new X100s to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Wuzhen China. The photos were great but the camera itself was not very enjoyable to operate. Maybe it was my familiarity with Nikon (my workhouse previous to the D800 was a D90) but I found the D800 far more fun and mentally automatic to operate. However the X100s won the suitcase spot due to size/weight considerations.

    I have since found that even after a lot of experience the X100s can still be a very frustrating camera to use, mostly due to its shooting interface/controls. But have immediately enjoyed shooting with the Oly’ E-PM2 and look forward to using it on an upcoming trip to New Zealand.

    As I say I’ve only had the E-PM2 a couple weeks but already I’m enjoying its physical tininess and its very good image production. More power to the micro 4/3 system I say! Time to scope out some lens and see what this little beauty can really do 🙂

    I personally don’t think that you’re missing out on much (if anything at all) by going with an E-PM2 based system over an X100s, not only that but I’m happy to join you.

  11. Hi Andy,
    Very nice article and comparison between the Fuji X100S and your Olympus. I shoot with Olympus and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras. The Fuji X-Pro1 and X-T1 and several interchangeable lenses: 14mm, 23, 35mm primes and the18-55 and 55-200 zooms, and the Olympus E-M5 and E-M1 with the Oly 17 and 45/1.8 primes, and the Panny 12-35/2.8 and 35-100/2.8 zooms.

    I find my OM-Ds to be very well built, and very enjoyable to shoot with. They focus fast, are very responsive, and easy to customize to your preferred way of shooting. I call the E-M5 the little dynamo, and the E-M1 is mini-Me version of my Canon 1D MKII N (yes, I have all the pro Canon L stuff, too. I only use it these days when I am trackside shooting professional motorsports racing). My Fuji X-Pro1 and X-T! are is also very well made. The X-Pro1 is very much like using a Leica rangefinder in the field, and the X-T1 is very much like shooting my E-M1, but with the Fuji control interface. I also rented an X100S and used it in conjunction with my X-Pro1 for a full two weeks while on vacation last fall to the Grand Tetons (rented it from the same BorrowLenses store you did!).

    You’re correct that using the Fujis are a bit of a slower, more deliberative photographic experience because you physically have to put your hands on the control rings and knobs to make exposure adjustments. Also, using the rangefinder-like OVF of the X-Pro1 and X100S is also a more deliberative process. I am convinced this is intentional on Fuji’s part; they specifically wanted to get away from the ubiquitous DLSR shooting experience. After over a decade of exclusively using pro Canon gear, where all the controls are literally at your fingertips, I actually found Fuji’s slower, more deliberate way of working very engaging and also more importantly, more fulfilling because it took me back to my roots of learing photography with my completely manual Olympus OM-1. Having to slow down just a bit and really think through what I am doing with capturing an image has both revitalized my passion for, and the quality of, my photography.

    Comparing the the two OM-Ds and the two Fuji X-cams, there are commonalities yet significant differences. Both camera systems deliver excellent performance and image quality that fully meets a professional standard of the highest order. Both lovely color and excellent dynamic range and noise performance at higher ISOs (>1600). If I had a measurement lab, I would say that the Olys feel a little zippier and more responsive to use in a statistical sense, but not in a practical sense. By this I mean, while the Olys are super-responsive, I’ve never missed a shot due to a lack of responsiveness with my Fujis. The X-T1, in particular, is on fully par with the E-M1 for AF performance (actually faster in low ambient light) and overall responsiveness. The X-Pro1, with it’s latest firmware is a couple ticks slower, but not in any way that really matters.

    Regarding the images, I am always impressed with the image quality I get from my OM-Ds. Editing RAW files, the colors are beautiful, they have a lot of headroom for editing and they process beautifully in post. They also convert beautifully to black and whiite. That being said, I find that images from my Fujis to be even better, and the best of any camera I have ever shot with (including the Canon 1Dx). While the Olympus images are truly excellent, the files from my Fujis are the best I’ver ever seen. I continue to be astonished at times, and I’ve been shooting with my X-Pro1 since November 2012. The files, as you have pointed out have better noise performance at higher ISOs, and the dynamic range is also better. Then there is that Fuji color….I don’t know how quite put my finger on it, but there is an “it” quality to the Fuji files that is just magical. And the black and white conversions are stunning.

    In use, I find the EVF of the E-M1 to be a bit better in bright daylight than the X-T1, which can be a bit too contrasty in very bright sunlight. OTOH, the X-T1’s EVF is more accurate with respect to white balance, and in lower light than the E-M1s, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff there. I also find that images from my OM-D more frequently need white balance adjustment, where the Fuji’s Auto White Balance seems to nail it in any lighting situation, even difficult mixed lighting like tungsten and fluorescent.

    As far as the lenses go, I’ve only shot with a small samping of the Panny and Olympus Micro 4/3 mount lenses. I find them, particularly the Panasonics, to be excellent. What I’ve been most impressed with are the Fuji interchangeable lenses…the 14/28, the 23/1.4 and the 18-55 zoom, for example, are outstanding and amongst the finest optics I’ve ever used, bar none. I encourage you sometime to rent an interchangeable lens Fuji and one of the primes, particular either the 14 or 23 and let me know what you think.

    Overall, I have to say that I love both of these systems….they are fun to shoot with, they produce absolutely lovely images, and they just make you wnat to pick them up and get out and generate work.

    1. Stephen, thank you for your detailed writeup. I agree with you about the differences between the Fuji and the Olympus. Since I wrote this post, I bought a X100S and continue to have fun with it. I wish the Fuji’s have more than a 1 stop exposure compensation. That would work great for my HDR work.

  12. Oh, and BTW, if you’re interested in processing Fuji RAW files, pick up a small 3rd party RAW convertor called Iridient Developer. It’s affordable and now works as plug-in within Lightroom. It does a better job of RAW conversion that Lightroom or ACR, especially when shooting fine detail like foliage, grasses, leaves, textiles, hair or animal fur.

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