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Fujifilm X100S : Macro Mode

Even after two months of daily shooting with the Fujifilm X100S, the camera still manages to surprise and impress us with its capabilities. Most readers know by now that, instead of our DSLRs, the X100S is the camera we grab when we head out. But what about when we want to do some macro work in the studio or around the RainyDayGarden? Should we set up the bellows rig or can we get by with the Macro mode on the X100S?

Access to the Fujifilm X100S’ Macro setting is quick and simple. There is a dedicated spot on the jog dial on the right for toggling between the “Normal” and “Macro” setting. When active, an icon in the upper left of the screen serves as a reminder that the camera is in “Macro” mode. According to Fujifilm, the X100S can get as close as 3.9 inches (10cm) that mode. In practice, we just move the camera back and forth until the autofocus gets a positive lock.

We shot images under a variety of conditions to get a sense of how the lens/sensor combo would respond. All of the images were taken using the following settings:

  • Full Auto (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance)
  • JPEG Large : (3:2) 4896 x 3264
  • No Flash

So just how good were the images from the Fujinon 23mm single focal length lens? The short answer is pretty freakin’ phenomenal.

We started off shooting some things around the RainyDayKitchen (oyster mushroom caps, asparagus spears, pie) to get comfortable with focusing, composition, and other mechanics of using the camera in this mode. We found it easier to use the LCD to frame the shots than with the viewfinder.

When shooting close up, lighting is probably one of the most important contributing factors to image quality. Bright diffused light is the best for getting quality macro shots. For outdoors, that means bright but slightly overcast days, with a minimal of shadows. The past couple of months were challenging due to the large number of rainy days, but we did managed to sneak out during the breaks in the weather and grab some shots.

Flowers make for great macro subjects. They don’t move and are colorful at any magnification. When properly lit, even the most subtle of details can be revealed. We found the X100S to be quite capable in capturing all of the colors, bright or subtle, of the various blooms in the garden.

What we were particularly impressed with was the level of detail captured in some of the images. We found things in some of them that we didn’t see when composing the shots. A few of them are shown here cropped at 100% (flyants).

The mason bees were active one morning, so we decided to fire off a few shots to see how the camera would do with a more active subject. We set the camera in Full Auto mode, on the Macro setting, and with Auto Focus on. The images we got REALLY surprised us. Not only were they crisp and clear, but they were taken WITHOUT a tripod. In other words, all we had to do was walk up to the bees and press the shutter button! Total elapsed time: 90 seconds from “camera-on” to “images on the monitor.”

Encouraged by our results with the mason bees, we continued with the insect photo shoot and went in search of other small inhabitants (spidermothgrasshopper) of the RainyDayGarden. The results completely blew us away. We captured details which we would be hard pressed to achieve in a controlled studio environment, let alone just in-the-wild with a point-and-shoot. Fantastic!!!

In the series above, we wanted to give a readers a sense of the field of view and the incredible detail in the images. So we showed both the resized full image (above) and the insect cropped at 100% (below). We have also included one full size version of the moth below (4.5MB) for those interested in check out the details in the other parts of the image.

We are sure we will start bumping up against the limitations of the Fujifilm X100S at some point, but for many typical and even some atypical shooting situations, we have been more than pleased with the results from this well-crafted instrument. Yes, we are POTENTIALLY giving up some flexibility with a fixed-lens camera, but so far, we have not missed the realities of lugging around a bag of lenses and a big DSLR “in the wild!” We will have more on the Fujifilm X100S next month.

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