Fujifilm X100S Fixed Lens Camera Debuts, Adding High-Speed Autofocus And Better Low-Light Performance

Fujifilm unveiled its latest camera today just ahead of the official start of CES, via a press release on its website. The new X100S is a successor to Fujifilm’s well-received X100, the fixed prime lens premium compact camera that won lots of accolades from critics, but was consistently dinged for sub-par autofocus performance. The X100S boasts faster autofocus, according to Fujifilm, thanks to phase detection tech on the new X-Trans CMOS II sensor it uses.

In fact, Fujifilm claims that the X100S can even claim the title of “the world’s fastest AF,” achieving a lock in as little as 0.08 seconds, depending on conditions. Other improvements also boost the overall speed with which a photographer using the X100S can start snapping pics; the EXR Processor II means the camera starts up in just 0.5 seconds, and can shoot at 0.5 second intervals with a shutter lag time of just 0.01 seconds. There’s Focus Peak Highlighting, which some users may recognize from Sony cameras, which overlays a border on the areas in the electronic viewfinder where the image is in focus, and a new digital split image feature which shows image side-by-side to aid in manual focusing, which Fujifilm says is very handy when shooting wide open, or at close-up subjects.

Another benefit of the new X-Trans II and EXR Processor II, both of which are upgrades over the previous versions included in the X100, is that these are said to be able to reduce noise by more than 30 percent versus the X100. The 16.3 megapixel X100 was said to be able to outshoot even some full-frame DSLR competitors in low-light when it arrived, and the X100S, which retains the same 16.3 megapixel resolution as the previous version, should be able to make similar claims based on these performance improvements. It can also manage burst mode at 6fps at full resolution.

The X100 was one of the most tempting cameras I’ve ever laid hands on as a photographer, but the AF limitations were what ultimately stopped me picking one up. Fujifilm doesn’t mention price or street date in its release for the X100S, but if the AF is as good as advertised, and it improves on already excellent low-light performance, this should be well worth whatever Fujifilm is asking, especially if it’s in the same ballpark as the X100. Hopefully we’ll get our chance to go hands-on this week at CES 2013.