The Fuji X100 has been out for a while now, and I have owned mine for around 3 months. There are reviews everywhere on the Internet, so rather than post a full review with a spec-list, I’m going to give my impressions of the camera. I will talk about the real life benefits and drawbacks of the X100, and give you my tips/tricks to get the most out of the camera.
And of course, I will have full-size downloads available for you to check the image quality at a variety of settings.
Introducing the Fuji X100
What is the Fuji X100?
The Fuji X100 is a 12.1mp APS-C sensor mirrorless camera with a fixed 23mm f2 Fujinon lens. This emulates the classic, highly-desirable 35mm focal length as it would be on a full frame or 35mm film camera. Personally, I consider 35mm (on full frame) to be the most versatile focal length – wide enough for most things including architecture and landscapes, but also long enough to take attractive portraits. Therefore the Fuji X100 with a 23mm lens on APS-C sensor is my ideal focal length for a prime lens.
The Fuji “system”
At the moment, the Fuji X100 is an unusual camera when compared to other mirrorless offerings by Nikon (1 series), Sony (NEX), Olympus (EP series) and etc. Those other cameras each belong to a whole system of lenses, accessories and different bodies, but the Fuji X100 is standalone device. That means that there is no issue of “investing” in a whole mirrorless system and committing to that manufacturer. All of the other mirrorless systems have issues – the NEX has a very poor lens selection currently, Olympus have financial difficulties, and the Nikon 1 system is also brand new. The same comparison can even be made to the new Fuji X-Pro1 camera with interchangeable lenses. It is also a brand new system that I wouldn’t feel comfortable investing in quite yet. Whereas the Fuji X100 stands alone. You aren’t investing in Fuji and committing to their lens mount and accessories – you’re just buying a camera. With the Fuji X100, I knew exactly what I was getting before buying and I didn’t expect any more. That is a bit illogical I admit, but it takes away a lot of the pressure of choosing a system based on current and future hardware.
Fuji X100 Design and Aesthetics Overview
So why has the Fuji X100 been insanely popular among photographers? One of the main reasons must be the aesthetics and the handling of the camera. It looks great, and in my opinion, the X100 is far more physically attractive than any NEX or m4/3 mirrorless offerings to date. Maybe the only “prettier” camera is the XPro-1, and of course Leica offerings.
Fuji have taken a traditional rangefinder design and pimped it out with brand new electronics, like the high resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), autofocus, in-built flash and video capabilities. The build quality of the Fuji X100 is generally excellent, although I will mention more about this later in this review. The rangefinder design utilises a large, bright viewfinder which makes the X100 appeal more to serious photographers who prefer a viewfinder for composition, rather than using the rear LCD. Other mirrorless cameras such as the NEX-5N force you to use the rear LCD, or buy an add-on EVF. But Fuji have given us an ingenious hybrid viewfinder, and the whole camera is designed around shooting with your eye to the finder with the OVF or EVF. Personally I find viewfinder shooting much more comfortable, accurate and steady than shooting with the rear LCD, although the Fuji X100 can also be used with the rear LCD like a compact camera if you wish.
Here are two photos comparing the Fuji X100 to a “real” manual focus 35mm film rangefinder, the Yashica Electro 45 GSN with 50/1.7 lens. The Fuji is quite a bit smaller from the front but considerably less thick and, in particular the lens.
Fuji X100 Hands-on Review
I think most people reading this already know that the Fuji X100 is a good camera, and you already likely know enough about the technical specifications. I aim to give you a real-life, hands-on experience with the camera, rather than lots of charts.
So, let’s start in reverse and talk about the bad things, quirks and annoyances of the Fuji X100.
What is bad about the Fuji X100?
The Viewfinder has some limitations:
- The X100 electronic viewfinder (EVF) is not good in daylight. If you wear glasses, the eyepoint from the EVF is too distant, and the cup around the EVF does not seal light sufficiently. This makes the EVF hard to see because it is not bright enough. Even without glasses you need to mash your eye into the viewfinder in bright daylight. Under low light though, the EVF is brilliant and you can see much more clearly than you can with the OVF.
- The dynamic range of the EVF is lower than the dynamic range of the amazing Fuji sensor. To get accurate exposures with the EVF you need the histogram activated in the viewfinder (press the “DISP” button repeatedly until it comes up). Without the histogram, you may think you have bright blown out clouds or no shadow detail in the EVF, but the final picture saved to the memory card is fine.
- The X100 optical viewfinder (OVF) overlays are hard to see in bright light because they are based on the EVF system. The in-built meter of the X100 is harder to see and not as intuitive as a dSLR meter for the same reason. But, if you shoot with the EVF or shoot in Aperture priority, Shutter priority or Program mode, you probably don’t need the meter much anyway.
- The frame lines in the OVF are also very conservative – only around 90% coverage at most focus distances, which makes accurate composition difficult. However, the EVF viewfinder has 100% coverage, something which is normally reserved for expensive dSLRs like the 7D, d800 or 5dIII. Even the last generation of full frame cameras like the d700 and 5d2 did not have 100% viewfinders.
Fuji X100 Viewfinder (In)accuracy
To show this better, the following image is an example of the Fuji X100 OVF accuracy at a focus distance of 1 meter.
1. This is the view through the OVF before focusing. Note the position of the frame line, leaving a gap between the left speaker and the frame line. The right hand speaker is cut in half by the frame line.
2. This is the view through the Fuji X100 OVF after focusing. The green box in the center of the finder shows that the camera is focused. The X100 has now attempted to give us a corrected view. Observe how the outer frame line has now moved to be tight against both the left and right speakers. Also observe how it has shifted down, and the top of the monitor is much closer to the frame line now. In fact, the whole frame has shifted down and to the right, which makes sense because of the parallax between the OVF and lens in the rangefinder design.
3. This is the same scene viewed with the EVF, which is now showing a 100% coverage image viewed through the lens. There is now a considerable amount of space at all edges of the frame. I think the estimate of 90% coverage is correct for the OVF.
4. And the final image from the X100. It is identical to the EVF composition, but noticeably different to both of the OVF compositions. The corrected AF frame is fairly accurate, but very conservative in terms of coverage. You actually have a lot of space beyond the frame lines which will still be included in the final image. Obviously, this parallax between the OVF and EVF/sensor is worse at close focus distance and almost disappears at distant/infinity focus. But it does show that if composition is critical (such as trying to shoot a building in a symmetrical manner), you really need to use the EVF. Also, if you notice that the exposure is brighter than you thought it would be, look again at the viewfinder images. On the left hand side, you see the meter set to +1 exposure compensation. This is what I mean when I said that the meter is not very noticeable.
Using Filters with the Fuji X100
The Fuji X100 is a bit of a pain to use with filters. Firstly, you need a special adapter to actually attach a filter. The Fuji filter adapter is a rip-off. Buy an identical one on eBay for £10. Once you have attached your filter, you need to use the EVF to see the effect of any filters in front of the lens. This isn’t strictly a “con” because it is inherent to the rangefinder design of the X100, but it’s worth nothing if you use filters a lot. Of course, live view on the LCD is another way of seeing filter effects. The flip side of this is that the Fuji X100 is a great landscape camera, with fantastic sharpness, dynamic range and colours, and a great focal length for landscape.
Fuji X100 Controls, Menus and Picture Reviewing
- The exposure compensation dial is slightly too easy to knock. Because the meter is not easily visible in the optical viewfinder, you may not notice badly exposed pictures unless you use the EVF.
- Picture reviewing on the Fuji X100 is quite slow. After pressing the playback button, it takes a while for an image to pop up, and the image shows a low-quality preview for a split second, before showing the full quality image. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is worse than even an entry level dSLR and feels quite “cheap” on a camera of this price.
- Changing focus points requires two hands and it isn’t very responsive. It is much slower than simply focus-recomposing, although obviously using the correct focus point is more accurate.
- The “OK” button in the middle of the circular control wheel is quite hard to press. It is too flat and quite squishy under your thumb. Maybe I have fat thumbs, but a firmer, taller and more decisive button would be better to operate when your eye is to the viewfinder. With gloves, it is impossible. Don’t even bother trying.
- The Fuji X100 takes a while to wake up, and only wakes upon pressing the shutter button. There are options to keep it “awake” for longer or speed up the waking process, but those massacre your battery life which is already poor. Just don’t expect to grab the X100 when you see a shot. By the time it wakes up for action, it’s too late.
- Auto ISO is still hidden in menu, even with the latest firmware. It also overrides manual settings unless you turn it off first. Even if you program the “Fn” button to ISO, you still can’t turn auto ISO off without menu diving, which is very annoying.
The Fuji X100 Battery is awful
- The Fuji X100 battery life and battery status indicator is just awful. It shows three bars for almost the entire battery life. You think you have plenty of juice left until it jumps to two bars, one bar, and then empty within the space of a few photos. I’m using genuine Fuji batteries, and still it isn’t accurate. My dSLRs can all give me an exact percentage of battery life remaining but the Fuji can’t even roughly approximate how much is left. This has made me angry on multiple occasions where the battery has died with almost no warning. It makes it impossible to predict how much life is left in the battery at any given time.
- The Fuji X100 charger design is terrible and contains a small, loose piece of plastic which is easily detached and easily lost. I would advise gluing it in before you lose it and end up wondering why the battery doesn’t fit any more.
Here you can see the little plastic piece attached and detached from the charger.
Fuji X100 Macro Mode
Despite numerous firmware upgrades by Fuji, the macro mode is still irritating. It did get better with fw 1.20/1 but it is still frustrating that the camera will not focus closer until you switch it to macro mode. WHY OH WHY can’t it switch automatically when it detects the subject within macro range? Please Fuji, give us an option to enable macro mode automatically when close to the subject. And let us turn the option on and off in the menu.
Here you can see an example of the frustrating macro behaviour of the X100.
1. The dreaded !AF error in OVF mode. You have no choice but to move back, or engage in some button pressing to change to macro mode.
2. The same scene viewed with the X100 in macro mode. The EVF is enabled automatically when the camera is set to macro mode, and the camera focusing slows down, but it is extremely accurate. Again, notice how much the framing of the image has changed. The OVF image is almost looking down into the mug whereas the EVF image is viewing it much more horizontal. Also notice how the wooden desk position changes.
Speaking of macro mode, the Fujinon lens image quality suffers at apertures larger than f5.6 when in macro mode. The closer you focus, the more you need to stop down to get a sharp image. At f2, macro mode is fairly unimpressive, but down at f5.6 to f8, it is incredibly sharp right until the minimum focus distance. Outside of macro mode, the lens is amazing at every aperture.
Fuji X100 Macro Mode Image Quality
Here are a series of images showing the full scene and a 100% crop from the focus point at various apertures.
First, the full scene so that you can see the difference in depth of field and the whole image:
And now, the 100% crops from the focus area:
As you can clearly see, macro performance at f2 is relatively poor, but by f5.6 macro mode is razor sharp and detailed. However, the f2 shot will still be acceptable for smaller viewing sizes.
Ok, so that was a lot of bad things. Be patient though, the good things are yet to come. But what about things which are just ok?
Things that are “just ok” about the Fuji X100
The Fuji X100 Focusing system
- Focusing speed. It’s not awful (fw1.2) so I didn’t put the focus speed as a con, but it isn’t a dSLR either. If the Fuji X100 is going to be your backup camera to a dSLR, be prepared to reassess your expectations. Focusing is very accurate, but not fast. This is because the FujiX100 uses a contrast-detection autofocus, compared to a dSLR using phase detect. Contrast-detection is incredible accurate, but slower. The AF area also behaves differently to a dSLR with phase AF. Whereas with a dSLR you try to give the focus point an edge or some texture to focus on, contrast AF can lock onto flat, textureless subjects. If you give it an edge to focus on it will often focus incorrectly to behind the subject. The best approach is to put the focus area right over the top of what you want and hope for the best. That said, I honestly don’t miss very many shots when using the X100.
- The focus mode switch is stupid. I can’t understand why Fuji put the AF-S in the middle, because surely that is the one that people will use the most. It is very hard to set AF-S. AF-C is practically useless anyway because it is limited to the centre only and still can’t track well. The switches should be AF-S/AF-C/MF from top to bottom. But, I only put this in the “mediocre” section because realistically you almost never change out of AF-S mode in the first place.
- Stupid file names for shots taken in continuous mode. For some reason known only to Fuji, the X100 photos taken in continuous burst mode are given different names. Lightroom gets all confused over this and puts them at the end of every import, regardless of when they were taken. This puts your images out of order. The first time you import photos you will panic that tons of them are missing until you eventually find them at the end of the import. Very irritating and I just can’t see any reason why Fuji did that.
Video. Meh. It works, but you don’t get any manual controls or manual focusing. Certainly not on a par with the still image quality of the camera, and if you have a video-capable dSLR, the Fuji will not benefit you at all for serious work.
The Fuji X100 Spot Metering
The Fuji X100 generally has amazing auto-exposure. The only downside is that it had a tendency to underexposes backlit subjects without using fill flash. This is normal for most cameras, but overcoming it is more annoying with the Fuji than a dSLR. You can simply exposure compensate, but you will need to review the images to check. To do this more precisely, you want to use spot metering to meter your subject, but it requires some menu diving. Push and hold the AE button, then choose spot metering and place the central rectangle over your subject. Then push and hold the AFL/AEL button, recompose and snap the picture. Nowhere near as smooth as a dSLR which can usually do this with one button press, or ties the spot meter area to the focus point.
Fuji X100 looks are deceiving
The X100 looks deceiving in a way that is both good and bad. Most people don’t take it seriously, and you can shoot in places where a dSLR will get you into trouble. Inside a museum, art gallery or on the street, it won’t get you into trouble. Many people have asked me if I am shooting an old film camera, but some people have come to me and asked if I am shooting a Leica. This means that the X100 is good for being discreet, but the camera still looks unusual enough to comment on. And either way, it looks like a fairly expensive camera but I certainly wouldn’t people to think that my camera is an £8,000 Leica. To me, that would be a drawback.
Fuji X100 Build Quality
Some aspects of the Fuji X100 build quality are not so great. I have seen other reviews which give nothing but praise about the X100 build quality, but I do have a few complaints. The camera feels solid in the hand, but some of the buttons do not have a nice feel to them. Here you can see the rear of the camera:
The buttons are the main area when I feel let down. Most rear buttons are quite squishy and the circular control dial is particularly bad at giving you feedback about exactly which direction you are pressing it. The wheel rotates very easily and you can basically mash the entire wheel area with your thumb and it makes a lot of clicking noise in lots of different directions of movement if you move around. Not exactly encouraging, and nothing like the scroll wheel of a 7D or 5D. The “Fn” button on top of the camera is fine – it is tall and decisively clicky, but the four buttons on the left of the rear LCD screen are all mediocre. They are raised high enough to press comfortably, but they are a little bit wobbly and cheap feeling in general. The three buttons on the right of the LCD are fine and are placed differently so you can operate them without looking at them. Am I being picky? Yes. But this is an expensive camera, and everything else is so well put together. Considering that most of the camera is high quality metal, the plastic buttons and control wheel stand out more than they would on a different camera. I especially feel like Fuji tried to save money with the control wheel. A stiffer, higher profile wheel with more definite clicks for each direction would feel much nicer.
Here you can see a closeup of the shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial. The action of the aperture ring, shutter dial and exposure compensation dials are perfect. They are made of high quality metal and they are decisive and click firmly into place, requiring just the right amount of effort to turn the dial. It’s just a shame that some of the other buttons feel so cheap in comparison.
The shutter speed limitation with wider apertures is irritating if you want to shoot wide open in daylight. At f2 the shutter speed maxes out at 1/1000, which is not fast enough for daylight shooting. This is inherent to the shutter design of the X100, which does give other benefits (discussed later.) Thankfully, Fuji gave us a solution, which is the built-in two stop ND filter. The fastest way to use it is by programming the Fn or “RAW” buttons by pressing and holding them for 3 seconds, then assigning “toggle ND filter” to them. If the camera is flashing overexposed in the viewfinder, hit the raw button and take the shot.
Ok, that has been over 3,000 words about why the Fuji X100 is annoying, disappointing and weird. So why do I love it?
Things which are awesome about the X100
Fuji X100 Image Quality
- Every aperture, every subject, every distance – the Fuji X100 seriously delivers in the image quality department. Far more than you expect it ever would. The sensor is amazing. The lens is amazing. And the software inside the camera does an amazing job of making every picture beautiful. While the camera hardware is undoubtedly good, the processing built into the camera is helping a lot. But that’s ok with me. As digital photographers, we should realise that software improves more quickly than optical technology. More intelligent scene recognition, better white balance, face detection exposure control, better noise reduction and great colours processing are all as important as the optical quality of the lens and the sensor technology.
- Jpeg mode is brilliant. I never usually shoot jpeg with any camera. But with the Fuji X100, I shoot jpeg almost all of the time. If you shoot jpeg you will never see purple fringes or vignetting, even under worst possible situations. The X100 corrects all of that automatically and brilliantly. Shoot wide open into tree branches into direct sunlight and you still will not see a single purple fringe. Whereas in raw files you will see vignette,fringes and other lens flaws. The only major fault with jpeg mode is the noise reduction at high ISO settings. If you are shooting above ISO4000-5000, you are going to experience some smearing in areas of detail, plus general softness of the whole image. You can turn noise reduction off, or shoot raw and process the files yourself, so this isn’t a deal breaker.
Fuji X100 High ISO Samples
Here is an example of a scene with highlights and shadows shot in low light.
The images are:
- The full scene at ISO6400, f5.6, 1/8s in raw+jpeg mode. Imported into Lightroom and the standard default +25 colour noise reduction applied.
- The jpeg image paired with the above raw file. The jpeg is set to “fine” and noise reduction on “STD” and sharpening on “M-HARD”. Notice how the vignetting is gone, the white balance is a little more pink, and the shadows are lifted slightly.
- 100% crop of the same shot at ISO200, f5.6, 4 seconds in the same jpeg mode. The image is extremely sharp. Pay particular attention to the reflections in the metal ring and the vertical lines in the bottom of the image for comparison to the following images
- ISO6400 raw file with no noise reduction. This shows the raw output of the Fuji X100 sensor. This is actually a very clean file, considering that no noise reduction was performed. The hardware inside the Fuji X100 is clearly excellent.
- ISO6400 jpeg file paired with the raw file above. Again, fine jpeg with standard noise reduction and medium hard sharpening. The image looks clean, and Fuji have done an excellent job in keeping colour accuracy. Note the tiles to the right and how clean they are with natural colour, but it clearly smeared from noise reduction. Also notice how the reflections in the metal ring are now completely dull and colourless. This colour reduction effect does have a weird effect on skin tones at high ISO. The vertical black lines in the bottom of the image are also much harder to see. This is still excellent image quality for ISO6400, but the noise reduction smearing is worth thinking about depending on your subject.
- ISO6400 raw file with noise reduction in Lightroom. This image is sharper, but more grainy than the out of camera jpeg. It’s a trade-off, and also bear in mind that you not have vignetting and the greenish colour cast to deal with. I do prefer this processed raw image. The coloured reflection in the metal is preserved, as are the vertical lines in the bottom of the image. However, at web-size, or for small prints, you will never see this extra detail, and as we saw above, the jpeg is more attractive.
- ISO6400 raw file processed in Lightroom with chroma noise reduction, luminance noise reduction and tasteful sharpening. This is the best image I could get at this ISO. Not bad at all.
- ISO12,800. You can only shoot this ISO in jpeg mode. It’s pretty ugly, but usable in emergency mode for web-sized images.
Therefore my advice would be to shoot jpeg at high ISO unless you really need to crop or view/print lager images. Then you will benefit from taking the extra time to carefully process a raw file. Otherwise, the jpeg results are much more attractive in general at smaller viewing sizes.
Fuji X100 White Balance and Colour Output
The X100 has brilliant auto WB. The Fuji X100 handles indoor and outdoor lighting, fluorescents, mixed light etc perfectly and much better than any dSLR I have used. Even when you have a subject lit by daylight with incandescent ambient light, skin tones are always perfect. It’s so good that I’m not afraid to shoot jpeg because I almost never need to adjust the WB later. It is also extremely consistent from shot to shot. Under fluorescent light, all cameras show colour variation because of the frequency of the light cycle. But the Fuji X100 manages to shoot the exact same colours in a burst of photos, even with different shutter speeds. I have no idea how, but I love it.
Colours are excellent. Fuji have a lot of experience in colour, since they made some of the greatest colour film in the world like Provia and Velvia. The X100 default colour output is quite vibrant already, yet realistic. I’m not sure what wizardry that Fuji uses but it’s incredible. Highlights still retain colours very well and skin tones always look great. Landscapes look realistic and true-to-life, and if you want some more excitement, crank up the saturation and contrast settings in-camera. Instead of looking like ridiculous clown vomit, the saturated images look like “hyper-reality”.
The lighting in this shot is gorgeous. The table is lit by tungsten/incandescent and the drink is backlit by daylight from the window in the background. The colours look fantastic. Click for full size
The film modes are great fun, and you can preview them in the EVF. Astia is great for portraits, and Velvia is great for landscapes. I can’t say how accurate it is to real Velvia film, but on the Fuji X100, it looks good. The black and white modes with virtual colour filters are quite fun, but a bit conservative. The difference between the green, yellow and red black and white filters isn’t very pronounced. Shooting in colour, then using Photoshop to apply monochrome colour filters (or better yet, using SilverEfex) is much more dramatic with more control. Just be aware that some film emulation settings are better for some subjects than others. Velvia isn’t very nice to skin tones, and you will have people with reddish-orange skin tones and dark shadows. This is quite hard to undo in post-processing if you make that mistake.
Accidental “I left it in Velvia” mode – see the red/orange tones and the deep black shadows. Not the most attractive skin tones. Oops.
Fuji X100 Handling
- The lens aperture ring and shutter speed dial are so intuitive to me now that when I go back to a dSLR it feels annoying having to scroll wheels and look at an LCD screen or viewfinder to adjust settings. With the X100, you can set it without any electronic aids at all.
- The hybrid viewfinder. I have moaned about aspects of the viewfinder, so as the EVF in bright sunlight and the eyepoint being a bit too close. But those are minor complaints. Most of the time, the viewfinder is excellent. Because the OVF basically looks through a hole in the camera (rather than coming through the lens, being reflect off a mirror and off another mirror/prism like a dSLR), the OVF is very clear and bright. It also has great (optional) overlays such a virtual horizon, grid lines and a histogram. It is very different to the “tunnel effect” viewfinders in entry dSLRs. And under most conditions, the EVF is also very good, with no visible tearing of flickering which I did find in my brief encounter with a NEX-7 and Sony a77, even though they have a higher resolution OLED EVF. The Fuji EVF really comes into play under artificial light, where it gives you a preview of your white balance and exposure. You can also use it as a quick check of an image that you have composed in OVF mode, and you can use it to review images, browse menus, change settings manually focus and use depth of field preview. The switch to change between OVF and EVF is well-placed and feels great, and the changeover is fast enough not to annoy.
- Discreetness. The shutter and aperture dials also mean that you can set the camera by sight alone. You don’t need any glowing LCD to set shutter or aperture. Nor do you need to raise the camera to your eye and use the viewfinder. If you use auto ISO and any of the priority modes, you don’t need the rear screen at all. Turn the (fake) shutter sounds off. Turn the menu beeps off. Turn image review off. Now nobody can even see that the camera is on, let alone detect you silently taking a picture. I really didn’t ever consider volume to be a problem, or even a factor worth thinking about with a camera until I used the X100. I read lots of reviews praising the X100 for being quiet and I didn’t really care about it much. That was until I actually bought the X100 and I realised how great a quiet and discreet camera is. People aren’t intimidated by this camera at all, and most of the time they won’t even know you’re taking a picture, even when it is pointed right at them. I can see the difference in my subjects and how they react to the X100 compared to a full frame dSLR with a big 77mm-filter-threaded prime lens on the front, clicking away loudly. That said, this may be a negative too. A model won’t be able to hear your shutter click and know when you are actually shooting and when you are not.
Fuji X100 Flash System
The Fuji X100 in-built flash is brilliant. I rarely use it, but it’s by far the best flash I’ve seen in any camera. It has an incredible power range because of the shutter design. You can use it as fill light outdoors in bright sunlight, or it can be incredibly low power so you can shoot indoor at ISO6400 and f2 without overpowering all ambient light with flash.
Flash sync Speed. That surprising outdoor flash power is due to the Fuji X100 sync speed, which is due to the shutter design of the X100. You can sync at a shutter speed of 1/2000 no problem. This is great by itself for the built-in flash. But now remember that you have a hot shoe where you can mount a flash trigger. And you have a built in ND filter too inside the camera. That means you can do amazing things with off-camera flash in bright daylight with just a cheap trigger and a hotshoe speedlight flash. You don’t need 1600W lights, battery packs, ND filters and an assistant to shoot f2.8 flash lit shots in daylight any more. The Fuji X100 can do it in a package which is almost pocketable.
The final perk of the X100 design is that there is virtually no shutter noise or kick. With no flipping mirror, the Fuji X100 is remarkably vibration-free. You can hand hold it comfortably at 1/8s or even 1/4s (bearing in mind the 1/focal length rule you ‘should’ need 1/40s.) You can use continuous mode to fire off a volley of shots with no crazy flipping mirror sounds and vibrations between each shot. You can brace against a wall or railing and shoot long exposures without much trouble. No need for those mirror-up modes with the X100.
This shot was taken at f16 and 1/4 second hand-held. It isn’t perfect due to f16 diffraction and a tiny amount of camera shake, but it isn’t bad. Click for full size.
Summary of the Fuji X100
In summary, this is a camera with many downsides. It is quite expensive, it is slow and it has weird quirks. The battery life is terrible, the menus are annoying, and it doesn’t focus like a dSLR. BUT, the image quality of this camera is incredible and the experience of using it is still very enjoyable. The Fuji X100 is small, light and almost silent, yet it punches way beyond its weight. The metering, colours, dynamic range and sharpness of every single image are just incredible and the automatic modes are excellent at giving you the shots you want. Manual mode feels fantastic too due to the aperture ring, shutter dial and rangefinder design. The focal length is amazing to use, and I rarely wish for wider or longer. Lifting the X100 to your eye, everything looks “just right”, and when you press the shutter and review your image, you’ll be even happier.
But most of all, the Fuji X100 lets you enjoy photography in a different way. As a dSLR shooter, before going anywhere I would think about which gear I needed. Do I need a wide angle, a telephoto, or maybe a fast prime lens for low light? But now I just reach for my X100 and know that whatever scenario is out there, my X100 can handle it. I would certainly use it in a wedding for non-critical shots. For detail shots, candids and epic off-camera flash work, I would definitely use it. For the bride walking down the aisle, I’ll stick to my dSLRs. The X100 forces you to slow down and think a bit more, which is a good thing. And instead of making you feel restrained, the single focal length Fujinon lens helps you to make fantastic photos under almost any scenario that you can imagine.
Full Resolution Fuji X100 Sample Images
All of these are straight out-of-camera jpegs. Click them to view the untouched, full-size jpegs.
1. Close focus sample at f2.8, ISO1600. The image is incredibly sharp and detailed. Click for full size
2. Cloudy daytime in Velvia mode. Vibrant colours, but not overdone. Again, the sharpness is incredible.
3. Landscape at f5.6. Again, corner to corner sharpness and not a single blown highlight in the clouds with auto-exposure.
4. Low light handheld at ISO3200, f2 and 1/20s. The colours are great for such high ISO. At 100% view, some of that noise reduction smearing is visible, but it still looks great.
5. Macro mode at f5.6, ISO200. I took care to shoot against a flat surface. The image has extreme sharpness from corner to corner. There would be no issue cropping this image to 100% for further magnification.
6. Daytime f4, ISO200. The Fuji handled colours excellently here. The copper statue is true to real life, and the image looks contrasty and punchy but still no blown out highlights. Even the highlights of the stone maintain the correct warm colours. And of course it is razor sharp.
7. Low light ISO3200, f2.8 1/40s, -1.0eV. Colours look fantastic and a bit “hyper-reality”.
8. Indoor light ISO1600 f2.8. The colour is very accurate and the level of detail captured is fantastic.
9. Low light artificial light at ISO3200, f2.8, 1/30 (-1.7eV). The colour is quite accurate, though a bit more yellow than real life. No shadow noise at all and the image is still contrasty and very sharp.
10. Mixed lighting, high dynamic range shot at ISO800, f2.0, 1/340, +0.7eV. This scene has a lot of dynamic range, but it is not HDR. This is the Fuji X100 working its magic. Window highlights are partly blown out, but they don’t look bad. Detail in the lower level shops and dark girders is still there, and the image is incredibly sharp, especially if you consider that it was shot wide open.
11. Real-life macro performance at f2.0. As I showed earlier, the Fuji X100 macro performance is weakest at f2.0, but I don’t think it has detracted very much from this shot. The chillies are sharp enough, and the background is thrown out of focus to draw emphasis to them.
12. Low light, lit by only one candle. ISO3200, f2.0. The camera didn’t quite lock focus perfectly. But the colours and noise levels at standard viewing sizes are still great.
13. Extreme low light, lit by one distant candle. ISO6400, f2.0, 1/20s. This is the lowest light to feasibly shoot in. The colours and white balance still look good, which is amazing. It has lot a little saturation (visible in the orange and the corn) but it would be easy to rescue in post production. For web sized images and small prints, this image would be fine.
14. Macro shot to ISO3200, f5.6. The sharpness is amazing, and this jpeg is almost noise-free in all of the areas which matter.
15. Shot from the hip at f2.0, ISO400. Slightly sharper in the middle than at the edges, but still excellent for wide open performance.
16. Extreme sharpness with the Fuji X100 at f4 in bright daylight.
17. Indoor spots at ISO4000 under artificial fluorescent light. This image is a slight crop of the original, but click it to view the remaining full size image
18. Perfect white balance and colours under mixed artificial and daylight
Update: I’m going to make a few thoughts and predictions (basically a wish-list) about the rumored X100 successor – let’s call it the X200. I’d guess that the sensor will be changed, maybe to the XPro-1 sensor with no AA filter. I think the focal length will remain the same, because the 35mm focal length is just so versatile. The X100 EVF and rear LCD should both be improved in the new model – namely brighter for use in daylight, and higher resolution for both. Faster operation, faster SD card writing and better video should all be obvious upgrades too. It would be even better if they could make the build quality of all controls as good as the aperture ring and shutter dial are on the X100, and even better than that if they had some sort of proper weather sealing. But the best thing ever would be in-built stabilising like Sony do with their Alpha dSLRs. Sony camera bodies can stabilise any lens up to 3-4 stops by moving the sensor around. Imagine the potential with this sensor shift technology (and/or lens shifting like Canon IS or Nikon VR) in a small mirrorless body! Sony did it with a huge full frame sensor in the a850/900 so I really hope that Fuji can have image stabilising in the X100 successor.
Update number 2: Another doubt about the X100 build quality. Yesterday I spotted a huge one of my eyelashes INSIDE the viewfinder. No idea how it got there but it is underneath the glass at the front of the camera. And it is now impossible to get out. This is very poor from Fuji. The viewfinder should be properly sealed, and something as large as an eyelash shouldn’t be able to get inside. Bearing in mind that this camera is NOT interchangeable lens, there is no reason that the entire camera can’t be sealed. Dust gets into dSLR viewfinders, focus screen etc when you change lens. But there is no excuse with the X100 apart from laziness and poor design from Fuji. This is a £1000 camera – along with the plastic buttons and battery compartment, add the viewfinder to my list of complaints about build quality.
Thank you for reading my Fuji X100 review. If you enjoyed it, and you think that others would, please consider liking this on facebook, tweeting this post or simply leaving a comment to say thanks 🙂
To see more pictures taken with the Fuji X100, check out my travel posts from the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye and Edinburgh.