Update 26.11.2018: click here to read my long-term review of this camera
This blog post is not a camera review per se; moreover, it is a summary of experiences I made with the FujiFilm X100F over the last couple of months. I will not go into technical details (you can find them using Google instead); therefore, I will prioritize my seeing through the viewfinder, the "gate to the world" of this camera.
You will read following phrases quite a lot. The camera doesn't matter, what matters is the person behind the camera or, the best camera is the one you have with you. Both statements have their reason for being. In my case, a camera must do the following:
small form factor
easy-to-use and intuitive
fit my shooting style
it should not get in my way of seeing
In January 2017, FujiFilm announced the successor of the X100T, the X100F. Yes, I am pretty late with my review. I bought mine in May 2017. So I can say whom I can recommend this camera after more than six months of extensive usage.
Let’s mention my biggest gripe about this camera first. It is the lack of weather resistance. Like so many other photographers, I had hoped the FujiFilm engineers would manage to put this feature into this camera. This would have made this camera an unbeatable all-around all-weather camera.
I love how this camera feels in my hands. It has the right size, weight and build quality. The build quality is first-class. The cameras' design also allowes easy access to important parameters such as aperture, ISO and shutter speed at a glance. Furthermore, all buttons on the back of the camera are now aligned to the right hand side, which makes it a tidy "workplace". Basically, the cameras' design is reduced to photography instead of browsing through endless menus.
The X100F comes with a fixed 35 mm lens with a mixmal aperture of f2. Sure, a fixed lens camera might be a deal breaker for many people. But for me, the cameras’ limitations mean absolute freedom. It helps me to foster my creativity and to enhance my vision. Today, I do not have to decide on which lenses to bring anymore. The 35 mm focal length already feels so natural to me, that I even see the picture before I raise the camera to my eye. If you need other focal lengths, you can add Fujis' conversion lenses to your set. It will transform the focal length in either 28 mm or 50 mm.
If someone says, the X100 is a stealthy camera and people won't see you raising the camera to your eye, I can say that this is not true. Firstly, I experienced many situation where people asked me if I was shooting a film camera or if I am shooting with a Leica. In my opinion, the X100 is a "friendly" conversation starter. Secondly, as everybody will notice you when you have a camera in your face. What matters is the people's reaction. I remeber a scene when I was in the metro in St. Petersburg. The section was packed with people and right in front of me, I noticed a women. In this situation, I just knew that she would be OK with me taking a picture of her. So I raised the camera to my eye and took the shot (cf below picture). I guess the same situation would have tourned out differently if I would have had a big DSLR. It is also important to mention that you always have to be friendly as a photographer in situations like these. Candid photography is based on give and take.
The fixed 35 mm focal length are perfect for so many situations, especially for people photography such as family events, parties, street photography and even portrait photography. The X100s' quiet leaf shutter makes this camera pratically inaudible- unlike shooting with a DSLR, people won't hear the shutter when you're shooting.
The optical viewfinder of any X100 series camera is unimpeachable; but, I found myself using the EVF most of the time. Compared to the older versions of this camera such as the X100S or “T”, the autofocus is now spot on. What a relief! I never had any trouble related to that.
The image quility from this camera is fantastic! The new 24 mp sensor coupled with this lens produces pure magic. Actually, it's more than enough for my needs.
I’m glad that FujiFilm kept the original lens of the X100 series from 2011, for me, it magically renders the pictures, especially when using the new Acros black and white film simulation. Many people denounce the "softness" of this lens when shooting macro wide open, for them, I have to say, stop complaining and get another camera and a decent macro lens. For me, the softness is a "bonus". I like it especially for shooting portraits.
If you shoot in jpg mode, you can tweak the popular FujiFilm film simulations to your liking. My personal favorites are Classic Chrome (for street photography) and Acros Red (street photography and portraits) coupled with weak grain. Ever since I own this camera, my workflow changed from shooting raw to shooting jpg. The overall majority of the pictures you can see in this review are slightly edited (addition of contrast and vignette) jpgs out of camera.
Now let's get to the question to whom I can recommend this camera. First things first. If you are into shooting sports or action, I would say forget about this camera as the autofocus will not be sufficient enough and the fixed lens will also be not suitable for this purpose.
Moreover, this camera would be perfect for people who just started with photography. This small camera is the perfect everyday companion and you can shoot almost anything I can think of. Furthermore, it keeps you away from buying too much gear in the beginning (yes, I fell into that trap). One camera and one lens are just perfect to start with photography. You can concentrate on the scene instead of thinking about which lens to attach and therefore eventually miss your shot.
The core audience for this kind of camera would be a people photographer. This could be a street photographer, a portrait photographer, or parents whose aim is to get good photos of their child/children. The camera is small and quiet; therefore, you can get very close to your subject without disturbing the scene. This is the reason, why I ended up with this camera.