Disclaimer: I am not payed by anyone to write this review. I also do not shoot test charts nor do I pixel peed. In this review I will share my experience shooting this camera and showcase what I can do with it.
Almost a year passed since my initial review of this camera. Ever since, I was using this specific camera extensively. I’ve used it for all my portraiture- and street work, shot the birth of my second daughter, a baptism, two weddings, used it in the desert and at the beach. Most camera reviews are published after using them for a couple of weeks, when the reviewer ist still in his honeymoon phase. If you use a camera daily for a really long time and shoot everything with it, you get to know it inside out. After almost 1.5 years and over 20 000 frames later, I think it’s time to share my long-term experiences with this camera.
Let’s dive right into it. I think it’s best to start with the very few bad things first to get them out of the way.
The X100F ist the fourth iteration of the X100 series. With every iteration, FujiFilm improved the cameras design and functionality while at the same time, sticking to the original X100 design concept. True to the motto “don’t fix it, if it isn’t broken”. I’ve shot with the “S”, “T” and now “F” version of this camera. All in all, over the years, FujiFilm did a great job streamlining the design. However, there are a few things I rather dislike.
Firstly, the lack of a real manual focus lens (I am not complaining about the lens itself). All X100 iterations share the same lens construction; manual focus is done with “focus by wire”. When you’re turning the focus ring, you’re sending an electronic signal to the camera to move the lens elements accordingly. With no marking on the lens, you can never tell the exact focusing distance just by looking at it. Sure, you can see some basic information of the back screen of the camera but this is hardly useful for those looking for precision work. At its core, the X100 is a street photographers camera. As one of those, I am a big fan of zone-focussing as I think this method is faster than any autofocus-system in the world. However, “focus by wire” makes zone-focussing a pain in the ass. I really hope, that FujiFilm will implement a real manual focus lens in an upcoming iteration of this camera.
FujiFilm is a company who listens to its customers. People complained about the autofocus for years; finally, they made the autofocus of the X100F quick and accurate. That’s a really cool thing. In many online discussions, it became apparent, that people want the ability so witch between custom ISO presets. Hence, FujiFilm introduced the new “front selector” dial. In addition, they also introduced a customizable functional button in the OVF/EVF selector. Honestly, I never ever used this dial or selector. None of these wishes or new functions are unreasonable, it actually is a good thing that a company listens to its customers. Don’t get me wrong here. But somehow, I am afraid, that the original simplistic concept will get lost in the upcoming iterations if FujiFilm keeps on adding new buttons and dials. It makes the whole X100-concept bloated and fiddly. I really hope, that they will go back to basics and keep this camera simple, plain simple. In my opinion, a street shooter just needs ISO, aperture, shutter speed and, as I already mentioned, a manual focus lens.
So that’s it with the bad things. If you’ve made it this far, I’ll go on with the awesome stuff which makes this camera so unique and a Swiss Army Knife in the camera world.
My Swiss Army Knife Camera
One thing that really stands out is that this camera doesn’t get into my way of seeing. Ever since I am shooting with the X100 cameras, my vision enhanced and I never found myself in a situation which I couldn’t shoot with this camera.
In the beginning I said that I also shoot wedding with this camera. You heard it, I shoot weddings with a fixed lens camera. If I need a 50 mm focal length I simply adapt the Fujinon tele conversion lens (click here to read my review of this lens). This setup proved itself, makes me inconspicious, enables me to get really close to the wedding couple and guests without even disturbing the scene (I always make sure that I am wearing inaudible shoes during the ceremony though). Another plus is the small size of the camera, even when the tele conversion lens is attached. Some other wedding guests bring their DSLRs and therefore I am not really noticed as being the official wedding photographer. That’s a huge plus for me and my working style. I prefer to be unnoticed to capture unstaged situations.
After a while, I really understood how the jpg engine of the camera works and configured my own film simulation presets (mostly Acros and Classic Chrome). In my initial review, I stated that most of my pictures with this camera are out of camera (OOC) jpgs. Soon after that, I found myself using the OOC jpgs exclusively. I also shoot my weddings in jpg only. This simplified my workflow and therefore editing times a lot! The film simulations coupled with the outstanding lens rendering are just a dream.
Speaking of the lens, I have to say, I adore it. On the other hand, many people hate this lens. They will tell you that it is not sharp enough wide open, flares heavily, the usual mirco contrast bla bla and that the autofocus is not fast enough. I hope that FujiFilm never changes this lens (just make it a true manual focus lens though). It is simply perfect considering its tiny size. The new hi-res sensor also proved the lens capabilities. It’s simply a perfect combination and offers a unique look. The pictures just stand out.
All in all, every camera has its shortcomings. There is no perfect camera and I think, there never will be such a thing. Photography is not about megapixels, sharp images, photographing brick walls, high ISO- and WiFi capabilities. It is about dedication and knowing your tool inside out and make the best out of it. Upgrading your camera every two years will certainly not make you a better photographer; in fact, you will most probably never really get to know your tool.
Would I buy this camera again? Hell, yes! Sure I would. However, I wouldn’t upgrade for the next X100 iterarion as the current one is already perfect for my needs and I will shoot it, till it falls apart.