Fujifilm Finepix X100 REVIEW - Digital Photography School

Fujifilm Finepix X100 REVIEW

Causing more stir than it would seem to deserve, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 may not by itself cause waves in the retail market, but many of its features will surely be taken up by other makers. They just make an awful lot of sense!

fujifilm-finepix-X100_FRONT_OPEN.jpg

fujifilm-finepix-X100_LEFT_FRONT_REF.jpg

fujifilm-finepix-X100_BACK.jpg

Snatching the X100 from Fujifilm I was, at first, all fingers and thumbs. Read the manual! Nah! Just run for it!

That was my first mistake. With growing excitement, I shot the ISO tests and hit my first wall. Being unable to kick off the live view from the rear LCD I composed the shot with the optical finder and, as you can see, from my ISO shots, managed to get the shots off kilter; this camera is not the ideal tool for precise macro shots … unless you use the rear screen.

The Fujifilm Finepix X100 is indeed a thing of beauty, with a top plate of die cast magnesium alloy, an aluminium body and leather-like covering, mixed with engraved, metal dials. It feels and looks substantial. I could only fault it as regards the speed grip, which I thought was too small.

fujifilm-finepix-X100_LEFT_FRONT_REF.jpg

It looks like the rangefinder cameras from ye olde film days!

Note: as I was ‘allotted’ the camera for only three days, due to heavy review demand, my overview will have to be read as just that: an overview!

Fujifilm X100 Features

Fitted with a Fujinon f2/23mm pancake lens. The focal length (equivalent to 35mm in 35 SLR-speak) has long been considered to be close to the human eye’s focal length.

Ferris wheel 2.JPG

Ferris wheel.jpg

The camera images to an APS-sized CMOS sensor that captures 12.3 million effective pixels, producing a maximum image size of 4288×2848 pixels, or as a 36x24cm print.

Movies? A disappointing 1280×720 pixel resolution at 24fps is backed up by an onboard stereo microphone: you start recording by tapping the shutter button …no dedicated movie button! Because of this you cannot of course shoot stills while recording video.

Operationally, it is quite a departure for a digital camera.

For a start it has a hybrid viewfinder that gives a bright, sharp, direct optical view, combined with an electronic (aka LCD) view. Or you can view via the rear 7.1 cm LCD screen. You switch between all viewing options.

The surprising thing is that the optical view covers more than the actual area captured: ideal for watching events about to enter frame. By tapping a small lever set close to the lens you can switch between the LCD view to the optical, the latter complete with superimposed data on lens aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation (if any), focus position (in manual focus) and actual exposed area framing. Digital photography has never before been like this!

Focus options: auto (single AF), continuous AF and manual by operating a switch on the lens’ left side. You operate manual focus by rolling the front lens ring. This is servo driven so rolling focus from close to infinity can take quite a bit of time!

Hard to believe but the shutter button is threaded so you can fit an old style cable release! Love this retro!
Some may gripe that the card slot is placed under the camera. Pro users may feel unhappy that when the camera is tripod-mounted, a card switch can be a bind. But then again, I figure this camera will see most of its life being handheld!

Menu 1.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

The real joy comes when you play with exposure. The lens has an auto setting as well as individual f stops; the shutter speed dial also has an auto setting as well as individual settings from 1/4000 second right down to 4 seconds. And Time! And Bulb!

Or you can leave both lens and shutter speed in auto and use the FX100 just like a full auto camera.
Place the shutter speed in auto and adjust the lens aperture: it’s just like the aperture preferred setting on those ‘other’ cameras!

Place the lens in auto and you can adjust the shutter speed: now you’re in the shutter preferred environment.

Mosaic.jpg

Wine glasses 1.JPG

At first I thought there was one essential missing: external control of the ISO setting. Then I discovered the Fn button on the camera’s top plate! Not only can this be set up to give external control of sensor sensitivity but it can also be applied to other options such as a depth of field preview, image quality, an ND filter and more.

aThere is a comprehensive but not overwhelming LCD menu that takes you into extensive control of the camera’s functions, such as AF area, ISO setting (again), image size, picture quality and a whole lot more.

The four way rocker is a busy section: here you alter the drive mode (single frame, 5fps), exposure bracketing, flash modes, macro, white balance and mode.

Startup

In about 2-3 seconds from power on I could take the first shot, then follow-ons came in at about a second a shot.

Fujifilm X100 ISO Tests

Fujifilm X100 ISO 100.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 400.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 800.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 1600.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 3200.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 6400.JPG

Fujifilm X100 ISO 12800.JPG

All the way from ISO 100 to 3200 the images were fine as regards resolution. ISO 6400 was surprisingly good, with a slight rise in noise and it was only when ISO 12,800 was reached that things worsened with definition down.

Fujifilm X100 Vedict

Quality: tops in sharpness and colour.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm Finepix X100: you want a high quality, fixed lens camera, complete with multi shooting options.

Why you wouldn’t buy the Fujifilm Finepix X100: you don’t like complexities; you want a zoom!

This is quite a camera! If only Cartier-Bresson were alive I’m sure he would embrace its street shooting prowess. It will not appeal to the casual shooter: I was (forgive me!) continually searching for the zoom control!

It could serve as an easy to use, powerful adjunct to a high end DSLR.

And, as I said, you surely will see some of its features filter into other makes!

Fujifilm X100 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: 256 zone multizone averaging, spot.
Lens: Fujifim f2/23mm.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.6×15.8mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second; Time and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 3 or 5fps; up to 10 in JPEG; 8 in RAW.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 20MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4288×2848 to 1920×1080. Motion panoramas: up to 7680×2160 pixels. Movies: 1280x720p at 24fps (max 10 mins).
Viewfinder: Optical plus 12mm turret (1,440,000 pixels); 7.1cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, Motion JPEG.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 126.5×74.4×53.9 WHDmm.
Weight: 445 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Fujifilm FinePix X100 at B&H Photo or get a price on the Fujifilm X100 at Amazon.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fujifilm Finepix X100
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Alessandro

    I think that this is a very overrated camera.

  • Ian

    Cartier-Bresson actually preferred the 50mm focal length over 35 mm.

  • http://www.quicoto.com quicoto

    I’d love to get my hands in one of these.

    The cheap version of a Leica M9 :P

  • Graeme

    It’s certainly a beautiful looking piece of kit, I look forward to the release of its little brother, the X10, which has just been announced. Hopefully the x10 will be a shade more affordable…

  • CARLOS

    my contax g2 looks better thank this

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bsgraupner Bradley

    “Cheap” version of an M9, yes, but not an inexpensive version.

    I prefer the lens & IQ of my X1 and the viewfinder of the X100.

    But then again my X1 gathers dust as I shoot with my M2. I don’t get to develop imitation RAW in my bathroom and make fiber prints myself. Nothing beats the truly analogue experience, not even the hybrids that try to bring the analogue experience to digital. You’ve still got the X1 or X100’s slow manual or auto focus (compared to the quick focus of an M) and the frustrating digital workflow. The appeal of the X1 or X100 is the unmediated control through dials and your fingers, but any user quickly realizes that it’s only a little more than a facade on both. Ironically, their appealing aspects point to their shortcomings, and you desire full analogue.

    Both of the X’s are great daily shooters though.

  • http://www.flixelpix.com David Cleland

    I bought this camera in June and ended up selling it after 1 month due to the quirks, 4 weeks after selling I was longing for it back. The menus are complex but if you set the camera up once you won’t look back. I put together a post on my tips for getting the best of the camera and for speeding up the boot up process to almost instant. http://www.flixelpix.com/life/return-of-the-x100-belfast-tips/

  • http://www.s4photo.co.uk Marcos Semola

    Thanks for your quick but valuable review. I do agree with most of your points and would like to add the cons aspects like: 1) poor battery; 2) useless manual focus for my street photography; 3) battery and SD card on the back of the camera with difficult access; 4) lack of hood from the original box; 5) complex menu for beginners;
    However, each photographer must assess the pros and cons to verify if this is the right camera. It is for me by now.
    Regards,
    MS

  • http://www.mauriciomatos.com Mauricio Matos

    It’s a beautiful camera, a pleasure to use…the only problem is…it died on me with less than 100 shots. The firmware seems to be a mess. It would start up (could hear the noise of it starting up) but nothing worked. Being fixed now.

  • http://www.flixelpix.com David Cleland

    @Mauricio I had the same issue but found it was my SD card, that was the issue. I hope you get it back soon.

  • http://www.85mm.ch Thomas Leuthard – 85mm

    I could test one last Sunday and was really impressed. Until that day I thought it would be overrated, but it’s not. For street photography this is probably the best camera on the market. I also have tested the Leica M9 which I couldn’t handle. Read my X100 review here: http://500px.com/85mm/blog/12719

  • http://vannuil.com Edwin

    I also have the X100; for a few months now. The only real problem I have is that it sometimes completely freezes when I haven’t cleanly unmounted the SD card from the computer. The SD card works fine in other camera’s but the Fuji is not doing anything. Formating the card in the computer or using another card fixes the problem but I should at least be able to format the card in the X100.

  • http://www.f600exr.com Amanda_cweetty

    Thanks for your posting. What I want to say is that when you are evaluating a good on the net electronics go shopping, look for a web site with complete information on critical indicators such as the security statement, safety details, payment options, along with terms in addition to policies. Generally take time to investigate the help in addition to FAQ areas to get a much better idea of the way the shop works, what they are able to do for you, and just how you can make use of the features.

  • http://www.mauriciomatos.com Mauricio Matos

    @ David Cleland

    Now that you talk about it, I can’t remember if I tried a different card or not. I did try a different battery and nothing. Oh well…I have plenty of cameras, I can wait :)

  • http://www.flixelpix.com David Cleland

    @Edwin @Mauricio, it happened to me again today. If you leave the camera for 20 seconds it finds the card ok and you can reformat on the camera. I wonder why is happening to the card that is causing the camera to freak when you import the photos. I am wondering are we all using Lightroom ?

  • http://www.burtchaell.com Burtchaell

    I would consider this camera if it had the same excellent sensor as the S5 but i think it is a new cmos sensor. The S5 had the ability to capture a dynamic range unlike any other camera I’ve used. I think Fuji are nuts to abandon it. The lack of an interchangeable lens is a huge oversight.

  • Mike B

    I use the X100 as my alternative camera when the DSLR is too much or too obtrusive. It works great for an always with you camera and for events like family vacations or business trips where the big guns are just not appropriate and I can seek in some shots anyway. For me this is the best camera I’ve had for that use. Sure I’d live a M2, but if I had that $$$ I’d put it into upgrading my DSLR kit anyway.

  • António

    Nobody will ever make the “perfect” camera and receive only the applause at the net forums and photo sites.
    I’m sure most negative comments come from people that didn’t use the camera.

    Due to a shoulder problem I took it for an eleven days holiday abroad, leaving my full frame DSLR and lenses at home. I missed my other focal lengths a couple of times but I did “survive” with no major problems, maybe the fact 35mm prime being one o my favorite lenses for street photography gave a contribute to make me feel “at home”.

    I got the X100 early May and it continues to please me and I’d buy it again.

  • António

    Camera freezing and card reformatting

    I also had an episode like that and formatting the car solved it.

    I leave an indication I read somewhere – when you use the card directly move the card’s writing protection tab in order to avoid the computer’s writing information to it. In principle is this computer’s information that causes the problem.

  • http://newbellaboudoir.com/ Boudoir Photography

    I want one of these little bad boys just to keep in my pocket when I have no need to be lugging around a 100lb camera bag LOL

  • Ron Kennett

    I have the X100 and also the X10. These replaced my Leica X1 and D-Lux 4 respectively.

    i have the Leica Digilux 3 DSLR and Leica C-Lux 2 (in my shirt pocket!).

    I am thus able to cover the ground well and also to have comparable experience of the two brands.

    Thus far I think that the two Fuji cameras are more imaginative and fulfilling than the Leicas they replaced and they produce exciting images. I accept that laboratory testing may show Leica lens to have the edge, but for real life situations this may be difficult to detect. The premium price of Leica cameras is painfully easy to detect!

Some older comments

  • Ron Kennett

    February 29, 2012 09:44 pm

    I have the X100 and also the X10. These replaced my Leica X1 and D-Lux 4 respectively.

    i have the Leica Digilux 3 DSLR and Leica C-Lux 2 (in my shirt pocket!).

    I am thus able to cover the ground well and also to have comparable experience of the two brands.

    Thus far I think that the two Fuji cameras are more imaginative and fulfilling than the Leicas they replaced and they produce exciting images. I accept that laboratory testing may show Leica lens to have the edge, but for real life situations this may be difficult to detect. The premium price of Leica cameras is painfully easy to detect!

  • Boudoir Photography

    October 27, 2011 07:36 pm

    I want one of these little bad boys just to keep in my pocket when I have no need to be lugging around a 100lb camera bag LOL

  • António

    September 28, 2011 12:47 am

    Camera freezing and card reformatting

    I also had an episode like that and formatting the car solved it.

    I leave an indication I read somewhere - when you use the card directly move the card's writing protection tab in order to avoid the computer's writing information to it. In principle is this computer's information that causes the problem.

  • António

    September 28, 2011 12:37 am

    Nobody will ever make the "perfect" camera and receive only the applause at the net forums and photo sites.
    I'm sure most negative comments come from people that didn't use the camera.

    Due to a shoulder problem I took it for an eleven days holiday abroad, leaving my full frame DSLR and lenses at home. I missed my other focal lengths a couple of times but I did "survive" with no major problems, maybe the fact 35mm prime being one o my favorite lenses for street photography gave a contribute to make me feel "at home".

    I got the X100 early May and it continues to please me and I'd buy it again.

  • Mike B

    September 19, 2011 01:19 am

    I use the X100 as my alternative camera when the DSLR is too much or too obtrusive. It works great for an always with you camera and for events like family vacations or business trips where the big guns are just not appropriate and I can seek in some shots anyway. For me this is the best camera I've had for that use. Sure I'd live a M2, but if I had that $$$ I'd put it into upgrading my DSLR kit anyway.

  • Burtchaell

    September 16, 2011 05:26 am

    I would consider this camera if it had the same excellent sensor as the S5 but i think it is a new cmos sensor. The S5 had the ability to capture a dynamic range unlike any other camera I've used. I think Fuji are nuts to abandon it. The lack of an interchangeable lens is a huge oversight.

  • David Cleland

    September 15, 2011 02:49 am

    @Edwin @Mauricio, it happened to me again today. If you leave the camera for 20 seconds it finds the card ok and you can reformat on the camera. I wonder why is happening to the card that is causing the camera to freak when you import the photos. I am wondering are we all using Lightroom ?

  • Mauricio Matos

    September 15, 2011 01:39 am

    @ David Cleland

    Now that you talk about it, I can't remember if I tried a different card or not. I did try a different battery and nothing. Oh well...I have plenty of cameras, I can wait :)

  • Amanda_cweetty

    September 14, 2011 10:21 pm

    Thanks for your posting. What I want to say is that when you are evaluating a good on the net electronics go shopping, look for a web site with complete information on critical indicators such as the security statement, safety details, payment options, along with terms in addition to policies. Generally take time to investigate the help in addition to FAQ areas to get a much better idea of the way the shop works, what they are able to do for you, and just how you can make use of the features.

  • Edwin

    September 14, 2011 02:58 pm

    I also have the X100; for a few months now. The only real problem I have is that it sometimes completely freezes when I haven't cleanly unmounted the SD card from the computer. The SD card works fine in other camera's but the Fuji is not doing anything. Formating the card in the computer or using another card fixes the problem but I should at least be able to format the card in the X100.

  • Thomas Leuthard - 85mm

    September 13, 2011 06:52 pm

    I could test one last Sunday and was really impressed. Until that day I thought it would be overrated, but it's not. For street photography this is probably the best camera on the market. I also have tested the Leica M9 which I couldn't handle. Read my X100 review here: http://500px.com/85mm/blog/12719

  • David Cleland

    September 13, 2011 06:30 am

    @Mauricio I had the same issue but found it was my SD card, that was the issue. I hope you get it back soon.

  • Mauricio Matos

    September 13, 2011 05:36 am

    It's a beautiful camera, a pleasure to use...the only problem is...it died on me with less than 100 shots. The firmware seems to be a mess. It would start up (could hear the noise of it starting up) but nothing worked. Being fixed now.

  • Marcos Semola

    September 13, 2011 03:45 am

    Thanks for your quick but valuable review. I do agree with most of your points and would like to add the cons aspects like: 1) poor battery; 2) useless manual focus for my street photography; 3) battery and SD card on the back of the camera with difficult access; 4) lack of hood from the original box; 5) complex menu for beginners;
    However, each photographer must assess the pros and cons to verify if this is the right camera. It is for me by now.
    Regards,
    MS

  • David Cleland

    September 13, 2011 03:17 am

    I bought this camera in June and ended up selling it after 1 month due to the quirks, 4 weeks after selling I was longing for it back. The menus are complex but if you set the camera up once you won't look back. I put together a post on my tips for getting the best of the camera and for speeding up the boot up process to almost instant. http://www.flixelpix.com/life/return-of-the-x100-belfast-tips/

  • Bradley

    September 13, 2011 01:10 am

    "Cheap" version of an M9, yes, but not an inexpensive version.

    I prefer the lens & IQ of my X1 and the viewfinder of the X100.

    But then again my X1 gathers dust as I shoot with my M2. I don't get to develop imitation RAW in my bathroom and make fiber prints myself. Nothing beats the truly analogue experience, not even the hybrids that try to bring the analogue experience to digital. You've still got the X1 or X100's slow manual or auto focus (compared to the quick focus of an M) and the frustrating digital workflow. The appeal of the X1 or X100 is the unmediated control through dials and your fingers, but any user quickly realizes that it's only a little more than a facade on both. Ironically, their appealing aspects point to their shortcomings, and you desire full analogue.

    Both of the X's are great daily shooters though.

  • CARLOS

    September 13, 2011 01:04 am

    my contax g2 looks better thank this

  • Graeme

    September 13, 2011 12:59 am

    It's certainly a beautiful looking piece of kit, I look forward to the release of its little brother, the X10, which has just been announced. Hopefully the x10 will be a shade more affordable...

  • quicoto

    September 13, 2011 12:46 am

    I'd love to get my hands in one of these.

    The cheap version of a Leica M9 :P

  • Ian

    September 13, 2011 12:41 am

    Cartier-Bresson actually preferred the 50mm focal length over 35 mm.

  • Alessandro

    September 13, 2011 12:31 am

    I think that this is a very overrated camera.

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