Fujifilm X100F Review – Fantastic Fourth

It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in front of the laptop writing the draft of what would eventually be my first look at the X-Pro2. Prior to that had been two hectic months filled with photographic inspiration. There was no doubt in my mind back then, that Fujifilm had created a masterpiece of a camera. – I still to this day believe that the X-Pro2 is Fujifilms best camera.

But there was always the lingering. The consistent urge to witness a proper update to the little gem that started it all for me. That small silver package that had me floored with its incredible image quality and its undeniable charm. – It had gotten to be a bit long in the tooth. It had seen the technology of its X-series brethren evolve past it.

There had been many rumors about a new version of this iconic camera. Rumors of release dates, specs etc. – But the development took its time! The time, however, is finally here. We finally get the long awaited update to the X100 line.

The X100F.

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During this past year I have had the immense pleasure of testing and trying almost all of the new X-series cameras. And even though I am easily smitten by the new shiny gadgets, I always go back to the X-Pro and X100 line. They’re simply the tools that are right for me. Sure you can get other cameras, more technically advanced cameras, faster focusing cameras, sturdier built cameras. But for me there are no better cameras! – They spark my creativity, hence making them my photographic companions. They are the cameras that enables me to capture my vision exactly how I want to capture it.

I first laid my eyes on this camera back at Photokina 2016. It had been ready to go for some time, but as you probably all know there was an earthquake incident that involved a big sensor supplier. So I think the entire industry took a big product cycle setback because of that. I got sent a test unit back in october/november and it hasn’t left my side since.

The X100 series is still labeled as a compact camera. It was never meant to be anything else. But the truth is that with the X100F, it is now just as powerful as the flagship cameras in the Fujifilm lineup: The X-Pro2 and XT2.

Some of you might think that this is a small update to the camera line, but that really depends on your point of view. Compare it to the X-Pro2 – The X100F is just basically catching up. Compare it to the X100T that it’s replacing, and you have the same massive spec upgrade that you had going from the XT1 to the XT2.

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X100F – TCL-X100

New sensor, new processor. Same size, same lens. – And thats basically it! So I can stop writing now? – Not really! 😀 – The X100F represents the single largest spec update to the X100 series since the original 12MP bayer sensor version.

The X100F is the sharpest looking, best operating and most versatile version of the X100 series yet. And that is no small feat in my book.

Now before we get further into the geekery I need to put my usual disclaimer here. I’m a Fujifilm ambassador. It’s an amazing gig. It’s not a paid gig (but I don’t care, my M.D. gives me that luxury) I’m not impartial. Nor do I try to make you believe that I am. I try to show you what the camera can do through my images. If you don’t like it – Awesome. If you do – Lovely. – But do me a favour and use your critical sense when reading this, cause I’m just about as biassed as they come 😛

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X100F

Design

When you talk about the X100 series, theres no getting around it. The industrial design. The thing that initially got so many photographers looking in the direction of the second digital coming of Fujifilm. Mr. Masazumi Imai created a true icon when he first designed the X100. – Imai-san and his designteam at Fujifilm have kept incredibly true to the original concept of the X100 through all the generational interactions of the camera.

The X100F is no different. However they have done a lot to streamline the design and make it akin the X-Pro2. When you look at the lines of the camera there is so much of a resemblance that it really looks like a smaller and more refined X-Pro2.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the changes.

  • On the front, the letter of generation indication is no more (good riddens!).
  • The OVF/EVF selection lever now has larger center that serves as a function button.
  • The LED AF illuminator has been moved up next to the flash, and made square.
  • There is now an added front selector dial.
  • The top line now has a 45 degree angle on the hotshoe/selector dial transition area.
  • The ISO/Shutter speed selector dial from the X-Pro2 has found its way through to the X100F as well (YAY!).

The back of the camera has really been cleaned and tidied from a design standpoint. The screen has been moved to the far left, and just with the X-Pro2 you can right-hand operate the entire thing. Fujifilm also fitted the selector joystick-knob-thingy. Buttons are super well laid out with one exception. – A constant irritation for me is the Q button. I would REALLY like for it to be an assignable Fn button for AE-L instead!

Material wise its still an all metal housing and lens. The silver argent coating is a little different from its predecessors. Its a little bit more shiny, and it looks more refined. Less plastic’y. The serial number and FCC approval label has been moved from the bottom of the battery hatch to the inside of the hatch covering the HDMI, mic and USB ports. The size/weight distribution makes it feel solid and exclusive without being too heavy. It feels like a high end product through and through.

Designwise this camera just makes so much sense. It’s like a tiny X-Pro2, and that is seriously a good thing! Daddy’s impressed.

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Peekaboo! – X100F

Functions

So let’s start by mentioning a function that is NOT in the package. There is no weather resistance in the X100F. I know I had hoped that there would be, but I’m not impervious to the fact that it would mean a consequently larger camera as a result of implementation of such a thing. If weather sealing is what you require in your Fujifilm camera you will need to look closer at the X-Pro2 – XF23mm f/2 combo. That being said, the X100 cameras take quite a bit of weather without caving.

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Fujifilm is launching a new set of conversion lenses. The WCL-X100 II and the TCL-X100 II. Optically not too different from the mark 1 version, but they differ with a cool feature. The camera can now detect if you attach either of them, and add correction to the files accordingly. The old versions still fit perfectly, but you have to enable the corrections in the menu as before.

A new thing is the Digital Tele Converter. You can set it to 50mm eq and 75 mm eq and it will give you an upscaled 24mp file with the corresponding crop. This function is only available in jpeg mode. I wrote about this function in my X70 review and it’s basically the same. I would love for Fujifilm to implement this in RAW files as well, so you get a predefined 16MP 50mm eq crop and 12 mp 75mm eq crop when you load your RAW files (just like the Leica Q does it) The function works very well, and is very handy if you don’t do your cropping in post.

The gallery above, is a first for me. The X100F proves pretty awesome in a portrait session. Especially with the TCL-X100. The 23mm FOV can add something a bit different to the scene.

An incredible new feature is the small EVF window within the OVF mode that was introduced with the X100T, now can show the ENTIRE 100% view of the image. Not just the zoomed in center portion. You switch between the modes by pressing the rear dial. It’s a great little twist! – And I’ve found it incredibly useful!

The X100F has the same focus system as the X-Pro2. It means you now have fast, precise AF with zone mode, center mode and wide tracking mode. It works just as well as on the X-Pro2, so if you have tried that, you will know what to expect. I don’t miss shots because of autofocus of Fujifilm cameras anymore. Thats basically what I require.

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X100F

The Continuous shooting menu now has 4 settings. L(ow),M(edium), H(igh) and S(uper)H(igh) – Respectively 3, 4, 5 and 8 fps. – In all modes, when you quick press the shutter, it only takes one image.

For those of you who enjoy the AutoISO function, it’s worth noting that minimum shutterspeed in auto ISO has been raised to 1/500s from previously 1/125s. Good thing! – And for those of you who dislikes the ISO wheel of the X-Pro2, you now have an option to use the front command dial as ISO selector. So when you set ISO command dial to A you can scroll the front command dial to change ISO. You can select auto ISO by scrolling all the way past the high ISO settings, and there you will find the 3 Auto ISO settings. I really like the dedicated ISO function, so I will probably never use this, but here’s to Fujifilm listening to what the people want. Big thumbs up on that!

Also the menu system, flash menu and general operation of the camera is exactly like the X-Pro2. Its really great that Fujifilm finally found a consistent platform across the cameras. It makes you feel right at home when you have multiple camera models.

There are many things to love about the X100 series, next the the hybrid viewfinder, the leaf shutter and built in ND filter are such amazing features that it’s not even funny. And of course they kept it around in the X100F. The leaf shutter is almost inaudible, but doesn’t give you rolling shutter as the inaudible electronic shutter does. The 3 stop ND filter will actually let you shoot wide open at 1/1000th sec while syncing the flash at that speed in daylight. Who needs HSS right?

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X100F – 1/30s – Full sun – ND filter ON

Fujifilm changed the battery types for the X100F. It now takes the NP-W126 and NP-W126s. Its perfect! – Again, a streamlining of the product line. Good job! You get one UHS-1 compatible SD card slot.

Of course we now have the one film simulation that I love above all the others. Acros! I have written about its fantastic features, tonality, and light-level-based grain control here. It’s absolutely fantastic to have this film simulation in the X100F. Especially because you cannot emulate the grain control in post. It has to be done by the X-Processor Pro in camera. So to finally have it in my favourite camera series is bloody marvelous! – All my black and white images are shot as Acros jpeg and then tweaked in post processing.

Image Quality

The X-Processor Pro and the 24mp X-Trans 3 sensor does an incredible job. We already know this from the X-Pro2/X-T2. But one joker in all of this is the lens. Fujifilm uses the same 23mm f/2 lens in the X100F that they have used since the beginning of the series. I have read equal amount of love and hate in descriptions of this lens. Every thing from bad flaring to softness at close distances to perfect golden lights and fantastic clarity. I know how I feel about it, but more importantly, I know its strengths and weaknesses.
I have used this lens since 2011, and we’ve gotten quite acquainted.

What surprised me a lot was the fact that the lens seems better when treated to the new higher resolution sensor. In NO WAY what-so-ever does the sensor out resolve the optics. So again, I must give it to Fujifilm and its Fujinon optics division, they think far ahead when designing lenses.

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X100F – Macro distance.

The lens still softens at close focussing wide open. But if any of you have ever read the original X100 manual you will know that its actually stated as a feature in there. For soft focus portraits. – If you want to shoot at macro distances with this lens and you want sharp images you need to stop it down to f/4. The flaring to me is quite gorgeous. Its unique, and thats what its all about if you ask me. The low light flaring of the 23mm f/2 of the X100 series is one-of-a-kind. And I’ll take unique over perfect ANY day!

The image quality from the X100F can easily match that of the X-Pro2 – XF23mm f/2 combo. So the choice is yours! – The colors are rich, the images are sharp, and the jpegs from the X-Trans 3 do NOT give you wax-figure skin in portraits.

I don’t want to go into the technical analysis of the X-Trans 3 and X-Processor Pro yet again. So if you want a more thorough walk through of the image quality of the sensor/processor combination you can read it here  in my X-Pro2 review.

Usage

Of course the X100 functions as a street photography camera for the majority of its user base. Its rangefinder’esque look and feel makes you think of leica, and the silent shutter and small size makes it ideal for many street photographers around the world. This is what I spend a lot of my time photographing, and this is where the X100F has its core audience.

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X100F – Nissin i40

But for me, the biggest selling point of the X100F is really how versatile it is. I have not found myself in a situation where I could not take the image that I had imagined in my head with just the X100 and the 2 conversion lenses. Landscapes, starscapes, cityscapes, street, documentary, family and leisure, portraiture, products, concerts, travel, weddings…etc etc. This little box will do it all. And it will do them all very very very well!

So this is how I ended up (again) shooting so many different styles and scenarios. I really wanted to show that this camera is really the only camera some of you might ever need. I know for sure that it’s my desert island camera!

Samples

As usual, for my camera tests, these samples are processed. You can see images SOOC elsewhere. I always want to show what I do with the tool I have in my hands. What you do with the X100F is your business. 😀 – I tried to show just how versatile this thing is, by taking it through all sorts of disciplins. It excels in all of them! – click the images for larger view


Street 


Nature


Relic Motorcycles


General usage


Conclusion

The X100F is a great update to the iconic X100 camera series. For many, this series has been a gateway drug into the Fujifilm X-eco system. I think the X100F will carry this tradition on. It’s all about fantastic image quality packed up neatly in a fantastically designed container that just begs to be carried around and used. It does everything you would expect from a modern digital camera, and it does so in style. This is my desert island camera. I could reduce to this, easily.

In closing, if you want to read some reviews made by some crazy talented people let me point you in the direction of some:

Mr. Patrick LaRoque – The guy is an absolute wizard with a camera. www.laroquephoto.com/blog/2017/1/10/x100f-dawning-of-the-age

Mr. Kevin Mullins – A legend. Personified.
http://f16.click/gear/fujifilm-x100f-review.html

Mr. Ian MacDonald – My canadian brother from another mother. https://ianmacdonaldphotography.com/2017/01/19/coming-home-the-new-fujifilm-x100f/