In what seems like a never-ending spree of new releases from Fujifilm this winter-season, today they announced the newest iteration of the iconic and beloved X100 series,
I still remember that day back in 2011. That day where I went into a local photostore here in Aarhus, and impulse purchased my X100 camera. At the time I had a Canon DSLR, but the acquisition of the X100 camera changed my life. And I’m not exaggerating. From that moment on, until this very day, I have used and loved the Fujifilm X series eco-system. I have grown as a photographer, and I have been fortunate enough to make my way into the very inner circles of the Fujifilm corporation, and even give some feedback in the development of future cameras! – My photography has brought me more great adventures and experiences than I can write about here, but if you have some time, the entire journey since 2012 is documented right here on this blog.
Through all the different camera models that Fujifilm has put out the past 9 years, I have always used the X100 and X-Pro cameras as my two main cameras. So with the X-Pro series recently updated into my absolute dream camera, it’s now time to see if the X100V can live up to my expectations. – But without spoiling too much, I just want to say… OH. YES. IT. CAN!
The X100V is the fifth iteration of the X100 series, and it is perhaps the biggest upgrade to the series since the launch of the initial camera. For the first time since the original launch we have a new lens, weather sealing (when using the filteradapter), and a two-way tilt screen! On top of that the camera is now built in a completely new material, which is Aluminum. The camera has really had a complete overhaul while retaining what made the X100 series so special in the first place. Portability, very good IQ, silent leaf shutter and gorgeous drool-worthy design.
As is probably no secret by now, I was involved in the development of the X-Pro3 which you can read a little (a lot!) more about in my X-Pro3 run-through, if you haven’t already. But back in that initial meeting in Tokyo in October 2018, the X-Pro3 wasn’t the only camera that was being discussed. The X100V was also on the table, but at the time was a lot more loosely defined next to the X-Pro3. We discussed some minor details regarding functions and features, but nothing regarding design. I got the definite feeling that Masazumi Imai already had a pretty clear vision on what needed to happen to the look of the camera.
During 2019 I wasn’t involved in any discussions surrounding X100V, so when I first saw it as a finished prototype in Sweden in October 2019 I was seriously blown away. There’s no denying that this is the best looking camera Fujifilm has ever made. Heck, I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of the best looking cameras ever made by any manufacturer!
Before we get going for real, I need to do a couple of disclaimers like I usually do just to set everything straight. Feel free to skip everything but number 3
Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. That’s spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information.
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using a prototype of the X100V camera. Image quality might therefore not be final, although I have been told that it is.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.
Design and features
I seriously don’t know where to start with the X100V. The design work that Imai-san and his team has done with this camera is beyond amazing. I always loved the look of the X100 series, and I have spoken to Imai-san about how this design came to be. His father had a glass cupboard with a lot of cameras that Masazumi wasn’t allowed into. So he designed the initial X100 from the memory of all those beautiful cameras. He made the perfect camera design from his mind. I love that story, and I think it speaks volumes about why the X100 has become such a design icon.
During the past 4 iterations, Imai-san has gradually, but gently, evolved the design of the X100 into an increasingly refined camera, which still retain the same aesthetics of the original. This must not be an easy task, and I’m in complete awe of the talent of him whenever I see the newest iteration.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the X100V is the most beautiful and refined X100 to date. There is no coincidences and superfluous features and design add-ons on the X100V. It’s clean, it’s pure and it’s so amazingly good-looking that you’ll find yourself just sitting with it in your hands and noticing all the small subtleties that makes a world-class piece of industrial design. It’s THAT GOOD LOOKING!
The X100V top- and bottom plates are now made of Aluminium. In a proccess of pressing and grinding, it ends up with a sandblasting and an anodization process. This means that it will not scratch as profoundly as the older painted/coated magnesium alloy build.
The resulting look is a very silk matté surface akin what many people know from Apples aluminium products. It looks absolutely fantastic!
When you look at the camera and compare it to the X100F the following things are the most striking differences.
- The general outline of the camera features much sharper lines. The aluminium material allow for much finer curves and bends.
- The top plate is now completely straight across the camera in the front-view, and it continues like that all the way around the camera. All the silver buttons and the front lever has been moved up into the silver portion so that it gives the feeling that the leatherette is “wrapped around the silver block like a piece of black Sea-weed – almost like Sushi.”
- The top plate now doesn’t have the little slant to the far right, above the viewfinder.
- The Hotshoe is now pressed flat, and the Hotshoe cover is equally flat and makes it very minimalistic.
- the Shutterspeed/ISO dial is made larger, and is now centered. And the curves surrounding the dial are now the same front and back.
- At the back the D-pad is gone, and the button layout has been cleaned up considerably. The Q button is moved outwards towards the far right, so there is no more accidental pressing.
- The LCD screen is completely flush, and there is absolutely no indication of its ability to tilt, except for a very small cutout the the left side of it. It’s so elegantly made, that most people upon first handling the camera will never see that it can actually tilt.
- The flash is smaller, and the focus-aid LED is now round instead of square in the X100F
- The eyepiece is now the same as that of the X-Pro3, and it’s an amazing eyepiece. It’s perfect!
- The hatch to the battery-door now has a new lock, that doesn’t accidentally open itself all the time.
All of the above gives the distinct impression of a very well designed, premium product, and using it is such a great feeling. This camera is really one to be seen and held in the flesh. It’s so nice!
(I did some unusual white-background product shots for use in the camera brochure)
When using the ISO dial on the X100V it will actually stay “up” when you pull it. Then you can rotate the ISO and press it down again. This is different from the “pull up, hold and twist” that is found in the X100F, X-Pro2 and X-Pro3. I must admit, I don’t use that feature much anymore since I have it set to the C position, and use the front dial to quickly change ISO.
One of the most significant updates, and one of my only requests in the pursuit of making the X100 series the best allrounder camera ever, is the weather sealing.
And Fujifilm made the X100V weather resistant!
…..But you need the Fujifilm filter adapter and a UV filter to seal the new lens, because that lens still extend/retract within a front-open barrel. But once you seal that front element, the X100V is totally weather resistant just like the X-Pro3.
I don’t know the reasons why Fujifilm couldn’t design the lens to be weather resistant, but as long as I can secure it by using my filter adapter, filter and lenshood I’m a very happy camper. (It would be nice if they included the set in the box though!!)
The newly designed 23mm f/2 mkII lens
Even though Fujifilm managed to squeeze every ounce of quality out of the original 23mm f/2 lens through all 4 previous versions of the X100 cameras, it was getting to the point where its shortcomings was getting exposed by the increasing resolution of the newer XTrans sensors, as well as the added AF speed capable from the cameras PDAF systems.
A new lens was needed. A new lens was requested. A new lens was delivered.
The 23mm f/2 mkII is not merely a small update. It’s a new formula, and it’s new coatings. The lot. And the result is gorgeous. It’s an 8 elements in 6 groups (including 2 aspherical elements) build. It has a 9-blade aperture ranging from f/2 to f/16. The ND filter in the previous lens was a 3-stop filter, but in this new lens the filter is a 4-stop ND filter.
I was a bit worried that it would loose some of the character that I actually loved. But to a very large degree the character is still there. It’s just much sharper, has better microcontrast and is actually usable wide open at minimum focusing distances.
The latter has always been the Achilles heel of the X100 series. The images from the original 23mm f/2 shot at closest focus distance at f/2 was so soft that it actually looked like a proper soft-focus lens from the 70’s. Like someone smeared vaseline all over the damn thing! This is now completely fixed. To an extent the XF23mm f/2R has a little bit of the same problem, albeit not nearly as bad.
But I’m happy to say that the new 23mm f/2 mkII lens is perfectly sharp and crisp even at f/2 at close focus. FINALLY!
The old lens had a weird way of flaring. It was uneven, and it was quite ugly most of the time. I had a hard time utilising that flare in any constructive manner. With the 23mm f/2 mkII the flaring is gone! All that is left is beautiful sunstars when stopped down, and soft gloomy flaring when hard pressed directly into the sun. It looks absolutely perfect!
The lens is very nice and sharp throughout the range. Even at f/2 it’s really nice and sharp. The sweet spot seems to be around f/5.6. I didn’t notice any vignetting at all. Some wall-shooters might find some, but in everyday use I didn’t find any light falloff near the edges. The out-of-focus areas are rendered really nice and smooth. The specular highlights are soft, round, and just overall very very smooth. It looks really nice.
The autofocus is now very nice and fast. I found it to be just as fast as my XF23mm f/2 on my X-Pro3. It is definitely a huge improvement over the old version in this regard. The old lens would often hunt, and not snap focus before doing a run from near-to-infinty. It would sometimes cause a missing shot or two. No biggie for me, but probably frustrating for the wedding photographer!
The lens is the same size as its predecessor, and it uses all the old accessories with no problems. It’s still a lens the retracts and extends in a front open barrel, which you can see when you focus at the near focus limit of 10cm. The focus ring and aperture ring feel much more sturdy and not as fragile as on the older models. This is probably also due to the weather sealing that is in place in the lens-barrel. It makes everything very dampened and soft. It feels very very nice. I would have loved some true manual focusing with distance markers, but it’s still the fly-by-wire manual focus system as before. I find it a bit of a shame, cause I sometime miss the ability to do some zone-focusing on the streets.
Above top two images are unedited shot at near focus distance using the X100V wide open. The bottom two images is the same setup using the near focus distance wide open on the X100F. The difference is quite staggering!
All in all the new lens is a HUGE upgrade, and it’s a lens offering that I find giving even better results than the XF23mm f/2. I really like what they’ve done with the lens, and it’s the perfect companion for the X-Trans4 sensor within the X100V body.
2-way discrete tilt-screen
Fujifilm finally decided to add a tiltscreen to the X100 series. And they did so in style. When it’s not in use it sits perfectly flush with the back of the camera. It’s so well incorporated that except for a small carve-in to the left of the screen, there is no evidens of it actually being a tilt-screen. It’s very cool.
The screen tilts out to a completely 90 degree angle facing upwards, and about a 40 degree angle facing downwards for high-level shooting. It works perfectly. It’s fast and easily accessible.
Some purists will say that this tiltscreen has no place on the X100 series. I believe that tilt screens are there to help us. And I love them. It’s why I love my X-Pro3 setup so much. I only need the back screen when I need to do tilt-screen shooting. The X100V does exactly what it needs to do in this regard.
So what did Fujifilm do in the specs department this time. Well, it’s quite easy really.
The X100V is essentially an X-Pro3 with a set 23mm f/2 lens on it
Almost all the specs are identical. Everything from processor to sensor, from hybrid viewfinder to eyepiece, from movie-modes to film simulations. They are almost identical!
This to me is PERFECT. It’s like having a baby X-Pro3 in your pocket.
I did find one difference between the X-Pro3 and the X100V specs though. The AF low light sensitivity is not the class leading -6EV of the X-Pro3 but instead a -5EV like the X-T3.
The entire specifications sheet can be found over at fujifilm-x.com. I don’t want to do a complete re-write of it here. ‘Cause again, it’s basically the same as the one for the X-Pro3 with very very minor differences.
So let me just highlight some of the new additions in comparison to the old X100F. These highlights to me are the same as in the X-Pro3.
Sensor & Processor
The sensor inside the X100V is the same 26.1MP X-Trans4 APSC BSI sensor found inside the X-T3, X-T30 and X-Pro3. So if you want to know what the X-Pro3 can deliver in terms of raw image bursts, autofocus speeds etc. You can check out my X-T3 review right here, with burst mode examples etc.
In addition to all the fast autofocus capabilities, you also have fast 11 fps continuous modes, 100% PDAF sensor coverage etc etc.
The Hybrid EVF/OVF
The OVF has a set magnification of 0.52.
The EVF has been thoroughly improved. We now have a 0.5 inch approx. 3.69 millions dots OLED Color Viewfinder (4:3) with a coverage of viewing area vs. capturing area of approximately 100%.
The EVF Magnification is 0.66X, and the diagonal angle of view is approximately 32° (Horizontal angle of view: approx. 27° )
The above numbers are all indicators of one hell of a fluent panel running at 100fps. In the boost menu under power settings you now have an option of directing power towards an even more fluent experience by choosing the “SMOOTHNESS” function. The camera then insert black frames every other frame, giving the appearance of a very fluent display with fast subject motion. If you prefer to use the ultra brightness of the OLED display, you can instead choose to direct power with the “BRIGHTNESS” function.
I have been using the smoothness option mostly, since I find it very comfortable to my eyes.
Refined Grain, Clarity, Color Chrome Fx Blue & Curve
Fujifilm added a lot of refinements to what you can do to your color images, and also black and white images, just like in the X-Pro3.
Please note that all of these enhancement only affect your jpegs, and not your RAW files.
The grain function can be set to “OFF”, “WEAK” or “STRONG” as can already be done on many of the other cameras in Fujifilms lineup . But in addition to that you now have the option to control the grain size as either “LARGE” or “SMALL”. So now you can further tweak the appearance of the grain. The grain still looks a bit artificial to me, but it’s a definite improvement with the size control!
Fujifilm also introduced the 2 point curve of the X-Pro3. Basically it’s a graphical representation of the highlights/shadows function that is already in place in other Fujifilm cameras. I’ll keep pushing for proper 5 point curve functions though, for the X100V as well as the X-Pro3. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
In the X100V you can also set Clarity. It’s exactly the same feature as you’re probably used to in your post-processing software of choice. It’s a midtone contrast booster that will give your images some extra sharpness and punch without oversharpening them. The function works rather well and can be set from +5 to -5. This also mean that you can do “soft contrast portraits” – you know, like the look of the old Danielle Steel films
Color Chrome Fx Blue saturates and enahances the blue tones of the image. It even color shifts it a little bit towards the teal color. Combined with either Classic Chrome or the new Classic Neg. film simulation it looks AMAZING. Especially since your shadows will often be in a cooler color, it will sometimes look as if you added a slight amount of cross processing to your images. It looks really really good.
The effect can be set to “OFF”, “WEAK” or “STRONG”. See the examples below of the effect in use. I mainly use it at the “WEAK” setting together with “Classic Neg.”
(Color Chrome FX blue is a seriously nice way to start of your jpegs. The gallery above is a great testament to that. All jpegs tweaked, but with Color Chrome FX blue set to strong.)
Enhanced HDR and the AWESOME multiple exposure function
In addition to the DR100, DR200 and DR400 functions on the old X100F camera, Fujifilm has made the new HDR function from X-Pro3 available through the “drive” menu of the X100V as well. The HDR options are HDR100, HDR200, HDR400 and HDRPlus. What this function does, is take a rapid series of images and merge them into an HDR image. The resulting images are very well balanced and free from exaggerated artefacts and tonality that you can usually find in HDR tonal mapped images. A really subtle feature, that I can see many people using for shooting midday landscapes on vacations etc. It is a really handy feature. Mind you that THIS FUNCTION ALSO CREATES A RAW FILE in conjunction to the jpeg image.
The dual exposure feature has been seriously upgraded. You can shoot up to 9 images in a multiple exposure. You can even choose between blending modes of “ADDITIVE”, “AVERAGE”, “BRIGHT” or “DARK”. In between shots you’re free to change film simulations and shooting parameters as much as you like before “locking in” the next exposure. If you don’t want to use all 9 possible exposures, then just opt out at any number by pressing the “dish/back” key.
AND AGAIN. ALL YOUR INDIVIDUAL IMAGES ARE SAVED AS RAW. Just like with the X-Pro3. It’s such a cool feature, that I really enjoy sometimes.
(dual exposures are a great way to be very creative. All of the above shots are in camera multiple exposures)
And of course Fujifilm also decided to add the AMAZING Classic Neg. film simulation. I have praised this film simulation beyond any rational reason in my X-Pro3 run-through, and 6 months after using it for the first time, I can definitely state that it’s not just a fad. I still use the Classic Neg. as a base for 90% of my colorwork. It is just that mindblowingly good. And now we have it in the X100V as well. HELL YES!!
The X100V will start shipping end of February in silver, and the black version will be shipping in march. The price is set to $1399
Conclusion and sample images
If I could have only one camera and one lens it would be an X100. I have said that since the very first version back in 2011. I have not hesitated in calling the X100F the best camera in the world, and the X100V has just topped the X100F by a wide margin.
The new aluminium material, the new ultra-clean, modern, yet classical design, the new 23mm f/2 mkII lens, the tiltscreen, the weather-resistance and the X-Pro3 level innards. The new X100V is a serious image making beast in the most beautifully crafted package I’ve seen in a long time.
The X100V is indeed my desert island camera.
Usually I can keep my sample image amount below 100 images. As well as with the X-Pro3 writeup, this time around it is a little different. I have shot and shot and shot and…. yeah, you get the idea. Alongside the X-Pro3, the X100V is such an enabler of my creative vision.
I have shot mostly street, reportage and lifestyle images with this camera. This doesn’t mean that it won’t perform in other fields of photography. This camera is as versatile as it gets.
Most of the shots are Classic Neg. images that I have processed to various extent. But as you can clearly see – we don’t always need the damn RAW files. They’re nice to have for critical tasks, but for everyday imagery the image quality and possibilities that comes out of the X100V is amazing.
As I said, there are A LOT of sample images. View them in the gallery, download them at will and look at the EXIF. Everything is there. Knock yourselves out.