Fuji X100 review

The following is the review I wrote when I received one of the first cameras to arrive in the UK…

Fujifilm’s Finepix X100 has been a highly anticipated camera. I’ve been lucky enough to get one from the first batch to arrive in the UK, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the camera so far.

This review will be very ‘real world’; photos of real subjects, not resolution charts, from my perspective as a full time professional photographer.

Build Quality  9/10

The X100 is beautifully built. To understand how well, you really have to hold one. It has a lovely, solid metallic feel. The analog controls move very precisely, and to hold it feels more solid than my Nikon D700, in fact it feels better built than anything I’ve used except my old Nikon FM2 film camera. The only negative of the design is central circular control on the rear of the camera. The buttons are sturdy enough, but the surrounding rotating plastic wheel feels like it’s been lifted from a cheap compact camera. Thankfully you never have to use that wheel, as every setting can be controlled using either the metal controls, or the function button and horizontal control stick. The lens cap is a large slip on design, which has been criticised, however it fits solidly and a lens cap is not designed to be left on the camera and taken off when you want to take a photograph – it should live in your pocket.

Handling  10/10

The X100 is the best handling digital camera I have ever used. I have shot professionally with both Nikon and Canon, and the X100 is more precise and faster than both. Analog controls may be old, but they are brilliant. At a glance you can see all your settings and, more importantly, you can change your aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation without looking. Yes, you can do that on a DSLR, but it is so much faster on the X100.

To give you an example: I was shooting in aperture priority mode, setting the aperture with the aperture ring and leaving the shutter speed dial on A for auto. I spotted the shot below, and decided to use a slow shutter speed to give the impression of movement. One twist of my left hand to shift the aperture to A and one turn of the fingers on my right hand to take the shutter speed to 1/8th second set the camera up for the shot. And all the time I could keep the viewfinder to my eye.


The process is very intuitive, especially for someone like me, whose first camera had a film in it, and dials for aperture and shutter speed.

The optical viewfinder is an absolute joy to use, and makes you feel really connected to the image. The electronic overlay is very useful, very customisable, and because you get focus confirmation in the optical viewfinder you never have to use the dark electronic one. The real benefit comes when shooting in low light – it’s impossible to use an electronic viewfinder, however good, in the dark.

‘Silent mode’ is one of the best features of the X100. In just one touch you can turn off all the sounds, the AF-assist lamp and the artificial shutter sound. The leaf shutter is then almost silent, and coupled with the old styling of the X100 means the camera is the most discreet I’ve ever used. No one seems to notice an old ‘film’ camera, especially not when you can’t even hear the shutter click! Fuji put a lot of thought into the design in many areas, and thankfully the feel of the shutter was one. Despite the camera being silent the shutter still gives nice feedback, so you know when you’ve taken a photo.

Focusing  7/10

This is the one area where the X100, despite being impressive, falls short. The X100 has an excellent contrast detection auto-focus system, but it’s still no match for the speed of the phase detection system you would find on an entry level DSLR. In good light it focuses very quickly, and more importantly accurately. If the scene has low contrast however it just doesn’t feel as fast. Macro focusing is about half a second, and to focus on anything nearer than 80cm you have to engage Macro mode. The X100 only focuses in Macro mode using the electronic viewfinder, which makes the process seem even slower. However, the Macro focus is very accurate. After a half second wait it comes to life and it locked on to the subject perfectly every time. It may be slow, but it’s far better than the camera hunting for focus and being even more frustrating.

(f/2.0, 400 ISO and 1/680th sec)

Manual focus is sadly where the X100 most disappoints. Firstly the X100 is not a true rangefinder – you won’t have an out of focus area in the viewfinder to match to what you see in focus. Fujifilm has very cleverly utilised their new dual optical/electronic viewfinder to aid the process, but it’s only a partial solution. In manual focus mode, the viewfinder displays a distance scale and the current distance the lens is focused at. By turning the focusing ring on the lens you can change the distance. Here lies by far the biggest mistake Fuji made with the X100…the focusing ring is electronic, or ‘fly by wire’. What that means in the real world is a delay while the lens ‘wakes up’ and then focuses. Slowly. On a camera with real dials and an optical viewfinder it is a real shame that the focus ring is not physically coupled to the lens. The solution is the street-shooting technique of pre-focusing, setting a pre-determined focus point and shooting when your subject moves into the plane of focus. Whilst this is workable, the ‘fly by wire’ focus ring makes the whole process seem disconnected, and at odds with the feel of real manual control that you get when using the X100.

Image Quality 8/10

The X100′s image quality is very good. It’s the best I’ve seen from an APS-C sensor, although I haven’t ever shot with a Leica X1, which is the X100′s nearest competitor – albeit a very expensive one. The 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens is very good.  Sharp at f/2, it starts to shine from f/2.8 onwards. It renders colours extremely well and controls chromatic aberration superbly. In the real world this lens is excellent. Obviously it can’t compete with a top class prime lens, but for less than the cost of any of Nikon or Canon’s top lenses you can purchase the entire camera. Here is an un-sharpened image, shot at f4 and 200 ISO. (the image is a slight crop as well)

The X100 renders colours nicely, but if the light is flat, your pictures will be too. (As is true of any camera.) Its dynamic range at low ISOs isn’t as good as I was expecting. Here is an example of the same photograph without and then with post processing. (I don’t like the strongly contrasted digital look, but it gives you an idea of the malleability of the jpeg files.)

(f/8.0, 400ISO, 1/210th sec)

Dynamic Range – Where the X100 does very well is creating excellent dynamic range when using higher ISOs. Fujifilm has included dynamic range enhancement settings that start to kick in from 400 ISO and really show up at 800 ISO. At 400 ISO you can enhance the dynamic range by 200%, at 800 ISO it’s up to 400%. Having looked at the files it seems that all the camera does is reduce the ISO in the highlight areas and increase the ISO in the shadows. No, it doesn’t match medium format film, but it does make a real noticeable difference that really boosts the image quality straight out of camera. The following example was shot on the same settings at 800 ISO, the first image with no dynamic range enhancement, and the second with 400%. (Other than sharpening, the images are straight from the camera.)

High ISOs are very impressive on the X100. With noise reduction set to low I would be happy to use the camera up to 3200 ISO without a second thought, and 6400 ISO if I needed to. To get an exact comparison you’re better off waiting for the real noise charts from the more technical reviews, but the performance of the X100 is very impressive for an APS-C sensor. (When I’ve got a good sample of high ISO photos I”ll be adding some to this review.)

In the real world

In the real world the X100 is a very good camera, but it’s not perfect, and there are a few negatives that do take away from the experience.

The neutral density filter is a nice addition, reducing the exposure by 3 stops. However, it’s really there to allow you to use the lens wide open at f/2.0 in good light. Due to the shutter design, the camera is limited to 1/1000th sec when the lens is open at f/2.0. I found myself having to quite often turn on the neutral density filter, or drop the ISO down, to use the lens wide open. With a firmware update allowing customisation of the RAW button on the back of the camera as well as the dedicated function button, turning on the filter would be easier, but having to delve into the menu to use the lens wide open can get frustrating.

Battery life is sadly disappointing. Fuji claim you can get about 300 shots from a full charge, but I found that it was about half that, even using the optical viewfinder as much as possible, and avoiding using the rear LCD. Battery life will improve over time, but you will definitely want a spare with you, even if you’re only going out shooting for a day. The real negative is the extremely poor battery life indicator. Taken straight from a compact camera it goes from reading full, to half, to empty far too quickly. Why Fuji could not include a consistent % indicator I don’t know, it seems to be a pattern in anything other than the top professional cameras. Again, I imagine this could be fixed with a firmware update should Fuji choose to.

Images are the real test of a camera, so I’ve included a selection from the ones I’ve shot in the past few days, so you can draw your own conclusions. All the images are the full-size files.

The following shot has had the contrast increased slightly, but gives you a good idea of how the X100 renders out of focus areas and the quality of its ‘bokeh’. However, do bear in mind the X100 only has a 35mm lens, it’s not designed as a head and shoulders portrait lens, instead it gives a perspective that includes the context of every shot. (It would be a perfect camera for environmental portraits for example.) Any non-UK readers may be interested to know that the church behind the trees is Westminster Abbey, shortly to be the venue for the Royal Wedding.

(f/2.0, 100ISO, 1/400th sec)

Reflections, and a contrast of old and new, often look good in black and white, but I had to do a surprising amount of work on the curves in this shot to produce a black and white image I was happy with.

(f/4.0, 400ISO, 1/1100th sec)

This image is a completely untouched, straight out of camera jpeg file. (The only addition is the black border.) The X100 is showing its interesting trait of having a worse dynamic range at a lower ISO, however it renders the colour very accurately. The image was shot using the standard film style setting on the X100 (the other options being vivid, soft and b&w) and could easily be improved by tweaking the jpeg settings in camera.

(f/4.0, 200ISO, 1/600th sec)

This next shot is a deliberate replication of an image I shot on an Olympus PEN Ep-1, although there was a more interesting sky that day. The X100 has rendered the detail very nicely, and effortlessly.

(f/4.0, 200ISO, 1/1500th sec)

This image is another crop – 35mm is not the best focal length for nature photography – and has had some additional sharpening.

(f/4.0, 200ISO, 1/480th sec)

This final image was down entirely to the very good auto focus. I had to move quickly to get the shot, and the X100 focused as fast as any DSLR I’ve used. (The contrast of the white swans against the dark river will have helped.) This image is, again, a centre crop, but encouraged me that, even with a contrast auto focus system, you can catch fast moving moments on the X100.

(f/2.0, 200ISO, 1/900th sec)

First impressions are that the X100 is a brilliant little camera. It is not so much the image quality, but its handing that makes it superb. The combination of the excellent optical viewfinder and the analog controls makes it a complete pleasure to use and, very importantly, at no point in the last few days have I felt inhibited by the camera’s lack of responsiveness. The X100′s image quality is not as good as I was expecting at low ISOs, but it does render tones beautifully and I have yet to explore all the ways of improving the jpegs out of camera, and of course non of the major photo editing software manufacturers have released updates to allow the reading of the X100′s RAW files yet.

I’d like to keep this review evolving, so will be updating it with more photos in the coming days and weeks, and would love to know your thoughts, and what images you would like to see. Do get in touch via Twitter.

________________________________________________

UPDATE 08:38 GMT  Sat. 12th March

________________________________________________

This in an update, just to answer a few questions that have been raised on various blogs in response to this review…

Shutter lag is absolutely minimal. Firstly, apologies for not reviewing this earlier, but I hope that just shows how impressive it was, as it didn’t cross my mind! I didn’t feel it was slow once, although I was using the Optical Viewfinder for all my shooting.

Manual Focus is disappointing, but I should mention that when in MF mode the AE/Lock button on the back of the camera initiates auto focus, and the centre menu button magnifies the focus area ‘zoomed in’ on the eleectronic viewfinder. If you have time to use it, it is a partial solution, but I have found that method of manual focus check to be very slow, especially in low light. It also puts you at the mercy of an electronic viewfinder, which, as always, will be very dark in anything but bright sunlight.

The Rear LCD is excellent. It stays fairly bright in strong sunlight and the resolution is perfectly good enough to accurately judge a shot after taking it.

_________________________

UPDATE 14:00 GMT  Mon. 9th May

_________________________

I’ve now added a few additional photos…

____________________

UPDATE – February 2012

____________________

I have now sold my Fuji X100. Why?

My reason was that because, over time, the handling of the camera felt less and less responsive in comparison to the DSLR I use for my professional work. The shutter response is quick, but there was something that didn’t feel quite right. I found that using the Fuji X100 felt little different to using my old Canon G11. Yes, the Fuji produces wonderful images and yes it is beautifully designed, but in essence it is a compact camera. Eventually I found the quirks more frustrating than endearing.

2012 is proving an incredible year for cameras and the market is changing rapidly…

Fuji has released the Fuji X-Pro1, the ‘X100 with interchangeable lenses’ that so many people wanted. The image quality will no doubt prove to be incredible, but it will come at a high price tag. It’s currently selling for £1,500 for the body-only in the UK.

Sony have sorted out their production issues and the NEX-7 is now on the market. More like a spaceship than a camera, it points to where the industry is going.

I’m sorely tempted by both, the NEX-7 for its controls and the Fuji X-Pro1 for its image quality. If I give in I’ll make sure I blog about it!

To see more of my work visit www.charlwoodphotography.com

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About David Charlwood

I am a professional photographer, specialising in weddings, working across the UK, based in the South East. View all posts by David Charlwood

106 responses to “Fuji X100 review

  • Dave Lloyd

    David, Hi.

    Well written article.

    One thing I would like to see is samples of Dynamic Range Bracketing. Have you had a chance to try this feature yet ?

    Cheers, Dave.

    • David Charlwood

      I haven’t had a chance to use the Dynamic Range Bracketing yet, but will look into it. Are you asking as a landscape shooter?

      • Dave Lloyd

        David, Hi.

        Thanks for your response. I shoot a wide variety of subjects but have been a Fuji user for the past several years. One of the strengths I have found is their ability to get much better images when DR is set at, typically, 200% and with a small amount of negative EV compensation.

        Cheers, Dave.

  • Bob

    Thanks for the detailed review!! I have one on pre-order and this makes me even more excited to get one in my hands.

  • Jason

    I’m so glad a wedding photographer finally got to play around with this camera. How realistic do you think it would be to use the X100 for available light shooting at a wedding, maybe at a adequately lit reception or pre-ceremony photojournalism? I know it couldn’t be the only camera used, nothing could replace phase detection AF and the speed of an SLR, but I have it in my head that the x100 could be a nice addition to use when appropriate. Would you pull it out at a wedding? Any other thoughts?

  • JOHN RADFORD

    WHAT A GREAT REVIEW CLEAR CONCISE & TO THE POINT

    THANKYOU, GREAT PICS, NOT INTERESTED IN CATHEDRALS, OR ROYAL WEDDINGS THOUGH

    CANNOT WAIT TO OWN A X100, AM RETIRED, & ELDERLY, FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS CAMERA ON FIRST SIGHT,

    WILL FOLLOW YOUr FUTURE FINDINGS

    THANKS AGAIN, ALL THE BEST,,,JOHN

    • David Charlwood

      John, thanks so much for the compliments.

      I think the X100 is brilliant for someone of your experience – although why it’s taken this long for a digital camera manufacturer to make an affordable camera with decent analog controls I have no idea!

  • Alasdair McBroom

    Great stuff David. Looks like you and I are doing very similar work. I managed to get hold of on of these little beauties as well. I wanted to ask you though, do you see yourself using the X100 for weddings? I’d love to as I think two Nikon D3′s are a bit on the heavy side, but then again, they do work very well. I’d love to be able to ditch one of them and substitute it with the X100. Lovely work by the way.

  • Hans de Haan

    David, how is shutterlag? I have found I can live with quirks, but not with shutterlag (which is or could be the attraction of this camera). Kind regards, Hans, NL.

  • Björn

    Hi.
    I know that the x100 is more of a “street camera” but I also shoot snap shoots at night or inside.

    I want to know how strong ( or weak) the built in flash is.
    Do you think you can take a pic with the x100 and only the built in flash iso 100-400 only, if so, please post them. No fill flash, just 100% flash. No slow shutter speed.

    Like this example: http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_lhwkxmjwiB1qa42jro1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1300008311&Signature=DkMoDSUF6lN%2FXEum2YL%2BVW83WZg%3D

    Or just a room at night without any people.
    I just need to know if it fills my needs.
    The flash in the g10 works fine for the type of shoots I take but the flash in the Gf-1 is a bit to weak. ( using an external flash is not an option in the situations that i shoot)

    Thank you in advance/ Björn Terring

  • David

    Hi and may thanks for the review.
    a quick question which I see that you have answered in an update but is still a little unclear. From page 47 in the manual it says that if you hit the AFL/AEL button it will go it will quickly focus by using autofocus. I presume this means that when in the OVF it just focuses on the focus spot selected but you seem to be saying it goes into the EVF etc which is not what I was hoping. Thanks

  • T. Schnitzlein

    Thank you for your review that provides a number of insights nobody mentioned before!

    I have a question regarding your comment on the DR percentage setting:

    Did you analyze jpg files, or did you take RAW (RAF) files and analyzed those? This is relevant in that if you analyzed the content of RAW files, the DR settings (and image differences) would point to some new technology that Fuji uses to exert local control on pixel sensitivity. If the DR setting only steps in during RAW-to-JPG conversion, then you’re talking about applying a gradation curve (which is interesting, but no new technology). Can you please advise?

    • David Charlwood

      Having chatted with people in various forums, the dynamic range enhancement does seem to be applying a graduation curve, rather than a new technology. However, within the jpeg settinsg you can control the curve to enhance DR how you would prefer. The DR of the X100 is very impressive however.

  • Magnus

    Your wrote “because you get focus confirmation in the optical viewfinder you never have to use the dark electronic one”

    Exactly how does it confirm manual focus. So far i have not seen anyone describe this. Does it light up the chosen focus point as a Canon does in manual focus, or how?

  • Patrick La Roque

    Thanks for this real world review. It’s great to get the impressions of a working photographer as opposed to techies and pixel reviewers.

    That said, you’ve shaken my resolve a bit with the issue of manual focus. I’ve been seriously considering this camera as a street walkabout rangefinder type piece of gear ( I shoot a D300 for my actual work). I can put up with some limitations but slowness would be a serious letdown. I read elsewhere about some shutter lag when using autofocus but had figured I’d work manually most of the time. Now I’m questioning the whole thing!

    Is it really that bad?

    • David Charlwood

      The autofocus is easily good enough for street work, and I’ve found it a brilliant camera for use on the streets. It’s old styling and completely silent shutter make it pretty much perfect. The MF is slow, but not unusable. Shutter lag has not been a problem for me.

  • Patrick La Roque

    Left this page on my iPad last night and came back today to write my question without refreshing the site: thanks for the updates – pretty much answers my question :)

  • Peter Degay

    Hi David,

    you mentioned that the electronic way of focusing manually is quite disappointing. I am not a professional photographer, so I’m interesting in your opinion in the followings:

    -Apart from extremely low light situations when is manual focus really needed? The only useful application I can imagine is setting the focus manually to around (1m -> infinity), and walking on the streets hunting for events. In that case we can spare the lag of focusing automatically. But for this situation, the slow set-up is not an issue because this is only an initial step before the real session.

    -In your opinion why did Fuji choose this way of manual focus instead of a real mechanical one? What could be the benefit of it? I don’t think that engineers at Fuji forgot how to design mechanical focusing rings…

    Thank you, and greetings from Hungary,

    Peter

    • David Charlwood

      Firstly – You are right that manual focus doesn’t have to be used, but it is perfectly possible to use it in the way you suggest.

      I have no idea why Fuji went for a fly-by-wire system, but I can only assume it allows them to make the lens smaller, or is simpler to manufacture. Leica manage to make MF rings small enough, and it is the one thing I would really hope they change if they ever make a MkII.

  • Fabio Sirna

    Ciao David,
    thanks for this real world review! This camera looks really what I’m looking for many years :) Is it possibile to see some portraits shoots at f2.0? Thanks in advance.

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  • Tony

    “an electronic viewfinder, which, as always, will be very dark in anything but bright sunlight”

    Huh? Electronic viewfinders display an image as bright as your exposure. If you’re shooting in the dark and using a flash, it will be dark, but if you’re not underexposing, the EVF image should be bright. Is the X100′s viewfinder dark in EVF mode?

    • David Charlwood

      You are right that in that sense an electronic viewfinder will be ‘bright’ when exposed correctly, however it will show all the sensor noise in low light. You are probably far more skilled with an electronic viewfinder than me, but I’m used to the viewfinder on a full frame SLR, so much prefer the optical one.

  • Dick Taylor

    The X100 sounds better and better. You say it focuses quickly in good light and that macro focus takes about a half second.

    How quickly does it focus in a typical low-light situation (without flash), such as for taking candids at parties and such; the kind of light that might require f2.0 at 1/15th second at ISO 400?

    • David Charlwood

      Focusing in low light is not too slow, but it very much depends on the situation as it’s a contrast detection system. If there is bright light in the ‘wrong’ place, then it can have issues.

  • Richard

    Hi David, I really like the depth of field scale in the optical viewfinder. I intend to use mine mainly for landscapes and I’ll stick it in manual focus, press the AEL button to get a rough focus then move the manual focus until the depth of field scale sits at infinity then rack back holding at infinity to get max depth of field. With respect to dynamic range I intend to set the ISO to 400 and the DR to 200%. Will this be as good a range as the S5 or should I set to ISO 800 and DR 400% (or will ISO 800 be too noisy)?

    • David Charlwood

      The DR adjustment is simply curves adjustment. I would leave the ISO at 400 and adjust the highlights and shadows to soft, which gives you the best you can get out of the sensor. Sadly I can’t compare it to the S5 as I’ve never owned one.

      • Richard

        Hi David many thanks. Tried the camera out today at the beach with against the light shots then converted into black and white in photoshop. Very impressed with the dynamic range (at ISO 400 and DR 200%) seems to be at least as good as the Fuji S5 (I got rid of mine to buy the X100). The gradation also looks as smooth as the S5 when converting to BW in photoshop. The depth of field scale was indespensible (I get about 5ft to infinity sharp at f16.)

  • Ed Leary

    Thanks for your review. I own the Leica X1 and since the x100 is clearly a copycat camera in every significant design element and functional control I’ve been curious to hear about the image quality. The x100 is so blatantly a copy cat that I was orginally taken aback that Fuji would copy another company’s innovative design so closely. My experience with he X1 has been wonderful. The images it produces are nothing short of amazing. In many cases much more pleasing than images I can get from my 5D and L lenses. The x100 begs for a comparison review to the X1 which has 1 drawback – inferior autofocus (although I keep hearing that an impending firmware upgrade is going to address that). Do you have any plans to compare these 2 cameras, the only ones in existence of this sort? Thanks.

  • John

    Thanks for the down to earth review. There’s nothing quite so refreshing as straight talk. Please keep it up.
    Mine’s on pre-order, can’t wait.

  • Del Okamoto

    Hi David, I wanted to ask you if you had any problems with lens flare?
    Mahalo!

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  • Howard Cummer

    Does the frame line in the OVF move to compensate for parallex as you focus closer?
    Does the focus point also move to keep the same relationship to the frame line or is it fixed in the middle of the frame at infinity?

  • wayte27

    Hi David, a very informative review,superb kneed. I shoot with canon DSLRs however I’m getting the fuji X100 for the wife as a gift.
    As it is mostly manual do you think this is a camera for a novice that is learning aperture and shutter speed relations etcGreat website also I will add you as a link to my own wordpress regards Adrian
    wayte27.wordpress.com

    • David Charlwood

      I think it’s an excellent camera for a novice, as the only settings you need to change in the menu are white balance and the ND filter. Having the controls visible really helps I think.

      Many thanks for your comment and link :)

  • otto

    brother the work that you’ve done with this camera is just exceptional! truly!

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  • dodi

    Does this camera have picture style editor just like Canon SLR ? its very nice feature if they have it :)

  • dodi

    Does this camera have picture style editor just like Canon SLR ? its very nice feature if they have it :)

    and maybe, just maybe filters, so in exchange of using OVF, we can use LCD as our viewfinder and check that effects when we using LCD as our view finder… just a though only…

  • wim nuytens

    Hey David,
    interesting first impression,
    As you say in your conclussion:”it s not so much the image quality but the handeling that makes it suberb”
    is there any other small camera you would recommend above the x100 in terms of image quality (you always need a good lens of course).nex 5 ,oly pen, panasonic gf,ricoh
    regards,
    wim

    • David Charlwood

      No, the X100 has the best image quality of any small camera I’ve ever used. Only the NEX 5 would come anywhere near. The PEN’s, Panasonic GF series and the Ricoh GXR all have quite bit smaller sensors.

  • ChasP

    Great review – just a note; it might be worth distinguishing between ‘portraits’ and ‘headshots’ or head and shoulders or 3/4 length or whatever, as a friend of mine interested in the camera was put off by reading this – I don’t think he wants a cam for headshots, but for environmental portraits, and I think it’d be great for that….
    Thanks for a great review

  • conner

    why do I feel like the camera companies are duping the general public? a 75 dollar canonet is better than this camera. battery lasts longer, lens is sharper, better aperture, full sized 35mm “sensor”. I find it interesting that the x100 has a film sim mode.

    • David Charlwood

      ‘Better’ in a few senses perhaps, but if you want to compare film and digital… The X100 has a flexible ISO, is streets ahead in low light (3200 ISO film is no match for digital – especially as the X100 retains colour beautifully at high ISOs) doesn’t need to have a new film loaded every 36 shots and costs nothing to ‘develop’.

  • Bill Cody

    What about raw files?
    What software is available for converting, and
    have you used it?

    • David Charlwood

      I haven’t shot in RAW, precisely because the only current available conversion software is Fujufilm’s included one, which is awful.

      It won’t be long until Adobe make the X100′s RAW files compatible with Lightroom & Photoshop, and then we’ll really be able to judge the quality of this camera.

      I’m very impressed with the jpegs, so when RAW functionality is properly enabled it can only get better.

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  • John Miller

    My X-100 and case arrived today. I bought the camera off ebay, the case came from photo & video in Australia. Oddly enough, they both were delivered today. Holy smokes###, what a beautiful piece. Every bit as special as I anticipated. I need to read the manual & get acquainted. A real view finder… what will they think of next?

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  • kodachromeguy

    Thank you for a real “user’s” review. Now that you have used the X100, Sony NEX5 and Olympus Pen P1, can you write some comments to compare the three? Which of these three do you think makes the best images in high contrast lighting, and which is easiest to handle and control in the field (such as while traveling)? Thank you!

    • David Charlwood

      The X100 is easily the best for high contrast lighting. If you’re traveling and want flexibility then the Sony NEX5 is probably a better option as it offers a variety of lenses and video, if that interests you.

      The X100 is the most analog, so if you prefer dials to control functions rather than buttons then that would be my recommendation.

  • John Miller

    David, Am I missing something? Is there a setting I’ve missed or is it really necessary to push the MENU/OK button after each shot. I love the results I’ve been getting but after each shot the screen is black & I get an OK/NEXT message at the bottom left corner of the screen which remains there untill the MENUE/NEXT button is pushed. “It’s gotta be me, this can’t be the way Fuji intended the camera to operate like that.

  • MarkB

    David, great review. I have had the X100 two weeks now found it to be a excellent walk around camera and alternative to my 5DMkII. I am documenting my X100 journey at:

    http://www.X100Photo.co.uk

    Now I have found your site, I’ll keep a look out for your work.

    Kind regards,
    MarkB.

  • Manav

    Mate, you have written a very good article. I would like to know your professional advise on this topic. I am a non commercial photographer. I am not an amateur (I don’t like that word). But I have never sold a photo and I don’t intend to. Photography for me is for my own pleasure. I do spend carefully and I am currently using a Nikon D200 with a few prime lenses from Nikon. Do you think X100 is worth investing in for a person like me? I do regret not buying the D700 when it came out. Now it is too old of a design and I am getting greedy because I want more out of my 2000 quid. I am also disappointed to read about the fly by wire MF. But like I said, I am still on the fence when it comes to this camera. May be you can convince me. I hope I came accoss a bit sane.

    • David Charlwood

      The best bit of advice I can give you is to go to a local camera shop and play with one. The X100 is very different to an SLR and is a very different, and slower, shooting experience. It depends on your intended use, but the X100 has amazing image quality for its size. Just hold one in your hands, play with it and see if it might work for you.

  • azman

    oh my, i am going to skip lunch for a month to get this baby!

  • David Haye

    I was very happy to read this as someone interested in buying this camera – it told me just what I needed to know with the right level of technical talk and straightforwardness for my taste. Lovely pictures too, thanks very much.

  • wayte27

    Hi David the additional images are great
    Westminster bridge and the macro cheery blossom are stunning
    My Fuji x100 arrives on Saturday so rather excited to say the least
    I’m in London from the 10 -15 October 2011 at the end of a 3 week trip through Italy and Paris
    I have searched the net for information regarding a photography permit for London
    Any thoughts or links that you can provide in order for me to photograph land marks in and around London even in the tube that will allow me to shoot unhindered by security
    Look forward to hearing from you also have a look at my new images at http://www.wayte27.wordpress when you have a moment away from your fujix100 cheers Adrian

    • David Charlwood

      You can photograph all the London landmarks without a permit. The tube is another matter, but most people just photograph quickly and hope not to be seen.

      Do be aware that current anti-terror laws allow the police to stop you photographing and move you on.

  • Rob7711

    Fair review. I had 1 major gripe weighed against such high a price. The NP95 battery is such a poor fit with the BC65N charger that I feel is a gross oversight (or is my set an oddity?). The battery when placed in the charger will not engage the contacts. I needed to jam 2 coins (approx 2.5mm) in order to charge the battery. Fujifilm messed up here I think. Anybody else faced this problem.

  • crmarks

    David, thanks for the great review, it was an insightful view into the camera back when most of us still knew so little about it! I’ve had mine for two weeks now, I’m quite thrilled my first photographs, http://www.x100enthusiasts.com/discussion/23/my-x100-arrived#Item_3

  • alex

    hi nice review, i got mine yesterday, and your review is the only one that told me why dynamic range isnt available with all ISOs hehe

    anyway, i there a chance you mixex the DR testshots? for me it seems that the second one is without and the first one is with DR

    also i have to say your review reflects exactly what i think about the camera, i also come from fm2 and have a d700 as main camera.

    the only thing i dissagree with your review is that a lens in the nikon line that covers the range of the x100 is about 250€ (nikkor 35 f/2) brandnewand not more than the x100

    the second thing is, the optical viewfinder may be better in shallow light, till you reached a point where you cant see anything anymore because it simply gets to dark for your eyes, THEN the autogain electronic viewfinder shines and i can manually focus and take perfectly sharp shots even in candlelight.

    that said, the x100 is by far the best overall camera i had in my whole photography life, which started at 1988 :) ok except the fm2 nothing can beat that one hehe

  • photograph review

    [...] Fuji X100 review В« Charlwood Photography Mar 12, 2011 … Thanks for this real world review. It's great to get the impressions of a working photographer as … [...]

  • Karin

    This is an excellent camera and we are eagerly waiting for the firmware upgrade. Furthermore, when DXO has a profile for this camera, the sky’s the limit.

  • Sensory Escape Images

    I’ve heard a few negatives about this camera like the battery life sucks and the so does the focusing. I’ve also heard that handling can be a bit tricky so I was surprised to see that you remarked about it favorably.

    My thing is that I would have liked them to have designed this to use interchangeable lenses.

    Nathan
    http://www.sensoryescapeimages.com/blog/2011/6/25/fujifilm-finepix-x100-digital-camera.html

    • David Charlwood

      The interchangeable lens request is one that’s made a lot. Sadly the camera would have had to be much bigger to make that work – the shutter, for example, is actually buried inside the lens.

      There are negatives about this camera, but above all the main thing is to remember that it is essentially a compact camera with a very good sensor and a pretty outside. All the people illogically wanting it to behave like a Leica, just because it looks a bit like one, have been disappointed.

      Handling is not SLR speed, but that’s something that will hopefully be improved with firmware over time.

  • Michael Watkins

    “Battery life will improve over time”

    No, it shouldn’t – not appreciably.

    Lithium ion cells/batteries do not exhibit the same “break in” capacity enlargement characteristic that NiMH cells/batteries have.

    Lithium ion packs for all intents will demonstrate full rated capacity after the very first charge – discharge cycle. The two chemistries are completely different animals.

    Rather than cycling Li-ion cells intentionally in the false hope of recovering some missing capacity, the best thing you can do for Li-ion cells/packs is to store them only partly charged if you aren’t going to be using them in the immediate future. Storage at full charge has a pronounced negative impact on cell life.

    What this means in terms of the X100 pack and charger is unknown – until I get mine at least. Some electronics product makers design their systems to deliberately under-charge Li-ion cells to avoid this storage decay issue I’ve noted.

    I too am mystified why Fujifilm chose to employ a charger that doesn’t really fit the pack and assume the charger must fit another pack they support and they were looking for cost savings. Whatever the reason, it’s false economy IMO given the premium nature of the product offering. This failing however won’t stop me from purchasing an X100,,, Or a number of spare third party packs.

  • Marc

    Thanks so much for posting this review, especially the picture of Big Ben and the River Thames. Funny enough, I had taken the same picture (even nearly the same crop) in April 2011 with my Nikon P7000, which I had bought just a few days before. I wasn’t very excited about the image quality of the P7000 (I was comparing it to a Nikon D3) – that’s why I started looking for other small cameras with a better image quality.
    Now that I’ve seen your pics, I don’t think that the P7000 is so bad anymore – the Fuji seems to be worse. I guess if you want to really have a top-notch quality with a small footprint, the only option that’s left is a Leica M9…

  • Hans Baas

    Hi David,

    The Fuji x100 is the most exiting camera I’ve seen for years. One question about focussing. I always use one focus point in the middle of the picture. I focus on this point, then reframe and shoot. Can I do this with the x100? And would this be faster than having the x100 choose the fcus point by itself? If this is possible the ideal camera has arrived!!

    Thanks, Hans

  • Fred

    Why do you sell the x-100, like so many others do?

  • ChasP

    Indeed – why sell, what’s next on the horizon?

    • David Charlwood

      Purely because I wanted a camera that was faster to use and I prefer a 50mm focal length. The image quality of the X100 is incredible, but it can, at times, feel slow compared to an SLR.

      I’ve replaced it with a Panasonic GF3 (for the moment) and bought a 25mm f1.4 Panasonic/Leica lens.

      You can start to see some of my work with it on Flickr…

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/charliecharlwood/

      • X-Man

        David, I’ve been down that road. Looking for some sort of holy grail and I thought that I would find a more perfect camera in the micro 4/3 system. Well, I didn’t find it. I went from a G3 to the GH2 and finally a P-M1. It’s simple, none of the micro 4/3 camera’s can deliver the image quality of the Fuji X100. The small m4/3 sensors are very noisy above ISO200. Really ugly and for me not usable. So, even though the AF is faster and better and the lenses are interchangeable, I’m back to the good old Fuji X100. Looking at the Fuji files and handling the little camera, I realise how much I missed it.

      • David Charlwood

        Interesting that you should say that! I’ve since ditched the Micro 4/3rds I had and bought a Nikon V1, because I wanted something that would fit in my pocket better.

        Despite the small sensor it produces some amazing images and genuinely is like an SLR to use it’s so fast.

        http://charlwoodphotography.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/colour-or-black-white-2/

        I’m still looking for something else and I may end up with a Fuji X-Pro1 or Sony NEX-7 yet, but that would be as a professional alternative to my Nikon D700, when I wanted something smaller.

  • ChasP

    oops – missed your response above.

  • jesseleite

    Hi David, Beautiful pictures you took! I have read that some people had “sticky aperture” problems where the aperture blades go faulty and start causing overexposures. Did you have any physical problems with your X100 while you had it?

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