Fuji X100F review

April 10, 2017  •  3 Comments

I got started with the X100 series with the Fuji X100S.  It was a great camera, but very quirky.  The AF was not especially quick, and you could forget any sort of tracking mode on it, that was totally useless.  The batteries were small and had a tendency to expire at a moments notice ( in my experience anyway  ).  However, it was a beautiful camera and I captured some of my favourite ever images with it, as I always had it with me, you could fit it in a decent sized jacket pocket.  Great for street photography, but also just as a high quality camera to capture daily life.

The X100T was a decent upgrade, but I didn’t feel it was a massive leap forward, the AF was a little sharper but still not great and the batteries were the same as in the S.  Step forward the latest in this distinguished if quirky line, the X100F.

 

Key Upgrades: 

Here are the standout changes that I’ve noticed in 2 weeks of solid use.

  • AF is much quicker, this thing is as good as the XPro-2, even with tracking.  The only thing holding it back is the lens, which is still the same 23mm f2 lens used by all the cameras in the X100 series.  Still, the AF is a big leap forward and overall the camera is much quicker to operate in every aspect.
  • The joystick is the same as the XPro-2 and X-T2 one, and makes AF point selection much quicker, it also frees up the 4 buttons that everyone used to use for AF for things like drive mode, film simulation, etc. 
  • The overall ergonomics have been overhauled in a good way, making it operate and feel very much like a mini XPro-2.  I love the ergonomics of the XPro-2 so this is a very good thing! 
  • There is a dedicated ISO dial, the same as the XPro-2.  If you hated it on that camera, you’ll still hate it, but you can now set the ISO from the front dial.
  • The EVF is better. 
  • It takes the same batteries as the XPro-2 and X-T2.  This is actually a fairly big deal if you are also using those cameras at the same time.  I use this system to shoot weddings and having all three of these cameras now using the same batteries is fantastic and a big improvement.  I’ve also found the batteries to be more reliable than the old ones.
  • ACROS film simulation.  A lot of people gush about this, but I’m fairly ambivalent about it, I do like it, but no more than the other monochrome film simulation, I find it a little too grainy in low light but in good light it can be awesome and I really enjoy shooting with this camera in one of the B&W modes.
  • X-Trans 3 24 MP sensor.  It’s a nice bump in image quality and great for cropping in sometimes.  I’m very familiar with this sensor now and I like it a lot. 

 

There are other changes but I’m sure you can find a spec sheet for those if you are really interested.  This camera feels like a major update to the series, in a way the X100T did not.

AF Tracking:

I’ll go into a few details below.  First off, the AF can now track things pretty effectively, its perfectly useable for most subjects that are not moving at Olympic sprinter speed.  Here is an image I took using the focus tracking as a bride and groom entered a fairly dim reception venue..

Natalie and Gareth - entering the receptionNatalie and Gareth - entering the receptionNatalie and Gareth - entering the reception

Another example - my kids running around the garden.  The X100F had no trouble keeping up, this is the first X100 series I could say that about ( I was focussing on my son!!).

 

The Lens:

Now let’s deal with that lens.  A lot of people complain that the lens is soft.  Well, it is if you are closer than 5ft and at f2.  As long as you are aware of this quirk, and its tendency to flare, then it is still a great lens.  I took this shot just after the ceremony without the couple being aware ( at f2 ).

Natalie and Gareth - the lookNatalie and Gareth - the lookNatalie and Gareth catch their breath at the signing of the register

Be aware that the lens does move when you focus, it protrudes just a a few mm back and forth.  This can be an issue if you just stick a UV filter on the end of it without giving it enough space to move.  I did this and tried some macro shots, and ended up with the "Please switch camera off" error.  It took me a while to figure out what was happening but once the UV filter was off it was fine.  There are various solutions around on the web for dealing with this issue.

 

The Shutter:

This brings me to the shutter.  This is not an upgrade, but it’s so important it’s worth a paragraph of it’s own.  It’s very quiet.   Even when not on silent mode it’s barely noticeable unless you turn the sound up.  In the scene above, the church warden was particularly against photography and put some very severe restrictions on me.  But once he saw how quiet and inconspicuous the X100F is, he relaxed a bit and let me shoot a lot more than he would have had I been using a DSLR.    It is also a leaf shutter, which means you can sync with strobes and speedlights at much faster speeds than most cameras ( 1/1000 at f2 is the sweet spot, with the built in ND filter also being very handy ).  Here is one I took using the ND filter, 1/1000th shutter and f2.8.  I was using a Godox 360 to overpower the sun.  

  You rarely find leaf shutters outside the medium format world, and the X100 series is one of the cheapest ways to get access to a leaf shutter.  If you want to see what a really good fashion photographer can do with this camera and some stobes, check this YouTube video out.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxxkWhM8FIQ

Video:

 Apparently this camera does video.  That's as far as I've got with video.  It's better than the X100T but this is not a camera to get for it's video capabilities.

 

Conclusion:

I’ve listed a lot of what I do like, but even a Fuji fan boy like me can find some things I don’t like, after all, no camera is perfect. 

  • No weather sealing.  Boo.
  • Still one card slot, I am used to having dual card slots now and it gives me peace of mind when shooting weddings.  Lots of people use this camera at weddings, come on Fuji.
  • Battery door is flimsy.  Luckily any decent half case resolves this problem.

 

Overall though, I love it, it’s a major upgrade and I’m very happy with it.  Oh, and it looks awesome too, everyone assumes it’s a film camera, which I hope makes them less likely to steal it.

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

Croshaw Photography
To Grant:
thanks for the pretentious comment, really made my day. You mean apart from the shots taken in low light at a wedding and the shot using the leaf shutter with the strobes?
Grant(non-registered)
Most of the photos posted with the review look very 'snap-shotty' and completely unchallenging to the camera's abilities, and hence suggest photos no better than a decent $300 point-and-shoot or a smartphone.

It does concern me that review after review of the X100 series cameras do the same. It suggests to me that the camera is uninspiring to the user. For the price, that's hardly acceptable.

I hold the view that the camera as a serious tool can deeply link to its user, in a meaningful way, and significantly influence the images act are created. The X100's *should* be doing this for their (serious) owners, they have been designed with such a sensibility and link in mind, but it doesn't seem to be doing it for you.

Can I ask you to meet this challenge?
yosef(non-registered)
For everyone that complains of cameras not having 2 sd card slots let me ask you a question. How many times have you had a card fail on you? In my 10 years I have had zero.
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