In recent weeks I have been asked a lot if there is a new book about the latest X100 series camera – the FUJIFILM X100F in the writing. Bad news first, I am not working on such a book right now. Do I think this camera is not worth it? Rather the opposite – if the model S and model T were my favourite rangefinder style cameras (Here’s the link to the book which describes in full detail what makes this camera so special and my all time favourite to work with) the latest edition simply improved a nearly ‘perfect camera’ once again. All components available from the X-T2 and X-Pro2 that would be beneficial were implanted – Starting with the X-Trans CMOS III 24 MP sensor, the X-Pro Processor for lightning fast performance, the ISO-dial as known from the X-Pro2 to the ‘one-handed-buttons layout’. While too often we see companies overdoing it when releasing the latest model – here all the great genes, loved by street- and documentary Photographers all over the world, were left untouched and only well designed improvements in terms of latest components and further improved operability came in play.
The touch and feel of the camera is practically unchanged compared to the X100T. Size, weight and dimensions do not feel differently (checking the specifications one can see minimal changes). The first difference that is rather dominant is the smart decision to move all buttons on the rear of the camera to the right side, finally allowing to operate the camera with one hand without taking the eye of the viewfinder. Changing Focus points is done very fast using the focus joystick. While focusing (using the central AF-point) and then recomposing with a half-pressed shutter button might be still the fastest possible way of keeping the desired focus and composing the frame, I am using the joystick now 90% of the times. Especially for close-up shots this results in a better overall sharpness of the image.
Changing ISO values is now done by lifting upwards and turning the shutter speed dial as know from the X-Pro2. For those of you who do not like that way of changing ISO, there’s good news: The new front dial can be set up to control the ISO values over their full range from low 100 up to hi 51200 (including the three ISO auto settings). The exposure compensation dial now goes from -3 to +3 and has the custom position ‘C’ to expand that range from -5 to +5. In order to give the Photographer the maximum amount of freedom in terms of customising the camera the front lever to change from optical to electronic viewfinder is now also a function button. Reminder: Pressing the ‘Display back’-button for two seconds brings up the FN-setup menu. Very handy to quickly see how the actual settings are and to adjust and change. The Tele- and Wide-angle ‘screw on the lens’ converters were upgraded, too. The mark II versions are now automatically recognised by the camera hence making the step of ‘telling the camera which converter is used’ in the menu un-neccesary. It’s nice that the old converters are still fully functional – so no need to change in case you already own one of them. More interesting for most Photographers is the new option to use a digital teleconverter that can be operated via the main dial (also used to manual focus). It operates in two steps and adds 35mm and 50mm to the native 23mm focal length of the lens. This is very nice if suddenly a portrait opportunity comes along. Be aware that ‘zooming’ is only possible if .jpg files are recorded. (A future firmware upgrade might allow to record the un-zoomed .RAF file for later postproduction, I hope). One other – some might say – smaller change is the fact that now the same battery as in all both X-series cameras is used. For me, shooting with several FUJIFILM cameras, this is just the icing on the cake. Only one charger on location and one set of batteries for all cameras. Thank you.
Following FUJIFILM’s latest strategy of unification of the menu-structure within the X-series, everybody familiar with a X-T2 or X-Pro2 (even the GFX) finds all functions clearly sorted into the different sub-chapters like ‘image quality’, ‘AF & MF’ etc. Together with the Q-menu comes also the ‘My-Menu’ allowing extra space to make often used functions quickly accessible.
For many Photographers the fact that the X100 series is a ‘fixed lens camera’ makes it a rather expensive 23mm lens replacement for an (existing) X-series camera. For others it is the perfect extension of the human eye. I rather see myself belonging to category two. To blend into your environment and being able to work total ‘under cover’ makes this the perfect documentary style camera. The image quality (especially the sooc .jpg color grading and image quality) is legendary, the higher image resolution opens up the possibility to create large format prints. The camera is always fast and responsive, shooting at near darkness with ISO-values up to 12.800 (and still delivering printable image quality) makes it my night time cityscape tool No. one. And last but not least, the ACROS film simulation that I adore is also at hand.
What could possibly be still added and/or improved? Right now, I would say, I give this camera 9,5 out of 10 possible points. So let’s see what FUJIFILM will present in the next model … Last open question: What will be the name of the 5th X100 camera ?