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Fuji X100 review + sample photos

I bought a new camera.

 

These photos were taken with it. There is a certain depth to them that just aren't present with photos from my previous camera, the GF1.

 

I've always wanted a rangefinder-style camera. The only real choices were the very expensive Leica cameras for a while now.

 

Well, I then learned about the Fuji X100. I've wanted one since its launch but either couldn't afford/find one. I snatched one up as soon as I had the chance to.

 

The box.

 

The beautiful presentation. This is where you realize that the X100 isn't like other cameras. This camera is like Marmite. You'll find out why.

 

For people wanting an in-depth review of the X100, I recommend dpreview. My review will be more personal and less about specs. Nevertheless, the X100 has an APS-C sized sensor with a 12.3MP sensor.

 

The camera is aesthetically "old fashioned" in every way. I'm not necessarily a fan of constantly returning to old archetypes but in terms of cameras, things used to be just "better" in my opinion.

 

I've never had strangers comment on my camera but with the Fuji X100, everyone asks about it. The main question being, "That not digital is it?"

 

As most people are probably familiar with, the Fuji has a fixed 23mm lens. I've never used anything other than the 20mm on my GF1 so this won't be an issue for me. The lens on the X100 is equivalent to 35mm and 40mm on the GF1. Ideal.

 

The whole camera feels rigid to hold, thanks to the magnesium top and bottom caps. The "leather" pattern is straight out of a classic 70s camera and does a good job of hiding what seems like a plastic body.

 

The camera also features a proper rangefinder viewfinder. It has a proximity sensor next to it shutting off the display when you're shooting.

 

The viewfinder is super crisp and bright. It also has a HUD-like overlay for basic information and a framing box.

 

What makes the X100 really special is the fact that you can switch to an electronic viewfinder by flicking the switch located to the right of the lens. This is absolutely brilliant. It completely negates the framing issues in macro mode.

 

The 23mm lens. Really sharp and plenty fast at f2. What makes the camera really work is that the lens was optimized for the sensor and vice versa. The fact that it didn't need to be interchangeable gave the Fuji engineers certain luxuries - and it shows.

 

The lens is completely metal with a smooth focus ring and a manual aperture ring behind it. Sadly the lens requires an adapter for filters.

 

The lens cap is also full metal and lined in microfiber for a press-fit design.

 

More manual controls. The shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial are too refreshing. Notice how the shutter accepts a mechanical cable release. Amazing.

 

The bottom. The X100 is better built and thought out than many cameras but I do have a few minor grievances. For example, take a look at the almost arbitrary placement of screws. Annoys me. 

 

The back. I also have a few problems here. The display is great but the UI isn't. It looks pretty logical but things are located in odd places. In example, "auto ISO" is in the setup menu, not the shooting menu. Shouldn't it be next to "ISO"? Also, some of these buttons are slightly small and fiddly to use although not horrid. 

 

Who cares about the hardware though, lets take a look at some photos from this thing.

*Many of these photos have some post processing though minor.

 

One of the first photos taken with the camera. Crisp.

 

I noticed that many of the photos were coming out way too "contrasty" (for my tastes). This was fixed by changing the dynamic range settings. 

 

Something that needs to be said is that this camera isn't fast at focusing. It's not bad but it's definitely not for sports photography. 

 

The WB shift function is fun to play with.

 

It's how I managed to get film-like appearance in these photos.

 

But you can also just let it do it's thing and get an accurate white balance.

 

I can't wait to take this thing to places like Tokyo and NYC. 

 

Something I also noticed is how softly the X100 handles glare.

 

It produces some brilliant effects. Almost artificial in result. 

 

I'm falling in love with this camera.

 

The Fuji's 35mm equivelant 23mm lens is pretty much ideal for my style of shooting.

 

It's a perfect transition from the GF1.

 

Here is what makes the X100 really special. It's the fact that nobody really notices you shooting. The retro looks and the near slient leaf shutter means that you can be intimate with the environment like never before. 

 

I get yelled at frequently by security guards. Not once with the X100. They just think you're some hipster with a stupid film camera.

 

No more, "Hey, no photos in the store!"

 

I actually managed to gather a few Apple Geniuses asking questions about the camera; in a positive way. It's so unintimidating. 

 

This is at ISO 3200. No noise. 

 

The large sensor does wonders. I would never even attempt to shoot with this little light with the GF1.

 

Vignetting is really smooth. 

 

To be completely honest, the X100 isn't the fastest, most accurate shooter.

 

But I don't think that's what I'm looking for. In my opinion, cameras have gotten too much like appliance. Sure, it makes total sense for the general consumer but I don't think that's the case for people looking for cameras like the GF1.

 

The X100 is defidently harder to work with than the GF1. But once you understand it, you can get brilliant results. 

 

When I bought the X100, I was expecting it to be on par with the GF1. It isn't, it's in a different class. I don't want to give it too much credit but I'm starting to think the only cameras it can be compared with are the Leica rangefinders. 

 

Fuji has also added a "film simulation" feature. Cute.

 

I think Provia and Astia are ideal. Velvia loses too much detail.

 

Velvia is probably suited best for sceneries. 

 

 

This camera just keeps on rocking.

 

There are plenty of cameras that shoot accurately. But do they convey emotion accurately?

 

There is a certain - I hate to use this word - "soul" in these photos.

 

 

I've always looked at Leica catalogs and wondered what that magic in a "Leica" photo was. I've finally found the camera that reproduces some of that magic. I still don't know what it is. But I know it when I see it.

 

So, to conclude, the X100 is by far my favorite camera so far. 

 

As I have said, it isn't without its flaws. It's not fast to focus, doesn't have interchangeable lenses, and doesn't produce "accurate" or "consistent" photos every time. It's also significantly more work to take photos. There are just more buttons and knobs that are required to get you to the perfect photo.

 

But once you master it, it will deliver every time. The amazing sensor, the superb dynamic range, the unbelievable colors, the super crisp lens. And best of all, you don't get noticed by security guards when you take photos.

 

What I'm trying to say is that the X100 is like a loyal dog. It takes a lot of work to train him but once you do, you can trust that he'll be by your side every time, in a reliable way. The X100 is magic. It's emotional. It's something that is so very rare in the modern camera market. I love it.