Fujifilm X100 Review – 15,000 frames user update

A 15,000 frame user report by Damien Lovegrove

My first seven months with the Fujifilm x100 has been mostly a joy although my love affair with this little marvel has had its ups and downs.

The Fujifilm X100 is undeniably cute.

On the plus side every time I pick up the X100 I smile. It enriches my life a little bit and that is quite an achievement. It is tactile and quite beautiful. I have owned other compact cameras including the Canon G10 but none have begged to be used in quite the same way. Until my X100 ownership, compact cameras were a compromise that exchanged the bulk and weight of a DSLR for convenience. In the last 18 months my iPhone 4 has become my go anywhere camera.

There didn’t seem a need for a mid sized camera with a fixed focal length lens in my life until I set eyes on the X100 at Photokina. When Fujifilm devised the x100 it set out to create and supply a market when one didn’t already exist, and I like that. Just like Apple did when it introduced the iPad.

My first few months of x100 ownership were not all plain sailing. While I was giving a street photography workshop in Berlin the shutter speed dial became out of sync with the settings. 1/60th on the dial resulted in an actual setting of 1/30th second. Not a big problem I hear you say but it meant I couldn’t access my preferred aperture priority mode. When I dialled in ‘A’ I got 1/4000th second instead. So the camera was relegated to my hotel room for the rest of my trip. It was lucky that I had my Canon 5D mk2 as a backup for the Boudoir workshop the next day.

I duly sent the camera back to Fujifilm and five days later it was returned repaired. This was a great turnaround considering the number of returns that were being reported on the forums. It is worth mentioning that my Canon 5Dmk2 and my Nikon D700 had to go back for minor issues too so my experience with the Fuji X100 is no different in terms of reliability.

The finish on all the parts is excellent.

The X100 is a joy to use. I love the live view way of composing with a moderate wide prime lens. I love it on my iPhone and it works equally well on the Fujifilm X100. Perhaps not using the eye level finder doesn’t look professional but that doesn’t bother me and neither does the fact I’m using what looks like a cute hobbyists camera. I second shot a super smart wedding in Mayfair in London (working for one of my photographer clients) using the X100 and the shots were fabulous. The clients weren’t put off by the camera’s appearance either.

The focus engine on the x100 is excellent, I know it gets bad press on the whole for being slow but I must say that when the camera declares the shot is focused it is not lying. I wish the same was true of any of the DSLRs I’ve ever owned. I’m so used to a high failure rate of mis focussed shots at f/2.8 with DSLRs I end up over shooting every job or using f/4 as a result. The Fuji gets it spot on nearly every time and at a whole stop wider at f/2. So in short it takes longer to focus but it doesn’t let you down.

Things that are missing or could be improved on the x100:

  • Auto ISO and regular ISO settings should be accessible with one touch of the ISO button. I hate having to go into the multi level menus to switch auto ISO on or off.
  • External flash should be controlled with the flash button. The external flash menu governs the slowest shutter speed the camera will use in the auto modes so it can’t just be left on.
  • Although the Fn button is programmable it cannot be assigned to auto ISO or to switch the external flash function on/off. I use it to access the built in 3 stop neutral density filter.
  • The focus switch and the shutter speed dial are easily knocked and could do with interlocks.
  • Fuji have learned from these small niggles with the much improved X-Pro1 user interface but there are sacrifices in that camera too. Gone is the high flash sync capabilities of the X100. Features like these make the X100 a world beating camera in my eyes.
  • If i could only own one camera and I could choose from every camera ever made I’d happily choose the X100. “What about the Leica M series cameras” I hear you shout. I say that there is no point me having allegedly superior glass if I can’t accurately focus it and trust me I’ve tried rangefinders. Getting shots focused spot on with a lens wide open is nearly impossible. The AF on the Fuji is super impressive because my out of focus shot rate is so low it’s amazing. But as I write this on a trip to Dubai my camera fault has returned. Another 5 days without it is now inevitable. There is nothing worse than a recurring fault especially if it continues to happen outside of the warranty period.

If the X100 was more reliable it would be perfect.

What makes the X100 a fabulous camera to own and use:

  • Looks: The x100 is gorgeous to look at from every angle. The material finishes are superb and the metal surface feels silky smooth. I have the Gariz half leather case on my x100 and the camera feels as fabulous as it looks.
  • Handling: When it is set up correctly the x100 really is a pick up and shoot camera. I was worried at first because I have big hands but the x100 just feels right.
  • Sensor quality: I’m amazed at the image quality at high ISO from this camera. It out performs my DSLRs with sensors twice the size. I can imagine Fujifilm cameras becoming the market leader if their sensor and hybrid viewfinder technology continues to outperform it’s competitors.
  • Dust free pictures: The lens and sensor are one combined unit so gone is the tedious task of cloning out dust spots from images.
  • Viewing options: The live view rear screen and the electronic viewfinder show real time exposure compensation so there is no need to do test exposures. This alone makes up for the slower focussing system. The eye sensor works well and the hybrid viewfinder is sensational. Seeing an optical or electronic image in the viewfinder with such high resolution is amazing. Being able to view a hybrid screen is miraculous. It’s like a heads up display in a fighter aircraft.
  • Colour rendition straight from camera: The colour rendition of jpegs produced In camera is superb. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to recreate the film looks by processing RAW files using Adobe Lightroom. There is a stunning non linearity in the Fuji files that is sublime.
  • Silent use: There is an option to switch off the shutter sound. Making the x100 almost silent in use. The Leica M series cameras are very noisy by comparison.
  • High speed sync: I regularly use 1/1000th second shutter speed with my Skyport triggered Elinchrom studio flash and portable Quadra Ranger systems.
  • Optical perfection: From the +£75,000 big box HD TV zoom lenses you’ll see everywhere at the Olympics this summer to the lenses Fuji make for Hasselblad medium format cameras Fuji glass is certainly among, if not, the best in the world. The lens on the x100 is no exception. Pin sharp corner to corner wide open at f/2. It is not a flat field lens either so a focus reframe method of shooting results in tack sharp images every time.

Scoring:

Lens quality 10/10
Handling 8/10
Looks 10/10
Performance 9/10
Reliability 5/10
Value for money 6/10

Overall 8/10

My Fujifilm X100 settings in brief:

White Balance – Auto
ISO – 200
Auto ISO – on. Minimum shutter speed 1/80th second and max ISO 3200
Film simulation – BWg
Mode – aperture priority
Aperture – f/2
Autofocus – single shot
Silent mode – off (all sounds set to mute)
Fast start up – on
Energy save – off

89 of my Fujifilm X100 shots are here for your perusal.

Here is a gallery of my recent work with the Fujifilm X100.

Please feel free to comment below.

EVENT NEWS: Join me and Chris at the Manchester Hilton in January 2013 for a styled portraiture training workshop exclusively for Fuji X series owners. Set in the gorgeous surroundings of the Deansgate Hilton Hotel this will be a day of fun and creativity with like-minded individuals. To learn more and to book online click here.

Fuji Creative Shoot

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

49 thoughts on “Fujifilm X100 Review – 15,000 frames user update

  1. I too love this little marvel!
    I have only had it for a couple of weeks but like you smile whenever I pick it up!
    I am amazed at its jpeg ability and seem to shoot that all the time, the focusing is slow but havent missed a shot due to it really.
    I used it in the studio for the first time on Saturday – very nice!

  2. Hi Damien – as you know I too love the X100 and have been using it at weddings for the last nine months or so. I have some of the same reservations as you (but luckily I haven’t suffered the aperture blade issue). For me its a wonderful machine – small, elegant and fast enough to use on the run. It’s not quite there in terms of replacing my Canon gear at a wedding – but I fully expect to be shooting with mirror less cameras completely in the next few years. For my style as a pure reportage photographer it makes sense. WIll be interesting to see how the X 1 Pro pans out.

  3. Sadly definitely something has to be going on regarding quality control in these cameras. I love mine for its size, looks, image quality, even shooting experience. But the quality in regards to quality issues really keeps it down from being a wonderful product. Wouldn’t trust taking it to any place as my only camera. Mine has been send to service for the 3 time. I think they have serious issues regarding quality control standards. The second time they swapped mine for a refurbished model, which came already with problems directly from fuji.

  4. I wondered too how long it will be before we go with the mirrorless cameras at weddings?
    The only issue i forsee is whaf the clients perception will be.

  5. you can’t argue with the performance looking at the shots you’ve taken, it feels pretty good in your hand too (i was tempted to keep hold of yours in Bristol).

    I imagine you wouldn’t get the same issues that come with pulling out a 5D in public either (sad sign of the times). and i guess that also leads into Marks point but maybe we should do things to break peoples perception that a big camera = a good photographer.

  6. Good point that isn’t it Bryan?
    Peoples perceptions may change with the cameras becoming more mainstream.
    I have been a tog at weddings where guests have had better cameras than me!

  7. Hi Damian,
    Great review (as usual), and a truly great camera. I got mine following comments by yourself and other great photographers, and I’ve not regretted it.
    Really interested to hear what you have to say about the X-Pro1.
    Cheers, Rob.

  8. Hi Alejandro,

    I have to agree that the fragility of the camera systems still requires attention. Fujifilm will get there. The Sunami didn’t help :(

    Best regards, Damien.

  9. Hi Mark,

    The clients perception issue is in your mind. I’d shoot complete PW shoots with my Fuji X100 and they would love the pictures and come to accept it as the fabulous camera that it is.

    Regards, Damien.

  10. Hi Johannes,

    The jpeg only option is so fast on the X100. I just love the extra dynamic range for tweaks in Lightroom. The colour rendition of images out of the camera is sensational.

    Regards, Damien.

  11. Thank you Rob,

    One day I might get to try a production version of the X-pro1. I’ll need a weekend with it to know for sure if it is as good as it should be.

    Regards, Damien.

  12. Hi Damien. Interested to read your long-term report on the X100. The brief time I spent with it was not without quirks but certainly enjoyable. I agree completely about how wonderful that leaf shutter is.

    I’ve been using an X-Pro1 for about a week now and again it has quirks but is capable of superb results. I used it at a wedding on Saturday and found it fit well with my style and other kit. I hope Fujifilm listen to feedback and fix some of the niggles as they are really onto something with the sensor.

  13. A great review Damien- I gotta get me one of these babies!! I used to own a Fuji DSLR (the S5 Pro) and I loved the skintones it produced in images- in fact as much as I love my 5d mark 3, it cant match the fuji in that regard- it’s also a stunning looking camera- I just hope Santa is going to be in a good mood this year as it’s right at the top of my Xmas list!

  14. A wonderful review Damien and what is more, absolutely stunning photos, I can’t believe the quality of that camera. It is interesting you mentioning the AF problems on your DSLR’s and how good the x100. For that reason alone I would by one. As the AF on my 5d’s isn’t that great also.
    All the best,
    Andy.

  15. I found the review of the X100 useful and informative, particularly the list of settings. However, the creme de la creme were the photographs. My wife and I oohed and aahed over them. Their technical quality and imaginative force brilliantly illustrated the dynamism and potential of the camera. Frankly, IMHO, they are the most compelling examples of what the X100 can do that I’ve seen to date.

  16. Hi Andy,

    I agree totally re the niggles and I love the way Fuji get them sorted with firmware upgrades. The upgrade journey with the X100 has been fantastic giving the little camera better useability and better performance with each step. I can only assume the same will apply to the X-Pro1 so I’ve just ordered one. I have a user review to do for a magazine so it will be interesting to see if my money has been wisely invested.

    I’m not going to be shooting weddings with it or street photography. My work tends to be farely static and I’ve plenty of time to ensure accurate focus and exposure. I’m excited to be embarking on the same journey as you.

    Best regards,

    Damien.

  17. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for your compliments. It’s worth noting that my subjects are usually static and I have time to be careful with composition and focus etc. That is why I’m happy to be giving the X-pro1 some camera bag space too.

    The X-Pro1 is roumoured to out resolve the 5Dmk3 because it has no anti aliasing filter. I’ll be testing that bit out for sure.

    Thanks for your comments, Damien.

  18. Hi David,

    Wow what such kind words, thank you. I’m about to start my journey with the X100′s big brother the X-pro1. I will be running both cameras side by side for some time. I’ll revise my settings and update with my experiences as I go.

    Once again thanks for your compliments,

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

  19. Hello Damien,

    I write to you from Vancouver, Canada. I’m an enthusiast photographer and stumbled across this post as I searched for reviews of the Fuji X100 camera.

    First and foremost, I cannot believe the photo gallery you posted of your X100 shots. Not only are the models stunningly beautiful, but your compositions, posing, and lighting have me in absolute awe. I really can’t describe it any other way. For the last two days, I occasionally get flashbacks of your X100 gallery and am amazed at what you produced. You are very, very talented – I’m a bit envious :)

    I own an EOS 7D (with 17-55 f/2.8 IS and 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II) and just find that it’s too bulky a kit to carry around for day-to-day or travel shooting. I’m considering the X100 and wonder if you can provide any feedback on the limitations (or benefit) of having the *fixed* 35mm FOV?? I was considering something like the new Olympus OM-D, but I want good glass and I’m fearful of investing more money in lenses. Also, the X100 seems to have an output quality to it that is not so digital.

    Any help/advice would be much appreciated.

    Also, I just saw today that your website offers instructional videos.. I’m already going to start saving money for the Boudoir and later the Speedlighting downloadable courses.

    Best Regards,
    Rico

  20. Wow thank you Rico.

    Thank you for your compliments re my Fuji X100 images. My advice is just do it but the thing is you need to learn how to shoot with one lens and enjoy the ride. The X100 is such a fabulous camera to own it enhances lives. Forget the rest and immerse yourself in a creative journey.

    I wish you all the best with your photography.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

  21. You wrote a great review and I agree with your opinion of this camera.

    It offers a fast lesson in humility for a user who may have unknowingly over reliant on a hi tech computer to take the photos on their behalf.

    It is stimulating to have to asses every aspect of a shot and so very rewarding with the quality of the results when you get it all right.
    Thanks for your time.

  22. With so many positive reviews, I am intrigued by what X100 may have to offer.

    However, surely there must be remarkable improvements in the M series Leica cameras over the X100? How else must Leica explain being in the business for over a decade and churning out cameras the price of a new family car?

  23. Very interesting review Damien. I have only one word for your photos – outstanding -

    Although I have a lot of Canon gear (20D/30D/7D) and a host of lenses I have found over the last year or so I was not using them. I therefore purchased a Panasonic LX5 and love it, it’s a great little camera, image quality is outstanding. The only bug for me was no viewfinder so I purchased the DMW-LVF1, however I just could not get on with it. I have been ‘lusting’ for a X100 for some time and have now purchased a X100 a few days ago. Early days with this but initial results are very impressive, especially at high iso – 3200 with little grain is very impressive.

    Seem to have lost my photo mojo recently but this is just the kick up the backside I need to get back into taking photos instead of snaps of my grandchildren !

    Best of luck for the future

    Mike

  24. Wonderful review and nicely done too!
    Can anyone illustrate the time it takes for the flash to recharge between consecutive shots?
    Will the camera still shoot without the flash if the flash is not yet ready or would the shutter freeze until?

  25. Your photos are wonderful, thanks for sharing them and your opinion of my next camera..should be here next week.

  26. Hi Sunny,

    I’ve never used the flash on my X100. I forgot it was there. I hear it is very good but I’m not able to help you.

    Kindest regards, Damien.

  27. Thank you Mike,

    I hope you have now got to grips with the X100 and are setting aside time to get out there and shoot. Thanks for your complimentary comments about my shots. Rarely do I find inspiration in my kit but the X100 just begs to be used.

    Cheers, Damien.

  28. Hi Sunny,

    It’s called the Red Dot factor. There are many Leica owners who just love to own a Leica. It’s the red dot that they want because they think it means ‘the best in the world’and if they have a good camera perhaps it makes them a good photographer. If Leica prices were low then the brand would be finished. Just like there are Ferrari drivers who never drive fast etc. I choose the best camera for the job and the X100 is a perfect package for some of my work.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

  29. It’s a fab little camera ! Ever since I stopped using film (and sold my m6) I was looking for an alternative and the x100 does this perfectly. Currently using it on personal and professional jobs!

  30. We have gone the X-E1 and kit zoom route. In many ways it reminds me of the beautiful little Leica CL which is the only film camera I still own. Only better made than the Leica.

    Karen used the X-E1 for a week in Paris and loved it. Sadly it was faulty out of the box and has gone back to the retailer for replacement. I thought the zoom was a bit soft too so hopefully the new one will be better.

  31. Hi Martin,

    I hope you are finally getting on well with the XE-1. My zoom is pin sharp so I think it must have been dodgy. I’m expecting my 55-200 zoom today. I’ll give that a try for a while. The Fuji 18-55mm zoom has really made an impact on me. I use it most of the time only switching to the 35mm or 60mm primes for shallow depth of field portrait work.

    Cheers,

    Damien.

  32. Hi Damien

    The dealer replaced the camera and lens and the new ones are fine. I do like it and have used it at the last few weddings we photographed. It is ideal in the church because it is so quiet. It does have some annoyances that should have been picked up in the design stage. For e.g. the exposure compensation is way to easy to move accidentally. Focus is sometimes too slow to capture moments.

    Most of my natural light studio portraits I shoot with the 85mm f/1.8 on the 5D2 at f/2. I cannot get that look with the Fuji so am holding out for the fast portrait lens. It’s a shame it has slipped into next year.

    Be interested how you get on the the new zoom.

    Martin

  33. Hi Martin,

    The 60mm f/2.4 gives a nice look wide open. It’s a little longer than the 85 though. When they changed the specification of the 56 from f/1.4 to f/1.2 it got put back a year. It should be well worth the wait :) I have to use 1/250th with the 60mm to get crisp shots and I’m expecting to use the zoom at 80mm-100mm f/4 at just 1/125th. I’ll be shooting with it in Italy soon so there will be plenty to blog from it.

    Best regards,
    Damien.

  34. The 56 will be the lens for me, if I do anything. To be frank the tools I have are doing a fine job :)

    Have fun in Italy!

  35. Thanks Martin,

    I agree about the 56. Once I have that my day to day kit will be the 4 fast primes. 14, 23, 35 and 56 with the X-pro2 :)

    Cheers, Damien.

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