But before I get ahead of myself…
The Fuji X100 is definitely targeted at a certain type of user. If you always wanted to shoot a Leica with a fast-50 but ended up with a pentax K1000 and still took awesome pics, then this is the case here.
The Fuji is supposed to look and feel like a Rangefinder, but Fuji has very definitely decided that we have come far with AF technologies and such, and thus have decided to leave them in place. You can use the viewfinder as is, or switch to an EVF (Electronic View Finder) with lots of info and overlays, including a horizon level and grid. All the same is available on the back LCD display as well.
Fuji did think a bit before building this camera and there are some very decent features on the camera that makes it a joy to use. Unfortunately they did seem to have been drinking in the meeting with the adjustment wheel… which is sad. I think they had also discussed the battery in the same meeting.
The camera is very solid, and feels good in your hand. If you switched off the back LCD display, then there is a quick view changer on the front of the camera that switches between the various options available through the viewfinder. Aperture is controlled through an old fashioned aperture ring around the lens. AF/MF functions is a switch on the side of the camera a la Nikon/Hasselblad. Shutterspeed is via a chunky wheel on top of the camera (both aperture and shutterspeed in full stops only. If, you read the manual though, you’d see that there is a small toggle switch at the back of the camera that will allow you to adjust the f/stop in thirds between the two appertures you selected on the front aperture ring – nice for small and quick adjustments while you are shooting!)
The remote release is via standard screw in release cable! How awesome is that (not really, but still feels cool to use!)
There is also a small FN button on the top plate that adjusts ISO quickly instead of having to go through the menus (which is a serious schlep, mostly due to aforementioned adjustment wheel)
Also on the back plate, there is a RAW button that will switch RAW capture on and off at the push of a button. This is a cool feature if you are shooting JPEGs and quickly want to shoot something that you feel might need the RAW files for. The BAD BAD BAD thing about this is that because of the location, I have now frequently switched off the RAW function by accident, and when I download, I only have the JPEG’s left. Which is brings me more or less to the things I really don’t like about this camera.
The guys that designed the back adjustment wheel, should really re-think the swiss-army knife model. There are direct functions by pressing the wheel on the sides (trash and drive modes on top, Macro on/off on the left, Flash on the right and WB at the bottom). The centre is a “Menu” button. Right. Now… because of it’s location, it’s extremely easy to press the “buttons” by accident. The activate at a very slight press, so accidental bumps.
Also, the adjustment wheel also works as a rotation wheel. This means that if you have big thumbs like me, then you tend to jump between menu items instead of choosing a function. I would select a function, and then press the miniature “ok” button in the middle of the wheel, but because it’s so slight, I invariably press it to the side and select the option above the one I wanted. Irksome, but not the end of the world.
Apart from that, the slow startup and non functioning menus between shots is a pain. For some reason, Fuji decided that while the camera is processing an image, no menu changes would be possible. So if you took a shot, and realized that you should have switched on the flash or macro function, you would need to wait for the camera to finnish what it’s doing before you can change a setting. Some reviewers have insinuated that the problem all but goes away if you use a high speed card, unfortunately my high speed card went on it’s merry way to a distributer with another review model. oh well…
I also really wished I could change lenses like a PEN or NEX.
Which brings me to the lens. f/2 is awesome! sometimes… Let me be honest about this. f/2 on this lens is great for shots, but not close to anything sharp enough for anything commercial. f/2.8 is also pretty nice for your own shots and more artistic shots. If you want it sharp, stick to f/5.6 if you want nice bokeh, play with the f/2-f/2.8 at your hearts content! To be honest (again) I have hardly shot this camera at anything more than f/2.8 the images you are creating is just so bluddy nice!
Play at your hearts content. That’s what I did.
The lens is a 23mm f/2 which (with the cropping factor of about 1.4) ends up being about a 35mm lens in 35mm terms. I think I would have liked a 50mm more, but that’s just personal preference – close cropped portraits distorts a bit on the 35mm side. As I mentioned, the lens is very sharp above f/4 but a lot of fun below! If you like shooting wide open, then the ND filter features comes in handy when shooting outside (the shutterspeed gets stuck at 1/4000th) This is, however, a digital function, so I am not exactly sure what the impact is on the files. Nothing I could see though.
DOF and Lens Sharpness – Right click and open in new tab/window to see image at 100%
Noise & ISO – Right click and open image in new Tab/Window to see at 100%
Well, there are a few other features which we can mention. There is a “motordrive” although I really doubt that too many people will even consider using it. There as a sweep panorama function (which actually works quite well! same bugs as other built in features, like duplicated lines when it grabs movement) unfortunately it only does an output to JPEG and only to a max of 5,120px by 1,440px or 2,160px (depending on your orientation) It does blend pretty decent though. There is also a movie mode, but again, I don’t think it’s something you will be doing a lot with this camera.
The price may be higher than a 60D and a nifty fifty, but it’s such an awesome camera to carry around inconspicuously that I decided to take the plunge and get it for myself as an early birthday gift.
It’s good enough to shoot commercial work with, the lens is quite usable between f/4 and f/11 and the noise is better than the 60D/7D’s from Canon.
You can shoot anywhere with this thing and just look like a tourist. Just perfect!
As you can see, I love the f/2 and f/2.8 ability of this lens!
By Sean Nel
All Images copyright Sean Nel
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