3 months with the Fujifilm Finepix X100.


There are a plethora of X100 reviews, so a far back as 3 months before the X100 was even launched in March of last year. I think I read most of them. All seem to have very similar content. Technical details and most written have been hugely informative.

So I don’t intend to write a detailed technical review but just to reveal and explain my time Ivar the last 3 months living and using the Fuji X100. The first thing I should let you know is that I have pretty much used this camera exclusively. I have not taken my Nikon D300s anywhere but taken the X100 everywhere. This is partly due to the fact that this camera lives with me 24/7. That
Sadly I have done very little commercial work over the winter.
So what’s it like using it every day will I have the same issues as others I love it and I hate it. So let me list some of them.

Let’s start with the loves:
1) image quality.
2) handling,
3) looks
4) EVF ( electronic view finder )
The hates:
1) thumb wheel and centre select buttons
2) really poor close focus accuracy
3) manual focus
4) lens hood and cover
5) battery life

For me these are the main points after living with the X100 every day for the last three months. So I feel it’s only right explain. Other reviews have pointed out more issues than I have mentioned but Ono balance I have not really seen other issues as being a real frustration. So let’s run through the hates first and cover them one by one with a sentence or two for each.
Thumb wheel and centre select button.
Arrrrrh this for me is the most irritating part of the X100. The rotation is way too sensitive. It’s infuriating using it to position the selection within the menu. It’s almost impossible to use. Then once you have managed to place the scroller in the right place you have to try and fresh the tiny centre button to make the selection. It’s just simply too small and does not have a positive operation response. I don’t find the menus themselves a problem. I have got to know where things are and could get to them very quickly if the thumb wheel and selector worked as they should.
Close focus accuracy
I can’t work out or understand why this happens or is so poor. It just sucks. Sometimes it works just fine others it drives me mad. I have taken to using the camera in a pseudo auto mode where I have the selector switch set to manual but then use the AEL button to find focus. I have found that I have the most success and higher accuracy by using the EVF, tapping the rocker centre switch to zoom to 100% and then stab the AEL. And shoot. This for me is the fastest way of using the camera in most environments. Including not having to switch to macro mode using that damn thumb wheel and selector button. Using the AEL at almost any distance pretty much works every time but it will still have the occasional brain fart and just not focus.
Manual focus
Well this is the biggest disappointment in using the x100. This would, and frankly should have been a really tactile experience and a joy to the user. I’m convinced if the Fuji had designed this x100 had got the focus right, it would have been knocking really hard on Leica doors. In reality it’s pointless, it’s a waste of engineering and materials. To be brutal if Fuji don’t or can’t fix this problem with software I won’t be buying another model in the future. It’s madness that it left the test department. Turning a fly by wire focus ring a million rotations to try a gain focus is plain dumb. Please fix it. Although reading other forums I have a feeling my screams will fall on def ears.
Lens hood and lens cover
Let’s just say and after thought from the Fuji team, then they made it a really expensive to purchase the adaptor and hood and then the dark lens cap no longer fits and all for and extra £90. Yeah right. Jog on boys. I found a Chinese rip off for £30 and popped on a good quality double sided coated 49mm lens filter. It all looks a little bulky and ugly but I want to protect that lovely Fujinion lens and for a £1000 camera it deserves it. So thanks Fuji for not thinking and engineering an elegant solution. update. I have found a way to solve the ugliness will post the solution soon with new images.

Battery life
It’s pants, however I have grown very fond of running the EVF mode and this mode is hard on the battery. I have not bought another so I can last a full days street shooting before needing a charge. They are not expensive and easy to obtain but again it’s all extra expense.

So now it’s time to move on to the good things.
Image handling
Let’s start with simply stunning image quality. I have a Nikon D300s and am very pleased with it but when I look at some of the great images I have taken with the X100 they are undoubtedly some of the best I have ever seen and taken. I can’t quite put my finger on one particular thing. Sharpness, great depth, amazing dynamic range, ultra low noise at huge ISO’s, fantastic tone and contrast. It just seem to take the image and finds the correct camera settings to make the absolute best images for what every you point it at. That’s all before popping it into manual. I tend to run in aperture priority mode via the EVF, I love the Fujinion F/2 lens it’s bokeh and sharpness are superb and really enjoy challenging the range of this camera.
This is a real breath of fresh air. I was beginning to become despondent with my DSLR when wanting to take simple pleasure shots, street photography and holidays, so much so that the last family holiday I didn’t even take it with me and borrowed my daughters Nikon cool pix. The stigma of being a potential terrorist or pedophile was disturbing. I knew that I needed to find a small camera, but i know i had to find one with fantastic image quality and it’s the very reason I bought the x100 the first place. I have to say in three months I have only used my DSLR for professional work and the rest of the time the X100 has been glued into my hands and it goes everywhere with me.
Once you have gotten over the little frustrating issues and found your own favourite settings you can settle in to really enjoy photography again. I find myself slowing down taking my time and concentrating on taking a good shot. Now that I have spent lots of time with its controls I now don’t find them and irritation but can now smile at its quirkiness knowing that I will still capture a great shot. It’s not the fastest small camera but it makes to take time to “make” the shot rather than be lucky grabbing one. I really like this and what it teaches me. And as for is it really good hell yes. I have even used it with my wireless trigger off camera Nikon flashes and been extremely please with the shots. Take a look at this shot of Natalie as I grabbed a few shots at the end of the shoot to see how it would perform…. Not bad eh! I would even say better than the D300s.

I really like the EVF and switching between OVF it’s just brilliant and it makes me smile. It has great weight both for the fact I can live with it round my neck all day long and I cant do that with my D300s and 18-200mm and the weight when it’s in my hands taking a shot. It feels great and very well built and in no way fragile. The screen for viewing the images is not the greatest but I like this as once I see them full screen on my 23inch Apple display I normally have a wonderful surprise. The main controls for Aperture, shutter speed, exposure comp, and function buttons are perfect for nearly all conditions. If your smart and can live with needed a little extra time I run also in manual focus and use the AEL button so I can have full range from Macro at 4cm right through to infinity. Therefore in the hands the handling is simply wonderful ….now.
Yep looks very retro. Looks like a film camera from the fifties. Gets a smile if I get spotted with it in the street. Rather than frowned at with the D300s. Looks are simple clean lined and exquisite.
EVF Electronic View Finder/strong>
This has to be one one the very best attributes of the x100. It’s such a novelty to use. I switch between the optical view finder. Being able to zoom using the EVF is a very neat trick allowing you to ensure correct and accurate focus every time. The EVF also provides a more realistic view of image likeness. I use the term likeness as the quality and resolution of the display is not the best but it’s good enough to still allow the user to select the correct settings. It’s great fun to use. Also a really neat trick is that the optical view finder can also have an electronic overlay. Brilliant. ! Giving setting and light reading along with focus lock information right in the optical view. It’s like heads up display in aircraft. So use full.
All in all 3 months into owning and using the X100 a lot I find I use it more and more and enjoy the experience more and more. The x100 is a wonderful camera. It’s the closest I will come to owning a Leica M9 however with image quality this good I am not sure I still want one any more. After all x100 is a third of the price. If your into street photography and an x100 is on your short list it should be given plenty of time to breath and be learnt. It’s a rewarding little camera.

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