Note to self: Vacationing with a three-year and a three-month old is a trip. (Sorry, mom jokes.)
And maybe, in hindsight, it's not the best time to try out a new camera, but ever since I stumbled across Daniel Kim's Mallorca blog post where he uses the X100V - the newest version of the X100F - I've been dying to test drive a version of this camera. First, a few tech specs:
The Fuji X100F is a 24.3MP, ASP-C sensor, mirrorless camera, meaning it has a 1.5 crop factor compared to a full frame. For travel and personal use, this isn't a big deal - you can still shoot RAW files on this camera though I've read processing them is a bit different. (I actually accidentally shot all the images below in Fine JPG.)
Confused? This diagram explains crop factor more efficiently than I ever could. Essentially, what you need to know is the 23mm f/2 lens that's built in to this camera has the same field of view as a traditional 35mm lens on a full frame camera due to the crop factor. This is a great focal length for documentary and travel work, allowing for a ton of versatility without being too tight or ultra-wide. As it's not the newest version of this system, you can get this camera for under $1000, which I think is a steal for a personal-use camera.
What I Love About the Fuji X100F
- The feel of the rangefinder is light, fun, and so easy and discreet to use. It doesn't intrude on the moment the way a DSLR does, which made it so much more enjoyable to reach for. I didn't use my phone for photos once the entire weekend.
- Functionally, I felt this camera was really intuitive. The aperture is changed via a dial on the lens (reminiscent of rangefinder film cameras - love) and the ISO and shutter speed are both changed on the dial on top of the camera, one my turning, the other by pulling up and turning. Sure you may need to set and access a few more things via the menus, and that took a little more time to figure out, but the three basic things you'll need are easy to find and use.
- The live view function of the mirrorless was so much faster than my DSLR, and I really liked being able to frame images that way vs always looking through the viewfinder.
- Battery life was great. I used this camera 3-4 days, often using live view, often forgetting to turn it off (because...kids) and the battery lasted the duration without charging.
- Face detection on this camera was such a neat feature - something I don't have on my practically-antique Canon Mark III. I found it was really consistent with auto focus at f/2.8-4 and above with face tracking on.
Things to Consider About the Fuji X100F
- I typically like to shoot with a more open aperture, so I shot a lot at f/2 early on. But after a shooting at this aperture a bit, I realized I didn't love the way the camera performed here. The bokeh - which I didn't have super high expectations for - wasn't anything to write home about, and it often missed focus. In my very limited experience - again I had the camera for a few days and this could be a very simple fix - the camera really hit it's stride around f/4, the focus improved dramatically (as you'd expect), as well as the image quality.
- If you're shooting in good, even light, this camera creates some seriously great images. If the light is mixed or low, I wasn't as pleased with the images. Again, this could be user error since it was my first time. I'm not willing to write off the camera in these situations just yet, but as an initial observation I'd recommend being super particular about the light you're shooting in (as much as you can) to get the best images possible, though this advice pretty much holds true for every camera.
- Full disclosure: I was secretly hoping to be able to able to use this camera for pro work after I read that Daniel Kim uses the X100V in his wedding work. Do I think that it's capable of taking great portraits? Totally. But as of this writing I don't think that this crop-sensor camera can deliver the quality that I need for clients as my main camera.
- Figuring out focus points wasn't super easy. While I could easily adjust the focus point on the back if the camera auto-grabbed an area I didn't want, I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't just stay in the center - from what I could tell that's how I set it up. This isn't a huge deal, but it is worth noting that if you, like me, shoot the old-school way of focus and recompose, that it might take a little longer to figure out how to get this camera set up for that.
I will absolutely be purchasing the X100V for my own kit. A bit pricier than the F, I think there's some serious value-ad from what I've read to upgrading to the newest version. But all in all the X100 series is a great little camera for personal use and travel, priced well and performs well, and one I can't wait to get my hands on again.
Still on the fence?
Rent before you buy! I always, always rent a camera (sometimes more than once) before I decide to make an investment. Lensrentals is my favorite rental company and the only one I rent from. Their equipment is super well-kept and serviced, they have great customer service (which is huge for me), and they make it super easy to ship the product back (simply pack with their included shipping label and tape and drop at a Fedex drop off).