There are hundreds of Fujifilm X100F reviews already — the world hardly needs another one. Really, what more is there to say?
Yet I've tried to write a review of this thing, my favourite camera, a half-dozen times. Each time I'd give up half-way through, and moved on to something easier, like all-night photo walks and trips to other cities. The distraction hasn't helped. Six thousand photos in six months with this camera, and still I keep trying to write a review of it. To make it stop I started writing down quick notes, point form, of what I'd like to tell people about the machine and my experiences with it.
So here’s my ongoing jumble of intermittently inconsistent opinions and various other things that I think might be worth knowing.
It’s an excellent camera.
Limitations can be powerful.
The sort of things the F can’t do will be fairly obvious. The things it can do can be fairly surprising.
Twenty-four megapixels is enough for almost everything.
“More Zoom” is never the correct answer to any question.
You can stand on the X100F as a foundation, figuratively speaking, but you can’t lean on it as a crutch.
Using one won’t make you a better person, but it will make you a better photographer.
Should you buy one? If you’re ready to argue with these first few points, probably not.
35mm-equivalent is the least interesting focal length ever created. Not wide enough to be eyecatching, not long enough to be isolating. It’s fundamentally unexciting.
A 35mm-e is versatile, though. There’s a reason why it’s a rangefinder classic.
The X100F might fit in a jacket pocket, but you’ll have to confirm on a case-by-case basis.
Colder climates have an advantage for jacket-pocketability, but small buttons and dials are not kind to gloves. Life's a barter.
Despite moving its buttons to the right side the F still isn’t a one-handed camera.
The more powerful battery makes the F snappier than the earlier models. Even the shutter sounds a little crisper.
Battery life is about the same as earlier models. Sticking to the OVF squeaks out a few extra shots per charge.
If you’re used to SLRs, carry twice as many batteries as you’d expect to need.
The logistical burden of an unused battery is minor compared to carrying around an inert camera.
Upgrades from the T that convinced me to buy the F: the new sensor, W126 battery, lift-turn iso dial, and acros. In actual use only the first two have mattered, though the others are sometimes nice to have.
Choosing a camera because it will let you take sneaky photos of people that they wouldn’t knowingly allow you to take is a moral failing.
There are words to describe people who do things to others without permission, and none of them are good. Don’t earn them.
The X100 looks pro enough that the people you ask for permission to photograph should assume you’re capable, without being so over-the-top that it’s intimidating.
It’s not Weather Sealed(™), but I put mine through the wringer at Niagara Falls and it’s fine. YMMV.
Setting the camera to jpeg-acros is a fun way to spend a drizzly summer night in the city.
Build quality generally is excellent, although I loathe the front and rear command dials.
Buttons should click, dials should turn. Fujifilm insists on getting this wrong.
It could really use a thumb ridge. One from any of the other x-series cameras would do nicely.
Daylight fill flash with a leaf shutter is awesome.
Overpowering daylight with a built-in flash is even more awesome. It’s possible at close range, but watch for shadows from the hood.
The flash control interface, sadly, is not the F’s strong point.
The [Q]uick menu “Flash Compensation” item allows control over TTL flash levels, but not manual flash power. You also need the “Flash Function Setting” item enabled in the [Q]uick menu to turn the flash on and/or change modes.
The Fuji EF-X20 flash lightly obstructs the shutter/iso dial, but otherwise it's perfect for the X100. (Although it could use a refresh with a wider EV comp range and firmer dial.)
Canon-compatible TTL cables work with Fuji; Canon TTL remote triggers do not.
You may need the ND filter to keep the shutter speed within the flash-friendly mechanical shutter range in bright sun.
The built-in three stop ND filter is real but only moves into place when the shutter button is half-pressed.
The ND filter should have an ‘auto’ mode, but doesn’t. Assign it to a button and get used to checking to see if it’s on when it shouldn’t be.
Three stops of darkening is almost enough to play with slow shutter speed and motion effects. Almost.
Three extra stops can add significant oomph to screw-on ND filters.
A serious ND filter on the front of the lens auto-darkens the viewfinder into unusability in daylight. Assign the LCD/EVF brightness to a [Q] menu option.
The frame lines in the OVF remain too bright to use in the dark. The LCD/EVF brightness option in the [Q] menu doesn’t help with this.
The View Mode cycle makes no sense.
The EVF/OVF/OVF+ selector should be a three-position toggle, not a momentary switch.
The OVF frameline and focus point need to wait for focus to show their parallax correction.
The “electronic rangefinder” LCD-in-OVF always shows the correct focusing point location regardless of defocus or focusing distance.
The ERF can also “zoom out” to show an accurately-framed but tiny view of the full image; this is nice but rarely useful.
The histogram switches sides when changing between OVF and EVF. Sloppy.
I like the idea of the OVF, but usually use the EVF instead.
If I crop for more magnification I always want the crop to be off-centre. This rules out the “digital tele-converter” even if it worked with raw files.
The optical wide and tele add-on lenses substantially defeat the point of an X100, but they’re an option.
Almost all of the important camera settings can be seen, and even changed, when the X100 is powered off. That’s uncommon these days, and very useful.
Manual mode is relatively easy to use here, but there’s rarely a reason to work that hard. Don’t go chasing the needle unless you really need to.
As a dense little camera with a leaf shutter the X100F is awesome on even a lightweight tripod for long exposures and night photography.
Fuji doesn’t make a tripod plate hand grip for the F. The RRS one is very nice but expensive; the eBazon knockoffs are less so of each.
The position of the tripod socket will make generic QR plates block the battery door, but it’s very close to the camera’s balance point.
There are lots of ways to trigger the X100F shutter remotely. A clone of the Canon RS60 is my favourite.
Using a threaded shutter cable reminds me just how often I still need to tap the shutter button when doing night photography.
There's no way to decouple auto-exposure lock from the half-pressed shutter button. Temporarily adding extra light for focusing at night means using manual focus, manual exposure, or both.
When using Bulb mode the elapsed exposure time counts up on the rear LCD. No more need for a stopwatch; not as clever as the live displays that micro four thirds offers.
When the shutter speed dial is set to “T” the LCD counts down the exposure time remaining; it would be really nice if it could do this in Aperture mode long exposures as well.
For long exposures at night I still prefer aperture-priority.
I never did night photography before the X100 came along, and now it's one of my favourite things to do.
When the ears of the aperture ring are level the lens is at f/5.6. Set it by feel.
The lift-turn iso dial works and is useful. (Even some of Fuji’s tame camera-likers have had problems with this one.)
“Iso” and “raw” are words, not acronyms. Please write and pronounce them accordingly.
The Nikon DF’s design team is laughing at Fuji for including twin command dials on the X100F.
Needing to use the scroll wheel to change [Q]uick menu items is maddening. None of the other menus need this awkward extra controller.
A three-step two-stop exposure bracketing sequence is good, but more would be better.
Overcome this by taking two sets, using the exposure compensation dial to change the zero point that the camera will bracket around.
If I could remove the filter effects from the Drive mode I happily would. Instead I set it to "Toy" so that I can tell when it's accidentally enabled.
The Self Timer should be a selectable persistent option in the Drive mode list, but isn't.
Fuji is justifiably proud of their jpeg renderings, but I say customize the Quick menu anyway. Most of the default options aren’t raw-relevant if that’s how you work.
The Q menu is also handy for checking that your electronic settings are correct.
The focusing joystick really does make the four-way controller redundant for menu navigation, but having those extra function buttons is nice.
Being able to reassign the custom function of a button by holding it down for a few seconds is brilliant.
Seriously, brilliant. Have an unexpected but persistent need of depth of field preview, eye/face focus priority settings, self timer, or spot metering? It's typically faster to change a button than to find it in the menu. I reconfigure my FN1 button frequently.
But that top-deck 'FN1' function button, right next to the shutter, can’t be used for video recording. There’s a message there.
The My Menu option is also good, even if it's the third place that I look to for settings. The X100F is worth customizing.
In-camera charging via micro-USB is very useful, and it’s fantastic that Fuji includes a proper charger as well.
The back indicator light turns green when the battery is charging in the camera, and turns off when it’s full. The wall charger light works the same way.
The W126 batteries have an orange square or circle that matches up with the orange battery latch on the camera. These little touches are so nice.
Setting the self-timer when the camera is in a continuous drive mode makes it fire a burst of photos. Clever.
Cameras that blink the AF Assist light during the two-second self timer haven’t properly thought things through. The X100F, sadly, is no exception.
The Fuji X100F leather case has a good feel and adds a little extra protection to the camera body. It also looks better with age and extensive use: a goal to aspire to.
Having the half-case on the body also protects the focus mode slide switch, which otherwise likes to change position on its own.
The solid hood made for the X70 barely blocks the viewfinder any more than the vented X100-designed ones do, but only the solid hood blocks reflections when it’s pressed up against glass.
I’m proud of every nick and scratch my hood has earned. That’s secretly the reason why I use one.
That, and to keep my fingers from wandering in front of the lens when I'm using the OVF.
The X100F is conspicuously pretty. It should come with an "Ask Me About My Retro Camera!" shirt to wear while using it.
I’d wear that shirt all the time.
Aden Camera in Toronto sells the X100F – and just about every other camera and lens – for below list price, and ships across Canada. Call them at 416-977-9711 and mention this review.
It’s a premium camera. Don’t insult it with off-brand accessories.
(Except for a good third-party shoulder strap. That’s mandatory.)
Attach the strap in the Nikon manner, with the free end fed downwards through the buckle. Much neater than the way the Fuji manual shows.
The the exposure compensation dial needs skip spaces or a stronger detent to mark its zero position so that it can be set without looking.
A camera launched in 2017 should have a level that also shows pitch, not just roll.
Labeling both on and off power switch positions is redundant.
Electrical tape is a close match to the slightly shiny finish of the all-black camera.
A little silver sharpie on the power switch position needle makes the on/off position much easier to see.
Add a little highlight to the exposure compensation indicator while you’re at it. Check out the other x-series cameras to see how it should look.
If you’re shooting at the minimum focusing distance, wouldn’t you normally stop down anyway?
The abundant AF points and focusing lever are really nice to have.
Shadow and highlight tone adjustments are now sensibly named. A positive value increases contrast, negative shifts things closer to midtones.
Even if you only shoot raw, these jpeg settings affect the in-camera histogram and image review.
Raw to jpeg conversions are easy and a good way to play with film simulation modes.
When reviewing photos the [Q] button becomes a shortcut to the raw conversion menu, and the top-deck FN1 button activates wifi. Knowing this is like learning about the “J” shortcut in Lightroom. Transformative.
Wireless transfer only works with jpegs, naturally.
Wifi camera control works well as a remote viewfinder if you hate battery life, but doesn’t trigger quickly enough to capture action.
I remain happy with the 24mpx sensor results at about one stop higher iso than with the 16mpx generation.
The extra resolution makes a difference when printing larger than 18" on the long end.
A little barrel distortion remains even after the software lens correction.
The evaluative metering is really good, and the sensor is forgiving. The exposure compensation dial still remains your friend.
I’ve assigned White Balance to one of the function buttons, but have rarely really needed to take it off of Auto.
Having WB on a button is the easiest way to set a custom value, though.
Removing the version badge from the front of the F is a classy choice.
The F is so pretty I just can't leave it at home, even when I know I won't need it. And sometimes I end up using it anyway.
The X100 family has a certain somethingness, a cameraness, that is very satisfying.
I don't like the X100F because it's perfect, I like it because it's good.
What features will the next version need to have in order to persuade me to upgrade? Honestly, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's like porn – I'll know it when I see them.
Should you buy one? If you’ve read this far, then probably yes.
The Fujifilm X100F is an excellent camera.
originally posted 14 october 2017,
last updated 10 november 2017.