There’s no denying that Fuji has been on a roll with the X100 series. And, from all accounts, it seems that the latest X100 V is the best yet. I’ve always admired this camera for its design, its single-minded approach to photography and the deserved success it has enjoyed.
I have owned two of them — the S and the T — but neither gelled with me and I soon sold them on. That’s my particular preferences at fault of course and is not a reflection on the camera. This series of cameras would not have been such a success if too many others had shared my concerns.
In many ways, I had been spoiled by the handling of Leica’s much-loved X1 and X2 and by the ultra-simple controls of those cameras. They have always been engaging cameras, despite the many ways in which the specification is inferior to that of the original X100 — not least of which is the absence of a viewfinder. The Leica preceded the X100 but it was aimed at the same market — photographers who want a compact, almost pocketable camera with better optical performance than could be expected from the small-sensor zooms that were then prevalent.
It’s a tremendous pity that Leica decided not to further develop the X2 because I think there would be a market for an upgraded version even today. I could envisage a fixed-lens version of the CL (including viewfinder) with either a 28mm or 35mm Summicron. But it wasn’t to be. Leica dropped the ball and has never really recovered its place in this sector of the APS-C market.
The Fuji X100 series has almost defined street photography in the past ten years since it was launched. It has gorgeous retro looks and a full set of manual controls, not to mention that interesting hybrid viewfinder.
The X100V is quite definitely an evolutionary rather than revolutionary update and that is all to the good. As with the good old Leica M, if it’s right, don’t fix it. The V looks to be identical to the F but there are some important changes that make it even better at its job.
Among other improvements, the X100 V brings a tilting (and very well integrated) screen, a more ergonomic grip and a half-way step to weather sealing. Unfortunately, to achieve full this protection you must add a couple of accessories, the AR-X100 adapter ring and the PRF-49 protection filter. The kit can be bought with the camera for an additional £49.50 but it does seem rather churlish not to include it with the camera.
What’s your view? Are you thinking of buying the X100V and why? Leave a comment below.
The lens appears to be identical to that of the F but the V’s lens benefits from new construction. It retains the same eight-element-two-group configuration, but two (instead of one) elements are now aspherical. Fujifilm claims that the new lens is capable of higher resolution, with lower distortion and closer focus without unwelcome aberration. The lens also benefits from a built-in ND filter equivalent to a four-stop advantage when using the lens wide open in strong light. The previous model had the filter but it was limited to a three-stop advantage.
The X-Trans CMOS IV sensor is an upgraded design with 26.1MP instead of the previous 24.3MP. This, together with the lens improvements, should result in a boost to overall image quality.
The unique (to Fujifilm) hybrid finder has always been a highlight of the X100 series, offering a combination of EVF and rangefinder. I’ve always felt that the simulated rangefinder was something of a gimmick, although this could well be an outlier view. I always start off wanting to like it but end up using the EVF. The finder in the new V has been improved by switching to an OLED panel. This is said to produce deeper blacks and more vibrant colours. It has a much higher pixel count, up from 2.36m to 3.69m dots. I will be interested to try this new finder, although I am not sure I will feel any warmer to the rangefinder option.
Should you put your toe into the water and buy this latest iteration? The retro Leica-style looks are just designed to appeal to Leica lovers, of course. I would certainly love to give it a run when Fuji’s press fleet percolates down to the MacFilos level, but I’m not sure I’d be a customer. My Leica Q2 does a similar job, as a fixed-lens compact, although admittedly it is not as compact nor as light as the Fuji.
It does, however, offer a wider angle of view (you can’t crop backwards!) and, of course, that magnificent Summilux lens and full-frame sensor add more cropping ability to mimic 35mm, 50mm and, even, 75mm focal lengths. There’s a huge price difference, however, and if starting from scratch I’d probably choose the Fuji X100V.
The new Fuji X100V in silver will on sale in UK dealers from February 27 at a retail price of £1,299. An all-black model will follow in March.
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