Home Cameras/Lenses Fujifilm Fuji X100V: Latest in a range of ground-breaking cameras

Fuji X100V: Latest in a range of ground-breaking cameras

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Direct, WYSIWYG controls for aperture, speed, ISO and compensation are a model for others to follow. Even Leica has moved more to digital settings and Fuji's dedication to traditional methods has earned converts.

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.

The X100V stands true to its original retro looks but many tweaks make this a more desirable and better-performing tool for general photography
The X100V stands true to its original retro looks but many tweaks make this a more desirable and better-performing tool for general photography

Engaging

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.

An admirably clean back, with simple controls: But the screen now tilts. It fits so well that you wouldn't really notice and can ignore it if you wish
An admirably clean back, with simple controls: But the screen now tilts. It fits so well that you wouldn’t really notice and can ignore it if you wish

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.

Direct, WYSIWYG controls for aperture, speed, ISO and compensation are a model for others to follow. Even Leica has moved more to digital settings and Fuji's dedication to traditional methods has earned converts.
Direct, WYSIWYG controls for aperture, speed, ISO and compensation are a model for others to follow. Even Leica has moved more to digital settings and Fuji’s dedication to traditional methods has earned converts.

Retro looks

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 silver model arrives on February 27 with the all-black X100V following a month later.
The silver model arrives on February 27 with the all-black X100V following a month later.

Hybrid viewfinder

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.

Earlier Macfilos coverage of Fujifilm X100 models

25 COMMENTS

  1. I tried the first one, but the autofocus was incredibly slow ..though I recognise that it’s been improved in later models.

    But being restricted to just that 23mm-wide-behaving-as-35mm lens made it pointless for me. Why would anyone want to restrict themselves to a 35mm view, and no wider? ..We left that era when we moved on from little Olympus, Ricoh, Yashica, Canon and Konica 35mm film point-&-shoots, and began to use compacts with a built-in -z-o-o-m- lens!

    But after a while – Peter Turnley and Henri Cartier-Bresson notwithstanding – every 35mm-lens photo begins to look – to me – like every other 35mm-lens photo ..to me, anyway! ..So; not for me.

    • I wonder if there would be any interest in a similar fixed-lens APS-C camera with a 16mm lens to give a 24mm wide-angle equivalent. Perhaps not, although it might be more popular on a larger sensor. I agree with you that I now prefer 28mm (as on the Q2) to 35mm which, while ok much of the time, is rather restrictive after experiencing the joys of wide-angle.

      • Mmm, so they say. But Jane Bown’s famous photo of him shows that he’s got a multi-lens finder on top of the camera (..on an M, not the early screw-fit camera shown in that picture ..no, wait; that’s not a screw-fit, that’s a fixed, non-removable 50mm in that Imaging Resource photo, and so he couldn’t have used any lens other than that 50mm on his first Leica..) and many of his later photos do appear to have been taken with a 35mm.

        But my point was that whatever single focal length a photographer tends to stick with – whether 35mm, 50mm or something else – after a while all those pictures start to look like all their other pictures: no change in perspective, no change in emphasis, no respite. For me, anyway.

  2. Oh to be able to “configure a camera”!

    How about a Fuji X100V with Leica X2 software?

    Mind you, saying that, the Leica M-D type 262 must lead the way, since the camera works with zero configuration options.

    How about a camera with Linux software?

    The bind moggles.

    • The ability to configure is half the problem — there are now too many options in most cameras. I agree that the M10-D has the incomparable benefit of simplicity. There’s virtually nothing to fiddle with and it is all the better for it. The X1 and X2, also, were incredibly simple and all you ever needed to worry about was a quick overview of the two dials on the top plate. But the X100 is also good in this respect.

  3. I am with Jonas Rask (The Desert Island Camera review above) that if I were to possess only one camera and one lens it would be this one. It is beautifully crafted and highly capable. From its point of view however, I fall short of it’s perfection in that I do not really major on street photography and portraits etc. I can however forecast without doubt that the X 100V will be an outstanding sales success with those photographers who do.
    Now, if I could afford both the impending X T4 AND the X 100V then I would order one like a shot. It is a unique camera and highly desirable!

  4. Like you Mike, I rue the decision by Leica to withdraw from developing further the compact X camera range. Although not to be compared regarding size and bulk, I get near to the experience with the CL and the under-rated 23mm Summicron. I have remained loyal to the original concept and still enjoy using my simple X1.

    • Agreed. I definitely prefer the 23mm Summicron to the 18mm Elmarit, even though it is a big more bulky. The CL is versatile, of course, and that 11-23 wide angle is delightful and not all that bulky (I have been using it on the SL2 with good results). The only real advantage of turning the CL into a fixed-lens compact would be the ability to embed part of the lens inside the body, but it would still be no smaller than the CL with 18mm.

  5. So good to read your reaction to the X100 series, Mike. For me, too, this is the camera I should like to like – not least the latest iteration. I had the X100S for a short time, and now I think I’ve almost persuaded myself to buy the V – certainly with the 50mm adapter lens. I have a suspicion it will then go the same way as the S for a similar reason: compact yes, but small no. Perhaps I should just add the best f2 to my XT 20. How gassy can one get?

      • True, true, Mike. And I’m not a purist who doesn’t think delicious gear is part of the fun of photography! But it struck me that a better way – for me – would be to add the Fuji 35mm f2 WR to my X -T20 thereby getting my 50mm equiv. in one go for a lot smaller layout and not too dissimilar weight and quality to the X100V with converter lens. And it would still be a modest bit of GAS enjoyment!

  6. I am probably going to purchase this once resources are available. The Q2 would be my preference (I used to own the lovely QP )but the value in the X100V with an improved lens is compelling for my purposes. I prefer the 35 and 50 focal lengths over 28mm. I am only interested in the EVF . It is wonderful to have great alternatives to expensive Leica equipment. My top preference would be a new X with EVF. I did not get on with cameras that have no viewfinder builtin including the Ricoh GR. Leica has severely missed a big opportunity in this market space of a compact camera with evf.

  7. Such a shame that Leica did not produce an X that looked like this, I waited for one before buying the Df. I just didn’t fancy the CL for its meandering focus point, and I love my x typ 113 for its 35mm view point similar to the x100v. In fact if they had put a new sensor, and a viewfinder on the 113’s lens and controls I would buy one. Shame on you Leica for abandoning the x and not doing it.

  8. I owned the X100F. I sold it because it sat unused. I gravitated to my M Digital with 35mm attached when I wanted this focal length. There are sacrifices from lack of AF and the great film simulations of course. It is a wonderful camera line I used to take some great images. Personally I don’t like removal of the control quadrant on the back in favor of the touch screen. Supposedly the new lens has better sharpness on the borders, but I never noticed issues with the quality from the original lens. One aspect I very much enjoyed was using the X100 for long exposures. The software is perfect for it with a niggle being the manual focus ring. Fuji’s focus highlights (can’t think of the correct term) are worlds better than Leicas – they are much more distinct and that is a huge plus. It is a fantastic camera for travel, it’s all one needs in that regard.

    • Focus peaking, I think you mean. Your mention of the missing four-way pad is interesting. I looked at the pictures this afternoon and made the comment about the “clean back” without realising why. I am not sure how some adjustments are made if you don’t want to use touch in the screen. Needs more I investigation, I think.

  9. I’ve owned all of them except the S. I still have the mk 1 version, which I felt was a work of flawed genius. It still makes beautiful images and I will never sell it.

    I hated the T. The sensor in that camera (or the software; not sure which) made garish, plasticky looking images at higher ISOs. The later F however seems almost perfect.

    I couldn’t care less about the hybrid viewfinder. I find the OVF fairly pointless and never use it, same with my X-Pro bodies. If the newest version has a significantly better EVF then that might just sway me to upgrade. I do like the look of the tilting screen though.

    It doesn’t sound like there is much new in the lens design so that isn’t a draw for me. I would question why having a 28ish equivalent focal length would be an attraction, when most phone cameras have a similar field of view. I love the 35mm equivalent on the Fuji, but I quite accept that is a personal thing. The two converter lenses for the X100 are very, very good, if you fancy a change of focal length.

    The single most attractive thing about all the X100 models, in my opinion, is the leaf shutter. It is whisper quiet and being able to use the flash at high shutter speeds with the neutral density filter is a revelation. TTL fill flash in bright sunlight is really accurate and makes wonderful environmental portraits and group shots. David Hobby has an article about this on the Strobist blog here:

    https://strobist.blogspot.com/2013/05/leaf-shutter-nd-flash-fuji-x100s.html?m=1

  10. I am a Leica user, have been since the early 1950’s whilst dallying in recent years with numerous digital Fuji cameras as well, and unlike Mike have loved them all often to the point of having to admit to myself at least of liking whichever Fuji’s more.
    As to the new X100V? Well certainly as yet I have no plans to go out and buy one, but increasingly for the wrong reasons as I know in my heart of hearts my Leica loving days might then be over. Don

    • I can’t blame you, Don. The X100V and, indeed, most Fujis, are hugely attractive largely because of the control interface. While I am used to the SL2 and now like the haptics, I always stumble when I pick up the CL. I don’t know why, but I would be keener on it if it had more conventional dials. I try to stick with Leica for peace of mind and focus (in the general sense) but I can understand anyone picking up the X100V.

  11. My 2 cents after playing with it at the house of photography in london- the lens has definitely been improved and having a pocketable apsc like this is a joy to hold, if 35mm is all you need. While I was there I also tried a cheaper xt200 with Bayer sensor with my 35.1.4 I preferred that camera more as the grip was fantastic, the screen swivels out for selfies and is not massive if you use 27/2.8 on it. The form factor is also good with evf on one side and a huge LCD screen. Looking at pictures is a joy. I might wait for xt4 as it’s release is imminent and then decide between these two. I’ll pass x100v for now.

  12. 18 months ago I crossed the Rubicon into Leica country. I like the size and weight of the CL and the lens options. I did look at an X100_ but the menu system felt deep and complicated. I’m not sure if that’s simply familiarization with something new or a deeper issue for me. What I did like about it were the physical controls. I tried a Q but felt at that time restricted by having one lens and one field of view, so passed.

    I can carry the CL around with the 23mm f2 which I happen to like a lot and adds no burden to carrying the camera. But I can go wider with an 11-23 and a bit longer with the 18-56 if I choose. It’s a mindset I guess.

    My biggest regret with the CL is the lack of dedicated mechanical controls that the Fuji’s, M’s and Q’s have. Obviously the Fuji’s also offer a lower price point too.

    With hindsight would I have made a different decision? Difficult to tell, as the red dot still has an emotional pull above and beyond any rational decision-making criteria.

  13. Had the T and liked it, would have loved it if it had the tilting screen and weather sealing that the V has but I have moved on from rangefinder-like Fujis (had 3 X-Pro1s also) on to Leica M9s. I’ll not be tempted back with this iteration nor the X-Pro3 I am happy with the M9s. In my bag nowadays for the bad weather is an X-T2 with 16-55. Not the same I know but its rare I don’t take an M9 body with 35mm lens when I leave the house. I think if Fuji had delivered weather sealing tilting screen and the Mk 2 lens a couple of years earlier I might have stayed with the X100 range.

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