Fuji X100 review, sort of.

Over the weekend I had use of the Fuji X100 thanks to my friends at http://www.LensRentals.com (gratuitous plug) and I wanted to get my thoughts out before I forgot. Keep in mind that I am not a paid advocate nor am I a professional reviewer. I am just an ordinary guy that happens to be a photographer and I wanted to try this camera out to see what all the fuss was about. Keep this in mind as you read on because if you are expecting a lot of technical jargon try dpreview or some other site ’cause you wont get it here.

Testing the camera to get used to it.

At first blush, the camera is a lot smaller than my Nikon D300s but compared to my rangefinder film cameras, it is pretty much comparable in size and that is how I think Fuji intended it. Compared to the majority of point and shoot cameras, the X100 is bigger. Big enough that it won’t fit into my jeans pocket but it would fit into a jacket pocket had I been stupid enough to wear one with temps in the upper 90’s and low 100’s while I had it. It took me some time playing with it and fiddling (as technical as I get) with the menu’s and buttons to start getting comfortable with it.

learning to focus the X100

As you can see by this photo, I hadn’t quite gotten used to focusing with the X100 and let me tell you, it takes some getting used to. I had a bunch of photos like this before I finally got the hang of it. One of the things I like about the X100 is it’s size but one of the things I didn’t like about the X100 is it’s size. I don’t have ginormous hands by any stretch of the imagination. In fact my hands are just about the right size if you ask me but when handling this camera, I had the problem of inadvertently hitting the wrong button or knob at the wrong time. I learned rather quickly that I had to watch my right thumb and index finger or they would either hit the navigation toggle or reset the EV compensation knob and the shot would be ruined. It would be nice if there was a place to park my thumb on the back of the camera for some extra grip and no buttons to accidentally push. I had thought about mounting a handle to it on the right side. That would have made the camera a little bigger and made it easier to hold and could be screwed into the tripod mount but that would have made the camera a bit more cumbersome and defeated the purpose of it’s diminutive size.

The nifty B&W setting

X100 in Velvia setting

I only had the camera for four days so I really didn’t have the opportunity to play with all the features but the one that impressed me the most was the film emulator. I’m pretty much a neophyte when it comes to technology, I’m fascinated by it and like playing with it but make it to hard for me to navigate through and I get frustrated. With the X100, it only took a couple of clicks in the menu option and there they were plainly labeled for me in easy language. You can shoot in B&W on JPEG and that is all you get but with Raw, all of the color data is still there for you to use. I really liked the look of the Velvia and the rich lustrous colors it captured. In the black and white setting the display screen shows it just that way so that you can see the picture as you shot it.

f2 1/8 sec ISO 200 handheld

Still f2 1/8sec ISO 200 handheld

I was also really impressed with the image quality in low light and hand held at slow shutter speeds. I didn’t start bumping up the ISO until later in the evening when I was inside taking shots of a band (see previous blog post). This camera just kept working away even when my D300s had to be bumped up. The fact that the camera has a fixed 23mm f2 lens has a lot to do with it even when you figure it’s equivalent to a 35mm lens with the APS-C sensor and the Nikon had a 105mm f2.8 lens.

Band shot f2 1/60sec ISO 3200 hand held

Even at high ISO the noise is kept to a minimum and the pictures come out crisp and clean. I might start talking about Anti-Aliasing filters and sensors that are arranged more like film but then that would be getting into the tech territory and I have no qualifications there. I will say tho, that for the short time that I had this camera I was both annoyed and surprised by it. Annoyed in that, every once in a while it would get in the way of taking pictures. Surprised by the fact that when I got used to some of the little annoyances, it took really outstanding photos. To bring this to a close, I really liked this camera, not to the point of paying almost $1200.00 for it but enough that if someone, say, Fuji or Roger at http://www.LensRentals.com wanted to give me one I wouldn’t turn it down (Hint, Hint).