Review: Fujifilm X100F

In many ways, the Fujifilm X100F is both the closest thing to a perfect camera and the most infuriating camera at the same time. By itself, the Fujifilm X100F boasts quite a bit of upgrades over its predecessor, the X100T, that truly make it competitive and viable. And as always, it isn’t at all a bad camera; but it could have been something much better. With the same 24MP X Trans Sensor at the heart of the company’s two flagship cameras, and that retro-gorgeous camera body that makes lots of photographers weak in the knees, the Fujifilm X100F will undoubtedly sell well–and it deserves to.

But after four iterations of the camera, there are things about it I still don’t understand.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great image quality, though I wonder how much better it could have been made
  • One of the best autofocus cameras when it comes to candid street photography
  • Compact
  • Nice feel that you’d expect from a camera like this
  • Acros video is very welcome
  • AF selection point joystick was long overdue
  • So light, small and great that you’ll want to take it with you everywhere
  • Much improved battery life

Cons

  • At this point it could use sensor based image stabilization
  • Could use a lens update, sometimes I feel like the lens isn’t doing the sensor full justice. Though I only speak of this in terms of optical sharpness. Otherwise, the characterit delivers is fantastic.
  • No weather sealing; absolutely not sure why
  • Though not necessary, it would be nice to have a headphone and microphone jack for video shooting.
  • Doesn’t adhere to Sunny 16 rules of metering, which is REALLY WEIRD

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm X100F with no other gear used in conjunction.

Tech Specs

• 24.3MP APS-C size X-Trans CMOS III sensor
• Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder (OVF / EVF) equipped with an Electronic Rangefinder
FUJINON 23mm (35mm in 35mm format Equivalent) F2 lens in 8 glass elements in 6 groups with FUJINON’s proprietary HT-EBC coating
• ND filter equivalent to 3 stops of aperture
• High-definition 1.04M-dot 3” LCD
• NEW ‘ACROS’ film simulation mode
• Focus Peaking function and Digital Split Image display even in the OVF
• Extended full HD Video Recording
• Full HD video can be recorded at 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 24 fps and 23.98 fps, and with Film Simulation effects

In terms of pricing and availability the new Fujifilm X100F will be available in February 2017 with a US retail price of $1,299, making this probably one of the most expensive fixed lens compact cameras you consider purchasing in 2017.

Ergonomics

Taken from our First Impressions post

The Fujifilm X100F looks a whole lot like its predecessor at first glance. You’ll need to get really up close and personal to spot the differences.You’ll get the same 24mm f2 Fujinon lens attached to the camera. It still has an aperture ring too.

What you can surely spot though is the EVF/OVF switch being slightly revamped.

Turn to the top and you’ll see that Fujifilm tried to make the X100F pretty simple. The ISO dial is built into the shutter speed dial. Then there is a custom function button, exposure compensation, shutter release, on/off switch, and hot shoe. You still have the nice threaded shutter release too.

The back of the camera is also meant to be simple. You’ve got this big LCD screen and Fujifilm tried to keep all the controls on the right side with some being near the top. Plus you’ve got the new joystick.

Of course, I’m sure most of you will spend most of the time looking through the viewfinder.

Turn to the side and you’ll find a few ports here on the camera.

Build Quality

Something I truly have never understood about the Fujifilm X100 series is why they don’t have weather sealing. It’s the fourth iteration and it’s very odd.

With that fact aside though, you’ll love this camera for the clicky dials, and the well placed buttons. There was surely a lot of thought put into this camera’s design. Throughout my testing, nothing about it seemed to feel cheap or shoddy.

Ease of Use

If you’ve used the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras before then a lot of the design will seem very familiar. Some people will complain about two things though:

  • The ISO dial, because too many people don’t know how to film camera (yes, film camera is being verbed here)
  • The fact that you cannot assign the two other control dials to take over shutter speed and aperture. Though I’ve really only ever heard this from someone at Pop Photo; and well…

Clearly this wasn’t a camera designed for those folks. The ISO is delightful and I’ve never ever had an issue with this or the one on the Fujifilm X Pro 2. In fact, I’ll be really angry if Fujifilm changes it. It’s an inherent option that has been present in film cameras for years and has always worked out very well. I’ve also never been one to understand the mentality of shooting in ISO AUTO mode.

My complaints about someone else’s complaints aside though, The Fujifilm X100F is a very straightforward camera to use. I never once felt like I couldn’t find something in the menus and I didn’t at all feel like I couldn’t figure other things out. To be fair though, I’ve been a Fujifilm camera user since the original X Pro 1.

Lastly, what you’re going to love is that the battery life can last for well over seven hours. I used it fully recently during a seven hour workshop that I lead, then came home and went to a bar, and it kept shooting. I ended the night at 32% battery. If that isn’t fantastic, I’m not sure what is.

Metering

The metering on the Fujifilm X100F is pretty interesting. In aperture priority and all other options with an Auto mode, the camera is going to do its best to give you a balanced image. For the most part it does. However, while trying to use it for Sunny 16 in manual mode, I found it doesn’t adhere to the rules at all. My Sunny 16 instincts are pretty darn good since I’ve been actively testing various film emulsions for the Phoblographer, but I brought out two different hand held light meters to ensure that I wasn’t screwing up.

Both light meters agreed with me: where the light meters said that I should have a balanced image, Fujifilm was off by anywhere up to a full stop of light. It’s odd, really odd. So when you’re working with this camera, you should keep that in mind. In terms of functionality, metering is perhaps the Fujifilm X100F’s biggest flaw.

Autofocus

Despite my qualms with metering, you shouldn’t fear that much at all. The Fujifilm X100F has snappy autofocus that can detect faces as they’re moving through the frame and capture fantastic candid moments on the streets. Surely, when it comes to autofocusing, the only cameras that could even hope to do better are from Olympus. Sony has nothing on the autofocus performance of the Fujifilm X100F.

Image Quality

The image quality from the Fujifilm X100F is sort of a mixed bag. I think it could be sharper if Fujifilm upgraded the optics. But at the same time, it can give off a flare that I think is characteristically beautiful. On top of all this, I believe it would do better with an image stabilized sensor. The camera is more or less so light that you’ll instinctively want to use it with one hand. But unless you’ve cranked your ISO up or set it to auto, you probably won’t be able to get a blur free photo devoid of camera shake. So just keep that in mind.

Then you have the actual versatility of the files: which isn’t bad but I also feel like the X Pro 2 and X-T2 can pull more details from the highlights here. Instead, you’re better off underexposing at times with the Fujifilm X100F. Perhaps his has to do with the processor.

Bokeh

The Fujifilm X100F has the same 23mm f2 lens that the series has had for a while now. The bokeh has always been fantastic with this lens. Of course, you’ll get the best results when focusing up close and personal with the aperture wide open.

Color Rendition

Color from the Fujifilm X100F is handled via the film simulations–which do a great job when it comes to mimicking the color of film but not the tonality. For even more film-like results though, you should lock your camera to daylight white balance or tungsten. In general, the colors are nice and the files can be massaged to get more out of them.

Chromatic Aberration

While Fujifilm has fixed any sort of fringing issues that this lens may have had, you’re bound to see flare. And I’m OK with that. I like the flare that this lens can output.

High ISO Performance

At ISO 6400, you’re probably going to get the best balance of high ISO performance and details in the photo. Beyond this, the images are usable but there is a fair amount of detail loss. I wouldn’t bother going above 12,800. You also lose some color versatility.

Sharpness

This lens has always been very sharp and when it comes to autofocusing performance, it’s probably just the right amount of sharpness for most folks. At the same time though, I’m starting to feel like this lens is being outdone by the sensor. It’s possible that the images could be even sharper.

RAW File Versatility

Edited

Above is my edited image. It shows you how much information is in the various areas of the scene. Below is the original.

Original

As you can see, I was able to pull and push a lot of details out of the photo. There’s no question that if you meter correctly, you won’t have an issue with the RAW file versatility. Below is another example.

Edited

Original

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Great image quality, though the lens is starting to show its age
  • Class leading autofocus performance and perhaps the best APS-C camera made when it comes to autofocus
  • Great body overall
  • Reliable with great battery life

Dislikes

  • Give me weather sealing.

I have many personal qualms with the Fujifilm X100F, but it isn’t at all a bad camera. In fact, in many ways it’s the absolute best APS-C camera on the market. It’s small, autofocuses quickly, has a low profile, delivers great image quality, has a hybrid EVF/OVF, some of the best battery life of any APS-C mirrorless camera out there, and is very reliable. Fujifilm’s X100 series has evolved quite a bit since the start, and the upgrade over the Fujifilm X100T is pretty significant. Some of the things that we’ve needed for a while are now present; though I can easily see how someone will be confused as to whether they should get this or just a 23mm f2 or 23mm f1.4 for their Fujifilm X series camera.

There is no question about it, the Fujifilm X100F deserves this Editor’s Choice award in so many ways. If you’re a Ricoh GR II owner, this camera will blow it and anything Sony has made as of the publication of this post out of the water when it comes to the APS-C lineup for autofocus.

But then I’ve got my own personal issues with it. We’re at the fourth generation of the camera and it has no weather sealing. The lens has started to show its age since they upgraded to a 16MP sensor and it has a 24MP sensor attached. I love the 23mm f2’s bokeh and flare; but I wish it were sharper. I also wish that the camera had incorporated new film profiles like those of Superia and Natura. For years, photojournalists used Superia. It would make a lot of sense to bring it into the modern age of street photography.

The Fujifilm X100F deserves the five out of five stars that it gets; along with the new Editor’s Choice award. Want one? Check out Amazon for the current prices, but they start at $1,299.