I’ve owned all but the very first of the x100 series cameras. I’ve loved all of them and been frustrated by all of them. I’ve used them at weddings, not as the main camera, but when I want to go into stealth mode and not be noticed. For a documentary wedding photographer this is priceless. I’ve used them on fashion shoots, when I needed that leaf shutter with it’s awesome ability to get the most out of strobes and speed lights.Mostly though I’ve used it to document my life and that is where the real strength of this camera lies. Here are some of the shots I’ve taken with past cameras ( on the X100T and the X100F ).
Despite adoring these cameras I always ended up selling them.They were just a bit too fiddly and slow to use, and then phones got a lot better and suddenly the justification for these cameras became a lot more difficult. I’m not a street photographer, it just isn’t for me. I do like having a camera with me, but most of the time the phone is enough these days. The battery life in the early models was truly awful, but Fuji fixed that. The autofocus was dodgy, it’s gotten better but was still a step behind the main Fuji cameras like the XT. This was especially true of continuous mode autofocus. I’ve been spoilt by my work cameras, the Sony A9 and A7R3. Low light performance was questionable in that I never felt it did a great job in dimly lit UK pubs, or even in my living room, which gets pretty dim in the afternoon! Yet I still went and sold my X100F in anticipation of the X100V coming out and I bought one as soon as I could. Why would I do this given my reservations listed above?
I saw someone moan on facebook that they thought this was an incremental upgrade. I don’t feel it is, even from the X100F. The flip screen is a work of art, I keep forgetting it is there, it’s so well integrated into the body. I’m sure it will be useful, I use them all the time on my other cameras. If you don’t like it, you will forget it’s even there, it’s a supreme bit of engineering. I was initially upset they removed the D-Pad from the back. After a few days use I’ve gotten used to the ergonomics and they really work for me. I mainly used the D-Pad to change film simulations, but I just mapped the fn button on the top to that. They’ve designed the buttons so that you need to use your right hand to make changes, while your left holds the camera. Once you get into that mindset, it’s very clean ergonomically. I like the menu a lot, which is not something I say about my Sonys…ever. One example is the burst rate, it’s very easy and obvious how to customise the burst settings to 3, 4 ,5 or 6 fps. It’s clear they put some serious thought into this. Another small change is that there is a USB-C port you can use to charge the camera, handy as most of my other devices use that port now. To break up this wall of text, here are some shots from the Reading Photography Social, in a very dimly lit pub in Reading. The camera did well considering how much beer I’d had when I took these! Lightroom handles the RAW files pretty well now compared to earlier versions. The shots below are all taken with the X100V.
The new lens
One very well known reviewer who I won’t name but whose first name rhymes with men, said the old lens was known for it’s close up rendering and the new lens was no improvement. I can only imagine he didn’t actually use the camera, because the only thing the old lens was known for was being very soft at f2 if you were closer than 5-6ft to your subject. I’ve lost count of the amount of times this caught me out, as getting close to certain subjects and shooting wide open is something I do regularly. The new lens is a big improvement, Mr Rhymes With Men is talking rubbish. I’ve not had much time with the camera so here are a few shots I made especially to test this out. These are all shot at f2.
It’s rapid. The X100F was pretty good, but it never felt reliable at tracking in the same way as the ILC bodies. This camera feels much closer to being on par with even the latest ones. Eye-AF is now genuinely useful. It’s not up to Sony A9 standards yet but nothing is and I wouldn’t expect it to be. I tried it on the F but quickly switched it off, with this camera its staying on. The camera as a whole feels wonderfully quick and responsive, it’s a joy to shoot with. I shot a sequence with my daughter Ellie walking towards me outside and the Eye-AF worked great, all the shots were in focus. I’d happily use this to photograph a bride walking down the aisle, knowing that if I missed the shots, my career as a documentary wedding photographer would be over!
This is only a first impression piece as I’ve only had the camera a few days. I’ve loved every minute with it so far. It will sit very well in my camera bag as the camera I use when I want to have some fun. I will also use it for fashion shoots and weddings. Look for some of those shots when I do a full review in a month or so. There is a ton of stuff I’ve not covered, like the film simulations for example. Am I glad I bought it? Hell yes, I’m loving it so far. I’m very excited to see what I can do with this camera, the new lens feels like a significant upgrade. It’s like running around with a mini X-Pro3, which in my book is a very good thing indeed. Thanks for reading.