I'll say this right off the bat, I love this camera!
But I also want to add that it's not necessarily the right choice for everyone.
In this Fuji X100F review, I'll run through what I like (and what bugs me) about the Fuji X100F and who I believe this camera is best suited for. If it's not for you I'll tell you that too, so make sure to read all the way to the end of the review.
If you want a list of all the features and specs of the camera, Fuji's website will give you that information. But if you want real world info on how this camera performs and how is it best used in the field, you're in the right place.
Here are some of the main points I am going to cover in this review:
- Is the Fuji X100F worth the price?
- My first impressions
- Ease of use
- Street photography with the X100F
- Handy features
- Image quality
- Pros and cons
- Lens (fixed one included) and telephoto conversion lens
- Who is this good for
- Who is this not recommended for
Price – is the Fuji X100F worth the money?
At $1299 USD the Fuji X100F is a bit pricey but considering I paid almost $700 for a Panasonic point and shoot with a much smaller sensor 3 years ago, it's not that bad. One thing I was super stoked about was that it uses the same batteries as my Fuji X-T1, yay! (Canon take note!).
I was a bit concerned about the front of the lens being so exposed, so I wanted to put a UV filter on the front. Nope, no can do! There is no screw mount on the lens. You have to buy a filter adapter (with threads). So I got the adapter and the lens hood (not included with the camera) as well as a 49m UV filter, and it was over another $135 for those three things. **Fuji if you're reading this – included the filter adapter and lens hood with the camera, or put a thread mount on the lens!**
They also wanted a crazy amount of money ($93 USD!) for a thumb rest which allows you to easily use the camera with one hand. I found one on Amazon for under $12 and may try it for that.
***Built-in ND (Neutral Density) Filter – I found this by accident but it sure did come in handy doing car trails (see the image from NYC at night later on in the article). This allows you to cut the exposure time way down so you can shoot at slower shutter speeds (great for panning in the sun also and waterfalls).*** Super handy!
So all up, it was closer to $1450 USD for the rig. But I wasn't done yet! I also decided to buy the telephoto conversion lens for it – another $311. New grand total = $1775 or so. Yikes!
The bottom line on price is to make sure you factor in all the extra bits you may want before you go shopping for the Fuji X100F mirrorless camera. Having said that let's get into the fun stuff, what is it like using it and how are the images?
Fuji has a “try before you buy” program so I took advantage of it, borrowed it from a camera store and tested it out over a weekend so I could do a Fuji X100F review for everyone.
My first impressions were:
- I love the look and feel of this camera. It feels like an old-time rangefinder film camera. My sense of reminiscence is high with this one and it feels good. If you ever shot with a 35mm film camera you will love the X100F. More on that later!
- The controls and menus are very similar to other Fuji models like my X-T1, so it was easy to get going with it right away without reading the manual.
- It's super light!! I mean really, really lightweight. I went for a walk with it around my neck and actually forgot it was there – that light.
- The autofocus is reasonably fast. I tried it out with a moving target and panned a bike rider that sped past. See images below. It passed that test!
- In JPG format the burst mode (frames per second) is insanely fast. You can play the images back and make a mini-movie (see GIF of my husband smoking a cigar below. I shot it at 8 frames per second.
- Other people like using it as it's not bulky. I handed it to my husband and he took a few shots (see one of me below).
- Low light performance is quite good, as good or better than my X-T1. Tried that out at a farmer's market. See below.
For the images of the biker below, I used a slow shutter speed (1/30th), continuous focus (AF-C), zone focus (multiple active spots) and burst shooting mode. The camera kept the biker in focus the majority of the 14 total shots I took as he went by. I was fairly impressed.
Frame rate for burst mode
This camera has a few options for drive and burst mode: L 3 fps, M 4 fps, H 5 fps and HS a whopping 8 fps. If you want the camera to perform best in this situation, shoot in JPG format and make sure you have a fast card so you don't run into buffering issues.
Size and weight
I was pretty sure I wanted the Fuji X100F before I did the trial, but it sealed the deal. So I took the plunge and got it.
Now, please keep in mind that I finally decided to sell off all my Canon gear which was a huge decision for me. I haven't used it much in three years (I pretty much only used Canon when I was teaching) since I got the Fuji X-T1. But that's no reason to have 1000s of dollars worth of stuff just sitting around. So once I sold my Canon 5D3, I used the money to buy the X100F.
Using the Fuji X100F
Using the Fuji X100F is a pleasurable and fun experience. I love almost everything about it. Almost!
The camera's compact size and light weight make it easy to put in a purse and just go (sorry guys). I already find myself taking it places I don't usually take a camera (except my phone). So you know what they say – the best camera is the one you have with you.
It is about to become my travel backup camera which is why I bought the Panasonic point and shoot. So that simplifies my bag, I can take one less charger, and get higher image quality from almost the same size camera.
Did I mention using this camera is fun?!
I find I'm playing around more with it than usual. Trying out interesting settings and just taking goofy shots. That's the whole joy of photography – actually taking pictures and having fun. So this camera wins in this department big time!
Street photography and the Fuji X100F
It's perfect for street photography! The inconspicuous nature of using a smaller camera makes you less threatening to potential subjects, so less rejection. You can walk for hours and not get fatigued carrying it. And you aren't perceived as a “pro” so you can get away with more stuff.
The Fuji X100F can be put into a completely silent mode so there is no sound made when the photo is taken. As there is both a mechanical and electronic shutter it's possible to shoot in complete stealth mode. You can also shot at up to 1/32,000 of a second if you want to freeze something going really fast (you'll need lots of light for this).
Other handy features
Some of the other neat features that I like (which I've yet to play with) are:
- Customization – pretty much every single button and dial on the Fuji X100F can be cust0mized to do whatever function you wish. You can also rearrange and set up the quick menu to your liking as well.
- Movie mode – this camera does also take movies. I haven't tried it yet as that isn't really my forte. But I'll probably play with it at some point.
- Bracketing or AEB – this camera can automatically shoot three frames up to two stops apart (useful for high contrast scenes and doing HDR).
More things I like about the X100F
- Exposure compensation – this is also a dial on the top of the camera. Super easy to use and in conjunction with the EVF it makes it really simple to get the right exposure.
- Back button focus – it's super easy to use this mode on Fuji cameras. Just switch it to manual focus mode and the AFL button becomes the focus lock.
- Focus peaking – when in manual focus mode you can turn on this feature which shows a color glow in areas of the image which are in focus. It helps you focus in tricky situations (dark room or up close).
- Wifi – I use this and the save to JPG feature to send images to my phone or iPad via the Fuji remote app. Then I use Snapseed to do a quick process and upload to social media. It's really handy.
- Auto ISO settings – you can set the limits for how the camera applies Auto ISO in that you pick the maximum ISO it will go up to, and the minimum shutter speed (ensuring it keeps it above that speed, say 1/125th, so you get a sharp image with no camera shake. This is really great for being able to shoot with confidence and not have to worry about your settings.
- Joystick – there is a little joystick thingy on the back of the camera. I have it set to move the focus point around, so it's very handy.
- Electronic viewfinder EVF – as with my Fuji X-T1 I have come to really enjoy using the electronic viewfinder and screen. The ones of today are much better than the first mirrorless cameras. They are full of helpful information like seeing the exposure and white balance before you shoot, as well as being able to see a level and rule of thirds to help compose your image.
- ***Built-in ND (Neutral Density) Filter – I found this by accident but it sure did come in handy doing car trails (see the image from NYC at night below). This allows you to cut the exposure time way down so you can shoot at slower shutter speeds (great for panning in the sun also and waterfalls).*** Super handy!
My biggest bone of contention with the X100F is the battery compartment door. It has the same issue as the X-T1, you cannot change the battery if you have a tripod insert attached to the bottom of the camera. They fixed it on the X-T2, why not get it right on this one too??! It's really annoying to have to take your camera off the tripod, and remove the insert, just to change the battery – and on the X100F the memory card also.
I found a few other small things annoying, but only because they were different than my other Fuji camera. Once I figured them out it was all good. I've already said my peace on the lens hood and filter issue so I'll leave that one.
On my recent photo walk in NYC, I put the camera through its paces and tested it fully. Here are a few of the images from that day (and the day before) in New York. I'm extremely happy with the image quality.
I use Lightroom so it's super easy to remove Chromatic Aberration when it's visible in your images. I turned it off to check for any with the Fuji X100F and can find NONE. The lens distortion is also minimal. That's also easy enough to fix with one tick box in Lightroom and the built-in Fuji profile. In most cases, though I left it as is – I want my wide angle images to look wide.
The 23mm lens on the Fuji X100F is very sharp. This is cropped in a little bit as this little guy wouldn't get any closer (I didn't have anything he wanted). The sharpness is from edge to edge as I've come to expect from Fuji optics. It's a Fujinon lens, max aperture f/2.0.
Low light capability
Shooting handheld with the X100F is easy as it's so light. Also because of the 23mm lens (35mm equivalent on full frame), you can get away with shooting at slower shutter speeds and still get sharp images. I pushed it a bit on the following images.
For the most part, I shoot in single-point focus mode and single focus. But for moving targets, I wanted to test the X100F's ability to track using continuous mode. During a recent photo walk in NYC, my group was crossing the street toward me so I put it on burst mode (high) and fired away. Below is the result. The lady with the camera up to her eye is sharp in every frame!
This a maximum aperture of f/2.0, you can get some nice bokeh with this camera. Just remember that because it's a wide lens, you'll need to get fairly close to the subject to achieve this.
Dynamic range is the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of your scene and image. This camera performs really well under tricky lighting conditions and retains a lot of detail in both the highlights and the shadows (make sure you're shooting raw format!). Let's have a look.
I've mentioned Camera Calibration and Profile a couple times now. It's something I haven't used much in Lightroom – until now! The profiles that are already set up inside LR (if you're using the latest version of CC) are great. With just one click you can completely change the look of the image.
Here are a couple examples. The ONLY thing I changed here is the profile!
Fixed lens cameras
If you have never used a prime lens (one that doesn't zoom) or a camera like this with a fixed focal length – I suggest that you NOT get this camera. You will probably not like it. Please remember, I come from the days of film days and that's all we had “back then”. I also regularly shot with my 50mm lens on my Canon DSLR.
This is also a 23mm lens on a crop (APS-C) sensor. So that's the equivalent of about a 35mm on full frame. It's wide, but not super wide. It will force you to get close to your subject. If you are a beginner that may be uncomfortable for you.
Read this for more on wide-angle lenses.
The optional conversion lenses
As this is a fixed lens (cannot be removed and changed like a DSLR) you are stuck with the 23mm that comes with it. But there is also the option of getting the two conversion lenses available for it – one telephoto and one wide-angle. I chose to get the telephoto one which is 35mm (50mm equivalent on a full frame camera).
For me, the combination of the 23mm and 35mm is the perfect street photography kit. I just put the small conversion lens in my purse in its little pouch and I'm off. It's not super fast to put on because I have to take off the lens hood and filter converter (which I paid extra for, as mentioned above) in order to attach it. So don't expect to switch back and forth in a hurry. I recommend choosing one and running with it for a while and if you need to get closer, put on the telephoto lens.
I mentioned that I was thrilled that the X100F uses the same batteries at my other Fuji camera. This is important because all mirrorless camera tend to be battery pigs. I went through three in one day of shooting in NYC and I wasn't even shooting all day or a lot.
So if you decide to get this camera make sure you get extra batteries. If you want to travel with it I'd suggest having at least four. I have six for my X-T1 so that if I use four up one day and don't have time to charge them all overnight I at least have a couple other spares.
Note: If you're doing long exposures or shooting in cold conditions your batteries will also deplete faster.
Retro film camera feeling
I mentioned that I love the look and feel of the X100F because it reminds me a lot of a 35mm rangefinder film camera. I had the same feeling when I first held the X-T1.
There are three things that give the X100F this feeling. First, there is an ISO dial on top of the camera. Second, there is a shutter speed dial on top of the camera. And third, the thing I was almost giddy about, the aperture is on the lens – as in an aperture ring that you turn to adjust the setting. How great is that!?
Putting the camera into one of the three semi-auto modes is super easy:
- For Program Mode put the ISO, aperture and shutter speed all on Auto.
- To get Aperture Priority mode put the ISO and shutter speed on Auto and select the aperture you want.
- To get Shutter Priority put the ISO and aperture on Auto and select the shutter speed you want.
In short, using this camera takes me back in a good way. I still feel old, but using this camera makes me want to play with it more and it's fun to use. That's always a good thing!
Who this camera is for:
Okay here's the bottom line. I would recommend the Fuji X100F for you if you resonate with any or all of these points:
- You already have another Fuji X-series camera and want a backup.
- It fits within your budget.
- You enjoy street photography.
- You travel a lot and want something that is a step up from a point and shoot camera, aren't concerned about having a long lens (you don't shoot wildlife or sports) and want to keep it as simple as possible.
- Having a camera with you all the time is a priority and you want something compact with high-quality images.
- If you used to shoot film back in the day.
Who this camera is NOT for:
As promised at the top of the review, I also want to tell you if this camera is NOT for you. If this sounds more like you then I recommend that you do not buy this camera:
- You are an absolute beginner and this will be your first camera (or upgrade from a point and shoot). There is nowhere for you to expand with this camera if you want to brand out into wildlife, sport or anything that you need a longer lens for. But if you want to keep it simple this one may not apply to you.
- If you photograph a lot of birds, wildlife, or sports.
- Zoom lenses are your best friends and you have an array of them covering a wide range of focal lengths. The limits of having one prime lens only may frustrate you. But if you aren't sure, do the Fuji Try Before You Buy and test it out.
- It's beyond your budget. It's not a low-end camera, make sure before you make the investment.
- You have overly large hands (read this: How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for You)
At the end of the day, it's your call if you want to get the Fuji X100F mirrorless camera. Just because I love it, doesn't mean you will. It goes well with my X-T1 as a second camera, and backup on my travels, and it's perfect for street photography which I love. It's small, lightweight, and has fantastic image quality. Apart from the minor annoyance changing the battery and using a tripod I can find no other faults with it.
Do a trial with the X100F and see if it's for you or not. If it is great, join the club! If it's not, that's okay too. Keep looking there is a perfect camera for you out there somewhere!
Side note: if you enjoyed the images of New York City in this review and want to visit the city and have your own private photography tutor and local tour guide – look up James Maher. He does workshops in NYC and private photo tours, so you can go shoot some spectacular images of The Big Apple.