The X100 is arguably the most anticipated camera this year, and rightfully so. Instead of adding crap superzoom lenses, or packing more unusable MPs onto the sensor, Fujifilm decided to include a 23mm f/2 Fujinon prime lens, a 12MP APS-C size sensor, optical viewfinder with electronic viewfinder inside (more of this later), solid body with throwback styling, and quiet leaf shutters. If you do the math, the X100 has a pixel density of 3.3MP/cm²! As a reference, the Canon 5D Mark II’s full-frame sensor has a pixel density of 2.4MP/cm² (lower is better), that’s pretty damn impressive for a cam that is small enough to lug around town. On paper, the X100 is pretty much the perfect “decisive moment digital”. I knew I had to get one to test it out, I was on the pre-order lists at almost everywhere that took X100 pre-orders, I got lucky when Amazon had them in stock for a little while last week, they have since sold out.
I’ve had it for 500 frames now, it’s by far the best small camera I’ve shot with, and I’ve tried most of them out there: G11, LX3, X1, GF1, GF2, E-P1. A couple quick points on the X100 with image samples:
- Small and lightweight, yet build quality is superb
- the leaf shutter is extremely quiet
- 23mm f/2 lens is very sharp, even at wide-open. Contrast is also very good
- 9-blade round aperture, bokeh is better than any non-L lens I’ve seen, and it’s almost as good as L lens with curved blades
- Noise control in high ISO settings is spectacular, noise is very film-like. I don’t mind noise, but I do mind SHITTY noise from crap small sensors. ISO 3200 is very usable, in-camera noise reduction in JPEGs is amazingly good, luminance NR in Lightroom 3 also works really well
- Color rendition, at least in JPEGs, is great. If you’re used to shooting Fuji negatives, you will like the colors. I haven’t figured out how to get the colors to look right in RAW yet, and there is no color profiles for the X100 in ACR or Lr3 at the moment
- The tiny built-in flash works great as a fill flash, flash metering works great. I used it in slow sync mode and it worked really well
- OVF is bright and the superimposed info and AF points are useful. Using a VF also helps stabilize the cam when you’re shooting at shutter speeds that you probably shouldn’t be handholding at
- EVF image review is great, I had an “holy shit” moment when I first saw it pop up
- EVF allows live-mode shooting, great for macros and when you need precise framing
- The AF pattern is awesome, much better than the odd diamond pattern on my 5D Mark II, off-center AF is relatively fast
- Built-in sheet-type ND filter reduces light to 1/8 (3 stops), this is useful for shooting portraits outdoor at wide apertures
- Metering is very accurate, I shot mainly with “multi” metering setting with EV compensation adjustments. It handled tricky situations flawlessly
- Manual controls for EV adjustments, apertures and shutter speeds
- Small buffer and slow SD card write speed, worse yet, you can’t change AF point or any camera settings during SD writeback
- MF is difficult, it takes forever to turn the focusing ring. If you’re used to using real rangefinders, by the time you put your eye to your VF the lens should already be in focus from experience. You can’t do that with the X100. You also can’t use OVF to MF (X100 is NOT a rangefinder, in case you’re still confused)
- Need more customizable buttons, the RAW button is unnecessary, there’s only 1 programmable button, I set it to ISO adjustments, but also want a button for DoF preview
- Some features are silly, like fake shutter sounds (you can choose between leaf shutter, focal plane shutter, or mirror reflex sound). At least for me, I love how the leaf shutter is quiet and I don’t need any stupid sound when I press the shutter
- It’s hard to hold the AF switch in the back of the cam to choose AF points. There should be a AF points selection mode, and you should be able to enter that mode with a switch accessible with your right hand while shooting, leaving your left hand on the lens
- Menu is not very intuitive, it’s also slow, and I find the command dial a bit hard to use
- OVF is only good to 80cm because of parallax, the X100 should automatically switch to the EVF when it’s below that
- Battery takes forever to charge, I have no idea why, it’s not a super high capacity battery. The charger sucks, it has no flip-out prongs
More shots from the X100
I applaud Fuji for putting out the X100. Maybe this will show other camera companies like Nikon and Canon that DSLR’s and crap point and shoots are not the be all/end all. It WILL send a message to Leica and I am sure their X2 will be the better for it.
Mine will be here tomorrow (well, technically today), can’t wait.
I’ve been on the pre-order lists at a couple of different places for 2 months now, I just got a notification from NowInStock, Amazon just got some!! If you want one you should ordered one ASAP before they’re sold out! I have a shoot with a friend this Sat and will be able to test it out. Love Amazon Prime.