Update (March 26, 2020): On my personal blog, I have finally published an image gallery of shots from my own X100V. My conclusion remains the same: a truly outstanding camera that is a joy to use, one with great image quality and a much improved lens. I am very happy with the results indeed!
With the COVID-19 situation, enjoying the spring weather, but at the same time maintaining social distancing by getting out and shooting somewhere where the density of people is low, is something I will be doing more of. The images I took were from a stroll around UBC, as well as walk through Campbell Valley Park where there were also not many people.
My blog post on mikemander.com with linked image gallery: Fujifilm X100V First Tests
Click on the image below to be taken straight to the image gallery with 55 images…
Update (March 10, 2020): I have now been shooting with my own production X100V for a week or so and I can confirm that the lens is superb, generally a big improvement over the one in the X100F. The huge field curvature issue is indeed gone and now shots of distant scenes have nice, consistent sharpness across the frame from corner to corner. In addition, close focus macro shots at wide apertures are now also far sharper, with much higher contrast. The X100V is truly a major upgrade, lens included in my opinion, and I can confidently say that for me, it is the best X100 series camera yet!
I would say the only type of photography where you won’t see a benefit from the new lens, is if you are shooting closer subjects, especially at wide apertures, where edge and corner quality (sharpness) are not really a factor in your composition, such as with many portrait shots for example. The X100F was always exceptionally sharp in the central region of a shot and it was only the corners where there could be a major drop in image quality in some situations, like landscape or cityscape photos at infinity. Watch for another update with a linked image gallery from some of my initial wanderings with the new camera…
(February 7, 2020): Earlier this week, Fujifilm announced the highly anticipated successor to the X100F, the new X100V! It will be selling for $1,799 in either all black or silver/black, and we are taking pre-orders now. It is the fifth generation of camera in this popular lineup, with the original X100 arguably being the breakthrough camera for Fujifilm which launched it on its current success. In fact, the X100 defined one of the things which, I think, has helped make all the Fujifilm bodies so popular: the retro controls. Unlike most other digital cameras which had scroll wheels and buttons, the “rangefinder style” X100 had a traditional shutter speed dial, a marked aperture ring around the lens and a nice exposure compensation dial. The fourth generation X100F even added an uber-retro ISO setting feature, with a small ISO window in the shutter speed dial and a spring loaded collar, which you pull up and turn in order to change the ISO. Considering the compact body, that was a cool and practical solution, instead of cramming another dial on the top of the camera somehow, although it was a little fiddly to use until you got used to it. The X100V more or less has that same control layout on its top plate as its predecessor did (see below – click images to open a larger view in a new tab), with some enhancements that I’ll cover later…
One big advantage of these retro controls is that without needing to switch the camera on, at a glance you can see the f-stop, shutter-speed, ISO and exposure compensation setting, all the main things that determine your exposure. If any of the key exposure controls are set to ‘A’, then you know the camera is making the decision on those exposure parameters based on its metering system, and not you. Once you start using it, it’s all very logical actually and you won’t miss not having a “PASM” dial or mode button.
Another defining characteristic of the original X100 was its Hybrid-Viewfinder, a fantastically flexible hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder setup that is still unique to Fujifilm, even after all these years. There is a rangefinder style optical viewfinder on the top left corner of the body (top right when seen from the front like below), a great place to have it if you’re a right-eyed shooter to avoid leaving nose-prints on the back LCD! For left-eyed shooters, the advantage is that you also get more room between your right hand and your face. A small DSLR style body, like an X-T30 for example, can be awkward to hold if you use your left eye to look through the viewfinder. On the front of the X100V, there is a small lever (the one with the red dot on it) which you can see to the upper left of the lens in the photo below, and pulling that lever back with your eye to the viewfinder, will toggle between full electronic viewfinder (EVF) and optical viewfinder (OVF) modes.
In EVF mode, the viewfinder is exactly like any other good (very good) mirrorless camera EVF, with specifications similar to the superb EVF in the new X-Pro3, and in OVF mode, you get a direct view of your scene with electronically superimposed framing lines and exposure data, much like you would see in a traditional rangefinder film or digital camera. However you are not left wanting for info, since in the X100 series, as in the X-Pro series, you can turn on all manner of exposure data, a histogram, an electronic level and more, all while in OVF mode. The framing lines also shift to compensate for parallax at differing distances, as does the AF point display. In OVF mode, there is also a small pop-out panel in the viewfinder at the bottom right, also activated by the OVF lever on the front of the camera, and that can display a magnified electronic live-view image to aid in manual focusing whilst staying in OVF mode.
Why would you want to use the OVF? Well first off, there is absolutely zero digital lag of any sort, since you are viewing the scene directly with your eye through optics. In addition when working in very bright conditions, it can be easier to frame your shot through an OVF than through an EVF. Both of those are advantages that DSLRs have as well, as long as you have a bright (fast aperture) lens mounted. Finally, if you are doing street photography, the additional view of the scene that you get outside of the framing lines can be very useful. That extra field of view might give you enough time to judge exactly when to take a shot, were you to see a subject approaching your intended framing, like a cyclist, a person etc. That extra moment of warning may make the difference between, for example, capturing a cyclist just leaving the frame, or capturing the cyclist framed perfectly at the opportune time. If you are right-eyed, some photographers will leave their left eye open to take in more of the scene as well, helping to watch for approaching subjects or other situations worth capturing. That is easier to do with a rangefinder style body where there’s much less blocking the view from the left eye, although that trick doesn’t work so well for left-eyed shooters though.
Before we talk about what the X100V has gained, and there have certainly been a lot of feature and performance gains over the X100F, I’ll finish up this section on its ergonomics by mentioning one thing the X100V has lost when compared to the X100F, namely the traditional 4-way controller buttons, the “D-pad”. Fujifilm seems on a kick to eliminate the D-pad since many new recent models have lost it; the X-E3, the X-T30 and the X-Pro3. I suppose that with rear LCD displays getting larger, and with most new bodies getting the excellent focus-point joystick, the D-pad is getting crowded out of the smaller bodies, and for me, I find that a shame since it reduces the number of customizable buttons the cameras have. If Fujifilm had replaced the D-pad with a few extra user customizable buttons, I would be okay with its loss since otherwise, I have zero issues using the little joystick to make menu selections and so on. However I personally find the lack of programmable buttons disappointing, but actually…
It turns out that after using the X100V for a while, I discovered that not only can you now assign the Q-button to a totally different function, but there is even an OVF lever “pull and hold” function that can be reassigned, so in reality you are only losing a single function button, unless of course you use the Q-menu and want to keep that button defined as is, so then you are losing two. In any case, after customizing the X100V to my liking, I am really not missing anything critical compared to the X100F, and I must say that I actually really liked using it! One other minor disappointment, apart from the function buttons, is that it only has a single UHS-I SD card slot. For truly pro-level use, being able to use a backup card would have added some piece of mind, and having a faster UHS-II slot would have been nice too, not that the previous X100 models had any of that either though.
The last thing I should mention is one slight change to the OVF AF point display. Like the X-Pro3, there is no longer a permanent infinity AF-point showing, so if you focused the camera for a close subject, you have to guess a little where the AF point will be for a more distant shot. With the older cameras, you would always have infinity AF point reference, and if enabled in the settings, a close focus “dashed” AF-point to the lower right of the infinity point. When you autofocused, you would get a green square that was positioned somewhere between those extremes depending on your subject distance. With a bit of practice, it was easy to gauge exactly where the AF point would fall based on estimating your subject distance and using those two marks for reference. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but it was rather useful and worked well in practice. I feel this would be an easy fix for Fujifilm to add again with new firmware, so I hope both the X100V and X-Pro3 get updated in the future to bring back that feature. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dig into more of the good stuff!
Firstly, continuing the theme on ergonomics, the X100V now has a two-way tilting rear LCD that is fully touch enabled. It can tilt up by 90º and down by about 40º, however there is no sideways tilt mechanism like in the X-H1 or X-T3. A great job has been done on its design though, since it seems to sit perfectly flush with the back of the camera and feels quite solid when tilted. Now one way to get around the slight lack of function buttons is to use swipe-gestures on the rear touch LCD, a feature that Fujifilm has been using for quite some time. However personally, I am not a huge fan of those and much prefer physical buttons. But that’s just me. For those who are used to swiping, pinching and tapping their smartphone displays, well they’ll probably feel right at home using those gestures on the X100V! The rear LCD has gained a significant amount of resolution too, now sporting a 1.62 million dot LCD, versus the the 1.04 million dot one used previously.
The EVF has seen a huge upgrade too, now with a much brighter and higher contrast OLED that has a whopping 3.69 million dots, versus a 2.36 million dot LCD before. While the magnification ratio has not improved significantly, the eye-point has, and is now at 16.8mm (15mm before) with a diopter control range that covers approximately -4 to +2 (-2 to +1 before), all of which should be helpful for eyeglass or sunglass wearers when using the Hybrid-Viewfinder. I also noticed that the viewfinder optics are improved with virtually no distortion whatsoever, whereas my X100F has a slight bit of pincushion distortion when using the EVF. In fact, until using the X100V, I can’t say it ever bothered me, but now I find it quite noticeable.
Even the ISO settings dial has been upgraded. Instead of the outside collar being spring-loaded, requiring a continuous upward pull to allow it to be turned, the new collar pulls up and latches, allowing the dial to be freely turned with slight detents on the ISO values. When you finish setting the ISO, push the collar back down to lock into place. Very slick! Initially, when I saw the top panel being nicely curved around part of the shutter speed dial, I thought that setting the ISO might be awkward, but the new design completely eliminates that concern and actually makes it far easier than the X100F and, for that matter, easier than setting the ISO on the X-Pro2 or X-Pro3 too.
One huge upgrade to the body is that it now features a weather-resistant design with one caveat: for it to be fully sealed, you will need to buy the filter adapter ring for the front of the lens and attach a 49mm protective filter to it. This is similar to, for example, some Canon ‘L’ lenses which are also not fully sealed until you mount a filter on the front. We generally only stock the filter adapter and lens hood combo, since if you already have the filter adapter and then wanted a hood, there is no way of just buying the hood by itself. The hood and adapter ring kits are $89.95 and are available in both silver and black to match the body you have.
As far as its “guts”, it basically seems to be an X-Pro3 inside. It has the new 26MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with a base ISO of 160 and slightly improved dynamic range, as well as many of the other internals from the X-Pro3 including the improved AF performance with -5 EV capability for phase-detect AF, AF focus limiter options and new eye and face detect algorithms. When I compared the X100V to my X100F, the increase in focus speed in many cases was quite noticeable, although I am attributing that more to the reliability and sensitivity of phase-detect AF in low light, than any significant speed increase in the lens’ focus motor. The latest film simulation types are also included, including Classic Neg, Eterna and so on, it also has the new expanded dynamic range shooting modes, as well as numerous enhanced video features like 4K recording, Full-HD slow motion, and it can even output 4:2:2 10-bit video over HDMI to use with an external recorder. And those are only some of its newly enhanced features. This is one hugely capable compact camera!
Even though the lens size and diameter has not changed, allowing for compatibility with all the previous lens accessories (lens adapter ring and hood, wide and tele conversion lenses), the optical design has been tweaked. The obvious change (on the spec sheet) is that there are now two aspheric elements instead of one, although the total number of elements and groups have not changed. The only visible change on the outside is the little Roman numeral II on the lens. The older X100 series cameras always had an issue with sharpness and contrast when focusing very closely at wide f-stops, but the X100V seems hugely improved in that regard.
In addition, it is said that corner sharpness has improved as well, although that may not be telling the whole story. The previous X100 series camera could have very sharp corners, even at wider f-stops, however the older lens design suffered from quite a large amount of field curvature. If you weren’t careful with focus when shooting a scene at long distances, even when the lens was stopped down, you could find distant details at the edges or corners soft, with the rest of the image being very sharp. However if your shot had foreground, you might notice that hey, wow, look how sharp the foreground is! One trick that worked for me, was to bias the infinity AF-point half way (or a little more) to the edge of the frame, so the focus point was “seeing” part way into that foreground field curvature, so to speak. This would push the centre of the frame a little past optimal infinity maybe, but then also push the edges and corners closer towards infinity. Using that trick and shooting at f/8 or so, you could actually obtain distant landscape or cityscape images that were basically tack sharp corner to corner since the depth of field would then effectively hide the field curvature. So, with Fujifilm saying the corner sharpness has improved with the new v II lens, I also must believe that they’ve reduced or eliminated this field curvature perhaps? With the ugly weather these last two days, and only having the sample for about 24 hours, I was not able to thoroughly test out the new lens design. With my limited testing though, sharpness does seem to be more consistent corner to corner now, but it is still too early for me to assess it’s overall image quality. The X100V I had was preproduction as well, and I tend to avoid drawing too many lens quality conclusions from ones that are not final production models.
So ignoring my inconclusive lens tests so far, I would say that in every important way, the X100V is truly a huge upgrade over the X100F and previous models. I had concerns about a few issues, but when I actually got my hands on the camera, they either turned out to be non issues, and in one case (the ISO setting) the new model even had improvement there, despite what I first thought. The new silver body has a gorgeous smooth, satiny finish which looks even better in person than on photos I’d say, looking both more expensive and even more precisely machined and assembled that the previous generations. I must say that personally though, I had really wished for a silver and brown leather option out of the gate! I will admit that from the back, I actually feel the new silver and black looks even better than my brown leather X100F, since the design is simpler and cleaner with not as many shapes and colours vying for your attention.
One customer who handled the X100V said it looked rather “Apple-like” and I have to agree. The quality of the metal with its satin finish and precisely formed crisp edges and seams, switches and controls that are impeccably finished and have superb tactile feel, all of that helps the X100V truly exude the feeling of precision manufacturing and attention to detail. Even the new battery door on the bottom of the camera has those same qualities. Because of all that, it is quite puzzling to me that on this latest iteration of the X100, Fujifilm has chosen to hide their “Made in Japan” label under the rear tilting LCD, rather than proudly showing it off on the body somewhere. If you look at the back of my older X100F, you’ll see the “Made in Japan” engraving at the back, on the bottom right of the silver edge, under the D-pad. I’d say the new X100V truly deserved the same proud display, somewhere more visible on the body!
One thing the X100 series has always been good at, is making one truly want to pick the camera up and go out and shoot with it. Part of that appeal is how good the camera looks, how nice it feels in the hand and the tactile nature of its controls, making the entire picture taking experience a true pleasure. This X100V has all of that in spades!
Note that the silver X100V will start shipping on February 27th, and the all black model a month later on March 26th. Once I am able to test a production camera, and for longer than 24 hours hopefully (which might not be until after it ships), I will likely update this post with an accompanying image gallery as well. Feel to call us or email any questions you have about the new Fujifilm X100V and I’ll do my best to try and answer them.