X100F Premium Compact Camera Is a Joy to Use
Fujifilm’s X100 series has long been a hit with photographers. Its classic design and optical viewfinder appeals to modern photographers who, in the past, would have opted for a compact rangefinder. The latest version, the X100F compact camera, keeps the basic design of previous models with a few minor tweaks, ups the sensor resolution to 24MP, and offers an improved autofocus system. If you yearn for a camera that’s almost pocket friendly, offers the image quality of an SLR, and is simply a joy to use, look no further: The X100F is our Editors’ Choice.
DESIGN AND CONTROLS
The template for the X1oo design hasn’t changed much in the lifespan of the series—it’s now about six years old and in its fourth generation. This version measures in at 2.9 by 5.0 by 2.1 inches (HWD) and weighs just about a pound. It’s available in a silver finish with black leatherette or in an all-black edition. We received the silver body for review.
The X100F boasts a fixed 23mm f/2 lens and APS-C image sensor, giving it a field of view similar to a 35mm lens in a full-frame system. If you prefer a wider (28mm) field of view, you can add the WCL-X100 II conversion lens, and fans of 50mm can tighten the scope of the lens with the TCL-X100 II. But both add bulk to the camera and take away the ability’ to slide it into a pocket.
Another excellent pocket-friendly 28mm equivalent on the market is the Ricoh GRII. It’s getting up there in age but remains a solid option for 28mm fans. And full-frame compacts are available with similar lens designs, but both the 28mm Leica Q and 35mm Sony RXiR II are priced above $3,000, putting them in a much more premium price category.
- Crisp wide-angle lens. Bright f/2 aperture. In-lens ND filter. Fast autofocus. Hybrid optical/ electronic viewfinder. Focus-select joystick. 1/4,000-second leaf shutter. Physical control dials. Film Simulation modes. Wi-Fi.
- Lens lacks stabilization. Video limited to 1080p. Sometimes struggles with tracking subjects.
A GOOD-LOOKING SHOOTER
The slim XIOOF features an APS-C image sensor, which has been updated to 24MP, compared with 16MP in previous iterations.
For a camera of this size, you’re more likely to turn to the built-in flash than an external one, although a hot shoe is there so you can mount an external flash or radio trigger. It’s a convenient way to till in shadows when shooting outdoors, or to brighten a scene where’s there’s simply not enough light, even for an f/2 lens and extreme ISO capabilities. By default, there’s no easy button to get to the flash settings and turn it on or off— or adjust its power.
But the XiooF is a very customizable camera. Most of its buttons can be remapped, so if you don’t see yourself requiring quick access to a particular button, you can remap it. The breadth of settings that can be assigned are too lengthy to list here. The XiooF online manual runs through the entirety of the customizations.
One of the physical changes from the precious-generation X1ooT is right on the front plate—the X1ooF has a front control dial, a first for the series. Its functionality is rather limited, though. It can be used to adjust EV compensation or ISO, but only if you set the EV dial to its C position or set the A position of the ISO dial to a Custom setting rather than the default Automatic in the menu system.
The X100F is a very customizable camera. The breadth of settings that can be assigned are too lengthy to list here.
One of the ergonomic improvements on the X100F is a dedicated joystick to change the focus point.
The advantage of using C for EV is additional compensation, five stops in either direction instead of three. Using the front dial to control ISO makes adjustment a bit easier than the top ISO dial, which is integrated into the shutter control and requires you to pull up on the dial and twist it to adjust the setting. If you frequently change the ISO, you may find the front dial to be more comfortable to use. If you want to control both settings via the dial, a push inward will switch its functionality.
Also on the front is a toggle switch, styled after the film rewind switch on a classic Leica rangefinder. It’s is used to change between the electronic and optical viewfinder mode. It has a button at its center; pressing it displays an on-screen menu that adjusts the setting of the control ring surrounding the lens. You can leave it set to its default function, which activates a Digital Tele converter when shooting JPG only, but does nothing w-hen Raw capture is enabled. It crops images to a 50mm or 70mm field of view, upscaling the photo to maintain a 24MP resolution at both focal lengths.
You also have the option of setting the dial to adjust White Balance or switch Film Simulation modes on the fly. The control ring only works to adjust these settings when the X100F is set to AF-S or AF-C; if you use manual focus, the ring is dedicated to focus adjustment.
Also surrounding the lens is a physical aperture control ring. It can be set to f/2 through f/16 in third-stop increments, and has an A setting for automatic aperture control as well. The focus mode switch is on the left side, toward the bottom; it has S, C, and M settings for single or continuous autofocus, or manual focus.
On top, to the left of the hot shoe, you’ll find a pair of dials, the power switch, shutter release, and the Fn button. The shutter dial has Bulb, Timed, and standard settings from l second to 1/4,000-second. ISO control is nested, with the current setting visible in a cutout window. To change the ISO, pull up on its knurled edges and twist. It takes a little getting used to, but as mentioned before, you can switch ISO control to the front dial if you find the operation tricky.
The EV dial can be set for -3 to +3EV adjustment in third-stop increments. There’s also a C setting, which moves control to the front dial, for a five-stop adjustment range. The shutter release is a typical dualaction design—a half-press engages autofocus and a hill press captures an image. Its design includes a standard thread for a mechanical release, a feature not seen on many modem cameras. The Fn button sets the metering pattern by default, but can be reprogrammed—I set it to toggle the in-lens neutral density filter.
Rear controls include View Mode, which is above the LCD, just to the right of the eyecup. It switches between viewfinder and the rear LCD, and has a setting for the eye sensor to change automatically. To its right are an AEL/AFL button and the rear control dial. The dial shifts shutter speed when shooting in Program mode— which is set w hen shutter speed and aperture are both set to A. Pushing it in zooms the Live View feed so you can confirm proper focus.
Rear mode switches between viewfinder and the rear LCD. It has a setting for the eye sensor to change automatically.
Other rear controls include a dedicated focus joystick, just to the right of the rear LCD. It moves the active focus point when the camera isn’t set to its Wide focus setting. Below it are Play, Delete, and Disp/Back buttons. A four-way control pad, with center Menu/OK button, is further to the right of the LCD. Its top position is dedicated to change the Drive mode, but the right, bottom, and left directions are customizable. By default they adjust the White Balance, AF mode, and Film Simulation settings.
The Q button is also on the rear, toward the upper right corner. It launches an on-screen menu that proiides quick access to a number of options, including display brightness, flash settings, image quality’ and tone, and the self-timer. Like the physical buttons, all 16 available settings can be customized to suit your needs. The display isn’t a touch screen, but the menu is quickly na\igated using the rear joystick to move from setting to setting and the rear control dial to adjust the highlighted function.
The XiooF squeezes enough physical controls into its small frame to satisfy demanding photographers, and almost all are customizable. If you don’t like the way it handles out of the box, you’ll be able to change the button functions to suit your style. If you’re a more visual person, the Q menu is just as flexible.
VIEWFINDER AND LCD
A hybrid viewfinder is the hallmark of the Xioo series. The XiooF doesn’t make any real changes here compared with the last couple models. The optical portion is bright, with an electronic overlay that shows current exposure settings and a frame that indicates the boundaries of the image. It’s wider than the lens, so you’ll be able to see a bit of action happening outside the frame. Additionally, the frame line moves after focus is locked, correcting for the parallax effect you get when focusing close up.
The focus points are also visible. They cover most of the frame, although only the central area, framed by an olive overlay, is covered by phase detection. The focus point or points that the XiooF is using to lock focus are highlighted in green when the shutter is half pressed.
A flick of the front toggle changes the viewfinder to EVF mode. The quality’ is the same as you get from models dating back to the X1ooS. It’s a 2,359k-dot LCD that is quite sharp to the eye. Using the EVF previews your final image, including any Film Simulation you have set. If you prefer a more natural view, better simulating the look of an optical finder when using the EVF, you can disable the Preview Picture Effect setting in the menu.
The rear display is a fixed LCD panel without support for touch input. It’s 3 inches in size and very sharp at 1,040k dots. Viewing angles are strong, and at full brightness it’s easy to see the image in bright sunlight.
When using the EVF or LCD, you have a few’ options when it comes to aiding manual focus. By default, the focus aid is simple frame magnification. But you also have peaking, which highlights in-focus areas of the frame, and a digital split image available. The digital split breaks the image into several rows, w’hich are offset w hen your shot is out of focus, but line up perfectly w’hen you’ve nailed manual focus.
The X100F squeezes enough physical controls into its small frame to satisfy demanding photographers.
FILM SIMULATION AND CONNECTIVITY
One of the bright points of recent Fujifilm cameras is the bevy of Film Simulation settings available. You can shoot images with a Standard look, which the company likens to its Provia slide film. Other slide film options include Astia for a soft look, Classic Chrome for the muted colors of Kodachroma, and the punchy, vivid tones of Vehia. Color negative film is simulated in Pro mode in standard and high contrast. In addition to a standard black-and-white option, the X100F include Fuji’s signature Acros stock, with your choice of simulated color filter, and a Sepia mode.
EASY ON THE EYES
The crisp rear LCD features adjustable brightness, so it can be easily viewed in bright light.
You can add grain to any of the film looks—you have the option of a standard or strong effect, or no added grain at all. The Film Simulations are only applied to JPG images, but if you like the look you can always shoot in Raw+JPG mode and have the choice of using the out-of-camera version or adjusting a Raw image to taste. You can also apply any number of looks to Raw images in the camera itself; you can use its Raw processing function to create as many different JPGs from a single Raw shot as you’d like.
Wi-Fi is also baked into the camera. The free Fuji Camera Remote app, available for Android and iOS, lets you transfer images directly to your smartphone for quick social sharing. The app also works as a remote control, complete with a Live View feed to your phone, exposure adjustment controls, and the ability’ to tap on your phone’s screen to set focus.
The XiooF has a few ports, including a 2.5mm microphone input, micro HDMI, and micro USB. The USB port supports in-camera charging, but Fujifilm also includes an external charger with the camera. The battery is different than the one used by the X100T: It packs more juice, powering the camera for 390 shots per charge per CIPA’s standard testing procedure. It’s the same type of battery used by the X-T2, X-Pro2, and X-T20, a plus if you own multiple Fujifilm cameras.
PERFORMANCE AND AUTOFOCUS
The X100F is really speedy. It starts, focuses, and fires in just 0.9 second, locks focus in as little as 0.1 second, and fires off shots at a quick 8fps burst rate. It can keep that pace for 22 Raw+JPG or Raw captures, or 47 JPGs. When using a SanDisk 28oMBps memoiy card the buffer requires about 38 seconds to clear after a hill Raw+JPG burst, 28 seconds for Raw, and 18 seconds for JPG.
The new autofocus system covers almost the entire width of the sensor with contrast detection points, although coverage is lacking at the top and bottom of the frame, giving the active focus area the look of a wide-screen movie on an old standard definition TV. The joystick makes for quick moves of the active point. By default, the camera displays 91 points, but if you want to see all the available points you can set it to show’ the entire 325-point system and size down the focus area for precise control. I found that using the 91-point display and a larger focus box got the job done better, as it’s quicker to move the point from one area of the frame to another. But for shots where a very precise focus is required, you have that option.
The XiooF has an expanded focus area mode as well. Using it limits your selection to the 91-point display area and covers 9 of those points at all times. It’s very useful for situations where the point of focus may change quickly from shot to shot, as you can move the focus area from one side of the frame to the other with a few flicks of the joystick. Finally, there’s a wide focus area that lets the X100F decide what to focus on.
In practical terms, there’s very’ little to complain about when it comes to the XiooF’s focus system. It’s speedy, customizable, and gives you the option of precise or coarse control over the focus point. If there’s one area where it suffers it’s in tracking fast-mo\ing subjects. Our standard focus test fires off shots continuously while mo\ing back and forth from our test target at varying speeds. The X100F slows its burst rate to get more shots in focus, but still came up with a middling hit rate. It’s not a huge deal for this type of camera—you’re probably not going to shoot a basketball game with a wide-angle lens. The focus system is more than capable of capturing the close-up, candid moments of eveiyday life.
IMAGE AND VIDEO QUALITY
The X100F enjoys a serious image quality upgrade over previous models. It uses the same 24MP X-Trans image sensor that has delivered excellent results we’ve seen in the X-Pro2 and X-T2. Despite packing more pixels, noise is better controlled than the 16MP sensors used in earlier versions of the camera, and image quality holds up better at higher ISO settings.
While the X100T keeps noise under control only through ISO 6400, the X100F manages to curb it to under 1.5 percent through ISO 12800, a one-stop advantage. When shooting JPGs with default noise reduction settings enabled
(you can set the noise reduction to be more or less aggressive), image quality is excellent through ISO 3200. There’s some slight smudging of detail \isible at ISO 6400, which gives way to a more noticeably blurred look at ISO 12800. ISO 25600 and 51200 are also available, but blur kills image detail at both settings.
Noise reduction isn’t applied to Raw images in camera. We use Lightroom CC as our standard conversion software, which does apply some modest color noise reduction by default. Raw photos show very strong detail through ISO 3200. Grain starts to detract from fine detail at ISO 6400, but results are still very useable. Grain is rougher at ISO 12800, but I’d still feel comfortable using it when a shot calls for it. Results are rougher still at ISO 25600, but not in any way blurry. ISO 51200 is available as an option, but noise wipes away almost all detail—you should avoid pushing the camera that far if possible.
The lens is the same 23mm f/2 we’ve seen in earlier X100 models. It delivers similar results with the new sensor at f/2—2,166 lines per picture height on Imatest’s standard center-weighted sharpness test. Edges are soft, 1,585 lines, but the rest of the frame betters the 1,800-line mark we want to see at a minimum. Edges don’t improve at f/2.8, but the center and mid parts of the frame do, upping the average score to 2,349 lines.
The low edge score is exacerbated by some field curvature, which affects edges at the close distance at which we frame our test chart. If you’re focusing at a further distance you’ll net crisper results, and if you’re shooting a subject close up, a shallow depth of field should mask any peripheral softness.
The FujiFilm X100F enjoys a serious image quality upgrade over previous models in the series.
Depth of field reduces the effect of curvature and sharpness improves in general at f/4. The average score is an excellent 2,854 lines here, with edges that top 2,000 lines. Image quality is about the same at f/5.6 (2,849 lines), f/8 (2,998 lines), and f/11 (2,840 lines). The best edge performance is enjoyed at f/8 and f/11, with the lens showing better than 2,400 lines at the periphery at both f-stops. You can shoot at f/16, but we don’t recommend it—diffraction cuts the overall resolution to 2,246 lines.
Lens sharpness does suffer when focusing close at f/2, delivering images with a somewhat soft-focus look—you’ll want to stop dowrn to f/2.8 or f/4 for crisper macro shots. The X100F focuses to 3.9 inches (10cm), which makes the X100F a versatile tool for close-up work.
The in-lens leaf shutter is nearly silent and can fire as quickly as 1/4,000-second, with flash sync available at all speeds. But even with a fast shutter, the base ISO 200 sensitivity can make it difficult to shoot at f/2 under bright light without overexposing an image. To combat this there’s an in-lens neutral density filter. It cuts out three stops of light, making the effective base ISO 25 when enabled.
The X100F records video at up to 1o8op quality at 6ofps. Even though it uses the same sensor as the X-T2, 4K capture isn’t supported. Heat is likely an issue preventing 4K implementation. The XiooF’s 1o8op footage is quite crisp, and the autofocus system does a good job locking onto focus and adjusting as the scene changes. There’s a mic input, which is a plus for using the X100F for more serious video projects, but the lens lacks image stabilization. This gives handheld footage a jittery look, so you’ll w ant to utilize a tripod if possible.
The Fujifilm X1ooF is the best entry in the series yet, thanks to refined controls and a big upgrade in image quality with a 24MP image sensor that delivers better autofocus and high ISO performance. The unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder set it apart from others in its class, including premium full-frame models that only sport EVFs.
Combine the image quality and speedy focus system with a highly customizable control layout with plenty of physical and on-screen control options, and you have a camera that’s easy to recommend. Photographers who want a compact alternative to schlepping an SLR around should look at the X100F closely, and it’s a natural fit for fans of analog rangefinders, as the shooting experience isn’t far off from using one, just with autofocus.
The Ricoh GRII, another winner, is still available, and remains a solid choice if you don’t mind losing the viewfinder and prefer a wider field of view, but its 16MP image sensor is beginning to show its age. There are are also premium full-frame models to consider. The 42MP Sony RXiR II gives you more cropping capability and includes an EVF and a similar 35mm f/2 lens, and the Leica Q matches the X100F in sensor resolution but sports a wider, brighter 28mm f/1.7 lens. But you’ll need to spend a few thousand dollars. That makes the X100F an easy pick as Editors’ Choice. It stands apart from others in its class, delivering just about as much image quality as you can want in a camera of this size.
Photographers who want a compact alternative to schlepping an SLR around should look at the XIOOF closely.