By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Review] Fujifilm X100, a true masterpiece!
Let’s make it clear immediately and before we go on with our review: Fujifilm’s Finepix X100 is one of the most impressive, well-built and fascinating cameras that we tested. By offering an amazing mix of intuitive handling, breathtaking image quality with one of the best viewfinders we have ever seen. This, my dear fellow readers, is how amazing the Finepix X100 is!
Note : This review has been written before Fujiflm upgraded its X100 Firmware that brought to this already amazing camera many new improvements.
I’m one of those kids who never had the chance to play with an old, retro film-based camera and I’m not currently able to afford a Leica M3, but I’ve always wondered what would it be like to own of these beasts.
The Fujifilm X100 fulfills a long dream that I always had, being able to own one of these retro-Pro compact cameras with stunning personality as well as being able to provide great photos and video. When I received my test sample for my trip in Okinawa back in April, I could not believe how fantastic this camera was. Sure I had the chance to “play” with this X100 at several occasions during the Fujifilm Press Event and at some other events, but receiving the masterpiece in its original box and having the chance to discover piece-by-piece what’s in it took my way back to my childhood during Christmas.
I had the chance to play with a lot of cameras in my life and I even remember having the chance to shoot once with my grandfather good old film-based SLR. Nothing really, beside my grandfather’s one, prepared me for the X100 and its magical body.
The X100 is everything I love in a single camera, where the past, mixed with the future, and where classical/noble materials like the X100’s brushed aluminum is mixed with an impressive high-grade plastic. Think of the X100 as a Jaguar E-Type Speedster, where Eagle, a British company, took the base of the almighty Jaguar E-Type and mounted it with 2011 tech, engine, brakes, and a slightly modified windshield.
Yes the X100 is that good and it is exactly what a gentleman photographer must own when he is looking for an elegant yet sophisticated powerful camera.
Being so, the X100 is, by essence, the very opposite of any high-end point-and-shoot camera, where both size and weight must reduced to its minimum. The X100 is somehow bulky and will only fit with difficulty in your rear pocket. Doing so will be an insult to this Gentleman’s shooter that needs to be properly handled with all the respect that only high-end cameras should receive. Being made with a strong die-cast magnesium alloy body, the X100 is a really “sturdy” camera capable of withstanding the worse if necessary.
I want to give a special mention to the X100’s amazing the hybrid optical viewfinder (OVF) / electronic viewfinder (EVF). Being a digital camera, the X100 comes with the usual rear LCD monitor or EVF – a pretty good 2.8” LCD monitor with a 460k dots and 100% scene coverage – but the most impressive part of the X100 is its really sharp and accurate OVF that works like a fighter jet’s collimator HUD by transposing digital information over your optical viewfinder. This gives you a DSLR-like optical viewfinder with all the advantages of a digital one. It’s a true masterpiece!
Let’s Shoot Baby
Now it’s time to talk about image quality. Like its outstanding build-quality, the X100 does not disappoint once you start using it. One of the most impressive aspects of the X100 is that from ISO 100 up to 3200, you get a noise-free picture. It is only when you reach ISO 12800 that you will really start noticing image color desaturation and strong visible noise in JPEG. Once you switch to RAW, you will get a noise-free picture up to ISO 6400.
Another great aspect of the X100 and its fixed lens is that Fujifilm took all the time it needed to fine tune the 23mm lens, giving you a camera that handles chromatic aberrations like no other models within this category!
Another great aspect of the X100 is its three dynamic range (DR) settings with 100% by default, and options for 200% and 400%. The advantage here, and depending of the situation you are shooting, is to help you to increase the amount of details visible in the shadow and highlight areas, bringing out more details. Even though I personally welcome this mode, be warned that it will also increase the noise level in each of your pictures. Unfortunately, this feature cannot be turned off like I would love to do. Still, if you are not sure how to handle this DR mode, Fujifilm gives you the possibility to opt for a fully automatic mode that takes care of this matter for you once and for all.
Despite its “classical” look and feel, the X100 is surprisingly fast. The X100 would be better with a faster auto-focus mechanism, but at least it comes without any noticeable shutter lag, making it nearly impossible to miss a shot – a huge plus compared to many other cameras. The X100 is also reasonably fast when it comes to its continuous shot mode, and offers 5 frames-per-second (FPS) for JPEGs or for RAW files when your shutter speed is above the 1/100th of a second, and drops to a good 3 FPS between 1/10 to 1/100th of a second.
Like most cameras nowadays, the X100 comes with eight different film simulation modes that help increase your creativity. I personally have no need for such “gadgets”, but I am sure that many of you will find some smart ways to get the best out of them.
Capable of shooting both JEPG and RAW pictures at the same time, it is worth noting that Fujifilm took the decision to support of SDXC cards, giving you not only fast photo uploading but also up to 64GB of storage space. This is something worth considering when shooting both RAW photo and 720p videos.
So what about the X100’s video mode?
Not only does the X100 take great pictures, but it also shoots GREAT video. Granted, the X100’s video mode is a bit limited with only the ability to set both aperture and shutter speed before taking videos, as we well as being limited to a 720/24p mode, but it comes with the ability of choosing among the camera different image filter modes and AF. There is no way to switch the X100 to manual focus in the video mode.
Still, the X100 takes GREAT videos, and once you mastered the limitations of the camera and know how it will react, the X100 is a very capable little camcorder that will give you videos as gorgeous as still photos.
I am in love! Yes, the X100 is THE camera that I was always looking for and the only camera I would love to always carry around with me. Maybe it’s not as fancy as a Leica M9/M8.2 or X1, the X100 is also way more affordable than these cameras, and still gives you the satisfaction of owning a real camera and not another piece of plastic.
With gorgeous photos and great videos, the X100 is the perfect all-in-one solution for the gentleman photographer. But be careful, its 23mm lens may not be suited for every situation, but here as well, once you understand what you can do with the X100 you will find yourself with limitless possibilities!