Fuji X100F Review – 3 Reasons why “F” spells Freedom!
X100F… ? So, what´s this “F” stand for ? Fuji says it means “the Fourth” iteration of the X100 series. Or maybe it´s to say the “Force” is with her… (yes the X100F´s a she 😉 or it stands for Fantastic… Hey, probably it´s a bit of all those! Well, for me the “F” on Fuji´s fourth iteration of the X100 refers to “Freedom”. Freedom from the technicalities of photography, from weight, bulk, choices and complexity. Freedom to Focus on the image! Please read on to learn how the combination of the right camera, software and workflow can liberate your photography & boost your creativity:
Disclaimer: If youse expecting a traditional type review full of geeky tech details I gotta disappoint you (I´m sure you’ll find loads of technical / feature reviews on the web). Here I´d like to focus more on how the X100F handles in everyday practical use!
I remember the day like yesterday: 2016/4/13 – the day I traded my beloved X100T for a new X-Pro2. I wanted the 24 MP resolution bump. With that and the increased processing power came ACROS – Oh boy, did I fall in love with Fuji´s ACROS Film simulation! But even though the X-Pro2 was great, I somehow could never seem to be able to come to terms with the for me too low viewfinder magnification (0,36X with 23 mm vs. 0,5X on the X100 series): looking thru that one made me feel kinda claustrophobic… In practice I also discovered that the X-Pro2´s increase in size (vs. my X100T) was quite substantial… How many times since then did I wish for a reincarnation of the 24 MP ACROS goodness in a smaller form factor? Well now, it´s Finally here (another “F” 😉 in form of the new Fujifilm X100F!
For me the advent of the Fuji X100F has finally brought together 3 key building blocks which have liberated my digital photography, giving me a déjà-vu back to my film days! I see 3 reasons why the “F” of the X100F means Freedom:
1. Freed of Ballast: The X100F is a compact prime lens camera delivering exceptional image quality. Working with only one prime lens on a compact camera can be very liberating: No more lugging around a big bag of kit, juggling lenses to find the best fit to the scene while the opportunity passes. With the X100F you will instead focus more on image composition, lighting, and mood and “zoom with your feet” to find new / more interesting perspectives. Chase Jarvis once said “The best camera is the one that´s with you…” – Ok, he was referring to iPhones, but in essence this quote invokes the “Law of Inverse Proportions”: The smaller your camera/lens, the higher the probability that you will (always) take it with you, have it ready when needed and get to take pictures you didn’t expect to find. This will for sure boost your creativity and improve the impact of your images!
2. Freed of RAW: The X100F has sufficient resolution & processing power to realize the ACROS JPEG film simulation. The resulting JPEG´s are awesome, with beautiful smooth gradations and a subtle, tonality dependent grain effect (only possible with Fuji´s 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor & X-Processor Pro technology). No way you can replicate this “analogue film-like look” by RAW processing, or by applying post processing filters! For me this is a strong incentive to mainly focus my workflow on JPEG´s! Only downside of the higher resolution is an increased risk of camera shake blurring your images (approx. factor 1.5x vs. what you were used to on Fuji´s 16 MP sensor).
3. Freed from the Desk: Focusing mainly on JPEG´s allows me to predominantly do my post processing on my iPad Pro using Lightroom Mobile. ACROS JPEG´s are so good that I only need some minor curves tweaking and maybe some local dodging/burning. Edits done on the iPad are automatically sync´d to Lightroom on my MacBook Pro. By this I significantly reduce time spent on post processing or behind PC´s, and I can do that while travelling or during lunch. By setting file saving to JPEG-F+RAW I always have the RAW files as back-up to later either (re)develop in camera with different settings or convert them in Capture ONE in case of critical lighting conditions where more fancy post processing is needed (to be honest this rarely happens btw 😉
I would like to point out three additional aspects of the Fuji X100F, which make its use less obtrusive and invasive:
Main photographic settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation) are visible at one glance and can be adjusted via dedicated analogue dials, without needing to look thru the viewfinder or diving into menus.
Autofocus user interface, accuracy and speed are (finally 🙂 fulfilling my expectations. I mainly use zone AF setting with face/auto-eye detection ON when taking people images.
Flexible hybrid viewfinder: I use the OVF (Optical View Finder) mainly for people images where I want to concentrate on facial expressions and background environment. For street / landscape / storytelling photography, where composition, perspective, contrast and hi-light & shadow tone are important, I prefer the EVF (Electronic View Finder) which allows me to pre-visualise the image as it will be captured (eg. in ACROS film simulation) before even pressing the shutter release. So, no need for the dreaded “chimping” after taking each image…).
This means, especially when photographing people, that you only need to bring the camera to your eye for a short moment just to take the picture: Check framing, press shutter, done – max 2 secs. The combination of this short time in front of your face, the fact that the camera is quite small and only covers part of your face due to its rangefinder-esque design, and the X100F being totally silent means people rarely even realize that you´re taking their picture. This results in very natural, un-posed images (try that with a DSLR! ;-)… as example the below image I took of my lovely wife while we were relaxing on our patio:
On that note I´d gotten the impression that people tend to act more relaxed around the silver version of the X100 series. Maybe a black camera´s perceived as kinda sneaky, or as “wannabe PRO” (I dunno, my X100T was black…). At the end I decided to order a silver X100F. IMO apart from that one´s more classic “retro” look it´s got so much more character! In fact so much that this is the only camera I felt needed to be given a name: “Irene” (sounds better than “X100F”, coz that could be anyone´s 😉
The “F” in Fuji´s X100F really gives you Freedom, Fuji has finally fulfilled the promise of the X100 series: A small, inconspicuous camera with a widely usable medium wide-angle focal length, delivering stunning images and able to cover most photographic applications. So you can leave all your bulky gear at home! Its compact, classic rangefinder-esque design begs you to go out and enjoy capturing images of life around you, experimenting with composition, light and perspective rather than bothering with the technicalities of photography! Furthermore the quality & beauty of Fuji´s JPEG´s (especially of ACROS) allow you to avoid having to spend hours of RAW processing in Lightroom.
If you´re interested I´ll cover my improved mobile workflow in a next post, please let me know in the comments section and/or leave me any comments, suggestions or questions you may have! Many thanks in advance, I´ll answer you as soon as possible.
I hope you enjoyed the read – I can only advise those of youse not yet bitten by the Fuji X100 bug to try one out soonest and experience it for y´self!
Many thanks & best regards, wish y´all good light & success.
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“I’m really passionate about photography, especially loving black & white images, where light’s existence is manifested by the fall of shadows. After spending some time as photojournalist I “graduated” to black & white fine-art photography, presenting my work at various exhibitions. Ultimately I’ve chosen to remain an “amateur” at heart, with the freedom to practice my photography as a hobby and enjoying my life with my lovely wife (currently in Bavaria, Germany). For me this is the ideal balance to my demanding full-time day job as R&D manager! My photographic equipment of choice is the Fuji X System (X-T2 and X100F), because of its unique mix of a traditional photographer´s user interface with cutting edge digital technology, in a compact, lightweight and robust housing. This allows me to create amazing images just like I visualised them, documenting life and environment around me!”