X100F Review by Chris Upton
Chris Upton is a travel, landscape and social documentary photographer from Nottinghamshire, UK. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and is proud to be an official Fujifilm X Photographer. Chris’s great passions in life are travel and photography. He has travelled widely and finds it an amazing experience to observe and photograph a variety of cultures, people, and landscapes. His hope is that through his photographs he can bring a little of this to the viewer and inspire others to experience the beauty and diversity of the world for themselves.
In 2016, Chris presented a major social documentary project recording the closure of Thoresby Colliery, the last pit in Nottinghamshire, to widespread critical acclaim. He also published a book, Thoresby: The End Of The Mine, to accompany the exhibition.
Chris’s work is sold internationally and has been published in numerous magazines and books. He has held several major solo exhibitions and was invited to exhibit at the prestigious Masters of Vision Exhibition of Photography at Southwell Minster in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Chris loves to share his knowledge and he lectures around the UK and runs a variety of workshop events.
Six years ago the FUJIFILM X100 was launched into a world of DSLR’s, this “new kid on the block” was not only a bold, exciting innovation in its own right, it was the embryo to the incredibly successful range of FUJIFILM X Series cameras that we see today.
Beautiful retro design, compact and delivering stunning image quality that had a wonderful filmic feel it’s no wonder that the X100 was so popular, attracting an army of devotees.
Roll on six years and the FUJIFILM X100F is the fourth generation model. Retaining the same gorgeous design principles it’s a fusion of retro, classic good looks incorporating modern hi tech, intuitive to handle and produces that legendary image quality.
On opening the box the first thing that struck me was the small size and simple design similar to my other X Series cameras. I was well accustomed to the benefits of a smaller, lighter more portable system but this camera took things to another level. I could go out with this in my pocket and just enjoy my photography.
One of the most important questions when we are photographing a subject is which lens to use. No such option with the X100F and the fixed lens forces you to work with what you’ve got to create compelling compositions. The 23mm focal length (35mm full frame equivalent), gives a similar field of view to our own eyes, so it’s a great general purpose lens, not too wide and not too long. If you want a closer or wider view then you need to use your feet! For landscapes I mainly use apertures around f8 – f11 and the lens produces crisp, sharp images with good contrast and colour. The addition of image stabilisation in the next model would be a welcome feature.
The X100F incorporates the heritage of the X100 series and the best of the latest Fujifilm cameras. The layout is clean and simple layout is so easy and intuitive to use with the main controls of aperture, exposure compensation and a new combined shutter speed / ISO dial all easily accessible and controllable. To change the ISO you simply pull up the shutter speed dial and turn.
The X100F features the latest APSC CMOS X-Trans III 24mp sensor – the same as in the X-T2 and X-Pro2.
The Hybrid viewfinder offers optical or a bright Electronic Viewfinder with 100% coverage and like other Fujifilm cameras the “what you see is what you get” functionality is awesome. Personally I prefer the electronic viewfinder though for street and social documentary photography. The optical viewfinder with manual focusing is great and saves some battery power too.
I was delighted with the inclusion of the AF joystick, inherited from its bigger brothers, as it makes shooting so much faster. I’m sure anyone upgrading from the earlier X100 models will love this feature too. The Auto ISO options, with 3 presets, is perfect for shooting a variety of situations. I have settings for landscape and action or street.
One of my favorite features is the Custom Exposure Compensation. Enabled via “C” on the compensation dial it provides +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation which can be simply dialed in using the front wheel, perfect for fine tuning your exposure quickly and easily.
I often use Manual focus when shooting landscapes and find the MF Assist Option of Focus Peaking with Red Highlights invaluable in confirming that critical front to back sharpness.
Another feature that can be very useful in high contrast situations, especially when you don’t have your filters, is the ability to use the Extended Dynamic Range function to avoid overexposing the highlights.
For more creative shots the built in 3 stop Neutral Density filter is really useful for allowing wide apertures and minimum depth of field in bright conditions or for slowing the shutter to introduce creative motion effects to your shots, perfect for moving clouds, water or people.
I mainly shoot RAW but for many the ability to shoot JPEG, selecting from Fujifilm’s range of classic film simulation modes, helps express their creativity without the need for time consuming post processing. Each film modes’ tonality, saturation and sharpness can easily be tailored to suit your own style, giving your images a signature feel.
The ability to immediately transfer images to your phone or tablet, process and upload to social media is sure to be one of the most popular features on the camera.
The X100F uses the larger capacity NPW126S batteries, which is a bonus if you own an X-E, X-Pro or X-T camera model.
The X100 series has a legion of supporters and is a firm favourite for street photographers where the discreet form factor allows you to blend in to the scene avoiding interest when capturing your images. However, it also earns its place in the bag of travel and landscape photographers, especially those for whom weight is a critical factor.
The best camera is the one you have with you and if you want a classic to pop in your pocket and take anywhere and be confident that it will deliver excellent results, then this is the camera for you.