Andy Westlake examines the fourth generation of Fujifilm's classic fixed-lens rangefinder-style compact
Fuji X100F review: Features
With its distinctly old-fashioned design, you might expect the X100F to have a lowly feature set. But in reality, it’s surprisingly well equipped. Let’s start with the key imaging specs. The sensor and processor are the same as Fujifilm used to great effect in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 last year, and enable a standard sensitivity range of ISO 200-12,800. Pulled ISO 100 and extended ISO 25,600 and 51,200 settings are also available.
For shooting quickly moving subjects, the X100F offers pacy continuous shooting at 8 frames per second with a 25-frame raw buffer. It’s also possible to set slower speeds of 5, 4 or 3fps with a live view feed between frames, which is useful if you’re shooting with the LCD or EVF.
The mechanical shutter provides speeds of 30-1/4000sec, although with some limitations on combining speeds faster than 1/1000sec with large apertures. However a fully electronic shutter option allows the top speed to be extended to 1/32,000sec, regardless of the aperture selected. While the mechanical shutter is extremely quiet, the electronic option is completely silent. However, enabling it disables the extended ISOs. An alternative means of shooting with large apertures in bright light is to engage the lens’s built-in 3-stop neutral-density filter.
On this subject, the lens is the same 23mm f/2 that’s used in previous X100 generations. It’s an impressively slimline optic that incorporates an aspheric element into its 8-element, 6-group design. The 9-bladed diaphragm can stop down to f/16 in 1/3 EV steps and stays nicely circular at smaller settings. However, if you want to attach filters or a hood, you’ll need the AR-X100 adapter, which provides a 49mm thread. As this costs £30, I suspect many users will be tempted by the vastly cheaper clones available online.
A pair of matched lens converters are also available – the TCL-X100 II and WCL-X100 II – which give 50mm and 28mm-equivalent views respectively. Here, ‘II’ designates new versions that the X100F can recognise automatically when they’re mounted and correct aberrations. These are optically identical to Fujifilm’s existing converters, which can also be used just fine, although for best results you need to specify in the camera’s menu when they’re mounted.
Other features include a small built-in flash on the front plate, with a hot shoe on top for when more powerful units are needed. However, I suspect that most users will prefer working with available light. Equally, while the built-in intervalometer, sweep panorama mode, and video functionality are nice to have, they’re not really core to the X100F’s intentions.
On the other hand, I suspect a lot of photographers will appreciate Fujifilm’s proprietary film-simulation colour modes. Drawing upon the firm’s huge analogue heritage, these are designed to mimic the look of classic emulsions ranging from Fujichrome Velvia slide film to Acros black & white. Unlike some other brands, these provide a good range of attractive looks for your images and are well worth exploring. The camera’s built-in raw converter can be useful here, as it allows you to tweak all of the image-processing settings and generate a new JPEG file without having to use a computer.
If you want to share your favourite shots, the X100F includes built-in Wi-Fi that allows it to be connected to a smartphone or tablet. You can then copy your shots across for uploading to social media, or use your phone as a remote control complete with live view. On a related note, you can also use either an electronic remote release via the 2.5mm stereo socket, or a mechanical cable release that screws into the shutter button.
Without a doubt, the X100F’s standout feature is its hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. This combines a direct-vision optical viewfinder with an electronic display, allowing the overlay of extensive shooting information including an electronic level and a live histogram. Pulling the lever beside the viewfinder to the right switches across to a fully electronic view, with the large 2.36-million-dot OLED display providing an accurate preview of exposure, white balance and composition. Alternatively, flicking the lever to the left inlays an electronic preview into the bottom right corner of the optical finder; as on the previous X100T this allows focus checking via a magnified view, but new on the X100F is ability to show the whole scene. I found this to be surprisingly useful for verifying composition and exposure.
On the camera’s back is a fixed 1.04-million-dot LCD that can be used for both shooting and playback of captured images. In fact, it complements the optical finder well, allowing you work more discreetly with the camera away from your eye, which some subjects find less intimidating. The display is finely detailed and provides accurate colour. However, it’s not touch sensitive, which could have been useful for specifying the focus point. Aside from that, the physical controls are so well designed that it’s not clear a touchscreen would add much.