Andy Westlake examines the fourth generation of Fujifilm's classic fixed-lens rangefinder-style compact
Fuji X100F review: Build and design
In hand – and in use – the X100T feels delightful. Build quality is excellent, with a beautifully crafted magnesium alloy top plate. All the dials are precisely milled and operate with satisfying precision, while the leatherette covering and subtle handgrip make the camera feel secure in your grasp. It’s a fantastic feat of engineering.
Like its predecessors, the X100F is styled to look very much like an old 35mm film rangefinder, with the silver version in particular revelling in its retro aesthetic (the camera is also available in a purposeful black). Crucially, its old-fashioned analogue dials provide a (mostly) very engaging shooting experience that brings you back to the basics of photography.
Just as with previous generations, on the top-plate you’ll find shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, with aperture and manual focus rings around the lens. However, the shutter speed dial can now be lifted and turned to set the ISO, X-Pro2-style. It’s fair to say that this approach divides opinion among photographers; it mitigates against changing the ISO setting accidentally, but it’s also awkward to change with the camera held up to your eye. I for one find it inconvenient when trying to deal with quickly changing light. Fortunately, on the X100F it’s possible to reconfigure the camera so the sensitivity can be changed using the newly added front electronic control dial when the ISO dial is set to the A position. Alternatively, you can just let the X100F’s well-designed Auto ISO take the strain. Annoyingly, though, changing between these two approaches requires a trek deep into the menus.
A glance at the exposure compensation dial shows another update: alongside the +/-3 EV settings, there’s a ‘C’ position. Engaging this gains access to +/-5 EV compensation, again set using the front electronic dial. This might sound like a conflict with ISO setting, but Fujifilm has the answer: clicking the dial inwards toggles between the two.
It’s the back plate that sees the biggest change, however, with the LCD moved all the way to the left to make space for a new joystick that’s used to select between the 91 available autofocus points. It’s difficult to overstate just how useful this is when you want to focus precisely on an off-centre subject. Unlike with some other brands, you don’t have to click the controller for every step you want to move the AF point, which means it’s really quick to get from one side of the frame to the other.
Another change compared to the X100T is that the manual focus ring is customisable, and can now be set to change white balance or film simulation when you’re using AF (JPEG-only shooters can also use it for the digital teleconverter). Pressing the new function button that’s embedded within the viewfinder selector lever allows you to change between these options. But like most of the camera’s buttons, it can be customised to operate a wide range of different functions.