Fuji Finepix X100 – Short term report

Now that I’ve had the camera over a month, and managed some nice days out with it, I thought it would be a good time to report on my progress with it so far.

Overall, I think I can safely say that I really love this camera. While it lacks the versatility and speed of my Canon 5D Mark III, it’s such a joy to use that its limitations are more challenges than annoyances. I’ve mentioned before that while zoom lenses are very nice things to have, there’s nothing like a prime lens for making you think more about your photography, not to mention making you walk around a bit more to get the composition you’re after. The relatively wide field of view provided by the X100’s 23mm lens (equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame camera) means that it’s quite easy to get a lot of what you’re looking at into the frame, but close up details require either an actual close approach or a bit of cropping of the image.

I find I’m using the rather good electronic viewfinder (EVF) in preference to the optical one (OVF) – partly because it displays the same scene that’s hitting the sensor, and partly because of the information that it can display, which is a little more friendly than the version shown by the OVF. I like the clear green line shown by the level indicator, for instance.

As I mentioned in my original post, one of the key attractions of the X100 was the fact that the most commonly used controls are on proper clicky dials rather than electronic controls. I’m pleased to say that I’m finding these very pleasant to work with, and it’s so nice being able to glance down at the camera and confirm the settings before firing off a quick picture. I haven’t spent enough time with the moderately complicated menu system to get to grips with all the functions, but obvious things like ISO (which I usually leave on auto) and drive mode are quick enough to find and adjust.

Handling is generally good – it fits nicely in my quite large hands, and the controls fall nicely under my fingers. It lives in the supplied case, which folds open for use and can be closed quickly to protect the camera. The supplied strap is a bit shorter than I’m used to, but it’s comfortable enough to have a relatively small[1] camera hanging at a fairly high position. As I mentioned before, the camera in its case fits nicely into my winter coat. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it also fits into the pocket of the lighter fleece jacket I wear when it’s a bit warmer and drier, which makes it even more useful as a “go anywhere” camera.

Image quality is much what I’d hoped for. I was particularly pleased with one of this morning’s images where I was shooting into the sun, which is the kind of thing that cameras often struggle with. Here it is again:

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Camera: FinePix X100
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/4000s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 400
Taken: 2 December, 2012
Location: 51° 28.5958′ 0″ N 3° 41.9995′ 0″ W

And this one is a full-sized crop, which shows plenty of detail, and looks nicely sharp.

Lifeboat

Lifeboat

Camera: FinePix X100
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/550s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 400
Taken: 2 December, 2012
Location: 51° 28.5958′ 0″ N 3° 41.9995′ 0″ W

So far, the main negative thing I can say is that the battery life isn’t anything like as good as my Canon. It’s not hideously bad, but it does mean that I need to remember to charge before going out rather than leaving it for weeks at a time. It does tend to go from looking like there’s plenty of power to getting red warnings in the viewfinder in a short space of time, which isn’t so good. I’ve ordered a second battery (Energiser at half the price of the official Fuji one – even cheaper batteries are on sale, but I’m cautious when it comes to my cameras) which will reduce that annoyance a bit. I could probably extend the life by using a card reader rather than the USB lead to download my images, but I prefer to keep the number of bits I carry around with me to a minimum when travelling, so that’ll probably only happen when I’m at home.

Talking of USB leads me to the other negatives – first, that lovely leather case has to be removed to get access to the USB port and the battery and memory card hatch, and second, the USB lead is one of the less common types rather than the more usual mini or micro, so if you’re not carrying a card reader, you will need the right cable rather than using the same one as one or other of your other toys.

But these are minor points. This is a lovely photographer’s camera, which I’d happily recommend to anyone who wants something more interesting than a typical compact camera and less bulky than a DSLR. If the fixed lens is an issue for you, there are other Fuji X cameras that are similar but have interchangeable lenses. I haven’t looked into those in any detail, but what I have heard is generally positive, so you may want to investigate for yourself.

[1] Compared to the 5D Mark III, that is…