As technology continually improves, cameras get more features, more dials and controls — and farther away from traditional photography. The Fujifilm X100F is a minimalist camera that’s designed to bring a simple joy back into photography, with a classic, film-inspired design and big image quality, all while paring the features down to the essentials.
The Fujifilm X100F offers all the features serious photographers are looking for, including a large sensor, bright lens and snappy performance. Yet, the camera ditches auto modes (saving only panoramas and double exposures) and sticks with a single focal length to create a camera that’s small in size and big on quality. Like earlier cameras in the X100 series, the F offers a simple, classic design with a fixed 23mm lens but upgrades the sensor, adds more speed and offers new algorithms for better black and whites in-camera.
But did Fujifilm make the right sacrifices to create a minimalist camera, or is the Fujifilm X100F simply an expensive camera with missing features? By using a classic, straightforward design, the Fujifilm X100F creates excellent images all while encouraging a heightened focus on the art of creating a picture. For the right photographer, the Fujifilm X100F is the ideal travel camera or simply a camera that’s small enough to always be on hand.
Fujifilm X100F Review: Body and Design
The Fujifilm X100 series has long used Fujifilm’s now characteristic classic film look, but the F takes that design even further — with an ISO dial. At the top of the camera, the ISO dial is built into the shutter speed dial. Turning the dial normally adjusts the shutter speed, while lifting the outer ring and then turning adjusts the camera’s ISO, a set-up inspired by classic film cameras.
The remainder of the top of the X100F includes an exposure compensation dial, an on/off switch, the shutter release and a function button. An aperture dial around the lens near the base of the camera rounds out the remainder of the physical exposure controls. Also at the front of the camera, a button switches the lens control ring’s function while the switch around that button swaps between the available viewing modes for the viewfinder.
While the top of the camera is all film inspired, the back gives the X100F’s digital guts away. The camera uses a large 3” inch screen, without touch controls. To the right of the screen, a joystick makes adjusting the focal point easy to do without taking the camera away from your eye. Underneath that are the playback options. The typical menu control arrows also double as shortcuts for the drive mode, white balance and film simulation. Controls for the view mode, AE and AF lock and access to a quick menu also sit at the back of the camera.
Despite already having physical controls for all three elements of the exposure triangle, the X100F still has those dual control dials that often control shutter speed and aperture on a DSLR. Exactly what the dials do depends on the camera settings. For example, in manual focus, the back dial switches the magnification, making it easier to see if the shot is in focus. The front command dial will scroll through the menu options or flip through the photos in playback mode. Both dials can also be pressed in like a button — for example, a shortcut for formatting the memory card is pressing the rear dial while also holding the trash button.
Along with the abundance of physical controls, the X100F also includes a quick menu, which offers access to settings not adjusted by those physical controls, including file type and film simulation. The X100F also offers custom settings for highlights, shadows, color and sharpness within this quick menu. The quick menu is also accompanied by the typical full menu that holds all the extra options.
Along with the LCD screen, the X100F includes a hybrid viewfinder that mixes features of both optical and electronic design. With the electronic viewfinder off, you can still peer through the viewfinder and get a general idea of the composition, though the view is certainly less than exact, since you can actually see the edge of the lens. With the electronic viewfinder, it’s easy to see the shooting settings, preview the shot including any special effects such as black and white, and use features like focus peaking for manual focusing.
The classic, film-inspired design of the X100F is excellent, offering a minimalist approach while still offering full physical controls for all the exposure settings as well as a handful of other common adjustments. The mix of features and simplicity makes the X100F a joy to shoot with.
Fujifilm X100F Review: User Experience and Performance
In tune with that minimalist approach, the X100F doesn’t mess around with an overwhelming number of shooting modes, or even a mode dial for that matter. Users can shoot in full auto by leaving the shutter speed dial, aperture ring and ISO turned to A, shoot in aperture priority or shutter priority by adjusting only one control, or shoot in full manual by adjusting all three. This simple approach keeps the camera both minimal and advanced at the same time, with a focus on those manual options.
Thankfully, Fujifilm didn’t quite get rid of all the modes outside manual — inside the drive mode menu, users can still find the options for stitching together a panorama in-camera, as well as options for shooting a double exposure. The only thing lacking is a macro mode — the close-ups I did attempt to take suggested they were in focus while in the viewfinder, but the actual shots were not in focus.
Despite the simple design, the X100F can keep up with the competition with an 8 fps burst mode and a 25 RAW shot buffer, 60 for JPEGs. Shooting RAW, the speed slows after six seconds to about 1 fps.
Autofocus speed keeps up with the pack as well. With autofocus on, shots are about a quarter of a second apart. In manual focus, those same shots were about .12 to .15 seconds apart. A major refocus from a close distance to a far one, for example, requires more time, with the shots as much as two and three seconds apart. Low contrast scenes and limited light will also slow the camera’s autofocus performance down.
While the X100F is a joy to shoot and keeps up with the pace the camera was designed for, versatility is sacrificed for the compact size. There’s no zoom and no macro, so the camera is limited to wide angle shots.
Performance from the X100 F is exactly what a camera in this category needs. Controls and options are minimal but professional. Speed is good, but not best in class. With a fixed wide-angle lens, the X100F isn’t designed for sports, but the speed is plenty for street photography, travel, lifestyle and other wide-angle shots.
Fujifilm X100F Review: Image Quality
The X100F has one of the largest sensors available in a compact camera, and it shows when it comes to viewing those final shots. The 24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor, the same found Fujifilm’s mirrorless cameras, paired with the 23mm f/2 lens creates sharply detailed images. The X-Trans III sensor is the company’s latest sensor design without an optical low pass filter, a design that creates exceptional detail.
I’ve always loved the colors coming from Fujifilm and the X100F is no exception — colors are almost just as brilliant as they are in person, bright, but not oversaturated. Film simulation options are built into the camera, along with custom highlight, shadow and color options, so customizing the look before taking the shot instead of afterward in a photo editor is all possible. The dynamic range makes it possible to capture a bright blue sky without turning the landscape into an underexposed mass of black.
Despite using a wide angle lens, line distortion is minimal. The horizon doesn’t appear to curve towards the edges. Detail and sharpness also don’t have a dramatic drop-off near the edges of the frame.
Performance at high ISOs is excellent, with images still shooting at an acceptable quality at ISO 6400 in low light scenarios. Finer details drop off past ISO 3200 as noise creeps in, but the effect is most noticeable when cropping and zooming.
|ISO 200 (200 pixel crop)||ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1600|
|ISO 3200||ISO 6400||ISO 12800|
Video from the X100F doesn’t live up to the same standards. Resolution is still 1080p, and without image stabilization, handheld shots are pretty shaky. The built-in mic also tends to pick up wind noise. Color, however, is similar to the still shots.
Fujifilm X100F Review: Sample Images
Fujifilm X100F Review: Conclusion
The Fujifilm X100F is a minimalist’s dream with a sleek control scheme, on-par performance, and excellent image quality. Compact yet designed around a powerful APS-C sensor, the X100F is excellent for travel, street photography or everyday snapshots as a camera that’s almost just as easy to keep on hand as a smartphone.
While the X100F is a joy to shoot with excellent images, video quality lags behind for the price point with no 4K and no stabilization. The X100F also lacks versatility with a fixed lens with no macro mode.
The X100F has one of the largest sensors for the advanced compact category, while most sit at a one-inch or 1.5-inch sensor, like the Sony RX100 V and the Canon G9 X Mark II. Panasonic’s FZ2500 uses a micro four thirds sensor and offers excellent video and zoom. All three of those offer more versatility, but none offer the larger APS-C sensor.
The Ricoh GR II offers the same size sensor, but with fewer megapixels and only half the burst speed. Fujifilm’s cheaper X70 keeps the large sensor, but it’s the older version with fewer megapixels. Burst speed is the same, but the buffer is much slower with a ten shot limit. Those changes though get a lower $700 price tag. Similar image quality with more versatility but less portability can be found inside Fujifilm’s mirrorless bodies, like the X-T20 and X-T2.
The X100F is excellent for street photography, travel, and similar shots. The minimalist camera is a joy to shoot and creates solid images, but versatility suffers from the fixed lens and video quality could improve. Overall, for the right consumer, the X100F is an excellent, pocketable camera that doesn’t sacrifice photo quality to create the ideal minimalist’s camera.