Review: Fuji X100V
I’ve been shooting with the X100 series since the third generation X100S, primarily for street photography and documenting my everyday life moments. In a way, the system has had a transformative effect on my photography over the years and I regretted selling my X100S for a very long time.
Since then, I’ve used a number of Fujifilm cameras but have always retained a soft spot for the pure and simple X100 series. By now, most of you will be familiar with the fixed focal length X100 series, so let’s focus on what’s new.
The top and bottom plates of the camera are now made of durable aluminium rather than magnesium, and the X100V is the first in the series to sport weather sealing. This would be a huge improvement for landscape photographers or anyone who likes to shoot in the elements.
However, it’s worth noting the front of the lens isn’t sealed, so you’ll need to purchase an additional adapter and filter to properly seal it. Come on, Fujifilm, how much extra would it take to just seal the whole unit!
On the base, there’s also been a change to the battery/SD card door which was always a bit flimsy. Fujifilm seems to have remodelled this slightly with a more robust lever. Time will tell how solid this feature is. Inside, the X100V uses the same NP-W126S battery that powers the rest of Fujifilm’s X-mount products, and battery life improves as a result. Unfortunately there's still only one card slot, which I think many users would appreciate.
On the rear of the camera, the four-way D-pad has been replaced with a new focus joystick, which takes on most of the functions the D-pad allowed. In use, I had no problem adapting to the joystick and actually found it more intuitive to use. After shooting the X100V for a month, I now even wish my X-T3 had it instead of the old D-pad.
The addition of a tilting screen is also something many users have been asking for and is a welcome addition. There was a risk it could add unnecessary bulk to the camera, but Fujifilm has managed to make it sit flush with the rear of the camera. For a camera aimed at street shooters, it’s a worthy addition, and a feature I found myself using a lot.
Finally, on the top of the camera there’s been a significant change with the introduction of a new and improved shutter speed/ISO dial. No longer do you need to constantly apply upward pressure while rotating the wheel to change ISO.
Also, like most recent Fujifilm cameras, you now have the option to switch between the mechanical ISO dial and the front command dial, which is great for quickly adjusting ISO without removing your eye from the finder.
Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
Speaking of the finder, the new “advanced hybrid” viewfinder now offers the option to switch between a .52X optical viewfinder and a 3.69M dot OLED EVF with 95 per cent frame coverage. It’s now brighter, too, thanks to the use of an OLED panel (compared to an LCD on previous models).
The X100 series staple of a fixed 23mm f/2 aperture lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) remains, but this has been newly designed. Fuji says the lens features improvements to close-up and corner performance, and I noticed images were considerably sharper. That’s not just when stopped down, either; even wide open it’s crispy good, both long-distance and from close range.
The camera now uses the most recent generation X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4, originally from the X-T3. In use, the sensor is a great performer, especially at higher ISOs and the processor means the camera is swift and responsive.
One of the improvements I’ve long waited for with the X100 series of cameras is to the autofocus. Few would argue that the earlier cameras weren’t a bit on the slower side, however Fujifilm has transformed the X100V into an extremely capable tool. This is no doubt helped by it inheriting much of the autofocus technology of the X-Pro3 (including that camera's incredibly detailed custom AF settings).
In single point AF, the autofocus is generally good and performs well even in low-light situations. In tracking AF, Fujifilm claims the camera can achieve focus in light as low as –5 EV. In practice I found it excellent, sharing much in common with the X-T3, especially its ability to focus in darker settings. Finally, there’s also face and eye detection which I found accurate and quick.
The X100V excels in the video department compared to earlier models. It now boasts up to 4K at up to 120P, F-Log and the new, delicious Eterna film simulation, for all you video shooters out there. The only thing that would improve on this would be the addition of IBIS, although in a body this size it would always be a compromise.
Really though having video at this framerate is a bonus, and stabilisation could easily be achieved with a small gimbal setup thanks to the camera’s compact and lightweight form factor if you were serious about taking this camera out as a video shooting option.
Classic Neg Film Simulation
I’m an avid film shooter so one thing that has always excited me with Fujifilm digital is the film simulations built into the JPEG profiles. No other camera company knows colour quite as well as Fujifilm, and Classic Neg is the latest addition. Put simply, it’s lovely. It’s a similar simulation to the original Classic Chrome, yet it punches saturation and gives you a bit more contrast. All the images shot in the review used this simulation.
The Fuji X100V is a well-equipped piece of kit with all the classic Fujifilm character you would expect. Think excellent ergonomics in a compact and lightweight package with oodles of retro character. The X100 user experience has always been a joy, and the
improvements in the fifth generation are substantial enough to warrant an upgrade. It’s a powerful photographic tool, but remains simple and pure, the way every great camera should be.
There is something truly special about the X100 series that inspires creativity. Portable, stealthy and full of features, this is easily one of my favourite digital cameras to use, and in its fifth generation it remains as fun to use as ever. ❂