The Fujiflim X100 series, now entering its fifth generation, has always wowed with retro chic looks. The latest, the X100V, includes an all-new lens, an improved image sensor, and, for the first time, dust and splash protection for all-weather photography.
By Jim Fisher
The original Fujifilm X100 was a bellwether product for the industry. Announced in late 2010, the X100 was the first small camera that could go toe-to-toe with larger SLRs in imaging prowess, and its retro-chic looks set a design motif that competitors have imitated and which Fujifilm follows to this day. The X100S, X100T, and most recently the X100F followed, all making incremental improvements without changing the basics. The X100 is, and always has been, a very portable, fixed-lens camera with a viewfinder with both optical and electronic views.
The new $1,399.99 X100V brings a few big upgrades to the table, including a new lens, which impacts every image you’ll make with the camera. It maintains the same 23mm f/2 design-mimicking the angle of view of a 35mm lens on a full-frame system-but the optical design is, for the first time, updated from the original. We got a chance to spend some time with the camera ahead of its release later this month and have some initial impressions.
The first X100 was backed by a 12MP sensor. As we’ve moved to higher-resolution imagers-the X100V sports the same 26.2MP chip introduced with the X-T3 -the lens has started to show its age. The updated lens in the new model has more optical elements for sharper images, especially when focusing close.
It also works better with the X100V’s hybrid autofocus system. The older lens, designed to work purely with contrast detection systems, didn’t take full advantage of speedier phase detection when it was added. I used the X100V exclusively in AF-C mode for my first look and walked away generally impressed with the speed and accuracy of the autofocus.
The new lens also upgrades the strength of the integral neutral density filter. It now cuts four stops of light when engaged, so you can keep shutter speeds low for smoother motion in video or long-exposure shots in daylight.
The image sensor is a modest update in terms of resolution-the X100F and X100T both had 24MP chips-but you’ll notice it in other ways. The readout is faster, making electronic shutter a more viable option for truly silent photography and Raw capture at up to 30fps, along with better-looking 4K video.
As far as imaging features go, the X100V is identical to the X-Pro3. It supports all of the same film looks, including the 1980s nostalgic favorite, Classic Negative. You can pick from a number of different options, all with adjustable levels of grain. If you work in Raw format, you can go back and apply any film look to images in-camera, creating a separate JPG version of the final edit.
The X100V looks a lot like earlier models, but its body has been redesigned. The big news is the addition of dust and splash protection, adding even more appeal as a compact travel camera. There is a caveat-you need to add a filter to the lens for full protection, which means you’ll need to buy a $50 accessory ring in addition to a 49mm filter of your choice.
The camera is also sealed when one of the accessory lenses is attached-Fujifilm offers one to expand the view for wider-angle shots, and a second to tighten it. The X100V is compatible with the same conversion lenses as previous models.
Just as welcome as weather protection is an improved rear LCD. The X100V’s screen still sits flush with the rear of the body, for a streamlined look, but Fujifilm has added a hinge. It pulls out to swing and face up or down, so you can shoot from a low angle without having to get down on the ground.
The eye-level viewfinder is updated. It’s the same one used by the recently released X-Pro3. The optical view is a little brighter, with a view that shows a wider angle than the lens captures, like the rangefinder cameras which inspired the X100V’s design. An outline shows what the lens will actually capture, and shifts to compensate for the parallax effect.
When you switch to the electronic mode you get a big, smooth OLED view of the world. It’s as good as the best EVFs out there-large to the eye, showing smooth motion and a real-time preview of your frame. I especially like using it for black-and-white work-I used the Acros setting, but shot Raw+JPG, leaving the option to process images as color using Lightroom or the in-camera tools.
The Other Stuff
The camera has a slightly different exterior—Fujifilm has swapped out magnesium alloy top and bottom plates in favor of aluminum. It gives it a bit more premium feel, though not quite to the same level as the titanium X-Pro3.
The video chops are pretty strong, too. If you want to add some motion to your work, you can do so at 4K DCI quality at up to 30fps. The Eterna profile, tuned for cinematic video, is included, but you can opt for any film look, or a flat profile, when recording.
Fujifilm hasn’t done a lot to change the control layout over the years-the X100 has always included dedicated dials for aperture, shutter, and EV control. With this iteration, it dropped the four-way directional pad from the rear, leaving only a small eight-way joystick to set the active focus point and navigate through menus.
And, while it’s almost a given at this point, it’s worth calling out the inclusion of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You’ll be able to send shots from the X100V right to your smartphone, so you can still get the experience of using a real camera, without having to miss out on Instagram likes.
The X100V looks, feels, and handles much like the previous entries in the series. If you love a rangefinder-style camera, the X100V tickles the same fancies as a Leica, for a lot less money. It’s the only serious fixed-lens camera on the market with an optical viewfinder, and it’s one that shows a bit of area outside of the frame so you can better anticipate a shot.
There are some compelling reasons to upgrade, too, especially if you’re still using one of the early versions. The improved image sensor and lens work better together, netting crisper shots and faster focus, the tilting screen makes it easier to capture the world from askew angles, the EVF is better, and the weather protection adds even more appeal to travelers.
The Fujifilm X100V costs a bit more than the previous edition, $1,399.99, and will be offered in black or silver finish. It’s expected to ship at the end of February. Check back then for a full review.
Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.