The Fujifilm X100V is the latest of the X100 series and we’ve seen some big changes and modifications to the overall package. An upgraded lens, new sensor, a new button layout, a totally new look, and upgraded software tools, which all together really help this camera stand apart from the previous models.
This is by far the most unique update to date, but is it worth it?
Fujifilm X100V Review
For this review, I’m using more of the in-camera tools and shooting mostly JPGs that are modified a little with Lightroom. You can get higher quality images technically with the RAW but that’s not always the point of a compact camera. The strength of the X100V is how good images look without any processing at all, or by just using the built-in camera looks. So with most of the images in this review, the looks would be very achievable with just in-camera tools or with a little Lightroom work that you could do on your phone with LR mobile or Darkroom.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews of this camera now by many of the big channels and websites and I wanted to touch on several things that the camera does really well that are usually missed by inexperienced X100 users as well as some flaws. So instead of just going through and doing a normal review of this camera, I’ll try to highlight some unique experiences I have with the camera as some strengths and weaknesses that aren’t usually covered by the standard reviews.
While my experience outside with the camera has been limited, I have tinkered with it quite a bit since it’s the only camera I took with me on my self-quarantine when I had the flu thing that destroyed my lungs that a few people have been talking about on the news.
The first thing I want to say after being isolated with this camera for a few weeks is that this portrayal of this camera I keep seeing where it’s touted as specifically a street photography camera I think is not fair to the camera since it offers so much more. Sure it’s a great street camera, but I’m definitely not using it as a street camera nor did I buy it for street photography. I like longer lenses for street photography so, for me, this is my family and adventure camera. Hiking, beach, kids, vacation etc. etc.
This camera is very capable and offers so much for general photographers looking to break free from the creative limitations that come from smartphones or even other compacts. I will touch on these features, but first, let’s look at some of the great things and not so great things. I’ll start with the not so great things.
Of course these “not so great things” are based on my current perspective. What I was expecting from this camera and how the camera compares to other cameras. There is no other camera like the X100V so these limitations are likely engineering constraints based on the current state of technology. This, of course, is a great camera and I absolutely love it, but I will do my best to manage your expectations as realistic as possible, and there are a few things you need to know especially if you’re coming from an A7III or X-T3 or one of the newer models mirrorless or DSLR cameras.
The Not So Great Things
The new lens IQ-wise is a nice upgrade but still has some onion ring bokeh. I don’t remember the X100F having this bad of onion ringing. Bokeh at times looks worse than the older lens on the X100F.
Update: Someone in the comments has told me this is from using a faster shutter and this is an attribute from the leaf shutter. I’ve been shooting a lot more looking for this specifically and for the most part, I don’t see it appearing very often, but I still see it even on low shutters speeds from time to time. So you may not notice this very often and I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I just review stuff so I point it out, but this type of thing doesn’t really bother me personally. But it is an issue that affects almost all Fujinon lenses.
The new lens is loud, chung . . . chung . . . chung . . . and doesn’t feel like lens AF is any faster. That’s been incredibly disappointing.
The camera Autofocus does not feel much faster than the X100F. AF performance is just not there, and I get a ton of misses. You pretty much need to live in AF-S.
AF-C with kids will give you at least a 20% miss rate with eye and face tracking. This sucks and is unfortunate.
I’m going to elaborate on his so there is no misunderstanding. That’s what’s go great about written reviews is I can go back and edit and add clarity based on reader feedback.
The camera can still acquire focus very fast. It’s very responsive even in low light because of the improved software and processor.
Eye AF is pretty good and it tracks and keeps track of objects pretty good even in low light when looking at the rear LCD screen.
However. . .
Autofocus requires two things, camera performance, and lens performance. You can have the best autofocus in the world but you’re still limited by the lens speed. A slow lens on a fast camera is like putting tiny little wheels on a 600hp car.
So if you’ve watched YouTubers filming the back of their screen showing the autofocus being all quick and responsive, this is sort of misleading. I see these kinds of videos a lot and you should be careful about judging cameras autofocus based on what you see in these videos. Just because a camera has a fast refresh rate when drawing boxes on a rear LCD screen does not make it automatically good at autofocusing. This is actually one of the big reasons people love Sony because they give such fun visual feedback so there is a perception that the camera is doing something more than it really is.
The X100V camera software is very good at tracking and seeing objects and defining what it should focus on, but the lens has slow reflexes and can’t keep up with what the camera sees. This results in quite a few missed shots especially if your shooting kids, and especially at close distances which really challenges autofocus.
To get around this, always just wait for a beat as your half-pressing the shutter, before fully pressing to trigger the shot.
You will get better acquisition and faster acquisition in low light which is an important upgrade over the X100F, but the lens still performs very similar to the X100F, so you still need to be slow and deliberate with the way you shoot. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s still a very effective way of shooting with great results.
If you want a faster more responsive camera this is not a significant upgrade to the X100F.
This is not a criticism of the camera either. Because honestly, what other compact APS-C camera does it better? I’m just bringing this up because a lot of people, like myself, were thinking that this new lens would mean faster AF. Like the X-T3 with the XF23mm f2, but it gets nowhere near that level of performance. I would say it’s probably slower than any of the XF f1.4 lenses paired with an X-T3 even though the camera has a much significant boost to AF acquisition.
Again, it’s still very capable and you can still get absolutely amazing results with it. I’m just saying this to manage expectations especially if you’re coming from a Nikon Z6 or something similar.
The camera gets hot – This is kind of a dump point to make, but for whatever reason, nerds care about what temperature cameras run at, so I’m letting you know that this does get warm.
They may have lost some internal camera space for heat management because of that new screen. But this heat issue isn’t really a problem. I’ve never had the overheat warning or anything and the camera has limited the record times for video so it’s not really a big deal. The X-Pro cameras and X-E cameras get hot as well.
LCD screen is hard to open with big fingers. This is sort of a lame complaint but I think it’s valid.
There is only one little spot on the bottom left of the screen that allows you to flip it up. If you have big fingers, with clipped fingernails, good luck. I have a hard time with it and it’s kind of annoying to get open. I have to use my fingernails to get under that little groove. This means whenever I want to open the LCD screen, it’s not a quick flip up without thinking about it. I have to stop everything I’m doing and divert my attention to trying to flip up the screen.
I wish the EVF was bigger like the X-T3 . It’s still difficult to use with glasses. I know there are limitations here of course because of the small camera size. Apparently they changed the lensing a little. Maybe I’ll start wearing contact lenses again. 🙂 I also feel like the X-Pro 3 was a touch bigger, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s possible the guide lines just draw a little differently. I’ll test this when I can go back home to Japan.
Of course, these are fairly superficial complaints, this doesn’t mean the camera is bad or anything, it just means it’s not performing the same as a much larger, more expensive mirrorless camera, which is totally reasonable. It is a compact camera after all.
Now The Great Things
The new sensor is a decent upgrade, but not really a game-changer. I shoot a lot back and forth between my X-Pro2, X-T2 and X-T3 and I do notice a general improvement with the 26MP X-T3 sensor. There is just slightly less noise in the shadows even at low ISO values, like 400-800. Not a huge difference, but there is some.
IQ of the lens is better, you probably won’t notice unless you shoot close focus. That’s where it makes the biggest difference. However, it does have some of that signature Fujifilm onion ring bokeh, likely from the way Fujifilm does their aspherical elements, and this new lens now has two of them.
I would say if you shoot a lot of close up stuff with kids at f2, this new lens is kind of game-changing since it now holds it’s sharpness at f2 at close distances. Before with the older models, you would need to back away at least 4-5 feet (1.2 – 1.5m) to get good results at f2 and you pretty much had to stop down to f4 for close focus.
Again the new lens also has a new look to the bokeh. I’m still not used to this. The images look foreign to me and it’s not the X100 look we’re all used to, it’s a new look. Images feel a little punchier but the bokeh is a little strange at times.
Weather sealing is a huge bonus. It’s been raining here in California (rare I know) and it’s really nice having that peace of mind knowing the camera is somewhat protected. It rains a lot in Japan so this will be a fun camera to take next time I go out shooting street photography during Typhoon season.
The new JPG tools are so much more fun. The Color Chrome Effect, Color Crome Blue FX, Clarity, Grain and Classic Neg are just a ton of fun. You even have Eterna which is also a very cool look.
I always have had problems with the Fujifilm JPGs eating fine details, especially when shooting high ISO values. Throwing on a +1 grain really helps hide this. With clarity, grain and all the new film simulators, you can really get a better JPG experience.
I’m still shooting RAW then convert it to JPG manually in-camera. But to me, the JPGs are the unique character to this camera and I will be processing a lot more of my shots to JPG before tuning in LR because the in-camera tools are so good and the film simulations look so great.
I put together a full comparison of before and after images with a slider of all the new JPG effects. See that here Fujifilm JPG Effects Before And After
The New Tilting LCD Screen is handy at times. If this came at the cost of thermal issues I don’t think it was worth it but LCD screen sits flush against the body which looks great and you won’t even realize it’s a flip-out screen. They’ve also updated the resolution of the LCD to 1.62m-Dot compared to the older model that was only 1.04m-Dot. This is really nice and as you guys know, I care a lot about the quality of the LCD screen especially on a camera with such powerful in-camera processing tools. You need to be able to see what you’re doing as it allows you to catch mistakes.
New 4-Stop ND Filter – This is really nice when using the camera outside with a flash. Because the camera has a leaf shutter you can get some crazy fast sync speeds. I found with the older Fujifilm X100 cameras, the 3-Stop ND filter sometimes wasn’t enough when shooting at f2 in the sun as your background with the flash lighting up the foreground. Sometimes the background was still a little too bright and having that extra stop here makes the camera a lot more useful.
It’s also really nice for landscape work.
USB-C connectivity and charting – Finally, I can slowly start getting rid of my old cables.
New Close Focus Capabilities
The updated lens adds some significant improvements to the close focus capabilities of the camera. With the previous lens, you would have to shoot f4 if you were anything closer than about 4-5 feet. Now, I’m getting pretty sharp images even at f2. With a 35mm equivalent lenses, this is actually a pretty significant improvement. Especially if you like shooting full headshots. You can now do so at f2 without a significant loss in sharpness.
These are all Astia, Color Chrome Strong with some Clarity.
This is the most game-changing feature of the camera.
Flash & ND
A lot of people sort of skip over the fact that the X100V has a leaf shutter. It’s obviously not the only camera with a leaf shutter, my Panasonic LX100 II also has one, but it’s still a very rare feature.
What the leaf shutter means is you can get flash sync speeds with the mechanical shutter up to 1/4000 seconds.
Why is that important? Because it allows you to control the exposure of the background on bright sunny days while using the flash to light up the foreground.
Pair that with the ND filter and you can get a really nice balance of outdoor flash lit photography and it looks really cool. I’m constantly using my flash with this camera when shooting outside. I’ve even set my FN1 button as my ND and the FN2 button as my flash controls so I can quickly adjust the ND and flash settings.
It makes the X100V a very unique camera because it can do this one thing that no other camera can easily or quickly do.
These were RAW and colored manually.
The Updated Body & Build
The new body of the Fuji X100V is weather sealed if you use the UV filter adapter. You can order the version Fujifilm offers for $45 dollars or you can order the one made by JJC for $12. They both will get the job done, but you will need to use a UV filter to get the actual weather sealing. I use B+W since I’ve found them to have the best light transmittance and with the least amount of reflections. Also, the Nano-coatings do help keep the lens cleaner as well. Fujifilm has a UV filter but I don’t think they’re as good as B+W.
Everyone was asking for a weather-sealed X100 and Fujifilm delivered.
Next, we have a reconfiguration of all the buttons. They moved the Q button and they got rid of the directional D-Pad.
Honestly, I don’t mind this change and I think it was a good move. By removing the D-Pad your entire thumb has a place to rest against the camera without any obstruction. It helps with the grip quite a bit, although I will be ordering the Lensmate Thumbgrip.
The more modern look I also think is cool. I’ve had the last two X100 cameras and it’s nice seeing something that feels new and different. Some people are liking the older look still, but I really don’t mind having looks shift a little.
If you want to see a detailed comparison of all the new features compared to the X100F, check out the X100F vs X100V comparison.
My Settings For Most Of These Photos
These are all JPG. Either Classic Chrome or Pro Neg. I do +1 Color +1 Grain. Clarity is -1 or +2.
Classic Neg I lift the shadows up by -2 and I bring the highlights down -1.
It’s a little confusing because adding + to Shadows makes shadows darker, but adding + to Highlights makes things brighter.
Classic Chrome I leave shadows and highlights at 0.
I’ve done a few minor tweaks in LR for all these. Usually with a curve that lifts the blacks and brings down the mids.
With the Color Chrome Effects, Astia now looks amazing and it’s one of my favorite looks. I’ve never been able to get it to work for me in the past.
Fujifilm X100V Final Thoughts
These two shots have a -1 Clarity and I lifted the blacks with a curve in LR. I believe these were Classic Neg.
If you don’t have an X100 of any type already, this camera will blow you away. It’s just awesome! There is so much to learn with it and explore (in a good way), it will really change photography for you and the capabilities are insane.
If you shoot RAW and are pretty happy with your X100F and live in a place that doesn’t rain a lot, you might not even notice this is a different camera, aside from the aesthetics and new designs features. There are some improvements to the sensor that help but that sensor upgrade is not that big of a deal. However, you will notice the improved sharpness at close focus on the new lens.
If you want a faster focusing camera that has good tracking, this is not it and you’ll likely have to wait for the next generation or hope some cool firmware comes along.
If you really love the JPG features of the camera, shoot a lot of close focus photography in the rain and need a flip screen and have tiny little nimble fingers that allow you to open it without issues, this is a cool upgrade.
I really like the new film simulators and JPG tools and this is exciting for me. I now have a camera where I can do some basic editing inside the camera from my RAWs then throw them on my smartphone for quick for sharing. This alone is a big upgrade to me because of all the new tools. The JPG tools and profiles on the X100F were still pretty limited and now the X100V is much more powerful for processing and tuning looks.
To sum it up, the camera looks awesome, is super fun to use and is now a lot more versatile. But if you’re just shooting RAW, and are hoping for a faster more responsive camera, this is not there yet but the improvements to the lens and the software engine are still very nice.
Fujifilm Wish List
I wish all modern cameras would pull themselves out of this pre-Internet mentality of having limited wifi controls and apps. Let me use my camera to connect to the Internet to at least download firmware upgrades. Better yet, let me connect to Dropbox or Google Photos. Seriously, TVs have been doing this for at least 5 years. Even refrigerators and microwaves do this now!
Having to use your phone as a middle man to the outside world in 2020 is sad and inexcusable and these camera companies should be embarrassed at how far behind they are in software features especially since smartphones are eating them alive.
I use my cameras less and less because smartphones are so good at this, and when my kids are doing something, the smartphone quality is good enough and getting better, but the convenience of sending photos around and sharing on Google Photos, or iCloud makes it harder and harder to use real cameras like this for on the go family photography.
Having to sync to some poorly designed Android or iPhone app is just such a bummer in 2020. Granted, the new Fujifilm app is a lot better than the old one.
Seriously, Fujifilm, if you can develop anti-viral meds that help fight off Corona Virus, you can do this!
UV Filter Adapter should have been included with the camera. At $1,400 don’t you think that would be fair? How much does it cost to machine a little aluminum ring? Fujifilm sells theirs for $45, but there is no way this costs more than .20 cents to make. I use the JJC brand which you can pick up for $12.00.
Something Better Than JPG – Canon and most smartphones are doing HEIC. I would love something a little better than JPG, because I still do like to tune some of my JPGs for my posts here or on Instagram but I don’t want to lose the Fujifilm look by going to RAW. I know you can load the profiles in LR or Capture One, but they are not the same.
IBIS – As you can see, a lot of my shots are slightly soft not just from being out of focus but because of motion blur. Yes, even at 1/200 shutter. I use to be a snobby anti-ibis dude until I started noticing the results I was getting from the Nikon Z6. The thing is, everyone keeps telling you IBIS is great for getting 1-second exposures. No, IBIS is very powerful at making sure images are tack sharp even at 1/160 shutter. You will notice the benefits even at those faster shutter speeds, especially with these APS-C cameras that have such a tight pixel pitch. Fujifilm could have put an IBIS in this camera. If the GRIII did it with a 3-axis sensor, shift, Fujifilm could have done it here. But likely we’ll have to wait for the next model.
Again, it’s 2020, Fujifilm, please get up to date with modern technology and software. This means Internet connectivity for firmware updates, and the ability to sync with cloud photo apps.
Fujifilm X100V Sample Images
Most of these are JPG. The portraits are with the -1 Clarity for the dreamy look.