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An Afternoon With the Fujifilm X100V Camera: Better Than Ever


The Fujifilm X100V is the fifth entry into the company’s quirky and beloved series, and it is easily the best version yet. Here are my thoughts on this great camera.

The pandemic has made it difficult to fully test cameras and lenses like normal, so when I got the X100V, I thought a bit about how I could give it an alternative evaluation. So, I decided to give it a review befitting of its intended use: by taking an afternoon photo walk.

Back in 2014, I got the X100S, the second in the X100 series. It was the antithesis of the proper camera for me: I hate prime lenses for walkaround work and I am not especially creative with standard focal lengths like 35mm or 50mm. But I love anything quirky, and I just could not resist the allure of such a quirky camera. And hey, sometimes the best way to improve your skills is to force yourself to use things that are outside your comfort zone.

Specs

Here are the major specs of the X100V:

  • 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor
  • ISO range: 80-51,200 (160-12,800 native)
  • 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent)
  • 425 autofocus points
  • 3-inch, 1.62-million-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder with 3.69-million-dot resolution
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • 4K video with 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output
  • 11 fps burst (20 fps burst with electronic shutter)
  • Dust and splash protection
  • Built-in 4-stop ND filter

The Design

The X100V is an attractive, innovative camera. It looks like a relic from the rangefinder era, but that design is part of the typical Fuji charm and hides a very technically capable device underneath the exterior. It is simply fun to pick up and use. It feels comfortable in the hands, the controls are logically laid out and intuitive, and the hybrid viewfinder remains one of my favorite features on any camera out there.

If you have not tried it before, the hybrid viewfinder is just an absolute blast to use. It offers a normal optical mode with framing lines similar to a rangefinder, making it fantastic for street photographers who like being able to see what is going on outside the frame to be able to anticipate action. Switch modes, and it becomes a fully functioning modern electronic viewfinder. Both are fun to use, and I actually found myself switching between them depending on my mood and what I was shooting. The EVF is a vibrant and capable OLED panel that is a joy to shoot with, especially with Fuji’s lauded film simulations turned on. 

What I am most excited for, however, is the redesigned lens. At first glance, it looks like the same compact 23mm f/2 seen on previous iterations in the X100 series, but Fuji redesigned it to be sharper across the frame and especially at wide apertures. Much as I loved my X100S, the lens was one of two weak spots for me (the other being autofocus speed). The improvements are notable, as the lens on the X100V is far sharper. Despite the redesign, the X100V still contains a built-in four-stop ND filter that can be easily accessed via the menu. 

The tilting touchscreen is a nice addition as well. I used it to take a couple of shots above my head where I would have been shooting blind otherwise. The touch functions were responsive and accurate as well, making it easy to quickly change my AF point without resorting to the joystick, which I actually preferred, both because it was quicker and because the joystick is too small for my taste — smaller than a pencil eraser, which is one of my few quibbles with the camera. And of course, there are Fuji’s great dials. They are intuitive and make for a quick and painless shooting experience.

The Experience

Everything I said in the section above is to make the point that this camera is a joy to use. It is ridiculously fun, and it feels as intuitive as any camera I have ever used, which is impressive considering my aforementioned hesitancy to use a 35mm prime for walkaround work. As I mentioned earlier, my other quibble with my X100S was the autofocus speed. Three generations later, any concern over that is totally gone. The X100V snaps into focus quickly and confidently in a variety of situations, while tracking and eye autofocus are quite good, a real boon for street shooters. The ND filter is quite welcome; I popped it on a few times when shooting a f/2 in bright sunlight with the mechanical shutter.

The electronic viewfinder is bright, vibrant, and keeps up with action well. Meanwhile, Fuji’s finely honed manual controls mean you can keep the camera to your eye more often. All these things mean that the camera stays largely out of your way and allows you to be in the moment — something any camera (especially one designed for street work) should do. And really, that’s the highest compliment I can give any camera: that I can trust it and I don’t have to think about how to get it to take the shot I want. The one significant quibble I have about the experience is the battery life. At 350 shots using the EVF (420 using the OVF), it is on the lower side, and I wore it out with an afternoon of pretty standard shooting. That being said, it is a very small battery, and it wouldn’t be much trouble to toss a second one in your pocket. 

Image Quality

Image quality is quite good. The lens is sharp, even at maximum aperture. The extra resolution of the X100V (as opposed to the 16 mp on the X100, X100S, and X100T, though the X100F has 24 mp) is appreciated, particularly with a prime lens, as it gives you a little wiggle room to crop in if needed. Landscape shooters are sure to appreciate it as well. 

And of course, there are Fujifilm’s beloved film simulations. I adore Velvia film for landscapes and cityscapes, and having a believable simulation of it is awesome. As always, Fuji’s out-of-camera JPEGs are the best in the business, but if you want to shoot raw, you can still apply the film simulations after in post. And with the camera’s wireless connectivity, you have a smooth and efficient solution for shooting and posting wherever you are.

What I Liked

  • Intuitive, refined design
  • Unique, top-notch hybrid viewfinder
  • Lens shows highly improved sharpness
  • Fim simulations are as strong as ever
  • Autofocus system is fast and reliable
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Strong build quality
  • Built-in ND filter

What I Didn’t Like

  • Joystick is too small
  • Battery life is too short
  • No image stabilization
  • Only one UHS-I card slot

Conclusion

The X100 series has always been about the joy of photography, and with each iteration, Fuji has made improvements that help the camera stay out of the photographer’s way all the more. While those improvements are certainly welcome, with the X100V, they have also made a major step forward in image quality, and altogether, that makes the X100V the best compact prime lens camera you can buy. You can get yours here.





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