Fujifilm Comes Up Aces Yet Again with the X100F, Heiress to the Noble X100 Tradition

Fujifilm kicked off a global digital photography revolution when it released the X100 fixed prime lens rangefinder-style mirrorless camera in 2011 at a time when digital photography was dominated by big DSLRs made by the then two biggest camera manufacturers. 

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How things have changed, in some quarters at least. DSLRs still dominate the local newspaper industry but most photojournalists and documentary photographers of my acquaintance here and overseas left the DSLR world for the mirrorless realm some years ago.

Little wonder. Recently I showed a DSLR-dedicated friend one of my mirrorless cameras and he began wondering why he had put up with his DSLRs’ heaviness and old-world features for so long.

Mirrorless cameras are rarely seen here in Sydney during newsworthy events like the Women’s March on Washington, Sydney, starting from Hyde Park going to Martin Place on 21 January. Newspaper and other photographers covering the event did so rigged up with double DSLRs and two or three fast zoom lenses as below. I used an X-Pro2 and a couple of prime lenses.

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Longevity

With Fujifilm’s announcement of the X100 series’ fourth iteration, the longevity of the original X100’s concept is demonstrated yet again.

The original X100 is a camera I use to this very day, especially when needing to be extra discrete, even more invisible than usual.

That original X100 has ably handled demonstrations, protests, festivals, conferences, travel and urban documentary projects.

Its autofocus is slow compared to the current generation of mirrorless cameras but not impossibly so, and its sensor is far from the biggest going, but the old adage holds true, that you only need 6 megapixels for a double-page spread or a single-page portrait.

Exhibition prints and 48-sheet posters are another thing altogether but Fujifilm now has those bases amply covered with its GFX 50S medium format masterpiece.

Moving up a notch

The X100F has moved up a notch to the same sensor as its X-Pro2 and X-T2 sisters, all 24.3 megapixels of it, and that is something of a minor miracle in such an affordable, professional-quality, small-bodied camera.

We are lucky to be living in the digital photography age, one no longer beset by golfball grain and beautiful though ultra-slow films – Kodachrome 25 and Panatomic-X anyone? – if the project demands sharpness and high resolution.

That a camera the size of the X100F can deliver image quality rivalling if not surpassing Fujifilm’s analog era mirrorless or SLR-based GX680 series 120-format cameras, especially when using faster films in them, is no small miracle.

I can see why photojournalism-style wedding photographer Kevin Mullins will be adopting an X100F alongside his two X-Pro2s equipped with XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses as part of his core wedding photojournalism kit.

It’s all black for me

Mr Mullins’ style is based on almost-straight-out-of-camera (almost-SOOC) JPEGs with his JPEG settings dialled down for a gritty hardness perhaps partially inspired by great British photographer Bill Brandt, but Mr Mullins’ photographs are almost grain-, or in reality digital noise- free.

Like Mr Mullins, I would definitely choose a black X100F over the silver one for its contribution to a photographer’s anonymity and near-invisibility.

Like him also, I consider the X100F as a complement to the X-Pro2, a fixed lens camera with the advantages that fixed lenses can bestow such as leaf shutter, high-speed flash sync, built-in ND filter and small form factor.

X100F and X-Pro2 compared

Photographs are not to scale.

Accessories for the X100F

There are three Fujifilm-brand accessories I consider essentials for the X100F, the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens, the TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens and an L-grip.

I would also add a Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera strap pair, the latter a wrist-strap and the former a hand-strap, both ensuring good grip and safety if the camera falls out of your hand.

I have yet to see a Fujifilm brand L-grip for the X100F, similar to the FUHGX100T grip for its three predecessors, make its appearance online but surely it is a matter of time. I have used the X100 with and without this hand grip and, given the camera’s tiny built-in grip and slippery surface, consider it a necessity. Otherwise a few third-party alternatives will doubtless be available soon.

Conclusions

As usual, the proof of the pudding is in the trying and I look forward to giving an X100F a good roadtest sometime in the near future. For those who enjoy specs charts, a specifications spreadsheet PDF is available further down this page.

Meanwhile, I wish to hail the Fujifilm X100F as the rightful heiress to the classic that the X100 was in its day, and that may itself be a future classic in the waiting.

My Fujifilm Finepix X100 is a treasured camera in my collection and I use it to this day, most especially when needing to blend in with the crowd and be as close to my subjects as possible. Despite not having an X-Trans sensor, it produces excellent colour and can be processed in a much wider range of raw processors than X-Trans raw files, in this case DxO OpticsPro Elite with DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as plug-ins.

Recommended Viewing:

Fujifilm’s global YouTube.com channel FUJIFILMGlobal appears not have received the memo about female gender equality in its product videos given that all fifteen of its video feature male photographers with not one woman photographer in sight.

On the other hand, the Fuji Guys Channel run by Fujifilm employees based in several different countries including Australia has featured two female photographers so far, both in the USA.

Let’s hope more videos featuring women appear very soon, with at least one of them being Australian.

Specifications:

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.

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