Gear Reviews

Review: Fujifilm X100V

· 24.September.2020

First of all, thank you for sharing my story with all of you. I am a wedding and portrait photographer living in Germany and I use Canon full frame cameras most of the time. The cameras are great to get the job done, but they are not what I want to carry around when I go out in my free time to take pictures for fun. The Canon cameras lack the inspirational part, besides being quite heavy with a fast prime lens attached to it. So for quite some time I was thinking about adding something new, something different, something, that I could just sling around my shoulder and go out and shoot – a camera that actually inspires me again to use it. I decided I wanted a small fixed prime camera and immediately these were the ones that came to my mind (which all have their reasons by the way) – the full frame Sony RX1, the micro 4/3 Ricoh GR (II or III), the Leica Q and the Fuji X100V.

The Leica would be too expensive as a „just for fun“ camera, the Sony I felt was not inspirational enough for me to use it, the Ricoh GR probably would be a great choice very different to my Canon gear and then there was the Fuji – right away it felt like the best of all worlds. Not too expensive, small and stylish, great AF, f/2 open aperture for blurry backgrounds, APSC sized sensor for great image quality, you name it.

This Photography Diary shows you my first day with the Fuji X100V, which I picked up in Hamburg in Germany and I spent the whole day there shooting with it. Just for the fun of it, to be a kid again, doing what he loves. Not for a client, but this time for me. The journey begins…

After picking up the camera I went through the menu and took some shots of whatever came in front of me – first some buildings, trees and then some shots out of the window from the tram…

My idea was to photograph three areas with the Fuji X100V – I wanted to photograph architecture, then cars and also I wanted to talk to strangers on the streets to do some spontaneous photoshoots with the X100V right there where I talk to the people. So let‘s take a look at how the Fuji X100V could handle these areas and how the 23mm f2.0 worked for those different fields of photography.

After half an hour playing with the Fuji X100V photographing buildings and passing cars I saw a couple sitting and kissing – that would be the perfect moment to test the portrait capabilities of the camera. I walked up to the couple and offered them a photoshoot in a couple of minutes. Usually the people can buy the images later but this time I give all images to the people for free. I filmed also how I approached the people, so in the video you can actually see how these images were created. I was still very new to the camera but with the face detection I could easily shoot at f2.0 all the time with their faces in focus – take a look:

What I found out pretty quickly when I was back at home on the computer was a difference in dynamic range compared to my Canon 6D II or Eos RP cameras. When you look at the last image of the couple kissing you see how burnt out the buildings in the backgrounds are. I am used to see more details there with my other cameras but let me be honest, I don‘t really care about that. It is great enough and much more important than technical aspects of the camera for me was the question if the camera could deliver on the portrait side – would I like the portraits? Could I get some blurry backgrounds with it? Do I like the look and feel of the outcome? That for me was far more important than the technical parts of the camera. I will answer the questions for you as we go along, hold on 🙂

What I really enjoy about the Fuji X100V is the different shooting experience, as the camera offers you three different ways to use it and each of these ways are a joy to use and each has its own strenghts as well.

  1. The Original Viewfinder (OVF)
    Looking through the original viewfinder lets you see the world as it is as you look through the camera through a whole on the top left side of the camera. It has a rangefinder style which is dif-ferent from a DSLR where you actually look through the lens. When I put a 24mm lens on my Canon cameras or a 85mm lens, what I will see looking through is the world through that lens and that focal lengh, whereas with the Fuji (just like with a Leica camera), you look through the camera through a whole next to the lens. You will see framelines that tell you, where the borders of the image will be. It has an analog feel to it, as you have all the beautiful buttons and wheels to turn physically on the camera. It really felt refreshing and exiting to shoot that way.
  2. The Electronical Viewfinder (EVF)
    Switching a button will put a screen in that whole that we just looked through and now we are looking at a screen that shows us the final image with all settings applied just as we would on our phones or other mirrorless camera. This is great to see if your images are exposed correctly and you see exactly what will be the final image. Also a great way to take pictures and very different from the first one.
  3. The Screen on the back of the camera. This is like shooting on your phone or any other mirrorless camera with a screen on the back.

Having all three options gives you many creative tools as each way to use the camera feels very different and yet any one feels well implemented and fun to use. As I was taking some shots of the buildings I found a group of girls and tried the X100V in my second street portrait session:

As my main interest in photography is photographing people I knew I only will take a camera out with me when I know it works for photographing people. I talked to the girl with the glasses who was sitting on a bench and just as I started to photograph her, three of her friends came out of the coffee store behind me. We took some images first in the sun and then in the shade and this was the moment I really was amazed at how well the X100V could give me the look and feel I hoped to get. I got that blurry background, nice colors, great AF with face detection, so actually the face is in focus without me having to select any AF points. Just looking through these images in camera got me hooked!

I now head over to the city centre to see if I can find some nice cars to photograph next…

All images you see here I have edited in Lightroom in a couple of seconds per image, but I can tell you that the jpg files alone stand on their own, they don‘t really need any editing. I tried every picture style that day, changing the style every 40 minutes or so. The images straight from the camera look great, I just have the habit to edit the RAW files and also I wanted to see how my presets would look applied to the Fuji files. I think it worked really well, especially the people pictures, which is the most important area for me.

I am not a technical photographer, so having a better 23mm lens than on the older models is not necessarily important to me. For me the feeling of the camera is where it‘s at, meaning holding it in my hand, using it, carrying it, that‘s what I was looking for. As I have big cameras to do it all, I was looking for something different. I cannot carry my Canon DSLR with the 35mm f1.4 or 85mm f1.2 around my neck and walk around town – just size wise that doesn‘t work. With the Fuji X100V however, I found myself carrying that tiny camera all day around my neck and even wben I was not taking pictures like being on the tram or walking from A to B, it was a great life-style accessory that looked cool and didn‘t get in the way at all. I had brough my Canon Eos RP with a 20mm lens to film the shooting day and I took some images of me with the Fuji camera in my hand – take a look how cool that looks like, just as a lifestyle accessory 🙂

The ability to go out into the city or on vacation and actually just have the camera around my neck with another small battery in my pocket made me realize that I didn‘t even need to have a camera bag with this camera anymore – that was such a game changer in terms of lifestyle and feeling, as my camera bag sometimes do get on my nerves when I just want to enjoy the day like I am doing here in Hamburg. This is a factor that you cannot see on the spec sheet but which plays a major role in everyday decisions „do I bring my camera to the park / birthday / weekend trip/ etc.). The X100V is the one to take. On a technical level my Canon full frame cameras will give the better images with the 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2 or 85mm f1.2, but it is not what I want to carry around all day, so the question for me is not „which camera has the best image quality“ but „which camera actually lets me have a great time with it“ – that‘s where the Fuji wins for me. Let‘s take a look at the next two girls I talked to, two sisters who met in Hamburg to spend the day together – a wonderful moment to keep in pictures:

Having now spent a couple of hours using the camera in a variety of scenes, is there anything negative I found about it? Well, actually yes there is. And it came up with every street portrait session I did. These shootings on the streets with strangers usually just take around 3 minutes, but even within this small timeframe I encountered a moment that felt like a bummer – the write speed of the camera to the SD card. I use 128 GB cards from SanDisk, usually the fastest there are, so I can copy my files quickly to my computer, as I take pictures kind of everyday. The SD card component in the Fuji X100V is just UHS I speed, though for quite some time UHS II is common (which is faster). This results in much slower frames per seconds when you take a number of pictures quickly. The camera actually can shoot over 10 fames per seconds with the mechanical shutter and even 20 frames per seconds with the electronical shutter – so you can use it for sports or fast moving subjects kind of. The great thing in the menu is, you can set the fps (frames per seconds) to your liking. For me, 5 to 6 frames per seconds is totally fine, I don‘t need more, so that‘s how I set up the speed right at the beginning of the day. But even with just 5 fps I get to a point after a minute or less of this kind of street portraits, that the buffer is full and the speed goes down to 2 frames per seconds. I missed moments because of it and in the situation when the couple is lauging or walking towards me, I use to take more pictures than just one and that‘s when the camera is not capable of following my speed of shooting style (remember, the camera can shoot up to 20 fps, I only set it to 5 fps and still shoot too fast for it). That was a real shame, as this is something I encountered at any of those street photoshoots. That was the only negative thing I found (next to lower dynamic range than what I am used to, but that doens‘t really matter for me).

Overall I am really impressed by the camera. The physical changes of the body made the camera even more beautiful than it was in its prior iterations like the X100S, T and F. It feels premium, at the same time nostalgic, is beautiful to hold, great to carry around your neck, I got over 3000 shots that first day and used nearly two batteries which is a great battery performance considering how tiny the batteries are (they fit easily in your po-ckets). A phenomenal one camera, one lens combo, does video, great JPGs, great RAW editing capabilities, high lifestyle factor on a level which only a few other cameras can live up to (like the Hasselblad X1D).

I was looking for an inspiration in a camera and the Fuji X100V gave me exactly that. I wanted a compact camera to take with me wherever I go without the weight of a full frame camera. I wanted a camera with a fixed focal lengh with a great open aperture performance. All of this I don‘t get from the cameras I own right now and that‘s the place where the X100V shines. It is not to replace my Canon stuff for weddings, it is there to document and capture my private life, small photoshoots, my street portraits without the need of a bag around my shoulders, a lifestyle thing I bring even when I am not there as a photographer. It is so versatile and light that it delivers a shooting experience that‘s very different and refreshing and that is exactly what I was looking for. Here are some more images of my first day with the Fuji X100V and on the bottom you will find the video I did, so you see how the images were created:

I am most active on YouTube, so if you liked this Photography Diary you will find many videos and street photoshoots on my YouTube channel „Dirksón! Photography“. Thank you very much!


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