Should I purchase a Fujifilm X100V? This is a question that I would imagine numerous FujiLove readers have asked themselves over the past year. I pondered that same question myself when the camera was announced a year ago. Having ultimately answered this question with a resounding yes, here are my thoughts on the X100V after almost a year of using it as my primary camera. Hopefully, this article will be of some value to anyone trying to answer this question for themself.
Do you prefer photographic flexibility or artistic constraint? The X100V’s 23mm lens (or 35mm full-frame equivalent focal length) is simultaneously handcuffing and liberating. With only 23mm at your disposal, this camera will push you to hone your creative vision in every photographic experience you enjoy. There is no zooming out; there is no zooming in. You cannot put on a wide-angle lens; you cannot put on a telephoto lens. Yes, there are two adapters, but they do not extend the X100V’s range substantially. Some photographers will tell you that this constraint is limiting. For them, the flexibility of having different focal lengths is part of their creative process. Other photographs will tell you that this constraint is liberating. For them, the constraint simplifies and streamlines the process of making beautiful images. For me, having one focal length helps me focus on what matters: composition, light, perspective, texture, etc. When I used to have a large kit full of lens, I ended up spending much of my time swapping them on and off, rather than accepting limitation and creating beautiful images with the gear I had in my hand at the time. In deciding whether you want to purchase an X100V, ask yourself: do I prefer photographic flexibility or artistic constraint?
Do you prioritize stealth? The X100V is small. Now that very well may be the single most obvious comment you read all day, but it is an important point nevertheless. I’ve photographed more events than I’d care to count – hockey playoff games, cocktail receptions overlooking a bay, wedding ceremonies – and for many of them, I was armed with a full-frame DSLR and a complete arsenal of lenses and equipment. Such gear is exceptional for capturing the decisive moment, but it is about as stealthy as a race car. Now I am in a different point in my life and in my career; I value candid scenes, quick glances, momentary smiles upon good peoples’ faces. I don’t shoot with a large DSLR anymore. I use an X100V now, and I am much happier with the images I am capturing. In deciding whether you want to purchase an X100V, ask yourself: do I prioritize stealth?
Do you mind carrying around a heavy camera bag? The X100V, a charger, an extra battery, and a lens cloth can fit into a bag about the size of a child’s lunchbox. Over the past year of using the X100V exclusively, a remarkable situation unfolded before me: I stopped using a traditional camera bag. The X100V begs to be held, to be used, not to be stored away and forgotten. It fits in my coat pocket, it rests in my car’s cupholder, it dangles gracefully from around my neck. I found a small and forgotten cloth sack originally used to store two small cotton dryer balls. Surprisingly, the X100V, its charger, and spare battery fit into the sack (see cover image). As someone who detested lugging around a heavy camera bag, I relish this new minimalistic approach. And the best part? I haven’t sacrificed image quality at all. In deciding whether you want to purchase an X100V, ask yourself: do I mind carrying around a heavy camera bag?
Do you value your camera’s esthetic? The X100V is beautiful. There will be those who criticize a photographer who enjoys owning and operating a well-designed and esthetically pleasing camera. However, there is something to be said for holding a masterfully designed photographic tool in your hands and appreciating its beauty. I really like the way the X100V looks, and I love the way it feels. Every button is exactly where it needs to be, and the aluminum body makes the camera feel indestructible. In deciding whether you want to purchase an X100V, ask yourself: do I value my camera’s esthetic?
Would a different Fujifilm camera body with the 27mm pancake prime do the trick? As previously mentioned, the X100V’s 23mm lens does not come off the camera’s body. Yes, there are two adapters (wide and telephoto), but this camera is not compatible with zooms, ultra-wides, or portrait lenses. Saying goodbye to Fujifilm’s amazing lens lineup was especially difficult when making the decision to purchase the X100V. As a compromise of sorts, a photographer could purchase a different Fujifilm camera, such as the X-Pro3, and utilize the 27mm pancake prime. Thus, the photographer could experience something close to the X100V while retaining flexibility from a gear perspective. Having already experimented with this endeavor, I can say that it did not work for me. The X100V and a different Fujifilm camera with the 27mm do not feel the same and do not take similar images. As alike as they seem, the difference between 23mm and 27mm can be profound, as is the difference between f/2 and f/2.8. Additionally, the feel and user experiences are dissimilar, with the X100V offering a more enjoyable shooting experience in my opinion. In deciding whether you want to purchase an X100V, ask yourself: would a different Fujifilm camera body with the 27mm pancake prime do the trick?
There are many other important questions one could ask themself when trying to decide whether the Fujifilm X100V is the right camera. This piece was designed to prompt only a few such questions that I believe are important aspects of the decision-making process. The bottom line is this: the Fujifilm X100V is an amazing photographic tool, and it is my all-time favorite camera; it goes with me everywhere, and has been an invaluable asset in my artist endeavors over the past year. For additional X100V photographs and my detailed thoughts on the camera, please consider checking out my X100V video: