Like an old war-horse, unsaddled for the last time, and led to a green, grassy glade to graze for the rest of his days, my seven-year-old Fujifilm X100S has been de-strapped and placed upon the edge of my desk in a place of honor. With one now retired and another sold off (X-Pro2), I was in need of a camera and not just any old camera. I needed an everyday creative instrument to serve as an extension of my eyes. I am here to tell you, I found it: the go-everywhere, do-everything, Fujifilm X100V.
In my opinion, great photography depicts a scene, subject, or situation through the eyes of the photographer. I encourage others not to showcase images that anyone could have taken; rather, showcase images that only you could have taken. For example, when I gaze upon an image of a scene seen through a foggy, misty, dreary New York City window at an everyday pedestrian, I am graced with the opportunity of seeing the world through Sol Leiter’s eyes. When I examine the piercing countenance of an honest and authentic individual memorialized within a photograph, I am honored with the chance of seeing the world through William Albert Allard’s eyes. Their images evoke emotion within me.
Likewise, when searching for a camera, I want one that minimizes—if not eliminates—barriers between the way I see the world and the images I produce. Fujifilm has given us a camera chock-full of significant improvements over previous models that I believe can help artists illustrate for others how they see the world. The X100V checks a lot of boxes, so let us examine them in more depth now.
The first thing that should be discussed is the build of the camera, since the first thing you will likely do with the X100V is pick it up. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful and well-made camera I have ever owned. Do you know that feeling when you write an article, draft a report, pack for a trip, plan a large party, or any other project that takes time and effort, and you revise and revise, cutting away that which is unnecessary and ultimately arriving at a simplified final product? Well, I think Fujifilm may still be basking in that glorious feeling in regards to this camera. The X100V has been simplified; the design is sleek, and redundancy, repetition, and inefficiency have all been removed. The ISO dial has been redesigned with ease and comfort in mind. The directional pad is a thing of the past, leaving behind a wonderful spot for the photographer’s thumb. The camera’s buttons and dials feel sturdy, secure, and sophisticated. The entire body feels like a solid piece of aluminum. The camera is powerful, detailed, gorgeous, and feels amazing in your hands.
Above I wrote that the X100V is a go-everywhere, do-everything photographic tool, and I stand by that assertion. I know that photographers use the X100 series of cameras differently. Personally, the X100V is my only camera, aside from my retired X100S. I use it for everything, and I largely take it with me all the time. Fujifilm gave this camera a lot of features that make it an everyday companion. For the first time, Fuji introduced a super-slim, touch-enabled, flip-screen. I must confess, I was originally against the addition of a flip-screen, but after using it for two weeks, I have to admit, I am a fan. Fuji was able to provide photographers with a high-utility, low-profile screen that makes capturing the impactful moment that much easier. The X100V, as its predecessors before it, includes a built-in neutral density filter. The 4-stop ND filter means I have one less thing to carry with me when I hit the road with this camera. And for the first time, Fuji (mostly) weather-sealed the X100V. Initially, I did not want to add the adaptor ring and filter, believing that doing so would somehow negatively impact my use of the camera. However, I decided to gave it a whirl, and boy am I glad that I did. I was out photographing an old mill when I accidentally got too close to the gushing water and found myself in a situation where a fair bit of spray landed upon my brand new X100V. I looked down and began wiping away the water. I am happy to report the camera is fine, thankfully. That experience convinced me to never take the adaptor and filter off again, unless of course I am using one of my X100 lens adaptors.
I am now going to do my best to describe what it is like to actually use this camera. I have been shooting with it for a little over two weeks now and am starting to get comfortable with it. As I said above, this camera is a joy to hold. It is small and light, perfect for inconspicuous trips out and about. I do not miss the directional pad whatsoever, given that the joystick on the back functions wonderfully in its stead. Everything on the camera is where I would want it to be, which guarantees that I can adjust settings with only a modicum of effort. Simply put, the Fujifilm X100V is simple and enjoyable to use, two characteristics that make my job as a photographer that much easier.
No first-impressions article about the X100V would be complete without a discussion of the new and improved fixed lens. I really put my X100S through its paces. I knew that camera— and its fixed lens—like the back of my hand. I knew what it could and could not do. I rarely, if ever, shot at f2, since the images would so infrequently be of a caliber that I would end up publishing. Setting the lens to f2 on my X100S was saved for only certain circumstances. Well, times are changing; the new 23mm f2 lens on the X100V is sharp, clear, and crisp. So far, I have primarily shot the camera at f2. The out of focus areas are a joy to play with, and the images at f2 are exemplarily! In my opinion, the new lens is by far the greatest addition to the X100V, and, personally, I would no longer consider purchasing an earlier version of this camera because of it. I have been oh so pleased with the quality of the images I have taken on the X100V so far.
Like an old war-horse, unsaddled for the last time, and led to a green, grassy glade to graze for the rest of his days, my seven-year-old Fujifilm X100S has been officially retired. Not only am I confident that this new camera by Fujifilm is up to the challenge of being the everyday creative instrument I need to serve as an extension of my eyes for years to come, but I am also confident in predicting that the X100V will someday be revered as a cult-classic for the landmark improvements it brought to the wildly popular X100 line of cameras.
The Fujifilm X100V is my go-everywhere, do-everything camera. Will it be yours?