FUJI X100 User Review £999

Categories: Miscellaneous 17 Comments

I don’t usually mix business with pleasure but in this case I feel it’s my duty to blog about this camera that cost just over £ 1000 and is reported as being “The professionals choice”. I have been waiting for a good second camera for a while, one I can stick in the pocket rather than take my Canon 5D2.

I have had various cameras over the last 6 months, the Sony HX5V and latterly the Canon G12, but the same old story the ability to take a good picture when you need it especially with fast subjects and low light. I entered the hype about the Fuji x100 about 5 months ago, claiming to be the camera made with the professional in mind, so I pre ordered one and it duly arrived last week in the post.

Just look at the presentation…fantastic, I took it out of the box and felt it was a wee bit bigger and heavier than I was expecting, considering this is a “pocket camera”, that aside I looked around for some budding snaps.

The camera has an f2 23mm fixed lens with an APS sensor so it was about 35mm in focal length and looked very retro from the 60s…fine by me.

The camera has what’s called a hybrid viewfinder and is in the style of the old rangefinder cameras. I took some pics of my dog as my wife was at work and my son was also out.

The first thing that struck me as being odd was the quality of the lens itself it seemed to be a thin bit of glass with a black band painted around it, I assume the other elements were behind the iris itself, I did read a review the day I handed over my card details and the chap was far from complimentary about the lens at f2, it was soft. I tried f2 myself and yes its soft but as we all know as you go away from f2 it gets sharper. I find it really strange that a company like Fuji with such a prestigious background in broadcast lenses could put such a poor lens on such a supposedly professional spec camera.

This is a 100% blow up of my dogs face and as you can see it’s not very sharp, not what I was expecting from such a special camera, I decided to change from the quicker rangefinder mode to the live view mode via the LCD.

Now we are talking turkey the live mode certainly helped me see if I was in focus and what a cracking shot of my dog, this gave me confidence for my mothers birthday party in the evening, a chance to give the camera a run through without using it on a paying job.

Mum opening her presents was as sharp as a tac but more often than not the pictures were slightly out of focus like the one of my dad and as you notice the smaller pic looks to be fine as I saw it in the LCD but when I opened the pics in Apple Aperture most of them were duff. I tried full auto to manual settings, changed the focus from single to multi and from single to continuous. I sent the camera back for a full refund, I really wanted this camera to work for me !

CONCLUSION : I also noticed how long it took to autofocus or not as it happened and how easily it was fooled into not focusing, trying to use manual focus was impossible. This camera was no way near the hype it was given, as a pro second camera…forget it. I did like the lack of noise up to about 1600ISO and even at 6400ISO was very acceptable. It was with a heavy heart that I decided to return the camera, it can produce some stunning shots when it behaves but on the whole it produced slightly out of focus or very out of focus shots and for professional reportage its a no, no.

Was it worth £999, not in my opinion, it’s clearly riding on the initial hype a very clever campaign by Fuji but falls short on a poor autofocus and a soft wide open lens, the menu system was not as intuitive as I am used to with Canon or Nikon but it is good up to 1600ISO and can produce very good shots, maybe I did not give the camera the time it needed but comparing it to my recent purchase the Canon G12 £350 the Fuji came a poor second at almost 3x the price !

There is also the possibility that my camera was faulty but the company never gave me the option to swap it out.

UPDATE : I think the general consensus is that I had a duff camera which is sad, I was really looking forward to having the quality of an DSLR in my pocket especially for reportage work but my experience has put me off this camera maybe I will get the x300 when it comes out !

PS. The comments on this subject are now closed so don’t bother trying to master your Commodore 64 to reply.

 

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17 comments on this post

  1. JonathanJK says:

    Hi, four disclaimers before I begin.

    1, I’m not a Fuji fanboy. Far from it.
    2, Please don’t take this as an attack, instead just harsh criticism of your review.
    3, I’m not a perfect writer myself.
    4, I’m sending you this because I care

    ~

    I think this review is very poor and lacking any serious depth. Besides the obvious and numerous grammatical mistakes, the testing isn’t very thorough. It comes off as lazy. I’d want to see a range of tests, can you repeat the soft f2 focus for example. The two shots of your dog are so different in quality, it is unbelievable they were taken with the same camera.

    I don’t get your analysis of the lens, why when you look at how thin it is, does that actually matter? I’ve used Holgas in the past that can produce pleasingly sharp images.

    It seems to me, judging by the quality and the quantity of content within this review, you owned it for a day, weekend at best. With anything new like a camera, smartphone or computer, you need to use it over a longer period of time, to understand the little things, adapt it to your workflow and discover the nuances and so forth.

    You conclusion is confusing, basic schooling dictates you don’t add anything new to your conclusion. You can’t start talking about autofocus issues for example.

    Look on Flickr for flickr groups devoted to the X100, the photography coming out from its users with this camera is amazing. Some of them are from ‘professional reportage’ photographers and are being published.

  2. HD Warrior says:

    This is not an in-depth technical review but a user review…

    1. Most of the shots it took were slightly out of focus

    2. I changed the ISO to 800 to stop the camera taking indoor pics at f2 in AUTO to no avail.

    3. This camera has one fixed lens so focusing should NOT BE A PROBLEM but it was poor.

    4. A lot of the time I had 2 people in frame and it could not focus…POOR.

    5. I don’t pay £1000 for a camera that acts like a £70 camera.

    6. I also saw all the good pictures this camera is capable of but as a professional I need a camera thats capable 95% of each time it takes a picture.

    7. The lens at f2 is soft which is no good to man or beast.

  3. patrick says:

    I think you’re going to see a bit of a spike in traffic with this piece 😉

    I have this camera on pre-order so I haven’t used it yet. But I too was surprised by your account which seems to fly in the face of everything else I’ve seen or read over the past few weeks – not just from technical reviews but from other professional photographers’ experiences. While there seems to be a consensus around the less than perfect focusing mechanism, no one has experienced anything as bad as what you’re describing. Which – and please don’t take this the wrong way – tends to support a user problem, more than a gear problem.

    Why would you use AUTO in the first place? And moreover why would you stick with AUTO if the camera wasn’t giving you what you wanted? If the metering is being thrown off indoors (which it often is with any camera) just switch to manual and do it yourself, no? If it kept insisting on f2 at ISO800, go to 1600 or 3200 or 6400… problem solved. Or use exposure compensation. Or lower your shutter speed. This is basic camera work that should’t even factor into the equation. I’ve never used a camera that made the right decision on it’s own no matter the price. Metering systems are geared towards neutral settings which are rarely the best evaluation of a scene, just a starting point. And the pic of your dad looks out of focus in the smaller version as well. Pretty clearly IMHO.

    I think the problem I’m having with your review is that it sounds as though the camera was supposed to be the photographer. I know for a fact that my mother would take very crappy pictures with a D3. Does that make it a bad camera? Worth £70?

    Any tool can do a crappy job if not properly mastered and as Jonathan said, you don’t seem to have given it much of chance.

    Now to be fair I might feel the same way when I finally get mine.
    Gosh I hope I don’t though (!)

  4. JonathanJK says:

    It doesn’t need to be an in-depth technical review, even a user review would involve some simple testing to replicate any errors found, this is just to make sure you can back up what you’re saying.
    I wouldn’t blog about the first error with a piece of software or hardware unless I could repeat it and back it up with some evidence. Otherwise it just looks like you’re not really trying. That was the point I was trying to make along with mentioning the poor grammar. That’s the impression I got from reading your review.

    On your 3rd point, I’ve owned prime lenses on Canon 1D series bodies where the auto-focusing wasn’t focusing on occasions. So I don’t get what you’re saying, no camera in my experience gets the focus perfect, ever.

    On your sixth point, don’t get me started on what a professional ‘needs’. Especially when professionals can utilise Holgas and iPhones. Why didn’t you test this camera on a professional job instead of in a home setting?

    On your point about f2 being soft, you seemed to solve this problem with the second dog picture? So which is it?

  5. HD Warrior says:

    If you were at all professional you would realise that you don’t test new kit on a client who is paying you to produce a decent set of photographs. The 1st dog shot was at f4 so it’s not the soft part of the lens (f2) thats at fault. The 2nd dog shot was also at f4 but I used the built in flash to lift the shot and also used live view mode to see if I was in focus. I think after 30 years in photography & video I have some knowledge of how a camera should perform.

  6. AdamS says:

    Can You show the full frames of these pictures ? Not the cropped versions ?
    And jpg’s with EXIF would be nice.
    The first photo of the dog seems to be blurred mostly because of too long shutter speed.

  7. JonathanJK says:

    Tell that to this guy: http://enticingthelight.com/2011/03/20/ian-wilkinson-reviews-the-fuji-x100-real-world-use-shooting-a-wedding/ – Ian shot a wedding while testing his Fuji X100.

    Also please stop throwing around the term ‘professional’ like it means something anymore. While you can still be professional in person, there is no such thing as professional gear, it’s all marketing.

    It didn’t take me 30 years to know how a camera should perform btw. Not sure why that’s a good thing.

    I’m going to stop commenting now, this has become more about you than the actual review.

  8. Jude says:

    I think some folks are getting perhaps a bit too heated about this and are drifting into personal criticism. Philip, I think I read your blog post for what it was – a blog post about your limited experience with this camera – not something pretending to be an in depth, definitive review. I enjoy your in depth reviews of video cameras and other gear, and the difference is obvious.

    You even seem to suggest that the problem may have been specific (or at least worse)to the camera you used, and that you didn’t get the chance to swap it.

    Relax folks. Philip’s just sharing his experiences. There are plenty of folks on the internet sharing their more pleasant results with this camera too.

    I don’t think regular readers of this blog would believe Phil would need teaching basic camera techniques of not shooting AUTO, and which F-stop to use.

    Peace

  9. Tester says:

    I own this camera and either you got a duff one or you do not know what you are doing. At 100% it is hard to tell the difference in sharpness between F2 and F4. Focus is really fast and very accurate (except very close up then it is slow but still very accurate). You also understate just how spectacular the high ISO images are. Also the dynamic range facility with the ability to control highlight and shadow curves make it a superb camera. The results from this camera are super clean, detailed, with great colour and more importantly do not fail where most digital cameras do in reproducing fantastic tonality. Oh and the bokeh is remarkably nice, even better than my old Zeiss 85mm 1.4, which should be impossible for a 23mm lens.

  10. HD Warrior says:

    I think after 30 years in the game I am more than qualified to talk about the Fuji X100…thank you. The lens at f2 is soft and not as good as I was expecting for the price you pay. My version was shocking at focusing in normal room lighting conditions, the one thing I forgot to mention was the small on board flashlight it was less than useless. I am glad you have a better version of this camera hopefully it will start the ball rolling from other manufacturers to produce a small pocket camera with decent ISO up to 64oo. Can I just mention that the Nikon 7000 could match the Fuji if not better it for cleaner ISO and its £180 cheaper than the fixed lens X100 !

  11. HD Warrior says:

    You get this all the time from the uneducated and people who think you are insulting them personally by daring to go against the tide, I really wanted this camera to work but it did not perform and I sent it back, I gave you an honest opinion on my findings and you get idiots insulting you. Rant over…thanks for your support.

  12. HD Warrior says:

    Now since you are one of the more sensible replies the dog was taken as follows…ISO 200, Aperture f4, Shutter speed 1/250, AWB, Metering mode Pattern, Exposure Auto, Focus Auto, file size 34.94MB etc. I see where your train of thought was coming from but sadly at a shutter speed of 1/250 is more than adequate to stop a non moving animal in it’s tracks. I was using the rangefinder which I stopped fairly soon after this picture.

  13. HD Warrior says:

    Yee ha…Your comment about “Professional” is very telling and since you need it explained, sadly, I think after 30 years experience and writing this blog I am a tad more savvy with video and photographic gear than you give me credit for.

  14. Tester says:

    As I said you must have had a dud. I have been a pro for 30 years, had a book published by Harper Collins called Panoramic New Zealand shot with Seitz Roundshot and was sponsored by Contax cameras, which as I remember came with rather fabulous Zeiss lenses. So I am rather picky about equipment. What you have said is so far from my observations that it is very strange. The other cameras I use are Fuji S5 pro and Nikon D3S, the Fuji image quality is close to the D3S and better than the S5.

  15. Roy says:

    Greetings Philip from up the road in Hamilton. I read and enjoy your blog regularly.

    Did you use the optical view finder (OVF) to focus on your dog and your dad? I’ve had my X100 for a couple of days and with a small centre focus point selected and OVF parallax it is all too easy to have the camera focus on a different part of the image. Parallax is not a problem with the electronic view finder (EVF) hence the in-focus second shot of your dog. If the point of critical focus is small I’ve already got in to the habit of flicking across to the EVF, pre-focus and flick back to the OVF. Also customising the OVF to include the focus scale helps to ensure that the camera is focused on your subject and not on the background. I don’t really see this as a fault, just a quirk of using auto-focus on a rangefinder. BTW my lens is sharp at f2.

  16. I bot x100 because of its great reviews but sorry performs badly. Worst camera I have ever used. I missed lot of shots by just getting to the menu. I have learned a lesson – don’t rely on reviews.

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