Alas, the Fujifilm Finepix X100: A First Impression

I remember my first actual camera– it was a point and shoot of the Casio EXILIM. I loved it because I could bring it with me in my pocket everywhere. But soon after, I experienced what was my first lust for a more complex camera, one that would satisfy my creativity’s hunger. And so, “Enter DSLR world”. My first camera was the Canon Rebel XS. Sure it was a lot larger than the old point and shoot I was using, but I simply loved what I could do with it. But I started to outgrow my old Rebel DSLR and soon upgraded to the Canon 7D.

So what’s the point of my story? Well, the thing is, I thought I had forever lost what was one of the most valuable characteristics of a camera for everyday use: Compact-ness. Carrying a huge camera body is quite the burden. Not to mention, I can only imagine how intimidating it is when shooting out on the streets.
Enough of the background. Here it is. I’m going to assume that most of you know the specs, and if you don’t you can practically find it anywhere.

Unboxed and ready to go.

I’ve been on the hunt for the a compact camera that didn’t sacrifice manual controls, image and build quality. There weren’t any until I discovered the Micro 4/3-systems. Until one day, a friend of mine introduced me to the upcoming camera by Fujifilm.

After doing much research about the camera, I decided to preorder it from Amazon. To be honest, I knew the aftermath of the natural disasters in Japan (my condolences to those) would delay the shipment, and I probably wouldn’t get the X100 for a long time. When I preordered it, I actually hoped I’d receive it late June. It wasn’t that bad of a wait. Besides, I could focus on my studies now with finals coming up. But it looks like my luck turned around.

The one thing that I had initially noticed as I removed the camera from its box was that it appeared a lot smaller than I had expected. I was also extremely impressed with its sleek and retro design. It looks absolutely beautiful. I just hope it performs just as well.

 

One of the main selling points of this camera is its Hybrid Viewfinder allowing you to switch between an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and an Optical Viewfinder (OVF) with the flick of a switch. As I looked through the OVF for the first time, I was simply in awe at how crystal clear it appeared. I couldn’t wait to turn it on!

The OVF is amazing. The overlay is beautiful. It can be customized to display various settings such as focusing distances, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, battery life, etc. The frame lines move accordingly when the image is focused. Awesome technology. The EVF is okay…I just use it to avoid parallax and for macro.

The camera also has a built in flash, which is pretty handy because it isn’t so powerful like the ones on a DSLR.

One of my favorite parts about this camera is that it has a manual aperture ring on the lens. It ranges from f/2 – f/16. A simple twist of the dial changes the aperture. When the aperture is set to A, it may enter either Program mode or Shutter Priority mode. Very handy!

The camera also has three focusing modes: AF-S, AF-C, and MF. The one thing that really irritates me is the focus! Focusing is very tedious with this camera. If you’re close to your subject you HAVE to switch to Macro-mode, and if you’re using the OVF, it will automatically switch to the EVF. Focusing speed is “so-so” when it isn’t hunting, which usually occurs when there’s a low contrast, a dark condition, or the subject is too close. Despite all this, when it locks onto the subject, that’s when the terror ends and the miracle can begin.

Similarly, there’s a manual dial for the shutter speed. When put into A, the camera either enters Program mode or Aperture Priority. Also, to the left is the Exposure compensation. I love the location! Very easy to access. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I love having dials to physically switch settings rather than pressing buttons. To me, there’s more of a direct connection with the camera.

One thing that is a little disappointing is that there’s only one Fn (Function) button, which is set to ISO by default.

As you can see, the camera also has a hot-shoe for an external flash. The one thing I love about Nikon is that they include a hot-shoe cover. Apparently it fits pretty much any hot-shoe. I made use of that.

The camera comes with a nice 2.8″ LCD screen. I’ve even already custom fit an LCD protector since it felt a little fragile especially to minor scratches.

It also has a sensor allowing the camera to switch from LCD view to the OVF or EVF. The only problem is that you can only set it to three different modes: 1)LCD view only, 2)OVF/EVF view only, 3)Both with the activation/inactivation of the sensor– meaning you can’t inactivate both to save some battery. It takes some time getting used to.

The scroll is VERY small. It’s a little irritating so I rarely use it. Not only that, but the tiny OK-button is very difficult for me to use since I have large hands. I actually have to use my finger nail to press it.

Another downside is that the RAW button has only a single function. I wish they either made that a Fn. 2 Button or made it interchangeable with other functions in the menu.

To the left of the RAW button is the Display button, in which you can toggle between various display modes. The coolest feature is that if you press and hold the Display button, the camera goes into Silent mode. In Silent mode, other features are disabled such as flash. However, the magic of it all is that the camera turns off all its sounds, beeps, and fake shutter sounds. What’s left is a beautiful and delicious sound of Fujifilm’s Leaf Shutter. Incredibly quiet! It’s so quiet, it’s hard to tell if the camera took the picture if you have Playback disabled.

It’s size is just great. Not too big and not too small, though your definition might differ. This camera feels very nice in the hands, though holding it after a while with my large hands tends to get a  little straining. I might purchase an accessory called “Thumbs Up” which is mounted on the hot-shoe and gives you a place to rest your thumb when holding.

Don’t be deceived by its looks just yet. One of the reasons for its high selling price is because it’s equipped with a 23mm f/2 Fujinon lens equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format. Sure it may be a fixed lens, but it’s exactly why I wanted it. Besides, because of it being non-interchangeable it surpasses the image quality of all other cameras in its class. Together with a large CMOS sensor, this camera gives just as good quality as my DSLR.

After finding out I had to charge the battery up for about 3 hours. It somewhat killed my excitement. So in the meantime, I opened up the new SDHC card I had purchased. It came the same day. The reason why I opted for the Extreme Pro is because the X100 is actually quite slow in terms of responsiveness. Actually, it is a lot less responsive than a DSLR, so I wanted to compensate that loss by giving it a card with a maximum writing speed. Not to mention, this card greatly increases start up time from about 3-4 seconds to about 1-2 seconds.


Finally! The battery finished charging. And so after a long wait, I proceeded to insert the battery. When I put the battery inside and turned on the camera the camera would not turn on. I was shocked and had thought that the camera sent to me was defective. I suddenly remembered I read somewhere that the battery goes in two different ways. So I flipped it over and put the battery back in. And voila! It worked. I really wonder what Fujifilm was thinking– Why couldn’t they just make the battery and slot a single shape so only one fitment works just like any other brand? So which one is the right way?

It’s the one on the left.

Now that the battery is done charging it’s finally time to show you what she can do!

Please note that all photographs are straight from the camera unless otherwise stated. These pictures probably don’t do the camera any justice, but it’s about the only shots I’ve been able to take in the time I’ve had it (which isn’t long).

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/2.0, 1/50 second, ISO200

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.8 @ f/2.0, 1/50 second, ISO1600

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/4.0, 1/160 second, ISO200 (in camera B+W filter)

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/2.8, 1/90 second, ISO2000

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/2., 1/40 second, ISO2000

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/7 second, ISO2000

As you can see, it’s quite difficult to handhold at anything lower than 1/15 seconds since it doesn’t have any kind of stabilizer built in.

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/600 second, ISO200

I always forget the camera has a built in ND-filter which is actually very handy when you want to shoot wide open in daylight!

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/105 second, ISO200

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/320 second, ISO200

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/160 second, ISO200

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/2.0, 1/40 second, ISO200

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/4.0, 1/30 second, ISO800 (in camera B+W filter)

Fujifilm Finepix X100 + 23mm Fujinon Lens f/2.0 @ f/2.0, 1/30 second, ISO6400.

I actually didn’t start to notice the noise until 3200, which still looked usable. But I decided to up it to see how much the camera could fare. With some noise reduction it’s still quite usable especially if put into black and white.

As I said, these photos may not do the camera any justice. I’ll just make it up by continuing to update this blog with X100 photos. The bottom line though is that I simply love this camera! Despite it’s faults and the whole parallax (which is new to me) issues, I can still learn and master this camera. The image quality is amazing. To me, this camera is simply a tool that I need to learn how to use. It’s just like any other camera. Yeah, the lens is not interchangeable, so what? If I want to switch lenses, then I’ll do it with my DSLR. The whole reason I wanted this was for it’s compact-ness. The size and weight of this camera is a burden off my shoulders, it’s inconspicuous, extremely silent,  and is the perfect street camera. And sure it may be phased out over time by an X200 or a model from a different brand. But in the end, a tool is a tool.

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Product photos: Canon 7D + EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

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2 Responses to Alas, the Fujifilm Finepix X100: A First Impression

  1. Jonathan says:

    Agh, my head says to pass on this camera for now but my heart is screaming “X100!!! GET ONE!” I think my heart might win this battle. Thanks for the post!

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