- Excellent image quality in Raw and JPEG
- Sensational JPEG color
- Ergonomics that match the classic looks
- Hybrid viewfinder is delightful
- Improved speed of focus and operation
- In-camera Raw conversion and Wi-Fi
- Bigger battery with percentage display
- USB charging is convenient
- Output of X-Trans sensor not to everyone's taste
- AF speed not up to contemporary standards
- Face detection limited and unreliable
- Focus/control dial easily knocked (and can't be disabled)
- 1080p video seems outdated
- ISO dial prettier than it is practical
The X100F is the fourth iteration of a, by now, much loved series. They might not have quite the 'every photographer should try shooting with one' appeal of a true rangefinder, but the combination of its large sensor, small body, classic looks and layout has attracted a dedicated user base. For anyone who's yet to take the plunge, the X100F is the one to go for: it is, in every way, the best in the series so far.
However, given the presumably finite audience for fixed 35mm equivalent lens large sensor compacts, the critical question is: is the X100F good enough to convince existing converts to upgrade?
Body and handling
The X100F represents the biggest change to the series' ergonomics since the launch of the ur-X100. It might not look like it, and those people clamoring for a touch-sensitive or movable screen may say it's not enough, but the elimination of the left-edge buttons and the addition of the AF joystick significantly change the camera's handling.
|Something about the X100F's traditional styling and handling encourage a documentary style of shooting
Acros simulation, grain effect high | F2.0 |1/100 sec | ISO 12,800
Photo by: Carey Rose
We're still not fans of the X-Pro2-style nested ISO dial, but rarely find ourselves using it, thanks to the camera's Auto ISO implementation. We're not saying it's unusable, but we think it's one of the camera's few instances of form over function and we're in no mood for such frivolity.
By now, we suspect you'll have a fixed opinion on the value of Fujifilm's X-Trans filter pattern. The need for it seems reduced, now Bayer sensors are hitting pixels counts that let them do away with their anti-aliasing filters, but the results (even from the exaggeratedly derided Adobe Camera Raw), are good enough that we don't feel it's a big issue. Either way, the sensor in the X100F is extremely good, giving plenty of dynamic range and very good noise performance.
|The camera's film simulation modes help add a pop of color to even the drabbest of Seattle winters.
Provia/Standard simulation |F4.0 | 1/340 sec | ISO 200
Photo by: Carey Rose
The X100F's JPEGs remain one of our favorite features. There isn't widespread agreement in the office about which Film Simulation is best, but there is consensus that the Film Simulation modes give some of the most attractive color responses of any brand. The ability to fine-tune a Raw file in-camera if you don't quite get the shot right first time, combined with the option to send images off to a smartphone makes the X100F a great travel companion.
Performance and Autofocus
The X100F is the fastest camera in the series yet, and it makes a big difference to the experience. Despite most of the physical components being familiar, Fujifilm has managed to squeeze a significantly improved level of performance out of the lens drive system. This means that AF-C is finally usably fast (though still a long way short of contemporary standards), but also that AF-S mode is noticeably more responsive.
Who says you can't shoot portraits at 35mm equiv?
Classic Chrome simulation | F5.0 | 1/100 sec | ISO 800
Photo by: Wenmei Hill
There's still a point at which, in very low light, it'll get confused and shot a totally out-of-focus image, but it's much more rare: so long as you can find something with a reasonable amount of contrast, the X100F will focus in very low light: letting you use its bright lens and large sensor.
Video isn't exactly the X100F's strong point, whether you're concerned about handling, specifications or the level of control available (in terms of autofocus, anyway). The quality is good, for Full HD (1080p), but we doubt a significant number of buyers will be looking to use the X100F for anything more than short clips.
The final word
The X100 series started life as a great concept with wonderful styling that lots of people loved, despite of its manifold quirks. Each subsequent model has been a little bit better, but not always enough to make them essential upgrades for existing owners.
The X100F changes that. The image quality takes a huge leap forward, as do the ergonomics, thanks to the addition of the AF joystick. But most significantly, the speed of operation, including that of the lens, has been noticeably improved. We think it's enough to change the way you feel about the camera.
So, while we didn't feel the X100T was enough of a step forwards to justify a Gold award, we have no such qualms about the X100F. On balance, we think this is the 'rush out and buy one' product that we've always hoped the X100 series would be.
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Pre-production samples gallery