USER REPORT: Two years with the Fuji X100 by Doug Barry-Martin

USER REPORT: Two years with the Fuji X100 by Doug Barry-Martin

 NEW TOY – DAY ONE. Lets try black and white, high ISO and wide aperture.  f2.8 1/90 sec EV -0.33 ISO 1600. 

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Hi Steve,

It is hard to believe that so long has passed since I first looked through the viewfinder of the then brand new and exciting Fuji X100 and went wow! I pretty much bought the camera based on the super clear viewfinder. The price was a lot more than expected – especially as I opted for the leather case (about US $1600 all up). The case incidentally makes the camera as it really improves the handling. I did replace the overly grippy and uncomfortable strap with a softer smoother one. I have never had a lens cap on as it is not required with the case which you can quickly unfold and shoot. The real surprise was the high ISO performance. In fact the jpg output was so nice I have never shot RAW (which I usually do) except as a test. Good job Fuji. Whilst my Canon SLRs were more efficient in terms of handling and af the Fuji charmed with its size and unique handling and looks, not to mention output. I did take time getting used to reaching under the lens to find the aperture lugs and wish Fuji had just made this a knurled ring without the lugs as per a Sony RX 100 etc. 99% of the time I keep the camera in auto ISO with a low limit of 1/30 sec and have assigned the fn button to ISO. The RAW button is assigned to the ND filter and is very handy when shooting at wide apertures in bright light. I have the EVF set to show a review of the image after taking the shot or, if I pull my eye away it appears on the LCD. This is a great feature as is the ability to scroll through the menus on the EVF when it is difficult to see the LCD.

THE ALLEY OF LIFE
Lets try street shooting. Wow this is fun! (See my flickr site for more about this shot).
f11 1/250sec +0.67 ISO 200 

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Yes there were a few niggles to start with but the camera got better with each firmware update. It sure kept up your interest in the camera seeing how it had improved with each update. I did eventually encounter the dreaded sticky aperture problem but Fuji replaced the lens no problem.

I am sending 21 of my best shots over the 2 years that I think show a variety of shooting styles, processing and subject matter. I have also have posted 200 plus shots to my Flickr account for your readers to view (see link below).

Sounds a lot, but not when you consider I have shot nearly 10,000 images.

MODERN LOVE. For the Fuji that is. Loved this clean rendering. f4.0 1/2000 -0.67 ISO 200

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I went through a few phases such as delighting in handheld night photography (I have never used a tripod and only once or twice used a fence or some support) or, due to being inspired by your site’s images, trying black and white or shallow depth of field. Although the Fuji does not excel at macro or even landscapes I managed to pull of a few of those too. I also tried it out for action photography. In all instances it worked fine and generally is a joy to use. Yes it has it limitations but so do all cameras. Hopefully you will enjoy the images I have posted. Amazing to think that this groundbreaking camera is now superseded. I will hang on to mine for a while yet as for most purposes it is the best compact camera I have owned. Only thing I wish for is a small built-in zoom or at least an add on telephoto lens.

HOT WHEELS. Retro style derby cart. Accidentally bumped white balance to a cooler setting and added a warming filter in Photoshop. Voila – retro look.

f2.8 1/1100 ISO 400

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Some of the images I have shot have found their way into calendars or Diaries (I shoot for a company producing these for Nelson and Christchurch).

Mostly I shoot with the X100 for my own pleasure but it has been great at parties too due to its low light ability.

You can be sure as long as you have the X100 with you probably won’t miss a shot (unless you need to zoom in or the action is just too fast – but more the former than later). And for those who think the af is slow at night just switch to af-c. Works a treat.

FRESH AS!   Candid shot at the market proving that timing is as important as fast af.
f8.0 1/250 -0.67 ISO 400 

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I thought about replacing it with the OMD E5 and although I like the IQ and versatility etc of the Olympus I do not like the tiny buttons and small hard – to read on-screen type and muddled menus. The Fuji is a paragon of simplicity and clarity compared to the Oly.

The twist in this tale is that I have just bought another compact camera, second-hand. An Olympus XZ-1 (apparently it is no good unless it has an X in the name these days since Fuji started the trend). I bought it in “as new” condition for about US $200! So far I am finding it hard to see the screen in sunlight (impossible sometimes) but that aside it is pretty good. I have quickly discovered the need to shoot RAW, mainly due to the strong NR that is applied to jpgs. As Steve would know having a new camera can reignite that enthusiasm to “see what she will do”. Will it replace the X100. Highly unlikely but it will be an interesting addition.

CHAINED. An evening shot with warm filter applied in Photoshop.
f8 1/30 -1.0 ISO 3200

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BANG! War re-enactment as part of our war memorial day (ANZAC Day).
f8 1/80 ISO 400

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Anyway hopefully the images tell the story of my 2 year journey with this wonderful camera.

All images have some PP in Photoshop.

I almost always shoot in aperture priority mode with auto ISO (max 3200 and low shutter speed 1/30).

Also I usually have at least EV -0.33 on all my digital cameras (rather blocked shadows than blown highlights).

MAGIC. Shot from my car resting the camera on the open window ledge.
f4.0 1/10 ISO 3200

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SIKA (his name) – musician/shaman/market seller. How close can we get?

f2.8 1/1250 -1.33 ISO 200 (the -1.33 EV must have been an accident – no reason for it).

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Here is the Flickr link.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbm/

 

Thanks for reading.

Doug Barry-Martin

Nelson

New Zealand

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41 Comments

  1. Just read your review. Great work.and nice photos. I own the a X100 and the XZ-1 which I acquired from Amazon warehouse. I love the renderings from both cameras with The X100 clearly being my favorite for serious photography. I use the special features on the XZ-1 to create special effects. I’ve had my X100 for over a year and haven’t experienced SB yet (at least as far as I know). Both cameras are life long keepers. I am looking forward to the X pro 2. If not I will eventually acquire the X pro 1 soon.
    One day I may visit your country. My Aunt just got back from there and she says it’s beautiful.
    Best Regards from the Mountain State of WV, USA
    Howard

  2. Just bought my … 7th Fuji X100 and I hope will be with me forever. After sell my 13th Leica M9 (Yes, I am a little bit MAD) and buy a Leica M7, I was feeling that I need something digital for quick works and I got it; the main reason was.. Fuji Colors and great handling (viewfinder).

  3. Hi Doug, thanks for great article. Great pics. I just love the x100 too. Still getting to grips with it though and missed longer lens so now have xe-1 to keep it company, the zoom is great too.

  4. One thing to mention is in the first image of me with the camera that the double image is cause by the chamfer on the edge of the mirror.

  5. I really like my X100 never stays home, always with me. I see that yours does not have any protective filter on the lens. No one is as simple as putting the original is expensive, think it is really necessary.

  6. I just received my “S” version last night and am trying to get up to speed on the camera. Plan on taking it for a test drive this morning in our local city’s square. After 35+ years with ultrawide and telephoto zooms (ditched my 28-70mm long ago), this 35mm fixed focal length will be a challenge. I take what you have done, Barry, and use it as an inspiration. Thanks for the TIMELY article!!!

  7. The price of a used X100 here in Taiwan has dropped to around the same as a new X20. I love the look, handling, features, and image quality of the X100, including the built-in ND filter, and think my decision will come down to the convenience of the X20’s size and zoom lens versus the fixed 35mm focal length of the X100. Great work is possible with any adequate tool, but reviews like this help illustrate what can be done with this camera.

    • Yes – tricky decision. The XZ-1 I recently got has a useful zoom but I still seem to shoot around the 35mm range a fair bit!

    • I was going to the store to look at the XZ-2 and XZ-10, but ended up walking out with the X20. The design of the controls seemed more effective than the Oly layout, even though I have been using the OMD for almost a year.

      The one unexpected gotcha was that I had to upgrade to CS6 and start to use ACR for RAF file processing after people complained about NR or sharpening artifacts with OOC JPEGs especially at higher ISO. No complaints so far after that change.

    • Hi Bitanphoto, i’m new here.. I will be visiting Taiwan with a couple high school friends during May, and may i ask that do you have any idea what’s the price of the new x100s in Taiwan?? If it’s cheaper there compared to my country then i might be getting one there~

  8. Thanks for the great report and the link to your Flickr stream Doug. I do have to afmist though that when I got to Flickr I got sidetracked on the Thumpers collection rather than why I went there in the first place.

  9. I used to be a ’50mm’ kind of guy, using 50mm lenses in probably 90% of my photos. Now, thanks to this x100, after thousands of photos, I really struggle to use 50mm FOV. What a camera…

    • I would love an X100 with a zoom but I believe that is called XE-1 ( the 18-55 looks excellent). Actually the XF-1 is a great little camera and that could be my preferred pocket rocket ( preferred the handling to the RX100) and the X10 is a bit underwhelming with its so so OVF (apparently improved with the X20). Have to agree though, the X100 is a keeper.

  10. I want to thank Steve for putting this up. It is no small amount of work you put into your site and to posting articles such as this. Many thanks.

    • Hi LO. Dynamic Range 100%. Film simulation STD. Color MID. Sharpness M-SOFT. Highlight Tone M-HARD. Shadow Tone STD. Noise reduction STD

  11. Nice read – although if your going to PP your work, why not go ahead and shoot in RAW? I don’t see any upside to shooting .jpg unless you don’t want to pp your work at all.

    cheers

    • Hi Matt. I take your point. I only PP selected photos. I have a standard workflow that includes a standard action set in Photoshop. It just gives a bit more punch. The jpgs are so good from the Fuji I don’t need RAW. RAW creates another step in PP. As a graphic professional I would always tweak my images.

    • Having used my Fuji”s for a year now, RAW is a complete waste of time on these cameras. I used raw extensively on my Canon 5D as it really improved the dynamic range. But that is not the case with the X100,S or X Pro. They are STELLAR right out of the box.

  12. Thanks for your informative report (not to mention fascinating photos!) on your journey, so far, with the X100. To my untrained eye, you’ve wrung quite a bit out of that little jewel.
    I’m looking forward to a long and productive partnership with my just-delivered X100S.

  13. Great work Doug, I love the Fuji x100 and how it renders. A great camera that no one notices when your out shooting

    • People notice the camera as the y do most from camera phones up …… some even compliment the x100’s appearance

    • Hi Bono. To have the EV set on -1.3 in broad daylight makes no sense. Although maybe the camera was overexposing. Usually I dial in minus exposure compensation if it is a high contrast scene and the highlights look blown or when the scene is dark and the camera is trying to lighten the scene too much because it will always try to achieve a balanced 18% grey overall (all metering is like this).

  14. Doug, thanks for your article whuch I read straight through. I’m waiting for my -S which has been per-ordered from Adorama since mid March. BTW, you took some beautiful photos, very analog film-like appearance!

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