A Word or Two on the Fuji X100 from a repentant skeptic by Greg Shanta

(MORE X100! Feels like X100 mania around here lately! But here is yet ANOTHER user report on the hottest camera of the year SO FAR- Steve)

A word or two on the Fuji FinePix X100 camera from a repentant skeptic

by Greg Shanta

I used to be somewhat skeptical about the Fuji X100 ever since I saw the first image samples published by Fuji on their site. Then I saw some more samples elsewhere. Neither of those convinced me that the X100 could produce great images, along the lines of what I was used to with my Leica M9 and my wife’s Leica X1. In fact, they’ve convinced me of just the opposite. I am glad to say now that I was wrong!

My opinion started to change when I saw Michael Reichmann’s pictures and read his review. Prior to that I saw Chad Wadsworth’s X100 to X1 comparison and I liked some of his X100 pictures (although I didn’t think his X1 pictures were up to their full potential; so, I thought and still think that review was unfair to the X1: both cameras are equally great in image quality; they are just different in character). And then of course, I read Steve’s review and looked at his images, some of which have really impressed me. So, my opinion of the X100 has shifted from suspicious and on the negative side to fully positive one! On top of all that I had a chance to play with the X100 at a camera shop here in Moscow and my own couple of pictures that I made with it there had hammered the last nail in the coffin of my prejudice. I am cured now — and with the consequences. Read on…

I had a full day out with Fuji X100 yesterday. Not without my encouragement, my wife had sold her X1 (in one-day quick deal and at a $500 profit against what we’ve paid for it in September; kudos to Leica for brand recognition!) and got an X100 instead. So, I took it for a spin.

I must say, I am very impressed with it. Not as much as I am (still!) impressed with my M9 but I find this camera capable of producing outstanding images. It isn’t as intuitive and reliable in focusing and overall operation as the M9 but when you do nail the focus it shines. Sometimes it so shines, it flares… But we’ll talk about that later. Its files are certainly not as good as the M9’s but still, they are fantastic for this kind of camera. Or for most any camera, I am not afraid to say now.

On top of that, I think it gives a very natural look to its files, which I think I now prefer over the X1’s in terms of character. Although, it’s all subjective I am sure that both cameras are equally great when it comes to image IQ. Their character is different and I think i like the Fuji files better now. Ergonomically, alas, Leica X1 lags way behind… But my crystal ball (and yes, I do have one, too!) tells me that they will catch up very soon. In fact, I think they already did but they still have to sell those remaining X1s, don’t they? Just my ‘crystal-ball’ opinion… Not to be taken seriously.

I prefer RAW to Jpeg with this camera. With X1 is was the opposite with B/W files and the same with the colour ones. The X100 out of camera B/W Jpegs are awful I think. I am a great lover of B/W photography and I think this camera is incapable of a decent Jpeg output in this category, at least with its current firmware. The X1 was spot on perfect! I still can’t match it’s great B/W look in my PP no matter how much I try. With X100, in my case, it’s RAW only, both for B/W and colour. Lightroom (surprisingly to me) seems to be doing a decent job on X100 file conversion, so it’s a no issue. I always shoot RAW, anyway.

What I hate about the X100 is the autofocus. I hate it in general, not related to a specific camera. But while most cameras provide reliable manual focusing systems on top of their autofocus ones, the X100 doesn’t and that’s what drives me mad. I mean, it’s fast enough (way faster than X1’s) but it’s quite inaccurate. At least in my limited experience. I remember Seal mentioning the same problem and how it was fixed by a firmware update but I haven’t tried that yet.

Fortunately, there is a sort of workaround — using the AFL button plus manual fine tuning — but it’s cumbersome and unintuitive. Besides, you have to use the EVF to see your focusing results and the EVF is not that accurate for reliable focusing, so you have to magnify. Too much hustle to do a simple thing! With a proper rangefinder you don’t even think about focusing: it’s all automatic, much like driving a car.

What is it with Fuji and Leica lately? The reliable manual focusing capability should have been provided out of the box with this type of camera at this type of price point and I hope Fuji will fix that with future firmware updates (as Leica did, albeit not terribly well, with the X1; I hope Fuji will do better!).

Another annoying thing is that the filter ring keeps unscrewing when I use the MF ring as they are tightly adjacent, so they affect each other when either of them is moved. Out of frustration, I am thinking of glueing mine to the lens barrel. But then I won’t be able to use filters and, most importantly, the lens hood. And that takes us to another important issue…

The X100 lens flares like hell! An inexcusable flaw when it comes to modern lens design. I don’t know how much the lens hood will help the situation because I don’t want to shell out another couple hundred bucks for an add-on accessory, which should have been included for free, taken the said problem that Fuji must be well aware of. I hope they will come to their senses and offer a free lens hood to all customers, both new and old. Much like Apple did with bump cases when their iPhone 4 had antenna issues. I seriously hope so! This is bad design coupled with bad marketing. Needs to be fixed once and for all! Just put the lens hood in the box, Fuji, and forget about it!

Apart from these two issues (plus a couple of minor ones) I see no other problem with this otherwise great camera. The image quality is outstanding, the hybrid viewfinder is great and should be included in all similar cameras. I think it probably will be the case in the future. It’s just too good to ignore. Fuji has definitely set a trend there.

Couple of other annoying things I mentioned are as follows: 1) having to dig in the menus for some quick things like AF mode, ND filter, Auto ISO, external flash control, etc.; 2) awkward handling for big hands: no place to rest your thumb, etc.; 3) slow start up time. Well, numbers 1 and 3 can be fixed in firmware and number 2 is not that big of a deal.

The bottom line is: it’s a great little camera with great image capability and most of it’s problems seem fixable in firmware. I think it’s a winner! Now Leica has to come up with something even better to finally confuse us all and turn us into constant camera buying zombies. As if we aren’t there already…

Now, let’s get to the pictures. First, I want you to see the last one I took yesterday. Due to controlled lighting you can see what the camera is capable of in the studio. It isn’t a good studio camera by far but in case you need to make an image that requires a studio setup, you can do so with the Fuji X100.

The reason I wanted you to see the “studio” file first is because I wanted you to know that this camera is capable of sharp and contrasty images. I don’t want you to look at the rest of my real life street pictures from a sharpness perspective since I was still getting used to the camera and struggled with trying to figure out how the AF and MF work. Besides, sharpness is a bourgeoisie concept…

Then I want to show you the flare problem. It is humongous! Unexplainable and unbelievable! Some of the flare shots can be used artistically, though, but it’s no excuse.

Then I will leave you with the rest of the images. If you would like to see more, you are always welcome to visit my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/

All of the images seen here have been post processed to my taste. The “studio” shot above is almost “as is” with default LR RAW conversion, a tiny bit exposure boost, and a little trim from top and bottom. With controlled lighting you don’t need much PP, anyway. By the way, X100’s Auto White Balance is fantastic! Way better than M9’s…

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  1. Greg

    Thanks for the write up. It only reinforces my opinion that it is a camera that needs to be tried before being bought. I hope to be able to try it soon.

    I have also read today the 20+ page review on DP Review, where they created a page just for the cameras quirks.

  2. Hi Greg, I think it is important to be careful not mix up assumptions with facts as regards your certainty that the slow starup time can be “fixed” with a change to firmware – this may be your hope, it may even be your belief but it is most certainly NOT within your knowledge-level to proclaim with such rank certainty – in fact, unless you were involved in the design of all aspects of both software AND hardware involved in the Fuji’s slow startup time (I personally believe it naive to expect the slow start-up to be purely software related and to have nothing to do with hardware functions, but unlike you I shan’t proclaim to know this as a fact) then you CAN’T know this for sure (and I suspect no single person at Fuji does yet either).

    • whereas if you had have said the slow startup time MAY be fixable with a firmware update, no-one could have accused you of making unsupportable proclamations and pretending to know more than you do.

      • Dear John,

        Molière used to say that life is too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Why are you so concern with mere technicalities of my dilettante writeup? It wasn’t supposed to be any serious stuff or an official review. What will change if I say MAY now? I meant it all along and I think it was kind of obvious even without the magic word ‘MAY’.

        Greg Shanta

        • Being accurate in a review is neither “magic” nor something which which can be bartered away as a frivolous endeavour – it is the minimum required standard … let me put it this way (slightly exaggerated but it may help your understanding) … there are many regimes who have killed very many people – essentially committed genocide … do you think the despots in charge of these regimes have considered the dead people as anything MORE than mere “technicalities” or “serious stuff” ? No of course not. I can however assure you that the truth is objective and the “technicalities” excuse is the refuge of someone trying to place a subjective “spin” on a lack of truth.

          • John, imagine this. Two-three guys are sitting in a bar next to the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, having a chat about cars over a couple of beers. We don’t know who they are or where they come from. They look local, maybe they even work at the Ford factory but that’s irrelevant. They are just guys having a chat over a couple of beers. They seem all fired up and each tells of his opinion on such and such car’s speed or horsepower or some other technical details that usually fascinate guys like that.

            Then another guy comes in, takes a seat nearby and listens to their conversation for a while occasionally sipping on his own beer. Then he tries to join the conversation. He is visibly irritated trying to get his idea across to those guys. He accuses them of being irresponsible in making certain technical statements on which they don’t have any proper background. He says to them that if they come to the bar near the car factory and have a conversation about cars they must watch what they say because he considers their statements as an official position and their inaccuracy totally unacceptable and even dangerous. Strangely, all he gets in return is a puzzled look and “What’s your problem, dude?”

            Then he tries again to convince them by saying that their little chat in a bar is as important and bears equal amount of responsibility as that of the UN talks on a massacre in Rwanda or a famine in Bangladesh; and that they should at once start behaving accordingly. The look he gets in return becomes even more puzzled and a new word starting with an ‘f’ is introduced in the verbal response between the words ‘your’ and ‘problem’.

            We don’t want to see the end of this story that seems to be turning a little ugly. We suddenly remember of having an upcoming appointment in 30 minutes across the city and hurriedly leave the bar.

            John, seriously, I said it already and I will say it again: my writeup was never intended as a review, nor was it titled as such. To spare you some scrolling up the page I’ll repeat the title here: “A word or two on the Fuji X100 from a repentant sceptic”. That was it. No official business, no swearing under oath, no pledging allegiance. Just a chat about cameras. Even no beer involved. What seems to be the problem?

            Please forgive me for being a bit indelicate in my response. No offense intended. I don’t know what else to say. It is not my fault that you have decided to bestow me with responsibilities I never wanted to take upon myself, neither was I supposed to do so by the very nature of this post.


          • Imagine that one of these people sitting next to the Ford Motor Company in Detroit happened to post on a blog, or write a review, or write “a word or two” – which is categorically NOT a “review” per se but rather an “independent opinion of a particular product” – which is somehow different from what is normally categorised as a “review”. Anyway, this person says that he KNOWS this particular Ford is great because it is one of the safest cars on the road (which he knows because he has read the safety feature list in the Ford brochure which does seem mighty impressive). One of the other guys owns this particular Ford car – you know, the one which had a design fault and kept exploding – and says to the other guy … “Well actually you can’t know these cars are safe as they keep starting tailgating parties with their occupants at inopportune and unforseen moments”. The other guy (who is quite drunk by now) stops his regal proclamations, says “You sayin’ I don’t know what I be sayin’ … boy …”, smashes his beer bottle and (manfully refraining himself from using a word which starts with “F”) glasses the other guy repeatedly in the neck. “There says I”, he says … “you be worrying ’bout your ‘death car’ no more”. He then leaves the bar in an awkward, unsteady fashion whilst people stare and say … “Wow – that guy REALLY didn’t like criticism, huh ?”

          • But all jokes aside – anyone who is either writing or speaking in a public forum and who believes that being accurate of fact is a “responsibility(ies) I never wanted to take upon myself” or even worse that this is not actually an absolute minimum requirement for such a public espousal (“neither was I supposed to do so by the very nature of this post”), is truly living in a world devoid of moral compass or even the bearing of innate decency.

          • John, I told you that scene at the bar was going to turn ugly. Why did you decide to stay? Sorry about your neck, man!

            I have nothing to add other than that we are not in the court of law here. This is a community of people expressing their opinions. Miranda Rights don’t apply here. We’re just talking, like some guys in the bar. Nothing serious, nothing of utter importance. Just gadgets, you know. No need to wave justice banners. It a waste of energy.

            Let’s put an end to this particular conversation and stick to the subject of this post. Any further talk can be done via email. mine is in my profile.


    • @John

      The slow startup is not an issue at all, as it is easily remedied via settings within the camera as it stands today. My X100 starts up in a snap now, no slower than any other camera I have ever used.

      • Mine too, BTW. It was slow in the beginning but then some tweaking with the menu reduced it to about a second or so. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the firmware update that I did after I wrote my article.


        • Don’t worry Armanius – Greg will argue the point (even when proven wrong) to ensure his ego is not deflated (as if it would be) by acknowledging a “mistake” (OOoo-EEEeer) such as the wanton use of inaccurate hyperbole. Nor will he even offer to correct it as a reasonable person would … but don’t worry – I KNOW Fuji will issue a firmware update to rectify these problems, and I eagerly await testing out Greg Shanta V1.03 when it is released (I’m anticipating another 20 years of evolution will be required).

          • Hey John, now I see I really pissed you off. Sorry about that. It wasn’t my intention, neither were any personal offenses ever intended by me, as I clearly stated so earlier in my exchange with you.

            Why do I think that I pissed you off? Well, because I have received a shower of personal insult from you. To me that is a clear indication of a person being pissed off. But why? Because of my being inaccurate in my writeup? Or my somewhat silly way of trying to explain what we do here and that it isn’t as serious as you perceive it to be? Hardly so.

            I think you are pissed off because I didn’t agree with you or didn’t apologize or in any other way express my remorse upon your just and timely reprimand. Well, you should have told me in advance that your opinion was so important and your will needed to be obeyed without hesitation. Then, realizing my lowly position and the graveness of my mistake, I would have most remorsefully apologize before your noble lordship.

            But wait a minute… on the other hand, why should I have apologized? I haven’t offended anyone. Ok, I made some statements that were based on my assumptions while not explicitly indicating them being as such. Not much of a deal to apologize for, in my humble opinion. Even before the most self-respectable and self-dignified person as your good self.

            But you do owe me an apology now because you have crossed the line and went personal, quite inappropriately. BTW, I suggested to take any further discussion to private email, yet you chose public arena to insult me. Who needs years of evolution now you tell me, sir? And who’s ego is yearning for revenge?

            In 20 years from now I will be 68 and I doubt you will see any version of me then. Because I hope I will be dead. Just don’t want to go through that ‘happy old age’ thing. Besides, I would really hate turning into one of those grumpy old bores who go around telling people to behave. Ugh…

            So since I’ll be dead in 20 years you will have to deal with my current neanderthal version. Give me your email if you are man enough to continue this discussion outside of the public space. As I said before, you can find mine in my profile. If you don’t know how to dig it from there, here it is: gregory.shanta@gmail.com. I can give you my home address, too, if you like. Come over and try one of your insults on my unrefined person. You ain’t gonna like my immediate reaction, I must tell you. The good thing about it is that you will have a chance to see Russia in the summer. It’s quite beautiful this time of year.

            Now you can see I am pissed off, too. Who wouldn’t be? But I should tell you that I can’t stay that way very long. I am generally a very happy and benign type of creature, albeit not very complete in my evolutionary cycle. So, by the time you reach Russia we may just as easily end up sharing a friendly cup of tea and laughing our pants off over being so silly once upon a time at Steve Huff’s photography blog.

            By the way, I don’t believe in Mr. Darwin’s evolution theory. So, you may have offended my religious belief as well. But I forgive you, anyway. The hell with my religious belief! I forgive you for all your wrongdoings or ill-intent towards me! See, I told you: I can’t hold it for long. And you even haven’t started your trip to Russia yet…

            You see, I have started out little exchange with a quote from Molière for a reason. Life is not such a serious thing as some people think. It’s meant to be taken lightly. I firmly believe in that. I don’t really care for my ego or your ego or Fuji cameras or Leica cameras that much. It’s fun to discuss certain things but all those things are not worth any serious dispute, let alone fighting over. I personally find it ridiculous when people pay too much attention to small stuff like that. We all may die any moment and all those issues will immediately cease to exist for us much in the same way as we will cease to exist for the rest of the world. I think we should live every day of our lives as the last one and try to fill it with love and joy instead of stupidity and hatred and inflated egos.

            So, I say, let’s call our little feud a truce, shall we? See, I just saved you about $1800 in airfare. Unless you still want to come and enjoy it here, of course.

            Greg Shanta

    • Mr.Polson. May I put my 5 cents in the may-may not pool. Since this camera is electronicly/electricaly operated and governed, you might be right if Greg wrote about software fixebility of cameras operation speed as electronics act on mechanical parts (shutter,lens diaphram) which obviously cannot be altered by software. Start-up time is another thing. It`s a checking routine like in any computer, that all parts answer ready and that they talk to each other. And that depends on the way the programing is done. Which is open to alterations through a firmaware. Correct me if I am wrong.
      p.s. your remark on Fuji designers not knowing for sure what they are doing, would apply only to the way they solved MF issue.

      • Yep – I’ll correct you (but I’ll leave the spelling as is – we have limited time !!). I have no idea where you get the impression that “Startup time” is merely a “checking routine” – this is only a part of it, for ANY camera – at least that much I know ! For some cameras the “startup routine” may involve a sensor cleaning, for virtually all cameras, it involves a repositioning of internal lens elements which are stored in a different (safer) position than there useable (moving) position when the camera is out of sleep. This is especially true of cameras with compact, integral lenses – and Fuji themselves state on their website that they had to perform voodoo rituals on virgin lenses at midnight on the 3rd week of the month to get an f2 35mm equiv. lens so small. The fact is that I don’t KNOW and neither do you, and neither does the author of this piece and that is ALL I ever asked to be acknowledged – sheesh !! Like pulling teeth around here !

      • PS – I just had a thought that maybe you have a miscomprehension of what “start-up time” actually means … you do realize it means the time between turning the camera on and the camera actually “starting” ie. becoming functional (ie. able to take a photo), right ? … it’s not just the time until it starts making sounds, or adjusting it’s lens to a “picture taking position” etc.

  3. Thanks for the replies. I understand. I do think it would he a great idea to have a user impressions or ‘reader field report’ section.

    Thanks for considering my comments in the good natured way they were intended.

  4. Good story Greg! Tempting…

    The AF and MF properties will frighten me off though.



    • Michiel, it’s actually not as bad as it seems. The AF works acceptably well after all. It takes time to get used to and firmware update is a must but then it becomes much easier. Just don’t compare it to your D700 and you’ll be fine.

      MF sucks big time. I mean, you can use it in conjunction with the AFL button but the main problem is with the focusing ring when you try to fine tune it. Besides being impossibly slow, it’s very narrow and cumbersome to handle. And that is not fixable in firmware. This brought me to a conclusion that X100 is primarily an auto-focus camera, period. I just couldn’t get used to that focusing ring and I never will I think.

      But that is no big deal. I’ve updated the firmware and AF became noticeably better (Thanks, Seal!). I live it on central focusing point all the time and focus and recompose, which is a very intuitive thing for me. Even on my D700 I used to do the same when I wanted to use AF. This is the only acceptable way for me to use auto-focus in any camera. I want to be as much in control as possible.


  5. I liked your review but I wouldn’t really keep mentioning your M9 in comparison to the Fuji, it’s not a logical comparison, X1 yeah I get that, but why bring the M9 into it? The M9 is x5 more expensive and is a digital rangefinder, the X100 isn’t it just has some of the traits associated.

    • Neil, my post was not intended as a review, neither was it a comparison report of any kind. I keep mentioning my M9 because it’s my only camera and I love shooting with it. I am not comparing the M9 with the X100. They are totally different cameras. But occasionally I would say something along the lines of how nice it would have been to have certain features in my M9, like the spot metering; or how much I like the simplicity of my M9 over the complexity of the X100 or a DSLR camera. This is not comparing or testing. This is just my experience with those cameras. I don’t want my write up to be seen as a review. I am not serious enough to do any reviews. Neither do I care. I love photography and I like sharing some of my experiences with other enthusiasts.


  6. Greg,

    In the two shots with flare, are the sun reflections actually in the frame? Or just outside?

    • Paris, the sun rays are coming from the outside of the frame. No sun in the picture and no reflections, just plain sunlight from outside the frame.


  7. Hmm, some good shots..but overall I’m not really sure what this was meant to say. It’s a diary. ‘I didn’t like the camera before I tried it, I tried it and like it.’

    No offense meant, I just don’t really see the point of this guest spot…which is not to take away from the site or Greg, just don’t see what it adds to ‘the conversation’. But maybe I’m just missing something.

    That said, it’s great someone else got the camera and likes it. The forums have shown there are a lot of converts once a hands on occurs (I was very on the fence too and glad I jumped over)

    • Azx1, thanks for your comments. I never intended this to be a camera review. Just wanted to share my experience and tell a story of my jumping over the fence.

      Maybe it would be a good idea if Steve introduced a new “Impressions” type of posts on this site, just like he has the “Daily Inspirations”. I think my post would qualify for that category rather than a guest article.

      What do you think, Steve?


      • Hey Greg, thats a great idea. “User Impressions” would be a great section where readers and users could write their reports on cameras and share image samples. I will be adding this section soon. Thx!

    • IMO, the point is to display someone’s opinions about the X100. As Steve has consistenly said, his site’s goal is to have an open and honest sharing of real world usage of gear and the sharing of tidbits regarding photography.

      IMO, Greg’s writeup was both informative and well written. Just my 2 cents.

        • EXACTLY – “honest” being the operative word … when someone makes a simple mistake, which is pointed out and decides that rather than change the word “will” into the word “may” or even to say, “Yes – what I said was wrong, but I can’t easily change the words of the review which bears my name” (which would take all of 1 to 20 words), but instead chooses to write veritable essays “defending” themselves (I never expected my review to have to be accurate or truthful – I’m not in a court of LAW here !) without ever acknowledging their mistake or providing any arguments to rebut their original error, one must understand – you argue with a caveman, don’t be surprised if him hitting you with his club is the first only reaction available to him … quite frankly I’m surprised Greg even managed to grunt (no matter how inarticulately) at the same time as doing so !!

          • John, I want to grunt to you personally: what is your problem? Why are you being so upset that you cross the line of being civilized and start calling people names, etc.? What have I done to you or your family to deserve such a treatment? After all, this is an innocent discussion about some stupid photo gear. Why do you want to bring it as low as this? What is your real intention and what is your problem? Have we ever met? Have I hit you with my club, so now you are trying to hit me back? You seem articulate enough and even cultured, yet the essence of your speech appears rather low grade to me. You have taken an abstract, unimportant discussion and turned it into a torrent of invective. How the hell did you manage that?

            As I said in my other comment, I don’t care much for the ego stuff. I am a follower of Tom Waits in his statement that “we’re all just dirt in the ground”. Well, maybe not that radically. I think we are all insignificant but beautiful creatures at the same time. So, please don’t try to impose upon me what is foreign to me. You don’t know me personally. And don’t sweat the small stuff and hold other people responsible for your psychological problems.

            As for our little misunderstanding, I’d rather call it a truce — for the sake of human dignity and common sense. I hope you will not respond in public anymore. If you want to continue calling me names, please write to my email address and I will be all ears with my junk folder wide open for you. Unless you want an audience, of course. In that case, you will surely write to this blog again mentioning my numerous vices. But bear in mind that you won’t be dignified with an answer anymore.

            Greg Shanta

  8. Greg, nice write up and great pics… I have not seen this flare issue on my X100 although i do plan on getting the hood for the lens just in case…


    • Thanks, Kelvin! Yep, the flare is there, no doubt. You do need a hood. I keep saying that Fuji should provide it for free but they haven’t called me yet…


  9. Thanks for an interesting review with many nice pictures. The quality of the x100 output is convincing. Pictures are quite clean and with nice colors.

  10. Good stuff. Great timing with the lady holding the mask in the street shot. So I guess the lens hood is not an “optional” accessory after all 🙂

  11. Nice write up. I didn’t understand the negative backlash against this camera. People were being so picky about little quirks and design flaws. In my opinion the X100 is a gift to all of us! It’s truly a ‘photographers’ camera. Not perfect, but wonderful in it’s own way.

  12. Greg,

    Small world indeed. I’m here with Kirk Tuck at a swim meet and we were just discussing the X100!

    Glad you (or your wife) is enjoying the camera.

    And I agree, the M9 is by design a much simpler tool…


    • Chad, the Internet makes it even smaller. Say hello to Kirk for me. He probably remembers me as that Russian guy who admires his portraiture. Isn’t he just great? I love his old medium format portraits. He is one of the best in the genre I think.

      Yes, we do enjoy the X100 but now my enjoyment is more or less history. My wife took rightful ownership of the camera and I am back with my good old M9.


      • Greg, позволю себе обратиться к вам по-русски (думаю, остальные ребята на меня не обидятся, поскольку всегда можно воспользоваться Google-переводчиком). Есть много мнений, что объектив X100 заметно превосходит объектив X1 по детализации. Не могли бы вы на время позаимствовать Фуджи у вашей супруги и сделать вот такую фотографию http://fotkidepo.ru/?id=photo:627331 Думаю, тысячерублевая купюра вам не в диковинку, условия съемки очень просты- 12МП, минимальное ISO, RAW, газета (АиФ) в полный кадр, подсветка встроенной вспышкой (во избежание шевеленки). Думаю, всем будет интересно такое сравнение. Спасибо.

        • Greg. Mihail is right. Taking a picture of a newspaper side is an old classic to show the merits of a lens. In good old rosy days there was a simple rule to test lenses resolving power that were used by security. The lens is good enough if you can see what the guy sitting over there on the bench is reading in his newspaper, said officer.. Optics were not so big problem but the film quality often didn`t live up to task. That`s why you could often see a sad guy with a camera round his neck sitting beside another man on the park bench, asking him what was he reading. Back to press testing. Remember to use side of Prawda ( sounds more convincing) and in the middle just put a greenback with “in God we trust” side up. That should answer most of critical questions. Stanisovich Zorkij
          ps. Mischa, no joke, I used newspaper many times as test chart.

          • Hey Stanis! You’re into your hilarious jokes again, although you are trying to convince Michail otherwise. It’s great when people have a good sense of humor and actually use it.


          • Stanis, I’m glad that you know thethe name of of the legendary Russian newspapers and fun to remember the good old days .

          • Stanis, Michail, coincidentally, my grandfather was an Editor of that infamous Pravda newspaper. It was called ‘Pravda’ (The Truth) but in fact it was an Orwellian communist propaganda tool that should have been called ‘Krivda’ (The Lie).

            I remember how each morning an armed KGB officer would show up at our apartment bringing fresh news from around the world in a sealed folder marked ‘Extremely Confidential’ and ‘Top Secret’. My grandfather had to sign for each copy of the limited edition daily news bulletin affectionately nicknamed ‘The White Paper’ with ‘white’ standing for the real, truthful news it contained. Then my grandfather would read it and take it to his work where they produced the propaganda news for the rest of the country. Very seldom the real news of the world found its way onto the pages of the most popular newspaper of the USSR. Or any newspaper, for that matter.

            The next morning my grandfather would submit the previous day’s ‘White Paper’ back to the KGB courier, who would sign a receipt for it and hand my granddad the next portion of the real news to be converted into an unrecognizable slop for the eyes of the Soviet people.

            He was a nice guy, that KGB courier. He liked our tea (the brand he would never have access to being a simple soldier), he would always engage in a polite conversation with my parents while waiting for my granddad to look over and sign the papers. He even gave me his gun to hold a few times — to my utter breath-holding amazement. He didn’t know what he was bringing to us. He wasn’t supposed to know. The folder was sealed and my grandfather had to break the seal and reseal it back each time (boy, I love that sealing wax smell!)

            The KGB officer’s version of the Truth awaited him at the newsstand around the corner. He would probably pick it up on his way to work in order to have a passionate discussion with his wife in the evening on who is currently at war with Oceania. They were ‘the rest of the people’. Without the right to know the truth.

            Maybe these childhood memories actually explain my reluctance to shoot newspaper tests…

            Did I say I am ashamed of my grandfather? I wish it was the other way around…


          • Well Greg, now I can see why you`re not keen on shooting Pravda despite loving memories of your grandpa. There`s way around. Just shoot a piece of blank paper. That would be the ultimate of camera and photographer test. I can envisage blank pages in the super serious FotoMagazine with captions shot with Leica, shot with Nikon, shot with Canon. And for that sake, a serious exhibition in best of galleries with likewise prints of blank pages credited: shot by H.C.B., shot by Avedon, shot by Unknown Soldier. And everybody would get the message. The idea comes from good old rosy daily reality in Poland. In the busy street a guy deals out leaflets to the passers-by. A militiaman standing on other side of street, decides after a while to act. He comes over to the guy and declare him arrested. What for, asks the guy – for distributing propaganda, answers the militiaman – but there`s nothing on them, these are blanks, protests the guy – don`t play smartass, retorts militiaman, EVERYBODY knows what`s supposed to be on them!

          • Stanis, thanks for sharing the joke. I am afraid, though, that only Michail and I would be able to appreciate it in this particular community. The fortunate people of the West don’t know those kind of things and it is very good for them. Our history is very sad and we, the former Soviet Block citizens, are all branded by those painful memories. I grew up in a privileged family but I could see what was going on outside of the elite circle and how many people had to suffer the regime. I wish I was born elsewhere…

            Anyway, this subject is way off track here considering the photographic nature of this site.


          • Greg, you have a good style and you can write interesting memoirs, KGB, grandfather – the editor of Pravda, the gun … You know, you can have different attitudes to time, but do you really do not know what was written at the time of Russia, the Soviet Union? Bears on the streets, balalaika, vodka, gangsters, etc. Do you think this is untrue? Even now, printed guidebooks, repeating the same thing, I highly recommend to come to Russia with bodyguards, etc. And you think that all so-called democratic press (I do not mean Russia) publishes only the truth? Do you think that manipulation of the society are excluded? Do not be naive, Greg. And it may be better not to write, as it was in Pravda, than to write a lie? And never be ashamed of their ancestors, their country – our history, it is our fathers and grandfathers, who built a country for which there was no shame. Unlike today, when the oligarchic elite, headed by Medvedev and Putin have stolen the country, making it of no high-tech and comfortable for its inhabitants the State, as a raw material appendage to all other countries, when in the end it may be that the only thing that Russia can offer – it is gas, oil and … ballet. Ha -ha. This concludes, as we so badly distracted. Greg, one more question, very often in the pictures I see X100 purple asphalt, most often it is observed in the shadows. Have you noticed this and how do you, why is this happening? Thank you. Sincerely, Michail.

          • Michail, thank you for your reply. First, I will answer your photographic question as more relevant to the subject of this blog and then I will comment on your patriotic statement, hoping to put an end to this discussion here and, if you wish, continue it privately via email (gregory.shanta@gmail.com).

            Yes, I have noticed the magenta casting in the shadows and in some reflective dark grey surfaces like road pavement, etc. Besides, I’ve noticed the overall tendency of this camera to make everything look warmer in colour. I don’t know what is the exact reason for that.

            I am not very impressed with colour rendition of this camera. The reason I didn’t mention it in my writeup is because I am not usually impressed in colour rendition of modern digital cameras. The only two cameras that I really liked the colour output of were Kodak DCS760 and Leica DMR digital back for R8/R9 cameras. Both of those are pretty ancient now but I think they are probably the best digital cameras I ever came across. My other choices, among the modern models would probably be Nikon D3x and some of its smaller brothers and the one I have now, the Leica M9. Although, colour wise, I think, the M9 is inferior to Nikon.

            Anyway, I don’t care much about colour accuracy in digital cameras, as I get the look I want through PP and I don’t chase the ‘natural look’ religiously. I prefer B/W in portraiture, so skin tone is not an issue for me either. But even if it were, the M9 can handle that nicely. The X100 seems to be OK with skin tone, too. As for that magenta cast on asphalt, etc., yes, sometimes it looks ugly but at other times creatively interesting.

            I will cover the ‘patriotic’ theme later today, as I have to go to the hospital and have an X-Ray done on my chest. I think I have fractured couple of ribs after an unsuccessful attempt of moping the floor in my house. I’ll write when I come back from the hospital.


          • Michail, I am back from the hospital. They say I’ll survive.

            So, regarding the ‘patriotic’ issue. As I said earlier, with this statement I want to close this subject here and, if necessary, continue it privately via email. You can find my address in my previous post.

            Please forgive me, for I’ll be direct. I think that Lenin, Stalin, et al, were all a bunch of criminals and murderers and there is nothing to be proud of in their reign. There were no humanistic achievements during the communist rule in Russia and technological achievements were made at a huge cost of millions of lives of the common people. Nothing to be proud of and all the reasons in the world to be ashamed and horrified.

            If some of my relatives were involved in any atrocious acts or supported the evil system I can’t be proud of them either. My grandfather was nice to me because I was his grandson but he wasn’t nice to lots of other people. And the mere fact that he was good to his immediate family members doesn’t make him any better than he was.

            I knew the system from within because my family was at the top of it. I knew how false were all the claims and ‘truths’ that were constantly brainwashed into peoples’ minds. So great was the propaganda that even now, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet regime, some people still believe it was any good. You are the perfect example.

            What I am saying here is not meant to try and change your view. You have the right to an opinion just as anybody else in the world. I just didn’t want to leave your statement unanswered, so that anyone who would read this correspondence would not develop a perverted idea of historical reality based on your insinuations.

            Soviet Union was an evil empire. I like this definition given to it by Ronald Reagan (although I never fancied the man himself). It was evil to begin with and it continued to be evil until its last days. My father, of whom I am also not very proud, was one of the last to leave the offices of the Central Committee of the Communist Party on the day it was closed down and outlawed by Eltsyn. He was a high ranking official there and I know very well how the whole thing operated.

            So what are you talking about? What kind of pride? What patriotism? If I am proud of a gang of crooks that makes me a crook too. Personal family relationship is one thing: I still love all my relatives; but my ethical position is a totally different thing: I don’t subscribe or approve of what they did. I am ashamed of it as any (sane!) descendant of a Nazi would be ashamed of his ancestor’s deeds. I am still connected to my family on a personal level but I want to be disconnected from any of their wrongdoings. Since my childhood I was against the system, thanks to my mother who always preferred truth to a lie and wouldn’t try to hide any thing from me. I was secretly raised by her in a free, open spirit and I am endlessly indebted to her for that. She died in 1984 when I was just 22 years of age.

            I am not comparing West and East. I don’t like silly comparisons like that. I am just responding to your statement regarding the Soviet Union with the intention to clarify certain historical facts for the sake of any prospective reader. If you want to continue this discussion please write to me.


        • Михаил, с Вашего позволения, я отвечу по-английски, чтобы другим участникам не приходилось прибегать к переводчику. Все же это англоязычный сайт.

          С уважением,

          Michail, if you don’t mind I will reply in English, to spare the other participants of this blog having to google-translate it. After all, this is an English-based site.

          Regarding your request to photograph a bank note and a newspaper, please forgive me for not willing to do that, as I am not into those kind of tests. I don’t care much for the engineering or technical details of photographic gear (or for any gear for that matter). I either like or dislike certain gear and that’s usually enough for me. I mean, I can discuss some technical points to a certain degree but not too deep. What I was trying to achieve with my post was to share my experience and impressions of the X100 and tell everyone a story how I converted from being a sceptic.


          • Greg, thanks for the reply. I understand your reluctance to do some tests optics X100 – the camera you like and that’s enough. I just fascinating to compare the real possibilities of lenses fuji and leica и at a synthetic test. Good luck.

          • Michail, yes, I just like the camera and the pictures it makes. I’ve never done such ‘newspaper’ tests for any cameras or optics. For me the criteria of judging a camera or a lens has always been to take a few real life pictures and then see how they look to my eye. Theoretical possibilities and levels of technical perfection never interest me. By looking at pictures on my screen, or better, in print, I can see what kind of resolving power this or that lens has, or what is such and such camera’s dynamic range potential, etc.

            I admit, I shot some brick walls before but for the beauty of it. Some brick walls are really charming. I also shot some money (in coin, though) for the same reason. I am yet to find a beautiful newspaper to shoot but you never know…

            To make up for my reluctance and silly (but friendly) joking I want to share a couple of pictures with you.

            The first one is of a brick wall at a place probably very well known to you. I shot it with an Epson R-D1s camera and a Voigtlander 50mm f1.1 lens, both of which I no longer own as I traded them for the Leica M9 and the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5, an amazing little marvel of optical engineering and a life-long personal favourite of Mr. HCB himself.


            Another one is also of a brick wall, shot half-way across the world, in Puri, India. I like to call it the “Kremlin wall of Puri’ (which is why I want to show it here, next to the real Kremlin wall). I shot it with a Nikon D700 camera and a cheap but wonderful 50mm f1.8 lens. Both of those pieces of gear are long gone. This is a childish picture with no artistic value but I like it for the memories of Puri it brings. Such a lovely and mystical place!


            The last picture was done recently at home using my M9 and a peculiar optical contraption consisting of a Voigtlander 90mm lens and a Russian made 2x teleconverter, which turns a 90mm into a very compact rangefinder-coupled 180mm lens for a Leica M camera. Not bad, ain’t it?On top of that you get a really cool close up capability as it can focus at a 1 metre distance.



  13. I am confused. The more i read the more i dislike the X100. Like every1 else i was curious and thrilled to see and hear about the x100.’ so finally it is here and people start talking about it shawing pics including Steve and all i get is complaints : focus, flare, Jpg etc( Steve counted 7 )
    I liked the pics but hated the flare. The colours are no more than acceptable.
    Steve seems to want us to buy this camera and i am pretty sure i know why and yet he was honest enough to write about the flops of this camera
    I Saw Steve’s X1 pics and loved them ,i saw his X100 pics and this article pics and i simply dont get it. Why spend more than 1000& on this very mediocare camera. Would any1 please write a simpathetic and loving article with no complaints !!! about this camera?
    I am confused

    • Dan,

      Agreed. I wrote about this earlier in the thread and Greg alluded to it by saying “With Fuji it’s all too easy. Much like with a DSLR. To me it’s like a small, pocketable DSLR”
      I enjoy street shooting almost exclusively and only use my M6+7 and occasionally the camera I love but hate the Dlux4. I am off on a month long journey where there will be a lot of landscape and portrait subject matter. I am wondering if I am not better off at this point with Steve’s highly recommended Pentax K5 and wait for further developments since I am a range finder guy.


      • Thanks for your comment, Jess. I am a rangefinder guy too. I am confused by complexity. But it’s tempting when everything is easy.


        • Actually the K5 is not really what I want. I gave up DSLRs with my Canon AE-1. It is just some 35mm cameras seem to be better suited for expansive landscapes. I live in the constrained world of tight streets and the people who inhabit them so I really don’t know. I might just rely on my M7, given the newest Crystal Ball post, and maybe try the new Oly XZ-1 as a small digital carry along. It goes wide and hopefully it won’t have the awful noise of my Dlux 4. I have had some great shots with the Dlux but too many great moments get thrown away. Your examples of flare on the X100 are of concern on a $1200 camera even though the image quality looks great. I live in Shanghai so developing is cheap and scanning is sloppy but getting better. I don’t view your comments as negative. Constructive criticism and contrary views are a source of distinction. Still confused but I am sensing a moment of clarity.


          • Jess, we sold our X1 because we had a feeling it will soon be replaced by a newer model and its price will go down as a result. But at the same time, until that (still imaginary) new model comes out my wife needed a decent camera to shoot with. Besides, we don’t know yet at what price Leica will sell that new model. I seriously doubt it will be anything less than the current X1 retail price. So, in order to justify it for us it has to be really great and clearly surpass both X1 and X100. Which again is still an open question. I’m sure it will be fantastic camera but will it be fantastic enough to justify its price? So, our reasoning was: we get an X100 now, since it’s a good enough camera and use it until Leica releases the X2 (or whatever the name will be). Then we’ll see what it’s all about, while still happily shooting with our X100, and then decide what to do. Considering that we actually made $500 on the X1 (just got lucky when we bought it really cheap), financially we’re still solid with this scenario.

            I have no experience with the Pentax K-5 but if it doesn’t cost much and you can easily sell it in the future, why not then apply the same logic we did and get a great camera to shoot with now instead of waiting for the unknown.

            If you feel you’ll be uncomfortable with a DSLR, then maybe the X100 is your only digital choice now. Its flare problem is predictable and you can plan your shooting accordingly. Or get it with the lens hood and see how it behaves with it. That is extra cost, though. I wouldn’t mind having it for free, of course, but I do mind paying extra cash for it. So, I taught my wife a little trick. Your left hand above your lens makes an excellent lens hood — better than the original. It’s a bit awkward but those flare prone kind of shots aren’t going to happen very often, so this little trick will do. The credit for the idea goes to Ken Rockwell.


    • I think the problem is with your first sentence “the more I read, the more I dislike the X100”. The fact is, you need to try the camera for yourself and decide whether you like or dislike it.

      If you go back and read ANY X1 review you will see the same types of caveats but instead of flare maybe it was slow focus, no viewfinder, etc. In fact, I have yet to find a camera that is perfect. So the X100 has some “interesting flare”, well it is also amazingly controlled for CA. Win some, lose some.

      And calling it a mediocre camera is laughable. It is arguably top of its class.

    • Dan, I’ve tried several times to post my original reply to you but to no avail. As I said before I can email it to you if you give me your email address. You can find mine a few messages below.


  14. Nice review, Greg, and some very nice pictures there. I’m glad you’re enjoying yours, I’m still getting comfortable with mine, but I think it’s a keeper.

    • Thanks, David! Yep, it’s a keeper for sure. Well, at least until the X2 comes out. If it will come out right… If not, then it will be the X100 all the way! At least until the X200 comes out… Uh oh, need to go and see a shrink. Wait, my shrink just got himself an S2…

      Just kidding. I don’t have a shrink. Don’t believe in them.


  15. Hah! Greg, I swear I will not say “told you so”. I promise.

    Lovely photos. And to clarify, the purpose of my “review” was not gun for the X1 and prove its IQ inferior to the X100. It was to show that they are so similar and as such, Fuji truly has hit a home run. I still believe the X100 out resolves the X1 slightly, but for me it is more about the shooting experience and it is there that the X100 really trumps.

    And yes, that flare is something isn’t it. I’m using it for a positive effect in my concert shots since it looks like nothing else out there but it can be a concern for “normal” photography.

    Just wait until you have shot the X100 for a couple of weeks. I bet you are going to make it sing.


    • Hey Chad! I know, I know. You did. You told me so. I admit it. But, hey, no sweat! I finally got it and I am loving it. Too bad it’s my wife’s camera, though… Too bad I have the M9… Too bad I don’t like shooting with more than one camera…

      Anyway, I will get to play with it every once in a while. Or maybe even do some serious work with it some day.

      I think it could be a great reportage camera. It’s 35mm FL and it can focus really close (as opposed to Leica M). So, you can shoot your subject with plenty of context plus you can get an occasional close up when needed. That’s where I may try it out, in reportage. I have some photo stories in mind where it might just come in handy.

      Another thing I love about it is spot metering. I wish my M9 had it, too. I like playing with creative exposure and for that spot meter is a must. Unless you have one in your head, which is best but rare. I hope some day I will develop this ability to see light properly and guesstimate the exposure to fulfill my creative ideas. But I am far from there…

      What I don’t like about it, or rather, fear is, paradoxically, it’s convenience. I think M9 is a better training tool due to its simplicity. You have to use your brain all the time and that’s the way you train it. With Fuji it’s all too easy. Much like with a DSLR. To me it’s like a small, pocketable DSLR; I can’t get rid of that feeling. It’s a great camera, indeed, but not as disarmingly simple as an M9. And that simplicity can be extremely rewarding.

      Anyway, I love this camera and I was wrong about it. I am glad I was. And I am glad I took some steps to find out more about it. Thanks to you in part. And to Steve and Michael Reichmann and Kirk Tuck and all the others who reviewed it and shared their findings and images.

      As Steve says — you have to give credit where credit is due.


  16. X100 seems to shine when you have time to set it up properly, like some of your excellent shots above portray. I especially like the photo of the sculpture face in the park.

    In street shots (or quick point and shoot mode), it seems a hit or miss, not better than most compacts.

    Just like the iPad, the camera shows great promise of things to come.

    • Thanks, Bamboo. Yes, when you have the time to prepare you get better results, as with most other cameras. Point and shoot actually becomes more efficient if you set the camera to continuous focus mode.


  17. Thanks for your review.

    I also didn’t know where to place my thumb, but a Thumbs Up accessory fixed that.

    You definitely have a flare problem. Don’t know that it affects all X100s though. With mine, I get flare that basically looks like it does on film – even when shooting straight into the sun. I was impressed at how well the lens coped.

    • Stephan, this camera is not mine but my wife’s. Her hands are small and she doesn’t feel there’s any problem.

      Flare wise, surprisingly, it can handle direct sun but when the sun rays are coming from above or from the side when the sun or another light source is not in the frame, you may get this kind of huge flare. There is always a way to avoid that. In those two pictures I intentionally tried to get it. Besides, you can use it to enhance your picture artistically, like I did in my shots or Chad is doing at his concert shooting (see below). Still, such a problem shouldn’t be there and it’s a definite design flaw. Unfortunately, not fixable in firmware.


      • Hmm, this may sound like a dumb question but … is glass made differently in Russia?

        • Or perhaps double or triple glazed to deal with the cold? Those flares look different than others, like the images from WingManZero on Flickr for example, who has done a lot of flared shots.

          • Zaph, the sun in those pictures was not reflecting off of anything. It hit the lens directly from a side angle. Interestingly, if pointed straight at the sun, the lens doesn’t flare at all.


    • Yep, Julio, twisted her arms and all. And now I get to play with two cameras while she’s recovering!

      Seriously, though, it was her idea to sell the X1 while we still could get a good price for it. It’s obvious that Leica won’t let Fuji enjoy all the glory. As the rest of us they’ve known about the X100 since Photokina and I’d be very surprised if they just sat around doing nothing about it. I am sure they went straight to work and will announce an X2 very soon. And I’m sure that X2 will be awesome. So, when my wife and I saw all those reviews of the X100 and had a chance to try it out at the store we knew that it was time to move on. Maybe it’s a transition camera before the X2 comes out. Or maybe not… Anyway, she wanted to do it that way and I am glad she did. Really, no twisted arms. Just mild encouragement.


      • Nice write up Greg! Got the X100 two days ago. Feeling all the quirks!

        Here’s my crystal ball prediction about the Leica X2 — it’ll be called X10000! Fuji named its camera 100x that of Leica. Now Leica will strike back! Or not. 🙂

    • Hey Boris! Mother Russia is waking up from the ugly winter into a beautiful spring. My favourite time for street photography. People look really different and happy. They haven’t seen the sun for a few months. Besides, it feels awfully nice to shed that heavy winter clothes and walk around like a normal human being again.



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