My Leica X1 and Fuji X100 Comparison Shots
or “Fuji X100 vs Leica X1”
By Steve Huff
Just got back from my mini road trip today where I took along the Fuji X100 and Leica X1 so I could compare shooting them side by side. I wanted to write about the experience AND the image quality results of both out of camera JPEG and RAW conversions. First off, the light was harsh today so these were all taken between 9:30AM and 2PM, not the best light but still was able to get a feel for each camera and compare them.
What I will do here is post straight from camera JPEG images from each camera, as well as a few processed in RAW and a couple of FULL size samples from RAW. When I show JPEG output, each camera was set to the same color setting. If Velvia on the X100 it was Vivid on the X1. If it was standard on the X1, it was Provia on the X100. IN every comparison the same Aperture was used. For ISO, the base ISO of each camera was used for best image quality. ISO 100 for the X1 and 200 for the X100.
With the RAW comparisons, each shot was processed from RAW with NO ENHANCEMENTS AND NO PP.
NONE OF THE SHOTS HERE, even the out of camera JPEGS, HAVE ANY processing done to them. They are straight from camera.
I’m Loving the EVF of the X100…
While out today I found that the viewfinder of the X100 is a godsend. While framing images in the bright sun it was so much easier to do so with the OVF/EVF compared to the X1’s LCD. On the flip side, the X1 started up much quicker and was ready to shoot when I was. The X100 startup held me up a couple times (even with the fast card you must reformat EVERY TIME you put it in the camera to gain the fast start up speed) but all was good for what I was doing.
I did notice a difference in the output of the cameras though, and I think it will all come down to personal choice.
First, the Poll answers…
On Saturday I posted a side by side picture with a Poll and asked all of you to guess which image was from the Leica X1 and which was from the Fuji X100. The Poll was pretty evenly split and finally the top image broke away with the most votes, meaning that the majority thought the top was from the X1.
Here is the answer…
The top is the X100 image and the Bottom is the X1 image…
More than half of you were wrong here which goes to show that BOTH cameras are capable of fantastic output. To me, the X1 file has LESS distortion in my sons face. In the X100 file, he is suffering a bit more from the big nose syndrome, meaning the barrel distortion is blowing up his face a bit. The X1 is better in this regard without question.
The images above were shot RAW and exported from ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) untouched. Both are at F2.8 and both are sharp but you can see the different color and WB of each image. Personally, I prefer image #2. Someone in the comments pointed out that they thought it had more “soul” and I somewhat agree. I also dislike the distortion in #1.
Oh, as for the 2nd comparison this morning, the TOP image was shot with the X1 and as you guys noticed, my shadow gave it away!
I’ve shot the X1 MANY times and came away with loads of great shots. I’ve shot the X100 A TON over the past three weeks and also have gotten some nice shots.
What it comes down to for me is overall IQ in various situations, control, and usability/joy of use. So how did it go today shooting both? Very good. Each camera gave me good quality results though I must admit, after looking at images side by side, I am preferring the color of the Leica X1. Also, the Leica images are somewhat “crisper”…if that is the right word. BUT the X100 is really just as capable, especially with some PP as you will see later down in this article.
Instead of jabbering on and on, let me post some images so you can see what I mean…
1st – OUT OF CAMERA JPEGS
Many who are shooting these cameras are shooting JPEG, so which camera will give you the nicest out of camera JPEGS? See what you think.
Here is an image shot at f/4. The 1st one is the X100 out of camera JPEG and the 2nd is from the X1.
YOU MUST CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION OF EACH.
These are not full size as I will post crops below from RAW conversions. These 1st few sets are to give you an idea of color and rendering.
The following are #1 Fuji, #2 X1. In this 1st set of the dog, I DO see a more 3D pop from the Leica shot.
Ok, so that was a ton of JPEG images! After looking through them at the larger sizes (You must click on the image to see the correct version) I do indeed prefer the X1 out of camera JPEG images. I’d go as far to say if your main concern with a camera is the image quality, the X1 wins due to having less distortion and extra pop or crispness in the files.
Then again, I have to keep telling myself that the X100 has the ViewFinder, is cheaper, and has better high ISO capabilities. It also has HD video capability, which can be good to have at times. What if these two cams were the same price? $1200? Id have to go with the X1 just for the image quality being slightly better (to me), in JPEG mode at least.
JPEG output from these cameras is decent with the X1 winning in this area IMO.
Processed from RAW files
The next couple of samples were processed from RAW. No PP was done to these. This shot was at f/2.8
Full Size from RAW, shot at f/8
1st the Fuji X100- – Click image for full 12 Megapixel image
Now the X1
So which do you prefer? The two shots above were taken at f/8 and to me, when I view the full size version, the X100 is sharper and shows more detail in the trees at the top. At the same time, the X1 image seems a little more “lively” and less flat. Or is it just me?
But look at this one, two more full size images shot at f/5.6. What is going in with the Fuji on the left side?
So what about “Usability”?
After shooting both the X1 and X100 side by side I have to say it was a draw. I loved the Viewfinder of the X100. If the X1 had one, built in, like the X100’s EVF/OVF it would be game over for me. X1 would be my choice HANDS DOWN. As it is, the X100 was a joy to use mainly due to being able to frame with the EVF (I still prefer the EVF over the OVF) in the harsh AZ sunlight.
At times I had a hard time framing the X1 due to the LCD being washed out from the sun.
On the other hand, the X1 was always ready to roll and started up quick. The X100 took a few seconds to get ready to shoot, maybe 5-8 seconds. Unless you reformat the memory card every time you put it in the X100 you will get a slow start up. This seems like a bug that needs to be fixed with a Firmware update.
Usability wise, I loved the X1 for its no nonsense settings and straight forward menu (which I never needed to get into really) as well as the sleek design and light weight.
Focus speed was similar for both with the nod going to the X100 for AF speed, but not by much. I am using Firmware V2 on the X1 and while it seems a tiny but faster than before, the X100 seems a little quicker still.
Both cameras were fun to shoot and carry. Build wise, they are about equal. In my X100 review I mentioned the X100 was built slightly better but really, they are about equal. The X1 is one handsome camera in black and when staring at both side by side, I prefer the clean lines of the X1. I also love the X100 design though the X1 seems more “classy” and the X100 more “retro”.
Id be happy with either camera. The X100 has the f2 lens, better high ISO performance at 3200 (less grain, but smoother image), HD video, EVF/OVF, and manual aperture and exposure comp dial. All for $1199. The X1 has a sleeker design, faster operation, slight better IQ (IMO) and comes with a nicer leather strap 🙂 $1999 but deals may be found here and there if you look around.
If you are looking for an X100 you can try B&H photo as they get stock from time to time. If you are looking for a Leica X1 (sexy in black) Leica dealer Ken Hanson has TWO in stock now. He sent me this one for this comparison, so thanks Ken! You can e-mail him HERE.
My final conclusion? YOU DECIDE! Look at the images, the color, the rendering and body style/features and price. I love both but am giving the IQ nod to the X1 and usability nod to the X100 due to the viewfinder.
The images presented in this article so far have been without post-processing. Below are three images from each camera, that have been converted from RAW and slight processing applied. They are in random order but each pic is stamped with the name of the camera that shot the image…click on them for the 1600 pixel wide much better versions.
So, do any of you see much difference in these processed pics?
I didn’t shoot too much high ISO but did see that at ISO 3200 the X1 has quite a bit more noise but the image is SHARP and retains all the detail. The X100 seems to use NR so the files are smoother and less noise. Here is one I processed to B&W. In real use, not much difference but the X1 has that crispness I sometimes see…
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UPDATE: This comparison is CONTINUED HERE with 10 FULL size images processed from RAW files!
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i am a typical film shooter (fuji 690) and in 35mm Rollei 35 QZ. I then moved into the world of Nikon D800, a great camera.
However, this Leica X1 i recently purchased has blown me away with the photography quality, and by this i mean the “Leica Feel”. photographs with correct colours, punch, 3D look….
Totally amazed by this camera….a true legend
I have tried the Fuji = rubbish
Thanks for the review Steve. I have been back a few times reading this over the last few months. Now that the prices for both cameras have come down, I have the opportunity to get an X1 for $950 or a X100 for $700. With these prices in mind, which one is better value? I am torn between the two, mostly because of the faster operation and EVF of the X100 that I really like. Any advise is welcomed.
The Photography industry is moving so fast which makes my choice to change.
The Nikon D800 is darn good and could be adjusted to use FX and DX lenses and still have High Quality pictures. But then the Fuji X1 Pro came out. This is digging my pocket deep into Bankruptcy.
Could I get the D800 for less than € 2500? plus a NEX5N for around €400
But is the NEX5N as silent as the Fuji? I doubt.
Pity the Fuji X1 Pro has a strange lens adapter or I will use all my Nikon lens with it.
very intresting reading and photos i have just orderd the x100 and carnt wait to try it out carnt really streatch to the price of the leica but would to try one out ,
it will be the first rangefinder camera that i have used too really looking forward to this .
Hi Steve – great report, I love how you get right into it and look at photo’s & not get bogged down in camera hardware issues, particularly noted on your X100 review. I jumped from the x100 review to view the X1 & X100 photo comparison. I read some of the comments and for me I would have to disagree with some who say the X1 wins hands down. For me it is so damn close. I had my heart set on the Leica X1, however after seeing your X1 photos and X100 photos along with other reviwer’s images I have to say the X100 wins by a nose. But true, I do agree alot is personal preference, but putting images aside I must also say I HATE taking photos with my arms extended. For me you have far more control using a viewfinder. Mind you I’m in a wheelchair and if I held my hands out people would think I’m in trouble. Seriously the X100 has a great viewfinder, it handles noise really well, is affordable, and with 1.11 firmware performs very well and finally the photos are excellent. So I would have to conclude that for me the X100 wins, but NOT HANDS DOWN rather by a nose. thanks for your review
I had the X1, sold it and bought the X100 ! Never regret it. I tried the X1 with a older leica viewfinder, but I really missed the information in my VF. With the X100 I only use the lcd viewer to look back what I have made. Love the finder of the X100 and can change all the settings without taking my eye’s off the VF ! With bad lightning there is allways the EVF with generates plenty of light. And there is the knob where you can set te camera on silent mode. ! Ideal for street and wedding fotos, as well as at funerals… Love the X100 and remind me more at my M4 period then the X1, with its cheap wobly flash, what keeps popping up after 1 month so I had to send it to Solms.
Thanks again for you reviews !!
Regards Rudy from the Netherlands
Fantastic review. I have a soft spot for leicas so I would always want the X1. That’s the emotion part. The fact part though is that Leica digitals come up with a blue sky that looks more green than blue. I had this issue with my M8 and it’s the same one again on the X1 and I found on the S2. It shows up here in the jpeg images of landscape image of the mountain. Sometimes it doesn’t happen as is shown in the RAW images. But even so I found that the sky and sea just don’t seem blue with the Leica.
I have had several fuji compacts. Great colour but let down by the lens quality. Not bad but no “snap crackle and pop” in the images. If only Leica used Fuji sensors.
I like this comparison very much. X1 looks like it managed to capture the highlights and shadows better than X100. This gives me a better 3D perception of the subject. I like the rich colour from the Fuji camp, but i preferred the X1’s natural blend of colours. X1 made the colours looked rich but not enhanced like those photos from X100. If these pictures you have posted has not been re-edited, I honestly preferred the X1’s photos. Thank you Steve for this excellent post.
The X100 is nice, but the X1 rules.
Very nice test. Both has many equal qualities and technically the X100 has a much better technology.
I was tempted to buy the X100 but need to refocus on what I really need.
Oh yeah; I have the old D70 which needs replacing. Have the D300 which is my tool for the time being. My lenses are the most important of all.
Besides my D300 I use my Canon S90 a lot too.
My aim is to get a full FX sensor camera for low lighting and quality and the D700 is out dated compared to the D7000.
Now waiting for the Sony NEX7 to fit my fabulous Nikon lenses or/ unless Nikon is coming with a new FX model 18Mp-24Mp
D series are all too noisy. Need a mirror less with at least DX sensor.
I think the V1 & J1 is a complete joke! Even if it is a mirror less & interchangeable lens system.
Oh yeah, I know you are a Leica fan. If I have the money, I would buy the S2 even if it is big, heavy and ugly, but the Silence and quality is supreme!
X1 destroys it. All about the texture.
I think the Leica bias here is pretty strong. Not necessarily stronger than one would find at any fan site however.
The forest crop “Crop-O-Matic” is the best example. The Leica crop is pure rubbish. As for the colors, the exposures on many of the images are not equivalent.
Is there a color mode in x100 (ie. velvia, provia) that you can use to match the color output of x1?
The Leica X1 is my favorite and the winner. Better contrast and color rendition & sharpness.
I thought the Fuji would be way superior in IQ, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I like its Bokeh more though. Also hi ISO is better. I would always choose the Fuji over the Leica, since it has two viewfinders and a brighter lens that doesn’t extend that much. It has everything I missed in the X1. Nice comparison, thanks Steve!
Hey Steve Thanks for the great review! love it to the max! which i have decided firmly to get myself x100… both with great pictures but i really love the slight creamy colour than the solid one, both are great! you are wonderful! XD Thanks! i will like to have one leica too! maybe a compact one!! 😀 arigato!
thanks for your article. but i still have problems to decide …
wich is the right for me? i struggle between X1, X100, nex5, M8… i still own a D3 and a M6
i will stay tuned 🙂
Amazing stuff. There’s not much in it between them. If I had both in my cupboard, I would reach for the Leica everytime. That doesn’t mean I do not like the fuji. I like the feel of the leica better.
Am I better off though with the micro 4/3rds gear and the Voightlander 0.95 25mm lens? Possibly not in that the lens is manual focus and the camera and lens would be larger.
I still want a compact that gives me control of depth of field in the same way a full frame digital or a 35mm film camera does. Whether that is optically (preferable) or by software I do not think it matters.
The other thing, with all the commentary about high ISO performance what about low ISO performance? I want the digital to be spectacularly sharp with great colour at ISO 50 for the same reasons that people choose ISO 50 Velvia.
I recently picked up my Canon Powershot Pro 1 after 3 years of non useage. I bought it in 2005. I discovered at ISO80 it was still better than my more modern Nikon D40 at ISO 200 which has interchangeable lenses and gave my Leica M8 a real run for its money at ISO 160 in image quality. There was no avoiding the Canon’s better colour and sharper image at ISO 80 (when I could use it) even after 6 years of technological advancement. The Canon Powershot Pro 1 though was hopeless above ISO 200.
Please don’t forget the low ISO performance in the drive to improve High ISO performance.
I hope the X2 is a full frame replica of the Leica IIIg or IIIf. To me the IIIg or IIIf are the best compact film cameras ever built. Smaller than an M with the same quality and interchangeable lenses.
very useful comparison steve, thanks for doing it. to my eye, JPEGs from the X1 are clearly better (i have to admit that even though i own an X100). however the RAW processed files are almost indistinguishable. since i only shoot RAW i’m not too worried.
also, the lens distortion on the X100 can be solved with one click on the lens distortion checkbox in Lightroom 3.4+.
hmm… I personally prefer the X1 IQ (it has more ‘life’), but I’m having trouble just to save up enough money for X100 (so I guess X1 is out of question). X100 is still pretty awesome though and the only thing that’s bothering me is the (face/barrel) distortion. Noob question: can you fix it in Lightroom?
As a few others have mentioned, it seems that the X1 shots are slightly darker and sometimes slightly more contrasty than the X100 ones. That would tend to make the X1 shots appear sharper.
Comparing the white balance is weird, though. In the cow skulls picture, the X100 is warm and the X1 is cold, but the shot of the people on the riverbank, it’s the reverse.
I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I think that if you cut the X100’s exposure by 1/3 to 1/2 stop,
and did just the most minimal PP, it would be pretty much impossible to tell the difference.
on x100 using velvia or astia film simulation provides results closer to x1 in color rendition – the default jpeg film simulation is too flat
Prefer the X100 images mostly. Some I can’t tell any difference. A few I like X1.
It looks like the contrast is held up better on the x1 shots, which may mean that the x100 needs a hood and has an inferior lens. The x1 has a protruding lens built to work without one and seems to handle harsh light better.
Steve: I am still torn between the XI and the X100. Do you think there is a chance that Leica will be bringing out an X2 this year? Thanks and a great review!
A new small compact camera will be introduced soon as well as some new lenses, M firmware etc.
Next year there is a new Photokina exhibition. Only Solms know the answer but my guess is certainly not this year as the black X1 was only introduced a couple of months ago….
Well I could be wrong though 😉
One of the things I find most important is how a camera renders hair. The X1 clearly does a much better job in every shot I’ve seen Steve has up. The detail is not there with the X100…that would be the deal breaker for me.
Steve Your review is phenomenal as always.I always shot the X1 in jpeg until i read Ken Rockwells use of the quick fix Auto enhance for DNGS. .The resulta are amazing.. The camera beomes M9ish. On Mothers Day the X1 out did the 5DMARK 11 and the D3000. On grand children whom were not moving I highly reccomend the Aperture Auto Enhance.
Great comparison. I think anyone who has to make a choice between these cameras will always miss the other one! After reading your article they will get confidence that they made the right choice.
I have to agree, the X1 has a better IQ and overall “look”. Problem is I like all the bells and whistles on the X100. Leica, if you are reading, we need an X1 with an EVF. I’d place my order (through Steve’s site, of course) today…..
good real world comparison….thank you Steve for taking the time to do it.
as a self-declared “Leica fanboy” and proud owner of an X1..I am happy the x100 did as well as it did-it will keep Leica’s “feet to the fire” and give me a “better” X2
The difference of sharpness of some of these photos is huge! the f/5.6 ( even in the center of photo), the dobermann photo, the tre trunk are extremely different in terms of sharpness….can someone explain me why? I mean, I know different lens, different exposition maybe….but I didnt exept so much difference of IQ. I’m seriously thinking to buy the Fuji, even for the amazing OVF/EVF, but these shots disoriented me a bit 🙂
Something is going on in the doberman photo but I wouldn’t blame the X100 since the result is simply not what the camera is known to produce. Even ruling out the difference in exposure, the focus just doesn’t look right to me at all, way too soft. I did notice that the shutter speed on the X100 was 1/80 and the X1 was at 1/500. Perhaps some blur? Either way, don’t take that image as gospel of what the X100 is capable of in the sharpness dept. As Steve has said, there are some bizarre exceptions but the X100 routinely is sharper than the X1.
I watched fast even other photos, another one that impressed me in negative way ( I’m not a rookie, I’m a supersuper rookie), is the f/5.6, look not so sharper even in the middle of picture close to the red rock, if i compare it with X1…
To me the image quality is so similar you should make your choice based on usability and indeed finances.
For me, the X100 does what I want – small camera, big sensor, viewfinder, separate hot shoe for a flash.
That’s going to make me reach for it, which is going to make me use it in a situation where I may otherwise have only taken a small sensor compact (even if it’s my beloved ricoh grd3) or not take a camera all together b/c it’s too big (dslr’s).
Question though to Steve any everyone else – can you see this camera being used professional?
I mean, it’s size and form factor certainly harks back to a different way or professional shooting – portraits, fashion etc – where you want to have a spontaneous fun atmosphere and a less intrusive camera certainly helps vs a dslr, but is the quality there?
Of course it could be used professionally, and maybe will be by someone, but it won’t be common.
I’ve used it for several paid jobs, something I never did with the X1, although I did bring the X1 along to a few; I just could never find a reason to pull it out of the bag.
You should. Your clients will be happier…LOL kidding
Great job, steve, like always….You’r blog is my startup page on my macbook pro!!!!!!
Interesting comparison Steve, thank you. To me the difference in the output between X1 and X100 are more matter of taste than technical as both cameras produce great output. It really seems that the X100 tends to overexpose a bit. However I do not manage to see the distortion of the X1 – the photos that actually have some straight lines in them do not seem to show this. Could you confirm whether this problem appears when focusing close?
And concerning the EVF of the X100 – could you briefly comment how does it compares to EVF for Ricoh GXR?
The X100 distorts much more than the X1 and you can see it when shooting up close or in peoples faces. As for the EVF of the X100 vs the EVF for the GXR, cant say as I do not own the EVF for the GXR though have used it briefly. I would take a built in EVF/VF any day over a add on, just for aesthetic reasons. As for performance, the X100 EVF is fantastic IMO.
Nice love all the comparisons
The files are so close to me that it’s a wash. The reason I sold my X1 and kept my X100 is the built in EVF/OVF, the faster lens, and the faster AF. The only thing the X1 has on the X100 is the smaller size and better menus.
I have both the X1 and X100 and recently took the X100 on a trip with me to San Francisco as my only camera. When I bought the X100 I thought the X100 would definitely replace my X1 but after using the X100 on my trip I am not so sure. While I got nice results with the X100, I find the X1 easier to use and smaller, which is key for me when walking around a city and wanting to quickly take a shot without going into menus and fiddling with buttons. Yes, there are fewer features on the X1 but I love the simplicity, like on the M9.
Are you using a uhs1 card?
It takes me about 2seconds between restarts but I turn on off manually. No need for reformats.
I use the Sandisk Pro 45MBS 16mb card. Its fine if its in the camera all day and reformatted before putting in. Once I transfer images to my computer, and then try to put it back in the camera, it starts up slow. If I reformat, its under half a second.
I bet the X100 doesn’t like the trash/spotlight files/other hidden files os x puts on every disk you plug into it. Have you tried locking the SD card before mounting?
Thanks for the comparison. It would be really useful if you could post a video showing AF time of both cameras. I sold my X1 recently and got a X100 and, from my experience, the AF speed on the X100 is not marginally better, but it is much better. I’ve never lost a shot with X100 due to lack of AF speed, but this was a very common situation with the X1. Specially at low light pics. Sure, I am talking about X1’s firmware 1.0. Nonetheless, I’ve read everywhere that FW 2.0 improves AF only marginally over the previous version.
Re colors and crispiness, I’ve been playing with the X100 internal controls and setting sharpness, saturation and contrast up a notch has brought me X1-like jpegs. AW is also a point where the X100 takes an advantage over the X1 in my experience, specially under artificial lightning.
All in all, I think it is a great comparison!! Thanks!!
Carlos, the X100’s AF is much faster the X1 with new firmware… you are correct.
The X100 is faster but not by too much. Im using Firmware 2 on the X1 and the X100 beats it in the AF dept but it’s not that much faster. Keep in mind, I was shooting in full sun where the X1 is fastest.
Steve: “But look at this one, two more full size images shot at f/5.6. What is going in with the Fuji on the left side?”
The Leica X1 aperture is f/8 according to EXIF data and the focus is mostly on the “Restrooms” sign (EXIF says “infinity”)
The Fuji X100 aperture is f/5.6 according to EXIF data and is sharper on the sheed in the foreground than the X1(Cannot see any distance info in EXIF).
Generally I think many of the X100 images are a bit overexposed compared to the X1 images (as mentioned earlier) but this makes it a bit harder to judge which is best. I think I like the X1 output most, but think the quility of the X100 images would have been improved if exposed using a compensation of -1/3 to -2/3 EV.
Otherwise really interesting comparison. Thanks a lot for the effort.
Thanks for catching that. I will go back to all of the master shots and find the correct one. Must have used the wrong one. EIther way, the X100 should not have had the blur on the left side as the mountain is in focus as is the right side. Thx
Yes, this is very weird. It would be nice if you would find another similar example.
Steve, thanks for a great read, and for getting it published so quickly.
I have to confess, though, that my eyes really aren’t able to detect some of the differences you see between the cameras’ images. If I concentrate long enough, I can in some cases, but in others, well, I guess I just haven’t trained my eye enough.
And that’s okay with me! It means that for 90% of what I need, the X100 will be as good as the X1 in practical terms. And for that other 10%, well, hopefully that’s when I’ll have the M9 handy.
Thanks, Steve! This is wonderful…
I see X1 DOES produce dimensional photos MORE CONSISTENTLY (just as I previously observed). The X100 leaves a flat taste. With a single picture, it’s quite hard to see (I was wrong with Brandon’s test image earlier). But seeing more pictures will make differences stand out more easily.
I will go with X1 for now, VF I can always get the separate VF for it. Aside from the picture quality, I love the simplicity. Price? I don’t care, it’s not like heaven-and-hell difference, anyway. I can always skip a meal or two to make up the difference.
Thanks again! On to the next, Steve! 🙂 (*borrowing a tagline from the Syfy’s Ghost Hunters)
@Andrew: So you were wrong but you’re still right? Comforting thought… 🙂 🙂 🙂
Reminds me of the Rapture followers who said the world was ending this past Saturday. When they weren’t swept away to heaven, their response was someting like “whoops, we got the date wrong, the world is still ending but we’ve got 5 more months…PARTY!”
Tell me, if you liken me to the Rapture guys, what do you make of people who actually use Leica a lot but made a fuss here thrashing it and defending x100? What do they remind you of? Love such comparisons! LOL
No, I said I was wrong with the earlier test. But here I can see clealy that X1 is more consistent (like I always thought). Clear as mud? LOL
Can’t go wrong with a Leica hehe…
Thanks to your article, you always did a great job and read your blog since appr. a year. For me it is the best in it’s kind so far.
I also shot with both cameras and I adree in most your results, but IMO the IQ of the X1 is a little bit too technical, too precise, too cold. The images of the x100 have more charme, they are more natural. And out of the camera they have alot of detail. A very strong side of the x100 is the accurate white balance, compared to my 5dII it is much better.
I’m very satisfied with my decission to buy the x100.
Steve, have you tried the lens profile correction for the X100 in LR3? Would that get the image quality closer to the X1?
Also, surely it’s easier to get a 2.8 lens with fewer issues (like distortion) than a 2.0…? Given the brighter lens AND better high ISO, doesn’t the X100 stack up (IQ-wise) with the X1 better than you might have suggested – at least in terms of overall versatility?
Yes you can use the corrections in LR3, and they work well. I feel the IQ is right up there with the X1 with the X1 having slightly better or crisper results. BUT not in every case. To me, it seems like the X1 loses some sharpness at f/8 where the fuji gains it. In any case, both are fantastic. Wish I could keep both but if I did, which would I grab to go out? Most likely the Fuji due to its VF, closer focusing ability, faster lens and better high ISO, video, etc. My heart says Leica X1…brain says X100. Funny how Leica can just pull me in…I feel a new article coming on..lol.
I would prefer x1 image quality, but x100 also very acceptable.
Great review. This and your comparisons the other day prove the X100 is right up there, possibly as good as the X1.
Did you not use the X1 OVF in the comparison? I find the only difference having the EVF on the Fuji is when you spot meter, you don’t get any funny surprises on X100. However I counter that by only using spot metering with the LCD on my X1. I use OVF the rest of the tine.
IMHO the x1 is still a better camera and comes with a pride of ownership you can’t get from mass production. Also the X1 is nearly 2 years old and still standing up to brand new technology today.
Both are stunning cameras with great IQ and both accomplish the same style and method of old school, proper photography.
Everyone should have one or the other 🙂
I believe that I read that the X100 is hand assembled, so there should be plenty of “pride of ownership” there.
Very interesting article, Steve! It seems the X100 lacks the crispness and liveliness of the X1’s output, whereas the X1 lacks the colour pop of the X100. Personally, I prefer the IQ of the X1 as well.
Despite very clear results from Steve’s blind tests, I still see all these comments about the X1 producing supperior IQ. I wished the X1’s IQ was better than the X100’s, eventually I’m a Leica fan, shooting M9, MP, Digilux2 and X1. But let’s be real here, among these two compacts we should have learned a lesson based on Steve’s reviews. The IQ the Fuji produces in good light is absolutely as good as the Leica’s, it’s a draw. Any other conclusion is wishful thinking. The only area where the X1 beats the X100 is size, weight, prestige, and (for some) looks.
It all depends on personal preferences, either way there’s nothing wrong/right. But this kind of reviews really help (kudos to Steve!).. It’s people;s own money, not ours… 🙂
Looks like it will be an x1 after all,, i don´t really care if it´s more expensive as i will hopefully use it some years. Then i´m more afraid if i want to buy it before Leica is telling us this summer of their new tool lol. In the end- they are really nice cam´s and the won´t get worse during the following times even if it comes some better. Thanks for the post Steve and nice thoughts from the rest of you!
For me the difference between them is just like looking at JPGs files that came out of Nikon and Canon ( where Fuji looks more like it came from a Canon and Leica ).
Sorry for comparing melons with pumpkins but I have not used the “apple” or the “orange”.
Nothing wrong with either camera but the pics from Leica look better to me. I like photos which are bitingly sharp and crisp.
Yes, I prefer the X1 images- there is more ‘image contrast’, but I could take any half decent jpeg from any half decent camera and optimise them in Photoshop to give that effect. I use a two stage sharpening technique which I’m sure most of you are aware of.
Steve, thx for your extensive write up.
I while ago I thought the Fuji was your preferred cam but now reading between the lines, it seems you’re a bit closer to Leica again.
Did you ever try the X1 with the (Leica) external VF ? If so what were your thoughts ?
Yes the Fuji is cheaper, has the OVF/EVF but I prefer the IQ of the X1 🙂
Would anyone lay down any money on being able to tell the difference between shots from the two cameras in real-world shooting with “normal” post processing from RAW files? (I don’t shoot JPG, never seen the point.)
I seriously doubt it, and I’d take a bet from anyone willing to try. 🙂
I imagine I slightly prefer the rendering of the Leica lens, though the X100 is probably slightly sharper. Both are excellent though, and it’s really pixel peeping to try to find the differences. Are there any that would be visible in a print up to 18×12? I doubt it. Also one thing that worries me slightly is the robustness of the element alignment in the Leica’s telescoping lens assembly. I guess they must be pretty good, but it does concern me somewhat as a longer-term purchase.
Astounding image quality from compact cameras. For me the viewfinder is the thing that swings it dramatically in favour of the X100. I love the HUD approach of the OVF. And I absolutely hate shooting with an LCD. If I used an X1 it would absolutely have to be with the viewfinder.
As to start up times, dude seriously, how hard is it to remember to format the card when you put it back in the camera? I do that with all my cameras anyway, and so should you – it’s a good habit to get into.
Both cameras have the huge benefit that they are not big & bulky and don’t immediately intimidate people you are trying to take pictures of. I’ve never had a camera that so many people (non-photographers) though was really cool. I get more comments on it that I do with my Zeiss Ikon when I’m shooting film.
Steve, thanks for the review. It was fun guessing on the comparison shots. I ended up being right about the portrait of your son and wrong on the other set of shots. I am still surprised I was, though; because in my experience the X100 produces warmer colours (OOC) and the X1 is supposed to be sharper (OOC).
Anyway, like you said, it’s a draw. And that’s the main point here. Basically, we have two great cameras to chose from and that is twice as better as having just one great camera to chose from, like with the M9…
Although you did a very good job testing those two cameras, I think I haven’t learned anything new. I always thought and still think that the X1’s image IQ is slightly better and the X100’s usability is way better. But since the X1 is just slightly better (IMO), I think it makes sense to pick the X100 over the X1 (again, IMO).
I mean, if this was my only camera, I’d stick with the X1, as image IQ is superior over any other consideration. But we have an M9 in our household, so we can get the perfect image IQ any time we want. When I say “we” in regards to the M9, I mean “I” since my wife doesn’t know how to operate it. Anyway, I think it’s cool to have two cameras in the household out of which one is at the top in image IQ and professional shooting category and the other is great in the consumer category with all the convenience and ease of use (and at the same time having a great image potential).
Yes, I’ve said it. I think the X100 is a great consumer camera (some may say ‘prosumer’ but I really don’t know what that means; I think it’s a marketing trick to sell more cameras to consumers who like to feel themselves above the average). If you are after professional-level shooting experience, it won’t do as the only camera in your possession. If your style is less demanding and you need a great little companion to your other pro-level gear, then it’s the best choice all around. The same logic goes for the X1 but it really lacks in usability, so let’s wait for the X2 and see how it will stand to the competition.
Thanks again, Steve! This is really a hot topic, isn’t it? Wow! It really shows there is a great market for small pseudo-rangefinder cameras with great image capability and I think the other Japanese manufacturers should pay attention. With their design, production and marketing might they can outperform and outsell the smaller guys if they will commit to this product category. Something tells me, with Fuji’s and Leica’s success, they will start paying attention sooner or later. And photography might even come back to enjoy a good choice of great little wonder cameras like it was back in the days of film.
The sentence “If your style is less demanding and you need a great little companion to your other pro-level gear, then it’s the best choice all around.” in my post should read “If your style is less demanding or you need a great little companion to your other pro-level gear, then it’s the best choice all around.”
Thanks for reading Greg. Yes, there is a huge market for this type of camera. So far Leica and Fuji are the only one to really do it. Sigmas DP series needs a total rework IMO. Im hearing that Canon is working on something similar…but again, I prefer the underdog brands 🙂
Me too, Steve. And I am pretty content with my M9. But anyway, it would be very interesting to see what the big guys will come up with in this product category.
Thanks Steve and I am fine with my decision to stay with the x1 and not get the x100 (which I was close to get).
Both fine IQ but really in many images the x1 just looks like someone switched on a better light.
To me most x1 images look more alive. I once handeled the x100 and liked the optical viewfinder.
But then you can allways add an external viewfinder on the x1 (of course without having al the info in the viewfinder).
I also really like the spot AF of the x1, dont know if the x100 has something comparable.
If this was my only camera I might prefer the x100 because of its size and viewfinder etc.
As an additional “compact” camera to other bigger cams I own I am quite happy with the x1. I now use it with the grip and it handles very well, fast, intuitive.
Thanks for the comparison. Great to have such nice choices.
also meant to say great work Steve, I think this should put to bed all the X100 v X1 internet chatter
Well I was right with my guessing of the 2 posts and I think I was right with the comment I made previously.
The X100 is the better camera (in use) but the X1 is the better photograph making tool.
print big > hand on wall > stand back > view > X1 winner
btw I own an X100 and wouldn’t sell it for an X1 even though I feel that it makes better photos, it’s just a horrid camera to use
I think they are both great cameras, but I am not having the issues you are with operational speed on the x100. It’s faster than my x1 was…but maybe leica fixed that with rev 2..sold it just before that.
I also disagree with the 3d pop comment. I definitely get more 3d pop from the x100, due to the faster lens I’d guess…for max pop f2 beats 2.8, even softer, thanks to output sharpening.
As for jog color, I don’t really shoot jpg, and have to say I much prefer the greens of the fuji, but I think the reds pop a bit more with the leica. Leica’s blues in jog always frustrated me and I felt the desaturation treatment should have been a choice.
Overall they are both fantastic as you said, and different. That said, I don’t think that today with the price difference and short feature set, the leica is worth $800 more. I’m sure someone will come in here shortly with a nice fallacy telling me about how real photographers don’t use movie mode or gimmicky finders…I can assure that poster, I know plenty who do. I’d rather have options I don’t use, for less money, with very similar output, than no options for more money.
Additionally, it took leica a very long time to roll an update that was incremental at best…I don’t think fuji will sit that long, so maybe operational speed will be improved faster than anticipated.
The Fuji was quick once it started up for me. I forgot to format my card (even though all it had on it was three X100 images) so it was not starting up fast for me. IN any case, operation wise it was wick. AF, shot to shot, etc. The X1 never gave any issues and seemed to start up quicker than it used to with firmware 2.
Also, with f/2 on the X100 you can get more 3D pop but it is slightly soft at f/2…something I actually like.
What if the X1 were priced at $1200? Hmmmm.
In any case, I love the movie mode of the X100 as well as the pano mode that works quite well. The VF takes it over the top for me. I even bought two extra batteries for it from amazon for $7 and they work just as well as the factory Fuji battery.
I have to say I really like both cameras for what they are. I’m going to do more testing for my own sanity over the next 2 weeks and decide which I like the best. Im hoping reliability of the Fuji is good, no reason it shouldn’t be.
I think if you took all preconceptions and chucked them, which I think you will, and end up choosing one, I don’t see how the x1 ends up winning at 66% more expensive, less features, not as sharp at 2.8. You’re too good to rely on jpg anyway unless doing a test…
Anyway, great read…even when I don’t agree with ultimate findings, I still enjoy the reads and great comparisons.
Thanks for the review Steve.
Am I the only one fed up with the buzz around the Fuji ? It seems to be a very nice camera with a nice retro look, but the X1 gives better results + The fuji has no interchangeable lenses, which is a terrible drawback at that price point IMHO.
Comparing OOC jpegs with all settings set to standard tells only part of the story, a tiny little part that is. With both cameras, one can get pretty much the same results with some PP, but for resolution and oof rendering (actually even the latter one can now be tweaked with software). However, another aspect of performance is high iso output. Iso 3200 with the X100 is as “noisefree” as iso 1600 with the X1 and iso 6400 with the Fuji almost as good as iso 3200 with the Leica. F2.8 and usable iso 3200 versus f2.0 and iso 6400, it matters sometimes. I hope Steve adds some low light high iso comparisons to the review.
I think it just means Fuji has better jpeg engine. It’s a laptop with a lens :p
But I shoot raw all the time (
I can be wrong though hehe
I think what Retow was referring to regarding JPEG is that some people are making blanket statements regarding IQ based on JPEG processing. As we’ve seen from the blind test, many simply can’t tell the difference and their opinions are highly subjective. Also, the quality of the JPEG varies greatly by the presets (such as Fuji’s film simulations) and exposure accuracy.
But if you truly want the best IQ out of your camera, then RAW is the goal and it will also give you a much better base to compare the X1 and X100.
Since you shoot 100% RAW there should be little to no difference in the quality of the output so then you have to take into consideration all the other merits of each system such as the X1’s compactness and handsome looks or the X100’s optical viewfinder and high ISO performance.
For me, if I was looking for the smallest package possible, I would go with the X1. For more flexibility, video capability and better high ISO, the Fuji is the choice. And for many there is always the question of cost….
I c… Thanks, Chad.
IMO, Leica still makes one of, if not the, best camera system these days. I hope X2 answers some of the concerns we all have.
Start up time – agree with Chad, one or two seconds max from either switching on or wake up from sleep mode
Steve, thx for you extensive write up.
Only a little while ago I felt the X100 was your favorite but reading above, it seems your are a bit ‘back’ with the Leica’s again. I wonder if you ever tried the X1 with the external (Leica) VF.
Yes, the Leica is more expensive and doesn’t have a EVF but too my IQ is the most important
Good Morning Steve!
Thx for this great review, personal insights in using both cameras. Really hard to decide for X1 already users if the should get a X100 too or sell the X1.
For myself – I really would like to have the OVF/EVF on the X1 too and of course f2.0 would be nicer then f2.8 too. As you said – IQ is a tick more on the X1 side.
I don’t know what I will do…IF I can get a good deal on my X1 – then I would change over – if that’s not possible I’ll wait for the X200 (or X2 – if Leica comes up with more “usability” too).
I agree with you, i also have X1 and til yesterday I wanted an X100 but I like more the simplicity of X1, no gimmick inside ( ND filters, Film imitation…) just the necessary for make photos. I’l keep my x1
Great comparison Steve! Another very useful and fun read from you!
I can see that you likes x100 a lot, and from the images I can see the reason why. I think they are equally sharp, sometimes I feel Leica’s color is more saturated and weirdly sometimes the other way around. Either way, x100 has great colors and quite pleasant bokeh.
Congrats on your new toy/tool 🙂
Very nice real world view, however, I have to wonder if the “typical” user of either of these fine cameras is really going to be a jpeg shooter ? Not to get into a RAW vs jpeg debate, and there are certainly reasons to use both, and I personally shoot plenty of jpegs on paid assignments even, but generally what I’ve seen, is that the enthusiast photographer, ie; the type who would be interested in either of these cameras, mostly works in RAW.
In my short time with the X100, I’ve found that the RAW files when processed do resolve a bit of extra detail over the JPEG’s. I don’t know quite how good the X1 engine is, but from my time with the M8 and M9, I never was very pleased with Leica’s jpeg output. M9 was much better than M8, but still paled to what I could get out of C1.
Even if we say the X1 has the slightly better jpegs, when both are shooting jpeg, does that mean it produces the best overall files though ? Especially if one shoots RAW, where we know that the X100 does improve ? Perhaps the X1 improves as well, don’t have one so I can’t say.
Again, not knocking the test, or jpeg shooting in general, but it just seems to me that that the typical buyer of a $1200 or $2000 camera is the type to shoot RAW and that has a whole workflow for processing.
I’d really like to see some end product shots, where both cameras are shot RAW and processed to produce what is subjectively the best looking file. Then I think you’d have more of a clear answer in regards to the overall IQ.
As is, there seems to be a lot of variables such as how the cameras expose, tone curves, jpeg engines, sharpening/NR levels etc
This is why I added full size shots from RAW and 10 samples at the end of processed files from RAW. I have JPEG’s and RAW conversions in this article. IMO, the last 10 shots that were processed from RAW…the files from both cams look great and it would be tough to tell the difference. You can click on them for the larger 1600 pixel wide versions.
Hi guys, there obviously great cameras and we’re lucky to have the choice! A thought on afore mentioned x100 issue – is it a product of the leaf shutter, it has been mentioned a DPR that at fast speeds and larger apertures the shutter may not be fully uncovering the opening. Still both great cams.
For me size is important so I’m keen on the x1, but the evf/ovf is tempting and thex100 provides that.
Another great comparison Steve, good to see the difference side by side. My vote would still go to the X1 though, not that the IQ of X1 is any better than X100, its just that X1 is such a handsome camera :)….call me superficial.
I hear ya, I love the look of the X1 and when side by side with the X100 it just looks so nice.
Great review, confirming what the blind tests on Saturday and Sunday showed. IQ wise, its a draw, a matter of personal preferences.
The perceived higher 3D of the X1 untweaked jpegs is simply because of the X100 having a tendency to slightly overexpose (needs to be set to -1/3 in bright light) and the Fuji’s lower contrast standard settings. Both can be easily adjusted in camera.
with my X100, I usually shoot jpegs at -1/3~-2/3 EV.
Lecia dynamic range is better than Fuji
There is something odd going on inside the X100 lens assembly …
Steve, first up, great review. Thank you. I have been using an X100 for a few weeks and have noticed that when shooting a distant scene that is focussed at infinity, I am seeing a lot of edge softness. Most of your images were shot at close distance, however there is one distant shot where the left side is very soft (see image titled “What is going in with the Fuji on the left side?”). Digilloyd has also come across this issue and offers an explanation on his site.
I have tried two samples and both are the same. Images are generally sharp across the frame at close distance, but in certain scenarios relating to infinity focus and possibly higher shutter speeds, the X100 has a tendency to blur detail outside the central area of the frame.
I’ve read this as well and of all the minor foibles people claim of the X100, this one alarms me the most.
That said, take a look at how mushy the X1 edges are in Steve’s second comparison shot. Really fugly.
Each camera shines and also shows their worts.
Assuming you are referring to the shot of the statue of a girl holding a camera, the lack of sharpness in this image is more likely due to slight misfocus.
I am referring to uneven sharpness across the frame when shooting a distant scene like a landscape (generally at infinity focus) with the lens stopped down to f8. The left and/or right side of the frame is heavily blurred in some instances.
No, I was referring to the second blind test Steve did, the landscape in the brush with the telephone poles in the distance.
sharpness can be seen also in the “trees” shot in this article. If you download the full size 12MP images you can see the X100 is sharper than the X1, at least at f/8. I took several of these and the results were the same every time, which surprised me as I thought the X1 would win in this dept.
Yeah Steve, that was the same result I got as well and I was wondering if it was just my cameras or if your tests would back it up.
So, when shooting RAW, what in your opinion is the strong suit of the X1 lens that leads you to still say it has better IQ? I realize sharpness isn’t everything but to my eye, the Fuji out 3D pops the X1 and renders a more gentle OOF area. Color is easily edited and the X100 looks to have better DR so I’m wondering what is left. Is it just a general overall look that appeals to you? I’m not discounting that at all since we’ve seen from your blind test how subjective this whole IQ question is.
I am also badly impressed by the blur in the X100 image labelled f/5.6 above (left side, mountain). What is the explanation given by Digilloyd ?
The Exif data say it was shot at 1/600 shutter speed, which is not that fast. I knew that in-lens shutter can produce vignetting at high speed, but I don’t understand how it could degrade sharpness.
In any case very interesting comparison !
By the way, the sharpness and clarity of those final two ISO 3200 shots are just ridiculous! I can’t wait ti shoot without high ISO fear. I don’t even do that with my D700…
Did you notice the X100 was at f/2?
Imagine if Steve had shot it at f/2.8 like the X1 was.
Great comparison, thank you for all the effort you put into your posts, they have come to dominate my daily “must view” list. I love the X1 colors in some situations, though I preferred those from the Fuji in the landscapes. But these differences are really negligible– as Al pointed out, nothing that cannot be fixed with some tweaking, which most photographers do anyway, regardless of the camera. So essentially, it all boils down to the $800 question. Now I eagerly await your X100 and M9 crazy comparison. BTW, as an aside, do check out this BBC documentary on photography if you haven’t already http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EchMdvl8SY&feature=related — its really a must watch.
I think a major difference between the jpeg photos comes down to exposure. The X100 was consistently overexposing the image compared to the X1. With a little exposure comp the Fuji images would look a whole lot better. The X1 does seem to lean more Magenta and applies more contrast to its jpegs which give them their punch.
Other than the distortion the Fuji is showing…which is a bit concerning to me given that Amazon is shipping mine on Wednesday…I think the IQ of the two is a toss up. If it’s simply the X1 colors you like better, that is a simple tweak in post (or possibly in camera set up – not sure if this is possible with the Fuji but I know I can really tweak the jpeg output on my D700).
Thanks for the comparison Steve. I’m looking forward to heading over to the thread with your son’s picture to reread all the “absolutely no question about it” posts and having a good laugh. 😉
I agree. I wanted to shoot these and let the cameras choose the exposure though, as this is how most will shoot the camera. It was blazing mid day sun so not the best for testing. In any case, I agree on the colors. In the PP examples it would be tough to tell which took what. Thanks!
Very interesting read! I need to head down to Sedona again soon! I live just north in Flagstaff 🙂
Was great there today as in Phx it was in the 90’s, Sedona was a cool 74.
It’s interesting– most X1 images look more contrasty and the X100 shots look creamier– But then the tree crop shows the opposite effect.
Looks like the X100 produces some great pictures. I prefer the X1’s images to the X100’s but if they had come out at the same time I would have probably bought the X100. But since I already have the X1 and now that I’ve gotten a year’s worth of great images out of the X1, I won’t abandon the X1 and instead continue to enjoy it.
Good comparison. I love that you use camera reviews as an excuse to go do fun things with the family- slide rock looks like a blast!
Gonna have to side with the X100 here. The difference is very minimal IMHO.
Great work as always, Steve. Differences between X100 and X1 is somewhat obvious, hands down, X1 wins. Leica glass makes the difference, it produces sharper, more contrasty, and more punchy color image, that’s where the extra $800 goes. Well, the X100 is up there, too. If you want the Leica look image, tune up the sharpness and contrast a notch in the camera, the result should be lot more closer, with all the bells and whistles on the body, X100 is here to stay.
Well done Steve. Oh man, there is some humble pie gonna be eaten tonight!
Just a few comments…
Startup time – My X100 starts up in 1 sec, every time, even after ejecting from Lightroom. Weird. You have Quick Start on right?
3D Pop in the kangaroo photo – Totally subjective I know, but I would attribute the pop to simply a much better exposure on the X1, not to any Leica magic. In general I seem to like the X1’s jpegs a hair better but since I never shoot JPEG… 🙂
F/5.6 photo – I recently read on the interwebs that there is something going on in regard to degraded sharpness with the X100 at high shutter speeds. It doesn’t happen all the time and it looks like maybe that shot was an example of the issue?
sorry, that’s a red doberman, not a kangaroo!
Yep, Steve, mine starts in about 1 second, too. Never had any problem there and the card I use is not top speed either.
Mine will start in a half of a second if I put in a card, format it and keep it in. As soon as I take out the card and transfer files to my mac it does something. When I put the card back in without formatting (I know I should overtime) it takes 5-8 seconds. Format it and its back to almost instantly, under a half of a second. Both of the X100’s I had here did the same thing. Odd.
Odd, indeed. Mine behaves fine. I formatted the card only once and have taken it out lots of times after that. The startup time stays the same regardless. It was longer prior to firmware update but now it’s pretty fast.
I really love the X1 IQ. Thanks for your article, Steve!!
Thanks for reading it!