Some fun low light shooting with the Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Leica X2

Some fun low light shooting with the Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Leica X2

Here I am, wide awake. It’s early Saturday morning, around 2AM. I have been up at my computer for the last 2 hours checking out some photos I shot last night in Phoenix at “first friday”. I drove down there to see if there would be any cool photo opps and to test out the Black X100 , OM-D and Leica X2 in low light, night-time situations. Mainly I wanted to see how the AF did with all cameras in challenging situations so why not? I had nothing else to do and it WAS Friday!

My 1st shot of the night was with the X100 and I did not nail the exposure perfectly but it came out nicely anyway. The camera focused FAST..much faster than it did when I reviewed it long ago. The new firmware did indeed fix a few things like AF speed, menu speed, and overall gave it a snappy feel. I am impressed with what Fuji has been able to do. Click image for larger. It was shot at ISO 1600.

If you saw my post from yesterday you would have seen I had a black Fuji X100 kit arrive to my house. Yes, I caved and bought one after dwelling on it for months. With all of the talk of the new firmware greatly enhancing the speed I had to give it a shot. I also wanted to see how it did side by side with the Leica X2 and seeing that the X2 is brand spanking new I figured it would trounce the X100, but that was not the case. But in reality, the X2 focused amazingly well in the dark. MUCH better than the X1 but IMO it still did not beat the X100. They are about equal in IQ (with the Fuji possibly taking the lead) but the X2 did impress me with its new-found speed and high ISO performance. ISO 3200 wasn’t a problem, even in low light. It is indeed a nice improvement to the X1 in regards to AF speed and high ISO performance when using it for taking photos 🙂

The X2 at ISO 3200

As I sat here at my desk and reviewed the photos I shot I was amazed at how far these small cameras have come. It has gotten to the point now where you can literally take a small and light camera like and X2 or X100 with you anywhere and anytime and get AMAZING results, even at night. Fast AF, great low noise performance and overall amazing designs. I applaud both of these cameras for night low light use. I did prefer using the VF on the X100 though and felt a bit odd holding the X2 out (did not bring the EVF) at arm’s length.

Another ISO 1600 X100 shot. I focused on the barrel in front so she would be out of focus with the flame in the sky. I like this one.

I was having so much fun shooting the “X” cameras that I forgot I brought along my little OM-D powerhouse. On the camera was the Panasonic 25 1.4 and I have to tell you, this combo seems like they were made for each other. Fast AF, no rattlesnake noises and superb sharpness/bokeh, even when wide open.

OM-D E-M5 ISO 640 with 25 1.4 at 1.4 and then 6400! – click for larger

even adding noise to this ISO 1600 image looks great. BTW, this is the girl who was breathing fire in the images above..

and ISO 6400 on the little Olympus? No problem..the next 4 images were all shot at ISO 6400 on the E-M5. No way the E-P3 could have pulled this ISO off. Also,  THIS WAS the fastest focusing setup of the night.

So while I only shot about 30 shots in all, I had fun with all three cameras because they all performed without fail. They all focused quickly and gave me great results and they all have their own kind of user experience and file quality. Yes, I have been talking quite a bit about these cameras lately but I believe in not only talking about my experiences but also showing images from my experiences so you guys can see what comes out of these new cameras.

Take your pic. They are all good and yes, It’s a good time to be into photography. 🙂

In case you missed them, you can see see my original reviews of the Fuji X100, Olympus OM-D and Leica X2

OM-D at ISO 1250

X2 at ISO 320

X100 at ISO 1600


  1. Hi Steve, I want to know which one is better in high iso (low light performance) of these camera : X2, X100 and X pro 1, thanks

  2. Hey Steve,

    Please keep these (crazy) comparisons coming!
    I just read another rant from some unsatisfied ahole on DPR and how your comparisons would be crap and nonsense.

    The comparisons make perfect sense to me! That’s because despite the fact that, say the OMD and the X-PRO1, are two completely different cameras, I AM STILL INTERESTED IN BOTH CAMERAS and want to know how they perform. I am not a pro, I am not a scientist. I just love photography.

    Stay awesome Steve! Keep on doing what you’re doing!


  3. The x2 clearly loses this battle and I doubt if Leica will sell many of these at the price and with all the new cameras coming out the others thoroughly kick it’s Leica red dot time to get with the program Leica and put out a consumer camera that’s ahead of the pack for the cost or go pro only

  4. Is it me or is that the infamous x100 light ghosting in the first photo 🙁

    That is probably the only thing that stands in my way of getting the x100

    • You cannot say anything against the X100, ghosting, stickies, quirky focus, distortion, people love the inaccurate OVF.

      • I have said much against the X100 and especially the X-Pro 1. Ive no issue with ghosting that I noticed or ruined any image of mine. I have not experienced the sticky blade problem but have mentioned it a few times as being a problem. Fuji supposedly has corrected this issue. Quirky focus? I said the X100 was extremely quirky but was much improved in the new firmware. It is a but faster than the NEW X2. I don’t use the OVF, never have. The EVF is wonderful. Distortion..the X2 has some of that as well. No camera is perfect but at $1199, the X100 is a little faster, has a faster lens, has a manual aperture dial on the lens, has a built in EVF/OVF, a great LCD screen, macro ability, video, and has amazing IQ. For $1995 the X2 is beautiful, has great IQ, slower AF, horrible LCD (there is no excuse for this one really), no EVF/OVF built in, only via a huge external EVF that costs $575 for the Leica version, same f/2.8 lens, no close focus ability at all..though it is beautiful, simple and a very nice camera. Id take one if I could. Id love to own both but in reality, that isn’t going to happen for me.

        $1199 vs $1995 ($2500+ if you add the Leica EVF). That is more than double the cost for a more crippled camera (slower, LCD, slower lens, no close focus, no video, etc) – but like I said, if IQ is your only concern, the X2 is gorgeous and can give you amazing color and tones. In the right hands, the X100 or X2 can work wonders. All personal preference.

        But if you read my X100 review you will see I mentioned the quirky issues, slow AF, slow start ups, etc. I am fair in all of my reviews and just report my findings in real world use. When the X1 came out, it was slow but there was zero competition so there was nothing to compare it’s flaws to. The X2 should have been a bug step up in speed, performance, and things like LCD, EVF, etc. Just my option though. I am not Leica and I am sure they are aware of their competition in this market. It is not like an M where there is zero competition. An M is an M and will always be known as THE Rangefinder. The X doesn’t have that history though and if you can save $1300 and get a camera just as capable and faster with better specs…well, doesn’t take a brainiac to discover what can happen there.

        But to be clear, the X2 is an IQ monster. Id love to own it and if I come across a sudden increase in cash I may buy one anyway. As it is now, I am saving for the Monochrome. 🙂

  5. I am so pleased you have returned to the x100 arena! To me it is just a gem of a camera, the compact camera I have always dreamed of!

    Yes it is not faultless, but it always reminds me of a film camera, to have an aperture ring on the lens and a shutter control on the body is just so wonderful and the images never disappoint.

    It is so small compared to my Nikon D700 & D7000 that it is never noticed and the lightness around the neck is wonderful!

    The new wide angle convertor is great news and a tele convertor I am sure won’t be long coming.

    At the end of the day the fuji x100 is just a camera I love using, and that I guess says it all!

  6. I respectfully disagree with Steve at one point. I think the exposure of the fire-blower girl shot with the x100 is perfect. The camera just nailed it, but, of course, much of the rest of the frame is underexposed. If tou just crop all the blacks in the periphery of the frame, you’d have a perfectly exposed picture. And we would have to know whether Steve used the DR capabilities of the camera or not (AUTO, high, low?).
    I think the worst exposure comes from the singer with the x2, who’s highligts are clearly blown. And the continues surprising me.

  7. Steve! You are making this EXTREMELY hard for me! I was all set for an X100 a few months ago but then you sing accolades on the OM-D! I like the X100 primarily for the IQ, the finder and its control resemblance to my Leica M but then the OM-D is the more technologically advanced, feature wise.
    High ISO IQ of the OM-D looks comparable to the X100 and has interchangeable lenses (both AF and for my M lenses) too. Now what do you think is the best choice as one’s only digital camera? I eagerly await your opinion 🙂


  8. Might have to get the OMD for all around shoots such as indoor events. Existing light shoots looks awesome. Leica’s marketing must have been “out to lunch” producing the limit X2. Go figure!


  9. As nice as the black x100 looks I wouldnt pay so much extra just for the color.

    Steve – why do you think the x100 focuses so much faster than the xpro1? (I have the x100 but not (yet?) the xpro1)

  10. You’re making this very difficult for me. So yes, a month in Bali, one camera, I’d like to know which you’d pick, given that you’ve now experienced the faster X100 and shot on all of them in different conditions. Thanks for putting the comp up.

  11. Man oh man, Steve, you have been on a roll lately. I was all set to get the X2 (even on the list over at Dale) then you start producing these comparisons!! I’m starting to lean towards the black X100 now. The one big thing keeping me from going with the fuji is post processing. I’ve read much about the file output from the X100 as amazing when in JPEG. What about RAW? Do the files respond well (like the leica files we’re used to)?
    Thanks for all the hard work you’ve been producing. As you say, it is indeed a great time to be a photographer.
    Regards, Ben

    • having 2 built in viewfinders makes the X100 superior in shooting experience over the X2, fast framing, i could never frame point and shoot style, might as well get a PS…. that olypus tunnel viewfinder screams long term UN-PRACTIcAL

      • What? The SLR like viewfinder? More practical than any Rangefinder except the X100 which does both.

    • Welcome back to the X100! My pocket book wants me to sell it for something better, my heart keeps it in the bag. I am in love with the colors and B&W out of it.

      2nd on the focus technique vinny posted. Really counter intuitive (at least for me) using D/slrs for years but it really works (with a bit of shutter lag). The shallower the DOF it misses some but at f4+ it hits focus at a high rate.

  12. But if you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have one of these cameras…..

    Just kidding, don’t answer that 😉

    • oh come on its fun

      Steve please answer that please

      you are deserted to Bali.. fun holiday for 1 month

      which do you u choose ?

        • Yup, I think ill go for OMD! fastest AF… mirrorless and has a good quality, and compared to leica, i think OMD wins the pot!:)) That is just my opinion… love the shots though:)

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