An Afternoon With the Fujifilm X100V Camera: Better Than Ever

An Afternoon With the Fujifilm X100V Camera: Better Than Ever

The Fujifilm X100V is the fifth entry into the company's quirky and beloved series, and it is easily the best version yet. Here are my thoughts on this great camera.

The pandemic has made it difficult to fully test cameras and lenses like normal, so when I got the X100V, I thought a bit about how I could give it an alternative evaluation. So, I decided to give it a review befitting of its intended use: by taking an afternoon photo walk.

PRO Neg. Std film simulation

Back in 2014, I got the X100S, the second in the X100 series. It was the antithesis of the proper camera for me: I hate prime lenses for walkaround work and I am not especially creative with standard focal lengths like 35mm or 50mm. But I love anything quirky, and I just could not resist the allure of such a quirky camera. And hey, sometimes the best way to improve your skills is to force yourself to use things that are outside your comfort zone.

Specs

Here are the major specs of the X100V:

  • 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor
  • ISO range: 80-51,200 (160-12,800 native)
  • 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent)
  • 425 autofocus points
  • 3-inch, 1.62-million-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder with 3.69-million-dot resolution
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • 4K video with 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output
  • 11 fps burst (20 fps burst with electronic shutter)
  • Dust and splash protection
  • Built-in 4-stop ND filter

The Design

The X100V is an attractive, innovative camera. It looks like a relic from the rangefinder era, but that design is part of the typical Fuji charm and hides a very technically capable device underneath the exterior. It is simply fun to pick up and use. It feels comfortable in the hands, the controls are logically laid out and intuitive, and the hybrid viewfinder remains one of my favorite features on any camera out there.

If you have not tried it before, the hybrid viewfinder is just an absolute blast to use. It offers a normal optical mode with framing lines similar to a rangefinder, making it fantastic for street photographers who like being able to see what is going on outside the frame to be able to anticipate action. Switch modes, and it becomes a fully functioning modern electronic viewfinder. Both are fun to use, and I actually found myself switching between them depending on my mood and what I was shooting. The EVF is a vibrant and capable OLED panel that is a joy to shoot with, especially with Fuji's lauded film simulations turned on. 

What I am most excited for, however, is the redesigned lens. At first glance, it looks like the same compact 23mm f/2 seen on previous iterations in the X100 series, but Fuji redesigned it to be sharper across the frame and especially at wide apertures. Much as I loved my X100S, the lens was one of two weak spots for me (the other being autofocus speed). The improvements are notable, as the lens on the X100V is far sharper. Despite the redesign, the X100V still contains a built-in four-stop ND filter that can be easily accessed via the menu. 

The tilting touchscreen is a nice addition as well. I used it to take a couple of shots above my head where I would have been shooting blind otherwise. The touch functions were responsive and accurate as well, making it easy to quickly change my AF point without resorting to the joystick, which I actually preferred, both because it was quicker and because the joystick is too small for my taste — smaller than a pencil eraser, which is one of my few quibbles with the camera. And of course, there are Fuji's great dials. They are intuitive and make for a quick and painless shooting experience.

The Experience

Everything I said in the section above is to make the point that this camera is a joy to use. It is ridiculously fun, and it feels as intuitive as any camera I have ever used, which is impressive considering my aforementioned hesitancy to use a 35mm prime for walkaround work. As I mentioned earlier, my other quibble with my X100S was the autofocus speed. Three generations later, any concern over that is totally gone. The X100V snaps into focus quickly and confidently in a variety of situations, while tracking and eye autofocus are quite good, a real boon for street shooters. The ND filter is quite welcome; I popped it on a few times when shooting a f/2 in bright sunlight with the mechanical shutter.

Acros film simulation

The electronic viewfinder is bright, vibrant, and keeps up with action well. Meanwhile, Fuji's finely honed manual controls mean you can keep the camera to your eye more often. All these things mean that the camera stays largely out of your way and allows you to be in the moment — something any camera (especially one designed for street work) should do. And really, that's the highest compliment I can give any camera: that I can trust it and I don't have to think about how to get it to take the shot I want. The one significant quibble I have about the experience is the battery life. At 350 shots using the EVF (420 using the OVF), it is on the lower side, and I wore it out with an afternoon of pretty standard shooting. That being said, it is a very small battery, and it wouldn't be much trouble to toss a second one in your pocket. 

Image Quality

Image quality is quite good. The lens is sharp, even at maximum aperture. The extra resolution of the X100V (as opposed to the 16 mp on the X100, X100S, and X100T, though the X100F has 24 mp) is appreciated, particularly with a prime lens, as it gives you a little wiggle room to crop in if needed. Landscape shooters are sure to appreciate it as well. 

And of course, there are Fujifilm's beloved film simulations. I adore Velvia film for landscapes and cityscapes, and having a believable simulation of it is awesome. As always, Fuji's out-of-camera JPEGs are the best in the business, but if you want to shoot raw, you can still apply the film simulations after in post. And with the camera's wireless connectivity, you have a smooth and efficient solution for shooting and posting wherever you are.

What I Liked

  • Intuitive, refined design
  • Unique, top-notch hybrid viewfinder
  • Lens shows highly improved sharpness
  • Fim simulations are as strong as ever
  • Autofocus system is fast and reliable
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Strong build quality
  • Built-in ND filter

What I Didn't Like

  • Joystick is too small
  • Battery life is too short
  • No image stabilization
  • Only one UHS-I card slot

Conclusion

The X100 series has always been about the joy of photography, and with each iteration, Fuji has made improvements that help the camera stay out of the photographer's way all the more. While those improvements are certainly welcome, with the X100V, they have also made a major step forward in image quality, and altogether, that makes the X100V the best compact prime lens camera you can buy. You can get yours here.

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14 Comments

Leon Kolenda's picture

I like this camera a lot, but, No IS is a deal-breaker for me, other wise I would consider purchasing it.

Roger Bunting's picture

I find the IBIS on my X-H1 to be fantastic, but I've never missed IS on either my original X100, or X100V. It's a liberating camera, for you to make such a definite statement about IS, you must have some very different photographic needs than I do. But it is a joy of a camera to use. I will say that for use on street or even some travel, I let the ISO float as high as it needs to accommodate very fast electronic shutter speeds (if I need to shoot at f/2). Fuji cameras in general handle high ISO quite well - but that's for general photography - not double-fold magazine glossies.

Richard Reed's picture

With proper technique and the quiet, leaf shutter, IBIS isn't really a necessity with the X100 series. I've owned X100-X100F and never felt like I missed a shot because the camera missed IBIS.

Carsten Schlipf's picture

You need IBIS on a fixed 23mm focal length? Maybe you should make an appointment with a doctor?

Rico Tabligan's picture

Size would be bigger if you put IS and that defeats the purpose as a pocket camera.

El Dooderino's picture

Almost all of my kit is Canon, but after all the articles and reviews I've seen, I'm thinking about adding a Fujifilm camera to my collection, just for fun.
I too like the "quirkiness" and somewhat "retro" look. I've read a lot of good reviews about Fujifilm image quality. I think this would make an excellent "walk about" camera!
My problem now is deciding if I should get the black or "retro"-looking silver version!

Alex Cooke's picture

I prefer the silver version, but that's just like my opinion, man.

El Dooderino's picture

I was just looking at the Kaza vintage brown leather half case!! It would sure look good on a silver model! It would really tie it together! ;-)

Carsten Schlipf's picture

That's what I did. I've bought the X100F as addition to Canon - purposefully with a fixed lens to not have a second lens collection.

That little power horse really brought back the joy in photography to me.

Today I am selling my X100F on ebay. Not because it's bad, because it was too good. It made me abandon all my Canon gear and switch to an X-Pro3 because I was missing the awesome user experience of the Fujifilm dials. Too bad that the X-Pro3 with a 23mm lens is too close to the X100F, although I will be definitely missing the leaf shutter and the built-in ND filter.

Stuart Carver's picture

Would love to own an X100 one day. Will make do with the 23 f2 for the time being

Roger Bunting's picture

I'm a total fan of the X100 especially the X100V. As an experienced photographer, I found the original X100 to be a little short of it's marketing claims, but it was sold as a "retro" camera so getting familiar again with zone focusing (to avoid the slow AF), fast shutter speeds, and generally just avoiding the automation (expect for exposure control) was a reintroduction to true "retro."

Now the X100V gives you just about the whole X-T3 feature set. Everything works as it should. The results are solid, dependable, tunable to your liking in jpg. You can use advanced features like redeveloping a RAW image that you have on your computer with new jpg settings in the camera itself. That feature is a great way to explore all the jpg possibilities if you are a jpg shooter.

There are many times I walk past three bags of Fuji X gear, each prepared for a different kind of venue, with just my X100V and a couple of batteries.

I stay with this camera footprint because I use the OVF quite a bit for my family, street and travel photography. The EVF operates perfectly, but I have a sense of connection to my situation and subject with the OVF.

Troy Phillips's picture

Definitely a camera I’d love to have . I can not justify its price for what I actually need at the moment. But if I had spare cash this would be on a short list . And for the IBIS need comments (why) for the most part it shouldn’t be needed .

Matthew Richards's picture

Alex, there's a minor error in your text, you say: "The extra resolution of the X100V (as opposed to the 16 mp on the X100, X100S, and X100T, though the X100F has 24 mp) is appreciated" - however, the original X100 was only 12.3MP, the S & T are 16.3MP.