Is the Fujifilm X100V the Perfect Travel, Documentary, and Street Camera?

Is the Fujifilm X100V the Perfect Travel, Documentary, and Street Camera?

With the long-awaited release of the Fujifilm X100V — the fifth generation of the X100 series — it is fair to say that this is now a pretty mature camera system. The question is whether the improvement brought with this latest iteration makes the X100V the perfect camera for travel, documentary, and street photographers.

The Look and Feel

Back in 2018, I wrote an article entitled "Traveling the World with the Fujifilm X100F." It was a long-term review based on my experience of traveling to more than 20 countries with the Fujifilm X100F, the predecessor to the X100V. While this was mostly a positive review, there were a few areas of improvement that I felt needed addressing. Specifically, these were the lack of weather-sealing, articulating screen, touchscreen, and 4K video capabilities. With the introduction of the X100V, Fujifilm has addressed all of these issues, and plenty more besides. The X100V now feels like this is a camera that has really come of age.

Physically, the camera looks very similar to the earlier versions, albeit slightly more minimalist in its design language. The aluminum top and bottom plates, along with all-metal body construction, give it a solid feel in hand. This is let down a little by the plasticky feel of the port door and the fact that the position of the tripod mount still blocks the equally plasticky battery door.

The four-way D-pad is gone, with the focus joystick taking on most of those functions. Some people will lose their minds over this; most will simply move on.

The most apparent physical improvement to the design of the Fujifilm X100V is the introduction of a two-way articulating touchscreen. This new tilting screen brings even more versatility to the X100V without adding any additional bulk — no more rolling around in the dirt, seeking out the perfect angle!

There are also several subtle usability changes with this version. Where previously, changing ISO required lifting and twisting the outer ring of the shutter speed/ISO dial at the same time, now it's a simple matter of lift, adjust, and press to lock. It's so simple it is a shame Fujifilm didn't include this in the X-Pro3, which uses the same combined dial design.

Customization is as easy as ever, with users able to set almost every button on the camera to suit individual preferences. The Q button has been moved to a spot less prone to accidental presses. Possibly this has been taken too far, though, and at times, I found the Q button a little hard to activate.

The X100V now uses the same style Quick menu as found on the X-Pro3, adding the ability to customize the number of menu tiles to display. This is a nice touch, as it allows photographers to select only the items they want on their Quick menu, rather than the slightly busy Quick menu of previous versions.

An ever-so-subtle thumb rest on the back of the camera helps with gripping such a compact camera, adding to the sense of carefully thought out design improvements. Overall, the lines of the Fujifilm X100V are just a little cleaner and more refined than previous models.

Cape Town, South Africa

Fujifilm 100V at 1/500th sec, f8.0, ISO 160

Under the Hood

Apart from the noticeable physical changes to the X100V, there are many important, but less visible improvements under the hood.

The sensor has been upgraded to the same 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans 4 sensor as found in the X-Pro3. This sensor has been paired with a brand new 23mm f/2.0 lens. Thankfully, the new lens is the same size as the previous lens, meaning it's still compatible with the WCL-X100 IITCL-X100 II conversion lenses, and other accessories from previous versions. According to Fujifilm, this new lens has been completely redesigned to offer "better resolution, lower distortion, and improved close focus performance."

The X100V is also now weather-sealed, but this comes with a fairly significant caveat. Although the body is sealed, the lens is not. To fully protect the camera, you will need to use the optional AR-X100 adapter ring and the PRF-49 protection filter. Honestly, this makes little difference to me, as I have always used the adapter ring anyway, so I simply added a UV filter to protect the lens.

The built-in neutral density filter has been bumped up to four stops from the previous three stops. This much-overlooked feature is incredibly useful for the bright light situations travel photographers will often find themselves in. While we are at it, another why-does-nobody-ever-talk about-this feature of the X100V and all the previous models is the leaf shutter. Not only does this mean it is possible to synchronize any flash at incredibly fast speeds, but it is also incredibly quiet. 

The hybrid OVF/EVF from previous versions is back, but this time, the X100V features an improved 0.52x optical viewfinder or 3.69M dot electronic viewfinder, offering the best of both worlds at the flick of a lever.

Also worth mentioning is the inclusion of 4K video at up to 30 fps. While the X100V is still very much a stills-photography camera, the ability to capture 4K video on the fly is another welcome change, adding to the impression that Fujifilm has been listening to their customer base in terms of the features that matter to actual users.

Cape Town, South Africa

Fujifilm 100V at 1/2000th sec, f5.6, ISO 160

Who Is This Camera For?

Anyone reading many of the written and video reviews of the X100V could be forgiven for thinking this is a camera squarely aimed at the serious enthusiast — someone who usually shoots with their smartphone but wants better optics to capture candid moments with their friends and family. In other words, soccer moms and dads.

While I can understand this line of thinking, I can't help but find myself disagreeing with the sentiment. As a professional documentary travel photographer, what I see in the X100V is a solid, professional camera. The improvements offered by this new model means I am seriously looking at this potentially being my primary camera, rather than fulfilling the backup duties performed by previous generations. At the very least, I consider it an equal partner in an X100V and X-Pro3 setup, a combination that allows me to complete virtually any of the assignments my clients present me.

The 35mm equivalent field of view of the X100V is perfect for capturing the candid moments I encounter around the world. And being a fixed lens, it is so finely tuned to the sensor that it arguably produces even sharper photographs than the comparable XF 23mm f/2.0 lens on my X-Pro3, especially wide open.

Add all this to the discreet form factor of the X100V, and you have a camera that allows photographers to document the scenes they discover without necessarily influencing those scenes by arriving with a more conspicuous camera.

Cape Town, South Africa

Fujifilm 100V at 1/2000th sec, f2.8, ISO 160

Conclusions

Simply put, the Fujifilm X100V is a seriously good camera — for the right photographer.

Sports and wildlife photographers will want to look elsewhere. Equally, this camera is unlikely to excite anyone based in a studio. But for travel, documentary, or street photographers, the X100V will tick many boxes.

Is this the perfect travel, documentary, and street photography? Well, no. No camera will ever be perfect, but the improvements brought with this latest release means the Fujifilm X100V really does come pretty close.

Cape Town, South Africa

Fujifilm 100V at 1/2000th sec, f4.0, ISO 160

What I Liked

  • Professional-grade camera in a compact form factor.
  • Super sharp lens, paired with powerful X-Trans 4 sensor.
  • New articulating touchscreen with no additional bulk.
  • Weather-sealed for peace of mind in changeable weather conditions.

What I Didn't Like

  • Implementation of touchscreen gestures could be improved.
  • Position of tripod mount blocks battery compartment.
  • Plasticky battery and port doors on an otherwise solidly constructed body.
  • Hard to push Q button.
Log in or register to post comments

29 Comments

Mark Wyatt's picture

Nothing is perfect, but it looks like a great camera.

It's a good camera but not a good travel camera, a travel camera should at least have some zoom range, at least 24mm-100mm (and preferably 200mm+), a camera like the Sony RX100 VI is alot better as a travel camera!

blessing x's picture

Gotta ask - 24-200mm is now considered “some zoom range”? I probably lean too heavily towards the single FL joys of travel, but having just traveled to three countries with only a 40mm lens, 24-200mm would not be an improvement. In fact it would probably directly lead towards a larger system.

Paul Choy's picture

With respect, I can’t agree with your basic premise that a travel camera necessarily requires a zoom range. Many travel photographers only use prime lenses for their assignments; others will use zoom lenses – each to their own.

marc gabor's picture

It really depends what you think of as travel photography.

On the one hand there are those coffee table books about a certain place (Kyoto or Provence or Thailand or whatever) that have a variety of shots from very wide angled vistas and architectural to very tight shots of people and details. I think of this type of work as a "survey" of a place. The photographer is never a part of the picture - his/her job is simply to get full coverage of what's visually interesting about the place.

On the other hand there is a more documentary or journalistic style of photography that shows what the traveler experienced. Usually one focal length between 24mm - 75mm works really well for this as it matches how the photographer sees the world. You could call it "snapshot" photography but snapshots from someone who has a good eye and an unique way of seeing/experiencing the world can be really great photography.

For this sort of stuff you don't need the sharpest lens or the most resolution, you just need a camera that is with you at all times, is reliable, is relatively unobtrusive and that allows you to shoot quickly without fussing around. As someone who's used several X100 cameras in the past I can say that they are designed to be all of those things.

I do think they could make a version of the x100 with a very compact 30-60mm f/3.5 lens that would be great for someone that likes to be able to choose their perspective but with a 26mp sensor you can also just crop a little if you need to.

Don't think u guys get what i'm saying as a TRAVEL camera it should be able to do all kinds of shoots, as in wildlife, portraits, landscapes, macro,...
Look at it this way, for me a travelcamera should be a camera that is small enough to take everywhere but still versatile enough to go to Africa and use it to take landscapes of the serengeti, take photo's of the wildlife from a car and make some portraits from the people living there. While camera's like the Sony RX100 VI wouldn't do an excellent job in any of those it's still usefull in all of them!
While Fujifilm is only good in 2 of those things.

@Blessing X, camera's like the Sony RX100 VI are smaller than any dslr/mirrorless with a 40mm lens but still are able to take awesome photo's!
@Marc Gabor, but that's not what I would call travel photography, that's more documentary.

Christian Durand's picture

I get it , you like Sony .....

Paul Choy's picture

I am pretty sure everyone understands what you are saying. I just I don't think everyone agrees with you.

I agree with that a travel camera should have a zoom lens, though 200mm is too much. I think the Nikon Z50 with its zoom stabilized lens is a better choice than this Fuji and cheaper too.

Paul Choy's picture

Why must a travel camera have a zoom?

So that you can travel in more than one destination. There are dozens of types of trips. Safari trips. Boat trips. Mountain trips for landscapes. Forest trips. Old cities with both narrow and wide roads and some old castle somewhere. Road trips. Etc etc. Even in a typical modern city you'll find the zoom a lot more valuable than trying to crop small details of a crop sensor. And if you want documentary photography, the "observation lens" (50mm) is a better bet than the "cinematic" (35mm). A crop camera with a fixed cinematic lens is quite limiting. Fuji is selling lifestyle cameras based on the same sensor and tech. I'd rather get the XT-3 or 4 or a Sony A6600 or a Nikon Z50 with the little stabilized zoom, than an over-priced lifestyle/fashion camera. I'm interesting in the PHOTOS, not "how fashionable the camera looks".

Blake Aghili's picture

X-100 series are all good enough for this purpose.

The word is "discreet", not "discrete". Dictionary !

Paul Choy's picture

Thank you Hans. Now fixed.

Ricoh GRIII for travel and Leica M10p for around home

Richard Kralicek's picture

I'm not considering to buy one, although I owned the x100f, but how good is the lens in the "near macro" field? I used the x100f when hiking, and I always had to stop down to f4 or better f5.6 to get sharp images of, say, alpine flowers on my way. It was ok, but the background get's a bit busy at this apertures, and you can't isolate that easily. Apart from that I was pretty happy with the x100f until I bought a camera that made me happier.

So, have they fixed this too?

The Fuji X100 series has a special place in my heart for being a fun point-and-shoot with a classic feel and operation. However with Fuji's other great bodies and lenses coming out, I'm surprised they are still coming out with updates to this line instead pushing street photographers to switch over to the Fujifilm X-Pro3 with a 23mm lens.

Paul Choy's picture

While I love the X-Pro3, and use it in partnership with the X100V, it is significantly larger which prevents it from being a go-everywhere camera in the same way the X100V is.

Also, being a fixed lens, the 23mm on the X100V definitely (to my eyes anyway) appears to be sharper than the 23mmF2 on an X-Pro3.

Again, I think this all comes down to usage. For a certain type of photographer, the X100V is getting pretty close to perfect. That said, it is a niche camera and I totally understand why someone would I choose the X-Pro3 or X-T4 with the 23mmF2 instead.

I was skeptical of the fixed focal length when the X100 launched but having an XT3 + 23 1.4 for the last year as a travel companion changed my mind. Something about Fuji's 23mm lenses and film sims make the combination a great grab & go system and supplement to an ILC covering the stuff the X100's not well suited for.

I respectfully disagree. I owned a X100 and was very disappointed, mostly by the focal lenght. I now have a xpro with a 35mm and 16mm and that covers much more subjects.
But for travel i prefer my Nikon D750 with 24-70 it's better for travel, of course you can bring a prime for assignment, but travel is not an assignment, I usually find the subjects once i am on site. So if you need to be long for shooting geishas in Kyoto or wide for architectural shots of churches in Rome, you can.
Its heavier for sure but better low light capabilities and also better weather sealing.
Cheers.

Would love to see more Capetonian marvel! 🙏🏻
But with your style Muizenberg looks too washed out, bring back those popping colours! :)

Hi Paul, thanks for the review. I would have a question to you, though.
I want a camera which I can take anywhere, 35 mm fixed lens is perfect. But I am interested in being able to print my images on sizes up to A4. I am really keen on having a great image quality, but also a great image "feel", I'm sure you know what I mean. I also don't like to spend time editing photos, maybe only cropping them a bit and some other small adjustments to the contrast.
I am thinking between this camera and the Sony Rx1 RII. I don't want to look at the price difference for now (I only consider an used RX1 RII anyway), I am really interested on the camera performance. Also what is really important for me is the autofocus speed and low light performance, image quality at high ISO. While Fuji has those nice film simulations which can give that "special feel"to the image, I am not very convinced of the image quality, especially at higher ISO...whereas I find the Sony quite good..
However, the Sony is 5 year older..
Anyway - what is your experience with these two cameras and which would you honestly recommend for image quality especially at high resolutions and in low light?

Many thanks!

Both are great for A4 sizes, the Fuji will be a little better for A3 in certain cases. But the Sony may come in more handy in zoom-in scenes, while for the same you would need to crop in significantly with the Fuji. For this reason I'd probably also consider the Nikon Z50 with the pancake zoom - because it's a stabilized zoom lens.

Paul Choy's picture

I routinely print photographs captured on my Fuji X100 range cameras to A0 and larger, so you will definitely have no issues there.

As to which camera to recommend, that is a more difficult question to answer. So much depends on personal preferences, and taste. Personally, I would go for Fujifilm every single time. But then I am sure there will be many Sony shooters out there who would say the exact opposite.

A guess the only sure fire way to find out for yourself is to hire both cameras and shoot them, and see which feels right in your hands.

Ok, good to know about the print size. Thanks a lot, Paul!

I cannot afford this camera, so what I did was got myself a Canon EOS M6, a black silicone skin for the camera, taped the logos using cloth tape, a nice 22mm f2, a filter if needed and some extra batteries.

All these for less than half the price of the X100V.

I can still have the option to bring an extra lens if I wanted too. (i.e. 32mm f1.4 or 56mm/1.4 for portraits) or use the money saved to buy tickets for travel.

The V is still a good camera but albeit expensive for me.

Odd the neither the article nor comments mention that the camera has quite useable digital teleconverter settings of 50mm and 70mm (not to mention optical teleconverter accessories). Not for everyone of course but they exist for moments that call for a little more reach.

Paul Choy's picture

Unfortunately, unless shooting in JPG, the digital teleconverter becomes irrelevant as it can't be used for RAW files.

The conversation lenses, on the other hand, are fabulous. I have used both the wide angle and tele conversion lenses for years, and love them. I definitely think they are the most under-rated Fujifilm accessory.