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.
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 II, TCL-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.
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.
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.
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.